Monday, July 6, 2009

Jacob 1-3

Jacob 1: (Jacob is the brother of Nephi) Jacob reveals his mandate to keep and engrave upon the plates. He says that his visions and prophesizing comes because of great anxiety and of faith. After Nephi’s death the people began to stray from the gospel, seeking silver and gold, and desiring to have many wives. Jacob took upon him an oath that if he did not teach the people than their sins would be upon him.

Application: Have I taught my children sufficiently that they will answer for their own sins, or will their sins and failings fall upon my head? Do I seek answers and guidance with great faith and anxiety as Jacob did?

Jacob 2: Jacob speaks to the people at the temple to convey the word of the Lord against their sins. The first topic was the sin of Pride and seeking riches which leads to selfishness, not sharing and looking down on those who are not as rich as they. Seek God first then riches will be added if you seek them for the purpose of assisting the poor and needy. The second sin was that of men justifying their infidelities because David and Solomon had many wives and concubines. The Lord condemns such conduct. A man should have only one wife unless the Lord commands otherwise--which he might do to “raise up a people” and in any case, the Lord never approves of concubines.

Applications: Do I fix my eyes on the things of the world—seeking riches and being full of pride? Do I need to be brought to repentance for selfishness? Do I use justification to allow myself to continue committing some of my (favorite) sins?

Jacob 3: Jacob gives a beautiful blessing to the “pure in heart” But outlines the cursings that will come upon the wicked. He tells the Nephites that the Lamanites are more righteous than they because they keep their marriage vows and they will one day be a blessed people. The Nephites should cease judging them for the darkness of their skins but to worry about their own sins.

Application: Some sins are more visible than others and some that are not so visible are more serious than the visible ones. I need to be concerned with my own salvation and not worried about the sins of my neighbor. I had to shake my head recently in Primary because all of the kids gasp at the mention of someone smoking. My husband has had that same reaction from his children or grandchildren when of course his smoking pales in comparison to some of the sins that others can keep hidden.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

II Nephi 30-33

II Nephi 30: Nephi admonishes us against the pride of believing that just because we were born into the gospel we are automatically saved or conversely that a person without the gospel is condemned. Only those who repent and believe in Christ are saved regardless of how we started. Nephi prophesizes of conditions during the millennium.-- God’s power will be over all the earth, all creatures will live in peace, Satan will have no power during the millennium, and all things will be made known.

Application: Remember that being pure in heart and righteous is what will bind Satan. And he can be bound in my own life today!--if I have faith, and am righteous and pure in heart. I don’t have to wait for the millennium for Satan to be bound in my life.

II Nephi 31: “Repent” “Follow the Son with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ by baptism-…. Then ye shall receive the Holy Ghost-the baptism by fire… He that endureth to the end the same shall be saved…. Wherefore press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all mankind….There is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby a man can be saved in the kingdom of God.”

Application: As listed above—Repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost and endure to the end.

II Nephi 32: Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Remember that after we receive the Holy Ghost we can also speak with the tongue of angels. The words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. So study the scriptures and hearken unto the spirit which teacheth a man to pray---for a man MUST pray (but Satan teaches us not to pray). Pray about all your actions and the Lord will consecrate them to your benefit.

Application: Study the scriptures and pray always, remember your baptisimal covenants and the bestowal of gift of the Holy Ghost and let it guide you

II Nephi 33: A beautiful testimony born by Nephi as he closes his record and bids us goodbye. He testifies that it is only by the power of the Holy Ghost that anyone’s words can be carried into the heart. He mourns that many men harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit. He prays that we will hear and hearken unto these words and if we believe in Christ we can judge and also believe his words for they ARE the words of Christ as He has given them to Nephi.

Application: I must live worthily so that one day when I kneel at the bar of God I may meet and greet Nephi face to face; and thank him for his faithfulness, his prayers, his sacrifice and efforts on my behalf to bring me and my family the gospel and into the family of Christ.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

II Nephi 28-29

II Nephi 28: The bringing forth of the Book of Mormon will be in a day when other churches deny the power of God. Many saying the Lord has done his work and has given his power to men. Man then builds up his own church (not unto the Lord)saying hearken unto “my precept, my church is the Lord’s and they contend with one another. The philosophy of "eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die—but God will forgive us and save us anyway" prevails. Churches have gone astray because of pride, false teachers and false doctrine and many call good evil and evil good. Babylon must fall in a great way in order to shake those that belong to it into repentance. The Lord will be merciful –his arms are outstretched still. Wo unto all those who are at ease in Zion; who hearken unto the precepts of men; who deny new revelation; who tremble and fear; who are angry with God’s plan; who puts his faith in the arm of man. The Lord says we should receive and live the gospel in gladness!

Application: Am I happy? Do I follow Pres. Hinkley’s admonition to be joyful and to let our countenances radiate the good news and gladness of the gospel. Do I fear the “day of the Lord” or will I run joyfully to greet it . Am I diligent in staying on the path? Do I deny God’s power by trusting in my own arm of flesh? How much does personal pride (independence, self-centeredness) influence me?

II Nephi 29: The Lord admonishes us that He speaks to all his children everywhere and commands them to write his word. We will someday have the writings of all the lost tribes and all of thier scriptures will stand as an additional testament of Jesus Christ. We should not harden our hearts against the coming forth of new scriptures.

Application: Our Heavenly Father is the God of this world. We should seek and accept truth whenever it is presented. Live close enough to the Lord that you will be able to distinguish between truth and error. Pres Benson stated that we as a church are under condemnation for not utilizing and honoring what scriptures we have and that those additional scriptures will not be given to us until we have lifted that condemnation from us.

Monday, May 25, 2009

II Nephi 26 and 27

II Nephi 26: Signs of the birth of Christ are given. Signs of his second coming also given (V10) the Book of Mormon and its coming forth are also prophesied--Gentiles lifted up in the pride of their eyes,--churches built up-but they deny the power of God. Evil secret combinations on the earth—Christ’s only purpose is to help us and for our benefit. His arms are always open-but we must have charity for all men. Our purposes and efforts should be for the building up of Zion and for God, NOT for ourselves or to get gain.

Application: Watch and pray that you be not deceived.

II Nephi 27: In the last days iniquity will abound. All those who fight against Zion will experience a nightmare in return. The Book of Mormon’s coming forth prophesied. Portions are sealed which reveal all things from the foundation of the earth unto the end, but the time will come when the sealed portions will be revealed and widely distributed. But for now, they are sealed up in God’s wisdom. His works are revealed according to the faith of his children. The Lord states that people fear him because of the precepts of men. He says that honest truth seekers will come to an understanding even if they erred in the past. The Lord testifies of himself by bringing about great and marvelous works from seemingly impossible circumstances--for example, the translation of the Book of Mormon and the establishment of His church by an uneducated, poor farm boy.

Application: 1) Do I use and study the revealed scriptures daily and do my part so that the Lord will deem his people worthy to receive more knowledge? 2) Do I have the faith that my Father can bring to pass great miracles in my own life and family? Or that His power is sufficient to accomplish all things?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

II Nephi 25

II Nephi 25: Nephi states the words of Isaiah are plain unto all those who are filled with the spirit of prophesy. Nephi deliberately did not teach his children about Jerusalem and the Jews—because of their (the Jew’s) sins and wickedness. Isaiah’s words were written for the last days. Before destroying any peoples, the Lord will warn and give opportunity to repent. Nephi’s words plainly prophesize of Christ. The Lord will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder to restore his people. V. 26 is a moving and beautiful verse—“We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ and we write according to our prophecies that our children may know to what source they may look for the remission of their sins.” Nephi speaks so plainly that he cannot be misunderstood and his words will stand as a testament.

Application: Do I speak, talk, and write of Christ so plainly that my children cannot misunderstand? Do I keep wickedness out of my home as Nephi did so my children are not educated in the ways of wickedness?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

II Nephi 22-24

II Nephi 22: Nephi quotes Isaiah praising the Lord. All men will praise and sing to the Lord in the millennial day. V 2: “ Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation”.

Application: The Lord is my salvation today, I can praise his name and call upon him today. I don’t need to wait.

II Nephi 23: Isaiah tells more about the destruction prior to the coming of the Lord, when the wicked will be destroyed and the fall of Babylon. The Lord will be merciful unto his people but the wicked shall perish.

Application: Be not fainthearted, the Lord’s day will be a great day for those who love Him and love truth and peace.

II Nephi 24: Satan is brought down low, and those who followed him question how his power can be so inconsequential compared to the Lord’s power. V. 20 states that the wicked/sinful will not be sealed to their families in the eternities. There is a lot of imagery/symbolism that needs to be pondered and discovered in this chapter. Bruce R McConkie wrote the chapter heading which says “Israel shall be gathered and shall enjoy millennial rest---Lucifer cast out of heaven for rebellion---Israel shall triumph over Babylon (the world).

Application: Put your faith and trust in the Lord. Do not vary but stay firmly rooted in the gospel.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

II Nephi 19-21

II Nephi 19: the Messiah is prophesized in the memorable words of Isaiah. Leaders often lead their people into sin. In verse 18 Isaiah says “ for wickedness burneth as the fire”. I wonder about those prophesies of the second coming, when they state the earth shall be burned--if that could mean the earth will be steeped in wickedness or if it is a literal description.

Application: Salvation is individual; I must have my own testimony so I will not be led astray by any tradition, or religious or political ideology or leader. I must take the Holy Ghost as my guide not the arm of flesh. I tell all who ask me about my religion to not lean on my testimony alone or any other persons or ministers remarks, but to go to the Lord in prayer and get their own answers!! I can not save you nor can any man, the Lord will guide you and bring you to salvation.

II Nephi 20: The Lord decries hypocrisy and condemns those that take from the poor, widowed or fatherless. They will have no place to hide or to seek help during the desolation of the last days. The Lord will perform a “work” upon “mount Zion” and Jerusalem” He will cleanse the earth and the house of Israel and Jacob will return.

Application: I need to ponder on and consider where my day to day actions will lead me. Where will I be on that last day?? Shining in the Light OR smoldering in the dark?

II Nephi 21: (Compare to Isaiah 11) Christ shall come from the line of Jesse he shall judge with righteousness and peace shall fill the earth. All jealousy and animosity between the tribes of Israel will be dissolved and all will desire to come to him and he will set his hand a second time to recover the remnant of his people. The church (the gospel) will be set up as an ensign to all nations and a highway created for those traveling to Zion. This chapter describes the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ.

Application: We should ponder on our own preparedness for life during the millennium. Do we still harbor petty grievances towards someone? Does jealousy or envy mar our countenance? Think on the peace that will be there and try and bring some of that peace into your home today.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

II Nephi 14-18

II Nephi 14: Zion’s refuge and peace established. The Lord’s presence will be visible by day and by night. Verse 1 states that seven women will wed one man---I don’t know if this means that the ratio or righteous women to men will be 7 to 1 or if the men will have been killed by war or ?.

Application: Am I living righteously to survive and be able to be part of Zion? Do I look to the Lord daily even if he isn’t physically visible?

II Nephi 15: Israel has betrayed the Lord, so the Lord “betrays” Israel. We enjoy the harvest and fail to acknowledging the Lord’s hand in it. “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of Vanity and sin, as it were, with a cart rope. Wo unto him that calls evil good and good evil, wo unto those who justify the “means by the ends” V 24—their root shall be rottenness and their blossoms shall go up as dust. (The eternal family, ancestral line and all their posterity, shall be severed from them). Despite the rejection by us and then His just anger and condemnation, He still stretches forth his arms to us. And He promises He will set up His kingdom here on earth for all men to come unto.

Application: To be alone without parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren etc.-- the punishment for disobedience and sin (to cast away the law); for not reading, pondering and honoring the scriptures which God has provided to guide us (despised the word) or by not accepting Christ (despised the WORD) would be an unbearable sorrow.

II Nephi 16: Isaiah sees the Lord sitting upon his throne in His temple. Isaiah is immediately filled with anguish at his uncleaness and unworthiness to be in the Lords presence. He is then cleansed of his iniquity and sins. The Lord then issues a call to go forth into the world to testify. He asks who will go or whom shall I send. Isaiah accepts the call. The Lord prophecies of the rejection of His teachings but states that a remnant shall return.

Application: Even though Isaiah had lived so that he WAS worthy to be brought before the Lord, he still felt unworthy and unclean. We must always strive to focus on Christ and not on our own failings, we are not qualified to judge, Only he can judge and he can declare us clean. I was impressed again that the Lord does not force us to accept any calling. It is always our choice. In verse 4 it states Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory! Do I SEE the beauty and glory of the Lord in the earth? Do I see how all things testify of him?

II Nephi 17: A chapter of prophesy by Isaiah about the destruction of Judah to come, and Isaiah and Nephi prophesy of Christ’s birth by a Virgin.

Application: This chapter requires more study and pondering. I need to study the history of the all the tribes and peoples who participate in the war and destruction. But, again this chapter of prophesy testifies to me that the Lord does know the beginning from the end and is aware of each of us and what we need to succeed in this life.

II Nephi 18: Don’t align yourselves with the ways of the world or get caught up in all the speculation and fear of the day. Don’t seek out mediums or other “familiar” spirits but let the Lord be your companion and guide and he will be your Sanctuary.

Application: Although TV now has brought several psychics much attention and the psychic “hot lines” or internet sites are extensively advertised We must shun such things and take our questions and concerns to the Lord in prayer.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

II Nephi 10-13

II Nephi 10: Jacob is such a holy person and a prophet. He has a revelation prior to speaking to his people again, in which he sees Christ and His crucifixion. There was no other nation on earth that would have crucified Him (their God)---any other people would have repented. The America’s destiny as a land of liberty restated and the Gentiles role in blessing and restoring the Lamanites into the House of Israel is outlined. All who fight against Zion shall perish. One is either for the Lord or against Him. We are all free to choose and act for ourselves.

Application: Am I living a “lukewarm” life? Because God states that we can not be on the fence, it is impossible. I must be ‘for’ the Lord 100%--there is no middleground.

II Nephi 11: Nephi testifies of Christ as did his brother Jacob. They both have first hand knowledge having seen the Lord face to face. Nephi writes more of the words of Isaiah from the brass plates. He exhorts us not once but twice to liken Isaiah’s words (the scriptures) unto ourselves. Nephi shares his joy in the Lord and in God’s plan for his children and this earth.

Application: The Lord has sent many firsthand witnesses of Himself to testify to us. Do I accept, ponder and share what I know to be true. If I do the Lord will bless me with greater knowledge--“line upon line” until I too will be blessed to see Christ and have my calling and election made sure as did Nephi and Jacob. The scriptures are there for our benefit and written to help us. We must read, study, ponder and liken them to our selves, our families and our situations and they will guide us.

II Nephi 12: In the last days, the proud shall be brought low and all idols will be abolished. Men will try to hide from the Lord. Isaiah saw our day and the second coming of Christ.

Application: What are the "idols" I worship in my life? Money? appearance? self? We all need to take a good look at the things we spend our time, talents and energy on. I must humble myself and repent continually or I may find myself begging that the mountains would fall upon me and hide me from the glory and knowledge of the Lord. :(

II Nephi 13: The Lord reveals what I think are some of the conditions of the last days. The Lord says Judah and Jerusalem will be punished—that their sin can be seen in the people’s faces; Children oppress; (look at the rise in violent delinquents and gangs) women rule; We “grind the faces of the poor”; We’ve eaten up the vineyard (destroyed our own environment); the daughters of Zion are materialistic and dress and act seductively (look at what the media portrays as popular) and are thus promised a “stink for their sweet smell” baldness instead of long beautiful hair, etc. War will rage and all Jerusalem/Judah will wail.

Application: To try harder to impress upon my children and grandchildren that the fashions of the world are not appropriate for daughters of God. Especially for those who know their Royal lineage and eternal glorious prospects. Modesty and virtue should be practiced by all.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

II Nephi 9

II Nephi 9: The plan of salvation is outlined and explained. And the great goodness of our God who has prepared this plan/way so that we can escape death (of the body) and Hell (death of the spirit) through the atonement of Christ is celebrated. When the body and spirit reunite we will have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt and/or of all our righteousness. After resurrection/being made immortal we will appear before Judgment seat of God to be judged, and they who are righteous will be righteous still and they who are filthy shall be filthy still and subjects of the devil. We must have faith in Christ, repent, be baptized and endure the crosses of the world (and to the end) to be saved. Those who are without the law (children, mentally handicapped etc) are delivered by the power of the atonement which “satisfieth the demands of his justice”. Worldly knowledge is vanity and foolishness if one does not hearken unto the Lord. Wo is pronounced upon a variety of sins and sinners. “To be carnally minded is death and to be spiritually minded is life eternal”. Jacob entreats all to shake off the chains of sin and of Satan and come unto God, to pray continually, give thanks and rejoice. “Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters”

Application: This chapter is so important in understanding the plan of salvation. I need to study and ponder it frequently. I need to keep my priorities straight. How often my eyes and efforts stray to worldly things. I must seek the Lord and stay on his straight and narrow path. I must not let the enticements of the world or satan keep me from eternal life.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

II Nephi 6,7,8

II Nephi 6: These are the words and teachings of Jacob (one of Nephi’s righteous brothers). He states he speaks to them of things which are and which are to come. He wants to teach from Isaiah’s writings and asks that we liken them unto ourselves for they were written unto the house of Israel and WE are of the House of Israel. He again states that the gospel will be brought to the Gentiles who shall set up a standard. Jacob also prophesizes about the destruction and scattering of Jerusalem. He tells of Christ’s coming and His crucifixion. He prophesizes about the gathering of the ten tribes (Israel) and the second coming of Christ is foretold. All flesh shall KNOW that “I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Application: Do I have to see (or wait until I am destroyed by) earthquakes, tempests and the great destructions prophesized before I accept and acknowledge Christ, the King of Heaven and Earth? Will I bow my knee now or be forced to later?

II Nephi 7: (Isaiah 50) The Lord tells us that if we can’t feel or hear him it is because we have turned away from Him---and not He from us. It is our sins that separate us from Him. The Lord stands ready to bless us, to fight by our sides and to be smitten for us. If we but “kindle” a fire, we shall walk in light.

Application: If I feel despair and lack of hope it is because I have separated myself from Christ. He stands with arms outstretched—inviting me—“let us stand together”.

II Nephi 8: (Isaiah 51-52) Remember who you are (a child of God) and don’t be afraid of man! The kingdom and power of man is temporary. The Kingdom of God is eternal. Wake UP! The Lord is in charge and is all powerful. We SHALL return singing to Zion “and everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon (our) heads; and (we) shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away”. The waste places and deserts shall become gardens. The prophesy of the two prophets coming to Jerusalem is in this chapter.

Application: Do I lean and depend on the arm of flesh? Or am I afraid of men and their judgments? I must trust in the Lord and let him be my strength.

Monday, March 2, 2009

II Nephi 4-5

II Nephi 4: Lehi dies—Laman and Lemuel rebel and Nephi slips into a deep (and according to today’s standards—clinical) depression. He prays and comforts himself by reading the scriptures and by remembering past spiritual experiences and recording his thoughts. He entreats the Lord to help him. He covenants to always trust in and praise the Lord.

Application: When we study this chapter we can enumerate many of the signs of depression: fatigue, weight loss, self loathing, crying etc. If we can recognize that Nephi is a good and righteous man and still was subject to this disease, then perhaps we can be less judgmental of ourselves and accept that this is a chemical imbalance and not something that has occurred because we were “bad” or “unworthy”. We also need to do as Nephi did and turn to the Lord, to the scriptures, and to journaling for help in overcoming the depression. (We should also seek professional assistance to correct the chemical imbalance when indicated).

II Nephi 5: With the death of Lehi, who was I’m sure a “buffer” between Nephi and his older brothers, Laman and Lemuel again seek Nephi’s life. Nephi and all those who have aligned themselves with Nephi and the Lord are forced to flee and separate themselves from Laman and Lemuel and their followers. The “Nephites” prosper by farming and building etc. The Lamanites become “cursed” with darkened skin as they become hunter scavengers. In order to preserve his people and their culture/religion/identity, Nephi kept the brass plates, the Liahona, and Laban’s sword. (Items which over the years/centuries the Lamanites feel were ‘stolen’ from them, and use as an excuse to continue the war/feud with the Nephites) (Remember however, that the Liahona worked only as the people were righteous and that the brass plates only had worth as they pertained to the genealogy of the people and their desire to live the commandments delineated therein. It was Nephi himself who had the faith and courage to go back for the brass plates and obtain them and through his actions he alone also obtained Laban’s sword. So the tradition that these items belonged to Laman and Lemuel and their posterity is flawed).

Application: Do I separate myself from evil or do I like to stay around the edges---flirting with and even accepting (at times) some of the world’s ungodly practices and lifestyles?. Do I count the scriptures and my testimony as treasures to take with me at all times?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

II Nephi 1-2

II Nephi 1: This land (the Americas) is a choice land reserved for an inheritance for the righteous. It will be a blessed land--prosperous and free, as long as the inhabitants serve the Lord. But, if iniquity abounds, the land will be cursed and there will be no promise. Lehi is close to death and he speaks to his sons and people. He begs his sons to “Awake and arise from the dust my sons and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things. . . Awake my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity and arise from the dust. Rebel no more . . .”

Application: This is also my plea to my own sons (and all sons everywhere). If you read this someday--- Shake off the chains which bind you--alcohol, drugs, materialism, pride, anger, feelings of unworthiness. The Lord loves you,-- you are choice spirits saved for these latter days--sent to a country and a home where the Gospel was available to you. I know it wasn’t and isn’t a perfect home and family but you can rise above our imperfections and pull yourselves up and Stand Tall. BE MEN--men of righteousness--men of God!

II Nephi 2: Jacob receives his final “Father’s blessing and teachings. Jacob is a righteous man and son, he has had his ‘calling and election made sure’. He has seen the Lord face to face. Lehi also states that all “men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil” (the light of Christ) so that they can justly be judged by the law. Redemption is only possible through Christ’s atonement and resurrection. There is "opposition in all things" and Lehi expounds on this great principle. For a man to be free to act for himself, and, for there to be a choice,---there must me an enticement or opposition to each decision. Satan became part of the plan by providing the enticement which is in opposition to the Lord's commands and plan. This life is a time of probation and repentance. If Eve had not partaken of the fruit there would have been no change or growth, no children, no joy (for they knew no misery), and no good (for they knew no sin). It was God’s plan that by that act of disobedience--this probationary period of earth life and opposition would be introduced. “Adam fell that men might be and men are that they might have joy!” men are free to chose liberty and eternal life through Christ the Lord or to choose captivity and death according to the power of the devil.

Application: Do I act or am I acted upon? Do I CHOOSE my path or just allow each day to slip away--No choice=no action=no valiancy=no glory. Also, I have thought about what went on in the Garden of Eden, the tree, the command, ultimately the choice. I truly believe that the tree was placed because God will never force us to do things, even for our “own good” It had to be a choice. Also we have heard that “no unclean thing can enter into heaven” Conversely, perhaps “no clean thing can be kept out of heaven” Adam and Eve prior to the partaking of the fruit in opposition to God’s command were clean and pure and walked and talked with God and Christ in the garden. But that small act of disobedience set in motion the entire plan of salvation. A necessary step for all of us to be able to progress, grow and ultimately return again to that Father who sent us forth into this earthly experience.

Monday, February 16, 2009

1 Nephi 22

1 Nephi 22: This chapter is partially an interpretation of chapter 21. A marvelous work and a wonder to be brought forth to bless the Gentiles, the Jews, (House of Israel) and all kindreds, tongues and peoples of the world. The Book of Mormon was first brought to the Gentiles, then the Lamanites and now to all nations. The second coming is close. All those who fight against Zion will turn and war against themselves. Nephi prophesizes about the second coming and the millennium. Satan is bound- not by some miraculous imprisonment- but by the righteousness of the people. Any and everyone can be saved if they repent.

Application: Could I bind Satan in my own life by living righteously? Could I and my family “bind Satan” and cast him out of our lives and homes by living righteously? Do I honor the Book of Mormon for the marvelous work and a wonder that it is or do I take it for granted?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

1 Nephi 21

1 Nephi 21: (see Isaiah 49) Monte S. Nyman* states this chapter is one of the most important chapters in Isaiah, because it clearly foretells the mission of the Latter day Saints and the “destiny of the land of America in connection to the house of Israel.” And that “it is of such importance that it should be studied diligently by every member of the church. He gives an outline whose main points are 1.) Israel is the servant of the Lord in whom he will be glorified. 2.) Israel’s mission is to gather Jacob in the strength of the Lord. 3.) The Lord will show that he has not forgotten his promises to Zion (the Americas) 4.) many will gather to Zion who will be adorned as a bride 5.) Israel will be delivered from the hands of the Gentiles.
It is sometimes hard for me to remember that when the Lord speaks of the House of Israel he is not just speaking of an ancient people or the Hews. But that I am of the House of Israel- the line of Ephriam and the promises also extend to me. The Land of Zion (the Americas) mourned and felt the Lord had forgotten her (the earth has a spirit) The Lord will keep his promise and so many people will come to America that they shall cover the land like a cloth and they shall even fill her waste and desolate places until it will seem too narrow. It is the gentiles who will come- with “nursing Kings and Queen’s” (England?) They will come for freedom because their home lands are “too Strait”. The Lord will protect and fight for Zion.

Application: I have ancestors who came from Europe in the early years of this country . They came as is said for freedom, especially the freedom to worship as they please. John Throckmorton did just that and sought truth and changed his life several times in that quest. What is my role as a child of Israel, raised in Zion? What is my role and responsibility to my forbearers and my posterity.

*Great Are the Words of Isaiah; by Monte S Nyman, Bookcraft, SLC, 1980, pgs 173-185

Thursday, February 12, 2009

1 Nephi 19 and 20

1 Nephi 19: Nephi is commanded and instructed of the Lord to make plates of ore and engrave thereon: 1) a record of his people 2) the record of his father and their travels in the wilderness, 3) The prophecies of his father, 4) His own personal prophecies. These plates were in addition to the “large” plates which held the genealogy of his fathers and the more part of the proceedings in the wilderness. Nephi states that the “more plain and precious parts” should be written on these small plates that he had made. “I do not write anything upon these plates save it be that I think it be sacred.” Nephi refers to the scriptures and speaks prophetically concerning Christ’s crucifixion and death and the destruction that will accompany that event. He also speaks of all peoples of the earth, including the House of Israel’s, acceptance one day of Christ. Here also Nephi urges us to “liken all scriptures unto us, that it may be for our profit and learning” “that we may have hope.”

Application: We should be keeping a personal sacred record of OUR own dealings with the Lord and OUR journeying through this life. When we read the scriptures we need to be asking ourselves how this applies to us in our day and listen for the sweet promptings which will follow that we may profit, learn and abound in hope.

1 Nephi 20: The Lord calls to the house of Israel-(born into the genealogical line of Judah) and those who are born out of the waters of baptism (adopted into the House of Israel) The Lord declares and shows all things (through His prophets, visions, scriptures) so that we will acknowledge that they are from the Lord and so we can’t attribute them to idols or our own strength. He has declared them from the beginning, even before our births that we may know that he is God. Great blessings are often lost because of sin and stiffneckedness. We should take his word to all the world.

Application: Do I remember the Lord in all things? Am I obedient and grateful? Do seek out missionary experiences?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

1 Nephi 17 and 18

1 Nephi 17: Nephi is commanded to build a boat, and goes up into the mountains (symbolic temple) where the Lord instructs him in how to accomplish such an overwhelming task. And once again we find that when faced with a challenge Laman and Lemuel and those who have sided with them harden their hearts and start their IF ONLY crying and once again seek to murder Nephi. Nephi rehearses to them the parallel story of Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness and he chastises them for being “swift to do iniquity and slow to remember the Lord” he accuses them of being murderers in their hearts. Then his indignation decreases and his sorrow and love for them overwhelm him. He is so overcome he can hardly stand. At this point his murderous brothers see that he looks weak and think “we can take him NOW” and rush to grab him. Nephi is filled with the power of the Holy Ghost and he rises up majestically and warns them that if they touch him they will ‘wither” (die) and he speaks to and confounds them. Then being commanded by the Lord to demonstrate The Lord’s power to them he stretches forth his arm at his brothers and gives them a great shock. Nephi’s power is so great that now his brothers seek to worship him, but he instructs them to “worship the Lord thy God and honor thy father and thy mother.” Only after Nephi’s demonstration of the Lord’s power do they cooperate and help to construct the ship.
Another interesting point in this chapter is how the Lord is their only source of light and heat. They were not allowed to make fires during the journey so the Lord was a piller of light at night and since they could not cook the meat that they hunted the Lord made “the meat sweet” so it did not require cooking. The Lord said that He did all that He did, so ALL would know that it was Him who lead them through the wilderness to the promised land. No one who was on this journey in the wilderness could ever be justified in thinking that they were the ones responsible for making the journey just by their own strength, craftiness or wisdom. .

Application: We can compare our journey here on earth to Lehi’s family’s journey in the wilderness. At every trial do we murmur and complain? Do we cower in fear if a life experience is threatening? Do we shrink and never attempt greatness because we fear failure and we “don’t know how to accomplish the task, or feel that we don’t have the skills necessary”? Or worst of all do we deny Christ and our Heavenly Father - refusing to acknowledge in gratitude their help and blessings, in effect “murdering” them by our relegating them out of existence in our lives. Do we give heed to our personal “Liahona” (the scriptures, Ensign, Prophets, Personal Revelation) do we check each day to see what message is written for us there? Do we let the Lord “light our way” or do we determinedly continue to stumble about in the darkness? The symbolism of the Liahona and the parallels between Moses and the children of Israel’s journey into the wilderness and how they apply and also parallel our journey through life should be a matter of continued personal reflection and study

1 Nephi 18: The ship is completed and the journey to the promised land is begun. This chapter shows how quickly a person can turn away from the Lord. The family begins the journey praising God but after just a couple of days, they had a party maybe some drinking was going on but they became more rude perhaps with loud, boisterous or foul language or with suggestive dancing or worse (it doesn’t specify) What ever was going on Nephi feared that they were offending the Lord and feared the Lord’s condemnation. He tries to tell everyone to calm down and remember who they are. Laman and Lemuel flair into a fit of anger at their younger brother, they’re “tired of their younger brother always telling them what to do” so they take him and tie him up, binding him tightly. Over the next three days, no amount of pleading or tears from their parents or Nephi’s wife will entice them to set him free. Lehi and Sariah are so disheartened, sick and brokenhearted they are brought “near unto death’. Only as God brings a great storm which threatens their very lives do Laman and Lemuel relent and free Nephi. Nephi refuses to be angry but rather praises God and continues on the journey.

Application: Do I forgive and forget like Nephi does or do I let my perceived injustices fester and canker? Am I ever watchful of my actions, and strive to stay close to the Lord at all times? It seems that Laman and Lemuel were always found pushing the line between righteousness and apostasy Only great physical events could keep them in the right. (an angel, a powerful shock, a great storm and it’s immediate calming etc.) They seem spiritually hardened, do I keep my spirit humble and my heart soft?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

1 Nephi chapter 16

1 Nephi 16: In this chapter Lehi and family continue their travel in the wilderness, the Liahona (“a round ball of curious workmanship” that would point “the way whither we should go”) is given unto them from the Lord. Nephi breaks his steel bow (vital in obtaining food) and Ishmael dies. The loss of the bow quickly leads to extreme hunger and afflictions which drive even Lehi to murmur and complain. Lehi humbles himself quickly, repenting with great sorrow. The others are chastened and their repentance lasts only until the next trial where they again plot to kill Lehi and Nephi blaming them for all their struggles and problems. Laman, Lemuel and those aligned with them concoct a wild scenario to explain all the miraculous things that have happened so they can deny the Lord’s existence and justify their murder of their father and brother. Ishmael’s death was particularly hard for his family (esp. Laman’s and Lemuel’s wives). They want to blame someone so they blame Lehi for bringing them out of Jerusalem and Nephi for keeping them in the wilderness--for of course (in their minds) IF ONLY they hadn’t left Jerusalem they would be fat, happy, rich, and their father wouldn’t have died

Application: Do I seek to learn the LORD”S WILL in all things? Or do I just want what I want when I want it? Do I recognize his hand in everything--the food on the table, our home, our health, event the very breath we breathe? Or do I deny him and praise the arm of flesh for providing these things. (I.e. I’ve worked hard all these years, I’ve strained, sweat lifted and gone to work every day! I have earned this by my labor! Or I’m so intelligent, I got my degree and this job, prestige and money.--aren’t I smart and aren’t I strong-- I did it by myself! It is hard not to accept the worlds doctrine that is constantly being pushed at us though TV, news, friends etc. We must be ever vigilant and we must truly have and express gratitude to our Heavenly Father for all that he provides for us

Saturday, February 7, 2009

chapters 12-15

1 Nephi 12: Nephi’s vision continues he sees the Americas at the time of Christ’s crucifixion and coming. The great destruction and then the righteous generations after his appearance. He also is told that the mists of darkness from Lehi’s dream are the temptations of the devil, to blindeth the eye and hardened the heart. The river is the depths of hell. Those who dwindle in unbelief became “a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.

Application: Do I stay close enough to Christ and the gospel that my garments are white? And do I radiate an inner light? OR am I also dark and full of idleness? I don’t think the word “dark” refers to the color of the peoples skins but rather is a synonym to the other words loathsome, filthy abominable just as my reference to white is a synonym for pure, good, righteous.

1 Nephi 13: Nephi sees the future of his own people and of the land they had come to. He sees the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. He also sees “other books” that shall come forth to the convincing of the whole earth that Jesus is the Christ.

Application: Do I study and use the scriptures which have already been revealed and which I have? Do I respect and honor them enough that God will trust us with more?

1 Nephi 14: Nephi’s vision concludes, he writes of the great and abominable church whose fonder is the devil. In Verse 10 he states “behold there are save two churches only. The Church of the Lamb of God and the great and abominable church. He states if one doesn’t belong to Christ’s church than by default you belong to the church of the devil. The concept that our church is the only true church often causes bad feeling among people and potential converts. It is difficult to condemn those who live righteous lives in accordance with what truth they have. Wendy Dewitt once put forth the theory that perhaps condemnation of other churches comes because all men are born with the light of Christ to guide them back to Heavenly Father. All men have a desire to find truth. The other churches upon the earth, step in and satisfy that desire and stops the person from searching further and the person is they left with only part of the truth and is kept from the full gospel, the priesthood and the savings ordinances. Satan will tell nine truths just to get you to believe in one lie. ( We justify the lie by rationalizing “this was true and that was true and he knew this or that, so this must also be true”) We also learn that the Apostle John will tarry and record all that transpires and the end of the world. We look forward to receiving more of John’s writings as on of those “other books” mentioned in the last chapter.

Application: Am I worthy to desire a vision for my family. Am I sure enough of my faith to live up to that vision and endure to the end? There was a time in my life when I was worthy and did receive visions and guidance--can I humble my self again?

1 Nephi 15: Laman and Lemuel are talking about some of Lehi’s visions. They are confused and are unable to understand. Nephi enters and asks them simply--Why are you confused?--Didn’t you ask the Lord about it? They reply “no” because they have never received an answer from God. Nephi reminds them of the Lords assurances that If we ask in faith we shall receive. He then “translates” the vision of the olive branches for all. Following the explanation of the olive tree parable, Nephi explains the Vision of the Tree of Life. He also pleads with them with all the energies of his soul ane with all the faculty he possesses for them to become righteous men. He expounds on the state of men after death, the justice that divides the wicked from the righteous. He states that the fruit (God’s Love) is the most precious and most desirable above all other fruits, yea, and is the greatest of all the gifts from God. Nephi spoke plainly and explained to his brothers the plan of salvation, He pleads and crys with and for his brothers. Then he explained the consequences-(hell) and the reward-(the kingdom of God).

Application: I can also deal with my family this way, clearly outlining the plan and what is expected of them and outline the consequences for disobedience and the rewards for obedience while always respecting their agency.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

1 Nephi 9-11

1 Nephi 9:
Nephi makes two sets of plates because “the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men: for behold he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words.: (during translation, Martin Harris get the only copy of the first forty pages to show his wife and then loses them. Heavenly Father refuses to allow those pages to be retranslated because of plots to discredit them so that same time period of Lehi’s journey is covered in the 2nd set of plates.

Application: We must trust in God’s guidance and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost even if it doesn’t make sense to us at the time the instruction is given.

1 Nephi 10:
Lehi prophesies concerning Jerusalem and the coming of Jesus and John the Baptist. He compares the house of Israel to an olive tree whose branches are broken off and scattered, but that they would one day be gathered. Nephi also wants to see the visions of his father, he reminds us that we all can have this knowledge through the gift of the Holy Ghost. “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and all the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them”. for God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow-all men at all times can seek God.

Application: I am part of the House of Israel! I am also entitled to personal revelation through the gift of the Holy Ghost.

1 Nephi 11:
Nephi is carried away by the Spirit of the Lord unto an exceedingly high mountain. He expresses his desire to see his father’s vision. He is praised for believing in Jesus just from his father’s words. He will therefore be allowed to see Jesus’ birth and life in vision himself. So he can testify and bear record of Jesus as well. He is given an interpretation of the Tree of Life vision. The tree was more beautiful than he had imagined. The tree represents the love of God which spreadeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men: wherefore it is the most desirable above all things. And the angel states “and the most joyous to the soul”. The rod of iron was the word of God. The Large and Spacious building is the pride of the world;. Nephi sees the fall of the great and spacious building. “Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues and people who fight against the Lord or his apostles.

Application: Nephi first desired to know, and believed the Lord could show him and then Pondered in his heart the things he was seeking. Do I follow this pattern when seeking answers or do I glibly and thoughtlessly ask for knowledge? Do I recognize God’s love as THE MOST JOYOUS thing in my life?

1 Nephi 1-8

A few years ago, I journaled as I read the Book of Mormon, writing my own personal synopsis of each chapter, including whatever insights I gleened. I tried to then apply each chapter's message to myself and my life. I am trying to get it typed into the computer so I can print it out and thought that I would also post it here. I hope that you might gain some insight as I share and, in the very least, it is another place to safeguard my journal besides just on my hard drive.

A Book of Mormon Journey and Journal----by Deanna Steffler

This journal will contain thoughts, inspirations, applications and synopsizes derived from the reading of the Book of Mormon. I started on November 18, 1999 (and as is my style) layed aside and restarted, and layed aside and started again etc until I finally finished April 30, 2006.

1 Nephi 1: Nephi starts his portion of the record by recording an account of his father Lehi (a prophet) and the marvelous vision he had manifested as a pillar of fire on a rock. Lehi sees and hears much. Lehi returns home and is overcome by the spirit. He is then carried away in a vision and sees Christ and his apostles. He is shown the coming destruction of Jerusalem (if the people do not repent). Lehi goes forth and testifies to all Jerusalem, despite the persecutions and danger that accompanies his call to repentance. “When thou art converted-strengthen thy brethren.” and perhaps also “Where much is given, much is expected” is brought to mind. Also twice in this chapter it speaks of the Lord’s ‘tender mercies’ “I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”

Application: Lehi and Sariah were “goodly parents” yet two of their sons were rebellious and become unbelievers and persecute their family that remain faithful. We must be ever vigilant in helping our children learn how to get their own answers and testimony. Also, Lehi’s experience with the Lord parallels and has many of the same descriptive markers of other prophets record of their interaction face to face with the Lord. A testimony of the truth of Joseph Smith’s description of his first vision.

1 Nephi 2: When Lehi is commanded by the Lord in a dream to leave Jerusalem, Lehi packed up his family and left into the wilderness. No negotiating or foot dragging. He took only his family and necessities (tents food etc.) and left. Leaving the rest of their property and wealth behind. Laman and Lemuel are rebellious and first Lehi speaks lovingly “O (Laman) that thou mightiest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness” and “O, (Lemuel) that thou mightest be like this Valley--firm and steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord.” but as they continue to murmur and begin to plot to kill Lehi (“the were like unto the Jews who sought to take away the life of my father”). Then Lehi spoke unto them with great power insomuch that their very bones shook and they dared no say another word. On the other hand Nephi though upset at leaving sought the Lord for confirmation. The Lord answered Nephi and reveled much about Nephi and his posterities future. In addition, I have read that one scholar of the Middle East stated the Lehi’s reference to the VALLEY being unmovable (rather than a mountain) is unique to that geographical area. The shifting of the sands could form hills which could be gone tomorrow but the valley remains.

Application: Obey quickly and without murmuring . Seek confirmation don’t just complain and back bite. Have enough faith to seek your own answers and truth.

1 Nephi 3: Laman and Lemuel were the first asked to go get the brass plates, but they murmured and said it was a hard thing to do. Only after nephi came to his father to share his revelation did Lehi go around Laman’s “birthright” and ask Nephi to get the plates. Nephi’s vision has shown him God’s plan and power. He accepts willingly knowing God will provide a way. Laman and Lemuel have to be coaxed, coddled and pacified throughout the hourney. Even an angel is sent down to intervene and speak to them, but as soon as the angel left they started again to murmur.

Application: A sign will not convince or convert-only the willing, humble heart can be changed. The Lord will not force anyone to believe, they must choose for themselves. In Verse 28 we learn that Laman was the leader/instigator and that Lemuel went along with whatever Laman said or did. Do we subject ourselves to someone else’s will-just to be popular?

1 Nephi 4: A disturbing chapter where Nephi is commanded to kill Laban. This brings a conflict between my western ideological and Christian theological upbringing and the ancient Judaic laws of justice and God’s knowledge of the plan of salvation and death. Laban had committed several acts that would have condemned him to death under the Judaic law---theft and intent to commit murder among others and had those acts been brought to the attention of a righteous earthly judge he would have been condemned and executed. Laban’s death was justified by all the laws of his time and place. God is the final judge as to whether our lives and actions are righteous. He also has a knowledge of each of us and our immortality. Our time here on this earth is such a small moment and God will be fair and merciful in His judgments of His children and since Laban is-despite the errors of his ways-a son of God, I believe he will have opportunity extended to him in the eternities in the form of the gospel and the atonement. Nephi’s willingness to obey God’s command to do this thing which went against everything he felt or had been taught testifies of the faith and trust he had in the Lord and also his character and his determination to be obedient in whatsoever thing the Lord asked of him. It reminds me of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac and his willingness to obey even such an incomprehensible command. It is counted as righteousness to be willing to obey all that we are commanded to do. The strength and power of an oath is illustrated in Zoram’s promise to accompany Nephi into the wilderness--“our fears did cease concerning him” they did not tie him up so he couldn’t escape or worry that he would murder them in their sleep. A man’s word was a bond.

Application: Do we honor and uphold the oaths and promises we have made? Do we live with exactness in regards to our baptismal, temple and family covenants? Do we seek to learn God’s will and then obey his commands?

I Nephi 5: In this chapter, Sariah falters in her faith and murmurs because of the tremendous fear she had concerning the welfare of her sons. But her fear and murmuring turn to praise of God and an experience that would build her testimony of God’s care. She rejoices and offers burnt offerings and vows to never doubt the Lord again. The obtaining of the brass plates was not the end of the commandments concerning them. Lehi immediately read and searched them. Lehi prophesied that the teachings of the brass plates will never dim but will be carried forth to all nations, tongues and people. The importance of genealogy and family history is put forth. Nephi states how important the plates are so “that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children.”

Application: Search the scriptures daily and keep a journal and seek out your family history.

1 Nephi 6: Nephi tells how the small gold plates are to be used to record the things of God for the good of men and his posterity. The things of the world will be/are recorded on other plates.

Application: By Nephi’s example we should keep two records. One of our spiritual dealings with God and our testimony. A record designed to uplift and bring the reader (our posterity) to God, and another journal that records our life and dealings with men.

1 Nephi 7: Lehi’s sons again return to Jerusalem to bring Ishmael and his family into the wilderness with them. Laman and Lemuel rebel again, this time convincing 2 of Ishmael’s son and 2 of his daughters to side with them against Nephi and their father Lehi. Nephi rehearses all that the Lord has done for them. He exhorts them to remember that the “Lord is able to do all things according to his will: if we have faith. He reminds them of the prophesies of the destruction of Israel. He emphasizes that they have a choice to follow God or to rebel against him. They choose to rebel and bound Nephi with strong cords and plot to kill him. Nephi prays to the Lord for strength and help. His bands are loosened and Ishmaels’s wife, a daughter and another son all plead for Nephi’s life. Hearts are softened and forgiveness sought. Nephi “frankly forgives them and the journey continues.

Application. I need to remember all my blessings and spiritual interactions with God and honor my children’s (other;s) choices, and forgive easily, quickly and freely.

1 Nephi 8:
This chapter records the vision of the Tree of Life and while I won’t go into the details, it is rich in symbolisms and insight into our life here on the earth--such as; the narrow path, the iron rod, the rich and spacious building and of course the Tree of Life with its most desirable fruit. As a parent, this vision really effects me. As I read of Lehi’s loving concern for his children and how he both beckons and calls to them to come and partake of the Tree of Life. And, how despite the marvelous vision, the sweetness of the fruit, etc., Lehi’s heart had to be broken to know that two of his eldest sons refused to be saved. Even though it was their choice not to come to the tree, it evokes such heart wrenching powerlessness in those that love them and deep heart searching to find if somehow there were things that as a parent he might have done differently to have influenced them to be more receptive. I also have had many dreams where in my young children were running towards a dangerous high precipice and all I could do I cry and beg them to stop and return before they would laughingly continue in a headlong rush over the edge without ever being aware of its presence (because they ignored all the counsel to the otherwise)

Application: Do both my actions and my words teach and testify of Christ and invite others to cling to the rod and follow the path to eternal life? As a parent do I truly take the time to teach my children the gospel and to rely on the Spirit so they can choose righteously?