120 Days Closer to Jesus Christ – Day One
Study Assignment: 1 Nephi 1-4
Daily Scripture: “Yeah, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come uponyou and which shall dwell in your heart.” – Doctrine & Covenants 8:2
“It is the right and privilege of every man, every woman, and every child who has reached the years of accountability, to enjoy the spirit of revelation, and to be possessed of the spirit of inspiration in the discharge of their duties as a member of the Church.”
– President Joseph F. Smith
I haven’t even done my first daily post yet, and I’m already behind! This is not a good sign. Haha. Our branch’s reading was supposed to start yesterday, and although I read, I didn’t get to the posting here on the blog. This quote makes me feel a lot better though.
“I have a new project to read one chapter a day from each of the standard works. I’ve been on it four days and I’m only three days behind.”
– Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley; wife of President Hinckley
I’ve always loved that quote.
Today I started a new job, had numerous errands to run, and had some car trouble. So day two of this 120 Days Closer to Jesus Christ is already starting off to be exciting.
What about last night’s reading though? Well, it was amazing!
I’ve always read from The Book of Mormon a lot. And in the past two years I have read it almost a dozen times. Each new reading brings new insights though. New guidance for my life. New revelation. There’s some really great quotes about how the scriptures don’t change, but we do, and that’s why they are always so fresh to us. However, a quick Google Search didn’t find me any of the quotes I’m thinking of. But I promise they exist! You might just have to find them yourselves…
Confession: I have a feeling that in the next 120 days you’ll get a pretty good idea of how scatter brained I am. (See paragraph above for proof.)
As I was reading last night though I thought to myself, “How am I going to coherently chronicle this? Will I be able to put into words on a blog how I’m drawing closer to Christ?” And I was even concerned, “Is it egotistical to chronicle my journey like this? Why should anyone care?”
Those are all things which I didn’t have immediate answers to. The chronicling I figured out. I’ll just ramble in type like I do when speaking to someone in person. Easy enough. Will I have the words that will make this journey worthwhile to you readers? Maybe. Maybe not. But hopefully the Spirit will attend whatever I might share. And as for my concerns about myself? Well, who cares? My blog isn’t about any self aggrandizing schemes. – Granted, I am pretty awesome, but there’s not need to flaunt that. – In reality, I know what a weary Saint I am. I know how I struggle daily, just like everyone else does. Sometimes the Cross of Christ is heavier than on other days, but He is always there to make the burdens lighter. And frankly, I am the weakest of the weak of the Saints. You could call me the lowest Common Denominator of Gospel Application. Perhaps my journey over the next 119 days might help show you that.
After much ado about nothing, what did I get out of last night’s reading?
A lot. I decided to “go the second mile” and actually start with the Introduction and Testimonies. It wasn’t on the reading schedule, but I figured it might count for extra credit or something (like a little gold star next to my name in the Book of Life).
If you’ve never read the history behind how the Introduction came into being, it is rather insightful. And, once again, I’ll let you find that yourself. What I love is the conciseness of it all though. Especially the last two paragraphs.
One simple line stuck out to me from the Testimony of the Three Witnesses that gets me every time: “And it is marvelous in our eyes.” I’ll bet it really was. There, in the woods behind Peter Whitmer’s farmhouse they heard the voice of the Lord. What an experience that must have been! And then the eight witnesses, gathered in the woods behind the Smith Home feeling of the plates. Oh to have been a fly on the wall…
Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith
One thing that struck me as I read this time was that in Moroni’s very first visit on the evening of 23 September he calls Joseph by name, introduces himself, tells Joseph he has a work to do, and immediately tells Joseph that his name will be had for good and evil among all nations. Moroni didn’t sugar coat it. He told him up front. And if I had been Joseph, I may have missed out on almost everything afterwards because my mind would have been reeling on the fact that people weren’t going to like me.
1 Nephi 1
V. 5 When I was an early morning seminary teacher I once taught an entire lesson on the word “heart” in The Book of Mormon. We had the lesson early on in the year so that for the rest of the book everyone would say loudly and unitedly “HEART!” every time we came to the word in the text while reading. Even back then I had never noticed that we’re only five verses into the text when the word “heart” appears for the first time.
The Book of Mormon is the greatest love story in the world. It’s about God’s love for us. About how we can grow our love for Him. And about how we can become the kind of men and women we need to be to truly fall in love with someone to enter into the temple to be sealed for eternity. It changes our hearts.
V.7 There’s lots of verses like this, and the footnotes will get you there. But there’s really nothing like being worn out by the Spirit. General Conference Sunday evenings are like that for me. Soooo drained.
Verses 11-15 & 18 always remind me of this quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race. This has been your feeling, and caused you to forego the pleasures of home, that you might be a blessing to others, who are candidates for immortality, but strangers to truth; and for so doing, I pray that heaven’s choicest blessings may rest upon you.” (See History of the Church, 4:226–27)
I love that once Lehi has read from the book he instantly begins to praise God and then decides to go and start sharing what he knows to be true. His heart (see verse 15) was filled, he was converted even more to the Lord, and he just had to share it with others.
Sometimes, when driving down the rural roads of Alabama, I just want to stop my car, knock on every single door, and tell folks, “Hey! Did you know God has called a prophet in our day?!”
The Gospel rocks.
And I know when I’m not feeling like teaching others the Doctrine of Christ or bringing others to the ordinances of the Gospel, something is wrong with me. I’m spiritually sick so to speak. And I need some medication to get well.
1 Nephi 2
Vs. 4-5 It doesn’t matter how many times I read this, I am still amazed at Lehi’s obedience and sacrifice. It reminds me of the saying,
Some people are so poor, the only thing they have is money.
Lehi knew better and built up for himself eternal rewards, and brought the important things (his family) with him.
V.7 The first thing Lehi does once his tent is set up is offer sacrifice and thanks. Lesson: Priorities.
V.11 This is the first time Lehi is called a visionary man. Sariah will call him this later on. Despite the negative connotation Lehi’s family will use with the term, I find it a very deep compliment. How hard that must have been though to have his own family essentially mocking his sacred experiences/visions from the Lord. That has to cut deep.
V. 12 Laman and Lemuel murmered because they didn’t “know” of the dealings of God. My thoughts: Murmering comes from lack of testimony.
V. 17 After receiving his testimony Nephi goes to teach Sam about the Gospel by the Holy Spirit. – There is no other way to teach it.
V. 18 We’re only in Chapter 2 and this little “heart” word has already came up multiple times.
V. 20 The first time we’ll here this amazing promise (which is still just as applicable today for us as it was then for them).
1 Nephi 3
V. 5 Everyone gets all excited for the verse coming up in a couple of lines, but this is the beginning of the pivotal passage for me. Lehi teaches an important truth to Nephi here:
Sometimes we think our Priesthood Leaders are requiring difficult things of us, but it is really just the Lord. End of story.
V. 7 This is one of those where I think we just lack faith sometimes. “Will God realllly help me if I pay this whole 10% of tithing?” or “Am I really ever going to find a spouse? There’s just no one around!”
He’s prepared the way. Sometimes we just need to buck up and wait to see His preparation for us come to pass (myself included).
V. 26 Nothing too spiritual here. I just like the way Nephi says “and we were obliged to leave behind our property”. It makes me laugh every time. Ol’ Nephi had a little bit of a sense of humor about him I think.
V. 28 I think it is interesting that Lemuel hearkens to the words of Laman. There’s a great influence we all carry with us. Laman, as eldest brother, could have been a strong example of faith and obedience for his little brothers. Instead, he murmured, and brought those around him with him.
Vs. 29 – 31 Remember what I said about Murmuring = Lack of testimony. This here proves it. Nephi had prayed and had his heart changed. He was touched by the Spirit. His older brothers had “hard hearts”, and even when an angel appears to them they continue to murmur. The words of President Joseph Fielding Smith come to mind:
“When a man has the manifestation from the Holy Ghost, it leaves an indelible impression on his soul, one that is not easily erased. It is Spirit speaking to spirit, and it comes with convincing force. A manifestation of an angel, or even of the Son of God himself, would impress the eye and mind, and eventually become dimmed, but the impressions of the Holy Ghost sink deeper into the soul and are more difficult to erase” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 2:151).
President Smith also said, “Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fibre and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:48).
Sacred experiences are wonderful. But I am right thankful for a testimony grown through the power and influence of the Holy Spirit.
1 Nephi 4
Vs. 1-3 Nephi’s unshakabe faith really shines here. It reminds me of the verbal smackdown he’ll do on his brother in Chapter 17 here in a few days.
V. 6 Sometimes we have to implement that 1 Nephi 3:7 faith, move our feet, experience some of this 1 Nephi 4:6 walking in the dark, and then find what the Lord has in store for us. (Easy to say; hard to do!)
Vs. 10-13 I admit to not having sufficient words to convey my feelings here. This is a difficult passage for some. But for me, suffice it so say that I am once again impressed with Nephi’s faith. How many of us can say we are close enough to the Lord to hear the Spirit so strongly in our lives?
V. 18 Once again Nephi’s example. Life Goal: Always obey the voice of the Spirit.
Vs. 28-29 This is pure speculation and The Gospel According to Stan, but I like to picture Nephi getting a good scare out of his older brothers here. Maybe he pretended to be Laban just a little too long, causing his brothers to flee in fear? Hehehe.
V. 31 Okay. We get it Nephi, you’re buff. Big deal. But, what impresses me is that Nephi credits the Lord for his strength. I’m sure he could have said in the record, “And I Nephi, having been rather built because of my awesome weight training…” But instead he credits the Lord for his strength. Both him and his father are always giving glory to God for the simply things. This makes me wonder if I am giving enough glory to God?…
Vs. 32-35 These aren’t the first oaths we see in The Book of Mormon. Nephi has already spoken one to his brethren earlier on. But this just boils down to the worth of a man (or woman) and his (or her) word. There’s such implicit trust placed in these oaths that neither Zoram or Nephi’s family ever express a fear of betrayal. Life Goal: To have honor in my word.
This is just my reading from last night, and I already feel closer to my Lord. I’m excited to read the next few chapters and share my experiences with them.
I love The Book of Mormon!
– Stan Way
If you’re not a Mormon and you’ve stumbled upon this blog post somehow, thank you for reading. But don’t stop reading now! Please click here or on the “I’m a Mormon” picture on the side of the page, and take a few moments to learn more. When I was a young man some Mormon Missionaries knocked on my door and gave me a copy of The Book of Mormon, and it has changed my life drastically for the better. The Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ, teaches that He is our Savior, and shows how we can return to live with him some day. I know it is the Word of God to be used alongside the Holy Bible. So please click on the links above. And thanks again for reading.