120 Days Closer to Jesus Christ – Day Three
Study Assignment: 1 Nephi 8 — 10
Daily Scripture: “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart.” – Proverbs 3:3
When Mother Teresa received her Nobel Peace Price she was asked the question, ” What can we do to promote world peace?” She replied simply, “Go home and love your family.”
I am worn plumb out. New job. Church stuff. Family. Daily crises of multiple forms and fashions. And, to top it all off, I have this giant pimple on my forehead that looks like a red-faced chubby gremlin that got stuck to my head in some sort of Frankenstein-Like experiment. I can literally feel my pulse via in the little gremlin guy.
Thanks Acne Fairy for blessing me.
Thus is life.
At the beginning of the “120 Days Closer to Jesus Christ” booklet that we received on Sunday there is the list of habits I am supposed to be practicing, and I am doing rather well. The two I feel like I might be struggling at though are these.
- Commit to say only positive and uplifting statements about others.
- Serve one person daily.
My mouth is my weakness, and sometimes it just flies loose with my highly esteemed opinions. I’m trying hard to overcome this (and have been for years). This commitment has me working extra hard though, and although I’ve only slipped up a couple of times, I want my mouth to be filled with words of truth and love. Paul’s words come to mind,
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
- Ephesians 4:29
Sometimes I feel like the only way to tame my tongue would be to cut it out. Luckily the Lord spoke of our right hand offending us and cutting it off, because if He had said tongue, I would probably have to get in line for the guy with the scissors.
I’m also trying hard at this “serve one person daily” thing, but sometimes it’s hard to help those who don’t want the help, whether it is temporal or spiritual. – I suppose the Lord has great sorrow over those who don’t accept His service of sacrifice through the Atonement, but He has infinite love… – I have a hard time persisting in helping those who don’t seem to want to help themselves. That’s a personal fault, and I’m working on changing it.
So it’s day three already. Time seems to be flying. Not only are we already complete with the first ten chapters of The Book of Mormon, but this blog post also just so happens to be my 100th published post. It’s hard to comprehend that by the end of this project I’ll have over 200 published posts. Like I said last night, it’s too late to quit now. Besides, I am liking the rigorous pace.
1 Nephi 8
V. 2 I wonder if when Lehi gathered his family together to tell them, “Hey kids, I had another vision,” if Laman and Lemuel were in the back of the crowd exchanging looks as if to say, “Crazy old visionary man.” – I can’t really say it enough, but I think to be called a visionary man is a huge compliment. Kudos to Lehi.
Before I go any further here, I want to share this graphic though from The Book of Mormon Student Manual used in the Church’s Institutes of Religion. I know of at least two recent converts who are following along on the blog here, and I want them to get the full meaning of the symbolism we’re about to encounter in our reading. So here it is.
V. 12 I love that when Lehi partakes of the fruit of the Tree of Life the first thing he wants to do is share that joy with his family. What a true patriarch.
Vs. 21-22 It has always amazed me at the “numberless concourses of people” that “commenced” on the journey to the Tree of Life, but would never make it. How many people do we know that have started down the Gospel Path, entered the waters of baptism, but been lured away from the Iron Rod?
V. 23 I like the word that Nephi used here and Joseph Smith translated. “Wandered”. Upon consulting once again with my good friend Merriam-Webster, I find that to wander is “to walk or move in a leisurely, casual, or aimless way”. The amount of leisurely feelings and apathy within the world and even within the Church is staggering. It brings to mind the words of the Lord,
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
V. 24 Once again, Nephi and Joseph’s choice of words here is terrific. To cling is to hold fast or adhere to something, as by grasping, sticking, embracing, or entwining, and to resist separation. That’s some might strong love for the Iron Rod.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, a former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained not only the importance of “holding fast” to the rod but also explained how to get back if we lose our hold:
“You must hold firmly to the rod of iron through the mists and darknesses, the hardships and trials of life. If you relax your grip and slip from the path, the iron rod might become lost in the darkness for a time until you repent and regain your grasp of it.” – From the October 1989 General Conference of the Church
V. 27 Yes. The world mocks us. And sadder still, many of our own faith mock the more faithful, but those in that great and spacious building will eventually feel its foundations crumble.
V. 31 Next to this verse I have written: This is a “How much can I sin?” kind of attitude.
V. 34 This is the scariest part of the whole vision for me. While it is strikingly beautiful with the Tree of Life, it is also strikingly grim with the opposing great and spacious building. Frankly, just thinking of the place gives me the creeps. But what scares me is that “as many as heeded” those in the spacious building fell away. Life Goal: Pay no heed to those who mock and scorn the Gospel.
1 Nephi 9
This is one of just many points in The Book of Mormon where we’re told of the other records, how there’s so much that couldn’t be written on “these plates”, and of the overall commandment to write only the best of the best on the plates. When I was younger I would often think, “Jeez Nephi, if the room was so precious why did you and all of your ancestors waste soooo much room telling us how there wasn’t a lot of room and to keep it brief?!” As I’ve matured I’ve come to realize that maybe it is the prophets’ way and the Lord’s way to continually remind us that The Book of Mormon truly is the best of the best.
It’s been some real food for thought for me.
1 Nephi 10
Vs. 4-6 The first use of the word “Messiah” in The Book of Mormon, and a time frame for when He would come.
Vs. 7-10 Have you ever noticed in the New Testament how John the Baptist appears, starts dunking people in water “baptizing” them, and the Scribes and Pharisees don’t freak out over this weird and freakish ordinance? It is a clue to all that the Doctrine of Christ, including baptism, has been around since the beginning of time. And in these verses we see baptism taught plainly 600 years before Christ would come.
V. 11 Well there’s the Cliff Notes to the New Testament if I ever did see them.
Vs. 12-14 The footnote to Genesis 49 is mighty important here, and something that most of the world just doesn’t understand.
Vs. 17 Nephi was awesome. Sure, he wanted to see his dad’s vision, but he truly wanted to know that Lehi’s vision was true “by the power of the Holy Ghost”. As mentioned yesterday, there is no greater witness than that given by the power of the Holy Spirit.
V. 19 Nephi has used that word “diligently” twice now in reference to gaining testimony. The Gospel is a Pearl of Great Price, and cannot be gained by that leisurely attitude I’ve already referenced. Testimony is gained, and kept, only through hard work and obedience.
Vs. 20-21 I wanted to talk a little bit about this at the beginning of reading at Verse 8 of the first chapter.
I often think of coming before God the Father’s throne of grace, and kneeling at the judgement seat.
I don’t believe I’ve ever shared that with an individual, and I consider it a very sacred thing to me. However, it is something I ponder in my mind’s eye, often during prayer, so as to know more fully the things I must do in my life to get my life on the proper course. I often think of Isaiah’s experience before the Lord and having his sin purged, and in those reverent moments when I picture myself kneeling before God’s throne, the shortcomings I have in my life are made self evident, and I know what needs to be purged.
I want to be clean, and I want to get back to my Heavenly Father’s presence.
That whole being “cast off forever” thing isn’t for me.
I hope that during the next 118 days I get a little closer to being as clean as I need to be, and I hope that you join me in growing closer to the Lord. If you haven’t started reading with me and the rest of my branch yet, it’s not too late to join in!
- Stan Way
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