Monday, June 30, 2014

2 Nephi 8

There is great advice in this chapter!  Awake!  Shake off the dust of fear (v. 25).  Come out of your captivity.  Trust in the Lord.  He pleads before the Father for you (v. 22).  Fear not to be righteous.  And look to your family for strength.  Even to your extended ancestry (v. 1).  For there is strength in knowing who you are.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

2 Nephi 7

Christ is speaking to us in this chapter.  In verse 6 He tells us what He would be able to endure as though it had already happened.  Note that being smitten and having hair plucked off the face are both references to slavery in His day and time.  Shame and spitting have an even more direct reference to the Crucifixion, and also refers to the humility of slavery, for crucifixion was the favored method of killing rebellious slaves.  In verse 5 the Savior points out “I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.”  How was He able to endure the shame of the Crucifixion?  See verse 7:  “For the Lord God will help me….”  The Lord God will help us, also, if we follow the Savior’s example of suffering humility, if necessary, to keep our covenants.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

2 Nephi 6

Why is it a good idea to study the words of Isaiah?  So “that ye may learn and glorify the name of your God.” (v. 4)   He will manifest himself in power and great glory “to the destruction of [Israel’s] enemies” when they come to believe in him.  “The Mighty God” will deliver his covenant people, “and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” (verses 14 – 15)   Isaiah testified of Jesus Christ in sublime language.

Friday, June 27, 2014

2 Nephi 5

As a wedding gift, one of our friends gave my husband and I a silver platter engraved with our names, our wedding date and the scripture reference 2 Nephi 5:27.  When we looked it up, we learned her wish for us:  “And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.”  That became a challenge for us, and so far, we've had success with it.  Happiness is not something that is just handed to you.  It requires work and attention to live “after the manner of happiness.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

2 Nephi 4

After Lehi’s death, Nephi records a beautiful “psalm,” which begins in verse 16 and continues to the end of the chapter.  The sublime and timeless language doesn’t require much comment.  So I simply share my favorite excerpts:
v. 19 – And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins, nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
v. 20 – My God hath been my support.
v. 26 – If the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men (the Lord’s condescension refers to His coming to earth to die for us) hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow…because of mine afflictions?
v. 28 – Awake my soul!  No longer droop in sin.  Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
v. 31 – O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul?  …Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?
v. 34 – O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever.

v. 35 – I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh…therefore I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2 Nephi 3

Darkness, even hidden darkness, is compared to captivity, whereas the light of the knowledge of the Messiah is compared to freedom.  When “darkened” people begin to allow the Savior into their lives, their countenances begin to change and they literally become enlightened.  What freedom does knowing that we have a Savior afford us?  Think about that today, and enjoy tomorrow's chapter after doing so!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2 Nephi 2

Lehi taught us in verse 4 that salvation is free.  Because of the Fall of Adam, mankind was cut off from the Lord’s presence (Genesis 3:23).  We were also cut off spiritually, thereby becoming, as Lehi phrased it, miserable.  Redemption from misery comes in and through the Holy Messiah (v. 6).  Lucifer, having fallen from Heaven (see Luke 10:18) became miserable and sought the misery of all mankind.  His plan had been to prevent man’s choices, and thus to act upon mankind.  Heavenly Father’s plan was for man to act for himself, not to be acted upon.  As we make choices, whenever we yield ourselves over to the adversary, we lose a portion of our God-given freedom, and allow ourselves to be acted upon.  Use of harmful substances, for example, can become an addiction.  When that happens it acts upon us, and our freedom to not use them becomes tethered, requiring an enormous effort to overcome.  Let us claim our God-given freedoms.  How?  Lehi put it well in verses 28-29 when he exhorted his sons to look to the great Mediator, hearken to His commandments, be faithful to His words, and choose eternal life.

Monday, June 23, 2014

2 Nephi 1

In the Promised Land, aged Lehi begins a lengthy address to his family, some of which are righteous, and others who struggle with righteousness.  He said to his sons (v. 15) “But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.”  Our souls are redeemed from hell through the atonement of Jesus Christ.  When Lehi says he beheld the Lord’s glory, I don’t pretend to know what it is he saw.  But knowing that the work and the glory of the Lord is to bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life of man (Moses 1:39), Lehi had undoubtedly seen the glory of the Lord in the countenances of redeemed members of his family.  This joy could be compared to being “encircled about in the arms of [the Lord’s] love.”

Sunday, June 22, 2014

1 Nephi 22

 After Nephi read some of Isaiah’s writings to his brethren, they came to him asking for clarification of what he had read them.  And what a blessing for us that they did!  He explained that what he read to them from Isaiah shows that the Lord’s covenant to Abraham that all the earth shall be blessed through his seed will be fulfilled through the record he is keeping (that is, the Book of Mormon).  He specifically explained it this way:  Because of the way the House of Israel would treat the Holy One of Israel, they would be scattered among all nations.  After that scattering a mighty nation of Gentiles would be raised up on the American continent, which would scatter the seed of Lehi.  Afterward the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, which is filled with teachings about Jesus Christ, is to gather the seed of Lehi, the Gentiles and all of scattered Israel together into the True Fold (see verses 7 – 9).

Saturday, June 21, 2014

1 Nephi 21

Here Nephi quotes a chapter from the Book of Isaiah he found on the brass plates containing a copy of the scriptures.  How I love verse 16 where the Lord tells us “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.”  He is talking of remembering us and uses several examples where it is almost impossible for a person to forget another person.  As hard as those examples are, they can be accomplished.  But because of the Atonement, it is impossible for the Lord to forget you and me.  The scars He obtained from the prints of the nails in His hands when He was crucified remind Him of us.  He allowed Himself to be crucified because of His incredible love for each of us.  He was born to die for us, hence we are engraved “upon the palms of [His] hands.”

Friday, June 20, 2014

1 Nephi 20

In verse 18 we learn that if we hearken to the commandments we’ll have peace like a river and our righteousness will be like the waves of the sea.  Interesting analogies.  “Peace as a river” conjures up images of wide, deep, calm waters.  A river moves from place to place and is never stagnant.  Rivers are what people live near.  They provide transportation and are life sustaining (like the Nile).  “Righteousness as the waves of the sea” refers to a different sort of body of water.  Waves denote strength and relentlessness.  Righteousness doesn’t usually have that reputation, but it surely deserves it, as righteousness born of hearkening to the Lord’s commandments wreaks havoc on the designs of the adversary.  Living the commandments brings a deep abiding peace and an unconquerable righteousness which will bring us joy in this life and the promise of life eternal in the world to come.  Let us then hearken to the Lord’s commandments, especially giving attention to the first and great commandment to love the Lord with all our heart, mind and strength.  And remember the second, also – to love our neighbor (and spouse and family) as ourselves.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

1 Nephi 19

In verse 19 as Nephi predicts (about 590 years BC) how the world will treat the Jesus and his teachings, he describes the Savior’s “loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.”  That is an exact description of the Savior I know.  He has always treated me with loving kindness, even when I've not been kind.  He puts up with all my shortcomings and failures and loves me just the same.  He knows us – he knows our best and he knows our worse – and He loves us so much He gave His life for us.  His is the greatest of all love.  I hope you know Him like I do.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

1 Nephi 18

What an admirable soul Nephi is!  Once underway crossing the ocean in the ship Nephi built, to stop his righteous example and allow them to party in as lascivious a way as they pleased, Laman and Lemuel restrained Nephi by tying up his wrists and ankles so tightly that he couldn't even move.  A very dangerous storm came up and three horrific days at sea passed before Laman and Lemuel decided to release Nephi.  And even though his wrists and ankles were swollen and very sore, according to verse 16 Nephi hadn’t complained, but had only found reason to praise God in his prayers while he was bound.

To see an artist's rendition of their arrival to the promised land click here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

1 Nephi 17

After eight years of travelling in the wilderness, Lehi’s band came to a place they appropriately named Bountiful.  As they had been told they would receive a Promised Land for their inheritance, beautiful and rich Bountiful must have held much promise in their sight.  Possibly they concluded their journey was over, for it was after “the space of many days” that Nephi was commanded to build a ship to continue their journey across the ocean.  Life is forever throwing us curve balls, isn’t it?  As I read of Lehi’s people constantly picking up and starting over, I look to them as an example of what being flexible looks like.

For an artist's rendering of this chapter, click here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

1 Nephi 16

In verse 29 we learn that sometimes by small means the Lord brings about great things.  The liahona was a small thing which led Lehi’s family through the wilderness to the Promised Land.  John the Baptist was one person who singlehandedly pointed many on the right path to salvation through Jesus Christ.   The entire world was saved by someone born as a single little baby who slept in a manger.  The fullness of the gospel was restored through a simple 14-year old boy.  The equation can be represented like this:  small means + the Lord = great things.  What can the Lord do through you?

For an artist's depiction of Lehi's finding the liahona, click here.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

1 Nephi 15

Check our verse 18.  How will all the kindreds of the earth be blessed through the seed of Abraham?  The more I read the Book of Mormon, the more I am convinced of the following:  After the Jews rejected the Savior, He began to manifest Himself to the Gentiles – and indeed to all nations – through the Bible, which much, if not all, was written by descendants of Abraham and through the Book of Mormon, which was largely written by Lehi’s posterity (also descendants of Abraham).  In addition I believe that the Jews will eventually accept the Savior through the instrument of the Book of Mormon.  I believe that it is in this way that all nations of the earth will be blessed with a knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the seed of Abraham.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

1 Nephi 14

In verse 14 Nephi saw that the saints and the covenant people of the Lord prepared themselves for battle, for they were “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.”  This reminds me of Paul’s encouragement in Ephesians chapter 6 for us to put on the “whole armour of God.”  In that analogy to arm ourselves with the power of God requires on our part truth, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation.  Paul continues telling us that once armed, we still need to pray and to watch. This is what we need to have to share in the power of God as we fight our battles against the adversary.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

1 Nephi 13

The Gentiles spoken of in verse 16 include the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.  Note that according to Nephi, they humbled themselves, which made the power of the Lord available to them.  This is how they were able to overcome other, stronger nations.  Think about it.  With the power of the Lord what could you, your marriage or your family overcome?  Is it worth humbling yourself?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

1 Nephi 12

We’re all familiar with the adversary’s mists of darkness, which can tempt us and blind us and harden our hearts.  It’s not like falling off a cliff.  It’s more like gradually losing your way without even noticing it.  How do you know if you’re lost?  Look for broad roads (see verse 17), which is the way to become lost in pride and hardheartedness.  On a broad road?  Look to the Light of the World, our Savior, and follow His lead back to the straight and narrow path to salvation.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

1 Nephi 11

This begins Nephi’s record of the same dream or vision his father recounted in Chapter 8 regarding the Tree of Life.  As Nephi’s record is more detailed and informative, so to have our own testimony of things is better than having to rely on someone else’s testimony. 

In Nephi’s account of the Tree of Life dream/vision, we learn that the great and spacious building represented the pride of the world.  I believe that all arguing, and much if not all contention, has its root in pride.  Let us shun the great and spacious building and ignore its inhabitants and rid ourselves of pride.  Let us turn to the Savior and ask His help to rid ourselves of pride.  

For an artist's painting of the Tree of Life dream, click here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

1 Nephi 10

In verse 11, Lehi spoke to his family about the Jews’ dwindling in unbelief.  Similarly, marriages don’t always just fail.  The strength in them dwindles away a little at a time.  By the same token, the strength in marriage isn’t at full strength in the beginning, either.  It develops a little at a time.  A marriage is a living thing that requires nourishment.  The best way to nourish a marriage was “prepared for all…from the foundation of the world” (verse 18).  It is to rely on the gospel of the Redeemer (see verse 6).

Monday, June 9, 2014

1 Nephi 9

When Nephi tells us he’s keeping two records he admits he has no idea why the Lord commanded him to make a second set.  Nephi realizes that the Lord knew the purpose, and to his credit, that is enough for him.  We, centuries later, do know why the Lord commanded Nephi to make two records, and we can see the wisdom of the Lord’s having him do so.  Being able to see that, consider this:  When the Spirit of the Lord inspires us to do something, can’t we just trust the Lord knows what He’s doing and let that be enough?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

1 Nephi 8

In Lehi’s recounting of his dream of the tree of life, we see several good thoughts about family.  When he partook of the precious fruit, Lehi’s first thought was to share this blessing with his family and he sought for them.  Sariah also partook of the fruit, showing that she and Lehi were both followers of Christ.  It is very helpful in a marriage to be equally yoked.  Finally, Lehi didn’t recount his important dream to some of his family only, he explained it in a family council, all at the same time.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

1 Nephi 7

1 Nephi 7

In verse 12 Nephi testifies of the Lord reminding us that “the Lord is able to do all things according to his will for the children of men” if we exercise faith in Him.  Let us be faithful to the Lord, for He is mighty to save.  In verse 8 we learn that it is important to perpetuate the family.  Who sets the good example in my family?  Let me follow that individual as Sam did Nephi.  In verses 20 – 21, given the teachings in these verses, I say let us plead for forgiveness when we need to, and let us frankly forgive those who seek our forgiveness.

Friday, June 6, 2014

1 Nephi 6

A short little chapter with a lot of food for thought.  In verse 4 I’m led to ask myself, what is “the fullness of mine intent?”  Is my eye single to the glory of God?  Isn't that what this verse describes; the work and glory of God?
In verse 1, we’re reminded that both Nephi and Lehi kept their own records of the same family events, suggesting to me that each of us should keep a journal, regardless of whether or not other loved ones are.

Finally in verse 6, as Nephi commanded his seed not to occupy the record he began with things that are not of worth, so we should encourage our loved ones (and ourselves) not to occupy their/our lives with unworthy things.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

1 Nephi 5

While Nephi and his brothers were away obtaining the brass plates for their family’s improvement, the problems they ran into caused a delay in their return to their parents in the wilderness.  Naturally, their mother was worried, and even distraught, fearing something had happened to her sons.  Rarely do we hear women speak in the scriptures, but Chapter 5 of 1st Nephi contains a wonderful example of a couple working together through a problem.  Lehi’s wife, Sariah, complained to Lehi with a bold freedom of expression.  She enumerated the wrongs she felt he had committed.  As she spoke, Lehi listened to her concerns.  When she had expressed all she felt, Lehi spoke, and Sariah listened.  And rather than Lehi using his comments to refute Sariah’s opinion, or to cause her to regret how she felt, Nephi tells us that his father used his comments to comfort his mother.  In a world so filled with harshness, it’s nice to come across an example of a soft answer turning away wrath.  (See Proverbs 15:1)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

1 Nephi 4

More evidence today that the Lord knows us individually.  As Nephi and his brethren returned to their city to obtain a copy of the scriptures to take with them in the wilderness, they ran into, shall we say, obstacles to that task.  Nephi was finally able to obtain that copy, but it was in a way he wouldn’t have considered on his own.  Previously, the brothers consulted together and made plans for getting the brass plates on which this copy of the scriptures had been engraved, but their plans had all failed.  On the successful attempt Nephi went alone without a plan, and said he was “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.”  When he was being beaten by a rod, the Lord sent an angel to help Nephi.  In this case, the Lord sent His Spirit to help.  That’s how the Lord usually deals with us individually – through His Holy Spirit.  When we feel that influence, we can know the Lord knows us individually.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

1 Nephi 3

The Lord knows us individually.  Verses 28 – 30 give an example of this truth.  Angry with their younger (and faithful) brothers, Laman and Lemuel sought to establish their authority over Nephi and Sam by beating them with a rod.  As they did so, an angel appeared to stop the abuse.  The Lord had His eye on Nephi and Sam and intervened on their behalf.  That was around 600 B.C.  He has His eye on us today, as well, but the angels he sends to help us are usually other people.   May we follow the Savior’s teachings and example to such a degree that He can send us to be the answer to the prayers of someone who needs His intervention.

Monday, June 2, 2014

1 Nephi 2

When catastrophes strike, our perspective really changes.  In the case of Lehi, his life was in danger, so the Lord commanded him to leave his city and to take the most important thing with him.  What is the most important thing?  The Lord told Lehi to take his family with him.  Michael Novak wrote, “One unforgettable law has been learned painfully through all the oppressions, disasters, and injustices of the last thousand years:  if things go well with the family, life is worth living; when the family falters life falls apart.” (“The Family Out of Favor, “Harper’s Magazine 252, no. 1511 (1 April 1976), 38.)  Lehi was a man of means, indeed he was a wealthy man.  When he left his city he left behind all his material goods and only took with him his family, food and shelter.  Hopefully, we can direct our perspective to the most important things without being forced by disaster to do so.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

1 Nephi 1

1 Nephi 1

After Lehi’s “first vision” he went home to collapse (home should be the best place to rest, shouldn't it?), where he received more of the vision.  Check out verse 14.  In the praise that Lehi exults to the Lord we can find a message for how we can make home a place of safety for all.  Of the Lord Lehi exclaimed, “because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish.”  If we wish to follow Christ we will show mercy to those who come into our home.  Let us be merciful and not allow our loved ones to perish from our lack of mercy.

(At the link above you can read 1 Nephi Chapter 1)