Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jacob 6

Many of us have a difference between our “roots” and our “branches” when we think one way, but act another.  The root is good (we have a testimony), but the fruit is mixed (we pay tithing, but we don’t always do our Home Teaching).  If we were judged strictly on our actions, most of us wouldn’t come anywhere near Christ’s standard.  Verse 4 offers a great hope!  We’ll be judged by our intentions as well as our actions.  In His long-suffering patience, the Lord remembers “both roots and branches.”  Could we do the same for each other?  What would happen if we withheld judgment of each other’s actions (branches) until we have considered their point of view, or how much they mean to us (roots)?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jacob 5

Verses 47 – 51 show how we can work together with someone to solve a problem.  In verse 47 the Lord of the vineyard, who has had a good idea and has worked long and hard to make it work, is at his wits’ end.  His servant suggests a theory and the Lord listens.  In verse 49, the Lord of the vineyard wants to give up: “Let’s just cut down the whole thing!”  The servant simply replies in verse 50 “Spare it a little longer.”  The Lord of the vineyard agrees and they work together to solve the problem.  Two viewpoints helped.  So did patience, long-suffering and working together.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jacob 4

Jacob taught his brethren the same things we should be learning.  For example, in verse 4 we he states “We knew of Christ and we had a hope of his glory.”  Verse 11 teaches us to “be reconciled to [God] through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son.”  And in verse 11 we’re encouraged to “Speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him.”  Everything we should teach each other has its basis in these things that Jacob taught the Nephites.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Jacob 3

Because the Lamanites obeyed a commandment from Lehi that the Nephites weren’t obeying, namely to only have one wife, the Lord promised to bless the Lamanites.  As a matter of fact, He says “The Lord God will not destroy them; and one day they shall become a blessed people” (v. 6).  Why exactly?  Look at verse 7.  “Behold their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children.”  If we followed this example of the Lamanites, would we be similarly blessed?  I don’t know.  But what could it possibly hurt if we tried?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Jacob 2

Here we find the first of many examples of the Nephites meeting with prosperity, followed by pride over their clothing (v. 13).  With the Nephites, their pride often seems to start with their clothing.  And as the Book of Mormon was written for our benefit, perhaps we should pay close attention to this.  It isn’t the clothing that’s the problem, of course – it’s the pride.  Jacob begs his people (and us) to not allow “this pride of your hearts to destroy your souls!” (v. 16).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jacob 1

The Nephites knew a great many things about Christ in lots of detail for they had “many revelations and the spirit of much prophecy” (v. 6).  This, of course, came from faith on their part – or at least on the part of their leaders.  But in verse 5 Jacob mentions something coupled with faith that may have intensified the Spirit: anxiousness.  Not only did Nephi have great faith in his father’s dream about the tree of life, but he also had a great desire, or we could say he was anxious, to know what the dream meant.  In his anxious faith, Nephi received the greatest prophesy of his life, which was then backed up by the writings of Isaiah he discovered on the brass plates.

Friday, July 25, 2014

2 Nephi 33

This is a nice summary of the Book of Mormon thus far.  Nephi has only written that which is designed to persuade us to do good, to let the posterity of Lehi know about their ancestors, to speak of Jesus and persuade us to endure to the end (see verse 4).  At the same time, Nephi has spoken harshly against sin in a plain fashion.  He knows that what he has written, which he feels to be inadequate, will someday be a strength to his posterity.  Of all Nephi has written, his last chapter teaches us the most about Nephi himself.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

2 Nephi 32

We are familiar with the phrase “feast upon the word” and we automatically think of the written word of Christ.  We’re grateful for additional scriptures that give us more of His word.  But look at this chapter again and you’ll find that the word of Christ Nephi speaks of is personal revelation through the Holy Ghost (see verses 2, 3 and 5), which will tell us what to do once we have entered the path.  It is a challenge to recognize and follow personal revelation.  Thank goodness we live in a time when there are living prophets to help illuminate the way.  But that doesn’t negate the need, nor the Lord’s desire, for us to follow promptings of the Spirit.  How can we do this?  Nephi teaches us the way to develop the ability: prayer as explained in verses 8 and 9.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2 Nephi 31

The first principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.  I’ve often heard it said that a fifth principle should be added:  endure to the end.  In verse 16 Nephi defines enduring to the end as “following the example of the Son of the living God.”  To get to that stage, Nephi explains in verse 19 we must display “unshaken faith in [Christ], relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.”  So we follow the Lord’s example and endure to the end by “press[ing] forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men….feasting upon the words of Christ…” (v. 20).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

2 Nephi 30

Here we learn that the peace of the millennium will be brought about by Satan’s inability to influence people (v. 18).  And what shall disable him?  In verse 15 we learn that the earth will be “full of the knowledge of the Lord.”  So it stands to reason that increasing our knowledge of the Savior will diminish the influence of the Adversary on us and increase peace in our lives.  The Book of Mormon is one way to learn more about the Savior, as is simply following His example.

Monday, July 21, 2014

2 Nephi 29

In verse 9 the Lord God of Hosts says “because I have spoken one word (the Holy Bible) ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another (the Book of Mormon and the record of the lost tribes yet to come); for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.”  Given that the Lord’s work is not finished, and that He will continue to work forever, can we be patient with each other’s faults until the Lord’s work is done?  If we can, we will be more like Christ.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

2 Nephi 28

2 Nephi 28

If you've ever wondered how far Christ’s atonement reaches, read verse 19.  Does this indicate that the atonement can reach even into the very kingdom of the devil to be available to those who haven’t been completely claimed?  I can’t answer the question, but I do know this:  “I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts” (v. 32).

Saturday, July 19, 2014

2 Nephi 27

“I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith” (v. 23).  Unbelievers weren’t allowed to translate the Book of Mormon from reformed Egyptian into English, but that task fell to a faithful young man.  It is a gift to all who sincerely seek the truth.  Those who reject the Book of Mormon cut themselves off from greater truth.  Those who accept and love the Book of Mormon, like those who accept and love the Holy Bible, obtain truth upon truth through the Holy Ghost.  This is how the Lord works among the children of men.

Friday, July 18, 2014

2 Nephi 26

The Lord does not work in darkness, but he does work in plainness.  He works for the benefit of the world, not for its destruction.  Finally, He only does that which is good among the children of men.  (See verses 23, 24 and 33.)  Given these criteria it becomes easier to find the Lord and to follow Him.  He is the Light of the world and He gave His life for His children.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

2 Nephi 25

Nephi writing more than 500 years BC sums up plainly all that he has quoted from Isaiah thus:  As one generation among the Jews was destroyed because of their iniquity, so shall it happen over and over throughout history.  There will be wars and rumors of war so that when the Messiah comes among them in the flesh, they will reject Him because of their iniquities and pride.  They will crucify Him, but he will rise the third day and manifest Himself to the believers.  After that, both Jerusalem and Babylon will be destroyed.  The Jews will then be scattered by other nations for many generations until the time that they shall begin to be persuaded to believe in Christ.  Then the Lord will again move to restore the Jews from their lost and fallen state.  How?  By bringing forth the record Nephi is keeping (the Book of Mormon) which has the purpose of convincing the Jews of the true Messiah thy rejected.  For this reason, Nephi taught his people to speak of, rejoice in, preach and prophesy of Christ so their children could know to what source they could look for a remission of their sins (v 26).

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

2 Nephi 24

One last time Nephi delights in the power of the Lord.  This chapter is filled with hope.  The Lord’s promise is clear:  even though Jerusalem would be destroyed as Israel was destroyed and its surviving inhabitants taken captive, there would be some who would return from captivity.  And Babylon would be destroyed.  “Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass,” said the Lord (v. 24).  Projecting this forward to the Second Coming, what is the Lord’s purpose for that destruction?  To destroy the world and its influence and to release his people from its bondage.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2 Nephi 23

In this chapter we read of the Lord’s destruction of Babylon, which at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy had not yet happened.  Undoubtedly, it can also be used to describe the destruction of the world in connection with the Second Coming.  The wicked shall be utterly destroyed, says the Lord through his prophet Isaiah.  Nephi could have used the words in this chapter to help him prove to his people the Lord’s grace, justice, mercy and power.  Babylon shall be so destroyed that no one will live there again (and it was).  The day of destruction is described as “cruel both with wrath and fierce anger” (v. 9).  Yet in the midst of all this woe, we find this important nugget:  “I will be merciful unto my people” (v. 22).

Monday, July 14, 2014

2 Nephi 22

This beautiful chapter of Isaiah is a Psalm.  Note the sentences of praise:
O Lord I will praise thee.
God is my salvation.
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song.
Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things.

Sounds like David, doesn't it?  But believe it or not, it’s Mr. hard-to-read, hard-to-understand Isaiah.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

2 Nephi 21

This delight that Nephi shares from the book of Isaiah is designed to prove the truth of the coming of Christ.  Nephi had seen a vision of the Savior, and now he quotes Isaiah, who talks plainly of the Messiah.  Note Isaiah’s description of the Messiah:  He shall be filled with the Spirit of the Lord, and the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, in the which he shall be of quick understanding.  He shall judge, not after what he sees or hears, but with righteousness.  As we reflect upon the life of the Savior as recorded by the gospel writers, we readily find examples of all these things.  At the Second Coming He shall be clothed with righteousness and faithfulness.  Note that in the millennium there will be no hurt nor destruction because the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord (v. 9).  Why wait until the millennium?  Can we end hurt and destruction in our families by filling them with the knowledge of the Lord?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

2 Nephi 20

Woe unto those who mistreat those less fortunate, the Lord warns us in this chapter.  The destruction of Assyria is described.  The Lord warns that He will allow Jerusalem’s destruction because of the hypocrisy of the people of Jerusalem.  As we read of the destruction of Assyria, knowing that history often repeats itself, how accurate will this description of destruction be to that of the world at the Lord’s Second Coming?  Does the Lord’s warning of allowing destruction because of hypocrisy apply to us today as much as it did to the people of Jerusalem back then?

Friday, July 11, 2014

2 Nephi 19

This chapter is filled with what Nephi would refer to as “delights,” for there are so many prophesies about Christ.  In verse 2 we read of the coming of the Savior and His mission to restore us to God and to overcome death:  “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”  Then there’s the incredible verse 6 announcing His birth and sharing the poetic recitation: “and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”  Those are delightful prophesies, aren’t they?  But it doesn’t end with the birth, death and resurrection of the Savior.  Later in the chapter Isaiah talks of one of those ongoing delights that helps us to love the Lord.  After describing the abominations of the human race, we read these words that can comfort those who are worried about “wayward” loved ones:  “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”  The Lord never gives up on us.    

Thursday, July 10, 2014

2 Nephi 18

Rezin was the king of Syria and Remaliah was the crown prince of Israel (the Northern kingdom), who joined together in chapter 17 to attack Jerusalem.  They didn't prevail at that time because the Lord  was still with them in Jerusalem.  Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord explains why the people should trust in Him and not join their attackers.  Assyria was to come and destroy not only Syria and Israel, but also all who joined with them.  For those times when we wonder if we should continue to fight or if we should save ourselves and join our attackers, the message is:  Trust in the Lord, and not in man.  Or as Isaiah says it:  “Sanctify the Lord of Hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”  Why? See verses 13 – 14.  “And he shall be for a sanctuary” to those who trust Him.  But to those who do not trust in Him, He shall be “for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offense…for a gin and a snare.”

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2 Nephi 17

This is one of those chapters in the Book of Mormon that helps me to understand why Nephi loved Isaiah’s writings so much that he included them in his record.  In verse 8, Isaiah prophesied of the fall of the Northern Kingdom (those ten tribes now “lost”).  The prophecy was fulfilled in 721 BC, which was a little over 100 years prior to Lehi’s leaving Jerusalem.  At the time Nephi was reading Isaiah, the fall of the Northern Kingdom was, historically speaking, in recent memory.  Lehi and Nephi both had prophesied of the fall of Jerusalem, and were both ridiculed for it.  Indeed, both their lives had been endangered because of that prophecy.  Verse 8 must have been one of those “I-told-you-so” verses that validated Nephi’s faith.  Perhaps he rejoiced over it.  Whether he did or didn't, surely he rejoiced over verse 14, for Nephi told us he delights in proving to his people the coming of Christ.  Isaiah wrote: “Behold,a virgin shall conceive, and shall bare a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” which means:  God with us.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2 Nephi 16

Isaiah’s idea expressed in verses 9 – 10 that the gospel would be preached to those who would not hear must have resonated familiar to the struggling prophet Nephi.  Despite his best efforts to prevent it, association and commerce had been lost with those of his family who followed his brother Laman (now collectively known as Lamanites), and they had even become enemies with the Nephites (those who followed Nephi).  Their separation “far away” must have seemed like “a great forsaking in the land” (see verse 12).  Imagine Nephi’s joy as he read this part of Isaiah’s writings to learn that the Lord’s covenants weren’t in vain; that a tenth would return of the outcast, and that the substance would still be in them” (see also Ezra 9:2).

Monday, July 7, 2014

2 Nephi 15

Again, Nephi rejoices in the Lord’s mercy and grace.  The words in this chapter must have sounded very familiar to Nephi, who, by this time had spent no less than 40 years trying to set a good example for his brethren.  “What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it?” asked Isaiah.  What comfort Nephi must have found in the answer to the question found in verse 25: “but [the Lord’s] hand is stretched out still.”  The Lord doesn't give up on wayward Israel.  Neither should Nephi.  Neither should we.  Nephi learned to continue his good example of the past 40 years and to keep “his hand extended” towards his brethren.  Hope pays off.  Charity never faileth!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

2 Nephi 14

In this chapter Nephi delights in the grace and mercy of the Lord.  Isaiah teaches here that after the Lord has purged Zion of her filthiness, particularly of the worldliness of its women, Zion will become a place of refuge.  Every home there, every chapel and temple will receive the presence of the Lord.  We, too, have to be clean (purged) to receive His presence.  Isaiah’s descriptions convince me it’s better for me to purge myself than to wait for the Lord to do it for me.  How wonderful that the Lord loves us so much that He will cleanse us rather than giving up on us!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

2 Nephi 13

This chapter describes world conditions that are frighteningly familiar, doesn’t it?  There is so much furor, so much confusion, and so much death in the world today.  Isaiah describes a tumultuous time in this chapter, a time when the Lord will judge his people.  How sweet to find verse ten embedded in this chaos: “Say unto the righteous that it is well with them; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.”  Moral of the chapter: It is a very good time to be living the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Friday, July 4, 2014

2 Nephi 12

In verses 5 – 6 and beyond it is plain that if we reject the Lord, we turn ourselves from him.  He doesn't turn from us.  The only way He will forsake us, is if we turn from Him, but that is not the Lord’s wish.  “Come ye,” Isaiah invites, “and let us walk in the light of the Lord.”  The Lord always wants us, even when we don’t want him.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

2 Nephi 11

Nephi delights in the words of Isaiah.  This chapter gives us a glimpse into why that is.  I believe Nephi reiterated Isaiah’s prophesies to back up his own testimony of Jesus Christ.  Laman, Lemuel and those who followed them thought Lehi was ridiculous to have left Jerusalem, that Nephi did not see the Savior, and that he had no right to leadership of the family.  On the brass plates, Nephi learned that Isaiah had also seen the Savior and testified of his coming.  Nephi delights in Isaiah’s words his revered writings say exactly the same things Lehi and Nephi had prophesied.  It was validation of his own experiences.  Of all the writings on the brass plates, Nephi seemed to like Isaiah’s most.  Let us follow Nephi’s example and use our favorite scriptures to back-up our own testimonies of the Savior.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

2 Nephi 10

Verse 2 has direct reference to the separate branches of Lehi’s family; those that followed his teachings, the Nephites in this part of the record, and those who turned away, that is, the Lamanites for now.  We learn that in His mercy, God has prepared a way for those who would fall away to come back to the knowledge of their Redeemer.  The Book of Mormon is there – prepared to bring our wayward loved ones back to the knowledge of their Redeemer.  Trust Him.  He gave his life so that all of us wayward children might return to the Father.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2 Nephi 9

“O the greatness of the mercy of our God!” (v. 19) He delivers the saints (that is, those who have believed in Him, who have endured the crosses of the world and who have despised the shame of the world, according to verse 18) from the devil, death and hell.  And He does it through the atonement, which satisfies the demands of justice to those who do not have law.   This is the kind of thinking that makes me believe the atonement is more far-reaching than I initially supposed.

To watch a short video about the atonement of Christ click here.