Thursday, October 30, 2014

Literal Representation Of Promised Blessings

Christ offers Living Water at the aqueduct and fuller's field 2 Nephi 17:3 
 In 2 Nephi 17: 3, As the prophet Isaiah was directed by the Lord to warn Ahaz , the king of Judah; against forming an alliance with Tiglash- The Assyrian Monarch, it seems appropriate that Isaiah asked Ahaz to meet him at the aqueduct- or water supply that channels water from one location to another; thus providing water to many. It is as if to invite Ahaz to partake of living water that we are all offered when we follow our Savior Jesus Christ; as later Christ would speak himself that the water that he had to offer was eternal; in John 4:6-15 Christ says, " Whosoever drinks of the water that I give, shall never thirst."
As they met at the aqueduct and fuller's field- or place where clothes were washed - the Lord invited Ahaz to listen to His prophet; trust in and turn to Him who provides the deepest cleansing of the atonement; that not only washes clothes, not only washes the body, but our very souls, thus; allowing us to be more worthy of His promises and protection.
Yet, it is ironic that even in this place in which they stood, that could have been very literally symbolic of what Christ has to offer; Ahaz still doubted and even with a warning as such in 2 Nephi 17:20 that says that the king of Assyria will destroy them like a razor taken to the head of hair, beard and even the lesser amount of hair on the feet. Ahaz still feared man more than God's warning through the prophet.
Later in 2 Nephi 18:13 He says, " Sanctify the Lord of Hosts Himself and let Him be your dread." Basically saying do not let the joining of Syria and Israel be your fear, but only the Lord.
This causes me to remember that I am standing even in a literal place that is representation of God's prophesies to prophets, that have come to pass. I remember that in 2 Nephi 10:11 it says, " That this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles and there shall be no king upon the land who shall raise up unto the Gentiles."
As I stand on the literal representation of His promised blessing and prophesies of a prophet being fulfilled , will I ignore the warning and directions from the prophets in our day, when they too are giving us directions for our own safety?
Directions like: Not only keeping temple covenants, but attending the temple and teaching our children how to be worthy of the temple ( keeping covenants protects, prepares and Empowers us - Rosemary M. Wixom ) , giving to the poor and needy ( Are we Not All Beggars - Elder Holland ) , Inviting Non-members to hear the gospel, and not just inviting but Following up with them ( Follow up- M. Russel Ballard ) , Loving everyone and proclaiming it to them ( Love is the essence of the gospel- Thomas S. Monson ) and the council goes on and on...
I want to follow the prophet to show my thankfulness to my Father and Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ because I love Them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hearing His Voice

God works in patterns that help his children clearly recognize His voice and ways 
When I think of Lehi praying " with all of his heart, in behalf of his people " ( 1 Nephi 1:5 ) and the events that proceeded this prayer, I am reminded of the pattern in which God speaks to His children. God knows each of His children very personally and deeply. I know from experience that we each have individual experiences in which the Lord will speaks to us, based upon our own specific personality and needs, but  He has also has presented a pattern in which we can easily distinguish His works and His voice.
I find it to be very loving that the Lord, knowing that Lehi would be familiar through scriptures study, in ways that He has spoken to prophets in the past, chose to speak with him, after the same manner. As Lehi saw the pillar of fire upon the rock before him, It seems likely that Lehi might have recalled his knowledge of Moses seeing a burning bush as he was being called to be the prophet.( Exodus 3:2 ) I am thankful that today through so many records of the scriptures we have a solid pattern that we can look upon, to strengthen our testimonies. I know that God speaking to His prophets is a pattern after which He works, and I am certain that all those who study the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants will become more familiar with His ways and patterns that he has been presenting for thousands and thousands of years.

Influencing Others For Good

Persuading Others to Do What is Right 
I am particularly impressed with Nephi's continual love for his brothers Lamen and Lemuel. Lamen and Lemuel complained as they left Jerusalem, and then complained more as they were commanded to go and get the plates from Laban. As these brothers embarked on this great task, Nephi never ceased to lift his brothers up with encouragement, as you will recall in 1 Nephi 3: 15-16: Nephi says, " As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us." In 1 Nephi 3: 21, Nephi says, " After this manner of language did I persuade my brethren, that they might be faithful in keeping the commandments of God." After each attempt to obtain the plates, Nephi continues to " persuade " his brothers to continue on in this important task. Even after his brothers did smite him with a rod,  ( 1 Nephi 3:28 ) Nephi did continue to encourage them. Nephi could have easily told the angel whom came to stop Lamen and Lemuel from hurting him, " Thank you, and I can do this task alone," but he did not. Nephi did " persuade " them again and did continue to lead his brothers in being faithful to the Lord. As well, Nephi reminded them that the Lord is mightier than all the earth ( 1 Nephi 4:1 ). Nephi was patient with his brothers, and he desired for their faith to be strengthened even at the cost of him being mistreated, and with the hard work of " persuading " them to keep this commandment they had been given. I think of my own life and I hope that I can be as patient with those who might complain, or not desire to be faithful to the Lord. I hope I can continually " persuade " them by allowing them to stay on the journey with me, so that their faith might be strengthened. As my husband is not LDS, and I feel such a desire for his faith to grow, I feel strengthened by Nephi's choice to continually " persuade " his rebellious brothers to do good.

Show Faith And Obedience

Principle One: The Lord gives " more " through the spirit when we show faith and obedience.
         One of the principles that has particular interest to me from this weeks reading comes from the scripture in 1 Nephi 4:6. As Nephi and his brothers had already made a couple attempts to go into the house of Laban in order to obtain the brass plates, Nephi then took it upon himself to go to Laban's house by himself. As Nephi explains in 1 Nephi 4:6, that he was " led by the spirit not knowing before hand the things which he should do " , I was reminded of the principle that we must show faith, and obedience through action, in our lives before we can receive additional instruction or more blessings. As Nephi, not knowing how he was going to eventually obtain the plates, but following the spirit's each and every prompting to move forward physically in this task, was exhibiting faith and obedience, he received more light and knowledge on the Lord's will. We can see that these requirements of faith and obedience, allowed the Lord to be able to bless Nephi with his promise as found in 1 Nephi 3:7, in which Nephi states, " The Lord giveth no commandment, save he shall prepare a way for the children of men to accomplish the thing which they are commanded."
           We have multiple examples of the principle of faith and obedience being a requirement to receive " more " throughout the scriptures. The first example that came to my mind was when Alma The Younger was cast out of the city of Ammonihah, as he was trying to share the gospel. In Alma 8:13, Alma explains that he was spit upon and they threw him out of the city as he was teaching them.Yet, in verse 16, an angel has come to Alma and explained that he must return again to the city and preach repentance unto them again. I can imagine Alma did not know how he would avoid being thrown out of the city again, but as Alma showed faith and obedience returning  " speedily " to the land. Because of these principles, the Lord was able to provide the means for him to accomplish this instruction.
             We also have the patient and humble example of Joseph Smith being required to show faith and obedience as an initial requirement, and this example is a much longer drawn out example. Joseph was required to wait four years to obtain the plates. As in Joseph Smith History 1:53, the Heavenly messenger explains that "the time for bringing them forth had not arrived" yet, he was instructed to come to the same place year after year. Showing forth his faith and obedience Joseph Smith did receive, and was blessed to translate the plates into our Book of Mormon. I can imagine for such a sacred work, there were many unseen and even unwritten acts of faith and obedience on Joseph Smith's part.
           I have my own example of being instructed by the spirit  to show forth faith and obedience that would allow me to receive " more ". Like Nephi, I saw no realistic way that I could accomplish this task. It began wit me becoming  very injured from a hobby of mine that required a lot of physical effort. I was a runner for a local shoe store. The store paid for my races and coach, and in return I wore a uniform with their logo. The hope for this store being that the local runners would like to buy running gear from them. After I had pushed myself to an extreme limit and forcing myself to run on injuries, I was so injured that just sitting on the couch put my back and neck into pain.One day, when I was going to a doctor appointment, I had a very distinctive prompting from the spirit that I should walk into a random office door, other than the door to the office where my appointment was. As I followed this prompting I was being led by the spirit, yet not knowing the things that I should do? It quickly came to me that I should ask what this office was for? The response was that the office was an administration building for a medical school, where students become certified to work in the medical field. I continued to question and when the woman explained the program of becoming a Certified Nurses Assistant, I felt the overwhelming feeling of the spirit telling me that this was why I was supposed to walk in this building. I was being led to take these courses. Although I was very injured to the point that it hurt to just push a grocery cart, I showed faith and obedience by enrolling in the program, yet not knowing how I would accomplish this task under the circumstances that I was in physically. My first class started three months later. Although I was still not in my regular physical condition, I was able to do the things physically required of me with the Lord's help.
           From this experience my testimony that sometimes we do not understand what the Lord has in store for us, if we follow the promptings of the spirit with faith and obedience, eventually His plans can be made manifest to us line upon line, and precept upon precept. Most importantly to those who receive his message, He will give them " more" ( 2 Nephi 28:30 ).
            Working as a Nurses Assistant in the hospital has been a great blessing for me. There are many things that I have learned about  the love that Heavenly Father has for all of His children. There is so much that  I could not have learned if I  had I not been working in an environment with very sick people. I am thankful for the trials that we have in life that many times allow us to become humbled, an put us in a better position to receive blessings from the Lord, of knowledge and experience, when we show forth faith and obedience first.
             I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Principle Two: As disciples of Christ, we are required to make sacrifices
          This week as I have been pondering Lehi being made known by God that his life was in danger, and that he must take his family and travel in the wilderness, I have been pondering what translating the Book of Mormon must have made Joseph Smith feel? Even in the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith must have seen the reality of the sacrifices that he would be asked to make as a prophet of God?
           I picture Joseph Smith translating and learning about how Lehi had to leave all of his friends and belongings, and feeling that Joseph Smith must have already felt a connection with Lehi as he himself had already experienced much persecution and hardships? In fact Joseph Smith was troubled with many of the same circumstances as Lehi, as he also had to leave from his home in New York, to Pennsylvania in order to keep the plates safe.
            I wonder if Joseph Smith could then recall even the first prophets like Noah losing most everyone he knew in the flood, Abraham being required to leave the city of Ur, Joseph being sold into Egypt as a slave, Moses being raised by a stranger, Samuel having to leave his mother Hannah, and the list goes on that suggests that Joseph Smith should know that leaving people, and places, suffering persecution and even death was in his future.
         Lastly, the greatest example Joseph Smith had was of Jesus Christ himself being rejected in his own town of Nazareth, and then crucified by his own people. Yet, knowing all these things Joseph Smith took upon this calling and work with great joy in the sacrifices that he knew that he would make.
        Similarly, although I am not a prophet, I can see that sacrifice is a true principle of any disciple of Jesus Christ.. I don't view sacrifices as a bad thing, but as a great blessing. When I think of how my choices to sacrifice are to please my Heavenly Father, I receive joy out of doing it.
           My husband of ten years was very against me wearing garments, and this meant that I could not participate in the temple. This was a continual disappointment for me as I was aware of the great need to be a worthy temple recommend holder. After years of asking and talking to my husband about me going to the temple here and there, I finally decided that I was going to have to make the choice on my own that it was no longer a question that I was asking if he minded if I went? I understood this might even be an eventual loss of my marriage as so many people dis swayed  me from taking this action, but I had come to know that I had to show my willingness to lose everything in order to please the Lord, in order for myself to even feel satisfied in my life. I went to the temple and made the promise that I would wear the temple garments day and night. I faithfully do this with joy and a thankful heart even though my husband will not come in the room if I am changing because he finds the garment unattractive.
             I believe things will probably be okay with my husband in the end of it all, but I am especially thankful for these examples of sacrifice in the scriptures that we have because they give me strength to understand that as a disciple of Christ, we will all have our own type of Christ experience, and this is necessary for us to become the individuals that he would like us to become, and to serve him at our highest capacity. I am learning to take joy in my sacrifices that I have to make and even if it means I will lose things that I love or even my life, I will be thankful in the end for the sacrifices that I have made.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Third Principle : Every member of the church is " Highly Favored of the Lord "
                 I believe that every member of the church can consider themselves " highly favored of the Lord " as Nephi states in 1 Nephi 1:1, that he is. As I look at the world around me I can see how so many people do not have the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and this leaves them with a true feeling of loss in their lives. As we understand the principles taught in the gospel we truly have a great knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God.
               My personal example of seeing clearly that as members of the church we are " highly favored of the Lord " , came when my non-member's father passed away suddenly. Attending the Catholic funeral I was able to see the devastation and confusion that lie at the heart of all those without the gospel. I even had a personal conversation with the Catholic Priest because I wanted to thank him for his kindness to my husband's family. As I got to talking with this Catholic Priest I quickly learned that he did not quite believe in his own faith that he was preaching. I posed the question to him that I have always been curious as  to the real answer of what Catholics believe happen to those who do not receive baptism in their church. He let me know that he did not believe what his church said about baptizing even infants. This was a powerful reminder to me about how as members of God's church on the earth, we are truly blessed  to have this great knowledge and know His mysteries.
                                              I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Experiencing sadness for those who leave the church 
As disciples of Christ we will experience being grieved for the hardness of others hearts.( 1 Nephi 7:8 )
In particular we can be grieved because of the hardness of the hearts of even those who once believed in the church, and have fallen away. An increasing trend as the morals of the word decline, and the temptations become stronger, is that we will witness even those who have experienced the great blessings of the gospel falling away and persecuting those of our faith.

                           As Nephi and his brothers returned back to Jerusalem to bring Ishmael and his family into the wilderness, one of the things that he said was that he was grieved for the " hardness of their hearts " because they needed him, their younger brother to set an example for them. Nephi also reminds them that they have seen an angel of the Lord , and yet they still did bind him with cords, and sought to take away his life. In our lives as we see those of our ward families, or even family members fall away from the church I am reminded of even the example later on in the Book of Mormon in Alma 47:36, this explains that those who once believed in the church have fallen away, and even after " being instructed in the same knowledge of the Lord" , they had become more wild and wicked than ever before.
                        I am thankful however for the merciful Savior whom still loves even these individuals and continues to call them back. As I myself did not persecute anyone, but have been inactive in the past for a short time of my life. I am thankful to know as I did, some of these people will come back to church, and then they will be changed forever as I have been through His grace and mercy of the Atonement. I am also thankful for these examples in the scriptures that remind us that us suffering sadness for those who do not follow the gospel is part of our discipleship.

Gain Favor First

Gaining Favor in the sight of the world 
I am certain that the movie " Meet the Mormons" was inspired of God, in order to help " gain favor " in the sight of the world. This  favor gained will help create a desire for those to hear the gospel from the correct source; missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and by His spirit that comes with it's truth. As we read in 1 Nephi 7:2, we learn that the Lord had commanded Nephi and his brothers to return again to Jerusalem. This was in order to bring Ishmael and his family into the wilderness with them. However, as it states in 1 Nephi 7:4,  they did first " gain favor" in the sight of Ishmael. This teaches us that   the first step to sharing the gospel is first to " gain favor " from the people, and in this case, Nephi and his brothers had to gain so much favor that Ishmael and his family would not only be prepared to have Nephi " speak unto him the words of the Lord " ( 1 Nephi 7:4 ), but as well, leave their home and friends to go down into the wilderness with them. In a instructional video about the movie " Meet the Mormons ", Elder Holland clarifies that " The movie is not created as a proselytizing tool, but rather to inform and show people what we are really like." As my husband is not LDS, I tend to have many opportunities to show people what we as Latter Day Saints " are really like" . In this process of " gaining favor ", I have come to learn that our actions as Latter Day Saints can influence those not of our faith to have interest in our beliefs. I am very thankful to be a member of a church that is directed by Jesus Christ, whom knows the first step to helping His children want to learn ; by showing them the joy that comes by living the principles and obtaining the ordinances of the Gospel.


Prophets prophesies will always come true
Even Jeremiah prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed ( Jer.26:9 )
Another prophet named Uriah prophesied a similar prophesy ( Jer. 26:20 )
Lehi foretold as well that the destruction of Jerusalem was coming ( 1 Nephi 1:4 )
When I read of Nephi mentioning the destruction of Jerusalem in 1 Nephi 10:3, I pondered upon the great desperation that the Lord has in wanting to warn His people of dangers that will come. I became more interested in this than I ever had in the past,  and I researched to find that as Lehi left Jerusalem about 600 BCE, it was about at this exact time that Babylonian Captivity took place. Pondering these things has caused me to think more deeply about the warnings that our modern prophets have warned us of, and as well has reminded me once again how important my Patriarchal Blessing is, at it also warns and foretells something I need to remember for my future. I am thankful that I am finally  listening to one suggestion in my blessing, as it tells me that I should receive all of the education that I can.
Being Ashamed is a sign of not being truly converted
As I was reading this week in Lehi's vision, I was remembering years ago when I was re-active in the church, how I still tried to avoid conversations about my faith being that of LDS. In 1 Nephi 8:28 it explains how there are those that partook of the fruit and they were ashamed because of those making fun of them, and how this caused them to fall away into forbidden paths and they were lost. Now years later I find myself telling those I meet not of the LDS faith, that I am LDS almost right away. I know this is because I did not realize the blessing that the gospel was in my life before, and now that I am fully converted I do realize the blessing and I want so much to share in the joy that it brings.
Our foundation must be in Christ
In 1 Nephi 11:35-36 it talks about the great and spacious building and how it fell and the fall was exceedingly great. This reminded me about the reasons that I have fallen in my life, and brought me to think about how my foundation was not strong and little by little I began making wrong choices. In Helaman 5:12 it says that we must build our foundation on the rock of Christ, this way when the devil sends forth his mighty winds or temptations he will have no power to drag us down. The reason why those in the great and spacious building were not able to last tall and high in their building was because the foundation was that of pride and evil doings. I think of  myself and how everything that I think and feel revolves around my Savior now, and I know that I will not fall as long as I continue making Him my foundation.

Divine Love

Toggle message body visibilityDivine Love 
In 1 Nephi 17:35 it says that the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God.
The way that many scriptures in all of the standard works explain that God is no respecter of persons, or that the Lord esteemeth all flesh as one, can be highly misinterpreted. I believe in the past  I have used these phrases about God's love to justify my lack of more effort in being more obedient. As well there are so many  people of all faiths that  I have met, that claim this erroneous thinking that; God loves everyone equally, and no matter their lives actions, if they were semi-decent people they will be saved. Jeffrey R. Holland explained this perfect in his conference talk " The cost and blessings of discipleship" as he said, " They want God's who do not demand much, comfortable Gods, smooth Gods who not only don't rock the boat but don't even row it. God's who pat us on the head; make us giggle then tell us to run along and pick marigolds." The important part is to not look at this scripture without also taking as much value in the first statement, as the one that usually follows, in this case it is; he that is righteous is favored of God. This is a highly important part as we learn from the talk called    " Divine Love" in the Feb.2003 Ensign, Russel M. Nelson gives many scripture examples : Acts 10:34-35 He that feareth and work righteousness is accepted with him. John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, then shall ye abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love. D&C 95:12 If you keep not my commandments the love of the Father shall not continue with you. John 14:23 If a man loveth me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him.
All of these scriptures and so many more referenced in this talk are a reminder to me that in order to be truly loved and favored by God, we must be obedient to Him. None of us are perfect and graciously He offered His son to make the way for us, but we must use His atonement actively in our lives. God wants to love us all and bless us all equally, and He will, if we can abide His law, as we know that every blessing comes with the obedience to that law predicated in heaven. (D&C 130:20 ) There were times in my life I wondered if God loved me why I might not feel His love as strong as I would like? As I have become more obedient to His laws, the feeling of the love that He gives, showers over me daily.

Sustaining Our Prophet

Sustaining our Prophet 
I passionately agree with George Albert Smith's comment that was quoted by Elder Russell M. Nelson, in his talk called, " Sustaining the Prophets". He explained when sustaining the prophets; " The obligation that we make when we raise our a most sacred one. It does not mean that we will go quietly on our way and be willing that the prophet of the Lord shall direct his work, but it means that we will stand behind him; we will pray for him; we will defend his good name and we will strive to carry out his instructions as the Lord shall direct." As we have began our journey reading about Lehi and his group crossing the wilderness, we have seen Nephi sustain his father Lehi- the prophet, in so many ways. Nephi with courage and faith followed every instruction given by his father. We have seen Nephi go back to Jerusalem at the request of his father multiple times; we have seen him pray to understand his father's visions; we have seen him even follow his father after seeing his weakness come out, when Nephi broke his bow and Lehi did complain against the Lord ( 1 Nephi 16:20 ); and even after Nephi was instructed to build a boat; was ridiculed by his brothers about this, and continued on with God's instruction anyways, the Lord did still give the highest instruction to Lehi the prophet as we see in 1 Nephi 18:5, it says, " And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came unto my father, that we should arise and go down into the ship." At this point Nephi could have easily thought that all of the work was being done by him, and that the boat that he made was finished, so shouldn't the Lord tell him that they should go down into the ship? But, Nephi did not. Nephi gave us a wonderful example of sustaining the prophet and he taught us that just because our calling is not that of a prophet, it is still highly important, and that our Heavenly Father needs us all individually. Nephi gave us a prime example of what Joseph F. Smith said, as quoted by Elder Russel M. Nelson, in " Sustaining the Prophets", he said, " It is an important duty resting upon the saints who sustain authorities of the church, to do so not only by the lifting of the hand, the mere form, but in deed and truth."

Cost of Discipleship

Sorrow, and anxiety are part of our discipleship
In 1 Nephi 17:47 , Nephi explains that his soul is rent anguish because of the hardness of his brother's hearts towards the gospel. Nephi explains that he is filled with fear for them and that his frame has no strength because he is filled with the spirit of God. I am certain that it is the fact that he is so filled with the spirit of God that he is this sorrowful about his brothers attitudes. Because Nephi has the spirit he does not feel angered at his brothers when they ridicule him, persecute him and even show violence towards them. The spirit that Nephi is blessed with by God enables him to only feel sorrow for his brothers, knowing what they will suffer if their actions do not change. As disciples of Christ we should expect that as we become like our Father in Heaven, our feelings for all of his children are heightened, because we love them, just like he does. I experience this in my own life on a daily basis with my husband not being LDS. I feel comforted in the knowledge that I have through the scriptures that my feelings are the same as these wonderful prophets of the Book of Mormon. As I read their words my heart is joined with them and I feel close to them as their words describe my own feelings so well.
2 Nephi 33:3 Nephi prays continually for his people by day and his eyes " water his pillow " by night because he cries to God in faith for them.
Jacob 1:15 Jacob says that because of faith and great anxiety it was made manifest what things should happen to them.
2 Nephi 1:16 Lehi explains that he has  anxiety for his people and that his heart is weighed down with sorrow from time to time.
Mormon 5:11 Mormon explains that they will sorrow that this people had not repented
Alma 8:14 Alma was weighed down with sorrow wading through tribulation and anguish of soul.
4 Nephi 1:44 The disciples began to sorrow for the sins of the world.
Helaman 7:9 Nephi says he understand that these are his days that his soul shall be filled with sorrow because of the wickedness of his brethren, and in verse 14 he goes upon a tower and pours his soul out to God in sorrow.
Enos 1:10 Enos begins to struggle in spirit desiring the welfare of his brethren.
Mosiah 28:3 Alma and the sons of Mosiah could not bare that any human soul should perish and the thought of anyone enduring endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.
I understand the consequences of my choice to marry a non-member husband are temporary, and I hope that I can be worthy of an eternal marriage someday. I know if I keep my covenants that if my husband never accepts the gospel I will not be held back from that blessing, but I still feel the same way that all these great prophets feel and on a daily basis. I am going to do a better job when I am sad of remembering these great spiritual giants words, because it is frequent, and  I do not just feel that way about my husband- scared and sad for them- but I also feel it for all of my brothers and sisters whom are not part of His great kingdom on this earth, that has so many blessings to offer.
The Great and Abominable Church is anything that keeps us from truth and light of the Gospel
In 1 Nephi 22:13 it says, " And the blood of that great and abominable church which is the whore of all the earth, shall turn upon their own heads; and the sword of their own hands shall fall  upon their one heads, and they shall be drunken with their own blood."
When I was younger and less religiously informed I thought that is was very ironic and kind of offensive that any church that believed in Jesus Christ could be called " abominable". Now I understand that the great and abominable church comes in many forms and that it is any organization, group, or force that deceives or leads one to believe what they are doing is right, when in actuality it is doing great harm to the person because it prevents them to ever receiving the fullness of the gospel. My analogy of the great and abominable church goes like this- Vitamins are components put together that are meant to help our bodies. Most everyone that I know takes a vitamin to take care of their body. Although vitamins can be a very helpful substance for our bodies, when they are not formulated correctly for an individual person they can become potentially dangerous for the person whom is taking them. Some examples are high amounts of iron being fatal for children. Also certain elements in medications and vitamins that can not be mixed together safely. The very best vitamins are formulated in accordance with ones age, gender and even sizing. The last example presents an even stronger case when comparing this senerio to the great and abominable church- although most are aware that vitamins are highly useful in the health of our body, probably most people do not know that some vitamins can be life threatening to some people. When a person ingests too much vitamin B9 it can mask the disease pernicious anemia, and can be fatal.
Likewise, going to all church's that believe in Christ can be helpful, just like vitamins, and some will be even better than others if they are formulated better, but like the vitamins that some think might be good for them- sometimes a church without the whole truth could be spiritually fatal. Because so many people feel they are getting good things out of their current church, they do not feel the need to look for more and seek more answers. It is like a pseudo therapy for them to attend their churches. It leaves people with just enough of a lift in recognizing they are trying, but keeps them from eternal truths and ordinances under correct authority that are necessary for salvation.
We can go to the temple for direction in our lives
I find it to be so beautiful that we have so many scriptures about the Lord calling His servants to the mountain. In 1 Nephi 17:7 , Nephi says that the voice of the Lord told him to arise and get thee into the mountain. There Nephi began to cry or worship Him. There in the mountain Nephi gained instruction from the Lord about his life and how to help his family. The Lord told Nephi to build a boat, yet Nephi did not know how. At the top of this mountain Nephi gained instruction from the Lord about how to build this boat and where to find the tools that he would need to accomplish this task. Donald W. Parry said in the " sacred space " temples of the ancient world; rituals symbolism ed. , " From Moses experience on Mount Sinai to Peter, James, and John's experience on the mount of transfiguration mountains have always been symbolic of temples or the house of the Lord."
In my own life I am thankful for the opportunity to be a temple recommend holder. It is a privilege to understand at a deeper level how we should live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God. When I go to the temple I am given divine instructions for my own life, and just like Nephi I am given tools to help me accomplish the will of my Father in Heaven.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


In 2 Nephi 5:16, we learn that Nephi did build a temple and he did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon. I am very thankful for the accounts that we have from the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants that explain that building and worshiping in temples is a pattern after which God's work is to take place. When I talk to my non-member friends I love to remind them about my religion practicing the same principles as taught by Jesus Christ himself, under the same organization, and even worshiping in temples as they did in the Old and New Testament times. I remind them about the people of Moses not only worshiping in temples, but that this worship was so important that they were commanded to carry with them  a portable temple that they could put up and take down on their journey ( Exodus 26-27 ). I remind them of even Jesus Christ showing His respect and teaching the sacredness of temples; showing forth an example by going to teach in the courts of the temple( Luke 2:40-52). I remind them of later in his ministry, He even became angered at the mistreatment of " His Father's House " , and turned over the table of the money changers in the temple ( John 2: 13-16 ). After receiving some feedback from my friends I always like to emphasize the enlightening fact that even in these temple there were rooms in the temple that only the Priests were allowed to enter, or in other words, those who were counted worthy ( A History of Temples, James E. Talmage , Ensign 2010 ). I have most often found these conversations about the ancient and modern temples to be one that is appreciated and very interesting to most individuals. I love the temple so very much. The work performed for the living and dead has daily impact on my life through the covenants that I have made. It brings me joy to have these moments of teaching with friends, that always leaves them with a better appreciation and understanding of His Holy House. I am thankful every time that a person does not view our temple worship as something unusual anymore, but more enlightening as the spirit professes truth to those with an open heart. 


I have often wondered how a people like the Nephites and Lamenites could have had such a knowledge of what was to come of them if they did not keep the commandments as prophesied in this chapter, yet they did not carefully attend to the instructions given about how to avoid these prophesies? In 2 Nephi 2:2, Lehi tells his son Joseph that that the land was consecrated for his seed, but only if they keep the commandments of the Lord. If they reject the Holy One of Israel, he will take away from them their lands. This did come to pass, and their words did go forth as prophesied, by a man whom is mentioned in this very chapter ( 2 Nephi 3:7 ). This causes me to wonder how many prophesies about us in these latter days, that I am not paying as much attention too as I should? This prophesy about the land being promised as a land of liberty pertains to anyone on this land, but only as they keep His commandments and have the Messiah to be their God. ( 2 Nephi 1:7 ) Similarly, we already know the outcome as prophesied in this same book, that the constitution will hang by a thread, and lastly I consider our place of dwelling in Zion to already being fulfilled, as mentioned in 2 Nephi 14:5-6, when it says that " Upon mount Zion and all of her assemblies a cloud of smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory of Zion shall be a defense, and there shall be a tabernacle for shadow in the daytime from the heat and for a place of refuge , and covert from the storm and rain." This prophesy given by Isaiah was literally fulfilled for the children of Israel as they crossed the wilderness, but for us in the latter days the prophesy can be symbolic as the smoke by day represents our Father and Heaven's presence in our temples and among our stakes. The fire by night, is our light in the darkness that we have through the scriptures and Priesthood authority. As well we are protected from the storms of life with all that our restored gospel presents, as it is also directed by God through a prophet who holds the Priesthood keys that direct and lead His work on the earth, thus creating His kingdom on earth through us as His members. 

Patience and Spirit reveals

Blessings can take years to come
I feel happy for Lehi as I know that his wishes have been fulfilled as in 2 Nephi 1:21. In this scripture Lehi explains that he wishes for his soul to have joy in his posterity. I can imagine that Lehi is filled with joy as he has seen the fulfillment of his words and his seed's words, as they did come forth for the convincing of so many to the restored gospel. ( 2 Nephi 3: 7, 11, 12, 19 ) The promise that these words would be hearkened to by his seed have also been fulfilled ( 2 Nephi 3:23 ). In Latin America alone there are over 600,000 members of the church with 7,000 being baptized every single month according to a talk called, " Miracles Among the Lamenites ", by Gene R. Cook of the Seventy. As well in this talk he reminds us that the words in D&C 49:24 have been fulfilled. " Where there was once a barred field, today they stand strong and blossom as the rose." In my Patriarchal blessing it tells me that I am a literal descendant of Joseph whom was sold into Egypt, and that his blood runs through my veins. I am incredibly thankful for the blessings that are promised to the House of Israel and I am conscious that where great promises are available, much is available for me to give in return, although I will never give back to my Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ any comparable amount that they have given me, I do have much I can give based on the promised blessings that I have been given.
Scriptures can speak to us individually by the spirit
2 Nephi 8:1-2 says, " Hearken unto me, ye that follow after righteousness. Look unto the rock from whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit from whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham, your father, and unto Sarah, she that bare you; for I called him alone and blessed him."
When we are worthy to have the spirit with us the scriptures will speak to us individually and we will each have different insights from the verses, that pertain to us for our current specific needs. As I read and try to understand the verses in the scriptures that Isaiah wrote, I try to just listen with my spirit because I can become overwhelmed with the fact that I might not be interpreting it after the manner he had intended. When I read these verses I was reminded that I am hewn from my Savior Jesus Christ because as I have taken upon myself His name and as I continually apply His atonement in my life; I am His, even His child ( 4 Nephi 1:17 ). As I think of the quarry that Christ's children have been chipped out of I am reminded of the beauty of this quarry and the blessings that are involved with taking upon ourselves His name. Examples like being given the gift of the Holy Ghost, blessings of gifts of the Spirit, Priesthood authority, and the incomprehensible blessings that come when we keep our temple covenants. These scripture also reminds us that we are descendants of Abraham either literally or adopted. We too, as we keep our temple covenants, receive the same blessings of innumerable posterity, and I believe this is one reason Isaiah asks us to remember that we too can have miracles like Abraham and Sarah being barren, and yet having a whole nation flow from them. ( Genesis 17: 5-6 )
The Spirit reveals truth in the scriptures
In 2 Nephi 5: 15-16, Nephi says, " For my soul delighteth in the scriptures and my heart pondereth them . My soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard."
I too delighteth in the scriptures and I am continually thankful that I am not alone in my struggles mentioned by Nephi in this same chapter about despising my flesh and rejoicing in the things of God, and especially in the scriptures. When I think of the reasons that I love the scriptures so much, one reason is that I feel like the scriptures are a part of what make my beliefs tangible. As I recognize with these sacred writings in hand either through a device or book, and know the cost that came with making these available to me, they become a witness to my testimony of the things that I have heard in church. When I read the scriptures the spirit is automatically present, for as they say; that the spirit testifies of truth ( John 15:26 ). Therefore, it is impossible to read scriptures with a worthy and open heart and not be able to feel of the presence of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit is then something tangible and available to me at any moment that I need Him. With this knowledge of how I can use the scriptures, I have been able to use the scriptures as an antidote for pride, anger, fear or any feeling of the natural man presents. Extended periods of time immersed in the scriptures has allowed the stories, doctrines and principles to sink deep into my soul and essentially they have aided in my becoming a new creature through the atonement of Jesus Christ. ( 2 Cor. 5:1 )
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Rewards of our Fruit

In 2 Nephi 13:12 it says ," Say unto the righteous that it is well with them; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings." I feel thankful that even in a world full of turmoil and panic, we as member's of Christ's church on the earth can still have peace in our lives and keep the faith that we will have peace. We have been assured even from the First Presidency of the church about our future as Latter Day Saints whom keep our covenants that we made in the temple.
“. . . But while the wicked fear and tremble at surrounding judgments, the Saints will watch and pray; and, waiting the final event in patience, will look calmly on the passing scenery of a corrupted world, and view transpiring events as confirmation of their faith in the holy gospel which they profess, and rejoice more and more, as multiplied signs shall confirm the approach of the millennial day.”
  Messages of the First Presidency,  2:64
Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball,  Willard Richards

Being and Ensign Unto the Nations

In 2 Nephi 9:27 it says, " But, wo unto him that has the law given, yea, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!" This scripture in our reading assignment reminded me of my favorite parable given by Jesus Christ during his ministry on the earth. It is found in Matthew chapter " 25 ". In the Parable Of The Talents; Christ compares us to servants who are each given a certain amount of blessings, or in other words " talents"- the form of money at that time. To one servant the master gave five talents, to another he gave two and to the last he gave one. The purpose of this parable is to teach us what we should do with the blessings that we are given in our lives. The conclusion of this parable explains that the wise choice is for us to create more good out of what He has given us. He explains that the servant whom did not bring back any additional talents, but only buried the one he was given into the ground and brought it back to the master, had the talent taken from him; but to the servant who brought back and additional five talents, thus making more good out of what he was given, to him he said, " Well done thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord." Similarly, the scripture in 2 Nephi 9:27, provides a essentially the same message. As members of Christ's church we have His law given to us, and as well all of the blessings, or " talents " that come from having the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We are warned in this scripture that if we waste the blessings given to us by not sharing them with others, or by not producing " more good fruit " from them, in the days of our probation our lives will be in an " awful state " . The Lord then again in this same chapter tells us through Isaiah in 2 Nephi 15:4; What more could I have done for you? I have given you all that you needed to produce more good fruit, but you produced wild grapes! Then He explains that the wall will be broken down that protects the vineyard and that it will be trodden down in 2 Nephi 15:5. The Lord does however explain again a few verses later in 2 Nephi 15:26-27, that there will still be some who will be His, and they will be an Ensign to the nations, given power , protection and strength by Him.
                       The question that I pose to myself is: Will I be one to be an ensign to the nations by sharing the gospel with my neighbors, family and friends? Will I be the faithful servant who made more with the blessings that I have been given? Or will I waste my knowledge of His restored gospel and leave myself in an " awful state? "

Scripture Journal Entry

Men and Women's specific roles are important to Heavenly Father's Plan
In 2 Nephi 13:12 it says: " And my people, children are their oppressors and women rule over them. Oh my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths."

These words in our scriptures from Isaiah are a witness of God's prophets seeing our day. It would have been unfathomable when this was written for anyone to claim that someday " women would rule over them ". As we know, through out history women were given little authority outside of the home. Perhaps this began to shift in the year 1920 when women were permitted to vote on their choice of leadership?

This scripture we read today should be true testimony of the scriptures truth. We do live in this day Isaiah spoke of; both comparatively speaking as to attributing childlike behaviors to our political figures, and as well literally speaking that women rule over us - the outcome of which produces children literally learning to be oppressive, as a result of a Mother not being around to teach their children. Instead of staying home teaching their children morals, values, tradition and love; Mother's are working outside the home, many time by choice. They have left the future leaders to be raised by a stranger. Children may also leave many parents feeling subject to their every want and will; even by force, as a result of divorce, thus, their offspring is presented with the choice to partner up with one or the other parent in a manipulative emotional battle.

The truth of this scripture being fulfilled is not foreign, yet many will look past so many of the scriptures being fulfilled as coincidence or chance. In the year 2009, Marcus Buckingham wrote an article on a special that was put on by Time Magazine; called " Why men are becoming more like women. " In this article we read, " Men's attitudes more and more resemble women's attitudes. In 1977, for example 72 percent of men believed that men should be the primary breadwinners and women should be primary caretakers of home an family. Today only 42 percent of men hold those opinions."

To those whom do not hold very much value in the forewarnings of prophets it might do them some good to see that not only was Isaiah telling the truth of the things that he foresaw in our day, but that he's was the first one to say it; as we know many have been noticing these trends in the role that men play in our society. Isaiah clearly knew this transformation of men would be part of satan's attack on God's plan for his children, to be happy and help each other become closer to Christ in their homes.

In an article by Paul Joseph Watson , written Feb. 19 2014 titled " The war on Men " , he claims that it is the governments plan is to emasculate men in order to fulfill  their desires to gain totalitarian control. He states, " A Totalitarian society can only survive if the male population has been gelded, emasculated and disenfranchised. With this natural bulwark against tyranny removed the elite can centralize power and pursue collectivist tyranny unopposed."

These words are essentially echoing the same warnings given of Isaiah when he says, " they who lead thee cause the to err and destory the way of thy paths." What a great reminder to me that the prophets warnings come first always because they are endowed with power from God, and they have the authority to warn and coucil His children.

Isaiah has not been the only prophet to warn us of these attacks on men from Satan. In an Oct.2012 talk that Elder D. Todd Christpherson wrote titled, " Brethren we have a work to do " he says, " A common thread running through these analysis is that in many societies today men and boys get conflicting and demeaning signals about their roles and value in society."

Lastly, I will not forget the charge that Lehi gave his sons in 2 Nephi 1:21 Lehi says, " And now that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you, that might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave, arise from the dust, my sons, and be menand be determined in one‍ mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity."
I hope to share my testimony about this scripture fulfilled with my non-member husband when the timing is right...
Gifts of the Spirit are given to strengthen us
In 2 Nephi 16:10 it says that the Lord will, " Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes—lest they see with their eyes, and hear‍ with their ears, and understand with their heartand be converted and be healed."
These blessings reminded me of the gifts of the spirit that we as members of His church can ask to receive more of, and that we will be blessed with each person
individually. Spiritual gifts can help us bless others, and as well can help us have the necessary strength to avoid sin.  
When He promises to make " their heart fat " this is the gift of charity- the pure love of Christ.
Galatians 5:22-23
 22 But the fruit‍ of the Spirit‍ is lovejoypeacelongsufferinggentlenessgoodness, faith,
 23 Meeknesstemperanceagainst such there is no law.
When he promises to make their " ears heavy " this is the gift of knowledge
1 Corinthians 12:8
“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
To " understand with their heart, that they may be healed " is a gift of Faith.
Moroni 10:11
"And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit "
It seems to me that Isaiah witnessed what was also explained in this quote:
As the world grows darker, the light of the truth shines brighter. As the hearts of men become colder, the warmth of the Savior’s peace burns stronger. As the noise of tempting voices shout louder, the still, small voice of the Spirit comes with even greater clarity. As evil increases in the world, the Lord sends the power of revelation and spiritual gifts for the righteous.
Elder Neil L. Andersen
S&I Evening with a General Authority
Feb. 28, 2014
In my own life I have seen the Lord strengthen me through blessing me with spiritual gifts. I have felt that whatever my weakness is when I earnestly pray to overcome it, I may not completely do better, but I seemed to be strengthened by a spiritual gift that counter acts the characteristics of my weakness.
Treasure can become our God if we do not give to the poor
In 2 Nephi 9:30 it says,
But wo unto the richwho are rich‍ as to the things of the worldFor because they are rich they despise the poorand they persecute the meek, and their hearts‍ are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure‍ is their god. And behold, their treasure‍ shall perish with them also."
I appreciate this scripture as Jeffery R. Holland also gave us council on this principle in the most recent general conference. In his talk Are we not all beggars he said, 
"Down through history, poverty has been one of humankind’s greatest and most widespread challenges. Its obvious toll is usually physical, but the spiritual and emotional damage it can bring may be even more debilitating. In any case, the great Redeemer has issued no more persistent call than for us to join Him in lifting this burden from the people. As Jehovah, He said He would judge the house of Israel harshly because “the spoil of the [needy] is in your houses.”
In a place full of wealth sometimes it is hard to know how we can help the needy, but I am certain that if we were the ones suffering we would be more diligently searching for ways to help ourselves. I think to myself should I not then search diligently for others as I would for myself? 
I was introduced to a charity program this past week for local members of my community that suffer financially. I asked the owner if she had programs for those outside our country and was disappointed that so many efforts were not going outside our country, since I feel we are so blessed, however I can see that in a sense I am turning away a person in need even as I speak now. I will commit to helping even those here whom I feel aren't as needy. 
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Isaiah Scripture Insight

Emily Gail Turano

Toggle message body visibilityChrist offers Living Water at the aqueduct and fuller's field 
As the prophet Isaiah was directed by the Lord to warn Ahaz , the king of Judah; against forming an alliance with Tiglash- The Assyrian Monarch, it seems appropriate that Isaiah asked Ahaz to meet him at the aqueduct- or water supply that channels water from one location to another; thus providing water to many. It is as if to invite Ahaz to partake of living water that we are all offered when we follow our Savior Jesus Christ; as later Christ would speak himself that the water that he had to offer was eternal; in John 4:6-15 Christ says, " Whosoever drinks of the water that I give, shall never thirst."
As they met at the aqueduct and fuller's field- or place where clothes were washed - the Lord invited Ahaz to listen to His prophet; trust in and turn to Him who provides the deepest cleansing of the atonement; that not only washes clothes, not only washes the body, but our very souls, thus; allowing us to be more worthy of His promises and protection.
Yet, it is ironic that even in this place in which they stood, that could have been very literally symbolic of what Christ has to offer; Ahaz still doubted and even with a warning as such in 2 Nephi 17:20 that says that the king of Assyria will destroy them like a razor taken to the head of hair, beard and even the lesser amount of hair on the feet. Ahaz still feared man more than God's warning through the prophet.
Later in 2 Nephi 18:13 He says, " Sanctify the Lord of Hosts Himself and let Him be your dread." Basically saying do not let the joining of Syria and Israel be your fear, but only the Lord.
This causes me to remember that I am standing even in a literal place that is representation of God's prophesies to prophets, that have come to pass. I remember that in 2 Nephi 10:11 it says, " That this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles and there shall be no king upon the land who shall raise up unto the Gentiles."
As I stand on the literal representation of His promised blessing and prophesies of a prophet being fulfilled , will I ignore the warning and directions from the prophets in our day, when they too are giving us directions for our own safety? 
Directions like: Not only keeping temple covenants, but attending the temple and teaching our children how to be worthy of the temple ( keeping covenants protects, prepares and Empowers us - Rosemary M. Wixom ) , giving to the poor and needy ( Are we Not All Beggars - Elder Holland ) , Inviting Non-members to hear the gospel, and not just inviting but Following up with them ( Follow up- M. Russel Ballard ) , Loving everyone and proclaiming it to them ( Love is the essence of the gospel- Thomas S. Monson ) and the council goes on and on...
I want to follow the prophet to show my thankfulness to my Father and Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ because I love Them.