Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Abraham was truly Sarah's brother

 In Genesis 12 it can appear that Abraham told a lie in order to save himself as he told Pharaoh that his wife was his sister. Thankfully we have additional information regarding Abraham introducing his wife Sarah ( Sarai ) in the book of Abraham. Before we look at that, it is also important to note that we can see that Abraham was not mistaken in his introduction of his wife as his sister to Pharaoh through a scripture also in Genesis:

In Genesis 14:14 we see Lot, Abraham's nephew referred to as his brother.

" Some scholars have noted that Abraham could validly state that Sarah was his sister because the word brother and sister were used for referencing blood relatives in the Hebrew language. "  
                                                                                       ( David Ridges , OT Study Guide ) 

Because Abraham and Haran were brothers and Sarah ( Sarai ) was Haran's daughter - That made Sarah ( Sarai ) both Abraham's niece and wife, thus she was a blood relative. 

We learn from Abraham 2: 21-25 that the Lord told Abraham to call his wife his sister in this instance. 

Reasoning for this can be seen in these quotes:

" By culture and tradition, the Egyptian Pharaohs at this time in Egypt would never commit adultery with another man's wife. But they did not hesitate to murder a man if they desired his wife. After killing the man, his wife would then be available. Thus, they could marry her and would not be committing adultery. " ( Old Testament Student Manual ) 

" To kill the husband in order to posses himself of his wife seems to have been a common royal custom in those days. A papyrus tells of a Pharaoh who acting on the advise of one of his princes, sent armed men to fetch a beautiful woman and make way with her husband. Another Pharaoh is promised by his priest on his tombstone that even after death her will kill Palestinian shriek and include their wives in his harem. "  ( Kasher, Encyclopedia of Biblical interpretation Vol. 2 pg. 128 ) 

As we read the following two quotes, perhaps we see how Sarah ( Sarai ) was given her own Abrahamic trial in this instance, which allowed her to gain more faith as she saw the hand of the Lord allowing her return to her husband because of the interventions of God. 

“All intelligent beings who are crowned with crowns of glory, immortality, and eternal lives must pass through every ordeal appointed for intelligent beings to pass through, to gain their glory and exaltation. Every calamity that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered to come upon the few, to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord. If we obtain the glory that Abraham obtained, we must do so by the same means he did. If we are ever prepared to enjoy the society of Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or of their faithful children, and of the faithful Prophets and Apostles, we must pass through the same experience, and gain the knowledge, intelligence, and endowments that will prepare us to enter into the celestial kingdom of our Father and God. . . Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation. . . It is recorded that Jesus was made perfect through suffering. If he was made perfect through suffering, why should we imagine for one moment that we can be prepared to enter into the kingdom of rest with him and the Father, without passing through similar ordeals.”
- Brigham Young,  Discourses of Brigham Young,  p. 345-346

 Elder Bruce R. McConkie
“Where spiritual things are concerned, as pertaining to all of the gifts of the Spirit, with reference to the receipt of revelation, the gaining of testimonies, and the seeing of visions, in all matters that pertain to godliness and holiness and which are brought to pass as a result of personal righteousness—in all these things men and women stand in a position of absolute equality before the Lord” (“Our Sisters from the Beginning,” Ensign, Jan. 1979, 61).
“The Lord never sends apostles and prophets and righteous men to minister to his people without placing women of like spiritual stature at their sides. … The exaltation of the one is dependent upon that of the other” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:302).

Plague was Closing the Wombs

As we read Genesis 12 and we watch Abraham even after following the directions from the Lord; to leave his father's land , still come into  great trial as his wife was taken into the PHARAOH' S house for a time. From this we can first learn that even when the Lord asks us to do something, it does not mean that His route will always be the smoothest route, but  as we follow His instructions, we will be protected and things will work out for us, and  likely having grown our faith as well. 

We see the way that the Lord worked out Abraham getting his wife back as He put a plague upon the Pharoah's house that caused this Pharaoh to let Sarah return to her husband Abraham. 

We can learn from additional scripture that the plague that was put on Pharaoh's house was the wombs of his women being shut up and upon Abraham's wife being released back to him Pharaoh's women were able to become pregnant again. 

Genesis 20: 
17 ¶So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.
18 For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.

From this we can also witness the great gift being given in the blessing of producing offspring  as it was a plague or consequence to not be able to bare children in this case. 

We can also recall Abraham's promise to have innumerable offspring as a reward for righteousness.

I can feel the great love that our God has for His spirit children in this example and the way that rearing our own children is such a reward to parents. 

Psalm 27: 
3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

I know that many in the world today do not see the beauty of creating posterity and some that even have their own children may wonder as Abraham could have, " Why do you send me on this route if it was going to be hard or problematic? " 

We can remember that God helped things work out for Abraham to get his wife back and also we can see the great blessings we are given in our children, our relationship and deep testimonies that He has allowed us to have. 

I hope that I can follow the incredible Abraham's example and that I can honor my privilege as a Mother. 

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Genesis 12:
10 ¶And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:
12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
14 ¶And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.
15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.
16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
17 And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.
18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?
19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

Leaving UR

I have been considering all the ways that I can learn from Abraham following the directions from the Lord to leave Ur. 

As I sit in my car giving my son a few more min. Of sleep before I walk into the Liberty Jail Site, I reflect on not just Abraham but Moses, Lehi, and all the New Testament Apostles, plus our beloved Joseph Smith. Each disciple of Christ has a commonality  that allows them the ability to not just inwardly manifest their devotion, but also outwardly manifest their love and devotion to Him, through following His Divine instructions that sometimes require extreme hard ships.

Genesis 12:
1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.

What is the commonality? They loved God with a desire that led to action. Actions that drove them to follow His instructions. 

My daughter Brooke explained this exactly right this morning upon finding out that we were going to visit church sites. She was hesitant. She explained that she did not want to see the places that our pioneers of our church died. She said " that is sad, I think it would be better to just read the Doctrine and Covenants and show them we care about them by reading what came of it, the scriptures."

She understands and has the kind if love for God that leads to action. The actions of following the commandments and doing things that are difficult, but none the less directed by God, is how we honor Him best, just like she thought that would honor them best...by reading their scriptures.

A talk titled " Refusing to Worship Graven Images Today " explains the cause of loving God less than we should:

The second of the Ten Commandments the Lord gave to Moses is “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.” (Ex. 20:4.) While this commandment was initially given to fortify Israel against the idolatry rampant in the land of Canaan, it has great application for us today. 

Since the Lord has not rescinded the commandment, we need to look at our lives and see if we are worshiping graven images. There are “golden calves” all around today

—tangible images like cars, and others that are more intangible. When anything wastefully dominates our time, compromises our loyalty, or confuses our priorities so that God and his work become second, we are flirting with idolatry.
“The phrase ‘before me’ in the familiar translation ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ is the Hebrew phrase‘al-panai, which means ‘in front of’—either to the exclusion of another or ‘in preference,’ or ‘in addition to.’ The meaning is clear: those who worship the Lord should not make or adopt any other object to worship.” 1
In both the first and second commandments, we are taught not to put anything above God in our lives. We understand, of course, that the Lord is pleased to bless us with material necessities and pleasures. The problem comes when we worship the created instead of the Creator. What, then, are the consequences of modern idolatry, and how can we guard against breaking this commandment?

Golden Calves Today

President Spencer W. Kimball wrote: “There are unfortunately millions today who prostrate themselves before images of gold and silver and wood and stone and clay. But the idolatry we are most concerned with here is the conscious worshiping of still other gods. Some are of metal and plush and chrome, of wood and stone and fabrics. They are not in the image of God or of man, but are developed to give man comfort and enjoyment, to satisfy his wants, ambitions, passions and desires. Some are in no physical form at all, but are intangible.” 2
Too often people make men their graven images. Because we are afraid of the opinion of others, we won’t serve others or be kind to those society looks down on. We worship others’ praise and honor; we desire above all else the prestige others can give us. We want the right titles and awards. We want to wear the right clothing. We want to fit in.
Emphasis on personal appearance could lead to a form of idolatry. While a clean and healthy body is important, some people go to extraordinary lengths to emulate the models fashioned by the world. Our society too often equates personal happiness with its definition of personal beauty. Beautiful men and women smile from advertisements in magazines, in newspapers, and on television. Trying unsuccessfully to emulate these unrealistic images, many people live in a state of perpetual discontent. 

Money is one of the most common images that people bow down to today. They bow down by giving up their integrity and honesty in dealing with others in order to obtain it. They bend their principles as they are bowing down.”

When we truly love God we do not pit anything else before Him and that means that we do not spend more time on Him than we do our hobbies or pursuits in life. 
I think the fact that I have been coming to Missouri for the past ten years and I had been afraid to offend someone if I took l time away to see church sites tells me that I did not put God first in the past. 
I am so thankful for the examples of the prophets and apostles whom loved God enough to sacrifice their lives for His cause. I love each of them and my hear t aches for their sorrows and  today especially for Joseph Smith, but I will not let their examples of having no idols before God go to waste and I will let my love lead me to action in trying to serve Him through the things that I choose to spend my time on. 
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Will Wondered His Name In Heaven

As I continue to read in Genesis 12 I have been pondering upon the great prophet Abraham.

Coincidentally or not,  my precious son William ( five-years old ) asked me a question that could be answered because of our father Abraham.

At night when I put my children for bed, we gather for prayer ( thankfully Kevin joins us for prayer ), after prayer I take turns studying the scriptures with each child.

Will randomly asked me after scripture study last week, " Well, what is my real name Mommy? "

I said, " It is William Allen Turano. Your first name comes from Grandpa Turano and your middle name is the same as Grandpa Pack's name. "

Will responded, " No, No, I mean what did God name me? You named me those names. What was my name in heaven before I came to earth."

At that moment I was not sure what to respond to Will except that when he goes to the temple someday Heavenly Father can help him understand more.

Will, If you would have asked me that question this week, and not last week, I might have had a better answer for you.

Through this great prophet Abraham in the Old Testament you have been blessed to be called many names by God; if you keep your baptismal covenants, which include taking upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, and if you keep the covenants that you will make in the temple someday.

This great Abraham was referred to as :

God's friend  ( James 2:23 )
Father of many nations  ( Genesis 17:4 )
Prophet of faith ( Hebrews 11: 8 )
Blessing to all the families of the earth ( Genesis 12: 3 )

It is especially neat that you asked such a question of truth Will. You were right that your name is William to us, but you are much more than William to God. You see God giving his son's and daughter's a name through Him is one of His patterns; it is symbolism or a way to remember that when we submit ourselves to Him, give up our lives to Him, and become new creatures through Jesus Christ, every part of us will change, and we will become a new person; thus through out the pattern in the scriptures, a new name is given as well.

When Abram ( Abraham ) was ninety years old the Lord appeared to him and changed his name to Abraham ( Genesis 17 )

Jesus changed Simon's name to  Peter ( Matthew 16:18 )

Saul, after having his great conversion was given the name of Paul ( Acts 13: 9 )

Jacob was promised " a company of nations to come forth from him " and his name was changed to Israel. ( Genesis 35: 10 )

And Will, in many scriptures ( one of those being Galatians 3:29  ) we learn that if you are Christ's or in other words a member of His church then you are Abraham's seed, or child " according to the promise " which means that you also bare Abraham's names.

So Will, God did give you a great privilege to carry a great name before you came to this earth. You have been blessed to be raised in His church on the earth. Jesus Christ's church, so you are His.

Even before you came to earth William, I have no doubt that you were known as

          God's friend ; Future Father of Many Nations ; God's Faithful Servant ; The Leaven ; The Salt ; Joint-Heir with Christ ; God's Chosen ; Peculiar ; Blessing To All The Families of The Earth ;
Abraham's Child ; Child of God and my favorite all;

                                                           Latter-day Saint...........

Thank you Will for reminding me whom it is that I am as a Latter-day Saint. Thank you for caring about your Heavenly Father enough to want to know what HE CALLS YOU.

Thank you for reminding us all the names that we bare as members of Christ's church and what marvelous blessings that we have now as His, in His Kingdom on earth ; and for what we have to look forward to if we keep our covenants..... in the next life.

We are so very blessed. Let's show Him how thankful we are and how much we love Him through our choices and desires. I hope to live worthy of the blessings and names that we are worthy of as we keep our covenants the best that we can, and repent daily as we know that no one is perfect on earth besides Him.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Ask for help to be more righteous

As we read in Genesis 11 & 12 we are introduced to a most inspiring and influential prophet Abraham. 
Abraham was the son of Terah , whom was a descendant of Shem. ( Shem was a righteous son of Noah who was promised  with blessings and the service of Ham's posterity ) . 
We can learn the significance of making righteous choices and their affect on our posterity as we see Shem's promises being fulfilled through Abraham's directions to leave the wicked place of Ur. Abraham was instructed to leave Ur in order to be protected from temptation and maintain his desires to be righteous. Even though Terah, the father of Abraham served other Gods as it states in Joshua 24:2, God's promise to Shem was being put back on course as Abraham desired righteousness. 
Joshua 24:2 
 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
 Abraham was surrounded by individuals whom worshiped idols, yet his desires to be righteous soared to great heights. Abraham was blessed beyond measure because of his desires and because he asked God in prayer how to gain more righteousness as he asked God for help. 
Abraham states : 
Abraham 1:2
2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right where unto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.
Abraham was given the blessings that he " sought " because he asked for them, and was trying to be worthy of such blessings. 
This is the response to his prayer
Abraham 2: 7-11
"My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations; And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father; And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal" 
As I ponder Abraham's choice to behave differently than those surrounding him I consider my own life and how deep my desires to do what is right  are? Each and everyday there is a struggle in my life to choose to spend time on something that will be of service to God, the world, or myself? I hope that I can choose to be of service to God more often, and I do pray to have the same blessings that Abraham desired. I can testify that as I have prayed for the strength to make righteous choices, I have been given the help and strength. I admire Abraham's choice to get out of the place that he would be more influenced by worldly ways.
 I do know that as I go to the temple and keep my covenants, my posterity will be greatly blessed like Shem's and Abraham's. I do feel great appreciation for the promises given to Abraham, as I know these promises are given to all members of the church and to those whom keep their temple covenants. 
"All of the covenants we make as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from baptism to temple sealing, are part of the Abrahamic Covenant; the Abrahamic Covenant is just the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the added emphasis of the responsibility to share the gospel with other potential heirs.  When any person joins the church through baptism, he becomes an heir of Abraham; then it becomes his duty and joy to share that gospel with others.

Four Ways the Nations are Blessed by the Abrahamic Covenant:
1) Jesus Christ's Atonement
2) Priesthood
3) Leaven of Righteousness
4) Opportunity to join Abraham's family, or discover that they already belong, and receive the Holy Ghost"
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:246)
I have a quote by Neal A. Maxwell hanging on my bathroom mirror that I read daily and do believe is true.
 I believe this quote has become true for the great Abraham that we have an incredible example in. Maxwell states: 
"What we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity. “For I [said the Lord] will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts” (D&C 137:9; see also Jer. 17:10)"
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.