Monday, September 28, 2015

Spiritual Experiences Help Us Endure

n Genesis 15 Abraham begins losing faith that his promise from the Lord would be fulfilled. Sarah in her old age had not born him a son which would allow innumerable posterity. We can learn a great lesson from Abraham, Lehi and Nephi as they have all had similar experiences as this account.

One reason why being able to recognize our promptings that have come from the spirit and to know that God has spoken to  us directly about our daily lives- is because we all have times when we will need to be able to recall and hold close these sacred experiences that we have in our hearts and journals; in order that we can endure our trials. 

 The Lord knows what is coming for us and He is giving us spiritual experiences that we can hold onto to in order to help us endure through hard times . Perhaps Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life was a great tender mercy that he could hold onto while thrashing in the sea with his rebellious children Laman and Lemuel as they were punished by the storm? Perhaps Nephi seeing the life of the Savior on earth in His ministry would prepare him to endure in faith when he would witness the fate of his people's - destruction? And help him to endure on and end with the witness that his words would be as if they were spoken from the dust and convert many to Christ?

In this account Abraham has a wondrous experience as he asked God if he could choose his heir to be his foreman Eliezer - to ensure that the promise would be fulfilled in some way? God was quite merciful in Abraham's lack of faith as he reassured him with spiritual experiences:

Genesis 15: 5

  • Old Testament
5And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars , if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 
It seems as though Abraham still did not believe him - Abraham asked him again? 

JSTGenesis 15: 9: 9

  • Joseph Smith Translation
9And Abram said, Lord God, how wilt thou give me this land for an everlasting inheritance? 
The Lord reminds him that He is God and what He says goes...
and then the Lord tells him to make an offering which signified a covenant between the two. 
This also reminds me of my experiences as I have been told to go to the temple when my faith begins to lack ( in God's promises being fulfilled.)
After Abraham had this spiritual experience he, like Lehi and Nephi saw Jesus Christ in his earthly ministry: 

JSTGenesis 15: 12: 12

  • Joseph Smith Translation
12And it came to pass, that Abram looked forth and saw the days of the Son of Man, and was glad, and his soul found rest, and he believed in the Lord; and the Lord counted it unto him for righteousness. 
Finally, perhaps Abraham was able to endure and have faith when shortly after these spiritual experiences, Abraham fell into a  " deep sleep " wherein he saw that his posterity would be slaves to Egypt. 
  • Old Testament
13And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 
I can not hardly imagine what it must have been like for Abraham to see his posterity suffer as slaves, but I know that those promises that were made to Abraham must have assured him that in the end- All will be well- Because he must put his trust in God. 
In my life when I have wondered upon the state that me, my husband, my children, and my posterity will be in eternity, I have been able to hold onto the spiritual experiences that I have had in that I do not know exactly how things will end, but that I do know that God's will be done, as all things are done in wisdom, patience and long suffering ( Mosiah 4:6 ) by God and His Matchless power. I trust in Him and I submit my will to His because I know that as I keep my temple covenants, love others, read my scriptures, pray and become more like Him; I will be worthy of the exact same blessings that our Father Abraham was promised in these very chapters, and that is all that I need to know because I love Him and I know from experience that showing Him that I love Him is the thing that has brought me the most happiness in life. 
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Melchizedek's name

When reading Genesis 14 considering the " High Priest Melchizedek" again, It was brought to my attention the importance of a name. If our names were not important then the meanings of the names of individuals in the holy scriptures would likely not be mentioned as frequently, since everything in the scriptures is sacred and has been inspired by God. 

JST, Genesis 14:36

36 And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.

Hebrews 7:2

2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
From David Ridges " Old Testament Made Easier ", we learn that :
"Melchizedek literally means  " King of righteousness." Melchi means : King and Zedek means: righteousness."
My own hypothesis ( me, Emily Turano ) is that perhaps the confusion of Melchizedek actually being Shem, came because some individuals called Shem a name with more holy honor; which was Melchizedek. I consider the way that we call Bishop, " Bishop " for life, even after they not our Bishops anymore? 
I am reminded again of that special and unforgettable dream that I had when just a few weeks pregnant with my precious daughter Brooke. The dream awoke me suddenly and I could not forget the voice that in my sleep told me, " You have a daughter and her name is Brooke." At that time there was not a way to know if I was carrying a boy or girl, nor had I ever considered that name and I did not like it even after my dream....but, I could not deny that was special. 
Brooke is exactly like her name means. A Brooke is the stream. I remember when Lehi bid his sons to be like the river continually flowing in righteousness. 

1 Nephi 2:9

9 And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!
Brooke has even been the path that put into the river of continually righteousness. When I began to have my full conversion she was my motivation and strength to change. In this way Brooke led me to that river and it is most true that she inspires our whole family in her patience, giving heart and love. 

  1. 1. "Give," said the little stream,
    "Give, oh! give, give, oh! give."
    "Give," said the little stream,
    As it hurried down the hill;
    "I'm small, I know, but wherever I go
    The fields grow greener still."
  2. Singing, singing all the day,
    "Give away, oh! give away."
    Singing, singing all the day,
    "Give, oh! give away."
  3. 2. "Give," said the little rain,
    "Give, oh! give, give, oh! give."
    "Give," said the little rain,
    As it fell upon the flow'rs;
    "I'll raise their drooping heads again,"
    As it fell upon the flow'rs.
  4. 3. Give, then, as Jesus gives,
    Give, oh! give, give, oh! give.
    Give, then, as Jesus gives;
    There is something all can give.
    Do as the streams and blossoms do:
    For God and others live.
Brooke loves her name because she knows that God named her, not me. 
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Whom is Melchizedek?

Reading Genesis 14 prompted me to study the " High Priest  Melchizedek " whom Abraham paid his tithes to. This is what the " Lectures on Faith " by Joseph Smith says about      Melchizedek. 

Shem was Melchizedek 

From this definite account of driving the "nations apart, 
when the ancient hills did bow," all reflecting minds may judge 
that man was scattered over the whole face of the earth. And 
with the superior knowledge of men like Noah, Shem (who was 
Melchizedek) and Abraham, the father of the faithful, three 
cotemporaries, holding the keys of the highest order of the 
priesthood: connecting the creation, and fall; memorising the 
righteousness of Enoch; and glorying in the construction oi 
the ark for the salvation of a world; still retaining the model 
and pattern of that ark, than which a great, ah, we might say, 
half so great a vessel has never been built since; for another 
ark, be it remembered, with such a ponderous living freight will 
never be prepared as a vessel of mercy by command of Jehovah. 
Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, p. 746. 
Nauvoo, Illinois, December 15, 1844. Elder John Taylor, Editor.) 

The Faith of Melchizedek 

(From Inspired 'Translation" of Scriptures, by 
Joseph the Prophet) 

Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought right- 
eousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths 
of lions, and quenched the violence of fire. 

And thus, having been approved of God. he was ordained 
an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made 
with Enoch. 

It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, 
not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; 
neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God; 


And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own 
voice, according to his will, unto as many as believed on his name. 

For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with 
an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order 
and calling should dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; 

To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the 
earth; to break every hand, to stand in the presence of God; to 
do all things according to his will, according to his command, 
subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son 
of God which was from before the foundation of the world. 

And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of 
God, were translated and taken up into heaven. 

And now Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore 
he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the prince of peace. 

And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, 
and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, 
separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter 
days, or the end of the world; 

And hath said, and sworn with an oath, that the heavens 
and the earth should come together; and the sons of God should 
be tried so as by fire. 

Genesis 14:26-35. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Abraham pays tithing- Offer ourselves as a sacrifice

As I have been reading the Old Testament and learning about Abraham through the scriptures I have been surprised at how often Abraham offers a sacrifice and burnt offerings to God. Of course this is a foreshadowing that the Lamb of God - Jesus Christ as the ultimate sacrifice - which allows us all resurrection and salvation - yet I have pondered frequently how devoted to God that Abraham was. I desire to be like Abraham and show how much that I love God.

In Genesis 14:18 Melchizedek, King of Salem " brought bread and wine ". This documentation likely was Abraham taking the sacrament. ( Melchizedek was the " Priest of the most high God "  which gave him authority to bless and administer the sacrament ) 
 In Genesis 14:20 we witness Abraham paying his tithing to Melchizedek. 

Today we do not offer animal sacrifices to pay our tithing. Although we do pay our tithing from income that we make - as disciples of Christ whom have made sacred covenants with God - We have promised that we will offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God - whom we love and trust in. 

In the Gospel Principles Manual it states :

"We Must Be Willing to Sacrifice Everything We Have to the Lord

  • The Apostle Paul wrote that we should become living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God (see Romans 12:1). "
Romans 12 :

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy,acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
These scriptures explain that we must give up all of our worldly or natural desires. Mosiah 3:19 explains the same truth that : As the natural man with in us - we must put it off - and become willing to submit to God's will. 

God's will is written throughout the scriptures and by prophets and apostles. Of course after "seeking " to know his will through our own studies of His words, we must also pray to receive conformation that what we are doing is actually His will in our lives? 
  • New Testament
15Love not the world , neither the things that are in the world . If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 
16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world . 
The lust of the flesh includes all of our natural appetites for food, drink and all of the human urges - physical or emotional - that are not motivated out of righteousness. 
The lust of the eyes includes materialism or coveting anything that we see but do not have and envying those whom have what we want. 
Pride of life is ambition that is motivated out of selfishness, jealousy, being puffed up or revengeful. 
I personally desire to work on overcoming my worldly ways. Just as we are blessed with seen - and unseen blessings as we physically pay our tithing- as we offer ourselves as a sacrifice to God - we are blessed with spiritual gifts and angels as our associates that help us serve Him better.
You are now placed in a situation where you can act according to those sympathies which God has planted in your bosoms. If you live up to these principles how great and glorious!—if you live up to your privilege, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates. … If you will be pure, nothing can hinder.
Joseph Smith
"If we are to be a living sacrifice, we must be willing to give everything we have for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—to build the kingdom of God on the earth and labor to bring forth Zion (see 1 Nephi 13:37)."  Gospel Principles Manual 
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Guilty By Association

In Genesis 14 we learn that Abraham's " brother " Lot had been captured in war and that Abraham quickly went to his rescue: 

 Genesis 14: 14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.

 We can learn many things from this account. 

First, we have the example of putting our family first as Abraham immediately went to the rescue his " brother ".

 Second, we learn a great deal about the way that we must not only maintain good character, but also avoid situations where our character could be misjudged because of our associations and dealings. 

 As Abraham was successful in rescuing Lot, and all of the King of Sodom's men and goods, Abraham was esteemed highly for his efforts, and the King of Sodom offered him the goods that he retrieved as a gift to Abraham for his service. 

 Genesis 14: 21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. 22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: 24 Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

 Abraham's decision to not take the reward of the goods- first, can be a witness to his devotion to keep his covenants ( his promise to not be of the world or to accept offerings in worldly ways, but to love God and despise evil and all associated with it. ) 

Second, we learn a manner in which Abraham had made his covenants, as he explains that he " lift up his hand " to the Lord that he will not have any portion of evil ( associations/dealings with the King of Sodom ). 

 I wonder if there may have been some temptation involved for Abraham to accept the offering from the King of Sodom not only for the wealth he would obtain, but also for the pride he might have in his heart for being recognized by a worldly king? 

Thankfully Abraham chose to keep his promise to love God and despise evil ( you can not serve two masters ) and protect the name of Jesus Christ, which he represented.

 As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are being watched all of the time. As we are righteous we stand as a witness that He is righteous. If we are not careful about our associations and friends we may not be able to maintain our good character and even if we do not fall to temptation, we risk polluting the reputation of God - GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION - as it has been explained.

The Adversary would have us pollute the name of His church through our bad character. If he can not persuade us to have bad character, he will tempt others to misjudge our character in order to tear down The Kingdom of God on earth ( the church ). 

 These are some scriptures that add to the truths that Abraham teaches us during this account: 

 1 Thessalonians 5:22 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. 

 - Proverbs 13: 20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. 

 - 1 Corinthians 15: 33 Do not be deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 

 - 2 Corinthians 6: 14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

 In my own life I have greatly been mistaken in my past as I allowed myself to be deceived with the lie that I could associate/deal with those whom had different standards than myself and not be influenced or considered to be like them.

 I have suffered consequences in those choices. Today I am in great peace to know that my character will not be misjudged because of the places that I spend my time in, and the things that I spend my time on. 

 I am eternally thankful for these examples that we have the in the scriptures and I will never be able to adequately express the love that I have in my heart for my Savior whom has allowed me more chances each day to be a better representative of Him and to keep on trying each and everyday. 

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

Are you Facing the world?

In Genesis 13 we read about Lot ( Abraham's Nephew ) facing his tent towards Sodom and Gomorrah.  

Genesis 13:
12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

Sodom and Gomorrah was  " located in the plain of Jordan and had become synonymous with evil because of the wickedness of their people." ( OT Seminary Teacher Manual) 

In Genesis 14 we learn that after Lot faced his tent towards Sodom and Gomorrah and he eventually moved into this wicked area, which then followed four local kings uniting their forces, attacking several cities (including Sodom and Gomorrah), and taking their inhabitants captive.

Lot ultimately was taken captive because he chose to face towards a wicked place. 

This example of facing the wrong way reminded me of the recent General Conference Talk Titled, " Which Way Do You Face" by Lynn G. Robbins. As I pondered as to why Lot may have decided to move into the wicked place I wondered; Did it look like fun? Was he worried he wasn't matching up to those around him? Was he influenced by others? Was he seeking for happiness in the wrong places?

"Trying to please others before pleasing God is inverting the first and second great commandments (see Matthew 22:37–39). It is forgetting which way we face. And yet, we have all made that mistake because of the fear of men. In Isaiah the Lord warns us, “Fear ye not the reproach of men” (Isaiah 51:7; see also 2 Nephi 8:7). 

When people try to save face with men, they can unwittingly lose face with God. Thinking one can please God and at the same time condone the disobedience of men isn’t neutrality but duplicity, or being two-faced or trying to “serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24; 3 Nephi 13:24).While it certainly takes courage to face perils, the true badge of courage is overcoming the fear of men. "
The Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual States:

Seemingly small choices can lead to large consequences. In Lot’s case, his decision to pitch his tent toward Sodom led to serious consequences."

Likely, Lot originally had no intention of going into the worldly place of Sodom and Gomorrah, but it began with his small choice to look into it. 

I am reminded of a lesson that I was taught by a wise person : We have no choice but to be surrounded at this time with the Great and Spacious Building all around us in the messages that we are sent, but the ways that we respond to what we see around us is a true manifestation of whether or not we are in the world, but not OF it. 

Matthew 6:25 :
And, again, I say unto you, go ye into the world, and care not for the world; for the world will hate you, and will persecute you, and will turn you out of their synagogues. 

I have found the best way for me to be in this world, but not of it - has been to seek to learn about the world that I want to be in someday ( God's kingdom ) . As I read the words of prophets and apostles in talks and scriptures I am given a portion of knowledge of what God's Kingdom is like. I have been given a portion of His Kingdom within me as I feel of His Spirit, and as the words in talks and scriptures come to my mind frequently - by way of the Spirit. 

I know as my children grow it will be increasingly difficult to withstand the temptation to not be influenced by the world. Although we are surrounded by the Great and Spacious Buildings messages, there are some places that we must refuse to go into as we choose where to spend our time, what we read, and those we choose to be friends with.

This story told by President Benson gives a great explanation of this principle: 

“I am reminded of a story of a young girl who, with her date, was going to a place of questionable reputation, against the wise counsel of her parents. Her question was, ‘What harm is there in just going in to see what goes on there?’ Her parents apparently gave in to her and suggested that she wear her lovely white dress for the occasion. Before her young man arrived, her father said, ‘Would you do me a favor before you go and go out to the smokehouse and bring in a side of bacon?’
“The girl was aghast at this request and said, ‘In my best dress? I would never get rid of that awful smell.’ Her mother said, ‘That is right, you can’t go into the smokehouse without absorbing some of the influence there. We think you are smart enough not to go into a  place where you would come out any less beautiful and clean than when you went in.’ With that wise counsel, this young girl made the right decision to keep herself unspotted and clean from evil influences in the world.”4
While I have so many things that I need to do better in order to be a better servant to my God that I love, I am thankful to know that where He is and where He wants us all to be is such a loving, peaceful, and perfect place. I know that we would not appreciate what our God is willing to give us if we had not had our trials and earthly experiences that teach us patience, hard work and enduring to the end. As we strive to become more like Him, we come to know better whom He is, and we love Him with a depth that could not have come to us in any other way. I love Him with all of my heart. 

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