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Showing posts from 2008

"The Words of Isaiah," 2 Nephi 6:1-7

2 Nephi 6:1-7

Near the beginning of what is the longest grouping of verses quoted from Isaiah in the Book of Mormom, we get just a brief taste of what is in to come.

Jacob, the brother of Nephi, takes a few moments at the head of this chapter to define his authority in terms of his responsibilities and obligations to those that he teaches. It is interesting to note the repetitive nature of his message, which he acknowledges to those that he is addressing (see vs 3). This is one pattern of leadership that I see to be similar in the modern church.

Another such pattern is that he is on assignment from his brother, their prophet leader, to address a specific set of scripture taken from Isaiah. This too is common at all levels in the Church today, to receive instruction from their priesthood leaders to act accordingly. What impresses me about Jacob's approach, however, is how engrossed he was in the topic at hand. It seems that he only offers the remark that Nephi had requested this topi…

"The Manner of Happiness" , 2 Nephi 5:26-34

2 Nephi 5:26-34
see also Alma 50:12:23

"Thus Moroni, with his armies, which did increase daily because of the assurance of protection which his works did bring forth unto them, did seek to cut off the strength and the power of the Lamanites from off the lands of their possessions, that they should have no power upon the lands of their possession." (Alma 50:12)

“Brethren, stand close together and lift where you stand.” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, quoting Hanno Luschin, "Lift Where You Stand," Liahona, November 2008)

It is curious that the link between the two groups of verses above was through the word "happiness". In verse 20 of Alma 50, the author also references a prophecy from Lehi, made shortly before Nephi's account in 2 Nephi 5. "Blessed art thou and thy children; and they shall be blessed, inasmuch as they shall keep my commandments they shall prosper in the land. But remember, inasmuch as they will not keep my commandments they shall be …

"A Sore Cursing...Save They Shall Repent," 2 Nephi 5: 21-25

2 Nephi 5:21-25

I struggled with these verses yesterday when I was study it in Spanish, not because of the language but because of my perceived severity of the curse. Because of their unrighteousness, this particular branch of the house of Israel was punished with the cursing of a darker skin.

In our modern circumstances, a darker skin seems hardly a curse. In fact, as I reflected in Doctrine and Covenants 95:1, I was reminded that with every chastisement, the Lord is merciful and had prepared a way for their eventual salvation, whatever their lot in life is. What's more, whom the Lord loves, He chastens. I feel that this condemnation that fell upon the Lamanites was also extended in love.

What is even more curious, as Nephi is making account of the Lamanites' curse, the Lord says unto him that the Lamanites will keep the Nephites in remembrance of the Lord unto repentance, or else "they shall scourge them even unto destruction," (vs. 25). Despite their curse, brought…

"And The Lord Was With Us," 2 Nephi 5:8-20

2 Nephi 5:8-20

Nephi acknowledges the Lord's involvement at this critical moment of transition. For Nephi, this knowledge is indispensable. In recognizing the presence of the Lord in their dealings, Nephi gives credit to the source of his blessings first.

From Matthew 6:33, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

Nephi's account here is evidence of the Lord's promises that unto the righteous, the Lord will bless them in all things that they need.

"The Lord Did Warn Me," 2 Nephi 5:3-7

2 Nephi 5:3-7

Laman and Lemuel truly had murderous intentions, so fixed was their determination to rid themselves of Nephi and his admonitions to righteousness. The seriousness of their intentions were revealed to Nephi as a warning from the Lord.

Following the topical guide for further references of Divine warning, the preface to the Word of Wisdom stands out as a warning for our times (see D&C 89:4). There is also this passage of scriptures in Doctrine and Covenants 63 that warns us to not take lightly the things of God (see verses 58-66).

Warnings come from God, so that if we follow their instructions we are the benefactors of "a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, otherwise, a greater condemnation," (D&C 63:66).

From a Footnote in 2 Nephi 5:1-2

2 Nephi 5:1-2

Following the footnotes for "anger" in these first two verses has brought me to a curiously timely grouping of scriptures in Psalms 37. I will reprint it here in it's entirety. I believe that God talks to men through the scriptures, and this morning is a particularly acute evidence of such a belief.

Psalms 37: 1-21:
1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou aenvious against the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be acut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 3 aTrust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the adesires of thine heart. 5 aCommit thy bway unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall abring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the Lord, and wait apatiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who p…

"O Lord, I Have Trusted in Thee, " 2 Nephi 4:28-35

2 Nephi 4:28-35

This last part of this chapter has been difficult for me to get my mind around. I have had some distractions these past few days that have made it harder for me to focus on my studies when I've made them.

Verse 34 stands out as important this go around. I've poured over the verses that reference "trusted" and "trust" in that verse.

Ezekiel 33:13 - "When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it."

These verse of scripture are a reprimand to me this morning, lovingly extended from a righteous Father in Heaven. I'm gliding too much, trusting too much in my own righteousness... which in all reality is DEATH. For he that truly puts his trust in God shall be prospered in the land (see Helaman 12:1)

"In So Much Mercy," 2 Nephi 4:20-27

2 Nephi 4:20-27

Nephi's optimism is based on one profound argument: "If the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow...?" (vs. 26) The depth, breadth, and scope of such optimism embraces all.

I was reading in the morning paper about the passing of Elder Worthlin and one particular observation noted that he strove to live his life according to the knowledge that he possessed. This thought seems to be akin to the feelings that Nephi is feeling here. It is motivation to me to live my life more in harmony with the knowledge that the Lord has blessed me with.

With so many evidences of the Lord's influence in one's life -- Nephi has a long personal list (see verses 20-25) -- the compelling argument becomes "why" (vs. 27).

Why should I allow myself to commit sin?
Why should I give temptations the time of day in place of peace and contentment?
Why should I…

Sobriety Revisited, 2 Nephi 4:15-19

2 Nephi 4:15-19

Within one's capacity to have a sober mind, there is the strength of legions and the power of God. The glories of God when experienced in a pureness of heart are rapturous beyond description. Yet without a sober outlook and the ability to frequently remember one's own weaknesses, such powerful, divine manifestations are lost as quickly as they come.

A sober mind and a sincere heart then make us capable of doing the Lord's work and prepares us as human beings to handle the extremely powerful manifestations of the Holy Ghost, to work with His influence, and to avoid the cycle of pride common to man.

This explains the look that I have seen in the eyes of several bishops I've work with over the years. Where I would have expected to have seen great excitement or rejoicing, instead the response was calm yet appreciative. It is the mastery of themselves and knowing who's work they are about that invokes a sober response.

"The Feelings of His Heart and the Spirit of the Lord," 2 Nephi 4:10-14

2 Nephi 4:10-14

I've approached my study this morning wanting to see the role of God in these particular verses. Nephi says that his father spoke according to the feelings of his heart and the Spirit of the Lord (see vs. 12). Recently, I found myself wanting to distinguish a particular impression, wondering if it was my own desires or the promptings of the Holy Ghost. This scriptures suggests that our hearts can be in harmony with the Spirit of the Lord. Thus the Lord's desires can also be our desires.

This, to me, seems to be difficult grounds to walk on. Such unity of purpose in Lehi was manifested at the end of his life. (This brief statement of purpose is Nephi's final tribute to his father.) There are challenges associated with knowing that one's path is pleasing to God. Meekness, humility, gratitude, complete devotion to God, constant course correction, and adherence to every goodly principle are requirements of such knowledge.

Nephi, by this point in his life, had …

"In the End Thy Seed Shall Be Blessed," 2 Nephi 4:1-9

2 Nephi 4:1-9

While not as detailed as the promises made to their little brother, Joseph, Lehi does promise the children of both Laman and Lemuel that in the end of times, "[the Lord] will be merciful unto you and unto your seed forever,"(see vs. 7). He also tells the children of Lemuel, "thou shalt not utterly be destroyed; but in the end thy seed shall be blessed," (see vs. 9).

Nephi descriptively expounded further upon the blessing that would be extended to remnant of their posterity in the last days, "their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people," (2 Nephi 30: 6).

I feel that, in a very small part, I have been and am a first hand witness of the miracle of the fulfillment of these prophecies. What we see today, may only be a scratching of the surface, compared to what will come about in a generation or two from now. The Latin-American p…

"Because of Their Faith," 2 Nephi 3:17-25

2 Nephi 3:17-25

The crux of the covenants that were made to Joseph and his fathers was that their posterity would have the opportunity in exercise faith in Christ unto repentance. That seems trivial in one sense. But the reality is that these are the terms of salvation, and after one has secured these promises for one's self, the next greatest thing unto it is the salvation of one's family. And salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ unto repentance, that we may become like He is, through Him, and because of Him.

Then will our praise of Him be so much more, because we will appear as He does now appear. Yet we will still bow in humble adoration of our God, our Redeemer, our All.

Conviction, 2 Nephi 3:16

2 Nephi 3:16

I am trying to understand where conviction comes from. In this verse quoted of Joseph of Egypt, he says, "I am sure of this thing." I have jogged the halls of my memory to find a talk of President Faust's where he quotes the classic English poem, Invictus by William Ernest Henley. Henley penned this poem in a crippled state.

The poem in is entirety is published online at . I reprint it here:

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


Soberness, Peace, and Strength, 2 Nephi 3:12-16

2 Nephi 3:12-16

In verse 12, the Bible and the Book of Mormon are described as growing together into one unifying voice. Its purposes are to confound false doctrines and stop contentions, establish peace among the descendants of Jospeh, and allow them to know of their ancestry and the Lord's covenants with them.

Not directly related with today's passage of scripture, but it has been weighing on my mind the significance of sobriety. There seems to be a strong connection between soberness and conviction and righteousness.

Twice in this passage of scriptures, Joseph of Egypt is quoted as saying in effect, "I am sure of this thing," (see vs 14, 16). This chapter is replete with prophecy in certain terms of the conditions of salvation that will be extended to the descendants of Joseph in the latter-days. This type of conviction is the result of a sober countenance.

This is a weakness of mine. It is hard not to become overly excited when a blessing is received from God. On th…

"A Seer Will I Raise Up," 2 Nephi 3:6-11

2 Nephi 3:6-11

In this discussion on how the seed of Joseph of Egypt would be preserved, Lehi quotes from records that they had (probably on the Brass Plates, their equivalent to the Old Testament) prophecies from Joseph of Egypt about a seer (or a prophet) who would preform a work of great value to his descendants.

In this grouping of verses, it goes on to explain the significance of this particular work: the recipients of the work would come to know of covenants that the Lord had made with their forefathers. Joseph said that this seer would be great like unto Moses. His work would be different from that of Moses, specifically his task would be to bring forth and establish the word of God, both in revealing new records and in clarifying existing records. Again, Joseph reiterated that this work would be of great value to his posterity.

The significance in Joseph's mind of being able to see this seer in modern times is that it gave him the reassurance of the fulfillment of a promise…

"[Joseph] Obtained a Promise of the Lord", 2 Nephi 3:4-5

2 Nephi 3:4-5

Here Father Lehi begins to explain the significance of being a direct descendant of Joseph of Egypt. He simply taught his son, Joseph, that their forefather had received great covenant promises from God.

Specifically, Joseph was promised that the Lord would preserve a righteous branch of his seed, that would be broken off and yet remembered in the covenants of the Lord. Then even more specifically, the way that they would be remembered is by a manifestation of the Messiah to them in the latter-days (our days), "in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light—yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom,"(vs 5).

God will do his work among his people, and has in many instances already begun to liberate his captive children through faith in Christ according to the conditions of this ancient covenant. But if the words of the prophets are true (and I believe they are), we have only begun to scratch the surface of the fulfi…

"Born... in the Days of My Greatest Sorrow," 2 Nephi 3:1-3

2 Nephi 3:1-3

(Perhaps this should be a post on my wife's blog about child birth from a father's perspective.)
These three verses paint a very strong argument for our prerogative to bare children. Here is a father's reflection on the circumstances surrounding the birth of his youngest son. Lehi describes the place where Joseph was born as "the wilderness of mine afflictions" and the time as "the days of my greatest sorrow".

Yes, to me this is curious that Lehi and Sariah felt the need to bare children on the road to the new world. From a worldly perspective, the timing couldn't have been worse.

But that timing some twenty or thirty years later, now seemed to father Lehi to be the substance of profound blessings and promises from the Lord. Lehi talks of the land being consecrated for Joseph and his posterity. Lehi also promises his youngest son that his posterity would not be utterly destroyed.

This was a blessing for Joseph, but was probably even more …

"The Great Mediator of All Men," 2 Nephi 2:26-30

2 Nephi 2:26-30

In these verses is one of the undergirding doctrines that supports all of humanity, not exclusively the Latter-day Saints. As the fall of man necessarily and universally removed him from God's presence, so it is that the redemption through the Holy Messiah overcomes the effects of that enough in this life to make men free agents for themselves to choose between good and evil. At the most basic level, the power to discern is a gift from God available to all men.

This is similar to the idea that I had discussed in an earlier post (the post was actually made in Spanish but was in reference to verses 9 and 10), that Christ had interceded on behalf of all, or in other words, prepared a path of redemption for all men. Even in verse 27, he is called "the great Mediator of all men".

"...That They Might Have Joy," 2 Nephi 2: 14-25

2 Nephi 2: 14-25

I had at first thought to entitle this entry: Creation and the Fall, but then I kept going. Lehi's purpose in offering this brief review of these two hallmarks of the Plan of Salvation is that it leads to a discussion on repentance and ultimately, joy.

It is valid to remember that in a state of innocence there is neither misery nor joy--for the one cannot exist without the other. The more salient point is that God want us to in our physical bodies to experience a fullness of joy. Or in so many words, it is better to experience joy, though the process to get there may be painful, than to remain in innocence and utterly devoid of experience.

For There Must Be... "Opposition in All Things," 2 Nephi 2:9-13

2 Nephi 2:9-13

As it is not so much my intention to offer an comprehensive study of the scriptures, but to make a record of impressions that I receive along the course of my study, I proceed with this entry under this pretext.

Following the footnotes for opposition, I come to Matthew 5:45 where the Savior taught to pray for everyone, especially for those with wicked intentions, to the end that we may become children of our Father in Heaven. Not that we will become set apart to some other, more elevated sphere of ecstasy. By praying for our enemies, we humble ourselves to caring about the depraved and godless. We make them our concern, our hearts are turned toward them. Then perhaps we see them more as our Father sees them.

Then we become children of God, because we begin to see others the way that God sees them. We feel for them like our Father feels for them. We become like God in this sense. Thus the Savior of man says at the end of chapter 5 in Matthew, "Be ye therefore perfect, …

"Redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah," 2 Nephi 2:5 & 6

2 Nephi 2:5 & 6

I've combed through the cross references to verses 5 & 6 this morning, and found myself concluding that man is fallen, and would be always, unless he come to rely wholly upon Jesus Christ (see 1 Nephi 10:6). The absoluteness of this simple statement is impressed upon me again. As mortals we are given enough to understand that alone man is carnal, subject to the effects of a broken law, and hopelessly consigned to a fate of misery and death. Only by exercising faith in the merits of Christ can we leave that consignment.

Christ is the sure road to salvation. And besides Him alone, there is no other way. This absolute dependence upon my Savior is somehow what I lack yet.

"Thou Hast Beheld... His Glory," 2 Nephi 2:1-4

2 Nephi 2:1-4

I am enthralled with the notion that Jacob in his youth had come to know God by personal manifestation. His father, Lehi, is also aware of this and makes mention of it several times in these first verses. When we consider Jacob's position however, it was extremely appropriate that Jacob would be privileged to have such a personal manifestation.

God reveals himself to his prophets, of whom Jacob eventually becomes one. Thus is the pattern of God. God then requires his prophets, those to whom he has revealed himself to testify of him. That is a weighty responsibility.

Lehi gives him the perspective of that privilege by explaining that the Spirit is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Thus what he had experienced put him on an equal plane as those who would walk with Christ in His mortal ministry. That is an important point.

"Hearken Unto the Voice of Nephi," 2 Nephi 1:24-32

2 Nephi 1:24-32

In these verses at the end of the chapter, I get a sense of the finality of Lehi's words. He puts into proper perspective the relationship between Nephi and his brothers.

To have been Nephi in this situation was one of those rare and humbling moments of affirmation, that only a true disciples of Christ would be permitted to experience. After Lehi sets straight Nephi's position, he gives (what is much more than an endorsement) instruction that if they listen and obey the councils of Nephi then they would be blessed in their new land of promise.

What Lehi had witnessed in Nephi is the resting of the prophetic mantel upon Nephi. Lehi had the absolute assurance that Nephi was prepared to take on the full leadership responsibilities of his family. The Lord had blessed Nephi, and Lehi promised his other children that they too would be blessed if they followed Nephi.

"The Anxiety of My Soul", 2 Nephi 1:13-23

2 Nephi 1:13-23

The natural course for one who has experienced the joy of redemption is to extend those blessings to others. In fact, it becomes their "obsession" to see that the opportunities for salvation are extended to all.

This is where Lehi is found: having partaken of the glories of God -- receiving the assurance of salvation for himself -- and now he longs (with that affection that only a parent could feel for a child) that every member of his family be the recipients of the same blessings and promises.

Lehi uses phrases like "Awake"and "arise from the dust" to illustrate to his sons their failure to partake of the glories of God--vivid descriptions of the perilous course that his older sons had chosen to follow.

"The Land of their Inheritance", 2 Nephi 1:7-12

2 Nephi 1:7-12

The themes of righteousness and iniquity are addressed here again by Lehi as the conditions by which the covenants of the Lord are effective on their behalf. The theme is extremely relevant to our day and age.

In reviewing the story of Sodom and Gomorrah a few days back, it is curious to note that the Lord tells Lot, by means of those holy men and angels, that He cannot destroy that wicked city so long as Lot lived there (see Genesis 19). Behold, the strength and weight of righteousness in the eyes of God!

I do wonder from time to time, how many of our beautiful, modern cities are held in balance simply because of the righteousness of the righteous people that live among the rest-- especially in the Americas, where the Lord taught Lehi that this land was a land set apart for an inheritance of the righteous. "But unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever," (vs. 7).

"How Merciful The Lord Hath Been," 2 Nephi 1:1-6

2 Nephi 1:1-6

Lehi's perspective on the family's circumstances is vastly different from that of Nephi's brothers. Where Laman and Lemuel possibly still held begrudgingly in memory the years now distant of their lives in Jerusalem, Lehi considers their present situation. Laman and Lemuel's perceived recollections of what they had had and what they had lost at Jerusalem impaired them from seeing their present situation.

Perspective in a person's mind is reality. Laman and Lemuel were miserable because of their skewed perspective. Lehi, on the contrary, has a drastically different perspective of the same situation.

Later, Lehi prophesies that none shall be brought to the land that they had inherited except the Lord should bring them.

"The Lord Will Surely Prepare A Way", 1 Nephi 22:20-26

1 Nephi 22:20-26

I am familiar with this verse that I've extraction the post title from, verse 20. What I had not done was put the two parts of the verse together. The Lord will surely prepare a way for his people. What is that way? Nephi then references Moses in his prophecy of the advent of the Savior. Moses calls him a prophet that the Lord our God will raise up--A prophet whom we should obey in all things.

Going over to John, where the Savior proclaimed himself "the way, the truth, and the life", I've read from John 14:6 to verse 14. Very strongly impressed in my mind this morning is that promise: "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it," (vs.14).

Back in 1 Nephi, Nephi states "the righteous need not fear, for they are those who shall not be confounded," (vs. 22).

Nephi concludes this section with a personal witness of what he has seen in our day, of the Lord Jesus Christ (herein called the Holy One of Israel) performing his great wo…

"Those Who Fight Against Zion", 1 Nephi 22:13-19

1 Nephi 22:13-19

These are reassuring words to those who are enlisted in the cause of truth. Building on a discovery that I made and accounted for in my last Spanish entry about the people of God being endowed with power because of their faith, this group of verses reinforces that assurance with a promise of protection against the wicked. In the last days, our days, the opposition that would seem ominous from external forces will be completely overthrown. The wicked shall destroy themselves.

This simple lesson is plainly taught throughout the Book of Mormon. The Lord will preserve the righteous upon the land.

"The Lord God Will... Do a Marvelous Work", 1 Nephi 22:6-12

1 Nephi 22:6-12

Yesterday, I sat in on part of a church service for one of our Spanish congregations. With a recent influx of locally called missionary couples into the ward, the fulfillment of these verse was ever present in my mind.

Here Nephi reviews the prophecies of Isaiah about the Gentiles being nurses to the House of Israel. Nephi expands upon Isaiah's prophecies and explains that the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles--building them up unto a great nation. These gentiles would first scatter the remnant of the House of Israel. Then in due season, with great love, the gentiles would gather together the House of Israel.

"By the Spirit... According to the Flesh... Because of the Holy One of Israel", 1 Nephi 22: 1-5

1 Nephi 22: 1-5

When Nephi concluded reading these chapters from the prophet Isaiah to his brothers, they ask him how or in what sense are these prophecies to be understood. Whether this was an attempt to rationalize away their importance, or more simply a confession of confusion, Nephi states that these things are given by the voice of the Spirit in reference to things that will actually happen in the flesh.

Nephi goes on to explain how sooner or later the House of Israel (which they were a part of), was going to be scattered upon all the face of the earth. He even goes further to explain that this has already happened with many who did at one point belong to the House of Israel. He stops just short of saying that this is exactly what happened to them.

Then in verse 5, Nephi states that the reason for their separation and scattering is because of the Holy One of Israel. Everything that happens to the children of the Abrahamic Covenant is relative to their relationship with the Holy One…

"I Will... Setup My Standard To The People", 1 Nephi 21:22-26

1 Nephi 21:22-26

Verse 22 picks up as an answer to the question posed in verse 21: how is it that Zion had any children if everyone of her natural children had been destroyed? The answer is pivotal to understanding the purposes of the Lord in the last days and how exactly it is that the Lord will redeem His people.

The answer: Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. (see vs 22)
Footnotes on "standard"include additional references to this final work (see footnotes). The standard is also called an ensign. Important doctrines related to the establishment of this final standard or ensign: The work is to be initiated among the gentiles, and it is of such as scope that it will reach the ends of the earth. This is a global work. Yet it is extremely individual.

This particular final point is strongly impressed upon my mind. We are dealing…

The Lord Will Redeem Israel, 1 Nephi 21:16-21

1 Nephi 21: 16-21

These are some exciting verses that illustrates the surprise of a desolated House of Israel at the righteous posterity that will be raised up to possess the promised land.

Verse 16 is profoundly moving and encouraging. The Lord describes his capacity to remember us in terms of his suffering and crucifixion by saying, "I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." This is the evidence that the Lord Jesus Christ gives that he will not forsake His people and that He will honor the covenant that He has made with the House of Israel.

What follows are reassuring words of hope in the promise of a righteous posterity.
"Thy children shall make haste against thy destroyers,"(vs 17). This seems to suggests that whatever was a struggle for us in our day and time shall be much easier to overcome for the next generation that is brought up in righteousness."Lift up thine eyes round about and behold; all these gather themselves together, and they shall come …

"Cause To Inherit The Desolate Heritages", 1 Nephi 21:5-14

1 Nephi 21:5-14

The truths expressed in this group of verses illustrates that the purposes of God are more profound and all encompassing than what we are able to see. The consequences of such prohibit us from seeing the full picture immediately.

The initial conversation here revolves around the Savior's role as such to the house of Jacob. Verse 6 says that it is a "light" thing that He should raise up the tribes of Jacob. The verse then goes on to explain how the salvation of our Lord will reach to the ends of the earth. Or in other words, the salvation of house of Israel pales in comparison to the full scope of the mission of our Lord -- to save all of mankind!

Following this, the Lord explains his reasoning for the approach he takes. While it appears that the Lord is simply delaying the fulfillment of a promise, these verses help to illustrate the patience, long-suffering, and faithfulness of our Lord. These important principles could not be understood had the covenants t…

"My Work [Is] With My God", 1 Nephi 21:1-4

1 Nephi 21:1-4, compare to Isaiah 49:1-4

The first thing that stands out here is the addition of the introductory line in verse 1.
And again: Hearken, O ye house of Israel, all ye that are broken off and are driven out because of the wickedness of the pastors of my people; yea, all ye that are broken off, that are scattered abroad, who are of my people, O house of Israel.As is the case with so much of the writings of Isaiah, it is how I feel when I read these verses that emphasizes their importance to me. And reading what had otherwise been left out of the Biblical version of Isaiah, stirs within me again, the Lord's loving reminder to return to Him.

He address a particularly difficult circumstance in this verse, that of wicked leadership in the Kingdom of God, and those who had been affected by that. The Lord recognizes that in ancient Israel, there were those who were lead astray, or even more directly, driven out, because of unfaithfulness by those in positions of authority within…

"The Lord Hath Redeemed His Servant Jacob", 1 Nephi 20

1 Nephi 20, See Also Isaiah 48

As he has in ancient times, again the Lord has redeemed his people who serve Him. I myself feel that I can add my own life experiences as a witness to this truth.
"And they thirsted not; he led them through the deserts; he cased the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also and the waters gushed out.
"And notwithstanding he hath done all this, and greater also, there is no peace , saith the Lord, unto the wicked," (vs 21-22) .
Isaiah descriptively reminds of the many ways in which the Lord is mindful of us, His generosity and profound mercy. He also is quick to point out that even if we are favored of God, we cannot expect to be blessed of Him if we do not depend upon Him in righteousness, nor if we are not honest before Him.

These verses at the end are also a mandate to those that know to declare the dealings of the Lord.

"Remember the Lord Their Redeemer", 1 Nephi 19:18-24

1 Nephi 19:18-24

Nephi, in his discussion on the purpose of record keeping, says that the main purpose for his keeping records is to persuade his people to come unto the Lord their Redeemer. He is grateful for the records from the brass plates and points specifically to the records of Isaiah, which he says is of particular worth unto them because of their ability to persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer.

Verse 20 is the verse that the Lord is pointing me to this morning. This is an explanation of the workings of the Spirit and the benefit and blessing of these things in my own life. Perhaps it is even the protection and salvation that giving heed to the promptings of the Holy Spirit has afforded me.

His Loving Kindness and His Long-suffering, 1 Nephi 19:6-17

1 Nephi 19:6-17

This is a pivotal prophecy at this point in the Book of Mormon. Nephi's testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ is expressed in here in profound terms. He references ancient prophets of whom we have no record except in the Book of Mormon (Zenock, Zenos, and Naum).

Nephi transitions his discussion from an account of his making records to a discussion on the mission of our Savior by discussing what he esteemed to be that which was sacred. Nephi points out that to some people that which is sacred, some people will esteem as of no worth. Truly, such disregard for sacred things are what causes men to forget the Lord God and His counsels (see vs. 7).

As a result of such apathy, the Lord God was called to suffer in ways unimaginable for the sins and the sufferings of His people. Christ the Lord did so, not casually or apathetically, but fully aware because of His loving kindness and long-suffering.

Then is an interesting statement. Nephi says that the Lord would visit His people…

Preservation of the Scriptures, Footnote B for 1 Nephi 19:5

Footnote B for 1 Nephi 19:5

Nephi, in this verse, is explaining that this record (remember his comparing the two sets of plates that the Lord had commanded him to make) was kept so that his people would have a knowledge of the sacred.

I've followed the footnote that leads to a discussion on how the Lord has preserved the scriptures over time. Here are some references from that list:

Doctrine and Covenants 3:19 - These verses have particular reference to the promises extended to the children of Lehi through the preservation of the Book of Mormon.

3 Nephi 16:4 - Here the Savior commands the Nephites to make account of His visit and teachings to them that the remnant of the house of Israel may be brought to a knowledge of their Redeemer.

Making Records, 1 Nephi 19:1-5

1 Nephi 19:1-5

The last verse in chapter 18 tells us how Nephi had found ore in the land. In verse 1 of this chapter, Nephi explains that he made records with the ore that he had found. This gives me pause to think that precious ores have other much more significant purposes than for the vain gratification of man.

Nephi again addresses the two sets of records that were made. The first record being a much more comprehensive history of his people, including a geneology of Lehi's ancestors, many of Lehi's prophecies, more thorough accounts of their time in the wilderness and records of there wars and destructions. Nephi kept this record by way of commandment from God.

In the second commandment from God to create another record, the mysteries of God are more fully understood. In this record, Nephi is commanded to make more particular mention of this prophecies and ministry (or his teachings). And what a dynamic ministry it has been up until this point!

It is interesting that in this …

Arrival at the Promised Land, 1 Nephi 18:22-25

1 Nephi 18:22-25

This modest grouping of verses at the end of this chapter details the conclusion of Lehi's family's journey to the promised land.

Their arrival at the promised land is without fanfare. There is no record of the family's responses to the end of their journey by boat, which marked the end of ten years or more of traveling towards the promised land. It was simply the end of another chapter. There was yet much work of ahead of them once they arrived.

Nephi mentions the abundance which they discovered in the land of promise. They had brought many seeds with them. Nephi says that they did plant them all. After these many years of travailing, here in the promised land begins a life of abundance. In essence, they are starting over from the very beginning, but resources abound and Nephi, at least, has the industry to make good use of that which is given him.

To Forget the Power of God, 1 Nephi 18:9-21

1 Nephi 18:9-21

Now what happens in these verses doesn't totally surprise me, as far as Laman and Lemuel's human tendencies go, yet their inability to believe in God's influence upon them at all times is amazing.

The great sin that Nephi accuses his brothers of is rudeness. I paused to define rudeness and found it to suggest somewhere between a state of unrefined, uncivilized behavior and disrespectful, irreverent riotousness.

One could hardly blame them if they had been small children, being couped up on a ship for such a long duration, but these were men who had on multiple occasions witnessed the power of God made manifest through their little brother, Nephi. They forgot, and forgetting was as serious an issue as the sin of rudeness which resulted from their thoughtlessness.

Nephi, on the contrary, never forgot that it was the Lord who was behind the wind which blew them toward the promised land. Even when his brothers had bound him with cords, he absolutely knew that they…

"Towards the Promised Land", 1 Nephi 18:4-8

1 Nephi 18:4-8

The results of Nephi's ship building was that it caused his brothers to humble themselves again before the Lord. The footnote on this verse reminds us back in Chapter 16, after Nephi had explained to his brothers the meaning of their father's vision, that they humbled themselves so much so that Nephi had great hopes that finally they were changing. This experience again seems to have worked a similar response from his brothers.

Nephi couldn't have hoped for more. Humility is the very essence of righteousness and the proper way to align oneself before the Lord. So at the time that they, as a family, prepared to board the ship, it appears that they were all in the paths of righteousness.

Together they gathered their seeds, meats, and all other provisions that would be necessary for them to make the voyage across the sea.

Its also noteworthy that though Nephi constructed the ship, Lehi was the one, as the family patriarch, that received the directions from the Lord…

"I Did Pray Oft Unto the Lord", 1 Nephi 18:1-3

1 Nephi 18:1-3

I was reviewing an older post this morning (It had been commented on by someone who didn't leave a name or any scriptural references to the point being made) and was reminded of the relevance of revelation as necessary for salvation. I feel strongly about this point. The first three verses of this new chapter reinforce the point.

Nephi built the ship by revelation. He says that he worked the timbers of the ship after a curious manner as it was show unto him by the Lord. Nephi sought the Lord's help frequently and thus he says, "wherefore, the Lord did show unto me great things," (vs. 3).

Why is it important to know that you are being guided by the Lord, as was Nephi? Why in our developing spirituality does our ability to receive revelation, or, put otherwise, to communicate with God become so important our discipleship?

Joseph Smith once said that in order for a man to be saved he has to know that the path of which he has chosen is pleasing unto God. How …

"Full of the Spirit of God", 1 Nephi 17:44-55

1 Nephi 17:44-55

Now after having shown how the children of Israel were guided by the hand of God to the land of promise, Nephi turns his comments directly to their present situation and in bold terms testifies of truths pertinent to the moment.
Lehi was commanded of the Lord to leave Jerusalem.Lehi's life was in danger at Jerusalem.Lehi's own sons had conspired to murder him and Nephi.
Laman and Lemuel had seen angels and experienced the Lord's intervention first hand.It is stark boldness in the presence of his brothers that stands out to me. Nephi is aware of this as well. This is when he explains in verse 47, "Behold, I am full of the Spirit of God, insomuch that my frame hath no strength."

This effect that being full of the Spirit of God has upon Nephi is what most draws my attention this morning. So strong was God's presence, that it almost consumed Nephi in his mortal frame. This consuming of the flesh is yet another way in which the Lord manifests himself…

Nephi's Rebuttal: "He That Is Righteous Is Favored of God,"1 Nephi 17: 23-43

1 Nephi 17:23-43

What Nephi does here in repositioning the argument to his favor is miraculous. Nephi draws great strength in assimilating his situation with that of the Children of Israel who were held in bondage in Egypt. I too find great similarities in my situation with theirs, as well.

Drawing upon the experiences of Moses and the deliverance of the children of Israel, Nephi is able to explain how the Lord was able to remove a righteous people out of a harmful situation and then prepare a land for them to receive.

The whole point of his argument is that had the people at Jerusalem been righteous, the Lord would not have required Lehi and his family to leave. A footnote from vs. 35 reads, "For them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed," (1 Samuel 2:30).

God does favor the righteous.

Sorrow Because of Their Hardness of Heart, 1 Nephi 17:16-22

1 Nephi 17:16-22

Up until here, Nephi's preparations to build a boat had been purely intangible,though necessary. They consisted of communications with the Lord -- spiritual preparation. However, when Nephi starts to make tools for the construction of the ship, his brothers take note.

Their disbelief is that they do not think that Nephi can construct a ship. Nephi says that they complained though because they didn't want to work. So there are two obstacles for Nephi to overcome. First, he needed to persuade them that he could build a boat. Second, he needed to solicit their help in doing it -- he needed his brothers' help.

When Nephi mourns because of their disbelief, he is not mourning because he thought he could build a boat as his brothers so perceived it, but he is mourning because they do not believe. They lacked the perspective looking back and the vision to move forward.

Their perceptions of their last eight years in the wilderness was miserable. Nephi's brothers co…

The Power of Commandments, 1 Nephi 17:15

1 Nephi 17:15

Wherefore, I, Nephi, did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord, and I did exhort my brethren to faithfulness and diligence.

I followed the footnotes of this one verse this morning to conclude my study. Prosperity rests in keeping the commandments of the Lord. This is why Nephi was motivated to exhort his brothers to faithfulness and diligence. This is the source of happiness, peace, and prosperity. Indeed, nothing has changed.

Speaking with the Lord, 1 Nephi 17:7-16

1 Nephi 17:7-16

Nephi was one who treasured his communications with the Lord. He remembered well the commandments that he had personally received from Him. The way in which Nephi writes and reasons about these communications--it is evident that he was one to cherish the word of God. In other words, I think he was constantly thinking about it. He worked through in his mind, the sequence of events that had led to communications and the circumstances surrounding the commandments which he had received.

I appreciate further the dialog that Nephi records here, him speaking with the Lord. The Lord begins with instructions (commandments) then allows Nephi to process them and ask further questions.

When the Lord does speak it is in the form of commandments, things that we should do. This is important for me to realize-- that when I ask, and the Lord answers, these are commandments for me.

"The Commandments of God Must Be Fulfilled," 1 Nephi 17:1-6, 12-15

1 Nephi 17:1-6, 12-15

The final leg of their land journey is described in the first verses of this chapter (see vs. 1-6). It is in this section of the account that we learn that this is journey from Jerusalem to the land Bountiful by the seashore was in duration eight years long. That is a vast amount of time.

Nephi describes that blessings that accompanied them as they crossed towards the land Bountiful. (The description of their women being able to give birth and nurse their children is a vivid illustration to this young father of how blessed they were during their travels. ) Nephi concludes:
"Thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them", (vs 3)

There is a brief antidote for acquiring a testimony in verses 13-15. The Lord explained to Nephi why it was that the Lord…

"We Did Not Perish", 1 Nephi 16:33-39

1 Nephi 16:33-39

After another significant period of travel, the party of Lehi rested for a season. The Lord knows what we need and when it is best for us to have that which we need. They needed to travel to meet their objective of reaching the promised land. They also needed a season to rest from their travels.

While they rested, Ishmael passed away at the place called Nahom. This time, it is the sons and daughters of Ishmael that murmur because of the loss of their father. Yet even so, the time of the Lord is manifested herein.

Two important thoughts that impress me as I read these verses:
The influence of spouse upon our own perceptions and motivations- I wonder how Nephi's wife responded to the passing of her father. Perhaps, it is what Nephi does to comfort her, which we have no record of, that calmed her at this time of mourning. Along those same lines, Laman, instead of acting in a way that would extend comfort and peace during a time of loss, reacts to the situation.
The interv…

"Because of My Words", 1 Nephi 16:18-32

1 Nephi 16:18-32

The account of Nephi's bow breaking has several point of interest to me this evening. First, when Nephi's brothers and father murmur against the Lord because of their want of food, Nephi's first priority was to correct them in murmuring against the Lord. He spoke much unto them.

This principle of truth, speaking much to persuade his brethren, was a principle of power in my mission. Even now I see it as a point of persuasion. Nephi had the truth. He knew he had it. And the way that he convinced his brethren and father of the truth was through much persuasion.

This was even more important to him than making a new bow. Nephi understood that he had to have his brothers' support and his father's patriarchal guidance to overcome this obstacle.

Secondly, immediately after they humbled themselves because of Nephi's words, he was able to make a new bow and find food. He was led directly to it. This clearly demonstrates that the Lord could have at any tim…

Perserverance and Divine Assistance, 1 Nephi 16:12-17

1 Nephi 16:12-17

This unassuming group of verses offers instructions on how to accomplish otherwise insurmountable tasks. To contemplate what was accomplished with Nephi and his family traveling to the promised land forces one to literally conclude that this was in fact a miracle. Without the Lord's divine assistance, this could not have been accomplished.

But more specifically, they traveled from day to day, taking occasion to rest and renew their strength as they continued onward towards their objective. Because of the attention they gave to the Liahona, they were directed through the more fertile areas of the wilderness. This simple observation does not require a lot of words to describe, but covers a vast amount of time. In their minds, at least in Nephi's, this constant and continual divine guidance must have solidified the notion that the Lord is always with His people.

The Lord's Involvement, 1 Nephi 16:7-12

1 Nephi 16:7-12

As I have been reading through this chapter, towards the end I felt that I had missed something of what Nephi was explaining herein. So I've gone back and reviewed this set of verses.

It is the sometimes reflexive references to the Lord God that stood out as being overlooked. I am reminded that the Book of Mormon is an account of the Lord's dealings with his children. The Lord's participation in these verses is as real as were Nephi's and Lehi's. In other words, the Lord was always with them.

What's more, the Lord works in a fairly simple way with His children. Verses 8 and 9 show that once Lehi had obeyed the first set of commandments that were extended to him, then the Lord gave him a new commandment.

What is it about human nature that causes us to overlook the Lord's involvement in our daily affairs? Or more specifically. Even when we know He is with us, we fail to remember that He has all power and all answers.

As they are resuming their jour…

The Response of Nephi's Brothers, 1 Nephi 16: 1-6

1 Nephi 16: 1-6

This conversation between Nephi and his brothers, Laman, Lemuel, and Sam, is very genuine. It paints a view of Laman and Lemuel that is not typically understood. They tell Nephi that what he had spoken to them was hard to understand. Nephi said that he knew that he had spoken against wickedness but it seems that it was never his intention to elevate himself above his brothers.

In fact, there is such a brotherly bond of love conveyed from these simple verses of communication that I am inclined to be much more sympathetic towards Laman and Lemuel, and even sense something of love that Nephi must have had for his older brothers. Here for one brief moment brothers are talking civilly to each other, and it is beautiful!

Yes, Laman and Lemuel made bad choices throughout the accounts of Nephi. They simply could not understand the will of God in all that was happening to them. Clearly, their cursing was passed on to their children, but beyond that I think this is where their con…

"Our Father Also Saw... The Justice of God", 1 Nephi 15: 26-36

1 Nephi 15: 26-36

This has stuck out as something almost new to me in this reading. After describing the gulf of misery which separates the wicked from the tree of life, symbolized by the river of filthy water which Lehi saw, Nephi uses this as a springboard to make one final observation.

Nephi states that his father also saw the justice of God in his vision, though nowhere else is there an account of it. He describes it as a bright flame that ascends up to God (the image of a flaming pillar is depicted in my mind), which is a divider between the righteous and the wicked (see vs. 30). This "flaming fire" of justice is the topic of their conversation for the remainder of the chapter.

Nephi declares that it is the justice of God that divides the righteous from the wicked. In studying the justice of God, close to it is the concept that God is no respecter of persons. I love this truth. In Isaiah 26, it talks about the gates of the city of Judah being opened for the righteous nati…

"Give Heed to the Word of God", 1 Nephi 15:20-25

1 Nephi 15:20-25

In verse 20, Nephi says that he rehearsed the words of Isaiah to his brothers. He used Isaiah (scripture) to reinforce what he had already explained to them. This was wise because it validated his words and his father's words.

What followed, after Nephi's brothers clearly saw that Nephi understood the things that their father had said, is a question and answer session. In the midst of this, Nephi yet takes opportunity to teach his brothers.

Verses 24 and 25 are extremely important. Nephi is using several absolutes in these verses. Those who hearken to the word of God will never perish.

In explaining the importance of the word of God, Nephi exhorts them with all the energy of his soul to give heed to the word of God and keep the commandments of God in all things. This complete effort, extending himself as far as he possibly could go is what compels me. What Nephi is saying is important and how he is saying it is important.

"Natural Branches of the Olive Tree", 1 Nephi 15:12-20

1 Nephi 15:12-20

The inciting question of this section is back in verse 7. Nephi's brothers cannot understand what their father had taught concerning the natural branches of the olive tree, and what that has to do with the Gentiles.

Nephi plainly explains to them the significance of these things, pointing out that the olive tree is in reference to the House of Israel. The natural branches are in reference to their direct posterity.

At the heart of the conversation is reception of the Gospel of the Messiah. Nephi understands that at some future date, his own posterity will be blessed with the visitation of the Messiah. Then at some later date, they will reject the Messiah. A great expanse of time will then pass and then the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah will be given to the Gentiles.

For Nephi, I think that the most exciting part of this is in verse 14. At that day when the descendants of Lehi come to the knowledge of their forefathers, they will become aware of their inclusion…

"Surely These Things Shall Be Made Known Unto You", 1 Nephi 15:1-11

1 Nephi 15:1-11

The first thing that calls my attention at the beginning of this chapter is the immediacy of the work that was required of Nephi after the vision. The vision itself was the preparation for the work that was required of him. However, Nephi was so overwhelmed by what he had seen of the destruction of his people -- and what was presently required of him -- that he lost all strength. It wasn't until after this recovery that Nephi returned to his brothers to inquire of them the manner of their arguments.

Nephi's first question after hearing his brothers' initial complaint, demonstrates his motivation again. The footnotes on verse 8 reminds me of this perspective that Nephi had. He was concerned with the immortal welfare of his brothers.

Nephi's brothers state that the Lord will not reveal the mysteries that their father spoke of unto them. Nephi responds with knowledge and a reminder of the Lord's promise.

Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath sa…

"A Great and a Marvelous Work", 1 Nephi 14

1 Nephi 14

Chapter 14 reminds me that Christ shall come at the end of time to perform one final work among the inhabitants of the earth. Verse 7 calls it a great and a marvelous work, which shall have an everlasting outcome and shall divide men between salvation and damnation.

This work has already begun. It began with Joseph Smith and it continues today. We now have the Book of Mormon, as Nephi saw that it would come forth, to assist in this great and marvelous work. Repentance is prescribed for those that will joined to the Church of the Lamb of God.

This is where a clear distinction is drawn between the church of the Lamb of God and the church of the devil. Though the saints of God are relatively few, they are "armed with righteousness and the power of God in great glory," (vs. 14).

At the end of Nephi's account, he gives a simple witness that what he saw and wrote was true. Though he did not account for it all, what he had written was true. He saw what his father saw. Hi…

Stumbling Blocks Removed, 1 Nephi 14:1-2

1 Nephi 14:1-2

I am compelled by the significance of these first two verses this morning. Once the Book of Mormon is brought forth, there is a significant promise attached to it: Christ shall manifest himself in word and power to those who "hearken" (listen and obey) to Him. And the way that we should know it is by the removal of our stumbling blocks.

Stumbling blocks are the weakness that God gives us a mortals. God gives us weaknesses so that we may choose to humble ourselves before Him. There would be no need for a Savior if we where already perfected, but then there would be no progression, no learning, no opposition, no experience, etc.
See also Ether 12:27.

These blessings are contingent upon our humility, but are also extended to us indefinitely upon the land of promise, if we continue to listen to and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.

Plain and Precious Truth, 1 Nephi 13:29-42

1 Nephi 13:29-42

The series of events leading up to the introduction of the Book of Mormon is unsuspecting. The Gentiles are blessed in the land of promise. However, the descendants of Lehi (according to the covenants of the Lord that he made with Lehi) are not utterly destroyed either. They are smitten for a season because they had rejected the truth. Then the Gentiles who had smitten them also "stumble[d] exceedingly" (see vs. 34) because of the many important parts of the Bible that were removed in erroneous translations. Both groups in question had fallen short.

It seems that that Book of Mormon didn't come about until the world absolutely needed it.

It is characteristically described as containing plain and precious truths, culminating in a witness for Jesus Christ as the Son of the Eternal Father and as the Savior of the world (see vs. 40). In the Savior's own words, he says that in it is "written my gospel... my rock and my salvation," (vs. 36).

The end…

Mini-Lesson: The Holy Bible and Book of Mormon

Lesson: The Holy Bible is a witness of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was a record kept by the Jews in antiquity and completed by the early Christian Apostles. However, God has had other groups of people that lived outside of the region of Israel. They too believed in Jesus Christ, followed his teachings, and made records of their experiences.

Reference:1 Nephi 13:40 , John 10:14 & 16

Invitation: Today we have accounts of both civilizations and their best efforts to live the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first is the Holy Bible, and the second is the Book of Mormon. May we share with you how God has made both of these records available to us today?

The Book of the Lamb of God, 1 Nephi 13:20-28

1 Nephi 13:20-28

The title has reference to the Holy Bible. In Nephi's time, it wouldn't have been know as the Holy Bible, however. The angel points out to Nephi that this record is similar to the record that he has upon the Plates of Brass. He also describes it as a record of the Jews containing the covenants of the Lord to the house of Israel and the prophecies of the holy prophets.

It also contained at one point the fullness of the the Gospel of the Lamb.

These verses of scripture are where Latter-day Saints gain our understanding that from its original version, there have been malicious revisions to the sacred text by those with dark motives. (This is offensive to some, that we believe the Holy Bible to have been modified from its original state.) Much of the Gospel of Christ was rewritten, or mystified. Many of the covenants were removed (see vs. 26). However, there is no mention of prophecies being altered.

Indeed, this makes sense that the prophecies would be left alone, f…

Humility, 1 Nephi 13:16

1 Nephi 13:16

Nephi saw in his vision "that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord." That strikes me as pivotal to their position. I think of the religious heritage of the United States of America. "IN GOD WE TRUST" is printed on our currency. Great was that blessed faith of our Founding Fathers. Nephi then notices, and this is a direct result of their humility, "and the power of the Lord was with them."

The Spirit and Wrath of God, 1 Nephi 13:10-19

1 Nephi 13:10-19

In prophetic terms, Nephi is describing the colonization of America and the Revolutionary War. In this group of verses, there are two forces, both originating from God. the Spirit or power of God( I don't think the two are equal) and the wrath of God. Nephi also refers to the Spirit of the Lord and the power of the Lord. All these powers Nephi says that he saw working upon or with the events that transpired.

Why was the wrath of God upon the seed of Nephi's brethren? Why did the Spirit of the Lord favor the Gentiles that came to America? From any historical stand point, it doesn't seem fair to derive an accurate conclusions. From scriptural accounts, we know that the ancestors of the Lamanites that remained had long ago rejected the true religion. The exiled Gentiles that came to find peace in America also were striving as best as they could to live the Christian faith as best they understood it.

Then as we look forward only a few years, we see that among a d…

Mini-Lesson: Only Two Churches

introduction: In my conversations with others as of late, we've been discussing how to share a point or two of doctrine before making an invitation to have a formal, sit down visit with them to share a gospel message. This is inspired from a "Preach my Gospel" manual activity about teaching when finding. As a means of translating my studies into a practical application, I'm creating these mini-lessons with invites. It's when we share simple Gospel principles that the Holy Spirit has room to work in the hearts of people that we visit.

lesson: Nephi, a Book of Mormon prophet, tells about a vision that he had where he saw the history of the world. Towards the end of that history, he saw that in our time there were only two churches -- one was the church of Christ, the other was the church of the devil.

reference:1 Nephi 14:10(10-17)

invite: We would like to share with you what we can do to insure that we belong …

"This Great and Abominable Church", 1 Nephi 13:1-9

1 Nephi 13:1-9, see also 1 Nephi 13:26, 34 & 14:10(3, 9-17)

In this chapter, Nephi learns of a church that is described as both great and abominable, "whose founder is the devil," (1 Nephi 14:17, see also 13:6). The term "great" seems to apply to shear size of its existence and how it prevails throughout the kingdoms of the Gentiles. It is called "abominable", because of its wicked practices and desires.

This church that Nephi describes is an organization of material gain and personal gratification. So powerful were such ambitions that in the time period described, any saint that spoke out against it was destroyed (see 13:9). It is also referred to as the mother of abominations and the whore of the whole earth(see 14:10).

The benefit of hindsight in understanding of whom and what these verses are point to allows me to not focus on any one church in the history books. Though it is in reference to Christianity in general from the death of the apostles up u…

The First and the Last, 1 Nephi 13

1 Nephi 13

I've read through the whole chapter for an overview of the events detailed here in before going through and breaking it apart individually. I noticed in the chapter heading a mention of Zion toward the end of the chapter and admittedly that was my motivation this morning to get to this part of the chapter.

At the chapter's end is this brief reminder that in the end Christ shall manifest himself to all. "...the last shall be first, and the first shall be last," (vs. 42). I appreciate that in the Lord's scheme of things, no one is forgotten.

"Because of Their Faith in Him," 1 Nephi 12:1-12

1 Nephi 12:1-12

These verses exist in prophetic(as opposed to historic) parallel to the vision that his father, Lehi, had where he described the mists of darkness and the multitudes pressing forward towards the tree of life (see 1 Nephi 8:24). It is beautiful, with this in mind, to learn that those that emerge from mists of darkness are brought into the presence of the Lamb of God.
... I saw the vapor of darkness, that it passed from off the face of the earth; and behold, I saw multitudes who had not fallen because of the great and terrible judgments of the Lord.

And I saw the heavens open, and the Lamb of God descending out of heaven; and he came down and showed himself unto them. (vs. 5 & 6)
Nephi then sees in vision the twelve disciples and three generations of his people following the appearance of the Savior. Both groups are distinguished as righteous and as having their garments made white in the blood of the Lamb of God. In both instances, Nephi, or the angel, points out that t…

Vain Imaginations and a Gulf of Misery, 1 Nephi 12:16-19

1 Nephi 12:16-19

In chapter 12, Nephi is permitted to view the future generation of his posterity in the promised land. When I visualize the great and spacious building that is upheld by the vain imaginations of the world, I note that there is no foundation, or that "it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth," (1 Nephi 8:26). A classic depiction of this illustrates this very well. I don't know that the scriptures mention anything about the lack of a foundation, but that it is upheld by vain imaginations suggest that these intangible nothings are the foundation of this very large building. Or in other words, there is no foundation.

Then it is also interesting to note that there is no easy road between this great edifice of nothingness and the strait and narrow path of righteousness. The two are separated by a gulf of misery which consumes many.

Angels and Devils, 1 Nephi 11:30-31

1 Nephi 11:30-31

In a vision where its central theme is to depict the mortal ministry of the Savior, I've noticed the inclusion of the mission of angels and the counter-mission of devils. Nephi saw angels descend from heaven and minister unto the people (vs. 30). The highlights of the Savior's personal ministry included healing those who were afflicted with devils and unclean spirits. They were cast out by His power (vs. 31).

There are these two forces at work in the world. All are in subjection to Christ, but are permitted to exist to test me to see what I will permit. When I cleave unto Christ, the devil and his devils have no power.

This most frequently occurs in the quite chambers of the heart and mind, when I invite the Spirit of God to be with me through silent prayer or repeating the words of a favorite hymn. This always works when I remember to do it. Then the angels have room to work with me-- ground to plant seeds and to nourish them.

Indeed, there are angels and devils…