31 March 2011

"The Glad Tidings of Great Joy," Mosiah 3:1-4

Mosiah 3:1-4

This new chapter is a continuation of King Benjamin's remarks to his people. Having just preached obedience to the commandments of God, my first thought was, "Why not conclude there?" The answer that I find in chapter 3 is, "Because he is now about to preach unto them Christ Jesus."

In verse three, the phrase "the glad tidings of great joy" has two footnotes on it. One for "glad" and the other for "joy."  The first reference for "glad" takes me to Isaiah 52:7-10:
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
"Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.
"Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
"The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God."
 This verse causes me to want to be found among those that "publisheth salvation."

The other footnote on the word "joy" provided ample references to true joy as found throughout the scriptures:
"Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth,
"That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?" (Job 20:4&5)
 "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; " (Psalms 16:11)
"Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom," (Proverbs 15:21)
"The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 29:19)
I am grateful for the access I have these records, for the good news that are published in these chapters, and for the path of joy that is contained herein.

26 March 2011

"O Remember, Remember That These Things Are True," Mosiah 2:18-41

Mosiah 2:18-41

And again, the words that I have chosen for the title of this post (from verse 41) I find to be timely and profound. King Benjamin's reminder to remember was exactly what I needed. Having recently done battle with the "super flu" which had me laid up for more than a week, I have also had a spiritual battle of sorts with some false notions that I had permitted to get planted just a little too deep. What had resulted were feelings of blackness and uneasiness, a loss of peace generally, which peace was as real and significant as any physical blessing of health.

What King Benjamin lays out in the last half of this chapter is a recipe for perfect peace and happiness in this life. After concluding that no degree of praise or thankfulness would be enough to resolve our indebtedness to God (though praise and gratitude are important ingredients of discipleship), King Benjamin concludes that the best thing that we can do to show our appreciation towards God is to keep His commandments (vs 22).

In verses 32 to 39, King Benjamin addresses the consequences that come to one that "listeth to obey the evil spirit," (vs 32). Then he goes on to talk about those that have been taught and instructed after the manner of the prophets but that choose to instead obey the evil spirit. He says that such "cometh out in open rebellion against God," (vs 37). He goes on to explain the wretched and horrible state of those when they are brought into remembrance of their guilt before God.

In verses 40 and 41, a simple contrast between the two states lets the reader decide for himself:
  • "Remember the awful situation of those who have fallen into transgression." (vs 40)
  • "Consider... the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God." (vs 41)
Then with this one line of testimony, King Benjamin concludes the chapter: "O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."  And so it is.

I am reminded recently of a conversation with a friend who was explaining to me the source of his happiness as a result of financial independence. Ironically, though I found myself realizing just days earlier that I was happy beyond description. When tracing the source of my happiness, I concluded that it was my willingness to obey the commandments of God, repent of my sins, serve God, and so forth. I have found peace and happiness and joy which are available to all.

20 March 2011

"When Ye Are in the Service of Your Fellow Beings," Mosiah 2:17

Mosiah 2:17

Just typing the title phrase this morning has brought a great deal of peace to a presently weary mind. King Benjamin in this part of his discourse to his people is sharing a profoundly unique perspective, which was the source of peace to him as king, and most likely the source of peace for his nation.

Since a week ago Sunday, I've been much impressed by the Savior's injunction to "take [his] yoke upon [me], and learn of [him]," (Matt 11:29).  In the class where this was presented to me, the general discussion hovered around how Christ could make our burdens light. However, we then began to discuss the symbolism of the yoke. A yoke is what an ox uses to carry its load. We, like the oxen, have loads that we carry.

What impressed me about Christ's invitation, is not that he is inviting us to let him carry our load. No not at all! The paradox of the invitation is that to the burdened and the weary he says in effect "Come and labor in my vineyard." Christ wants me to come and do his work, carry his burden, and in return, He promises me peace to my soul, which peace surpasses all understanding (see Philippians 4:7).

10 March 2011

"Not... More Than a Mortal Man," Mosiah 2:1-14

Mosiah 2:1-14

A historic occasion is recorded in these opening chapters of the book of Mosiah.In the first few verses of chapter 2, we get a glimpse in the heritage of the Mosaic law that had been preserved and honored by this people. Verse 3 explains that they offered sacrifices to comply with the law of Moses. Verse 4 is where the Spirit brings the law to life. It explains that they also saw this as a means of expressing their gratitude to God for the blessings that they enjoyed, namely:
  • Having been brought out of the land of Jerusalem
  • Having been delivered from their enemies
  • Having just men appointed as their teachers
  • Having a just man appointed as their king
  • Having peace established by their king throughout their land
  • Having been taught by their king to "keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men".

In light of all these blessings, it strikes me as very important the perspective that King Benjamin sees himself in:
I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear me, or that ye should think that I of myself am more than a mortal man. (verse 10)
What is so compelling about this is that the mortal man can be effective as an instrument for God, and do God's work, and be "kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve... with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto [him]."

Verses 12 to 14 demonstrates a government model which is quite different from our own at present. One of the things that impresses me is that the king did not tax his people. A successful government for the people is not based on the government's ability to amass wealth.

What strikes me as so important in these verses is that Benjamin was able to obtain peace in the land by adhering to the tenants of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps I am just naive enough to believe that the same could happen in our day.