Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Weakness and Strength

As I close up my emails to all of you, I'm very grateful for the opportunity I've had to share these things with you throughout my Book of Mormon class this semester. I hope that they have helped to inspire or motivate you wherever you are.

This week, we talked about one of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon, found in the 12th chapter of Ether. Moroni, in verse 24, confesses one of his weaknesses to the Lord, comparing his writing to the writing of the Brother of Jared:

24 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.

The response of the Lord to Moroni teaches us many important principles:

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

As I said before, I have always liked Ether 12:27, but so much meaning is added when we read it with Ether 12:24, where Moroni talks about weaknesses. From this chapter, we learn the pattern of making weaknesses to become strong: The Lord tells us to humble ourselves and have faith in Him! It's really that simple.

I love how the Lord doesn't tell Moroni he is wrong, that he shouldn't look at things as weaknesses. He teaches us that it is okay to believe you have a weakness, but it is your job to turn that weakness into a strength through his grace. This process is what brings humility, which is required to be in the Lord's presence!

I hope that we all can continue to identify our weaknesses and turn them into strengths instead of becoming discouraged!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fast unto thy Father

This week, in my Book of Mormon class, we continued in 3rd Nephi with the teachings of Jesus Christ among the Nephites. As I said last week, I have always enjoyed 3rd Nephi and have especially enjoyed as we've discussed in depth the teachings of Christ. This week there were a few verses in the 13th chapter that really stood out to me concerning fasting. Jesus Christ teaches the following about fasting:

16 Moreover, when ye fast be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father, who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
This verse is interesting because it comes in the middle of other commandments that Christ is giving unto the people. In verse 16, he talks about what our motivations should be for fasting: are we fasting because we love the Lord or are we fasting so other people think we are keeping the commandments? In verse 17 and 18, he talks about the process of fasting and what we SHOULD do instead of appearing to fast, which is to fast in secret. Ironically, if we fast in secret, the Lord will reward us openly.
From growing up in the church, I have fasted many times throughout my life. The majority of these times, especially before my mission, I acted very weak or always talked about how hungry I was. Fasting to me seemed like a large sacrifice that didn't make a lot of sense. Over the last few years, though, and especially from reading this verse, we learn that fasting is an amazing opportunity. It is an opportunity for spiritual renewal. It is a chance for the Spirit to overcome the desires of the natural man, the desires of our bodies trying to tell us that we are hungry. It helps us to renew ourselves for the upcoming month, which is why I love that it is at the first of every month.
We can all continue to fast with more purpose as we realize the doctrinal reasons for fasting instead of thinking about what we are going to eat later or how hungry we are. I know that by doing this, the Lord will truly "reward (us) openly."

Monday, April 3, 2017

How Oft

This week, in my Book of Mormon class, I learned something very interesting as we studied from 3rd Nephi that I would like to share with you. 3rd Nephi has always been one of my favorite sections of the Book of Mormon, especially the coming of Jesus Christ starting in Chapter 11. The scriptures that I found very interesting, however, happen in the chapter previous to that: 3 Nephi 10. In this chapter, there is silence for many hours throughout all of the land. After this silence, the people here the voice of Christ. In the verses that I'm going to share, the voice of Christ is speaking. As you read these, notice which tenses (past, present, future, etc) he uses to talk about when he gathers them.

O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.
And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.
O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.
If you look for the tenses, you come to find that Christ uses the past tense in verse 4 (how oft have I), the present tense or a tense close to that in verse 5 (how oft would I have), and the future tense in verse 6 (how oft will I). To me, this is a way for Christ to say that him and the Father are the same "yesterday, today, and forever." We find this pattern throughout the Book of Mormon and Bible, but it is interesting to see it in this way. These verses show me that Christ will always and always has watched over us.

Now what does that mean for us? It means that we need to make sure we are aware of all of the things Christ has done for us, that he is now doing for us, and that he is yet to do for us. Perhaps these people had forgotten the blessings they had or the opportunities they had been given in life. Perhaps Christ felt as if they would forget if they were not reminded. Regardless, it is our duty to know that Christ is the same now and always will be and that he will always gather us "as a hen gathereth her chickens."