Archive for the ‘character of God’ Tag

A Conversation That Could Be Happening Now

Reading: Alma 30

Today I read the story of Korihor, and was amazed and how similar the tenets of Korihor’s preaching are to what is taught today. Korihor was raised in the church of his time yet taught that there was no God. In the latter part of the chapter Alma refutes each of Korhior’s tenets. The following sums up the argument:

Korihor’s Point: There is no God and there is no Christ.

Alma’s Counterpoint: I know there is a God and I know there is a Christ through my personal testimony, and by looking around me at the world God has created. You have no evidence that there is no God.

Korihor’s Point: The Nephites are in bondage to the teachings of the church.

Alma’s Counterpoint: The people are free to believe whatever they wish, nothing is forced on them. This is why you are able to preach what you are preaching!

Korihor’s Point: You are teaching the people false things so that you can get their money to support you.

Alma’s Counterpoint: I (as leader of the church at the time) have labored my whole life to support myself, even though I have taken a great deal of time away from my own work to travel and preach for the church. You know this, and so does everybody else.

Korihor’s Point: If God is real, show me a sign.

Alma’s Counterpoint: God has given many signs, and they are written of in the scriptures, yet you do not believe any of them.

Korihor’s Point: If God is real, show me a sign.

Alma’s Counterpoint: If God is going to show you a sign, he is not going to afflict anyone else just to make you believe, it is going to be a sign on you. This isn’t something you want to do, trust me.

Korihor’s Point: Show me a sign.

Alma’s Counterpoint: You are struck dumb in the name of God.

Korihor’s Point: ! (In writing): I knew that there was a God but the devil came and told me to say these things and I said them because they were pleasing to hear.

It seems to me that many people today insist that the church is out to enslave its members in order to get rich off of them, yet it is plain to see that no one is getting rich from tithing money. Many people insist that believing in God is silly, yet they have no real evidence that God does not exist, just their own beliefs. Many people insist that if God is real he should show himself, yet God has showed himself many times and it has not made a difference because they will just dismiss it as a trick or a natural occurrence. Unlike Korihor, though, many have been taught these things from a young age and truly believe them because they don’t know anything else.

Today I am going to watch for Korihor-like beliefs as I go through my day and watch for the consequences that come from such beliefs.

What other similarities can you see between Korihor’s preaching, and things people believe today? Why do people so readily believe such things?

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Longest Chapter in the Book of Mormon

Reading: Jacob 5, 1 Nephi 19:23

Sunday evening I got out my scriptures for my evening scripture study and read a handwritten note at the top of the chapter, “Longest chapter in the Book of Mormon.”  The chapter, of course, was Jacob 5 containing the allegory of the olive tree.

Now, I have gone through the different meaning of the allegory of the olive tree several times in seminary, sunday school, and on my own.  I know that it is a story about the gathering of Israel, and that each trip to the garden is symbolic of different dispensations of the gospel.  That doesn’t make it any easier for me to read.  It’s like reading the daily log of a farmer’s work: lots of repetition, not a lot of excitement. Even with all that education I have a hard time figuring out what the allegory is supposed to mean.

However, if there’s anything I’ve learned from my in-depth study of 2 Nephi 2 it is that a close study of scripture can yield great results.  So, I don’t want to to just put away Jacob 5 without gaining anything from it.  Nephi also tells us that although Isaiah’s writings can be hard to understand, we can gain from them if we apply it to ourselves.  From 1 Nephi 19:23:

And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.

So, the following is a list of the doctrines I can glean from Jacob 5 that actually mean something to me, personally:

  • God works with prophets (the servant) to accomplish his work on Earth.
  • God is determined to do all he can to raise up a righteous group of people (the good olive tree & fruit).
  • Although it is hard for us to see where the gospel will prosper, God knows his people (the garden) and knows what to do to yield the greatest results.
  • God loves his people (the garden) so much that he weeps at the losses, and waits many times to see if some good would come even though he could have destroyed it.
  • A day of harvest is coming where God will “reap the fruits” and we will all be judged.

Perhaps the greatest lesson of this story is this: that God loves his people and is doing all he can to bring them home.  In Jacob 5:47 it says:

But what could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it? Nay, I have nourished it, and I have digged about it, and I have pruned it, and I have dunged it; and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long, and the end draweth nigh.

When I think about Jacob 5 from this perspective it gives me hope that God is working to help me overcome my own weaknesses and to be worthy to return to live with him someday.

Today I am going to work on reading Jacob 5 again, but this time highlight every time there is some evidence of God’s love for his people.

What do you think about Jacob 5 and the allegory of the olive tree?  Is there some part of the story that touches you or that illustrates some important doctrine especially well for you?

The Fall and the Garden of Eden

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:22-23,

Sorry about the break in posts.  This past Friday we left on a mini-vacation, and then Monday my husband was off work so we were out running the errands we didn’t run on Saturday.

It is the belief of some Christian sects that if Adam had not fallen then we would all be living happy, idyllic lives in the Garden of Eden.  However, in 2 Nephi 2:22-23, Lehi tells us that this is not the case:

And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

If Adam and Eve had never partaken of the fruit they would still be in the Garden of Eden, but they would be alone without any children.  They needed the knowledge of good and evil that came from partaking of the forbidden fruit in order to be able to have children.  They also would not be happy, or sad, but just neutral forever.  If it were up to me, I would choose to have some pain and risk in order to have the ability to choose for myself and gain true happiness.

When I think of some of the ideas that other people have about God, I can understand why so many other people revolt against religion.  If your idea of God is one that would create a beautiful perfect world, then give arbitrary rules, and then rip his creation away from that lovely state just because the silly rules were broken, then you would not want to believe in that kind of God.  However, when you see that God had a plan from the beginning, and that the things he does are necessary for that plan, and that the plan he has is the only way for any of us to gain joy, then you rejoice in having such a great God and Father.

If you’re just finding this post I would encourage you to go back and look at the posts in the past couple of weeks that further explain the things I talked about today.

Today I am going to start gathering some talks and scriptures about gratitude.  I have been working lately on being more grateful.  When I am grateful for the goodness of God and all that he has done for me I find it much easier to keep the commandments.

Are there some ideas about God that you have heard that cause you to not want to follow him?  Are there some ideas about God that have you heard that make it easier for you to follow him?  How can you know the true characteristics of God so you are not deceived?

God Created the Earth

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:14

One of the most basic beliefs, if you believe in God, is that God created the Earth.  In 2 Nephi 2:14 it says:

And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

We were created by God, the earth was created by God, along with everything in the Earth and the sky.

Actually, if you want to get technical, Jesus Christ created the Earth under the direction of God the Father. When we say “God” created the Earth it can mean God the Father as plan-maker and “architect”, or Jesus Christ as our Savior and “foreman” of the creation project, as it were.

This is a pretty basic belief that most monotheistic religions share.  So, why is it repeated so much in the scriptures?  One reason is that at other times in history it was important to make the distinction that God is the creator and not some other being or God.

Also, as an LDS member, I think the knowledge that God is a creator is also important for us to know if we are trying to become more like God.  God has a deep knowledge of nature and the laws that govern nature. We also need to learn about the world around us and show respect for God’s creation in the way we take care of the natural world.

Also, it has occurred to me at many times in my life that when God created the earth he put in the Earth lessons for those who would see them.  In order for us to survive we must work for our food and shelter all our lives, showing that we must work to gain our salvation.  However, the things we need most, like water, in most places simply falls from the sky.  And air, which is even a more basic need, is simply everywhere as we need it.  This shows how much God gives us, and how we are dependent on God for even the efforts we make.

Today I am going to go outside sometime and appreciate nature and what God has created.

What other reasons can you think of for the repetition in the scriptures that God is the creator of the world?

God is Never Changing

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:3, D&C 20:17, Moroni 8:18, Mormon 9:19

“The Spirit is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” This small phrase is the focus of my whole post.

God never changes.  This is a valuable piece of information, because if God were to change then we could not have faith in his love and guardianship over us.  After all, if you think God could just go and change his mind about this whole earth thing, you would have no reason to follow him. In D&C 20:17 it says:

By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them

This also means that the core principles of the gospel never change.  The practices of the church change all the time, because it is the job of the church to run in a way that will best benefit its people, who are changing all the time.  But, the principles of the gospel such as faith, repentance, justice, and mercy will never change.

I am changing all the time, and with me changes my knowledge and application of God’s teachings.  God, however, doesn’t change and as such provides a rock hard foundation for my growth.  It is reassuring to know that although I am very imperfect and often get things wrong, God will always be right and will always be ready to lead me to a better way if I am willing to follow.

Today as I read my scriptures I am going to look for instances where a knowledge of God’s unchanging nature is important, either to the people in the story I am reading, or in my own understanding of that story.

What does it mean to you to know that God never changes?  Would you have a different attitude about some things if you believed otherwise?

A Constant Witness of God

Reading: 1 Nephi Chapter 1, Lectures on Faith Section 3:2-5

As part of my reading of the general conference adresses I made the commitment to make more effort at reading the Book of Mormon.  So, today I am going to start a review of the Book of Mormon.  I may not write about it every day, because it is a little more time consuming to read and write about a chapter of scripture than it is a talk that is geared to only a single topic.  But, I’m willing to try and see how it goes.

When I took a class on the Book of Mormon in college I had a teacher who emphasized to us that the Book of Mormon is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”  The reason this is important can be found in the Lectures on Faith, a document from early in the church that was used to instruct priesthood leaders and was printed with the Doctrine and Covenants for some time.  It was removed because the document is not a direct revelation from God, but rather a compilation of knowledge, so they felt it did not fit.  However, it is a great instruction on faith.  Anyway, the quote I am referring to is:

Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.

First, The idea that he actually exists.

Secondly, A correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.

Thirdly, An actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.

The idea here is that in order for us to have sufficient faith in God, we must have a correct idea of what he is like.  So, by testifying constantly about what God and the Savior are like, the Book of Mormon is fulfilling a vital role in our individual salvation.

Because of this being hammered into my head in my Book of Mormon class I often find myself picking out charateristics of God as I read the Book of Mormon.  And, that is what I kept coming back to today.

In the first chapter alone we learn the following things about the character of God:

  • God is good and favors those who follow him (verse 1)
  • God hears and answers prayers (verse 6)
  • God has a body (verse 8)
  • The Savior also has a body and is separate from God (verse 9)
  • God is all powerful (verse 14)
  • God is good and merciful (verse 14)
  • God will save those who come to him (verse 14)
  • God shares knowledge (verse 18)
  • “The tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chose, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” (verse 20)

When I think of God as being merciful, loving, and powerful, my faith is stronger.  I feel safer and I am easier to trust in God.  When I get false ideas of God stuck into my head (usually without really realizing it), like that he must be angry with me, or that he doesn’t care about me, then I have a much harder time with faith.

Today I am going to try and look at the picture of the Savior on our wall throughout the day and think about what we know about Him through the scriptures.

What characteristics of God help you trust him better?