Category Archives: Personal Study

Gratitude and Humility: Two Sides of the Same Key

Through a series of thoughts that culminated in a family home evening lesson last evening, I am brought to consider the two-sided key, or two-sided coin, of gratitude and humility. I say two-side because, on comparing the definitions, they are the same thing only in different contexts. Here’s how I’m defining the two terms:

Gratitude – to expressly acknowledge God’s blessing in our lives. (see Gratitude for the Goodness of God)

Humility – to recognize our dependence upon God and desiring to submit to His will. (from Guide to the Scriptures)

Now as I write this post, I find myself more in a state of sin than that of obedience, but recognizing such, and knowing that through further study and understanding of the doctrines of Christ, I can put myself into a place (through the grace of God or the enabling power of the Atonement of Christ) where I can then repent and improve, I’m anxiously longing to make connections, to overcome these vices and improve my position.

An Attitude of Gratitude

What does the Book of Mormon teach of gratitude and humility?

That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you. (Alma 34:38)

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day. (Alma 37:37)

See Topical Guide on Thankfulness

Paring gratitude with humility adds “depth” or dimension to the principle of gratitude. Take for example 2 Nephi 9:42:

And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.

Those that are puffed up because of their learning, wisdom, or riches — this sounds like a condition of ingratitude, but Jacob the prophet  is using this to illustrate the need for humility. Here and elsewhere the phrase “depths of humility” is used. It suggests to me that there is a distance to be traveled between the lofty and vain aspirations of men and the lowly road of the humble. Is there not a distance to be traveled on the path to greater or more profound gratitude as well?

The scriptures say that we are to walk in thanksgiving daily, that definitely describes a journey more than a one-time occurrence.

And what of our attitude as we embark on the lowly road of humility? If there is a distance that must be traveled, how shall we travel it? By rejoicing gratefully every step of the way!

How can I be more grateful for Jesus Christ: His life, His Gospel, and His Atonement?

I have done a search this morning that has been on my mind: “Freely ye have received, freely give.” It is found in Matthew 10:8 and is instructions to his disciples. Another scripture came up in the search result in 1 Corinthians 2:12, and this is a key to having expanded gratitude:

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (emphasis added)

The point here is that we need the Spirit of God to be with us to recognize the blessings that come from God. Especially as we take into account something as infinite and eternal as the Atonement of Christ, how can we even begin to appreciate or understand its significance for us without the Spirit of God to teach us? This is what Alma was getting at in Alma 34:38 already referenced above.

On Creation

Hebrews 11:3, Moses 1:32-33

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”  Hebrews 11:3

Then over in Moses we learn,

“And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.

And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.

So here, the Father is sharing with us a key to creation. We are also to learn to  create through the word of my power. Why?

God is showing us how he created all things.

See also Moses 5:7-8.


Create, Govern, Destroy (think greek origins, like deconstruct).

“I and My Brethren,” Alma 27

The reference is to Alma 27:15 where Ammon consults with King Lamoni about what he can do to help liberate the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. He offers to take the lead among his fellow servants to go back to the land of the Nephites to negotiate lands for their protection.

I read this at a time when I’m looking forward to the conversion of my own children, longing for, hoping for, almost beyond hope, that each of my children, even those lost in the paths of addiction and vice, might some day repent and return to God. It happened for Ammon and his brethren. It happened for Alma the Younger, miraculous as it was.

On the one hand, I don’t know why I would merit such a blessing. On the other hand, I have to hope and pray and fast that some day that blessing may be ours as well.

Reverence

How did Christ demonstrate a proper mode of reverence towards the Father?

I’ve reviewed the parable of the wicked husbandmen as recorded in Matthew 21. It talks of wicked leadership within the kingdom of God, and of how they ought to have reverenced the Son, but did not. The JST on verse 45 reveals that the Savior taught this parable twice in the same setting (similar to how he taught the Parable of the Sower), and that this shift in leadership was to occur twice: once at his coming, and again in the last days.

What is the issue? Why has there been a need for a replacement of leadership? a lack of reverence and a failure to produce fruit.

Reverence proceeds the ability to produce fruit. (This is what’s missing in my home.)

“Be Your Best Self”

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/04/be-your-best-self?lang=eng

Here’s the promise from President Monson:

In the world today we face difficulties and challenges, some of which can seem truly daunting. However, with God on our side we cannot fail. As we bear His holy priesthood worthily, we will be victorious.

Prior to this, in his remarks he gives simple instructions on the importance of learning and observing our duties within the priesthood.

As I contemplate my priesthood duties, there are many.  I am reminded of the most important being in the home.

Coordinating the Spiritual

2 Nephi 32 and John 3:2-21

I’ve spent the past few days working on implementing more organization into my life. Selecting organizational tools that will help me to unify the different aspects of my life. My concern was the lack of the Spiritual in the process. These two chapters have been a re-orientation of sorts, while allowing me to also see how the tools that I’ve been developing can work with this spiritual focus.

Prayer and the words of Christ will show me what I am to do. My organizational tools, when appropriate, will allow me to put into words those action items that the Spirit dictates to me. My personal aim and vision allows me to give focus to the Spiritual in my own life.  The term “giving Christian father” seems to embody my personal aim.

The fact that I am willing to bring all this before God is evidence of nature of these deeds. “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

I’m in a very good spot this morning!

Defining Myself: Father

The definition/title of a father has held little meaning for me. Thus the term of Heavenly Father, though this is the title of all the titles that God has choosen to assign himself,  holds a lesser significance to me because I do not understand it. I am fairly confident that I am not alone in this.

“A sacred title referring to a man who has begotten or legally adopted a child.” – Father, Mortal from the Guide to the Scriptures (emphasis added)

My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:

For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Proverbs 3:11-12

I am reminded that chastening is another term for purifying.  This causes me to consider that I only should correct a child in whom I delight! How different is that. How important then becomes the urgency to plead with heaven to have unbridled love and compassion for these my children.  Charity is essential to fatherhood.  It cannot be accomplished without it.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

This is similar counsel as what was offered by king Benjamin.

The next two scriptures talk of teaching children after “the learning of my father.” (1 Ne. 1:1, Enos 1:1) Here’s another point of departure from just doing what feels right, to honestly asking myself to define for my own family what I really want my children to learn, and learn well.

Here’s an additional thought from a private communication just received from President Smith (name was changed, but he is member of my current stake presidency):

Bishop Walker is a school teacher who earns a modest income and is striving to do fun activities with his family that don’t cost anything. Bishop Walker is striving to bring up his children with the understanding they don’t need money [to] have fun. So the children don’t feel pressured later when they’re raising their own children and they’ll know they can raise those grandchildren without chasing careers for money only, instead of choosing careers in which they feel fulfilled regardless of the income level. (Name also changed)

Finally, the importance of prayer on behalf of my children is repeated time and time again. (Mosiah 27:14, Moro. 8:2–3)


Action Items:

  • Constantly be praying for charity that I can love my children to a point that I delight in them.
  • Define what I want my children to learn from me.
  • Develop or create fun activities with my children that don’t require money.

Next time that I revisit this, I want to explore more the feelings, characteristics, qualities, and attributes of fatherhood. Focus more on the characteristic and qualities of Heavenly Father, and learn why he wants to be called a Father.

23 Years of Christian Discipleship

I’m reviewing a talk by Elder Jeffery R. Holland entitled “Knowing the Godhead” this morning. Near the end is this good apostle’s witness of Christ and His ransom for our sins.

I bear witness of Jesus Christ, the living Son of the living God, who paid the liberating ransom for your soul and my soul and the soul of every man, woman, and child from Adam to the end of the world.

I attempted to move on, but the Spirit of the Lord (as he often does to me) constrained me again to not look past this point. I then began to consider the duration of my discipleship. As of this writing, I am 23 years old as a disciple of Christ. I’m not nearly the christian that the name itself deserves, but I do feel today as clean and pure as that beautiful season 23 years ago, when I first exercised for myself the redeeming power of Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

In saying that, what I am reminded of is how long, how constant, how real that power to forgive sin that is in Christ has been with me.  I in no wise mean to suggest the my life has been perfect these 23 years, far from it! But what time has proven to be absolutely perfect is this Atonement of Christ. His love and constant ability to forgive sin is perfect. It is unfathomable to me how perfect that power is!

23 years. Ups and downs, rights and lefts, mistakes and mess ups and more.  How constant is this one reality in my life: that Christ’s loving Atonement is never failing.

A Nudge in the Direction of Faith

This morning’s scripture study has been a restoration or a brief nudge in the direction of faith. I’ve study Hebrews 11 along with the accompanying bible video.  For those who have a hope of his glory and the refinement of the righteous, the present challenges offer not guarantee of rest. Many have passed in faith having never see the promises that they were hopeful of.

The Gathering of Scattered Israel

“The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” by Elder Russel M. Nelson, October 2006

There is such a strong spirit about what I am studying this morning. I cannot tell its purpose yet.  As I read about the Lord telling Abraham to get thee out of the land of his father’s inheritance, this resonates deeply and strongly within me. This is much more to learn here.

Thinking more on Ephraim and the covenants promised to his house. The fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant would not be realized until our day. The Book of Mormon is what teaching about the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant.

3 Nephi 29:3, “ye need not imagine in your hearts that the words which have been spoken are vain, for behold, the Lord will remember his covenant which he hath made”


In 3 Nephi 20:29-34, it talk about the restoration of the house of Israel.  An evidence of their restoration will be their conversion to the Gospel of Christ, and particularly in the manner of their prayers: “and shall pray unto the Father in my name.”

It seems to me as I consider it this morning, that in their prayers will be revealed a key to their restoration.