Mark 1

Mark 1 – Mark’s approach to documenting the Savior’s ministry is something of a populace approach. He talks of how Christ performed many miracles in healing the sick. This isn’t a bad thing, because repeatedly he is dealing with issues of logistics throughout this first chapter.

First Christ goes into a synagogue in Capernaum. He there preaches with authority, and then casts out  a devil that declares his divinity. Christ silences the devil’s testimony.  Shortly there after Christ heals Simon’s (Peter’s) mother-in-law in Simon’s home. She, upon being healed, prophecies to the entire house.

It appears that he’s still in Capernaum at this point, but by the time the events at Simon’s house conclude, evening has come and the fame of Christ (because of what had happened in the synagogue) is now spread throughout Galilee and the inhabitants of the city of Capernaum are at the front door of Simon’s house with their sick and diseased. Many lame are healed; many devils are cast out (He continued to silence the testimonies of the devils.)

The following morning, Christ departs into the wilderness for solace and a quiet place to pray. Soon Simon, and his other disciples whom he had called, arrived and inform the Savior of his fame in Capernaum. Jesus then says that they are going elsewhere to preach, explaining that this was their purpose.

Now near the end of the chapter, Mark records that Jesus heals a leper, and then charges the man  to not make it known. The healed man does not follow Christ’s mandate to “say nothing to any man.” The consequence of that man’s disobedience was this (vs. 45):

Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places.

Fame impeded Christ from doing his work, and being able to openly come and go in the cities to heal those who needed him.

So this chapter is a chapter of logistics and how to get the power of Christ to the people. The obstacles that impeded that progress, and the very establishment of the priesthood leadership (the calling of his apostles) that would make it so that he could do his work, are the focus of this first chapter of Mark.

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.

Gratitude

What words do you hear in the word gratitude? Attitude and grateful.

President Joseph F. Smith said that ingratitude is the great sin of our day.

Gratitude is to expressly acknowledge God’s blessing in our lives.

When I’m reading scriptures, I like to look for the promised blessings and then assess whether or not I am doing the thing which is required to obtain the blessing.

Read D&C 78:19

When we pray, Jesus has taught us to be thankful first, and to express our thanks to God in our prayers. Why do you think that to always start our prayers with expressions of gratitude?

The story of the ten lepers. Luke 17

How did, or what did the leper do who showed gratitude? He gave praise to God.

(Have the kids take turns reading the verses outloud).


Have the kids talk about something that is important to them.  How can they show gratitude for that important thing?

 

God’s Love

An interesting dynamic was observed yesterday as I was fasting and praying about my own children as a group. I noticed that when my children choose to listen to and obey what I ask them to do, they feel happier and they tell me that they love me. On the contrary, those that push against what I ask them to do, frequently follow up their defiance with the phrase, I hate you.

Then I took a step back and contemplated when it was that I most frequently feel God’s love. It is when I am keeping his commandments. Then I also realized that sin causes me to feel the opposite and I am even tempted to believe that God must hate me, when I fail to be obedient to his commandments.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/perfect-love-casteth-out-fear?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/10/the-love-of-god?lang=eng

Disconnect

When you CHOOSE to

Disconnect

from social media, video, music, and gaming influences:

You OPEN yourself up to be influenced by

Peace, Harmony, Humility, Love, Kindness, Joy, Self Worth, Accomplishment, Esteem, Self Respect, and more.

Try It!

The challenge: go one month without media influences. Focus on creation and what you can do with your time. Then see how you feel about yourself and about life at the end of one month.

Then Create

Why it works: It’s a mixed bag of reasons, but one key element has to do with letting yourself tell you who you really are. Those that control the media have ultimately one goal: make it “enjoyable” so you will want more. IT IS a business, and businesses only work when they are making money. When they succeed at making your experience appear “enjoyable”, then they make more money. (Not an entirely evil motive, but left unchecked, it is malicious .

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).

On Decisions

Decisions Determine Destiny
Where we end up in life is largely determined by the first steps that we take.

We don’t climb a mountain by swimming in shallow waters. We don’t cross an ocean, by building sand castles on the shore. You cannot eat an apple all at once, only bite by bite.

Our day-to-day choices make up the direction that we are choosing to go in.

May we choose Christ, and to walk in the Gospel path. Let us avoid the vain and flattering voices of the world. Let us do good to others.

“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.

“Quench Not the Spirit”

This morning’s study causes me to reflect upon my level of commitment to the truths that have always been a part of my life.

1 Thes 5:19

Jacob 6:8

I’ve also been reminded as I reflected upon old blog posts, how it is that the Lord is intimately connected to me. This has also been a good reminder to me to do better as a father towards my teens.


(Updated on July 26, 2017)

I’ve returned to Arizona to retrieve our worldly possessions. I’m the home of my cousin for the morning. This entry from almost two months ago, has served as a bridge in terms of spiritual purposes and priorities.  Very strong workings of the Spirit have been felt again this morning. There’s been something of a  gap in things during the span of time that has passed in spiritual terms. So I am grateful for this connection this morning.

My assumptions are not just assumptions, but in many things are true.