Him Will I Raise Up

3 Nephi 15:1-10

At the end of the first verse, the Savior gives the promise of being raised up. The footnotes, show that this promise was reiterated by prophets throughout the scriptures, especial in the Book of Mormon and strongly ties obedience to the commandments of the Lord with the first Resurrection.

The next nine verses then offers a clarification on the fulfillment of the law of Moses, and yet future fulfillment of all the prophets had taught. The final crux of all the matter is this: “keep my commandments”. (See verse 10)

See also John 6:35-54

Fulfilling Covenants

When Christ says to the Nephites, “Old things have passed away, and that all things had become new,” (vs. 2-3) He is guiding them to understand the covenants that he has made, and perhaps even the covenants that he will yet make with us individually.

References to the New and Everlasting covenant found here in these verses state very similar outcomes to that which Christ has here promised: being raised up at the last day.

The new and everlasting covenant is the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which gets restored with every new dispensation.

The Rules of the Game

(a parable) All games have rules of engagement. To play the game you need to learn and follow the rules. Without rules, there is no game.

Life also has rules of engagement. In order to live life, you need to learn the laws and commands of God, who created life. If you cannot play by the commandments of God, there is no life. Life cannot be lived unless we abide by the rules of the Life-giver.

I Will Liken Him unto a Wise Man

3 Nephi 14:24-27 (See also Matthew 7:24-27)

In this simple comparison of persons is the powerful illustration of one absolute reality:

Rains will fall, Floods will come, and winds will blow!

In other words, there will be opposition regardless of your spiritual status in life. However, it is the outcome of such opposition that will primarily effect. To the righteous, hard as the rain and winds may still be, their houses remain standing, and the connection to the foundation has actually been strengthened, reinforced by the reality that the only thing that allowed that house to continue to stand was its foundation. The foundation, its quality and strength, the builders have very little to do with, except in the choosing of it.

To those who choose to build upon anything other than the Rock, the Lord assimilates them to a foolish man. Because they will build, and they will erect great edifices, but without a foundation of the Rock, there will be nothing to sustain it in times of storm. The opulence, the excess, “the loftiness of the branches,” these things will all come crashing down, and so the Savior warns: “great was the fall of it.”

I Never Knew You

3 Nephi 14:21-23 (See also Matthew 7:21-23)

These three verses come to me after a week-long study on false prophets. There is for me a lot to unpack in so few verses. Footnotes are taking me in all directions, but the one thing that is really standing out to me this morning is the final statement of the Savior.

And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Verse 23 (emphasis added)

The final judgment is placed squarely on the Savior’s knowing me! It is not enough for me to think or believe that I am acquainted with Christ, He has to know me in order for me to be saved! There are multiple scriptures that support this statement. And the big question that I am asking this morning is: How or what do I have to do for Christ to know me?

For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

Mosiah 5:13

So for Christ to know me, I need to serve him. I need to know his will and as far as possible try to understand the thoughts and intent of the Master’s heart.

Mosiah 26 offers a more detailed account of that final judgment. This seems to be a very polarized judgment, which hinges on one simple principle: whether we know Christ or not.

Alma 26:9, Ammon rejoices in the Lamanite converts because of the love that now exists between them, but then also adds this: “For if we had not come up… they would also have become strangers to God.” In other words, Jesus would not have known them in that intimate manner of which we have been discussing here.

In Luke 13, the Savior is reported as having taught the same principle with this slight variation, repeated twice: “I know you not whence ye are.” This is loosely coupled also with the teaching of those who waited for their Lord’s coming. It makes me think of the parable of the ten virgins. Five were ready, five were not. Where were the five that were not prepared? What were they doing there? Why does the location matter?

Perhaps, the better question was where were the five that were prepared? What were they doing there?

And that which fell among thorns… bring no fruit to perfection.
But that on the good ground are they, which… bring forth fruit with patience.

Luke 8:14-15 (emphasis added)

There is a fairly healthy tension within me when I read about bringing forth fruit or good works. That tension is between personal refinement and good works. Both are necessary, but when I read the insight about the parable of the sower from Luke’s account, this particular account suggests that the good fruit leans towards personal refinement.

Principles that Apply to Effective Adult Child Discipline

Mosiah 26

This pertains more to the government of the church, but what principles apply to the family?

  • Vs. 19 – “And because thou hast inquired of me concerning the transgressor, thou art blessed.”
  • Vs. 23, 25 & 26 – “For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand.”
    “And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me.”
    “And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed.”

3 Nephi 18

This features the Savior’s instructions on how to administer the Sacrament, with specific instructions on what to do with those that will not repent.

  • Vs. 32 – “Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.”
  • Vs. 34 – “And I give you these commandments because of the disputations which have been among you. And blessed are ye if ye have no disputations among you.”

Mosiah 27

This chapter addresses the rebellion and miraculous redemption by an angel of Alma and the Sons of Mosiah.

  • Vs. 14 – “And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.”

To be continued…

By Their Fruits

3 Nephi 14:15-20 (see also Matthew 7:15-20)

The Lord starts this block of teaching with a warning: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Gratefully the Lord gives us a way to discern or judge: by their fruits.

So the question here is: what manner of fruits are we looking for?

Doctrine and Covenants 52:18,34 – A pattern for discerning fruits. Re-reading verse 34 has brought great comfort: “He that is faithful, the same shall be kept and blessed with much fruit.” There is a long term promise here, of posterity and other spiritual blessings that may be received as fruit, if we are patient.

Full Conversion Brings Happiness by Elder Richard G. Scott. This is a relevant talk in so far as it equates conversion with fruit. Conversion is the fruit that results from the practice of faith, repentance, and consistent obedience.

(A new day, and I have asked in prayer to see what I am not seeing.) Fruit has seeds that contain potential for future growth. They are delicious for immediate consumption, but also can be used for future purposes.

I am still asking myself what am I not seeing in these verses. And the very first thing that is expressed in this group of verses is to “beware of false prophets”. Then Christ is giving us a way to discern a false prophet. How do we tell if someone is telling us the truth? Especially of things yet to come?

A footnote on “false prophets” leads us to consider priestcraft, the art of setting oneself up as light unto the world, with the end of obtaining money and fame. Most notable is that they have no interest in the welfare of Zion. For this reason, the Savior warns us to be on our guard, that we do not entertain such.

Another interesting side note from Ezekiel 22, the false prophets of ancient Israel were accused of violating the Sabbath day and mixing the sacred with the profane, treating both as part of the same. This reminder of the value of the Sabbath is important to me this morning.

Strait Is the Gate

3 Nephi 14:13-14 (see also Matthew 7:13-14)

In these verses, the strait gate is not defined. But Nephi clearly defines it in 2 Nephi 31:17-18, “For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life;”

Two chapters later, Nephi ends his record with these final remarks: “I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.”

The strait gate that Christ speaks of is then this two-part package:

  • Reconciliation to God (Repentance)
  • Entrance into the path of covenants (Starts with baptism, church membership)

The Broad Way to Destruction

A similar verse in Doctrine and Covenants equates destruction with “the deaths”, and also adds: “because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.” This much wider gate stands in strange contrast to the strait gate.

The Way Which Leadeth unto Life

Life, eternal life, the life that God has, a life shared with God in His order of existence.

The gate and the way are in Christ, and elsewhere Christ even says that He is “the way, the truth, and the life.”

I am trying to reconcile this with the patterns of nature that I find all around me here where I live, because I see great evidence of a kind and generous Creator’s hand. I am trying to understand how to replicate that life in what I see in the world around me.

Do Ye Even So To Them

3 Nephi 14:12 (See also Matthew 7:12)

The footnotes in Matthew are more abundant than in 3 Nephi. This single verse is known as “the golden rule” and is an injunction to kindness. But the wording is such, that the Lord doesn’t just say “be kind,” but rather “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” Use your faculties to judge righteously, and bless others as you would receive a blessing.

Good Works

One of the first footnotes that I am exploring on this verse is that of Good Works. It strikes me as motivating, both as a entrepreneur and as a good citizen, that the types of work that I employ my time in are the very things that I would want or desire that others would engage in. I love good works, companies that build successful businesses based on ethical principles. That’s so important to me. The golden rule, not the bottom line, should be the predominate variable in all business-making decisions.

Why do we try to separate the very substance of our day-to-day work activities from the principles of truth? We are talking about work, we are talking about how we interact with others, we are talking about how we benefit others with our work. The power is within us to do good work.

Continuing Courtship in Marriage

Another footnote from the Matthew verse directs me to consider this council in the marriage relationship.

Paul counseled: “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband,” (1 Corinitians 7:3). Benevolence isn’t a word we use much any more, but it can be equated with kindness, a reminder that this marriage relationship is the most important one in which to render kindness and good intent to one another.

Then there is the classic injunction in Ephesians where Paul tells the wives to subject themselves to their husbands as we do to Christ within the Church. And then the husbands are told to be as Christ to their wives. I don’t know which is harder counsel to swallow personally, but both place an almost impossible standard for marriage relationships. This is how it must be though: men out to love as Christ loved. Women ought to submit to their husbands as if to Christ. The council is two sides of the same coin, submission or love. Are we not both being asked to conform to a higher law?

Receive Instruction

The imprint of nature is upon me this morning, realizing that in the creations that so abundantly surround us here in this fertile place, there is also life, and if life then there must be love and giving.

Another footnote has taken me to Proverbs 24. It feels as if my life had been aligned to consider the counsels found herein this morning. I asked myself if I could receive instruction from the creations that are around me? The Spirit of the Lord confirms such a notion. But then I read in Proverbs:

30 I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;

31 And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.

32 Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.

Proverbs 24:30-32 (emphasis added)

These are the verses that immediately followed the footnote reference. There is instruction in the world around us! But the entirety of the chapter is practically shouting at me this morning. So much truth! Don’t envy the evil. Their end is misery.
“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”

If kindness is the whole purpose and end of the law and the prophets, then I have greatly missed the mark, especially with my family, many a time. Kindness is different than calmness, and denotes calmness towards others. No matter what evil is extended to the individual, returning goodness every where we go.

Do not refrain from teaching the Gospel of Christ to your children. The end goal is conversion, not knowledge. Conversion to what? A gospel of kindness.

There is a brief addendum that I would add this study, found in Matthew 22:40. Here is another instance of where the phrase “the law and the prophets” is used to give emphasis to the importance of the principle being taught. In that context, it was teaching of the two greatest commandments: love God and my fellow man. Kindness is the essence of the same.

Ask of God

3 Nephi 14:6-11 (See also Matthew 7:6-11; JST, Matthew 7:9-20)

Go ye into the world, saying unto all, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come nigh unto you.

And the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet.

For the world cannot receive that which ye, yourselves, are not able to bear; wherefore ye shall not give your pearls unto them, lest they turn again and rend you.

Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

JST, Matthew 7:9-12

This is found in the Joseph Smith Translation only on verse 12. It is for God to reveal some of the deeper mysteries of the kingdom to individuals. This is such an important point to be understood in our personal quest for knowledge and discipleship.

Knowledge garners perspective. I am hated because of my perspective. But the Savior says that they hate you, because they know not me. Therefore, they hate me first, not you. (See John 17:9-26)

The Spirit of the Lord reassures me this morning that the promise found in verse 11 is true. It seems to me that God the Father is eager to answer our prayers. “…How much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” I am reminded of recent minor course corrections that have generated much benefit to my personal welfare. Simple actions and minimal investment of time have rendered and will yet render much fruit.

Judge Righteous Judgments

3 Nephi 14:1-5 (See also Matthew 7:1-5; JST, Matthew 7:1-8)

The start of this chapter is altered significantly in the Joseph Smith Translation. It reads:

Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.

JST, Matthew 7:1–2

This clarification is particularly important, because instead of the Savior admonishing us to avoid judgments at all cost, He is warning to me to be careful in my judgments, that I don’t judge unrighteous judgments, or unmerciful judgments. (See Alma 41:14) I need to say this again: Harsh justice is not righteous judgment. Merciful judgments are righteous judgments.

Here is another perspective on righteous judgments:

And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.

Doctrine and Covenants 11:12

In any discussion on judgment, the council and direction offered by the prophet Mormon must be considered: Moroni 7:15-19.

There are a couple of areas that I’m exploring this morning that relate to judgment. One is personal obedience and how my experiences from the mission, church, and family service have influenced my perspective and direction.

New morning, and I am coming in after a morning walk through my gardens (backyard) after a day of rain. I can’t help to be enraptured by all the new growth, and life which is just so eagerly growing around me. It only requires water. I see a strong gospel type in these things.

Now in my morning studies, I read from proverbs: “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” (Proverbs 11:25, emphasis added) I see in this a promise. The watering is the teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So the teacher is strengthened in the strengthening of the students.

I am called to preach the Gospel in every setting. At home, at church, among friends and family. Water is needed everywhere for life to grow. It is also interesting that I am caused to considering this in a discussion of judgment, with a mandate to judge righteous judgments. What does this mean? Do I withhold water from one that would not be watered, because I judge them as not needing or wanting water? I am sitting with these questions, recognizing the need to water the ground for it to grow.

Righteous Judgment Demands Humility

Reviewing the above notes, it strikes me as significant the connection between humility and righteous judgments. Or rather, to walk proudly is the very essence of unrighteous judgment, for the proud lack discernment and perspective.

I am reading straight out of the book of Psalms, King David (a great judge) being its author, and it strikes me that he reveals a key of this approach to judgment.

False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.

They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.

But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.

I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.

Psalm 35:11-14

David did not exalt himself against his enemy, but rather he abased himself, and attempted to make himself as one with them. He mourned for them in their sufferings. He made himself as a brother or a friend. He did this without gaining the advantage of converting his enemies into friends. Yet, this gives the judge a perspective of mercy and compassion.

There is nothing to gain in this approach to judgment, except the truth. There is no ulterior motive, no financial compensation, no strategic advantage; this allows a true judge in Christ to see things that the wicked cannot see. It allows the true judge to consider things that others would not consider. But it really resonates with me this morning that nothing else will result from being a righteous judge except the truth, which is right, which is mercy, which is abundance, which is good.

First the Kingdom of God

3 Nephi 13:19-34 (See also Matthew 6:19-34)

This group of verses is broken into two sections. The first was addressed to the multitude; the second was specific instructions to the Savior’s twelve chosen disciples. The instruction that had been given to the twelve is some of the doctrines that I’ve taken to me most personally. There is obviously a reason why these particular instructions were given just to the twelve.

Treasures in Heaven

In five verses (19-24), the Savior sums up all of our relationship to the goods of this world and contrasts them with true treasures of eternity, without offering a lot of specifics or details.

New day of study, I have mapped out on our wall this morning something of a personal overview of our mortal experience:

This depiction is representative of some thoughts I had today after listening to a talk last evening from President Nelson entitled “Now Is the Time to Prepare”.

The final timeline is labeled “Earthly Treasures/Pleasures”. I had first labeled it as “Money $$” referencing President Nelson’s talk, but then as I thought more about what the Savior is teaching in these verses, he doesn’t call it “money” but rather “treasures upon earth”. These earthly treasures are contrasted with “treasures in heaven”.

Earthly Treasures

  • Corruptible things, can be destroyed by moths, rust, or decay.
  • Things capable of being stolen by thieves.

Heavenly Treasures

  • Things which are incorruptible.
  • Riches which cannot be stolen, because they are stored in heaven.

This definition actually leaves a lot to the imagination. Here’s a quick brain dump of some general ideas.

Examples of Earthly Treasures

  • Riches, mammon, temporal possessions
  • Fame, recognition
  • Excessive houses, fine clothing, expensive cars

Examples of Heavenly Treasures

  • Family and family relationships
  • Friends and neighbors
  • Knowledge and skills
  • Divine attributes
  • Testimony
  • Temple covenants

The Savior then states a defining and clarifying point: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” So the Savior is then giving it to us to define for ourselves where our treasures are, or where our priorities are at.

There is more here, as the Savior goes on to explain that where you direct your sight, can determine whether you are allowing light or darkness into your life. In verse 22, in the Matthew version of this scripture, there is a Joseph Smith Translation which adds: “if therefore thine eye be single to the glory of God, thy whole body shall be full of light.”

Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. Our eyes are the light of our bodies. “Blessed are your eyes, for they see.” See what? They see the Light of the world. So if we can see the glory of God, Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, and our eye be single to Him and Him only, then are we full of that light. And if we are filled with light, then do we comprehend all things. (See Doctrine and Covenants 88:67)

(This last point was an addendum of the Father that the Spirit of the Lord constrained me to consider before finishing for the day. What am I to learn?)

No Man Can Serve Two Masters

Our loyalty is to God or to the devil, but it can never be to both. Loyalty is synonymous with trustworthiness, obedience, and faithfulness. My loyalty, as explained in Jacob 1:7-8, I feel is not as it could be. What can I do to improve this? I follow Jesus Christ, or in this I am trying. I really, really struggle when it comes to blessing others though by following Jesus Christ.

In my studies from yesterday, I followed the footnotes on the Topical Guide entry for Service found in Matthew 6:24, which in turn took me to Jeremiah 22. This caused me to consider other matters of family dynamics and father to son relationships, and the wrath of God upon those of the covenant who did not hear His word.

In these particular verses, the Lord also decrees that the lineage of that king (Jehoiakim) will never prosper or rule again in Judah. I don’t know why that strikes me as important this morning. This goes back to the original verse, “No man can serve to masters.”

The very existence of any Israelite kingdom in antiquity was that God might have had a covenant, righteous people. When the people departed from their righteousness, then the very purposes for their organization as a people was nullified. They were to remain in their scattered state until such a time as was given them to be gathered in again, not because of their identity or association as a people, but because of their righteousness.

This morning I am in a preparation for General Conference this weekend. I’ve had a small but jolting reminder in my own behavior that has caused me to remember that God can do His own work. One planted, another harvested, but God gave the increase.

Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.

He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:99-100

This is where I am failing in terms of fatherly responsibility. I do not know my duties. I do not attend to my duties as a father.

The pruning is hard and deep this morning, but needed. I have read “An Eye Single to the Glory of God” by Elder Marlin K. Jensen. These thoughts bring me full circle in this particular study. The principles of gardening are all very real in my mind this morning as well. I’ve learned a few things as of late that I am finding to be applicable as well in my current circumstances as a husband and father. I’ve also read an article from then President Utchdorf entitled “God’s Harvest”.

I am back in verse 24. After the Savior says that “no man can serve two masters,” he goes on to explain why. “…for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other.” Now, here pronouns are used.

First he says “he will hate the one, and love the other.” Let’s assume that the hate assigned here is towards Mammon and the love is towards God. But then, he flips the tables and says “or else he will hold to the one (no love here), and despise (a word that means a feeling stronger than hate) the other.” Then we assume here that this is Mammon that we hold to and God whom we despise.

Despise is defined as feelings of contempt or deep repugnance, and it is also said to be a feeling stronger than hate. Why would we despise God if we do not love him?

Jacob, from the Book of Mormon, warns:

Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.

Jacob 4:8 (emphasis added)

Mammon – See Idolatry, Idols in the Topical Guide. The theme of idolatry is prevalent throughout the Old Testament. It was the common sin of the House of Israel from the beginning. They could not understand the covenants of God and so they frequently defaulted back to idolatry, to worship the workmanship of their own hands.

Study of Idolatry (continued)

But this is not just an Old Testament issue. It is detailed in the Book of Mormon and is even mentioned in the introduction of the Doctrine and Covenants. So what does idolatry look like in our days? In the Book of Mormon, idolatry is associated with idleness, the two activities made to be equal. Idolatry = Idleness. If idleness is laziness, then it means to do nothing, or it seems to stand in opposition to work. And yet it sometimes requires so much work to accomplish wickedness. Vain, laborious exertions are made in pursuit of activities that bear no fruits.

Idolatry is also grouped in a host of other wicked activities as a catalyst for war.

One more day on this particular thought, following the Topical Guide entry for worldliness. (This is a particularly strong spirit about my study this morning: 14 Apr 2020) The Psalms are resonating deeply with me this morning, for the wicked may prosper for a season, but the Lord will not maintain them as He does the righteous. (Psalms 37, Psalms 73)

Psalms 73:12-17 stands out to me in particularly, that perceived dynamic of the righteous, who see the wicked prospering in their own ways, without any credence to the way of God, His commandments, or His covenants. Oh those covenant obligations that keeps the man of God from prospering after the ways of the world! I love how it is in the temple, in the attendance to covenant duty, that the Lord then reveals to the Psalmist the truth end of the wicked, who appear to prosper. And the most important part of this entire conversation is that in the end the man of God is he that prospers. Behold, how he prospers, in both temporal matters and in the riches of eternities, all of His children who follow Him.

Verses 25-34 are a commission directed exclusively to the twelve disciples that Christ had previously called. This is different than how this same set of instruction appears in the New Testament.

There are several invitation given to the disciples in this group of instructions:

  • Behold the fouls of the air
  • Consider the lilies of the field
  • Take no thought for food, drink, or clothing
  • Seek ye first the kingdom of God

There are so many lessons to be learned in the mere observation of life that surrounds us. I find it fascinating that Christ points to birds and flowers to instruct his disciples. What I’m really struggling with right now is the connection between God, the natural world, and man. Why do these observation of nature feel more like a time-wasting hobby than an opportunity to be instructed and to hear the voice of God in his creations? Why won’t the Spirit of God guide me to further consideration of the lilies? (I will stop here for the day, but expect to learn more in the days ahead.)

First the Savior gives instructions to the disciples that they should not concern themselves with temporal affairs of food, drink, and clothing. Then ends with a rhetorical question: “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” In this question, it is more of a declaration: the life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. There is more to it then just our temporal needs. The questions then are what is the “more”? There is more to life than just what we eat. Or there is more that is required for life to be sustained than just food. There is a greater purpose to our bodies than just for the purpose of clothing it.

Behold the Fouls of the Air

To illustrate this point, he first points to the birds of flight as proof that without thought for it, God can and does feed these creatures, which exist in abundance. The entire life span of billions upon billions of birds that cover the earth all get a “free lunch” if you will. “Work we must, but the lunch is free,” as scholar Hugh Nibley was fond of saying. The birds contribute essentially to the natural systems of the earth into the spheres in which they are placed. They give of their songs, and are clothed in beauty, not of their own thought or choosing. They are obedient within the realm in which they are placed and God takes care of them.

In our “Come Follow Me” instruction, we were recently in Mosiah 1-3. So King Benjamin’s remarks are fresh in my memory. I am feeling that there is a parallel there between his remarks on keeping the commandments of God in chapter 2 and this particular point on beholding the fouls of the air. The birds are blessed for their participation in the Plan. So are we.

…I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual…

Mosiah 2:41


In Matthew, there is a footnote on “consider” that leads to the TG entry for “Mediation”. Herein is a key to spiritual strength. “Lord, consider my meditation,” Psalms 5:1. I wasn’t expecting such a strong impression of the value of meditation this morning. I’m particularly considering it as a part of discipleship. The following two verses from Doctrine and Covenants give this practice particular credence:

Hearken ye to these words. Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Treasure these things up in your hearts, and let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds.

Doctrine and Covenants 43:34 (emphasis added)

Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:85

…The Lilies of the Field

The fouls of the air were proof that God can feed all of his creations. Now he points to the lilies of the field as proof that he can beautifully cloth all his creations. God can do His own work in His own time.

A new day, I watched a video last evening where a gardener suggested that one of the best things that you can do for your garden is take time to observe it. Meditate in the garden. His reason for doing so was to observe ways in which the natural process were working.

I am not outside at the moment, but as I draw my mind to some of the wild field flowers that overcrowd my yard in the spring time, I am brought to consider that they are their in dormancy year round. They will flower once in the spring time. I say they lie in dormancy for most of the year, but maybe they are working and only fruit once a year. Their visible activities are only apparent when conditions are right.

Christ is not saying that food, drink, and clothing, these necessities of life are not of importance. He knows of their importance, just as he knows of our needs.

To Build Up… and to Establish

In the 3 Nephi version of verse 33, there is a footnote on commitment. The idea rubs me a little raw, because of misplaced priorities in understanding what commitment to the Kingdom of God really looked like. In Matthew 6:33 however, Joseph Smith translates this verse slightly differently:

Wherefore, seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Joseph Smith Translation – Matthew 6:38

The additional wording is significant in my view.

I am going in two directions with these statements: one is looking back, the other is looking forward. As I look back, I have the testimony of a providential Hand that has placed me in my current state of abundance. Home, clothing, food, and modest yet reliable transportation are all temporal blessings that I currently enjoy. Could I ask for more than this temporally? Is it needed?

So looking forward, if I have been established in every needful thing temporally, how much more should I put first the building up of the Kingdom of God and to establish His righteousness! The questions in my mind are how, and in what ways am I being lead. Clearly there are matters of temporal importance that continue to merit my attention, but what have I ever lost in devoting time to the Kingdom of God? Nothing.

My devotions have been slightly off-centered though, not giving enough diligence and heed to my own home. But at times, as I allow space for children to grow, I have been prompted to attend to service in the Church, instead of at home.

To build up, to establish the kingdom of God, there is another phrase that goes inline with this thought: How beautiful is he that publisheth peace, that saith unto Zion, thy God reigneth. (See Isaiah 52:7) The act of publishing peace, or establishing righteousness connotes work, and an effort yet to be made. It is a call to arms.

Another day, I have spent another half hour reflecting on the same group of verses, cross referencing footnotes, which are abundant. The reality is that within this group of verses are the keys of abundance in this life and instruction on how to prepare for eternal life.

He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

Proverbs 21:21

Abundance and prosperity are the promises of the scriptures for those that follow God. Not as the world would illustrate prosperity, but as in the riches of eternity which the earth is designed to release to those who are obedient.

I end on this point, “Take no thought for the morrow.” The Lord is not telling us to not plan or prepare. Rather, this morning, I am almost paralyzed with fear of the future for my family. I think this is what the Lord is counseling me to avoid. The translation from the Spanish back into English simply states: Don’t worry about tomorrow.