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3 Nephi 13: 24

“No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.”

This is Christ’s great division. We all have but one Master. Choose carefully.
This is another way to describe the “jealous God” of the Old Covenant.  (Ex. 34: 14.) Since He requires everything of you, any holding back is infidelity to Him.
Christ is reaffirming God’s primacy. Your affection for Him cannot be shared. It simply can’t be done. When attempted, it shows you “hate” or “despise” Him, because when you share your fidelity, you reject His direction.
It is this principle that justified the earlier prophets in likening Israel to a “harlot” or a “whore” when she worshiped other gods. (See, eg. Jeremiah 3: 6; Hosea 9: 1; Judges 8: 33.) It is not possible to be converted to the Lord and not be devoted to Him.
All of what is “Mammon” is subordinate to God. The Lord’s ways require the things you have in this life to be used for His purposes and according to His desire. His commandments cover all things, and you cannot divorce your temporal concerns from His teachings. (D&C 29: 35.)
Devotion to Him requires that what you do, say, and think be aligned with Him. Conversion is a progressive process where you develop to be more like Him throughout life. You can’t just “get a testimony” and then not be completely converted to Him. He expects to completely remake you. This sermon is the blueprint for the new creation you are to become.
This statement deals in absolutes because the Lord’s way is the way of absolutes. He can accept nothing less than all. The adversary knows this and is content with getting even a little from you. The adversary knows that a little compromise is everything when compromising your faithfulness to the Lord.

The world will accept anything half-hearted. The world knows you love it, if you will just give in a little to its persuasion. Contamination is contamination and will eventually poison you. So any degree of unrighteousness is enough to please the world. For the Lord, however, it is all or nothing. It is complete fidelity to Him which alone will satisfy.  Keeping one foot in the world, while giving lip service to Him will never meet the requirements for loving Him. (D&C 1: 31.)

Those who think the Lord is announcing a new, easier system to replace the earlier, more demanding Law of Moses do not understand His teachings. This is far more exact and moves the battleground into your heart. He is asking you to transform the soul. He is asking you to become like Him. This is not outward observances. However troubling and wearisome those may have been, they were at least something that could be done without battling in your heart with motive, intent and desires. Here Christ wants you to conform everything, even your desires, to be instruments of your salvation.

This is a call to a much higher way of life. It is a much deeper and more meaningful way to approach God. It is inside you.

Blog To Remain

I intend to leave this blog up. I will be taking the first year’s postings and putting them into book form. The book format will be chronological order, rather than the reverse chronological order as it appears on the blog.  Look for it no sooner than April or May of 2011.   

Hopefully, having it available as a book will spare me thousands of conversations. Hope you will all enjoy.

3 Nephi 13: 22-23

3 Nephi 13: 22-23:

“The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.  But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
 
The “eye” is better put “your mind’s eye.” It is what you meditate on, what fills you. You choose what you fill yourself with by what you give attention. What you notice is what you care to notice.

Christ’s admonition is troubling because the cares of this world distract us all. They impose upon us all.  But Christ advises us to search endlessly for light.

The difference between filling yourself with light and filling yourself with darkness is what thoughts you entertain.

Everything begins in the mind. Words and works flow from thoughts. (Alma 12: 14.) While all three will be judged, it is in the mind where all else begins.

It is not enough to attempt to avoid evil by memorizing hymns. You can spend as many wasted hours humming hymns as singing rock songs.  Neither one will particularly elevate you. Meditating on doctrine, pressing understanding, pondering deeply and engaging the mysteries of God are what will fill the mind with light.

There is so much in our faith that distracts and substitutes for light and truth. Think about these verses and filling your mind with light and truth:  And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that lightgroweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you;” (D&C 50: 23-25.)

The Psalms were quoted by Christ more than any other scripture. They are filled with truths worth meditation.

Having darkness within you does not require an effort to be deliberately vile. The cares of this world, and coping with Babylon is all that is needed to keep you from acquiring light. Finding light requires a deliberate effort to notice it and take it in.

When we are filled with light the heavens notice. In fact, it is the light within us that heaven notices even from afar.

3 Nephi 13: 19-21

3 Nephi 13: 19-21:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal;  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Things here are in constant change. There are two great forces always at work. Entropy and decay are affect everything. All things grow distant, cold and less organized. The opposite is the force that creates and brings anew. Between decay and recreation, we find ourselves in a world where our hold will eventually slip away, and we will no longer be found among the living.
What will endure?
The monuments men build to themselves and their causes break down, decay, rust, erode and fade. They all pass away. The most enduring things are not what we build with our hands, but the truth that we teach. Truth will endure for eternity. It may be lost, fought or suppressed, but it will return. Truth will triumph.
The closest thing we have to eternal living is found in the great ideas and great revelations of the prophets and poets, philosophers and sages. The things made in our minds are what change humanity and elevate us to be more godlike. It is not the structures where men craving immortality engrave their names. It is not the statues in bronze and marble where because of vanity they enshrine their images. They will all pass away.
But an idea, a truth, a testimony from heaven – those will endure despite all hell raging. Send the moths, the rust and thieves against truth, and the truth will prevail despite this fallen world’s conspiracy against it.

Where is your heart? What do you meditate on day and night? Do you dream of wealth and power, of fame and recognition? Do you ponder how you might acquire more and receive more? Do you meditate on the lusts of the body? What occupies the spare moments of your life?

Do you let virtue garnish your thoughts so that your confidence may be strong in the presence of the Lord? (D&C 121: 45.) Do you meditate constantly on the things God has shown to you? (2 Nephi 4: 16.)
Have you prayed and pondered so you may understand a great mystery? (D&C 138: 11.) Have you prayed and fasted so as to be filled with the spirit of revelation? (Alma 17: 3.)
Where your heart is, there is your treasure. Where your treasure is, there is your heart. They are linked. You can tell what is treasured and where the heart is by what things you meditate upon night and day with idle moments.
I’ve deliberately had a morning and afternoon post on this blog to assist in giving something to ponder twice during the day, at widely separated times. It is my view that there is nothing better to meditate on than the scriptures.
______________________________________
 Here’s a recent random reflection I had on one matter answered by scripture:

-In a recent Gospel Doctrine discussion I was told about a teacher who was reluctant to admit David was a prophet, because David fell. (D&C 132: 39.) The notion that a prophet could fall undermines the current false notion that a President of the LDS Church cannot fail. That is rubbish, of course. But it is well circulated and ardently defended rubbish.

-The need to preserve the idea means that the teacher needed to disqualify David from ever being accepted as a prophet. The reasoning goes that if David isn’t a prophet then his fall proves nothing.
-When Peter was preaching after Pentecost, he freely acknowledged David’s status as a prophet. (Acts 2: 29-30.) So even if the Gospel Doctrine teacher won’t admit David’s status, the scriptures do.
-I wonder how it is plausible to some folks to believe prophets cannot fall today, when they fell anciently? It seems to me just a lazy way to shift responsibility for salvation away from each individual and onto an institution. Clearly the institution wants this idea to be accepted. No doubt someone will be damned for that notion.
-Anyone can fall. Seems to me that it is more important for me to worry about my own fall than it is to foolishly trust in some other person’s success or failure. We are all accountable for our own sins. (Art. Faith 2)
-In the Topical Guide I read every entry under “Accountability” and could find nothing to support the notion that there is accountability shifting from individual onto church president.
-Why do the gentiles always wind up having someone whom they regard as their benefactor boss them around? (Luke 22: 25.)
-When you make one mistake (prophet can’t fall or lead astray), then you compound it by needing another (David wasn’t a prophet). Little wonder doctrine is not studied as much. Our foolishness would become exposed. Who was it that removed from a prophet his right to choose? When did moral agency to choose get taken away from a church president?

3 Nephi 13: 16-18

3 Nephi 13: 16-18:

“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.  But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face;  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.”
Again our devotion is to be entirely private. Your inner struggle to come into God’s presence should be yours. Private. Personal. Individual. Secret.
The time may come after you have found Him that He will bring you into contact with others. The journey back to Him will be individual, and private.
After you find Him, you will be His. He can do with you as He chooses. When He appears to you in the flesh, He will give you commandments. (2 Nephi 32: 6.) He will teach you doctrine. He will direct what you should do. But that is later. Until then, the journey is private. There is nothing to announce. There should be no notice of your fasting, tithe paying, or praying. There are no notable deeds to be seen of men.
Men should see your washed face and never detect the fasting you are performing for Him alone.

Men should see your comfortable behavior and never appreciate what great things you have put on the altar in sacrifice to Him.

Men should never notice the mighty wrestle you are having with God.
When the wrestle has produced a covenant between you and God, even then the particulars of what you learn, what has been promised, what has been committed into your hands, and the things the Lord and you share should be kept between you and Him.

As I have said in The Second Comforter, some great things can be learned but not taught. Also, the Lord will never entrust truly sacred things to a person who is incapable of keeping them confidential. It is surprising how few people really believe in that principle. It is surprising how many people want that principle violated because they are curious, anxious and think it their right to receive what is purchased by someone else at a terrible personal price. It is surprising what things people will ask for and expect to be given, despite the fact that they haven’t worked for them. It can’t be shared by anyone other than you and the Lord. Whenever you disrespect that limitation by your questions, or demands you make to others, you postpone the time when you might have received greater things. You do not need a guru. You need the Lord. You do not need another John, Moses, Elias, Esaias, Isaiah, or Enoch. (See D&C 76: 100.) You need Him. 

We see in scripture how easily and often messengers are made into idols. That is not what is to happen. It is even more of a perversion for men to set themselves up as idols, to be followed as if they were God. That is Satanic and evidence of a falling away. (2 Thes. 2: 3-4.)
The private devotions of a sincere Saint are more worthy, more ennobling, more developing than any public display has ever been, or will ever be. Small gatherings when He directs may be of aid from time to time. But almost all the sacred events involving Him will take place between you and Him alone. When a few have approached Him by themselves – alone, then at some point it may possible for Him to gather with them in small numbers. (Matt. 18: 20.)
Would you like to see Zion return? Then approach Him in private, keep your journey from the notice of others, gather to Him in secret. Then, when He has a few who can gather in His name, He will gather them. Ultimately there will need to be occupants for a city before a city will be founded by Him. But it all starts with these teachings we are presently reading.
This Sermon is first a description of Him.
It is also a description of His disciples.

It is a formula for returning to His presence.

It is the basis for the coming Zion.

When the Father at last rewards you openly, it will be time for His arm to be revealed in terrible majesty. (D&C 105: 14; D&C 45: 67-75.) He will reward you openly indeed!

3 Nephi 13: 14-15

3 Nephi 13: 14-15:

For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

This is an absolute condition. It is mandatory.

If you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespass.

You can’t be forgiven by the Father if you do not forgive others.

It can’t be done.

That grudge you harbor prevents the Father from forgiving you.

Those resentments you think are justified are keeping you from being forgiven by the Father.

Those injustices imposed upon you by others who are unthinking or cruel must be surrendered.

The early Saints were victimized by mobs in Missouri and Illinois. They wanted revenge. Brigham Young implemented a covenant to seek vengeance upon the murderers of Joseph Smith until the third and fourth generation. They did not build Zion.

The opposite of this is forgiveness. If you forgive, your Heavenly Father WILL forgive you. Offenses are opportunities for you to gain forgiveness. All you need to do is forgive them.

It is a simple, direct cause and effect. It was ordained before the world was founded, and applies universally in all ages and among all people.

The world is in Satan’s grip largely because the world seeks vengeance and refuses to forgive.

Zion, on the other hand, will be filled with those who forgive. Of course that puts an absolute limit on those who can dwell there.  …Very few indeed.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

I have written six books and published nearly a year’s worth of posts on this blog at a frequency of two a day on average. They represent what I think, what I believe to be true, and what I teach. I do not have a spokesman. I have not authorized anyone to say something different than what I’ve made publicly known in my writings. Therefore, when someone claims there is some private conversation where they have learned some insider tidbit regarding what I think about plural marriage and Joseph Smith, or any other topic, they are making fools of themselves and anyone who listens to them.
 
I have explained my views on plural marriage in this blog. In a series of posts on Section 132 and in Beloved Enos, I have explained what I think. If you want to know what I have said, read those sources. DO NOT trust a private conversation attributed to me.
When I have met with people for lunch, or listened to them in a private moment, I do not always feel inclined to argue with them, or to correct them. Particularly when there is limited time to do so. It is completely inappropriate and wrong for such private discussions to be interpreted to mean that I have done more than just listen to the speaker. Silence is not agreement!
 
It is apparent that some people are unwilling to allow me to confine my work to what I’ve been specifically limited to do. Therefore, as much as I would like to have associations with all of you, I cannot.
 
I will finish the discussion on the blog currently underway. Then, should I have anything further to say, I will confine it to books. I am not willing to be misquoted. I am not willing to have things attributed to me that have been misinterpreted in a “private” or “secret” meeting. I am not willing to have people contradict what I have written, or what I have said publicly.
 
If you want to know what I think, read what I’ve written. If it is a second-hand, allegedly “private conversation” then don’t trust it.
 
Some private correspondence has been the catalyst for what I’ve written on the blog. The responses have been posted here publicly, available to all to read. That way I do not have to confront any accusation that I’ve said something in private or written some secret thing. I put it here so that what I think, and what I believe is clear. You don’t have to rely on some verbal grapevine to know what I think is important.
 
Further, I am not important. Some of the ideas spoken of in what I’ve written are important, but I certainly am not. None of you should be a “fan” or think I’m someone worth following. I don’t want to lead anyone. I have no intention of doing so. There is a universal need to take the Book of Mormon more seriously and to repent. That is clear from the text itself. I’ve elaborated on it using other scriptures to support the Book of Mormon’s message. That is quite important. Other things are less so and I am not at all important.
 
If anything I’ve written is to have value, it can only acquire that value by the Spirit testifying to you it is true. Then it becomes a matter between you and the Spirit, and not you and me. At that point I cease to have any importance, for you have it from the Spirit.
 
Prove all things. Hold fast to those things the Spirit testifies to you are true.
 
I’ve been trying to teach you to take the Book of Mormon seriously. But more importantly, I’ve been trying to get you to read it for yourself. I’m trying to work my way out of a job. I hope that at some point you need nothing more than the Book of Mormon, your scriptures, prayer, and the Lord to find everything you need. You should develop to the point that you do not need anyone to tell you “know ye the Lord” because everyone of you, from the least to the greatest, will know Him. Then all will be equal, and the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters do the sea. Then no one will need to teach you, because He will be your tutor and not any man.
 
You need to find the Lord. Soon I will stop posting here for your good, because it is becoming a hindrance rather than an aid for many of you.

3 Nephi 13: 9-13:

 
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
 
Simple. Direct. Plain.
 
Christ assures us that He is “Our Father” and not just His. We are all united in sharing that status with Christ. We are a family.
 
First He identifies the Father as “ours” and then, least we should presume too great a familiarity, He adds “hallowed be thy name.” A name is important for many reasons. In the case of Deity, it was an ancient presumption that if you knew the name of an angel, demon, or god you could summon such a being by using that name. Here, however, Christ is applying sacred status to the Father’s name. It is His Fatherhood that is emphasized, not His hallowed name.
 
The Father’s will is not done on earth. Here, there is rebellion, rejection, chaos and despair. Here, order is imposed by the strong upon the weak. Men exploit, abuse and misrule. In heaven, however, the Father’s rule establishes order, kindness and equity. Anyone who is aware of the fallen conditions here will ask for the Father’s will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
That petition can also be read to mean: “Let me live on earth as if I were in heaven.” Or, “let the Father’s will come to earth by the life I live here.” Or, “let me prove myself worthy of heaven’s companionship, though I live here on earth.”
 
The prayer links forgiving others to being forgiven. This is not merely a wise petition, it is also a statement of cause and effect. We merit forgiveness as we give it. It is by forgiving that we are forgiven.
 
We pay our debts by giving others forgiveness of their debts to us. I’ve written a chapter about this in Come, Let Us Adore Him. We merit what we give to others. We establish the criteria by which we will be judged as we decide how to treat others. He will return to this concept in 3 Nephi 14: 2.
 
When the Father leads you it will never be into temptation, but will always deliver you from evil. This is a petition which reminds us to be willing to be led. We are literally to ask the Father to help us be led by Him. Through Him we will obtain deliverance.
 
The Father owns the kingdom, the power and glory. Mankind does not confer that upon Him. It is His. But mankind can acknowledge it. By making that acknowledgement we are able to have confidence in Him. We can trust His power to deliver, His ability to bring again His kingdom, and to bear and share in His glory as He has promised.
 
Many of these simple statements are confessions of our own desires and clarify we have understanding. God’s kingdom, power and glory exist independent of our prayers. But when our prayers attest that we understand this, we are making our submission and meekness known to Him. We are stating our trust in Him.
We acknowledge His kingdom is His, to be restored in His time, with His power. It is His to control. We do not envy that control, nor attempt to force Him to do our bidding. We acknowledge that His right exists, independent of man’s will or ambition. He will decide and we will accept. We can ask, but He will determine the events that will take place and when they will unfold.
 
This prayer is an acknowledgement that we are not trying to control God, but instead are willing to be subject to Him. He is the sovereign, we are the subjects.
 
We ask, He decides. If He determines to do a work we defer to Him. The greater the recognition of His kingdom, power and glory, the greater the confidence we have in His decisions. The less we are inclined to argue with Him or to substitute our desires for His.
 
When the Lord decides to bring again Zion, it will be because the Father has decided it is time to do so. It will not be because a group has volunteered to accomplish it. When He decides, and He is the author of it, no power under heaven will stand against it. When men have ambition to create what is in His power alone to do, then they will not just fail but will be swept away.
This petition to the Father instructs us in patience and faith.

3 Nephi 13: 7-8

3 Nephi 13: 7-8: 

“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.” 

Here is wisdom indeed. There is no magic formula for communicating with God. No list of what is to be said or repeated. No vain –meaning ineffective– repetitions. He “gets it” even before you speak. So the act of prayer is a formal way of showing:

-Respect (by doing what He has asked)

-Devotion (by showing submission to Him)
-Obedience (by keeping a commandment to pray always)
-and Companionship (by taking the time alone with Him).

He knows what you need before you ask. Indeed, sometimes the needs we think we have are not what He knows we need even before we pray.

We think we need to get a solution to interior lighting for 8 barges. We come to Him in prayer expecting to receive help for that. He knows what we really need is redemption from the Fall, instruction in the history of mankind, and knowledge of Him. He solves the lighting problem with a touch of His finger, but then goes on to reveal all things.

We think we need to know what church to join. So Joseph comes asking that one question in sincerity. He knows, however, the world needs a prophet to re-establish the long absent Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth.

We think we need to understand how to baptize. So Joseph and Oliver ask. He knows, however, the Aaronic Priesthood must be restored, and sends an angel to return it to the earth.

We think we need to know what our standing is before God. So Joseph asks, fully expecting to learn if his life has been acceptable. God knows, however, the time has come to send an angel having the everlasting Gospel to declare. So Mororni comes to declare the restoration of the book.

You take thought about what your cares are, but they are not what the Lord knows you need. Your cares are merely the tiniest of obstacles given you to remind you to pray. The Father operates on a much grander scale, dealing with the salvation of souls. He will use the man or woman of prayer as the means of accomplishing a great deal more then they imagined.

Pray. Ask simply. It is not necessary to be elaborate or long winded. State clearly what you believe you need.  Accept what then comes in His answer. Trust He knows more than you. Trust He can give you what you need, even if you hadn’t even thought about it as a need.