"There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah"
2 Nephi 2:8 (The Book of Mormon)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

He Cried So Much The More

Towards the end of the Savior's earthly ministry, Christ and His disciples were traveling to Jerusalem.  As they passed through Jericho, they encountered large crowds of people wanting to see Jesus.  The following account of a faith-filled blind man and the Savior, Jesus Christ, has become one of my very favorite stories!

And it came to pass, that as he (Jesus) was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:
And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.
And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.
And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him,
Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.
And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight thy faith hath saved thee.
And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

I LOVE, love... LOVE this man!  He is an amazing example of fierce focus on the ONE who is mighty to save!  At the moment he realizes that the Savior is present... the contempt and scorn of his peers fades away to it's proper place on the heap of meaningless, periphery opinion.   He pursues the Savior, who in reality means everything, with indomitable tenacity!  Because of his clear vision he arrives at the feet of the Savior and receives healing not only of his physical... but more significantly of his spiritual self.  I love the picture the words in this account paint of his character... "immediately", "received", "followed", "glorifying".  I especially love that those who had sneered at him also had their vision enlarged.  As they witnessed the fruits of this man's faith and determination they too were led to praise God.

When we lay our trust squarely at the feet of the Savior... not only are our own lives infinitely blessed by His presence...  our very existence becomes a witness to others of the glory and goodness of God.  For this, I praise His most holy name!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Our Father's Love

I am SO grateful for the love of my Father in Heaven.  
I feel His love as I study the scriptures and receive of His word.  
I feel His love as I spend time in sweet communion with Him.  
I am touched by the depth of His love as I marvel at the matchless gift of His Son... that I might be made whole and return to live with Him in the eternities. 
I feel of His love as I marvel at the beautiful creations He made that I might have joy and wonder. 
I feel His love as I think of my own dad who has striven to model his fatherhood after the Father of us all.  
I feel His love as I marvel at the gift of my own loving husband and the precious children He has entrusted us with.  
The evidence of God's love is ALL around us.  
It is up to us to open our minds and our hearts to receive His tender love and mercy.  
Please take a moment to share with us the manifestations of God's love in your life.

This video has a companion post "It's All About Love"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Glories Yet Unseen

My 15 year old son hiked Havasupai this week with his scout troop.  Between Thursday and Saturday they treked about 25 miles in and out of the steep cliffs of the Grand Canyon.  They carried everything they would need to sustain life on their backs  Needless to say, it was both physically and mentally, grueling and exhausting. My heart has been deeply touched by some of the life lessons he gained and has shared with me.  I want to share one with you.

The morning after hiking the 10 miles to their camp, they set out on another 1 and 1/2 mile trek to some cliffs set between 60 and 75 feet above a deep pool of water.  Anticipating the thrill of the jump made the climb to the top seem worth while.  My son first took the 60 foot cliff.  He said that once he got to the ledge, he just ran and leaped... knowing that if he stopped to take counsel from his fears... he may talk himself out of this amazing opportunity.  He screamed with delight as the small pool beneath him became larger and larger until body pierced the deep blue water.  Once under, a large water fall propelled his body to the shore.  It was thrilling... the experience of a life time!!!  He set out, again and again, climbing the cliff and jumping... gradually working his way up to the highest ledge.  Several jumps in, he came upon a man in his 30's who was standing on a ledge, debating with himself.  Can't you just imagine his thought process?  "Should I or shouldn't I?  This looks way higher than I thought. I know I'll regret it if I don't... but seriously... is this a good idea?"  Isn't it funny how life experience has a way of doing this to us???  He asked my boy how old he was.  Upon his reply, the man said, "If you can do it and you are only 15... I can do this!  Will you just show me one more time how and where to jump?"  My son graciously obliged (ha ha) and took yet another flying leap off the cliff, having the time of his life!

As he related this experience to my husband and I, joy and delight seemed to exude from the innermost place in his soul.  My husband wisely asked, "Why do 99% of the work?  You've got to finish what you start.  When you fail to complete that last 1% you miss the reward of your labor."

The time to assess whether you will or won't is before you've carried a 35 pound pack down into the canyon and then climbed the cliff and arrived at the ledge.  Seriously... I don't think that's a journey I feel the need to take in my life :) ... but why do it only to fail to complete that last step?

In Luke 14:26-33, the Savior illustrates for us the level of devotion necessary to be His disciple. 
26- If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Our devotion to the Savior must be first and foremost... second to none!
27- And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Following the Savior comes with a cross that is at times burdensome and painful to bear!
28- For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29- Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30- Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish...
...33- So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Whether you walk through this life committed to the Savior or not, you will experience trial, difficulty and pain.  The question you must ask yourself is,  "Do I want to travel this road with divine help and assistance or not?"  The cross we bear as disciples of Christ, sometimes feels heavy and burdensome... but in reality... the cross is what sustains us.  There are others on this path who can show us the way and provide encouragement.  With Christ, we climb and reclimb the cliff...arriving again and again at that uncomfortable point where it's time to leave our sure footing behind.  As we  take that leap, our experience, faith and vision become expanded.  We experience His majesty and the joy which can only come through Him.

Walking with the Savior is not easy... but it is so very worth it!  Now is the time to: count the cost... make the commitment and endure to the end... cheerfully relying on His merits to get you through.  He will take you to heights you have yet to dream of!

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
2 Corinthians 4:17

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Impassable Gulf

Under the Roman government, publicans were agents who collected taxes and earned commission off of the amount of money they could secure. They were despised by the people and were often excommunicated from the synagogues by the leaders of the Jewish church. In the view of so many who "trusted in themselves that they were righteous" (see Luke 18:9) those who had taken upon themselves this profession became a lesser class, looked down upon and despised.

This social standing cultivated in many of the publicans a deep sense of unworthiness... a humility which helped them to recognize their need for the Savior and to seek His grace. Over and over again, the Savior visited with them, dined with them, pronounced blessings upon them, and even called one to be His apostle.(see Luke 5: 27-29) This baffled and infuriated the Pharisees.

What a wonderful reminder that God's ways are not our ways! What a beautiful demonstration that God looks on the heart! He is not concerned with worldly status, position or esteem. He seeks out the sinner. The remarkable irony is that each of us in reality are "the sinner". The division; however, lies between those who recognize themselves to be sinners and those who will not. How easy it is for us to fall into the same folly of the Pharisees and unwisely deem ourselves to be righteous while condemning others! The inability to look at one's own stain and inadequacy while magnifying the impurity and flaw in others creates a gulf between ourselves and the Savior... one which is impassable while we persist in a prideful state. This is one of the great tools the adversary uses to keep us from drawing near to the Savior and receiving of His essential and atoning grace.

Consider one of the many parables the Savior offers to a group of Pharisees who are annoyed by Christ's insistence in associating with such sinners.

10- Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11- The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12- I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13- And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14- I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for
every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Luke 18

"When our hearts are filled with pride, we commit a grave sin, for we violate the two great commandments. Instead of worshipping God and loving our neighbor, we reveal the real object of our worship and love—the image we see in the mirror."
Pride and the Priesthood by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

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