1 Nephi

1 Nephi 22

This is the last post for the week regarding visualization and it is also the last chapter in 1 Nephi!  2 Nephi is right around the corner and the next posts will focus on a new study skill.

Chapter 22 starts out at the moment when Nephi finishes reading from Isaiah to his brothers and they ask him what it means.  Can you see them, working up their courage to ask their younger brother to teach them? Nephi gently explains to them that everything comes by way of the Spirit, but that the things which he shared with them are both temporal  and spiritual.

Verses 4 through 7 Nephi is explaining to his brethren that the people of Israel will be scattered across the face of the earth and on islands, and this will occur because of the hardness of peoples hearts.  Nephi lets his brothers know that it even includes them.  He then explains that God will do a marvelous work among the Gentiles and this work shall be of great worth to men. I love knowing that as I sit here and study, that I am reading from a marvelous work for myself and that it is “likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders (verse 8.)    Nephi continues explaining that God will bring his children out of captivity and that the world shall know that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of the world.  If I close my eyes, I can see Nephi preaching to his family and I can feel the power of the Spirit as Nephi testifies with power of Jesus Christ.  I love being able to feel this way.

In verse 13 Nephi tells of all of those people that belong to the great and abominable church and that, essentially, they will go to war and kill one another and continuing in verse 14, we read that anyone that opposes the house of Israel will be destroyed and that the great and abominable church shall be gone from the face of the earth.  Verse 15 has one of what I think is the most glorious promises in all of the scriptures, it read:”the time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men;”.  Will it not be glorious when Satan has no control over any of us anymore?  Can you see a world where people don’t commit evil crimes or terrible acts against one another?  We learn that God will be finished allowing the righteous people of the earth to be trampled on by the wicked.

God will prepare a way and raise a prophet unto the people of the earth and “him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. ”  A commandment given by the Lord through Nephi, that we should follow the prophet that he has raised up to us.  Follow the prophet, sometimes the things  he says to us are hard to do, but know that if we follow the words of the prophet, we will be keeping a commandment.

Verse 23 is a little long, but here it is (I’ll explain in a minute why I chose to write this all out): “For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are build up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.”   I like this verse because it screams “THIS IS TODAY” at me.  I can see churches all around that are built up to get gain.  I can see people who are built up to have power over others.  I can see people who are built up to be popular in the eyes of the world.  I can see those who seek lusts of flesh and things of the world.  I can see people every single day in the news doing all manner of iniquity.  People do not always make great choices and there are many that are serving the kingdom of the devil and they do not know.

In verse 26 Nephi (a prophet) proclaims that all these things must come and those that repent will be safe in Jesus Christ.  He then tells us that if we keep the commandments given unto us and endure to the end that we will be saved at the last day.  The next sentence reads;”And thus it is.”  I find this sentence very significant.  I see Heavenly Father, gently tamping his foot to the ground and saying “And thus it is.”  It is because He said it would be… have you ever as a parent (or heard it as a child) because I’m the mom, that’s why.  Well, “And thus it is” because He is the father of all.

1 Nephi

1 Nephi 21

Isaiah again.  Honestly, I really do struggle with these.  In this chapter we learn that being of God and teaching of Him is light.  When I first read from verse 6 where it states “it is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob,” I thought “how can this be light, this has got to be a heavy burden.”  But what is really meant, is that it is light instead of dark.  (has anyone else tried to write their school work/blog post with their three year old playing Lego’s and yelling no! no!)  Can you see Christ talking?  Can you see Him gently explaining how to be a light unto the Gentiles?  Can you feel his presence? Can you hear him explaining how he will never forget us?  That he has reminders of each and every one of us in the palms of his hands?  Look around, and see…. see everything; the words on this screen, the paint on the walls, the color of the sky, the rain, your family, love, technology, nature, sustenance.  Everything we have that is good, is of God. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Redeemer.  He is our Savior, He is the “Mighty One of Jacob.”  Isaiah uses a lot of symbolism that I struggle with, but I know the truths when I read this chapter, and I know what I have written and what I have felt as I have read these words and shared them here.  I pray that you will find understanding and be able to learn from 1 Nephi 21 as well.  And I write this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

1 Nephi

1 Nephi 20

Visualize…. I struggle with visualization through this chapter.  That being said, I tried really hard to remember that this is Nephi sharing what Isaiah wrote to his brothers.  If you have some great insight or an excellent study skill on how to thoroughly study and comprehend Isaiah, please share it with me.  For visualization of this chapter, my favorite verse is 21, which reads: “And they thirsted not; he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also and the waters gushed out.”  I love this verse in particular because I can see a rock opening and water flowing out, I can hear rocks being knocked together and feel the cool water flowing over my hands and through my fingers.  I can put myself there.  Please do take the time to read 1 Nephi 20 as you can truly understand some of what Isaiah is teaching and explaining that Jesus Christ insists that it is only by and through him that we can return to the heavens.  And I write this in His name, who is the first and the last; even Jesus the Christ, Amen.

1 Nephi

1 Nephi 19

As I begin the post for this chapter, I would like to share with all of you how grateful I am that this chapter is short.  Containing only 24 verses we learn so much that is important to the Church of Jesus Christ as it exists today.  What happens in this chapter has relevance in each of our lives and if it weren’t for the actions that occur here, I would be blogging about a different subject matter.  Please take the time to read 1 Nephi 19 in its entirety and stop to ponder about the importance of Nephi’s proceedings.

Verse 1 “And it came to pass that the Lord commanded me, wherefore I did make plates of ore that I might engraven upon them the record of my people.”  Verse 2 explains that there are two separate sets of plates.  One set of plates for prophecy and one set of plates for the record of genealogy and things of the people.  Nephi tells us that he only writes things on his plates which he believes are of worth to the souls of men and also reminds us that if he makes a mistake, that is his and not God’s.  I know that I am studying visualization this week, and I can see Nephi working over fire and with very hot embers to melt and mold these plates, but I can not help but to stop and thing about this verse.  Nephi reminds each of us that we are human and make mistakes, God does not.

Nephi commences his engravings by sharing knowledge with us that Jesus Christ will be born 600 years after his family left Jerusalem.  This is the first thing he writes.  Absorb that into your mind and heart.  When you sit down to write, do you turn to the Father and ask Him what He shall have you write?  Do you do as Nephi did?  Do you testify of Jesus Christ, first thing?  With General Conference being this past weekend, I ask, is your life centered on Jesus Christ as Nephi was??

Nephi shares a little bit about Christ’s crucifixion.  The saddest part, the part that always brings me to tears: “And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it and they smith him, and he suffereth it.  Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.” Nephi tells us of His resurrection and share with us what will be seen in this promised land where his family now is, that they may know of Jesus Christ and that He is. (We will talk more about this in future posts when we get there chronologically.)   Nephi continues to write and share on his plates what other prophets have already written and he says that he wrote these prophesies that he might convince his family and people to remember Jesus Christ.  And then Nephi taught his family all that he had written and all that he had read in the plates that had been previously obtained from Laban.  Nephi then says in the concluding verse: “Hear ye the words of the prophet, ye who are a remnant of the house of Israel, a branch who have been broken off; hear ye the words of the prophet, which were written unto all the house of Israel and liken them unto yourselves, that ye may have hope as well as your brethren from whom ye have been broken off.”  Nephi is not only talking to his brothers, and so you know I haven’t lost sight of the visualization tool here.  I close my eyes and see Nephi using all of his energies to share this most valuable information with his family.  I can see him on his knees showing them how to pray and see him standing upon a rock shouting the words of God so that all men might know that these words are for each and every man that has ever or will ever walk the earth.  Have you heard the words of the prophet?  Are you taking his advise?  Have I? Am I?  Points to ponder.  Turn to Him, and He will guide you.

I write this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

1 Nephi

1 Nephi 18

We know that the family of Lehi was in the wilderness for a span of 8 years, and they are no longer there, so we can guess that Nephi and his brothers finish building the ship which they are commanded to build in about 591 BC or so.  Nephi prayed regularly for guidance on how to build this ship and where he should go to get materials.  The ship was done and everyone was humbled before God for the great work that they had completed.  Now, they are at the beach, and I know it’s 591 BC or so, but don’t people go to the beach?  Can you imagine being a beach-goer and seeing this large family camped upon the beach building a ship?  I imagine this is quite a sight!

Upon further direction from the Lord, the family gathers what they need to put on their ship.  I see this much like I see Noah loading up his family and all of the animals prior to the great flood.  “Load up,” is what I say to my family when it’s time to get in the car.  I can see Lehi and Nephi standing at the ramp to get in the ship, herding their very large family on board.  In verse 7, we learn that Lehi and Sariah had two additional children over the course of their journeys in the wilderness; Jacob and Joseph.

Verse 8 is ships ahoy!  And after several days of journeying at sea; Laman, Lemuel and their brothers-in-law begin enjoy themselves a little too much and begin to be very rude.  Nephi, afraid of what the Lord may think of this, speaks to them about their behavior and once again, these men think that they ought to kill Nephi.  I am amazed once again.  I am sure that over the course of my life, I have said “I’m going to kill her” to myself about one of my sisters, but I never meant it and I never actually constructed a plan (or five like that of Nephi’s brothers.)  So the brethren bind Nephi up so tight that he couldn’t even move and they are shown the wrath of God once again.

A nasty storm comes. The storm is mean, and so fierce that the ship is about “to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea.”  It took four days for these men to realize that they needed to repent and let Nephi down from where they tied him up.  And this after Lehi and the young boys Jacob and Joseph and others plead with them to let Nephi go.  Nephi knew and wrote in verse 20 “there was nothing save it were the power of God, which threatened them with destruction, could soften their hearts.”  This is so sad.  It brings tears to my eyes.  We have people like this abundantly on earth today.  People that must be threatened with destruction from their maker in order to choose the right path.  Can you see your wife, (or if you’re female, you) at the feet of others begging and crying and pleading in sorry and prayer to let you (or your husband) to be released?  Feel the power and emotion behind this.  Feel the bond of marriage and feel the love.

When Nephi was released, Nephi went to his knees in prayer, asking for help and praying for God to guide them once again and to please stop this storm.

The Book of Mormon timeline shows that in approximately 589 BC that the ship arrived “at the promised land.”  The family of Lehi debark and set up camp.  They then promptly started to get things prepared for harvest, to grow food for themselves and verse 24 says “we were blessed in abundance.” family-lehi-camped-promised-land-447698-gallery

I am so thankful for the loving family that I have and for living in this time of comforts that we have here on earth today.  I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who will always be there when I need Him, which is every single day.  I am grateful to know that He offers second and third and fourth chances.  I am grateful for the Book of Mormon and all that it brings into my life and I am grateful for BYU-Idaho Pathway that I have this opportunity to grow and learn in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And I write this in His name, my Savior and Redeemer, Amen.

1 Nephi

1 Nephi 17

Build a ship?  I can  maybe build a paper airplane, maybe.  My husband can build beautiful jewelry boxes and other super cool things like blanket ladders with carved hearts out in his shop.  I bet my husband could build a boat.  Truly, ship building is the basis story in chapter 17 of the First book of Nephi, but there is more.

Put yourself back into the fertile valley with all of those creepy crawlers and tall grass.  Imagine traveling with your families, carrying your belongings and your babies.  Nephi tells us that the women were strong, “even like unto the men.”  Picture the women with muscles building from carrying their toddlers and from waddling through the wilderness nursing babies.  They don’t get to stop and sit on a park bench and cover up with a nursing cover and cuddle their baby, they walk and nurse with a tent on their shoulders, blessed with physical and emotional strength of the Lord.  They do this for eight years!  Eight years, if they had a baby when they had first left Jerusalem, their child would be of baptism age (in our day and time.)

Lehi’s family arrives in a land which they call Bountiful which has food for them to eat and is on the coast.  Their family rejoices at the sight of the ocean and is grateful for being there. Nephi tells us that they “suffered many afflictions, even so much that we cannot write them all.”  I can only try to imagine the daily struggles and the need for desperate prayer each and every day for the courage and strength to continue on this journey.

Following the story line, Nephi then gets up to “go and do” again.  The Lord commands him up into a mountain where they have a great talk.  The Lord directs Nephi to get the items that he needs to build a ship and Nephi asks the Lord where to find all that he needs.  This is one of my favorite lines in 1 Nephi, because I can take it an apply it to my own life, each and every day.  Verse 13 reads: “And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.”  Can you close your eyes and feel being guided by the light of the Lord?  Can you see yourself preparing on the outskirts of His kingdom to enter and meet Him again?  What a sweet vision.

Nephi says that he “did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord.”  He doesn’t say that he was perfect, but that he tried really hard.  And I appreciate this so much, as I appreciate when our modern-day prophets and apostles share stories with us to remind us that they too, are imperfect.  Ready to build that ship now?  I am, okay, maybe I’m not.  But Nephi is, he is ready to follow the directions of God.  He knows that he will be successful with God’s guidance.  And I know, that if we strive to keep the commandments of God and ask Him for guidance, that He will provide it and allow us to be successful in our endeavors as well.

Now, once again, Nephi’s brothers aren’t so nice. They go making fun of him because he wants to build a ship.  If I were Nephi, I would probably be exasperated with my brothers and want to just build the ship myself.  Nephi, however, is full of charity.  He is so patient and kind with his brothers that he speaks to them of the story of Moses and how God guided Moses and parted the Red Sea as they fled from Egypt.  Nephi preaches to his brothers and reminds them to be righteous in their living and God will take care of them.  And again, Laman and Lemuel get mad at Nephi and they decide that they are going to drown Nephi.  God, was not happy with them.  Verse 48 says: “and as they came forth to lay their hands upon me I spake unto them, saying: In the name of the Almighty God, I command you that ye touch me not, for I am filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh; and whoso shall lay his hands upon me shall wither even as a dried reed; and he shall be as naught before the power of God, for God shall smite him.”  I would certainly take this seriously if I were in their shoes.  Nephi tells them that they need to behave and help him build this ship and states: “If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them.”  Do you have this much faith?  Do you know in the pit of your heart that you can do ALL things, if it is God’s will, even build a ship and cross the Atlantic Ocean?

Nephi wraps ups this chapter by showing his brethren that He is filled with God, and gives them a little shock as God says that he should.  Have you ever accidentally shocked yourself unplugging something from the outlet?  I actually, just did this on Sunday.  Ouch.  The feeling lasted in my arm all day Sunday and through most of Monday and Tuesday.  Today, just the knuckle above my wedding ring is sore, but I sure remember the feeling.  Nephi’s brothers then fall to the ground to worship Nephi.  If I were Nephi and talking to my sisters, the conversation would be something like this: “No, no, no.  It is not of I.  It is of the Lord.  Get down on your knees and worship God.  It is of Him.  Everything is of Him.  Now, when you’ve got this through your thick skull, get up and help me build this ship.”

I really am enjoying visualization and I hope that you are too. I write this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

1 Nephi

1 Nephi 16

We are still visualizing, this post and six more.

It is sometime between 600 and 592 BC.  Lehi and his extended family are in the valley of Lemuel near the Red Sea.  They have been through many trials up to this point in their travels in the wilderness, some of them may feel lost and alone, others may simply be confused, but being obedient.  Some, with strong faith, may have confidence in their situation.

As this chapter begins, Nephi is still explaining their father’s vision to his older brothers, Laman and Lemuel.  His brothers are upset with him, because Nephi has told them the truth and what they see as “hard things, more than we are able to bear.”  I can close my eyes and see Nephi standing righteously in front of his brothers, not haughty and puffed up, but strong and true as he tells them that he knows they seem hard, but only to those that are wicked, these are not hard things to those that are righteous.  I can feel his words, and I know in my heart that they are true.  Have you ever read something in scripture and thought how hard that might be, only to realize that if you think that it is hard, then you must be doing something that is wicked?  What great changes can be brought around in someones heart when this realization comes to them!   We read again in verse 4 that Nephi exhorts his brethren to keep the commandments of God.  Remember to exhort is “to strongly urge (someone) to do something,” this according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.  Once again the brothers of Nephi repent and “humble themselves before the Lord.”  Sometimes when I think of Laman and Lemuel, I ask myself: “why don’t they get it?”  And today, as I write, I realize that I should not be thinking this at all.  Is the Lord looking down at me saying “why doesn’t she get this?”  He may be, but that’s His job and certainly not mine.  Have you ever been there?  We would be wise to remember to “judge not;” even of those in ancient times.

Verse 7 is pretty short and sweet, but as we are using the visualize study skill, can you imagine this? “I, Nephi took one of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also, my brethren took of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also Zoram took the eldest daughter of Ishmael to wife.”  That’s at least five weddings.  Yes, I know they are in the wilderness, there was not as much fanfare as there would have been if they were still in Jerusalem, but, can you imagine the joy that was surrounding Lehi and Sariah as they were blessed to see their sons get married?  Five weddings.

Lehi is then commanded that he should take his large family further into the wilderness and when he gets up to do so, he finds the Urim and Thummim on the ground outside of his tent.  Can you see the look of bewilderment on his face and on the faces of his family as they look at these items with “curious workmanship?”  Can you feel the anxiety of a close-knit family packing up to go where ever God may lead them to?  Can you feel the weight on the shoulders of Lehi, or even imagine what that weight may feel like?

Wandering through land, that is described as fertile… I visualize tall grass with snakes and mosquitoes and all kinds of creepy crawlers.  I do not see a pleasant hike through the woods.  I imagine that this was a difficult and ominous task, but Lehi takes and leads his family as the Lord commands.  Lehi has incredible strength.

As the family stops to rest and gather food, a tragedy occurs.  Nephi’s bow breaks.  The other brothers bows had already stopped functioning and they were only left with what Nephi had to hunt with.  This growing family had to be fed.  Many family members begin to murmur (complain) a great deal about everything that they have been through, not only were they complaining about their present situation, but they were so upset that they began to complain against God himself.  Nephi, though, stood his ground after a bit and told them to just stop.  Nephi then went to work…. he will go, he will do.  He made a bow and an arrow our of some wood and took a sling shot and off he went to go talk to his father.  Nephi not only had the wisdom to go and do, but the wisdom to go and talk to Lehi and get Lehi to be the prophet he was chosen to be.  Moses needed Aaron, and Lehi needed Nephi.  Close your eyes and imagine this scene.  See the child coming to the father and saying “Dad, I need you to ask the Lord where I should go and hunt? This is your deal Dad and I am just trying to do the right thing.  Please let me know what God wants me to do.”  Have you been in Lehi’s shoes as a parent.  Have you been in Nephi’s shoes as a child, even as an adult child, what a significant moment this is.

Lehi is “truly chastened” in verse 25 because of his complaining and he was “brought down into the depths of sorrow.”  Heavenly Father then spoke to him and told him to “behold the things which are written.”  Through this writing, the Lord shares many things with the family of Lehi to the extent that the family was frightened.  Have the words of the Lord ever scared you and caused you to tremble?  I have not been in those shoes, I have not traveled with a prophet who, at times, struggles with following commandments and direction.  Can you imagine how this family is feeling, I know that if I were chastened by the Lord up close and personal and this family was, I would probably be curled up in a ball on the ground.  Out of this experience though, Nephi was given the direction that he needed to go and hunt, and he came back from his hunt with a bunch of food.  It would be time for a celebration for the family, a time for thanksgiving and gratitude to the Lord.

Right back to complaining though.  I know that this is an eight year span, but in my thoughts, I think, this family sure complains a lot.  Ishmael passes away, and his children are of course, saddened.  I know that I will grieve when I lose my father, but will I blame others for the choices that I have made?  Will I be so upset that I make a plot to kill my younger brother (I don’t have one, so probably not)?  Will I be so off that straight and narrow path that the voice of the Lord is booming over me chastening me to repentance?  I pray not.

This chapter is full of blessings and murmurings.  May you receive the blessings, and as your imagine yourself wandering through fertile lands in time of old, remember the Lord and all that He has given you. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.