Saturday, December 31, 2011 2 comments

Where two or three are gathered together in Christ's name

19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matt. 18:19-20)

We can see from the stories after Jesus’s resurrection that this promise was literally fulfilled. The disciples on the road to Emmaus were joined by the Savior. The apostles meeting in closed doors were joined by the Savior. How many other gatherings may not Jesus have visited without making himself visible?

I also think the great principle and promise of these verses is that the size of the gathering doesn’t matter as long as it is in His name. Thus, branches in the far reaches of the earth have the same spiritual privileges as stakes in an area well-populated with members.

I remember before a year of BYU started I and some other students were there early before most everyone else arrived. There were about twelve of us, and we were together in a dorm lobby. Someone got a notion that we could bear testimony to each other, so we did. We went around the group and shared our testimonies of the gospel and some of the miracles that brought us to that place in our lives. I remember that I felt a very special spirit there as we did that. I like to think that it was the Lord that was with us that day when we were so unified in gratitude and knowledge.

If you feel it is appropriate, will you share any experiences you had when you felt the Lord was with you when you gathered in His name?

Thursday, December 29, 2011 0 comments

Considering the purpose of King Noah's high tower

And it came to pass that [King Noah] built a tower near the temple; yea, a very high tower, even so high that he could stand upon the top thereof and overlook the land of Shilom, and also the land of Shemlon, which was possessed by the Lamanites; and he could even look over all the land round about. (Mosiah 11:12)

This comes in the recital of the evils that King Noah did, so while it sounded somewhat harmless at first, I started to think about why it might have been added and whether it was disapproved of.

Perhaps one problem with this tower is that it upstaged the temple as the focus of the area. If you wanted to look toward the temple, the temple wasn’t the most beautiful thing to look at, as our temples often are. King Noah had made his tower bigger and better. (Abinadi probably considered it a major eyesore.)

And too, the purpose of the tower may have been foolish if it was built just so King Noah could stand on the top and look down on everybody! (How different from the temple, where people come to worship and look up to God.) If that was King Noah's only purpose for the tower, then the tower is certainly a contrast from King Benjamin’s tower, which was used to teach people from and remind people of their duty to God. King Noah’s tower may have been part of his efforts to forget the Lord and go his own way. (How often do we get spiritually get on our high towers just so we can look down on people?)

However, perhaps King Noah built this tower as a way to observe whether the Lamanites were preparing for war. We know that earlier in the Zeniffite record the Nephites were consistently taken by surprise by invading Lamanites, and perhaps the tower was designed as a means of observing Lamanite war preparations to give Nephites advance notice and time to prepare for defense. If so, it was a very good plan, and it worked...except King Noah was a very bad watchman for that tower. He only saw the Lamanites were invading because he was chased up onto his tower, and then it was still too late to do much about the invasion except run away. King Limhi did a much better job as a watchman on that tower; he was able to discover all the Lamanite preparations for war and prepare his people ahead of time (see Mosiah 20:7-8).

How does this help us today? It shows us that a tower doesn't do much good without a watchman that consistently watches. Our prophet is a watchman on the tower for us. We are also watchmen for those who are within our stewardships. We want to be watchmen like King Limhi, not King Noah. We want to be watchmen who watch consistently so that when the enemy is in range, we can take notice while they are yet afar off and prepare our defense rather than seeing the invaders in the borders with nothing we can do but run.

Is there an experience you can share of a time when being a good watchman saved you and yours?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 4 comments

My blogging year in review: top posts from 2011

As the year draws to a close, it occurred to me that it might be helpful for me (and interesting to you as readers) to review some of the highlights of the year on my blog. With the help of Google’s handy analytics tool, it was a simple matter to find out which of my posts from 2011 got the highest number of pageviews. (The widget on my sidebar only compiles them on a rolling monthly basis, not a yearly basis.)

Reader’s top 10 favorite posts from 2011 (in order from highest number of pageviews to lowest)

  1. Why did God choose the rainbow as a token of His covenant with Noah?
  2. In the beginning there was taxonomy...
  3. Book of Mormon war chapters help us defend against pornography
  4. 84 blog posts collected as a Book of Mormon commentary
  5. Things that make my brain explode inside my skull
  6. 14 things I loved about general women's conference 2011
  7. 16 ways to mark your scriptures
  8. A dire prophecy fulfilled
  9. Important Counsel from President Monson’s Apr. 2011 talk “The Holy Temple—A Beacon to the World”
  10. Temple symbolism to ponder

Next, I give you a list of posts from 2011 that I consider my favorites. If I was to write “the small plates of Michaela” using only material from this year, these posts are ones that I would choose (presented in no particular order).

The Small Plates of Michaela in 2011

There has to be backstory to Captain Moroni’s meteoric rise

Importance of frequent provisioning

Lessons from Alma 55: changed loyalties, impulse control, causes of carelessness, and winey Lamanites

Helaman’s insight into helping others keep covenants

Why both “salt of the earth” and “light of this people”?

The great Nephite prayer party of 3 Nephi 19

Why D&C 122 holds more encouragement for us than we think

Secrets of God’s grace

Hyrum Smith’s insight for enduring martyrdom

Lessons about resisting Satan from Moses 1

Enoch tells of Adam’s baptism and how God taught Adam the gospel

How the account of Jesus's suffering helps me have faith

They took them wives even as they chose

To increase my love of the Lord

Don’t give up your objectives

Lessons from Peter’s deliverance from prison in Acts 12

Why did God choose the rainbow as a token of His covenant with Noah?

Let the Lord encourage you

The angel’s prophecy to Nephi of the coming events of the church in the latter days

2 Nephi 8: Jacob quotes Isaiah 51 to teach about death and the resurrection (not just the gathering)

The woman at the well: A character study

And not faint

The Pride of Our Eyes

Insights on the twelve chapters of Isaiah (2 Nephi 12-24) quoted in 2 Nephi

Strong as to the strength of men

Thus it whispereth me to do according to his will

Christ shared how He resisted temptation

While shepherds watched their flocks by night

We are come to worship him

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 0 comments

Zeniff’s war propaganda

See if you can pick out the war propaganda:

11 Now, the Lamanites knew nothing concerning the Lord, nor the strength of the Lord, therefore they depended upon their own strength. Yet they were a strong people, as to the strength of men.

12 They were a wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, believing in the tradition of their fathers, which is this—Believing that they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem because of the iniquities of their fathers, and that they were wronged in the wilderness by their brethren, and they were also wronged while crossing the sea;

13 And again, that they were wronged while in the land of their first inheritance, after they had crossed the sea, and all this because that Nephi was more faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord—therefore he was favored of the Lord, for the Lord heard his prayers and answered them, and he took the lead of their journey in the wilderness.

14 And his brethren were wroth with him because they understood not the dealings of the Lord; they were also wroth with him upon the waters because they hardened their hearts against the Lord.

15 And again, they were wroth with him when they had arrived in the promised land, because they said that he had taken the ruling of the people out of their hands; and they sought to kill him.

16 And again, they were wroth with him because he departed into the wilderness as the Lord had commanded him, and took the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, for they said that he robbed them.

17 And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them; therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.

18 For this very cause has king Laman, by his cunning, and lying craftiness, and his fair promises, deceived me, that I have brought this my people up into this land, that they may destroy them; yea, and we have suffered these many years in the land. (Mosiah 10:11-18)

Here Zeniff tells his people the history of the conflict between the Nephites and the Lamanites. He tells the Lamanite view of why the Nephites should be destroyed. He also tries to point out how the Lamanites do not share Nephite values of the Lord and trusting the Lord and how it has made them wild and ferocious. He tells about how the Lamanites have taught their children to hate and try to destroy the Nephites.

He ends up with blaming King Laman for cunning, fair promises to deceive and destroy. And he says, “and we have suffered these many years in the land” (v18). However, that complaint of suffering does not seem sincere, because earlier in the chapter, Zeniff writes, “thus we did have continual peace in the land for the space of twenty and two years” (v5). You can’t have continual peace for twenty two years and then turn around and blame Lamanite enemies for causing you to suffer these many years in the land. Either Zeniff’s memory is bad or he is stretching the truth to pump up his propaganda, not realizing that he is falling into the same fault as the Lamanites’ traditions he decries. He claims the Lamanites have preserved and magnified their sense of being wronged, yet he is doing the same thing. Just as the Lamanites twisted the story of Nephi and Laman, Zeniff is twisting the story of the relationship between the Zeniffites and Lamanites over the past generation.

Why is he doing this? He feels he has to stimulate them to fight their hardest against the Lamanites. Yet compare Zeniff’s propaganda to Captain Moroni’s title of liberty and reminders to fight for their God, their religion, their freedom, their peace, their wives, and their children! Captain Moroni’s encouragement seems much cleaner than Zeniff’s.

What does this teach us today? I think it is showing us that it is better to say what you are fighting for, rather than to recite your wrongs.

Sunday, December 25, 2011 7 comments

We are come to worship him

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (Matt. 2:1-2)

This seems to indicate that the sign of the new star that had been given to the Nephites had also been given to other people as well. The Nephites were too far away to go to Israel to see, but these wise men realized they were close enough, and must have said to each other “let us go now and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known unto us,” much like the shepherds said to each other after the angels appeared to them in the field. Once they knew it was happening, they wanted to see for themselves, and not just see, but pay homage.

I really like how the wise men are examples of exercising their agency to act. They knew, and they acted on what they knew, even though it was a sacrifice. They were willing to leave all their other concerns behind at home and go on this journey. I think that all of us who leave the world behind and go on the incredible journey to come to Christ are no different, no less wise than these wise men.

I’m also touched that the wise men were willing to go on this journey to see the new Messiah as a baby. What could Jesus do for them at that time of life? He couldn’t preach to them, He was too small to consciously exert His power to heal any infirmities they might have had. How would they benefit from seeing Him? They already believed in the Messiah, so they weren’t seeking the evidence of their eyes. I think they wanted to see how the great Jehovah condescended to come to earth as a little child. In the eyes of the world, this baby was no great thing—babies are born every day. Babies are weak and helpless. Babies know nothing and have done nothing great to warrant admiration. Somehow the wise men knew that this baby was great because of the great spirit that was housed in it. It was Jehovah in that baby boy body, the same that saved Noah with the ark, the same that made such great promises to Abraham, the same that brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea for them, the same that did so many wonders throughout the scriptures. It was Jehovah they were worshipping.

Another thing that is touching is that the wise men already referred to Jesus as “the king of the Jews.” Even though it was evident that Jesus hadn’t obtained the power and authority of kingship and wasn’t yet universally acknowledged as king, they didn’t care. To them, Jesus was king, and they paid homage as though He was. I think that we are no less wise if we acknowledge Jesus as king of kings today and worship and obey Him as such, even though He isn’t yet universally acknowledged as king by the whole world. Eventually He will be.

Friday, December 23, 2011 0 comments

Mosiah 19: Covenants and promises are necessary for peace

Mosiah 19 is the chapter where all heck breaks loose on King Noah and his people. There is contention among the Nephites, Gideon tries to kill King Noah, the Lamanites invade, the Nephites run away, the women and children are left behind with whatever men will not leave, King Noah is killed by his own followers, the Lamanites are persuaded not to kill the Nephites, and the Nephites are put under Lamanite tribute.

I noticed that while the previous chapter (Mosiah 18) contains the covenants made with the Lord, in Mosiah 19, all those who didn’t come into a covenant with the Lord and who didn’t escape with Alma find themselves having to make all kinds of oaths to try to get peace back. There are four oaths in Mosiah 19, and some of them aren’t very good:

  1. Gideon swears in his wrath that he will slay King Noah (v4) (He breaks this oath.)
  2. The people who run off with King Noah and leave their families behind swear in their hearts that they will return to their families and seek revenge if they find them dead (v19). (They keep the first part, and happily are not required to keep the second part, since they find their families alive.)
  3. The Lamanites, having subjected the Nephites, make an oath to not kill them (v25). (They keep this oath until provoked by Nephite kidnapping of Lamanite women.)
  4. The Nephites, having been subjected, make an oath to pay tribute of half their possessions and to deliver King Noah over to the Lamanites (v26). (They keep the tribute part, but are unable to keep the second part, King Noah having already been executed.)

I suppose there might be a lesson here that entering into a covenant with God does the job of a whole mass of other promises. Without a covenant with God, people will still find themselves needing the stability of the expectations and duties that are brought by covenants, and they will need to make promises anyway. In this case, those promises weren’t very pleasant and some of them were just plain wrong-headed.

I think a covenant with God to serve Him is infinitely to be preferred.

Thursday, December 22, 2011 0 comments

Unexplained discord in Mosiah 19 and thoughts about threats

Mosiah 19 is about King Noah and his people and how all the consequences of the people’s wickedness begin to accumulate. There are some interesting events in this chapter that I have always wondered about.

If you remember, just before this chapter, King Noah’s armies return from trying to find and destroy Alma and his company. Then comes a host of unexplained events:

  1. The forces of the king were small, having been reduced. (v2) Reduced by what? Downsized? Or had some of the soldiers been converted and left with Alma? If they knew they had to go destroy Alma and company, they would certainly have warned them and left with them before being summoned to do the dirty deed.
  2. There began to be a division among the remained of the people (v2) with threatenings (v3) and great contention, and even a vendetta (by Gideon, v4). Why? We are given no explanation for any of it!
  3. Right when Gideon is about to kill King Noah, the Lamanite armies invade (v6). What were the Lamanites so bothered by that they sent their armies for? (You may be asking me, “Do the Lamanites ever really need a reason to come and invade?” Well, yes they do. They’ve been beaten several times by these Nephites, so it has to be a sufficiently good reason that they are willing to risk being beaten again. Plus, Lamanites armies always seem to be driven by greed or grievance.)
  4. When the Lamanites finally have compassion on the Nephites, along with the tribute of half Nephite goods (which satisfies any greed motive), they set as a condition of peace that King Noah be delivered into the hands of the Lamanites (v15). Why? What did King Noah do to them? Their request is the equivalent of requesting extradition of a criminal (which indicates a grievance motive).

The only thing that I can think of as a cause for all of this was that King Noah’s army must have been much more brutal in its search for Alma and company than stated in the account or ever thought of before. With a mission to destroy and a king-encouraged thirst for blood, they must have roughed up the friends, associates, and neighbors of the missing people. They must have done some nasty interrogations. They must have destroyed property, not just of the missing people, but of those who they might have suspected of helping them. Also, if King Noah thought Alma was conspiring against him, he might have suspected Alma fraternized with and conspired with the Lamanites. If so, maybe the Nephite army went to nearby Lamanite locales and roughed up some innocent Lamanites there and took spoil to try to discourage uprising from that direction.

When people feel like they aren’t safe from their own army, they get REALLY angry at the person sending the army out. (This would account for the Nephite threats against King Noah.) And when Lamanites living peacefully nearby feel like the nearby Nephite army isn’t going to let them alone, the only thing they feel is going to put a stop to it will be sending their own army in to destroy that Nephite army. And it follows that when they were charmed (by fair Nephite daughters) out of their intention to destroy the whole people, they would decide they could be happy with just killing the guy who called out the Nephite army—the king. Dispose of the king and the Nephite army would then be commanded by someone much better, right? That would make sense to them.

So it comes down to this: by sending out his army to destroy Alma and the people of the Lord, King Noah paved the way for his own destruction. Actually, we could go further back and say that the beginning of the end for him was executing Abinadi for “reviling” against him. If King Noah considered Abinadi a threat, then anyone who was on Abinadi’s side would be a threat, and then anyone that would meet together with someone who was on Abinadi’s side would be a threat. (We can see how King Noah lost the ability to discern what was really threatening and what was harmless.) It almost seems like growing paranoia. Then imagine his fear when confronted with Gideon, sword in hand…. And then seeing the army of the Lamanites invading. Threats coming from all directions. And then having his people turn on him when they were running away from the Lamanites. He never saw any of that coming because he was so fixated on Alma.

It must have become obvious to the Nephites through all this that King Noah was no longer fit to be king. Kings are supposed to protect their people from threats to the society, and he was seeing threats where they didn’t exist. If the army had harassed the Lamanites, and if the Nephites knew about that, it would be a further irritant, since it would seem like King Noah was purposely trying to pick fights with the Lamanites.

This is a lot of speculation of course, but it fits the facts. It adds a cautionary lesson too, showing us that if we choose to see calls to repentance as threats, we will become unable to tell the difference between real threats and things that are harmless. It will lead to overreactions that raise REAL dangers and we won’t be able to deal with any of it.

I suppose that this principle has a positive flip side to it too—if you are not threatened by calls to repentance, you will be able to handle the real dangers. We see an example of that in 3 Nephi 3 in which the chief judge Laconeus caused the Nephites (who were wicked at the time) to cry to the Lord for strength against the coming invasion of Gadianton robbers. He promised them that if they didn’t repent, they wouldn’t be delivered, and they believed him. They repented, they prepared, and they were able to stand against the huge threat that faced them.

We live in a world today that has some mixed up ideas of what constitutes a threat and what doesn’t. Calls to repentance are considered threatening. Having someone share the gospel or the commandments of God is threatening. But in reality, the real threat is sin and disobedience to the commandments of God. Let’s be a little better at defending ourselves against the real threats, remembering that Christ came to deliver us from them.

Saturday, December 17, 2011 4 comments

Christ shared how He resisted temptation

1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be with God.

2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, and had communed with God, he was afterward an hungred, and was left to be tempted of the devil.

3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

5 Then Jesus was taken up into the holy city, and the Spirit setteth him on the pinnacle of the temple,

6 Then the devil came unto him and said, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

8 And Again, Jesus was in the Spirit, and it taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And the devil came unto him again, and said, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

11 Then the devil leaveth him, and now Jesus knew that John was cast into prison, and he sent angels, and behold, they angels came and ministered unto him. (Matthew 4: 1-11, JST emphasized)

Something that strikes me about the story of these temptations that Jesus faced is how amazing that we have an account of them at all. Think about it. At this stage in His life, He didn’t have people following Him around and watching His every move. He didn’t have a biographer at His elbow. And too, the temptations were all things that an outsider couldn’t necessarily observe.

So how did we get this account at all? The only way Matthew would have learned about it is if he had been told the story by Jesus or by someone else Jesus had told the story to. Can you imagine how amazing it would have been to have Jesus share the stories of the temptations He faced?! Imagine listening to His first hand account, which might have been like this:

I was led up to the wildness to be with God. And when I had fasted forty days and forty nights, and had communed with God, I was an hungred. And the tempter came to me and said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But I answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Then I was taken up into the holy city, and the Spirit set me on the pinnacle of the temple. Then the devil came to me again and said, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. I said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

And again, I was in the Spirit, and it took me up into an exceedingly high mountain, and sheweth me all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. And the devil came unto me again, and said, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then I said unto him, Get thee hence Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord, thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left me for a season.

What does it add to our understanding of this story to know that Jesus told other people about His temptations? I think it shows that when we are reading those accounts, we can stop feeling like eavesdroppers on His life, trying to glean His secrets. Instead, He wanted people to know that as perfect as He was, He faced temptation too. I think He wanted people to know what kinds of temptations He faced, the circumstances under which they came, and exactly how He overcame them, to the intent that they would be able to follow His example and practice the methods He used.

One temptation happened when He was weak from fasting. Another temptation happened when He was at the temple! Another temptation happened either during or immediately following a dramatic sweeping vision of the world and the kingdoms thereof. We can see from those circumstances that temptation can follow on the heels of very spiritual experiences. (Satan hits people when they are physically weak, and he wants to bring people down from a spiritual high as quickly as he can.)

We often discuss the types of temptation that Jesus faced—that of bodily appetite, popularity, and power. Does categorizing temptation help us recognize and resist it? Can you think of a case when this helped you?

We also discuss how Jesus resisted temptation by remembering and quoting scripture. I think one of the things that keeps us from resisting temptation better is that we don’t know the scriptures well enough to remember ones that will help us resist the temptations that we face. (I know I don’t.) Deep down, I know what my weaknesses are, so I’m starting to realize that if I really want to have the Lord make my weaknesses strong, I need to give Him some material to work with, by searching for and studying scriptures relating to my weaknesses so that when those temptations come, I will have helpful scriptures the Lord can bring to my memory to help make me strong to resist. Scriptures add knowledge and power behind a simple will to resist temptation. It enables us to resist temptation both by study and by faith.

Also, if we resist a temptation and we’re not sure how we did it, how can we be sure we will be able to do it again if the same temptation comes again? Or how can we help other people resist it? We need to be able to articulate exactly how we resisted temptation (like Jesus was able to do), both for our benefit and for others. There is no temptation but such as is common to man, so sharing stories of how we resisted temptation will help others.

The third temptation Jesus faced in this block of scripture has always been a little bit puzzling to me. If you remember, He is shown all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them through the power of the Spirit, and then Satan said to Him, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”

How often have we experienced a temptation to fall down and worship the devil in exchange for the kingdoms of the world? I don’t think I have. Have you?

But when I was pondering those words, I began to focus on the words “fall down.” Why was “fall down” important word choice? Was Jesus invited to literally fall down on the ground to worship? I didn’t think so. Instead, I remembered the fall of Adam, and that immediately suggested to me that Satan was tempting Jesus to fall from His high standards and His sinless state, to come down off His high sinless horse, suggesting that Jesus might have more success in His ministry if He was more like the rest of the world. That sounds much more like a temptation we face, a temptation to lower our standards to be successful and accepted in the world.

Jesus resisted by quoting the scriptures again, saying, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” He was determined to stay completely true to God, whether people liked it or not. He was determined He would never break commandments to succeed in His ministry. That is a lesson we can all relate to. We have to love the Lord so much that we become determined to never break His commandments in order to succeed in the world.

Will you share a temptation that you were able to overcome using the scriptures?

Thursday, December 15, 2011 1 comments

Jacob 5: Grafting back in the mother tree versus starting a new tree

52 Wherefore, let us take of the branches of these

which I have planted in the nethermost parts of my vineyard,

and let us graft them into the tree from whence they came;

and let us pluck from the tree those branches whose fruit is most bitter,

and graft in the natural branches of the tree in the stead thereof.

53 And this will I do that the tree may not perish,

that, perhaps, I may preserve unto myself the roots thereof for mine own purpose.

54 And, behold, the roots of the natural branches of the tree

which I planted whithersoever I would are yet alive;

wherefore, that I may preserve them also for mine own purpose,

I will take of the branches of this tree,

and I will graft them in unto them.

Yea, I will graft in unto them the branches of their mother tree,

that I may preserve the roots also unto mine own self,

that when they shall be sufficiently strong

perhaps they may bring forth good fruit unto me,

and I may yet have glory in the fruit of my vineyard. (Jacob 5:52-54)

These verses have always puzzled me about the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5; when the Lord of the vineyard finds all his trees corrupted, he decides to graft the natural branches back into the natural roots. I read this in relation to my knowledge of the great apostasy and the restoration, and I wonder, “Why doesn’t the allegory represent the newness of the restored church as starting with a new tree? After all, there has been an apostasy, and there are all these other branches hanging on with bad fruit, and they are the remnants of an apostate Christianity!”

The important thing that I realized is that the ROOT is Christianity. It is not Christianity as other denominations today believe Christianity is (Nicene creed and all); it is Christianity as Christianity really is/was. The Lord of the vineyard says:

36 Nevertheless, I know that the roots are good,

and for mine own purpose I have preserved them;

and because of their much strength

they have hitherto brought forth, from the wild branches, good fruit.

37 But behold, the wild branches have grown

and have overrun the roots thereof;

and because that the wild branches have overcome the roots thereof

it hath brought forth much evil fruit;

and because that it hath brought forth so much evil fruit

thou beholdest that it beginneth to perish;

and it will soon become ripened, that it may be cast into the fire,

except we should do something for it to preserve it. (Jacob 5:36-37, emphasis added)

Then the servant says:

…Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—

have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good?

And because the branches have overcome the roots thereof,

behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots,

taking strength unto themselves. (Jacob 5:48, emphasis added)

Several different ideas are expressed here. One is that the branches have “overrun” the roots, as if the branches are seeking to represent themselves as if they are the roots. This would account for the layers of incorrect traditions and erring beliefs that have become associated with Christianity over time. These other Christian denominations believe they are the roots of Christianity, when they are only branches. Because they think they are the roots, they think that the only way others can be Christian too is by grafting on to them and believing the exact same doctrine. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a natural branch that is newly grafted into the ROOT of Christianity, not into any of the branches, and that is why those other branches are so mad.

Another idea expressed by these allegorical verses is that the branches had “overcome” the roots, evoking the sense of a battle the branches won over the roots, which would capture the sense of widespread apostasy graining ascendency over the faithful and driving them out. (Evil fruit is named as a direct result of overcoming the roots.) Additionally, there is the idea of “taking strength to themselves” and “loftiness,” which certainly must express the part that pride played in the vineyard’s corruption.

What does this mean for us?

We gain intelligence to answer the claims of those who say that religion is evil because of all the cruel things Christians have done over the centuries, such as the Inquisition, the cruelties in the Crusades, the massacres, etc. As the Lord of the vineyard says, the FRUITS of the wild corrupted branches were evil, but the ROOT is still good and still alive. The evils done by Christians were undeniably evil, but at bottom, Christianity (the gospel and works of Christ for our salvation, the pure doctrine and principles) itself was still good and still alive. The Lord of the vineyard is intent upon preserving the ROOTS.

Further, from this allegory, we gain guidance about what to say of Christians who commit terrible crimes. Rather than rhetorically chopping them from the Christian tree by declaring that person was never on it in the first place, as many others do by saying “That person wasn’t a real Christian,” we can reject the works without rejecting the person by saying, “That Christian brought forth evil fruit.”

Finally, these verses from the allegory give us a better picture of why we still have so many other Christian denominations around today. “Pluck not the wild branches from the trees, save it be those which are most bitter” (Jacob 5:57). This gives us a sense of the Lord’s great mercy. Rather than sweeping the wild branches wholesale from the earth, He is willing to let those that do not bear the bitterest fruits abide. And too, these Christian denominations with their vocal support for Christianity are a blessing to the natural branches, to the extent that they keep knowledge of Christ and moral principles alive in the earth.

The Lord is at work on all the branches of the Christianity tree.

65 And as they [the natural branches] begin to grow

ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit,

according to the strength of the good and the size thereof;

and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once,

lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft,

and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard.

66 For it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard;

wherefore ye shall clear away the bad according as the good shall grow,

that the root and the top may be equal in strength,

until the good shall overcome the bad,

and the bad be hewn down and cast into the fire,

that they cumber not the ground of my vineyard;

and thus will I sweep away the bad out of my vineyard. (Jacob 5:65-66)

It seems that the Lord will clear away the bad from the tree of Christianity while grafting in more natural branches. (And the natural branches need pruning too from time to time.) This way, Christianity will maintain strength, but more and more, that strength will come from the natural branches. The Lord of the vineyard designs that the good shall overcome the bad by clearing the bad away gradually as the good grows. He designs to keep the branches and the roots equal in strength, so all the branches (natural and otherwise) that stay on the tree will have to grow strong with the roots.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 0 comments

Joseph, Jesus’s father’s spiritual gifts

In the account of Matthew, about the circumstances surrounding Christ’s birth, it is notable how much guidance comes to Joseph through dreams of angels. He learns through a dream that he need not fear to take Mary to wife. He learns from an angel in a dream that he must take his family and flee to Egypt to save Jesus from being killed by Herod. He learns from an angel in a dream that he can take his family back to Israel when Herod died. And it seems he was directed in a dream to settle in Galilee.

Joseph reminds me a lot of Joseph in Egypt with all those dreams. It is also no less neat that he followed the guidance he received. His spiritual sensitivity and obedience marks him as an excellent surrogate father for Jesus.

Also, from the beginning, Joseph knew the mission of Jesus. In the first dream when he was reassured about Mary, the angel in his dream said, “she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21)

Mary gets a lot of attention for the angelic visitation she had, but if we were comparing her spirituality and Joseph’s, could we really say that she was more spiritual? No, they were equal. They both received revelation—the method isn’t as important as the message--and they were both obedient. It is the same for us today. When we receive revelation and follow that guidance, we are no less worthy than Mary and Joseph.

Sunday, December 11, 2011 2 comments

While shepherds watched their flocks by night

For some reason this Christmas I have found myself focusing on the story of the shepherds in the Nativity.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. (Luke 2:8-9)

Imagine what it must have been like to be one of these shepherds, sitting out in the dark night, minding your own business, when suddenly…. AN ANGEL comes and there is light everywhere!

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (v10)

Something that always causes me to wonder is why these particular shepherds were chosen for this visitation. I don’t think God said to Gabriel, “Go announce the birth of my Beloved Son to people on earth. Doesn’t matter who,” and I don’t think Gabriel said, “Those shepherds look mighty bored down there; let’s give them some excitement.” And too, this news was fantastically great; why were the shepherds chosen?

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (v11)

Notice how immediate this news is—“this day.” What better newscaster could one have?! The news isn’t going to trickle out slowly; it is going to hit like the bombshell that it is. And too, the immediacy suggests to the shepherd the possibility of seeing it for themselves, since they are in the immediate neighborhood.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. (v12)

This further suggests the possibility that they could see the baby Savior for themselves; they’ve been given a key by which to tell which baby the angel is referring to among all the babies that are in the town. (It wouldn’t do for people to pay homage to the wrong baby, would it?) And the manger-cradle. What mother in her right mind would voluntarily put her baby where cows feed—in tickle-y irritating straw—unless under great necessity? That’s a very good sign. The very circumstances that make it so inconvenient for Mary and Joseph are what make it easy for their child to be found and recognized.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:13-14)

Oh, how thrilling that must have been, to see that army of angels, to hear them exclaiming with such excitement! Others have said that perhaps we were there with them. It is interesting that the angels aren’t praising Jesus; they praise God in the highest for the entire Plan of Salvation that is being put into place. After many years of anticipation, the Atonement is soon to be made, the Resurrection to come! Only this could bring true peace to the earth, and only Atonement for sins could bring good will to fallen men from God. The reconciliation is near.

The great rejoicing of these angels must have built great wonder and anticipation in those shepherds. We too often are unable to see the excitement and wonder in something unless we hear others get excited about it, and the more people we find are excited, the more we see the object of their excitement to be significant. And too, sometimes it is hard to get excited about righteous good things unless we have seen and heard other righteous people get excited about those good things. (Not to mention the difficulty of overcoming the natural man or woman…)

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. (v15)

The shepherds now want to see what they’ve been told about. They have been placed in a position to act, and they take it. It is interesting that they weren’t commanded to go; they made that decision on their own. Choosing to go and see would strengthen their faith.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. (v16)

I wonder how long they searched before they found Jesus? How many cows and goats did they startle, peering into mangers? Eventually they found Him and saw Him just as the angel had said.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. (v17)

The shepherds became witnesses, and very enthusiastic ones too. Because there was more than one shepherd that experienced this, they fulfilled the Law of Witnesses. They could say they had heard from an angel where to go, what to look for, and the significance of what they had seen. They could say that they went and saw that it was exactly as the angel had said, therefore, they knew that this baby was to be the Savior.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. (v18-19)

This story certainly is cause for wondering and something to ponder. The miracles come thick and fast in these stories of the Nativity. I think something in us yearns to have a part in that.

And actually, we DO have a part in this story, over and over again. Our part changes, depending on our circumstances. Sometimes we are the angels that excitedly share the good news of the gospel and the signs by which others can know the true church—“The Holy Ghost will tell you in your mind and in your heart that these things are true.” Sometimes we play the part of the shepherds, receiving the news and the signs and experimenting upon the word. And sometimes we play the part of the wondering crowds whom the shepherds share their witness with of their miraculous experiences; like the crowds, sometimes we haven’t participated, but we learn through others’ experiences, mustering our faith to believe and act.

Friday, December 9, 2011 6 comments

There is no beauty that we should desire him

2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:2-3)

We have a lot of paintings that depict Christ, and they all seem to make Him appealing to look at. Yet it seems Isaiah is telling us that Jesus was not good-looking, and whatever drew people to Him, it was not His appearance.

So I guess the question that we should ask ourselves is, “Will I be disappointed when I find Jesus isn’t the handsome speciman of manhood that He’s been depicted as? Will I mind if I meet my Savior and find He is plain… or even… ugly?”

I asked this of myself and I realized that answering honestly, I might be disappointed. It caused me to realize that I need to become better at looking deeper than skin-deep at the people around me. It caused me to realize that the ability to see someone’s potential, their goodness, their talents, their wisdom, their valuable experience, and appreciate them for who they are is basically charity… the pure love of Christ.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 0 comments

How do we keep from usurping authority in the church?

This is one thing that is of concern to me because I want to explore doctrine and learn from the scriptures and learn from other members both at church and help other people learn, and I don’t want take honor and glory to myself or become a false prophet or deceive or lead others astray. I want to know what I should not do to keep myself firmly in the right.

In my scripture study recently, I ran across some scriptures that seemed to help clarify this.

2 For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him [the prophet] whom I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations from my hand.

3 And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me. (D&C 43:2-3, emphasis added)

5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments;

6 And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me. (D&C 43:5-6)

Okay, so this shows me that none of us except the prophet can

  • Give revelations for the whole church or
  • Give commandments for the whole church

So what can we do?

8 And now, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act and direct my church, how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given.

9 And thus ye shall become instructed in the law of my church, and be sanctified by that which ye have received, and ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me— (D&C 43:8-9, emphasis added)

We can:

  • instruct and
  • edify each other

so that we learn how to:

  • Act and direct the church and
  • Act on the points of the Lord’s law and commandments already given

We have to obey the commandments that we’ve got.

When I think of receiving and giving instruction and edification about the law, I often think of Relief Society meetings when the teacher asks the class something like, “How can we teach our children to love and serve one another?” after which everyone chimes in with ways and techniques they have worked out. (And even though I don’t have children, I chime in with ways that my parents tried teach me and my siblings and share how it had an impact on me.) In this case, the teacher has called the class’s attention to the well-known commandment to teach their children and is focusing on how to teach the specific principles of love and service. Everyone shares the different ways they have tried to fulfill this commandment and everyone listens for something they can learn to do that will help them fulfill the commandment more effectively. Instruction and edification is about enlarging our vision of various ways we can act upon the general revelations and commandments we have already been given.

Let’s look at some scriptures about instruction to see if we can find anything else.


And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. (2 Nephi 2:5)

One of the ways we instruct each other is by helping each other understand the difference between good and evil. We need to know WHAT is good and WHY it is good. We need to know WHAT is bad and WHY it is bad. One of the things that I always appreciated about my parents is that when we kids did something wrong (or even borderline wrong), they didn’t just tell me to stop, they told me why.

This is a tiny example, but I remember when I was a kid, I somehow started saying “Jeez” as an exclamation. I remember I was with my dad while he was working on something at his workbench in the basement and he turned to me and said, “Michaela, ‘Jeez’ is not a good thing to say. It is a shortened version of ‘Jesus’. If you say that, you are taking the Lord’s name in vain.” I still remember the jolt that bit of information gave my young mind. I never used it again after that. The instruction to stop was effective for me because it was connected with an important commandment and principle.

77 And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.

78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; (D&C 88:77-78)

The instruction to “teach diligently” is coupled with the promise of grace and being instructed more perfectly. Most of us have seen this occur when we have been asked to give a lesson or a talk. As we have researched and pondered and prayed and written our thoughts, and searched the scriptures and the conference talks relating to the topic given to us, we have truly come to know more perfectly all those things—theory, principle, doctrine, gospel law, things about the kingdom of God. We find ourselves practically swimming in it all and we are challenged by the necessity of cutting it down to fit the time. (The Spirit has to help us distill the parts that will best help our listeners.) This is why teachers and speakers say they “learned far more than the listeners.” It’s not often that I get a chance to participate in this immersing preparatory learning process before teaching gospel lessons at church because I get to substitute-teach only rarely, but happily, I experience this as I am putting together many of my blog posts. Writing these blog posts is always an important learning experience for me.

And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed (D&C 1:26)

This scripture has extremely practical implications for both teachers and learners because both teachers and learners approach lessons wanting to learn things. Teachers want to learn how they can best teach the lesson. Class members want to get something from the lesson that can help them in their lives.

The above scripture puts the responsibility firmly on us all. No longer can we sit back during lessons, complacent in our knowledge. No longer can we assume we know everything about what must be taught. That little verse tells us we receive instruction inasmuch (proportional to) our search for wisdom. If we’re not seeking, we aren’t going to be learning. In fact, the more we have been instructed, the more we should be seeking. I freely admit that as a learner, I find myself the most bored during lessons that I haven’t put forth the effort to study ahead of time.

Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. (Matthew 13:52)

I was puzzling over this particular verse and I asked Heavenly Father to help me understand it better and just as I was about to write what I thought it meant, something happened. Two boys who lived next door came to the door asking for pennies they could take to school and give for charity. We had saved pennies in a jar, so I gave them to them. Then I sat back down to ponder this scripture and realized that what had just happened seemed very similar to what I was pondering. I was a householder, and I had brought out part of my treasure, pennies I’d had for a long time and pennies that I’d recently collected.

This incident became an object lesson to me that taught that when we are instructing, we bring out when it is needed--wisdom we’ve treasured up for a long time not knowing why and wisdom that we’ve recently acquired. It doesn’t much matter whether it is old or new if it is what is needed at the time. It does the job and it is all treasure, no matter how small or basic.

And the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction… (D&C 33:16)

This shows us that if we use the scriptures heavily when we instruct each other, we will be more helpful to each other, since that’s why God gave them in the first place. There is a simplicity and power in the scriptures unmatched by other moralizing writings.

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

This shows us that the scriptures contain:

  • Doctrine (they tell us who to believe in and what to believe)
  • reproof (they tell us what we are doing wrong)
  • correction (they tell us what we should be doing instead)
  • instruction in righteousness (they tell us how to do it and why)

All of this is given to us to guide us toward perfection, so that we can be like Christ and be equipped and capable of doing every good work that exists. The scriptures furnish us with the tools for all of this.

One example of a way that a scripture has furnished me for good works is something I learned about prayer. I noticed in 3 Nephi in the account of Christ’s coming that He prayed for the multitude and they were filled with joy because of what He said. I decided that I should try this when I went visiting teaching. During my visits I would try to pick out from the conversation specific things that my sisters were struggling with and in my prayer at the end, I would pray about those things for them and get very specific as I requested blessings for them. I have seen miracles occur in their lives because of those prayers. Our hearts have been knit together because they feel I care when I plead for them to Heavenly Father. I probably would not have thought to try doing this if I hadn’t found it in the scriptures.


My dictionary widget says that to edify means to “instruct or improve (someone) morally and intellectually.” It means that we build them up.

…Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. (1 Cor. 8:1)

This scripture is a great guide for teachers. It says that if we are just telling what we know to show how smart we are, we will come off sounding arrogant and puffed up. But if we tell what we know out of love and concern for our listener, it will edify them and build them up.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)

For many people, speaking and writing is only about self-expression. However, this scripture shows us that the effect we have on our audience is just as important. We can corrupt, or we can edify. It is interesting that Paul puts edification as the opposite of corruption. If this is so, then edification becomes synonymous with purification, as it “ministers grace,” which means that power from God has been given where it was needed.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. (1 Cor. 10:23)

This shows us that when we are instructing, there may be things that are lawful (allowed), but which don’t necessarily edify. If we are seeking to edify and to be edified, that is going to put our communications on a higher level than just being concerned about what’s allowed and what’s not.

22 Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.

23 And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. (D&C 50:22-23)

This tells us that edification is marked by understanding and rejoicing. It also tells us that unity between teacher and learner increases when edification is occurring because they both understand one another and both rejoice together. Something that edifies is of God and is light, whereas something that doesn’t edify is not of God and is darkness.

Seeking edification is very important to me. When I’m reading something, I’m always looking for the places where the writer seems to make things clear. I try to notice when the writer seems to be building reasoning up to a point and I look for that point. I can tell when a writer seems to be putting tons of embroidery on their writing, using up paragraphs when a single sentence would be fine. You probably can too. A little bit can make it fun, but too much is a waste of time. My major goal in this blog has always been to edify, to give my readers as much substance as I possibly can. Our time is limited and there are so many voices competing for our attention that not only do we want to choose the best, but we should be striving to be our best.

And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also. (D&C 84:106, emphasis added)

This shows us that edification occurs when we are meek. And once we are edified, we are stronger than we were before. I’ve observed that the best edification occurs when both the teacher and the learner are meek.

When I was growing up, there were times when I needed to be disciplined. One of the major ways that my mom taught me was by telling me stories from her life when she had troubles with the same issues. She told me how the Holy Ghost had taught her important principles to correct her and how she obeyed and had been blessed. I gained a lot of respect for my mom’s integrity through those stories and they became an inspiration to me as I tried to change. She demonstrated her meekness as a teacher by sharing those stories because they showed me that she once had those same faults. Listening to stories about her took the focus off me and my bad behavior so I felt safe and free enough to learn from her experience. When I felt safe during the conversation, my heart was soft enough that the Spirit could convince me that I needed to repent and change. So my mom’s meekness contributed to my meekness. Having learned from her, I became willing to change.

Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege. (D&C 88:122, emphasis added)

Also the body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect. (D&C 84:110)

This shows us that the participation of every member in the general edification of the church can keep the system perfect. I’ve noticed that when enough people in a church class comment on a principle, the perspective on it widens and widens and it becomes more difficult for teachings to be taken out of context and skewed.

…we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. (2 Cor. 12:19, emphasis added)

This shows us that not just our words can edify, but our deeds can too, when they provide good examples.

Blessings promised for edifying and instructing each other

The blessings of edifying and instructing each other can be found after the command for the members to instruct and edify each other.

9 And thus ye shall become instructed in the law of my church, and be sanctified by that which ye have received, and ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me—

10 That inasmuch as ye do this, glory shall be added to the kingdom which ye have received. Inasmuch as ye do it not, it shall be taken, even that which ye have received. (D&C 43:9-10)

Each person that works to edify and instruct others will be edified and instructed themselves in the law of Christ’s church. (One big place I have seen this promise fulfilled is when I go visiting teaching. No matter how prepared to teach I am, in the end, I always feel that I have been taught more by those I visit.) Another promise in these verses is that we will be sanctified by what we receive. This happens as we realize what we need to repent of and then pray for forgiveness. Christ’s Atonement will cleanse us.

We will bind ourselves to act in holiness, meaning that we will commit to obey. In the eternities, this adds glory to our kingdoms that we will inherit, which I associate with the promise that light cleaves to light. We are also told that the glory of God is intelligence, which is light and truth, so if we receive and obey light and truth, we increase our intelligence toward the goal of becoming like God.

In summary, we’ve learned:

  1. We are not to give revelation and commandment to the church, but we are to instruct and edify each other.
  2. We have to learn the what, why, and how of the commandments.
  3. If we teach diligently, we’ll be instructed more perfectly.
  4. The more we seek wisdom, the more we will be instructed.
  5. When we teach, we use what we’ve known for a long time AND what we’ve just learned.
  6. The scriptures prepare us for perfection with doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction.
  7. Teaching out of love to benefit others will edify them. (Teaching to show off will not.)
  8. Edifying words bring hearers to sanctification.
  9. Not everything that is allowed will be edifying.
  10. When edification occurs, teacher and learners understand each other and rejoice together.
  11. What comes from God is light and edifies.
  12. Meekness prepares us to be edified.
  13. When we are edified, we become strong.
  14. We all need to edify each other to keep the system perfect.
  15. Good deeds can edify.
  16. We can be sanctified by what we have received through instruction.
  17. Edification binds us to act in holiness.
  18. Acting in holiness adds glory to our kingdom.

Have you seen those promises fulfilled in your life? If so, how?