Day 9: He Cleanses and Reclaims Holy Places

John 2:

13 ¶ And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;
16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.
17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

Matthew 21:

13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

I never really understood or fully appreciated this story until I understood how the temple in Jerusalem was set up.  The inner part of the temple was only entered by the priests.  Then there was a court outside of that where the Israelite men could go.  The next court was for Israelite men and women.  And the outer court, or the court of the gentiles, was a place where anyone could go to worship.  It was the only place in the temple where those who were not Israelites could go to pray and commune with God. No wonder Christ was so upset that the marketplace and corrupt practices had taken over the space.  His temple was supposed to be a place for ALL God’s children to go to connect with Him.

As I contemplated these places of worship and how important they were to Christ, so much that He would act boldly to retake them, I thought about how the scriptures tell us that we are each a temple of God.  I thought about how there is always a fight between good and evil for our souls.  Satan would love for us as a temple of God to become corrupt and unwilling to be sanctified by the Lord. I know that I sometimes allow the dirt of the world to creep into parts of me that make me feel unholy and unclean.  These things can cause me to be distracted from my relationship with God.  They can keep me from being able to connect with Him and commune with Him, just as the moneychangers and animal sales did for the people in the court of the gentiles.  But just like Christ came in and cleansed the temple removing these distractions, He can and wants to do the same thing for us in our lives.  As we intentionally and conscientiously put on the Armor of God we are inviting Him into our own personal temple and asking for His help in keeping it clean and holy and reclaiming those parts we may have momentarily lost.

Song:

Grace Wins Every Time

Article:

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/jesus-cleanses-temple/

Talk:

Be Strong in the Lord

https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/2004/07/be-strong-in-the-lord

Day 6: Come Unto Me

Mark 10

13 ¶ And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

As a child I loved this story! I could picture myself there and I could feel the Savior’s love. Christ did not abide by the traditions that dictated that children were to be seen and not heard. He loved and valued each child individually as much as any adult He interacted with. It is an example to me of how I should value and treat the children in my life. They have so much to teach me and I have so much to learn.

Another perspective came to me as I reread this story the other day. I started to think about how much our Heavenly Father loves us and how we are each His children. I’m sure that as grown up as we may feel, He looks at us and sees our inexperience, our naivete, and how spiritually young we still are in our respective lives. And so this invitation takes on another meaning. He wants each of us to come to Him. He doesn’t want anything to hold us back or make us feel inferior or unworthy. He knows that if we will become as little children, and seek Him as such, He can make our lives so much more than what we could ever do on our own. He wants our faith, our yearning, our humility to be like that of a child’s. He wants us to not only recognize, but also to believe, how much He wants us. He wants us to understand how much more blessed our lives could be if we would allow Him to be a part of them. He wants to hold us and to help us, to teach us and to heal us. He wants us in all our weakness and unworthiness. He wants us. And this, not because we are good, but because He is. We are His. He wants us to come unto Him.

Song:

Come Unto Him

Talk:

Our Perfect Example

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/10/our-perfect-example?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question:
What is one way you can show love for and bless the innocent today? How can you become more like a child in your purity and desire to have faith in and be like Christ?

Day 2: Broken Up

Matthew 13:

1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.

2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

I love the vivid imagery our Savior painted with as He used parables to teach the gospel!  The parable of the sower is one of my favorites! As I look back in my life I can see how my heart has taken on each of the conditions Jesus mentioned in this parable.  There have been times when I was angry and bitter and even though the Spirit tried to teach me the word was gobbled up before it had a chance to sink in.  There are times with I was too overwhelmed with the busyness of life and my pursuits of a worldly nature when the thorns crowded in and consumed my heart leaving no opportunity for spiritual thriving.  There have been those times when my heart has been more stony and I have heard truths and felt excited about them in the meeting where they were being taught only to go home and give no more thought to nurture them.  And then there have been times, my favorite times, even though sometimes they were my hardest times, when I have sat down regularly to spend time with the Master Gardener on a very regular basis.  And as we had these cultivating session He broke up the soil of my heart.  He taught me about thorny weeds I needed to remove and rocks I needed to toss out.  He showed me how to fertilize my soil.  And in that time together I have felt the most beautiful garden spring up in my soul.  I have felt peace and joy in a way that was not reasonable or explainable with the other difficulties that were happening in my life.  I felt loved.  I felt nurtured.  I felt strengthened.  But getting to that point was not easy.  It required a willingness to be broken up.  It required a willingness to make a painful exploration of who I was and who I wanted to be.  Sometimes self-examination is not easy.  Honestly, most of the time if we are doing it correctly it is not.  But it is ALWAYS worth it because our Lord can show us the areas in our lives where we are hurting the most and why.  And most importantly He can help us to change it so that it can become pleasing rather than painful!

Song:

Today’s talk goes into detail about the different types of soil and is very helpful in helping to determine where our own heart is and where it could use a little nourishment.

https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/2015/05/saturday-morning-session/the-parable-of-the-sower?lang=eng&fbclid=IwAR0_gDkWZWtgsd9D3b2sHN4-KElxsHePPEK4GcLO0h34GIERrig68ifcjBs

Soul Searching Question: What condition is the soil of your heart? What are you doing to break it up and nurture it to improve it? What specific things are you doing to keep your heart soft and receptive?

Decisions For Which I’ve Been Grateful by Clayton M. Christensen

I learned so much from this talk, especially on the topic of real intent. After listening to it a few years ago I was able to look back on my life and recognize the truth of what He was saying. God does want to answer or prayers and share great knowledge with us but He first wants to see that we really do intend to do something with the answers, that we aren’t just asking out of mere curiosity. The most profound answers and insights I have gotten in my life were during times I really needed them! Times I desperately plead for them! Times I intended to use them to take the next step in my life! God knows our hearts and our intentions matter to Him!

https://video.byui.edu/media/Clayton+M.+Christensen+%22Decisions+For+Which+I%27ve+Been+Grateful%22/0_tdb0a80p/14336742

The Lord Looketh Upon the Heart

Ponder these verses:

1 Samuel 16:

7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

Psalms 139:

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

1 Peter 5:

6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour

Hebrews 4:

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Jeremiah 17:

10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

John 3:

18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

Psalm 44:

20 If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god;
21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart

How do these verses help you comprehend how important it is to be intentional in our lives and in living the Gospel knowing that God knows and understands the intents of our hearts?

A Window to God’s Love

To answer the ponder question posted with the scripture on Sunday, tribulation is a part of life. It has a Divine purpose. I’m sure there are many reasons a kind and loving Father would allow His children to suffer. A few of the reasons that come to my mind are (in no particular order.):

1. To help us grow. Just like a muscle cannot develop without resistance neither can our spiritual strength.

2. To bless those around us. Many times we learn great lessons by watching those who ensure trials with faith and Grace.

3. To give us empathy. We have much more compassion for those around us when we can relate to their struggles.

4. To draw us to Him. It seems that we year for heaven and its help more fervently when we are struggling than when we are doing well.

5. He values agency. Or agency is so important to Him that He respects the line we draw on the ground between us.

The second question is a little trickier because we tend to identify peace as having our trials removed. But when everything revolves around God’s timing sometimes that is not possible at the moment. But I have found that no matter what we are going through we can always ask for peace, a little reprieve from the storm. I have had times when I have asked for this and could feel a blanket of comfort wrap around me and feel an almost tangible hug from heaven.

We can seek this peace through many tools. We can feaast on the word of God. We can pray and center ourselves. We can serve someone else in a meaningful way. We can choose to read/listen to uplifting books and music. We can pray and meditate. We can process or problems thorough journaling or talking to a friend. We can accept God’s willy for us and keep a cheerful demeanor. We can show God’s love to His other children by becoming a window to His love.