Godliness Prt 5

#22 February 18, 2022

Growing In The True Nature of God

Alma 16:152-154
16:152 Now we will compare the word unto a seed.
16:153 Now if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts;
16:154 And when you feel those swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves, It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding; yea, and it beginneth to be delicious to me.

As the godliness we seek grows within us, it allows us to be bold in our testimony of God. Again, I am not saying that we will suddenly be stricken with an obsessive urge to stand on the street corner shouting to the world the good news of the Gospel, but we will change. We will find our lives filled with a new awareness of the bondage that is the human condition. We will no longer be blind to the plight of the natural man, and we will go to the Spirit seeking ways that will turn friendship into love, compassion into charity, and fellowship into oneness. Others will see the way we live and will question our ability to live at peace with a world that is anything but peaceful, and through the Spirit we will have answers. At times our reactions to the world at large will surprise us. Words of truth will spring out of our mouths before we have a chance to fully consider the question. We will develop abilities for much needed talents that before, never interested us. We will find redeeming qualities in people who yesterday filled us with disgust. Go with it Brethren, for as His covenant people we are His temporal presence in the world of man. Yes it is scary, but ain't it great?

Isaiah 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, besides thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

Understand that in this time of change, we will be faced with new understandings that will challenge us. As we grow in our newfound godliness we will find ourselves questioning our long accepted methods of approaching life's labor. In the process of earning a living, raising a family, and taking our place as a viable member of society, we will find reliable worldly wisdom of the past useless. God becomes the source of all we seek and all we need. We now have joy we want to share, and our new source points us to words and actions that helps the natural man open his heart to the need for change. We see many today seeking for that new way. Brethren, God has blessed us and we have the way they seek. We must learn to live boldly revealing with both word and deed what God has given us to share.    

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom; but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

Too often the churches of the world have used the rod from this verse in proverbs to describe the need for corporal punishment in the home and by application, judgment and punishment at the hand of God. I am convinced that God seeks to convey more than our ability to create wisdom in our children by applying pain to their backside. In the same application, I believe God wants us to expect more from Him that just His ability to judge and punish. I minister with the belief that our Father wants us to find within ourselves the need for love, the need to respect virtue as wisdom, and the need to use this wisdom to make His righteous that which we live and that which we share. The nature of God that is both justice and mercy is a powerful witness to this concept.  

Psalms 89:14-16

89:14 Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne; mercy and truth shall go before thy face.
89:15 Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.
89:16 In thy name shall they rejoice all the day; and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.

It was the vision of Lehi in the Book of Mormon (1Nephi 2:43-82) that originally caused me to question the veracity of the age-old idiom "spare the rod and spoil the child". That idiom has convinced many generations of not only God's approval and support of corporal punishment in the home, but also of God's tendency and willingness to judge and punish His children. These are the verses from Lehi's vision that opened my mind to new possibilities. 

1 Nephi 2:68-69 
2:68 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron;
2:69 And they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.

Lehi's vision led me to believe that the rod was more than just a tool for punishment. It was a tool for giving direction in the way a shepherd uses his staff to guide his flock. Final proof of the identity of the rod was offered in the next chapter when Nephi (Lehi's son) ask God to give him clarity concerning Lehi's vision.   

1 Nephi 3:68 And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God;

The rod of iron is the source of knowledge that brings man to God. It is the word of God and in true godliness we come to realize that the word of God is more than just scriptures. It is also testimony. It is also revelation. It is more than just teacher and student. It is life within the knowledge of God. It is camaraderie. It is discussion. It is practical application of these godly concepts to our life. It is fellowship. This understanding truly turns righteous hope into a vision of truth. In fact it becomes a reflection of Christ, our fellowship through Christ, His ministry, His sacrifice, and His resurrection. 

John 1:1 In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God.

John 1:14 And the same word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

God is, has been, and will always be the source of all we seek, but one alone will miss the fullness of all they seek. To see an elephant from many perspectives will most often yield a better grasp of the fullness of its nature. Such is the way of our fellowship in Christ as we attempt to grow in God's wisdom. That wisdom considered in companionship with others, all being led by God's Spirit grows to become an understanding common to all. It is broader, deeper, and fuller than anything we could conceive or understand on our own.  

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom; but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

Understand the difference between the rod of punishment as used on the backside and the rod of iron (God's word) as applied to the heart. Both bring change to the teacher and the student alike. 

The rod of punishment wielded by the teacher, humbles the student with pain and the fear of pain. It humbles the student to the teacher and the threat of pain becomes the only allowed path to understanding. As the source of understanding, the teacher must be forever separate and superior to the student, always able to fulfill that threat of pain. The very nature of their relationship prohibits any form of open fellowship to exist between the student and the teacher, because if the fear of pain is lost the source becomes unreliable and weak. In that weakness the student will fail to fully grasp the needed understanding and redemption ceases.  

When the rod of iron becomes the word of God, the heart of the student recognizes both the justice of God and the mercy He offers. In a new understanding their eyes are opened to the life they live and the error of their ways. The teacher ceases to be the source. With God and the word of God as the source, fellowship is created between the teacher and the student. The student comes to accept that at one time the teacher was a student and in times to come they will be a teacher. Fellowship grows as the student looks throughout the gathering and realizes that even the most holy grew as they grow now. All seek for common understanding, and the source of that understanding is God who never changes and who will never hide from those who seek Him. Redemption becomes a path we travel together to the Father who reaches out to all who will join Him in His purpose. Growth can be gauged our ability to accept God's purpose as our purpose, too.

Isaiah 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever.

Isaiah 40:10-11
40:10 Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

When the word of God grows within the fellowship of man, common understandings become a way to create oneness. In the unity of oneness, all together consent to the ways of God. Common consent to the ways of God grows to make all things both spiritual and temporal, commonly shared among the people. They become willingly bound to one another by both heart and hand. Wickedness finds no nourishment and cannot be sustained within this fellowship of virtue in God. 

1 Nephi 7:60 And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power;

God's justice becomes a blessing of joy to the people and they grow to a fullness of their creation nourished by the His mercy. These people grow in righteousness and within these people grow a vision of Zion that when realized becomes a vision of the Kingdom of God for all those who seek Him. It begins with the word of God and becomes complete person by person when each person decides that God's words are their words, too.

DC 6:1a-1c 
6:1a A great and marvelous work is about to come forth unto the children of men 
1b behold, I am God, and give heed unto my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow:
6:1c therefore, give heed unto my words.

Whether we are clergy or membership, as we reach out to the world to bring them into the fold of God we must accept that in the beginning we are the teacher and they are the student. This role reflects the relationship of master and servant, and can be problematic if we fail to heed the advice given to us by the Apostle Peter. Many will feel that this passage applies more to Priesthood than it does membership, but I feel that the concept it brings us is invaluable to everyone that labors with God for His Kingdom. 

1 Peter 5:2-4 
5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
5:3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Our teaching labor will be forever incomplete if we rely on the scriptures alone. We must live the ways of God if our student is to learn all we seek to teach them. Trust and forgiveness are also two concepts that cannot be taught with words. Even our actions will not teach their fullness. If we are to succeed we must be so filled with God's Spirit that our immediate reaction to the problems we face within our labor must reflect a fullness of God's love and God's purpose. We must be ready to ask and answer questions both pertinent and impertinent. We must be prepared by the Spirit to reach out with a benevolent hand to those who fall. We need the Spirit to help us recognize repentance within the heart even if no words are offered. Add to this, the ability to chastise lovingly when we find the words offered to be false. If we fail to allow the Spirit to fill our lives completely, our testimony of His power and His love will be hollow and of little effect. 

The success of our labor begins with our ability to allow the love and trust of God to fill us completely. In that spirit the finished labor yields within us a love for the student that we call oneness. In godliness we find that the effort of creating the Kingdom together causes oneness to be so real and so viable that it will cause us walk together from this life unto the next. Growth accepted as a godly effort will reveal that all involved in this earthly labor are truly the students, and God through His Spirit is the teacher of all. 

2 Samuel 22:31-33 
22:31 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried; he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
22:32 For who is God, save the Lord? and who is a rock, save our God?
22:33 God is my strength and power; and he maketh my way perfect.

As godliness grows in our life our willingness to fellowship causes us to recognize that same godliness growing in us as a people. This is a good thing.

Jeremiah 32:38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God;

This is a very good thing. 

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