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Spheres

Doctrine and Covenants 93:30

All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. 

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Elder Dale G. Renlund

As we develop faith in Jesus Christ, we should also strive to become like Him. We then approach others with compassion and try to alleviate unfairness where we find it; we can try to make things right within our sphere of influence. Indeed, the Savior directed that we “should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of [our] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.”

(Infuriating Unfairness, April 2021 General Conference)

The story is told that when Robert Louis Stevenson was a child, his nanny came into his nursery to put him to bed. She found the little boy looking intently out of his bedroom window. When she called to him, he continued staring into the darkness, so she went over to ask him what he found so interesting outside. As she peered over his shoulder, she saw the lamplighter walking down the street, lighting the street lamps. Little Robert responded, “Look, Nanny. I’m watching as that man puts holes in the darkness.”

Sometimes I can become discouraged when I look out into the “darkness” of the spiritual and moral decay of our great nation. But this story reminds me that while I may not be able to change the world, I can put a “hole in the darkness.”

The Prophet Daniel was a young man who lived during a time of great darkness in the nation of Judah. The Babylonians from the east swept through and destroyed everything in a series of ruthless campaigns. When the enemy king, Nebuchadnezzar, ordered the finest and the brightest Israelites to be taken captive as slaves in his palace, Daniel was seized and marched 800 miles east, never to return. But rather than despair, Daniel put holes in the darkness…

Ann Graham Lotz

Judging Others

Matthew 7

[1] Judge not, that ye be not judged.
[2] For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
[3] And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
[4] Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
[5] Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye

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Be very slow indeed to judge others. If they are wrong, God will judge them and if we are wrong, God will judge us. ~ Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l

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– Tom Irvine

God & Wickedness

Some might think that God is in control to the extent that He even controls evil.  But the scriptures teach that God grieves when people do wicked acts which He never intended.

Genesis 6

[5] And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
[6] And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Jeremiah 19:5

They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:

Jeremiah 32:35

And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

The Greek Bible uses the word kardia, “heart,” instead for mind. 

– Tom Irvine

cherry_blossoms.jpgCherry Blossoms

tulipTulip

poppies.jpgPoppies

Foxglove_flowers.jpgFoxglovesWild_Morning_Glory.jpg
Wild Morning Glory

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Lacecap Hydrangeas

RockroseRockrose
Everlasting_Pea_flowers
Everlasting Pea

All of the above photos were taken in Washington State, by Tom Irvine

 

To help others is the path of discipleship. Faith, hope, love, compassion, and service refine us as disciples.

Through your efforts to help the poor and the needy, to reach out to those in distress, your own character is purified and forged, your spirit is enlarged, and you walk a little taller.

But this love cannot come with expectations of repayment. It cannot be the kind of service that expects recognition, adulation, or favor.

True disciples of Jesus Christ love God and His children without expectation of something in return. We love those who disappoint us, who don’t like us. Even those who ridicule, abuse, and seek to hurt us.

When you fill your hearts with the pure love of Christ, you leave no room for rancor, judgment, and shaming. You keep God’s commandments because you love Him. In the process, you slowly become more Christlike in your thoughts and deeds.

By Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Your Great Adventure

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A common principle in Hinduism is to detach ourselves from the fruits of our actions. We can only control our actions—not their outcomes.

Lord Krishna instructs Arjuna, “The act of giving without expecting anything in return, but with a good purpose is sattvic (pure & virtuous) charity.”  Bhagavad Gita (17:20-22)

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– Tom Irvine

 

Catholic Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, I consecrate myself today anew and without reserve to your divine Heart. I consecrate to you my body with all its senses, my soul with all its faculties, my entire being. I consecrate to you all my thoughts, words and deeds, all my sufferings and labors, all my hopes, consolations and joys. In particular I consecrate to you this poor heart of mine so that it may love only you and may be consumed as a victim in the fire of your love. I place my trust in you without reserve and I hope for the remission of my sins through your infinite mercy. I place within your hands all my cares and anxieties. I promise to love you and to honor you till the last moment of my life, and to spread, as much as I can, devotion to your most Sacred Heart. Do with me what you will, my Jesus. I deserve no other reward except your greater glory and your holy love. Take this offering of myself and give me a place within your divine Heart forever. Amen.
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2 Nephi 2

[1] And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my first-born in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren.
[2] Nevertheless, Jacob, my first-born in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.
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“Whatever you do, make it an offering to me–the food you eat, the sacrifices you make, the help you give, even your suffering.”

~ Bhagavad Gita  9:27    (Eknath Easwaran translation)

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– Tom Irvine

Alpha & Omega

Revelations 1

[8] I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

[11] Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

Revelations 21:6

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Revelations 22:13

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last

3 Nephi 9:18

I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

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Alpha and Omega also appears in the following verses of the Doctrine & Covenants: 19:1, 35:1, 38:1, 45:7, 54:1, 61:1, 63:60, 68:35, 75:1, 81:1, 84:120, 112:34, 132:66

An example is:

Behold, I am Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ. Doctrine & Covenants 63:60

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Related verses:

Isaiah 44:6

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.

Isaiah 48:12

Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.

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Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Among the Jewish rabbis, it was common to use the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet to denote the whole of anything, from beginning to end.

The Hebrew equivalent is:   Ani h’aleph v’tav – I am the Aleph (א) and Tav (ת).

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Bhagavad Gita 9:18

Krishna declares to Arjuna:

I am the Supreme Goal of all living beings, and I am also their Sustainer, Master, Witness, Abode, Shelter, and Friend. I am the Origin, End, and Resting Place of creation; I am the Storehouse and Eternal Seed.

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– Tom Irvine

Christian Finances

[6] For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.

[7] If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:

[8] But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.

Deuteronomy 15

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He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.

Proverbs 14:31

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[20] A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.
[22] He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.

Proverbs 28
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“Haste to be rich” may apply to “get rich quick” schemes.

[8] Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
[9] Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

Proverbs 30

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Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

Psalms 122:6

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And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday.

Isaiah 58:10

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[8] Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

[9] Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
[10] Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 8
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[19] Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

[20] But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Matthew 6

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Mark 4

Jesus teaches the parable of the sower:

[3] Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
[7] And some (seeds) fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
[18] And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
[19] And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

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Mark 12

[41] And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
[42] And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
[43] And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
[44] For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

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Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Luke 6:38

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[15] And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
[27] Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
[28] If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
[29] And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
[31] But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
[32] Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
[33] Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
[34] For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Luke 12

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[1] AND he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
[2] And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

[3] And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
[4] For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

Luke 21

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But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

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[6] But godliness with contentment is great gain.

[7] For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
[8] And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
[9] But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
[10] For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
[11] But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

1 Timothy 6

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[30] But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their God. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.
[51] Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.

2 Nephi 9

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[17] Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
[18] But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
[19] And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

Jacob 2

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Seek not after riches nor the vain things of this world; for behold, you cannot carry them with you.

Alma 39:14

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Interest

Finally, the fourth item, the bank. It is a symbol of our financial well-being. I learned a great lesson early in my business career. My boss called me into his office. I could tell he had something on his mind. He said, “Give me a definition of interest.” Of course, I reached back in my training and gave him a definition I had learned from a textbook. He said, “No, no, no, that’s not the one I want. You listen and remember this one: Thems that understands it, earns it; and thems that don’t, pays it.”

Now it doesn’t take a genius to understand that before you can collect interest, you must first have some savings. Having savings while continuing to increase one’s standard of living requires understanding of one simple practice and then religiously applying it. After paying your tithing of 10 percent to the Lord, you pay yourself a predetermined amount directly into savings. That leaves you a balance of your income to budget for taxes, food, clothing, shelter, transportation, etc. It is amazing to me that so many people work all of their lives for the grocer, the landlord, the power company, the automobile salesman, and the bank, and yet think so little of their own efforts that they pay themselves nothing.

L. Tom Perry, “Becoming Self-Reliant,” Ensign, Nov. 1991

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Interest, Debt

Third, avoid excessive debt. Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice. We need the discipline to stay well within our ability to pay. Wisely we have been counseled to avoid debt as we would avoid the plague. President J. Reuben Clark fearlessly and repeatedly counseled members of the Church to take action.
“Live within your means. Get out of debt. Keep out of debt. Lay by for a rainy day which has always come and will come again. Practice and increase your habits of thrift, industry, economy, and frugality” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1937, p. 107). We should have displayed in a prominent place President Clark’s description of interest:

“Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies. … Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1938, p. 103).

L. Tom Perry, “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Ensign, Nov. 1995

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– Tom Irvine

Our Thoughts…

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…

Proverbs 23:7
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The faith of all humans conforms to the nature of their mind. All people possess faith, and whatever the nature of their faith, that is verily what they are.

Bhagavad Gita 17:3

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“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. If a man speak or act with an evil thought, suffering follows him as the wheel follows the hoof of the beast that draws the wagon…. If a man speak or act with a good thought, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.”

― Gautama Buddha

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See also:  Thoughts, Words & Deeds

– Tom Irvine