The Need for Refreshing- 2 Timothy 1:16, 2 Corinthians 7:13

The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:

Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.

COMMENTARY

The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me
Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all
There are three people that live in my home, and I have learned how the mood of one can quickly affect the mood of all! Fortunately, it does not have to be that if one person is having a bad day that everyone else is dragged down. Instead it can be that if one person is having a good day that they lift everyone else up. It takes a little conscious effort to push the flow in a positive way, but each of us knows that this is our duty to do.
In other words we know that we must use our peaceful tranquility to refresh one another. When my wife was struggling through her first trimester my son and I tried to give her rest and peace. When I was struggling with a project at work my wife and son tried to make home a joyful respite. When our son was overwhelmed with fears of death my wife and I tried to soothe him with pledges of eternal love.
Even outside of the home I have a friend that has been through many of the same trials that I have. When I was feeling weighed down and hopeless he listened to my every fear and encouraged me. Later when it was his turn to feel broken I did the same for him.
As disciples, when we are in a good place we must bolster up those that are not. Then, we need to let them do the same for us later. We refresh each other, we save each other, we come to God together.

Sacrifice and Consecration- Genesis 17:7, 18:19; Matthew 16:25

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

COMMENTARY

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord
God viewed the children of Abraham as set apart. God made a special covenant with them, and He expected Abraham to raise them in a particular manner. These covenant children were to be taught to follow the Lord, to maintain covenant marriages, and to be circumcised. The Bible carefully notes that Abraham faithfully adhered to each of these details with his own son. Even though Abraham did not end up sacrificing Isaac, by this obedience he consecrated Isaac to God.
Consecrated means to set apart for a holy purpose.
And if Abraham hadn’t consecrated Isaac to the Lord, then he would have lost his promise and eventually his son. Sooner or later death would have separated them and they would have no assurances in the afterlife. That is the way of the world. Each of us is given family relationships, but without some divine intervention all of them would be taken away by the grave.
The promise of heaven, though, is that we can forever dwell with those we love. The power of the grave is therefore defeated in the resurrection…but only if we are willing to turn ourselves and those we love over to the Lord.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
This, I believe, is the central lesson that the Lord was teaching Abraham when he asked him to sacrifice Isaac. Because Abraham did not try to withhold Isaac from God, God would preserve Isaac and return him to his father. Not just in that one moment, but in eternity.
I am a father myself, and right now my wife and I are the most important people in my young son’s life. I want to be with my son forever, though, and that means I need to raise him so that he will move from my embrace and into God’s. It will hurt when he matures and comes to rely upon God more than me, but that is how it has to be.
If we love something, our natural tendency is to keep it for ourselves. But if we do this we will literally love it to death, and then we will have it no more. We have to surrender that which we love to God. When we do, it is not lost, it is found in the hands of the only one who can preserve it to us forever.

The Family of God- Revelation 22:8-9, Hebrews 13:2, Matthew 17:3

And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

COMMENTARY

For I am thy fellowservant
Some have entertained angels unawares
There appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him

I wanted in this study to look at our brothers and sisters beyond the veil, to consider how they are included in our family unit. And really there isn’t too much to find. We really know very little about the work of angels, I suppose we have enough to worry about on this side.
What we do know is that they are the souls of those that once lived on the earth, that they are still among us today, and that they are concerned with our affairs. All of which means that the notion of death separating us from the cares of this world is deeply misguided. The living and the dead are still very much kin to one another, caught up in the same war between good and evil, and each called to support one another in that struggle.
My suspicion is that when we get to the other side we will be surprised at how integral our angel brothers and sisters have been to everyday life. I am sure their work is not only limited to those rare moments of miraculous manifestation, but rather that their time is filled with many invisible efforts that we have never noticed.

The Family of God- 3 Nephi 11: 29-32, John 17:21-23

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

COMMENTARY

That they may be made perfect in one
All good principles are in harmony with one another. Love, kindness, peace, wisdom, patience, understanding, justice, mercy…all of these are able to coexist in full measure and never undo one another. They are a complementary set.
To that unity we can add God. God is a perfect being in harmony with all that is good. Also to that unity we can Jesus Christ. Christ is a perfected being that is in perfect harmony with his Father, and so he must also be in perfect harmony with all that is good. We are taught that the Holy Spirit is united in this perfect harmony as well.

Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us
Having acknowledged this unity between God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and all good principles; now let us ask what is the purpose of the gospel we have received of them? What is its objective? What is the end result that it attains? Well, we don’t have to guess, because the author of that gospel has already told us for what purpose it was given.
And that purpose is so that the unity between those perfect beings and forces can be ours as well. Our supreme destiny is to come in perfect harmony with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and every good principle. The gospel is the process by which this is accomplished.
Not only do we come into harmony with those perfections, but by extension we also come into harmony with every other brother and sister that strives for this same unity as well. We will have total harmony with saints, angels, the prophets, and nature after it has been perfected. By all of us converging on one perfect goal, we will converge with one another as well. And yes, we will all still be our own individuals, but we will be individuals in harmony.

The Family of God- Matthew 18:20-22

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

COMMENTARY

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them
Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

Before today I was already quite familiar with both of these accounts: the one where Jesus promises to be in the midst of a group gathered in his name, and the other where Peter wonders how many times he is expected to forgive another. But until now I had never contemplated that these moments are placed one immediately after the another.
It makes for a fascinating contrast, one where Christ is calling for unity, and then we have Peter trying to find out when he is allowed to create a division. It is as if Peter is asking “at what point can I not be expected to gather with a particular other?”
And Jesus’s answer is, essentially, never. We must not forget that Christ made his own company among sinners. Not only repentant sinners either, remember that he did some of his most beautiful work shoulder-to-shoulder with the man that would ultimately betray him. The world around him was rotten at times, but he still stayed a part of it.
In the end, we are all we have. God isn’t giving you a backup planet with new brothers and sisters if you can’t work things out with the current set. As such, we should stop looking for opportunities to write off a particular brother or sister as a lost cause, and instead start gathering together.

The Family of God- Question

The study I have just concluded, one based on the need to serve to one another, suggested a new topic to me. In that research it seemed evident that we are designed to be social. Our hearts yearn for a sense of community, to regard one another as brothers and sisters, and to support each other on a shared adventure.

The scriptures definitely support this idea of us all being members of one family under God, and the way of the hermit is not what our nature was designed for. Given that, I would like to study what the ties that bind us together are, how they are strengthened, and what blessings can only be obtained as a group.

Obviously some of us are supremely lonely. And sometimes we are by necessity, such as when our belief in God puts us at opposition to those around us. But even then we still believe in communion with God and angels, a group of believers that extends beyond the veil to support us. I’d like to explore this aspect of the gospel as well.

In the meantime, I’d be curious to hear what community of discipleship you’ve been able to build up around you. Aside from local church groups, how do you setup a network of faith to rely on? What ways have those communities lifted you to more than you could have ever accomplished on your own?