“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

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I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Gates of Heaven (Helaman 3:22-37)

Helaman 3: 22-37

The Gates of Heaven

Our family gathered together tonight and knelt in prayer. Together we asked God to be with our newly wed daughter as she and her husband traveled across the country. We thanked God for all of our prosperity and blessings and for helping us find our way in our difficulties. We asked God to bless our Texas daughter and her family that they might find peace and happiness. as well as our daughter and son who reside in Utah. We asked God to be with those members of our clan who have not been feeling well. When we were finished I felt like we had a bit of heaven on earth. I felt that maybe we had touched the Gates of Heaven.

Heaven, with all of its individualistic interpretations manages to bring a consistent connotation of all that is good. For those who seek riches, heaven might mean prosperity. For those who seek to know the heart of God, heaven might carry a more humble interpretation of what it means to obtain sanctification. When we choose to seek heaven, we learn that the pathway to heaven's gates includes the following of certain rules, which then leads to the reaping of heaven's rewards.

Helaman taught the people to love God, to keep his commandments, and to look to heavenly standards. He taught them to love all that was good and practice peace through obedience. My guess is that after the years of secret combinations with the Gadianton Robbers who plundered, murdered and destroyed their government, the people were ready for a better way.

So ready were they that those who followed Helaman began to live the laws of heaven in their fullest. As a result they began to prosper. Then the church began to prosper and all who lived by God's standards began to prosper. This prosperity drew in those who wanted to share in the peace that prosperity brings. Many were converted. Many began to practice what Helaman taught, and as they practiced these laws of heaven, they reaped all that the "gates of heaven" would offer. The church grew.
The church is here to help us understand heaven. It is both a physical body of members and a doctrine of God. When we learn to love God more than the blessings that he gives us, we learn to truly understand what it means to be sanctified. There were many who sought the blessings that came from the "gates of heaven"but when they received their prosperity, they forgot why they were baptized unto repentance and began to persecute those that were not as fortunate.
Our family is not perfect at remembering our prayers. We try to remember to say them together nightly, but sometimes we forget. On the nights we remember, I can tell the difference by the way we treat one another. We strive to help one another, we practice greater patience and tolerance. We give to one another. We complement one another. We begin to see the gates of heaven and we enjoy the peace that these beautiful gates bring.

Words and Phrases

vs. 23 continual peace - What a blessing it would be to have continual peace. To have a family where we could continually enjoy the emotional prosperity that looking to God brings.
I believe we can obtain this peace. I believe that if we all (like Helaman's people) choose to remember the times when the Gadianton robbers ruled the land and choose to live the "lesson of opposites", we too can find continual peace.
vs24 exceedingly great prosperity in the church - Initially I read this as financial prosperity, but when you look at the phrase "in the church" you realize that it refers to the prosperity of the church as an organization to help and teach others. Many were convinced of the worth of God's truth on earth and chose to live their lives so that they could touch "the gates of heaven."
vs 25 so many the blessings- I think sometimes we believe that blessings from God are reserved solely for the saints. God loves all of his children so that he will pour his blessings of understanding, of spiritual awareness, of gifts of the spirit, etc. upon anyone who will accept him as their Lord and practice His laws of heaven.

26 the work of the Lord did prosper - God's work is not man's work. God's work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. God's work is to teach us of his love, how to use his love, and how to share his love with others. When we learn to understand that we need only to "call upon his holy name", we hold in our hearts the key to the "gates of heaven."
vs 28 gate of heaven is open unto all- we need only call on his name. God will not discriminate by race, birthright, or status. He loves all of his children.
29 word of God - The word of God will
1. divide the snares of Satan
2. lead us on a straight path
3. lead us across the gulf of misery
4. will land our immortal souls at the right hand of God (along with the prophets of old)
5. lead to rejoicing, peace prosperity, and great joy

vs 33 not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God I believe this is an important distinction between the "church of God" (teachings and doctrine) and the people (the members). I have always been taught to distinguish between what is taught and what is practiced. Members are imperfect. The gospel of the church of God leads us to a pathway of perfection.
vs 34 the more humble part- Without pride there is no need to distinguish between the humble and the prideful. Isn't is strange that you never hear a description of the humble causing problems? Prideful hearts causes hurtful comments that leads to persecution.
vs 34 - wade through much affliction- I would like to know what kind of affliction the more humble had to wade through. Were they not allowed at social functions, or at places of worship? Did they get excluded?
Wax stronger in their humility - Here's how we know they are humble before God. Instead of boasting of their strength or reveling in their accomplishments or possessions, they choose to
1. pray often
2. fast often
3. console one another
4. purify their hearts
5. sanctify their hearts
6. fill their hearts with joy
How did they do this? They yielded their hearts to God. to his service, to his work, to his word.

vs 37 exceedingly great pride - I find it interesting that these words are used in much the same context as exceedingly great prosperity. It seems to connote a parallel movement. When we have great prosperity, can we expect to find great pride?

The gates of heaven are found by those who practice humility before God. Many of us believe that the gates are of fine material (I'm not saying they are not). I am saying that the worshipping of what the gates of heaven are made does not give us the key to the gates. The key to heaven's gate lies within the heart that will pray fervently, fast, console, seek joy, purify and sanctify itself so that it may be able to carry the key that unlocks not only the prosperity that heaven promises, but rather the meekness that it requires.

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