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Thursday, December 10, 2015

God Knows What's Best

This week in my New Testament class we have been talking about the suffering, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We learned about all the physical pains that He had to feel for our sake and the torture inflicted upon Him. This physical suffering was essential so that Jesus could know personally all of the pains that mankind feels. But to me what is even more touching is the mental and spiritual torture and suffering that He was called to endure. We know that Jesus has felt all of our sorrows, grief, pain, afflictions, and remorse (see Alma 7:11-13). He knows what it feels like to be rejected, wrongfully judged, guilty, and distant from the Spirit. As part of His sacrifice for us, He had to not only overcome physical death, but also spiritual death. Spiritual death is basically the complete separation of a spirit from Heavenly Father's presence and Spirit. Because we live on Earth, all of us are separated from the presence of God. We can feel glimpses of it through the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. But, for us to be able to return to the presence of the Father, Christ had to overcome this spiritual death. In Matthew 27, we read about the Crucifixion and death of Christ. In these moments of extensive physical pain and suffering, Jesus was required to overcome it alone. The Father had to withdraw His Spirit so that Jesus could feel and overcome a complete spiritual death. In verse 46, Jesus cries out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Even the Son of God, the Savior of the world, questioned the Lord's will a few times. However, He never forsake it and was perfectly obedient and trusting that the Father knew best.

Like the Savior, we too must trust in God's will. It is OK to have doubts, fears, uncertainties, and questions. Don't keep them to yourself! The Lord wants us to have questions and seek the answers to them. He wants us to learn and gain a testimony for ourselves. Sometimes in the search for guidance and answers we may feel like we aren't getting anything in response. We may feel abandoned, hopeless, and confused. We may wonder if the Lord is really even there, if He really cares, or if He will ever answer our questions. There are some things in this world that will take us a long time to understand; there are others that we will never understand in this life. I testify that although sometimes we may feel distant from the Lord, He truly has our best interests in mind and will never let us fail without first offering us help. Sometimes He is silent in answering our pleadings not because He doesn't love us or care about our concern, but because He wants us to grow from making our own choices and using our agency. It's like learning to ride a bike. When a father teaches his child to ride, he lets go once the child becomes comfortable and strong enough to pedal on her own. This is not because he doesn't care about protecting his child. He knows that she can do it on her own, and that if she does begin to wobble and fall he can always swoop in to catch her. I know from personal experience that the Lord loves us and knows what we most need to grow and develop. I know that sometimes this requires Him to pull back a little and let us "ride" on our own. He loves us so much that He lets us have our agency. He does not want us to be His "robots" whom He controls ; He wants us to become self-sufficient and capable.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Coming unto God

This week in our New Testament class, we are reading and discussing about Jesus' last few days here on Earth. We are learning about the injustices and pains He had to face and the true depth of His sacrifice for mankind. He "fell on his face, and prayed, saying "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matt. 26:39). As I have been reading the New Testament this semester, I have noticed that Jesus always gives the glory, honor, and respect to the Father after He performs any sort of miracle. He never tries to boast, brag, or do His own will. Jesus knew His purpose and did not want to do anything to detract from fulfilling it. He came to Earth to perform what we call the "Atonement." This word literally means "the process of becoming at one", particularly with God. Therefore, Jesus came to Earth to help all of us be able to become "at one" with God the Father. Without Him, we would not ever be worthy to live with God. In order to be able to lift us up, Jesus had to descend below the depths of all sin, guilt, shame, sorrow, bodily pain, sickness, and temptations. He had to experience these feelings and rise above them. I always thought it was quite admirable that Jesus went through all these difficult things, yet all along was giving the credit to His Father. I used to wonder, "Why doesn't He take some of the credit for Himself? After all, He is doing a lot."

But, I have come to better understand that Jesus, like all of us, strives to serve the Father and do as He commands. While it is true that He underwent the utmost agony and sacrifice for the world, He gave the glory to the Father because it is He who makes it all possible. He pays the ultimate price. A great analogy that my professor gave this week helped me to understand this. He prompted us to think of the story of Abraham sacrificing his son, Isaac. Whenever we read this story, to whom do we give more respect and credit -- Abraham or Isaac? Of course, Isaac was the one that was going to die as a sacrifice. But, do we not revere Abraham for his strength and courage in being the one to perform the sacrifice? This is similar to the relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ. Jesus is the mediator between God and man. He makes it possible for us to come to God because of His Atonement. However, if it were not for the Father and His great and eternal plan for our salvation, none of it would be possible!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

He Overcame the World

The world we live in is a crazy place full of crime, injustices, tragedies, and sorrow. We hear so much every day about worldwide calamities and scary events. Confusion abounds in the media and sometimes it is difficult to know who or what is right or what we should do. In our own personal lives and families we experience trials as well. We may become unsure of our future and worry about how we will make it through. These hardships are very real and should certainly be considered seriously. We have to decide where we stand and how we will react in difficult situations. But I know that as long as we have faith in Jesus Christ and put our trust in Him and His teachings, we will not be led astray. We will be inspired to know which way we need to go or how to handle all that is thrown at us. In the end, if we are good and faithful to the gospel, we have nothing to worry about! This is not to say that believing in Jesus is easy, or that once you commit to follow Him you will never have sadness or troubles again. The world is meant to be a place of testing. However, we have been given a map of sorts to follow in order to navigate ourselves safely through the confusion. This "map" is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the steps of having faith, repenting of our sins, being cleansed through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring obediently for the rest of our lives. If we will stick to this path, no matter what troubles come we can know for a surety that we will be safe in the end.

In John 16:33, Jesus sums this up very well. He says, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Jesus sacrificed Himself for this purpose. Because of Him, all things evil and bad will eventually lose. Light always overcomes darkness. It is frightening to walk in darkness, not quite knowing where you are headed along the way. But, as we look ahead to the "light at the end of the tunnel", we will make it safely back to God. Even more, this knowledge can bring us peace and joy in this life too. The understanding that Jesus overcame the world gives one an eternal perspective. They can work through trials with faith, knowing that whatever hard things they must endure, everything will work out in the end. Jesus does not want us to be sad or scared of the world we live in. He wants us to hope, have faith, and "be of good cheer". There is nothing to worry about if we are living the Lord's commandments and following His chosen prophets.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Serve Others, Serve the Lord

In my reading this week of Matthew 25, I learned more about the nature of service. In this chapter, Jesus tells the story of the ten virgins and the righteous people who are prepared for the second coming of the Savior. He then goes on to bless them for the service that they did for Him when He was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and in prison. The people did not understand this at first -- when had they ever seen Him in these circumstances? Jesus explains "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (v. 40). 

As we serve those around us, we are in effect serving God. Through our actions of love and aid to others, we can act as His "hands" here on Earth. Of course, God is all-powerful and can make whatever He wants to happen come to fruition. But, He knows it is so much more meaningful for us to be able to act as instruments in His hands. He can use us as tools to make His good purposes come to pass. That way not only those whom we serve are blessed, but we are made even better for it too. God's purpose is to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). He does this in several ways, but allowing us to serve one another is a major way in which God lets us grow. True discipleship strengthens as we focus less on our selfish needs and turn outwards to help another. Sometimes it may seem illogical to stop and serve someone -- maybe they seem to have things under control themselves, or you may be in a rush. But, I know that when we act on the desire to do good to others, it always ends well. You may not see any dramatic results, but you can rest assured that you have done some measure of good in the life of another. Serving others is something I strive to do, but I'll admit that sometimes it is hard! It's hard to go outside of your comfort zone or to use your time for someone else when you may feel in need. However, I have seen that whenever I choose to make sacrifices to help another it always works out well for me. Things fall into place and I feel so much happier. Service helps us grow and feel God's love for others. If every day we made the effort to do at least ONE purposeful act of service, just think how much better the world would be! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Listening and Love

"Jesus wept."

This is the shortest verse in all of canonized scripture, yet to me it has one of the deepest meanings. The context of this scripture is the story of Lazarus and when Jesus raises him from the dead. Jesus was well acquainted with Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, who were all followers of the Savior. He had shared His teachings with them before and it seems like they were His friends too. When they told Jesus that Lazarus had been dead for at least 4 days, He already knew this. He knew that He had the power to bring Lazarus back to life as well, and that He would do that. From Jesus' perspective, there was no problem. There was not anything to be sad about. However, when He saw these people whom He loved crying and in despair over the loss of their family member, He had compassion and wept with them. Some people may think that they cannot relate to Jesus because He led a perfect life. But, it is important to note that although Jesus had great knowledge and understanding, He also felt human emotions. He wanted to understand the sorrow, pain, frustration, confusion, loneliness, joy, faith, hope, and love that mortals experience.

In this story, Jesus also shows us a great example that we can apply in our daily lives. Sometimes, like I'm sure all of us have experienced, a friend will come to me with a concern or issue of theirs. They may complain about it and express their feelings of fear, low self-confidence, sadness, and pain. From my perspective, the answer to their problems can often seem quite clear or it may seem like they are overreacting. My first instinct is to tell them that it isn't as bad as it seems, or to offer reasonable solutions for the issue at hand. However, what most people truly need is just to feel loved and understood. They will figure out the solutions to their problems over time and with patience, work, and faith. God gives us these problems to work through so that we can grow. Sometimes, we just need to let others work out their own concerns. Most often what we can do to truly help is give a listening, compassionate ear and mourn with them. Jesus clearly knew that everything would work out with Lazarus. He could have told Mary and Martha that they did not need to be sad because Lazarus would live again. But, He is loving and compassionate and wants to give us comfort and assurance. He feels sad when we are sad, even though everything is under control in the eternal scheme of things. In the same way, we should all strive to be a little more patient and compassionate with those around us. Criticism never helps anyone. When we love others and help to carry their burdens, that is when true power comes. So many barriers can be broken down through a simple act of listening and love.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Obedience to the Lord

 This week we learned more about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how it is through Jesus Christ -- and nobody or nothing else -- that we are ultimately saved. This caused me to reflect on how wonderful it is that Christ knowingly chose to sacrifice himself for our sake. This scripture stuck out to me as I read in the Book of John this week:
17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
Jesus Christ was not forced to do what He did for us. He was not tricked or deceived. He knew the entire plan outlined from beginning to end. Jesus knew that it would be difficult and painful. But, He also understood the great eternal consequences of His sacrifice for all of Creation. He knew that it was a commandment from the Father to perform the Atonement for our sins, but the Father still let Him choose if He would do it or not. Nobody truly had the power to kill Christ, but He was able to give up His own life for our cause. He chose to come to Earth and experience a mortal life, though He already lived with God before. He chose to give up his life and experience all human sin, anguish, pain, weakness, doubt, and every other dark experience of mortal life. Because of this choice, Jesus knows us all individually and we are indeed His "sheep", if we will choose to follow Him. 
Jesus Christ also chose to rise and live again and to be resurrected. Because of Him, we will one day do the same. Through His obedience to the Father in completing the Atonement, our salvation is possible. We now must be tested to see if we can use our agency (ability to choose) properly too. We are given commandments of the Father that require sacrifice, persistence, and determination to keep. Our human nature makes this difficult for us and inevitable that we will slip up at times. This is alright! As long as we are firmly anchored in Jesus Christ and follow His example, we can be saved from our fallen state. We must follow His example of obedience to the Father's will. Though it may not always make total sense in the moment, I know that the Lord's will is always far better than our own. I have felt and seen this in my own life that as I choose to do what God would have me do, I am blessed. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lift Up Those Who Have Fallen

In John 8:1-11, we read the story of the woman caught in adultery, or having sexual relations outside of her marriage. It is important to note that adultery is one of the "thou shalt not's" commanded against in the Ten Commandments and had very severe punishments according to the Law of Moses. Therefore the scribes and Pharisees, who were very strict in following the law, brought this woman before Christ to be condemned. They brought her before Christ while He was teaching in the temple, which was a very public place. These men were trying to publicly shame the adulteress for her sins as well as potentially use her as a means to make Jesus look bad. If He forgave her, they could accuse Him of disobeying the law. But if Jesus condemned her, that would go against all that He had previously taught about love, forgiveness and repentance. However, Christ does something they were not expecting. He tells them, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone" (John 8:7). 
All of them left, with none to accuse her. In His most merciful way, Christ explains "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" (v. 11). 

This story has great applications for us today. Every single person we meet, including ourselves, commits sin in one way or another. None of us are perfect yet. Yes, you may have issues with temptations that do not bother me, and vice versa. But, this does not make any one person better than the other. We all struggle and we all feel the despair of sin at times. It is our responsibility not to judge one another, but to lift up and love those around us. A particular application of this that all of us can apply has to do with those who struggle with addiction. There are addictions of every kind running rampant in the world today, and many people struggle with them every day. Some addictions are more visible than others, but all of them hurt. They cause pain in the lives of the addict and their loved ones. It can be hard to accept it when someone we love struggles with an addiction or temptation. But, through the atoning power of Jesus Christ, I KNOW that they can be healed and move forward. A big factor in this healing process is helping them to feel the pure love of Christ, which is charity. We can be instruments in the hands of the Lord to love, support, encourage, and accept those we love for where they are now and see the infinite potential that they have. Judgement only opens wounds; it is pure love that heals them.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Answers to our Prayers

In Matthew 15, we hear the story of the Canaanite woman pleading for Christ to heal her daughter. This was pretty significant for the time because she was not a Jew by birth or religion, but instead a Gentile. Christ's ministry on Earth was specifically to the Jews, as He explains in Matthew 15:24, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel [the Jews]." At first, Christ completely ignores the woman's pleading for help and does not answer her at all. However, this silence does not deter her, as she then goes to the disciples and asks them to get her help. They refuse her and Christ tells her He was not sent to help Gentiles. But, she is evermore persistent and shows her faith in Christ as she asks for just the smallest bit of help that He could possibly give. Finally, Christ sees her faith and heals her daughter.

This story is a great metaphor for the ways in which we can receive answers to our prayers. The woman first was faced with silence. Often times, we may feel that our prayers are going unanswered because we have not received a specific "yes" or "no". This seems to happen especially when we are praying for help to make a decision. We may feel lost, confused, or like God isn't there or isn't listening. But, I know that this is just a chance for us to prove our faith, like the Canaanite woman. When we receive silence as our answer, we have to move forward according to our own choices and feelings and trust Him to catch us if we fall. We each are blessed with the power to choose, called agency, and the point of our life on Earth is to learn how to use this power correctly. So it only makes sense that God would not "spoon feed" us the answer to every single decision we have before us. If all you're getting is silence to a question, take heart! It shows that the Lord trusts you to decide for yourself and that He will guide you if you go the wrong way.

Many times, we are given a "no, not yet" or even a flat-out "no" for our answers. This can be disheartening when you really wanted to hear a "yes". But again, it is an opportunity to exercise your faith and trust that the Lord just has something better in store for you! Finally, we can also receive "yes" answers. Even these require us to stretch our faith by going outside of our comfort zone to act on the answer we receive. All in all, the purpose of God's responses to our prayers are to help us to trust Him and to exercise our faith in some way. We never know exactly what is coming our way, but as we seek the Lord's help and trust in our ability to follow it, we will never be steered wrong.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"The Tree Is Known By His Fruit"

Recently in my New Testament class we have been talking a lot about the miracles that Christ performed during His earthly ministry and what we can learn from them. This week, we spoke about how He would perform miracles even on the Sabbath, or holy, day. He was often criticized by the Pharisees for doing this, since they thought He was doing some form of work on the Sabbath day. They even went so far as to accuse Christ of healing people and casting out devils by the power of the devil himself. Christ explains, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? (Matthew 12:25-26). In other words, Satan cannot be a cause for goodness because it would contradict his very purpose and mission. He would fail to be the devil and would instead be following God if He were to encourage or give power to good actions. Therefore, Christ must have been working through the power of God.

This principle is applicable to our daily choices as well. As Christ said, "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit" (Matthew 12:33). We are constantly bombarded with opposing voices, influences, and decisions in this world. Sometimes it is hard to tell which one we should choose. It is important to consider the consequences and results of each option we face. Will it bring goodness to us? Will it help other people, or take away from their happiness? Does it make us grow and improve, stagnate, or fall backwards in our progression? The merit of an action is measured by its fruits. In the same way, we can decide what kinds of people are good influences in our lives based on the fruits that they bear. This does not mean that we use these "fruits" as a sign and remain paralyzed in our action until we receive such a sign. But, as we begin to see the results that may come from a choice, we must move forward and trust in the Lord to guide our path.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Stay in the boat!

  1. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
  1. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
  2. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
  3. And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
  4. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?
  5. And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

This is a story found in Mark 4 in the Bible that teaches us a lot about faith and trusting in the Lord. If we place ourselves in the position of the apostles, we can understand how this message applies in our own lives. Often, we experience challenges or struggles in life that overwhelm us or go beyond what we feel like we can manage. These “storms” beat on us until we may feel like we are sinking in the tumultuous “waves”. I can imagine how frightening it must have been for the disciples – their ship was filled completely with water and their Lord and Savior was asleep. Here they were, presumably, in a state of panic, confusion and fear. They could see the problem but had no idea how to get themselves out of it. The one person they relied on did not seem to be aware of or care about their struggle. However, we see that the Savior was aware of them the whole time. He knew that everything would be alright. The ship wouldn't sink, the storms would eventually calm, and they'd make it through. But, He still calmed the sea, stopped the storm, and showed the disciples His power.

We are not capable of understanding all the reasons for our struggles and challenges. In the middle of them, we may not recognize a way out. We may not see “the light at the end of the tunnel”. Sometimes we may even begin to question God, wondering where He is during these hard times and why He doesn't just make it all go away and be calm again. Christ's two penetrating questions can help us to reconsider our trust in the Lord: “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” Although it can be easy to give in to fears and doubts, this is not the Lord's way. He is not setting us up to fail, but instead to learn and to grow from our experiences. He knows the end from the beginning and that it will all work out. I know that as we put our trust in God's will and timing, everything will turn out alright. Even when the winds beat down on you, and the rains and storms seem unending, there is always hope in the light of God's love. The disciples had no reason to fear – Heavenly Father would not let a ship with Christ on it sink. Therefore, as long as we stick with Him, we won't either! The key to “staying afloat” during our struggles is quite simple – just stay in the boat!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

"Be ye therefore perfect"

In His teachings to the people during the Sermon on the Mount, Christ admonishes the people to "be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). What a daunting task! How are we as human beings supposed to be perfect? Even more, how could we possibly hope to attain the level of perfection of our Father in Heaven? A closer look at the translation of this verse gives some insight and comfort. The word translated to "perfect" in the English translation of the Bible is actually τέλειος (téleios) in the Greek, which means "complete" ( So, Christ is not telling us that He expects us never to sin, make a mistake, or mess up. What He is saying is that we must be whole and complete in our growth and progression. In this section, Christ also gives us the "beatitudes," which can be thought of as a list of spiritual steps to repentance. We must be humble and teachable, recognize our wrongs and feel sorrow for them, desire to become better, forgive ourselves and others, teach righteousness to other people, and be willing to stand up for what is right no matter what persecution may follow. There are also ordinances (spiritual acts that we do to symbolize a promise with God) that we must receive in order to become whole. Christ showed us the example as He was baptized and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. He was free of sin and did not need to be cleansed, like we are when we are baptized. So, there must be some other reason that baptism is a requirement besides just the cleansing effect it has. The ordinances of the gospel signify promises and commitments we make with God and they allow us to be fully prepared to meet Him someday. This gives me a lot of comfort to know. I am certainly not perfect in the sense of never doing anything wrong. But, that is not what the Lord asks of us anyways. He knows that we make mistakes. He accepts that we have weaknesses and wants to help us improve. What He wants from us is commitment and earnest effort to change. By following His commandments and laws and receiving the proper ordinances of the gospel, we will be able to achieve completeness like God asks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Look up!

This week, we learned a lot about the beginning of Christ's life and His preparation for His mortal ministry. My instructor shared an interpretation of part of Luke 2 that really clicked with me and I would like to share it with you all. In Luke 2:41-52, we read about when Christ and His family traveled to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover when he was 12 years old. After spending their time there, the family packs up and leaves. Jesus stays behind, unbeknownst to Joseph and Mary. After a day of traveling, they finally realize that Jesus is not present in the group. They first go to their other family members who are with them to see if anyone knows where to find Jesus. Nobody does. Then, they go back to Jerusalem and seek for Him in the city. After three unsuccessful days looking in the streets of Jerusalem, they find Him in the temple of God. When Joseph and Mary ask why He has done this, Jesus responds, "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49).

Joseph and Mary were seeking for Jesus, just as all of us do. Sure, not everyone may claim a belief in Jesus Christ, but we all seek for what He brought to the world. We all seek for peace, love, happiness, acceptance, and a better life. Whether we know it or not, we need what He can bring to our lives. We need to be cleansed, to be forgiven, to be strengthened, and to be saved. But Joseph and Mary didn't find Christ in their search around the city, in the worldly places created by man. They ultimately found Him in the temple, the house of God. This is where we too will find Christ. As we seek out the good things in life -- church, scripture reading, selfless service, love, eternal families -- this is where we find Christ. And as we seek these things, we gradually improve. Just as Christ did, we too will increase "in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (v. 52). When we put sacred things at the center of our lives, we become smarter, stronger, and more spiritual. We have better relationships with others, including our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that it is easy to get distracted in this world. But, I testify that as we seek after the good things of God, we will find peace and happiness.

Friday, September 4, 2015

"Remember Who You Are"

So, I haven't posted too much on the blog recently...but I've decided to start it up again! I am taking a New Testament class at BYU and will be posting my thoughts about our reading weekly here! :)

There is one question that all of us has pondered or will eventually confront at some point in our lives. It is the question of our identity, or in other words, "Who am I?" We yearn to know our purpose, our potential, and how to direct our lives. In the scriptures, these questions are answered in powerful ways. In the LDS version of the scriptures, in Moses chapter 1, we read of Moses' interactions with God and with Satan. We learn that God has a body that is glorified and perfected; we learn that He is infinite and almighty (v. 2-3). He tells Moses, "...I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease. / Wherefore, no man can behold all my works..." (v. 4-5). The expanse of God's creations are so vast that we are not capable of seeing or comprehending them all. Yet, He is personally and perfectly aware of each and every one of us. He repeatedly refers to Moses as "my son" and tells him "...this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (v. 39). I find it incredible that the almighty, infinitely powerful and glorious God of the universe finds His purpose in helping us -- the weak, imperfect, small creatures He created -- to become better and ultimately to receive eternal life in His presence. As children of God, we have a limitless potential to become like Him. Satan, however, is stuck. Because of the decisions he has made, he cannot progress or reach any higher potential. Therefore, he will do everything in his power to lead us astray and tempt us to choose the same fate. He lies to us about our worth, striving to drag our self-esteem down and demotivate us from reaching our noble dreams and goals. He flashes doubts and fears past us and makes us question our potential, our capabilities, and even our own identity. He wants us to feel like we cannot and will not grow and improve, when in all reality we are infinitely capable of this with God's help. I know that each of us has an individual mission here on this Earth. God has sent us here to learn, grow, make mistakes and improve. He wants us to feel His love and be motivated by it. No matter where we're at or where we've been, it is never too late to get better.