Sunday, December 20, 2015

Week Four of 30-Day Contemplation

Going through the Exercises this month, there have been a few times that I've thought the day's topical question seems, at first glance, to not apply much to me.  I've thought, "If these Exercises have been created for the general public, then of course there will be some that I don't struggle with."  However, as I study, I find that each day does hold something for me personally.  (I guess our individual mortal  experiences all fit into the same general categories.)  It may be that I remember past experiences that remind me that I did struggle with a certain vice earlier in life.  Or, more often, I find that I hadn't given the topic a fair consideration.  A first-glance look at things doesn't take me very deep, so I'm glad to be going deeper.

I had this experience recently with the topic of being a peacemaker, which is the question of Day 23 this week.  One of the value experiences I completed in October for the LDS Young Women's Personal Progress program (Divine Nature #7) is about becoming a peacemaker through study, habit, and prayer.  In Matthew 5:9 (sermon on the mount), Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Before I studied the topic deeply, I hadn't considered that bearing peace is part of our divine nature.  Heavenly Father is a being of peace.  Christ's atonement makes peace possible through repentance and forgiveness. The Comforter speaks peace to our souls.  Children of God know who they are and they carry peace in their hearts and share it with those who accept it.

As we celebrate Christmas this week, you might consider adding to your contemplation that day.  Elder Christofferson, a current Apostle of the Lord, encourages us this month "to sit for a few quiet moments and let the Savior's Spirit warm you and reassure you of the worthiness of your service, your offering, and your life."  (Go here to read his invitation in a short article, "Be at Peace".)  Please also enjoy this two-minute video, a reminder to be at peace with your Savior.  

Day Twenty-Two
Question:  How can I be sure the friendships with married people of the opposite sex are just that and not adulterous?
Read:  1 Timothy 5:11 and Proverbs 6:32
Ponder:  If I am married, am I working to make my relationship satisfying for both of us?  If I am single, am I pursuing relationships in a Christ-like manner?

Day Twenty-Three
Question:  How can I be a peacemaker?
Read:  Mark 5:34 and Colossians 3:15
Ponder:  Do I act as mediator with family members who are having difficulty getting along?  Do I go around at a low "boil" most of the time?  Do I hold grudges?

Day Twenty-Four
Question:  Am I truly changing the way I think and act as I strive to become more like Christ?
Read:  Ephesians 3:16-19 and Matthew 6:21
Ponder:  Am I experiencing a mighty change of heart?  Am I clearing my mind with meditation and listening for His voice?  Am I taking action when I do hear His voice?

Day Twenty-Five
Question:  If I believe in the Second Coming of Christ, what am I doing to prepare for the Lord's return?
Read:  Matthew 24:42, 46
Ponder:  What changes do I have to make in order to be ready for the Second Coming?  Am I willing to entertain the thought that His return may be in my lifetime?

Day Twenty-Six
Question:  How can I help from becoming discouraged when I fall short of my spiritual goals, such as controlling my temper or being judgmental or negative about those around me who are striving to live Christ-like lives?
Read:  Matthew 6: 1-15 and Titus 2:14
Ponder:  Do I believe that I can be perfected through Christ?  How can that happen?

Day Twenty-Seven
Question:  Can I imagine the tender look of love in His eyes when Christ says my name and reaches out to hold my hand, when I "knock" as He has commanded?
Read:  Luke 11:9 and Revelation 3:20
Ponder:  If He is just on the other side of the door, why don't I knock more often?  What is it to entertain the presence of the Lord?  How can I prepare myself for the real meeting with the resurrected Lord?

Day Twenty-Eight
Question:  As I read about His life in scriptures, how do those incidents resonate with me?
Read:  1 Corinthians 14:1 and John 13:15
Ponder:  What patterns of the Lord's life are those I would and could emulate as I walk in His footsteps right now in my life?  What characters do I identify with?  Why?

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