This Week’s Inspiration

Counting Our Blessings – Sunday, November 19th, 2017 (Thanksgiving Service)

 

There is a common phrase which says that we should all count our blessings. Throughout the Scriptures the Lord speaks of counting our blessings. Often His message includes a reminder that His blessings are without number; they are too numerous to be counted! This week we explore two teachings about what it means to spiritually count your blessings:

  1. On a spiritual level, counting something means exploring its true quality.
  2. On a spiritual level, counting things means disposing them into proper order.

Read or listen to this week’s sermon for a more detailed explanation of what is really meant by “Counting Our Blessings.”

Read a text of this week’s sermon: Counting Our Blessings – MLG Sermon

Listen to an audio of this week’s sermon: Counting Our Blessings – Audio Sermon

 

From Seedtime To Harvest: What Is Stunting My Spiritual Growth? – Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

 

There are many places in the Scriptures where the Lord compares the process of spiritual growth to the growing of a seed. Our faith, our love for the Lord and the spiritual life that stems from these start off small, but gradually grow over time. We may start off as tiny seeds, but the Lord is continually working to help us grow into, “Trees, planted by the rivers of water, that bring forth their fruit in their season.” (Psalm 1:3)

While the Lord is always encouraging our spiritual growth, there are inevitably going to be times when we don’t feel like we are progressing. Our faith, our love for the Lord and our spiritual life seem to be stagnant or even wilting away. This week we look at three things that may be preventing us from growing spiritually:

  1. A lack of water: When we are not making the effort to increase and enrich our minds with a better understanding of the Lord and His Word.
  2. A lack of warmth: When we are not using the things we know to better love the Lord and our neighbor. When love and wisdom are not married within us.
  3. A lack of acknowledgment that everything good and true comes from the Lord: We image that we are the source of what is good and true.

This week reflect on these three stumbling blocks to your spiritual growth and development. If you feel like your faith and your spiritual life in general are stagnant or even withering, which one of these three obstacles may be stunting your growth? Read or listen to this week’s sermon for a more detailed explanation of how these three things might be preventing you from growing spiritually. Don’t forget that you can also subscribe to our weekly podcast:

Read a text of this week’s sermon: From Seedtime To Harvest: What Is Stunting My Spiritual Growth – Text Sermon

Listen to an audio of this week’s sermon: From Seedtime To Harvest: What Is Stunting My Spiritual Growth? – Audio Sermon

 

Behold I Am Coming Quickly: Patience & Persistence – Sunday, October 15th, 2017

 

In the book of Revelation the Lord often speaks about coming to us quickly. One of the last verses in the entire Word says, “He who testifies these things says, Yes, I come quickly, amen. Yes, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20) The Heavenly Doctrines teach us a fascinating fact about the use of the word “quickly” in the Scriptures. The Lord uses the word “quickly” NOT as a way of telling us that something will happen fast or immediately; but to let us know that something will certainly happen. Saying that something will happen “quickly” is the Lord’s way of saying that it will definitely happen. It may not happen today or tomorrow or this year, but it WILL HAPPEN in His time.

Appreciating the fact that the Lord’s promises will certainly be accomplished, if not quickly, can drastically change the things we choose to focus on. It can also change our attitude and perspective on various challenges we face. Understanding the Lord’s use of the word “quickly” can help us develop two important spiritual virtues:

  1. Patience: Sometimes genuinely good outcomes don’t seem to happen fast enough for us or in the way that we hoped. That’s okay!
  2. Persistence: Being patient does not mean being lazy! The Lord wants us to continually strive after the good things He promises us in His Word.

This week reflect on the difference between the Lord telling you that He will do something quickly verses certainly. Why does this difference matter? Can this distinction help you to be both more patient AND more persistent? Read or listen to this week’s sermon for a more detailed explanation of why these two virtues are so important and how we can develop them. Don’t forget that you can also subscribe to our weekly podcast:

Read a text of this week’s sermon: Behold I Am Coming Quickly – Patience and Persistence – Text Sermon

Listen to an audio of this week’s sermon: Behold I Am Coming Quickly: Patience & Persistence – Audio Sermon

 

A Residue In The Land – Sunday, October 8th, 2017

Every moment of every day the Lord is working to store up states of goodness and truth within you. These states of goodness and truth are what the Heavenly Doctrines call remains or remnants.

The Lord provides us with these remains in a variety of different ways. These states of goodness and truth are stored up within us as we learn truths from the Lord through our parents, teachers and our own reading of the Lord’s Word. However, these states of goodness and truth are also being stored up within us in ways that we are not as consciously aware of.  For example, the Heavenly Doctrines teach us that when a new born baby is simply being held and touched by his or her parents, states of the Lord’s Divine love are being instilled within that infant.  When young children love their parents or innocently play with other children, states of love and charity – remains – are also being introduced secretly by the Lord.  Worship is another example of this.  When people choose to come and humbly worship the Lord, we are told that even thou they are not aware of it, they are being, “Gifted with states of holiness…which states of holiness are preserved in them by the Lord for the use of eternal life.” (Arcana Coelestia 1618)

Because our remains are made up of states of THE LORD’S goodness and truth, and no our own, remains are said to be the Lord’s very dwelling place with us. Elsewhere we are taught that it is through remains that the Lord causes us to be human, and instills a spiritual life within us.

This week we reflect on the fact that each of us has the choice to respond to these remains that the Lord has implanted within us in one of two ways:

  1. We can cover over these remains, destroying the Lord’s ability to lead us. This happens when we choose to live evil lives AND when we excuse our evil behaviors.
  2. We can allow the Lord to draw forth these remains, using them to moderate us and lead us to heaven. This happens when we choose not to excuse our evils, instead recognizing and shunning them.

This week reflect on the fact that from the moment you were born, the Lord has been working to implant within you states of His goodness and truth.  He does this in miraculous ways, many of which we are not even consciously aware of.  These remains, these states of goodness and truth are the Lord’s dwelling place with us. The Lord protects these heavenly states, preventing any harm from befalling them.  On one hand, it’s inspiring to just remember that the Lord is doing this, and that these remains always exist within us.  But this week we can also reflect on how we are choosing to respond to these remains.  If we’re being honest with ourselves, in what ways might we be covering over these remains.  What choices are we making, what behaviors are we practicing, what kinds of thoughts and selfish loves might we be permitting within our own hearts and minds that are acting like a hard skin, preventing the Lord’s states of goodness and truth from really affecting us and allowing us to move forward spiritually.  And also reflect on the incredible sense of hope we can have, knowing that the Lord is always working to draw forth these states of goodness and truth that He has been implanting within us.  With just a little bit of cooperation on our part, He can easily achieve this, proving us with a new freedom, a new sense of peace, and a new life as He draws us closer to Himself, forming us into the people He created us to be.

Read or listen to this week’s sermon for a more detailed explanation of this beautiful and important topic!

Read a text of this week’s sermon: A Residue In The Land – MLG Sermon

Listen to an audio of this week’s sermon: A Residue In The Land – Audio Sermon

 

A Heaven From The Human Race – Sunday, September 24th, 2017

The Heavenly Doctrines teach us a beautiful truth: “The Lord’s Divine providence has as its end a heaven from the human race.” (Divine Providence 27) Everything the Lord does and everything the Lord asks us to do, revolves around His desire to lead us to heaven where He can bless us eternally.

Simply remembering this general truth can have an extremely positive effect on a person’s daily life. It can provide us with an important perspective during more difficult times. It can help us continue to focus on the things that truly matter in life.

This profound adage is actually the title of the second chapter of the book, Divine Providence. This week you’re invited to reflect on the five subsections in this chapter:

  1. Heaven is conjunction with the Lord.
  2. Human beings have been so formed from creation that they can be conjoined more and more closely with the Lord.
  3. The more closely a person is conjoined with the Lord, the wiser he becomes.
  4. The more closely a person is conjoined with the Lord, the happier he becomes.
  5. The more closely a person is conjoined with the Lord, the more distinctly does he appear to himself to be his own
    person, and the more clearly does he recognize that he is the Lord’s.

This week reflect on the idea that heaven is conjunction with the Lord. Wisdom and eternal happiness come to those who choose to be conjoined to the Lord. So how do we choose this?  How does knowing this change our perspective on what heaven is and what our focus in life should be? Follow the links below to read or listen to this week’s sermon where we explore these five subsections in more detail. This chapter in the book, Divine Providence, is so wonderful that I would encourage you to also just read the entire chapter for yourself!  A link to a PDF of this chapter can also be found below.

Read a text of this week’s sermon: A Heaven From The Human Race – Text Sermon

Listen to an audio of this week’s sermon: A Heaven From The Human Race – Audio Sermon

Divine Providence Chapter 2

 

From Sister To Wife – Sunday, September 17th, 2017

This week we look at a story where Abram and Sarai are sojourning in Egypt during a severe famine. While in Egypt, Abram tells Sarai to tell the Egyptians that she is his sister. For a time this plan works and Abram’s wealth increases. However, eventually Jehovah plagues Pharaoh for acting inappropriately with another man’s wife. When Pharaoh realizes that Sarai is Abram’s wife, Pharaoh does the right thing. He says to Abram, “Now therefore, here is your wife. Take her and go your way.” (Genesis 12:19)

On a literal level, this story may not seem to have much meaning in our own lives. But when understood on a spiritual level, this story takes on a new beauty and relevance. Spiritually this story is about an important process we all go through on our journey towards heaven. Here are some of the basic correspondences involved with this story:

  • Sojourning In Egypt: Being instructed and collecting knowledge from the Lord’s Word.
  • Sarai as a Sister: Intellectual truth. Early on in our life we have a simple love of knowing.  We enjoy learning and coming to perceive that what we know is true.
  • Sarai as a Wife: Truth that comes from a celestial origin. Eventually we must take our love of knowing and conjoin or marry it to a genuine love of being useful.

This week reflect on what it means to move from seeing Sarai as a “sister” to seeing her as a “wife.” Are we taking our love of knowing or our affection for mere intellectual truth (Sarai as a sister) and marrying it to a heavenly love of being useful (Sarai as a wife). Read or listen to this week’s sermon for a more detailed explanation of this story and the important process in represents!

Read a text of this week’s sermon: From Sister To Wife – Text Sermon

Listen to an audio of this week’s sermon: From Sister To Wife – Audio Sermon

 

Building Your House On The Rock – Sunday, September 10th, 2017

 

The Lord’s Sermon on the Mount fills three chapters in the Gospel of Matthew. In it He teaches us many wonderful things about the life that leads to heaven. At the very end of this Sermon on the Mount the Lord provides us with a powerful reminder: If we hear and do His words we will be like a prudent man, who built his house upon the rock; however, if we hear His words but do NOT do them, we will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand.

This week we are reminded of our need to build a spiritual character for ourselves that is based on the Lord and His Word. To help us appreciate just how important this is, our focus is on the image of the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. “Sand” represents two things in this story:

  1. Sand represents ideas in the lower levels of our mind that do not come from the Lord’s Word. Instead these ideas come from input we receive through our physical senses. These ideas are filled with false concepts about what is good and true.
  2. Sand also represents ideas or truths that have not yet been conjoined with love and a life of charity. Truth without love is disjointed and is easily dispersed.

This week focus on choosing to build a life for yourself that is founded on the Lord and the teachings of His Word. Are you building your house on the sand or on the rock? If we make the choice to HEAR and DO the things that the Lord commands, the Lord will give us the courage and strength to overcome any temptations that we may face.

Read a text of this week’s sermon: Build-Your-House-Upon-The-Rock-MLG-Sermon

Listen to an audio of this week’s sermon: Building Your House On The Rock – Audio Sermon

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