In 2nd Nephi chapter 4, Nephi records the final council of his father Lehi just before he dies. The majority of this last council is to Lehi's oldest son Laman and Laman's family, pleading with them to obey, because if they would keep the Lord's commandments they would "prosper in the land".

Shortly after that Lehi dies, and Nephi - now the prophet - goes on to "write the things of [his] soul" on the plates. This section of chapter 4 (starting in verse 15) is worth many ponderous readings. I compare this to chapter 2 or "Nephi's Psalm" in terms of how Nephi pours out his soul to us, the readers the of Book of Mormon.

Nephi feels humble and weak in the eyes of his Heavenly Father, but also amazed by the blessings the Lord has sent him:

Vs 20 - "My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep."

Vs 21 - "He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh."

Vs 24 - "And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angles came down and ministered upon me."

I think it is interesting that he stresses prayer during the day - not just the normal morning & night prayers, but the constant ones that happen all day.

He then goes on to rejoice in further blessings and curse himself for his imperfections. He pleads with the Lord for redemption and deliverance. Then he closes this powerful chapter with a key to prosperity:

Vs. 34 - "O Lord, I have trusted in thee and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm."

And then what we get for following that counsel:

Vs. 35 - "Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss;"

Let us all strive to be righteous, and have confidence that the Lord will answer our prayers by giving liberally to us.

(By the way, the poster above can be found in print at the following website - CLICK HERE. Don't worry - I don't get anything for posting that link, I just want to give credit to the artist - Steve Nethercott)

I love Peter's "First Presidency Letters". They are so inspiring, and full of counsel as to how to recognize prosperity, then expand it. Here is the entire chapter - again, simple yet incredibly profound. Read it slowly and find the keys to abundance:

(remember: red=commandments, blue=blessings)

1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, (an increase in the knowledge of God means more peace and blessings!)

3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (knowledge of God & righteousness means resistance to the worldly and temporary)

5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

(remember in seminary how we were always asked to find and write down lists? the previous three verses are a great one. what sticks out the most to me:
1) this list moves from a starting point to the end goal that will lead us to a knowledge of God and all of the blessings previously listed, and
2) the beginners focus inward, the more advanced focus on others - in other words, to get closer to God and a knowledge of Him, we MUST have charity)

8 For nor if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: (can this actually be a goal?)

11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

(in other words, Peter knows he is dying soon - these are the things he wants the saints to remember most. here comes the pep-talk!)

16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. (in other words - remember how you felt when you were converted or when you first felt the Spirit, or heard His voice? remembering that leads to instant motivation)

19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

There IS a truth, and it leads us to grace, peace, and prosperity in this life and the life to come.

Endurance always seems to be a big issue when it comes to gaining prosperity. I am sure we all have experience starting new goals with optimism and enthusiasm only to fall short when things start to get a little hard to continue.

In my experience, I fall short because I lose the vision as to why I started.

The scriptures I read today made me think of this process. Paul wrote his letter to the Galatian saints in a time of much persecution, when I am sure it was probably not very popular to be a member of the church. Endurance was a struggle for everyone. To these saints Paul gives the following advice:

"For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." (Gal. 6:8)

Here we are taught that by following the Spirit our focus will lead us to eternal benefits. Paul goes on:

"And let us not be weary in well doing:"

Here is the struggle - the weariness that breaks down our endurance. But then Paul reminds them of what will keep them going:

"...for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (emphasis added)

At some point we all had to be converted, but to what? If we have an "eye single to the Glory of God" we have a goal - one that can fill us with sustaining hope. If we truly have a vision of what comes from doing good - staying with our families forever, joy with our friends and loved-ones forever, eternal progression, living with our Heavenly Father forever, and on and on... - then we have the strength we need to endure the suddenly little things we have to put up with.

What do we do to remind yourself every day of that goal? What do we see or hear every day in our homes and in our surroundings? Take an inventory of the first things you think about every day and the last things at night - are you focused on what you can potentially harvest from all of your work.

I have a statement that I write at the beginning of each year that I read/recite to myself every morning that keeps me focused. I also created a desktop wallpaper for my computer that combines elements that I want to incorporate into my life (if any of you want to know how to do this let me know, it's really easy.

Let me know if you have any other suggestions for keeping yourself focused on the goal.

(Sorry for being offline for a couple of weeks - moving from Tallahassee to LA has kept me busy. It's good to be back!)

I am constantly amazed by how the meaning of each of Jesus' parables seems to expand each time I reread them. This morning I read John 10:1-18 in which Christ teaches a parable about the difference between those who enter the "sheepfold" by "the door" or by "some other way". Those who enter "not by the door" are called "thieves and robbers".

When the disciples do not understand, Jesus teaches that He is the door, and those who teach another doctrine other than the truth are thieves and robbers. Each is trying to lead the sheep somewhere, but the destinations are very different.

The thieves enter to "steal", "kill", and "destroy". This makes me think of all of the ways we can be enticed away from the true path of happiness. It has become harder to recognize these thieves as they are often disguised with such good ideas as tolerance and acceptance. We take Christ out of everything just to make sure and not offend, not requiring "tolerance" of non-Christians, just of those who believe.

Another way we can be deceived is by many programs built to enhance and improve our lives partially based on truth, yet not centered on the gospel. These resources can be sincerely life-enhancing, but still not complete. They often teach us to focus on our own needs, not on the needs of others.

In a recent talk by Dieter Uchtdorf he address this issue (by the way, I LOVE this talk - for the entire thing CLICK HERE):

"President Lorenzo Snow expressed... 'When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated.'

"In today’s world of pop psychology, junk TV, and feel-good self-help manuals, this advice may seem counter-intuitive. We are sometimes told that the answer to our ills is to look inward, to indulge ourselves, to spend first and pay later, and to satisfy our own desires even at the expense of those around us. While there are times when it is prudent to look first to our own needs, in the long run it doesn’t lead to lasting happiness."

In these verses from John, Christ teaches "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (vs.10), "I am the good shepherd" (vs.14), and "there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (vs.16). By following the teachings of Jesus we are lead to truly lasting abundance and prosperity.