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Cincinnati Men's Gathering
Saturday
Jul142018

Starting Again

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”

Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

“A cry was heard in Ramah—   
weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted,
for they are dead.”          Matthew 2:13 

“In the case of the person who is being regenerated a new state begins when order is turned around. The change takes place when interior things are given dominion over exterior ones, and exterior things begin to serve interior ones - which involves both ideas in the understanding and desires in the will. People who are being regenerated are conscious of this change as an inner urge not to allow sensory delights and bodily or earthly pleasures to take control, and [instead] draw ideas present in the understanding over to their own side to support them. When this change takes place, the previous state has reached its final phase and the new one is entering its first....

“In the case of people who are being regenerated, such changes of state or order are attributable to spiritual causes.... When a person starts to have an affection for [goodness and righteousness] they are at the end of the previous state and at the beginning of the new one.

“Anyone who does not allow themselves to be regenerated loves things of the body for their own sake, not for any other reason; and they love the world too for its own sake. Their love does not reach any higher because at heart they refuse to accept anything higher or more interior. On the other hand, one who is being regenerated also loves things of the body, and worldly things likewise. Yet they love them for higher or more interior reasons. They love things of the body because they wish to have a healthy mind inside a healthy body. Also, they love their own mind and its healthiness for an even more interior reason, namely that they may have a wise discernment of what is good and an intelligent understanding of what is true.

“From this one may recognize the identity and the essential nature of the causes which bring about the changes of state and turnings around of order that take place with people who are being regenerated. One may also see that in the case of regenerate persons interior things have dominion over exterior ones, whereas in the case of unregenerate persons exterior ones have dominion over interior. The reasons or the ends that a person has in view are what [rule] everything [below them] in a person. The person's whole life is conditioned entirely by their end in view, for that end is what they love all the time.      Secrets of Heaven §5159

“The person's whole life is conditioned entirely by their end in view, for that end is what they love all the time.” Secrets of Heaven §5159

 

 

Joseph represents the love and wisdom we can apply to our end in view. His story describes a spiritual process we all can go through to start again with a new goal, a new end in view. Knowing these details about our spirit and our spiritual life allow us to anticipate that the Lord is doing in us and for us, and cooperate by changing our behavior and our thinking. This story didn't only happen 2000 years ago. It will happen again and again this coming year. So, let us prepare.

First, we have to know what Joseph, Mary and Jesus went through. It was awful! They fled Bethlehem in the middle of the night, if not panicked, still running for their lives. They did not know where they would end up. Joseph had a trade, but would he find work? They could move easily, but that was because they could carry everything they owned on a donkey and on their backs! Jesus was perhaps two months old, so there were many issues confronting a new, first time mother and her child. We are not told how many days – maybe hours – later the soldiers came to Bethlehem kill the babies, but Mary and Joseph knew they were fleeing for their lives. They were so rushed that they apparently got up in the middle of the night right when Joseph’s dream ended, packed everything, and left. I can imagine that the people that were renting them their room thought that Joseph was crazy!

We can guess that while they lived in Egypt Joseph found work and Mary and the baby were fine. They had enough food and shelter. And they remained true to their religion while believing the Messiah had come. Joseph was still ready to respond to the Lord’s messages, and understood the meaning of the next dream the Lord gave him, that he should return home. So, they packed up again, and made the long trek up the Mediterranean coast straight to Nazareth.

They must have experienced tremendous spiritual growth during these first few years so far from home. First, they had to accept their roles as the earthly father and mother of the Messiah. Then they had to adapt to the strange ways of the Egyptians. They had to give up the dream of a life in their ancestral home, Bethlehem, or in Jerusalem, where a higher standard of living was possible. Instead they had to return to Nazareth, a small and obscure town, not on any major road, known as the home of criminals hiding from the law.

The spiritual meaning of all this is that we all go through a variety of spiritual and natural circumstances in our lives, and every one is an education and an opportunity. The Lord wants us remember His love for us and so continue to see the end in view – that He wants us to come through any experience better off spiritually, and better able to love the Lord, our neighbor and ourselves.

Sometimes we feel like we must escape from some invisible evil. Negative thoughts and feelings can haunt us like the memory of a bad dream. We awaken to a vague sense of discomfort. We entertain the thought that maybe I am thinking or wanting in a way that endangers me and my loved ones; a materialistic, worldly of selfish thought or desire. We can be comforted by knowing from the Word that many times our ideas and feelings are the result of spirits affecting us. Yet, the Lord is always present in the spiritual love for goodness and truth that remains in us from earlier in our life. And so, we feel like we need to get away, that escape is necessary.

Sometimes we don’t know how things are going to work out, especially relationships. As we start to make new friends, we don’t really know where we are going. I have a sharp memory of the first time we moved to a new town and met some neighbors with kids the same age as ours. It took some time, but we came to realize that their values, attitudes and even respect for the Lord, was too different from ours. It was sad to stop associating with them. So, the very next time we started to make new friends, sadly, we remembered that. We didn’t know what was in store for us.

Sometimes we have brand new feelings or thoughts that feel good and true, and we sense they are precious, and tender, and we want to protect them No wonder there is fear or at least trepidation at the start of new experiences! We can feel insecure. AND, we can be in action that feels good because we are depending on the Lord to lead us. Even as newborns babies are fragile, but resilient, and have lots of strengths to respond to threats, we need to protect our new, precious states of good, while affirmatively going forward in life. Relying upon the Lord is key; doing what He says because we believe He will lead us to a happiness we cannot provide ourselves.

The Lord wants you to keep listening to Him, and do what He asks in His Word. Basically, this means paying attention to the Ten Commandments. He knows it is tough sometimes. He knows that sometimes you will feel like you are in a strange land. But the Lord has also given you abilities and the tools to use them: your own personality or character. A wise man put it this way: “It takes most of our life to find [our] True Self, to accept it, and to return it to the Manufacturer—now with our own signature attached.”

You are ready to put your love of goodness and your wisdom to use, even though it is a scary world sometimes. The Lord’s plan for your life ends wonderfully, even if it doesn’t look that way right now. Every time we listen to the Lord, He gives us a little bit more information or skill with which to live our lives.

Here is a suggestion: Take a moment to look around your home and see what you would take, and what you would leave behind, if you had to move suddenly and could only take what you could carry. And note that this is what is happening spiritually all the time: we are picking and choosing what to believe and love. It is difficult to break old habits, to leave something dear behind, but it might be necessary if you want to begin a new way of being. The Lord wants to give you desires and ideas that will lead you to heaven. Beware picking up and carrying away anything the Lord would object to. It will only slow you down. You’ll only have to get rid of it later, so might as well do it sooner.

Remember Joseph, Mary, and the infant Jesus, starting even in the night, choosing what is important to carry them on, and then being in action to follow the guidance of the Lord. The lesson? Start again! Take delight in your journey, knowing that the goal is your happiness in heaven, and that the Lord is doing everything necessary to see that you get there! Start again!