In our lives things often come up that we've never faced before, which sometimes causes us a great deal of concern. Let us follow Alma’s example as an inspiration when we seek answers to our problems (see verses 13 – 14). Wanting very much to act properly, Alma went in fervent prayer to Him who understands all things. Alma poured out his whole soul to God and received the answer to his question. In verse 33 we read that he wrote the answer down, and followed the instructions. (Have you ever kept a prayer journal?) Where there had been dissensions, there grew peace. And although the Lord may not answer our prayer as directly as he did Alma’s, His answers will lead us and ours to peace. He is, after all, the Prince of Peace.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
There’s a great phrase in verse 10. Upon hearing the account of the Lord’s miraculous deliverance of Alma’s people from bondage, the people of king Mosiah were astonished, and they thought of “the immediate goodness of God.” Have you ever seen or had anything happen to cause you to think of the “immediate goodness of God?”
Friday, August 29, 2014
As Alma’s people continued in bondage, the priests of Noah were set up as their task masters. These people could understand the language of Alma’s people where the Lamanites could not. Finding them praying, Amulon, the head of those priests, made death the penalty for being found praying. They begin praying silently, and as a result, the Lord strengthened Alma’s people so the burdens felt lighter. They “did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (v. 15). How did the people of Alma cope under such harsh conditions? We would do well to follow their example:
- They prayed without giving up.
- Instead of their burden changing, the Lord strengthened their ability to cope with it.
- They didn't complain, but submitted cheerfully.
In short, they chose to be happy despite their problems. Prayer and attitude helped them to cope. That’s the key: submit cheerfully and patiently to the will of the Lord – period. Make the best of it. When we’re cheerful, we’re in a much better frame of mind to make decisions that can improve, or as in these people's case, escape our situation. And when we’re faithful, the Lord is ready to help. We should follow His will for us.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Why does the Lord allow good people to be hurt sometimes? The people of Alma are a good example of this. Away from wicked King Noah, Alma had set up a church and his followers were righteous. Yet, in this goodness, they were tricked by evil men and placed into bondage. They were protected from death (see verses 28 -29) buy they suffered a terrible bondage at the hands of the Lamanites and the escaped priests of Noah, who had joined the Lamanites. Why was this allowed? I see a couple of reasons:
- The Lord doesn't interfere with the free agency (or freedom of choice) of anyone, not even the wicked. He gives us all many chances to choose good over wickedness. Those who choose wickedness eventually bring His harsh judgment upon themselves.
- It’s very easy to be righteous when everything is going well. Verse 21 suggests that one way that the Lord tries the faith of His people is by allowing even good people to be hurt sometimes.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Those who lead seem to feel that it is their responsibility to resolve all problems of a broad nature, but in this chapter, Ammon and King Limhi show us a better way. The problem: how to deliver King Limhi’s people out of bondage. How did they arrive at the solution? In the first verse we read that they caused “that all the people should gather themselves together” so that “they might hear the voice of the people concerning the matter.” After hearing the recommendations of the people, they chose the option of fleeing into the wilderness in one group. But how? Enter (again) Gideon. The humble language that Gideon uses as he recommends a way in verses 3 and 4 shows that he didn’t feel himself equal to the king. This was the solution King Limhi approved. This is a great example of leadership. Can we use this example to solve problems that affect everyone at our jobs, in our church assignments, in our marriages or in our families? As leaders, let’s listen. And as followers, let’s show the proper respect as we support our leaders.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Finding themselves in bondage to the Lamanites as Abinadi had predicted in some detail (see Mosiah 11:23 – 25), Limhi’s people sought deliverance. First they tried to defeat the Lamanites in battle, but being on the offensive, they were defeated time and time again. In their weakened state, matters became worse and worse for them. At length, they humbled themselves to the depths of humility, and the Lord softened the hearts of the Lamanites, providing enough relief to allow them to prosper in their bondage. Once they began to prosper, they began to meet the test which all prosperous peoples must meet to truly succeed.
- They began to care for the widows and for the fatherless.
- They entered into a covenant, subjects and king, to serve God and keep His commandments
- They desired baptism.
All the required righteousness now being in place, the time was right for the Lord to bless them in their greatest desire: freedom.
Monday, August 25, 2014
As impressive as it is that the king of the Lamanites reacted so swiftly to the news that 24 Lamanite young women went missing, his haste prevented him from going after the right culprit and cost the lives of many of his warriors. That he acted appropriately was never in dispute (see verse 16). The problem was a lack of diplomacy. Fortunately, the king of the Nephites was more diplomatic in return. “We have the offender in custody.” “Let us kill him,” came the cry of Limhi’s people. But Limhi wasn’t going to do that without answers first. Thanks to Limhi’s patience, the misunderstanding was clarified, and peace was restored. How diplomatic are we in a dispute? Are we tenacious enough to make sure there’s not a simple misunderstanding before we react “in our anger?” (See verse 15.) We should strive to be diplomatic and compassionate (v. 26) with each other. For unless we can learn to pacify ourselves toward each other, we might perish (as Gideon feared in verse 20).
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Enter a new interesting individual, Gideon, who “drew his sword, and swore in his wrath that he would slay…[K]ing [Noah].” As Gideon sought to fulfil that oath, we find King Noah fleeing before him to the top of the big tower in town. At the top, King Noah noticed the Lamanites were unexpectedly en route to attack the city. The King plead with Gideon to spare his life because of it, for “they will destroy my people” (v. 7). We are led to believe that Gideon was very aware that the King didn’t care at all about his people, but only about his own skin, as his later actions will prove. “Nevertheless,” we read in verse 8, “Gideon did spare his life.”
Gideon shows great presence of mind and humility in this. Gideon had sworn to kill this wicked king, and felt a moral obligation to keep his word. Yet, weighing the good of the people against his own good, he postponed his desire and spared the king’s life, acting for the good of the people. Think how different life would be if we all had this same presence of mind to put the needs of all of us above our own needs. It is a strengthening perspective that carries with it the power of unity.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Note the prayer Alma uttered just before baptizing his first convert in the waters of Mormon: “O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart.” What a marvelous acknowledgment! Alma knew the work upon which he was about to embark was life-changing. In this request he acknowledged that it is the Lord who changes lives. Alma wished to be worthy to perform these baptisms. He also wished to be in the right spirit for those who would be baptized. So he asked the Lord to give him the Spirit abundantly so that he might perform his duties “with holiness of heart.” Can you imagine how life would be if each task was performed with holiness of heart? The strength of the Lord would permeate all. Let us strive to have the Spirit of the Lord poured out upon us that we can perform our work with holiness of heart. Then it will be the Lord working, and our society will benefit.
Friday, August 22, 2014
A chapter of contrasts. Here we have Abinadi, who, being condemned to die, can save his own life by taking back the words he has spoken under inspiration. He knows the words he has spoken are true, and refuses to recall them. “I finish my message, and then it matters not whither I go, if it so be that I am saved,” he had said in Chapter 13 verse 9. Abinadi remained true to the truth he knew and died for it.
And we have King Noah, who, fearing the judgments of God, is about to release the innocent Abinadi until he is persuaded by his priests who appeal to the king’s pride. “He hath reviled the king,” they said in verse 12. We read that in this way King Noah was “stirred up in anger” against Abinadi. King Noah did not remain true to the truth he knew and ordered the death of Abinadi.
Two men: Abinadi, a man of integrity and King Noah, a man of pride. The one humble the other not. And ironically, they both die the same death. So….which do you think fared better upon meeting his maker? Let us remember this and remain true to the truth.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Abinadi’s superb speech began as the answer to a question posed by the priests of Noah: What do these words of Isaiah mean? (See Mosiah 12:20-24.) Referring to those who “publish” peace and to the Lord’s strength in redeeming his people, they sought to chastise Abinadi for preaching doom and gloom. Instead, the reference empowered Abinadi to teach them (and us) the truth about the Lord’s strength in redeeming His people. This chapter clearly sets forth the judgment of God and the fact that our hope only rests in Christ. Verse 5 is a very pointed statement to these priests: “…he that persists in his own carnal nature…is as though there were no redemption made…” We shall see that the priest named Alma took the message to heart. What effect will Abinadi’s speech have on us today?
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Note the unique things that Abinadi teaches in this chapter about the Savior when compared to previous Book of Mormon teachings about Him: He is the Father and the Son; he would gain victory over death and have the power to make intercession for the children of men; His atonement would make Him compassionate towards the children of men; He would ascend into heaven; those who have believed the prophets and looked forward to His day are His seed; those of the first resurrection and little children will have eternal life through Christ. Both Nephi and King Benjamin had taught powerfully about the Savior’s life and mission. Abinadi touches briefly on that, but focuses more on the impact the Atonement would have on the world. Incredible speech!
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Abinadi then quotes Nephi’s favorite prophet, Isaiah by reading the most sacred of all holy texts, in my opinion, Isaiah chapter 53. When viewed in the context of Abinadi’s testimony of the Savior, these words of Isaiah take on a clearer meaning. It shows how the atonement connected us to the Savior. Note these phrases: “he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; he was wounded for our transgressions he was bruised for our iniquities; with his stripes we are healed; the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all; for the transgressions of my people was he stricken.” Then comes the connecting verse: “when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin he shall see his seed” (v. 10). I believe that His seed are those who believe in Him. This suggests to me that while Christ was suffering the atonement, He was allowed to see some, if not all, of the people it would benefit. If so, that would certainly have helped Him through that ordeal, don’t you think?
Monday, August 18, 2014
In the preceding chapter, the priests of Noah indicated that they taught the people the law of Moses, for that is the way salvation comes (this despite the teaching of Nephi 100 years earlier to their ancestors that salvation is only in Christ – see 2 Nephi 25:24 – 27). In this chapter, after Abinadi reads the Ten Commandments to his audience, he begins to testify of Christ. In verse 28 he teaches that salvation does not come by the law alone. And “were it not for the atonement,” he testified, the people “must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses.” In verse 32 he explains “there could not any man be saved except it were through the redemption of God.” Abinadi then points out that not only did Moses prophesy of the coming of the Lord, but all the prophets have “spoken more or less concerning these things” (v. 33). He then describes Christ’s mission 148 years before Jesus was born: “God himself should come down… and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth…he should bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, and…he himself should be oppressed and afflicted” (v. 34 – 35). As the Savior is the main focus of Abinadi’s teachings, so He should be the main focus of our study and teaching.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Discord is often accompanied by a complaint that one party doesn't understand the other. And we do try to understand each other, but do we do it wisely? We struggle to figure out in our minds the other person’s point of view, their motive and reasoning, so that we can reach some accord. And as difficult as that is, it isn't enough for harmony. How else than through the mind can we understand each other? Abinadi told the priests of Noah, “Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore ye have not been wise.” Perhaps as soon as contention is recognized, it is wise to step back, put the mind on hold and allow the heart to understand first. When the heart understands what’s really important, the mind can more easily follow, and so can peace.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
When we meet with a little success, we’re in danger of forgetting to whom we owe our allegiance. When he left the Nephites, Zeniff brought sacred records with him. Zeniff led his people in righteousness for 40 years before he died. His son Noah ascended the throne and completely changed the infrastructure his father had set up. Noah overthrew the priests his father had set up and established new ones to speak lying and vain words to the people. Living off the high taxes he imposed upon the people, the important things to these leaders were riches, riotous living, wives and concubines, harlots and wine. The general population followed their leaders. When they conquered an army of the Lamanites, they boasted in their own strength.
Enter the prophet Abinidi with a simple warning: The Lord will visit you in his anger, you will go into bondage, and only the Lord will be able to deliver you from it. This can still be avoided if you seriously repent and cry mightily to the Lord. Noah’s response: Who…is the Lord, that shall bring upon my people such affliction? (see v. 27) It isn't possible that Noah had totally forgotten the Lord’s name in the ten years he’d been king. But he and his people had disintegrated in righteousness to the point that they had forgotten the Lord’s power. Let us heed this teaching and avoid the same fate. Let us not set aside the scriptures that we have. Let us remember the Lord’s power and his mercy.
Friday, August 15, 2014
How many rifts between people come as a result of simply looking at the same thing from different points of view?
- From the Nephite perspective, Lehi’s family left Jerusalem to save Lehi’s life from the wicked people in Jerusalem. Because he followed the Lord, Nephi was given the lead of his family in the wilderness, on the sea and in the Promised Land. When it became clear that the two peoples couldn't live together without bloodshed, Nephi departed with his followers, taking with them not only the record he was keeping, but the brass plates, as well.
- From the Lamanite point of view, Lehi’s family left Jerusalem because Lehi was wicked. Nephi took charge in the wilderness, on the sea and in the Promised Land without the right to do so, being the youngest brother. When the Nephites separated from the Lamanites, Nephi robbed them of the brass plates.
Only combined faith in the Lord could (and eventually did) bring these two peoples together in harmony. Combined faith in the Lord can similarly heal all the rifts in our lives, if we allow it to.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
After twelve years of living peacefully among the Lamanites, the people of Zeniff were attacked with little warning by a huge Lamanite army. This overwhelming attack strategically should have easily annihilated the people of Zeniff, but they introduced an element into their defense that can always overcome such odds. In verse 17 we learn that the people of Zeniff thought upon “the deliverance of our fathers.” That remembrance gave them hope to cry “mightily to the Lord” to deliver them, as well. And deliver them He did. There’s a famous challenge in the Book of Mormon in Moroni 10:3 – 5, which includes a challenge to “remember” the mercy of the Lord throughout the history of mankind. Reviewing the Lord’s merciful deliverance of humble sinners throughout the ages is a true faith builder, and applicable to all situations. Not the least Example of which is the Deliverance of all people in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Cross and at the Empty Tomb.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
After Ammon taught the people of King Limhi the last words King Benjamin had taught, Limhi shared with Ammon the records his people had kept. Once all available knowledge had been shared, King Limhi began to express a great desire to know the interpretation of 24 gold plates his people had found. How great is our desire to know more about the Savior? Note King Limhi’s example of desire. See in verses 19 – 21 his reaction to learning the 24 plates could be translated.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Have you ever felt that your weaknesses were a sort of bondage that were holding you back? How do you overcome weakness and get rid of this sort of bondage? Verse 33 recommends a good start: “Turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.”
Monday, August 11, 2014
What kept contention away from King Benjamin’s people after he died and his son, Mosiah, became king? And can we do the same to keep contention from our lives? Verses 6 and 7 describe it.
- Mosiah walked in the ways of the Lord – he first had to know those ways.
- He observed the Lord’s judgments and statutes – he used sacred laws and punishments as a basis for secular laws and punishments.
- Mosiah kept the Lord’s commandments “in all things whatsoever he commanded him” – the greater degree with which we are able to do this, the greater the peace in our lives.
- He pulled his weight “that he might not become burdensome” – he worked his own support rather than tax the people to pay for his needs.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
How do we change ourselves? If we try to change something about our character without help, it can be done, but it requires enormous effort. If we get a friend or loved one to support us in the effort, it becomes easier. But the easiest and most effective way to change something about our character is to ask the Lord’s help, as the Nephites did upon hearing King Benjamin’s speech. Their result? “…the Spirit…has wrought a mighty change…in our hearts that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (v. 2). It’s a matter of asking with faith, then continuing to ask in faith to change our “disposition” towards any kind of evil.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
In the incredible speech that King Benjamin gave his people shortly before his death he taught us not only how to obtain a remission of our sins, but also how to retain a remission of our sins. In verses 9 and 10, King Benjamin teaches us that through faith we receive a remission of our sins. In the New Testament, how many times did Jesus say “thy faith hath made thee whole” or “thy faith hath saved thee?” He said it quite often during His mortal ministry. To retain a remission of sins, as King Benjamin taught us, requires humility. See verses 11, 12 and 26. Finally, in verses 13 – 16 he teaches us how redeemed people treat each other. I love how practical the Book of Mormon is!
Friday, August 8, 2014
Because of their righteousness, the Lord judged King Benjamin and his people worthy of further information about the Savior, so that they might be filled with joy. And not only joy, but the information was designed to allow the Nephites to “receive a remission of their sins” (v. 13). Verses 5 – 10 describe the Savior in more detail than Nephi used. This information brought joy to the Nephites. Does it bring joy to you?
Thursday, August 7, 2014
The Book of Mormon often teaches that if we follow the Lord’s commandments, we’ll prosper. This chapter lists several ways to prosper:
- Pull your own weight – King Benjamin worked with his own hands rather than have his people support him.
- Serve one another – see verse 17.
- Thank God and recognize your dependence on Him – see verses 19 – 26.
- Keep the commandments – see verse 22.
- Watch carefully to avoid contentions, which are inspired by the evil spirit – see verse 32.
- Learn from the mistakes, and the successes, of others – see verses 40 – 41.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
I could be wrong, but it appears to me that the brass plates might have been written in Egyptian instead of in Hebrew. Nephi was taught to read Egyptian and so was his brother, Jacob, who taught it to his son, Enos. Everyone who received the plates must have been taught to read at least some form of Egyptian. King Benjamin had been taught “all the language of his fathers” which obviously included some form of Egyptian. He not only taught it to his son, Mosiah, to whom he would eventually deliver the plates, but also to two other sons. Knowledge of Egyptian must have been part of what constituted a learned person in their culture. Those who could read it could read, not only the brass plates the Nephites brought with them, but also the record the Nephites were keeping. As knowledge is power, how grateful we should be that we live in a time when the Holy Scriptures are available commonly and in so many languages!
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
If you’re having trouble establishing or maintaining peace in your life, you’re not alone. It’s not an easy thing to do, as we learn in this chapter. Once the Lamanites were removed from the vicinity of Zarahemla, the battle for peace was only half over. The threat that remained was the stiffneckedness, or stubbornness, of the people. Overcoming that and establishing peace required labor “with all the might of [the] body and the faculty of [the] whole soul” on behalf of King Benjamin and the many prophets serving at that time among the people. Stubbornness can severely diminish peace. We would do well to remember that.
Monday, August 4, 2014
In their haste to leave Jerusalem 300 years earlier, the people of Zarahemla, whom we know as the Mulekites, had brought no written records with them. And without written revelation or record, everything was passed down among them in oral tradition. As a result, their language had become corrupted (that is, the Hebrew that the Mulekites spoke was so far removed from the Hebrew that the Nephites spoke that the two groups could not understand each other). The Mulekites’ belief in God had vanished in the lack of written revelations. The people of Zarahemla rejoiced to see the brass plates (the record the Nephites brought from Jerusalem – most of the Old Testament), even though they couldn't read them. And learning the revelations written there improved their lives. Do we read the scriptures we have access to? We should, for learning the revelations available to us can improve our lives.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Even though the Lamanites were more numerous than the Nephites (v. 6) and more blood thirsty, they “did not prosper against” the Nephites (v. 9). What was the Nephites’ secret? Unlike the Lamanites, the Nephites observed the commandments they had received in the Law of Moses. Their secular laws were very strict, and their leaders were “mighty men in the faith of the Lord” (v. 7), and they used their prosperity and their industry to, among other things, establish a strong military defense. Even today, a society living like that would be invincible, for it would have the Lord’s strength. One person cannot influence an entire society to become like that of the Nephites. But one person (or one couple, or one family) can create that kind of “society” within his/their/its own sphere. We can observe the commandments we’ve been given. We can strictly obey our secular laws. We can follow those who are mighty in the faith of the Lord. And we can use our means to prepare ourselves spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally to be ready for the ills and adversity that can befall us. And we can prepare our homes against possible disasters. The Nephites didn’t reach, nor did they maintain, this state of preparation easily. Their prophets had to stay on them constantly. For us it requires self-discipline and practice, but we can achieve it with the Lord’s help it if we will.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
We associate Enos with one incredible prayer he had while hunting beasts in the forest one day. Enos had been struggling as he led the Nephites and when we read this short chapter we find its author to be a man of faith. Now, alone in nature, this wonderful experience where Enos received remission of his sins began upon his reflection on words which Jacob, his father, had “often” spoken concerning eternal life and the joy of the saints. We don’t always get to quickly see the effect our influence has on others. Jacob’s influence in this instance didn’t happen until after he had died. Let us make sure our influences on others are good influences.
Friday, August 1, 2014
When the learned and sophisticated Sherem, who was “deceived by the power of the devil” preached against Jacob’s teachings that we should believe in Christ instead of relying solely upon the Law of Moses, he met with some success. With that success Sherem sought out Jacob, the Nephite spiritual leader, whose past experiences made it impossible for him to be shaken in his testimony of the Savior. How did Jacob respond to Sherem’s sophisticated arguments? He didn’t really. The Lord responded through Jacob (see verse 8). Most of us don’t have the spiritual background that Jacob had, but the Lord doesn’t require great spiritual leaders to be the instruments through whom he works (think about young Samuel or Joseph Smith, Jr., for examples). All the Lord needs is an open conduit through which to work. How do we become such a conduit? It requires prayer, fasting, searching the scriptures (see verse 23) and serving other people. With that ongoing preparation, the Lord can inspire and thus work through us as we testify of Christ.