Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Alma 27

In this chapter, the unbelieving Lamanites attacked the Christian Lamanites with a vengeance.  This time, the believers’ refusal to fight had no positive effect and it became clear the slaughter would be complete unless something happened.  Ammon and his brethren tried to reason with the new king, Anti-Nephi-Lehi, to escape with the remaining believers to the protection of the Nephites.  Being killed by the Nephites didn’t sound any better than being killed by the Lamanites to the king.  But when Ammon suggested seeking the Lord’s opinion on the matter, Anti-Nephi-Lehi agreed that if the Lord recommended their fleeing, they would do so regardless of the outcome. No other kind of reasoning short of the Lord’s will would suffice for this king.  We would do well to follow Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s example to do the Lord’s will at all costs.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Alma 26

Note Ammon’s description of the Lord in verse 35: “he has all power,” it begins.  He could destroy us all, but He doesn't, Ammon and his brethren being a prime example.  Ammon’s description concludes “he is a merciful being, even unto salvation to those who will repent and believe on his name.”  I, for one, need His continued mercy.  How can the Lord be so merciful?  I think the rest of Ammon’s description helps to see why:  “he has…all wisdom, and all understanding, he comprehendeth all things.”  Could wisdom, understanding and comprehension help us to me merciful like He is?  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Alma 25

We just can’t see beforehand the multitude of sweet blessings that the Lord is prepared to give to His faithful children.  No one ever thought the blood-thirsty Lamanites would ever be converted to the truth.  It was against their very nature.  But convert they did - by the thousands.  Then who could have predicted the conversion of attacking Lamanites against these converts?  But convert some of them did, too.  And just when you think the Lord has finished with His many blessings, we get to Alma chapter 25, where the Lord continues to bless His faithful missionaries and continues to move His work forward.  And this is done through the Lamanite warriors’ own memories of what the missionaries had taught previously.  And it wasn't in the comfort of their own homes or their synagogues that they converted, but out in the wilderness on a military campaign, of all places.  You just never know!  The Lord always keeps His end of the bargain.  He kept it with the Sons of Mosiah and He’ll keep it now – with us.  It’s a sure, if sometimes slow-coming, thing.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Alma 24

If the adversary can’t compel us to commit sin, the next best thing he can do is to convince us to omit righteousness.  Either is a great tool he can use to riddle us with guilt over our shortcomings.  Guilt is a debilitator.  It holds us back from serving the Lord.  How do we rid ourselves of guilt?  Why not try it the way these Anti-Nephi-Lehies (converted Lamanites) did?  At the end of verse 10 they teach us “He hath taken away the guilt from our hearts through the merits of his Son.”  Once again, Jesus Christ is the answer.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Alma 23

Thousands of Lamanites (and one Amalekite) were converted to the Lord through the preaching and teaching of Ammon and his brethren.  And we are told that “as many as believed never did fall away” (see verses 5 -6).  One key to their ability to remain faithful is found in verse 7 where it says “they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion that they did not fight against God anymore.”  This is referring specifically to these warriors’ swords that they buried deep in the earth so as not to offend God further by shedding further blood.  What are the weapons of our rebellion that cause us to fight, not only against each other, but against God?  Are we willing to lay down our weapons to get closer to Him?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Alma 22

King Lamoni’s father appears to have understood things of the Spirit better than King Lamoni did.  When Ammon asked King Lamoni if he believed in God, King Lamoni didn't even understand the question (Alma 18:24-25).  But when Aaron asked King Lamoni’s father the same question, he was able to equate the concept of God with his subjects’ belief in a “Great Spirit.”  So, why wasn't King Lamoni able to make the same connection?  Was he not taught by his father?  Let us not rely on others to teach our families eternal truths.  Let us accept that responsibility ourselves.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Alma 21

While Ammon was meeting with great success with King Lamoni and his people, Aaron and his brethren were attempting to teach a people of the faith of the Nehors, which believed that there was no need for a Redeemer, for all people are saved (see Alma 1:3-4).  Everyone is to have the chance to hear the Lord’s truth according to His plan, even those who will never believe it.  The Lord always keeps his part of the bargain and after Aaron and company were released from prison in the land of Middoni, they continued their mission among the Lamanites.  Verses 16 and 17 hint of the wonderful blessings they subsequently enjoyed after displaying patience during the first part of their mission.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Alma 20

I find it interesting that Ammon apparently felt so strongly about the sacredness of family ties that he omitted one detail to Lamoni when explaining why he wanted to go to Middoni.  Note in verse two that the Lord commands Ammon not to go to Lamoni’s father, for “he will seek thy life.”  Then the Lord commanded him to go to Middoni to deliver his own brethren from prison.  When Ammon told Lamoni he was going to Middoni, he omitted the bit about Lamoni’s daddy seeking Ammon’s life.  And even though the old king did try to kill Ammon, he made the attempt away from his court.  Had Ammon been presented at court in the Land of Ishmael, he would have been ignoring God’s command, and would possibly have been killed.  Wise, yet harmless Ammon understood, not only the wisdom of listening to God, but also the value of discretion.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Alma 19

Abish though that by seeing the king, queen and Ammon overcome by the Spirit of the Lord  the people would believe in God.  To her disappointment, the scene only caused controversy.  It required the king’s own testimony in addition to the miracle for people to believe and become converted.  This is one example of how signs are insufficient to fully convert.  Let us testify of the Savior, and with that the signs that life affords can more easily have the desired effect.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Alma 18

In this chapter, Ammon gives us a good example of how to meet on common ground.  When allowed an opportunity to teach King Lamoni the gospel, he began with “Believest thou that there is a God?”  King Lamoni answered “I do not know what that meaneth.” (See verses 24 -25.)  Knowing that King Lamoni had mistaken him earlier for what the Lamanites called a “Great Spirit,” Ammon went to that common ground with the King asking: “Believest thou there is a Great Spirit?”  Upon the King’s affirmative reply, Ammon said “This is God.”  From that common springboard Ammon clarified many truths of the gospel, leading many of those hearers to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation through Him.  Without that common ground, Ammon’s teachings would not have been as effective.  What do you think would happen if we took the time to find and start on common ground as we share the gospel, resolve problems or otherwise relate to each other?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Alma 17

As the sons of Mosiah set out on their mission among their brethren, the Lamanites, the Lord counseled them:  “be patient in long-suffering and afflictions that ye may show forth good examples unto them.”  The promise, if they obeyed this council was: “I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls” (v. 11).  Ammon took these words to heart, as is evidenced by the following two examples.  First, he offered to be King Lamoni’s servant instead of accepting the King’s offer to become his son-in-law.  Then, when the King’s flocks were scattered, Ammon used the power the Lord had given him to restore the scattered flocks “that [he] might win the hearts of these [his] fellow servants” (v. 29).  As we’ll read in the next chapter, the Lord kept His end of the bargain.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Alma 16

It took fourteen years of ministering, but Alma succeeded in establishing the Church throughout the whole land.  He was aided in his ministry by the Lord’s pouring out His spirit “to prepare the minds of the children of men” so that they could be prepared for the gospel Christ would teach their descendants upon His visit to the new world after His death.  (See verses 16-17.)  The Lord often lays groundwork for the next step.  He, thankfully, understands the need for time.  It would be at least 110 years before He would personally appear to the descendants of these people.  It took 1800 years to prepare the Christian world for the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. He allows the required amount of time to pass in more personalized ways, as well.  He understands that it takes us some time to adjust our actions and thinking to a new way of life when we first embrace the gospel.  We should allow ourselves, and others, time to falter and make mistakes as we try to more fully follow Him.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Alma 15

What Alma the Younger said to the suffering Zeezrom may, indeed be said to us all: “If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed” (v .8).  In Zeezrom’s case at the time these words were spoken, they referred to a physical malady.  In our case, I have learned that faith in the redemption of Christ is a great healer of all kinds of maladies.  Malachi taught that the Sun of righteousness, which I believe refers to the Savior, would “arise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2).  It is true.  Faith in the redemption of Christ can heal us of anguish, sorrow, guilt and even loneliness.  Faith in the redemption of Christ can fill us with peace, joy and comfort, which in turn fill us with love.  And with this love we can serve, as did the healed Zeezrom (see verses 11 – 12).  Let us learn of our Savior, then.  Let us continue our walk with Him through the scriptures, through prayer, and most of all, through serving others as He would do if He were here.  To the extent that we do that we will be filled with peace, joy, comfort and love.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Alma 14

As more and more evil makes headlines, the question is often asked, “Why does God allow good people to suffer?”  The best answer I've found to that question is found in this chapter.  Alma and Amulek had priesthood power and faith to use it.  When the believers were being burned at the stake in Ammonihah and Alma and Amulek were forced to watch it as punishment for preaching the everlasting gospel, Amulek recommended to Alma that they use their priesthood power to save the people.  Alma’s response was “The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth my hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself in glory; and he doth suffer that…the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them…and cry mightily against them at the last day” (v. 11).  In other words, the Lord allows the wicked to dig their own graves, so to speak.  Otherwise His judgments upon them would not be just.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Alma 13

How do we “enter into his rest?” (See v. 6.)  Here’s how it works.  The Plan of Salvation is declared by God through angels to just and holy men who become high priests (v. 9).  Then these high priests declare the doctrine of Salvation to the people, the doctrine of Salvation bringing glad tidings of great joy (v. 22).  Then, when the people do their part, they enter into the rest of the Lord.  So, what is the people’s part?
  1. Hearken unto high priests.
  2. Cast off our sins.
  3. Humble ourselves before the Lord.
  4. Call on His holy name.
  5. Watch and pray continually.
  6. Be led by the Holy Spirit.
  7. Become

a.  Humble
b.  Meek
c.  Submissive 
d.  Patient
e.  Full of love and all long suffering

8.  Have faith on the Lord.
9.  Have hope that we shall receive eternal life.
10.Have the love of God always in our hearts.  (Verses 28 – 29)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Alma 12

The Plan of Redemption and the Fall of Adam are both so clearly explained in this chapter that I believe it is one of the most important chapters in all holy writings.  Here we are allowed a peek inside the mind of God regarding the Plan of Redemption.  Verse 27 states: “it was appointed unto men that they must die; and…come to judgment.”  In verse 28 God “saw that it was expedient that men should know concerning the things whereof he had appointed unto them.”  So, according to the faith of men, God began making known the Plan of Redemption.  He gave two new commandments , then promised: “If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son…unto a remission of [your] sins; and…[you] shall enter into my rest” (verses 33 – 34).

When we must discipline our children, perhaps we should follow God’s example here.  Let us be clear about the consequences of misbehavior, the nature of punishment and what’s required to get back into our good graces.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Alma 11

In verses 26 – 35 Amulek and Zeezrom discuss the doctrine that most separates Latter-day Saint theology from mainstream Christian theology, namely the doctrine of the Godhead.  Mainstream Christianity teaches of a Trinity, in which God, Christ and the Holy Ghost are three-in-one.  Before I discovered the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this doctrine was confusing to me.  The best explanation I found was from a Baptist friend who explained an idea of three components of the same being by pointing out that I was simultaneously a daughter, a sister and a cousin. 

Latter-day Saints believe that the three are separate personages, not so much from teachings in this chapter and other scripture, but because Joseph Smith, Jr. saw God and Christ in a vision and saw them as separate beings.  Once I began reading the Bible and other scriptures with the thought that God and Christ are separate individuals who are one in purpose, what I was reading really began to make sense to me.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Alma 10

Between Alma and Amulek the more spiritually experienced was certainly Alma.  He had been High Priest over the Nephites for ten years.  Still, after many days with Alma, Amulek had learned much about spiritual things.  So much so that when expert lawyers began to question Amulek’s testimony, it wasn't Alma who stepped in to contend with them, but Amulek who held his own.  Evidence that the Lord supports those who serve Him.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Alma 9

Oh, how the Lord blesses!  Look at the blessings the Nephites had enjoyed: revelation of things past, present and future; visitation by the Holy Ghost, by angels and by the voice of the Lord; gifts of the Spirit. They had been delivered by the hand of the Lord from Jerusalem; they had been saved from famine, sickness and disease; they had been strengthened in battle. They had been delivered from bondage again and again; they had been preserved by the Lord, and prospered to the point of wealth. The Lord had been very merciful to the Nephites, and now also to the Lamanites, who He recognized were doing the best they could with what they knew.  To whom will the Lord, who is no respecter of persons, be merciful?  Verse 17 shows us “the Lord will be merciful unto all who call on his name.”

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Alma 8

Alma moved on to the city of Ammonihah, where his message was so rejected by the people, he left them.  As he left, an angel appeared to him (one he had encountered before) and informed Alma that the people of Ammonihah were planning to destroy the liberty of his people (v. 17).  Alma returned speedily at that news with no idea how to proceed.  He knew he had to try, though, and the Lord led and assisted him in his quest.    How speedily do we respond to those things which threaten our faith, our family or our freedom?  Can we follow Alma’s example and react with great haste, trusting the Lord?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Alma 7

Alma moves to the city of Gideon to preach.  Here, finding a more faithful people than those in Zarahemla, Alma testifies of the Savior.  Among the faithful, let our teachings, our classes, our testimonies, our Sacrament meeting talks all center more on the Savior and less on other topics.  I was in a leadership meeting once and the Bishop asked, what can we do to have more reverence in our Sacrament meetings?  Among the several varied suggestions I piped in with “why can’t every talk in Sacrament meeting be about the Savior?”  If we try, every topic can be used to testify somehow of Jesus Christ.  Test out this theory in your own service.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Alma 6

After the Church was regulated in Zarahemla (see chapter 5) an interesting commandment was given to members of the Church to gather often and “join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God.”  We’re often encouraged to pray for others.  I like the specific nature of this commandment to pray for the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God.  I believe this puts things in a nice perspective.  It allows God to judge who does and who does not know Him.  And it allows Him the privilege of blessing people as He sees fit, instead of how we see fit.  In other words, it keeps us from being judgmental and it puts our focus on the actual needs for people instead of on our own desires for people.  It tells the Lord that we realize He sees better than we do, and we trust His judgment over our own.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Alma 5

I once heard of a man who, a couple of days after having a fire in his fireplace, gathered the ashes and put them in a paper bag to use later when Spring came to spread upon his garden.  He placed the bag of ashes on the porch outside his kitchen where, even though the fire had gone out a couple of days before, the bag caught on fire and burned down the porch and most of the kitchen before it was extinguished.  How?  The embers which had been dormant in the fireplace were stirred up with oxygen and began to first smolder, then to burn. 

“And now, behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (See v. 26.)  The answer is a resounding “Yes!”  To anyone who feels that it’s too late, that the Spirit has been gone too long, I declare you can feel the first joy of a brand new testimony again.  Alma teaches us in Chapter 5 how to stir up our spiritual embers and jump start our faith.  For its simple practicality, I feel that Alma 5 is one of the most valuable chapters in all holy writings.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Alma 4

After horrible wars sending “thousands and tens of thousands…to the eternal world” (Alma 3:26) there was a period of peace among the Nephites during which thousands of Nephites were baptized.  For two years they prospered.  After this, the members of the Church began again to be prideful.  Alma 4 presents us a textbook case of how to and how not to be Christian.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Alma 3

“For every man receiveth wages of him whom he listeth to obey” (v. 27).  It’s a basic law.  It couldn't be simpler to understand.  For example, some people who insist upon getting a great tan every summer will have rather leathery skin when they’re older from years of abuse in the sun.  For them the choices were: protect my skin, or get a great tan.  They will have received the wages of the choice they made. 

How do we teach our children this concept?  One way is through allowance.  If a child is paid an allowance only after chores are completed, the choices are:  do my chores, or goof off.  A child paid an allowance regardless of doing chores isn't being taught the Lord’s important simple lesson about wages.  Let us teach them, as Paul taught us: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Friday, September 5, 2014

Alma 2

When the combined army of the Lamanites and the Amlicites fell upon the fleeing Nephites it must have been a striking sight.  So many of the enemy!  Yet the Nephites prevailed in the battle – how?  With the Lord’s help.  He had strengthened them in answer to their prayers (see v. 28).  The combined forces which attack marriages and the family are as numerous as the hosts of the Lamanites and the Amlicites.  As the Nephites did, we can also pray to the Lord for His help in overcoming those enemies.  It requires the Lord’s help to prevail over evil forces.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Alma 1

This chapter begins a different kind of division among the Nephites.  It is not a division between believers and non-believers, but rather one of believers versus believers.  Both groups believed in the Lord, but some, led by a man named Nehor, believed that all men would have eternal life, whereas the Christians believed that eternal life wasn’t automatic.  Nehor’s preaching made him a wealthy man, and when he became rich, he was overcome with pride (see verse 6).  Thus overcome, Nehor contended over doctrine with the now elderly Gideon to the point of killing him.  Under Nephite law, Nehor was sentenced to death for murder.  And even though he confessed that his preaching hadn’t been of God (see verse 15), the popularity of his teaching wasn’t diminished.  And the two groups continued fighting against each other.  Ultimately many of the Christians also began to be proud (verse 22) and began to contend warmly with the Nehors.  This chapter teaches us that pride is the father of contention.  Let us watch ourselves carefully and understand that whenever we find ourselves arguing, pride is somewhere in the equation.  Let us humble ourselves and bring greater peace into our lives, as Alma and the Christians managed to do in verse 28.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mosiah 29

For nearly 480 years, the Nephites had been ruled by kings.  When all of King Mosiah’s sons turned down the opportunity to succeed him as king of the Nephites, Mosiah suggested a different kind of government.  He reasoned that if a king causes people to sin, their iniquities are answered upon the head of that king.  But if there is no king, every man is equal to every other.  And if that is the case, each person is responsible for his own actions (see verses 30 – 32).  Mosiah’s desire was that his kingdom become a land of liberty, that everyone might “enjoy his rights and privileges alike.”  So King Mosiah established an organization of judges to succeed him in leading the people.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Mosiah 28

In this chapter, King Mosiah translated the Jaredite record that Limhi’s people brought with them when they joined the Nephites.  And though he allowed the people in Zarahemla to know what had been written by the Jaredites, it was not added to the Book of Mormon record that was being kept at that time.  Rather, we’re told it would be added to the record later.  Is the Jaredite record important?  Yes!  See verse 19.  So, why wasn't it included earlier in the record?  See Ether 4:1 for an answer that question.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mosiah 27

In verse 30 lies a little nugget of love.  There Alma the Younger teaches us that the Lord “remembereth every creature of his creating.”  Neither in our joys nor in our sorrows does the Lord forget us.  We are something the Lord created.  He not only remembers each one of us individually, but He is a great support if we remember Him.