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This blog is devoted to people like us who need a daily spiritual outlet and motivation to keep up with our personal scripture study.
Join us as we begin and discuss the Book of Mormon daily--an online Institute class of sorts!

We welcome your comments, your experiences, and your thoughts.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Alma Ch. 46

Read it HERE.

Summary: Amalickiah conspires to be king—Moroni raises the title of liberty—He rallies the people to defend their religion—True believers are called Christians—A remnant of Joseph shall be preserved—Amalickiah and the dissenters flee to the land of Nephi—Those who will not support the cause of freedom are put to death. Between 73 and 72 B.C.

I love this chapter. I love hearing about the Title of Liberty and the greatness of Captain Moroni.

Hugh Nibley wrote a great summary of the military aspect of this chapter. It is lengthy but good:

To check Amalickiah’s move, ‘Moroni thought it was expedient’ to force a peace on the dissenters with all possible haste. Moving with his usual dispatch, he intercepted them before they got out of the country, made them surrender to him, and required them to take an oath, ‘a covenant to keep the peace’ and not fight against their own government. ( Alma 46:35 .)
No citizen could give less, and those who refused were knowingly accepting the status of combatants, and could expect to be treated as such. At the time Moroni was acting with special military powers given him ‘by the chief judges and the voice of the people,’ ( Alma 46:34 ) and accordingly put to death as an enemy in arms those who refused to lay down their arms; but these were only a few ( v.35 ); instead of a blanket order for the execution of all Amalickiahites as traitors, in the modern fashion, Moroni merely exacted from them a promise to support the government during a dire national emergency” (Since Cumorah: The Book of Mormon in the Modern World, pp.340–41).

Of course, we have a great section in here about the Title of Liberty. Reading what was on the title makes me grateful for the armed forces we have in this country, and that those men are willing to sacrifice it all to protect the wives, families, peace, and religions of our country.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson said:

“Human liberty is the mainspring of human progress.

“The one great revolution in the world is the revolution for human liberty. This was the paramount issue in the great council in heaven before this earth life. It has been the issue throughout the ages. It is the issue today....

Then Moroni rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole, and hoisted it up upon every tower in the land.

“‘... (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, ...’ (46:12–13 .)

“While this incident occurred some seventy years B.C. , the struggle went on through one thousand years covered by this sacred Book of Mormon record. In fact, the struggle for liberty is a continuing one—it is with us in a very real sense today right here on this choice land of the Americas” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1962, pp.14–15).

One final thought: the verse that stood out to me in this chapter the most was verse 30:

Now Moroni thought it was not expedient that the Lamanites should have any more strength; therefore he thought to cut off the people of Amalickiah, or to take them and bring them back, and put Amalickiah to death; yea, for he knew that he would stir up the Lamanites to anger against them, and cause them to come to battle against them; and this he knew that Amalickiah would do that he might obtain his purposes.

It strikes me that this is what we, as families, must do to combat Satan in our homes--we must cut him off. We can't tolerate him, even a little. It also strikes me that this would be the same reaction Satan would have to us cutting his presence off ("stir[red] up to anger against [us], and [. . .] to come to battle against [us]).

We need to be increasingly smart, increasingly strong, and increasingly wise in our efforts to disregard Satan's influence. I know for my family, this means we need to be better about having family scripture study (among other things). What do you think you and your family need to do to have a better defense against Satan? What do you do that works for you now?


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Alma 45

This chapter marks the first chapter of the record of Helaman and not Alma. It's a little confusing, because it is still the Book of Alma, but his son Helaman is the one now writing the record. I'm pretty sure that the Book of Helaman is named after Alma's grandson Helaman.

Alma comes to Helaman and and asks him three questions: Do you believe what I have told you about these records? Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Will ye keep my commandments? Helaman is able to respond yes to all three. Alma then reveals to him things that he is supposed to write down and not reveal to the people.

Alma prophesies that the Nephites will fall into wickedness and be destroyed only four hundred years after Christ's coming. This must have been so sad and depressing for Helaman to hear. But I am glad that the prophets in the Book of Mormon realized the importance of their ministry to both their own people, and the people of future generations long past the end of the Nephites.

Alma leaves a final blessing on the land and church: 15 And now it came to pass that after Alma had said these things to Helaman, he blessed him, and also his other sons; and he also blessed the earth for the righteous' sake.

16 And he said: Thus saith the Lord God—Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe; and as I have said so shall it be; for this is the cursing and the blessing of God upon the land, for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.

17 And now, when Alma had said these words he blessed the church, yea, all those who should stand fast in the faith from that time henceforth.

I'm glad that I can feel that I am a righteous inhabitant of the land, though it is scary to look around and see so much wickedness. However, I feel better when we drive by all the churches near us and see how many people are going faithfully each Sunday. This nation is still predominantly God-fearing and that makes me optimistic.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Alma 41

Summary: In the resurrection men come forth to a state of endless happiness or endless misery—Wickedness never was happiness—Carnal men are without God in the world—Every person receives again in the restoration the characteristics and attributes acquired in mortality. About 73 B.C.

This chapter is full of some incredible doctrine! Our goal should be to obtain
this "endless happiness." Just thinking about the joy that awaits us on the other side fills my heart with peace. All of our sufferings and efforts to endure will be rewarded in the next life with happiness we cannot fathom. I have no doubt that we can all look forward to being "raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God" (4). When I ponder on this concept, I can't help but feel how incredible the eternal nature of this life is. We have some wonderful things promised to us if we continue in righteousness throughout this life.

I love how perfectly the word "restoration" is described in this chapter:
12 And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature?
13 O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.
Where there are so many people attempting to interpret the Bible and twist it to fit their beliefs and desires, this scripture is perfectly clear. We are left with no doubt as to what state we will be in in the next life. Knowing that gives me the motivation to try harder to stay on the path of righteousness. It is up to me to determine what my reward will be in the next life, so I hope I can make the best of my life here.

This chapter also makes me think of the importance of the gift of agency.
8 Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved.
The Lord has prepared the way, and we must choose to follow that path. He has set the rules, so to speak, and He cannot change them, regardless of what we must decide. So we must take this knowledge and use it to stay on the path of righteousness. The Lord has given us so many incredible gifts to help us through this life. We are so blessed to be a part of this Gospel and know what we know. We need to use these gifts wisely.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Alma Chapter 42

Hey there! Sorry I was M.I.A.! But I'm back! :) This chapter is pretty deep and the doctrine is incredible! How blessed we are to have this knowledge!

Mortality is a probationary time to enable man to repent and serve God—The fall brought temporal and spiritual death upon all mankind—Redemption comes through repentance—God himself atoneth for the sins of the world—Mercy is for those who repent—All others are subject to God’s justice—Mercy cometh because of the atonement—Only the truly penitent are saved.

Verse 4 sums up what this life is all about! "And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God."

Basically, Alma continues to talk with Corianton because Corianton is worried about what he cannot understand - "concerning the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner..." This is such an amazing chapter, one I think we all  need to read and re-read to truly understand the laws of God concerning sin, repentance, the atonement and resurrection.  When I read it, I felt like this was all stuff I'd heard before... but there are a bunch of verses that have caught my attention for one reason or another...

Alma explains that because our first parents partook of the fruit and gained knowledge of good and evil, the Lord protected the Tree of Life in such a way that they would not partake of it and live forever in their sins. Thus, we are given this "probationary time"/life on earth to repent of our sins and serve God, before we die and are brought into his presence to be judged.

I found verse 10-13 interesting, "Therefore, as they had become acarnal, sensual, and devilish, by bnature, this cprobationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state. And now remember, my son, if it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside) as soon as they were dead their souls were amiserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord. "

I don't know exactly how man became carnal, sensual and devilish by nature, but we can clearly see this is true. I believe that the biggest trial of this life is overcoming that "nature" which is the opposite of what we need to be to attain Celestial Glory!

It is fascinating to me the connection between Justice and Mercy in regards to the Laws of Heaven. It's simple, yet complicated. Simply put, mercy cannot rob justice. Christ's suffering will satisfy the demands of justice for those who sincerely repent.  But read verses 14-26ish for the in-depth explanation.

I also love the counsel Alma give Corianton in verses 29-30. "And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things atrouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance. O my son, I desire that ye should deny the ajustice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his bmercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in chumility. "

What wise counsel of a loving parent who truly understands!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Alma Ch. 40

Read it HERE.

Summary: Christ bringeth to pass the resurrection of all men—The righteous dead go to paradise and the wicked to outer darkness to await the day of their resurrection—All things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame in the resurrection. About 73 B.C.

This is an interesting chapter; it chronicles what happens to us after we die. If only everyone who has asked this question (probably almost everyone who has lived) could read this and understand part of the immediate afterlife.

The institue manual had a lot of interesting information about this chapter, so I used a lot of it here. Don't feel like you need to read all of this, but it was helpful to me to break the chapter down into sections.

Verses 6-10 discuss God's Time.

Alma said that he did not know if there was more than one time appointed for the resurrection of men, but that it did not matter because "all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men."

Our Father in Heaven has a different perspective of time than we do here in mortality. The Prophet Joseph Smith revealed that where God dwells all things “are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord” ( D&C 130:7) The Prophet also said that the Lord “contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation, before it rolled into existence or ever ‘the morning stars sang together’ for joy; the past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal ‘now’” ( Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.220).

Verses 11-15 talk about death and resurrection.

Vs. 12 says, "The spirits of the righteous are received into a state known as paradise: “a state of happiness, ... a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow"

Orson Pratt has this to add:

"When our spirits leave these bodies, will they be happy? Not perfectly so. Why? Because the spirit is absent from the body; it cannot be perfectly happy while a part of the man is lying in the earth. How can the happiness be complete when only a part of the redemption is accomplished? You cannot be perfectly happy until you get a new house. You will be happy, you will be at ease in paradise; but still you will be looking for a house where your spirit can enter, and act as you did in former times, only more perfectly, having superior powers. Consequently, all the holy men that have lived in days of old, have looked forward to the resurrection of their bodies; for then their glory will be complete" (in Journal of Discourses, 1:289–90).

Verses 16-22 discuss the First Resurrection.

Alma was unsure about the order of the Resurrection, but he gave it as his opinion that "the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven."

"While there was a general resurrection of the righteous at the time Christ arose from the dead, it is customary for us to speak of the resurrection of the righteous at the Second Coming of Christ as the first resurrection. It is the first to us, for we have little thought or concern over that which is past. The Lord has promised that at the time of his Second Advent the graves will be opened, and the just shall come forth to reign with him on the earth for a thousand years....

"Following this great event, and after the Lord and the righteous who are caught up to meet him have descended upon the earth, there will come to pass another resurrection. This may be considered as a part of the first, although it comes later. In this resurrection will come forth those of the terrestrial order, who were not worthy to be caught up to meet him, but who are worthy to come forth to enjoy the millennial reign...."

(Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:295–97).

Verses 23-25 talk about the Resurrection:

Alma tells us that "yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame." This is a comforting statement.

"... What else would satisfy us? What else would satisfy the desire of the immortal soul? Would we be satisfied to be imperfect? Would we be satisfied to be decrepit? Would we be satisfied to remain forever and ever in the form of infirmity incident to age? No! ... From the day of the resurrection, the body will develop until it reaches the full measure of the stature of its spirit, whether it be male or female." (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, pp.23–24).

And of course, there are the Sons of Perdition verse 26 talk about. Bruce R. McConkie has an interesting statement to add to this verse:

"Eventually, all are redeemed from spiritual death except those who have ‘sinned unto death’ ( D.&C. 64:7 ), that is, those who are destined to be sons of perdition. John teaches this by saying that after death and hell have delivered up the dead which are in them, then death and hell shall be ‘cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death .’ ( Rev. 20:12–15 .) And thus the Lord said in our day that the sons of perdition are ‘the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power’ ( D.&C. 76:37 ), meaning any power after the resurrection” ( Mormon Doctrine, p.758). "


(and the institute manual)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Alma 39

I have to say, I sometimes find this chapter so depressing. Obviously Corianton had been a little wild, and Alma is forced to tell him basically how disappointed he is. He even says that Corianton's actions had prevented some missionary work from being successful. The thing that makes it better for me, is that a few chapters later, Alma calls him once again to be a missionary, telling him to shape up and repent! I feel like there is a lot of hope for Corianton, and in turn us, so even though these chapters are kind of sad, ultimately we can feel better after reading them.

First of all, Alma compares Corianton to his brother, Shiblon. Shiblon's chapter was pretty short, but Alma says here the reason--Shiblon was righteous and needed less instruction than Corianton. I know none of us likes to be compared unfavorably to our siblings, but Corianton obviously needed it. Among his transgressions were boasting about his own strength and wisdom, but worse, he chased after a harlot. Sexual sin is much worse than boasting.

Alma gives us a hierarchy of sort of major sins. The worst is denying the Holy Ghost, and then murder, and then sexual sin. I remember when I was a kid, I was afraid that I might somehow accidentally deny the Holy Ghost, or for some reason say I denied it and then I would commit the unpardonable sin. I was happy to find out later on that denying the Holy Ghost is not that simple or easy, and I definitely am not in danger of casually doing it. Murder seems easy enough to avoid. Sexual sin--easy. Right? Sadly, I think this is one of the easiest sins to commit these days. Pornography is a form of sexual sin that is easy to justify because it doesn't seem as serious as fornication or adultery. But our prophets tells us all the time how serious it is. Both men and women are susceptible, and it can take many forms, through images, media, and books. I love to read and it's easy to find pornographic passages in books. These days, we often have to sacrifice watching a great movie or reading a great book, and it's no fun, but I think we will find ourselves blessed for that choice. There was a movie that came out recently that my husband and I really, really wanted to see. But at the same time, we knew there would lots of violence and that it would be a really dark movie. We weighed it back and forth, and decided that for us, it would be better to not see that movie. His deacons thought we were crazy! But I am so glad we made that choice. I don't need those sorts of violent images in my head. I really wish I made good choices like in regards to media more often.

Verse 11 has one of the saddest lines in it. Alma tells Corianton that the Zoramites witnessed his behavior, and "when they saw their conduct, they would not believe my words." How many of us have talked to non-member friends who have said "But that person is a Mormon and they drink/swear/wear bikinis (or whatever else you just said you don't do because of your religious beliefs)." I have heard that before. I hope that I can be a righteous example to others, like Shiblon, and not the negative example that Corianton was.

Alma tells Corianton to turn his life around. I had thought that there was a mention of Corianton later on in the book of Alma, and there is. All it says though, was that he went north with Hagoth. I'd like to think that he listened, repented, and went on to become a better person and missionary.

Alma ends with addressing a concern of Corianton's, which is how they can know of Christ's coming so long in advance. Alma says simply, "is not a soul at this time as precious unto God as a soul will be at the time of his coming?" Also, he tells his son that it is just as easy for the Lord to send an angel testifying of Christ before his coming as afterwards. I like that thought. Sometimes I marvel at the faith of those who lived before Christ and just had to have faith he would actually come. But those who knew Christ had to have faith that he was the son of God, and we have to have faith that he lived and atoned for our sins. It requires faith for everyone!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Alma 37

Read it HERE.

Summary: The plates of brass and other scriptures are preserved to bring souls to salvation—The Jaredites were destroyed because of their wickedness—Their secret oaths and covenants must be kept from the people—Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings—As the Liahona guided the Nephites, so the word of Christ leads men to eternal life. About 73 B.C.

Chapters 36-39 are Alma's testimony expressed to his sons Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton. I love that we have these accounts... especially as I will soon have 3 sons of my own I take personal courage and insight into bearing simple, profound testimony to my sons.

Essentially I learned these things:

* We need to keep a record of "our people" (family). The good, bad, ugly, and sacred.
* "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise" (v.6). Think of a small object such as a nail, bolt, or our small children.... they are small and simple but do great things. What might happen if we didn't have these things in our lives?
* What are some small and simple things that hold our families together?
* We need to enlarge our memory of the past in order to live in the present and control the future.
* Ammon couldn't have had the success he did as a missionary without the preservation of the plates/record. ... and we can't have missionary experiences without knowing the scriptures either.
* REMEMBER, REMEMBER... God's commands are strict, but if we keep them, we prosper.
* God is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words.
* Teach an everlasting hatred against sin and iniquity.
* "Life is fragile, handle with prayer." Counsel with God in all thy doings...

Alma 37:36-37:
36 Yea, and acry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy bdoings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy cthoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
37 aCounsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for bgood; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the cmorning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

* Our promised land = eternal life
* "...do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way... The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever" (v.46).
* Look to God and live!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Alma 36

Summary: Alma testifies to Helaman of his conversion by an angel—He suffered the pains of a damned soul; he called upon the name of Jesus, and was then born of God—Sweet joy filled his soul—He saw concourses of angels praising God—His converts have tasted and seen as he did. About 73 B.C.

I love verse 3: And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day. This is one of the basic principles of the gospel, in my opinion--trust in God. He will help us through our trials. He will not leave us alone, as long as we exercise our faith in Him.

Alma give his account of the repentance process he had to go through to be forgiven for the many sins he committed. The miracle of it all is amazing. He suffered unspeakable torment for 3 days, but the moment he cried unto Christ for forgiveness, the pain was gone. I believe the spirit put the thought into his head that Christ would come and atone for the sins of the world--it was the light in his dark torment. And after being reminded of all his sins and suffering because of them,the moment he turned to Christ, he was immediately relieved of this burden. What an incredible example of Christ's role in our lives. He is there--waiting and listening. All we have to do is ask.

20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.

This verse is amazing: 22 Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.
Where, a day ago, Alma feared to be in the presence of the Lord, he now longed to be there. He was granted a glimpse of the glory that lay beyond the veil. This just shows how completely and miraculously he was forgiven. He was blessed to taste of God's love and glory.

I also love this verse: 24 Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
This is the principle behind missionary work. We want to spread the gospel across the earth because we have been blessed to taste of its joy, and we want others to know of it. The gospel is the greatest gift in life, and we have a responsibility to spread the joy. Missionary work will always be an important part of our lives.

This is a great way to wrap up the chapter:
27 And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.
28 And I know that he will raise me up at the last day, to dwell with him in glory; yea, and I will praise him forever
What a glorious, amazing comfort. Alma has great faith. He had to work for it, as we all do, but he has amazing faith. We can all have that same faith. We can all look forward to these same blessings if we endure faithfully to the end.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Alma Ch. 34

Read it HERE.

SUMMARY: Amulek testifies that the word is in Christ unto salvation—Unless an atonement is made, all mankind must perish—The whole law of Moses points toward the sacrifice of the Son of God—The eternal plan of redemption is based on faith and repentance—Pray for temporal and spiritual blessings—This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God—Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. About 74 B.C.

This is a powerful chapter, and I learn more each time I read it.  One of my favorite teachers in the Book of Mormon is Amulek, and I think this chapter really shows his spiritual strength.

One of the most well-known verses in this chapter is verse 32: "For behold, this alife is the time for men to bprepare to meet God."  I often think about what life will be like when we have died and entered the spirit world.  How will we experience things?  What will it feel like?  Well, I found a quote that might explain some of why it is so important to repent now.

“It is my judgment that any man or woman can do more to conform to the laws of God in one year in this life than they could in ten years when they are dead. The spirit only can repent and change, and then the battle has to go forward with the flesh afterwards. It is much easier to overcome and serve the Lord when both flesh and spirit are combined as one. This is the time when men are more pliable and susceptible. We will find when we are dead every desire, every feeling will be greatly intensified. When clay is pliable, it is much easier to change than when it gets hard and sets.  --Melvin J. Ballard, The Three Degrees of Glory, pp.11–13

Another thing I really like about this chapter is the feeling I get from Amulek's exhortation to pray.  These verses are a little lengthy, but when I read them I feel how important he felt this principle is.  I almost hear the pleading in his voice, and it makes me want to remember to pray more often.

  18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is amighty to save.
  19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in aprayer unto him.
  20 Cry unto him when ye are in your afields, yea, over all your flocks.
  21 aCry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
  22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your aenemies.
  23 Yea, acry unto him against the bdevil, who is an enemy to all crighteousness.
  24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
  25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
  26 But this is not all; ye must apour out your souls in your bclosets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
  27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your ahearts be bfull, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your cwelfare, and also for the welfare of dthose who are around you.

You know, I am not very good at remembering to pray often.  Many times in the morning I get up and go about my day without even thinking about praying.  But it is important!  It helps our spirits overcome the physical desires that might draw us farther from God.  If this life is the time to repent, I certainly want to make a lot of progress, and oh my heavens, do I need to make progress.  I can see that prayer is the best way to do that.

There is so much more to this chapter.  Amulek talks about the Atonement, our need for repentance and salvation, the Law of Moses, and so many other things.  What impressed you the most as you read?  What do you love about this chapter or about Amulek himself?


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Alma 33

This chapter is right after Alma tells the poor Zoramites about the need to be humble and faith being like a seed. The chapter begins with them inquiring about how to plant the seed, or how to exercise their faith. They are particularly concerned because the synagogue is off limits to them, but Alma emphasizes that you can worship God at any time. That seems like such a no-brainer to me, but I guess that when all the rich people were only worshipping on the Sabbath, and in such loud, effusive ways, the idea of quiet, constant faith was probably quite foreign!

Maybe there were some skeptical looks in the congregation, because Adam starts quoting scriptures to prove that you really can worship God at any time. He quotes Zenos, who talks about praying in the wilderness, and at home, in his fields, and in his closet. Also, remember how the Zoramites denied Christ? Alma teaches the poor about Christ and quotes the testimonies of Zenos and another prophet, Zenock. We read about these prophets in other parts of the Book of Mormon, but we know nothing about them. It makes me really curious. Jacob quoted them in the allegory of the olive tree. When do you think they lived? Anyway, their influence was long-lasting, because Alma uses them as examples.

Finally, Alma talks about Moses, and how in the wilderness the people only had to look up at the snake on a pole to be healed. Some people were still too stubborn to do that. Alma tells the people to not be so stiffnecked that they aren't willing to believe in Christ, which is as easy as looking up at a serpent on a pole that is right in front of us. I like verses 21-22:

21 O my brethren, if ye could be healed by merely casting about your eyes that ye might be healed, would ye not behold quickly, or would ye rather harden your hearts in unbelief, and be slothful, that ye would not cast about your eyes, that ye might perish?

22 If so, wo shall come upon you; but if not so, then cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Alma 30

Summary:Korihor, the antichrist, ridicules Christ, the atonement, and the spirit of prophecy—He teaches that there is no God, no fall of man, no penalty for sin, and no Christ—Alma testifies that Christ shall come and that all things denote there is a God—Korihor demands a sign and is struck dumb—The devil had appeared to Korihor as an angel and taught him what to say—He is trodden down and dies. About 74 B.C
If there is one thing I have learned recently, it is that God tests His children so that they have the chance to grow. As we go through our day to day lives, it is so easy to forget the bigger picture. We may forget that God is there. We may neglect our prayers and our scripture study. We may take this Gospel for granted. But we must not do those things. This life is the time to prepare to meet God. To prepare to meet our Savior so that we might one day feel the joy of being in His embrace. What Korihor does in this chapter is play on weakmindedness. He tries to convince the people that there is no God and no Christ because the people have not seen them. And maybe sometimes, we fall into that trap ourselves. But I testify that even tho we may not see them while we are on this side of the veil, we can feel them. That is why we have the Gospel. Without it, I believe that we would miss the miracles that continue to occur in our lives everyday. Heavenly Father allows us to be tested and tried so that we do remember Him. And when the miracle finally comes after suffering through these tests, we have the opportunity to feel of the most amazing gift--His love for us. He also might provide us with little miracles along the way to let us know that He is there, holding our hand. We can't give up. The only way to know of God's existence in this life is through feeling Him and watching His miracles unfold. That is why "life happens."

I know that this only touches on one principle in this chapter, but I felt like it was the most important. I had been feeling the past few weeks like my testimony was slowly slipping away. I was losing sight of the bigger picture. I felt detached from God. But some things have happened the past few days that are nothing short of miracles. And through those miracles, both Jeff and I have been blessed with light and knowledge, and we have felt of His love for us. That is how I know that He exists and that this plan He has set out for us is true.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Alma Chapter 29

Alma desires to cry repentance with angelic zeal—The Lord grants teachers for all nations—Alma glories in the Lord’s work and in the success of Ammon and his brethren.

I love this chapter because of Alma's joy, appreciation and over all positivity. My favorite passage is in verse 9. "... yes, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."

It reminds me of that song "If it so be that ye should labor all your days..." you know the one I'm talking about? How great shall be your joy!

This joy that Alma is experiencing is unlike any joy the world encourages or understands. It is a pure and unselfish joy. It is the joy that comes from knowledge of the Plan of Happiness, seeing the fruits of your labors and those of whom you care about. It is an indescribable joy.

Oh, how I want to experience that joy!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Alma 27

Here we read about the incredible generosity and forgivness of the Nephites towards the Ammonites. The Amalekites, who really have an incredible capacity for wickedness, once again go against the Anti-Nephi-Lehites, who are so intent on their change of heart that they are willing to lay down and die rather than kill again. Ammon tries to convince the reformed Lamanites to rely on the Nephites, but their king is scared that the Nephites won't want to help them. He tells Ammon that his people are willing to be slaves to the Nephites. I am amazed by the humility of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. They would rather be slaves than defend themselves and risk their salvation again.

When Ammon goes to meet Alma, it says :

17 The joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth.

18 Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.

I have to admit that I can't really imagine feeling this way. But I do feel better because it says that the joy of Alma and the other brothers of Ammon was also great, but not so much that they fell to the earth. I wonder what it would be like to feel the joy of God so much that I collapsed, but I think it's fine even if I don't.

The Nephites not only allow the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to come live in their land, they give up a large portion of their land to them and offer to guard the borders from the Amalekites. I am touched by their love for their former enemies.

Finally, I like how the Ammonites are described (aren't you glad they stopped going by the Anti-Nephi-Lehies? Too many hyphens). 27 And they were among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end. I sure hope that I can strive to be more like them. I haven't committed nearly the sins that they had, but I know that I still have the need for repentance and greater zeal. I hope we can all strive to be more perfectly honest and upright like the Ammonites, and more generous and forgiving like the Nephites.