Friday, October 23, 2009
1 Now behold, I will show unto you that they did not establish a king over the land; but in this same year, yea, the thirtieth year, they did destroy upon the judgment-seat, yea, did murder the chief judge of the land.
2 And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land.
9 Now this secret combination, which had brought so great iniquity upon the people, did gather themselves together, and did place at their head a man whom they did call Jacob;
10 And they did call him their king; therefore he became a king over this wicked band; and he was one of the chiefest who had given his voice against the prophets who testified of Jesus.
11 And it came to pass that they were not so strong in number as the tribes of the people, who were united together save it were their leaders did establish their laws, every one according to his tribe; nevertheless they were enemies; notwithstanding they were not a righteous people, yet they were united in the hatred of those who had entered into a covenant to destroy the government.
I think it is very, very interesting to read the chapters about the people living in the world before the coming of Christ. Sometimes when I study these chapters, I wonder if there are parallel's in the way the people of the world are going to be or are becoming, before the 2nd coming of Christ. Just some thoughts.
Hopefully we will be on the same side as the Prophets called of God. That we will be truly converted so that we cannot be deceived. So that leaders such as Jacob cannot influence us by speaking with "flattering" language.
15 And it came to pass that Nephi—having been visited by angels and also the voice of the Lord, therefore having seen angels, and being eye-witness, and having had power given unto him that he might know concerning the ministry of Christ, and also being eye-witness to their quick return from righteousness unto their wickedness and abominations;
3 Nephi 7:15–26. On bright spot in the otherwise sad account of the Nephites’ turn from their righteousness is thesteadfast faithfulness of Nephi and his people. Their example provides a pattern to help us maintain our righteousness during times of wickedness. We read of Nephi’s firm testimony, born of personal experience (see 3 Nephi 7:15), that he boldly taught “repentance and remission of sins through faith on the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 16). He ministered with power and authoritybecause “great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 18), and those who responded to his testimony were themselves visited “by the power and Spirit of God” (v. 21). Those who believed were healed (see v. 22), repented, were baptized, and “received a remission of their sins” (see vv. 24–25).
21 And it came to pass that the thirty and first year did pass away, and there were but few who were converted unto the Lord; but as many as were converted did truly signify unto the people that they had been visited by the power and bSpirit of God, which was in Jesus Christ, in whom they believed.
3 Nephi 7:21–26.
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the difference between those who are fully converted and those who are still lacking. Apostles spoke of the difference between those who are fully converted and those who are still lacking. He further taught the continual need for a cycle of conversion, which builds steadiness in true followers of Christ:
“Each of us has observed how some individuals go through life consistently doing the right things. . . . When difficult choices are to be made, they seem to invariably make the right ones, even though there were enticing alternatives available to them. We know that they are subject to temptation, but they seem oblivious to it. Likewise, we have observed how others are not
so valiant in the decisions they make. In a powerfully spiritual environment, they resolve to do better. . . .Yet they are soon back doing the same things they resolved to abandon. . . .
“Sometimes the word converted is used to describe when a sincere individual decides to be baptized. However . . . conversion means far more than that. . . .President Marion G. Romney explained conversion:
“‘Converted means to turn from one belief or course of action to another. Conversion is a spiritual and moral change. Converted implies not merely mental acceptance of Jesus and his teachings but also a motivating faith in him and his gospel. A faith which works a transformation, an actual change in one’s understanding of life’s meaning and in his allegiance to God in interest, in thought, and in conduct. In one who is really wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died. And substituted therefore is a love of God, with
a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments’ [in Conference Report, Guatemala Area Conference 1977, 8]. . . .
“Stated simply, true conversion is the fruit of faith, repentance, and consistent obedience. Faith comes by hearing the word of God [see Romans 10:17] and responding to it. You will receive from the Holy Ghost a confirming witness of things you accept on faith by willingly doing them [see Ether 12:6]. You will be led to repent of errors resulting from wrong things done or
right things not done. As a consequence, your capacity to consistently obey will be strengthened. This cycle of faith, repentance, and consistent obedience will lead you to greater conversion with its attendant blessings” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2002, 26–28; or Ensign, May 2002, 24–25).
She had her little baby naturally! No epidural!
She was on four hours of pitocen and her Dr. had broken her water right off. I have been there before, so I can attest to that situation being extremely intense. But she remained calm and focused. She's so inspiring! What a beautiful woman and what a gorgeous baby!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Summary: Giddianhi, the Gadianton leader, demands that Lachoneus and the Nephites surrender themselves and their lands—Lachoneus appoints Gidgiddoni as chief captain of the armies—The Nephites assemble in Zarahemla and Bountiful to defend themselves. Between A.D. 16 and 17
This is a pretty important chapter: in it we learn that the leader of the Gadianton Robbers intends to destroy the Nephites, whether by murdering them or forcing them to join his ranks. We also learn that Lachoneus, the Chief Judge, is a righteous man and does everything he can to help the Nephites fortify themselves against the attack.
I was struck by the similarities between the world these righteous Nephites were living in and the world we are living in now. The are a lot of parallels between what is happening in this chapter to what is and will be happening in the "last days" before Christ comes again. Here is some of what I've found (feel free to add thoughts of your own).
~ Giddianhi wants the people of the Nephites, their cities, their lands, and their posessions. The choice is to give all this up or die (vs. 6,7). Satan, I think, works in a similar manner. He cannot have posession of our souls until we give ourselves to him--and this can happen piece by piece by choosing him over God.
~ The only crime the Nephites committed against the Gadianto Robbers was that they "had wronged themselves by dissenting away unto those wicked and abominable robbers" (vs. 11). I pray that I always have the strenth to simliary "wrong" the adversary.
~ Lachoneus replies to the demands of Giddianhi by "send[ing] a proclamation among all the people, that they should gather together their women, and their children, their flocks and their herds, and all their substance, save it were their land, unto one place." We also have a proclamation from our prophets. Isn't the purpose the same? To gather our families together unto one "place" as a protection against adversity?
~ The Nephites fortified themselves (vs. 14). We have to make the choice every day to add to our spiritual fortifications or to take away from it. If we are not adding, we are weakening the structures we need to protect our families.
~ Then, they repented! They repented "in their might". (vs. 15,16)
~ Lachoneus appoints captains to be stationed among the people and among the fortifications to warn the people of an attack(vs. 17,18). We have modern day "captains"--our Church is set up in the same way. We have bishops, stake presidents, area leaders, and prophets to guide us and help us know how to overcome our enemy. They, like these Nephite captains, are only imperfect men, but they still have the ability to be inspired on our behalf.
~ The Nephites want to go to where the Gadianton Robbers are in order to destroy them, but Lachoneus tells them they must prepare together in their strongholds and wait (vs. 21). Similarly, we should not fight against the adversary on his terms, and we cannot do it alone.
And here are the final verses. We can see how the Nephites placed every effort in preparation and defense, but especially in repentance and faith.
25 And they did fortify themselves against their enemies; and they did dwell in one land, and in one body, and they did fear the words which had been spoken by Lachoneus, insomuch that they did repent of all their sins; and they did put up their prayers unto the Lord their God, that he would deliver them in the time that their enemies should come down against them to battle.
26 And they were exceedingly sorrowful because of their enemies. And Gidgiddoni did cause that they should make weapons of war of every kind, and they should be strong with armor, and with shields, and with bucklers, after the manner of his instruction.
What do you think? My synopsis is a bit clumsy, but I am still learning. Did anything impress you about this chapter?
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Wickedness and abominations increase among the people—The Nephites and Lamanites unite to defend themselves against the Gadianton robbers—Converted Lamanites become white and are called Nephites. Between A.D. 5 and 15
1 And it came to pass that thus passed away the *ninety and fifth year also, and the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen—
2 Imagining up some vain thing in their hearts, that it was wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and deceive the hearts of the people; and thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and a vain thing.
These 2 verses stood out to me the most in this chapter. The signs and wonders that these people had witnessed were prophecied for years. Then they had the privilege of witnessing them and receieve the ultimate confimation of their testimonies to this point in time. Despite that, they lost faith in the coming of Christ. They returned to their wicked ways. I think we are all vulnerable to this in our lives. I know that I have been blessed with some incredible experiences and manifestations from the Spirit. I am not perfect in my faith, but those experiences serve as reminders to me that deep down, I do know this church is true. I do know that the Lord will answer prayers and fasting. I do know that the Lord loves me. I know these things becasue He has blessed me with so much. Sometimes my faith and testimony are not what they should be, but those past experiences are so important in helping get me back on the right course. In conjunction with those experiences are the daily manifestations and answers I receive when I need some sort of answer or help. Heavenly Father has never not answered a prayer. He has blessed me with a gift of being sensitive to the Spirit, and I have learned over the years to give heed to those feelings He blesses me with. It makes me sad that so many people lost their way after such an amazing manifestation from Heaven. And they knew because of those manifestations that Christ would appear to them soon. Nine years does not seem so long when these signs had been prophesied about for hundreds of years. But I know we are all vulnerable to this. I hope we can learn from this and not fall victim to the same 'wickedness' and 'blindness' they did. Heavenly Father blesses us iwth the answers that He does so we can learn and increase our faith and testimony.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Verse 2 gives me the chills. Samuel is telling them to repent and warns them that if they don't, their pregnant and nursing women will "have cause to mourn" because they will flee and have no place to go, so they will "be trodden down and left to perish." I always want to cry a little when I read this verse, having been pregnant and nursing so much of the last few years. But then I remind myself that these are warnings for those who have not repented!
Samuel tells them something important in the next verse. He tells them that the Lord has chastened them because he loves them. I think this is a concept we hear a lot but it's hard to actually live through. The Lord doesn't give us trials because he doesn't love us, he gives them to us because he does love us and wants us to grow from them. I know I need to remember that more.
Samuel also compares the Nephites to the Lamanites. I think it's interesting that he says that if the Lamanites had experienced the "mighty works" that the Nephites had experienced, they would not have fallen away. At this point, the Lamanites were actually much more righteous than the Nephites. I can see how the Nephites would have been angry to hear that said. The Lamanites had always been their enemies and they probably had a superiority complex. It's too bad that most of them couldn't humble themselves like the Lamanites did.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Samuel predicts light during the night and a new star at Christ’s birth—Christ redeems men from temporal and spiritual death—The signs of his death include three days of darkness, the rending of the rocks, and great upheavals of nature. About 6 B.C.
Samuel predicts signs of Christ's Birth
- "there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day."(v3)
- "there shall a new astar arise, such an one as ye never have beheld" (v5)
And signs of Christ's death:
- behold, in that day that he shall suffer death the sun shall be darkened and refuse to give his blight unto you; and also the moon and the stars; and there shall be no light upon the face of this land, even from the time that he shall suffer death, for the space of cthree days, to the time that he shall rise again from the dead. (v20)
- there shall be bthunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours, and the earth shall shake and tremble (v21)\
- there shall be great atempests, and there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called bvalleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great. (v23)
- many agraves shall be opened, and shall yield up many of their dead; and many saints shall appear unto many. (v25)
A great, all encompassing truth in verse 8, "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall abelieve on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life." Isn't this what it is all about?
I like verse 29 because it explains what the purpose of the signs is, "And this to the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved, and that whosoever will not believe, a arighteous judgment might come upon them; and also if they are condemned they bring upon themselves their own condemnation."
Verses 30-31 really sum up accountability and put the responsibilities where they belong!
"And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto ahimself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are bfree; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a cknowledge and he hath made you free. He hath given unto you that ye might aknow good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might bchoose life or death; and ye can do good and be crestored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you."
Monday, October 12, 2009
Summary: (The prophecy of Samuel, the Lamanite, to the Nephites. Comprising chapters 13 to 15 inclusive.) Samuel the Lamanite prophesies the destruction of the Nephites unless they repent—They and their riches are cursed—They reject and stone the prophets, are encircled about by demons, and seek for happiness in doing iniquity. About 6 B.C.
We're starting to get into the Samuel the Lamanite chapters, which is fun. It is always nice to re-read what he has to say to the Nephites here in Zarahemla.
We learn that destruction is awaiting these people, but also that they would have already been destroyed if not for the few righteous among them (vs. 12,13). We also learn that when the wicked cast the righteous out, they will then be "ripe for destruction." (vs. 14)
But what happened to the Nephites to make them so far gone? What are they doing that makes them turn away from God so strongly? Samuel answers these questions with some of his counsel:
~They have set their heart upon riches more than the things of God. (vs. 21)
~They are not grateful for what God has given them. (vs. 22)
~They are filled with so much pride they will boast, persecute others, and even murder. (vs. 22)
~They not only throw out prophets who come, they murder them. (vs. 24)
~They have procrastinated repentance. (vs. 38)
~They have sought happiness in doing wickedness. (vs. 38)
I think the key to the seriousness of these sins is found in verse 29:
"Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?"
They chose darkness. You cannot make a true choice between darkness and light if you do not have knowledge of those things. They know what is right but they choose to disregard the eternal consequences for their actions.
What choices do I make on a daily basis that might draw myself farther from my Father in Heaven? What activities do I spend my time in? Do I have too much pride? Do I love my things? Do I get more pleasure from buying something new than from strengthening my testimony? Where do I put my efforts? Are my thoughts consumed by things they shouldn't be?
These are all questions I had to ask myself. The Nephites in this chapter knew the choice they were making. So do I; I just need to make sure I don't choose wrongly.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Verse 1: We can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.
I have a testimony of this principle. I have seen it working countless times in my life, especially recently. I often reflect on the verses that come later in the chapter, expounding upon this principle.
8 For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.
9 Yea, behold at his avoice do the hills and the mountains tremble and bquake.
10 And by the apower of his voice they are broken up, and become smooth, yea, even like unto a valley.
11 Yea, by the power of his voice doth the awhole earth shake;
12 Yea, by the power of his voice, do the foundations rock, even to the very center.
13 Yea, and if he say unto the earth—Move—it is moved.
Reading these verses gives me faith to exercise this principle. In essence, I think to myself: "If God can move mountains, literally, then I know He can help me do this if I have faith." This principle gives me the strength I need to get through daily challenges. Sometimes He moves mountains by sending people into our lives to help carry the burden. The week following Jeff's surgery was very trying for both of us because he couldn't do anything, and I had to do everything, on top of school. We got many calls from people in the ward offering to bring meals and pick up Brookie for us. Of course I took advantage of that! And with each call, my heart filled with gratitude, knwoing that God was aware of us and our needs. He sent His servants to help us in our time of need. This experience increased my testimony of the importance of service--if I know how much it helped me out, then I need to reciprocate that.
The other principle that stood out to me was repentance.
22 And wo unto him to whom he shall say this, for it shall be unto him that will do iniquity, and he cannot be saved; therefore, for this cause, that men might be saved, hath repentance been declared.
The Lord did not send us here to fail. He established these principles, like repentance to help pick us up when we fall and bring us to the "finish line." We would be foolish not to take advantage of and exercise faith and repentance in our lives. God gave us these gifts to help us learn and grow and find our way back to Him.
Friday, October 2, 2009
This chapter is yet another example of the Pride Cycle cycling over and over and over again. When I was younger, I used to wonder why there were so many chapters like this in the Book of Mormon. These chapters didn't seem to have "quotable" scriptures and neat stories to repeat. It wasn't until later that I realized that even though these people lived much before our time, we can learn from them. With scriptures like this we can start to recognize the world that we live in and the pride cycles we are going through. As I grow up, this cycle becomes more and more apparent to me.
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles lamented mankind’s failure to break outof negative cycles: (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 19;or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 16). Surely the Lord has placed these obvious patterns of behavior in scripture for ourbenefit, to help us avoid the same problems in our own lives (see D&C 52:14–19).
3 And it came to pass that in this year Nephi did cry unto the Lord, saying:
4 O Lord, do not suffer that this people shall be destroyed by the sword; but O Lord, rather let there be a famine in the land, to stir them up in remembrance of the Lord their God, and perhaps they will repent and turn unto thee.
And so it was done. A famine came upon the land, and the work of destruction did cease by the sword, but became sore by famine.
7 And it came to pass that the people saw that they were about to perish by famine, and they began to remember the Lord their God; and they began to remember the words of Nephi.
9 ......when Nephi saw that the people had repented and did humble themselves in sackcloth, he cried again unto the Lord, saying:
10 O Lord, behold this people repenteth; and they have swept away the band of Gadianton from amongst them insomuch that they have become extinct, and they have concealed their secret plans in the earth.
11 Now, O Lord, because of this their humility wilt thou turn away thine anger, and let thine anger be appeased in the destruction of those wicked men whom thou hast already destroyed.
12 O Lord, wilt thou turn away thine anger, yea, thy fierce anger, and cause that this famine may cease in this land.
13 O Lord, wilt thou hearken unto me, and cause that it may be done according to my words, and send forth rain upon the face of the earth, that she may bring forth her fruit, and her grain in the season of grain.
14 O Lord, thou didst hearken unto amy words when I said, Let there be a famine, that the pestilence of the sword might cease; and I know that thou wilt, even at this time, hearken unto my words, for thou saidst that: If this people repent I will spare them.
15 Yea, O Lord, and thou seest that they have repented, because of the famine and the pestilence and destruction which has come unto them.
16 And now, O Lord, wilt thou turn away thine anger, and try again if they will serve thee? And if so, O Lord, thou canst bless them according to thy words which thou hast said.
You know what this reminded me of? It actually reminded me of September 11th. When our whole nation stopped and turned to God. It was a tragic time, and a spiritual time. At this time of our suffering, our Prophet also prayed to Heaven Father. His prayer is recorded:
“O God, our Eternal Father, . . . whose children we are, we look to Thee in faith in this dark and solemn time. Please, dear Father, bless us with faith. Bless us with love. Bless us with charity in our hearts. Bless us with a spirit of perseverance to root out the terrible evils that are in this world. Give protection and guidance tothose who are engaged actively in carrying forth thet hings of battle. Bless them; preserve their lives; save them from harm and evil. Hear the prayers of their loved ones for their safety. . . .“O Father, look with mercy upon this, our own nation, and its friends in this time of need. Spare us and helpus to walk with faith ever in Thee and ever in Thy Beloved Son, on whose mercy we count and to whom we look as our Savior and our Lord. Bless the causeof peace and bring it quickly to us again, we humbly plead with Thee, asking that Thou wilt forgive our arrogance, pass by our sins, be kind and gracious to us, and cause our hearts to turn with love toward Thee. We humbly pray in the name of Him who loves us all, even the Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and our Savior, amen” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2001, 112; orEnsign, Nov. 2001, 90).
Back to the seventy and sixth year....The Lord heard the prayer of Nephi and turned away his anger from the people.
I have always felt awe, peace, appreciation, and gratitude that God is such a loving and Forgiving God. We just need to turn to Him, ask for his forgiveness, and we are sincere, it's done. Even when He should probably hold a grudge! I stand all amazed at the love....
So.. the people began to prosper again! Yet... it only lasted about three years! In time, the Gadianton robbers were built up again. I don't think history will ever get rid of them.
33 Yea, for they did visit many parts of the land, and did do great destruction unto them; yea, did kill many, and did carry away others captive into the wilderness, yea, and more especially their women and their children.
34 Now this great evil, which came unto the people because of their iniquity, did stir them up again in remembrance of the Lord their God.
36 And in the eighty and second year they began again to forget the Lord their God. And in the eighty and third year they began to wax strong in iniquity. And in the eighty and fourth year they did not mend their ways.
37 And it came to pass in the *eighty and fifth year they did wax stronger and stronger in their pride, and in their wickedness; and thus they were ripening again for destruction.
38 And thus ended the eighty and fifth year.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Summary: The Lord gives Nephi the sealing power—He is empowered to bind and loose on earth and in heaven—He commands the people to repent or perish—The Spirit carries him from congregation to congregation. Between 23 and 20 B.C.
I can just picture how forlorn and alone Nephi feels as the Nephites divided and he was left completely alone in the midst of them. Yet, as he walked home he did so in deep, heartfelt thought (pondering) the things the Lord had shown him. Then, the voice came. Does this happen to you? When you're in the shower, the car, laying in bed, sitting in church, on your way to/from Visiting Teaching?
I love that the Lord comforts Nephi so completely with His words:
4 aBlessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with bunwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine cown life, but hast sought my dwill, and to keep my commandments.
As a humble and obedient servant, Nephi, after hearing these words, IMMEDIATELY returns to the multitude of people and tells them what the Lord shared with him about their destruction if they would not repent. (I feel this way as a mother with my children so often.... to a much less extreme.)
Unfortunately the Nephites still would not listen and began to threaten slaying him and tried to cast him into prison. Interestingly, the Lord was with him and they could not take him and he was "...taken by the Spirit and conveyed away out of the midst of them" (v 16).
Yet his continued ministering caused more contention and divisions among the Nephites and they began slaying each other. Poor Nephi. He was doing his job as a righteous servant and elicited so much hate and pride out of those he loved and was trying to save. Makes me wonder if our missionaries and General leaders of the Church don't feel this way in their ministering.
That darn pride cycle: