Monday, June 30, 2008

Nay, but I will be thy servant.

Alma 17

In this chapter the sons of King Mosiah separate and go to teach the gospel to the Lamanites. Ammon is captured and is taken to King Lamoni. Ammon tells him that he wants to live among his people and King Lamoni likes him so he offers to Ammon to marry one of his daughters. Ammon politely rejects the king's offer and suggests that he might be a servant instead.

Alma 17:25
But Ammon said unto him: Nay, but I will be thy servant. Therefore Ammon became a servant to king Lamoni.

I thought this was interesting because in the scriptures it says that if you want to learn to love someone you should serve them.

Mosiah 4:15
But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.

I'm sure that he didn't feel right marrying one of the king's daughters, but perhaps he also had a plan to help him love the Lamanites more and to help the Lamanites love him so that they would listen to his words.

Ammon was a great missionary and I think this was one of the keys to his work. He didn't just come in and say I am going to convert all of you. He became acquainted with them and offered to serve them and when he had their trust and love he began to teach them about the gospel.

We can all be a missionary and we need to use this example when we want to influence someone in our life. We need to love them, be a good example, serve them, and then when they are ready to hear the gospel message it will come. Either by us, or a missionary, or someone else.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Reaching Out to Belong

"We speak of the fellowship of the Saints. This is and must be a very real thing. We must never permit this spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood to weaken. We must constantly cultivate it."

President Gordon B. Hinckley

There are a few things that we can do to help ourselves feel like we belong.
1. Make a smooth transition.
When moving, ask for your records to be transferred right away and set an appointment to meet with your new bishop to get to know him.
2. Know your not alone.
Chances are that there are a few people in the same boat as you.
3. Take a lead.
Be the first to say hi to someone.
4. Participate in class.
Volunteer to say the prayer. Add a comment in class. This will help people to get to know you. (This is something that I want to work on)
5. Get connected.
If you are in a calling that you don't interact much with people, find out what activities are going on and make an effort to attend. Going to Enrichment night, ward activities, temple night, and other events is a great way to get to know people.
6.Advertise your interests.
If people know what you like to do, it's easier to connect and to find common ground.
7. Help missionaries.
Helping missionaries is a great way to help fellowship investigators.
8. Keep perspective.
The people aren't perfect but the church is.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ask, Receive, Obey

Alma 16:5-8
5 Therefore, he that had been appointed chief captain over the armies of the Nephites, (and his name was Zoram, and he had two sons, Lehi and Aha)—now Zoram and his two sons, knowing that Alma was high priest over the church, and having heard that he had the spirit of prophecy, therefore they went unto him and desired of him to know whither the Lord would that they should go into the wilderness in search of their brethren, who had been taken captive by the Lamanites.
6 And it came to pass that Alma inquired of the Lord concerning the matter. And Alma returned and said unto them: Behold, the Lamanites will cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti. And behold there shall ye meet them, on the east of the river Sidon, and there the Lord will deliver unto thee thy brethren who have been taken captive by the Lamanites.
7 And it came to pass that Zoram and his sons crossed over the river Sidon, with their armies, and marched away beyond the borders of Manti into the south wilderness, which was on the east side of the river Sidon.
8 And they came upon the armies of the Lamanites, and the Lamanites were scattered and driven into the wilderness; and they took their brethren who had been taken captive by the Lamanites, and there was not one soul of them had been lost that were taken captive. And they were brought by their brethren to possess their own lands.

This is a great example of asking in faith, receiving an answer, and then obeying. They had been attacked by the Lamanites and some of their people had been taken into captivity. They wanted to know where the Lamanites would be attacking from next and how they could get their people back. The Lord told them and because they obeyed they were able to stop the Lamanites and get everyone back. What a blessing and a great example for all of us.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

According to Your Faith in Christ

Alma 15:6-11
6 And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?
7 And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught.
8 And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed.
9 And he said: Yea, I believe according to thy words.
10 And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.
11 And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom.

Bryan has done this same kind of question & answer thing with Kaden before a blessing. I think it's a good thing to do because it teaches the person where to put their faith and gratitude for the blessing.
It's kind of funny because a few months later Kaden got the stomach flu and I walked into the bathroom where Kaden had his head resting on the toilet seat and he was praying so hard that Jesus would help him to feel better. "Please Jesus, help me to feel better. I don't want to be sick anymore." It was really cute and pathetic.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

God's Plan Not Ours

Alma 14
So this chapter is about when the wicked people of Ammonihah cast out the believers of Christ and burn them by fire, imprison Alma and Amulek, are made to watch the people be burned, they are abused and told to deny Christ, God destroys the prison killing all the wicked judges inside, and Alma & Amulek walk out of the prison alive. When I was done reading this I was very sad about how things happened, but all I could think about was a scene from a movie where the hero is walking away from a fiery inferno.
All kidding aside, what a tragic story. It's so sad, but there is a purpose that God allowed the believers to be burned.

10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or 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, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.

God allows people to practice their agency and He knows that the pain the people suffered was brief and that their glory in heaven would be great.

Eventually the bad guys get what they deserve in the end.

24 And the chief judge stood before them, and smote them again, and said unto them: If ye have the power of God deliver yourselves from these bands, and then we will believe that the Lord will destroy this people according to your words.

Tsk tsk... Be careful what you ask for. He got the sign he was looking for. Although, not the way he expected. Unless, he expected to be squished by a wall.

I cannot believe the wickedness of the people of Ammonihah. You would think that there would be some humanity in their hearts, but there was none. The arrogance of the Chief Judge was staggering. They would not listen to the Spirit. Lucky for us we have the opportunity to listen to the Spirit. We can be delivered from our own personal heart aches if we have our faith centered on Christ. The problems may not go away, but at least they can feel lighter with an eternal perspective and a hope that things will get better.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You are Loved

Alma 13:27-30
27 And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;
28 But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;
29 Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.
30 And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.

I love this because you can see the love and concern that prophets have for us. They have a perspective that we don't have. They can feel the love that the Lord has for us and they just want us to be truly happy and they know that the way to true happiness is through living the gospel. Just think about all the pain and suffering that can be avoided by living the gospel. Think of a commandment that a person could break... Now think of the consequences that can arise because of that choice... There is a reason it is called the plan of happiness. Things aren't always going to be perfect, but at least we can avoid bringing things upon ourselves.

Monday, June 23, 2008

He's a tricky one...

Alma 12:4
And thou seest that we know that thy plan was a very subtle plan, as to the subtlety of the devil, for to lie and to deceive this people that thou mightest set them against us to revile us and to cast us out-

This scripture reminds me that the devil is very subtle in his deciet. He starts you off with a though, then a spoken word, then an action, and then a worse action until you are someone you once thought you could never become. You are in so deep that it would seem that there is no return. But that is the beautiful part of the Saviors plan. Even when we have made some really awful mistakes, the Lord can take them away if we will just give them up and repent.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Everyone gets to do it

Alma 11:44

Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Wickedness of my Heart

Alma 10:6

Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart...

I thought it was interesting that he said "in the wickedness of my heart." I don't think he had problems with sin outwardly. He was probably a good man who had a good family and a good life, but he was resistant to the spirit and maybe struggled with inward thoughts and attitudes. I don't know... What do you think?

This scripture also makes me think inwardly. What is the condition of my heart? If it is hard, what can I do so soften it?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I guess this means I won't have any excuses...

Alma 9:16&23

16 For there are many promises which are extended to the Lamanites; for it is because of the traditions of their fathers that caused them to remain in their state of ignorance; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them and prolong their existence in the land.

23 And now behold I say unto you, that if this people, who have received so many blessings from the hand of the Lord, should transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they do have, I say unto you that if this be the case, that if they should fall into transgression, it would be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them.

I guess this means I won't have any excuses when I am dead and it's time to face the judgement seat. So I had better buck up and do better.

Monday, June 16, 2008

That's not what I expected

I thought this was a great chapter because Alma is presented with a problem and he prays to Heavenly Father to soften the hearts of the people that he might be able to touch their hearts and persuade them to repent. He goes back and it doesn't work. Isn't that how it seems to go a lot of the time. We ask for a blessing and we don't get the answer we are looking for. But the Lord will answer his prayer. Just not the way he had expected. Go back and try again, but this time tell them they will be destroyed. I'm sure this saddened Alma, but this was the way to accomplish what he needed to do. And the Lord provided a way. He prepared Amulek to house him. He allowed them to be thrown into prison so that they could manifest God's power. I'm sure that's not what Alma had in mind when he prayed, but it was the only way to get the people of Ammonihah to listen.
I'm sure we can apply this to our own life. When we ask for something from Heavenly Father, we may not get the answer we were looking for, but it may be the best solution for our problem.

Alma 8
In this chapter Alma preaches in Melek and has great success. Then he continues on to Ammonihah and is rejected by the people. Then he prays to the Lord.

Alma 8:10
Nevertheless Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in Mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the People who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance.

He tries again to teach the people of Ammonihah and is rejected again. Alma decides to move on to a new place, but an angel comes to him and tells him to go back and preach to them again. This time with the message that if they don't repent that the Lord will destroy them. Apparently the city of Ammonihah was planning on destroying the liberty of Alma's people. So Alma returns to Ammonihah and asks a man named Amulek to feed him. The man receives him graciously and tells Alma...

Alma 8:20
And the man said unto him: I am a Nephite, and I know that thou art a holy prophet of God, for thou art the man whom an angel said in a vision: Thou shalt receive. Therefore, go with me into my house and I will impart unto thee of my food; and I know that thou wilt be a blessing unto me and my house.

Alma blesses his home and stays with him for a few days then when it was time he went to preach to the people. He and Amulek were so filled with the spirit that nothing would stop them. They didn't exercise their power until it was time to show the people the power of God.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What to be

Alma 7:23-25

And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.

And see that ye have afaith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.

And may the Lord bless you, and keep your garments spotless, that ye may at last be brought to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the holy prophets who have been ever since the world began, having your garments spotless even as their garments are spotless, in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Equal Opportunity Forgiveness

Alma 6:2
And it came to pass that whosoever did not belong to the church who repented of their sins were baptised unto repentance, and were received into the church.

Isn't it wonderful to think that the Lord will accept anyone who humbles themselves and repents of their sins.

Friday, June 13, 2008

know these things of yourself

Alma 5:46
Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

In this chapter it asks a lot of questions about whether or not you are ready to stand and face our Creator. It talks a lot about what we need to do in preparation for the judgement day. It warns us about pride and also tells us that gaining a testimony is very important. That is what this scripture is telling us. If we aren't sure about the gospel we need to pray, study the scripture, attend church, fast and pray about if this is the true gospel and if the Book of Mormon is correct. If we do this with a sincere heart and have prepared ourselves to receive the answer I believe that our Father in Heaven will reveal to us, just as he did to Alma, that the Book of Mormon is correct and that this church is true.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Relief will come

When you trust in the Father and the Son, you are confident
that They love you perfectly—that They want you to be
happy and that They will help you grow spiritually. You keep
the commandments. You seek to know Their will, and you do
what They require even when you desire something else.
Your prayers for relief are accompanied by the understanding
that Heavenly Father will not resolve all matters immediately—
that He may allow you to wait so you can continue
to learn and grow.
Through it all, you find comfort in the
assurance that the Savior understands your trials perfectly.
As part of His infinite Atonement, He took upon Himself
“the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” He took upon
Himself “their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with
mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to
the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities”
(Alma 7:11–12). Because He has experienced your pain,
He knows how to help you. If you look to Him in faith, He
will strengthen you to withstand any trial you experience.

True to the Faith Booklet pg. 10

I think that this is the reason that we have a lot of these war chapters in Alma. It teaches us that if we rely on the Lord that we can survive the adversity that comes our way, maybe not in the way that we expect, but relief will come.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

One of those war chapters...

So I read Alma 2 today and the closest thing I could find to a good scripture quote is
Alma 2:30-31
And it came to pass that Alma, being a man of God, being exercised with much faith, cried, saying: O Lord, have mercy and spare my life, that I may be an instrument in thy hands to save and preserve this people.
Now when Alma had said these words he contended again with Amlici; and he was strengthened, insomuch that he slew Amlici with the sword.

Not exactly a feel good quote... So I have this quote from Ezra Taft Benson.

"Forget yourself and find someone who needs your service, and you will discover the secret to the happy, fulfilled life."

That's a little better.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Let the Spirit Guide

Alma 1:7
In this scripture Nehor is contending with Gideon about the church and at the end it says “but the man (Gideon) withstood him, admonishing him with the words of God.”
I think that there are times that we need Heavenly Father’s help to say the things that we want to get across. Without the spirit, there is no way that we can do it ourselves. I think that anytime you are trying to teach someone about the gospel, you have to have the spirit with you or you won’t get very far.

Stick in there

I have a friend who said that there was a time – because of severe depression – that she didn’t feel anything when she went to church. She didn’t want to go, she was feeling horrible, and basically this could have ended her testimony if she had not been careful. She knew that even though she was struggling, if she just went through the motions for a while, that eventually she would come out of her depression. She said that going through the motions for a while - keeping herself surrounded by things that would nourish her testimony- made getting back into the swing of things a lot easier. How much harder would it have been to come back to church if she had stopped attending church for those months? So I guess the lesson is that when things get hard and you are feeling overwhelmed go through the motions anyway. Even if it’s all you can do, because eventually you will come out of the other side of your trial and you need to decide now where you want to end up when you do come out.

Alma 1:25
“Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.”