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Summer Book of Mormon Challenge - Mosiah 1-17

OK.  Here are my thoughts on the chapters I read this week:

Mosiah 1

"Search them diligently that ye may profit thereby..."  

I love the scriptures! I a second witness that we may profit eternally by reading them!

Mosiah 2

I love how every man had his tent pitched towards the temple. All things lead to the temple.

To trifle means to treat something without seriousness or respect. In verse 9, King Benjamin made it clear that he didn't command them to come so they would be casual in their listening--his intent was for them to listen and obey him.

I can imagine that must be how President Monson feels as he stands before us. When he feels he has been impressed to relay a message, he doesn't want it to be received casually. He doesn't want the people to trifle with his words, because they are not his words, but the Lord's words. And when the Lord speaks it is for a reason.

The Lord doesn't do small talk.

The first sentence in verse 22 says it all: "And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments."

I truly believe we do not understand just how easy we have it.

The Savior has suffered beyond our comprehension so we don't have to suffer more than we need be.  He has done the hard part. In comparison, our lot is easy. All we have to do is keep His commandments and trust Him.

With that perspective, my trials seem light and trivial. I am not bleeding from every poor. I am not at death's door, needing angelic support. I am not hanging from a cross.  He has done all of that for me.

I can handle what's been give me in gratitude because of that, and for many other things: the life he has given me, the blessings I receive for keeping the commandments, and so on.

Mosiah 3

Don’t you love the commands the angel gave King Benjamin?

1. Awake.  I think sometimes in our lives we can be asleep to spiritual things, and the first thing we need to do is snap out of it. We need to be conscious and aware of our spiritual life and environment.

2. Hear the words which I shall tell thee. After we are awake, we need to actually hear and listen to the things we are being taught, whether it come from the scriptures, our leaders, inspiration--we need to hear what they are saying for the gospel really is the good news.

The angel also teaches King Benjamin some very important points of doctrine:

1. The Lord hears our prayers.
2. He judges us.
3. The Savior, Jesus Christ, will come to earth, performing miracles and the Atonement
4. Salvation comes through Him.
5. He will be resurrected after three days.
6. He will judge the world in a righteous judgment.
7. Salvation is extended to those who sin in ignorance.
8. Salvation can only be achieved in faith and repentance.

I read the list in verse 19 of all the wonderful things a child is: submissive, meek, humble, full of love...willing to submit ti his father....that is SO not how my children act!  But that is beside the point.

I am in charge of me and how I respond to her behavior. I must be submissive (to the Lord's will), meek, humble, patient, full of love, and willing to submit to all things which the Lord seemeth fit to inflict upon me. It is up to me and no one else who I respond.

Mosiah 4

Two wonderful and strong points begin this chapter:

Belief in God, humility, trust, repentance, daily prayer  and continual obedience qualifies man to receive salvation through Jesus Christ.

If we do these things we will always rejoice and be filled with His love, and always retain a remission of our sins (for isn't that what joy is, knowing God and being clean?)

This half of the chapter is interesting to read in the light of the times. It says we are not to judge a person in need, but give all that we are able, for we not all beggars?

But in truth, there are some people truly in need due to hard times, and others in need/want because of their choices, so much so that taking handouts has become more of a given than an exception.  Hence, when we give them what they ask for, it is enabling unhealthy behavior.

I'm sure King Benjamin didn't know the world 'enable,' but since he was taught this truth by an angel, I'm pretty sure his teaching here is solid.

So, we are told to give what we can to the needy (and if we can't, simply to have the desire to give is sufficient), but what if what the needy is asking for would not help them in the long run?  Are we judging them  by withholding from giving certain assistance and things as we try to encourage them to learn to do for themselves?

Mosiah 5

Verse 12 and 13 stuck out to me today "but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called.."

Mosiah 6

The Lord's church is a church of order. We see that here. Names were recorded, priests and teachers were ordained (the Priesthood) and organized, regular meetings were held.  Doesn't sound to different than today . . . except we don't have Lamanites trying to kill us.

I love to see the continuity in His church throughout time. Just another testament today for me.

Mosiah 7

Ammon had a tough job to do, so he took with him strong men.  I know that when I have a tough time in life, or when I know I have something difficult coming up, that I benefit from surrounding myself with strong people who can help support me and lift me up--help me be stronger.

In verse 4 it says that they knew not the course they should travel, so they wandered for 40 days until they reached their destination. Now, they did end up getting where they wanted to go, but I wondered if they would have gotten there faster if they had prayed about it.  Perhaps they did, but it didn't say here.  I know that God leads me and guides me, but I also know that when I am purposeful in my prayers and listen for direction, my paths are straighter and easier.

I love how, in verse 13, Ammon gave King Limhi the benefit of the doubt, even after being imprisoned for two days. He wasn't angry. He didn't hold a grudge. He wasn't offended. He simply said, "No prob. I knew if you knew it was me you wouldn't have done it."  I think of all the times I've heard people choose to be offended by the actions of someone else, rather than giving them understanding, the benefit of the doubt.  

At this point in the scriptures we have three separate Nephite groups:  King Mosiah's people, King Limhi's people and the people of Ammon who fled after Abinidi was killed.

The good news is that it won't be long until the will be gathered together again.

The overall message of this half of the chapter is summed up in verse 33: IF ye serve the Lord He will help you.

Mosiah 8

 I am sure when the forty three people set out for Zarahemla that that was where they expected to go. They had faith they would end up there, so much so that even when they were lost they were still diligent (8).

But despite their intentions and efforts, the Lord did not lead them to Zarahemla, but to a wasteland.  I bet it was not what they had expected.  But, because of their diligence in taking step after step, they found the 24 plates which held the precious story of the brother of Jared and his people, which were preserved for the benefit of the Nephites, and us.

I find in here a wonderful example of how Heavenly Father directs our paths to where we need to be. Sometimes people worry that they can't hear the word of God telling them His will, where they should go and what they should do--and they allow that worry to stall them.  They stand in the middle of the road waiting for the Spirit to point them in the right direction. But, we learn here a simple truth:  Be prayerful and obedient, the go forth in diligence. The Lord will take you where He wants you to go.  But it is up to us to move.

Mosiah 9

So, here we are taking our first break from the chronological story of the people of Nephi, and taking a step backwards of about fifty years. It's like a flashback, or back story, in a novel.

This story picks up where Omni 1:30 left off.

We learn in the first two verses what caused such a the battle between the first travel party mentioned in Omni 1:27-28.  The leader of the first group wanted to kill the Lamanites, but Zeniff saw some good in them and fought to spare their lives.

I like Zeniff. He saw the good in people--so much so that he allowed himself to be deceived by the Lamanites. BUT, he was an eager optimist, full of vision and energy--some thought too much energy (he even admits that he was 'over zealous.')

He was willing to fight for what he believed and he was also willing to see himself through honest eyes. He admitted that he was over zealous, and that he was slow to remember the Lord. But, he turned things around, and battled the Lamanites in the strength of the Lord (17) and they cried mightily unto Him.

He was strong and humble, willing to repent. And he accepted responsibility for their situation. It must have filled him with such sorrow to have buried his people with his own hands.

Zeniff is one of those guys I'm excited to meet someday.

Mosiah 10

By this time Zeniff and his people had been in the land of their inheritance for 34 years total. After their battle with the Lamanites they had 22 years of peace. They didn't sit around eating bon bons and relaxing. They used that time of peace to prepare for war and to protect themselves.

Sometimes when we have a peaceful break between our trials we tend 'rest' and let things go a bit, but here is a great lesson that we can apply spiritually   We should use our peaceful times to arm ourselves with faith and knowledge, so that when tough times come, we will be prepared.

Not only did he prepare his people, but he was also aware of his enemies tactics. Again, a good spiritual message there.

In verse 12 we read the frightening description of the Lamanites, and really it was all because they held a grudge. The price of holding grudges and being offended is steeper and more dangerous than I think we realize.

Perspective, one of my favorite words, played a huge role in the state of the Lamanites. They understood not  the dealings of the Lord, and had in their hearts the view that they were wronged. It was this perspective the fed the anger and hatred, and hardened their hearts.

Perspective has the power to make or break a man.

Mosiah 11

I wonder why Zeniff conferred the kingdom on his son Noah. Did Noah keep the law of God when his father was alive, or was he already wicked?  Was it Zeniff's nature to look at the good in people that caused him to see past the bad into the good in Noah (if there was any?)  Perhaps his other sons were even worse than Noah.

Who knows. But, I do know that I am sad it happened. King Noah was a bad man. He knowingly went against the will of God.

It's amazing what pride coupled with laziness creates. King Noah and his crew felt entitled to all the good things in life while giving nothing in return. 

It is nice to know that even when people are wicked (or especially when they are) that Heavenly Father still loves them and wants them to return to Him. That's why he sends prophets---that's why he sent Abinidi.

I wonder how old Abinidi was. Was he part of the group that left Zarahemla with Zeniff? Did he know King Benjamin, and get to hear him before they left?

We always picture Abinidi as being very old, so perhaps that was a great possibility. 

Or, was Abinidi sent from somewhere else? In verse 27 King Noah asks, "Who is Abinidi, that I am and my people should be judged of him..."  He could either be saying that like, "hey, I totally know this guy. He's one of my followers. What makes him think he's better than me?"  Or he could mean, "Who is this guy? I don't know him and doesn't know me, so how can he judge me?"

I don’t know, but it's intriguing, if nothing else.

The Lord has a purpose in all that He does. And if we live righteously our lives will be used for His purposes--the greatest of which is allowing to learn and grow--and our lives will be prolonged by Him until we have done all that He knows we need to do for Him and for us.

Abinidi's work wasn't finished yet, so the Lord preserved his life, and delivered him out of their hands.  I have faith that the Lord will do the same for me. (and yet, I am SO grateful that my trials are not people trying to kill me!)

Mosiah 12

I admire Abinidi for his courage to return to preach and prophesy in the same city where he could have lost his life two years before.

I know there are many times that God has asked me to do things that seemed scary or frightening to me, and I am not always as eager to jump right in!  But, I try to.

The thing that really blows me away is that I think Abinidi knew from the beginning how this would end. In verse three he prophesied the fiery death of King Noah, a death that was to be the same as what he would end up handing to Abinidi.

I wonder how I would do if God asked me to do something that I knew would require my life.  I'd like to think I would go willingly (maybe not cheerfully) and do what he has asked me to do.

I LOVE ABINADI!  He is standing in court in front of the king a priests, who smugly think they can catch him in a trap of words.  They ask him one question (albeit a very long question--5 verses long) and he goes on for four and a half chapters. He doesn't even give them time to breathe! Boom, there it is!

I started reading this and couldn't stop until his speech was over.  It was, and still is, amazing.  The words he spoke, the passion that seeps through even 2100 years later. His understanding of the scriptures and prophecies, his testimony, his love for the Savior--his words are so passionate and so rich I couldn't stop reading.

Among his first words to the priests, he says, "Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding."  Abinadi knew where their hearts were. He must have known Alma's heart. Perhaps this was one of the reasons he spoke so specifically about the Savior, so that Alma would know what to teach.

Two things were learn: Actions follow the heart (verse 27) and Live what you teach (29)

Abinadi cannot be swayed. The priests try to use his own religion against him, but he cannot be moved. "Have ye done all this?" he asks them of the commandment of God. They hadn't. They knew it and Abinadi knew it, too.

Their actions showed where their hearts were. The good news is that even as bad as a heart can be, it can always change. Look at Alma. He was doing, as far as we know, the same things the other priests were, and his heart changed.

Hearts are pliable, able to change instantaneously under the right conditions. The softer the heart the more pliable it is.  Though Alma was doing bad things, his heart was not fully hardened. The power of the Atonement, through the Spirit brought in by Abinadi's words, reached into his heart, changing the soft part into something strong.

God doesn't want hard hearts. He wants strong hearts, hearts that will not fail men. A heart can be strong and soft at the same time. In fact, I believe that is the heart of God. Strong and immovable (understanding the need for justice), yet soft and filled with mercy, with room for love throughout. That's the kind of heart I want--strong and soft and big.

Bottom line: Truth is power. Actions follow the heart.

Mosiah 13

I love the faith that Abinadi had in God and his mission. The priests were looming in on him, and he still was unafraid! "Touch me not...I must fulfill the commandments wherewith God has commanded me."

He knew that he would be protected until his mission was done.

I think sometimes we lose focus on our missions, and we can let fear and doubt--even other people-- creep in and take control. It takes great faith to say, 'touch me not!' to those things that might distract us.  

He knew his mission and his message were what mattered. It didn't matter what was going to happen after he gave his message. In fact, if he did, indeed, know that he was going to be killed when he was finished with the message, it gives verse 9 new meaning-- "But I finish my message; and then it matters not that I am going to be burned at the stake, if it so be that I am saved."  Now, THAT is eternal perspective!

The condition of the heart is the key to the condition of our testimony and our faith.

Mosiah 14

This is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon, as well as the book of Isaiah. The beauty in which he speaks of our Savior touches me so. It is easy to see that Isaiah not only loved Him, but knew Him.

Mosiah 15

There's so much good stuff in here: Justification and mercy, resurrection, little children are save, the Father and Son are separate, redemption.  I could write about them all! But, I won't.

Verses 6-9, especially 9, are my favorite verses in this chapter. They speak to our Savior, the Atonement, and His role in the Plan of Salvation.

Vs 7- "the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father." Notice in this verse how the word IN is used, rather than BY.  It didn't say that Jesus’ will was swallowed by God's will. That would imply that God's will is overtaking the Son's, as if it were God's doing. But, it says in. That tells me that it was Jesus’ doing to put His will in line with His Father's.

That is one of the greatest reasons we are here: to align our will with God's. And someday our we will be so good at it that now only will our will be in line with God's, but it will be swallowed up in His will.

I love the imagery in verse 9 of the Savior ascending to His place in the heavens, standing in between  us and justice. I don't visualize Him between us and God, for God is always approachable, but Jesus Christ stands between us and certain death. He is the life boat that will save us from this sinking ship of mortality, and all we have to do is listen to His directions and follow them. How grateful I am to Him!!

And how grateful I am to God that He has appointed prophets to make this known to us--even prophets such as Abinidi that lived 2200 years ago.  Truth is truth regardless of time, and Abinidi's words are as true now as they were then.

I also love how Abinidi made sure they understood that little children are saved. I wonder if anyone hearing that had children at the time.

Chapters like this do make me want to 'break forth into joy' and sing together! Doesn't it?

Mosiah 16

Oooo, more good stuff!  I love the meat of the gospel! 

Jesus Christ is a light that will never be darkened. Beautiful.

I love how the gospel is completely inclusive. Everyone that has ever lived will have had a chance, if not now then by the end of the Millennium, to here the gospel and gain a testimony of it. That truth is spoken of here in verse 1, as well as Revelation and other places in the scripture. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ. And yet, there will be some--many--who, despite their testimony, will choose not to follow Him.

Mosiah 17

Abinadi was amazing. The courage he had, the faith he had. I have to believe that God lessened the pain of his terrible death as he gave his last testimony. 

I see a type of the Savior in Abinadis story: he came as a sheep to the slaughter, willingly and knowingly. And yet, his call to testify was more important than his own life. Amazing.

And now we meet Alma. It seems that Alma was a newer priest, as he was so young. It would also appear that, since he already knew the iniquities of the people, that he may have been a righteous priest. Perhaps he was appointed to pacify those that still believed. Who knows. But, it's an obvious assumption that King Noah didn't care much for him, as it didn't take much at all for King Noah to order his death.

I wonder if this wasn't the straw that broke the camel’s back for King Noah and Alma's relationship. 

Regardless, I admire the courage and humility of Alma.

I also think it this chapter testifies to the importance of record keeping and journal writing. Alma spent days making sure he recorded all of Abinidi's words and what happened. I also have to believe that when he was recording the words if Abinidi, that God helped him, through the Spirit, remember with accuracy all the words Abinidi spake.  It would have been difficult for Alma to recall word for word all that is written. I think the hand of God plays a much larger and more involved role on the scriptures than we realize. 


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