Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Book of Mormon Challenge - Mosiah 22-Alma 9

Mosiah 22

Gideon is one of my favorite heroes of the Book of Mormon.  He had such courage (to fight King Noah) and yet such humility. He's one Book of Mormon character that I look forward to meeting someday.

There are times that I make things more difficult than they really need to be… I fight… I even  disobey… I struggle.  I get in my own way!  Gah!  Nephites are much different.  I think about the history of this group of people: the multiple wars with the Lamanites and such...  For years they fought and lost loved ones- all in an attempt to keep safe and escaped the Lamanites… all it took was some wine, and in one night they were free. 

One humble man with an idea- and they were free. So simple.

I wonder how many times the Lord has given me solutions or directions by inspiration and I ignored it or didn't recognize it because it seemed so simple.  Too simple.

Makes me think.

Mosiah 23

It is interesting that even though Alma and his people were living righteously, they were still exposed to trials.  I think sometimes we think if we are doing everything right, that our lives should be easy.  I do!  After all, we are taught that righteousness and obedience begets prosperity, right?

It does- spiritual prosperity, but not always physical prosperity.

This chapter remind me that life is a time to be tested- even in righteousness.  A little stress will always make things, and people, stronger.

The Lord doesn't not want us to live in or be driven by fear.  There are many times where I have to hush my own fears and cry unto the Lord for guidance, strength and comfort.

Mosiah 24

Notice how the Lord did not promise to take away their burdens, but to make them light by strengthening them.  I think so often we pray that our trials will be taken from us, but the Lord seems to work differently.  If we ask, He can make us strong enough to handle them, in mind, spirit and body.

He made them stronger and their faith grew to the point where the Lord rewarded their faith by allowing them a release from their burdens.

It is important to note how they gave thanks to the Lord afterwards.

I think it's interesting how both times the Nephites escaped they did it when the Lamanites are knocked out.  Lol.

Mosiah 25

Alma brings the different groups together in faith, purpose and worship.  It is so reassuring to me that the truth is out there, being organized, being taught and being heard.

Mosiah 26

And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God..... 

To understand the word, you must first believe.  That is why faith is the first principle of the gospel!

It is that very understanding that softens our hearts.  Hence, without it, their hearts were hardened.

It all comes down to faith.

Those without faith didn't believe or understand.  They wouldn't be baptized. They also deceived the believers.

Those who had faith and believed were blessed and called by the name of Christ.

It all comes down to faith.

Mosiah 27

Wow.  The conversion of Alma the Younger is one of the most amazing conversion stories in the scriptures.  I long to know what he experienced during his time of unconsciousness.  Who did he speak to, what was he taught? How was he taught?

I mean, what an amazing conversion that happened within in!

This chapter is replete with references to faith and repentance.  I love the idea that ALL mankind can be saved- not just a few. 

I also love the joy that they experienced by being tools in the Lord's hands.

Mosiah 28

This chapter is about faith and family.  It really had not been that long since the Nephites escaped the clutches and dominion of the Lamananites.  These very Lamanites taxed them, mocked them and tried to kill them.

And now, here are the sons of Mosiah, approaching their father saying, "Hey, Dad.  We'd like to go back there and teach them about God."  No wonder they had to ask for many days.  I wouldn't have let them go!  How frightening for Mosiah, as a father, to even consider allowing his sons to purposefully to into such dangerous conditions. I'm sure he would have said no, if it weren't for the answer he received from the Lord. 

If find it interesting to note that in chapter 26 Mosiah turned to Alma for inspiration when it came to a kingdom matter. But this was  a family matter, and he took it to the Lord himself.  The Lord came back gave a green light to his sons.  I wonder if Mosiah was still scared for them.  Nevertheless (awesome word!) he allowed them to go because he had faith in the answer he received and the promised that the Lord extended.

As a parent, it is frightening to make choices that I know will affect my children forever. I pray often that I will be in tune to the Spirit, so that I might lead and guide my children where the Lord wants them to go.

Mosiah 29

It's interesting that Mormon decides to put most of Mosiah's letter word for word, rather than summing it all up.  His own words show his humility and the love and concern he had for his people.

Verse 27 is eerily similar to the direction of this great land today, "And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you..."  Things are changing here- and not for the better.  The tide of standards and integrity are receding, the voice of the people is crying louder and louder for redefining of family, stripping away the rights of the workers and people's freedom to choose.  They are being tricked into thinking that this is a new form of enlightenment, and "upgrade" to how things have been done in the past.

Not so.

God's standards will never change.

Alma 1

Nehor, Nehor, Nehor, oh how you sound like so many out there today!  Proclaiming what you term the truth, buying people's allegiance with lies and misperceptions, playing to their vanity.  And how easily the people succumbed.

Of course they did. He made the path wide and easy.  He removed the struggle, the accountability and humility and replaced it with selfishness, laziness and pride.

Sinning always seems the path of least resistance.  But we see in the end of this chapter (and pretty much all cases of sinful behavior) that it is not the path to happiness.  Only righteousness is.

Alma 2

Three times in this chapter it's pointed out that the Nephites were strengthened by the Lord in their trials.  The battles were not taken from them but they were strengthened enough to be victorious.

Alma 3

Wouldn’t life be so much easier if the wicked had a red mark on their forehead? Well, lucky for us we have the Holy Ghost, the gift of discernment and clarity of mind to see the wicked people around us.

Many people do not have a knowledge or testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I wonder how different their lives would be if they had. It might not change their circumstances, but would that testimony give purpose to their pain, and strength to their fight?  Would it take the sting from death?  I can't even imagine.

For the Nephites and Lamanites, in just one year tens of thousands of souls lost their lives. Here is where the perspective comes in verse 26: "...tens of thousands of souls sent to the eternal world, that they might reap their rewards according to their works, whether they were good or whether they were bad, to reap eternal happiness or eternal misery, according to the spirit which they listed to obey....(27) For every man receiveth wages for him who he listeth to obey."

There is a toll to be paid, if not in this life then most definitely in the next. In fact, the toll paid in this life is simply an extension, a preview, of the price we will pay- whether good or evil- in the next.  If we are righteous we have the sweet gift of testimony and faith the help us through difficult circumstances. We choose to have faith, we list to obey they voice of God. And though we suffer because we are mortal and have agency, just as all around us do, that faith is what consecrates our trials for the eternal rewards we will receive.

The same rules apply to the wicked. Though they are wicked, they might find some happiness/pleasure in this life. But, without that faith and testimony, their lives are shallow. They attached greater meaning to positions and power, pride and prestige, assuming that these are the purpose of life. They  follow the flesh, never seeing beyond this world to the higher, broader purpose to life. They choose to obey the adversary, and become tools in his hands for the physical destruction of the righteous. 

Life has difficulties for everyone- the righteous and the wicked.  The difference is who we choose to follow.  That will affect how we see this life and what we strive for. These all determine where we and up.

It really does come down to choices. This life is full of joy and sorrow. Everyone is faced with difficult circumstances- some more than others.

But, it's not our circumstances that define us. It's our choices.

Alma 4

Oh the Nephite cycle!!

In verse 10 it says:... the wickedness of the church was a great stumbling block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fall in its progress.

Above it I have written: Are you a stumbling block?

People watch us. They watch to see if we live what we claim to believe.  When we don't live we what claim to believe, it leaves others confused. If we as members of the church are negative, angry, and not living the gospel, what incentive does that give, what example does that give to those who aren't members of the church?  Does our behavior- the lives that we lead- draw people closer to the Savior or not?

A few things that I really loved:

Verse 14:...for Christ's sake...   The things that the humble followers did, they did for Christ's sake. I pondered what that meant. My interpretation is that everything good that we do, we do because the Atonement has allowed us to.  They say that he suffered for our sins, so I  know that some of the blood and tears that he shed were for me. Conversely, I'd like to think that the good things that I do can ease his burden, further his cause and bring my Savior joy- that maybe I can lighten his load by choosing the right. I love that.


Verse 15: ...nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail them...   They were humble, and the Spirit didn't let them down. Love it!

I love the humility of Alma.  Not that prestige was important to him- but he gave up a prestigious position for the sake of helping rebuild the kingdom. That inspires me to ask myself: How much would I be willing to give up to further the Kingdom? I've covenanted to dedicate all that I have to do so.  I hope I do

Alma 5

...and they awoke unto God...their souls were illuminated

What beautiful descriptive words.

I love this verse: 
16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

Can I imagine the voice of the Lord taking to me?  What would I like Him to say? What would He actually say?  Do I have the image of God in my countenance?

 This speech was made by Alma the Younger.  Remember, he was the one who saw the angel of God and was struck down for three days while he was in an amazing repentance process. But, despite these wonderful and very real experiences, listen to how he explains he received his testimony:

46 Behold, I say unto you they are made aknown unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have bfasted 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 ofcrevelation which is in me.

It's the Spirit that gives us our testimony- not our experiences. it's how much we open our hearts to the Spirit and allow him to testify of the truthfulness for the gospel. The same things happened to the twelve apostles. Even thought they walked with Jesus, it was when they were pricked in their hearts that they knew.

Alma 6

God's house is a house of order. Alma saw that there was a work to be done, first in the church then outside.

He made sure leaders were called by the priesthood. Then those who didn't want to be there were kicked out, and those who wanted in were baptized. The church was purged and planted, and once again healthy. Only AFTER that happened did Alma feel like he could leave and serve his mission.

I also think the pattern for Alma's testimony was interesting as it was spelled out in verse 8.  His testimony of Jesus Christ gave him the spirit of prophecy, which gave him the revelation of truth. 

Very cool!

Alma 7

Alma established some very important- critical- truths in this chapter:
1.        The most important thing above ALL ELSE is the Redeemer and His Atonement.  (vs 7)
2.        The Lord God has power to do all things- whether we understand them or not (8)
3.        Repentance is the way to prepare to meet Him (9)
4.        The Atonement is broken down and explained
1.        Jesus was the Son of God (10)
2.        He experienced suffering and afflictions and temptations in order to take upon our pains and sicknesses (11)
3.        He allowed Himself to die, to loosen the bands of death for us (12)
4.        He took on our infirmities so He can be filled with mercy, and know how to succor and comfort us (12)
5.        The Son of God suffered physically in order to pay the price for our sins. (13)
6.        His sacrifice offers us deliverance (13)
5.        Repentance and baptism are the ONLY ways to take advantage of the Atonement in our lives (14)
6.        Sin leads to our eternal destruction (15)
7.        The Lord is always consistent and right (20)
8.        We have a duty to follow God (22) and it is our testimonies that make us aware of that duty.
9.        Oh the Eternal To-Be List! (23 & 24)
1.        Humble
2.        Submissive
3.        Gentle
4.        Easy to be entreated
5.        Full of patience
6.        Full of long-suffering
7.        Temperate in all things
8.        Diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times
9.        Ask God for your needs, both spiritual and temporal
10.     Always give thanks to God for what He gives you
11.     Have faith
12.     Have hope
13.     Have charity
14.     Always abound in good works
10.     If we do the above things, the Lord will cleanse us from our sins (25)
11.     We are blessed with peace according to our faith and good works (27)

What and AMAZING sermon Alma gave!  How beautiful it was then, and how applicable it still is today!

Alma 8

Amulek is the epitome of  the right guy at the right time. But I must add- doing the right thing. He was a righteous man, he listened to the angel he saw in a vision (how can you not?), he let Alma in, studied with him, was taught by him and eventually, was asked to preach with him.

We know that Amulek was almost, if not as equally, a powerful teacher and speaker as Alma. He must have had an amazing testimony.

I wonder, in my life, how many blessings and opportunities I've had, just by being the right girl at the right time doing the right thing.  I know meeting my husband was one of them. Today we celebrate our 17th anniversary. I gave him a card that congratulated him on celebrating the day he made the smartest decision of his life- but seriously, I am blessed to be with him. 

I know that I've been blessed in my life, not because I'm awesome or anything- but simply because God saw that I was willing to follow Him, to go where He wants me to go, do what he wants me to do, and be what He wants me to be

I also love how, when Alma receives a message from the Lord, he not only did what he was asked. He went about it "speedily."  That shows a willingness and eagerness to follow Him. What a great example these two men are to me.

Alma 9


"Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods."

C.S. Lewis

 Alma uses the words 'remember' and 'forgotten' six times.  The people of Ammonihah were once believers, but over time they had "forgotten" what they once believed.

Our circumstances and moods fluctuate, and for some, so does their faith.   Times get tough, obedience is difficult, fears take over- we begin to forget our testimonies.  Doubt creeps in we falter.

Keeping the faith means that regardless of the change in circumstances and even our moods, we maintain our testimonies of our Savior and His gospel.  It's not always easy to do, but we read here the price of those who don't.

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