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"This Is What I Have Against Thee," Alma 39:2-11

Alma 39:2-11

One impression that comes to me in prayer as I reflect on this rather hard passage of scripture is that Alma did his son no disservice by clearly stating where the offenses lay and explaining simply the challenges that his conduct had created. Neither is this a heat-of-the-moment exchange.

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It appears to be random and off-topic, but in my prayers this morning I'm reminded of an exchange I had briefly with an older couple about a year ago with my family at a Subway's shop in Sedalia, Missouri. The details of that conversation are not for this setting, but it reminds me that there are no chance encounters.

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Back to the passage at hand, Alma spells out the begin and the end of his son's departure from the paths of safety, expounding upon the consequences of both. This allows his son to clearly see how to make course correction.  This was important in his son's darkened state because it allowed him a path of escape into greater light.

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On another morn…
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"A Good Example for Thee," Alma 39:1

Alma 39:1

On family dynamics: Alma starts into his council towards his son, Corianton, by what appears to be a comparison to his older brother. This isn't a comparison though.  Rather this is guidance and a testimony of the power of "a good example".

There is a footnote here that I will delve into deeper tomorrow.

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I have spent a small amount of time reviewing scripture that talk of example. I like how it is also equated with light, leadership, standard of righteousness, and pattern.  We are commanded to be an example of what we believe.

In John 13, the Savior says, "For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." Then two verses later, He adds "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." The relationship between testimony and conversion is thus put into its proper place here.

Why are we commanded to be an example of the believers? Why should we let our light shine before men that they can glorify God?

"O Lord, Forgive My Unworthiness," Alma 38:13-15

 Alma 38:13-15

Three simple verses at the end of this chapter that teach me how to pray and be humble. It seems likes such a small set of instructions, especially compared to what Alma gave to Helaman, but I find the points that he chooses to emphasis here, extremely important in teaching prayer and one's proper attitude towards prayer.

None of us really have the advantage before God. (That's not to say that he that keeps the commandments, and doeth the will of the Father, isn't approved of Him.) But there is this simple issue of humility that is required of all men when they approach the throne of the Almighty. Thus Alma counsels Shiblon:
Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy—yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times. (vs.14) Christ taught similarly:
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The P…

"No Other Way," Alma 38:7-12

Alma 38:7-12

Alma counsels Shiblon to "bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love." (vs. 12) Not only is this a key insight to happy living, but this is a significant explanation as to why commandments, and why obedience matters. Being passionate about something is good, being driving and motivated to accomplish good works is important, but being filled with love, that is best.

In yesterday's study, we established how spiritual knowledge is a gift of God. In today's readings though, there is agency front and center as Alma explains that "never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins." (vs. 8) It strikes me as significant that though God's grace is a gift given, it means nothing to us until we actively turn to receive it. We still have to choose it. We have to want it.

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Come back to verse 9 tomorrow. I read this verse, and I realized this is why I have pursued the path which I hav…

"The Spirit of God... Maketh These Things Known," Alma 38:1-6

Alma 38:1-6

Here at the outset of Alma's remarks to his second son, Shiblon, there a couple of things that stand out to me: first,  that Shiblon already was possessor of an intimate witness of God and that his father, Alma, was also aware of that personal testimony that his son possessed. (see vs 4-5)

Second, Alma doesn't take credit for the knowledge that he had obtained from God. Rather he says things like this:
I would not that ye should think that I know these things of myself and
it is the Spirit of God which is in me which maketh these things known unto me and also
if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things.  Is all spiritual knowledge then a gift from God? What does Alma mean when he says that it is the Spirit of God which maketh these things known, contrasting that with knowledge that could have been obtained of one's self? What does that do for ownership of one's own testimony?

This is again another great Gospel paradox: We must strive…

"Look to God and Live," Alma 37:38-47

Alma 37:38-47

In these verses we learn that the Lord has the capacity to create instruments of curious workmanship beyond what men could create. With our modern technology, this seems hard to fathom. However, to create an instrument that works according to their faith in God, this, indeed, no man could do regardless of how intricate or detail it may become.

I feel a slight rebuke in subsequent verses.

Footnote on "shadow" has me considering Hebrews 8:5 and Mosiah 3:15

"...the words of Christ, if we follow their course, [shall] lead us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise." (vs.46)

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I've been in this particular set of scripture too long now. I will note though at the end of this study, that feeling that I have from these admonitions of Alma are along the lines of watch always, don't lose sight of the little things, don't give up, "look to God and live." The way is easy, but that doesn't give us license or excuse…

"Do These Things, Ye Shall Be Lifted Up," Alma 37:33-37

Alma 37:33-37

I love how in five verses Alma preaches the Gospel of Christ and the Plan of Salvation to his son, Helaman. I also love the connection between obedience to commandments and personal revelation through prayer.  Then at the end is the assurance that "if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."

Verses 36 and 37 are were my heart has stayed this morning. It is a reminder at a time when I am really struggling with this very pattern, but I also know that there is no other way. So with a new day, my soul is a little more humble and calm, and I move forward, trusting that He will not lead me astray.

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So it's been a few morning since I started this study. This is the second morning now that I've come to the topic of Israel, its gathering and other related scriptures. This morning, however, the Lord wanted me to know specifically that the Gathering of Israel was long and abundantly prophesied of among the ancient prophets, especially Isaiah (…