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Showing posts from 2012

"He that Will Hear My Voice Shall Be My Sheep," Mosiah 26:14-33

Mosiah 26:14-33

An important key to receiving revelation is given in verse 14. Alma poured out his whole soul to God. Then he was blessed with open communication, and "the voice of the Lord came to him." How often do I get to the point that I am in open communion with God? How quick am I to forget the blessings that can freely flow from heaven?

The feelings that I have felt as I have read through these verses are almost too tender to recount herein. There is a beautiful review of the core doctrines of the Gospel of Christ. There are important points also that sometimes get overlooked in basic gospel discussions, such as  the importance of covenants and taking upon us the name of Christ.

Verse 23 has caught my attention this morning as being particularly curious and at the same time amazing. Verse 22 states that "And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive." Then the reason for such mercy and kindness: "For it is I that take…

"Alma Was Troubled in his Spirit," Mosiah 26:1-13

Mosiah 26:1-13

A serious and difficult situation is addressed in this chapter of the Book of Mormon. We learn in the opening verses that the rising generation, those who where not old enough to understand the words of King Benjamin, had not shared in the faith of their fathers. The narrator of this chapter even goes so far as to say that "they were a separate people as to their faith." (vs. 4)

The cause of this separation was noted simply:
And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened. (vs. 3)Both of these emphasized words also have footnotes attached to them in the original. Thus we see that knowledge of the things of God is predicated upon faith. For it is impossible to acquire a true understanding of those things that are true without first believing that they are true.

This becomes an issue of serious concern for two reasons: 1) these children of the rising generation were not joining themselves to the church, and…

"Remember that It Was the Lord," Mosiah 25:14-24

Mosiah 25:14-24

Churches are form of organization. They exist for a government of spiritual matters. Being that God is a God of order, it naturally follows that as man draws nearer to God that there would be a tendency to organize oneself into a church or an organized body of the followers of Christ.

This selection details how it was that Alma organized a church (or seven churches) in the land of Zarahemla after their return. As a part of this organization, the people of Limhi, who had also returned to Zarahemla, are instructed and received into the kingdom of God by baptism. As Alma is instructing the people of Limhi, the scriptures here point out that Alma did teach them that "they should remember that it was the Lord that did deliver them." (vs. 16) Upon being taught, Limhi and his people are desirous to be baptized.

Baptism was both a matter of organizational procedure as a gateway into the kingdom of God, but also a matter of personal covenant and a witness of the individ…

"No Longer... By the Name of Their Fathers," Mosiah 25:1-13

Mosiah 25:1-13

Upon the arrival of the people of Alma to the land of Zarahemla, king Mosiah caused that the records that had been kept by the people of  Zeniff, and also the account of Alma, should be read among all the people of Zarahemla, which at this point in time now consisted of Nephites, Mulekites, and the newly joined people of Limhi and Alma (though they too were also descendants of Nephi).

As I've contemplated the purposes for which king Mosiah would cause to read this history, there are a couple of thoughts that impress me about this. I am reminded also of President Hinckley's emphasis on our own pioneer history. Strategically, here king Mosiah had received a notable influx of new citizens among their own, the natural human tendency, without understanding of where they were coming from and what hardships they had endured, would probably have given way to gossiping and other forms of potentially harmful misunderstandings. To completely eradicate such a tendency, and to…

"I Will Go with Thee," Mosiah 24:17

Mosiah 24:17

See also Exodus 3:12 and Alma 38:4

As the Lord is explaining how He will deliver the people of Alma, He says "I will go with thee." One of the footnotes on the word "with" in that statement is from Exodus. There the Lord reminds Moses to serve God in the mountain upon your deliverance. This is a reminder to not forget the temple.

In Alma, it reads:
For I know that thou wast in bonds; yea, and I also know that... thou didst bear all these things with patience because the Lord was with thee; and now thou knowest that the Lord did deliver thee.  There is a great deal of personal significance in these verses this morning, which any good scripture study should have. I do not go into details here though, except to point out that the Lord does from time to time require His saints to endure hardships and trials beyond what would appear to be normal and acceptable.

"They Poured Out Their Thanks to God," Mosiah 24:16-25

Mosiah 24:16-25

After a period of oppression under the rule of Amulon, the people of Alma hear the voice of the Lord say to them: "Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage." (vs.16) Subsequently, they work through the night to prepare for a morning departure. In the morning, their oppressors are asleep. Without conflict, the people of Alma are delivered from bondage. 

After having traveled a substantial distance, they arrive at a certain valley where the people of Alma pause to give thanks. Every member of their company, both adult and child -- anyone that could speak -- raised up their voices in praise of their God. They knew that God had delivered them.

"I, the Lord God, Do Visit My People in their Afflictions," Mosiah 24:8-15

Mosiah 24:8-15

This group of verses deals with the captivity of the people of Alma under the rule of Amulon in the land of Helam. For context, Alma and Amulon at one point in history where fellow high priest under the wicked reign of King Noah. Alma repented of his wickedness, fled from the king, and eventually moved on with a group of believers to establish the land of Helam where they were found presently. Amulon, on the other hand, narrowly escaped his own death by running deeper into the wilderness when King Noah was burned at the stake. He and the remainder of those wicked priests went on to kidnap a group of Lamanite daughters, causing war between the Lamanites and the people of Limhi (King Noah's righteous son), and now in a cruel twist of events, Amulon has won favor with the Lamanites so that upon discovering the land of Helam, Amulon is made to rule over the people of Alma.

Bondage would have been hard enough under the Lamanites, but to have their appointed ruler hold a pe…

"The Language of Nephi Began to Be Taught," Mosiah 24:1-7

Mosiah 24:1-7

This is to me a very interesting group of verses. We have here the account of Amulon and the other former priests of King Noah and their subsequent rise in power among the Lamanite people. What is interesting about this situation is not the quest for power among these wicked men, but rather how it is that the Lord was able to use them as instruments of preparation without them knowing it. In saying this, what we might be tempted to conclude is that there needed to be this wickedness in order for righteousness to move forward. I would have to say that is not so. In no way, shape, or form was the salvation of God obtained by these wicked priest through their wickedness. Nor, interestingly enough, was it obtained for their children or their children's children.(Alma 24:14)

However, what does come to mind here is that scripture that states: "Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;" (Doctrine and Covenants 3:3) Wi…

"They Hushed Their Fears," Mosiah 23:25-39

Mosiah 23:25-39

The purpose of these verses was summarized in the title of the previous post, "the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people," which is found in verse 21. In these group of verses we find the details of what is in my mind an extraordinary trial of faith on the part of Alma and also his people. I find myself this morning also asking: What is it about the order or economy of heaven that makes this this particular episode so noteworthy?

For after a period of establishment in the land of Helam where the people of Alma had been exceedingly prosperous in their daily affairs, suddenly the appearance of the Lamanites within th borders of the land cause a great fear to arise in the hearts of the people of Alma. I appreciate how it points out that Alma "went forth and stood among them" to quiet their fears by reminding them to place their faith in the Lord. (see vs. 27)

The people of Alma respond to this invitation of faith by exercising the power of prayer. The Lor…

"The Lord Seeth Fit to Chasten His People," Mosiah 23:19-24

Mosiah 23:19-24

There are footnotes on the word "chasten." I've found the reference in Deuteronomy 11:1-8 speaks directly to me.

Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.
And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm...
But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did.
Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; (vs. 1,2,7,8)The admonition to be diligent in all commandments is particularly more applicable to those who know and have witnessed the power of His almighty hand.

"Stand Fast in This Liberty," Mosiah 23:1-18

Mosiah 23:1-18

The broader quote used in the title states: "... ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free..." (vs. 13) and is used in context of a discussion on why they should not choose to have a King to rule over them. I find this very interesting however, and extremely applicable to the conditions of the United States. Though the question here is never about what type of government we should establish. That has already been given to us, and will hopefully never become an issue of debate, that is, what type of government we should have.

However, that we are introduced to practices and philosophies and entertainments that would cause us to compromise our freedoms, has become a frequent occurrence in our society. Hence, the admonition to not give up our freedoms by standing fast in this liberty that God has given us seems particularly relevant today.

This actually sends me back to the beginning of the month and some strong impressions I had about ho…

"They Pursued Their Journey," Mosiah 22:10-16

Mosiah 22:10-16

I was just reviewing the tags I had placed on the last post. I find it extremely intriguing that we can talk about integrity of character, service, and strategy all in the same breath. There are many stories along these lines then that have not yet been explored.

Again a couple of interesting points of observation in these simple passages.
Once the people of Limhi set out on their course, the scriptures say "they pursued their journey." (vs. 12) Though they were many days on this exodus from the land that they had labored diligently to establish, they pushed forward fixed on the course of their freedom. Upon arrival in the land of Zarahemla, the people of Limhi became subjects to King Mosiah. (vs. 13) This is particularly notable because Limhi's role and position as monarch of his people is dissolved. Truly, Limhi's great concern was for his people, not for his power.

"The King Hearkened unto the Words of Gideon," Mosiah 22:1-9

Mosiah 22:1-9

In this passage, the people of Limhi are gathered to devise a plan for their escape from the Lamanites. They have at this point concluded that the only way to remedy their bondage from the Lamanites was to "depart into the wilderness". (vs. 2)

There are simple subtleties in these verses that stand out to me in this reading. First, Gideon, upon soliciting the king's attention, presents himself as servant to the king. Gideon at this point, had developed a plan for the deliverance of their people, how long he had had this option in mind we do not know, but what does seem certain is his confidence in the plan.

In this reading I also paid closer attention to the actual directions that Gideon outlined to the king. It appears to have been a very indirect route, perhaps the least obvious of all possible, which would cause them to travel around the land of Shilom. (vs. 8)

The most intriguing part of this chapter however is Gideon's ability to be an effective serva…

"That the Word of the Lord Might Be Fulfilled," Mosiah 21

Mosiah 21
(See also Mosiah 12:1-8, blog post)

This chapter now deals with the bitter realities of Abinadi's prophecies being fulfilled. After outlining some of the difficult events which the people of Limhi were now encountering, verse 4 explains, "Yea, all this was done that the word of the Lord might be fulfilled." (A quick review of what the prophecy of Abinadi entailed can be found back in chapter 12 as noted above.)

There is an observation made in the blog post for chapter 12 that also describes what is happening in this chapter.
...To have a hardened heart is essentially to have withdrawn from the presence and the Spirit of the Lord.We cut off the lifeline of Life, our relationship to the Divine, and attempt to take salvation into our own hands, which is hopelessly impossible. As this current chapter (21) attests to, the way in which we so often attempt to take salvation into our own hands is by brute force or violence. It is human nature to think that we can some h…

"The Lamanites... Had Compassion on Them," Mosiah 20

Mosiah 20

There is a miracle of peace recorded in this chapter, and it is brought about again through the faithfulness and diligence of Gideon, the statesman. The daughters of the Lamanites show up missing, or rather the wicked priests who were associated with Noah before his demise kidnap twenty-four of the daughters of the Lamanites while they were dancing at a wilderness retreat.

This incites the Lamanite people in anger, lead by their king, to go up against the people of Limhi. Not being in the wrong, the people of Limhi themselves fought "like dragons" (vs. 11) to defend themselves. The king of the Lamanites, though not dead, was found among their dead upon the retreat of the the Lamanite.

What Gideon does after Limhi realizes the cause of this assault from the Lamanites is both notable and peaceful, and it worked. Gideon both now recognized the fulfillment of the the prophecies of Abinadi against his people, and he also recognized the obligation that they had to fulfill t…

"Limhi Began to Establish the Kingdom," Mosiah 19 - Part 2

Mosiah 19

I've chosen to break this chapter up into two parts. The first part focused on the demise of king Noah. In this second part, I now focus on those that were left behind, having not chosen to follow Alma and the people of God, but who now are coming to terms with the effects of corrupt leadership. Given this, we read in verse 1, "the army of the king returned, having searched in vain for the people of the Lord."

Subsequently, the people begin to divide and contend amongst themselves(verses 2 & 3). In this division, we are introduced to Gideon, who, in my estimation, is one of the most interesting characters  in the Book of Mormon.

What makes Gideon so interesting?  In these verses, there is an element of compassion about this "enemy to the king" (vs. 4) that solicits a desire to know more about him. While at the same time, his actions suggest that there is some internal moral and social compass that causes him to seek out the well being of the people …

"Concerned... About His Own Life," Mosiah 19 - Part 1

Mosiah 19

Chapter 19 appears to be mostly a historical account of the events that transpired in the land of Nephi after Alma and the people of Lord had left the land. However, this chapter also details the partial fulfillment of words of Abinadi. Where Alma and his people were able to escape the wrath of God's judgments, King Noah experiences both an internal and external collapse of his kingdom.

Among the remainder of the people, there arises Gideon, "an enemy to the king," who has vowed to slay him. At the very moment that Gideon would have done so, the King also discovers that the Lamanite forces are within the borders of their own lands. Placed in this situation of peril, we discover the true character of King Noah. The author of this text (probably Mormon) even goes so far as to point this out, "And now the king was not so much concerned about his people as he was about his own life;" (vs 8).

What follows this observation is the vain attempts of King Noah to …

"All This Was Done in Mormon," Mosiah 18:30-35

Mosiah 18:30-35

This first verse is a beautiful passage of scripture. It has reference to the significance of a location to one's spiritual conversion. Something of a nostalgia is recognized in these verses. This is akin to people when they find out that I served as a missionary in Costa Rica. When I am asked if it was beautiful, I can wholeheartedly  reply "yes" it was. Yet the sights and sounds that I am referring to have little touristic value. In my mind are the dirty roads of impoverished developments, the small homes of willing investigators, and the overcrowded buses where testimonies where shared. These are the things that make this land so beautiful to me, for the very same reasons as are recorded in verse 30, "how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer."

There is something about living and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ that enlivens the senses so that where one lives at the time of such experience…

"They Did Walk Uprightly Before God," Mosiah 18:23-29

Mosiah 18:23-29

These verses continue with the commandments that Alma gave to the priests with whom he organized the church after their baptism. (I find in these commandments keys to their prosperity and access to the blessings of the Lord.)

Alma commanded them to observe the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. That is a good distinction and this is good doctrine. It is a simple way in which we are reminded every week that we are not our own. Coupled with this commandment is also a reminder that every day we should give thanks to the Lord their God.

Then the priest are commanded to "labor with their own hands for their support," (vs 24).  There are other verses throughout the Book of Mormon that support this doctrine. Alma the Younger defends this point before several anti-Christ characters later on. (see Alma 1:3, 26;30:32) But this point that the priests are to provide for their own needs is an unique and compelling doctrine. To separate any financial considerations from the dut…

"Thus They Became the Children of God," Mosiah 18:18-22

Mosiah 18:18-22

The topic of becoming the children of God is addressed in these verses. These verses contain a string of commandments that are given to the group that was baptized at the waters of Mormon. Then half way through there is this insightful observation about the reason behind the commandments, "And thus they became the children of God."

This has to all be taken in the context that this was initiated by the covenant of baptism. These commandments were the means by which God was blessing his children to help them become the children of God. Additionally, Alma organized priests, now that the covenant was in place, "to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." (vs. 18)

It is interesting to note that the set of commandments that are listed in verses 19 to 21 are directed towards the priests who were commanded to preach unto the people. Those commandments included to teach only the words of the holy prophets, to preach only repentance an…

"The Spirit of the Lord Was Upon Him," Mosiah 18:13-17

 Mosiah 18:13-17

Reading these verses have brought to my mind the memory of a particular baptism from my mission. This experience is noteworthy because of the great sacrifices that were made to see it brought about, but the results were unequivocally positive.

When the work of the Lord is done the right way, the Spirit of the Lord accompanies it. This account at the waters of Mormon was done the right way. Thus is the account found in the scriptures. And what is the right way to do the work of the Lord? It is to do so with gentleness, kindness, meekness, and love unfeigned, when we entreat others softly with tones of sweet persuasion. It is to sacrifice greatly, and yet to be so endowed with spiritual power that the sacrifice seems hardly noteworthy of the blessings obtained.

"With Holiness of Heart," Mosiah 18:11-12

Mosiah 18:11-12

I currently am serving in a presidency for a church calling. I have been blessed to observe the preparation of other members of the presidency as they have taken seriously their assignments, and are working to have the Spirit of the Lord with them. I wonder if my own approach has been perhaps a bit too casual. 

Alma began the work of baptizing those that were found with him at the waters of Mormon with this sober plea: "O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart." (vs. 12)

I am in need of this instruction this morning because, though I am willing to do the work of the Lord, I am perhaps too casual in my approach, expecting that the work and will of the Lord will be done, merely for "attending" to my duties without sufficient preparation or prayer and supplication in connection with these duties.

We read in the scriptures, and in the testimonies of the prophets about spiritual gifts that accompany the w…

"What Have Ye Against Being Baptized?," Mosiah 18:8-10

Mosiah 18:8-10

I am working to commit this well know passage of scripture to memory. What follows are some of the thoughts and impressions that have come to me in the process of so doing.

This verse is frequently quoted out of context as the definitive definition of why we are baptized. That is well. I appreciate however having the historical background fresh in my mind as I study it.

The first aspect of the baptismal covenant that impresses me is the commitment to "bear one another's burdens, that they may be light."

I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was eight years old. I did not understand, nor do I hardly remember the events on the day of my baptism. However, as I look back at the covenant's significance and the promises that were extended to me, it helps me to understand why my life has taken the course which it has.

This point has been reinforced and driven home in several ways over the past week. In a recent leadersh…

"And He Did Teach Them," Mosiah 18:1-7

Mosiah 18:1-7

Now at the beginning of this chapter, there is a very brief statement about the repentance of Alma, who was prior to his interactions with the prophet Abinadi a wicked priest. We know very little about the repentance process that Alma underwent. In comparison to the double accounts that the Book of Mormon has about his son, Alma the Elder's change of heart goes virtually without note. However, there is one verse in Mosiah 23:9 which does state:
But remember the iniquity of king Noah and his priests; and I myself was caught in a snare, and did many things which were abominable in the sight of the Lord, which caused me sore repentance;There we have it then. As private and personal as the repentance process should be, it is sufficient for us to know that Alma, being a wicked priest in the court of King Noah, had to undergo a sore repentance process before he could begin to establish the church of Christ. 

These verses that deal with the people's preparation for the …

"Stand as a Testimony," Mosiah 17:5-20

Mosiah 17:5-20
See also Jeremiah 26 (vs. 11) 

These verses have helped me to recall the mission of prophets in the plan of God. The chapter from Jeremiah is particularly useful in this regard. In the March 2012 Ensign, the First Presidency message also focuses on the topic of prophets.

To fully appreciate what is given to us in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one must comprehend what the purpose and mission of a prophet is. Here is an individual who has found the way back to God, whom God then in turn uses to direct and point others in the direction that they should go.The reason for prophets is because God is a loving Heavenly Father, who has provided as many ways as he could to show us how to return home to Him without destroying this perfect test of faith. Prophets are yet another evidence of a loving, caring Heavenly Father.

Abinadi knew that he needed to what he had spoken was true and that he could not deny his words. He knew that even with the fate of death upon …

"One Among Them Whose Name Was Alma," Mosiah 17:1-4

Mosiah 17:1-4

There is something about the final words of a man's life that serves as a sealing witness or testimony of eternal truth. For some, there is remorse for a lifetime spent in trivial and vain pursuits. For others, fear and uncertainty of what comes next and a failure to prepare for it. And then there are those who have acquired a testimony of the world beyond this one, who have spent their lives in sacrifice and service to others, and in a very real sense, are ready to move on to the next great chapter. Such seems to be the courage and testimony of Abinadi in this final chapter.

Verse 2 introduces a very compelling and new dynamic to the story of Abinadi, for at this point in time we see the turning of just one of the priests of King Noah. Singular as he is, that Alma had been converted by the sacrifice and preaching of Abinadi, this shifts my understanding and reasoning for why Abinadi was compelled by the Spirit of the Lord to do as he had done. Not only did Abinadi gi…

"A Light that Is Endless," Mosiah 16

Mosiah 16

The joy that swells inside of me as I read about Jesus Christ this morning is beautiful. Phrases like "He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death." (vs 9)

Some additional thoughts that have come into my mind, in no particular order, as I've contemplated Christ as the author of life and light and salvation, the Eternal Father.
There is so much to learn, the acquisition of knowledge is becoming more like Christ. Creation is divine, the creation of life is holy. Endless light, there is nothing that can diminish its influence. I am particularly fascinated by the light. Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light which can never be darkened, a light that continues to grow and become stronger and stronger. 
And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickene…

"The Ends of the Earth Shall See," Mosiah 15:18-31

Mosiah 15:18-31

I am having a hard time following the natural flow of the chapter, as there are certain specific things that the Holy Spirit would point out for my immediate attention. Fore example, this morning I was stuck on the footnote for the word "foundation" found in verse 19, which linked to Mosiah 4:6. This reminder of endurance to the end based on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is the reminder that the Holy Spirit would have me to understand this morning.

Now it is another morning, and I am brought to consider the footnote on the word "peace" found in verse 18. There are references to the books of Micah and John, reaffirming that peace will be established through Jesus Christ. Almost universally everyone understands what peace is. Yet few there are that understand that peace can only come through faith on Jesus Christ, who is the "founder of peace," through whom the redemption and salvation of the whole human family had been prepared from the fou…