Posts Tagged 'Change of Heart'

1 Samuel Chapter 22

David fled from king Saul, who wanted to kill him. He had gone to a place called Nob and received help from the priest, Ahimelech. After that, David had fled to Gath, where he was recognized by the ruler’s servants. He decided to pretend to be mad, and the ruler of Gath decided he did not want him there. This chapter continued to tell the places that David went to while hiding from Saul. It begins:

1 David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him.
2 And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.

David left Gath and hid in a cave called Adullam. His family heard he was there, so they went down to him. People began to gather to him, because they were in debt or in distress. He became their captain. In all, he had gained about 400 men to follow him.

3 And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me.
4 And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold.

He left Adullam and went to a place in Moab, called Mizpeh. He asked that his family be allowed to say with the king of Moab, until David could figure out what was going to happen to him. They remained with the king of Moab, while David hid in the hold.

5 And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.

Gad, the prophet, told David that he should go to the land of Judah. David left and went to the forest of Hareth.

6 When Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men that were with him, (now Saul abode in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him;)
7 Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds;
8 That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or sheweth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?

Saul heard that David had been found, and that he had men who followed him. Saul was in Gibeah, prepared to fight, with all his servants around him. Saul asked his servants if they had made some kind of deal with David, because none of them had told him David and his son, Jonathan, had been in league with one another. He questioned their motives, I think, in hopes of getting more information out of them.

9 Then answered Doeg the Edomite, which was set over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub.
10 And he inquired of the Lord for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.
11 Then the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests that were in Nob: and they came all of them to the king.
12 And Saul said, Hear now, thou son of Ahitub. And he answered, Here I am, my lord.
13 And Saul said unto him, Why have ye conspired against me, thou and the son of Jesse, in that thou hast given him bread, and a sword, and hast inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?
14 Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said, And who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, which is the king’s son in law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house?
15 Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more.
16 And the king said, Thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech, thou, and all thy father’s house.

The servant of Saul, Doeg, who had been in Nob when David was there, told Saul that he had seen him going to the priest, Ahimelech. Doeg told him that the priest had fed him, given him the sword of Goliath, and prayed for him. Ahimelech and his family were called to come to the king. He called for the priest, who answered. Saul asked him why he conspired against him with David by doing these things, so that David was prepared to fight against the king. Ahimelech answered by saying that David was a faithful servant of Saul, and his son-in-law, who had been allowed to go about doing as he pleased. He had no reason not to do as David asked. He only did what he thought was right. Saul told Ahimelech that he and all his family would die.

17 And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the Lord; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the Lord.
18 And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.
19 And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.

Then Saul turned to his soldiers and commanded them to kill the priest and his family, because they had helped David and had not made Saul aware of where David was. The servants refused to kill them. Saul commanded Doeg to kill them, and he turned and killed 84 priests, who wore the garments of the holy priesthood. Then Saul had the city of Nob destroyed, including all the people and animals there.

20 And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David.
21 And Abiathar shewed David that Saul had slain the Lord’s priests.
22 And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul: I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father’s house.
23 Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard.

One son of Ahimelech was able to get away, and went looking for David. When he found him, he told him what Saul had done. David told him that he had thought Doeg would tell Saul, when he had seen him in Nob. He felt he had brought this death of Abiathar’s family upon him. He asked Abiathar to stay with him, because Saul was after both of them, and David would do what he could to keep him safe.

The priest had only done what he felt was expected of him, and I believe he and his family were in no way deserving of the death they received. Likewise, the destruction of a city of innocent people because they were associated with the priests, was evil. Saul had truly allowed an evil spirit to influence his feelings, stirring his heart to anger against David and anyone who had anything to do with him. Throughout the history of the world, Satan has had this kind of influence over the hearts of men, who turn away from good. It was nothing new then, and it continues even today. It doesn’t take much or even too long, for this kind of change to take place in people if they allow it. Studying this story of Saul, causes me to reflect on the choices I am making in my own life. A few weeks ago, a gospel teacher asked the class I was attending, if we could part with our favorite sin. It was an interesting question, and one I have thought about a bit since that time. Saul’s favorite sin seems to have been jealousy or anger. I wonder what thing I hang on to, my favorite sin, which I know God would not want me to do? Would I be willing to let it go for Him? If not, how far away am I from allowing Satan and his many followers to influence my heart and mind? I hope as I reflect more on these things, that I can have the courage to allow the Lord to change my heart through His influence, and give up my own favorite sin.

How Do We Know We Are Spiritually Born of God?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

The declaration begins “we are beloved spirit daughters of God”. As I reflect on that line, I wonder how I know that I am spiritually born of God. I think there are two ways to look answer this question. First, I believe that we are literal children of God. I believe that he is the Father of our spirits because he created us spiritually before we were physically created on this earth. In Acts 17:28 we read, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” To take that even further, God created our first father, Adam, both spiritually in heaven and physically on the earth. All of us our the descendants of Adam, who was created in all ways by the hand of God. In the Bible Dictionary it says, “Latter-day revelation confirms the biblical account of God as the literal father of the human family; as a being who is concerned for the welfare of mankind, and a Personage who hears and answers prayers.” I have a testimony of the truth in this latter-day revelation, and therefore I feel strongly that we must be children of God (See Bible Dictionary, God). Also in the Bible Dictionary we read, “Every person is literally a son or a daughter of God, having been born as a spirit to Heavenly Parents previous to being born to mortal parents on the earth (cf. Heb. 12:9). Thus each one of us is a dual being: an immortal spirit body, clothed with a body of flesh and bone. (See Bible Dictionary, Spirit)”

We are taught throughout the scriptures that mankind are children of God, born spiritually. The scriptures are written for all mankind, not just those who believe in them, and therefore they apply to all of us. In Malachi 2:10 we read, “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? . . .”. Ephesians 4:6 reads, “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Psalms 82:6 says, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” In 1 Nephi 17:36 we read, “Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.” Doctrine and Covenants 84:83 reads, “For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things.” Moses 3:5 reads, “And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;”. And again in Moses 6:51 we read, “And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh.”

Our modern prophets and apostles have also shared there own witness to the knowledge that we are all children of God. In The Family:A Proclamation to the World they write, “ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” I believe we were part of the spiritual family of Heavenly Father, just as surely as we are a part of a physical family here.

Even the Savior himself, taught us that He was not alone in being a child of God. In the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew, we read the following in 5:48:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Then later we can read the Lord’s Prayer in 6:9, where he teaches us the proper way to pray. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” The Savior did not single Himself out in this. God is our Father in Heaven, because He is the Father of our spirits.

I have experienced sweet moments of confirmation in this fact. I know that I am a child of God and that He loves me, personally, as His daughter. I know this because the spirit, or the Holy Ghost, as born witness to me of these things. In Romans 8:16-17 we read the following:

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

One of my favorite songs as a child, which remains a favorite even now, is “I Am a Child of God”.

I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
(Chorus)

I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows to late.
(Chorus)

I am a child of God.
Rich blessings are in store;
If I but learn to do his will
I’ll live with hime once more.
(Chorus)

I am a child of God.
His promises are sure;
Celestial glory shall be mine
If I can but endure.
(Chorus)

Chorus:
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.

When I sing it with my daughters today, I feel the spirit testify to me that what it teaches is true. I know that I am a spiritual daughter of God.

The second answer to this question, has to do with the choices we make in this life. All of mankind are the literal sons and daughters of God, but the scriptures teach us of becoming children of God, or being born of God, in this life. In The Guide to the Scriptures under “Born Again, Born of God” we read the following:

“To have the Spirit of the Lord cause a mighty change in a person’s heart so that he has no more desire to do evil, but rather desires to seek the things of God.” – Whosoever is born of God does not continue in sin, JST, 1 Jn. 3:9

We are born of God when we seek after Him, have a change of heart, repent of our wrongs, and live according to His will for us. In the October 1999 session of General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, James E. Faust said the following:

To be a daughter of God means that you are the offspring of Deity, literal descendants of a Divine Father, inheriting godly attributes and potential. To be a daughter of God also means that you have been born again, changed from a “carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness.”

In Mosiah 27:25-26 we read the following:

25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

Our natural state is that which was brought about by the fall of Adam. We tend to think of our immediate wants and desires, which seem more often then not, to be selfish and lean towards immediate satisfaction. The natural man is not able to become like God or dwell in heaven with him. The nature of God is eternal righteousness and happiness. To be that kind of person, we have to be willing to work harder to make better choices and change our wills to be like His. We should want this because we have the ability to become like Him. Not only do we have that ability, but it is exactly what He wants for us.

President Gordon B. Hinckey said the following in the October 1991 session of conference (LDS):

I wish to affirm also at the outset . . ., that you are very precious, each of you, regardless of your circumstances. You occupy a high and sacred place in the eternal plan of God, our Father in Heaven. You are His daughters, precious to Him, loved by Him, and very important to Him. His grand design cannot succeed without you.

God’s work is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). His grand design is fulfilled when we choose to become born of him in this life, and receive the gifts of immortality and eternal life as our reward after this life. We cannot be born of God in this life, unless we follow his commandments and make and keep sacred covenants with him. When we are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost we are spiritually born of God. In Alma 36:23-24 we read the following related verses:

23 But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God.
24 Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Baptism

I have been baptized and received the gift of the Spirit. I know that through this act I was and have since become a spiritual daughter of God in the sense that although I was spiritually born of him before this life, I naturally have been separated from him in this life. Through receiving His gift of the spirit in my life, I have the ability to return as part of his spiritual family after this life, if I will remain true and faithful to his commandments. I am so grateful for this knowledge and for the gospel in my life. I don’t know what kind of person I would have chosen to be without the influence of the gospel. I believe that knowing I am a daughter of God has given me the reason for living a good life and being a good person. I want to live worthy of the spirit, so that I can return to live with God again someday.

Mormon, Chapter 2

Why is suffering an important part of repentance?

When we sin we must repent to become clean again.  If all it took was to acknowledge the sin and we  were automatically cleaned, we would not learn anything from it.  Instead we must repent to stop ourselves from sinning again.  We must go through a true repentance process.  In these times we need the support of good family, friends and the church around us.  Having the gospel in our lives is so important to keeping us strong.

“And it came to pass in that same year there began to be a war again between the Nephites and the Lamanites. And notwithstanding I being young, was large in stature; therefore the people of Nephi appointed me that I should be their leader, or the leader of their armies (v. 1).”  Mormon was appointed the leader of the Nephite armies.  He was sixteen years old at the time (v. 2).  They were at war and the people, both Lamanite and Nephite, were very wicked.  I think that Mormon loved his country, despite the wickedness of the people.  I am sure that he cared about protecting his family and his land, and this is why he fought.  The size and power of the Lamanite army scared the Nephite army into retreating Northward (v. 3).  The Nephites were driven out of their fortified cities (v. 4-5).  They gathered themselves together as fast as possible (v. 7).  “But behold, the land was filled with robbers and with Lamanites; and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites; and it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land (v. 8 ).”  Because of the wickedness of the people, many were killed.

The Lamanites came upon them with greater numbers, but the Nephites were able to win the battle and the Lamanites fled (v. 9).  “And it came to pass that the Nephites began to repent of their iniquity, and began to cry even as had been prophesied by Samuel the prophet; for behold no man could keep that which was his own, for the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the witchcraft which was in the land (v. 10).  Thus there began to be a mourning and a lamentation in all the land because of these things, and more especially among the people of Nephi (v. 11).  And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people (v. 12).”  Mormon was thrilled that his people were lamenting and mourning, because it gave him hope that they would have a change of heart and that they would be blessed for it.  A lot of the time it takes tragedy and heart ache for people to see the error of their ways and repent.  It is often when people feel like they can not possible have it worse, that they remember the Lord.

“But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin (v. 13).  And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives (v. 14).”  However, the Nephites were not crying for their sins and begging for forgiveness from the Lord.  Instead they cursed God for their misfortune.  They did not want to truly repent of their wickedness.  Repentance is not strictly recognizing a sin. It is a process that involves apologizing, making up for what has been done wrong, committing to not to it again, and giving and receiving forgiveness.  It requires a change of heart.

In Alma 36:12-13 we read, “But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins (v. 12).  Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments (v. 13).”  Alma experienced the repentance process through the pain of remembering his sins.  He came to the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  He realized how awful it was to rebel against that which he new was true.  Alma then had a change of heart and was forgiven.  These Nephites would not do these things.  They would not turn to God with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  They were only willing to have the “sorrowing of the damned”.

“And it came to pass that my sorrow did return unto me again, and I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually; for I saw thousands of them hewn down in open rebellion against their God, and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land. And thus three hundred and forty and four years had passed away (v. 15).”  The Nephites had lost the chance to repent and have the grace of God.  This made Mormon sorrowful for his people.

When we fall into sin, it is so much better to find the source of the sin and prevent it from affecting our lives, rather than repenting over and over again.  We would be better off repenting and avoiding that sin from then on.  This can only happen when we give up the need for that sin and allow our hearts to be changed.  Repentance will be a painful process, either spiritually or physically.  It is meant to change who we are for the better.  It is there to help us refine ourselves and become more like the Lord, who is perfect.

Imagine being the prophet Mormon

In this chapter, Mormon starts as a sixteen year-old leader of the Nephite Armies.  His army had won some and lost a lot.  They were driven back throughout the land by the Lamanites.  He saw the wickedness of his people and the loss it caused them.  He watched his people act like they wanted to repent, but not truly doing it.  He experienced being pursued further by the Lamanites (v. 16).  He had remembered the commandments given by Ammaron, to get the plates of Nephi and make a record (v. 17).  He witnessed the worst kinds of wickedness (v. 18 ).  “And wo is me because of their wickedness; for my heart has been filled with sorrow because of their wickedness, all my days; nevertheless, I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day (v. 19).”  Mormon had the knowledge that he would be saved because of his faithful obedience.  At the time that he was about 35 years-old, they were driven back again, and tried again to fortify a city and protect themselves from destruction (v. 20-21).

“And it came to pass that I did speak unto my people, and did urge them with great energy, that they would stand boldly before the Lamanites and fight for their wives, and their children, and their houses, and their homes (v. 23).  And my words did arouse them somewhat to vigor, insomuch that they did not flee from before the Lamanites, but did stand with boldness against them (v. 24).  And it came to pass that we did contend with an army of thirty thousand against an army of fifty thousand. And it came to pass that we did stand before them with such firmness that they did flee from before us (v. 25).  And it came to pass that when they had fled we did pursue them with our armies, and did meet them again, and did beat them; nevertheless the strength of the Lord was not with us; yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren (v. 26).”

Mormon tried to inspire his people by convincing them that they needed to stand up for their families and homes, the same way that Moroni had inspired his armies.  When Moroni did this, he was leading an army of faithful men who truly wanted to fight for good causes.  Mormon, on the other hand, was leading people who were unrighteous and did not have the spirit of God with them.  I’m sure Mormon felt that a lot of his efforts were in vain.  However, he was a faithful man and continued to lead them.

“And my heart did sorrow because of this the great calamity of my people, because of their wickedness and their abominations. But behold, we did go forth against the Lamanites and the robbers of Gadianton, until we had again taken possession of the lands of our inheritance (v. 27).  And the three hundred and forty and ninth year had passed away. And in the three hundred and fiftieth year we made a treaty with the Lamanites and the robbers of Gadianton, in which we did get the lands of our inheritance divided (v. 28 ).  And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward (v. 29).”

In twenty-four years, Mormon had experience a lot of sorrow, fighting, and I am sure a lot of struggles.  He was able to stand firm through it all because of the knowledge he had that living righteously and faithful was the way to live.  He knew that he would be saved, even though he lived surrounded by wickedness and war.  Mormon was a man of great physical and spiritual strength and a great example of the kind of people we should try to be.

3 Nephi, Chapter 5

How powerful is the word of God?

I’ve recently seen pictures of the inside of a newly built prison that is not scheduled to be in use yet.  It is very much like the prisons I have seen on tv.  The small cells, with bunks for beds, small tables for visiting with outsiders, and very lonely and cold feeling in the materials used to make everything from the floors to the beds and so on.  I think that is how I would feel inside a prison.  Even with so many others around, I would feel lonely and cold.  The biggest difference between life inside and outside of a prison is freedom or agency.  People are put in prison for breaking the laws of the land that are deserving of being kept away from others.  The hope of those who are putting people into prison as inmates, is that they will reform their lives while in prison, or that those who are put in prison will change their lifestyles and come out better.  This way when they reenter society, there is no worry that they will break the laws again.

“And now behold, there was not a living soul among all the people of the Nephites who did doubt in the least the words of all the holy prophets who had spoken; for they knew that it must needs be that they must be fulfilled (v. 1).  And they knew that it must be expedient that Christ had come, because of the many signs which had been given, according to the words of the prophets; and because of the things which had come to pass already they knew that it must needs be that all things should come to pass according to that which had been spoken (v. 2).  Therefore they did forsake all their sins, and their abominations, and their whoredoms, and did serve God with all diligence day and night (v. 3).  And now it came to pass that when they had taken all the robbers prisoners, insomuch that none did escape who were not slain, they did cast their prisoners into prison, and did cause the word of God to be preached unto them; and as many as would repent of their sins and enter into a covenant that they would murder no more were set at liberty (v. 4).  But as many as there were who did not enter into a covenant, and who did still continue to have those secret murders in their hearts, yea, as many as were found breathing out threatenings against their brethren were condemned and punished according to the law (v. 5).  And thus they did put an end to all those wicked, and secret, and abominable combinations, in the which there was so much wickedness, and so many murders committed (v. 6).”

There was peace and obedience throughout the Nephite lands because of their repentance and humility during the fighting with the robbers (see last chapter).  In order to keep the land safe from the murders and other wickedness of the robbers, they put them in prison with the hopes of reforming them.  They taught them the gospel and allowed any who had a change of heart, to be set free.  Those who would not change their hearts, were punished by the Nephite law.  I think that if the gospel were preached in the prisons today, many would feel the spirit and change their lives as well.  The spirit has the ability to truly change hearts in a way that nothing else can.

How did Mormon get his name and what does it mean?

The Mormon church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Many call us Mormon because we have the Book of Mormon, which we use as a constant guide in our lives.  The Book of Mormon is called that, because the prophet Mormon abridged the plates into what we now have today.  “And behold, I am called Mormon, being called after the land of Mormon, the land in which Alma did establish the church among the people, yea, the first church which was established among them after their transgression (v. 12).”  He was named Mormon after the land where the prophet Alma started the church.  According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, Mormon means “more good”.

“And there had many things transpired which, in the eyes of some, would be great and marvelous; nevertheless, they cannot all be written in this book; yea, this book cannot contain even a hundredth part of what was done among so many people in the space of twenty and five years (v. 8 ); But behold there are records which do contain all the proceedings of this people; and a shorter but true account was given by Nephi (v. 9).  Therefore I have made my record of these things according to the record of Nephi, which was engraven on the plates which were called the plates of Nephi (v. 10).  And behold, I do make the record on plates which I have made with mine own hands (v. 11).”  Mormon made the abridgment with his own hands, after having gone through all the records that there were about the Nephites.  Making the plates was not an easy thing, like writing on a piece of paper or computer is today.  It was a difficult and very time consuming task, but Mormon did it for the salvation of many souls that would come after his time.

“Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life (v. 13).”  Mormon was a disciple of Christ and a prophet.

“And it hath become expedient that I, according to the will of God, that the prayers of those who have gone hence, who were the holy ones, should be fulfilled according to their faith, should make a record of these things which have been done (v. 14)—Yea, a small record of that which hath taken place from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem, even down until the present time (v. 15).  Therefore I do make my record from the accounts which have been given by those who were before me, until the commencement of my day (v. 16); And then I do make a record of the things which I have seen with mine own eyes (v. 17).  And I know the record which I make to be a just and a true record; nevertheless there are many things which, according to our language, we are not able to write (v. 18 ).”  Mormon was a man of obedience, who had been told to keep a record himself and to make the abridgment that we now have as well.

“And now I make an end of my saying, which is of myself, and proceed to give my account of the things which have been before me (v. 19).  I am Mormon, and a pure descendant of Lehi. I have reason to bless my God and my Savior Jesus Christ, that he brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem, (and no one knew it save it were himself and those whom he brought out of that land) and that he hath given me and my people so much knowledge unto the salvation of our souls (v. 20).”  Mormon was a direct descendant of Lehi, who came out of Jerusalem so many years earlier.  He knew he was a direct descendant because the lineage had been kept as a record along with all the other records they had been commanded to keep.

Mormon was a man of “more good” just like his name suggests.  He truly was a prophet and I am so grateful that he was obedient and made the records of the Nephites and their Lamanites brothers available to me in my life today as a guide to live my life and a source of the true gospel of Christ.

What is the purpose of the gathering?

“Surely he hath blessed the house of Jacob, and hath been merciful unto the seed of Joseph (v. 21).  And insomuch as the children of Lehi have kept his commandments he hath blessed them and prospered them according to his word (v. 22).  Yea, and surely shall he again bring a remnant of the seed of Joseph to the knowledge of the Lord their God (v. 23).  And as surely as the Lord liveth, will he gather in from the four quarters of the earth all the remnant of the seed of Jacob, who are scattered abroad upon all the face of the earth (v. 24).  And as he hath covenanted with all the house of Jacob, even so shall the covenant wherewith he hath covenanted with the house of Jacob be fulfilled in his own due time, unto the restoring all the house of Jacob unto the knowledge of the covenant that he hath covenanted with them (v. 25).  And then shall they know their Redeemer, who is Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and then shall they be gathered in from the four quarters of the earth unto their own lands, from whence they have been dispersed; yea, as the Lord liveth so shall it be. Amen (v. 26).”

All the children of Israel, or the seed of Jacob, will be gathered from the four quarters of all the earth.  The Lord made a covenant with the “house of Jacob” that they would be gathered together again some day and they would all be given the knowledge of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  The gathering is happening even now.  The children of Israel, the jews, are being gathered again and they will come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior when he comes again.  Mormon knew this to be true because of the many things he was shown as a prophet of God.  I have faith that this is the purpose of the gathering that is talked about throughout the scriptures.  We will all have the opportunity to come to know that Jesus Christ is the redeemer and Savior of the world.

Helaman, Chapter 16

Why did some Nephites believe Samuel while others did not?

After a lesson or a talk, not everyone has the same opinion of it. Sometimes someone will say they loved it, while another will say that they got nothing out of it.  I had an experience a few months ago on a fast Sunday.  As we partook of the Sacrament I struggled because the taste of the bread to me was sour and it was difficult for me not to focus on it being something I did not like.  I wondered if anyone else felt the same way.  Then during testimonies someone got up and shared what an awesome experience the sacrament had just been because the bread to her had never tasted so sweet and it brought the spirit to her so strongly.  We obviously had two different reactions to the same thing and it led to two different experiences.

“And now, it came to pass that there were many who heard the words of Samuel, the Lamanite, which he spake upon the walls of the city. And as many as believed on his word went forth and sought for Nephi; and when they had come forth and found him they confessed unto him their sins and denied not, desiring that they might be baptized unto the Lord (v. 1).  But as many as there were who did not believe in the words of Samuel were angry with him; and they cast stones at him upon the wall, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall; but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows (v. 2).  Now when they saw that they could not hit him, there were many more who did believe on his words, insomuch that they went away unto Nephi to be baptized (v. 3).  For behold, Nephi was baptizing, and prophesying, and preaching, crying repentance unto the people, showing signs and wonders, working miracles among the people, that they might know that the Christ must shortly come (v. 4)—Telling them of things which must shortly come, that they might know and remember at the time of their coming that they had been made known unto them beforehand, to the intent that they might believe; therefore as many as believed on the words of Samuel went forth unto him to be baptized, for they came repenting and confessing their sins (v. 5).  But the more part of them did not believe in the words of Samuel; therefore when they saw that they could not hit him with their stones and their arrows, they cried unto their captains, saying: Take this fellow and bind him, for behold he hath a devil; and because of the power of the devil which is in him we cannot hit him with our stones and our arrows; therefore take him and bind him, and away with him (v. 6).  And as they went forth to lay their hands on him, behold, he did cast himself down from the wall, and did flee out of their lands, yea, even unto his own country, and began to preach and to prophesy among his own people (v. 7).  And behold, he was never heard of more among the Nephites; and thus were the affairs of the people (v. 8 ).”

In this experience, there were two different reactions to the words of Samuel.  Some felt the spirit influencing them and had a change of heart.  These people chose to repent and be baptized.  Others felt nothing but anger towards Samuel.  These people tried to hurt him because they did not like that he was telling them what they were doing was wrong and that he claimed to know what was going to happen in the future.  In Proverbs 29:10 we read, “The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.”  These people were already set on getting rid of Samuel before he spoke from the wall.  They had hardened their hearts and would not allow the spirit to influence them.

Samuel was protected by the spirit of the Lord.  These wicked men were not able to touch him with their arrows or stones.  If it had been the will of the Lord that Samuel be hurt or even killed at this time, to serve His purposes, it would have been so. But in not being able to be hurt, more souls were brought to repentance and baptism.  Then Samuel was able to escape to continue preaching to the Lamanites.  There may be times when we are persecuted and we need to have faith that the Lord’s will, will be done.  We need to stand strong in the face of persecution and follow the guidance of the spirit.  We need to try to be strong like Samuel the prophet.

What was the spiritual condition of the Nephites?

A “Do Not Enter” sign shows us the way we should not go, whereas a “Right Turn Only” sign shows us the way we must go.  The Nephites had been given clear signs to show them which ways they should not go and which ways they must go.

“And thus ended the eighty and sixth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi (v. 9).  And thus ended also the eighty and seventh year of the reign of the judges, the more part of the people remaining in their pride and wickedness, and the lesser part walking more circumspectly before God (v. 10).  And these were the conditions also, in the eighty and eighth year of the reign of the judges (v. 11).  And there was but little alteration in the affairs of the people, save it were the people began to be more hardened in iniquity, and do more and more of that which was contrary to the commandments of God, in the eighty and ninth year of the reign of the judges (v. 12).  But it came to pass in the ninetieth year of the reign of the judges, there were great signs given unto the people, and wonders; and the words of the prophets began to be fulfilled (v. 13).  And angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy; thus in this year the scriptures began to be fulfilled (v. 14).”

Things did not change for the Nephites between the eighty-sixth year and the eighty-ninth year, but signs began to happen in the ninetieth year. The spiritual condition between these years did not change for the better, but became somewhat worse.  And then the prophecies began to be fulfilled.  There were “great signs and wonders” that came to all people of the earth.  The wise men saw angels.  I think that just as Samuel said, the great signs were most likely warning signs to the people, to have a change of heart.  Any who witnessed the signs and did not repent, would be held accountable for it.

“Nevertheless, the people began to harden their hearts, all save it were the most believing part of them, both of the Nephites and also of the Lamanites, and began to depend upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom, saying (v. 15):  Some things they may have guessed right, among so many; but behold, we know that all these great and marvelous works cannot come to pass, of which has been spoken (v. 16).  And they began to reason and to contend among themselves, saying (v. 17):  That it is not reasonable that such a being as a Christ shall come; if so, and he be the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, as it has been spoken, why will he not show himself unto us as well as unto them who shall be at Jerusalem (v. 18 )?  Yea, why will he not show himself in this land as well as in the land of Jerusalem (v. 19)?  But behold, we know that this is a wicked tradition, which has been handed down unto us by our fathers, to cause us that we should believe in some great and marvelous thing which should come to pass, but not among us, but in a land which is far distant, a land which we know not; therefore they can keep us in ignorance, for we cannot witness with our own eyes that they are true (v. 20).  And they will, by the cunning and the mysterious arts of the evil one, work some great mystery which we cannot understand, which will keep us down to be servants to their words, and also servants unto them, for we depend upon them to teach us the word; and thus will they keep us in ignorance if we will yield ourselves unto them, all the days of our lives (v. 21).  And many more things did the people imagine up in their hearts, which were foolish and vain; and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually; yea, he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and against that which should come (v. 22).  And notwithstanding the signs and the wonders which were wrought among the people of the Lord, and the many miracles which they did, Satan did get great hold upon the hearts of the people upon all the face of the land (v. 23).  And thus ended the ninetieth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi (v. 24).  And thus ended the book of Helaman, according to the record of Helaman and his sons (v. 25).”

The Nephites made the choice not to be a people of faith.  They decided that they could not believe all of the signs, if they could not see them for themselves.  They refused to believe that seeing the signs they did, meant that all the prophecies would be fulfilled, including the birth of the Savior.  They hardened their hearts still and depended on the wisdom of man instead of faith.  We still have signs and wonders in our modern times.  The Lord has not left us alone.  We have revelations of the spirit given to man all the time.  We too have many who are trying to live by faith in the words of the prophets and with an open heart to the inspirations of the spirit.  But we have many more who will not live by faith, but are only willing to believe what they can see with their own eyes.  This is sad to think, especially since people have so many ways to manipulate what others see.  We have wicked men leading the hearts of the people away from God.  I wonder if we had the same marvelous signs that the Nephites had, how many people today would turn to God, or how many would explain things away and not see them for what they really are.  I imagine it would be hard to change the hearts of many who are living today.

What are some tactics Satan used to harden the hearts of the Nephites?

Satan uses many tactics to harden hearts.  When it came to this time with the Nephites, he appealed to the imaginations of man.   He also stirred “them up to do iniquity continually” and used rumors and contention to harden their hearts (see v. 22 above).  We need to be watchful of his tactics so that Satan does not get a hold of our hearts and lead us away from God.  We can find strength in prayer and scripture study, attending church, having good friends, attending the temple and many other righteous and wholesome things.  We have the power to be stronger than Satan, if we are willing to work each day to live righteously.

Alma, Chapter 14

What’s your reaction?

“And it came to pass after he had made an end of speaking unto the people many of them did believe on his words, and began to repent, and to search the scriptures (v. 1).  But the more part of them were desirous that they might destroy Alma and Amulek; for they were angry with Alma, because of the plainness of his words unto Zeezrom; and they also said that Amulek had lied unto them, and had reviled against their law and also against their lawyers and judges (v. 2).  And they were also angry with Alma and Amulek; and because they had testified so plainly against their wickedness, they sought to put them away privily (v. 3).  But it came to pass that they did not; but they took them and bound them with strong cords, and took them before the chief judge of the land (v. 4).”  After Alma and Amulek had both borne their testimonies, the people had two reactions.  Some were believers and wanted to repent, while the rest wanted to get rid of them, any way they could because they were angry.  Those who did not believe, were greater in number.  They were angry with them because they said that these people were not living the way they should be.  I’ve commented on this type of reaction before.  People react this way when the truth is spoken and they don’t want to hear it.  When you are sinning, and some one calls you to repentance, Satan quickly uses the raw emotions that are there, to stir up the anger.  Sinners, who like their lifestyles, go on the defensive.

When I was younger and I was called to repentance, I usually rebelled on my own.  I’d do things I new were not the right things because people thought I was being bad anyway, so why shouldn’t I do it.  Now that I have grown up a little and have a clearer perspective on this life, I react differently.  When I am chastised I have sorrow.  It helps me to look for the ways that may help me to change for the better.  When we choose to react in a bad way, such as with anger, we are listening to Satan.  This can only lead to worse thoughts and actions, especially when we know we are wrong for what we have been doing.  Instead, we need to humbly acknowledge our faults.  Everyone has them, because no one is perfect.  Once we acknowledge our faults in our own hearts, we can begin to repair any damage we have done.

Is guilt good or bad?

Zeezrom admitted to the people, as he bore his testimony earlier, that he had been sinning and saw the error of his ways.  He admitted that he needed to repent and do what was right.  He told them of how he changed his ways and then had the awesome experience with an angel and then with the arrival of Alma.  He had been questioned and mocked by Zeezrom, but withstood it and then Alma had borne his testimony as well, which persuaded some to be believers.  “And it came to pass that Zeezrom was astonished at the words which had been spoken; and he also knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused among the people by his lying words; and his soul began to be harrowed up under a consciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell (v. 6).  And it came to pass that he began to cry unto the people, saying: Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless before God. And he began to plead for them from that time forth; but they reviled him, saying: Art thou also possessed with the devil? And they spit upon him, and cast him out from among them, and also all those who believed in the words which had been spoken by Alma and Amulek; and they cast them out, and sent men to cast stones at them (v. 7).”

When Zeezrom realized that he, through his words and lies, had been part of the cause for these people to go after Alma and Amulek, he felt guilty.  So guilty that he confessed this to the people and told them Alma and Amulek were men of God.  He was cast out for his change of heart.  I think this may have been bitter sweet for Zeezrom.  He would have felt better for confessing that he had done wrong and trying to help them, but also he would have felt bad for the reaction of the people to his change.  He was pleasing God, by what he had done there.  In Galatians 1:10 we read, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”  It should not be our goal in life to please others around us.  If we try always to please God, than those who are righteous will be pleased as well.

When we truly believe on the words of God’s chosen, we cannot help but want to correct those things that are wrong in our own lives.  When we truly believe there is nothing that we know should come before our attempts to put our lives right.  It becomes the truly important thing in our lives, because we realize the value in living righteously in this life.  Zeezrom’s actions before the change in his heart, led to these people doing these awful things.  It is an example to us of how our actions affect others.  We can be the cause of others choosing to sin, by our own examples to them.  I would much rather be the reason someone changes for the better, than this.  I hope that I live my life in a way that helps others come unto Christ more fully.

Why does the Lord sometimes allow innocent people to suffer?

“And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire; and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire (v. 8 ).  And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire (v. 9).  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 (v. 10).  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 (v. 11).  Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also (v. 12).  And Alma said: Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not (v. 13).”

Those who believed were taken and burned along with their families and their scriptures.  I cannot imagine being forced to watch this like Almulek and Alma were.  Amulek wanted to stop it with the power of God, but Alma felt the spirit telling him that they should let it go on so that the wicked would feel be able to be judged for their sin, by God.  Many innocent people of different eras have been made to suffer this way because hearts of others were led away by Satan.  In Alma 60:13 we read, “For the Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God.”  And in D&C 98:13 we read, “And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal.”  We need to remember that this life is but a moment.  They suffered horribly then, but because they died righteously, they would be saved in eternity.

We need these types of experiences to happen, so that we can grow from them.  We need to suffer things in our lives so that we are able to progress.  If we always were saved from them, we would never learn and the whole purpose for us living this life, would be taken away.  Even Alma and Amulek needed to witness this act so that they could grow spiritually from it.  They were not killed, because their mission was not finished.  Alma said that if the wicked intended on burning them as well, than that may be, but not before they were done doing what the Lord wanted.  We all have a purpose in this life and some of us will suffer more than others.  We will each be blessed for what we are able to endure.

What is the moral of the story?

There is often a moral to a story.  This is the thing that we are suppose to learn from it.  When we learn of Noah and the ark, we should learn that if we do not repent, the Lord’s work will go forth and we will be destroyed.  When we learn of David and Goliath, we learn that with the Lord’s help anything is possible.  When we learn of Moses parting the Red Sea, we learn that if we have faith, the Lord can work miracles in our lives.

Faith is a Sunrise

Their are important lessons to learn from this chapter in Alma.  As the verses continue we read that once the burning was finished, the chief judge asked Alma and Amulek “After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone (v. 14)?”  They did not answer him and so he put them in prison (v. 17).  Many men, all who were in line with Nehor, who had killed the good man Gideon, questioned them while they were in prison, but Alma and Amulek did not answer them (v. 18 ).  The judge spoke to them again, but they did not speak to him (v. 19).  They were hit many times in all of this.  The judge asked them, “If ye have such great power why do ye not deliver yourselves (v. 20)?”  They were mocked and spit upon (v. 21).  Then they made them go without food and drink and then stripped them of their clothes and bound them in prison (v. 22).  What do we learn from this?  That the righteous will be mocked by the wicked.  We learn that we should not contend with those who ridicule us, but that we should wait for the spirit to guide us in our actions.

The story continues, that after many days the judge and these other wicked men returned to the prison (v. 23).  The chief judge said, “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 (v. 24).  All of the men repeated this same statement as they beat them and then Alma and Amulek stood up with the power of God (v. 25).  “And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance.”  And then they broke the cords and the people started to run away in fear (v. 26).  The people were not able to get out of the prison, but fell to the earth.  The walls of the prison fell down and all of the wicked men were killed by them (v. 27).  Alma and Amulek came out of the prison unharmed (v. 28 ).  The other people of the city came to see what had happened and saw Alma and Amulek coming from what was there of the prison.  The people were afraid and ran from Alma and Amulek (v. 29).  What do we learn from this?  The Lord can give us the power to do miracles according to our faith.  We also learn that justice does come to the wicked.

I think the most important moral of this scripture story is that by our faith, we can accomplish great things.  We can withstand the temptations, the suffering, and anything else that Satan uses others to put upon us.  With our faith, we can be instruments in the Lord’s hands.

And it came to pass after he had made an end of speaking unto the people many of them did believe on his words, and began to repent, and to search the ascriptures.
2 But the more part of them were desirous that they might destroy Alma and Amulek; for they were angry with Alma, because of the aplainness of his words unto Zeezrom; and they also said that Amulek had blied unto them, and had reviled against their law and also against their lawyers and judges.
3 And they were also angry with Alma and Amulek; and because they had atestified so plainly against their wickedness, they sought to bput them away privily.
4 But it came to pass that they did not; but they took them and bound them with strong cords, and took them before the chief judge of the land.

About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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