Posts Tagged 'Followers of Christ'

2 Kings Chapter 24

Judah, which had been a land worthy of the temple of the Lord, and where the faithful would travel to worship and make sacrifices and offerings to the Lord, had become a wicked and idolatrous place. Unrighteous rulers, such as King Manasseh, had led the people to follow after their own wicked ways. Because of this, the people of Judah were promised to be removed from the land by other nations, just as the other tribes of Israel had been scattered. Jehoiakim, who had been raised to be the king of Judah by the Pharoah of Egypt, was not a righteous leader. The people became subject to Egypt, and Jehoiakim taxed them in order to pay the necessary tribute. The record of the people of Judah continues as follows:

1 In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him.
2 And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servants the prophets.
3 Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;
4 And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon.

Jehoiakim, and his people, became servants to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon for three years, and then they rebelled against Babylon. After this, and because of the promises of the Lord, other nations came against Judah. Some of these nations included the Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites, and the children of Ammon. Judah would be destroyed because of the grossly wicked acts committed there, such as the unforgivable shedding of innocent blood (see also 2 Kings 21:16).

5 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
6 So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead.
7 And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt.

Jehoiakim died and his son Jehoiachin (also known as Jeconiah) became king of Judah. Pharaoh of Egypt did not return to take Judah, because the king of Babylon had taken much of the land from Pharaoh.

8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother’s name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
9 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father had done.

King Jehoiachin became the ruler of Judah at the age of eighteen (the second book of Chronicles says that he ruled at the age of eight). He only reigned for three months, and he did so in wickedness.

10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.
11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it.
12 And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign.
13 And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said.
14 And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.
15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king’s mother, and the king’s wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.
16 And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, all that were strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar’s servants besieged Jerusalem during the reign of Jehoiachin. Nebuchadnezzar came against the city and Jehoiachin and his family and servants went out to him. Nebuchadnezzar took them. Then, he removed all the treasures from the palace and the temple. Many of the people in Jerusalem were carried away captive, even as many as ten thousand people, with the exception of those who were the “poorest sort”. They included seven thousand mighty men, a thousand craftsmen and smiths, and anyone who was strong enough to fight. These were possibly taken to make their own army stronger, or to stop the people of Jerusalem from being strong enough to fight or have the skill to make weapons needed to fight Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Those who were left may have been considered the poorest because they were not fit for battle against their enemies. The captives were taken to Babylon.

17 And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father’s brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
18 Zedekiah was twenty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
19 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.
20 For through the anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

Mattaniah, the brother of Jehoiachin, was made the king of Judah. His name was changed to Zedekiah. Zedekiah ruled for eleven years, from the age of 21 to about 32. He was an evil king and ruled as Jehoiakim had ruled. Jerusalem and Judah did not have peace in this time, because of their wickedness. Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon (see also 2 Chronicles 36 and Daniel 1).

As a side note, it is interesting to me, to see what had happened in the land of Judah, specifically in Jerusalem, at the time when the record of the book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon begins. I had assumed some things in all my times reading the verses of Nephi, which seem to have some differences if this chapter of 2 Kings is translated correctly. I had assumed that Lehi had left Jerusalem before any of the city had been taken. However, Lehi and his family were living in Jerusalem at this time when many of the people of Jerusalem were taken to Babylon. The record of Nephi begins in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, which means that Lehi’s family were of the people described here as the “poorest sort” left in Jerusalem. If being the “poorest” was regarding their wealth, they had not been among the wealthiest there before Jehoiachin was taken. Now that those people were gone, they may have been among the wealthier of those left. If not about their wealth, they were among those who were not physically the most strong, or did not have skills for making war. In which case, the Lord was looking out for Nephi, because he probably would have been taken, seeing as he was “large in stature“. But, the family of Lehi were not seen as any prominent or important family, so they were left there. This was a blessing for them, and for all of us today who benefit from the path that the Lord led them on shortly after these things happened.

Additionally, it would not have been unbelievable then, that all of Jerusalem could have been destroyed and taken, because these things had nearly happened to them and had happened for all the lands of Israel around them. When Lehi became a prophet, he was mocked for telling the people of Jerusalem of their wickedness, not for telling them what would happen to Jerusalem and it being unbelievable. For me, this shows even more, just how wickedly the people were living there, that they could have dealt with the effects of the Babylonian attack on them, and still denied that there was a need for repentance and returning to the Lord.

We read in the chapter a part of the fulfillment of the revelations of the prophets. There was such great wickedness in the promised land, that most of the people had been scattered into foreign lands. There were some who still remained in Jerusalem, with the promise that the prophecies would be fulfilled and destruction would come to all of Jerusalem. In our day, there are still prophecies of the scriptures that are not fulfilled. We have a choice (agency) as to how we will live and how that will effect us. The Savior will come again and the wicked will be destroyed while the righteous will be blessed with peace. If we choose to live in righteousness, as Josiah of Jerusalem (see 2 Kings 2223), we will have peace. If we choose to live in wickedness, as Zedekiah, we will have destruction brought upon us. We choose righteousness, when we choose to heed the warnings of our prophets, study the scriptures and pray, and choose to keep the commandments, following after the Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Conference Questions – Following Christ

Recently, I watched the 182nd Semi Annual General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When I watch conference, I am always filled with the spirit and a desire to be a better person and draw closer to the Savior. I love to take notes. When I first started being a note taker for learning in church settings, I would write everything I possibly could down. Including what the speakers said, as well as the little lessons the spirit would teach me during the talks. Once that became a habit, I learned that I should really be focused on writing down the things that I am personally taught by the spirit. So, with that as my focus for note taking, I found myself writing down questions that I should be able to answer. The thought then came to me that these are questions that I could attempt to study on this blog. To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions

My final question in this series, comes from a talk given by Robert D. Hales during the Sunday afternoon session of conference. His talk was called, “Being a More Christian Christian“. As the title suggests, his talk discussed what it is to be a Christian and how we can do it more in our lives. My question was posed by Elder Hales during this talk, and it is what kind of Christian am I? Likewise, how am I doing in my quest to follow Christ?

What is a Christian? A Christian is one who follows Christ. It was a title given to those who believed in Jesus Christ both in the New Testament times as well as in the times of the Book of Mormon. In Acts 11:26 we read, “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Likewise in Alma 46:15 we read, “And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come.” Elder Hales described a Christian as one who took upon themselves the name of Christ.

I love that his second question uses the word quest. A quest is a long and difficult search for something. To seek after Jesus Christ is a quest. Having the faith to continue hoping for something that cannot be scientifically proven is difficult. Maintaining a hope in the atonement when none of us were there to witness the events for ourselves, is not easy. If it was easier, there would be more people willing to believe in Jesus Christ.

How do we take upon ourselves the name of Christ, and then take the steps necessary to seek for him through the difficult and long journey of our lives? We do this by first making the covenants that we have been commanded to make. We start the quest with baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is the first steps the Savior took in his ministry and must be the first we take as well. Then, we continue in that quest, by following his example and living as he lived.

A true Christian strives daily to become more converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This means looking at ourselves to see what things we need to change in us to become more like our Savior. This requires quite a bit of humility on our part. The Savior taught us the value of humility in Matthew 18:4 which says, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” We need to recognize that we are far from perfect. We need to gain a desire to change our natural ways and become better. Conversion comes in repenting and returning to the Savior whenever we find we have lost our way, even in the slightest. The quest to follow Christ is full of moments of reflection and repentance and we should check ourselves to see if we are doing this often enough to be truly converted to Christ.

Elder Hale’s talk caused me to question if I am one who responds right away. I would hope that I am now. I have had many times in my past, when I have been asked to do something that would show my discipleship to Christ, but I have hesitated to heed the call. Not that I did not respond, but I did hesitate. The more I learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more willing I am to listen and follow immediately. I have struggled internally when it has come to changing a habit I know to be wrong, but I have eventually followed through with feelings to change. I think that the parable of the ten virgins is applicable to this situation. We have to respond now and avoid procrastination. This applies to changes in our lives as well as to calls of duty assigned to us, or even simple inspirations. In Matthew 25:10 we read, “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.” We miss out on the blessings now, when we hesitate to respond. Being a more Christian Christian means responding right away to those things that the Lord would have us do. I hope to be able to become the kind of person who can react immediately in all things that Christ would have me do. A true Christian, will act upon direction and inspiration immediately

A Christian Christian will do the work of the Lord. That work is to “bring to pass the immorality and eternal life of man” (see Moses 1:39). We do this by sharing the gospel with others. We do this by behaving as Christ would, and bring others to him by sharing his light. We do not have to share the gospel with words in order to this, but we do need to be living the gospel so that others can see by our example, the better way. In 3 Nephi 12, the Savior taught a portion of the sermon at the temple (see also the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5)

14 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
15 Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;
16 Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

We can do the work of the Lord at all times, in all things, and in all places. We start in our homes, with ourselves and then our families. Then we can do His work at church, at work, in the community and so on. The Lord will provide the opportunities for us, if we will look faithfully for them. As a seeking Christian, I must ask myself if I am standing as an example of the Savior’s light in each area of my life. Am I patient at home? Am I loving at church? Am I kind at the grocery store? Am I caring and considerate in my neighborhood? What can I work on today to be a better light to the world? Elder Hales proposed several areas for us to consider how we are doing. These areas are love, faith, sacrifice, caring, service, patience, peace, forgiveness, conversion, and endurance. These things will bring us closer to Christ. We should take a look at where we are, study how Christ was in that thing, make a plan or goal for ourselves, and then seek for the way to become more like Him. It truly is a quest and we cannot expect to become the perfect Christians overnight. It will be something that we spend our whole lives working on. The faithful Christian is one who recognizes this, doesn’t find failure in not being perfect right away, and strives each day to do more than the day before.

I am grateful to have the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I have faith in Him. I believe Him. I want to be like Him. I know that if I reflect on how I am showing my faithfulness as a Christian, the Lord will help me to see ways that I can improve and become more converted to Him. I am grateful for my weaknesses and the opportunities that I have to learn and grow. I am so glad that I have a Lord who is patient with me and allows me the opportunity to make mistakes, repent of my shortcomings and try harder each day. I know that it is a blessing to be a Christian and I hope to become more of a Christian throughout my life.

My Personal Creed

I am studying teachings of George Albert Smith, the eighth president of The Church of Jesus Christ, as part of the lessons at church. One of the things that President Smith did, was to write a personal creed for himself of things that he would do in his life. They are all gospel related and they represent how he lived his life as a latter-day saint and a prophet of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I think it so fitting to study his thoughts related to this creed, at this time of year. We tend to be in a state of turning over new leaves and making new goals for ourselves whenever the new year begins. This is the time to come up with out own personal creeds, or our own list of goals for how we can live the life the Lord wants us to live. I plan on starting my list now and developing it over time, depending on the callings and service I can give in my life.

I plan on asking myself some questions to develop my own personal creed.

  • What are the Christ-like qualities that I focus on teaching others (mostly my children)? Am I living these in my own life?
  • What can I do in my life that will entitle me to have true happiness?
  • How can I apply what I learn, so that I am living those principles?
  • What can I do to be a real Latter-day Saint?
  • How can I prepare for the eternal blessings I desire?
  • In what ways can I improve, so that others will see that there is something better out there?
  • What work can I offer which would share my testimony in action?
  • I hope that we all can think of some of the things that we would like to accomplish in this life, which will cause us to be worthy to be called saints and followers of the Savior.

    Moroni, Chapter 7

    What is the setting and background of this chapter?

    “And now I, Moroni, write a few of the words of my father Mormon, which he spake concerning faith, hope, and charity; for after this manner did he speak unto the people, as he taught them in the synagogue which they had built for the place of worship (v. 1).  And now I, Mormon, speak unto you, my beloved brethren; and it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time (v. 2).  Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven (v. 3).  And now my brethren, I judge these things of you because of your peaceable walk with the children of men (v. 4).”

    I know of several people that I would consider to be “peaceable follower[s] of Christ”.  I think that peaceable followers of Christ are those who truly believe the gospel of the Savior and who want to follow it in all they do.  Those who are not ashamed of the gospel and who want to bring the gospel of peace to others.  I think that my family is striving to be peaceable followers of Christ, but there is room for improvement.  As members of the church, we should be always striving to follow the Lord.  We should also have a great desire to share the gospel with others and bring them peace.  Mormon addresses his words here to those who are striving to do this.

    What is good?

    “For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good . . . (v. 6)”.  What is the good that Mormon is talking about here?  “For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also (v. 5).  For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing (v. 6).  For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness (v. 7).”  The good Mormon is talking about, is righteousness.  An evil man cannot do that which is righteous.  An evil man will not profit eternally from his works.

    “For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God (v. 8 ).  And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such (v. 9).  Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift (v. 10).”  To do good is to give a gift to God with righteous intention, or to pray to God with real intent of heart.  Without the real intent, is not good or unrighteous.  One who chooses to do evil before the Lord, is considered evil to the Lord.  And one who is evil, cannot do good.

    “For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil (v. 11).”  This scripture gives me comfort.  I am striving to follow Jesus Christ.  As long as I continue to strive to follow Him, I cannot be a servant of Satan.  If I find myself doing things that are good without the real intent, I know that I need to re-evaluate my attitude.  If I continually want to do good and have the intentions to follow the Savior, my works will be good and I will become what my Father in Heaven wants me to be.

    How can we know and judge good from evil?

    “Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil (v. 14).  For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night (v. 15).”  It is easy for most of us to see the difference between daylight and dark night.  Mormon tells us here, that judging between good and evil should be this easy.

    “Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually (v. 12).  But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God (v. 13).”  The fact is that everything good is of God and anything else is of Satan.  Or in other words, everything that is righteous is of God and anything unrighteous is not.

    “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God (v. 16).  But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him (v. 17).”  All men are give the spirit as a guide to know what is good and what is evil.  This is not specific to those who have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Because it is the Spirit of Christ, it can lead us to Him.  If we choose to follow the Spirit and choose that which is good, we will find ourselves drawn closer to Christ.

    “And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged (v. 18 ).  Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ (v. 19).”  We need to use the light of Christ to judge righteously between good and evil.  Once we see the difference between what is good and evil, we are obligated to choose the good.  If we choose the things that are good we can “be a child of Christ”.

    I am glad that I have the ability to feel what is good or what is evil.  It gives me strength and confidence to know that I have chosen the thing that is right.  I have been blessed to see the truth amid the lies in the world around me because I have prayed for help to see.  The light in the world today is becoming blurred by all of the many temptations of Satan and I am grateful that I have things in my life to keep me aware.  I am so grateful for the scriptures and words of the modern prophets, as well as constant prayer, which keep my eyes focused on the light.

    How do we obtain faith?  What are the blessings of faith?

    Faith is a Sunrise

    Following the Spirit can be a lot like trying to hear a quite voice when a loud voice is guiding us away from our goal.  We can distiguish which voice is the right voice, by where it leads us.  If every time we followed it, we ended up running into a wall, we would learn quickly that it was not the voice to listen to.  The voice of the Spirit will never lead us into walls or anything like that.  As we come to trust in the voice of the Spirit, we will be able to hear it better.  In Alma 32:21 we read, “And now as I said concerning faith-faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.”  Also in Ether 12:6 we read, “And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”  Faith is learning to trust the Spirit even though you have not seen for yourself.

    “And now, my brethren, how is it possible that ye can lay hold upon every good thing (v. 20)?  And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak; and I will tell you the way whereby ye may lay hold on every good thing (v. 21).”  Faith is an action word.  We exercise faith when we follow the spirit and trust that it will lead us to that which is good and righteous.  The more confidence we gain from exercising this faith, the more we can be led to other good and righteous things.

    Moroni goes on to teach more wonderful things based on faith.  He teaches that God sent angels to show men that Christ would come (v. 22).  Moroni tells us that God told the prophets that Christ would come (v. 23).  He tells us that everything good comes from Christ and without Christ we would remain fallen (v. 24).  He teaches that by faith, the people prepared for the coming of Christ (v. 25).  He teaches that many were saved by faith even after Christ came and that we can be blessed by faith even now.  “. . . And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you (v. 26).”

    Moroni teaches that miracles, even the ministering of angels, can still happen as long as we have faith in Christ (v. 27-29).  Ministering angels are to show themselves to those with great faith and to guide people to repent and do the Lord’s will.  They also declare the word of God to those who are chosen by God, so that they will testify to all people of God (v. 30-31).  Moroni teaches us that by these testimonies, we may all be able to have faith in Christ and by the power of the Holy Ghost, we can be led to make covenants with God (v. 32).  “And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me (v. 33).”  Faith in Christ and His power to save us, will lead to repentance and baptism (v. 34).

    Moroni teaches us that because of faith, miracles have not ceased.  He teaches that God has not held the power of the Holy Ghost from us.  And he teaches us that as long as there is man to be saved, He will never withhold the power of the Holy Ghost from us.  Without the power of faith, this life would be in vain (v. 35-37).  “For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made (v. 38 ).  But behold, my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ because of your meekness; for if ye have not faith in him then ye are not fit to be numbered among the people of his church  (v. 39).”

    Without faith, there is no reason to do anything good in this life.  Faith in the saving power of the atonement and in a life after this life, makes everything we do valuable.  I am so glad that I have the gospel, which teaches me how to use faith in my life.

    The gift of hope

    Recently, I went through a trial that was difficult.  I received a priesthood blessing and came out with the feeling that the Lord would give me the strength to handle things whatever way it turned out.  I had faith that the Lord knew what would be best for me and if I needed a lesson I would learn from the experience.  I leaned greatly on my hope that things would all work out well in the end.  Because of the strength I received from the Lord, I took steps that were out of my comfort zone and I am sure it is because of these steps that things worked out well in the end.  “And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope (v. 40)?  And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise (v. 41).”  Mormon tells us that we should have hope that our faith in Jesus Christ will lead to our exaltation through the power of the atonement.

    In Alma 22:15-18, we read of Aaron teaching Lamoni’s father.  The king asked Aaron what he should do so that he could be filled with the spirit of Christ and be saved.  “But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest (v. 16).”  The king prayed to God in faith, for forgiveness, and was struck as if he were dead.  Aaron told Lamoni that his desire to know how to be saved and have joy was a desire to have hope.  In order to gain this hope, Lamoni’s father acted in faith by praying and pleading for forgiveness.

    “Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope (v. 42).  And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart (v. 43).”  According to Mormon, in order to obtain hope, we must first be meek and lowly of heart.  Then through faith, the hope will come.  We live in a time of great wickedness.  We have wicked leaders and a great amount of sin and wickedness around us.  The gift of hope is needed so much to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Those who are “peaceable followers of Christ” can receive the gift of hope as they faithfully obey the commandments and follow the prophets.

    Charity

    There are many righteous people who faithfully attend church each week, pay their tithing and magnify their callings.  It is difficult to consider those people “nothing”.  In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 we read, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal (v. 1).  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing (v. 2).  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing (v. 3).”  Without charity we are nothing.

    “If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity (v. 44).”  We can live the best we know how, and do all that is asked of us, but without charity, it is in vain.  What does it mean to have charity?  “And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things (v. 45).”  To have the pure love of Christ is to be long-suffering, kind, not envious or prideful, not greedy, not quick to be provoked, righteous minded, and to believe, hope in and endure all things that are given to you.  I can think of many people in my life who are examples of each of these things.  I am constantly working on these things in my own life and I hope to someday be able to say that I have mastered them.

    “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail (v. 46)—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him (v. 47).”  I think that having Charity is something that we work on literally each day of our lives.  It does not come easy to have the pure love of Christ, but it is something that we should all be striving for.

    “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen (v. 48 ).”  We can obtain charity, through sincere, heart-felt prayer to our Father in Heaven.  When we pray to be filled with the love of Christ, with the intent to show that love for others, we will have charity.

    Alma, Chapter 5

    Alma’s model of powerful teaching

    I love italian dressing on my salad.  In order to have it, you have to shake or stir it to mix the oil and vinegar together.  In Alma 4:19 we read, “And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.”  Like the oil and vinegar, Alma needed to stir or shake the souls of the Nephites, so that they would remember.  He knew that they needed to be humble and knew the only way that he could help, was to bear “down in pure testimony”.  I’ve thought some more about this since yesterday’s post and of course this could help the people.  Alma (the younger) was blessed with sacred experience of being chastened by an angel.  He must have had one of the strongest testimonies of all men who had ever lived.  People can feel it when someone shares something they truly believe with no doubts, and it effects them.  This is the beauty of our spirits, we cannot hear a true testimony without being effected in some way.  The test for us, is how do we act upon it.

    “Now it came to pass that Alma began to deliver the word of God unto the people, first in the land of Zarahemla, and from thence throughout all the land (v. 1).  And these are the words which he spake to the people in the church which was established in the city of Zarahemla, according to his own record (v. 2) …”  Alma taught in Zarahemla first and then in all the land.  So many members of the church today (and those who are not members) could benefit from hearing a strong testimony such as Alma’s.  Like the Italian dressing, if we sit for long enough without having our souls stirred, we begin to separate and loose our own flavor.  We all need to have someone or something continually stirring us up, even the best of us, so that our spirits continue to guide our bodies.  Otherwise, we live without both doing its job and we become forgetful of our own “duties”.  This is part of the reason why we are told renew our covenants at church on a weekly basis.  Even weekly, may not be often enough for us, which is why we have been told to have daily scripture study and prayer.  We need our souls to be stirred often.

    What is the value of studying history?

    “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  I truly believe this.  If we cannot learn from the things that have happened to others before us, God will help us to have the opportunity to learn for ourselves.  And we can learn anything there is to learn in the ‘lessons of life’ from those who have lived already.  The examples of those whom I love and trust are usually the ones that stick with me the most in my own life.  It is always nice to be able to learn from the experiences of others, so that we don’t have to deal with the consequences of things.  For example, I have had examples in my life of what doing drugs can to your physical body, spiritual frame of mind and all of the relationships that you have.  I have chosen to learn from these examples and not be involved with drugs myself, because I do not want to deal with the same types of consequences that my loved ones have dealt with.  But sometimes, a lesson is best learned when we experience it for ourselves.  For example, the experience of gaining a testimony of something, can only happen with our own experiences.  We have to be able to feel the spirit, tell us something is true, in order to gain a testimony of it.  We may believe because of another’s words, or we may have to go through an experience that convinces us of it, but either way we have to experience the spirit ourselves.

    What was Alma going to help the people remember from their history?   “I, Alma, having been consecrated by my father, Alma, to be a high priest over the church of God, he having power and authority from God to do these things, behold, I say unto you that he began to establish a church in the land which was in the borders of Nephi; yea, the land which was called the land of Mormon; yea, and he did baptize his brethren in the waters of Mormon (v. 3).”  First, he wanted the people to remember how the their family members were baptized because of his father, Alma.

    “And behold, I say unto you, they were delivered out of the hands of the people of king Noah, by the mercy and power of God (v. 4).”  He wanted them to remember how the people had escaped wicked king Noah.

    “And behold, after that, they were brought into bondage by the hands of the Lamanites in the wilderness; yea, I say unto you, they were in captivity, and again the Lord did deliver them out of bondage by the power of his word; and we were brought into this land, and here we began to establish the church of God throughout this land also (v. 5).”  He wanted them to remember that they had been able to escape the Lamanites and establish Zarahemla as the land of the Nephites.

    “And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell (v. 6)?  Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them (v. 7).  And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not (v. 8 ).  And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved (v. 9).  And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell (v. 10)?”  Alma wanted them to remember the conversion of their parents and what they had gone through in order to know that they would have salvation.

    “Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? And was he not a holy prophet? Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them (v. 11)?  And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true (v. 12).  And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved (v. 13).”  He also wanted them to remember the experience of his father and the prophecies of Abinadi.  He wanted them to remember that Alma was humbled and he taught the people, their parents, who were also humbled.

    As I have read these scriptures, I have continually reviewed my own life and have realized things I am doing right, and things that I need to work on as well.  Some lessons are easier for me to learn than others and I think that is something that we all deal with.  There are some lessons in life that we will need to learn and re-learn because we are constantly changing and our lives/situations are changing as well.  However, I know that the more I study these things that happened to the people of God many years ago, the better I understand the principles of the gospel.  The issue becomes a matter of remembering or forgetting these things as time goes on.  I know that I need to continue to read these scriptures to progress and to constantly have the reminders, because I have benefited so much from learning from them at this point in my life.

    Why did Alma ask so many questions?

    A ruler measures length, a thermometer measures temperature, a scale measures weight, a teaspoon measures amounts of liquids and dry goods, a clock measures the time, but what does a question mark measure?  The manual I am using says that the questions that our priesthood leaders ask us, for example during an interview for a temple recommend, help us to measure our spiritual strength.

    “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts (v. 14)?  Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body (v. 15)?  … can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth (v. 16)?  Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you (v. 17)?  Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God (v. 18)?  … can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? … can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances (v. 19)?  … can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil (v. 20)?”

    There is so much eternal value to asking ourselves these kinds of questions.  This is only eleven of the many questions that Alma asked them as he spoke.  As I am reading this chapter, I am almost tempted to take the questions in the chapter, rephrasing a few to remind myself of how I can measure my spirituality on a more regular basis.  I think these questions were intended to make the people think, not to answer out loud, but to truly take a look at their own lives and see what they need to change.  I’ve made myself a questionnaire from this chapter, because I think that these questions can help give an accurate measurement of my personal spirituality.  They address the things that can either bring us down in sin or help us avoid it, such as pride vs. humility, envy vs. service, faith vs. doubt, obedience vs. wickedness.

    His image in your countenance

    What does it mean to have Christ’s image in our countenances?  (see verse 14 above)  When we are doing what Christ would do, we have a glow about us.  When we pattern our lives after His, we look like Christ because we stand tall in faith, are clean and pure, and are truly happy people.  We can be more Christlike by serving others and by learning of Him and His ways in the scriptures.  Sometimes the idea of trying to be like someone who was perfect, can be too difficult for us to imagine, so we need to see others and be able to follow their Christ-like attributes.  When I think of people who are Christ-like, I think of my Stake President, who knows each individual in our stake and you can just tell that he has a love for them.  I also think of my Mother-in-law, who drops everything in her own life to serve others, family or friend.  I think of those in my life who have never raised their voice in anger (that I know of).  I think of my brother, who is serving the Lord on his mission right now, and who is constantly striving to live better, even without most of the distractions that I have on a daily basis.  The list could go on and on.

    How do you look in white?

    On the day I went to the temple to take out my endowments, I was so thrilled to put on my beautiful white dress and look so clean and pure in the temple.  As, I was getting dressed, I poked a finger with a pin and did not realize it.  I touched the tie on my dress and got a single drop of blood on it.  This one drop of blood, unseen by anyone else because it was hidden in my bow, made me feel like my dress was not fit to be inside the temple. It was not clean, it really bothered me until I was able to take care of it.  It was such a small thing, but it continues to remind me how I would feel, standing before my Savior, if I felt unclean.

    (see verses 15-20 above) “I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins (v. 21).  And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? Behold, what will these things testify against you (v. 22)?”  It is through the atonement of Christ, that we become clean and pure again.

    In Enos 1:27 we read, “And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen.”  Then in Mosiah 2:28 we read, “I say unto you that I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together that I might rid my garments of your blood, at this period of time when I am about to go down to my grave, that I might go down in peace, and my immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God.”  Both Enos and Alma were old in age and new that death would come soon.  They also knew that they wanted to be clean of sin when the time came for them to die, so that they could rejoice and sing praises when they saw the Lord.  This life is really just a small moment in time, and we never know what may happen today.  We need to constantly be striving to repent for those things we have done that would cause us to have shame when the Lord sees us.  We all want to rejoice and be welcomed in with open arms by the Lord.

    Have you ever trampled on the Lord?

    Would you ever step on this picture?

    “And now my beloved brethren, I say unto you, can ye withstand these sayings; yea, can ye lay aside these things, and trample the Holy One under your feet; yea, can ye be puffed up in the pride of your hearts; yea, will ye still persist in the wearing of costly apparel and setting your hearts upon the vain things of the world, upon your riches (v. 53)?  Yea, will ye persist in supposing that ye are better one than another; yea, will ye persist in the persecution of your brethren, who humble themselves and do walk after the holy order of God, wherewith they have been brought into this church, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and they do bring forth works which are meet for repentance (v. 54)—Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them (v. 55)?    And finally, all ye that will persist in your wickedness, I say unto you that these are they who shall be hewn down and cast into the fire except they speedily repent (v. 56).”  All of these things trample on the Lord, because to do them you take what the Lord has commanded and say with your actions that His words do not matter.  You say that your own way is better than His way.  You treat his gospel like garbage and toss it aside.

    In 1 Nephi 19:7 we read, “For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.”  As soon as we choose not to value the words of the Lord, we trample Him under our feet.  I know that there have been times in my life when I have disobeyed my Mom and saw her disappointment afterwards.  This brought me sadness, to know that I had caused her that disappointment.  If I feel this way about my Mother, I can only imagine how I will feel if I realize that I have disobeyed the Lord and I am face-to-face with Him.  I want to remember this always.  I want to remember that I do not want that feeling, but that I want joy with Him.  I pray that my family will want the same thing, so that I can rejoice with them in Heaven.

    Share What You Think

    Here are some of the great questions found in this chapter  that I plan on reviewing often:

    • Have you spiritually been born of God?
    • Have you received his image in your countenance?
    • Have you experienced this mighty change in your heart?
    • Can you look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?
    • Could you say, if you were called to die right now, that you have sufficiently been humble?
    • Have you had all pride removed from you?
    • Have you had all envy removed from you?
    • Do you mock your brother, or persecute him?
    • Do you trample these things under your feet?

    I know that we are always growing and changing, and I am sure that if I asked myself these questions on Sunday morning before I plan on taking the Sacrament, that I would have a different answer to one or more of them each week.  I know that if I reflect on these often, I will better use the atonement in my life.  I want to be better.  I want to be more Christ-like.  I want others to look at me and see someone who is happy and kind.  I hope that others will want this too, especially my loved ones.  With the help of the Savior, and with the Holy Ghost as my companion, I know that I can be able to answer these questions they way that my Heavenly Father wants me to.

    Now it came to pass that *Alma began to adeliver the word of bGod unto the people, first in the land of Zarahemla, and from thence throughout all the land.
    2 And these are the words which he spake to the people in the church which was established in the city of Zarahemla, according to his own record, saying:

    2 Nephi, Chapter 5

    When the Lord sends a warning!

    How do the scriptures provide warnings?  An example of a warning in the scriptures is repent now, for the time is close at hand.  This is a warning that we must repent now because the time for our judgment is near.  How does the Savior provide warnings?  The Savior ministered to the people and we can read His words in the Book of Mormon and the Bible.  For example, He has given us a warning that if we don’t follow his example and make use of the atonement we will be cut off from God’s presence.  We also receive personal warnings from the Savior through the spirit.  The most important source of warning is the Savior.  His message is to us directly from our Father in Heaven.

    In 2 Nephi, Chapter 5 we learn that Nephi’s brothers wanted to kill him because they blamed him for their trials, and they wanted to become rulers over the people because they were the oldest (v. 3 ).  Nephi needed the Savior and the warnings of the spirit.  After Nephi’s sincere prayer, the Lord warned him (v. 5).  Nephi was told to flee with his family and followers.  Everyone who believed in the warnings and revelations of God went with Nephi.  We, as followers of Christ, need to listen closely to the spirit to hear the warnings and revelations in our lives.

    Recently we have had personal experience with this.  The prophet and his counselors were warned of what would happen if the definition of marriage was changed.  The warning was passed on to the members of the church (initially through the Proclamation to the World on the family) and those who were faithful, did all that we could to pass an amendment to keep the definition of marriage between a man and a woman.  The battle over this issue is not over and we as faithful members of the Gospel, must continue to follow the prophet.  If we do this, we will be blessed.

    Moving to a new home

    When I have moved in the past, the hardest thing has been finding my place in the new area.  I’m not very outgoing, so I don’t make friends with ease.  It makes it easier when others are nice enough to introduce themselves and invite me and my family to do things with them.  

    Nephi had the experience of moving to a new home with his family.  He and his family fled the same way Lehi had fled from Jerusalem.  I’m sure it was tough, but the Lord was on their side.  Nephi describes what it was like for his family in verse 27, “And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.”

     We can lived after the manner of happiness by obeying the commandments of the Lord in all things (v. 10), by sowing and raising animals (v. 11), by having the scriptures and other words of the current prophets with us to guide us (v. 12), by preparing ourselves against things that will destroy us (v. 14), by teaching, learning and working (v. 15, 17), and by having a temple (v. 16).

    I know that I can live in the manner of happiness.  I truly believe that learning from family, church leaders, the scriptures, and other wise teachers is important to happiness.  I believe our knowledge is one of the few things we take with us when we leave this life, therefore its value is eternal.  I think working is crucial to happiness as well.  When life gets slow, bad things creep in and cause us heartache.  When we follow President Hinckley’s counsel to “stay on your feet and keep moving,” we will have the happiness that comes with success.  I enjoy learning and working very much.

    What happened to Laman and Lemuel after Nephi left?

    The Nephites were blessed for their righteousness.  The Lamanites were cursed for their wickedness.  They had no desires to follow Gods commands and therefore they did not prosper and were not happy like the Nephites (v. 20-25).  It is important to have the light of the gospel in our lives so that we can be blessed with happiness and prosperity.  I know that no matter where we live, the fullness of the gospel of Christ, found in the LDS church, is the same and will lead to happiness.

    What priesthood did the Nephites hold?

    Jacob and Joseph were given the Melchizedek priesthood, as was since the days of Lehi.  In this case they were given the charge to be priests and teachers to the people.  Those with the Melchizedek priesthood can bless the sick, confirm members, have temple endowments, and more, which the Aaronic priesthood cannot.  These things would have been important for those leading the church for the Nephites.  The Lord gave the Nephites the same priesthood powers that they would have had if Jerusalem had not been wicked and destroyed.  The Lord is loving and would not deny the righteous, the blessings of the priesthood.  I am so grateful that we have the priesthood today, as restored through the prophet Joseph Smith.

    Nephi is commanded to make the small plates of Nephi

    Nephi reminds us that the small plates are these that he’s writing on and he tells us that he was given a commandment to write the small plates (v. 30).   The people who are pleased with the things of God will be pleased with the small plates.  He also tells us that the other plates (the large plates) are also being written on. The other plates contain more of the history of the Nephites.

    It is sad to know that they fight wars against family, which is exactly what Satan wants.  I don’t think anyone who believes in God and His plan could be comfortable fighting wars with family members.  I’m sure the Nephites did not want to fight their family, but they were forced to fight to protect their families and values.


    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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