Posts Tagged 'Promptings'

Do We Follow Promptings of the Holy Ghost to Seek Spiritual Strength?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of one 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.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:
Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.
Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

The next question in this series is do we follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost to seek spiritual strength? What is strength? I think that we most commonly use strength in a physical sense, in which case it means a physical power, energy, or intensity. Other things related to strength are the ability to withstand force or pressure, the influence or power of something, the ability to be clear and logical, a source of support, and a number of people in a group like an army. I’d like to relate this question to these meanings, but looking more at our spiritual strength, because the “Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace”, we just need to seek for it.

Do we follow the promptings as we seek for power, energy, and intensity of spirit? In Acts 1:8 we read, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. . .”. When we follow the promptings of the spirit, we build the power of our spirit in the same way doing physical exercise strengthens our body. Our spirits already have the potential of being all-powerful, full of energy and intense beyond our greatest understanding. This is because we are spirit children of God and have been created with that potential. It is our job in this life to stretch and work out spiritually, so that we can reach that potential. The Holy Ghost gives us promptings as to what exercise we should do in order to improve. When we follow them, our spirits gain understanding and testimony that it cannot gain any other way. The things we gain spiritually are not easily lost or forgotten, and unlike things of this world, they will go with us when we leave this life. Part of the reason for living this mortal existence, is to leave with greater power and energy than when we started. However, there is also the effects of not following the spirit. When we choose not to follow the promptings, we not only cannot learn from them, but we begin to loose the strength we already had. Just as the physical body will loose it’s power, energy and intesity if we do not remain physically active, the spirit will begin to become less useful to us. That is when we begin to feel in the ruts of life, as if we are just going through the motions. That is when life seems to go on without us. We need to follow the promptings of the spirit, so that we can experience all that life has to offer us.

Do we follow the promptings as we seek for help to withstand the forces and pressure of the world around us which affect our spirit? The world grows increasingly difficult each day. The forces of Satan stand against us with so much force and pressure that it could be completely overwhelming for someone trying to do what is right. Some of these negative forces that we need to withstand are peer pressure, influences of media, breakdown of marriages and families, temptations of all kinds, and more. The Holy Ghost has the power to guard and protect us from these evil forces that bombard us each day. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” If we listen when the spirit tells us to change the song on the radio, that song will not have the power to put negative thoughts into our mind, which gives us that power instead. As we follow the promptings of the spirit, we will see that these forces will have little effect on us.

Do we follow the promptings as we seek for the ability to influence others with our testimonies, which are the feelings of our spirits? Once you have a true conversion to the gospel, it makes you want to share it with others that you care about. We can talk until we are blue in the face, but without the power of the Holy Ghost there to change the hearts of others, it will not influence them. In Doctrine and Covenants section 50, we read the following:

13 Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained?
14 To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth.

In order to influence others, we need to have an understanding of a principle and a firm standing in what we believe. It is necessary that we are worthy at all times for the spirit to prompt us as to what we should say and do in our everyday interactions with others. When we are worthy, we can hear and follow the promptings as to what we should say, which will touch the hearts, minds and spirits of others if they are open to it. If we do not follow the promptings, but choose to rely on our own wisdom and understanding, the effect will not be lasting, if at all. If we follow the promptings of the spirit, we can also influence others without making our words a preachy sermon. Others will recognize it is heart felt and genuine and it will be for their good.

Do we follow the promptings as we seek to have clear and logical understanding of spiritual truths? There is strength in understanding, because it provides us with the ability to have wisdom. The Holy Ghost is the greatest teacher of men, because it can reach us to our very core. In John 14:26 we read, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” It can stir the heart and mind up to remembrance of things we knew before, as well as deepen our understanding in a way that the world cannot. In order to gain this understanding that is both clear and perfectly logical, we have to be open to the spirit and it’s promptings. As we search, ponder, and pray, we will likely have impressions of things that we can do to test principles of the gospel in our lives. If we follow these promptings, we will learn from them. It may take time to gain the understanding, but in patience, it will come. I have done this in my own life, and I am always amazed at how perfectly things make sense, which I may have thought ridiculous or unbelievable before. I know that as long as we continue to strive to follow the promptings, this understanding will remain firm and undeniable, because it is truth.

Do we follow the promptings as we seek for spiritual support? The world is tough and can bring us down if we are not paying attention. Our spirit’s need support, just as our bodies do. In Alma 36:3 we read, “. . . for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.” The Holy Ghost can be that source of strength for us, if we are willing to allow it to touch our hearts and minds. There is so much about life that leads to depression, apathy, and a sense that there is no reason to act rather than be acted upon. These feelings are spiritually damaging and will not lead to the growth that God has intended for us. As we follow the spirit’s inspirations, we will find a constant companion and friend, ready to buoy and build us up. When it seems like it may be entirely too difficult to make the right choice, the Spirit can give us the confidence to persevere.

Do we follow the promptings as we seek to be part of the spiritual army of God? When we look at the big picture of life, we have to recognize whose team we are on. Our eternal lives are a part of one of two teams, the Lord’s team or Satan’s team. We are either choosing good or bad, light or darkness, righteousness or wickedness. If we have the desire to be a member of God’s kingdom, we cannot help but want to fight against the forces of evil in the world, for ourselves, our families and loved ones, and for the world. When we follow the promptings of the spirit, we make the choice to be on the Lord’s side. When we consciously choose not follow the promptings, we choose to follow Satan. In Matthew 6:24 we read, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” We cannot be on both sides at once, because they are opposing forces which will never align.

To follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, is to be on the path that God wants us on, which is righteousness. In Proverbs 10:29 we read, “The way of the Lord is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.” There is strength in doing what is right and aligning ourselves with the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and that strength is a gift from God. I want to be stronger in spirit, so that I can be sanctified by the Lord and receive the blessings of God. I know that by following the spirit, we can have a greater power of spirit, withstand the evil pressures in the world, influence others with our testimonies and examples, gain a clearer understanding of truth, have the support we need to endure, and be a part of the spiritual army of God.

Thinking About the Teachings of Paul

I know that in order to have true happiness, we must put God above all other things. It is difficult at times, to avoid getting caught up in things of the world. Sometimes we have really good priorities, or we are focused on really doing good things for others, but as soon as that things becomes more important that following the commandments or doing the things that God would have us do, we have given that thing place above God. I know that we may not be what is biblically seen as an idolatrous people, but really we slip into idolatry all the time.

I know that in putting God first, we are more prepared to do the will of God. I believe that we have the ability to have personal revelation for our lives and for those who we have stewardship over. I know that I can hear the promptings of the spirit much better, when I do not have the distractions of the world taking priority in my heart and mind. I am so glad that I have been able to feel the promptings of the spirit in my own life. I know that the blessings that come from following these promptings are faith-building and amazing.

I think that these worldly distractions are one step away from removing ourselves from following the gospel. Our own apostasy cannot be blamed on anyone else but ourselves, and we cannot overcome it by any other means than repentance and changing our own heart to be more like our Savior. We can guard against apostasy by being aware of the things that are temptations for us, by not being easily offended, and by focusing on building our testimony and sharing it with others. We can share our testimony through our words as well as through the kind things that we do for others.

I am grateful for the consistency of the gospel. That is a rock that I can depend on remaining the same no matter where I go. Because I know this, I can more easily recognize things that are designed to lead me astray. I have seen how the gospel can unify us and bring us together in peace and love. I am so grateful for the influence that it has in my life. I am grateful for righteous leaders who give me reminders of things that may need changing in my life. I love the opportunity to improve and be a better person. I am so glad that I have had humbling experiences, which have reminded me of the larger picture and how I fit in it.

7 The Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost Came to Adam and Eve

Why did Adam and Eve need the guidance of the Holy Ghost?

We learn in Chapter 6, that a consequence of the fall of Adam and Eve, was that they were separated from God’s presence.  When they were in the Garden of Eden, they were able to talk face-to-face with God.  Once they were cast out, they could no longer speak with Him like this.  They had a veil placed over their minds, just as we do when we are born.  Without the guidance of the Holy Ghost, they would have been left alone.  Adam and Eve had visits from angels, to teach them the gospel, but the gift of the Spirit was a blessing from God to help them and their families to know it was true.

In Moses, chapter 6, we learn that God told Adam that he and his family needed to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost after they were baptized.  “Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment (Moses 6:61).” In verse 65 we read, “And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man.”

How is our need for guidance from the Holy Ghost similar to that of Adam and Eve?

I have never had some miraculous visitation by an angel to teach me gospel principles.  We today, are separated from God as well and we do not have anything to help us build our testimonies without the guidance of the Holy Ghost.  God’s plan is that we all return to live with Him again and without inspiration we would not realize what is truth.  I know that without the Holy Ghost, the temptations of Satan would be too difficult to avoid completely.  I also know that without the Holy Ghost, we would not have the confirming feelings of truth, which build our faith and give us the hope to endure.

Attributes of the Holy Ghost

How does the Holy Ghost differ from the Father and the Son?  Why is that difference important to us?

As a member of this gospel, I believe that the Holy Ghost, or the spirit of God, is a member of the godhead.  I believe that he is a separate being from God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.  I believe that the Holy Ghost is the only member of the Godhead that is a spirit and does not have a physical body.  In D&C 130:22 we read, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”  This difference is important to us, because he has the ability to influence all people in their hearts and minds.  When we feel his revelations so personally, there is no way to deny the truth.  In order for us to be able to witness the Father and Jesus Christ, we would have to have our mortal bodies changed.  The Holy Ghost can dwell in all men as long as we are living worthy of it.

The Mission of the Holy Ghost

What are some of the truths that the Holy Ghost reveals to us?

I believe that we really know all that we did before coming to this earth, but that the veil placed over our minds is stopping us from remembering it.  As the Holy Ghost gives us impressions, we are being reminded of what we already know to be true.  In John 14:26 we read, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

The Holy Ghost also reveals truths of greater knowledge to us as we become ready to receive them.  We have truths revealed to us as we study and search for answers.  Truths such as the nature of God and the Godhead, the plan of salvation, the life and mission of the Savior, and so much more.  In John 16:13 we read, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”  The spirit can reveal truths of what will be in the future to us.  These truths can be inspirations of things that may happen in our lives on this earth, but they can also be witnesses to the truths of the plan of salvation.  We can have a greater hope in the blessings of exaltation, because of the witness of the Holy Ghost.

***

I know that the Holy Ghost has been given to me by my Father in Heaven.  I am grateful for the inspiration that the Spirit gives me.  I know that the more I listen to the promptings and follow them, I am given more inspiration.  I have felt the Holy Ghost open my mind to a greater understanding of the principles of the gospel.  I have felt the spirit leave in times when I have followed temptation and it is not a good feeling.  I hope to continue to become better and be worthy to continually have this gift with me at all times.

Gospel Principles Chapter 7 – The Holy Ghost

3 Nephi, Chapter 2

What caused the Nephites to lose their faith?

Ignoring spiritual promptings is one way to lose strong spiritual feelings.  These feelings will get stronger as we recognize them and act on them.  We will lose these feelings if we ignore them and if sin creeps into our lives instead.

“And it came to pass that thus passed away the ninety and fifth year also, and the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen (v. 1)—Imagining up some vain thing in their hearts, that it was wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and deceive the hearts of the people; and thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and a vain thing (v. 2).  And it came to pass that the people began to wax strong in wickedness and abominations; and they did not believe that there should be any more signs or wonders given; and Satan did go about, leading away the hearts of the people, tempting them and causing them that they should do great wickedness in the land (v. 3).  And thus did pass away the ninety and sixth year; and also the ninety and seventh year; and also the ninety and eighth year; and also the ninety and ninth year (v. 4); And also an hundred years had passed away since the days of Mosiah, who was king over the people of the Nephites (v. 5). . . And it came to pass that the people did still remain in wickedness, notwithstanding the much preaching and prophesying which was sent among them; and thus passed away the tenth year also; and the eleventh year also passed away in iniquity (v. 10).”

10 years ago, I may have had a hard time believing that the Nephites could so willingly forget their astonishment in just 5 years.  Now that I have witnessed a life-changing event (the horrific attack on this country on September 11, 2001), and seen how it effected everyone at first, I can see how after such a short amount of time, the effects of such a memorable experience can be forgotten.  Some even insist that it could not have happened as they remember it.  I imagine that this is a lot like the experience of the Nephites.  I know that this is one of the reasons we are told to write down our spiritual experiences.  Because we are quick to forget the feelings that can prompt us to do wonderful things.  When we write them down, we can relive those moments and remember how we were touched.  Satan can use his power of persuasion to convince us that our memories are not correct.  He has a way of convincing us that man has the power to manipulate things and make them look spiritual when they are not.  The Lord continued to inspire people to preach and prophesy, but the Nephites had become very hard-hearted.

Why did the Nephites and Lamanites unite as one people?

“And it came to pass in the thirteenth year there began to be wars and contentions throughout all the land; for the Gadianton robbers had become so numerous, and did slay so many of the people, and did lay waste so many cities, and did spread so much death and carnage throughout the land, that it became expedient that all the people, both the Nephites and the Lamanites, should take up arms against them (v. 11).  Therefore, all the Lamanites who had become converted unto the Lord did unite with their brethren, the Nephites, and were compelled, for the safety of their lives and their women and their children, to take up arms against those Gadianton robbers, yea, and also to maintain their rights, and the privileges of their church and of their worship, and their freedom and their liberty (v. 12).”

The people, both Nephites and Lamanites, united to fight against the Gadianton robbers, even though they had very different beliefs.  They knew they needed to protect themselves, their families, and their beliefs from the robbers.  They hoped to maintain their safety, rights and privileges, freedom and liberty.

“And it came to pass that before this thirteenth year had passed away the Nephites were threatened with utter destruction because of this war, which had become exceedingly sore (v. 13).  And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites (v. 14); And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites (v. 15); And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year (v. 16).  And it came to pass in the commencement of the fourteenth year, the war between the robbers and the people of Nephi did continue and did become exceedingly sore; nevertheless, the people of Nephi did gain some advantage of the robbers, insomuch that they did drive them back out of their lands into the mountains and into their secret places (v. 17).  And thus ended the fourteenth year. And in the fifteenth year they did come forth against the people of Nephi; and because of the wickedness of the people of Nephi, and their many contentions and dissensions, the Gadianton robbers did gain many advantages over them (v. 18 ).  And thus ended the fifteenth year, and thus were the people in a state of many afflictions; and the sword of destruction did hang over them, insomuch that they were about to be smitten down by it, and this because of their iniquity (v. 19).”

The Lamanites who joined the Nephites to fight, had the curse upon them miraculously removed.  They were no longer darker skinned as Laman and Lemuel had been promised their seed would be due to their iniquity.  When we unite with those who share our beliefs, we become stronger because our faith grows.  When we surround ourselves with others who have the same values, we learn from them and we can more easily stand united in the face of adversity.  There is definitely strength in numbers, especially in our faith.  The Nephites had a hard time standing strong in the face of adversity, the robbers, because their were still too many contentions and so much wickedness.  They did not stand together entirely because of their wickedness.  Mormon reminds us that the “sword of destruction did hang over them” because as they continued in wickedness, they grew closer to the promise of destruction being fulfilled.

The Nephites lived at a time when the Savior was about to come to them.  We live in a world that is much the same as this.  Those of us who understand some of the gospel of Christ, know that the Savior will come again.  Yet, we live in a world of great wickedness as well.  This example should be one that we learn from.  We need to try hard to avoid the temptations of Satan, so that we will not also have the sword of destruction hanging over us.  We need to strengthen ourselves, our families and the church to be able to stand firm.  In D&C 115:5-6 we read, “Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations (v. 5); And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth (v. 6).”  We can be strengthened through our example to others.  As we bring others to the knowledge of Christ, through the light of Him being within us, we become stronger in our own faith.  If we strive to live righteously for today, then we are doing what we can to be prepared for the Savior’s second coming.  I have a testimony that the Savior will come again as has been promised.  He will usher in the greatest of all times and will reign on this earth as the King that He truly is.  I look forward to this time with hope and excitement.  I pray that I can remember this each day, and truly try to live well and repent when I make mistakes, so that I can be worthy to be there.

Alma, Chapter 22

What role does the Holy Ghost play in missionary work?

I think that on a scale of 1 to 10, the importance of the Spirit of the Lord in missionary work is a 10.  Missionaries only do so much, by sharing and introducing the gospel, but the spirit is what converts.  In D&C 42:13-14 we read, “And they shall observe the covenants and church articles to do them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed by the Spirit (v. 13).  And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach (v. 14).”  A missionary should not teach if it is not with the spirit.

“Now, as Ammon was thus teaching the people of Lamoni continually, we will return to the account of Aaron and his brethren; for after he departed from the land of Middoni he was led by the Spirit to the land of Nephi, even to the house of the king which was over all the land save it were the land of Ishmael; and he was the father of Lamoni (v. 1).  And it came to pass that he went in unto him into the king’s palace, with his brethren, and bowed himself before the king, and said unto him: Behold, O king, we are the brethren of Ammon, whom thou hast delivered out of prison (v. 2).  And now, O king, if thou wilt spare our lives, we will be thy servants. And the king said unto them: Arise, for I will grant unto you your lives, and I will not suffer that ye shall be my servants; but I will insist that ye shall administer unto me; for I have been somewhat troubled in mind because of the generosity and the greatness of the words of thy brother Ammon; and I desire to know the cause why he has not come up out of Middoni with thee (v. 3).  And Aaron said unto the king: Behold, the Spirit of the Lord has called him another way; he has gone to the land of Ishmael, to teach the people of Lamoni (v. 4).  Now the king said unto them: What is this that ye have said concerning the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, this is the thing which doth trouble me (v. 5).”  The spirit led these missionaries to where they should teach the gospel.

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “… it is the Spirit that matters most.”  I truly believe this.  The spirit give us the promptings which will put us on the path the Lord wants us on.  With the spirit, we can be instruments in the Lord’s hands and do the things that we are really meant to be doing.

What tools did Aaron use to teach the king?

We use many tools in our lives.  Tools are the things that we use to accomplish a task.  The scriptures are also a tool.  The scriptures are used to teach all mankind of Jesus Christ and His gospel.  They are not only tools for those that teach, such as missionaries and teachers in church lessons, but they are tools for each individual to come unto Christ.  Missionaries use other tools at times, to teach the gospel, such as pamphlets, videos, and so on.  There was one missionary, when I was a child, who wanted to teach my siblings the ideas of blessings from the Lord.  He used m&m’s poured from above us, to show how the blessings that come from heaven are so great, we cannot catch them all.

Aaron used tools to help convert Lamoni’s father.  “And also, what is this that Ammon said—If ye will repent ye shall be saved, and if ye will not repent, ye shall be cast off at the last day (v. 6)?  And Aaron answered him and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God? And the king said: I know that the Amalekites say that there is a God, and I have granted unto them that they should build sanctuaries, that they may assemble themselves together to worship him. And if now thou sayest there is a God, behold I will believe (v. 7).  And now when Aaron heard this, his heart began to rejoice, and he said: Behold, assuredly as thou livest, O king, there is a God (v. 8 ).”  One tool he used was his testimony.  Our testimonies have a lot of power.  When we can make gospel principles personal to us by sharing what we believe about them, others become more trusting that we are not just blind sheep following our leaders without thought, but that we truly believe.

“And the king said: Is God that Great Spirit that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem (v. 9)?  And Aaron said unto him: Yea, he is that Great Spirit, and he created all things both in heaven and in earth. Believest thou this (v. 10)?”  Asking thought provoking questions is a good missionary tool.  It is very helpful to know what someone already believes when teaching them gospel principles.  It is also good because it helps for those investigating the gospel to realize what they already know and believe in.  When we preach at people, the lessons are lost or can be lost on closed minds.  When we teach it is a give-and-take relationship.  As teachers, we should always be asking questions to find out what is understood.

“And he said: Yea, I believe that the Great Spirit created all things, and I desire that ye should tell me concerning all these things, and I will believe thy words (v. 11).  And it came to pass that when Aaron saw that the king would believe his words, he began from the creation of Adam, reading the scriptures unto the king—how God created man after his own image, and that God gave him commandments, and that because of transgression, man had fallen (v. 12).  And Aaron did expound unto him the scriptures from the creation of Adam, laying the fall of man before him, and their carnal state and also the plan of credemption, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, through Christ, for all whosoever would believe on his name (v. 13).  And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king (v. 14).”  Here he uses the scriptures to teach.  The scriptures are important to use because with them we can teach correct gospel principles.  Our interpretation of the scriptures and our testimony of them are not enough, we need to teach directly from them.  This is because the spirit will teach each person what they should get from the scriptures, better than we can.

“I will give away all of my sins to know thee”

Things that we buy have been given a value, based on how much people are willing to spend on them.  When people our willing to spend more money on something, it becomes more valuable.  How valuable is a testimony of the Savior?

Jesus at the Door

What would we be willing to give to know Him better?  To know the Savior better and have a testimony of Him, we give up our sins.  Are there things that we hold onto that hold us back from making the Savior more valuable to us?

In Alma 20:23 we learned that king Lamoni’s father was willing to give half of his kingdom to save his life.  In chapter 22 we read, “And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy (v. 15) . . . O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead (v. 18 ).”

For his salvation (eternal life), the king was willing to give up all that he owned and after Aaron taught him, he was willing to give up all of his sins.  The Lord may not every ask up to give up all that we own to be saved, but if our heart is willing to give up everything for the Lord, we will be saved.  Just being willing to give up what we own is not enough to know the Savior, we must be willing to give up our sins.  We cannot truly learn of Jesus Christ unless we use the atonement, which is has given to us.

What happened to king Lamoni’s Father?

This is another good story of conversion that deserves to be told straight from the scriptures.  After crying to the Lord that he would forsake his sins, he was struck as if dead (see v. 18 above).  “And it came to pass that his servants ran and told the queen all that had happened unto the king. And she came in unto the king; and when she saw him lay as if he were dead, and also Aaron and his brethren standing as though they had been the cause of his fall, she was angry with them, and commanded that her servants, or the servants of the king, should take them and slay them (v. 19).  Now the servants had seen the cause of the king’s fall, therefore they durst not lay their hands on Aaron and his brethren; and they pled with the queen saying: Why commandest thou that we should slay these men, when behold one of them is mightier than us all? Therefore we shall fall before them (v. 20).  Now when the queen saw the fear of the servants she also began to fear exceedingly, lest there should some evil come upon her. And she commanded her servants that they should go and call the people, that they might slay Aaron and his brethren (v. 21).  Now when Aaron saw the determination of the queen, he, also knowing the hardness of the hearts of the people, feared lest that a multitude should assemble themselves together, and there should be a great contention and a disturbance among them; therefore he put forth his hand and raised the king from the earth, and said unto him: Stand. And he stood upon his feet, receiving his strength (v. 22).  Now this was done in the presence of the queen and many of the servants. And when they saw it they greatly marveled, and began to fear. And the king stood forth, and began to aminister unto them. And he did minister unto them, insomuch that his whole household were converted unto the Lord (v. 23).  Now there was a multitude gathered together because of the commandment of the queen, and there began to be great murmurings among them because of Aaron and his brethren (v. 24).  But the king stood forth among them and administered unto them. And they were pacified towards Aaron and those who were with him (v. 25).  And it came to pass that when the king saw that the people were pacified, he caused that Aaron and his brethren should stand forth in the midst of the multitude, and that they should preach the word unto them (v. 26).  And it came to pass that the king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land (v. 27) . . .”

He was king over a large part of the land, and now he had a righteous influence over many Lamanites.  This is another awesome story of conversion that came about because of the sons of Mosiah and their missionary work.  They are such an amazing example to me.

(Just as a note: The rest of this chapter explains the way the land was split between the Lamanites and the Nephites.)

And they shall aobserve the bcovenants and church articles to cdo them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be ddirected by the Spirit.
14 And the Spirit shall be given unto you aby the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the bSpirit ye shall not teach.

Alma, Chapter 20

How did Ammon know that his brethren were in prison?

“And it came to pass that when they had established a church in that land, that king Lamoni desired that Ammon should go with him to the land of Nephi, that he might show him unto his father (v. 1).  And the voice of the Lord came to Ammon, saying: Thou shalt not go up to the land of Nephi, for behold, the king will seek thy life; but thou shalt go to the land of Middoni; for behold, thy brother Aaron, and also Muloki and Ammah are in prison (v. 2).”  Lamoni wanted Ammon to go to meet his father in Nephi, but the Lord told Ammon to go to Middoni instead, to help his brothers.

“Now it came to pass that when Ammon had heard this, he said unto Lamoni: Behold, my brother and brethren are in prison at Middoni, and I go that I may deliver them (v. 3).  Now Lamoni said unto Ammon: I know, in the strength of the Lord thou canst do all things. But behold, I will go with thee to the land of Middoni; for the king of the land of Middoni, whose name is Antiomno, is a friend unto me; therefore I go to the land of Middoni, that I may flatter the king of the land, and he will cast thy brethren out of prison. Now Lamoni said unto him: Who told thee that thy brethren were in prison (v. 4)?  And Ammon said unto him: No one hath told me, save it be God; and he said unto me—Go and deliver thy brethren, for they are in prison in the land of Middoni (v. 5).  Now when Lamoni had heard this he caused that his servants should make ready his horses and his chariots (v. 6).  And he said unto Ammon: Come, I will go with thee down to the land of Middoni, and there I will plead with the king that he will cast thy brethren out of prison (v. 7).”  Ammon knew they were in prison because of the Lord, but Lamoni believed Ammon and said he would go with him to help him save his brothers.  Hearing the actual voice of the Lord in one way that he can direct us in our lives.  We can also be blessed to feel the promptings of the spirit regularly in our lives if we are living righteously.  These promptings can come from reading the word of God in scriptures or other gospel materials, listening to the prophet and other church leaders, and in the simple everyday things in our lives.

How harmful is anger?

There are many reasons that people get angry.  When they feel hurt or betrayed by someone or something, when life is “unfair”, when someone or something we love is hurt, and I think most often it comes when we know we are not doing the right things and our faults are pointed out by others.  People often loose their tempers and do things they shouldn’t do.  Parents get mad at their children often, expecting them to be more mature than they are and will “fly off the handle”.  When people are not healthy because of being sick and tired, I think the temper can be lost in an instant.  We loose our tempers when we don’t take the time to stop and think before we react.

“And it came to pass that as Ammon and Lamoni were journeying thither, they met the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land (v. 8 ).  And behold, the father of Lamoni said unto him: Why did ye not come to the feast on that great day when I made a feast unto my sons, and unto my people (v.9)?  And he also said: Whither art thou going with this Nephite, who is one of the children of a liar (v. 10)?  And it came to pass that Lamoni rehearsed unto him whither he was going, for he feared to offend him (v. 11).  And he also told him all the cause of his tarrying in his own kingdom, that he did not go unto his father to the feast which he had prepared (v. 12).  And now when Lamoni had rehearsed unto him all these things, behold, to his astonishment, his father was angry with him, and said: Lamoni, thou art going to deliver these Nephites, who are sons of a liar. Behold, he robbed our fathers; and now his children are also come amongst us that they may, by their cunning and their lyings, deceive us, that they again may rob us of our property (v. 13).”  Lamoni’s father was angry with him for helping Ammon, who was a Nephite.

“Now the father of Lamoni commanded him that he should slay Ammon with the sword. And he also commanded him that he should not go to the land of Middoni, but that he should return with him to the land of Ishmael (v. 14).  But Lamoni said unto him: I will not slay Ammon, neither will I return to the land of Ishmael, but I go to the land of Middoni that I may release the brethren of Ammon, for I know that they are just men and holy prophets of the true God (v. 15).  Now when his father had heard these words, he was angry with him, and he drew his sword that he might smite him to the earth (v. 16).”  Lamoni’s father was so angry over what he felt was a betrayal by his own son, that he was ready to kill him.  Anger had driven him to that.  If he had not been angry, I’m sure he would have thought to discover why his son believed a Nephite was a holy prophet of the true God.

In 3 Nephi 11:29-30 we read, “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another (v. 29).  Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away (v. 30).”  The Lord does not put anger in the hearts of men.  Part of why we are hear on earth is to learn to control all of our passions.  Anger is a “natural man’s” response to a situation.  When we can learn to control our emotions, anger will not be the result.  Instead we will be able to find compassion and forgiveness for others even when they do things that could make us angry.

What brought about the change in Lamoni’s father?

“But Ammon stood forth and said unto him: Behold, thou shalt not slay thy son; nevertheless, it were better that he should fall than thee, for behold, he has repented of his sins; but if thou shouldst fall at this time, in thine anger, thy soul could not be saved (v. 17).  And again, it is expedient that thou shouldst forbear; for if thou shouldst slay thy son, he being an innocent man, his blood would cry from the ground to the Lord his God, for vengeance to come upon thee; and perhaps thou wouldst lose thy soul (v. 18 ).  Now when Ammon had said these words unto him, he answered him, saying: I know that if I should slay my son, that I should shed innocent blood; for it is thou that hast sought to destroy him (v. 19).  And he stretched forth his hand to slay Ammon. But Ammon withstood his blows, and also smote his arm that he could not use it (v. 20).  Now when the king saw that Ammon could slay him, he began to plead with Ammon that he would spare his life (v. 21).  But Ammon raised his sword, and said unto him: Behold, I will smite thee except thou wilt grant unto me that my brethren may be cast out of prison (v. 22).  Now the king, fearing he should lose his life, said: If thou wilt spare me I will grant unto thee whatsoever thou wilt ask, even to half of the kingdom (v. 23).”  The king, who had wanted his son to kill Ammon, was now willing to give Ammon half of his kingdom, to save his own life.

“Now when Ammon saw that he had wrought upon the old king according to his desire, he said unto him: If thou wilt grant that my brethren may be cast out of prison, and also that Lamoni may retain his kingdom, and that ye be not displeased with him, but grant that he may do according to his own desires in whatsoever thing he thinketh, then will I spare thee; otherwise I will smite thee to the earth (v. 24).”  Ammon asked that his brothers be realeased, and that Lamoni would be left to rule his kingdom how he wanted, without interference.

“Now when Ammon had said these words, the king began to rejoice because of his life (v. 25).  And when he saw that Ammon had no desire to destroy him, and when he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly, and said: Because this is all that thou hast desired, that I would release thy brethren, and suffer that my son Lamoni should retain his kingdom, behold, I will grant unto you that my son may retain his kingdom from this time and forever; and I will govern him no more (v. 26)—”  Lamoni’s father could see that Ammon cared for his son, and this astonished him.  He said that he would let Lamoni rule without ruling over him.

“And I will also grant unto thee that thy brethren may be cast out of prison, and thou and thy brethren may come unto me, in my kingdom; for I shall greatly desire to see thee. For the king was greatly astonished at the words which he had spoken, and also at the words which had been spoken by his son Lamoni, therefore he was desirous to learn them (v. 27).”  Not only would Ammon’s brothers be released from prison, but they would be allowed to share the gospel with the king, because now he was interested in hearing more.

King Lamoni had been raised, in the Lamanite traditions, to believe that the Nephites were bad people who wanted to take what was rightfully theirs.  They believed that the Nephites were evil.  Here, the king was overpowered by Ammon in a fight and Ammon could have asked for anything, but instead Ammon showed his love for Lamoni.  Ammon wanted Lamoni to be free to rule as he saw fit.  Ammon did not want any power over the Lamanites.  This example of great power and love in a Nephite is what brought about the change in the king.

Lamoni’s father had been quick to anger and could have killed his own son because of it.  His anger would not have changed anything for the better in his own life, but would have sentenced him in the eternities for killing an innocent man.  Ammon’s love (when he too could have responded with anger), had the power to change someone’s else’s attitude and to save lives and eventually souls.  Love is more powerful than anger because Love is a God-like characteristic, but anger is a characteristic of satan.

What may be our lot?

Many challenges face the missionaries serving all over the world today.  Some have the challenge that comes from no one being willing to hear the word.  Some are threatened with violence.  Some have personal challenges that they must overcome as well.  I’m sure that some areas are easier to serve in than others.  I think that missionaries go out from the MTC with an expectation to reach many souls and baptize many of those souls.  It must be difficult to devote 2 years of your life to something and then feel like nothing is coming of it, because people will not listen.  While in some areas of the world, the people are very ready to hear the word and many are being baptized.  This is probably why missionaries are called to serve in specific areas and not given a choice of where to serve.  I’m sure most would choose to serve where the work seems to be more successful.

“And it came to pass that Ammon and Lamoni proceeded on their journey towards the land of Middoni. And Lamoni found favor in the eyes of the king of the land; therefore the brethren of Ammon were brought forth out of prison (v. 28).  And when Ammon did meet them he was exceedingly sorrowful, for behold they were naked, and their skins were worn exceedingly because of being bound with strong cords. And they also had suffered hunger, thirst, and all kinds of afflictions; nevertheless they were patient in all their sufferings (v. 29).  And, as it happened, it was their lot to have fallen into the hands of a more hardened and a more stiffnecked people; therefore they would not hearken unto their words, and they had cast them out, and had smitten them, and had driven them from house to house, and from place to place, even until they had arrived in the land of Middoni; and there they were taken and cast into prison, and bound with strong cords, and kept in prison for many days, and were delivered by Lamoni and Ammon (v. 30).”  Ammon’s brothers had not been have the success that Ammon had.  Not that it had been easy for Ammon, but they had had it pretty bad.  However, they “were patient in all their sufferings.”  They had not given up the work, but continued on, trying to share the gospel with people who would not hear them.  We need to remember this.  When we are trying to share the gospel, we need to remember to be patient in our sufferings as well.  We may loose friends or be ridiculed, but blessings will come to both those we try to teach and us, if we see it through.

And it came to pass that when they had established a church in that aland, that king Lamoni desired that Ammon should go with him to the land of Nephi, that he might show him unto his father.
2 And the voice of the Lord came to Ammon, saying: Thou shalt not go up to the land of Nephi, for behold, the king will seek thy life; but thou shalt go to the land of aMiddoni; for behold, thy brother Aaron, and also Muloki and Ammah are in prison.

Alma, Chapter 10

What tribes were the Book of Mormon people from?

In Ezekiel 37:15-17 we read, “The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying (v. 15), Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions (v. 16):  And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand (v. 17).”  Joseph Smith said to Book of Mormon was the, “stick of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim.”  Then in D&C 27:5 we read, “Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel, to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim;”

We know from reading the Book of Mormon, that Lehi and his family were from the tribe of Joseph.  In 1 Nephi 5:14 we read, “And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine.”  Lehi was a descendant of Joseph.

In this chapter of Alma we read, “Now these are the words which Amulek preached unto the people who were in the land of Ammonihah, saying (v. 1):  I am Amulek; I am the son of Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi; and it was that same Aminadi who interpreted the writing which was upon the wall of the temple, which was written by the finger of God (v. 2).  And Aminadi was a descendant of Nephi, who was the son of Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem, who was a descendant of Manasseh, who was the son of Joseph who was sold into Egypt by the hands of his brethren (v. 3).”  We learn hear that Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh.

How can it also be called the stick of Ephraim, if they were from the tribe of Joseph through Manasseh?  Elder Erastus Snow said, “The Prophet Joseph informed us that . . . the first Book of Nephi, [is a] record of Nephi individually, he himself being of the lineage of Manasseh, but that Ishmael was of the lineage of Ephraim, and that his sons married into Lehi’s family, and Lehi’s sons married Ishmael’s daughters.”  Meaning that the children of Lehi’s sons were of both lines.

I really enjoy learning this about the scriptures, because I have been working with family history information for a few months now.  It is exactly how things work.  Nephi knew some information about who he was related to, but then later, someone else (Amulek) knows something more and the line can be taken further.  Family history may seem of little importance to some, because it is in the past, but when you do your own you will find that your ancestors are not only your past, but your future.  It is all related and it is an exciting and wonderful thing.

Describe Amulek

Amulek had “seen much of [the Lord’s] mysteries and his marvelous power (v. 5).  He had hardened his heart and was “rebelling against God” up until this point (v. 6).  He was visited by an angel who said, “Amulek, return to thine own house, for thou shalt feed a prophet of the Lord; yea, a holy man, who is a chosen man of God; for he has fasted many days because of the sins of this people, and he is an hungered, and thou shalt receive him into thy house and feed him, and he shall bless thee and thy house; and the blessing of the Lord shall rest upon thee and thy house (v. 7).”  He was obedient and went home.  On they way, he met Alma, “whom the angel said unto me: Thou shalt receive into thy house—and behold it was this same man who has been speaking unto you concerning the things of God (v. 8 ).”  Amulek believes that Alma is a holy man “because it was said by an angel of God (v. 9).  He had faith in the words that Alma had spoken to the people, “for behold I say unto you, that as the Lord liveth, even so has he sent his angel to make these things manifest unto me; and this he has done while this Alma hath dwelt at my house (v. 10).  He had witnessed the fulfillment of the words of the Angel, “For behold, he hath blessed mine house, he hath blessed me, and my women, and my children, and my father and my kinsfolk; yea, even all my kindred hath he blessed, and the blessing of the Lord hath rested upon us according to the words which he spake (v. 11).”

Amulek was just a regular guy, living his comfortable life and having lots of friends and family around.  Then he is blessed by a visit from and angel and blessed by being able to serve Alma and share in his testimony and blessings.  Each of us could also be our own Amulek, if we can be obedient, repent of letting the little things of the world get in the way of the Lord in our lives and try to live more righteously by becoming more obedient to the words of the Lord.

The call of the Lord

“Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart, even until the fourth day of this seventh month, which is in the tenth year of the reign of the judges (v. 6).”

Amulek was prompted by the spirit many times.  These promptings were the Lord’s way of telling him what he should do.  He chose not to listen to these promptings.  He chose instead to do what he wanted for himself and was then rebelling against God, because he had already learned what the spirit was and than he should follow these promptings.  In Mosiah 2:36-37 we read, “And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved (v. 36)—I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples (v. 37).”  I think people ignore promptings sometimes because they may go against our immediate desires and wants.  If a prompting goes with what we want we gladly do it and say that we came up with the idea ourselves, but when it is something hard to do, we sometimes ignore it.  There have been many times when I doubt a prompting, thinking it’s my own thoughts and it’s just plain silly.  Then something happens and I think, I should have done that.  I’m trying to be more willing to do these things even when they seem strange and I believe the I have been blessed for it.

Before and After

We read about the blessings that Alma had brought to Amulek and his family (see verse 11 above).  In Alma 15:16 we read, “And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek, Amulek having forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred;”  Before preaching to the people, Amulek’s family felt blessed by the words of Alma, but later they reject Amulek himself for following the word of God.  We learn from this that Amulek made real sacrifices for the gospel.  The decisions we make to be followers of the gospel and the persecution that we may get from doing what is right can lead to our families separating from us, but we need to remain strong in the truth.  In Matthew 19:29 we read, “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”  Our blessings will be overflowing for our righteous choices.

What do Amulek, Abinadi, and Jesus have in common?

“Nevertheless, there were some among them who thought to question them, that by their cunning devices they might catch them in their words, that they might find witness against them, that they might deliver them to their judges that they might be judged according to the law, and that they might be slain or cast into prison, according to the crime which they could make appear or witness against them (v. 13).  Now it was those men who sought to destroy them, who were lawyers, who were hired or appointed by the people to administer the law at their times of trials, or at the trials of the crimes of the people before the judges (v. 14).  Now these lawyers were learned in all the arts and cunning of the people; and this was to enable them that they might be skilful in their profession (v. 15).  And it came to pass that they began to question Amulek, that thereby they might make him cross his words, or contradict the words which he should speak (v. 16).  Now they knew not that Amulek could know of their designs. But it came to pass as they began to question him, he perceived their thoughts, and he said unto them: O ye wicked and perverse generation, ye lawyers and hypocrites, for ye are laying the foundations of the devil; for ye are laying traps and snares to catch the holy ones of God (v. 17).”

Abinadi was also questioned in Mosiah 12:18-19 we read, “And it came to pass that they said unto the king: Bring him hither that we may question him; and the king commanded that he should be brought before them (v. 18).  And they began to question him, that they might cross him, that thereby they might have wherewith to accuse him; but he answered them boldly, and withstood all their questions, yea, to their astonishment; for he did withstand them in all their questions, and did confound them in all their words (v. 19).”

We also know of what happened to Jesus in Matthew 22:15-22, “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk (v. 15).  And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men (v. 16).  Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not (v. 17)?  But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites (v. 18 )?  Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny (v. 19).  And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription (v. 20)?  They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s (v. 21).  When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way (v. 22).”

People tried to catch all three with their questions and they withstood it.

What are the traps of the devil?

Baits used to make traps work include, cheese on a mouse trap, certain scents on a bug trap, and so on.  These things are exactly what the mice and bugs are looking for.  Satan uses this same technique on us.  He knows us well enough to know what we want the most, and he uses that to lure us.  He knows that for some the lure is food, for others it is alcohol or drugs, and for others it is inappropriate images or other forms of entertainment.

“Ye are laying plans to pervert the ways of the righteous, and to bring down the wrath of God upon your heads, even to the utter destruction of this people (v. 18 ) . . . But Amulek stretched forth his hand, and cried the mightier unto them, saying: O ye wicked and perverse generation, why hath Satan got such great hold upon your hearts? Why will ye yield yourselves unto him that he may have power over you, to blind your eyes, that ye will not understand the words which are spoken, according to their truth (v. 25)?  For behold, have I testified against your law? Ye do not understand; ye say that I have spoken against your law; but I have not, but I have spoken in favor of your law, to your condemnation (v. 26).  And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges (v. 27).”  Satan was using the lawyers and judges to set traps for Amulek.  They were perverting the laws to condemn Amulek.

We need to use the guidance of the spirit to discern the traps of Satan today.  He is wise even though he is wicked and we must be aware and alert of the tactics that he uses to get to us.  If we continue to go to church, read the scriptures, listen to the prophet and other church leaders, and do our best to follow the commandments, we will be able to protect ourselves (and hopefully our families) from the traps that Satan sets for us.

Does prayer really make a difference?

“Yea, and I say unto you that if it were not for the prayers of the righteous, who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction; yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword (v. 22).  But it is by the prayers of the righteous that ye are spared; now therefore, if ye will cast out the righteous from among you then will not the Lord stay his hand; but in his fierce anger he will come out against you; then ye shall be smitten by famine, and by pestilence, and by the sword; and the time is soon at hand except ye repent (v. 23).”  Because of prayer the people had been saved up to this point.  The righteous were probably praying for the spirit to guide the leaders of their lands, and for them to be able to worship righteously, and for safety and peace in their lives, just as we pray today.  As a family, we try to remember to pray for the leaders of our city, state and country, but I do not pray enough for them.  I know that the prayers of the righteous can save the people and I will try harder to pray that these leaders will feel the inspirations of God to direct their choices.

(In the remainder of this chapter, we are introduced to Zeezrom, who wants the people to continue to do business with him, so he is trying hard to get the people worked up against Amulek and Alma.)

The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,
16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one astick, and bwrite upon it, For cJudah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and dwrite upon it, For eJoseph, the fstick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become aone in thine hand.

1 Nephi, Chapter 10

Nephi begins his own record

We learn that the book of first Nephi prior to this chapter is an abridgment of the book of Lehi and a summary of Lehi’s experiences.  At this point, Nephi starts his record, but he still talks of Lehi’s teachings. This is how we have the important things that were lost with the 116 pages of translation.

The absolute reliability of prophecy

Lehi prophesied of the jews after Jerusalem is destroyed.  He said they would be taken captive, but return to the land of their inheritance (Jerusalem). He said 600 years from “now”, the Savior would come to this world.  He said a prophet would prepare the way for Him (John the Baptist).  he said the prophet would baptize the Savior with water and bear testimony that He was the Lamb of God and Savior of the world.  He said the gospel would be given to the Jews, but they would “dwindle in unbelief” and slay the Messiah.  He said the savior would be resurrected and show himself to the Gentiles.  He said the Gentiles would be scattered and then gathered again because they would be given the fullness of the gospel.

All of these have been fulfilled except the gathering of the Gentiles, which is now being fulfilled by the missionary work of the church.  In D&C 1:37-38 it says the prophecies and promises of the scriptures will be fulfilled and His word will not pass away.  In D&C 82:10 it says, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”  Sometimes prophecy is given and it will happen no matter what, because the Lord said it would.  Other times promises are given, which require something on our part to be fulfilled.  I have been promised and eternal family based on my faithfulness to the Lord’s commandments and to my husband.  I cannot have this promise unless I do my part.

What does the title Messiah mean?

Jesus-Portrait

Messiah “denotes the King and Deliverer whose coming the Jews were eagerly expecting.”  The Messiah would save and redeem the world.  In the New Testament they call the Messiah, “the Christ”.  And this is why we call him Jesus the Christ.

Why do we need a Redeemer?

If I fell into a deep pit with no way to get out, my only feelings (after freaking out for a minute or two) would be to pray to Heavenly Father for some kind of help.  Like falling into a pit, verse six says “All mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state”.  Adam’s transgression led to man’s fallen state where we could not return to live with our Father in Heaven, and life was only mortal, not everlasting.  But, there is a way out of this pit.  The Savior made it possible, through the atonement, for us to have that perfect, everlasting life.  Repentance is the key to allowing the atonement to work in our lives.

What is the scattering and gathering of Israel?

The children of Israel were scattered physically and spiritually throughout the Earth.  They separated because of not being able to agree on the true gospel.  That leads to contentions that drive people apart.  When you are in line with others on gospel principals, you want to be with them and share your beliefs.  We can help the gathering by sharing the gospel with those around us.

To listen requires more that hearing.

To listen we must use our ears, eyes, and hearts. In D&C 1:2 it says “For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated.”  Nephi chose to listen to the spirit.  In order to see, hear, and feel messages from my Father in Heaven, I must keep the commandments to keep the spirit with me at all times.  Then with practice, I can learn how to feel, see, and hear the spiritual promptings that come from God.

What are the mysteries of God?

Mysteries of God are saving principles of the gospel.  If we look as natural men, we cannot understand the mysteries.  They just won’t make sense to us.  But when we seek earnestly, with the help of the spirit, we can understand and they are no longer “mysteries”, but plain and simple truths of the gospel.

1 Nephi, Chapter 9

The Plates of Nephi

Plates are things we put food on, so that we don’t have to eat off of the table or floor.  When I was a kid we would fight over the “special” plates.  These were plates that were homemade by my siblings.  The plates used by Nephi were a different kind of plate.  They were sheet metal used for engraving, which took a good deal of time to engrave.  The large plates consisted of Mosiah to Mormon, the small plates were First Nephi to Omni.  “These plates” must mean the small plates, which contain First Nephi, and the “other plates” must mean the large plates.

Why did the Lord tell Nephi to make another set of plates?

A good example of doing something just to be obedient, only to find out the reason later happened to my parents in January of 1994.  My Mom, Dad, brothers and I were visiting family in Arizona.  We had planned to drive home on the Monday holiday, but my parents had the strong feeling (the spirit prompting them) that they should drive home on Sunday instead.  That Monday morning, we were all home together with my sisters who had stayed home to work, when the Northridge Earthquake hit.  My parents knew then why they felt they should go home early, when there was no obvious reason to do it.  I’m glad they followed and were obedient to the prompting.  My sisters were not left alone and we did not hit the road problems that were created by the earthquake.

Nephi did not know why he should make the smaller plates, since he was already making a record of his people.  However, he did it anyway.  Nephi spent a lot of time and energy on the plates, because he had faith that there was a good purpose for them.  If we did not have the small plates, than the story of Lehi would have been lost with the 116 pages lost during translation. In D&C 10:45, the Lord instructed Joseph Smith to translate the plates of Nephi because they gave greater views upon the Gospel.  So there is more than just lost pages that make the small plates of great worth to us today.  I believe that everything happens for a reason.  I know that a lot of little things happened that did not make a lot of sense at the time, which led to my husband and I both being at a meeting where we met for the first time.  That was definitely the Lord’s hand and Him knowing all things from beginning to end, for a “wiser purpose”.

1 Nephi, Chapter 4

The power of the scriptures

Laman and Lemuel were afraid of Laban because he was a mighty man and could easily kill them (1 Nephi 3:31).  Nephi was not afraid because he had faith in the Lord, who was stronger than Laban (v. 1).  Nephi tells about how God worked miracles for their ancestors, when Moses parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites were able to walk on dry land and when Pharoah’s army tried to pursue them, they were drowned in the water.  This proves that Nephi had faith in the scriptures, that they were a true account of their ancestors.  To keep the scriptures a powerful resource in my life, I need to study them and pray to know the truth in them.  I do believe the scriptures are true.  They are not just made up stories, but are true words from ancient prophets.

Recognizing and following the voice of the Spirit

If Laman had been the one to go back into the city and find Laban there, I do not think he would have heard the spirits promptings.  I’m not sure what he would have done, but I believe that he could have been successful unless he had been able to hear the whisperings of the spirit.  But you have to be faithful to hear the spirit and Laman was more likely to be murmuring about having to go back into the city.  If he had been the one to find Laban, it is possible that he would still have killed Laban out of anger for what Laban had done to him.  We know that Laman was easily angered and later he wants to kill his own brother, so I think it would have been easy for him to kill Laban.  Nephi, on the other hand, did not have the angry desires his brothers were used to.  He would not have thought of killing someone on his own.  The thought was not a natural thought for Nephi.  He also knew the spirit well enough to know when he was receiving inspiration, because of being greatly touched by the spirit just days before.

The times I feel the spirit the most are marked by a warmth inside that gives me chills, not chills that make me shiver, just good chills.  Often times I get these feelings when someone is speaking.  When they are really strong, I am overcome and cry.  I know that these times are when the spirit is telling me something is right and true.  I also know that if I want to feel the spirit more often, I must act on the feelings I receive.  I am currently acting on a prompting that I had to start this blog, and since then I have felt so much closer to the Lord.  In the past week, I have felt the promptings of the spirit more and I know I am being blessed for following them.

Would God really command Nephi to kill?

I know that God’s commandments are specific to events.  We have a commandment to honor and obey our parents, but if my parents chose not to follow God’s laws, I would not be held accountable for not honoring them by following their example.  I must follow the spirit.  We are commanded not to kill, but if the spirit led me to defend myself against someone doing evil, I would not feel condemned to spirit prison for acting on it.  In this case, the eternal plan of God depended on the scriptures being passed on to Lehi’s family so that we would have them today.  Laban was choosing to get in the way of this.  In order to further the Lord’s work, Nephi had to kill Laban and get the plates.  I pray that I will follow the spirit, even if it may go against my natural instincts.

What are the scriptures worth?

I know that I need to value the scriptures more than any other books in my life.  They are the words of God through the mouths of prophets.  So much has been sacrificed in order for me to be able to read them today.  As I find answers in the scriptures, I realize even more, how valuable they are to me.

Why was Nephi required to kill Laban?

The study guide offers the idea that God could have caused the drunken Laban to fall and hit his head on a rock.  Why did Nephi have to kill him?  Because, there are times when we need to prove ourselves to the Lord.  No matter what was asked of him, Nephi needed to listen to the spirit.  He proved his faith and obedience to the Lord, just as Abraham proved himself by taking Isaac to the altar.  These commands strengthen testimonies so much more than the small promptings without sacrifice.  He needed this faith and testimony to lead his family to the promise land and then to be a ruler and leader of the people here in America.

Our word should be enough

Nephi uses the phrase “as the Lord liveth, and as I live” just as he had before, to make an oath with Zoram.  In the ancient times, there was value in an oath, that we do not see much today.  In fact you have to get most anything in writing and sometimes even witnessed, so that people will not go back on their word.  This is how dishonest people of today are.

I am committed to my word.  It may be silly now, but when I was young my family members dyed their hair often and many strange colors.  One day I was in my mother’s bathroom and she said, “promise me you will never dye your hair.”  She may not have meant it seriously at the time, but I did promise her and to this day, I have never dyed my hair.  It makes me feel good to keep this promise, even though I know that my Mom does not remember having this conversation with me.

If more people kept their promises, he world would be a more trustworthy place.l  I cannot describe the value of trust.  It means the world to me.  When people do not do the things they say they will, it hurts me.  I hope that I can continue to remember this more, when I think of the promises I have made to the Lord.


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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