Helaman 10-16…Led to Believe

We move now into the next book in the Book of Mormon, Helaman. This book is named after the grandson of Alma, whom the previous book was named after.

Alma has died long ago and conferred the records to his son, Helaman. Helaman dies and gives the plates to his brother, Shiblon. Shiblon gives the plates to his nephew, the son of Helaman, who was named after his father.

Helaman, unfortunately is the one to be the Chief Judge at the beginning of the end of the Nephites. As from the beginning of the Earth with Cain, Satan is able to get a hold of the hearts of the people through ways of secret plans, oaths and covenants. Helaman does his best and then dies, leaving the Judgement seat to his son, Nephi. After about 10 years, after many wars and prosperity, the Nephites are grossly wicked, while the Lamanites are good. In fact most of the Lamanites believe in Christ and are stalwart in their testimony of him, unlike the Nephites.

It has come to the point where the Lamanites are so good, that the Lord appoint one to be a prophet and preach to the Nephites. Samuel is his name. He goes to the biggest Nephite city, Zarahelma, to preach to them because the Lord told him to. Only, the people don’t like him at all and force him out. He’s still not done preaching and so he goes up on the wall that surrounds the city and talks to them there.

Samuel urges then to repent and come to the Lord. He reminds them that because the have hardened their hearts, the Sprit has gone from them and they are ripening for destruction. He gives them a pretty good verbal smackdown, not being shy about telling them how bad they are. But then goes on to tell them how they can overcome. He prophesies about the coming of Christ, giving a specific year when he will be born and what the earth will do during that time. He compares them to the Lamanites, telling them what they should be doing.

After he has said all he needs to, they try to kill him by throwing stones and firing arrows at him, but none of them hit him. None. He leaves to go back to the righteous Lamanites. There were many who believed Samuel, which Nephi baptizes and takes care of.

There was many wonderful, insightful things that Samuel said, but one stood out that I have been feeling myself….

Scriptures.

Samuel says about the reason the Lamanites are doing so well and are so righteous is because, “…as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, are are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written , which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them-”

Because of the scriptures, the Lamanites are able to look in a record and see the folly of their ancestors and also read the doctrine and principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which then lead them to have faith in the Lord, to repent and to have a change of heart.

Elder Jay E. Jensen, previously of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, gave a wonderful talk on the power we can receive from studying the Scriptures. Through his careful and loving studying of the scriptures, he was able to see what promises the Lord has in store for us if we will study the scriptures.

He lists 3 main categories of Promises: Power, Increase and Other. He gives Samuel as an example of Power in that, “Power to change the heart and disposition”. As we read from the scripture cited above, the scriptures can give the power to change hearts and then become righteous.  

Through taking this course and the one previous to this, I have been able to immerse myself in the scriptures and feel the change that is coming over me as a result. I can feel this power working in myself. I have come to truly love the scriptures and the time that I spend in them. I have come to see, from looking back on my life and then looking at the lives of others, why we may feel far away from the Lord, which is the result from not studying our scriptures.

As President Kimball said, “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.” (TheTeachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 135.)

While I feel that I had been doing well enough in my spirituality with my Savior and my God, now that I have been feasting on the word, I can see that really, I wasn’t as close as I thought I was. I am so much closer now than I ever have been. I relish in the time I spend in the scriptures and am often sad when I need to leave them to move on with my day.

I love them. Do you?

 

 

Advertisements

Alma 43-63…the war chapters

I have read the Book of Mormon several times and these 20 chapters have always been a little dull for me. Until some months ago anyway. I was guided to a talk by John Bytheway, given at the 2015 BYU Women’s Conference, which he was talking about the parable of the 10 virgins and having oil in our lamps. During his talk, he brings up those chapters and then gives and understanding of them. Suddenly they weren’t dull anymore because the spiritual nature and examples given in them were opened up to me. I got it, I understood.

So now, having forgotten that, I was excited to read these chapters to try to understand why they were put in there with so much detail. It was a 13 year war. It was also rich with symbolism, doctrine and principles.

There are many points that I loved and learned so much from, but the one that I observed the most was that through it all, they never stopped even though they were seriously outnumbered. It reminded me of the hymn, “Let Us All Press On”, “We will not retreat though our numbers may be few when compared with the opposite hist in view. But an unseen power will aid me and you in the glorious cause of truth.” This was the Nephites during the entire 13 years and this is what we have to endure today with the war that Satan has continued from his war in Heaven before the foundations of this world began.

I am generally a sensitive person to those who I am close to. Strangers don’t affect me much, but those I care about do. I have learned to put feelings aside, mostly so that I can have peace. If I get upset about every thing that is said or done carelessly, I would never have peace. The Chief Captain over all the Nephite armies was Moroni. He was one of the best men who ever lived, but he also had a bit of a temper. There was a time in the battles where more men were needed but weren’t being sent from the capital city. Moroni writes a scathing letter to the Chief Governor of the land. And when I mean scathing, it was awful. Turns out that the people in the capital were fighting among themselves and so the governor was dealing with his own mess and couldn’t send more men. In the letter from the governor to Moroni, he calls out Moroni on his criticism and says that it doesn’t matter. Pahoran, the governor chose not to be offended.

Elder Bednar and Apostle of the Lord has said in a General Conference address, “When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy,embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me.Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.” 

The greatest gift that God had given us in this life is the ability to choose. We choose when we are offended. We may be hurt or stung by the insensitive or careless words of another, but it it our choice to become offended by them. Everything we do in this life is a choice. And that includes how we respond to others. Think about it.

Alma 30-35…Faith is like a seed…

New class, a new perspective. Hello all! Or anyone who happens to read these. I’m back with my bi-weekly posts on the marvelous Book of Mormon. This time around, I’ll be coming at these posts a bit differently. I won’t be expounding on every point in every chapter, but it will be more of a focus on one or two points, with some general overviews on what’s happening int he overall story.

So, to begin on chapter 30, there was a man named Korihor who was turning the people away with false doctrine, claiming that there would be no Christ and there was no God. He wanted a sign that there was a God, and was struck mute. He was duped by a devil who claimed to be an angel. He ended up having to beg or food and was eventually killed by some not so great people in the land. Mormon states plainly those who choose to follow Satan with, “and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell” (Alma 30:60). Poor Korihor.

Musing: I’m supposing that somehow Alma heard about what happened to Korihor being trampled to death by those other people, the Zoramites because now we find him learning all about the Zormaites and decided to take a trek to them with others. So….perhaps this was the Lord’s way of leading Alma to the Zoramites…? 

Okay, I’m doing it again….it’s so hard to not talk about all these wonderful scriptures!!

Main points: Alma, Ammon, Aaron, Omner, Amulek, Zeezorom, Shiblon and Corianton all go to the land of the Zoramites. They find them extremely wicked. They pray once a week in their Synagogues on a high pulpit that only one can stand on, using a scripted prayer about how they are better than everyone else and that there is no Christ. Alma is very sad about this and then finds that the people in the synagogues have cast out their poor from coming inside the churches. They’re worried about what they’re going to do because they’ve deceived themselves into believing all this nonsense. Alma is happy that they are worried, because they are now humble enough to be teachable. He and Amulek teach.

What did they teach?

I had a camp out with my Young Women this past weekend. While we were sitting around the fire, one of them asked about a Faith value project for her Personal Progress Program. I wasn’t sure, so I looked up the suggestions on my phone from the book. As I was reading down the list, what just ‘happens’ to be on that list? Alma 32. Precisely what I had just studied during the week. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I knew the Lord wanted me to teach them all about this, not just this particular Young Woman.

I opened the scriptures on my phone and began to explain why faith was like a seed (I love having an entire library’s worth of books in the palm of my hands…AND…that I know how to use those books!). I wanted to help them understand these principles so that they could apply them in their lives. I wanted as President Packer said, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.” I want this so desperately for these sweet girls!!

So I began teaching what Alma taught to the Zoramites about faith. Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things but to hope in something we haven’t seen, but is true. To  experiment on the Lord’s words to act on a particle of faith, to desire to believe and let that desire work in them. I explained what those feelings were so that they could understand them. I taught that they need to find their own faith and let it grow. To read their scriptures and always keep the roots of their budding plants alive, even if they make wrong choices.

It was a wonderful discussion with the other leaders and mom’s bearing their testimonies about the subject and the girls answering questions they were asked. What started as a simple question about a project turned unto a doctrinal discussion about faith, prayer and becoming a better disciple.

You can read in detail about the rest of what Alma and Amulek thought… here.

I challenge you all to read it and study it. Let your faith grow. Have a desire to believe.