Saturday, May 29, 2010

Alma 13

The people had questioned why the Lord would only send one man to them, but now with Amulek being with Alma, there are two witnesses and this fulfills the law of witnesses which says that everything will be established by the mouths of two or three witnesses. Alma then talks about the authority of the priesthood explaining that all men who hold the priesthood were foreordained prior to this life. He uses the words "from the foundation of the world" meaning from the very beginning. Men who hold the priesthood were foreordained at that time because of their "exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith are called with a holy calling." However, he makes this interesting statement, "others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they have might have had as great privilege as their brethren." I think this means two possible things. One is that there are some who were foreordained but reject the gospel in this life and never enjoy the blessings of exercising the priesthood. I think the other meaning is there are some who were foreordained before this life, ordained in this life, but never enjoy the blessings of the priesthood they hold because of the attitudes they have and the actions of their lives.

There are four things involved when men are called of God. One is they must be called by prophecy. This means they are called by revelation, by the power of the Holy Ghost. Both the person doing the calling and the person receiving the priesthood must be in tune with the Spirit. Two, there must be the laying on of hands. This allows that more than one person supports the calling as men unitedly lay their hands upon the head of the recipient and convey the authority. Three, the ordained person must have divine approval meaning that what he does is the mind and will of the Lord, it is his doctrine. And four, they administer the ordinances in the place of the Lord, with his approval. These four things must be a part of every priesthood holder's ordination and practice of the priesthood.

When a person exercises the priesthood in righteousness and humility, the power of the priesthood is evident and it is a witness of not only the truth of the gospel, but a witness that the Lord cares enough about his people to do all that he can for them to have the truth and the blessings of his gospel in the same manner the Lord would give it were he here. It is unfortunate that so many fall far short in both how they hold and exercise the priesthood. As Section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants states, the rights of the priesthood are connected to the powers of heaven and are inseparable. And if a man is in sin, uses his authority to gratify his pride, or uses it to for power and control, the powers of heaven are withdrawn and the man actually loses his priesthood authority. Such people are like those Alma talked about when he says, if it had not been for this they have might have had as great privilege as their brethren. The evidences that a person has the authority of the priesthood is he uses gentle persuasion, he is long-suffering, gentle, meek, and filled with unfeigned (not pretended) love. He is kind, is interested in only the truth and is without hypocrisy or guile (has no deceptive motives). This is a tall order for any priesthood holder and I know from personal experience that priesthood holders for the most part are a work in progress.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Alma 12

Another great chapter that should be read carefully and thought about. Undoubtedly, we do not have all that Zeezrom said to Alma and Amulek or all they said to him. But what we are told is that Zeezrom tried to trap them in their own words and make them look like liars and false priests. But through the Spirit (the gift of discernment that priesthood leaders experience from time to time), Alma and Amulek were able to perceive his thoughts and purposes and expose them. Zeezrom soon realizes he is contending with more than he thought and begins to fear that what they have been saying, especially about judgment, is true. Now he begins to question them with what looks like a desire to know to the truth.

Alma teaches some very important principles in this chapter and I'll outline them.

1. A knowledge of the truth is given only to the degree that we are obedient to the amount of truth we have received. When we are obedient to what we know, God gives us more. If we aren't, what we have is gradually taken away until we can potentially lose all knowledge of gospel principles and truth. If asked, such people couldn't explain the principles and doctrines of the gospel.

2. There are three things that we will be judged on, our words, our thoughts and our works (He must have read King Benjamin's speech). There are consequences for all three. If are are based on wickedness in these three areas, there must be justice or life would not be fair. If we are trying our best, the consequences justice demands for our bad words, thoughts and deeds are taken care of by the Savior.

3. There were two trees in the Garden of Eden, each one that affected the life span of Adam and Eve. The plan was for them to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil so that they could progress towards becoming like God. Eating this fruit would cause them to become mortal and give them the opportunity to grow through choosing between good and evil. Because they became mortal, and we with them, they naturally sinned and suffered physical death. The plan of salvation allowed for them (and us) to be redeemed from sin and death if they lived righteously.

4. Satan's initial plan was to get Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of life so that there would be no death for Adam and Eve, no children, and as a result, no mortal life for the rest of us. If Satan could get them to eat both, starting with the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then he would cause them to live forever in a state of sin and Satan would have destroyed God's plan for his children to become like him.

5. Since Satan's plan was thwarted, and men became mortal, from time to time God spoke to great, righteous men, or he sent angels to them and made known the truth and purposes of life and the plan of salvation so they could teach the people and give them the opportunity to choose allowing them (as Lehi taught) to act upon the truth and control their lives or to be acted upon and be controlled by life. That is the crux of free agency. When we use it correctly, we are left with the freedom to act. When we misuse it, we lose agency and circumstances then control us and we lose our agency.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Alma 11

Zeezrom is the typical self serving lawyer who is not after truth but only interested in building his own case. He asks Amulek a series of questions that gives Amulek the opportunity to answer with positive responses that give the appearance he and Amulek are on the same page. Then assuming that he has Amnulek comfortable, he asks a trick question in an effort to discredit Amulek. He asks, if there is a God, if there is more than one God, how he knows what he's saying, is it the son of God who is going to come. The trick question is, "shall he save his people in their sins?" The key word is "in." The Savior doesn't save someone who is unrepentant and in sin. When Amulek says no, Zeezrom then turns Amulek's answers to his advantage saying Amulek says there is only one God, but the Son of God is coming which means there has to be at least two, and event though he is the son of God, he won't have the power to save his people.

Amulek takes this opportunity to first call Zeezrom a liar, then teach two very important principles. The first is in verses 40-41. The Savior will take upon him the transgressions of those who believe in him. These are the ones he will save. Those who reject him and continue in sin remain as if there hadn't been any redemption at all. This is so the wicked will have to face the consequences of their actions and justice for what they have done. Why would the Savior remove the sins of a someone who murders and has no intention or care about it? The second important principle is verses 43-44. All mankind will be resurrected. All will receive an immortal and perfect body after death that will unite with our spirits.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Alma 10

Amulek tells the people that the only reason they haven't been destroyed is because of the righteous among them. If they cast the righteous people out, they will be destroyed. This is something that has happened historically many times with many civilizations.

Amulek is a wealthy and influential man who is apparently well known. He says he persisted in wickedness but he's obviously a good and righteous man who is like many of us. He's certainly like me in that he's preoccupied with other things to the point he doesn't hear and feel spiritual things as much as he should. He's involved with the thick of thin things. I wonder how often I have missed out on experiencing the promptings of the spirit, missed out on revelation, of a spiritual experience because my mind was so into things of the world that were of no consequence. It takes self discipline to keep the heart and mind in tune with the Spirit. I know the Spirit is a very sensitive being and his influence will not be felt if I am in the presence of any unrighteousness, or even in the midst of worldly things that are not necessarily bad, but just spiritually distracting. Since it is the Holy Ghost is the "still, small voice," it means that I have to be quiet in my mind and it helps to be at peace. When I'm in turmoil, anger, fear or anxiety, or other negative situations, I can't feel the Spirit, but if I'm prayerful, the fruits of the Spirit can be obtained if I allow the Spirit into my life. And the fruits of the Spirit are very desirable things such as peace, love, joy, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith. I believe these fruits come from no other source. We may think they do, but if they are present, the Spirit is present also whether we are members of the church or not. The difference is having the Holy Ghost momentarily or having the Gift of the Holy Ghost so that we have his constant companionship. Another gift of the Spirit is prophecy and knowing that it's only five days until something big and important is going to happen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Alma 9

Alma compares the Lamanites to the people of Ammonihah and tells the people of Ammonihah that the Lamanites are in a much better position in the Lord's eyes than they are. Alma tells the people of Ammonihah that since they are a part of the Nephite nation, they have been a highly favored people, even above every other nation and people because they have been visited by the Spirit of God, they have conversed with angels, been spoken to by the voice of the Lord; they have the spirit of prophecy and revelation and the gifts of the Spirit. They have been delivered miraculously in many ways and saved from diseases and sickness, and they have been made strong in their wars. The Lamanites are the victims of the traditions of their forefathers, Laman and Lemuel and those who came after. They have not had any of the blessings the Nephites have had. So the Lamanites, who the Lord says will eventually come to him, will be spared. But the people of Ammonihah will be destroyed because they turned completely against all that the Lord has provided them.

In our own time, I think this will be the difference between people in our country who are devoutly religious and the wicked. The people of our nation have all been raised in a Judeo-Christian ethic. Those who have this background and choose to be wicked, will face harsher consequences because of this. More and more we are seeing the dividing line between the righteous and wicked becoming more obvious. Those who are unrighteous, like the people of Ammonihah, deride righteous people. To be Christian, or to believe in God, is naive. As predicted in the Book of Mormon, many of the sins of our day are not considered to be unrighteous at all. You can easily see this in the media. Consummation before marriage is normal, even necessary. Sexual relationships are a right to be practiced whenever desired. The acceptance of dishonest greed is found in many of the nation's largest corporations and throughout the government. As a nation, we will be held accountable because we are founded on principles and values that are now being ignored.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Alma 8

Mormon doesn't tell us anything about the church organization or the people of Melek. He only has so much room on the plates and so he only picks those things to write that will offer important lessons and historical happenings. He knows for what people and what purposes he is writing and I wonder how often he agonized over what to write, and especially what to leave out because I'm sure there were things he wanted to include but in the end had to leave out.

It's interesting that the same angel that had struck Alma down now comes and comforts him and gives him reassurance because of his faithfulness. It's probably the same angel that appeared in vision to Amulek. Alma left the people of Ammonihah because they totally and completely and rejected his teaching. When the angel tells him to return, it says that he did so speedily even though he must have known what was waiting for him. That's a little lesson in the Book of Mormon that is good to remember. When we feel an impression that we should do something, we should do it "speedily" and not put it off. If we do, we deny ourselves blessings and opportunities. I think that more often than not, when we give heed to the impressions we receive, we end up blessing someone's life and meeting someones needs.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Alma 7

Alma crosses the river Sidon to preach to the people of Gideon. He's they are in the same state of wickedness as the people in Zarahemla but he must have literally rejoiced when he learned they are living righteously. As a result, his message to them is very different from what he said to the people in Zarahemla. Instead of condemnation and making them realize their sins and idol worship are going to cause the judgments of God to come upon them, he brings them a message of the Savior that focuses on his great mercy and love.

This is the chapter where we learn that the Savior suffered in every possible way that any person can suffer so that he can understand and care for each person. Regardless of where we are in life, whatever we are feeling physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, he understands perfectly. It's so much better to talk to someone who has gone through what we've gone through, felt what we've felt, hurt like we've hurt, because they understand and know exactly how we feel. Others can feel bad for us, but they don't really understand. It's like a mother who has gone through the pain of giving birth to a child. The husband can sympathize, but he will never know what it was like. Another mother knows exactly how it feels and can understand better how to care for the mother who has given birth. I think that verses 11-13 are some of the most important in the Book of Mormon.

Another verse that has had an impact on me is verse 15. I love the gentle urging when Alma says "... come and fear not, and lay aside every sin which easily doth beset you." Or, finally get rid of the sins that you have the hardest time overcoming. Later he says that whoever does this will have eternal life.

Verses 23--24 also are wonderful. You can sense both the Savior's, and Alma's, gentle of love for the people. He tells them, and us, to be humble, submissive and gentle, easy to be entreated (which means it's not hard for someone to ask something of us), full of patience, long-suffering, and temperate which I think means we're not extreme about anything. Then he tells us to not be afraid to pray and ask for whatever need; we just need to remember to give thanks to the Lord when he blesses us with answers to our prayers. Then he says if we have faith, hope, and charity, we will always abound in good works. To me that means our life will be filled with good. It will be satisfying, fulfilling and meaningful. At the end of each day, I ask myself if I've blessed anyone's life that day. Too often, I find that I went through the day just doing what I needed to do and thinking only of me. On the days, that I did do something good for someone, I sleep a lot better.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Alma 6

In Zarahemla, the church was established and Alma ordains more priests and elders "by the laying on of hands according to the order of God." Ordination has and will always be done the laying on of hands. It is richly symbolic of the Lord laying his own hands on the head of those being ordained. You can sense the sacredness represented by the hands on your head when you are set apart, blessed, or ordained. In the valley of Gideon, (Gideon was the person who was going to slay King Noah until they saw the Lamanites coming. He also was the one in his old age who was slain by Nehor.) Alma goes to the people of the church their and preaches to them. We see what he says to them in the next chapter. You wonder how badly the church was in apostasy. Was it a majority of the people or just a large number? It must have been a significant number.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Alma 5

Alma 5 is his testimony to the people. He first tells them that they cannot assume because their parents were righteous that they can be saved on the basis of their parent's righteousness, but it will be on the basis of how they have lived their own lives. He tells them that many of their parents were converted by his father Alma after he had heard the words of Abinadi and a mighty had change come into his heart. He preached to the parents of these people and they had a mighty change of heart, so Alma (the younger) asks these people if they've experienced a change in their hearts like their parents did. He then asks them a series of questions and they are worth thinking about.

1. Have you been spiritually born of God and received his image in your countenance?
2. Do you have faith in the redemption of Christ?
3. Are you prepared to stand before God satisfied with the way you have lived your life?
4. Is your heart pure and your hands clean?
5. Can you comfortably stand before God if your works have been filthy, if you been a murderers, liars, persecutors of the poor?
6. If you once experienced a change of heart, do you feel the same now? Have you endured?
7. Are you sufficiently humble, stripped of pride and envy?
8. Do you have charity or are you unfeeling and mock others?
9. Are you obedient? Do you follow the good shepherd and allow him to protect you?

Alma then bears his testimony and says they should not assume that these are words he just thought of himself, that his knowledge comes from him is own conclusions. He says, "How do ye suppose I know [that the things I am testifying of] of their surety? ... They are made know unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me."

That, I think, is one of the most important messages of the Book of Mormon. If we are willing to pay the price, we can know by the Holy Ghost that these things are true. We will know, not because of what someone else has said or done, but we can know for our own selves without doubt because of the witness of the Holy Ghost. That is the great strength of the church, the individual testimonies of the members.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Alma 4

It took the Nephites only two years to go from being humbled because they believed "the judgments of God [were] sent upon them because of their wickedness... therefore they were awakened to a remembrance of their duty," to having their hearts set upon riches, lifted up in pride, and being persecutors of those who did not believe the same as them. There are so many of them that the church begins to fail. Mormon tells us that the "wickedness of the church was a great stumbling block to those who did not belong to the church." It is always sad when any member of the church can cause people to believe that their poor actions are typical of the church. You have to wonder how many people have been turned off to the church because of the poor example of some members. The church works hard to portray an example of a correct image of the fruits of a believing people, the great blessing of good families, and the good that can be done when people's hearts are in the right place. It offers so much security in an insecure world and so many are looking for that something to be able to belief and have faith in. What a shame when our own bad behavior, selfishness, chasing after things that have no ultimate value, or just plain being dumb, lead others to believe that what we are the kind of people who have nothing that would be of interest to them.

Alma realizes that he can't be high priest and chief judge at the same time so he gives up the political seat and assumes the role of solely being the religious leader. Then Mormon offers the insight that Alma realized that there was no way to save the people except in "bearing down in pure testimony against them." It would take great courage to go before a wicked people and point out and testify to them of their sins and the consequences of what they were doing. But it is no different today. We hear strong testimonies concerning the problems that plague us today like pornography, moral sins, pride, and all that we see taking place in the Book of Mormon. Who hasn't experienced the pride, the "one-up-manship" or attitude of superiority that comes from those who use position and wealth look down on those who have less? How refreshing it is when we meet those who have wealth and position but never allow it to influence their relationship with others.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Alma 3

I tend to forget that Mormon is the story teller as we read Mosiah, Alma and most all of the rest of the Book of Mormon. He talks about the Lamanites receiving a mark of dark skin to differentiate them from the Nephites and to help prohibit the mixing of the two races. Mormon also talks about the curse placed upon the Lamanites and I think of this as something separate from the dark skin. The curse comes as a result of their wickedness. It is their loss of the Spirit and separation from God. They are in fact a godless people. The Amlicites do not have dark skin so they put a mark of red on their forehead so they will distinguished as a separate people also and end up mixing with the Lamanites. By making the mark, they confirmed the prophecy that the Lord gave that those who rebelled against him would receive a mark on their skin and as a result, they are cursed in the same manner as the Lamanites and receive the same condemnation. In our day, people who rebel against God and turn to great wickedness do not receive a different color skin, but there is a change of countenance. You can see this when you see pictures on television of people arrested for crimes. They have an evil look about them. The same condemnation falls upon them also as they are removed from the presence of God and remain a godless people unless redemption occurs.

The Lamanites, thinking that the Nephites must be weakened by the last war come against the Nephites again. Alma can't fight because he was wounded in the last war. Mormon makes the observation that tens of thousands died as a result, with each person who died received a just reward for what they had earned. He makes an interesting statement saying that each person received the wages he had earned from the person he chose to obey. The wages of Satan cannot be anything even the wicked would want.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Alma 2

Amlici seeks to be king and when he can't do it by law, he tries by force. It's bad enough when you have to war against another country or countries, but to have to war against your own people is particularly terrible. What's makes this worse is the people who who call themselves Amlicites unite with the Lamanites in the war against the Nephites. Had the the Amlicites and Lamanites won the war, Amlici would have been made king, but would have also put himself and all of the Nephites in bondage to the Lamanites again. No doubt, the lure of power blinded the Amilici to that possibility. The Nephites, though smaller in number, win the war because of the strength of the Lord that's added to their own. I would hate to face any calamity, disaster, war, or anything difficult without knowing the Lord is there to help me. I wouldn't want to face any challenge alone. To face it with his help would give me strength and faith in my ability to meet it head on and see it through.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Alma 1

I suppose there will always be Nehors both in and out of the church who use money, position and influence to gain the support of others for their own sin. Unfortunately, as with the people in Alma's time, so it is in ours. The church is prosperous and the importance of money, position and appearance cloud many minds causing them to think their worth is built upon the success they create for themselves, success that elevates them so they can look down from above on those around them. I find that the need for success, when pursued at the cost of humility, charity and spirituality, is an effort to hide inadequacies. Those three qualities are where success really lies.

What Elder Maxwell once said applies well to the Nehor's of the world, "Perhaps the worst curse that finally falls upon those who are hard of heart and who fight against God is the curse of being consigned to be with each other." Hardness of heart and pride go hand in hand with wickedness. It all goes back to Satan and his statement to God, "Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it, wherefore give me thine honor." Satan's ego is made obvious with four "I's" and three "me's" in that one sentence. As Elder Maxwell says, those vertical pronouns are usually accompanied by unbending knees. And notice the similarity of Satan's words with what Nehor taught. He says teachers and priests should be popular, wealthy. Satan wanted to the supreme position of all, God's honor and Godhood, as if it could be given. Nehor said all mankind will be saved and redeemed, so sin is of no consequence. Satan would have saved all people, but for his own purposes. And just as Satan wanted no agency and seeks to destroy all who would follow God, Nehor tried to prohibit the agency of others and killed Gideon who successfully opposed him.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mosiah 29

Mosiah shows great wisdom and the application of great wisdom from what he has learned from the past. He knows he does not have long to live and first tries to confer the kingdom on one of his sons and they decline. Even though he and his father Benjamin have been righteous kings, he sees danger in continuing to have kings as rulers. He explains to the people the advantages of a good king, but because even a good king can become iniquitous and cause great harm (it's interesting that he even asks the people who they can be sure that once a king, there is no promise his own son wouldn't return to his iniquitous ways), he establishes a system of checks and balances with three levels of judges, a chief judge, higher judges and lower judges. These different levels of judges can overrule a level who has judged incorrectly. This gives the people greater freedom for which their love for Mosiah increases. I see the same qualities in Mosiah as those of a George Washington, John Adams or Benjamin Franklin. The Book of Mosiah closes with Mormon telling us how Alma died at age 82 and King Mosiah died at age 63. These were two of the great men of the Book of Mormon. If they had been men we had known and experienced personally, we would have been in awe of them. I wonder if it wouldn't be the same if a people found a record of our church history a thousand years from now and read about Joseph Smith, or Spencer W. Kimball, David O. McKay, Gordon B. Hinckley, or Thomas Monson.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mosiah 28

Concerning the sons of Mosiah, verse 4 states that "thus did Spirit of the Lord work upon them for they were the vilest of sinners." Regardless of our condition, whether were righteous or steeped in sin, the Lord never forgets us, never gives up on us and never ceases trying to bring us closer to a better life, one that is more meaningful, based on true principles, and more guided by the Spirit. When we are guided by the Spirit, we accomplish more, have more peace, and are more content and happy. We feel settled with our feet on solid ground and are comfortable with the direction our life is taking. President Joseph F. Smith said this about feeling the Spirit when it came upon him after his baptism, " The feeling that came upon me was that of pure peace, of love and of light. I felt in my soul that if I had sinned-and surely I was not without sin-that it had been forgiven me; that I was indeed cleansed from sin; my heart was touched, and I felt that I would not injure the smallest insect beneath my feet. I felt as if I wanted to do good everywhere to everybody and to every thing. I felt a newness of life, a newness of desire to do that which was right. There was not one particle of desire for evil left in my soul." Notice he says he isn't without sin, but that his sins our forgiven. I dislike the word perfection because it does not relate to people, only the Lord. We don't have to reach a state of perfection, be leading the perfect life, have the perfect attitude, or reach a state of perfect spirituality in order to be accepted by the Lord. We only need to be forgiven by him. Knowing we are forgiven comes even as we are imperfect. I think this is the greatest gift offered to us and the one most misunderstood. And this misunderstanding brings discouragement and feelings of failure where none is needed.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mosiah 26

At the beginning of the book of Mosiah when King Benjamin gathered all of the people around the temple and spoke to them, the very young children were the only ones who didn't understand what he was saying. Now they have grown up and not only don't believe what they have been taught by their parents, but rebel against it and separate themselves from everyone else so they can live a life style that is morally wrong. Alma takes many of them before King Mosiah to be judged but he basically says that he will only judge civil matters and leaves them in Alma's hands. So Alma turns to the Lord; it says he pours out his whole soul. This tells us how much Alma cares about the people, and we need to remember that Alma's and Mosiah's sons are among those who are willfully rebelling. He asks the Lord what he should do and the Lord tells him two great things.

The first is, because Alma has been so dedicated to helping the people and building the church, the Lord tells him he is assured of eternal life. As to the people, the Lord tells him that it is up to the people if they will hear the Lord's voice and follow him. There will come a day when every single person will know that he is the Redeemer. But for now, those who won't hear the Lord's voice simply won't be numbered in the church. If they repent, they can be. Then the Lord says something I think is very important, the best things always come on the top of cupcakes. And he says, as often as a person repents, the Lord will forgive him. The Lord knows that we are not perfect and he accepts that. We tend to forget that and continue to be hard on ourselves for our failures when the Lord isn't. The Lord then says, if he is willing to continually forgive us, we need to forgive those around us.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mosiah 25

With all these groups of people coming to King Mosiah and his people, he authorizes Alma to organize everyone into seven churches. We don't if this is something similar to our stakes but or something larger. These groups include the Mulekites who we learned about in Omni. Evidently, they also included the children of Amulon and the other priests of King Noah. These children were so disgusted with the actions of their fathers that they renounced their names and adopted the name of Nephi and wanted to be known as Nephites.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mosiah 24

With the Lamanites, Amulon and his fellow priests teach the Lamanites the ways of the world enabling them to become rich and prosperous and more wicked. Amulon still wants to be a religious leader over Alma. He knows Alma as a fellow priest of King Noah and is obviously jealous of Alma's influence over his people. So he and the other priests of King Noah are allowed to be teachers as well as civil leaders over Alma and his people. Their persecution becomes extreme because the people remain righteous and faithful to the Lord and to Alma. Amulon commands them to stop praying which they do vocally but not in their heart. With their faith being so steadfast in spite of the persecution, the Lord extends his grace to Alma and his people. I've like the definition of grace that says it is the Lord doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Here the Lord strengthens the people, os their burdens are eased to the point they do not feel them, and then the Lord miraculously leads them back to King Mosiah and the Nephites. We can be sure that when we put our complete trust in the Lord, he will ease our burdens and strengthen us so that we can bear them. And sometimes, he will even remove them.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mosiah 23

The people who followed after Alma want him to be their king but he refuses. Only a just man should be a king or problems follow. I think the same is true for us. Only a just man should lead our country or it creates problems. A just man will be a servant of the people, an unjust man will serve his own desires.

How frustrating for Alma and his people. They flee King Noah. They flee from the Lamanites and now the priests of King Noah have joined the Lamanites and Amulon, one of King Noah's priests, rules over Alma and his people. Alma must feel like they are right back where they started.

This chapter reaffirms that the Lord always establishes a righteous leader, gives him authority and through that leader, others receive authority. There is always order and organization in the Lord's priesthood. It would be chaos if it were done in any other way. If people were allowed to take authority to themselves, the church would be full of unrighteous men using authority for self gain and power. Because men all have weaknesses, there will be those who misuse the Lord's authority but I have always felt that the vast majority of priesthood leaders in the church are good men who only want to do what is right. There are always a few who try us from time to time, but most men have good hearts and good intentions.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mosiah 22

The people of King Limhi turn to the Lord and to Gideon and they are able to escape from the Lamanites and the bondage they've been under and they are miraculously led out of the land of Nephi back to Zarahemla where King Mosiah welcomes them. This fleeing of bondage, like Israel being led by Moses out of the bondage of Egypt, is symbolic of the Lord freeing people from the grasp of sin and Satan. It is Satan's desire to cause people to sin so they are in a position where they lose their free agency. But because of the Lord's atonement, people can be free of Satan's grasp, free from sin, and enjoy the true freedom that comes when we turn to the Lord, trust in him and let him guide our lives.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mosiah 21

The Lord often tries a person or a people to their very limits and/or lets them endure suffering to the point that tests them to their limits. When a person reaches the depths of their suffering, this is when they will turn most sincerely to the Lord and this is when he helps them. At that point, they know they cannot change their situation or their suffering without his help and when he gives it, they easily see his hand in their lives. This gives them an undoubting faith in him and it is clear that he is guiding them through the steps to end the suffering. During all those years that I was dealing with the opposition I had at work, I finally reached a point where mom and I just couldn't stand it any more. I walked outside one night and said, "Lord, I can't take this anymore." The next morning, my department chairman came in and said they were going to let me go. He fired me and that was about as low a point as I ever was in my life. It seemed there was nothing else I could do and only the Lord could me then. And it was from that point on the Lord entered in and everything began to come to light and even though it took a lot more years, I have come from being a person who was perceived as not deserving of being on the faculty to a position of success and respect. I have no conception of how badly the people of King Limhi suffered at the hands of the Lamanites and their three terrible defeats when they tried to free themselves, but I don't understand the terrible depths they finally reached. But at the point of their greatest suffering, they finally turned to the Lord and he brought Ammon to them and the Lord began the process of freeing them from the Lamanites and their suffering. He never abandons anyone and in some way, when they turn to him, he will free them from their burdens and suffering.