Friday, June 25, 2010
Amulek teaches that since it is impossible for a mortal to overcome his own fallen state, an infinite and eternal sacrifice is necessary and only a God could provide this. Christ inherited mortality, or the capacity to die from his mother Mary. He also inherited from his Father, immortality and the power of God to live forever. His God-given powers also enabled him to suffer the demands of justice for sins and the power to rise as a resurrected being. Having overcome death, he makes it possible for every person to be resurrected or receive an immortal body. Nothing is required on our part for that to happen. But to avoid the demands that justice requires for our sins and receive the benefits of the atonement, repentance is required. If we are willing to accept the Savior and his sacrifice in our behalf, we will not have to pay a price for our transgressions. And it makes sense that anyone who denies him and his sacrifice has to pay their own price that justice demands. Those who do accept him then avoid the suffering of divine justice and receive celestial life, which is an eternal life lived in the presence of God and with our families. The atonement links family members together and this is why when a man and woman kneel across the alter from each other in the temple to be sealed for all mortal time and for all eternity, the symbol for the atonement is shared between the two.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
In chapter 32, he told the people what happens when a seed of belief is planted in the heart and nourished, how it grows into a tree that yields fruit of great joy. In chapter 33, the tells the people that seed is belief in Christ, his atonement and resurrection. This seed he says will not only grow in them and lead to everlasting life, but it will ease their burdens now and bring great joy. He says it is not a hard thing to do, but is easy if they have the will to do it. God stands ready to bless us immediately if we turn consistently to him. And in spite of all our daily frustrations, discouragements, and challenges, if we hold fast to Him, he will make our burdens light, our pains less, and grant us more peace and happiness.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Alma compares the spiritual knowledge to a seed and gives the following steps:
1. Plant the seed - Be willing to listen and to learn. Desire often accompanies humility.
2. Observe the seed's growth - With spiritual truth, you will have a feeling of growth. Your mind will be stimulated and what you read or hear will make sense. It will feel right. Joseph Smith said the truth tastes good.
3. Accept the evidence of growth - If the seed is growing and you can feel the virtue of its nature, this is real evidence that should bolster your faith. Alma asks the question "O then, is not this real?"
4. Nourish the tree - Like any good plant, you have to nourish it continually or it withers and dies. It doesn't wither and die because it was a bad plant. It's because you failed to water and do what was necessary to foster its growth. Undoubtedly, the nourishing is one the most important keys to what Alma is saying and he says the way we nourish its growth is with faith, great diligence, and patience.
5. Be willing to wait - We must be willing to wait. You can't plant a seed and expect a flower the next day. If we patiently wait, he says that what we will experience will exceed not only our expectations, but will exceed everything else possible. Waiting requires faith.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
One of the things that impresses me as Mormon recounts the prayers of Alma as he begins the mission to Zoramites is how much Alma cares for the Zoramites, and especially how personal the Lord is to Alma. To the Zoramites, the Lord is an abstract idea. But to Alma, he is a personal God to whom Alma can personally converse with. It's obvious that Alma has no doubt that the Lord is listening, understanding, andactively involved in what Alma is doing. Alma is not attempting to do something on his own. He knows that any hope for success depends entirely on his being in partnership with the Lord. Without the Lord, Alma could still accomplish much good. But with the Lord, he as the possibility of accomplishing much beyond his own capabilities. That's a lesson I too often forget. I can accomplish much good on my own. But I could accomplish much beyond that if I bring the Lord into all I'm doing. And knowing I'm not alone brings a comfort and confidence that can help me make it through both the mundane and the difficult things of life.
Monday, June 21, 2010
1. There is no evidence there is a God or that Christ performed miracles, atoned for people's sins and was resurrected and no one can know these things because there is no evidence. Therefore, no one can know there is a God because no one has seen God.
2. Religion is a tradition. People believe what they believe because that is what they were taught by their parents.
3. Anything we accomplish is based on our strength only. There is no such thing as divine help or intervention.
4. What a person chooses to do is his own business and since it's his own business, it is no sin unless he feels it is a sin.
5. Immorality is acceptable and desirable if it is acceptable to those committing it.
6. There is no life after death, therefore life should be lived to the fullest, fullest being defined as anything goes.
7. Religious belief causes a person to lose his personal freedom and puts church leaders in control of the people.
8. Church leaders use their control to get rich off of the people.
Alma skillfully retorts Korihor's claims and makes some important points. He teaches that everyone not only has the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets as evidence there is a God, but everything in all of creation is evidence there is a God. He points out that immoral freedom does not bring happiness, but those who find deep religious belief are those who experience the deep happiness and joy possible in life. And rather than religion being something that restricts a person, it gives a person more freedom. Finally, and I think this is one of the more important lessons in the chapter, those who are critical of religion like Korihor, know deep down that what they are teaching is not true. Korihor has the purpose of accomplishing exactly what he is accusing the religious leaders of. He wants to get gain, to have control and power, and to establish traditions that are not true and damaging to the people. That is what is so dangerous about Korihors. It is a wise thing to be able to recognize them for what they are when we confronted with them.
Korihor asks for a sign and receives one. He then pleads for it to be taken away and promises that he has changed and will no longer do what he was doing. Alma recognizes that he is like many who are trapped in their sins, once removed from their situation, they return to doing the same things.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Alma also says his joy comes when he sees others experiencing the joy the gospel brings. In the 15th section of the D&C it says that "the thing which will be of the most worth unto [us is to] declare repentance unto the people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father." Whenever we can bless someone else's life, help make it a little better, we help people be closer to the Lord. There isn't much else that can be more meaningful and lasting in our lives than that. When we focus on that, then who we are, how much we have, or how we compare, doesn't matter.
Friday, June 18, 2010
The other contrast is the inequality among the people. Sin brings great inequality and suffering. If all men would live the commandments, there would be great equality, more prosperity, fewer poor, and equal opportunities for all.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Since the Lamanites, who are motivated to war by the hatred of the Amalakites for anyone who is righteous, can't defeat the Nephites, they begin slaying the Anti-Nephi-Lehi people. This is easy since those people refuse to take up arms. Ammon eventually leads them to the land of Zarahemla where the Nephites grant them an area of their land and promise to protect them if they will help support the armies financially. The Anti-Nephi-Lehi people become known as the people of Ammon, or Ammonites, which is a far better name in my opinion.
In a way, Ammon is symbolic of the Savior in that he brings spiritual salvation to the people and leads them to temporal salvation also. He is appointed the high priest and presides over the Ammonites who think of him as an angel sent from God. In the New Testament, Paul was referred to as an angel in the same way. It's interesting that the Ammonites, who were deep in sin and wickedness and have converted, are now led by a high priest who once was deep in sin and wickedness and converted also.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Among many, there are three things that stand out to me in this chapter at this time. One is, the importance of realizing how much the Lord can make of us and help us accomplish. Ammon says "I know I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak." The he says, "... for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold many might miracles we have wrought in this land." We should keep in mind that miracles are often easily explained away when we don't recognize their source.
The second thing is the question Ammon asks his brethren, "What natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you none that knoweth these things save it be the penitent." A penitent person is one who sorrows for his wrong doing and changes. If we don't know something spiritual, that may be a key.
The third things is evidence to me of how the Lord loves and cares for every single person, and is especially aware of those who choose to follow him.. Ammon says the Lord is concerned for everyone, but he numbers those who choose to be his disciples, "We see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth." I think it is wrong to assume that God loves someone more because they are a member of his church. God loves all people perfectly and equally. I think what Ammon is saying is that God is aware of those who repent, who understand the sacrifice he made for them, and therefore chooses to bless them with blessings that are natural consequences for their actions.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
It is in this chapter that we see that murder can be repented of and is a forgivable sin. In verse 10, Lamoni thanks God that "he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he has forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son." This whole chapter deals with these Lamanites repenting of their sins, including murder, and being willing to die rather than giving the appearance that they have not repented.
As the Amalekites, Amulonites, and other Lamanites attack the Anti-Nephi-Lehies all of whom have buried their swords, they find them lying on the ground praying and they being to slay them. Finally, they stop the slaughter after killing over a thousand of them. But of these three groups attacking the Anit-Nephi-Lehies, it's only those who aren't Amalekites and Amulonites that are moved to compassion and stop and end up being converted, and the number of the converted is more than the number that was slain.
Mormon makes this sobering observation about the Amalekites and Amulonites, "And thus we can plainly discern that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things." There were people who were living normal lives who joined the church and accepted Joseph Smith as a prophet. They later left the church and ended up being people who were willing to murder Joseph and others that followed him. Apostates are similar in that they are usually people who once believed and having committed sin, and rather than repent, leave the church and fight against those who believe in it.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
What has brought King Lamoni and his father to this point is the realization of the most important thing that we can learn in this life, that we are in a fallen and mortal existence. When we understand this this, then we can know understand we are here and what the purpose of our life is. When we truly understand what our fallen nature means, then we realize how much we need a Savior. In verse 14, Aaron says, "And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself." No amount of good works, good thoughts and good intentions can help us to live again after death, let alone live in the Celestial Kingdom. There is nothing we can do to remove the eternal consequences of our sins. This can only come through a Savior. As Aaron states in the same verse, "the sufferings and death of Christ atone for [our] sins, through faith and repentance, and 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." That is the only way our fallen state can be overcome. It is also the only way that we can find the happiness and peace that surpasses all understanding. It is a small price we have to pay compared to what we receive in return.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
I think it was the power of the love that had developed between Lamoni and Ammon that caused Lamoni's father to have the change of heart he did. Obviously he was afraid for his life. But once that fear passed, he saw something and maybe felt something he hadn't expected and this completely changed his perception of Ammon and eventually of the Nephites. Mormon says "when he also saw the great love he (Ammon) had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly." One of the things this means to me is that Lamoni's father realized that Ammon wasn't what he thought he was. Before he said that Ammon was one of the 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." The liar he is referring to is Nephi and the tradition has continued down for hundreds of years that Nephi robbed Laman and Lemuel of their land and rights to rule. Prejudice is always based on a false conception and/or a lie. What this also shows is that Nephite's perception of the Lamanites is wrong. Many of them are very good people, but they just haven't learned what the Nephites know concerning the truth about the gospel and about their history.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
Ammon slays some of the men who scatter the sheep and cuts off the arms of others who attack him. Obviously the Lamanites aren't too bright. They have clubs, he has a sword. That would cause me to hesitate but they are angry because of Ammon has killed some of them with his sling. What makes the difference is their numbers and he's only one. Ammon has allowed himself to adapt to the traditions of the Lamanites by living among them and living with them. He follows their traditions by taking the severed arms to the king as evidence of what he's done. First he impresses them by doing something their way, a lower way, then he will impress them by doing things the Lord's way. Sometimes when in Rome, we have to do what the Romans do in order to gain the trust and love of the people. The key is that what we do never lowers our standards or betrays our religious beliefs so that the people can see a difference. Then they have a choice. If we lower ourselves to their level morally and religiously, we become just like them and their are no differences and no choice to make.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The great city of Ammonihah, whose people said could never be destroyed, was destroyed in one day. The city is a symbol for us of what happens when total wickedness is accepted. The Savior had warned the many cities around the Sea of Galilee of their impending destruction and and Tiberius is the only one to have survived. The Nephites cities are also symbolic of what happens when people live a righteous life and care for each other. It says that they had continual peace. The same promise is available to us as individuals. When we live our life in the right way, we can also experience a continual peace even when in the midst of difficult things.