Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017-Lesson 29: Building the Kingdom of God in Nauvoo, Illinois

1. The Saints sought refuge in Illinois.

‘After the Latter-day Saints were driven from Missouri in early 1839, most found temporary refuge in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois. Between April and August, however, Latter-day Saint leaders negotiated several land purchases in Lee County, Iowa, and Hancock Count, Illinois, which included the small Mississippi riverfront village of Commerce. As a result of these acquisitions, significant numbers of Church members began to relocate in Lee and Hancock counties during the spring and summer of 1839. Joseph Smith purchased a small, two-story, square-cut log home that was named the Homestead and was situated on the outskirts of Commerce proper. Commerce (later named Nauvoo by Joseph Smith) subsequently became the principal place of Latter-day Saint settlement and the headquarters of the Church.

In late October 1839, the Prophet journeyed to Washington, D.C., to seek redress from federal government officials for the Missouri persecutions. President Martin Van Buren denied their petitions and turned a deaf ear, and U.S. Senate leaders determined that the reparation in behalf of the Saints could be secured only in Missouri’s courts. After an absence of four months, Joseph Smith returned to Illinois, where he turned his attention from the past to moving ahead to the future. His agenda became that of community builder, and thereafter he sought to establish Nauvoo as the new gathering place….

By early 1841, Nauvoo was bustling with home construction and mercantile and business development. In addition, plans for a temple and a hotel (the Nauvoo House) were already underway. The Nauvoo Charter, establishing Nauvoo as a state-sanctioned municipality with a city council, a university, and an independent militia, had been approved by the state legislature and signed by Governor Thomas Carlin in December 1840 and was set to go into effect on 1 February 1841. Nauvoo—a Hebrew word meaning “beautiful”—was on the rise and the Saints’ optimism ran high.

It was under these circumstances that Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in section 124 on 19 January 1841. It is the longest canonized revelation (5,529 words, 145 verses) and the first revelation of the Illinois period included in the Doctrine and Covenants.’ (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, p.837)

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2. Missionaries sent from Nauvoo converted thousands of people.

Watch: The Heart and a Willing Mind  (D&C 64:34) Elder Heber C. Kimball and his family willingly serve the Lord as Elder Kimball leaves first from Kirtland and then from Nauvoo to preach the gospel in England.

3. The examples of the Nauvoo Saints show the importance of enduring to the end in righteousness.

Read: Revelations in Context – Organising the Church in Nauvoo

D&C 124:12-14 Robert B Thompson

“Birth: 1 October 1811, Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England.
Death: 27 August 1841, Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois.

“Robert Thompson received his education and developed an interest in religion in Dunnington, Yorkshire, England. He joined the Methodists and was a preacher for some years before immigrating to Upper Canada in 1834. It was the preaching of Parley P. Pratt that led Robert to become a member of the Church in May 1836.

“Anxious to join with the Saints, he journeyed to Kirtland in May 1837, but within the year he had returned to Upper Canada to serve a mission. After baptizing many Canadians he once again attempted to settle in Kirtland, but the persecution against the Saints had increased, so Robert joined his brother-in-law Hyrum Smith and journeyed to Far West, Missouri. Escalating persecution led to open confrontation in Missouri. Robert fought in the Battle of Crooked River in defense of the Saints; consequently his enemies swore they would kill him. He suffered from exposure and lack of food as he attempted to avoid their clutches.

“He temporarily settled in Quincy, Illinois, and was employed as a writer for the Argus newspaper and as a courthouse clerk. When he moved to Nauvoo he served as a scribe for the Prophet and also gathered libelous reports and publications against the Church at the Prophet’s request. He was appointed general Church clerk, colonel and aide-de-camp of the Nauvoo Legion, Nauvoo city treasurer, and a regent of the University of Nauvoo.

“On 19 January 1841 Robert was called by the Lord to assist the Prophet in writing a proclamation to the kings, presidents, and governors of the earth. ‘Let my servant Robert B. Thompson help you to write this proclamation, for I am well pleased with him’ (D&C 124:12).  In the revelation the Lord promised: ‘I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings; let him be faithful and true in all things from henceforth, and he shall be great in mine eyes; but let him remember that his stewardship will I require at his hands’ (D&C 124:13-14).

“From May to August 1841 he worked with Don Carlos Smith as an associate editor of the Times and Seasons. On 16 August 1841 he was seized with the same disease that had caused the death of Don Carlos the week before. ‘The attachment between them was so strong, it seemed as though they could not long be separated.’ Robert died on 27 August 1841 at his residence in Nauvoo at the age of twenty-nine. The Prophet said that he died ‘in full hope of a glorious resurrection.'”(Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 322)

Image result for The examples of the Nauvoo Saints show the importance of enduring to the end in righteousness.

D&C 124:16-17 Why Was John C. Bennett Commended by the Lord When He Later Became Such an Enemy of the Church?

‘Smith and Sjodahl wrote that John C. Bennett “was well educated and possessed many gifts and accomplishments. He was a physician, a university professor, and a brigadier-general. On the 27th of July, 1840, he offered his services to the Church. The Prophet Joseph replied, inviting him to come to Commerce, if he felt so disposed, but warned him at the same time not to expect exaltation ‘in this generation,’ from devotion to the cause of truth and a suffering people; nor worldly riches; only the approval of God. The outcome of the correspondence was that he joined the Church and rose to prominent positions among the Saints. His fellowship with the people of God did not last long, however. On the 25th of May, 1842, he was notified that the leaders of the Church did no longer recognize him as a member, because of his impure life, and shortly afterwards the Church took action against him. Then he became one of the most bitter enemies of the Church. His slanders, his falsehoods and unscrupulous attacks, which included perjury and attempted assassination were the means of inflaming public opinion to such an extent that the tragedy at Carthage became possible.

“Why, then, did his name appear, in this Revelation, as that of a trusted assistant of Joseph? John Taylor furnishes the answer to that question. He says, ‘Respecting John C. Bennett: I was well acquainted with him. At one time he was a good man, but fell into adultery, and was cut off from the Church for his iniquity’ (History of the Church, Vol. V., p. 81). At the time of the revelation he was a good man. But he was overcome by the adversary and made the slave of his carnal desires. The Lord knew him and warned him. ‘His reward shall not fail if he receive counsel.’ ‘He shall be great … if he do this,’ etc. Bennett did not heed these warning ‘ifs’ from Him who knew what was in his heart.” (Commentary, pp. 770–71.)

The Lord does not withhold present blessings because of future sinful behavior. He blessed King David as long as he was faithful and did not withhold opportunity, although he had foreknowledge of David’s future transgressions with Bathsheba. As long as one obeys, the blessings come. With the perspective of history one may be tempted to ask why the Lord chose men who would eventually falter to be leaders in the Church, but one should remember that at the time of their calling they were faithful and true.’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

4. The Relief Society was organized in Nauvoo.

A painting by Nadine Barton of Joseph Smith Jr. and his wife Emma Smith standing before a group of sitting women as they organize the Relief Society.

Read: ‘Something Better’: – The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

‘In Nauvoo, Latter-day Saint women were blessed with their own organization in the Church. It had its beginning when several women, led by Sarah Granger Kimball, organized to make shirts for the men working on the temple. The women decided to formally organize, and they asked Eliza R. Snow to write a constitution for their group. When the Prophet Joseph Smith was consulted, he told them that their constitution was excellent but offered to organize the women in a better way. On March 17, 1842, the Prophet, along with Elders John Taylor and Willard Richards, met with 20 women in the upstairs room of the Red Brick Store, where the Prophet organized the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. Emma Smith was selected as the organization’s president, thus fulfilling the revelation identifying her as an “elect lady” (D&C 25:3). The Prophet later stated that the organization’s objective was to “relieve the poor” and “to save souls” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith[2007], 453).

On April 28, 1842, the Prophet met again with the sisters. He told them that they would receive instruction through the order of the priesthood and then declared, “I now turn the key to you in the name of God, and this Society shall rejoice, and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 451).’ (Foundations of the Restoration Institute Manual)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 26: “Go Ye into All the World, and Preach My Gospel”

1. The Lord poured out great blessings during the Kirtland period.

While the Prophet Joseph was living in the Kirtland area, he received numerous revelations, 65 of which are included in the Doctrine and Covenants. The revelations taught the Lord’s will in connection with welfare, sign seeking, moral conduct, dietary principles, tithing, priesthood authority, the role of a prophet, the three degrees of glory, missionary work, the Second Coming, the law of consecration, and many other subjects.

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2. The Saints in Kirtland made great sacrifices to share the gospel.

Read: Revelations in Context: ‘I Quit Other Business’: Early Missionaries

Read: Revelations in Context: A Mission to the Lamanites

Read: Revelations in Context: Take Special Care of Your Family

Watch: This Grand Opportunity  Elizabeth McCune and the First Sister Missionaries

The Saints in the 1830s had very little money. At tremendous sacrifice they had constructed a temple. The United States at that time was gripped by a spirit of financial speculation, which resulted in a financial crash in 1837. In Kirtland, people turned against the Prophet Joseph Smith and a great sifting took place between the faithful and those whose eyes were set upon the things of the world.

It was in these difficult times, on Sunday, 4 June 1837, that the Prophet Joseph Smith came to Elder Heber C. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve, while Brother Kimball in the Kirtland Temple, and whispering to [him], said, ‘Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me: ‘Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.’ ”

Imagine, one man who had very little telling another who had practically nothing that he was to go across the sea to open the work there.

One can understand Heber C. Kimball’s response. Feeling his weakness he said, “O, Lord, I am a man of stammering tongue, and altogether unfit for such a work; how can I go to preach in that land, which is so famed throughout Christendom for learning, knowledge and piety; the nursery of religion; and to a people whose intelligence is proverbial!”

Brother Kimball said at the time: “The idea of such a mission was almost more than I could bear up under. I was almost ready to sink under the burden which was placed upon me.”

“However, all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty; the moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father, I felt a determination to go at all hazards, believing that He would support me by His almighty power, and endow me with every qualification that I needed; and although my family was dear to me, and I should have to leave them almost destitute, I felt that the cause of truth, the Gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration.” (Ibid., p. 104.)

Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, and Joseph Fielding responded with similar faith, and these four were joined in New York by John Goodson, Isaac Russell, and John Snyder.

Tuesday, June 13, was the scheduled departure date for the four who were to leave Kirtland. One who looked in on the Kimball household that morning described the prayer that was uttered by the father who was leaving and who  laid his hands upon his childrens’ heads to give them a blessing

“While thus engaged his voice was almost lost in the sobs of those around, who tried in vain to suppress them. The idea of being separated from their protector and father for so long a time was indeed painful. He proceeded, but his heart was too much affected to do so regularly. His emotions were great, and he was obliged to stop at intervals, while the big tears rolled down his cheeks.”

After eighteen days and eighteen hours on the water the ship pulled into the Mersey. They spent a few days in Liverpool seeking direction from the Lord, and then felt the confirming whispering of the Spirit directing them to go to Preston. There they found a city in a state of excitement over elections for members of Parliament. Queen Victoria had ascended the throne three days earlier and had called for a national election.

As they came up the street in Preston, a banner unfurled before them with the words “Truth Will Prevail.”

This they adopted as the motto of their mission. It may seem a strange motto for a political party today but it is a motto that we could do well to adopt

In a dark and troubled hour the Lord said to those He loved: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Heber C Kimball and his colleagues took heart from the simple motto truth will prevail. They then worked as hard as they could with body mind and spirit to share the Gospel. The Lord then blessed them with success in their work.

D&C 42:6 Go forth in the power of my Spirit

‘The power of a missionary is not determined by his or her height, weight, or physical prowess. Nor is it determined by his or her smoothness of tongue or cleverness of mind. It is, however, determined by his or her receptivity to the Spirit and willingness to heed its promptings.

To go forth in the power of the Spirit means that a missionary must be taught and led by the Spirit and must teach by the Spirit. Therefore, the conscientious missionary courts the Holy Spirit every day of his mission. Such courting involves the exercise of faith, prayer, study, work, and righteous living. All of this is done with these promises in mind: (1) “The Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith” (D&C 42:14) and (2) “If ye will . . . receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:5). There is also the instruction that “if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14).

Missionaries must bear in mind that the Spirit or Holy Ghost enables a missionary to speak persuasively with “the tongue of angels” (2 Ne. 32:2). It serves as a conduit, if you will, through which the message passes from a missionary’s heart to the heart of the listener. It is the power that converts.’ (Carlos E Asay, The Seven M’s of Missionary Service: Proclaiming the Gospel as a Member or Full-time Missionary [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chap. 4)

D&C 88:81 Warn the people

‘We who have received a knowledge of the great plan of happiness—and its implementing commandments—should feel a desire to share that knowledge since it makes all the difference here and in eternity. And if we ask, “Who is my neighbor that I should warn?” surely the answer will be found in a parable that begins, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves,”  Luke 10:30 and so forth.’ (D Todd Christofferson, General Conference, April 2017)

3. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve taught thousands in England.

Read: Brigham Young in England

Read: History of the Church in Great Britain

D&C 112:21 Power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation

‘When I read Church history, I am amazed at the boldness of the early brethren as they went out into the world. They seemed to find a way. Even in persecution and hardship, they went and opened doors which evidently have been allowed to sag on their hinges and many of them to close. I remember that these fearless men were teaching the gospel in Indian lands before the Church was even fully organized. As nearly as 1837 the Twelve were in England fighting Satan, in Tahiti in 1844, Australia in 1851, Iceland 1853, Italy 1850, and also in Switzerland, Germany, Tonga, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Czechoslovakia, China, Samoa, New Zealand, South America, France, and Hawaii in 1850. When you look at the progress we have made in some countries, with no progress in many of their nearby countries, it makes us wonder. Much of this early proselyting was done while the leaders were climbing the Rockies and planting the sod and starting their homes. It is faith and super faith.

These men of valor began to walk the earth with dignity and honor, with mantles on their shoulders and keys in their hands and love in their hearts.’ (Spencer W Kimball, “When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 6)

4. Many Saints in Kirtland remained valiant despite persecution.

‘Saints who looked back on this period learned some compelling lessons of which we today need to be aware. One of the pointed lessons we learn from the Kirtland apostasy is that no one should consider himself secure from the loss of faith. Pride, criticism, speculation, envy, greed—these are enough to cause the most faithful to stumble. Parley P. Pratt, for example, declared that “envyings, lyings, strifes and divisions” caused “trouble and sorrow” in Kirtland. He admitted that he was a victim of these failings. But the Lord knew his faith—his “integrity of purpose”—and helped him in his victory against an opposing spirit.

Orson Hyde recalled that, because he acted foolishly during this period of darkness, he temporarily lost “the light of the Holy Ghost.” Luke S. Johnson admitted that his mind became darkened and he neglected his Church responsibilities after he had “partaken of the spirit of speculation.

And yet, through it all, 87 percent of the Kirtland Saints continued to nurture their faith. They continued to sustain Joseph Smith as a prophet, sacrificing nearly all their material possessions rather than forsake the restored gospel. Despite opposition, they sacrificed their homes, the sacred temple they had built, and even their lives to carry the work of the Lord forward. We would do well to emulate their example.’ (Milton V Backman, A Warning from Kirtland, Ensign, April 1989)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine -Lesson 11: “The Field Is White Already to Harvest”

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1. “Serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength.”

D&C 4:1 A marvellous work

“Can you think of a time in the earth’s history greater than this dispensation? Could there be a greater cause than to prepare the earth for the second coming of Jesus Christ? As a stone rolls on until it becomes a great mountain, the kingdom rolls on to its divine destiny-a great movement with great momentum and steady acceleration. When the Lord says “a marvelous work is about to come forth,” he is saying that something wonderful is going to happen, and more importantly, he is giving us the opportunity to be a part of it. “The work is so marvelous that the Lord is going to give us the privilege of participating in it with him, but only if we desire to. He does not twist arms or preach duty or try to instill obedience through guilt. He simply tells us that the work itself will be its own reward. In fact, it will be marvelous.” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 126 – 127.)

2. Prepare to serve the Lord.

D&C 4:3 Desires

‘Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of our brethren….

A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others.’ (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1997], p.248-249)

D&C 11:8 If you desire

‘So many times you and I have been called to serve in positions and places for which we knew we were unqualified. But the Lord never cares about that. When Moses led Israel out of Egypt, he knew nothing about dividing seas or building tabernacles. What he had was a desire to serve God. We must have a great desire to serve and and proceed with a perfect confidence that the Lord will sustain us in our efforts.’ (Ted L Gibbons, LDSliving.com)

D&C 4:5 Faith, hope, charity and love

‘…labor with love. There is no substitute for love. Often this love is kindled in youth by a mother, expanded by a father, and kept vibrant through service to God. Remember the Lord’s counsel: “And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.” Well might each of us ask himself: Today, have I increased in faith, in hope, in charity, in love? When our lives comply with God’s standard and we labor with love to bring souls unto Him, those within our sphere of influence will never speak the lament, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jer. 8:20)’ (Thomas S Monson, “That All May Hear,” Ensign, May 1995, 49)

D&C 12:8 Humility

‘Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman.

Humility directs our attention and love toward others and to Heavenly Father’s purposes. Pride does the opposite. Pride draws its energy and strength from the deep wells of selfishness. The moment we stop obsessing with ourselves and lose ourselves in service, our pride diminishes and begins to die.

My dear brethren, there are so many people in need whom we could be thinking about instead of ourselves. And please don’t ever forget your own family, your own wife. There are so many ways we could be serving. We have no time to become absorbed in ourselves.’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, October 2010)

D&C 11:6,20 Keep my commandments

‘President Heber J. Grant used to tell us…that as he approached the end of his ministry, knowing that his life wouldn’t be too far prolonged, he thought if there were some unusual thing that the Father would like him to do, he would be so pleased; and so he sought earnestly to know what would the Father have him do during his remaining years, thinking, I suppose, of some outstanding thing, like the building of a temple or something of the sort. And in answer to his inquiry, the Lord said that the most important thing that he could do as president of the Church was to teach this people to keep the commandments of God.’ (Harold B Lee, “The Way to Eternal Life,” Ensign, Nov. 1971, 11)

D&C 11:21 Obtain my word

‘Hyrum’s life is a witness to his obedience to this instruction. To the very last day of his life, he devoted himself to obtaining the word through study of the scriptures. In Carthage Jail, he read and commented on extracts from the Book of Mormon. The scriptures were obviously part of Hyrum’s being, and he turned to them during times when he needed comfort and strength the most.

Just think of the spiritual strength we could gain in our lives and how much more effective we would be as teachers, missionaries, and friends if we studied the scriptures regularly. I am sure we, like Hyrum, will be able to endure our greatest trials if we search the word of God as he did.’ (M Russell Ballard, “Hyrum Smith: ‘Firm As the Pillars of Heaven,’ ” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 7)

3. “The field is white.”

D&C 4:4, 11:3, 33:3 The field is white

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‘Brothers and sisters, all of you out in the wards and stakes and in the districts and branches, I invite you to become a vast army with enthusiasm for this work and a great overarching desire to assist the missionaries in the tremendous responsibility they have to carry the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. “The field is white [and] ready to harvest”  D&C 4:4 The Lord has repeatedly declared this. Shall we not take Him at His word?’ (Gordon B Hinckley, General Conference, April 1999)

D&C 60:1-3 They will not open their mouths

“It was pleasing to the Lord that the elders had traveled to Missouri, and now they were to return speedily to Ohio. But the Lord was not pleased with some of them. President Joseph Fielding Smith noted: “They had been commanded to preach the Gospel along the way and bear testimony among the people, but some had failed to magnify this commandment because of their fear of man. It is true that not every man is a natural missionary, and there are those who shrink from the responsibility of raising their voices in proclamation of the Gospel, and yet this is an obligation that we owe to this fallen world. The elders in the very beginning had been commanded to serve the Lord with all their ‘heart, might, mind and strength,’ for the field is white and ready for the harvest. A penalty was to be inflicted upon those who failed and they were not to stand blameless at the last day. The preaching of the Gospel was to be a means to them by which they were not to perish, but bring salvation to their souls. There are many who have been sent forth who have had a fear of man, yet the Lord has promised to support them in their labors if they will trust in him.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:220–21.)

4. “Open your mouths and they shall be filled.”

D&C 11:9 Say nothing but repentance

“When the Lord calls upon his servants to cry nothing but repentance, he does not mean that they may not cry baptism, and call upon the people to obey the commandments of the Lord, but he wishes that all that they say and do be in the spirit of bringing the people to repentance. Any missionary who fails to do this in his ministry is derelict in his duty.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:57.)

D&C 15:6 The thing which will be of most worth

‘There is nothing in all this world that can be compared to the value of a human soul, redeemed, sanctified, and made worthy to receive the blessings of God our Father. There is no investment which you men can put your money or your time into that will pay you so well in time or in eternity as to invest in a human soul, whether that shall be in the missionary field or at home, in the care of those precious ones who have come under our supervision. We have already heard scripture in this conference, from the Lord Jesus Christ, wherein he declares that the worth of souls is great in his sight, and if we should labor all our days and as the result of that labor bring, save it be but one of those precious souls, how great will be our joy! I know that I need not convert you to the fact that this is a true doctrine, but we constantly need to be appealed to, to be willing to give ourselves and our means in the accomplishment of this, the greatest work there is in all the world.’ (Melvin J Ballard, Conference Report, October 1925, Afternoon Session 129.)

D&C 18:6 The world is ripening in iniquity

‘During our Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said the great difficulty with our country and our people was, “We had forgotten God.” In a modern revelation to you and to me and to the people of this generation the Lord, speaking through the Prophet Joseph: Smith, has said, “Behold, the world is ripening in iniquity; and it must needs be that the children of men are stirred up unto repentance”  D&C 18:6 Let us therefore as a nation return to church, let us partake worthily of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, let us, come into closest possible communion and cooperation with God, the Eternal Father, and pray that freedom and liberty, that gift of God by us so highly prized, may come to all the people of all nations of the earth. And I pray humbly that we in this land, choice above all other lands, may be a righteous people who deserve the blessings the Almighty has promised to those who love Him and serve Him and keep His commandments, and I do this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.’ (Richard R Lyman, General Conference, October 1942)

D&C 31:3-4 Our message

‘This is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. We as a people are Latter-day Saints. We testify that the heavens have been opened, that the curtains have been parted, that God has spoken, and that Jesus Christ has manifested Himself, followed by a bestowal of divine authority.

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of this work, and it is built upon a “foundation of … apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20).

This wondrous Restoration should make of us a people of tolerance, of neighborliness, of appreciation and kindness toward others. We cannot be boastful. We cannot be proud. We can be thankful, as we must be. We can be humble, as we should be.

We love those of other churches. We work with them in good causes. We respect them. But we must never forget our roots. Those roots lie deep in the soil of the opening of this, the final dispensation, the dispensation of the fulness of times.

What an inspiration it has been to look into the faces of men and women across the world who carry in their hearts a solemn conviction of the truth of this foundation.

When it comes to divine authority, this is the sum and substance of the whole matter.

God be thanked for His marvelous bestowal of testimony, authority, and doctrine associated with this, the restored Church of Jesus Christ.

This must be our great and singular message to the world. We do not offer it with boasting. We testify in humility but with gravity and absolute sincerity. We invite all, the whole earth, to listen to this account and take measure of its truth. God bless us as those who believe in His divine manifestations and help us to extend knowledge of these great and marvelous occurrences to all who will listen. To these we say in a spirit of love, bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it. This invitation I extend to men and women everywhere with my solemn testimony that this work is true, for I know the truth of it by the power of the Holy Ghost. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, Ensign, Nov 2002, 78)

D&C 33:10 Make his paths straight

“Eastern potentates, when traveling from one part of the kingdom to another, would proclaim their coming and order their subjects to prepare the way for them, by building roads where there were none, if necessary; by leveling hills and filling up depressions, and straightening out the winding paths. Semiramis is said to have had roads constructed especially for her journeys. In modern times the Turkish government built a good road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, when the German Emperor signified his intention of visiting the Holy City. To prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight is to acknowledge His sovereignty and to make all necessary preparations for His reception. He will not come to reign until all necessary preparations for his coming have been made. ‘Hear this, O Earth! The Lord will not come to reign over the righteous, in this world, in 1843 … nor until everything for the Bridegroom is ready’ (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. V., p. 291.)” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 174.)

D&C 42:12 Teach the principles of my gospel

‘Teachers who are commanded to teach “the principles of [the] gospel” and “the doctrine of the kingdom” (D&C 88:77) should generally forgo teaching specific rules or applications. For example, they would not teach any rules for determining what is a full tithing, and they would not provide a list of dos and don’ts for keeping the Sabbath day holy. Once a teacher has taught the doctrine and the associated principles from the scriptures and the living prophets, such specific applications or rules are generally the responsibility of individuals and families.

Well-taught doctrines and principles have a more powerful influence on behavior than rules. When we teach gospel doctrine and principles, we can qualify for the witness and guidance of the Spirit to reinforce our teaching, and we enlist the faith of our students in seeking the guidance of that same Spirit in applying those teachings in their personal lives.’ (Dallin H Oaks, “Gospel Teaching,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 79-80)

D&C 52:9 Saying none other things

 “The truth of all things is measured by the scriptures. That which harmonizes with them should be accepted; that which is contrary to their teachings, however plausible it may seem for the moment, will not endure and should be rejected.” (Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 765.)

D&C 18:20-21 Contend against no church

‘When we are commanded to “contend against no church save it be the church of the devil,” we must understand that this is instruction to us to contend against all evil, that which is opposed to righteousness and truth. James declares, that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” and the scriptures also teach “for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord; and that which is evil cometh from the devil.” (Omni 25.) All who go forth to teach should do so in wisdom and not contend with the churches or engage in profitless debates, but teach in the spirit of kindness and try to persuade people to receive the truth.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 1: 78.)

D&C 38:41 In mildness and in meekness

“We live in a time when some misrepresent the beliefs of those they call Mormons and even revile us because of them. When we encounter such misrepresentations, we have a duty to speak out to clarify our doctrine and what we believe. We should be the ones to state our beliefs rather than allowing others the final word in misrepresenting them. This calls for testimony, which can be expressed privately to an acquaintance or publicly in a small or large meeting. As we testify of the truth we know, we should faithfully follow the caution to speak “in mildness and in meekness”  (D&C 38:41) We should never be overbearing, shrill, or reviling. As the Apostle Paul taught, we should speak the truth in love (see  Ephesians 4:15) Anyone can disagree with our personal testimony, but no one can refute it.” (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 2008)

D&C 14:8 The Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance

‘Now we want to carry this message to the world in the way that the Lord wants us to carry it. We want to preach the truth in purity and in perfection, and to do it in the way the Lord wants it done. The only single formula whereby we may do this is for us so to live (and our elders in the mission fields so to live) that we can be guided by the Holy Ghost. We must be guided by the Spirit. We have to have the Lord tell us how he wants us to teach the message of the restoration, and every doctrine of the gospel, and he will do this by revelation from the Holy Ghost if we are worthy to receive it.

One of the chief differences between us and the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, is that the Holy Ghost gives us utterance  (D&C 14:8) if we are faithful, but that the people in the world teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost which giveth utterance  (2 Ne. 28:4). (Bruce R McConkie, General Conference, October 1949)

D&C 31:3 Lift up your heart and rejoice

‘Your level of spirituality is also directly related to how well you fill the Lord’s commandments to “Be of good cheer” and “Lift up your heart and rejoice” (D&C 31:3). How many times in the scriptures did the Lord command us to be of good cheer? He didn’t say, “Be of good cheer if everything is going well, if you have enough money to pay all your bills, if your biorhythms are up,” or whatever. No. For us to be of good cheer is a commandment and not merely a suggestion.

Here is a practical suggestion that has helped me in the past. Take a sheet of paper and write on it a list of the blessings you consider to be important in whatever order they come to your mind. Then place them in order of priority. What is your most precious blessing? Probably somewhere near the top of your list will be the big “Four Fs”-your faith, family, freedom, and friends.

Note how many blessings you have at the top of the list for which you would hope to have the courage to give up your mortal lives to protect. Then note how far down the list you go before you come to any blessing that you can buy for money. The most precious blessings are without price; they are priceless.’ (Joe J Christensen, “Ten Ideas to Increase Your Spirituality,” Ensign, Mar. 1999, 59)

5. The Lord promises great blessings to those who labor in His service.

D&C 75:5, 31:5 Sheaves

‘Anciently, grain was cut by hand and tied into large bundles or sheaves which were then carried to the place of threshing. To see a person or an animal “laden with many sheaves” (D&C 75:5) was proof that the person had reaped an abundant harvest and would now enjoy the fruits of his labors.’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 18:15-16 How great will be your joy

‘This is God’s work. He wants us to participate with Him and His Beloved Son in bringing the gospel into the lives of all of His children. The Lord has promised us that our joy will be great if we bring just one soul unto Him (see  D&C 18:15–16) Let us exercise greater faith and work together, members and missionaries, to bring many more souls unto Him. Let every family in the Church include as part of their daily family prayers a plea with the Lord to go before your family members and help them to find someone prepared to receive the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, October 2000)

D&C 71:10 If any man lift his voice against you

‘President Harold B. Lee explained that what the Lord “is trying to have us understand is that he will take care of our enemies if we continue to keep the commandments. So, you Saints of the Most High God, when these things come, and they will come—this has been prophesied—you just say,

“‘No weapon formed against the work of the Lord will ever prosper, but all glory and majesty of this work that the Lord gave will long be remembered after those who have tried to befoul the name of the Church and those of its leaders will be forgotten, and their works will follow after them.’

“We feel sorry for them when we see these things happen.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 167; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 126.)’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 84:80 Shall not be weary

‘One major cause of real fatigue, little appreciated by those so afflicted, is trying to serve two masters. This is devastating double duty. If so divided, one inevitably ends up being ineffective, even disloyal, in respect to one master or another-a most fatiguing circumstance.’ (Neal A Maxwell, If Thou Endure It Well [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 115.)

Posted in Inspirational, Missionary work, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 2: An Ensign to the Nations, a Light to the World

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

As a newly returned missionary Elder Hinckley gave a report to the First Presidency at the request of his mission president. This report led to Gordon receiving an assignments as the Executive Secretary of the Church Radio, Publicity, and Missionary Literature Committee. This began a lifetime of full-time Church service and advocacy of the Church in the media.

From the manual:

“I believe and testify that it is the mission of this Church to stand as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world. We have had placed upon us a great, all-encompassing mandate from which we cannot shrink nor turn aside. We accept that mandate and are determined to fulfill it, and with the help of God we shall do it.”

What opportunities do we have to be an ensign to the nations and a light to the world?

Video: Ministry of Gordon B Hinckley – Bringing the Church out of obscurity: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2012-05-1505-ministry-of-gordon-b-hinckley-bringing-the-church-out-of-obscurity?lang=eng

1 Like the stone in Daniel’s vision, the Church is rolling forth to fill the whole earth.
The growth of the Church from six members to a global faith.
“There is one thing very certain, … and that is, whatever men may think, and however they may plot and contrive, that this Kingdom will never be given into the hands of another people. It will grow and spread and increase, and no man living can stop its progress.” (President John Taylor)
The First Presidency has issued the following statistical report of the Church as of December 31, 2015.
Church Units
Stakes 3,174 Missions 418 Districts 558 Wards and Branches 30,016
Church Membership Total Membership 15,634,199
New Children of Record 114,550
Converts Baptized 257,402
Missionaries Full-Time Missionaries 74,079
Church-Service Missionaries 31,779
Temples in Operation at Year End 149
What are your feelings as you consider the growth of the Church from 1830 to the present day?
2 Early Church leaders had a prophetic view of the destiny of the Lord’s work.
Brigham Young and associates scaled Ensign Peak in July 1847 and surveyed the Salt Lake Valley.
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‘Section 2 of the lesson makes some important points about the fulfillment of the many prophecies of the progress of the Lord’s kingdom in the last days. It points out that many prophets were shown the work that we are currently engaged in. They wrote about it in our scriptures to let us know that the Lord has been preparing for this day for millennia. Brigham Young was shown our day. Isaiah was shown our day. If we look to the Book of Mormon, many of those prophets speak directly to us and tell us of our responsibilities as members of the Church in the last days. Witnesses of the mission and responsibility of the Lord’s Church are all around us.’ (Kelly Merrill, LDSliving.com)
From the manual:
I marvel at the foresight of that little group. It was both audacious and bold. It was almost unbelievable. Here they were, almost a thousand miles [1,600 kilometers] from the nearest settlement to the east and almost eight hundred miles [1,300 kilometers] from the Pacific Coast. They were in an untried climate. The soil was different from that of the black loam of Illinois and Iowa, where they had most recently lived. They had never raised a crop here. They had never experienced a winter. They had not built a structure of any kind. These prophets, dressed in old, travel-worn clothes, standing in boots they had worn for more than a thousand miles from Nauvoo to this valley, spoke of a millennial vision. They spoke out of a prophetic view of the marvelous destiny of this cause. They came down from the peak that day and went to work to bring reality to their dream.
What can we learn from this account? How have we benefited from the prophetic vision of early Church leaders? What do you think it means to be “an ensign to the nations”?
3 We must never lose sight of the divine destiny of God’s work and the part we play in it.
From the manual:
Each of us has a small field to cultivate. While so doing, we must never lose sight of the greater picture, the large composite of the divine destiny of this work. It was given us by God our Eternal Father, and each of us has a part to play in the weaving of its magnificent tapestry. Our individual contribution may be small, but it is not unimportant. …
Why do we need to see this grand picture? Why do we sometimes lose sight of it? In what ways can our small efforts contribute to the growth of God’s kingdom?
Sometimes the things that God wants us to do are not the things that we want to do. Sometimes we we think that we know better than Heavenly Father what would be best for us, including where and how we should serve. Part of faith is having faith in God’s plan for our development. We will have more freedom, liberty and independence if we learn to submit to God’s will.
4 We can become as an ensign to the nations from which the people of the earth may gather strength.
The increasing gulf between the standards of the  Church and the world.
From the manual:
We must stand firm. We must hold back the world. If we do so, the Almighty will be our strength and our protector, our guide and our revelator. We shall have the comfort of knowing that we are doing what He would have us do. Others may not agree with us, but I am confident that they will respect us. We will not be left alone. There are many [who are] not of our faith but who feel as we do. They will support us. They will sustain us in our efforts.

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means. ” Albert Einstein

“You can be a good example or you can be a bad example, but you are always an example.” Hartman Rector, Jr.

“I challenge you to stand up to your peers as an example of righteous living.” Elder L. Tom Perry Ensign, Nov. 1996, 38,  “Run and Not Be Weary”

How can we develop greater vision and courage in moving God’s work forward? How can we live in the world without being of the world? How can we “take on more of the luster of the life of Christ”? Why is it important for us to stand for what is right?
Posted in Book of Mormon, General Conference, Jesus Christ, Missionary work

Saturday PM Session General Conference October 2016

Opposing votes heard again – invited to contact their Stake Presidents.

Elder Quentin L Cook

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‘There are a number of stumbling blocks to our valor that can prevent us from reaching the goal of eternal life.’

Story of father building cabin on ranch. Window focused on power pole. ‘That power pole is the most beautiful thing to me on the entire ranch.’ To him that pole represented an improved life. While the pole was stumbling block to me it had great practical meaning to my father.

‘One Stumbling Block Is the Philosophies of Men’ . We are committed to intelligence

1 Corinthians 15 – Handel’s Messiah. Describes some of what Christ accomplished. The apostasy – plain and precious truths lost. Christianity did not destroy paganism – it adopted it.

Heber C Kimball warned the time is coming when it will be difficult to tell the face of a friend from the face of an enemy…there is a test coming.

Elder Maxwell said much sifting will occur because of lapses in righteous behaviour which go unrepented of.

 

‘Another Stumbling Block Is Refusing to See Sin in Its True Light

Many people … have no remorse or willingness to acknowledge their conduct as being morally wrong. Even some who profess a belief in the Father and the Son wrongfully take the position that a loving Father in Heaven should exact no consequences for conduct that is contrary to His commandments. ‘

Corianton – son of Alma the Younger. Alma 39. Made the necessity of repentance clear to Corianton. Alma helped Corianton to understand that it is not injustice that the sinner should be consigned to misery Justice and mercy. None but the truly penitent are saved. Sooner or later everyone has to sit down to a banquet of consequences.

‘Looking beyond the Mark Is a Stumbling Block’

Gospel extremism is when one elevates any gospel principle above other equally important principles.

‘Some members elevate causes, many of which are good, to a status superior to basic gospel doctrine.’

‘If we elevate anything above our devotion to the Savior, … then we are looking beyond the mark. Jesus Christ is the mark!’

D&C 76 – being valiant in the testimony of Jesus is the simple test between the celestial kingdom and the lower kingdoms.

If we are to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus we must avoid the stumbling blocks.

Stumbling blocks may be made into stepping stones. Being valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ is a stepping stone.

 

Elder Gary E Stevenson

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Story of young girl in New York who lost her father. Moved to another state. Missionaries came to town. Told story of Joseph Smith. Two of the missionaries had seen the plates themselves. 12 year old Mary yearned to read it.

‘I went to his house just before the meeting was to commence, and asked to see the book; Brother Morley put it in my hand, as I looked at it, I felt such a desire to read it, that I could not refrain from asking him to let me take it home and read it, while he attended meeting. He said it would be too late for me to take it back after meeting, and another thing, he had hardly had time to read a chapter in it himself, and but few of the brethren had even seen it, but I pled so earnestly for it, he finally said, ‘Child, if you will bring this book home before breakfast tomorrow morning, you may take it.’ He admonished me to be very careful, and see that no harm came to it.’

She became the first person in her town to read the Book  of Mormon.

When you read the Book of Mormon and pray about it you can have the same feeling Mary had.

Joseph Smith described the Book of Mormon as the most correct of any book on the earth and the keystone of our religion.

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Mission experience in Japan. Began to teach about the Book of Mormon. Received the strongest feeling accompanied by a warm feeling of serenity and confidence.

‘Each of you can also receive a personal witness of this book! Do you realize that the Book of Mormon was written for you—and for your day? This book is one of the blessings of living in what we call the dispensation of the fulness of times.’

We have the benefit of the complete Book of Mormon. Moroni saw our day Mormon 8:

 34 Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.

 35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

I’n order to help the Book of Mormon become the keystone of your testimony, I offer you a challenge. I recently learned that many young people spend an average of seven hours a day looking at TV, computer, and smartphone screens. With this in mind, would you make a small change? Will you replace some of that daily screen time—particularly that devoted to social media, the internet, gaming, or television—with reading the Book of Mormon? If the studies I referred to are accurate, you could easily find time for daily study of the Book of Mormon even if for only 10 minutes a day. And you can study in a way that allows you to enjoy it and understand it—either on your device or in book form.’

Not to be treated as nasty medicine to be gulped down (Elder Russell M Nelson).

You will encounter the Saviour on almost every page.

The Book of Mormon – tangible evidence of the Restoration.

‘Within the book’s pages, you will discover the infinite love and incomprehensible grace of God. As you strive to follow the teachings you find there, your joy will expand, your understanding will increase, and the answers you seek to the many challenges mortality presents will be opened to you. As you look to the book, you look to the Lord. The Book of Mormon is the revealed word of God.’

(Prayer and the Book of Mormon seem to be the emerging themes of this Conference)

 

Elder D Todd Christofferson

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‘One of the terms we hear often today is that God’s love is “unconditional.” While in one sense that is true, the descriptor unconditional appears nowhere in scripture. Rather, His love is described in scripture as “great and wonderful love” [D&C 138:3], “perfect love” [1 John 4:18; Moroni 8:16], “redeeming love” [Alma 5:26], and “everlasting love” [Jeremiah 31:3]. These are better terms because the word unconditional can convey mistaken impressions about divine love, such as, God tolerates and excuses anything we do because His love is unconditional, or God makes no demands upon us because His love is unconditional, or all are saved in the heavenly kingdom of God because His love is unconditional. God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever, but what it means for each of us depends on how we respond to His love.’

To “continue in” or “abide in” the Savior’s love means to receive His grace and be perfected by it. To receive His grace, we must have faith in Jesus Christ and keep His commandments, including repenting of our sins, being baptized for the remission of sins, receiving the Holy Ghost, and continuing in the path of obedience.’

‘God will always love us but he cannot save us in our sins.’

Repentance is his gift to us purchased at a very dear price.

Russell M Nelson – ‘The resplendent bouquet of God’s love—including eternal life—includes blessings for which we must qualify, not entitlements to be expected unworthily. Sinners cannot bend His will to theirs and require Him to bless them in sin. If they desire to enjoy every bloom in His beautiful bouquet, they must repent.’

Dallin H Oaks – ‘The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become.’

Helen Keller and her teacher, Ann Sullivan. Not a pleasant experience at the beginning. Finally won her trust. Spelling words on her hand.

‘Each of us can love and serve God and be empowered to help our fellow man.’

Production of olive oil. The oil is red.

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Keep his commandments.

 

 

Elder W Mark Bassett

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Given a model of the golden plates as a young boy. Wanted to see what was written on the sealed portion of the plates.

‘Since the Creation of this earth, our loving Father in Heaven has provided direction, leadership, and instruction to His children through prophets. His words have been passed down through these prophets and are saved as scripture for our development and learning.’

‘Sadly, our development and learning can at times be slowed or even halted. … [Our] actions can lead us to seek after things that are not necessarily meant to be understood at this time, all the while ignoring the beautiful truths that are meant for us and our circumstances—the truths Nephi described as written for our learning and profit.’

The mysteries of God are unfolded to us only according to His will and by the power of the Holy Ghost.

‘Nephi’s example of seeking knowledge included (1) a sincere desire, (2) humility, (3) prayer, (4) trust in the prophet, and an exercise of (5) faith, (6) diligence, and (7) obedience.’

In the modern age we expect information to come immediately.

Some things can be learned only by faith – Dallin H Oaks.

‘Faith and trust in the Lord require us to acknowledge that His wisdom is superior to our own. We must also acknowledge that His plan provides the greatest potential for spiritual development and learning.

We were never expected “to have a perfect [understanding] of things” during this mortal existence. Instead, we are expected to “hope for things which are not seen, which are true” [Alma 32:21].’

‘As we acknowledge that we are the workmanship of a wise and devoted Father in Heaven, “O then,” why not allow Him to guide our spiritual development and learning “according to his will and pleasure” rather than our own? [Jacob 4:9].’

Testimony of Joseph Smith.

 

Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita

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Dedication of the Sapporo Temple in Hokkaido.

‘In 1876, a renowned educator named Dr. William Clark was invited to come to Hokkaido to teach. He lived in Japan for just eight months, but his Christian spirit left a lasting impression on his young non-Christian students. Before leaving, he gave his students a parting message that has become immortalized in this bronze statue. He said, “Boys, be ambitious!”—“Be ambitious for Christ” [William Clark, in Ann B. Irish,Hokkaido: A History of Ethnic Transition and Development on Japan’s Northern Island (2009), 156]. His injunction to “be ambitious for Christ” can help direct daily decisions for today’s Latter-day Saints.

What does it mean to “be ambitious for Christ”? Being ambitious for Christ means being motivated, focused, and dedicated to His work. Being ambitious for Christ will seldom mean that we are singled out for public honor. Being ambitious for Christ means that we serve faithfully and diligently in our wards and branches without complaint and with joyful hearts.’

Missionaries are examples of those who are ambitious for Christ.

Story of missionary with prosthetic leg.

The Book of Mormon includes many examples of people who were ambitious for Christ. Alma the Younger.

‘In our lives we experience trials, but if we are ambitious for Christ, we can focus on Him and feel joy even in the midst of them. Our Redeemer is the ultimate example. He understood His holy mission and was obedient to the will of God the Father. What a choice blessing it is to bring His wonderful example to our remembrance each week as we partake of the sacrament.

My dear brothers and sisters, we are ambitious for Christ when we serve faithfully, accept humbly, endure nobly, pray fervently, and partake worthily.’

(Lovely talk, emotionally delivered.)

 

Elder Dallin H Oaks

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Go ye therefore and teach all nations. The Great Commission.

We have many resources not available to previous generations. Are we using all of these resources to maximum effect?

Ideas that will work everywhere.

‘We need the help of every member, and every member can help, since there are so many tasks to perform as we share the restored gospel with every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.’

Member participation in missionary work is vital.

‘Sharing the restored gospel is our life-long Christian duty and privilege.’

‘There are three things all members can do to help share the gospel, regardless of the circumstances in which they live and work. All of us should do all of these.

First, we can all pray for desire to help with this vital part of the work of salvation. All efforts begin with desire.

Second, we can keep the commandments ourselves. Faithful, obedient members are the most persuasive witnesses of the truth and value of the restored gospel. Even more important, faithful members will always have His Spirit to be with them to guide them as they seek to participate in the great work of sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Third, we can pray for inspiration on what we can do in our individual circumstances to share the gospel with others.’

This is different than praying for the missionaries.

Praying for a commitment to act upon the inspiration you receive.

We should never set ourselves up as judges of who is ready and who is not.

‘As an Apostle of the Lord, I urge every member and family in the Church to pray for the Lord to help them find persons prepared to receive the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.’

Elder M Russell Ballard – Trust the Lord. He is the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep, and His sheep know His voice; and today the voice of the Good Shepherd is your voice and my voice. And if we are not engaged, many who would hear the message of the Restoration will be passed by. Simply stated, it’s a matter of faith and action on our part. The principles are pretty simple—pray, personally and in your family, for missionary opportunities.

People interested in the results of the doctrine.

As we speak to others we need to remember that an invitation to learn more about Jesus Christ and his gospel is preferable to an invitation to know more about our church.

Authenticity.

Our efforts to share the gospel should not be limited to our circle of friends and acquaintances.

No correlation between the depth of a relationship and the probability that someone will be interested in the gospel.

There are many opportunities to share the gospel.

Our young members’ fascination and expertise with social media gives them unique opportunities to reach out.

 

 

Posted in General Conference, Inspirational, Missionary work

Saturday AM session General Conference October 2016

Brief notes on the session:

President Dieter F Uchtdorf

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Experiences using technology as a septuagenarian.

We sometimes take the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ for granted.

‘Sometimes we sleep walk on the path to discipleship’

Gratitude for the plan of salvation.

Fundamental questions of life.

‘I am grateful that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has answers to the most complex questions of life.’

We are eternal beings.

‘We are of the royal house of Elohim, the Most High God’

The plan presented to us in the Council in heaven.

Wonder and joy of the restored gospel.

‘Let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your mind.’

Belfast coat of arms – what shall we give in return for so much.

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Great exposition of the plan of salvation by President Uchtdorf!

Elder Robert D Hales

Looking very frail but speaking strongly.

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‘If we loved the Saviour more, would we suffer less?’

The Saviour gave a new commandment to love one another.

Parents have a responsibility to help their children become converted.

“Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we’ll ascend together.”

‘The calling to be a parent includes the gift to teach in the ways that are right for you and for your children.’

Many of us still missing the blessing of FHE.

Our children and grandchildren measure our love by how much time we give them.

‘We cannot pray away another’s agency.’

‘We can pray for guidance about when to speak what to say and, yes, on some occasions when to be still.’

Tribute to care-givers.

Story of neighbour caring for wife with Alzheimer’s Disease.

‘Let the Saviour be your care giver.’

Mosiah 4:13 And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.

And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another

Sister Carol F McConkie

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Parable of the unjust judge.

Importance of prayer.

‘A prayer of faith opens the way to receive glorious Heaven-sent blessings.’

James 1:5

We pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost – all 3 members of the Godhead involved.

President Eyring’s father:

‘When the pain became intense, we found him in the morning on his knees by the bed. He had been too weak to get back into bed. He told us he had been praying to ask his Heavenly Father why he had to suffer so much when he had always tried to be good. He said a kindly answer came: “God needs brave sons.”

And so he soldiered on to the end, trusting that God loved him, listened to him, and would lift him up. He was blessed to have known early and to never forget that a loving God is as close as a prayer.’

‘Sincere prayers …are an expression of our devoted love.’

‘In times of trouble our prayers become a life line of love and tender mercy’

‘Prayer is a gift from God. We need never feel lost or alone.’

Elder Craig C Christensen

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Moroni warned that Joseph Smith’s name would be had for good and evil among all nations.

D&C 122:

The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee;

 While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand.

Brigham Young of Joseph Smith:

‘It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fulness of the keys and power of the Priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eyes upon him’

James 1:5 (Second mention so far – Youth and FSY theme for 2017)

The First Vision.

Read the Book of Mormon as you were Joseph Smith reading it for the first time.

The fruits of the mission of Joseph Smith.

Elder Juan A Uceda

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Experience of visit to Machu Picchu as a missionary. Saved from death.

Prayer.

‘When you pray do you truly, really want not my will but Thine be done?’

‘Are you really praying or just saying prayers?’

‘Jesus invites us to pray always.’

‘A moment of prayer is a very, very sacred moment.’

J Devn Cornish

A great uplifting and encouraging talk.

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‘It is normal to wonder if we are acceptable before the Lord.’

‘We must stop comparing ourselves to others.’

You are going to be good enough and you are going to make it as long as you keep repenting and don’t become rebellious.

‘All the Lord expects of us is that we try, but you really have to try ‘- Gordon B Hinckley

It is through grace that we get the strength to do good works that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.

God may not immediately take away all of the consequences of our sins.

Wickedness never was happiness.

Sin separates us from the Spirit and we stop repenting.

We cannot rationalise instead of repenting.

‘We are in rebellion any time we say in our hearts I don’t need God and I don’t need to repent.’

The balance between grace and works.

‘God wants us to come home.’

Elder Neil L Andersen

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Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The stone cut without hands.

The gathering of Israel. Must have seemed an impossible task to the early Saints.

‘Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.’ – Thomas S Monson.

Missionary work.

Guilt like a battery in a car. It is not sufficient.

Pray for opportunities.

To be a witness of Christ  – how we live and how we speak.

‘As you respond to spiritual promptings the Holy Ghost will carry your words into the heart of another.’

‘The timing of some-one’s conversion is not up to you.’

Don’t see your efforts to share the Gospel as a pass/fail test.

Story of Svetlana and Viktor in Ukraine.

Special invitation to youth and young adults to be witnesses. The Lord needs you to be even more engaged in this great cause.

D&C 65

Call upon the Lord, that his kingdom may go forth upon the earth, that the inhabitants thereof may receive it, and be prepared for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth.

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Jesus Christ, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine – Lesson 33 – A Sure Foundation

1. Internal strife develops among the Nephites.

Helaman 1:1 Contention for the judgement seat

The contention of the sons of Pahoran for the judgment seat is a good example of what can happen in a democracy when men refuse to accept the will of the people. The contention for the judgment seat opened the way for much evil and eventually resulted in the downfall of the Nephite nation.

Note the following points found in Helaman 1:

  • Capital punishment was the accepted punishment for treason (see v. 8).
  • Those who sought to circumvent the law for personal power were willing to resort to murder to get their way (see v. 9).
  • The contention over the judgment seat gave the attacking Lamanites an advantage against the Nephites (see vv. 18–20).
  • Because the Lamanites first invaded the weaker center of the Nephite lands, Moronihah and his troops were able to surround them and compel them to surrender (see v. 31).
  • As his father, Moroni, had done earlier, Moronihah “caused that the Lamanites who had been taken prisoners should depart out of the land in peace” (v. 33).

(Book of Mormon Institute Manual)

Helaman 1:4 “Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni”

‘There is in the Book of Mormon, within one important family, a group of names beginning with Pa-.  They are peculiar names and can be matched exactly in Egyptian. ‘ (Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 282).

‘It is hard to explain bull’s-eyes like Korihor, Pahoran, and Paankhi as pure accidents.  Paankhi was a popular Egyptian name in the seventh century B.C., but it was not known until the end of the last [nineteenth] century. ‘ (Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, 170).

I’n a study by Gardiner [an Egyptologist], he refers to “Piankhi’s Instructions to His Army.”  That is a peculiar name, a pure Egyptian name, and one odd enough that no one could have possibly invented it in the Book of Mormon.  Piankhi was a general before the time of Lehi, was very famous, became king of Egypt, and the name became quite popular afterwards …. But of course the name occurs in the Book of Mormon (Helaman 1:3). ‘  (Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos, 255).

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Hugh Nibley

Helaman 1:12 Kishkumen and his band

“Thus they became an underground organization, whose members’ identity was ‘not known unto those who were at the head of the government’ (Helaman 3:23). And that explains how it was possible later on, in the midst of great peace and prosperity, for the chief of state, Cezoram, and after him his son and successor, to be murdered in office in such a way that the assassins were never discovered (Helaman 6:15). It is significant that the times of great prosperity and abundance were also the times when murder and intrigue were the order of the day, ‘for behold, the Lord had blessed them so long with the riches of the world that . . . they began to set their hearts upon their riches; yea, they began to seek to get gain that they might be lifted up one above another; therefore they began to commit secret murder . . . that they might get gain’ (Helaman 6:17). The sequence is a natural one: with easy wealth comes the feeling of superiority which makes people status-conscious; and with a feeling for status comes a desperate need to acquire the one thing that will give status; and with the recognition of the all-importance of that one thing, any scruples that may stand in the way of its acquisition are pushed aside, even murder being permissible as long as one is not found out.” (Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, p. 363)

Helaman 1:13 It was according to his right

‘It appears that the sons of Pahoran had a “right” to the judgment-seat by lineal descent. In following the laws instituted by Mosiah2, the people could have a voice in choosing their Chief Judge, but that “voice” was limited to choosing from among the sons of a deceased Chief Judge. The reason such care was taken by Mosiah2 during the transfer of power from kings to the judges is that the liberty of the Nephites – ultimately the church – was at risk if a Mulekite should ever consolidate the reigns of power.’  [Michael M. Hobby, The Mulekite Connection, p. 34]

Helaman 1:18 Because of so much contention

‘At the risk of wearying the reader, we should not belabor the point, but the only time that the Lamanites were ever able to make significant progress in their battles with the Nephites was when the Nephites were in the midst of internal strife. Internal strife naturally came only in times of Nephite wickedness but this problem had plagued Moroni for his entire career. Now his son Moronihah inherits the legacy of internal instability and its costly consequences.’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)

Helaman 2:4 Gadianton

“Gadianton was a Nephite apostate; the founder and first leader of the robber bands that bore his name. He is first mentioned in connection with the attempt by Kishkumen to assassinate Helaman, the Chief Judge, 50 B.C. At that time Gadianton had organized his band and bound its members together with the most horrible and blasphemous oaths and covenants to stand by and protect each other in all their treasons, villainies, and crimes. These oaths and secret compacts had not been searched out of the old records by Gadianton, but that same being who had revealed them to Cain, the first murderer, had whispered them to him. Gadianton was a crafty, capable man, full of strategy and cunning; a flatterer and an expert in the use of many words; and at this time he desired to be elected Chief Judge of the Nephite Commonwealth. To this ambition his followers gave full consent, as he promised them that when elected, they should fill the offices of honor and profit which would be at his disposal.” (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 5, pp. 203-4)

Helaman 2:5 Kishkumen sought to destroy Helaman

‘Kishkumen and his band had already decided to take action against the new chief judge when they murdered Pahoran2 but failed to achieve their political goals. They undoubtedly hoped that Pacumeni’s murder would facilitate their rise to power. That hope was dashed with the seating of Helaman2. Their goal, however, remained the same, so they targeted Helaman with the same strategy of assassination.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

2. Thousands join the Church; some Church members are lifted up in pride.

Helaman 3:27-28 Thus we see

‘We love to find the words “thus we see” because we know that Mormon wants us to see and draw a conclusion from the events being described.  Here we are reminded of the Lord’s mercy to all who call on his name, and that the “gate of heaven” is open to all. 2 Nephi 31:17 refers to repentance and baptism as the “gate by which ye should enter.”’ (JohnBytheway.com)

Helaman 3:33 People who professed to belong to the church

“…there are two churches. There are the people who profess it, and the people who really are. They all profess to belong to the church of God, but how do you distinguish? Well, as Paul says, our security rests in this. God knows his own. Only he knows the ones who are true Latter-day Saints and those who aren’t. We have no means of knowing. You’d be surprised what rascals there are among us and what good people there are among us too. But you never suspect.” (Hugh Nibley, Teachings From The Book of Mormon, Lecture 75, p. 215)

Helaman 3:35 They did fast and pray oft

“The world needs self-discipline. You can find it in fasting and prayer. Our generation is sick for lack of self-control. Fasting and prayer help to instill this virtue…In addition to the occasional fasting experience for a special purpose, each member of the Church is expected to miss two meals on the fast and testimony Sunday. To skip two consecutive meals and partake of the third normally constitutes approximately a 24-hour period. Such is the counsel.

“Competent medical authorities tell us that our bodies benefit by an occasional fasting period. That is blessing number one and perhaps the least important. Second, we contribute the money saved from missing the meals as a fast offering to the bishop for the poor and the needy. And third, we reap a particular spiritual benefit that can come to us in no other way. It is a sanctification of the soul for us today just as it was for some choice people who lived 2,000 years ago.” (Robert L Simpson, Conference Report, Oct. 1967)

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Helaman 3:36 The Fifty and Second Year

‘According to Dr. Sami Hanna, the numbering system throughout the Book of Mormon is clearly Semitic. As illustrated in Helaman 3:36, there is a connective word “and” between each digit: “And it came to pass that the fifty and second year ended in peace.”

If Joseph had been merely writing his own book, it would have been natural and expected for him to write “fifty-second year.” But again, he was only translating from the hieroglyphics placed before him. ‘[Brenton G. Yorgason, Little Known Evidences of the Book of Mormon, p. 34]

3. Lamanites and Nephite dissenters defeat the Nephites.

Helaman 4:5 They succeeded in obtaining possession of the land of Zarahemla

‘Mormon’s purpose in abridging the plates is not to give us a long description of every war which occurred among the Nephites. Chapter 4 chronicles a war which was about as extensive as the ones described in Alma 43 to Alma 62. In fact, never had the Lamanites had such military success, capturing the land of Zarahemla and also all the lands in the land southward. However, Mormon does not bother us with the details. He doesn’t give us warfare for the sake of warfare. He never elaborates on the strategic successes of the Lamanites. As a Nephite general, it would have been too painful for him to write them.

Rather, he described the warfare in the end of Alma because it taught us certain lessons. It provided great examples of integrity and strength in Moroni, Pahoran, Helaman, and his stripling warriors. Having given us such a characteristic description of Nephite and Lamanite warfare, he abridges the current war into less than a chapter because he has already taught us the major lessons to be learned.’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)

Helaman 4:12 Because of their exceeding riches

“For the most part, the Church today finds itself in much the same circumstances as those in the beginning of the book of Helaman. It is wealthy and growing rapidly. Are we in danger? The Book of Mormon suggests that the only real danger to the Church itself is not an outward foe but rather a more powerful and far more devastating enemy within-pride. It grows in the hearts of those who profess to be Saints. It is little wonder that President Benson has warned us against pride. Will we heed the warning or become as the Nephites of old?” (Richard D. Draper, FARMS: Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, Fall-1994, p. 32)

Helaman 4:14-16 Because of their iniquity

‘Mormon next records renewed efforts to call the people to repentance, an effort sufficiently successful that Moronihah can recapture half of the territory. Mormon thus underscores his moral argument that the Nephites’ fate is directly related to their righteousness. However, because only half of the territory was regained (both a historical and moral fact), he hints that their repentance was not complete. Mormon’s formula thus explains the Nephites’ loss of virtually all their land except for Bountiful, their partial repentance and partial retaking of territory, but their eventual destruction.’ Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

4. Nephi and Lehi remember their father’s counsel. Miracles attend their ministry.

Helaman 5:2 They who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good

“If television viewing choices serve as a valid measure of our society, they who choose evil surely are more numerous than they who choose good.” (Joseph B Wirthlin, Finding Peace in Our Lives, p. 218)

Helaman 5:6 When you remember their names, ye may remember them

‘Helaman2 begins his charge to his sons by reminding them of their names’ significance. In the ancient world, names were more than simple labels. They could change a person’s identity and/or represent his essential (or desired) nature. When God changed Abram’s name (“exalted father”) to Abraham (“father of many nations”), it signaled a change in his relationship to Yahweh, a relationship marked by promises so important that it became embodied in the name (Gen. 17:5).

This understanding explains not only why Helaman gave his sons these names but also why he gave them their charge: “When you remember your names ye may remember them… [and]… their works.” The original Lehi and Nephi were faithful to Yahweh, and their works showed this commitment.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Helaman 5:12 A strong foundation

“Someone once said you can’t visually tell the difference between a strand of cobweb and a strand of powerful cable—until stress is put on the strand. Our testimonies are that way, and for most of us, the days of stress for our testimonies have already begun. It may not be the death of a loved one. We might not yet have been asked to give up something that is really precious to us, though the time for such a test may well come to us by and by. Our current stress is more likely to come in the form of overpowering temptations, which show us that a shallow acceptance of the gospel does not have the power to cope with the full fury of the powers of darkness. Perhaps there is a mission call to a place of illness and disappointment, when we had planned on a mission to a place of unbounded opportunity. Or perhaps there are too many questions to which our limited knowledge simply has no answer, and those who claim to know more than we do taunt us with what appears to be a persuasive certainty.

“When those times come, our testimonies must be more than the cobweb strands of a fair-weather faith. They need to be like strands of cable, powerful enough to resist the shafts of him who would destroy us. In our days of stress and trouble, we must be built ‘upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, … that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, … and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you, … because of the rock upon which ye are built.’ (Helaman 5:12.)” (Bruce C Hafen, The Believing Heart, 2nd ed. [1990], 21–22).

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Helaman 5:22-34 Miraculous occurrences

‘The marvelous events described in Helaman 5:22–34 are similar to occurrences described elsewhere in the scriptures.

Nephi and Lehi were surrounded by fire which did not harm them (see v. 23). Compare this with the experience of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the fiery furnace (see Daniel 3:19–27), and the experience recorded concerning the little children at the time of Jesus’ visit to the Nephites (see 3 Nephi 17:24).

The walls of the prison shook on three separate occasions as if they might tumble down (see Helaman 5:27, 31, 33). Compare this to the time the walls of the prison in Ammonihah fell and killed all but Alma and Amulek (see Alma 14:27–28).

A voice was heard from heaven three separate times commanding the people to repent and to cease persecuting the servants of the Lord (see Helaman 5:29, 32–33). This is similar to the voice that was heard just prior to the Savior’s appearance among the Nephites (see 3 Nephi 9, 10:3–7).

A cloud of darkness overshadowed those who assembled near the prison, making it impossible for the Lamanites to flee “because of the fear which did come upon them” (Helaman 5:34). Compare this with the darkness at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion (see 3 Nephi 8:20–23). (Book of Mormon Institute Manual)

Helaman 5:47 Peace

“The gospel is the only answer to the problems of the world. We may cry peace. We may hold peace conferences. And I have nothing but commendation for those who work for peace. But it is my conviction that peace must come only by following the teachings and the example of the Prince of Peace.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Title of Liberty, pp. 213-4)

Helaman 5:49 They we bidden to go forth and marvel not

‘That three hundred people should have shared this experience certainly confirmed its veracity. It is human, however, to wonder about such things when one is away from the group, alone with the memory—hence, the brothers’ admonition to remember and doubt not.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 29 – Give Ear to My Words

1. Alma shares his testimony and gives the records to his son Helaman.

Alma 36:1 Give ear to my words

‘Nearly eighteen years earlier, in 82 B.C., when Alma was a rambunctious and apostate son of the president of the Church, he and the four apostate sons of king Mosiah had been visited by an angel. This angel came roaring out of heaven with the wrath of God in his voice. It caused the earth to shake and knocked the five young men flat on the ground. We read all about this event in the 27th chapter of Mosiah, but now, as Alma comes to the end of his ministry, he wants to tell about this fantastic experience in his own words so that his eldest son, Helaman, can testify that he heard this account from the lips of his own father.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

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Alma 36:6-9 Seeking to destroy the church of God

‘In these verses, Alma recounts some of his own history as a former persecutor of the church who then became one of its most ardent and devoted converts. The phrase “seeking to destroy the church” (verse 6) is mirrored by Alma’s reflection in verse 24 that since his conversion he has “labored without ceasing, that [he] might bring souls to repentance.” Whereas once he tried to tear down the church, his life since he encountered Christ (who is the crux of this chiasm; see verses 17–18) has been about building up the church and bringing God’s children into the fold.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections annotated and explained)

Alma 36:26 Seen eye to eye as I have seen

“After a person has faith in Christ…then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted….when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 149-50, italics added)

Alma 37:1 The records

“We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon but also the brass plates, the plates of the Book of Ether, the plates containing the records of the wickedness and secret combinations of the people of the world down to the time of their being engraved, and many other plates … there appeared as it were, a table with many records or plates upon it, besides the plates of the Book of Mormon, also the Sword of Laban, the Directors i.e., the ball which Lehi had-and the Interpreters [Urim and Thummim].  I saw them just as plain as I see this bed (striking the bed beside him with his hand), and I heard the voice of the Lord, as distinctly as I ever heard anything in my life declaring that the records of the plates of the Book of Mormon were translated by the gift and power of God.” (1878 interview between Orson Pratt and David Whitmer, recorded in Book of Mormon Compendium, pp. 55-56)

Alma 37:6-7 By small and simple things

“We observe vast, sweeping world events; however, we must remember that the purposes of the Lord in our personal lives generally are fulfilled through the small and simple things and not the momentous and spectacular. …

“Great and marvelous events seem to motivate us, but small things often do not hold our attention. Noting that the Liahona worked by faith, Alma stated, ‘Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means … [the people of Lehi] were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey’ (Alma 37:41).

“Is our journey sometimes impeded when we forget the importance of small things? (see Alma 37:46). Do we realize that small events and choices determine the direction of our lives just as small helms determine the direction of great ships? (see James 3:4; D&C 123:16). …

“… We need to have family and personal prayers; study the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon; hold family home evenings; follow the admonition of the Savior to love one another; and be thoughtful, kind, and gentle within the family. Through these and other similar small and simple things, we have the promise that our lives will be filled with peace and joy” (M Russell Ballard in Conference Report, Apr. 1990).

Alma 37:8 Enlarged the memory of this people

‘While faith is not a perfect knowledge, it brings a deep trust in God, whose knowledge is perfect! Otherwise, one’s small data base of personal experience permits so few useful generalizations! But by searching the holy scriptures, we access a vast, divine data bank, a reservoir of remembrance. In this way, the scriptures can, as the Book of Mormon says, enlarge the memory. ‘ (Neal A Maxwell, General Conference, April 1991)

Alma 37:34 Never be weary of good works

“Paradoxical as it sounds, more diligence actually brings more relief. Any selfishness, on the other hand, magnifies our weariness. Selfishness not only shrinks the quantity of service we render but also provides none of the needed renewal, no ‘rest to [our] souls.'” (Neal A Maxwell, If Thou Endure It Well, p. 113)

Alma 37:35 Learn wisdom in thy youth

“As I look at you youth, I think not only of what you are, but of what you may become. I also remember who you are, and I plead with you to do likewise. You are the sons and daughters of Almighty God. Each of you has a destiny to fulfill, a life to live, a contribution to make, a goal to achieve. The future of the kingdom of God upon the earth will, in part, be determined by your devotion.

“When this perspective is firmly in mind, you can appreciate the absolute necessity of diligence in this, your period of preparation. Neglect to prepare and you mortgage your future.

“…these challenging times will require your finest efforts. A half-hearted effort will not suffice. You must labor with your might.

“This is your world. Whether you like it or not, you are engaged in the race of your life. At stake is eternal life—yours. What shall be the outcome? Will you be a leader of men and a servant of God? Or will you be a servant of sin and a follower of Satan? Decisions determine destiny. In the quiet of your study, surrounded by books written by the finest minds of men, listen for and hearken to the Master’s invitation: ’…learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’ (Matthew 11:29–30.) Such learning transcends the classroom, it endures beyond graduation, it meets the test of experience.’ (Thomas S Monson, Pathways To Perfection, p. 252-3)

Alma 37:36-37 Cry unto God

“We would say to the brethren, seek to know God in your closets, call upon him in the fields. Follow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and pray over, and for your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess; ask the blessing of God upon all your labors, and everything that you engage in. Be virtuous and pure; be men of integrity and truth; keep the commandments of God; and then you will be able more perfectly to understand the difference between right and wrong-between the things of God and the things of men; and your path will be like that of the just, which shineth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:31)

Alma 37:43 These things are not without a shadow

‘One imagines that Helaman is wondering by this time why his father is rehearsing all this ancient history about their ancestors and the Liahona. Alma gets to the heart of it in verse 43, when he suggests that the Liahona story is a “shadow” of an important additional compass. He doesn’t want his son to ever become “slothful” in attending to the will of God. As Grant Hardy points out, it’s no coincidence that this conversation occurs in the context of the transference of the sacred records from father to son. The scriptures are to be another Liahona, or compass, to guide people to truth.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

Alma 37:46 Let us not be slothful

“Muttering and murmuring are often the expressions of our conscience gone grumpy; it is precisely because we know we need to respond affirmatively (and have some inkling about what’s coming) that we let off steam—we start puffing in advance of the climb. These are reactions genuinely to be avoided, since they can precede the keeping of a commandment or the fulfilling of a task with a slothful heart, which is more serious. Mostly, to avoid muttering, we need to trust more. So many of the things muttered about before turn out to be marvelous experiences later, and we are inwardly, and deservedly, ashamed for having grumbled.” (Neal A Maxwell, Deposition of a Disciple, p. 31)

2. Alma praises and encourages his son Shiblon.

Alma 38:5 Trust in God

“There is not a man upon the earth that has put his trust in God, I do not care what part of the world he has been in, but what can say that he delivered him. I know that has been the case with me, emphatically so. I have been satisfied, when in foreign lands and in strange countries, where I had no access but to the Almighty, that he was on my side, and I know that he has answered my prayers. (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 8:96, June 17, 1860)

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Alma 38:10 Temperate in all things

“The temperance spoken of here is that of restraint and moderation, particularly in that which we say and teach.  For example, it is unwise to use stories, quotations, or information that we cannot verify.  Temperance is especially important if the story is of a sensational nature or involves someone of high standing in the Church.  Wise teachers will confine themselves to that which they understand, or that for which they are reliable witnesses.  Exaggerations, stretching of the truth, and embellished stories and quotations bring no dignity to the gospel or to the teacher. indeed, such practices are offensive to the Spirit.” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 286)

Alma 38:11 See that ye are not lifted up unto pride

‘So far, Alma’s advice to his son Shiblon has been similar to his advice to Helaman. He told both of the promise that those who keep the commandments will prosper in the land. He told both of his conversion story. He encouraged both to learn wisdom. But Shiblon was different than Helaman. Of all Alma’s sons, Shiblon was apparently the most faithful. Yet, Alma is concerned about one thing—pride.

According to the theme of the Book of Mormon, it is among the most righteous that pride becomes a snare. When Shiblon was righteous, his father warned him of pride. When Oliver Cowdery was righteous, the Lord warned him of pride (DC 23:1). Whenever the saints have been righteous, the prophets have warned them of pride. Unfortunately, there is something about righteousness which inevitably draws us toward self-righteousness.’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)

Alma 38:12 Bridle all your passions

‘A bridle is used to guide, to direct, to restrain. Our passion is to be controlled. When lawfully used, the power of procreation will bless and will sanctify.’ (Boyd K Packer, General Conference, April 2015)

3. Alma admonishes his son Corianton to repent.

Alma 39:2 Boasting in thy strength

“Boasting in the arm of flesh, one of the commonest of all sins among worldly people, is a gross evil; it is a sin born of pride, a sin that creates a frame of mind which keeps men from turning to the Lord and accepting his saving grace. When a man engages in self exultation because of his riches, his political power, his worldly learning, his physical prowess, his business acumen, or even his works of righteousness, he is not in tune with the Spirit of the Lord. Salvation itself comes by the grace of God, ‘Not of works,’ that is not of the performances and outward display of the law, ‘lest any man should boast.’ (Eph. 2:4-22; Rom. 3:27.) As King Benjamin asked, after explaining the goodness of God and the comparative nothingness of men, ‘Of what have ye to boast?’ (Mosiah 2: 17-26.)” (Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 93)

Alma 39:4 Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry

‘There are at least three dangers that threaten the Church within… They are flattery of prominent men in the world, false educational ideas, and sexual impurity. But the third subject mentioned – personal purity, is perhaps of greater importance than either of the other two. We believe in one standard of morality for men and women. If purity of life is neglected, all other dangers set in upon us like the rivers of waters when the flood gates are opened.’ ( F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 313.)

Alma 39:8  Ye cannot hide your crimes from God

“Do not take comfort in the fact that your transgressions are not known by others. That is like an ostrich with his head buried in the sand. He sees only darkness and feels comfortably hidden. In reality he is ridiculously conspicuous. Likewise our every act is seen by our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son. They know everything about us…I invite each one of you to thoughtfully review your life…Is there a dark corner that needs to be cleaned out?… When it is quiet and you can think clearly, does your conscience tell you to repent?” (Richard G Scott, Ensign, May 1995)

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Alma 39:9 Go no more after the lusts of your eyes

“The girl you marry can expect you to come to the marriage altar absolutely clean. She can expect you to be a young man of virtue in thought and word and deed. I plead with you boys tonight to keep yourselves free from the stains of the world…You must not fool around with the Internet to find pornographic material…You must not rent videos with pornography of any kind…Stay away from pornography as you would avoid a serious disease. It is as destructive. It can become habitual, and those who indulge in it get so they cannot leave it alone. It is addictive…it seduces and destroys its victims…I plead with you young men not to get involved in its use. You simply cannot afford to. The girl you marry is worthy of a husband whose life has not been tainted by this ugly and corrosive material.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Ensign, May 1998, p. 49)

Alma 39:10 Give heed to their counsel

Alma’s counsel to Corianton to seek advice from his seasoned older brothers indicates that he, himself, does not expect to be around much longer. In fact, he departs early in the next year (the nineteenth of the judges), and is never seen again (‘Alma 45:18). Thus, Alma is giving his sons his final instructions and blessing; and in Alma’s absence, Corianton’s older brothers will be the source to whom he must turn for spiritual guidance.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 39:17-19 The Plan of Salvation

“The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation, before it rolled into existence … ; the past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal ‘now;’ He knew of the fall of Adam, the iniquities of the antediluvians, of the depth of iniquity that would be connected with the human family … ; He comprehended the fall of man, and his redemption; He knew the plan of salvation and pointed it out; He was acquainted with the situation of all nations and with their destiny; … He knows the situation of both the living and the dead, and has made ample provision for their redemption” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:597).

 

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 27 – All Things Denote There Is A God

 1. Korihor leads away the hearts of many in Zarahemla.

Alma 30:6 Anti-Christ

“Here we find an interesting definition of an anti-Christ:  one who defies and denies the prophecies concerning the coming of Christ.  This definition would, of course, pertain primarily to those who lived before the meridian of time.  In our day we would speak of an anti-Christ as one who denies the divine birth of Jesus; who downplays the significance of his teachings; who claims that Jesus’ sufferings, death, and resurrection have no significance for mankind.  Many in this dispensation have been seduced into the damnable heresy that Jesus was merely a good man, a brilliant speaker, and a loving and tender example of mercy and forgiveness–these things alone.  The restored gospel–especially as made known through the Book of Mormon–testifies that Jesus Christ was and is divine, that he is God.” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 201)

‘The single greatest problem antichrists face is truth. At some point, either sooner or later, every antichrist theory runs into the brick wall of reality, because there really is a God in heaven, who really did send His Son to redeem us. Even the phrase “anti-christ” is an oxymoron – a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.’ (Jeffrey Marsh, Meridian Magazine)

Alma 30:12 Korihor

We learn that the name of this anti-Christ was Korihor and he went forth among the Nephites to destroy their testimonies of the gospel and urged them to feel free to indulge themselves. He got away with this subversive activity by simply saying he was preaching his personal beliefs. However, he was actually pouring out propaganda to attack the whole foundation of the gospel. (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

“We did not borrow the Book of Mormon from the ancients; they wrote it to us. We are the audience Mormon and Moroni addressed as they chose what was to be included in this scriptural record. They told us the story of Korihor because they knew that we would have our Korihors. The Korihor of the Book of Mormon story is but the prototype of our modern anti-Christs. As the modern man of faith is in the image and likeness of his ancient counterpart, believing and testifying of those truths of which the ancients believed and testified, so the modern anti-Christ but echoes the arguments and sophistry used to beguile the souls of men anciently. Invariably, Korihors are articulate and carry with them an air of sophistication. They thrive on controversy, debate, and contention, yet inevitably their popularity rests in their appeal to the carnal nature of man.” (Millet & McConkie, Sustaining and Defending the Faith, p. 96)

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Alma 30:13 Why do ye yoke yourselves?

“One of Satan’s frequently used deceptions is the notion that the commandments of God are meant to restrict freedom and limit happiness. Young people especially sometimes feel that the standards of the Lord are like fences and chains, blocking them from those activities that seem most enjoyable in life. But exactly the opposite is true. The gospel plan is the plan by which men are brought to a fullness of joy. The gospel principles are the steps and guidelines which will help us find true happiness and joy.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 357 )

Alma 30:16 The effect of a frenzied mind

“Now many of my friends think like this, that Mormons must be deranged. We have a professor from Hebrew University who is here (at BYU) now. He thinks that anybody must be crazy who can believe in an angel. That’s just impossible; there’s something wrong there. He just can’t get it through his head, although there it is. That’s why he is so interested in being here with people who actually believe it. ‘But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind'” (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 54, p. 423)

Alma 30:17 The management of the creature

“When you talk about ‘the management of the creature,’ that’s a perfect expression. It’s the manipulation of people as if they were items or products. You can manipulate everything with the psychology of salesmanship. It is the manipulation, the management of the creature.” (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 54, p. 424)

Alma 30:18 Leading away the hearts of many

‘The amazing thing about this tirade of lies and propaganda was the fact that he began making many converts, even among the congregations which Alma had worked so diligently to build up. Korihor’s teachings, like those of Nehor, tore down the moral and religious restrictions among the people so that they went back to indulging in the abominations which Alma and the Church leaders had tried to eliminate.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

2. Korihor is taken before Alma, who testifies of Christ’s coming.

Alma 30:23 Foolish ordinances and performances

‘The idea that the Nephites continued to observe the ritual ordinances and ceremonial performances of the law of Moses down to the coming of Christ is supported by one of Korihor’s allegations. Alma 30 tells how Korihor accused the Nephite church of teaching (and presumably observing) what he considered to be “foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them” (Alma 30:23). Korihor’s derision is evidence that the Nephites observed the full range of ancient ordinances taught from the time of Adam to Moses, along with the priestly sacrificial portions of the law of Moses, which Korihor would have considered to be among the most “foolish” parts of Alma’s ancient traditions. Korihor’s words were probably critical of the higher mysteries taught by Alma according to the holy order of the Son of God (see Alma 12:9; 13:1-13), as well as of the sacrificial laws of the Pentateuch.’ [John W. Welch, “The Temple in the Book of Mormon,” in Temples of the Ancient World, p. 305]

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Alma 30:27 Ye keep them down

‘Korihor was arguing, as men and women have falsely argued from the beginning of time, that to take counsel from the servants of God is to surrender God-given rights of independence. But the argument is false because it misrepresents reality. When we reject the counsel which comes from God, we do not choose to be independent of outside influence. We choose another influence. We reject the protection of a perfectly loving, all-powerful, all-knowing Father in Heaven, whose whole purpose, as that of His Beloved Son, is to give us eternal life, to give us all that He has, and to bring us home again in families to the arms of His love. In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose.

Another fallacy is to believe that the choice to accept or not accept the counsel of prophets is no more than deciding whether to accept good advice and gain its benefits or to stay where we are. But the choice not to take prophetic counsel changes the very ground upon which we stand. It becomes more dangerous. The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future. The best time to have decided to help Noah build the ark was the first time he asked. Each time he asked after that, each failure to respond would have lessened sensitivity to the Spirit. And so each time his request would have seemed more foolish, until the rain came. And then it was too late.

Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or decided that I was an exception, I came to know that I had put myself in harm’s way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety. Along the path, I have found that the way had been prepared for me and the rough places made smooth. God led me to safety along a path which was prepared with loving care, sometimes prepared long before.’ (Henry B Eyring, General Conference, April 1997)

Alma 30:42 Possessed with a lying spirit

‘From other scriptures, we learn that lies and deception came into the world as a result of Satan’s rebellion against God: “He became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice” (Moses 4:4). A person who lies, moreover, is called a “child of the devil” (Alma 5:39).

Those who lie fall in the category of telestial persons, whose destiny is to be “thrust down to hell” (2 Nephi 9:34; D&C 76:103). An antichrist, however, takes lying to the next level. He repudiates Christ and denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22). Like Satan’s, his intent is to use lies as a means of “destroying the children of God.”

Just as God’s children love the truth and follow the example of Jesus Christ, so those who “love and make a lie” follow the example of Satan. Hence, Christ and Satan function at opposite ends of the spectrum as exemplars of righteousness and wickedness, respectively. “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth; And no man receiveth a fulness of truth unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things” (D&C 93:24–28).

This formula for growing in the truth—by keeping the commandments of God—additionally tells us that those who love and believe lies reach that point by breaking the commandments of God. Their alienated state comes especially from speaking evil about others, putting them down while justifying themselves, as did Korihor (Alma 30:14–16, 23–28, 31). The psychology of liars is invariably grounded in unrepented sins and attempts to make others the scapegoats of their guilt. If they can get people to believe their lies, they soon begin believing them themselves.

In the end, Korihor confessed, “I always knew that there was a God. But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I have taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true” (Alma 30:52–53).

Because Korihor is a type of our time as well as a historical figure, there is a lesson we can learn from his example. Jesus predicted of the last days, “There shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). Of course, Jesus’ statement implies that the elect cannot be deceived, or they would not be the elect. By their very nature, God’s elect have learned good from evil and truth from falsehood to such a degree that they see through Satan’s deceptions. Those who are deceived are not celestial but terrestrial and telestial persons (D&C 76:75, 103).

Paul speaks of a great Antichrist of the last days: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there shall come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…

“And then shall that Wicked [One] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume by the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4, 8–12).

Even today, “there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world. And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you. Behold, I, the Lord, have looked upon you, and have seen abominations in the church that profess my name. But blessed are they who are faithful and endure, whether in life or in death, for they shall inherit eternal life. But wo unto them that are deceivers and hypocrites, for, thus saith the Lord, I will bring them to judgment. Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power… Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me” (D&C 50:2–9).

John Taylor, in a First Presidency Message, taught an important lesson on what happens to people who lie: “Many stories go from mouth to mouth concerning the truth of which those who repeat them know nothing… We testify that those who give way to this influence… who gossip about and aid in the dissemination of these things to the injury of their fellows, will, unless they speedily repent, lose the Spirit of God and the power to discern between truth and falsehood, and between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. Their own minds will become so darkened by the spirit of falsehood that the Spirit of God will cease to have power with them and will flee from them.” (Epistle to the Saints in Semi-Annual Conference, October 6, 1886.)

Just as one doesn’t have to be perfect in order to have the spirit of truth, so one doesn’t have to be a Korihor to have a lying spirit. As with God’s elect, the key to avoiding deception and self-deception is keeping the commandments of God (cf. D&C 76:52; 84:33–34).’ (Avram Gileadi, Studies in the Book of Mormon)

Alma 30:44 All things denote there is a God

“Can any man who has walked beneath the stars at night, can anyone who has seen the touch of spring upon the land doubt the hand of divinity in creation? So observing the beauties of the earth, one is wont to speak as did the Psalmist: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.’ (Ps. 19:1-2)

“All of beauty in the earth bears the fingerprint of the Master Creator.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Conference Report, Apr. 1978, p. 90)

Alma 30:45 Show me a sign

“I recollect a Campbellite preacher who came to Joseph Smith … and said that he had come a considerable distance to be convinced of the truth.  ‘Why,’ said he, ‘Mr. Smith, I want to know the truth, and when I am convinced, I will spend all my talents and time defending and spreading the doctrines of your religion, and I will give you to understand that to convince me is equivalent to convincing all my society, amounting to several hundreds.’  Well, Joseph commenced laying before him the coming forth of the work, and the first principles of the Gospel, when [the minister] exclaimed, ‘O this is not the evidence I want, the evidence that I wish to have is a notable miracle; I want to see some powerful manifestation of the power of God, I want to see a notable miracle performed; and if you perform such a one, then I will believe with all my heart and soul, and will exert all my power and all my extensive influence to convince others; and if you will not perform a miracle of this kind, then I am your worst and bitterest enemy.’  ‘Well,’ said Joseph, ‘what will you have done?  Will you be struck blind, or dumb?  Will you be paralyzed, or will you have one hand withered?  Take your choice, choose which you please, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ it shall be done.’ ‘That is not the kind of miracle I want,’ said the preacher.  ‘Then, sir,’ replied Joseph, ‘I can perform none, I am not going to bring any trouble upon any body else, sir, to convince you.'” (George A Smith, Journal of Discourses, 1855, vol. 2, p. 326).

Alma 30:53 The devil hath deceived me

‘Many people who believe at least tentatively in the reality of God have a much harder time believing in the reality of the devil. Some even soft-pedal the subject and go along with the popular idea that the devil is a purely mythological creature.

Some people roar with laughter as a television comic remarks, “The devil made me do it.” Well, maybe he did! He will always try.

To deny the existence of Satan and the reality of his evil power and influence is as foolish as ignoring the existence of electricity. We know electricity is real; we see and feel its power. We also know about war, hatred, backbiting, false witnesses, cheating, and the broken hearts and broken homes caused by the moral sins of modern Babylon. Do members of this church feel a lack of evidence in the reality of Satan and his power?

We are told that some of the “very elect” will be enticed and deceived. Couldn’t this “very elect” include your sons and daughters, even though through baptism they have already accepted Christ as their Savior? Wouldn’t the evil one concentrate on them if he found a weakness or an opportunity?’ (David B Haight, General Conference, April 1973)

Alma 30:55 Thou wouldst again lead away the hearts of this people

‘It is interesting the proud arrogant Korihor had a fickle character and the Spirit whispered to Alma that if the curse was lifted from Korihor he would not be able to resist the temptation to teach Satan’s lies again.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Alma 30:60 The devil will not support his children at the last day

“The conclusion to our story holds no surprises, for there is a consistency in such things. To those who lift up their heel against the Lord’s anointed in our day, he has said: ‘Those who swear falsely against my servants, that they might bring them into bondage and death-Wo unto them; because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house. Their basket shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them.’ (DC 121:18-20)” (Millet & McConkie, Sustaining and Defending the Faith, pp. 92-3)

3. Alma leads a mission to reclaim the apostate Zoramites.

Alma 31:5 Try the virtue of the word of God

‘True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.’ (Boyd K Packer, General Conference, April 2004)

Alma 31:9 According to the law of Moses

‘This is a serious problem for the Nephite people because it indicates a greater degree of apostasy than they have seen in most of the groups that have departed from the standard Nephite religion. The Nehors apparently retained much of the Law of Moses, but rejected Christ. This is the basic form of apostasy that was seen among the people of Noah, and more recently in Ammonihah. The Zoramites have gone further, however, and rejected the law of Moses. Not only did they abandon the law of Moses, but they abandoned other performances that blended the law of Moses into the law of Christ. [Brant Gardner, Book of Mormon Commentary]

Alma 31:11 They did pervert the ways of the Lord

“So here we have a competition between two religions as well as a fusion…They boasted a superior religion, and the Zoramite priesthood claimed to be eminently rational and spiritual, accusing the Nephites of ‘childish’ beliefs and practices–Alma lays great stress upon their boasting, in the manner of all barbarians. In short, ‘they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances’ (Alma 31:11), but not in all. Did they still think of themselves as Israelites? They certainly thought of the Nephites as apostates. In particular, they rejected the redemption by the Messiah as naive and unnecessary (Alma 31:16-18, 29), for they considered themselves very advanced, very superior as they strutted amidst the almost comically exaggerated splendor of their Mesoamerican dress and architecture (Alma 31:25-27).” (Hugh Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 544)

Alma 31:12 Astonishment

‘Alma and his brethren were shocked with what they saw and heard. Here was an apostate church quite different from the ones that either Nehor or Korihor had developed. Nevertheless, these people had all heard the gospel preached to them in the past and had been members of the Church. Now they had developed a substitute religion with a political potential that could be extremely dangerous to the Nephites.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from teh Book of Mormon)

Alma 31:16 Thou hast elected us

“Although the Zoramites used the terminology of election, what they really fostered was the idea of elitism, which almost always has at its heart a disdain for others.  True election promotes a genuine concern for the welfare of others.  Elitism seems to cause people to forget God six out of seven days because it turns them selfishly inward.  But the true doctrine of election promotes a daily desire for communion with deity and a search for the divine within us.” (Book of Mormon Symposium Series,“Helaman Through 3 Nephi 8” edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 118)

Alma 31:22 The selfsame prayer

‘This description of Zoramite society tells us that they differ from Nephite norms. Mormon repeats the detail that everyone offers the “selfsame” prayer but only when “they had assembled themselves together.” This prayer had a communal, not an individual, function. Nephite religion had no counterpart to this public statement of unity, since the missionaries find it astonishing. Zoramite worship therefore maintained distinct political and communal overtones, but Nephite worship did not use public prayer in this manner.

The second criticism is that worship is confined to a specific day and that the Zoramites did not otherwise speak of Yahweh. Their worship was communal, not individual. Like many similar religions, its focus was logically on events that occurred at community gatherings. Nephite worship, while having communal elements, was essentially practiced by individuals.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

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Alma 31:28 Costly apparel

“Our society may well be as guilty as the wealthy Zoramites of using fashion as ‘the science of appearances, inspiring us with the desire to seem rather than to be’ (Edwin Hubbell Chapin). In our day the costly apparel syndrome may be identified as one aspect of the modern-day term ‘conspicuous consumption.’ The word conspicuous alludes to the visual side of vanity-the need to be seen, to be recognized. Consumption refers to that which we take in or that which we consume. Conspicuous consumption may be defined as that which we take to ourselves in order to be recognized and approved by others. By its very definition, the person trapped in conspicuous consumption, especially as it applies to ‘costly apparel,’ must be focused on the opinions of others, because what is ‘in’ today may be ‘out’ tomorrow. Vanity then becomes its own punishment, because there is never time to be satisfied-the eyes and opinions of others can turn so quickly to embrace someone else. For us, the disease that afflicted the Zoramites encompasses more than clothing. It can include cars, houses, boats, diplomas, and anything else that has a foundation where the need for the approval of man carries more weight than the need to be accepted by God.” (K. Douglas Bassett, Doctrines of the Book of Mormon, 1991 Sperry Symposium, pp. 18-19)

Alma 31:30 For I am infirm

‘Alma was a sick man. He was severely wounded in the war with the Lamanites and then he went through starvation and torture at the hands of the demons who were the rulers of Ammonihah. He enjoyed nearly two years of peace, but Korihor had created a certain amount of havoc among the members of the Church in Zarahemla, which had been a great trial to Alma. Now he feels compelled to challenge the Zoramites. It was almost more than he could bear and so he cried out to the Lord.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Alma 31:31 Afflictions

“I suppose I am talking to some who have had worry and trouble and heart burnings and persecution, and have at times been caused to think that they never expected to endure quite so much. But for everything you have suffered, for everything that has occurred to you which you thought an evil at that time, you will receive fourfold, and that suffering will have had a tendency to make you better and stronger and to feel that you have been blessed. When you look back over your experiences you will then see that you have advanced far ahead and have gone up several rounds of the ladder toward exaltation and glory. …

“Take it individually or take it collectively, we have suffered and we shall have to suffer again; and why? Because the Lord requires it at our hands for our sanctification” (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Clyde J. Williams [1984], 117–18).

Alma 31:32 Comfort my soul

‘In his own prayer, Alma asks for comfort for him and his friends in enduring their trials and also for success in their labors. He does not ask that the labors be easy. He fully expects that this mission will be difficult.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 31:35 Their souls are precious

“In a modern revelation the Lord explained that ‘the worth of souls is great in the sight of God’ (D&C 18:10).  Latter-day Saints are fond of quoting this verse and then skipping down the scriptural page to those verses that speak further of the joy that comes from bringing the blessings of the gospel into the lives of many.  The question might be asked:  Why is the worth of souls great? … We might respond that as children of the Man of Holiness we have marvelous possibilities.  As sons and daughters of God, we are possessed (although now in rudimentary form) of the attributes of godliness.  The Lord provides an additional answer from scripture:  ‘For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.  And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.  And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!  Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.’ (D&C 18:11-14.)  Simply stated, the soul is of infinite worth.  We are not our own.  We have been bought with an infinite price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), even with ‘the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot’ (1 Peter 1:19).”  (Robert L. Millet, An Eye Single to the Glory of God, pp. 34-35)

Alma 31:38 Afflictions… swallowed up in the joy of Christ

“I humbly come to this pulpit today to speak about a sure cure for heartache, disappointment, torment, anguish, and despair. The psalmist stated, ‘He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.’ (Ps 147:3) The healing is a divine miracle; the wounds are a common lot of all mankind. Shakespeare has said, ‘He jests at scars that never felt a wound.’ (Romeo and Juliet, II.ii.1.) It seems that no one escapes the troubles, challenges, and disappointments of this world.

“…Someway, somehow, we must find the healing influence that brings solace to the soul. Where is this balm? Where is the compensating relief so desperately needed to help us survive in the world’s pressures? The onsetting comfort in large measure can come through increased communion with the Spirit of God. This can bring spiritual healing.

“…We find solace in Christ through the agency of the Comforter, and he extends this invitation to us: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ (Matt. 11:28.) The Apostle Peter speaks of ‘casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.’ (1 Pet. 5:7.) As we do this, healing takes place, just as the Lord promised through the prophet Jeremiah when he said, ‘I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. … I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.’ (Jer. 31:13, 25.)

“In the celestial glory, we are told, ‘God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.’ (Rev. 21:4.) Then faith and hope will replace heartache, disappointment, torment, anguish, and despair, and the Lord will give us strength, as Alma says, that we ‘should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ.’ (Alma 31:38.) Of this I have a testimony, and I so declare it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” (James E Faust, Conference Report, May 1992, p. 6)

 

 

 

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 26 – Converted unto the Lord

1. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies are converted to the Lord.

Alma 23:1-2 He sent a decree among them

‘Once we review verses 27 to 32 of the previous chapter and realize how extensive the land of the Lamanites had become, we begin to appreciate the fantastic ramifications of the king’s decree which is described in the first two verses of the next chapter.

What wouldn’t the apostle Paul have given for a decree like this as he went forth to convert the Gentile nations. The sons of Mosiah and the other Christian missionaries were to have complete access to every home and every congregation in the land. No one was allowed to smite the missionaries, or arrest them, or exclude them from their churches, synagogues, or sanctuaries.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Alma 23:3 He sent his proclamation throughout the land

‘By issuing this proclamation, the King opened the door to preaching the gospel in his land. It also planted the seed that the “wicked traditions of their fathers” may be resolved and that the Nephites and Lamanites are truly brothers. He also emphasized the laws of social relations as previously outlined in the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Not only does adherence to the laws of the gospel bring an individual happiness now and eternally, it also embraces the qualities of citizenship that benefit the well-being of any nations citizens.’ (Scriptures101.com)

Alma 23:6 Never did fall away

“The Book of Mormon is to be ‘a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel,’ said the Lord. (2 Nephi 29:2.) It is a standard we should heed and follow.

“In the twentieth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord devotes several verses to summarizing the vital truths which the Book of Mormon teaches. (See verses 17-36.) It speaks of God, the creation of man, the Fall, the Atonement, the ascension of Christ into heaven, prophets, faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, endurance, prayer, justification and sanctification through grace, and loving and serving God.

We must know these essential truths. Aaron and Ammon and their brethren in the Book of Mormon taught these same kinds of truths to the Lamanite people (see Alma 18:22-39), who were ‘in the darkest abyss’ (Alma 26:3). After accepting these eternal truths, the Book of Mormon states, those converted Lamanites never did fall away. (See Alma 23:6.)

If our children and grandchildren are taught and heed these same truths, will they fall away? We best instruct them in the Book of Mormon at our dinner table, by our firesides, at their bedsides, and in our letters and phone calls-in all of our goings and comings.” (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, p. 11)

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Alma 23:16 Desirous that they might have a name

‘Modern readers use names only as labels; but in the ancient world, a name was frequently a definition. Names were who a person was. Many societies give one name to children; but they take on a new name at puberty or as an adult, indicating their true identity. In the Book of Mormon, Benjamin urged his people to assume a new name that would solidify their new, covenant identity (Mosiah 5:7). The renaming of these Lamanite believers separated them from their past culture and, apparently, also their past political affiliations. It united them even more tightly in the gospel bond, emphasizing that their new similarity as believers was stronger than the differences represented by the cities from which they had come.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 23:17 Anti-Nephi-Lehies

“It is not clear exactly why they called themselves AntiNephi-Lehies. Viewing the word anti as meaning ‘opposed to’ or ‘against,’ perhaps their action symbolized a desire to dissolve barriers between Nephites and Lamanites and thus establish peace; their name could in this sense represent their opposition to a Nephite-Lamanite distinction. That is they wanted neither Nephites nor Lamanites, nor ‘any manner of –ites’ (4 Nephi 1:17). “Another possibility suggests itself. Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 indicates that the word anti means ‘like’ or ‘mirror image of.’ In that case anti-Christ would mean not just opposed to Christ, but also deceptively similar to Christ, and perhaps the name Anit-Nephi-Lehies would symbolize their desire to be as Nephi and Lehi of old, that is, that they might remember the goodness and faithfulness of their first Nephite prophet leaders (see Helaman 5:6).” (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L Millett, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol.3. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991, [3rd Printing, 1993], 165).

Alma 24:7 Our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach

“I used to enjoy very much hearing President Grant tell of the Scandinavian Brother who came over to Utah. He had not been taught much about the gospel; all he knew was that it was true. The bishop went to him and taught him the law of tithing. He paid his tithing. He taught him about fast offering. He paid his fast offering. He taught him about ward maintenance (budget) and he paid that. Then the bishop went to him to get a donation to help build the meeting house. The man felt that ought to come out of the tithing, but before the bishop was through with him, he paid his contribution toward the meeting house. Then the bishop went to him to get his son to go on a mission. The good brother said, ‘That is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. He is the only child we have, and his mother can’t miss him.’ Then the bishop countered, ‘Brother so and so, who do you love in this world more than anyone outside of your immediate family?’ He thought a few minutes and said he guessed he loved that Mormon Elder who came up to the land of the midnight sun and taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then the Bishop countered, ‘Brother so and so, how would you like someone to love your boy just like you love that young Mormon Elder’ The brother said, ‘Bishop, you win again. Take him. I will be glad to support him in the mission field.'” (LeGrand Richards, Just To Illustrate, p. 52)

Alma 24:21 Prostrated themselves before them

“In 1979…I was serving as president in the Mexico City North Mission…A (community) meeting was called…at which Church members were given the following options: denounce the Church, leave the village, or be killed (not an idle threat). The members, particularly the women, said they knew the Church to be true and would not denounce it. They also indicated they had worked just as hard as the rest of the community to secure their homesteads, and they would not leave. Boldly stepping forward, they told their taunters if they were going to kill them to get on with it. The moment grew tense as machetes were raised, then finally lowered while the Latter-day Saints stood up for that which the Spirit had testified to them to be true. These Saints eventually learned, as most of us do, that it is harder to live the gospel day by day than to die for it in an instant, but their early commitment came because the Spirit had touched their hearts and changed their lives.” (John B. Dickson, Ensign, Feb. 1995, p. 7 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 289)

Alma 24:22 Without meeting any resistance

“The question is worth asking, ‘Could I be as strong as these new converts?’ ‘Could I lay down, peacefully pray to God when an enraged army attacked and commenced slaughtering my friends and family?’ ‘Am I ready to die for the cause of truth?’ These are the questions which we must ask ourselves. If we expect the Lord to bless us with the ultimate blessing, all that the Father has (D&C 84:38), we have to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice—-all that we have, even if it means laying our own lives on the altar of sacrifice.” (www.gospeldoctrine.com/contents/Alma-24).

2. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies seek safety among the Nephites.

‘Ammon and the Lamanite king both had suggestions for how to help the converted Lamanites preserve themselves from destruction by their Lamanite enemies. But in the end, they did what the Lord wanted them to do.(See Alma 27:1-14)There is no better way to deal with danger and turmoil.

One additional event here is deserving of a comment. The Nephites were not only willing to give a home to these homeless converts, but they were willing to set themselves between them and their enemies. That is to say, the Nephites were willing to risk death in order to help the Anti-Nephi-Lehies keep their covenants.’ (Ted Gibbons, LDSLiving.com)

Alma 27:8 We will be their slaves

‘This offer of enslavement tells us that, while slavery is expressly not a part of Nephite culture (Mosiah 2:13), it is nevertheless a cultural option. Earlier, Limhi had also suggested that his people could become slaves to the Nephites (Mosiah 7:15). Both kings were in the land of Nephi when they made this offer, strongly suggesting that slavery was common in Lamanite lands, particularly in the land of Nephi. And certainly, slavery was a well-documented practice in Mesoamerica.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 27:23 That we may protect our brethren

“The conversion of the war-mongering Lamanites who became the Anti-Nephi-Lehies was remarkable. But just as remarkable was the instant forgiveness of the Nephites, who apparently had friends and relatives who had been killed by the Anti-Nephi-Lehies prior to their conversion (see Alma 27:6). Conversion involves a mighty change of heart, a process experienced by both Anti-Nephi-Lehies and Nephites alike.” (Spencer Condie, Your Agency: Handle with Care, p. 106)

Alma 27:26 The people of Ammon

‘It is interesting that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies not only got a new land but they got a new name. They would be called the Ammonites and they were completely assimilated into the Nephite civilization except for their covenant not to shed blood.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

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Alma 28:1 The armies of the Lamanites had followed their brethren into the wilderness

‘What could be the motivation of these Lamanites in trying so hard to destroy their converted brethren? The people of Ammon had not offended them, fought them in battle, or caused them any harm, yet they are the object of great hatred. They could be accused of being “traitors” to the Nephites but their conversion and migration presented no military threat to them. So what is the driving force?

When hatred and malice are demonstrated for the sake only of hatred and malice, Satan is the driving force. These Lamanites would not have chased their brethren deep into Nephite territory if they were not stirred up by the Amalekites. One of the Amalekites’ most pronounced qualities was hatred, for Satan has great hold on the hearts of the Amalekites, who do stir up the Lamanites to anger against their brethren to slay them (Alma 27:12). (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)

Alma 28:4 Mourning and great lamentation

“More painful to me are the thoughts of annihilation than death. If I have no expectation of seeing my father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends again, my heart would burst in a moment, and I should go down to my grave. The expectation of seeing my friends in the morning of the resurrection cheers my soul and makes me bear up against the evils of life. It is like their taking a long journey, and on their return we meet them with increased joy.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings)

Alma 28:11-12 Mourning and rejoicing

‘We might read the first category as the Lamanites and the second Nephites, but Mormon’s concerns are almost exclusively Nephite. Therefore, these mourners are Nephites. The contrast is between those who embrace the gospel of the Atoning Messiah with its promise of resurrection and those who follow the order of the Nehors and who therefore “have reason to fear” (v. 11).’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 28:13 The inequality of man is because of sin and transgression

‘This phrase has more than one level of meaning. Inequality in mortality is rarely blamed on sin and transgression, but the sins of pride, greed, deceit, stealing, and dishonesty all breed such inequality. If all were righteous and living the law of consecration, there would be no inequality at all. But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin (DC 49:20). If inequality is because of sin, then the converse should also be true—that equality is a function of righteousness. The law of equality, under the law of consecration, is a necessary and fundamental component of celestial law, That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things; For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you (DC 78:5-7).

The second level of meaning to Mormon’s comment is that there is inequality in the rewards given to men. This inequality also comes because of sin and transgression. He is contrasting the death and punishments of the wicked, consigned to a state of endless wo (v. 11), to the death and rewards of the righteous, raised to dwell…in a state of never-ending happiness (v. 12). In many respects this inequality is greater than that of mortality. In other words, the difference between the blessed state of the righteous and the cursed state of the wicked after death is much greater than the disparity between the rich and the poor during mortality.’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)

3. Ammon and Alma rejoice in the accomplishment of the Lord’s work.

Alma 26:5 Behold the number of your sheaves

‘A short time ago, I stood in a little room in Wales, in which my mother was born 102 years before, the room so small that the six-foot bed covers the entire width, and its length is barely two feet longer than it is wide, and the old rafters just two feet above my head, so about eight feet high. But my thoughts on that occasion have been sacred to me. I share one or two with you.

‘I thought, as Sister McKay and I stood in that small bedroom, how different life would be now if two humble elders had not knocked at that door a hundred years ago! And how different life would be if my mother’s father and mother had not accepted that message? I looked around the village and found descendants of others who heard it at that time, descendants of some who ridiculed my grandfather and grandmother, for having accepted the truth; and they made light of their religion, scoffed at them and ostracized them for having accepted Mormonism. I realized how unenlightened those neighbors were when they condemned my grandparents.

‘…Father’s folk were way up in the north of Scotland. It was only through the gospel that Father and Mother met. So I expressed gratitude, as I sensed it probably never so keenly before, as we stood in that little room, six by eight.’ (David O McKay, Gospel Ideals, pp. 122-3)

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Alma 26:9-10 Aaron rebuked him

‘Mormon says that Aaron was rebuking his brother. Ammon had said nothing offensive to Aaron until verse 9 when he seemed to take credit for their success, saying, if we had not come up out of the land of Zarahemla. Aaron’s rebuke is actually quite gentle, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting. Aaron is saying, “now don’t get carried away thinking you are anything special.” Ammon was, of course, “something special” but a true servant of the Lord never takes credit for what the Lord has done. To do this demonstates pride and insolence. Aaron wants to make sure that Ammon does not give himself too much of the credit. But Ammon never meant to extol his own virtues and his response is a great explanation of his own nothingness compared to the power of God.’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)

Alma 26:22 Exerciseth faith

‘Your testimony will be fortified as you exercise faith in Jesus Christ, in His teachings, and in His limitless power to accomplish what He has promised. The key words are “exercise faith.” True faith has enormous power, but there are principles that must be followed to unleash that power. Moroni taught, “Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. That means you must practice the truth or principle you have faith in. As you live it consistently, there will come a witness of its truthfulness through the power of the Holy Ghost. It is often a feeling of peace. It could be a stirring within you. It might be evidenced by opening doors to other truths. As you patiently look for a confirmation, it will come. Recognize that the Lord will give you the capacity to understand and prove through personal experience the truthfulness of His teachings. He will confirm the certainty that His laws will produce the promised results when obeyed willingly and consistently.’ (Richard G Scott, General Conference, October 2001)

Alma 26:27 When our hearts were depressed

“There are times when you simply have to righteously hang on and outlast the devil until his depressive spirit leaves you. As the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith: ‘thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if you endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high’ (DC 121:7-8). To press on in noble endeavors, even while surrounded by a cloud of depression, will eventually bring you out on top into the sunshine.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1974)

Alma 26:36 Wanderers in a strange land

“The Nephites never ceased to think of themselves in those melancholy terms. Five hundred years after Jacob, Alma could write that his people were both blessed and sorrowful in their wandering state. Because of their isolation, he says, God gives them special revelation, and glad tidings ‘are made known to us in plain terms, that we may understand, that we cannot err; and this because of our being wanderers in a strange land; therefore, we are thus highly favored’ (Alma 13:23). God, he says, has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land (Alma 26:36).” (Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 142)

Alma 29:1 O that I were an angel

‘Let others know that you know. Bear your testimony in fast meeting. Tell your family; tell your friends. You will find when you share your testimony it becomes stronger, and there are many others around you who also want to embrace the truth.

Be willing to endure the test of time. Do not think that it is easy to maintain a testimony. Others will test you. Sometimes they will point the finger of mockery and scorn. Sometimes they may persecute you openly. Be prepared. Know in advance that the best of God’s children have had the courage of true conviction and were willing to suffer ridicule, deprivation, and even death for the sake of true testimony. Is each of us willing to do likewise?’ (Robert D Hales, General Conference, October 1994)