Sunday, November 2, 2008

Scripture Study Insights - week thirteen

Alma 1
We are “obliged to abide by the laws” of the land.
Definition of priestcraft: someone who preaches what the people want to hear so that they will give him money.
One of the Saints’ trials is to deal with persecution from those who leave the Church. Yet the counsel is to be patient and “steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God.”
Wealth comes not as you seek for riches, but as you seek to establish the kingdom of God and share what you have with others. “Thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church” (vs. 31).

Alma 2
Wicked men are cunning. We need the Spirit with us if we’re going to avoid deception. Our prophets are “spies” for us. They can warn us of the enemy’s plans so that we can guard ourselves and not be destroyed. Faith and prayer strengthen us and enable us to overcome our battles with Satan.

Alma 3
The men who had gone to war didn’t return home until after they had finished burying their dead. They totally completed their assignment. Pres. Monson gave a great talk on “Finishers." Do we finish what we start? Little things like hanging up the towel after showering or wiping down the stove after cooking or washing brushes after painting make a difference.

Alma 4
It doesn't take long to go through “The Pride Cycle." In the 6th year the people were humbled and many joined the church in the 7th year. In the 8th year they began to wax proud which brought contention, envy, and persecution. By the 9th year, Alma had turned over the judgment seat and devoted his time to “bearing down in pure testimony” to stir the people up “in remembrance of their duty.”

One month the visiting teaching message was on this idea of “stirring up in remembrance.” The night before my visiting teacher had made cornmeal crepes for dinner. She noticed that the cornmeal settled to the bottom of the batter very quickly, and that before making each crepe she had to stir it to mix it back in. Gospel truths have a tendency to do that also. We need to constantly be doing things – prayer, scripture study, attend meetings, serve others – so our grains of testimony stay sprinkled throughout our daily lives. It’s too easy for them to slip down and be overcome by the “busyness” of the world.

Alma 5
Alma asks the people if they have “sufficiently retained in remembrance” their fathers’ captivity, and God’s mercy and longsuffering in allowing their souls to be delivered from hell. We should ask ourselves if we’re remembering all we need to.

The Good Shepherd calls us. If we don’t hearken we aren’t his sheep. I realized this summer that one way he “calls us” is by extending church callings. Am I doing all I can to respond to his call by magnifying my calling? Alma focuses on our need for repentance, repentance, repentance – which is a change of heart. He reminds us to be baptized and keep the commandments – “bring forth works of righteousness” – and strip ourselves of pride and envy. Are we keeping ourselves blameless before God? If we’re repenting daily, the answer is yes. Our confidence can then “wax strong” (D&C 121:45) as we stand in his presence.

If I had to pick a favorite scripture, Alma 5:14, 26 would probably be it:
“And now behold, I ask of you, have ye spiritually been born of God?” Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
“And now behold, I say unto you, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?”

Joseph B.Wirthlin stated:
"A few weeks before President Heber J. Grant passed away, one of the Brethren went to visit him in his home. Before the man left, President Grant prayed, “O God, bless me that I shall not lose my testimony and keep faithful to the end!” Can you imagine President Grant, one of the great prophets of the Restoration, the President of the Church for nearly 27 years, praying that he would keep faithful to the end?
"No one is immune from Satan’s influence and temptations. Do not be so proud to think that you are beyond the adversary’s influence. Be watchful that you do not fall prey to his deceptions. Stay close to the Lord through daily scripture study and daily prayer. We cannot afford to sit back and take our salvation for granted. We must be anxiously engaged our whole lives. These words of President Brigham Young motivate and remind us that we can never give up the fight to endure: “The men and women, who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom, will find that they must battle every day [for this sacred goal].”

Don’t give up. Every day make sure your testimony is growing and that you can feel the Spirit’s guidance.

Alma 6
Commanded to not only gather often as church members (to fast and pray) but also to have order in the church, which means it’s also important to have order in our homes and personal lives.

Alma 7
Alma prophesied of the most important thing to come: the Savior. His Atonement covers not only death and sin, but also our pains and sicknesses. Whenever we have a bad day, we can know that Christ understands and feels our pain and knows how to succor us, because he’s already experienced it himself. Always be striving to walk in the paths of righteousness. Develop humility, patience, temperance and diligence. Don’t forget to thank God for everything. Faith, hope and charity lead to good works – or service to others.

Alma 8
Prayer is hard work, especially our prayers on behalf of others. Don’t give up when trying to teach others that don’t seem to get it. “Speedily” do assignments from the Lord. When we’re doing the Lord’s work we can have his spirit and power to help us. We can rejoice when we are faithful in keeping the commandments of God.

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