#BOMTC Alma 10-11: A TESTimony from A[mulek] to Z[eezrom]

A TESTimony from A[mulek] to Z[eezrom]

A TESTimony from A[mulek] to Z[eezrom]

After Alma taught in the cities of Zarahemla, Gideon, and Melek and had many people accept his message, the people in Ammonihah rejected his teaching and cast him out of their city. However, obedient to the Lord’s command, Alma returned to Ammonihah.

The Lord prepared Amulek, a native of Ammonihah, to receive Alma and join him in testifying to the people. Alma and Amulek warned the people of Ammonihah that if they did not repent, they would be destroyed. Amulek faithfully obeyed God and used his reputation, good name, and influence to support the prophet Alma and testify of Jesus Christ.

Alma and Amulek had little success preaching to the people of Ammonihah because Satan had a, “great hold upon the hearts of the people” (see Alma 8:9). Many of them had hardened their hearts against the gospel, and they resisted Alma and Amulek’s invitation to repent. Nevertheless, Alma and Amulek faithfully called them to repentance, testifying that because they had been taught the truth and had experienced the power of God, the Lord expected them to be more righteous than the Lamanites, who had not been taught the truth. Alma and Amulek taught that if the people of Ammonihah would not repent, they would face destruction. They also taught the people that redemption was possible only through Jesus Christ.

After Alma addressed the people, they were angry and wanted to cast him into prison. Amulek bravely addressed the people and added his witness to Alma’s (see Alma 9:31–34). Amulek was a descendant of Nephi. He was a hardworking man who had built substantial wealth. He was also well known and was “of no small reputation” among his many family members and friends (see Alma 10:4).

As Alma and Amulek continued to teach the people of Ammonihah, a lawyer named Zeezrom offered Amulek money to deny the existence of the true and living God. As he defended his faith against Zeezrom’s attempts to ensnare him, Amulek testified that salvation from sin comes only through Jesus Christ. Amulek bore strong testimony that all mankind will be resurrected and judged by God. Amulek also testified that all mankind will be resurrected and will be brought to “be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit” on the Day of Judgment (Alma 11:44).

As you consider the events that take place in these chapters, it is important to remember:

  • Every QUEST-ion begins with a QUEST
  • Every TEST-imony begins with a TEST

I found the following illustration from the More Good Foundation very relevant and applicable to today’s reading:

Some people want to learn about the Church, but not from the Church. It’s not hard to believe. When shopping on Amazon.com, do you pay more attention to the publisher’s review or the users’ reviews? Do you shop for the best-in-class car by researching Ford.com or a user forum that discusses all makes and models?

In the book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath call this concept an appeal to “antiauthorities” (or non-authorities): “A citizen of the modern world, constantly inundated with messages, learns to develop skepticism about the sources of those messages. Who’s behind these messages? Should I trust them? What do they have to gain if I believe them? A commercial claiming that a new shampoo makes your hair bouncier has less credibility than hearing your best friend rave about how a new shampoo made her own hair bouncier. Well, duh. The company wants to sell you shampoo. Your friend doesn’t, so she gets more trust points. The takeaway is that it can be the honesty and trustworthiness of our sources, not their status, that allows them to act as authorities. Sometimes antiauthorities are even better than authorities.” (Made to Stick, pp. 136-37)

Church members can bring credibility to the Church by raising this “antiauthority” (or “non-authoritative”) voice.

Amulek was a non-authority for the prophet Alma. Because Amulek was well known in his community, when he added his testimony to the words of the prophet, the people believed: “I am also a man of no small reputation among all those who know me; yea, and behold, I have many kindreds and friends, and I have also acquired much riches by the hand of my industryI know that the things whereof [Alma] hath testified are true… And now, when Amulek had spoken these words the people began to be astonished, seeing there was more than one witness who testified…” (Alma 10:4,10,12)

The following is a great article by Elder Dean L. Larsen, that goes well with this account, in the book, Heroes from the Book of Mormon. 

Zeezrom does not rank among the great prophet leaders in the Book of Mormon, but his story is one of the fascinating sidebars to the lives of the principal characters in the Nephite record. He appears on the historical scene during a time of great challenge to the Church and to the stability of the government among the Nephite people.

During the closing years of King Mosiah’s life, a significant alteration occurs in the government. Frustrated in his attempts to install one of his sons as his successor, Mosiah implements a system of judges to govern the people. These judges are elected by popular vote. A chief judge is appointed as the presiding figure in this new system. Alma the Younger is chosen to fill this role, in addition to his responsibilities as the head of the Church.

Alma is soon faced with troubles in the Church, as the people begin “to wax proud” (Alma 4:6). As a result of this pride, the unity of the Nephite people begins to dissolve. In this crisis Alma is faced with a critical decision. He resigns as the chief judge of the land and determines to focus his full energies upon bringing about a spiritual renewal among the people.

Launching into his committed course with full energy and faith, Alma visits the cities and villages of the land, counseling the people and calling them to repentance. In due time his mission takes him to the city of Ammonihah, where he finds the people in almost total rebellion.

After experiencing ridicule and total rejection, Alma is finallycast out of the city. The Lord, however, directs Alma to return to Ammonihah and guides him to Amulek, a prominent citizen, who accepts Alma as a prophet. Together, the two go among the people, preaching repentance and warning of the direful consequences that will come to the inhabitants if they persist in their willful disobedience.

It is in this scenario that Zeezrom appears. While the description of conditions in Ammonihah is not given in great detail, it is not difficult to fill in the pieces of the political, moral, and social mosaic from the recorded account. Corruption and dishonesty in official circles have become endemic. Grasping for material riches, the people have clamored to gain advantage one over another. Judges have become corrupt, susceptible to bribes and yielding advantage to those who can show favors.

This litigious environment has spawned the need for many of those who can plead cases successfully before the courts. Numerous lawyers have emerged, skilled not only in the law but also in exploiting the devious legal system for the potential benefit of themselves and their clients.

It is a group of these lawyers that confront Alma and Amulek. Undoubtedly they hold some hope of profiting from feeding the controversy that has developed from the preaching of the two men. Additionally, lawyers, nimble of speech, are thought to have the best prospect of confounding the Lord’s servants.

It is significant that Zeezrom presents himself as the chief spokesman for these legalists. “Now he was the foremost to accuse Amulek and Alma, he being one of the most expert among them, having much business to do among the people” (Alma 10:31).

We learn much about Zeezrom from this capsule profile. Not only is he acknowledged by his peers as one of the leaders in his craft, he is well known among the people generally, and apparently is one of the foremost to whom they look for legal assistance. This would indicate that he also has a comfortable relationship with the judges in the city.

The account of the dialogue between Zeezrom and Alma and Amulek in the eleventh chapter of the book of Alma provides additional insight into Zeezrom’s worldly self-assurance. He has an audience to play to, and he intends, with his practiced sophistry and cunning, to make a game of his denegration of the two missionaries. After all, the audience is completely prejudiced in his favor, and he relishes the opportunity to add to his reputation among his peers. His questions to Alma and Amulek reflect his courtroom skills. They are designed for entrapment.

Zeezrom, however, is completely unaccustomed to dealing with those who have the spirit of inspiration and revelation working in their favor. His motives are transparent to Alma and Amulek.

Zeezrom’s offer to pay the missionaries six onties of silver if they will deny that there is a Supreme Being exposes his conviction that everyone is as corruptible as himself. It is a revealing demonstration of the debauched condition into which the people have fallen. Zeezrom obviously expects no disapproval from his fellow lawyers or the people for his proffered bribe. It is a practice to which they are accustomed.

It is when Zeezrom’s scheming is powerfully rebuffed by Amulek, and Amulek begins to testify of basic gospel truths, that Zeezrom senses something different about these two men. His arrogant self-confidence begins to falter. “Now, when Amulek had finished these words the people began again to be astonished, and also Zeezrom began to tremble” (Alma 11:46).

Alma, sensing that the power of the Spirit has begun to work upon the heart of Zeezrom and upon some of his listeners, takes up the attack that Amulek has begun:

Now the words that Alma spake unto Zeezrom were heard by the people round about; for the multitude was great, and he spake on this wise:

Now Zeezrom, seeing that thou hast been taken in thy lying and craftiness, for thou hast not lied unto men only but thou hast lied unto God; for behold, he knows all thy thoughts, and thou seest that thy thoughts are made known unto us by his Spirit;

And thou seest that we know that thy plan was a very subtle plan, as to the subtlety of the devil, for to lie and to deceive this people that thou mightest set them against us, to revile us and to cast us out-

Now this was a plan of thine adversary, and he hath exercised his power in thee. (Alma 12:2-5.)

The effect of Alma’s rebuke upon Zeezrom is dramatic:

Now when Alma had spoken these words, Zeezrom began to tremble more exceedingly, for he was convinced more and more of the power of God; and he was also convinced that Alma and Amulek had a knowledge of him, for he was convinced that they knew the thoughts and intents of his heart (Alma 12:7).

It is at this point that a remarkable change begins to take place in the demeanor of Zeezrom. He becomes the earnest inquirer-the learner. The change is the more remarkable because it occurs in the presence and full view of the people to whom he has been appealing with his inquisition. “And Zeezrom began to inquire of them diligently, that he might know more concerning the kingdom of God” (Alma 12:8).

We must pause at this point in our consideration of Zeezrom’s situation to ask ourselves the question, why was this arrogant, sophisticated demagogue so susceptible to the influence of the Spirit? Other rebels in the Book of Mormon record were similarly confronted by spiritual leaders but persisted in their debauchery. Nehor, although rebuked by Alma, had no change of heart (see Alma 1), nor did Amlici (see Alma 2) or Sherem (see Jacob 7). Korihor stubbornly refused to repent (see Alma 30). What was there in the soul of Zeezrom that pressed him toward such a remarkable change?

The answers to some of these questions must be left to speculation.

It is interesting, however, to contemplate the abrupt changes that occurred in the lives of others who had initially been enemies to the Lord’s work and his people, and who reversed their life’s course to become champions of the gospel plan. Alma himself, along with the sons of King Mosiah, underwent such a redirection. Ammon, Mosiah’s son, when reflecting upon the remarkable missionary successes that he, Aaron, Omner, Himni, and their brethren had enjoyed among the Lamanite people over a fourteen-year period of unusual hardship and sacrifice, recalls the days of their rebellion: “Behold, we went forth even in wrath, with mighty threatenings to destroy his [the Lord’s] church” (Alma 26:18). He then wonders, “Oh then, why did he not consign us to an awful destruction, yea, why did he not let the sword of his justice fall upon us, and doom us to eternal despair?” (Alma 26:19.)

Why, indeed?

Anti-Nephi-Lehi, the converted Lamanite king, acknowledges his dark past when he persuades his people to willingly lay down their lives rather than resist the threatened onslaught by their unconverted brethren: “And behold, I also thank my God, that we have been convinced of our sins, and of the many murders which we have committed” (Alma 24:9).

It appears that the “light that shineth in a dark place” to which Peter referred (2 Pet. 1:19) is difficult to extinguish completely in the souls of men. For those who have basked in that light and then have willfully turned against it, the regeneration process appears to be more difficult and unlikely. Such seems to have been the case with Sherem, who confessed before he died, “I fear lest I have committed the unpardonable sin, for I have lied unto God; for I denied the Christ, and said that I believed the scriptures; and they truly testify of him” (Jacob 7:19).

An important lesson seems to emerge from the experiences of Zeezrom and the other repentant transgressors who have been mentioned. It is never safe for us to judge a person to be beyond the reach of the Lord’s merciful hand. Even those whose lives have been tainted by corruption and apparent rebellion against the things of God can, through sincere repentance, become forces for great good in the accomplishment of the Lord’s purposes.

We do know that Zeezrom’s life was dramatically redirected. It appears that in spite of his having yielded to the influence of the environment in which he had gained notoriety, a spark of spiritual light must have endured in his soul. While some of those who listen to the exchange between Zeezrom and the missionaries react in a positive way, the majority are angry and are determined to destroy Alma and Amulek. A mob spirit inflames them. They bind the two men with strong cords and take them before the chief judge, where the men are accused of reviling against the law and against the people of the land.

In the midst of this turmoil, Zeezrom attempts to come to the defense of Alma and Amulek:

And it came to pass that Zeezrom was astonished at the words which had been spoken; and he also knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused among the people by his lying words; and his soul began to be harrowed up under aconsciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell.

And it came to pass that he began to cry unto the people, saying: Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless before God. And he began to plead for them from that time forth; but they reviled him, saying: Art thou also possessed with the devil? And they spit upon him, and cast him out from among them. (Alma 14:6-7.)

It is apparent that in attempting to stop the destruction of Alma and Amulek, Zeezrom risks his own life. The fury of the mob turns in some measure upon him. They cast him out from among them, casting out as well all those who believe in the words of Alma and Amulek. They then gather together the wives and children of the believers and cause them to be burned, along with their sacred records. It is not difficult to imagine the agony that fills Zeezrom’s soul as he witnesses the holocaust that his taunting has precipitated.

Along with the other believers who have been cast out of Ammonihah, Zeezrom finds refuge among the people of Sidom. He is found there by Alma and Amulek, who barely escaped from the city with their lives after the Lord miraculously delivered them from the hands of their tormentors. Undoubtedly the two missionaries had witnessed the futile attempt of their former antagonist to quell the wrath of the mob. They find him in dire circumstances:

Zeezrom lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness, for he supposed that Alma and Amulek were no more; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity. And this great sin, and his many other sins, did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat. (Alma 15:3.)

When Zeezrom learns that Alma and Amulek have made their escape and are in Sidom, he pleads for them to come to him. The two companions respond immediately. With a profoundly repentant spirit, Zeezrom begs Alma and Amulek to heal him. This request in itself is reflective of the faith that has begun to take root in Zeezrom’s heart.

And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?

And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught.

And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ. (Alma 15:6-7, 10.)

Alma’s administration is instantly effective. Zeezrom leaps to his feet, healed not only physically but spiritually as well. The report of this incident is spread throughout Sidom.

One cannot reflect upon this episode without recalling the conversion of Saul of Tarsus in New Testament times. Saul, who had been a tormentor of the Christians and had condoned Stephen’s martyrdom (see Acts 8:1), requires a similarly dramatic conversion experience. His sightlessness is healed under the hands of Ananias. He is brought to a recognition and acknowledgement of his folly in attempting to thwart the Lord’s work. In a flood of repentant anguish he makes a dramatic reversal in the course of his life. His fervor and energy are redirected to promulgate and sustain the work he has previously sought to destroy.

So it is with Zeezrom. He is baptized by Alma, and, just as was the case with Paul, he immediately begins to preach among the people, later becoming a trusted companion of Alma and Amulek. It is perhaps not adding too much to reality to suppose that Zeezrom’s healing, his conversion, and his testifying of Christ contribute much to the missionary success enjoyed by these three servants of the Lord. The record tells us that the people “did flock in from all the region round about Sidom, and were baptized” (Alma 15:14).

That Zeezrom proves himself in the eyes of his mentor, Alma, is confirmed by the fact that he regularly appears in the accounts of Alma’s ministry as one of his most trusted and reliable companions and fellow servants. Years after the events in Ammonihah and Sidom, when Alma undertakes one of the most difficult challenges of his life’s ministry-the conversion of the Zoramites-Zeezrom is chosen along with Ammon, Aaron, Omner, Amulek, and two of Alma’s sons to be a part of this seasoned missionary force (see Alma 31:6).

That some of Zeezrom’s testimony and teachings find their way into the permanent Nephite record is confirmed in the book of Helaman. Nephi and Lehi, the sons of Helaman, are engaged in a missionary effort among the Lamanites. They are captured and imprisoned by those they have sought to convert. In a miraculous manifestation of the Lord’s power, Nephi and Lehi are encircled by a fire that preserves rather than consumes them. The Lamanites are frozen in wonderment at this spectacle. They become overshadowed by a cloud of darkness, and a voice commands them to repent. They then see Nephi and Lehi conversing with angels. Aminadab, a Nephite dissenter who had once been a believer, seizes this moment to confirm that these miracles are occurring through the Lord’s power. He cries to those who are witnessing this event, “You must repent, even until ye shall have faith in Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and Amulek, and Zeezrom” (Hel. 5:41).

Perhaps the most convincing evidence we have of the love and esteem that Zeezrom comes to enjoy among his fellow Christians is that one of the principal Nephite cities is given his name (see Alma 56:14).

Much can be learned from the story of Zeezrom: the tragedy of corruption among a people who reject Christ and sacrifice moral principle to pride and self-interest; the anguish and torment that sin produces in an individual life.

Perhaps the most significant lesson to be learned from Zeezrom’s experience is that the redeeming power of Christ’s love can bring about the miracle of spiritual regeneration in the vilest of sinners when they fully turn to the Savior and give themselves to the accomplishment of His purposes. In Zeezrom’s story, all of us who are imperfect find hope for forgiveness, and hope in reaffirmation of the Savior’s infinite love for those who reject evil and give their hearts to Him. (Heroes from the Book of Mormon, p.112-120.)

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#BOMTC Alma 7-9: “To Succor His People”

Alma’s testimony of Jesus Christ can help us better understand the breadth of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and teach us how to receive the blessings of His Atonement each day as we continue along the path to Eternal Life. Alma 7:11-13 contains specific words that can help us remember the extent and power of Christ’s Atonement throughout our life. You may want to review these verses over the next few days to help you remember what the Savior can do for you and others.

The Savior Suffers in Gethsemane

As I study Alma’s teachings about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I am impressed by the fact that although His atoning suffering and sacrifice is indeed “infinite and eternal”, it is even more importantly “intimate and personal” for me, individually!

“Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives”

~President Russell M. Nelson~

 

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes that I like to reference with Alma 7:11-13:

Elder D. Todd Christofferson:

Let us consider the cost of God’s precious love. Jesus revealed that to atone for our sins and redeem us from death, both physical and spiritual, His suffering caused Himself, “even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that [He] might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.”36 His agony in Gethsemane and on the cross was greater than any mortal could bear.37 Nevertheless, because of His love for His Father and for us, He endured, and as a consequence, He can offer us both immortality and eternal life.

Olive press

It is poignantly symbolic that “blood [came] from every pore”38 as Jesus suffered in Gethsemane, the place of the olive press. To produce olive oil in the Savior’s time, olives were first crushed by rolling a large stone over them. The resulting “mash” was placed in soft, loosely woven baskets, which were piled one upon another. Their weight expressed the first and finest oil. Then added stress was applied by placing a large beam or log on top of the stacked baskets, producing more oil. Finally, to draw out the very last drops, the beam was weighted with stones on one end to create the maximum, crushing pressure.39 And yes, the oil is bloodred as it first flows out.

Olive press with olive oil

I think of Matthew’s account of the Savior as He entered Gethsemane that fateful night—that He “began to be sorrowful and very heavy. …

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”40

Then, as I imagine the distress grew even more severe, He pleaded a second time for relief and, finally, perhaps at the peak of His suffering, a third time. He endured the agony until justice was satisfied to the very last drop.41 This He did to redeem you and me.

What a precious gift is divine love! Filled with that love, Jesus asks, “Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?”42Tenderly He reassures, “Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come … will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.”43

Will you not love Him who first loved you?44 Then keep His commandments.45 Will you not be a friend to Him who laid down His life for His friends?46 Then keep His commandments.47 Will you not abide in His love and receive all that He graciously offers you? Then keep His commandments.48 I pray that we will feel and fully abide in His love, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. (“Abide in My Love”, Ensign, Nov. 2016)

Elder Jeffery R. Holland:

“In spite of life’s tribulations and as fearful as some of their prospects are, there is help for [you] on this journey. When Christ bids [you] to yield, to submit, to obey the Father, He knows how to help us do that. He has walked that way, asking [you] to do what He has done. He has made it safer. He has made it very much easier for [your] travel and ours. He knows where the sharp stones and the stumbling blocks lie and where the thorns and the thistles are the most severe. He knows where the path is perilous, and He knows which way to go when the road forks and nightfall comes. He knows this because He has suffered ‘pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind … that he may know … how to succor his people according to their infirmities’ (Alma 7:11–12). To succor means ‘to run to.’ Christ will run to [you], and is running even now, if [you]will but receive the extended arm of His mercy. To those who stagger or stumble, He is there to steady and strengthen us. In the end He is there to save us, and for all this He gave His life. However dim our days …may seem, they have been a lot darker for the Savior of the world. As a reminder of those days, Jesus has chosen, even in a resurrected, otherwise perfected body, to retain for the benefit of His disciples the wounds in His hands and in His feet and in His side—signs, if you will, that painful things happen even to the pure and the perfect; signs, if you will, that pain in this world is not evidence that God doesn’t love you; signs, if you will, that problems pass and happiness can be ours. [I]t is the wounded Christ who is the Captain of our souls, He who yet bears the scars of our forgiveness, the lesions of His love and humility, the torn flesh of obedience and sacrifice.” (New Testament Conference, 8 August 2000. Emphasis Added.)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“The Atonement of Jesus Christ and the healing it offers do much more than provide the opportunity for repentance from sins. The Atonement also gives us the strength to endure ‘pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind,’ because our Savior also took upon Him ‘the pains and the sicknesses of his people’ (Alma 7:11). Brothers and sisters, if your faith and prayers and the power of the priesthood do not heal you from an affliction, the power of the Atonement will surely give you the strength to bear the burden.” (“He Heals the Heavy Laden,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 9. Emphasis Added.)

Merrill J. Bateman:

“The prophet Abinadi further states that ‘when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed’ (Mosiah 15:10). Abinadi then identifies the Savior’s seed as the prophets and those who follow them. For many years I thought of the Savior’s experience in the garden and on the cross as places where a large mass of sin was heaped upon Him. Through the words of Alma, Abinadi, Isaiah, and other prophets, however, my view has changed. Instead of an impersonal mass of sin, there was a long line of people, as Jesus felt “our infirmities” (Heb. 4:15), “[bore] our griefs, … carried our sorrows … [and] was bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:4–5). The Atonement was an intimate, personal experience in which Jesus came to know how to help each of us. The Pearl of Great Price teaches that Moses was shown all the inhabitants of the earth, which were “numberless as the sand upon the sea shore” (Moses 1:28). If Moses beheld every soul, then it seems reasonable that the Creator of the universe has the power to become intimately acquainted with each of us. He learned about your weaknesses and mine. He experienced your pains and sufferings. He experienced mine. I testify that He knows us. He understands the way in which we deal with temptations. He knows our weaknesses. But more than that, more than just knowing us, He knows how to help us if we come to Him in faith.(“A Pattern for All,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 74. Emphasis added.)

Elder Dale E. Miller:

“C. S. Lewis put it this way: [God] has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created. When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only man [or woman] in the world” (Mere Christianity [1943], 131). (Ensign, Nov. 2004, p.12. Emphasis added.)

Chieko N. Okazaki, a counselor in the general Relief Society presidency from 1990 to 1997, taught:

“Furthermore, each one of us is the recipient of this divine love-not because of our faithful mother, or because of our devoted bishop, but just because of who we are. Jesus Christ didn’t just die for all of us. He died for each one of us. And if you were the only person in the whole world who needed the Atonement, Jesus would have willingly laid down his life, just for you. Is that a reason to rejoice? Oh, yes!” (Disciples , p.244.  Emphasis added.)

“I hope you know that even during the hardest moments of your life, when your powerlessness seems absolute and your isolation total, you are not alone. The Savior is with you, being with you as you endure the pain so that you can go on, healed and renewed. Your survival and even your triumph are assured through his atoning sacrifice and his love. Do you know that if you were the only person in the world who needed his atonement, he would still have died for you-just for you?” (Sanctuary, p.96.  Emphasis added.)

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#BOMTC Alma 5-6: A Mighty Change of Heart!

You may remember a general conference address in which Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles compared the process of conversion to the process of pickling a cucumber (Referred to as, “The Parable of the Pickle” in “Ye Must Be Born Again,” Ensign,May 2007). For many of us this was a new and powerful object lesson, but Elder Bednar wasn’t the first Apostle to make this comparison. President Lorenzo Snow shared a similar insight 150 years earlier:

“Place a cucumber in a barrel of vinegar and there is but little effect produced upon it the first hour, nor in the first 12 hours. Examine it and you will find that the effect produced is merely upon the rind, for it requires a longer time to pickle it. A person’s being baptized into this church has an effect upon him, but not the effect to pickle him immediately. It does not establish the law of right and of duty in him during the first 12 or 24 hours; he must remain in the church, like the cucumber in the vinegar, until he becomes saturated with the right spirit (Teachings: Lorenzo Snow, CHAPTER 3: LIFELONG CONVERSION: CONTINUING TO ADVANCE IN THE PRINCIPLES OF TRUTH).

Although Elder Bednar may not have been the first to use “the parable of the pickle” as an object lesson of true and continual conversion, he did elaborate on it with more power, and authority, clarity, and completeness than I could ever hope to offer. I commend his words to you below… (Keep scrolling though, I do have more!)

Ye Must Be Born Again

These pages are an invitation to CHANGE in the same way! When the Church was threatened by internal contention and wickedness (see Alma 4:9–11), Alma knew that true reform could only come through a mighty change in the hearts of Church members. Alma gave up the judgment seat so he could focus his efforts on strengthening the Church. As the High Priest of the Church, Alma began his mission to reclaim the people of Zarahemla by “bearing down in pure testimony against them” (Alma 4:19) and calling on the people to repent. Alma began his mission by reminding the people of Zarahemla that the Lord had delivered their ancestors from physical and spiritual bondage. He encouraged them to prepare for the judgment of the Lord by having faith in the word of God and evaluating the spiritual condition of their hearts. As Alma continued preaching in Zarahemla, he warned the people that their decision to hearken to or reject his words held certain blessings or consequences. Alma also compared Jesus Christ to a good shepherd who called after them and desired to bring them back to his fold. He encouraged the people to repent and avoid the unclean things of the world so they could inherit the kingdom of heaven. After setting the Church in order in Zarahemla, Alma went to the city of Gideon.

#BOMTC Day 36, May 12~Alma 5-6 or Pages 217-223 (4)

One of the classic stories that I feel illustrates Alma 5-6 well is HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS”, by Dr. Seuss

#BOMTC Day 36, May 12~Alma 5-6 or Pages 217-223 (7)

What exactly was the Grinch’s problem? The same thing that Alma has noticed with his people (and perhaps us)–Heart Disease! Elder Gerald N. Lund, who later served as a member of the Seventy, taught that when the word heart is used in the scriptures, it often refers to “the real, inward person” (“Understanding Scriptural Symbols,” Ensign, Oct. 1986). How is a “mighty change of heart” different from the other ways in which people may change?

#BOMTC Day 36, May 12~Alma 5-6 or Pages 217-223 (6)

One way to express that someone has had a mighty change of heart is to say that they have been “born of God” or “born again”–the change that a person experiences when they accept Jesus Christ and begin a new life as His disciple.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

“You may ask, ‘Why doesn’t this mighty change happen more quickly with me?’ You should remember that the remarkable examples of King Benjamin’s people, Alma, and some others in scripture are just that—remarkable and not typical. For most of us, the changes are more gradual and occur over time. Being born again, unlike our physical birth, is more a process than an event. And engaging in that process is the central purpose of mortality” (“Born Again,” Ensign, May 2008).

President Ezra Taft Benson also explained that experiencing “a mighty change of heart” is most often an incremental process: 

“Becoming Christlike is a lifetime pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible. The scriptures record remarkable accounts of men whose lives changed dramatically, in an instant, as it were: Alma the Younger, Paul on the road to Damascus, Enos praying far into the night, King Lamoni. Such astonishing examples of the power to change even those steeped in sin give confidence that the Atonement can reach even those deepest in despair. But we must be cautious as we discuss these remarkable examples. Though they are real and powerful, they are the exception more than the rule. For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every King Lamoni, there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment. They are like the Lamanites, who the Lord said ‘were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not’ (3 Ne. 9:20; italics added)” (“A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign, Oct. 1989).

#BOMTC Day 36, May 12~Alma 5-6 or Pages 217-223 (3)

CHART YOUR HEART!

In medical practice a cardiogram is a chart that doctors use to evaluate the status of our physical hearts. It helps identify conditions that need treatment. Study the verses from Alma 5 that are listed at the bottom of the spiritual cardiogram below. What does your SPIRITUAL CARDIOGRAM look like?

#BOMTC Day 36, May 12~Alma 5-6 or Pages 217-223 (8)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught us this about CHANGE: 

“Here the most crucial challenge, once you recognize the seriousness of your mistakes, will be to believe that you can change, that there can be a different you. To disbelieve that is clearly a satanic device designed to discourage and defeat you. We ought to fall on our knees and thank our Father in heaven that we belong to a church and have grasped a gospel that promises repentance to those who will pay the price. Repentance is not a foreboding word. It is, after faith, the most encouraging word in the Christian vocabulary. Repentance is simply the scriptural invitation for growth and improvement and progress and renewal. You can change! You can be anything you want to be in righteousness.

“If there is one lament I cannot abide, it is the poor, pitiful, withered cry, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” If you want to talk about discouragement, that is one that discourages me. I’ve heard it from too many people who want to sin and call it psychology. And I use the word sin to cover a vast range of habits, some seemingly innocent enough, that nevertheless bring discouragement and doubt and despair.

“You can change anything you want to change, and you can do it very fast. Another satanic sucker punch is that it takes years and years and eons of eternity to repent. That’s just not true. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say, “I’ll change”-and mean it. Of course there will be problems to work out and restitutions to make. You may well spend-indeed, you had better spend-the rest of your life proving your repentance by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, and repentance can come for you as instantaneously as they did for Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Even if you have serious amends to make, it is not likely that you would qualify for the term “the vilest of sinners,” which is the phrase Mormon used in describing these young men. Yet as Alma recounts his own experience, it appears to have been as instantaneous as it was stunning. (See Alma 36)”  (However Long and Hard the Road, p.6)

President Ezra Taft Benson taught how people who have had a “change of heart” want to live:

“When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed. … The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human behavior. …

“Men [and women] changed for Christ will be captained by Christ. Like Paul they will be asking, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ (Acts 9:6.) …

“Their will is swallowed up in His will. (See John 5:30.)

“They do always those things that please the Lord. (See John 8:29.)

“Not only would they die for the Lord, but more important they want to live for Him.

“Enter their homes, and the pictures on their walls, the books on their shelves, the music in the air, their words and acts reveal them as Christians.

“They stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places. (See Mosiah 18:9.)

“They have Christ on their minds, as they look unto Him in every thought. (See D&C 6:36.)

“They have Christ in their hearts as their affections are placed on Him forever. (See Alma 37:36.)

“Almost every week they partake of the sacrament and witness anew to their Eternal Father that they are willing to take upon them the name of His Son, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. (See Moro. 4:3.)” (“Born of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1985).

Are You Saved?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “As Latter-day Saints use the words saved and salvation, there are at least six different meanings. According to some of these, our salvation is assured—we are already saved. In others, salvation must be spoken of as a future event . . . or as conditioned upon a future event. . . . But in all of these meanings, or kinds of salvation, salvation is in and through Jesus Christ” (Ensign, May 1998). The following are summaries of the six different meanings of which Elder Oaks spoke:

  1. We are saved from the permanent effects of death. Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be resurrected.

  2. We are saved from sin through Christ’s Atonement and by following the gospel plan. Repentance is an important part of being saved from the consequences of our sins.

  3. We are saved when we are “born again.” This happens when we enter into a covenant relationship with Christ by accepting baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and taking Christ’s name upon us. We must also faithfully keep and renew that covenant relationship.

  4. We are saved from the darkness of ignorance as we learn about the gospel plan. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings light into our lives.

  5. We are saved from the second death, which is final spiritual death, because of Christ’s Atonement. Everyone, except for those few who become sons of perdition, will enter into a kingdom of glory.

  6. Our hope is that we will be finally saved in the celestial kingdom. In addition to the other requirements, this salvation, or exaltation, also requires that we make sacred covenants in God’s temples and remain faithful to them.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS”

Every Who

Down in Who-ville

Liked Christmas a lot…

But the Grinch,

Who lived just North of Who-ville,

Did NOT!

The Grinch hated Christmas!

The whole Christmas season!

Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be that his head wasn’t screwed on quite right.

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were to tight.

But I think that the most likely reason of all

May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

But,

Whatever the reason,

His heart or his shoes,

He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,

Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown

At the warm lighted windows below in their town.

For he knew every Who down in Who-ville beneath

Was busy now, hanging a mistleoe wreath.

“And they’re hanging their stockings!” he snarled with a sneer.

“Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!”

Then he growled, with his grinch fingers nervously drumming,

“I MUST find a way to keep Christmas from coming!”

For, tomorrow, he knew…

…All the Who girls and boys

Would wake up bright and early. They’d rush for their toys!

And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!

That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.

And they’d feast! And they’d feast!

And they’d FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!

They would start on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast

Which was something the Grinch couldn’t stand in the least!

And THEN

They’d do something he liked least of all!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.

They’d stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!

They’d sing! And they’d sing!

AND they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!

And the more the Grinch thought of the Who-Christmas-Sing

The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!

“Why for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now!

I MUST stop Christmas from coming!

…But HOW?”

Then he got an idea!

An awful idea!

THE GRINCH

GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

“I know just what to do!” The Grinch Laughed in his throat.

And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.

And he chuckled, and clucked, “What a great Grinchy trick!

“With this coat and this hat, I’ll look just like Saint Nick!”

“All I need is a reindeer…”

The Grinch looked around.

But since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.

Did that stop the old Grinch…?

No! The Grinch simply said,

“If I can’t find a reindeer, I’ll make one instead!”

So he called his dog Max. Then he took some red thread

And he tied a big horn on top of his head.

THEN

He loaded some bags

And some old empty sacks

On a ramshakle sleigh

And he hitched up old Max.

Then the Grinch said, “Giddyap!”

And the sleigh started down

Toward the homes where the Whos

Lay a-snooze in their town.

All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.

All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care

When he came to the first house in the square.

“This is stop number one,” The old Grinchy Claus hissed

And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.

Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch.

But if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.

He got stuck only once, for a moment or two.

Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue

Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row.

“These stockings,” he grinned, “are the first things to go!”

Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,

Around the whole room, and he took every present!

Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!

Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!

And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,

Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!

Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Whos’ feast!

He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!

He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.

Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!

Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.

“And NOW!” grinned the Grinch, “I will stuff up the tree!”

And the Grinch grabbed the tree, and he started to shove

When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.

He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!

Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two.

The Grinch had been caught by this little Who daughter

Who’d got out of bed for a cup of cold water.

She stared at the Grinch and said, “Santy Claus, why,

“Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?”

But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick

He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!

“Why, my sweet little tot,” the fake Santy Claus lied,

“There’s a light on this tree that won’t light on one side.

“So I’m taking it home to my workshop, my dear.

“I’ll fix it up there. Then I’ll bring it back here.”

And his fib fooled the child. Then he patted her head

And he got her a drink and he sent he to bed.

And when Cindy-Lou Who went to bed with her cup,

HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up!

Then the last thing he took

Was the log for their fire.

Then he went up the chimney himself, the old liar.

On their walls he left nothing but hooks, and some wire.

And the one speck of food

The he left in the house

Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.

Then

He did the same thing

To the other Whos’ houses

Leaving crumbs

Much too small

For the other Whos’ mouses!

It was quarter past dawn…

All the Whos, still a-bed

All the Whos, still a-snooze

When he packed up his sled,

Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!

The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mount Crumpit,

He rode to the tiptop to dump it!

“Pooh-pooh to the Whos!” he was grinch-ish-ly humming.

“They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!

“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!

“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two

“The all the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!”

“That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch,

“That I simply must hear!”

So he paused. And the Grinch put a hand to his ear.

And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.

It started in low. Then it started to grow…

But the sound wasn’t sad!

Why, this sound sounded merry!

It couldn’t be so!

But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared down at Who-ville!

The Grinch popped his eyes!

Then he shook!

What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Was singing! Without any presents at all!

He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!

IT CAME!

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?

It came without ribbons! It came without tags!

“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.

“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

And what happened then…?

Well…in Who-ville they say

That the Grinch’s small heart

Grew three sizes that day!

And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,

He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light

And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!

And he…

…HE HIMSELF…!

The Grinch carved the roast beast!

 Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:

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#BOMTC Alma 2-4: Avoiding the MARK of the World

Amlici, a cunning man after the order of Nehor (see Alma 1), wanted to become king over the Nephites. He gathered support among many people. The Nephites held a vote and chose to reject him and continue with their system of judges (see Mosiah 29). The followers of Amlici gathered together and made him their king. Amlici commanded his followers—called Amlicites—to go to battle against the Nephites (see Alma 2:1-20). Soon thereafter the Lamanites joined the Amlicites in fighting the Nephites.  Because the Nephites were faithful to the Lord, the Lord strengthened them in their battles with the Amlicites and the Lamanites (see Alma 2:18, 28–31, 36). The Nephites suffered many losses but overcame the attacks of these armies. Feeling humbled by the war with the Lamanites and Amlicites, many Nephites were “awakened to a remembrance of their duty,” and “began to establish the church more fully” (Alma 4:3–4). As a result, about 3,500 people joined the Church (see Alma 4:5). However, within a year, many members of the Church had become proud and were persecuting others. Alma decided to give up his duties as the chief judge and focus on bearing witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Alma 4:15-20).

Amlicite marking forehead

The Amlicites voluntarily put marks on their foreheads. Their change in appearance was a manifestation of their rebellion. These marks served a purpose that was similar to the mark the Lord had put on the Lamanites. Mormon reminds us of the curse and the mark (two separate things) that had come upon the Lamanites hundreds of years earlier because of their rebellion against God (see Alma 3:6–10; see also 2 Nephi 5:20–24). Those who come out in open rebellion against God bring a curse upon themselves. It is important to understand that the curse was a state of being “cut off from the presence of the Lord” (2 Nephi 5:20). Through their actions, the Amlicites had separated themselves from God.

It is our choice to separate ourselves from God. Those who “come out in open rebellion against God” (Alma 3:18) cut themselves off from God, or in other words, bring a curse “upon themselves” (Alma 3:19).

HOW do we MARK OURSELVES today? WHAT are we trying to say by the way WE MARK OURSELVES? Think about the messages some people might try to send about themselves through their choices in dress and appearance, tattoos, and body piercings.  The following materials are meant to help us evaluate the message that OUR MARKS are leaving…

The Lost Purse

When a young woman’s purse is left behind after a dance, adult leaders search through it to find the owner’s identity, which is revealed to them in an unexpected way.

Dress and Appearance

For the Strength of Youth, (2011), 6–8

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? … The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17)

Your body is sacred. Respect it and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him.

Prophets of God have continually counseled His children to dress modestly. When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others. Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act.

Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval.

Immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or revealing in any other manner. Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance. Young men and young women should be neat and clean and avoid being extreme or inappropriately casual in clothing, hairstyle, and behavior. They should choose appropriately modest apparel when participating in sports. The fashions of the world will change, but the Lord’s standards will not change.

Do not disfigure yourself with tattoos or body piercings. Young women, if you desire to have your ears pierced, wear only one pair of earrings.

Show respect for the Lord and yourself by dressing appropriately for Church meetings and activities. This is especially important when attending sacrament services. Young men should dress with dignity when officiating in the ordinance of the sacrament.

If you are not sure what is appropriate to wear, study the words of the prophets, pray for guidance, and ask your parents or leaders for help. Your dress and appearance now will help you prepare for the time when you will go to the temple to make sacred covenants with God. Ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?” (see also Genesis 1:27Alma 1:27)

Self-Portrait

BY TARA CARPENTER

Stroke by stroke we paint our lives, day after day.

We form the painting with our actions and shade it with our doubts.

We color it with kindness, and tone it with our personalities.

We smudge it with our sins and brighten it with our good works.

With loving hands we brush and shape our picture.

The empty canvas is our potential.

The right is ours to fill it.

Each portrait will be different, but none are ever ugly.

And when the portrait is done and the artist has moved on,

the portrait will remain for others to pattern their own by.

Mormonad

Mormonad

Mormonad

Mormonad

Mormonad

Mormonad

Mormonad

Mormonad

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#BOMTC Mosiah 28-Alma 1: New Beginnings!

These chapters are filled with new beginnings that can teach us great lessons. Consider some of the principles that can be learned from the following events:

  • Having been truly converted, the sons of King Mosiah felt a strong desire to preach the gospel to the Lamanites (Mosiah 27:32-28:5).
  • After inquiring of the Lord and receiving an assurance that they would be blessed with success and protection, King Mosiah supported their decision (Mosiah 28:6-9).
  • Because his sons had declined the opportunity to be king, he was then left without a successor to his throne and a caretaker for the scriptural records. At this same time, Mosiah was working to care for the sacred records that had been entrusted to him. He translated the Jaredite records and then conferred all the records upon Alma the Younger (Mosiah 28:10-20).
  • Instead of appointing another king, King Mosiah proposed that the Nephite government be administered by a system of judges (Mosiah 29). Alma was appointed the first chief judge (he was also the high priest over the church) (Mosiah 29:39-44).

#BOMTC Day 34, May 10~Mosiah 28-Alma 1 or Pages 203-209 (3)

Shortly after Alma became the chief judge, Nehor established himself as a preacher and spoke out against the Church and its doctrines. He convinced many to believe him and give him money. When he killed Gideon, a faithful member of the Church, he was brought before Alma to be judged. Finding Nehor guilty of priestcraft and of trying to enforce it by the sword, Alma sentenced Nehor to death.

Here are some lessons from the new beginnings of the sons of King Mosiah, the Nephite people, and Alma the Younger: 

Mosiah 28: As our conversion deepens, our desire to share the gospel increases.

The intensity of our desire to share the gospel is a great indicator of the extent of our personal conversion” (“Sharing the Gospel,” Ensign, Nov. 2001).

The key to successful member missionary work is the exercise of faith. One way to show your faith in the Lord and His promises is to prayerfully set a date to have someone prepared to meet with the missionaries. I have received hundreds of letters from members who have exercised their faith in this simple way. Even though families had no one in mind with whom they could share the gospel, they set a date, prayed, and then talked to many more people. The Lord is the Good Shepherd, and He knows His sheep who have been prepared to hear His voice. He will guide us as we seek His divine help in sharing His gospel” (“Creating a Gospel-Sharing Home,” Ensign, May 2006).

  • On another occasion Elder Ballard taught us how we can easily prepare and share the gospel:

There is a great need for clear, simple statements that present those who are curious with the basics about the Church as it is today. Prepare your own list of talking points that will assist you in explaining what we believe to your friends of other faiths. Have on one page a few facts about the Church as it is today to give to them along with a copy of the Articles of Faith.  The four main subjects deal with facts, faith, families, and fruits of the restored gospel.  Most people will not read or focus on more than just a few important facts at one time. Whatever you choose to use to inform your friends and acquaintances about the Church, write it down, check it for accuracy, and keep it simple and short. The growing prominence of the Church and the increasing inquiries from others present us with great opportunities to build bridges, make friends, and pass on accurate information. But it can also present a greater possibility of misunderstanding and sometimes even prejudice if we allow others to define who we are and what we believe rather than presenting it ourselves. Sometimes the best way to answer people’s interest can be by how we live.  Now is the time for all of us to reach out and tell others who we are. Prepare some simple facts and help those who are curious to know a little about the Church and then to want to know more about the Restoration of the gospel. Never hesitate to bear your testimony with sincerity and love. The power of personal testimony cannot be denied and often ignites in others the interest to know more.” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits”, Ensign, Nov. 2007)

Book of Mormon Share

Mosiah 29: Each person has a duty to uphold righteous laws and leaders.

The history of the people of ancient America, recorded in the Book of Mormon, teaches that civilizations are built on moral foundations; that when people are morally strong, they do well; that when they are morally weak, they suffer. It teaches us that freedom cannot outlive morality and that freedom is not free—it must be earned” (Ensign, May 1981).

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” “The three significant words used in the 12th Article of Faith,” commented President David O. McKay, “express the proper attitude of the membership of the Church toward law. These words are—obey, honor, and sustain. The Article does not say we believe in submission to the law. Obedience implies a higher attitude than mere submission, for obedience has its root in good intent; submission may spring from selfishness or meanness of spirit. Though obedience and submission both imply restraint on one’s own will, we are obedient only from a sense of right; submissive from a sense of necessity. Honor expresses an act or attitude of an inferior towards a superior. When applied to things it is taken in the sense of holding in honor. Thus, in honoring the law, we look upon it as something which is above selfish desires or indulgences. To sustain signifies to hold up; to keep from falling. To sustain the law, therefore, is to refrain from saying or doing anything which will weaken it or make it ineffective. We obey law from a sense of right. We honor law because of its necessity and strength to society. We sustain law by keeping it in good repute.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1937, p. 28.)

A question has many times been asked of the Church and of its individual members, to this effect: In the case of a conflict between the requirements made by the revealed word of God, and those imposed by the secular law, which of these authorities would the members of the Church be bound to obey? In answer, the words of Christ may be applied—it is the duty of the people to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s [see D&C 63:26; Matthew 22:21]. At the present time the kingdom of heaven as an earthly power, with a reigning King exercising direct and personal authority in temporal matters, has not been established upon the earth. The branches of the Church as such, and the members composing the same, are subjects of the several governments within whose separate realms the Church organizations exist. In this day of comparative enlightenment and freedom there is still cause for expecting any direct interference with the rights of private worship and individual devotion; in all civilized nations the people are accorded the right to pray, and this right is assured by what may be properly called a common law of humankind. No earnest soul is cut off from communion with his God; and with such an open channel of communication, relief from burdensome laws and redress from grievances may be sought from the power that holds control of nations.” (Articles of Faith, pp. 422–23.)

There are many who question the constitutionality of certain acts passed by their respective governments, even though such laws have been established by the highest courts in the land as being constitutional, and they feel to defy and disobey the law. Abraham Lincoln once observed: ‘Bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible; still, while they continue in force, they should be religiously observed.’ This is the attitude of the Church in regard to law observance. … There is no reason or justification for men to disregard or break the law or try to take it into their own hands. It is the duty of citizens of any country to remember that they have individual responsibilities, and that they must operate within the law of the country in which they have chosen to live.” (“The Laws of God”, Ensign, Nov. 1975)

No member of the Church can be accepted as in good standing whose way of life is one of rebellion against the established order of decency and obedience to law. We cannot be in rebellion against the law and be in harmony with the Lord, for he has commanded us to ‘be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign. …’ (D&C 58:22.) And one of these days he is going to come.” (“Our Responsibility as Priesthood Holders,” Ensign, June 1971. The exception to this principle would be when the Lord directs His people through His prophets to take an opposing stand to government. Otherwise they recognize the established authority of government. For more on this subject see, D&C 134 and “Earthly Governments and Laws“.)

Stand for What is Right

Alma 1: When confronted by evil, we must oppose it in God’s way.

How do we respond to such malicious and evil designs? Do we strike back? Allow me to suggest a course of action—one which is in harmony with the teachings of the Savior, and one which, if followed, will be in harmony with the wise counsel of prophets past and present: 1. Avoid those who would tear down your faith. Faith-killers are to be shunned. The seeds which they plant in the minds and hearts of men grow like cancer and eat away the Spirit. True messengers of God are builders—not destroyers. We send our missionaries into the world to teach and to assist people in receiving truth line upon line until the fulness of the gospel is received. (See D&C 98:112.) As one new convert testified: “My previous church provided me the chapter on mortality. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints added two more chapters pertaining to the premortal and postmortal existences.” 2. Keep the commandments. President Brigham Young promised, “All we have to do is to go onward and upward, and keep the commandments of our Father and God; and he will confound our enemies.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957, p. 347.) If we obey holy laws, we will take upon ourselves “the whole armour of God” and we will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (See Eph. 6:11–18.) Moreover, obedience ensures us of the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit. 3. Follow the living prophets, as we have just been admonished. One Church leader taught: “Always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it. … But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.” (Heber J. Grant, quoted by Marion G. Romney in Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 78.) We walk in uncharted mine fields and place our souls in jeopardy when we receive the teachings of anyone except he that is ordained of God. (See D&C 43:2–7; D&C 52:9.) 4. Do not contend or debate over points of doctrine. The Master warned that “the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil.” (3 Ne. 11:29.) We are inconsistent if we resort to Satanic tactics in attempting to achieve righteous ends. Such inconsistency results only in frustration, loss of the Spirit, and ultimate defeat. Remember, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege.” (Eleventh Article of Faith.) 5. Search the scriptures. Few of us would go astray or lose our way if we regarded the scriptures as our personal guide or compass. (See Alma 37:44.) The iron rod is the word of God, and if held to, we will not fall. 6. Do not be swayed or diverted from the mission of the Church. There are those who would draw you off course and cause you to waste time and energies. Satan used a diversion ploy when he tempted Christ in the wilderness. The Savior’s decisive response, “Get thee hence, Satan” (Matt. 4:10), is a proper example for all of us. 7. Pray for your enemies. Christ said to the Nephites, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.” (3 Ne. 12:44; see also Matt. 5:44; 3 Ne. 12:10–12.) While on the cross, the Savior pled, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34.) There are many who are kept from the truth—not because they don’t want it, but because they know not where to find it. 8. Practice “pure religion.” Involve yourself in Christian service. Succor the needs of the sick and poor; visit the fatherless and widows, and be charitable to all whether in the Church or out of the Church. (See James 1:27 and Alma 1:30.) 9. Remember that there may be many questions for which we have no answers and that some things have to be accepted simply on faith. An angel of the Lord asked Adam, “Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?” He answered, “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” (Moses 5:6.) There may be times when we are called upon to climb Mount Moriah’s and to sacrifice our Isaac’s without a full and prior explanation. Faith is the first principle of the gospel; it is a principle of progress…. I promise all missionaries—and all members—that if the nine actions just mentioned are followed consistently, victory will be yours and faith and testimony will be preservedAt the same time—1. I assure you that opposition to our cause testifies of its divinity. Would satanic powers combine against us if we were not posing a threat to such powers? 2. I assure you that opposition, if met and overcome, has a refining influence upon our lives. A verse in one of our hymns reads: When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine. (“How Firm a Foundation,” Hymns, no. 66.) The Savior learned obedience by the things which he suffered. (See Heb. 5:8.) Joseph Smith’s oppositions gave him experience and worked for his good. (See D&C 122:7.) 3. I assure you that the waters in which we are wont to swim are but little puddles when compared with the deep rivers of opposition in which the Prophet Joseph and others swam. (See D&C 127:2.) 4. I assure you that our cause is just and it will succeed, regardless of the opposition exerted against us. Earlier Saints were bolstered by these words: “As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.” (D&C 121:33.) President Brigham Young said: “Every time you kick ‘Mormonism’ you kick it upstairs; you never kick it downstairs. The Lord Almighty so orders it.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 351.) With all my heart I implore those who are walking on the fringes of our faith to seek the safety of the center. This can be done best by counseling with your leaders and remaining within the fellowshipping circle of the Saints, and receiving nourishment from the good word of God. Do not permit faithless people to turn you out of the right way or to put you out of existence. (See Moro. 6.) And I pray for those who deal in the highest form of larceny—that of stripping people of their precious testimonies. Such action, if continued, will lead only to the futility and emptiness of the dream of a night vision. (See 2 Ne. 27:3; Acts 5:33–39.) God help us all in our war against sin. Though our numbers may be few and our dominions small, may we go forward “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Ne. 14:14). (“Opposition to the Work of God”, Ensign, Nov. 1981)

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#BOMTC Mosiah 26-27: “O Who Will Exchange Old Lamps for New?”

These chapters always make me think of the first time I found out the REAL story of Aladdin. My mother had been talking about how Disney movies always create their own versions of the classic tales and it seemed to make everyone believe that the Disney versions were the correct versions (she is very well read, so this is somewhat disappointing to her). I was not aware of what she was referring to (since I am not as well read as my mother…), so I asked her to name a couple of examples. When she mentioned Aladdin I remembered that I had the original story as part of the Harvard Collection at my home. I was determined to discover the REAL story of Aladdin (FYI: It really is better than the Disney one, and Mosiah 26-27 is even better than both versions of Aladdin!).

As recorded in Mosiah 26, some unbelieving Nephites of the “rising generation” influenced members of the Church with flattering words and led them to sin. Mosiah 27 recounts the conversion of Alma (the son of Alma) and the sons of King Mosiah. It tells of their rebellious attempts to destroy the Church of God, the visitation of an angel, Alma’s miraculous change, and the efforts of these young men to repair the harm they had done. As you read the accompanying quotes I hope you will start to see the parallels between the original story of Aladdin and these chapters in Mosiah.

Elder John A. Widtsoe, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1921 until his death in 1952, used the story of Aladdin to warn the youth about giving up the “old lamp” filled with the gospel when the world offers “new lamps” that are empty:

The youth of our day, in their approach to knowledge, are thinking for themselves. For that let us be grateful. And may they think straight, so that truth may not pass them by unrecognized!

Aladdin of Arabian Nights fame secured an old battered copper lamp of magical powers. By its aid he built himself a magnificent palace, acquired great wealth and became the son-in-law of the King. A wicked magician determined to secure possession of the wonderful lamp. With a supply of ordinary but new, highly polished lamps, he approached the palace, offering “new lamps for old.” Aladdin’s wife, who knew nothing of the uncommon properties of the old lamp, gladly exchanged it for a new one. Then Aladdin’s troubles began. Palace, wealth, and station vanished overnight. This ancient tale is being retold in our modern times. Almost every day someone, usually honest enough, offers a new belief or thought, burnished and bright with newness, to replace convictions that we have long held and which have well maintained us. … A careless exchange may result in loss or fearful consequences. (In Search of Truth: Comments on the Gospel and Modern Thought)

#BOMTC Day 33, May 9~Mosiah 26-27 or Pages 196-202 (3)

Elder Marion D. Hanks, Of the Presidency of the First Council of the Seventy, shared a similar caution:

Most young people know the story of Aladdin, how his precious lamp was traded for a more glittery, shiny one which seemed at the moment very desirable and attractive but which turned out to be worthless and useless. The villain of the story was a scheming man who knew the value of the old lamp, and who with evil purpose acquired it by sounding the enticing cry: “New lamps for old.” The tragic figure of the account was Mrs. Aladdin, who had not learned the worth of the priceless light and who traded it for something which appeared desirable but was actually cheap and shoddy and unsatisfying.

If I were in my teens I would want to understand the relevance of the principle of the story of Aladdin to me and my life. I would want to understand the tremendous importance to my personal happiness of appreciating and honoring the precious light I have been blessed with. I would hope to be made aware of the great worth of the light of the gospel in my life and of the light of liberty which is my heritage in this great free land. I would observe, too, that immoral and deluded and dishonest people still walk the streets of my neighborhood and my town and the corridors of my school trying to get me to trade the lamps my fathers made possible for me for their shiny “new lamps” of corruption and unbelief and indolence and disloyalty.

I would seek and pray for teachers who could help me to understand which are lasting values and which are not, and for companions with whom I could freely and happily find and enjoy that which is of persisting worth. I would hope never to be unwise enough to trade a lifetime and an eternity of peace and self-respect for a few minutes of illicit and questionable “pleasure.” (Improvement Era 1954)

LIKENING his own teaching on another occasion, Elder Hanks taught:

“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor. 14:8.)

…We hear most clearly those voices that are nearest to us, and we are inclined to be responsive to those voices.

Do you remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians after his allusion to the uncertain trumpet? These words: “There are . . . so many kinds of voices in the world, . . .” (1 Cor. 14:10.)

What are the voices to which our young people are listening? What do they hear in their homes, in the streets of their towns and communities? What do they hear over television and radio? What is communicated to them in books and magazines and photographs? What do they hear when they mingle with groups of their associates?

Well, for some the answer will be very good because there are many wonderful parents whose hearts are truly moved toward a love for their young people. There are good teachers and fine, interested human beings all over the face of the earth who honestly try to be helpful to youth and to speak truly and honorably. But for many young people the answers won’t be so affirmative. What voices are they hearing?

• Very frequently, commercial voices. They may be honest voices from honest commerce seeking the trade of youth. They may be voices of conspiring and deceitful men who seek profit at the expense of the future well-being of youth.

• There are pagan voices, iconoclastic voices attacking old traditions and fundamentals, arrogantly assuring that the old ideals, the old standards, the old viewpoints of nobility and honest effort, all of these are outmoded, no longer applicable, and may be abandoned with old faith, old ways, old accepted patterns of moral behavior.

Entertaining voices come from illuminated screens, often in company with actions which are designed to emphasize that part of our nature that needs no emphasis.

False voices issue from parked cars or darkened rooms, sometimes tainted with alcohol or inflamed with drugs, treacherously asking, always asking, for self-gratification. “Don’t you love me?” they say. “You know I love you.” Love they call it, but love it is not, and love they do not. True love “seeketh not her own.” But these voices constantly sing their song of counterfeit love, always seeking satisfaction of their own lusts, never really giving or intending to give, or perhaps knowing how to give, not knowing how to truly love.

Misguided voices urging rebellion for rebellion’s sake.

Beguiling voices inviting young eyes to filth or foulness, young ears to that which young ears should not hear.

Foolish voices which suggest that since most people seem to be doing it, it therefore becomes all right to do.

Cynical voices that propound moral relativism, saying that there are no virtues or principles that you can really count on anymore, none that are always applicable everywhere. You make your own rules in this time and generation.

Sophisticated voices that skirt the edge of truth, telling youth, “It’s your life, you live it. Never mind what parents, honest teachers, earnest adults, persons who care, have to say about it or how they feel about it. You decide; it’s your life.”

Peer voices, voices that are inexperienced, something imitating what someone called the “imitation men” they have seen on the street corners.

Aladdin voices singing the same old strain, “New lamps for old.”

Loud voices, persistent voices, persuasive, confusing.

In the midst of all this, where can young people turn to hear a voice that will move them in the direction of their dreams, their noblest and highest and most honorable dreams?

Do you remember the words of the Lord through Isaiah: “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left”? (Isa. 30:21.)

Where can young people hear this voice?

The Church offers to its youth answers to some of their serious, sacred spiritual questions. It offers them a guide of conduct that will help them to live with meaningfulness and joy in this world, and it offers them this sacred personal commitment we call testimony that allows them to say “I know God lives.” (Conference Report, October 1965, Third Day, Morning Meeting, p.118-121)

Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, used the story of the Prodigal Son to illustrate the same principle:

“[The prodigal son] had exchanged the priceless inheritance of great lasting value for a temporary satisfaction of physical desire, the future for the present, eternity for time, spiritual blessings for physical meat” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 311; see Luke 15:11–32).

#BOMTC Day 33, May 9~Mosiah 26-27 or Pages 196-202

THE REAL STORY: The Story Of ‘Ala-Ed-Din And The Wonderful Lamp. Part 22 – 23

Thus ‘Ala-ed-Din daily increased in fair fame and renown, and the love of him grew stronger in the hearts of all the subjects, and he was magnified in the eyes of the people. At this time, moreover, certain of the Sultan’s enemies rode down against him, and the Sultan equipped the troops to resist them, and made ‘Ala-ed-Din leader of the army. So ‘Ala-ed-Din went with the troops, till he drew near to the enemy, whose armies were very strong.

And he drew his sword, and rushed upon the enemy, and the battle and slaughter began, and the conflict was sturdy.

But ‘Ala-ed-Din broke them and dispersed them, killing the greater part, and looting their goods and provisions and cattle beyond number. Then he returned triumphant after a glorious victory, and made his entry into his city, who had adorned herself for him in her rejoicing over him. And the Sultan went forth to meet him and congratulated him and embraced and kissed him, and there was a magnificent fete and great rejoicings. And the Sultan and ‘Ala-ed-Din entered the palace, where there met him his bride, the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, who was rejoicing over him, and kissed him between the eyes. And they went into her palace, and presently the Sultan and all sat down, and the damsels brought sherbets. So they drank; and the Sultan ordered throughout the kingdom that they should illuminate for the victory of ‘Ala-ed-Din over the enemy. And the chiefs and the soldiers and the crowd turned [their prayers] only to God in Heaven and ‘Ala-ed-Din on earth, for they loved him exceedingly, because of the excess of his bounty and generosity and his fighting for his country, and his charge, and his rout of the foe. And thus was it with ‘Ala-ed-Din.

But as to the Moorish sorcerer, when he had returned to his country, he spent all this time in lamenting the labour and trouble he had taken in his quest of the Lamp, and the more because his labour was fruitless; and the morsel had fallen from his hand just as it was touching his lips. And he fell to thinking over all this, and lamented, and cursed ‘Ala-ed-Din in his exceeding rage, and at times he would mutter: “That this misbegotten boy is dead below ground I am satisfied, and I hope yet to get the Lamp, since it is still safe”.

One day of the days he drew a table in sand and put the figures down and examined them carefully and verified them, that he might perceive and be certified of the death of ‘Ala-ed-Din and the preservation of the Lamp, beneath the ground; and he looked into the figures, both “mothers” and “daughters,” intently, but he saw not the Lamp. At this, anger overcame him, and he drew the figure again, to be certain of ‘Ala-ed-Din’s death; but he saw him not in the Treasury. So his rage increased and the more so when he ascertained that the boy was alive on the surface of the earth. And when he knew that he had come forth from underground and was possessed of the Lamp for which he himself had endured privations and labour such as man can hardly bear, then he said within himself: ” I have borne many pains and suffered torments which no one else would have endured for the sake of the Lamp, and this cursed boy has taken it without an effort; and if this accursed knoweth the virtues of the Lamp, no one in the world should be richer than he.” And he added: “There is nothing for it but that I compass his destruction.” So he drew a second table, and inspecting the figures, discovered that ‘Ala-ed-Din had acquired immense wealth and had married the daughter of the Sultan. So he was consumed with the flame of anger begotten of envy.

He arose that very hour, and equipped himself, and journeyed to the land of China, and when he arrived at the metropolis wherein dwelt ‘Ala-ed-Din, he entered and alighted at one of the Khans. And he heard the people talking of nothing but the splendour of ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace. After he had rested from his journey, he dressed himself and went down to perambulate the streets of the city. And he never met any people but they were admiring this palace and its splendour, and talking together of the beauty of ‘Ala-ed-Din and his grace and dignity and generosity and the charm of his manners. And the Moor approached one of those who were depicting ‘Ala-ed-Din with these encomiums, and said to him: ” O gentle youth, who may this be whom ye praise and commend ? ” And the other replied: ” It is evident that thou, O man, art a stranger and comest from distant parts; but be thou from ever so distant a land, how hast thou not heard of the Emir ‘Ala-ed-Din whose fame, methinks, hath filled the world and whose palace one of the Wonders of the World hath been heard of far and near? And how hast thou not heard anything of this or of the name of ‘Ala-ed-Din, our Lord increase his glory and give him joy?” But the Moor answered: “Verily it is the height of my desire to see the palace, and if thou wilt do me the favour, direct me to it, since I am a stranger.” Then the man said, ” I hear and obey,” and proceeded before him and guided him to the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din. And the Moor began to examine it, and knew that it was all the doing of the Lamp, and cried: ” Ah! There is nothing for it but that I dig a pit for this cursed son of a tailor, who could not even earn a supper. And if the fates aid me I will undoubtedly send his mother back to her spinning, as she was before; and as for him, I will take his life”.

He returned to the Khan in this state of grief and regret and sadness for envy of ‘Ala-ed-Din. When he arrived at the Khan he took his instruments of divination and drew a table to discover where the Lamp was; and he found it was in the palace, and not on ‘Ala-ed-Din himself. Whereat he rejoiced mightily, and said: ” The task remaineth easy, to destroy the life of this accursed; and I have a way to obtain the Lamp.” Then he went to a coppersmith and said: ” Make me a number of lamps, and take their price, and more; only I wish thee to hasten to finish them.” And the coppersmith answered, “I hear and obey.” And he set to work at them and completed them; and when they were done the Moor paid him the price he asked for them, and took them and departed and went to the Khan, where he put them in a basket. Then he went about the streets and bazars of the city, crying: “O who will exchange old lamps for new?” And when the people heard him crying thus, they laughed at him, saying: “No doubt this man is mad, since he goeth about to exchange old lamps for new.” And all the world followed him, and the street boys pursued him from place to place and mocked at him; but he gainsaid them not nor cared for that, but did not cease perambulating the city till he came under ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace, when he began to cry in a louder voice, while the boys shouted at him, ” Madman! Madman!” Now by the decrees of destiny the Lady Bedr-el-Budur was in the kiosk, and hearing some one crying and the boys shouting at him, and not understanding what it was all about, she ordered one of her handmaids, saying: “Go and find out who it is that crieth and what he is crying.” So the damsel went to look, and perceived a man crying: “O who will exchange old lamps for new?” and the boys around him making sport of him. And she returned and told her mistress Bedr-el-Budur, saying: “O my lady, this man is crying: ‘O who will exchange old lamps for new?’ and the urchins are following him and laughing at him.” So the Lady Bedr-el-Budur laughed too at this oddity. Now *Ala-ed-Din had left the Lamp in his apartment, instead of replacing it in the Treasury and locking it up, and one of the maids had seen it. So she said: “O my mistress, methinks I have seen in my master’s room an old lamp; let us exchange it with this man for a new one, to find out if his cry be true or false.” And the Lady Bedr-el-Budur said to her: “Bring the Lamp which thou sayest thou didst see in thy master’s room.” For the Lady Bedr-el-Budur had no knowledge of the Lamp and its qualities, and that it was this which had brought ‘Ala-ed-Din her husband to his present high station; and her chief desire was to try and discover the object of this man who exchanged new lamps for old. So the damsel went and ascended to the apartment of ‘Ala-ed-Din and brought the Lamp to her mistress, and none of them suspected the guile of the Moorish wizard and his cunning. Then the Lady Bedr-el-Budur ordered an agha of the eunuchs to go down and exchange the Lamp for a new one. So he took the Lamp and gave it to the Moor and received from him a new lamp, and returned to the Princess and gave her the exchange; and she, after examining it, saw it was really new, and fell a-laughing at the folly of the Moor.

But he, when he got the Lamp and knew it was the Lamp of the Treasure, instantly put it in his bosom and abandoned the rest of the lamps to the people who were chaffering with him, and went running till he came to the outskirts of the city, when he walked on over the plains and waited patiently till night had fallen, and he saw that be was alone in the desert, and none there but he* Then he took forth the Lamp from his bosom and rubbed it, and immediately the Marid appeared to him, and said: “At thy service, I am thy slave in thy hands; ask of me what thou desirest.” So the Moor replied: “I require thee to remove the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din from its site, with its inmates and all that is in it, and myself also, and set it in my country, the land of Africa. Thou knowest my town, and I wish this palace to be in my town, among the gardens.” And the Marid slave replied, “I hear and obey. Shut thine eye and open it, and thou wilt find thyself in thy country along with the palace.” And in a moment this was done, and the Moor and the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din and all in it were removed to the land of Africa. Thus it was with the Moorish sorcerer.

To return to the Sultan and ‘Ala-ed-Din. When the Sultan arose in the morning from his sleep, in his affection and love for his daughter the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, he was wont every day when he was aroused from sleep to open the window and look out towards her. So he arose that day, as usual, and opened the window to look upon his daughter. But when he approached the window and looked towards the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din, he beheld nothing-nay, the place was as bare as it was of yore, and he saw neither palace nor any other building. And he was wrapped in amazement and distraught in mind; and he rubbed his eyes, in case they were dimmed or darkened, and returned to his observation, till at last he was sure that no trace or vestige of the palace remained; and he knew not how or why it had disappeared. So his wonder increased, and he smote his hands together, and the tears trickled down over his beard, because he knew not what had become of his daughter.

Then he sent at once and had the Wezir fetched. And he stood before him, and as soon as he came in he noticed the sorrowful state of his sovereign, and said to him: “Pardon, O King of the Age. God defend thee from calamity. Wherefore dost thou grieve?” The Sultan replied: “Perhaps thou dost not know my trouble?” And the Wezir said: “Not a whit, O my lord. By Allah, I have no knowledge of it whatever.” Then said the Sultan: “It is evident thou hast not looked towards the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din.” “True, O my master,” replied the Wezir, “it must now be still closed.” Then said the King: “Since thou hast no knowledge of anything, arise and look out of the window and see where ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace is which thou sayest is shut up.” So the Wezir arose and looked out of the window towards the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din, and could espy nothing, neither palace nor anything else. So his reason was amazed and he was astounded, and returned to the Sultan, who said: “Dost thou know now the reason of my grief, and hast thou observed the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din which thou saidst was shut?” The Wezir answered: “O King of the Age, I informed thy Felicity before that this palace and all these doings were magic” Then the Sultan was inflamed with wrath, and cried out: “Where is ‘Ala-ed-Din?” He answered: “Gone to the chase.” Thereupon the Sultan instantly ordered some of his aghas and soldiers to go and fetch ‘Ala-ed-Din, pinioned and shackled. So the aghas and soldiers proceeded till they came upon ‘Ala-ed-Din, whom they thus addressed: “Chastise us not, O our master ‘Ala-ed-Din, for the Sultan hath commanded us to take thee chained and pinioned. So we beg thy pardon, for we are acting under the royal mandate, which we cannot oppose.” When ‘Ala-ed-Din heard the words of the aghas and soldiers, wonder took hold of him, and his tongue became tied, for he understood not the cause of this. Then turning to them, he said: “O company, have ye no knowledge of the cause of this order of the Sultan ? I know myself to be innocent, and to have committed no sin against the Sultan or against the kingdom.” They answered: “O our master, we know no cause at all.” Then ‘Ala-ed-Din dismounted and said to them: “Do with me what the Sultan ordered, for the command of the Sultan must be on the head and the eye.” Then the aghas chained ‘Ala-ed-Din and manacled him and bound him with irons and led him to the city. And when the citizens saw him bound and chained with iron, they knew that the Sultan would cut off his head; and since he was exceedingly beloved of them all, the lieges assembled together and brought their weapons and went forth from their houses and followed the soldiers to see what would be the event.

When the troops with ‘Ala-ed-Din reached the palace, they entered and told the Sultan; whereupon he straightway commanded the executioner to come and cut off his head.

But when the citizens knew this, they barred the gates and shut the doors of the palace, and sent a message to the Sultan, saying: “We will instantly pull down thy house over thy head and all others in it, if any mischief or harm come to ‘Ala-ed-Din.” So the Wezir went in and informed the Sultan, saying: “O King of the Age, thy command is about to seal the book of our lives. It were better to pardon ‘Ala-ed-Din lest there come upon us the calamity of calamities; for the lieges love him more than us.” Now the executioner had already spread the carpet of death, and seated ‘Ala-ed-Din thereon, and bandaged his eyes, and had walked round him thrice, waiting for the King’s command, when the Sultan looking out of the window, beheld his subjects attacking him and scaling the walls with intent to pull them down. So he immediately ordered the executioner to stay his hand, and bade the herald go out to the crowd and proclaim that he had pardoned ‘Ala-ed-Din and granted him grace. When ‘Ala-ed-Din saw he was free, and espied the Sultan seated on his throne, he drew near and said to him: “O my lord, since thy Felicity hath been gracious to me all my life, vouchsafe to tell me what is my offence.” Then the Sultan said: “O traitor, hitherto I knew of no offence in thee.” And turning to the Wezir, he said: “Take him and shew him from the windows where his palace is.” And when the Wezir had led him and he had looked out of the window in the direction of his palace, he found the site bare as it was before he built his palace thereon; and he saw never a vestige of the palace at all. (The Story Of ‘Ala-Ed-Din And The Wonderful Lamp. Part 22 & 23)

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#BOMTC Mosiah 22-25: Divine Daily Deliverance

“And now it came to pass that [their] burdens … were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” —Mosiah 24:15

#BOMTC Day 32, May 8~Mosiah 22-25 or Pages 189-195

Limhi’s people came into Lamanite bondage as a result of their wickedness (see Mosiah 20:21) and were humbled and turned to God as a result of their bondage. By studying the trials and deliverance of Limhi’s group, we can see the Lord will answer our prayers in His own way and time as we humble ourselves (see Mosiah 22:1–9, 13–14). In contrast, Alma’s people were brought into bondage as a trial of their faith (see Mosiah 23:21). By studying the trials and deliverance of Alma’s people, we can learn how to rely on the Lord for strength amid our own struggles and challenges (see Mosiah 24:17–25). Both groups prayed mightily to be released from bondage. While both groups of people were eventually delivered and arrived in Zarahemla, the Lord helped each group in different ways. (See also Book of Mormon Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, (2012), 131–33)

Nephites carrying log

To be delivered usually means to be set free, helped, or brought through something. Studying these two accounts of divine deliverance can help us increase our faith to call upon the Lord for daily divine deliverance from whatever afflictions you are experiencing.

Elder Richard G. Scott“No one wants adversity. Trials, disappointments, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources. Those who transgress the laws of God will always have those challenges. The other reason for adversity is to accomplish the Lord’s own purposes in our life that we may receive the refinement that comes from testing. It is vitally important for each of us to identify from which of these two sources come our trials and challenges, for the corrective action is very different” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1995).

#BOMTC Day 32, May 8~Mosiah 22-25 or Pages 189-195 (3)

By comparing Limhi’s experience in Mosiah 21:16 with Alma’s experience in Mosiah 24:15 we can identify common ways that the Lord prepares His children for divine deliverance.

LIMHI’S PEOPLE ALMA’S PEOPLE
They were placed in bondage after much bloodshed (see Mosiah 21:5–13). They were placed in bondage with no bloodshed (see Mosiah 23:35–38).
The Lord was slow to hear their cries because of their iniquities (see Mosiah 21:15). The Lord answered their prayers quickly (see Mosiah 23:10–13).
Their burdens were eased because the Lord softened the hearts of the Lamanites (see Mosiah 21:15). The Lord strengthened them so they could bear their burdens with ease (see Mosiah 24:14–15).
Gideon conceived a plan of escape (see Mosiah 21:36;22:1–9). The Lord told them, “Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage” (Mosiah 24:16).
They got the guards drunk (see Mosiah 22:10). The Lord caused the guards to sleep (see Mosiah 24:19).

DFU, Your Reaction to Adversity

Instead of taking the time to read my thoughts on all of this, I feel it will be much more useful for you to use your time reviewing, “Trust in the Lord”, by Elder Scott.

Trust in the Lord

It is so hard when sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want. It is especially difficult when the Lord answers no to that which is worthy and would give us great joy and happiness. Whether it be overcoming illness or loneliness, recovery of a wayward child, coping with a handicap, or seeking continuing life for a dear one who is slipping away, it seems so reasonable and so consistent with our happiness to have a favorable answer. It is hard to understand why our exercise of deep and sincere faith from an obedient life does not bring the desired result.

No one wants adversity. Trials, disappointments, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources. Those who transgress the laws of God will always have those challenges. The other reason for adversity is to accomplish the Lord’s own purposes in our life that we may receive the refinement that comes from testing. It is vitally important for each of us to identify from which of these two sources come our trials and challenges, for the corrective action is very different.

If you are suffering the disheartening effects of transgression, please recognize that the only path to permanent relief from sadness is sincere repentance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Realize your full dependence upon the Lord and your need to align your life with His teachings. There is really no other way to get lasting healing and peace. Postponing humble repentance will delay or prevent your receiving relief. Admit to yourself your mistakes and seek help now. Your bishop is a friend with keys of authority to help you find peace of mind and contentment. The way will be opened for you to have strength to repent and be forgiven.

Now may I share some suggestions with you who face the second source of adversity, the testing that a wise Heavenly Father determines is needed even when you are living a worthy, righteous life and are obedient to His commandments.

Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.

When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father.

This life is an experience in profound trust—trust in Jesus Christ, trust in His teachings, trust in our capacity as led by the Holy Spirit to obey those teachings for happiness now and for a purposeful, supremely happy eternal existence. To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning (see Prov. 3:5–7). To produce fruit, your trust in the Lord must be more powerful and enduring than your confidence in your own personal feelings and experience.

To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it. We are like infants in our understanding of eternal matters and their impact on us here in mortality. Yet at times we act as if we knew it all. When you pass through trials for His purposes, as you trust Him, exercise faith in Him, He will help you. That support will generally come step by step, a portion at a time. While you are passing through each phase, the pain and difficulty that comes from being enlarged will continue. If all matters were immediately resolved at your first petition, you could not grow. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love.

As in all things, the Master is our perfect example. Who could have asked with more perfect faith, greater obedience, or more complete understanding than did He when He asked His Father in Gethsemane: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). Later He pled twice again: “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matt. 26:42; see also Matt. 26:44).

How grateful I am personally that our Savior taught we should conclude our most urgent, deeply felt prayers, when we ask for that which is of utmost importance to us, with “Thy will be done” (Matt. 26:42). Your willingness to accept the will of the Father will not change what in His wisdom He has chosen to do. However, it will certainly change the effect of those decisions on you personally. That evidence of the proper exercise of agency allows His decisions to produce far greater blessings in your life. I have found that because of our Father’s desire for us to grow, He may give us gentle, almost imperceptible promptings that, if we are willing to accept without complaint, He will enlarge to become a very clear indication of His will. This enlightenment comes because of our faith and our willingness to do what He asks even though we would desire something else.

Our Father in Heaven has invited you to express your needs, hopes, and desires unto Him. That should not be done in a spirit of negotiation, but rather as a willingness to obey His will no matter what direction that takes. His invitation, “Ask, and ye shall receive” (3 Ne. 27:29) does not assure that you will get what you want. It does guarantee that, if worthy, you will get what you need, as judged by a Father that loves you perfectly, who wants your eternal happiness even more than do you.

I testify that when the Lord closes one important door in your life, He shows His continuing love and compassion by opening many other compensating doors through your exercise of faith. He will place in your path packets of spiritual sunlight to brighten your way. They often come after the trial has been the greatest, as evidence of the compassion and love of an all-knowing Father. They point the way to greater happiness, more understanding, and strengthen your determination to accept and be obedient to His will.

It is a singularly marvelous blessing to have faith in the Savior and a testimony of His teachings. So few in the world have that brilliant light to guide them. The fulness of the restored gospel gives perspective, purpose, and understanding. It allows us to face what otherwise appear to be unjust, unfair, unreasonable challenges in life. Learn those helpful truths by pondering the Book of Mormon and other scriptures. Try to understand those teachings not only with your mind but also with your heart.

True enduring happiness with the accompanying strength, courage, and capacity to overcome the most challenging difficulties comes from a life centered in Jesus Christ. Obedience to His teachings provides a sure foundation upon which to build. That takes effort. There is no guarantee of overnight results, but there is absolute assurance that, in the Lord’s time, solutions will come, peace will prevail, and emptiness will be filled.

Recently a great leader, suffering from physical handicaps that come with advancing age, said, “I am glad I have what I have.” It is wisdom to open the windows of happiness by recognizing your abundant blessings.

Don’t let the workings of adversity totally absorb your life. Try to understand what you can. Act where you are able; then let the matter rest with the Lord for a period while you give to others in worthy ways before you take on appropriate concern again.

Please learn that as you wrestle with a challenge and feel sadness because of it, you can simultaneously have peace and rejoicing. Yes, pain, disappointment, frustration, and anguish can be temporary scenes played out on the stage of life. Behind them there can be a background of peace and the positive assurance that a loving Father will keep His promises. You can qualify for those promises by a determination to accept His will, by understanding the plan of happiness, by receiving all of the ordinances, and by keeping the covenants made to assure their fulfillment.

The Lord’s plan is to exalt you to live with Him and be greatly blessed. The rate at which you qualify is generally set by your capacity to mature, to grow, to love, and to give of yourself. He is preparing you to be a god. You cannot understand fully what that means, yet, He knows. As you trust Him, seek and follow His will, you will receive blessings that your finite mind cannot understand here on earth. Your Father in Heaven and His Holy Son know better than you what brings happiness. They have given you the plan of happiness. As you understand and follow it, happiness will be your blessing. As you willingly obey, receive, and honor the ordinances and covenants of that holy plan, you can have the greatest measure of satisfaction in this life. Yes, even times of overpowering happiness. You will prepare yourself for an eternity of glorious life with your loved ones who qualify for that kingdom.

I know the principles that we have discussed are true. They have been tested in the crucible of personal experience. To recognize the hand of the Lord in your life and to accept His will without complaint is a beginning. That decision does not immediately eliminate the struggles that will come for your growth. But I witness that it is the best way there is for you to find strength and understanding. It will free you from the dead ends of your own reasoning. It will allow your life to become a productive, meaningful experience, when otherwise you may not know how to go on (see D&C 24:8).

I testify that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you. I witness that the Savior gave His life for your happiness. I know Him. He understands your every need. I positively know that as you accept Their will without complaint, They will bless and sustain you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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