Scripture Study

One Nation Under God (Alma 51)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 12 December 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 106

One Nation Under God (Alma 51)

During the period of time covered by the Book of Alma, the Nephite nation is intended to be "one nation under God." The system of government is one designed by Mosiah, a seer of God. It replaced the former system where kings ruled over the land. In Alma 51, the new system of government — only about 25 years old at this point — faces a severe challenge as the nation becomes severely divided, making it difficult to continue as one nation under God. This article presents an overview of this episode. See if you can spot any parallels to another nation that is intended to be one nation under God.

Change in Leadership of the Government

At the end of Alma 50, the previous leader's term expires — actually, he dies — and a man named Pahoran is "appointed chief judge and governor over the people, with an oath and sacred ordinance to judge righteously…and to grant unto them their sacred privileges to worship the Lord their God, yea, to support and maintain the cause of God all his days" (Alma 50:39).

When the Game Is Over, Everything Goes Back in the Box (Alma 50)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 05 December 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 127

When the Game Is Over, Everything Goes Back in the Box (Alma 50)

When I go in my basement, I see several shelves stacked with brightly colored boxes containing the board games from my younger days (and my children's younger days). It seems that board games have gone out of style today, but we have many fond memories of taking out the game boards and the various pieces and competing against one another to be the winner of the game. Here are some of the board games we played:

  • Monopoly: The object of this game is to amass property, houses, hotels, and money. If I am the winner of the game, I eventually own Boardwalk, Park Place, and all of the property on the board as well as having lots of money. And then…everything goes back in the box.
  • Risk: The object of this game is to conquer countries with your armies. If I am the winner of this game, it means my armies have taken over every country in the world such that I own the whole world! And then…everything goes back in the box.
  • The Game of Life: In this game, sometimes you get married and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you have children and sometimes you don't. You could have a high-paying career (such as a doctor or lawyer) or perhaps earn a somewhat lower salary. At the end of the game, you can wind up at Millionaire Acres or in the Poor House. And then, regardless of how your journey has gone or how it has ended…everything goes back in the box.

The Scout Motto (Alma 49)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 28 November 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 151

The Scout Motto (Alma 49)

Had there been such a thing as Boy Scouts at the time Moroni lived, he would have been a great example of one. The Scout Oath sounds almost like the Title of Liberty:

"On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."

Much of Alma 49 is dedicated to describing how the Lamanite armies are frustrated at every turn because the Nephite armies, under the direction of Moroni, have followed the Scout Motto of "Be Prepared." Every Nephite city has had high piles of earth arranged all around it such that the Lamanites can only enter through the city entrance, which is heavily guarded by a Nephite army:

Strip the Enemy of His Power (Alma 48)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 21 November 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 171

Strip the Enemy of His Power (Alma 48)

Alma 48 includes a fairly detailed description of the character of Moroni, the leader of the Nephite army. The description concludes with this powerful statement:

"If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men." (Alma 48:17)

Since Moroni is held up as a model servant of God, it would certainly be wise to examine his traits more closely to see how we are or might be similar to him such that we can be part of the effort to strip the enemy of his power.

Poison Control (Alma 47)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 14 November 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 175

Poison Control (Alma 47)

Alma 47 tells the story of a wicked and cunning man named Amalickiah who plots (successfully) to eventually become king of the Lamanites. The first part of his plot is to gain control of the Lamanite army. Having a smaller army already under his control, Amalickiah agrees to turn over his army to Lehonti, the Lamanite general, as long as Lehonti agrees to make Amalickiah the second in command of the entire army. The next step of this wicked man is obvious:

"Amalickiah caused that one of his servants should administer poison by degrees to Lehonti, that he died. Now, when Lehonti was dead, the Lamanites appointed Amalickiah to be their leader and their chief commander." (Alma 47:18-19)

It is not mentioned what type of poison was used for this murder, but clearly the people involved knew what they were doing as they administered the poison very carefully, little by little, until it had its desired effect.

Joy in Service

Written by Sister Michelle Watson on Thursday, 08 November 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 217

Joy in Service

Today I'm bringing you my last scripture reading plan of 2018. Remember waaaay back at the beginning of 2018 when I promised that each of my subsequent articles for the year would contain a reading plan? The purpose was to keep myself personally accountable to reading scripture because I'd been very inconsistent with it.

The topic of today's reading plan is service. I found scriptures that spotlight many different angles of service, but for this article, I'm going to focus on just one of them: joy in service.

Raise Up the Standard (Alma 46)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 07 November 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 201

Raise Up the Standard (Alma 46)

STANDARD
1: a conspicuous object (such as a banner) carried at the top of a pole and used to mark a rallying point, especially in battle
2: something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example
3: substantially uniform
4: having recognized and permanent value

In Alma 46, Moroni, the leader of the Nephite army, sets up a standard to rally the Nephite people around some common causes. He creates the flag or banner by ripping up his coat and writing the message on a piece of it. Here is the message:

"In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children" (Alma 46:12)

One Phrase to Represent Your Life (Alma 45)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 31 October 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 220

One Phrase to Represent Your Life (Alma 45)

In Alma 45, there is a change in church leadership, as Alma passes this responsibility to his son Helaman. Helaman also is given responsibility for maintaining the Nephite record at this point — this chapter is the first written by Helaman. After Alma turns over the sacred records to his son, he somewhat mysteriously departs from the land of Zarahemla and is never heard from again. The people surmise that he may have been "buried by the hand of the Lord, even as Moses" (verse 19), as recorded in Deuteronomy 34:5-6, or even taken up by the Lord. Regardless, Alma's time on earth has ended and a new era has begun. Helaman makes one statement that describes the life of Alma: "He was a righteous man."

When the time comes for us to depart from this life, wouldn't it be wonderful if the one phrase that someone chose to represent our life would be, "This was a righteous person"?

Get to the Heart of It

Written by Sister Michelle Watson on Thursday, 25 October 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 241

Get to the Heart of It

Today, I'm coming to you with another scripture reading plan, yay! This time, it's about the human heart. We've all got one. And God wants to help us understand it.

After reading these scriptures, one thing stood out more than anything: God is way more concerned with my heart than my behavior.

Why is that? Because, as a general rule, my heart will steer my behavior. When my behavior is, shall we say, unruly, chances are there's something deeper going on, and that's the issue He cares about most of all.

God does want me to change my bad behavior and line it up with His commandments — but He doesn't want me to do it like a robot or a slave. He needs me to align my heart first and foremost, and then my behavior will follow.

A Key Part of Repentance (Alma 44)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 24 October 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 219

A Key Part of Repentance (Alma 44)

After having defeated the Lamanite army in the previous chapter, Moroni, the leader of the Nephite army, lays out some terms to Zerahemnah, the leader of the Lamanite army, in Alma 44. Moroni offers to spare the lives of the remaining Lamanite soldiers if they surrender their weapons of war, leave the Nephite land, and promise to never return to war against the Nephites again.

Zerahemnah readily agrees to the first two points. He tells Moroni, "take our weapons of war, and suffer that we may depart into the wilderness" (verse 8). However, he is not willing to make the promise to never return for another war, telling Moroni, "we will not…take an oath unto you, which we know that we shall break" (verse 8).

Let's give Zerahemnah a little credit for honesty here. The easy thing to do would be to say whatever he is asked to say at the time and then do whatever he wants to do later. Instead, he takes the position that he will only make a promise if he intends to keep it.

Haters Never Prosper (Alma 43)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 17 October 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 277

Haters Never Prosper (Alma 43)

In Alma 43, war breaks out again between the Nephites and the Lamanites. In this chapter, we are introduced to a young man named Moroni — only 25 years of age — who is selected to lead the Nephite army.

In the description of this particular battle, it is mentioned several times that the motivation of the two armies is completely different. The Lamanites have been taught for generations to hate the Nephites. They are in this battle purely to act on that hatred and destroy the Nephite nation. On the other hand:

"The Nephites were inspired by a better cause … they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church" (Alma 43:45)

Justice for All (Alma 42)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 10 October 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 299

Justice for All (Alma 42)

Revenge against someone who has wronged you. Prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment for committing a crime. Condemnation by God for sins committed. All of these can be described by the word "justice."

When we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and end with words describing our country as a place where there is "justice for all," which of the above are we wishing on everybody?

Clearly, there has to be more to justice than penalties, punishments, and paybacks. There is — the actual definition of the word includes an aspect of fairness and impartiality. Looking at it that way, when we say "justice for all," we are claiming fair treatment for all.

Kingdom Hashtags (Alma 41)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 03 October 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 302

Kingdom Hashtags (Alma 41)

Depending on how familiar you are with social media, you may or may not know the term "hashtags" or how hashtags are used. Briefly, hashtags — designated by the # symbol — are used to group together social media postings and photos under a single heading for easy retrieval.

For example, if you open a web browser and type #alma41, you will see a varied collection of photos and commentaries that people (from various faiths) have posted relating to Alma 41. This article will show up in that list as well. If you type #TCOJC, you will see a wide variety of photographs, posted (mostly) by members of our Church.

OK, You're Dead — What Happens Next? (Alma 40)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 26 September 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 444

OK, You're Dead — What Happens Next? (Alma 40)

Alma 40 reveals information that is of great interest to many people and is not spelled out as plainly anywhere else in the Word of God. It tells us what happens right after we pass from this life. It's not too surprising that this information is not more readily available since anybody who has experienced this is not exactly in a position to write about it for us. In the case of Alma, he has an inside source — an angel has shared the information with him — so we can benefit from knowing what he was told. We all know we're going to die someday. Here's what happens next:

Step 1: The Soul Leaves the Body and Returns to God

"The spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body…whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life." (Alma 40:11)

Ministry and Sin Don't Mix (Alma 39)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 19 September 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 429

Ministry and Sin Don't Mix (Alma 39)

There is an old proverb that states, "oil and water don't mix." This is based on the observation that the two stay separate when attempts are made to mix them together. The saying is typically used to describe people or characteristics that don't seem to go together — they don't mix well.

In Alma 39, Alma reprimands his son Corianton for trying to mix ministry and sin. Called to be a young minister, Corianton goes on a missionary trip among the Zoramites during which he travels to a different city and spends time with a prostitute named Isabel. Clearly, this is not what was expected when Corianton was brought on the trip, and he, in fact, jeopardizes the entire mission by his actions.

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