Scripture Study

Strengthening Our Small Army (Alma 58)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 30 January 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 478

Strengthening Our Small Army (Alma 58)

In Alma 58, Helaman laments throughout the chapter about how small the Nephite army is. He describes their efforts in reaching out to the government for reinforcements and supplies, but the response is limited. Finally, at their moment of greatest despair, they reach out to the greatest source of strength:

"Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies…Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him" (Alma 58:10-11)

There are many examples in the scriptures of an exceedingly small number of people — even just one person at times — prevailing over overwhelming opposition due to receiving strength from God. Here are a few examples:

Serving God With Exactness (Alma 57)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 23 January 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 497

Serving God With Exactness (Alma 57)

Quite a bit is written in Alma 53 to 57 regarding the 2,000 stripling soldiers led by Helaman. Their claim to fame was that they stepped in for their fathers, who were unable to join the army due to the oath they made to God, and helped defend their nation against the Lamanite army. The stripling soldiers fought in many battles and, though many were wounded, none of the 2,000 were killed in battle.

In Alma 57, Helaman recognizes this group for the great service they have provided. He makes one point in particular to explain their success:

"They did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them" (Alma 57:21)

No Doubt (Alma 56)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 16 January 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 547

No Doubt (Alma 56)

A baseball player steps up to the plate and hits a long fly ball. The crowd comes to its feet in anticipation. The outfielder runs back to the wall and leaps and… Was it a home run? Was it an out? The outcome is very much in doubt until everyone sees whether the ball is in the outfielder's glove.

On the other hand, there are occasions when the batter hits the ball so high and so hard that everyone knows that it's going over the fence. The crowd cheers immediately! This type of hit is known in baseball as a "no doubter."

Doubt is defined as a feeling of uncertainty. The more uncertainty, the more doubt. Any amount of uncertainty, even a very small amount, means that some doubt exists. The only way to have "no doubt" is to have absolute certainty — 100 percent certainty.

Arming Everyone for the Battle (Alma 55)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 09 January 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 427

Arming Everyone for the Battle (Alma 55)

In Alma 55, Moroni has a desire to free the Nephites who are held prisoner by the Lamanites in the city of Gid. The challenge he faces is that Gid is well fortified, with a wall surrounding the city and Lamanite guards keeping watch over the entrance to the city.

But Moroni has a plan. The guards are given strong wine, and they become drunk and fall into a deep sleep. The Nephites then toss weapons over the wall of the city, which are then distributed to the Nephite prisoners. Weapons are given to everyone, "even to their women, and all of their children, as many as were able to use a weapon of war" (verse 17).

When the Lamanites awaken the next morning, they have no choice but to surrender, as all the Nephites — the prisoners inside the walls of the city and the Nephite army outside the city — are now armed and ready for battle. Arming everyone for the battle is the only strategy that could have worked. The Nephite army did not have the same access to the Lamanites that those "on the inside" did, so everyone's participation was needed to win this battle.

What I Said — That's It (Alma 54)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 02 January 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 541

What I Said — That's It (Alma 54)

A few years back, I saw a movie that included an argument between a husband and wife. The husband had agreed to take time off from working and manage the household so his wife could accept a dream job she had always wanted. However, after seeing how difficult it is to deal with all of the issues involving their children and the house, and also seeing how far behind he is with his own work, he decides he needs to get out of this arrangement. When he sees that all of his persuasive arguments are not convincing his wife, he decides to just be assertive to win the argument. That part of the dialogue goes something like this:

Husband: This arrangement is not working. I'm going back to work — and that's it.
Wife: No, actually that's not "it." I love my job, and I'm not quitting. And THAT is it.
Husband: That's not it. The thing I said — that's it. What you said — not it. What I said — that's it.

Wrong for You but OK for Me (Alma 53)

Written by GospelBlog on Wednesday, 26 December 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 435

Wrong for You but OK for Me (Alma 53)

In Alma 53, a group of men desire to enlist in the Nephite army, but Helaman forbids them to do so, telling them they will lose their souls if they participate in the battle. But then another group of men steps forward to enlist, and they are welcomed into the army and even blessed by God with miraculous protection.

How can this be? How can the same exact actions be wrong for some people and OK for others? Don't we all serve the same God?

The answer lies in understanding that although there are some actions that are equally wrong for all and some that are equally required for all, there are other actions that need to be viewed within the context of a person's own individual relationship with God.

The Work of Jesus, the Good Shepherd

Written by Brother Jordan Champine on Monday, 24 December 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 492

The Work of Jesus, the Good Shepherd

The Word of God describes Jesus in several ways. As Jesus was born into this world, the declarations of His advent crowned him with many names foreshadowing all He would grow to become according to the will of God, "…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus as the man embodied these characteristics and invited all men to believe on His name. Those who did came to know him more intimately thru the "I am" statements of their Savior.

In one such account, Jesus tells the multitude, "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Below is a scripture comparison of the work of Jesus as our good shepherd shown through the account of Ammon at the waters of Sebus in the Book of Mormon. As we contemplate all that Jesus is to us in our life, I pray this exploration of His role as our good shepherd will bring you an extra measure of comfort and joy this holiday season.

The Decoy Play (Alma 52)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 19 December 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 374

The Decoy Play (Alma 52)

You're watching a big football game. Time is running out, and your team needs a big play. Your team's star pass receiver comes into the game. The huddle breaks, and the star receiver lines up on the right side of the field. The quarterback calls the signals and glances over to his right several times. Everybody knows what's coming. The defense knows, too, and shifts some of the players over near the star receiver to make it harder for him to catch the pass that will be coming his way.

The ball is snapped. The quarterback takes a few steps back and watches the star receiver the entire time. He waits, waits, and then turns and fires the ball on the left side of the field where another player — totally overlooked by the defense — is waiting to catch the winning touchdown pass. What happened? The defense was just a victim of the decoy play with one player being used as a decoy to take their focus away from where it really should have been, resulting in a big loss.

One Nation Under God (Alma 51)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 12 December 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 402

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 383

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 383

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 441

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 456

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 472

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 489

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)

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