Scripture Study

Get to the Heart of It

Written by Sister Michelle Watson on Thursday, 25 October 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 292

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 282

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 333

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 373

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 361

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 505

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 474

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.

Diligent in the Work of the Lord (Alma 38)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 12 September 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 435

Diligent in the Work of the Lord (Alma 38)

In Alma 38, Alma shares some words with his middle son, Shiblon. He commends Shiblon who appears to be not flashy but quietly steady, faithful, and diligent in the work of the Lord. You probably know people like this today or perhaps you would even consider this a description of yourself. People like this are rarely recognized for their efforts, so it's good that Alma takes time to recognize his son's efforts here.

Shiblon has begun teaching the word of God to the people, and Alma encourages him to continue in the same way with this work:

"And now, as ye have begun to teach the word even so I would that ye should continue to teach; and I would that ye would be diligent and temperate in all things." (Alma 38:10)

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (Alma 37)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 05 September 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 553

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (Alma 37)

In Alma 37, Alma turns over the sacred records to his son Helaman and instructs him on the importance of maintaining them and keeping them up to date going forward such that they can continue to be passed on, eventually coming forth to benefit future generations.

He then adds a piece of advice in verse 37 that we often quote today (it's easy to remember — chapter 37, verse 37):

"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God." (Alma 37:37)

Remind Me, Dear Lord (Alma 36)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 29 August 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 489

Remind Me, Dear Lord (Alma 36)

For the next several chapters, Alma takes some time to share advice, counsel, and teaching with each of his three sons — Helaman (chapters 36-37), Shiblon (chapter 38) and Corianton (chapters 39-42).

In Alma 36, Alma remembers what type of man he was before he gave his life to the Lord. He recalls that he had rebelled against God, not keeping His commandments, and that he "went about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church of God" (verse 6). He would have continued along this destructive path, but his eyes were finally opened by the appearance of an angel who spoke to him with a voice of thunder. Alma describes what happened after the angel spoke to him:

A Divisive Message (Alma 35)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 22 August 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 474

A Divisive Message (Alma 35)

Divisive: Tending to cause disagreement between people and causing them to separate into different groups

In Alma 35, the Zoramites react to the message of Christ preached to them by Alma and Amulek in the previous chapters in which they were exhorted to repent of their sins and change their lives to be more Christlike. Although the exact discussion is not recorded, you can easily imagine it going something like this:

  • Why do we need to repent? We're not doing anything wrong.
  • Why can't we just love and accept everyone the way they are instead of trying to change people?
  • This is a divisive message — we need to be more inclusive of everyone.

Where Does Inner Strength Come From?

Written by Sister Michelle Watson on Thursday, 16 August 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 503

Where Does Inner Strength Come From?

A few weeks ago at GMBA Camp, my husband, Brother Michael, and I recruited our 12-year-old nephew, Robby, to perform a short skit at kids' chapel.

In the skit, Michael and I pretended to be the proverbial "good angel" and "bad angel" whispering in Robby's ears, trying to persuade him to do either right or wrong. For example, I tried to get Robby to thank his mother for preparing breakfast and recruit an outcast schoolmate for a game of ultimate Frisbee at recess. Michael tried to get Robby to fib to his teacher and clandestinely pocket a candy bar at the grocery store.

By the end of the skit, Robby withstood temptation in each instance and showed a lot of inner strength in doing so. After we were done performing for the kids, I asked them a series of questions that I want to ask you, too!

The Last Sacrifice (Alma 34)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 15 August 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 419

The Last Sacrifice (Alma 34)

Up until this point in the narrative, the Nephites — as all God-fearing Israelites were expected to be doing at the time — were performing sacrifices as directed by the Law of Moses. A couple of examples were when Lehi's family was traveling in the wilderness (1 Nephi 5:9) and when the people of King Benjamin gathered at the temple to hear his final address (Mosiah 2:3).

The Law of Moses provided for different types of sacrifices for a variety of purposes, but a primary reason for the people to sacrifice was to atone for their sins. In these instances, killing an animal (typically, one that they owned) and burning its body as an offering to God was the prescribed way of obtaining forgiveness from God for sins committed.

In Alma 34, Amulek describes what he refers to as a "great and last sacrifice" that would provide atonement for all mankind:

Typology (Alma 33)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 08 August 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 534

Typology (Alma 33)

TYPOLOGY: The study of things in Christian belief that are prefigured or symbolized by things in the Old Testament

In Alma 33, Alma continues with his teachings to the people who were cast out of the synagogue in the previous chapter. Among the things he teaches them is an episode from the Old Testament in which Moses did something that is considered a "type" of Jesus Christ:

"A type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live … But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished." (Alma 33:19-20)

You Are The Church Building (Alma 32)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 01 August 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 433

You Are The Church Building (Alma 32)

In Alma 32, the people who are poor find themselves without a place to worship. The wealthy people — and especially the priests — decide they don't want these poor people in Church with them anymore, so they forbid them from entering their synagogues. One of the leaders of this displaced group meets with Alma and bemoans their situation:

"They have cast us out of our synagogues…because of our exceeding poverty; and we have no place to worship our God…what shall we do?" (Alma 32:5)

In one way, Alma is actually happy for these people — this experience has made them more humble, putting them in a position to be closer to God — but he does address their concern over the lack of a Church building by asking them, "Do ye suppose that ye cannot worship God save it be in your synagogues only?" (verse 10).

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