Scripture Study

When God Is in the Matter (Alma 16)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 04 April 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 389

When God Is in the Matter (Alma 16)

In Alma 16, there is a cry of war throughout the land. The Lamanites attack the city of Ammonihah, killing many of the Nephites and carrying others captive into the wilderness. The Nephite army desires to rescue their fellow Nephites, but they don't know whether it's feasible — they don't know which way the Lamanites have gone in the wilderness, so they may not be able to catch up to them or even find them. The leaders of the army wisely decide to seek the Lord's direction:

"Knowing that Alma … had the spirit of prophecy, therefore they went unto him and desired of him to know whether the Lord would that they should go into the wilderness in search of their brethren, who had been taken captive by the Lamanites. And it came to pass that Alma inquired of the Lord concerning the matter." (Alma 16:5-6)

Lay Down the Weight (Alma 15)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 28 March 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 443

Lay Down the Weight (Alma 15)

Many of us carry around some extra weight on our bodies. Some people even tell me I'm carrying a little extra weight. (The people who are kind say it that way.) Wouldn't it be nice if we could take that weight — that burden — and lay it aside and go on without it? Imagine how much better we would feel and how much more we could do.

Now, suppose there was someone who could just speak the words to make the weight depart. No dieting, no exercise, no surgery necessary. How popular would that person be? Wouldn't you recommend him to all your friends?

When Your Work Is Not Yet Finished (Alma 14)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 21 March 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 446

When Your Work Is Not Yet Finished (Alma 14)

In Alma 14, Alma and Amulek endure a horrible ordeal, witnessing the martyrdom of women and children who are burned to death in front of them. As this awful scene unfolds before them, they can only take solace in the knowledge that these martyred souls are on their way to the paradise of God. They also have a brief conversation about their own fate:

"Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also. And Alma said: Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not." (Alma 14:12-13)

Not On My Watch (Alma 13)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 14 March 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 446

Not On My Watch (Alma 13)

"And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea." (Matthew 14:25)

The above verse is part of the famous account of Jesus walking on the water to the ship where His disciples were trying to ride out a storm. Did you ever take note of the first part of the verse that refers to "the fourth watch of the night"? The custom at the time was to divide the night (6 p.m. through 6 a.m.) into four periods of three hours each such that the members of the crew would take turns being responsible for the ship while the others slept.

Lying to God (Alma 12)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 07 March 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 552

Lying to God (Alma 12)

In Alma 12, Alma calls out the lawyer Zeezrom for having lied to the Nephite people in Ammonihah. He goes on to say, "Thou hast not lied to 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" (Alma 12:3). Zeezrom is totally flustered that Alma and Amulek seem to know his thoughts, and the tone of the conversation changes, giving Alma the opportunity to speak about the mysteries of God and the plan of redemption.

In the above passage, Alma tells Zeezrom he lied to God. Is it actually possible to lie to God? After all, it's pretty tough to put one over on someone who is everywhere, sees everything you do, and even knows your very thoughts.

How God Uses Money (Alma 11)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 28 February 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 1067

How God Uses Money (Alma 11)

Alma 11 is the chapter in which we learn how much each unit of Nephite money is worth, relative to other units of their money. For example, if you were living in Zarahemla at the time, you would want to know that a senum of silver is equivalent in value to a senine of gold and that either can be used to purchase a measure of barley or any other type of grain. A seon of gold is worth two senines and a shum is worth twice as much as that, and so on.

Although on the surface, U.S. money is easier to understand than Nephite currency — a $10 bill is worth twice as much as a $5 bill, and a $20 bill is worth twice as much as that, etc. — we can easily find ourselves having to do mathematical exercises with currency values when we visit other countries. For example, when I visit Central America, I keep in mind that $1 in U.S. currency is worth $2.60 in Dominica, 8 quetzals in Guatemala and 20 pesos in Mexico.

Cross-Examination (Alma 10)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 21 February 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 647

Cross-Examination (Alma 10)

You're walking down the street, and you see a man bump into a woman, knock her down, and then steal her purse and run away. The man is eventually caught and put on trial for the crime. You are called as a witness and relate what you saw. Now, the defense attorney is going to cross-examine you. The dialogue might go something like this:

You Should Know Better (Alma 9)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 14 February 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 448

You Should Know Better (Alma 9)

If you were the older sibling growing up — as I was — you may have experienced occasions when you and your younger sibling(s) did something that got you in trouble with your parents. Even though you all participated in the same escapade, you as the oldest got in the most trouble. In justification of this unfair treatment, your parents would say, "You're older — you should know better."

Perhaps the Nephites in Ammonihah were feeling like the older sibling in Alma 9 as Alma, while urging them to repentance for their wicked ways, reinforces the point by telling them, "it shall be more tolerable for [the Lamanites] in the day of judgment than for you, if ye remain in your sins, yea, and even more tolerable for them in this life than for you, except ye repent" (Alma 9:15).

Come to My House (Alma 8)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 07 February 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 461

Come to My House (Alma 8)

Alma continues his evangelistic travels in Alma 8, eventually arriving at the city of Ammonihah. To put it mildly, he is not well received by the people of this city — they "reviled him, and spit upon him, and caused that he should be cast out of their city" (verse 13). However, as Alma is on the road to the next city, an angel appears to him and instructs him to return to Ammonihah to be used to preach repentance and offer the people the opportunity to avoid destruction.

By the time Alma arrives at the city, he is quite hungry, so he asks a man if he can help him out with something to eat. This is not a chance meeting — the man's name is Amulek, and an angel has instructed him in a vision to be prepared to receive a man of God. As a result, Amulek says to Alma, "Go with me into my house and I will impart unto thee of my food; and I know that thou wilt be a blessing unto me and my house" (Alma 8:20).

What Brings Joy to a Minister (Alma 7)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 31 January 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 547

What Brings Joy to a Minister (Alma 7)

Now free of the chief judge position and able to focus wholly on leading The Church, Alma decides to travel around to check on the status of The Church in the various Nephite cities and encourage the members in each location. His first stop is the city of Gideon. An excerpt of his words to the members in that city is recorded in Alma 7.

Although the bulk of Alma's address concerns the coming of Jesus Christ, he also makes three separate statements about situations that have brought him joy as The Church leader:

Gather Together Oft (Alma 6)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 03 January 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 6648

Gather Together Oft (Alma 6)

In Alma 6, Alma establishes some order to the church in the capital city of Zarahemla, ordaining ministers and getting the membership roles in order. As the overall leader of the church, he recognizes that he will need to travel around and provide support to the churches in the various Nephite cities, so he wants to make sure the church in Zarahemla can function in his absence. Among the instructions he gives to the church members:

“The children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God” (Alma 6:6)

Can You Sing It? (Alma 5)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 27 December 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 555

Can You Sing It? (Alma 5)

Let’s all sing it together:

“What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart…”

It’s easy to sing, but is it a true statement? It doesn’t say that a wonderful change has occurred in someone’s life; it says that a wonderful change has occurred in my life. So, can I truthfully sing that a wonderful change has occurred in my life since Jesus came into my heart? Or am I just singing along for the sake of the melody?

Pruning Your Tree of Life (Alma 4)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 20 December 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 478

Pruning Your Tree of Life (Alma 4)

PRUNING: Trimming (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away overgrown branches, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth

When addressing His disciples at the Last Supper (John 15), Jesus used a familiar metaphor to compare His followers to the branches of a fruit tree. Branches with no fruit are cut away, but even branches bearing fruit require attention — these are purged (or pruned) in order to allow them to bring forth even more fruit. Pruning can include cutting away twigs and leaves that are in the way, but it can also include removing excess fruit that weighs down the branch and leaves no room for additional fruit to grow.

Equally Yoked (Alma 3)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 13 December 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 576

Equally Yoked (Alma 3)

Yoke: A wooden bar that joins two oxen to each other and to the burden they pull

Try to envision the arrangement described above. The two animals are connected to each other and need to move forward together, pulling a load behind them. Now, what would happen if the two oxen who are connected to each other in this way are significantly different in terms of size or strength? The weaker or shorter ox would walk more slowly than the stronger or taller one, causing the load to go around in circles. When oxen are “unequally yoked” they cannot perform the task set before them. Instead of working together, they are at odds with one another.

Are They With Us? (Alma 2)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 06 December 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 576

Are They With Us? (Alma 2)

In Alma 2, a man named Amlici campaigns to become a king over the Nephite people, actually forcing a vote on the issue. When Amlici and the proposal to have a king are defeated in the election, Amlici takes his supporters and forms his own little kingdom anyway, eventually coming to battle against the Nephites. After the battle, Alma sends some spies to follow the remaining Amlicites and they return with the following report:

“Behold, we followed the camp of the Amlicites, and to our great astonishment…we saw a numerous host of Lamanites; and behold, the Amlicites have joined them” (Alma 2:24)

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