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Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunday School - Book of Mormon Lesson 26

Book of Mormon Lesson #26: “Converted unto the Lord”
Alma 23-29

1. Marion G. Romney: In the twenty-third and twenty-fourth chapters of Alma we have a dramatic account of the power of the gospel changing almost a whole nation from a bloodthirsty, indolent, warlike people into industrious, peace-loving people. Of these people the record says that thousands were brought to a knowledge of the Lord, and that as many as were brought to a knowledge of the truth never did fall away. … This is the great message I want to leave here. It is the softening of the hearts that this gospel does to the people who receive it. … Now this remarkable transformation wrought in the hearts of these thousands of people was done in a very short period of time under the influence and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It would do the same thing today for all the peoples of the earth if they would but receive it. Gen. Conference, Oct. 1948.

2. Daniel H. Ludlow: Dr. Hugh Nibley has found a Semitic and common Indo-European root corresponding to anti that means in the face of or facing, as of one facing a mirror, and by extension either one who opposes or one who imitates. A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, pp. 209-210.

3. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: Eventually, men and women must learn the lesson of the ages, a lesson stressed by Mormon just prior to his death, a message he could offer with over a thousand years of Nephite perspective before him: “Know ye,” he said to the future remnants of Israel, “that ye must lay down your weapons of war, and delight no more in the shedding of blood, and take them not again, save it be that God shall command you” (Mormon 7:4). Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 170.

4. Gene R. Cook: [Alma 24:16 – we shall go to our God] Some years ago a fire erupted in the middle of the night and completely destroyed a family’s home. A neighbor came by to console a seven-year-old. … “Johnny, it’s sure too bad your home burned down.” Johnny thought a moment and then said, “Oh, that’s where you’re mistaken, Mr. Brown. That was not our home; that was just our house. We still have our home, we just don’t have any place to put it right now.” What a great principle taught by a child about home. What does that word bring to your mind – home? To some, an edifice. To others, a place to sleep, a place to eat, a place where worldly goods are stored. Yet to others more spiritually inclined, it might mean where family is, where my heart is, a sacred place, a peaceful place, an escape from a wicked world. The still small voice whispers yet a deeper meaning. Home is heaven. We are strangers here on earth. My real home is not here, but there. My challenge is to learn how to bring about a home here on earth similar to the celestial one I left. Gen. Conference, April 1984.

5. Joseph Fielding Smith: We are under commandment to forgive our enemies and suffer their abuses and smiting the first time and second time, also the third time. [D&C 94-32-38.] This is to be done in patience, and in humility and prayer, hoping that the enemy might repent. … For all these abuses we will be rewarded if we endure them in patience. … This may to the ordinary human being be a hard law to follow; but nevertheless it is the word of the Lord. One of the best illustrations of this spirit of enduring wrong rather than retaliating is found in the story of the people of Ammon in the Book of Mormon. Because they refused to take up arms to defend themselves, but would rather lay down their lives than shed blood even in their own defense, they brought many of their enemies to repentance and to the kingdom of God. … If all peoples would accept this doctrine there could be no war, and all difficulties would be adjusted in righteousness. Church History and Modern Revelation, vol. 1, pp. 434-35.

6. Orson Pratt: The wars that are now taking place will have a tendency, in some measure, to open the way for the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ to go and establish the Church and kingdom of God among those nations. N.B. Lundwall, Masterful Discourses of Orson Pratt, p. 141.

7. F. Burton Howard: [Alma 26 – Ammon glories in the Lord] And then on that day as I read, the Spirit testified to me again, and the words remain with me even today: No one but a missionary could have written this story. Joseph Smith could never have known what it was like to be a missionary to the Lamanites, for no one he knew had ever done such a thing before. Heroes from the Book of Mormon, p. 125.

8. Ezra Taft Benson: The sweetest work in all the world is the work in which we are engaged in helping to save and exalt the souls of the children of men. There isn’t anything so important, so precious, so enjoyable, so soul-satisfying. Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 189.

9. Daniel C. Peterson: [Alma 27:22] Jerson, for instance, designates a place that was given to the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi as a “land for an inheritance.” In Hebrew, Jershon means “a place of inheritance.” Joseph Smith simply would not have known this in the late 1820’s. Ensign, Jan. 2000.

10. F. Burton Howard: [Alma 28 – mourning death] I once attended a funeral service with Elder M. Russell Ballard. A statement he made there has remained with me to this day. He said, “Life isn’t over for a Latter-day Saint until he or she is safely dead, with their testimony still burning brightly.” “Safely dead” – what a challenging concept. Brothers and sisters, we will not be safe until we have given our hearts to the Lord – until we have learned to do what we have promised. Gen. Conference, April 1996.

11. David A. Bednar: The single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is to become a missionary long before you go on a mission. Please notice … I emphasized becoming rather than going. … You will not suddenly or magically be transformed into a prepared and obedient missionary on the day you walk through the front door of the Missionary Training Center. What you have become in the days and months and years prior to your missionary service is what you will be in the MTC. Gen. Conference, October 2005.

12. Neal A. Maxwell: In just a few words, a major insight came to the conscientious and the converted through Alma: “For I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted to me” (Alma 29:3). However, just prior, Alma urgently desired to be the “trump of God” so that he might “shake the earth” (Alma 29:1). But not because of ego; in fact, Alma wanted to declare repentance and the plan of redemption to all mankind so that there might be no more human sorrow. Yet Alma’s contentment rested on the reality that God finally allots to us according to our wills (see Alma 29:4). What could be more fair? Thus becoming content with his calling, Alma then meekly hoped to be an instrument to help save some soul. A significant spiritual journey is thus reflected in but nine soliloquy-like verses. The same contentment awaits us if our own desires can be worked through and aligned. Gen. Conference, April 2000.

13. Neal A. Maxwell: [Alma 29:4 – according to their desire] Desire denotes a real longing or craving. Hence righteous desires are much more than passive preferences or fleeting feelings. Of course our genes, circumstances, and environments matter very much, and they shape us significantly. Yet there remains an inner zone in which we are sovereign, unless we abdicate. In this zone lies the essence of our individuality and our personal accountability. … Mostly, brothers and sisters, we become the victims of our own wrong desires. … Like it or not, therefore, reality requires that we acknowledge our responsibility for our desires. … Righteous desires need to be relentless, therefore, because, said President Brigham Young, “The men and women who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom will find that they must battle every day” (Journal of Discourses, 11:14). Therefore, true Christian soldiers are more than weekend warriors. … Some of our present desires, therefore, need to be diminished and then finally dissolved. Gen. Conference, Oct. 1996.

14. Gerald N. Lund: It was our privilege to be living across the street from Elder F. Enzio Busche, now an emeritus Seventy, and his wife. One day Elder Busche taught our high priests quorum, and he cited a scripture in the Book of Alma where Alma longs to have the voice of an angel. Then Alma immediately repents of those feelings and in verse 4 makes a remarkable statement. He suggests that we have to be careful what we desire, for the Lord grants unto us the desires of our heart. And then came what was to me almost a stunning statement: “Whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.” God will grant unto us according to our will, the things which we desire (see Alma 29:1-5). I went home that day – and it’s not that I felt any of my desires were wrong – but in that moment I realized that those desires were mine. That day I began to try to let the Lord know that what I’d like to do is fulfill His desires. Even then, I thought I really meant it, but I came to know that that’s an easy thing to say and a difficult thing to do. As Elder Maxwell said yesterday, only when we truly yield our hearts to God can he begin to accelerate the purification and the sanctification and the perfecting process. Gen. Conference, April 2002.

Next week: Alma 30-31 “All Things Denote There is a God”

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