Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fortifying Ourselves against the Enemy

This week in our religion class for the Pathway program through BYU-Idaho, Don and I got to read the books of Enos, Jarom, Omni, Words of Mormon, and Mosiah chapters 1-3 in the Book of Mormon. Then during our Gathering we both participated in groups that reviewed some of these scriptures and asked us to reflect on and respond to some specific questions about them.
My group discussed a very small part of our reading assignment; only three verses, 7 through 9, in the book of Jarom. Since Thursday night, I have thought about those three verses a lot. I wondered why someone thought thirty minutes of our class time that would be spent studying these three verses was worth our time and even necessary to our growth as students and as disciples of Jesus Christ. So I decided to study it a little more on my own and see what I could find out.
In these three verses, we find out that Jarom is a Nephite, a follower of Nephi, and is also Nephi’s great-nephew (his grandfather, Jacob, was Nephi’s brother). We also find out that the Lamanites (the bad guys) are going to battle against the Nephites over and over. Jarom assures us that the Nephite kings and leaders were “mighty men in the faith of the Lord” and that they “taught the people the ways of the Lord”. I found this so interesting. Here these men are fighting battle after battle and Jarom doesn’t say that their leaders are well trained and armed military men, but that they are faithful men of God. Honestly, my first thought was that I would rather have a big, strong, warrior fighting my battles but Jarom quickly changed my mind.
Jarom teaches us that because of the leader’s faith, the Nephites were able to withstand the Lamanites and push them out of their land. Then the work begins that I thought would be so important to be done first. The Nephites begin to fortify their cities. How did I miss the importance of faith when fighting an enemy? Faith is the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It would be important in any situation!
Then I was in for another surprise! Jarom records in verse 8, “we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceedingly rich” and made “all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war”. After fortifying their cities, they had families, spread out, got rich, and moved from an agricultural society to an industrial society. This was not the way that I would have thought things would progress for the Nephites! I imagined that they would spend all their time and efforts on fortifying their cities and building up strong armies to fight the Lamanites. But in Jarom 1 verse 9, I found the answer to my confusion. After he lets us know that the Nephites were “prepared to meet the Lamanites” and that the Lamanites “did not prosper against us”, Jarom says, “the word of the Lord was verified, which he spake unto our fathers, saying that: Inasmuch as ye will keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land”!
The Nephites were not just in the business of fending off the Lamanites. They were also building up the kingdom of God. They were prepared to and did keep His commandments. And ultimately, that is what fortified them when their enemies came.
I am so grateful to have had these short three verses to study in our block of scripture this week. I know that my Heavenly Father wants me to understand and have faith in Him. This was a testimony building experience for me as I learned how to fortify my life against the enemy that is always trying to get in.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Book of Mormon is of great worth today!

As part of the Pathway program that Don and I are enrolled in, we are taking a religion class this semester. We are focusing our study on the first half of the Book of Mormon. This week our assignment was to read and study 2 Nephi 28-33. I love my Book of Mormon because it is well marked from an intense personal study that I did a number of years ago. The insights I had and the things I read in the study manual that were special to me are marked in my scriptures. The few chapters that we read this week are especially loved. I learned a lot when I studied them before and I was reminded of many of those lessons as we went over it again.
The part that I have marked before, that again testified of its truthfulness to my heart this week, and that I want to focus on now, is why The Book of Mormon is “of great worth” to us today. The Book of Mormon was written in ancient times for us today as we see in 2 Nephi 28:2,”And the things which shall be written out of the book shall be of great worth unto the children of men, and especially unto our seed, which is a remnant of the house of Israel.” Then in verses three through fourteen, we are given all the reasons why this is true.

Verse 3 – There will be churches which are built up not unto the Lord.
Verse 4 – They will contend one with another.
Verse 4 – They will teach with their learning.
Verse 4 – They will deny the Holy Ghost.
Verse 5 – They will deny the power of God.
Verse 5 – They will say there is no God today.
 Verse 5 – They will say that the Lord and Redeemer is done with his work.
Verse 5 – They will say that He has given His power to men.
Verse 6 – They will say that the Lord is not a God of miracles.
Verse 7 – People will say that they can do whatever they want and everything will be fine.
Verse 8 – Others will say that they can do whatever they want and God will justify their sins.
Verse 9 – Many will teach false, vain, and foolish doctrines.
Verse 11 – Many people will become corrupted.
Verse 12 – Churches will become corrupted because of pride, false teachers, and false doctrine.
Verse 13 – They will rob the poor.
Verse 13 – They will persecute the meek and poor in heart.
Verse 14 – Because of pride, wickedness, abominations, and whoredoms, almost all of them have gone astray.

These are strong words but they are powerful. As I read them I can see the truth in them. I can look around and see these things happening my community, in my nation, and in the world. It is so wonderful that we have The Book of Mormon to testify of Jesus Christ, to add to the testimony that we read from the Bible, and to guide us as we try to live the way He has taught us in a world that has so many pitfalls.