instrument
Week 26 is scheduled for study June 22-28, 2020. This week’s lessons all talk about different aspects of what it means to or what it takes to become an instrument in the hands of God to do His work. Being an instrument of salvation in the hands of the Lord is the ultimate privilege.

I have written a companion piece for this week’s lessons. It specifically addresses what it means to become an instrument in the hands of God. I hope you enjoy it.

Day 1

Alma 17:1–4 – As I strengthen my own faith, I can more effectively share the gospel.

As you read Alma 17-22, record impressions that come to you and act on them. Doing so will show the Lord your willingness to receive more personal revelation.

I love the title for today’s lesson. What indeed does our personal faith have to do with how effectively we share the gospel? We wouldn’t want to make this personal or anything, so let’s look at the sons of Mosiah. The scriptures tell us they taught with power and authority. They had the spirit and were led by the Holy Ghost in all they did.

What would their missions be like if they were there under duress, because their father commanded them to go?

How might they have handled the trials they went through if they didn’t want to be there in the first place?

Do you think “the power of their words” came from book learning alone?

According to Alma they prayed and fasted much, therefore they had the spirit of prophecy and of revelation. Does this mean they had one or two well placed prayers or one or two good fast Sunday’s and they were miraculously changed into prophets?

How much prayer and fasting is required to begin to have the spirit of prophecy and of revelation? How much prayer and fasting is required to have the spirit of prophecy and of revelation often? Would you say a little, some, or a lot?

Now that you have answered these questions about the sons of Mosiah, and those who went with them, how do you think these answers apply to you? Oh, and do you really believe that ONLY the sons of Mosiah had this transformation and not the rest of the missionaries who went with them and suffered along side of them for fourteen years? I make this point only because we often point to the sons of Mosiah as being special and somehow “above” us and our spiritual abilities. Yet they were, by their own account, the most vile of sinners. If they, and those who went with them could all affect such a change in their lives, then why not each of us?

Day 2

Alma 17:6–12 – I can be an instrument in God’s hands to bring salvation to His children.

As you read Alma 17-22, record impressions that come to you and act on them. Doing so will show the Lord your willingness to receive more personal revelation.

The thing that has always amazed me about this group of missionaries we generically call the sons of Mosiah (for they took many others with them) is that they weren’t ignorant of what they were walking into. If they were all peasants they might be able to claim ignorance, but the leaders of these missionaries were all sons of the King. If anyone in the kingdom was well versed in the atrocities and propensities of the Lamanites against the Nephites, it would be the king’s family. There is every possibility that all these sons had been to war with the Lamanites at some point in their past. In their culture even the king rode out to battle with his people, so why not his sons who would someday reign in his stead?

They had read and studied the scriptures. They knew all the horrible things the Lamanites had done to imprisoned Nephites and they knew the stories of their people’s captivities just in their own lifetime. Yet for all that they decided that someone needed to try the virtue of the word of God to bring the Lamanites back to God. War evidently wasn’t the answer. They, themselves had been the vilest of sinners, so if they could convert, why not the Lamanites?

Do you see that their situation gave them a special point of view that many of us have never experienced? Many of us may have been less active for years, and perhaps have dabbled in things forbidden, but most of us have not set out deliberately to destroy the Church of God then had a miraculous conversion. They knew the power of conversion, and that you can’t judge someone and say they will or won’t accept the gospel. They personally went from hating the Church to its most staunch defenders and promoters.

The scriptures don’t come right out and tell us this, but don’t you think they considered long and hard what kind of things might happen to them when they deliberately walked into the throne room of their sworn enemy and tried to win them over to the gospel of Christ? Anything nasty and horrible that could happen in such a case was completely possible. Small wonder that as they went towards the land of the Lamanites they fasted and prayed much, for they had no way of knowing how they might be received.

Their minds were put at rest when the Lord answered their prayers in verses 11-12.

11 And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.

12 And it came to pass that the hearts of the sons of Mosiah, and also those who were with them, took courage to go forth unto the Lamanites to declare unto them the word of God.

The only thing they knew before departing on their mission was that they would come home alive, at least the Lord told Mosiah that his sons would return alive. But what would happen to them while they served the Lamanites was a blank canvas. In these two verses the Lord tells them enough to quiet their troubled hearts. Yes, they will have to suffer long. They will have afflictions. But in the end these things would result in the “salvation of many souls.” That was all they needed to know. When they first repented and tried to repair the damage they had caused the Church many had spit on them and had hit them with their fists. These missionaries were acquainted with this part of the ministry, and they were good with that. What mattered was that people would be converted to Christ. That made everything worth whatever they had to go through for that conversion to happen.

So what about us? What are we willing to undergo in order for someone to receive the gospel of Christ, the good news of salvation through the Messiah’s atoning sacrifice? Are we willing to share, without any expectation one way or another that they will accept. We just share the gospel because it is what has brought us joy and what can bring them joy as well. Only God knows who will and will not accept the message we bear. Our only responsibility is to go out and love others and be willing to open our mouths. The Lord will do the rest. If we can emotionally relieve ourselves of the responsibility of someone else’s conversion, missionary work becomes one of life’s greatest joys, and most satisfying to the soul. Again, all the Lord wants us to do is to love others enough to open our mouths and stand for truth. He will work with them and prepare them for the time they will have the best chance of accepting the message we bring. Their acceptance is not our responsibility, only the message.

Day 3

Alma 17-18 – I can help others prepare to receive the gospel.

As you read Alma 17-22, record impressions that come to you and act on them. Doing so will show the Lord your willingness to receive more personal revelation.

Think back on what you read about Ammon in these two chapters. Did he blunder his way into opportunities to share the gospel? Did he accidentally say things that prepared the people around him to listen to the message he brought to share with them? Remember, he fasted and prayed much that he might be filled with the Spirit. And it is the Spirit who gives us utterance, or in other words, who fills our mouths with what we should say at the moment we need to say it so He can have the greatest impact on the people to whom we are ministering.

At least two or three times things happened and we are told that this was the desire of Ammon’s heart. Ammon had gotten his heart square, or aligned with, the will of God, so when the converting experience presented itself, Ammon was perfectly happy to step into the breach and fill the spiritual void with teachings about Christ and his gospel. The Spirit was preparing more than the Lamanites to hear the message. He was also preparing Ammon and his brethren to be in the right frame of mind to share that gospel message. On the surface it all looks like one grand coincidence, but we know that with God there is no such thing as coincidence.

Please note that much of what Ammon and his brethren did to win over the people was how they ministered to them in love and respect. It wasn’t because of their flowery words, their royal upbringing, polished manners, or money. Ammon, for example, became one of the servants of Lamoni. He wasn’t just appointed to be a servant, he acted as any good servant would. He was attentive, thorough, proactive in serving his master’s interests, etc. He was the best servant the king had. The fact that he was born into royalty had nothing to do with how he demonstrated his love for others. He loved them all, equally. It was his lack of pretension and lack of focus on other’s stations in life that helped him navigate every level of society fluently. He was every man’s equal,  no man’s superior, and no man’s inferior. I would like to think Jesus was like this as well.

Day 4

Alma 18-22 – My testimony can have a far-reaching influence.

As you read Alma 17-22, record impressions that come to you and act on them. Doing so will show the Lord your willingness to receive more personal revelation.

Let’s make this lesson today personal. Think about your own testimony. Where did it come from? Very few of us have a witness that stands alone in our heart, because it is not associated with anyone else’s testimony. How many do you personally know who happened across a Book of Mormon, picked it up, read it, prayed about it, and received their witness without ever talking to another soul about it? There aren’t very many who have gone through life not being bolstered and supported by the testimonies of others.

As an example, when I was preparing to go on my mission I approached my mother with concern. How could I go out there and tell people the Church was true and the Book of Mormon was true when I had never had the transformative conversion and witness that you read about in the Book of Mormon to people like the people of King Benjamin or Alma the younger? Her answer was simple, and it changed the course of my life. She said, “Could I ever convince you that the Book of Mormon and the Church was not true?” My answer was immediate and definite – “No, of course not.” She replied, “Then there is your answer.” I had never realized before that day that I had been receiving confirmations of my testimony from hundreds of people’s testimonies all along the way, in sacrament meetings, through friendly conversations, in Primary classes, and so forth.

How many people do you know who faced some kind of crisis in their life who sat down with a friend, and in that heart-to-heart chat with them they shared their own personal experience with God that changed their life? These are just a couple of simple examples of how being willing to share your personal experience with God affects the lives of those around you.

Think about this. Does your sharing your testimony stop with the person you share it with? Remember that all good has a ripple effect that can last into the eternities. Just as the testimonies shared with you have influenced you in many unmentionable ways, your testimony that you built on all those shared experiences influences those with whom you share your testimony. This pattern moves ever onward and outward doing good all along the way for more years than we know.

Day 5

Alma 19:36 – The Lord’s arm is extended to me when I repent.

As you read Alma 17-22, record impressions that come to you and act on them. Doing so will show the Lord your willingness to receive more personal revelation.

I sat and stared at the title of this lesson for a while. What does the Lord’s arm have to do with anything? Scriptural language is figurative language. It is meant to be read and learned from on many levels. Only figurative language can do this so well. If the scriptures were completely specific then the lessons would almost always only apply to that specific example, but by being figurative in language, as you spiritually mature and have different experiences in life, the same verses of scripture can mean different things to you, and hence continue to teach you the mind and will of the Lord for a lifetime.

The arm represents the strength of the Lord, just as His hand or hands represent His work and what He does. So when the Lord stretches forth His arm to us, he is reaching out to us to lend His own personal strength to us in whatever trial or event is happening in our life. When we repent, we are seeking to give up sins, which are often addictive in nature. We need strength that is beyond our own in order for us to give up our sins. It is the strength the Lord manifests in our personal lives that gives us something in which to exercise our faith.

When I need a change of heart, because my attitudes are off, that is something I cannot do on my own. But as I exercise my faith in God’s strength or ability to make changes in me I cannot make on my own, I am able to find strength within myself I never knew was there. My faith enables God to change my attitude, my heart, so that I learn to feel differently about things than I felt before, and not just temporarily, but forever. This is part of the enlargement of capacity we are promised when we repent and keep God’s commandments.

Again, as a personal example – Once I was standing on the opposite side of our bed talking to my wife. Something she said or did really annoyed me, and I was not able to let it go. It was getting in the way of our communication and our relationship. I suddenly realized that somehow I needed to change how I felt about her behavior, because I knew I didn’t have the power to change another person’s behavior. I spent months praying for a change of heart. I sought ways to serve her and tried to not be annoyed by whatever it was that was bothering me. Then one day we were in another discussion about a completely different topic, and she did her “thing” again, and suddenly I realized that it no longer annoyed me. Somewhere along the way my heart had been changed, and it certainly wasn’t of my doing. That was the moment I realized for myself that God really can, and does, change us for the better when we repent.

Scripture Study and Family Home Evening

Alma 22:15–18 – What are you willing to give up?

This is an amazing little passage of scripture. Have you noticed that Lamoni is mentioned by name, but not his father, even though he too is converted to the Lord? Why is that? My personal opinion is that it might make reading his story more readily relatable to any person, because it is generic in how his story is told.

In this story of conversion you have a king who is totally focused on his kingdom and his life as a king. Along comes a missionary and confronts him (remember when he met Ammon and his son Lamoni?) and displays a love for his son he has never witnessed before in his life. Ammon had said some things to the king that got him thinking about his life, and over the course of the next while he became more and more uneasy about how he was living his life. This was the Holy Ghost preparing him for this interview with Aaron, Ammon’s brother.

As Aaron opened up the scriptures, and hence the plan of salvation to the king, the king began to see that there was a lot more to life than even his own exalted station. His soul, under the influence of the Spirit, began to hunger for this eternal promise of salvation and life with God. By the time Aaron was finished teaching him, the king was willing to give up everything he possessed in this world to receive the promise of eternal life. In this story we witness the transformation that takes place in all of us, some faster and some more slowly, as we begin to have our eyes opened to the eternities to come.

What is so important here, is that the king saw that the promises of God, the rewards for believing in Him and obeying Him, are worth more than any earthly accomplishment or thing we might ever possess. As we move along in this story we will witness that the king really did lose all that he had because of his decision to accept the Lord. Eventually his people rose up against him and those who believed as he did, and he and the converted portion of his people had to leave the kingdom or be killed by those who refused to believe.

There was once a preacher who believed in the gospel, so he asked the missionaries what would become of him if he accepted their preaching. Their only answer was that they would preach the gospel to him. I thought a lot about that story. This preacher would lose his livelihood if he accepted the gospel of Christ. How would he feed himself and his family? It is a question of priorities. Which is more important? Is it more important to have a comfortable life in the here and now, lived in error, or to live a hard life now, but be at peace with God? Each of us must answer this question for ourself.

Only we can decide if the blessings and promises of our eternal covenants are worthy of any sacrifice in order to receive them. The question for us to answer is, “Is my comfort and convenience in mortality, as short a time as it may be, worth more than my life and situation for the rest of eternity?” Some will opt for the short term comfort. Others will choose the promises of glory for the rest of eternity. It is a matter of faith.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

BoM Week 26

(Alma 17-22)