plant the word
Week 29 is scheduled for study July 13-19, 2020. What a glorious week for doctrine! We learn how to plant the word of God in our heart, what happens when we do, and how faith is involved in making that seed, that truth, spring up into everlasting live and joy!

Day 1

Alma 32:1–16 – I can choose to be humble.

Record the spiritual impressions you receive as you study Alma 32-35. What do you feel inspired to do because of what you learn?

What I learned as I tried to answer the two questions this lesson asks was too long to include here, so I wrote a separate article. You can find it here.

Here are a few paragraphs from the article that help answer the two questions asked in today’s lesson. You need to click on the link above to get the full article.

What does it take for us to be humble?

Being poor isn’t enough to make us humble. We can be beaten down by life and become humble, but the Lord says we can also choose to be humble, without having to be “compelled” to be humble. What, besides shame, abject poverty, loss, or other calamities, can cause us to become humble? What can we do to become humble willingly and deliberately?

Pride

I think the first thing we need to get into check is our pride. The world glorifies pride as a good thing, yet President Ezra Taft Benson taught that in the scriptures there is no such thing as good pride. Pride, by his definition is enmity, willfulness, and self-centeredness. It is where we pit our will against God’s will. It is difficult for the proud to be happy for someone else’s success, for they wanted that success for themself. The proud can’t allow others to get ahead in life, for there is an inner need to have it all for themself. Everyone else becomes a competitor needing to be conquered.

To overcome pride in any degree, we must first recognize and acknowledge when we see it in our self. A sin not recognized or acknowledged cannot be repented of. Once we recognize and acknowledge a source of pride in our life, we must deliberately choose to find a way to overcome it. This means we must label pride in our life as something unattractive and undesirable, and hence something we want to get rid of.

Ministering

In addition to our efforts to free ourselves of the pride that plagues most of us, humility is also gained through learning to minister to others. Ministering takes the focus of our life off self and puts it on the needs of others. Many of us have just never learned how to observe others to spot their needs. This is a skill that can be learned, but takes a lot of practice. The gift of discernment is crucial here, and is something we probably should be praying to receive. One of the greatest blessings that comes directly from learning to be a good minister is the ability to recognize just how blessed you personally are. Ministering demonstrates how much pain and suffering there is all around you, and how deep others’ trials go in life. Ministering will build humility and gratitude faster than anything else I know.

Humility is a big part of preparing ourselves to hear the word of God. Only when we are humble will we accept the word in the spirit in which it is given. There are many ways in which we can prepare ourselves, our heart and our head to be receptive to the word of God as found in the scriptures and as given by His servants. How many additional ways can you list to help you be prepared to more readily receive His word?

Day 2

Alma 32:17–43: 33-34 – I exercise faith in Jesus Christ by planting and nourishing His word in my heart.

Record the spiritual impressions you receive as you study Alma 32-35. What do you feel inspired to do because of what you learn?

An important point that is rarely addressed in Alma’s sermon on faith, is that there are two types of faith. We mostly focus on the experimental faith Alma describes as a seed. But if you keep reading his sermon to the people that experimental type of faith is only meant to be temporary. What happens once we know that the seed is good? Are we free to ignore it? If we do, it will be to our detriment.

Most of the faith we use in our life is long-term faith, the kind that takes patience and perseverance. For example, in Alma’s sermon he encourages the people to plant a seed, meaning accept on faith a small bit of eternal truth. He wants them to do something with it, choosing to believe on faith that if they live according to that truth something good will come of it. But what happens once we know that the truth we planted in our heart is correct? Once we have knowledge then we no longer have faith, for knowledge replaces our faith.

Alma takes the seed analogy to the next level. He says that once we have planted the seed and we know that it is swelling and growing, so we know it is a good truth or seed, we now need to begin the process of nourishing that truth. Alma acknowledges that it takes a long time for something planted to grow to maturity, and that if we don’t actively try to keep that truth alive and thriving in our life that our own unbelief will cause that truth to die and be plucked from our soul.

The faith Alma refers to in the nourishing process is that long-term faith that is required to see what each truth we plant will turn into once it reaches its full fruition. If you have never seen a real mango tree, for example, and you plant the seed and it starts to grow, you still have no idea what you will get from it when it reaches maturity and starts to bear fruit. What you planted as one seed, when grown, returns hundreds, if not thousands of fruits containing additional seeds. We never know how a truth will change us over the course of time as we nourish it by righteous living. It is the nature of truths, just like it is the nature of plants, to change into mature versions of their seedling forms and produce fruit that cannot be foreseen when it is young.

Most of the faith we exercise in this life, and in the eternities is this long-term kind of faith. It simply takes time and experience to see where these truths we accept now will take us, and what growth they will offer us as we learn to use them in our daily living. It is the nature of truth that we actually grow and mature together. It will not die in our heart unless we kill it through neglect or deliberately tearing it out of us. This is what happens when we turn away from the truths we know and accept other things as the ruling principles in our life. The Lord will not allow His truths to have place in us if we don’t want them there. This is why He says in the scriptures that unto those who are given truth and live it will be given more, while those who are given truth and betray those truths will have what they already possess taken away from them.

Day 3

Alma 33:2–11; 34:17-29 – I can worship God in prayer, anytime and anywhere.

Record the spiritual impressions you receive as you study Alma 32-35. What do you feel inspired to do because of what you learn?

I think every bit as important as the concept that you can pray to God anywhere at any time is the concept that the scriptures teach us how to pray, where to pray, and when to pray. The people questioning Alma would have known all about prayer if they had been able to study the scriptures themselves, like we can. They had to study the scriptures in the synagogue, but they had been thrown out for their coarse clothing.

The scriptures teach us clearly that the Lord wants us to talk to Him wherever we are, anytime we feel so inclined to do so. Even if we can’t pray to Him on our knees in formal prayer, He wants us to have our hearts drawn out in prayer to Him continually. That brings up an interesting question. Do you think Christ had his heart drawn out in continual prayer to God during his mortal ministry? From what I have seen in the scriptures, I would be willing to guess that he did. If this habit gave our Savior constant communion with God, why would I think it would do anything different to me?

To have our hearts drawn out in continual prayer to God does not mean we are constantly rehearsing to Him our list of wants and needs. Look at how Alma prayed to God in this week’s chapters. He talked to Him, like one man would talk to another. He included God in his thinking. His desires and concerns were honestly laid out before the Lord at all times. Any of us can do the same, with practice. And it does take practice to remember that God is always there and listening. That is one station He never turns off.

Day 4

Alma 34:30–41 – “This life is the time … to prepare to meet God.”

Record the spiritual impressions you receive as you study Alma 32-35. What do you feel inspired to do because of what you learn?

Many of us take great comfort in the doctrine that we are eternal beings, and as such, will live forever. But just because we will be around forever it doesn’t mean we actually have forever to make the changes needed to become like God. The basic steps need to be taken before the resurrection, and they are much more difficult to accomplish once we leave this earth life, though some progress can be made in the spirit world.

The temporary nature of mortal life is the reason we are told that today, yes, this same day you woke up and got out of bed, is the day set aside by God for you and me to prepare ourselves to return to our heavenly home. It is natural to assume, when you are young, that you have a long time to make changes to your life. You have, in essence, your “whole life ahead of you.” But that just isn’t always true. Many of us die young, and in surprising and unexpected ways. I am currently in my early to mid 60’s. I don’t feel particularly old, yet I am surprised at how many of my fellow missionaries and high school classmates are already dead. This just should not be so, but it is.

This is why I say so often that the gospel of Christ must be lived intentionally and purposefully. We must decide that we will take this injunction to prepare for the next life seriously, and make whatever changes are needed in our life today so we are prepared to meet our God whenever called upon to leave mortality, whether it is next week or in 50 years.

What is important here is not that we must be “perfect” today. The Apostles have made it very clear that as long as we are working on being better today than we were yesterday, that is enough. It is the direction we are headed that is important, not how much ground we have already covered. Are we making enough of an effort that the Spirit is growing in influence in our daily living? Are we becoming better at ministering to others? Is our understanding of the commandments and the scriptures growing, even if it is slowly? Our speed isn’t so much an issue here as where we are pointed at in our road of life. If we are consistently making progress, even if it is slow progress, the Lord will be able to see that we have made Him a priority in our lives. That will go a long way in the day of judgment.

Scripture Study/Family Home Evening

Alma 34:31 – Do we really begin to experience the blessings of the plan of redemption when we repent?

One of the great blessings of serving the Lord is that He is consistent in all things, and not capricious or fickle. How he administers his blessings and punishments is a good example of this. What have the scriptures told us about when God will punish those who rebel against Him and His laws? Aren’t we always taught that the Lord waits until the last possible time to hold us accountable for our actions? This gives us time to repent and turn to Him and receive His blessings.

When does the Lord promise to bless us for being obedient? Does He wait until the last possible moment before giving us some indication that He is pleased with our choice to choose goodness over darkness? Doesn’t He always promise to bless us immediately when we obey? This is the promise in Alma 34:31. We also are told this very same thing from King Benjamin’s sermon in Mosiah 2:24–26.

22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.

24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
[emphasis added]

These scriptures teach us that the Lord is quick to bless and slow to punish. When we accept the gift of mercy Christ offers us through his atoning sacrifice and resurrection, we can expect to have the blessings of that sacrifice begin to flow into our life immediately with greater spiritual knowledge, changes of heart, guidance from the Spirit, and much more. This is the nature of God’s mercy, for He loves His children.

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

BoM Week 29

(Alma 32-35)