stand fast
Week 32 is scheduled for study August 3-9, 2020. To stand fast in our faith in Christ requires that we first recognize that our faith is being challenged, or that there is someone who actually wants to destroy that faith. This week’s lessons are all about seeing how the world is changing and threatening our physical or spiritual safety, and what we can do about it.

Day 1

Alma 43-52 – The battles in the Book of Mormon teach me about my battles against evil.

It may seem that the events described in Alma 43-52 are not particularly relevant to you. But as in all scripture, the Lord has a message for you. Prayerfully seek it.

This kind of assignment can be daunting. The manual is asking each of us to look at the physical battles the Nephites were having with the Lamanites, and to extract spiritual lessons from those battles. For many of us who like to look at things in a literal way, this can be a difficult assignment. The manual lists more than eight scriptural references and asks that you extract a spiritual lesson from each of them. I have read through each of the verses and have tried to help by asking some questions that (hopefully) will help you think of lessons you have discovered. You may also come up with comparisons I haven’t thought of, so this should be a rich lesson indeed.

Alma 43:19

How have our Church leaders helped us be prepared spiritually for the war Satan is waging on all righteousness in the last days?

Remember, Satan isn’t just fighting against the members of the Lord’s church. He is fighting against everything that represents goodness in any way. He is perverting and subverting all that is good so that the evil he introduces in its place is called good by those who are evil. This can create great confusion among people who aren’t being fortified by the Holy Ghost and the scriptures on a regular basis.

Alma 43:23-24

The manual points out that they sought the guidance of the prophet so they knew what they needed to do next. But there is more to these two verses. Note that they kept tabs on what the enemies of their souls were doing. They couldn’t be prepared to fight them if they didn’t know where their enemy was. They wouldn’t be prepared to ask the right questions of the prophet and the Lord if they were completely in the dark about what their enemies were up to.

Wickedness thrives in the dark, because that is usually the only way for it to prosper. When the righteous reveal wickedness it allows them to spiritually assess what they need to do to counter the attacks of the Evil One. The Nephites were able to learn what the Lamanites were up to without participating in their evils. Just so, we also need to be aware of the tools Satan is using against us, his tactics and his plans. Without any awareness of these things he can operate against us without anyone to hinder his efforts.

I don’t know about you, but this need to know what Satan is up to always made me wonder. For example, why, when Alma was giving his final instructions to Helaman, did he specify that the reason God made the urim and thummim was to reveal to other nations the wickedness of the people that caused their destruction. The Lord feels it is just that important for us to know how Satan’s armies are moving, and what they are doing, so we can prepare ourselves for their attacks on our lives.

Alma 44:1-4

What does this verse say about the integrity of Moroni?

What does this indicate about Moroni’s spiritual sensitivity? He was a general of an army. He had his enemy right where he wanted him, yet he did not want to hurt him.

Can we learn anything about how to treat those who wish to harm us from Moroni’s attitude toward the Lamanites?

I would like to challenge you to also look at the rest of Moroni’s statement to Zerahemnah. His statements are all spoken with absolute trust and faith in God, that God had put the Lamanites in their power because of the Nephite’s faithfulness to God’s commandments. Yet if you look at Zerahemnah’s reply, you can imagine that it is what a typical person of today, who has no belief in God, would say. They see only the physical preparations of the Nephites that were superior to their own. They completely discount, as fantasy, the Nephite’s belief in their God. For many, this is exactly the way the world views us today.

Can you see how the world is more and more seeing our belief in God like Zerahemnah felt about Moroni’s surety of God’s hand in their life?

Alma 45:1

What do you think the relationship is between those who experience great gratitude for the Lord’s blessings and those who do not?

Does gratitude for God’s blessings have anything to do with our level of commitment to going to Church, attending the Temple, or doing family history work?

If so, how might gratitude and a recognition of God’s blessings in our lives affect our behavior?

Alma 46:11-20 – Here are some thoughts to consider about these verses.

Look at the verses before these verses and think about the kind of man Amalekiah was. He was a politician who was smooth-tongued, promising prosperity and ease, social position, and power to those who followed him, but he really was only concerned with obtaining those things for himself.

Do we have people like Amalekiah in our land today?

Are there organizations that promise a better life, greater justice for all, and greater equality that are themselves like Amalekiah and his fair, but poisonous promises?

Think about what Captain Moroni wrote on his title of liberty. Do you think that only Christians believe in those things the title represents?

Do you think that there might have been many outside of their faith who would gladly have rallied to that call to maintain their freedom and to protect their families, regardless of their religious beliefs?

What about today? Do you think that if the population of your country were called upon to defend those same principles that both Christians and those of other faiths would come together to defend the sanctity of their homes and their way of life?

Note that in verse 20 Moroni’s call to defend the title of liberty was to “whosoever will maintain this title upon the land.” I think one of the lessons we can learn here is that protecting hearth and home is something of a universal value that those of many religion, and even non-religious people hold dear. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we actually have more in common with each other than we care to admit.

Alma 48:7-9

Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.

Two things are going on here. Moroni is preparing their minds to be faithful to God, and he is fortifying their homes and cities against attack.

How do they connect? What is the commandment from God they were fulfilling to protect themselves from those who would harm their families? (spoiler alert! it is Alma 43:47)

Alma 49:3, 12-14

The wicked do not seem to have the gift of foresight that the Lord gives to the righteous. When we follow the Spirit and the promptings we receive we are blessed in ways we can’t foresee. The Lord expects us to act on faith and just do what we feel is right to do. It is when we have already followed the inspiration He has given us that He provides us with the miracles and blessings that surprise and delight us.

What else do you see in these verses?

I will leave the last few sets of verses to you to fill in with your own thoughts. This has been a great and eye-opening exercise for me. I hope it is for you as well.

Day 2

Alma 46:11-28; 48:7-17 – As I strive to be faithful like Moroni, I will become more like the Savior.

It may seem that the events described in Alma 43-52 are not particularly relevant to you. But as in all scripture, the Lord has a message for you. Prayerfully seek it.

After reading the manual for today’s lesson, look at the following questions and comments. This is a checklist of sorts of Moroni’s attributes. If his attributes are praiseworthy enough for the prophet Mormon to hold him up as an example of a great man, where are we on this list of good attributes? Where can we improve? What do we need to work on? How might gaining all these qualities in our life make us more noble and acceptable to God?

Moroni was a strong and a mighty man. At the age of 25 he probably was physically at his peak. But God doesn’t look on the outer shell, but on our hearts.

What does it mean to be someone who has a perfect understanding? What do you think Mormon is referring to? What was it that Moroni understood? Can we develop a perfect or complete understanding of God’s teachings as well?

More and more people are enjoying violence as a form of entertainment. Captain Moroni found no pleasure in hurting other people. Where is my heart?

Many people are concluding that if you are unhappy with your government the solution is to burn down the whole institution and replace it. Yet Moroni’s heart “did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country.” Until the Savior comes and personally rules on earth, no government will be perfect. Moroni was willing to give his life to preserve the freedoms his country provided him, whatever those freedoms were.

Are we willing to do the same for our country? Are we willing to lay down our lives, if necessary, to defend and protect the liberties we already have?

Moroni’s heart swelled with gratitude for all the blessings God had given his people. Do we recognize all the blessings we already have, or are we dissatisfied and unhappy that we don’t have enough of what we think we need or want? It is important to remember here that one of the only ways to offend God is the be ungrateful for what He has given already.

Moroni didn’t just give lip service to protecting his country’s welfare. The verses here say he “did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.” What are we currently doing to labor for the welfare of our own country?

Am I firm in my faith in Christ? How can I show that I am? What do I think Christ would expect of those who want to be firm in the faith?

The Nephites were taught to never give offense. How careful am I not to be the one to give others offense? Am I actively trying to be a peacemaker?

Verse 15 tells us that Moroni’s faith was that as long as we were being Christlike in our attitudes and behavior, Jesus would defend his people and prosper them in the land. Everything Moroni did was founded on this faith in Christ’s promise to bless those who were faithful to the commandments.

Mormon goes on to tell us that there is built in strength in being like Moroni. Not physical strength, but spiritual and physical protection from all the efforts and machinations of the evil one. This is why he tells us that if all of us could be like this man, the very foundations of hell would be shaken, for Satan would not have any control over anyone. In other words, being like Moroni frees us from the control of Satan. That is our guarantee.

What else do you see in these verses that can help us be protected personally and as a nation?

Day 3

Alma 47 – Satan tempts and deceives us little by little.

It may seem that the events described in Alma 43-52 are not particularly relevant to you. But as in all scripture, the Lord has a message for you. Prayerfully seek it.

As the manual states, Lehonti knew better than to come down from his place of safety into the enemy’s camp. So when Amalekiah tried several times, unsuccessfully, to get him to come down, Amalekiah went up to him. He offered to put himself into a position of weakness to give Lehonti the courage to come out and at least talk to him. This was his first deception. What looked like a show of good faith was really the first successful carrot to draw Lehonti into Amalekiah’s web of deceit.

By wearing a facade or false mask of friendship and honor, Amalekiah was able to trick Lehonti into believing that Amalekiah was an honorable man. Amalekiah subjected himself to Lehonti’s rule, fully knowing that he planned on killing Lehonti and taking his place as soon as he was dead. As soon as he had fully deceived Lehonti and gotten Lehonti to let down his protective guard, Amalekiah began to secretly adminster poison to him so that by degrees he weakened and finally died.

Do we have people or organizations in the world around us who are acting as an Amalekiah, promising fair things, promoting us so we feel good about our decision to align with them, but they actually have intentions of poisoning us and causing us harm in the end? People and organizations like Amalekiah really do exist, and they are among us today. We must use our connections to heavenly inspiration to detect these sources of deception so we don’t become just another Lehonti to fall to their evil designs. These are the last days. Satan is running amok among the nations. Every form of evil is being used against all good and decent people. The longer we refuse to acknowledge their existence, the more damage Satan can inflict on the nations of the earth.

Day 4

Alma 50-51 – Unity brings safety.

It may seem that the events described in Alma 43-52 are not particularly relevant to you. But as in all scripture, the Lord has a message for you. Prayerfully seek it.

The following two verses (Alma 50:21-22) in many ways encapsulate one of the main themes of the Book of Mormon.

21 And we see that these promises have been verified to the people of Nephi; for it has been their quarrelings and their contentions, yea, their murderings, and their plunderings, their idolatry, their whoredoms, and their abominations, which were among themselves, which brought upon them their wars and their destructions.

22 And those who were faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord were delivered at all times, whilst thousands of their wicked brethren have been consigned to bondage, or to perish by the sword, or to dwindle in unbelief, and mingle with the Lamanites.

Recently I watched a video clip of Elder Bednar speaking to a Spanish-speaking audience. One of his comments, in essence, was that living the gospel is not hard, because it brings us joy. It is not living the gospel that is hard, for it only brings sorrow. This sentiment is supported by these verses from the Book of Mormon.

The people of the Nephites always got along well, prospered, thrived, and found joy, until someone decided they were being oppressed by all that happiness, and wanted to do what was expressly forbidden by God. Every single time it leads to suffering and sorrow. And the further they go from the commandments, the deeper their sorrow and suffering, for almost always did their rebellion lead to war and bloodshed. It is in the bloodshed that follows almost all rebellions, sooner or later, that causes the greatest suffering. For many who were supposedly fighting for their “freedoms” to do what they wanted were actually fighting to subject others to their way of thinking. This is what sent so many thousands of Nephites to the spirit world unprepared to be there.

Is there any reason to believe that life and people are any different today than they were then? We still have those who rebel against God’s commandments, but their own rebellion isn’t enough, they want others to rebel like they did. Then they decide that somehow it is the fault of those who are still obedient to God that life is miserable for them, so they hate those who are living the commandments. That is when they decide they have to side with the enemy of their people in order to “get justice” for the supposed wrongs the righteous have committed against them. So they go to war and the Lord protect the righteous, sending many of those who have become wicked out of this world at the hands of His people. And thus the cycle repeats itself yet again.

Interesting that there is no drama in unity as a people. Peace reigns, and people love each other, tolerate each other, and support each other. Societal drama only is born by dissension and division. It is our choice. How much can we each find in others that is good? How well do we support each other’s efforts to do and be good? Even if our neighbor isn’t yet perfect (like we are) we can still offer support and love, creating an atmosphere of peace in our communities and nations as we seek to build each other up.

FHE/Scripture Study

Alma 48:7-9; 49:1-9; 50:1-6 – Fortifying your home.

Most of us have seen pictures, movies, or perhaps even have visited one of the western forts built for the protection of the settlers and the military 150 years ago. I was raised playing with forts in our games of pretend. Anything would do for a fort. It could be built out of a bank of snow, a pile of leaves, table, chairs, and blankets, or even a treehouse. Back then it was all fun and games.

The days of fun and play were wonderful in their own way, but today we face challenges that only existed in stories from the scriptures. Today’s perils include the breaching of the walls of our homes by pornography, drugs, political views that incite anger and hatred, and so much more that we couldn’t even imagine back in the old days. Our cities are often governed by those who want to destroy all that we hold sacred. Whole political parties and social movements are breeding grounds for unrest and distrust in one another. We have gone from not even being able to imagine such days, to living in such days in less than one lifetime.

What can you do to fortify your family and your own person against such influences that would tear you down and destroy you?

How can we protect our children and grandchildren from those influences that seek to breed disdain in faith in Christ?

Do we have options, resources, supports that can help us hold our ground from being breached by those who would harm us spiritually or physically?

First we have to acknowledge that we are, in fact, under siege. We have to believe that there is a present and clear threat to our personal safety, whether that safety is physical or spiritual. Like the Nephites, no fortifications could be built until they understood their enemy and what their enemy might want to do to them. This is something that takes some thinking, pondering, and praying about to fully commit ourselves to the efforts that will be required to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe in the last days.

Click the link below to print out a PDF version of this article.

BoM Week 32

(Alma 43-52)