people of God
Week 22 is scheduled for study May 27-June 2, 2024. The people of God are those who make covenants with Him, learn His ways, and seek to do His will. This week we talk about how to do that.

Day 1

Mosiah 26:1-6 – I can help others come unto Jesus Christ.

Today’s lesson topic is important, and can be painful. We do what we can to become converted enough to be forgiven of our sins. We struggle to maintain our testimony and to serve one another so that we feel we are coming to an understanding of what it means to be charitable. What is difficult is that our efforts are just that – our efforts. They are not the efforts of our siblings, our spouse, our children, or that of our friends. This is the personal nature of conversion. What we understand is what we have come to learn through personal sacrifice, dedication, study, and hard work. Just as no one can take that from us, we cannot claim our rights of what we have learned for someone else. Each of us must make that journey on our own.

When the people were converted during King Benjamin’s final address, it was a wonderful time for the whole kingdom. But there were many in that crowd who were children at the time. They were unable to understand what the king was talking about, because of their young age. Oddly enough, it was this entire generation that chose not to believe in the teachings of their parents. They could have believed, but they chose not to. Belief is, after all, a choice that is entirely within our control. All spiritual knowledge must be preceded by belief. Without belief spiritual knowledge cannot be given to us by the Spirit. As a result of their unbelief, these children could not understand anything about the gospel of Christ, for they refused to even believe there was a God.

My guess is that the people who were converted during the King’s speech were also good and attentive parents. They taught the gospel in their homes, and they lived the gospel in their lives. They were converted, right? So what happened to their children? I’m sure this is the same question they asked themselves. It is the same question so many of us ask about our siblings, friends, and our own children. What happened? This is where we come back to the pain of conversion. Conversion is, and always has been, a personal choice, and one we can only control in our own life. We simply cannot control the conversion of another person, no matter how much we desire to do so. Were we able to do so we would become responsible for their judgment, and none of us are in a position to be able to do that.

This is why we spend our lives setting examples of goodness. We seek to serve, demonstrate love, and share what we have with others. This is what Jesus did. He was certainly converted, but couldn’t control the conversion of anyone else around him. All he could do during his mortal ministry was to share his love with others, set an example of goodness in all things, and invite people to turn to God and live a life of happiness.

Agency is a funny thing. We all have control over our own moral choices, but we can just as easily choose to be miserable as to be happy. We cannot control the use of another person’s agency. As much as we want to, each of us only has control over our own choices in life. This is why we are told to love one another despite their choices. We never know when they may change their mind and choose the better part and come to Christ and be happy. In the meantime we must love them and stay on the path of righteousness ourselves. Love is the only way we are able to influence others to choose God over the world. When we demonstrate His love for us in the way we live for the happiness of others, we show them that happiness in this life, a happiness that is eternal in nature, is possible.

The points of today’s lesson are as follows:

  • Agency is personal and non-negotiable. We can neither take it from another, nor can we dictate how someone else can use their agency.
  • Conversion is personal. What I do with my own conversion is up to me, and me alone. No one can take credit for my conversion, for I must go to God for it to take root in my soul. Conversion may be a personal journey, but it must include others in order to be maintained or to grow. Love is the result of conversion, and love cannot live alone, it must be shared.
  • We have the power to live like Christ in that we can spend our lives inviting others to come and learn of him and share in the joy we have experienced by living the gospel of Christ. The more we share the experiences we have by living his gospel the happier we become.
  • Conversion comes by way of invitation. We were invited to explore the possibilities of the gospel at some point in our life. We can also invite others to do the same. The possibility for their happiness depends on people being willing to love, share, and invite. This is the focus of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This should be the focus of our life.

Day 2

Mosiah 26:6-39 – God’s faithful servants seek to do His will.

Let’s explore the stage on which Alma was forced into action in these verses. Alma was probably born towards the end of Zeniff’s reign as king over the people who left Zarahemla and returned to the land of Nephi, the land of the Nephite’s first inheritance. He grew up during Zeniff’s son, King Noah’s reign. Noah appointed Alma to be one of his priests. Unlike many of the other priests of Noah, Alma was still a believer in the scriptures he had been taught growing up. This is the only reason I can find for him being the only one to be converted by the preaching of Abinadi. Abinadi’s words rang true in Alma’s ears. (This is all supposition on my part, but this makes sense to me.)

Alma was converted and taught the people what Abinadi had taught the court of Noah before he was martyred. King Noah tried to kill Alma and those he had taught the gospel, so they fled into the wilderness and became their own people. Eventually, after becoming enslaved to the Lamanites, the Lord delivered them and led them back to Zarahemla during the reign of Mosiah, the son of King Benjamin. Alma had to learn second hand about the sermon of Benjamin and the conversion of his people. This was all new to him. So when the children of those people, who had now grown up after King Benjamin’s last sermon, refused to believe in God or Christ, and were running amok in the kingdom reeking havoc with those who believed, Alma was surprised. He had never witnessed anything like this before. He was the newcomer on the block.

In this case Alma was just like all of us are in life. Things happen we never dreamed of before and we are left stunned by the newness of the situation into which we have been thrown. Alma first tried to go to God’s prophet to have him judge these people who were causing so much trouble in the kingdom, but Mosiah had already put Alma in charge of the church, and he saw this as a church problem, not a government problem. So Alma was back to square one.

This is where we come to the title of today’s lesson. “God’s faithful servants seek to do His will.” When we are faced with challenges that are outside of our realm of experience, where else can we go for counsel and direction but to Him who knows all? The key to Alma’s supplication to the Lord was that “he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God.” When we go before the Lord this attitude makes a big difference in what we ask for, and how we ask for it. It also makes a difference in how much confidence we have when we ask for it.

All Alma wanted was to do right by all involved. He wanted to resolve this problem with the unbelievers as God would have dealt with them. His humility in approaching the Lord is why the Lord was able to promise Alma eternal life. Alma had his calling and election made sure in this communication from God. That doesn’t normally come to each of us in our prayers to the Lord. It wasn’t something that normally came to Alma either. This was the result of a life of devotion and service to God. Remember that Alma would be dead of old age within a couple of years, so he had grown old in the service of God.

We all face situations in life where we feel like we are in deep waters, in over our heads so to speak. Just as Alma humbly sought the guidance of the Lord so that he did what was best for all involved in the situation he was in, so too do we need to seek for God’s counsel in our own situations of doubt. The Lord has always promised us answers to our prayers. Sometimes those answers involve relying on our own judgment to see if we have learned past lessons well enough. And sometimes the Lord knows we are sufficiently unprepared for this current problem that He needs to give us specific guidance. Either way He will come to the aid of His children when we approach Him in humility and sincerity.

Often times it is as much our persistence as anything else that is needed in getting the answers we seek. For some problems, where time is not of the essence, we may wait years for our answer. In that time we learn and grow and prepare ourselves for the day we are prepared for the answer the Lord wants to give us. In other instances we need an answer quickly, and it is up to us to prepare ourselves to the best of our ability to show the Lord that we have studied it out in our mind, what we think we have learned and what the possible solution might be, and seek for confirmation.

Receiving answers to a prayer is not a simple process. There is so much involved. Are we humble? Have we tried to figure out our problem for our self? Do we have possible solutions to lay before the Lord? Have we searched the scriptures for a time where the Lord may have already answered this kind of problem elsewhere? Do we have a full understanding of what is at stake with this problem? Have we figured out how to put our desire into words and discuss it intelligently with the Lord? Is our faith in God such that whatever we feel He wants us to do we will do it? I’m sure you can think of other questions to consider when approaching the Lord.

The point here is that prayer is a growth exercise. We are learning to be like God, to think through problems and solve them. This requires that we consider how any solution will affect the lives of others in this scenario. And when we are willing to do whatever the Lord finally gives us as our answer then we must accept that our lives may change forever by accepting that answer. Whether the Lord gives or takes away, we must still be willing to give glory to the Lord. This means we must be willing to submit the future of our whole soul to the outcome of anything the Lord says to us. His will must be the desire of our reality today and forever.

Day 3

Mosiah 26:15-31 – God freely forgives me as I repent and forgive others.

Here are the verses I find most important in today’s lesson, Mosiah 26:21-24.

21 And he that will hear my voice shall be my sheep; and him shall ye receive into the church, and him will I also receive.

I find it interesting that the Savior says that those who repent and are baptized we are to receive into the church. But not only will the church receive those who repent, but he will also receive them. That sounds deeply personal to me.

22 For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive.

There are no stated or implied limitations on Christ’s forgiveness. As many times as his people repent he will forgive them. Jesus forgives us freely, not begrudgingly, with stipulations, or reservations, but freely. It reminds of me of a good mother’s love for a child that is wayward. No matter what that child does, the mother’s love continues. Whatever efforts that child makes to be better is accepted by the mother as a good thing and the child is always welcomed back, even if she feels the child hasn’t fully repented yet. She will do anything to support and encourage her child to want to be better than they are. This is how Christ is with all of us.

23 For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand.

This verse states Christ’s qualifications for why he can do what he does. Jesus has the right to pass judgment, because it was he who took upon himself our sins and paid for them for all eternity. We will never have to bear the full weight of our personal sins if we turn to Christ and accept his payment on our behalf. That means we must keep his commandments and do all in our power to love one another in a Christlike way.

24 For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand.

How do we come to know God? To know Him means to learn how He feels about things, how He reacts to things, what He loves and what He rejects. We must come to know the personality and character of God. The personality and character of Christ is like God’s. When we have spent enough time behaving, thinking, and understanding how they feel about things, we come to better appreciate who they are and why they do as they do. This is to know God and Christ. We can’t do it overnight. This is a life long endeavor, an endeavor that will bear fruit for eternity.

Day 4

Mosiah 27:8-37; 28:1-4 – Through Jesus Christ, I can change for the better.

If you read through today’s lesson material you will find a lot to consider and ponder. It should all prove very valuable. My comment on this lesson is this.

An alcoholic doesn’t join Alcoholic’s Anonymous until he/she admits that they are an alcoholic and that they are out of control. They need to recognize within themselves that they are on a one way path of destruction which they cannot change by themselves. To do this they must admit that they are out of their depth, out of control, and helpless to change in a meaningful or sustainable way. They must want help and be willing to do whatever it takes to change their lifestyle. This process if very difficult and painful.

Spiritually, being born again, is difficult for many of us. Why? Because we aren’t yet willing to admit that we cannot make the needed changes in our life on our own. I remember so clearly my resentment that I would need a Savior at all. Surely I was self sufficient enough that I could make the needed changes and sustain them for the rest of my life without someone else’s help. I was like a little child who was stomping my foot and stating emphatically, “No! I can do it myself!”

The kind of changes we need to make to be spiritually reborn and have a complete change of heart can’t be done by us. We do not have the power to change our attitudes, our perspective, our inclinations, and our heart. It is natural for all of us to love some things that are deadly to us spiritually. We are naturally selfish, self centered, and in love with those things that we consider the comforts and luxuries of this world. Most of us love power, prestige, fame, or notoriety. Living a life of selfless service, self sacrifice, or unbounded kindness, or great humility just isn’t in the realm of immediate possibility for most of us. We need help to make those changes we can’t make for ourselves.

Christ made his sacrifice specifically so he could help us learn better how to make those needed changes in our own souls. I’ve written before about how I recognized that I resented something in my spouse’s behavior, so I prayed for a change of heart every day for months. Finally, one day I experienced the same behavior my spouse had always exhibited, (and there was nothing wrong with her behavior, it was all me) but now it did not bother me in the least. I was shocked. That is when I learned that there are needed changes in my life that I cannot make happen that the Spirit can do for me. By seeking Christ’s help and keeping his commandments I am able to transform, little by little into the kind of person who finds joy in righteous living.

Without the Savior’s help joy in many good things can escape us indefinitely. We need to humble ourselves and be willing to do whatever Christ demands of us in order to become more like him and experience the kind of joy he lives with every day.

Day 5

Mosiah 27:8-24 – God hears my prayers and will answer them according to His will and timing.

Eventually God gives each of us exactly what we want. We don’t know how He will do it, but it comes in His own time and in His own way. Be careful what you ask for. Make sure you are encouraged by the Spirit to do so before you petition the Lord for something that is not a spiritual basic necessity. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has asked for something and asked amiss. I got what I wanted only to find that what I had asked for didn’t fulfill the need or desire I had when I finally got what I wanted. I was foolish.

I have learned that my answers don’t usually come in straightforward ways. What I keep forgetting is that God is omniscient – He knows everything there is to know. It also means that He understands and is aware of what all that knowledge means and how to use it in all wisdom. That is far more than anything I can claim. And since I am asking for Him to fulfill my desires, I need to understand that He sees the end from the beginning. He knows how best to give me what I have asked for, whether or not I can handle what I have asked for, and whether I need some growth or experiences before I can handle what I have asked for. Therefore my request may not come for years as He prepares me to receive my request. I may completely forget that I even asked for something, but God is working on my answer tirelessly until my prayer is answered to His satisfaction.

It is easy when the answer to our prayer is a simple “No”. But when it’s not a no answer we must expect that our life might just be turned upside down in order for us to receive the answer we sought in prayer. For someone seeking to know the truth the coming of the missionaries to their door may cause them to lose their friends or family, their job or their place in the community. It may bring with it heartache and sorrow along with the infinite joy of having the truth in their hands. I think this is why the Lord wants us to seek in earnest and with real intent. His ways are so different from the world’s ways that we need to be willing to receive all the changes required for the happiness we seek. That can be hard. Who knew that happiness could be so difficult to accept in all its simplicity.

When we follow the scriptures and the living prophet in our search for happiness, happiness will be our lot in life, even when it is accompanied by sorrow and regret. The end result of a well-placed request from God is always joy. In the verses for today’s lesson we read about Alma and his wayward son Alma. The father had to go through a lot of sorrow before his son was converted through miraculous means. It took every ounce of faith and effort he could muster to bring forth the answer he sought for his son to come to the knowledge of the truth. For many of us that knowledge we seek for our loved one may not come in this phase of mortality. We may have to wait until they have already entered their post-mortal phase. But faith-filled prayers are never ignored by the Lord, for righteous desires on our part are shared by Him. That is what He wants for us as well. God does all that He can do to fulfill our faith-filled prayers.

Personal Study

Principles are eternal.

The power of the scriptures is that the principles they teach are truth. Truth is eternal in nature, so we can apply it in our life today just as well as someone thousands of years ago was able to apply those same principles in their life. Our place in time doesn’t matter. Physical location doesn’t matter. And circumstances don’t matter. The principle is unchanging. That is the point God is hoping we will learn. The principles of the gospel Christ has given us are always true and can always be counted upon to benefit our life.

We need to remember that customs change, methods change, but the underlying principle behind a given truth is constant and eternal. That part never changes. When we see changes take place in the church administration or in the presentation/procedure of the Temple covenants , the principles behind the superficial things like presentation is constant. How something is done can change, but the truth behind that thing never changes. As long as we can keep our eyes on the truths that underlie all that happens in the gospel we will never be troubled by the changes in procedure we see in the administration of the gospel.

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BoM22-2024 – They Were Called the People of God