an instrument for good
Week 27 is scheduled for study July 1-7, 2024. We can seek for no greater honor in this life than to have the Lord make us an instrument for good in His hands.

Day 1

Alma 17:1-4 – Simple, consistent acts of devotion to Christ help me receive His power.

What a joy it is to read of Ammon and his brethren. They were told ahead of time by the Lord that they would experience many trials, and much suffering because of the work they had chosen to engage in. But the promise of hardship came with a promise of blessing. If they were good examples to the people, and were patient and longsuffering, humble and meek, God would give them the fruit they sought after, that of souls to save. God promised them that many souls would be saved because of the work they were about to embark on. And it helped, I’m sure, that the prophet also promised them that the Lord had sworn to him that God would bring them all back safely to their homes when their service was completed.

Ammon and his fellow missionaries were going among a people who took delight in killing their kind. How much pleasure do you think many of those Lamanites would get out of killing the sons of their enemy’s king? On the one hand it would be easy for them to doubt their own safety, considering the ongoing history of dislike between their nations. On the other hand they had received every promise needed to give them confidence that all the suffering and trials they would face would end in the conversion of thousands of Lamanites. That is exactly what they hoped would happen. They gladly put their faith in that outcome, despite all the promised discomfort that they would experience to gain that final prize.

Ammon was the son of the king. Yet when he introduced himself to King Lamoni he said only that “I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die.” He was a man of bearing, having been raised in the royal household. He was well spoken, and I assume well educated, being the son of the king and the prophet of God. Here was a man who knew how to communicate. What a catch. Lamoni’s first response was to desire to have him for a son-in-law. In this desire Lamoni was disappointed, for Ammon turned him down.

Do you think it was a test by Lamoni that he sent Ammon, this man he was so impressed with, to tend his sheep? After all, many of those who tended his sheep died for unsuccessfully keeping track of the king’s flock. Surely Lamoni could have thought of a safer place in his household for Ammon to work. But Lamoni chose being a shepherd for Ammon’s first assignment.

Now look at how Ammon accepted everything he was given to do with patience and humility. He treated his fellow shepherds with love and respect. When they were in trouble by those who wanted to scatter the king’s sheep, Ammon put his own life on the line to defend them and save their lives by dealing with an entire mob by himself. Ammon took no delight in killing and injuring those who came to scatter the flock. He did what was necessary to get them to stop by maiming them or killing them only when they put his own life in danger. The only one he killed with the sword was the leader of the mob. I wonder if his ability to fight was from being raised in the royal household and having been trained to fight in war from his youth. This kind of trained fighter was something they may not have ever seen before.

Ammon treated his skill in fighting like he treated his knowledge of the gospel. He was grateful for it, but humble about it at the same time.

The manual asks us to look at Ammon and see what we learn from his experiences about sharing the gospel. We use the sentiment these days of “love, share, and invite.” This is exactly what Ammon was doing. He showed his love for his new friends and his new king. He shared what he could about Christ and his gospel when it was appropriate to do so, and he invited them in love to come to Christ and find joy. We don’t have to fend off marauding hordes to show our love for our neighbor. Instead we may need to help them weed their garden, tend their children for them, assist with a car repair, or any one of a thousand little things that demonstrates kindness and friendly concern. As we do Christlike things each day, opportunities for sharing the gospel and inviting them to come share the joy the gospel brings will open for us. God will see to that.

Day 2

Alma 17:6-12; 19:16-36 – I can be an instrument in God’s hands.

I just had a thought occur to me. We think of the sons of Mosiah and their companions, and we put them on a pedestal of missionary service. But what about Abish. Here is a great example of someone who was quietly serving in the background, keeping her light under a bushel, so to speak. She wasn’t openly trying to convert anyone. In fact, she was trying to keep her background of being a believer a secret. But now comes this opportunity where the king’s court are being converted to the ways of Christ. They have all fallen to the earth, overwhelmed by the Spirit of God.

Abish sees this opportunity to demonstrate the love of God and the power of God to the people. She knows full well what just happened, and she chooses to go bring the people in so they can be converted too. How could they see this and not be converted by the power of this experience? So she runs from house to house calling the people to come see. That was her first mistake. None of these people knew any of the background as to why the king and all his court were face down on the ground. Many of them assumed the worst. There was a Nephite among them. He did this! He killed the King! They viewed Ammon as a monster sent to punish them.

Abish did her best to explain to the assembled crowd what had happened, but by the time she got to say anything there were speculations running rampant as to what was going on. She was the only one in the whole crowd who knew what had caused the result they all saw before them. As the gossip began to spiral out of control, Abish lapsed into tears. She had meant well, but it had all gone horribly wrong. Ever have that happen to you?

In desperation, Abish reached for the hand of her mistress, the Queen. The Queen arose and began to speak of Christ and of her redemption, which I am sure left many completely confused as to what was going on. Then the Queen lifted up her husband and the King also began to speak of Christ to the people. The verses that follow demonstrate that there were those in the crowd who listened to their words. They “heard” them. There were also those who refused to “hear” the King and went their way with hardened hearts. Did the King run after them or try to make them stay and listen? No. He just taught those who were willing to give him their ear and would consider his words. That is really all any of us can hope for.

I think that many of us identify more with the Abishes of this world than with the Ammons of this world. We have good desires, but don’t often know how to say just the right thing or do just the right thing in order to help someone want to come to Christ. Isn’t it nice to know that there are others in this world who can take the opportunities we create, as imperfect as they may be, and help others to see their opportunity for greater joy in this life and the next. The Lord uses all of our abilities to bring about His purposes. If Ammon had run through the streets calling people to come and see, I seriously doubt he would have gotten the same reaction Abish received by the people among whom she lived and worked. The Lord used Abish’s simple abilities to further His own work, and it was counted to her for righteousness.

Day 3

Alma 17-19 – When we show love for others, we can help them receive the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The title of today’s lesson is a basic principle of the gospel. We are, by nature, drawn to love. When someone loves us through their actions, we become loyal to that person. Acts of love tend to generate desires to be around those who perform those actions. The best example on earth I can think of is a mother’s love. She performs countless acts of selfless service every day. When we think of why we love our mother it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly why we do, but if asked to list some of the reasons for our appreciation and adoration for her, many of those little things she does without our even being aware of them make the top of the list.

When I was young, my clothing was magically spirited away, washed, and just “appeared” in my dresser drawers and in the closet. When I couldn’t find something and would say to my mom, “I can’t find it.” She could always tell me exactly where it was, because she put it there, not that I ever acknowledged that she did. I would say, “No. I looked there.” So she would come in and pull it out of the closet or drawer, right where she said it would be. This kind of reminds me of some of my interactions with my Father in Heaven.

Once when I was preparing for a piano recital, I expressed my performance fear to my teacher. She told me I was selfish. I was stunned and asked her why she said that. Her response was that playing was a joy. Instead of being worried about how other people might react to me, I should be thinking about what a joy it is to be able to share what I have learned with them.  If I would think about their pleasure I couldn’t be worried about my own fears. I was just thinking about it all wrong. The same is true with the gospel of Christ. When we are full of fear about sharing what brings us joy, we pull back and act ashamed of that which brings us the greatest joy.

The gospel of Christ is a thing of joy. We experience it. Do we share it? We share our joy by serving others and expressing the joy we receive from God through our acts of service. When we finally do invite someone to come and experience what we find so much pleasure in, it should be with confidence, because we have been sharing our joy with them all this time. If we haven’t been loving them the way God loves us, through countless acts of service then perhaps we should be afraid, for we haven’t loved them first. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” How can we expect our neighbor to want to seek the love of the Savior in the gospel of Christ if we haven’t helped them see Christ’s love through our actions first?

Day 4

Alma 19:36 – The Lord will help me repent.

36 And thus the work of the Lord did commence among the Lamanites; thus the Lord did begin to pour out his Spirit upon them; and we see that his arm is extended to all people who will repent and believe on his name.

I sat and looked at this verse and wondered how it teaches me that the Lord will help me repent. It was then that I noticed that there are no qualifiers listed. The Lord doesn’t require anything at all of me, except a desire to believe and change for the better. I am in complete control of those two qualifiers. They have nothing to do with the country in which I live, my heritage, ethnicity, wealth, education, or social status, etc. He is willing to help me repent and find joy in my life if that is my desire. But I have to be the one to want it. And I have to be willing to go to God for His help in finding the happiness I seek. This isn’t rocket science.

Christ is always willing to help me. The question is, am I willing to let him help me?

Day 5

Alma 20:23; 22:15-18 – Knowing God is worth any sacrifice.

Obtaining Eternal life, God’s life, isn’t something that is done through certifications, education, payments, sufferings, or anything else like those things. To obtain God’s life, eternal life, requires us to come to comprehend and understand the mind of our Father in Heaven. How does He think? What drives Him in the things that He does? Why does he command us to do things as He does? In other words, He wants us to come to understand and appreciate His personality. We need to learn His qualities, virtues, and to love the things He loves.

If we can’t learn to understand God through becoming more like Him then we can never return to live with Him. We can’t buy our way into Heaven. We must become like those who already live there. This means we need to want to learn how they behave, think, and feel, and try to emulate that lifestyle in our own life. If God is kind then we must learn to be kind by default. If God serves others then service needs to become our cherished way of living. When we see evidence that God loves and cherishes the scriptures He has given us then we need to feast upon their words daily. They must become as important to us as they are to Him. This is the way back to God.

Becoming like God is something that only The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches. No one else offers priesthood covenants to help us become like God. Others may worship God, but they don’t do so with the intent to become like Him. We do. There is nothing more important for us to accomplish in this lifetime than our pursuit of becoming like God. We have only one shot at this, and it is the purpose of our coming to earth in the first place. Hence, nothing can be more important in this life than our pursuit to become like our Father in Heaven. We do that by following the example set for us by Jesus. He shows us the way home in all things.

Personal Study

Object lessons

The purpose of object lessons is to give us something concrete to look at, hear, feel, heft, hold, grasp, or understand. When we can take a concept that someone struggles with and give them a physical anchor to hold onto for that concept, we help them find greater meaning in the gospel they have espoused.

This idea is still something I am working on. The scriptures tell us all the time that “all things” denote that there is a Christ, yet I still struggle to see how the behavior of water testifies to me of the work Jesus does. I know it is there, I am just too thick to see it. I guess I am one who see through the eyes of behaviors and attitudes, rather than through physical objects. Okay, that may not always be completely true. I did just recently write an article about how Our Savior Is Like Our Sun – but that was a big deal for me. That took a lot for me to comprehend it and figure it out. For others it would be child’s play. I have highlighted the title so you can read the article if you wish to.

Physical representations of the principles of the gospel may be difficult for some, but they are absolute lifesavers for others.

Click the link below to

print a PDF copy of the article.

BoM27-2024 – I Will Make An Instrument of Thee