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“SEEK ME DILIGENTLY WITH LOWLINESS OF HEART”: I NEPHI 1-5
THE BOOK OF MORMON HAS POWER TO CHANGE OUR LIVES AND OUR PERSPECTIVE
August 1830, as a lay minister, Parley P Pratt met a Baptist deacon who told him of “a very strange book” written on plates of gold, delivered by an angel, and translated through power of God. He writes:
“I opened it with eagerness . . . and commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep. As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists.” (Autobiography of PPP, pp 36-37).
PPP was 23 years old, soon became baptized, and became one of the earliest and most powerful advocates.
“I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns. I find myself loving more intensely those who I must love with all my heart and mind and strength, and loving them more . . . “ President Spencer Kimball
BOFM WAS WRITTEN FOR OUR DAY: IT CONTAINS TEACHINGS FOR OUR TIME!
BofM offers teachings that can help us find solutions to the problems we face today
“Parts of the BofM are as old as the Tower of Babel; yet its themes are as current as tomorrow.” (Arthur Bassett: It Begins With a Family book, p 2).
Nephi writes: “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.”
THE BOOK BEGINS:
“IT ALL BEGINS WITH A FAMILY”—LEHI’S FAMILY—OBSERVE AND LEARN FROM A REAL FAMILY LIKE OURS
Lehi and Sariah struggled with disobedient children, rejoiced over his righteous ones, and had many challenges and trials like we do. They humbly sought the Lord in all things and believed he would bless them as they kept the commandments.
Lehi told the people that they would be destroyed if they didn’t repent. They mocked and persecuted him and sought his life.
Truth has NEVER BEEN POPULAR—USUALLY REJECTED—ALWAYS PERSECTED. Know that for yourself and teach your children so they won’t be surprise. Teach them that the Lord’s way are not the popular ways today.
Examples of this are found in the Family Proclamation to the World which is opposite of being “politically correct.”
“DARE TO BE A MORMON, DARE TO STAND ALONE.
DARE TO HAVE A PURPOSE FIRM, DARE TO MAKE IT KNOWN.”
I Nephi: 20: Jews sought his life like other prophets
PEARL—V. 20: “I Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those who he hath chosen, BECAUSE OF THEIR FAITH, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”
- What are the “tender mercies” of the Lord?
“The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ” (David A. Bednar, April 2005 general conference).
Elder Bednar says we’re to record them in a special journal to remind you the Lord knows and loves you. We all have had them, maybe without knowing it, or acknowledging it to the Lord, but it’s His way of saying, “I know who you are, I’m aware of you and your specific struggle or problem, I love you.”
1 Nephi 2: 12: “BECAUSE THEY KNEW NOT THE DEALINGS OF THE GOD WHO HAD CREATED THEM.” They didn’t know God, wasn’t familiar with His character, have a relationship w Him through prayer, didn’t feel spirit.
V 15: “And my father dwelt in a tent.” Connor asked for a favorite scripture, Kam sent this—thought a joke/not take seriously. Significant scripture: to him it represented leaving the world behind and putting God at the center of his life. He lived in a tent because he left his riches in Jerusalem because the Lord required it of him. The Lord asked the rich young ruler to forsake all and follow Him. He went away sorrowing because he had great possessions. Would we do that?
Joseph Smith taught: “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the faith sufficient unto salvation.”
This phrase is mentioned 14 times in 1 Nephi. Gave it a whole verse because Nephi finds the fact significant and refers constantly to his father’s tent as the center of his universe. In the ancient Near East, to dwell in a tent was considered a great honor, especially compared to living in a house in the city. It represented living close to and trusting in the Lord. Also the father’s tent was considered the center of the whole community. Hugh Nibley
- 16-20: Nephi gets his own testimony—to know for himself –READ
Great desire to know the mysteries of God—
Cry unto the Lord (pray)—He did visit me
Soften my heart so that I believed words of father/didn’t rebel-brothers
Nephi wondered too but took action: desire—effort-prayer—answer
Told testimony to Sam who also believed my word (faith to believe on the word of others); courage to tell Laman & Lemuel—older brothers who didn’t believe because of the hardness of their hearts—prayed to God for them because they didn’t believe him or ask themselves.
**Nephi later asks brothers—“HAVE YE INQUIRED OF THE LORD?” 1 Nephi 15:8
“We have not—the Lord makes no such thing known unto us.”
“Behold I said unto them, How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts? Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said: If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping the commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” You have to ask, make an effort, have a desire to know, listen and wait.
- 18: “Hardness of their hearts” they weren’t open and penetrable to the spirit.
- How do we harden our hearts against the teachings of the prophets, the scriptures, the Lord?
Lord has said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man will open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.” Revelations 3:20
“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you. Seek me diligently and ye shall find me.” D&C 88?
“Behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart by the Holy Ghost which shall come upon you, and shall dwell in your heart.” D&C 8:2
- 19: PEARL: “For thou has sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart”
I Nephi 3:7 PEARL: “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” 1 Nephi 3:7
Lehi was “exceeding glad”—blessed by the Lord to know.
Lehi’s family’s response when asked by the Lord to do something very difficult—Nephi 2:2-4—
This attitude led Nephi to accomplish what seemed like impossible tasks with the help of the Lord. My father was a young mission president (29 years old and my mom was 25) when he was called to be the president of the Irish mission. Their mission statement was: “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ begins when it can’t be done.” This seemed to be Nephi’s mantra. This is the same spirit that launches 18 and 19 year old into the mission field and allows them to learn new languages, and face difficult tasks. It is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that helps us accept challenging callings and rise to them.
Callings in the church: “I have learned not to put question marks but to use exclamation points when calls are issued through inspired channels of priesthood government.” Elder Russell Nelson
“For with God, nothing is impossible.”
I Nephi 4: 1-3: Young and believing—why I believe—gave examples from scriptures—“Let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold He is mightier than all the earth . . . “
“Let’s be strong like Moses—you know this is true and you’ve seen an angel, wherefore can ye doubt?”
Angels don’t necessarily convert—imagine seeing an angel and then immediately after he leave, begin to complain again!
The Savior said: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:31) Others say, “Well, if I could only see the golden plates then I would know the Book of Mormon is true?” Though the 3 witnesses saw the plates and the angel, to stay spiritually in tune, you must work at it, obedient.
** Angels administer by the power of the Aaronic priesthood, yet the Holy Ghost administered by the power of the MP. It’s of a higher order to have the HG touch your heart and mind and convert. Laman and Lemuel were past feeling, “they could not feel the spirit.” “More blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe, than those who have seen.”
- 6: “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.”
Our prophet, President Monson is well known for this. The spirit speaks to him, whispers, nudges, he hears the prompting and obeys, many times not knowing why or what he should do. He is led by the spirit to be on the Lord’s errand and do His will by answering the prayers of his people.
I Nephi 5: 8: Sariah gained her own testimony and witness—she kept commandments and the Lord kept His word.
“Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea and I know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and give them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them.”
Scriptures were of great worth to them:
Brass plates—volume of sacred scripture
Record of God’s dealings from the beginning
Record of many of the prophecies down to Jeremiah
Law of Moses—5 books of Moses
Genealogy of the Nephite forbears
More on them than there is in the OT as we now have it
Words and testimony of many prophets
“The value of the brass plates to the Nephites cannot be overestimated. By them they were able to preserve their language, and the religious knowledge of the people they came from. By contrast, the Mulekites, led out of Jerusalem some 11 years after Lehi, had no record equivalent to the brass plates, and soon dwindled in apostasy and unbelief and lost their language, civilization, and religion.
From prophet to prophet and generation to generation the Brass Plates were handed down and preserved by the Nephites. At some future date the Lord has promised to bring them forth again.” Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p 103.
Not only great prophet, but a concerned father who wrestles with many of the same problems as parents do today. A patriarch calming his wife, struggling with his disobedient sons, rejoicing in his obedient ones, and finally blessing his son and through them his descendants.
Lehi tried by the doubts and legitimate concerns of his wife when his sons had not yet returned home.
Prophet of doom, rejected by his people, his life in danger.
Lehi gets revelation through his visions and dreams (doesn’t distinguish between them).
No longer does he try to change a nation, but create a new one.
Lehi’s family has always been important to him, but now his entire calling focused on his children and their children—this was his mission.
Liahona appeared in front of his tent.
Just before his death he said: “Behold the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” What beautiful imagery.
Rare combination—a great prophet who is also a founder of a nation. So beloved of his people that they called his successors “2nd Nephi, 3rd Nephi, 4th Nephi, “ etc.
Like Enoch, Moses, Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young, Nephi led his people to physical safety, organized them into a new society, and stood at the head of a unique era in scriptural history.
Like Enoch, Moses, and Joseph Smith, he received panoramic visions and great spiritual powers, including a visitation by the Lord. And like Joseph the son of Israel, his righteousness provoked his rebellious older brothers to try to kill him.
Very skilled craftsman—made a bow of wood, built a ship of exceedingly fine workmanship, established a city, build a temple like Soloman’s, taught his people to work in wood, iron, copper, brass, steel, gold, silver, precious ores. Made weapons for war patterned after the sword of Laban.
Exceptional woman—follow husband/trust/left possessions, friends to live a nomadic life in the wilderness
Very faithful—experienced grief especially on ship—almost died—both
Bore two children in the wilderness
Mothers understand the heavy burdens placed on Sariah as she left her home, belongings, attachments to friends and journeyed into the uncertainties of life in the wilderness, simply because of her faith in her husband, whom others called a visionary man. She hadn’t received the visions herself, but believed her husband had been called of God. Received own witness when the Lord brought her four sons home whom she thought was dead.
MUST EXPERIENCE B OF M AGAIN—NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES
“Brothers and sisters, without reservation I promise you that if you will prayerfully read the B of M, regardless of how many times you previously have read it, there will come into your hearts an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord. There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to his commandments, and there will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”
Our living prophet President Monsons promises these four things from the Book of Mormon:
“I IMPLORE each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to:
hear the voice of the spirit
to resist temptation
to overcome doubt and fear
to receive heaven’s help in our lives.
I so testify with all my heart in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”