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"And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy..." (1 Nephi 8:10-14)

Even though I had a belief in the Old & New Testament prophets before I visited the “Holy Land” with BYU Studies Abroad, and walked many of the paths which Jesus had walked, I longed for a similar faith building experience with the prophets in Book of Mormon scriptures.

As a family, we had listened to the dramatized recorded Book of Mormon stories on audio tape by a Latter Day Saint company in Utah. Our children know the stories by heart. My wife Judy & I traveled again with BYU Studies Abroad Professors, visiting the lands of the Book of Mormon in South America. We visited many locations associated with the stories we had listened to on tapes as a family. On one occasion, we hiked into the jungle and waked into a religious court yard. Brother Chessman, one of our group leaders, showed us a “stele” which had a carving in the rock’s weathered surface that looked like a tree with many branches. He compared the story told on this stele, with the story told in 1 Nephi 8,verse 10-14. This experience strengthened my belief in the validity on the Book of Mormon.

"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety, hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God. And it came to pass that Ether did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not. And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12:4-6)

As a young mother, I watched some of my children express doubt because their prayers were not always answered immediately or in the way they wanted. I, myself, felt that God’s love for me was manifest in the blessings I received at His hand. So when trials came along, and lasted a long time as they often do, I had the feeling that I had displeased my Heavenly Father in some way and was not worthy of the blessing I badly needed. Then I read, again, the counsel from these two great prophets and I realized that my children and I both needed to learn that hope and faith always precede the miracle. Answers to prayer, and especially miracles, do not happen in order to prove our faith is justified. I told my children that asking for blessings to prove there is a God makes faith unnecessary, and that is not the way God operates.
I know God is there and hears my prayers and loves me, weak as I am. I have learned that “no” is an acceptable answer to a requested blessing. Thanks to Ether and Moroni, I continue to have faith that Heavenly Father’s wisdom is greater than my own, and that is what I now share with my grandchildren.

"Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves – It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea it beginneth to be delicious to me." (Alma 32:28)

This thoughtful, instructive admonition is the way that anyone can find out for themselves if the Book of Mormon is truly inspired scripture. When I read The Book of Mormon and have followed this scripture, I have been blessed with a good feeling, and it has helped me increase my faith in my Savior Jesus Christ.

I accept the Holy Bible as the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. I also have faith that The Book of Mormon contains the word of God and his prophets, and will help us come unto Christ. I love the spirit I feel as I read The Book of Mormon.

"I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love." (2 Nephi 1:15)

I have always loved The Book of Mormon. As I grew up, our family would read it or the Holy Bible every day. I learned scriptural principles just like I learned my letters and numbers, little by little, each day building upon the one before. My well of faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world was being filled by learning and living what my parents and the scriptures lovingly taught to me.

Fast forward to my 7th grade year in school. Something happened in one of my classes and I was met with the decision to be honest or silent. I chose honesty. In so doing, I lost all the friends I had since childhood, and threats of bodily harm started coming daily. I was lonely and scared. I didn’t tell my parents because I mistakenly thought that it would make things worse. I found a place to hide outside during lunch and decided to read The Book of Mormon to calm my troubled heart.

This became my lunchtime routine for a couple of months. During this time, I journeyed with the Book of Mormon prophets who kept the records of the Lord’s work among His children. Prophets like Nephi, whose own brothers tried to kill him for doing what was right, but whom he “frankly forgave.” (See 1 Nephi 7:21) Or Enos, a record keeper, who prayed all day and night not only for himself and his family, but for his enemies “that . . . they might be brought unto salvation . . . .” (See Enos 1:11-17) Or Alma, a wicked priest who (at the peril of his own life) repented of his many sins and taught his people so that many became desirous “to come into the fold of God, and to be called His people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light . . . and stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places.” (See Mosiah 18:8-9)

It was a welcome and peaceful escape from the nervous worry that I felt daily. My constant companion in this journey with the prophets was the Holy Ghost, whispering to my heart that I was not alone, nor was I the only one who had suffered or been threatened for choosing right.

My greatest friend that I quietly found journeying with me was Jesus Christ. I came to know Him and His yearnings for us. His desires became my desires as well, and I found that I could face those who were bullying me with a courageous but forgiving heart. Though I am far from perfect, through The Book of Mormon I have felt that the Lord has “encircled me about eternally in the arms of his love.” (2 Nephi 1:15) I know that I can always count on Him to be with me when I open my scriptures to find answers or peace.