As one of my goals this year, I have decided to read the Book of Mormon again. Since we’re studying the Old Testament this year in Sunday school and I’m in primary, I’ll have to keep up with those studies on my own as well. So far (6 whole days) I’ve been reading every day. I love to read the scriptures and it is amazing to me how different I feel when I am reading my scriptures consistently than if I’m not even if I still am doing many other things I should (pray, family home evening, temple attendance, my calling, visiting teaching). I learn so much from reading and I feel closer to the Spirit. So why do I sometimes get so lax and lazy??? I dunno, but I’ve decided to do something different this time around.
I started a scripture journal. I am writing down things that I didn’t notice before or that I forgot or anything that just grabs my attention, whatever I feel the Spirit is teaching me. I’m excited about this since I have such a bad memory and I can use this to remind me of what I’ve learned and felt, not to mention to help me ponder more.
I was discussing this idea with Alex yesterday. I asked him if he’d like me to get him a notebook for a scripture journal separate from his other journal. He said that he saw some kind of online scripture journal he wanted to use. I told him that he won’t always have a computer with him or available to use when he reads his scriptures so if he wanted, I could buy him a notebook to take notes and then when he got time he could type it up. (That’s what he does with stories and books he writes already.) I mentioned that if he started that now, it would help him learn things he could use on his mission and also whenever he was asked to give a talk, he’d already have notes to look at with his thoughts and ideas. I added that if he does have it on the computer, it will be easier for him to locate specific topics or scriptures later. Since almost of all my notes are in handwritten notebooks, I have to search the old-fashion way. Alex said, “Yeah. I wish our brains had Control F.” Haha. That would be so wonderful!
Anyway, if you’re anything like me, you’ve read 1 Nephi so many times. I really think I know all of what happens in it, but of course, I can’t skip it when reading the whole book. So I was determined to read it as if I had never read it before and see what I learned or re-learned. Guess what. I noticed something. And you have probably noticed it before, long ago, but I don’t think I did. It’s not like I didn’t know it already, but what I noticed made me say, “Wow! Heavenly Father sure is smart!!” What was it?
You know how when you’re writing, you’re supposed to grab the reader at the beginning of the story (what’s going to happen to Nephi and his family?), introduce the main characters (Nephi, Lehi, Laman, Lemuel…), establish a time (“the first year of the reign of Zedekiah”, 1 Nephi 1:4)? It does all that. But it also does something else amazing. Heavenly Father uses these first few chapters to introduce so many basic truths to the reader. Who is the reader? (You’re supposed to know your audience right?) Investigators who might not know much about the gospel, people who aren’t interested in converting, but want to learn more, members of the church (and we all can use reminders in the basics). So how perfect is it that he’d put so many jewels right at the beginning? Wonder what I’m talking about? I made a list in my scripture journal, but I won’t include the whole list here. This will be long enough! And I’m sure there are things I didn’t notice this time around either. So far I’ve read the first 7 chapters so that’s what I’ll cover very briefly (well, not so briefly). I'll include part of the scripture first in italics and then the topic or my thought on it with an asterisk.
1:1 I, NEPHI, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.
*Importance of being good parents, the goodness of God, importance of record keeping
1:4 …there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed..
*Prophets are called of God to repent and to foretell or prophesy, Repentance is possible
1:5 Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord…
1:6 And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much…
*This was only the first of several to teach that personal revelation is possible.
1:8-9 …and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne…
…he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day…
*God the Father and Jesus (One) are two distinct beings
1:10 …he also saw twelve others following him…
*Introduces the 12 apostles
1:14 …because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!
*The mercy of the Father
1:20 …I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
*I love the terms “tender mercies” and “deliverance” which describe the great love that our Father and Jesus have for us and what their powers will do when we accept it.
2:2 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.
*Sometimes Heavenly Father requires hard things of us. It isn’t always punishment or from the devil.
2:3 And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.
*A great example of being obedient even when it isn’t easy or what we had planned.
2:11 Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things…
*Example of greed and short-sighted thinking
2:14 And it came to pass that my father did speak unto them in the valley of Lemuel, with power, being filled with the Spirit, until their frames did shake before him…
*The Spirit is introduced, power of the Priesthood
2:19 …Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.
*Faith, importance of seeking the Lord
2:20-24 …ye shall prosper… …they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord… …thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher… …will curse them even with a sore curse...
*Consequences to our actions (obedience or sin)
3:3-4 (as well as others) …the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers…
*Genealogy and scriptures
3:7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: 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.
*This is one of my favorite scriptures. It tells us that if Heavenly Father asks us to do something, there is a way and He will help us accomplish it, no matter how difficult it is.
3:29 …an angel of the Lord came and stood before them, and he spake unto them…
*Angels can come to the earth and communicate with us. (also in 1:8)
4:2 …let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea…
*Links the history to the Bible
4:31 And now I, Nephi, being a man large in stature, and also having received much strength of the Lord, therefore I did seize upon the servant of Laban, and held him, that he should not flee.
*We can receive physical strength from the Lord.
5:9 …that they did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel….
*Sacrifice and giving thanks
5:11 And he beheld that they did contain the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world...
*Introduces book of Moses
5:21 And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us…
*Beautiful ways to describe the scriptures (desirable, of great worth)
6:4 For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.
*The purpose of the Book of Mormon is to persuade men to come unto God.
7:11 Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten what great things the Lord hath done for us, in delivering us out of the hands of Laban, and also that we should obtain the record?
*Importance of remembering our blessings
7:20-21 …did plead with me that I would forgive them of the thing that they had done against me… And it came to pass that I did frankly forgive them all that they had done…
*Repentance and forgiveness
Okay, long enough? Did you make it through? Can you tell I miss teaching Sunday school? Pretty cool how many golden nuggets are hidden within the first few chapters, the only ones many people will ever read!!! I’m so glad I included the scripture reading and journal in my goals this year. There is a power in the scriptures that is so special and strong. I wish I had enough time to study everything written about them by knowledgeable scriptorians, but since I don’t, I know that the Spirit (who knows all things) can teach me what is most important for me to know right now. Wonder what I’ll discover tomorrow?