By Very Small Means the Lord Doth Confound the Wise

Alma teaches his son about the more subtle power God often chooses to employ as a means of bringing about great results, most specifically the salvation of souls.

“…By small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” (Alma 37:6-7)

Questions:

-In discussions about God’s attributes, how often is perfect finesse mentioned?

-When life is a measure of our faith and true desires—and the cumulative use of one’s free agency is what will be put in the balance on the Day of Judgment—how much finesse is needed by a loving God who desires to bring all (who are willing) back to His presence for eternity?

-Would life be a meaningful proving ground for the eternities (and test of faith) if God frequently revealed Himself beyond small means?

-How often do people overlook what God is doing in their lives because they are looking for grandiose interventions?

-How off base are those among the intelligentsia/academicians who see the world as being firmly a matter of intention-less cause and effect separate from the powerful “undercurrents” of God’s interventions?

Every Man That is Cursed Brings upon Himself His Own Condemnation

After a group of people rebelled against the Nephites and separated from them (and the Lord’s church that was central to the Nephite’s culture) the estranged group began marking their foreheads with red. The mark they placed on their heads fulfilled an earlier prophecy that God would curse and mark all who separated themselves from the Nephites who were striving to follow the Lord and live righteously. Interestingly, the rebellious group marked themselves instead of God directly marking them.

“…They had come out in open rebellion against God; therefore it was expedient that the curse should fall upon them. Now I would that ye should see that they brought upon themselves the curse; and even so doeth every man that is cursed bring upon himself his own condemnation.” (Alma 3:18-19)

Questions:

-Are those who are coming out in open rebellion against God, in our time, marking themselves?

-Is it inevitable that these markers manifest themselves every time a group fights against God and His people?

-Do people generally like to mark their territory, figuratively speaking, when it comes to their beliefs and values? Is there something satisfying about expressing one’s position in a physical or visual manner?

-Do those who are true followers of the Lord have markers? Are those markers visual or behavioral? (see John 13:35 and Doctrine and Covenants 50:24)

God Will Give Liberally to Him That Asketh

After expressing his eternal trust in the Lord, Nephi also emphasizes how the Lord is standing ready to pour out blessings upon those who ask for that which is right in His eyes.

“Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss.” (2 Nephi 4:35)

Questions:

-How can we learn to ask not amiss?

-Is it tempting to ask God to override others’ free will? Are there circumstances where He would do so?

-If a prayer is not answered, does that mean the prayer was amiss?

-What is the difference between the timetables one might have in his or her mind for an answer to a righteous prayer and the Lord’s timetable for answering the prayer?

-How does God give liberally to those who ask righteous things of Him?

God Will Give Liberally to Him That Asketh

After expressing his eternal trust in the Lord, Nephi also emphasizes how the Lord is standing ready to pour out blessings upon those who ask for that which is right in His eyes.

“Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss.” (2 Nephi 4:35)

Questions:

-How can we learn to ask not amiss?

-Is it tempting to ask God to override others’ free will? Are there circumstances where He would do so?

-If a prayer is not answered, does that mean the prayer was amiss?

-What is the difference between the timetables one might have in his or her mind for an answer to a righteous prayer and the Lord’s timetable for answering the prayer?

-How does God give liberally to those who ask righteous things of Him?