As recorded in Alma 37, Alma continued his counsel to his son Helaman and gave him charge of the sacred records. He reminded Helaman that the scriptures had already been the means of bringing thousands of Lamanites to the Lord, and he prophesied that the Lord had other great purposes for the records in the future. Alma instructed his son in what he should teach the people, and he taught Helaman the importance of looking to the words of Jesus Christ for guidance by comparing the Savior’s words to the Liahona.
Consider the following diagram:
Think of two or three small and simple things that have revolutionized the world, such as the lightbulb. Think of some small things that have made a big difference for good in your life. Write two of these small things on the left side of the diagram above. On the right side, write a few words describing the big effect these small things have had on your life.
As recorded in Alma 37, Alma was preparing his son Helaman to become the next keeper of the sacred records. Alma taught Helaman a principle about the role of small and simple things in the Lord’s plan. Read Alma 37:6–7, and then complete the following principle: To bring about His eternal purposes, the Lord works by .
Read Alma 37:1–7, and look for what Alma described as a small and simple thing. Also search Alma 37:8–10, looking for ways the plates of brass (which contained the scriptures) led to great things for the people of the Book of Mormon. As you read, mark in your scriptures which of these blessings you have also received through your own scripture study.
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What are two or three ways the scriptures have caused great things to happen in your life?
Alma 37:13–16 records the counsel Alma gave to Helaman as he gave his son charge of the records. Study these verses, and look for principles that Alma taught. One of these principles is: If we obey the Lord’s commandments, we will prosper. Ponder how this principle relates to the diagram at the beginning of this lesson.
As recorded in Alma 37:35–47, Alma instructed Helaman to teach the people to overcome wickedness and temptation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Below are two lesson outlines that cover these teachings. Study each lesson and the scriptures that go with it. Then prepare to teach one of the lessons to a family member, your entire family (perhaps as part of a family home evening lesson), or a friend. You may want to make some adjustments to the lesson depending on whom and where you teach. Schedule a time, and teach the lesson on the appointed day. Also, bring your lesson outline to your next home-study class and be prepared, if called upon, to teach your lesson to the class.
Explain to those you teach that it is common for those who plant trees to tie or strap a young tree to a stake and remove the support later when the tree matures. Ask: Why do you think a tree would need to have a stake for support while it is young and growing?
Read the following experience from the life of President Gordon B. Hinckley:
President Gordon B. Hinckley planted a young tree near his home soon after he was married. He paid little attention to it as the years passed. One day he noticed the tree was misshapen and leaning to the west because winds from the east had bent it while it was young and supple. He went out and tried to push it upright, but the trunk was too thick. He tried using a rope and pulleys to straighten it, but it would not bend. Finally, he took his saw and cut off the heavy branch on the west side, which left an ugly scar. He later said of the tree:
“More than half a century has passed since I planted that tree. My daughter and her family live there now. The other day I looked again at the tree. It is large. Its shape is better. It is a great asset to the home. But how serious was the trauma of its youth and how brutal the treatment I used to straighten it.
“When it was first planted, a piece of string would have held it in place against the forces of the wind. I could have and should have supplied that string with ever so little effort. But I did not, and it bent to the forces that came against it” (“Bring up a Child in the Way He Should Go,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 59).
Have someone read Alma’s counsel to Helaman in Alma 37:35, and discuss how this verse relates to President Hinckley’s experience with the tree. (Alma 37:35 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can locate it in the future.)
Invite those you teach to state a principle that summarizes Alma 37:35. (It could be something like the following: We should learn in our youth to keep the commandments of God.) You may want to ask one or more of the following questions:
What difference do you think it could make in people’s lives if they learned to keep the commandments of God while they were young?
How has keeping the commandments while in your youth made a difference for you?
Can you think of someone who was blessed for the rest of his or her life because of having learned to obey the commandments while young? How was this person blessed?
Ask someone to read Alma 37:36–37 aloud and look for specific counsel that could help a person keep the commandments. Ask questions like the following:
How could following this counsel daily help you to keep the commandments?
In what ways do you try to put the Lord first in your thoughts and actions? How might you improve?
What promises are given to those who are prayerful?
Share your testimony about how counseling with the Lord has helped you keep the commandments. Invite those you are teaching to follow Alma’s words on counseling with the Lord.
Ask those you are teaching if they know the name of the compass the Lord gave Lehi’s family that helped them travel to the promised land. Then ask someone to read Alma 37:38. Explain that Alma referred to the Liahona to teach Helaman an important principle about how the Lord guides His children.
Have those you are teaching answer the following questions by reading the verses mentioned and searching for the answer:
According to Alma 37:38–40, how did the Liahona work?
According to Alma 37:41–42, why did the Liahona cease to work at times?
According to Alma 37:43–45, how is the Liahona like the words of Christ?
Explain that the words shadow and type (Alma 37:43, 45) mean that something is used as a symbol of a larger idea. For example, Lehi’s family’s obedience or disobedience to the directions of the Liahona is a symbol of our choices to obey or disobey the words of Christ. Just as Lehi’s family reached the promised land by following the Liahona, we will receive eternal life as we follow the words of Christ.
Ask someone to explain where we can find the words of Jesus Christ in our lives. (Some possible answers might be the scriptures, words of modern prophets, a patriarchal blessing, and the promptings of the Spirit.)
Ask: What principles was Alma teaching Helaman by using the example of the Liahona? (Answers might be something like the following principle: If we heed the words of Jesus Christ, they will direct us to receive eternal life.) You may want to share your testimony that listening to and obeying the words of the Lord will bring great blessings into our lives.
In your scripture study journal, write a few sentences describing what you learned from studying the lesson you chose to teach.
Write the following in your scripture study journal: I have decided to teach my lesson on Alma 37: (write which verses you will teach). I will teach (write who you have chosen to teach) on (write the date you have scheduled to teach this lesson).
Mark Alma 37:35. Try to memorize this verse. Then recite it or read it to a parent or another trusted adult. Ask this person the following questions:
How has obedience to the commandments of God helped you in your life?
What advice do you have for me that could help me be wiser in my youth?
Write in your scripture study journal what you learned from the person you spoke to about Alma 37:35.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Alma 37 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: