Alma Teaches Faith
• Items needed: a 16 oz. empty water bottle, vinegar, baking soda, a balloon, an apple or orange seed, small Ziplock baggies, a disposable plastic cup of soil for each child, and a cantaloupe or watermelon seed for each child.
•Put two tablespoons of the vinegar into the plastic bottle and one teaspoon of the baking soda into the balloon. Put each cup of soil and seed in a Ziplock bag.
• Print and cut out the visual aids.
Show the children the bottle and tell them that it contains vinegar. Allow them to smell it. Show the children the balloon and tell them it contains baking soda. Inform the children that if you were to put the balloon on the bottle and combine the vinegar and baking soda it would produce a gas that would inflate the balloon. Ask the children if they believe you.
Ask the children how they could find out for themselves if what you told them is true. (They would have to try it out to see if it works.) Allow a volunteer to try the experiment. Direct the volunteer to stretch the opening of the balloon over the opening of the bottle without spilling the contents of the balloon into the bottle. After the balloon is attached, direct the child to lift up the balloon and empty its contents into the bottle.
• After the balloon inflates, point out that they were able to discover the truth of what you told them by trying it out. Ask how they could use that same method to find out if a gospel principle is true? (Read Alma 32:27)
Explain that today’s lesson is about developing faith in God through experimenting on the word of God by applying it into our lives.
Remind the children of last week’s lesson concerning Alma and his companions going to the land of the Zoramites to preach the gospel. After observing the prayers of the proud Zoramites on the Rameumptom, Alma and his companions commenced to preach the gospel. They began to have success among the poor because the poor were not allowed to worship God in the synagogues which they had help build. The poor had been cast out of the synagogues because of their coarse apparel.
One day a large group of the poor approached Alma as he was teaching. They told Alma they had no place to worship God, and they asked him what they should do. Alma taught them that they could worship God anywhere–in their fields, in their houses, and in the wilderness–and they needed to cry to Him in all their afflictions. Alma saw that their afflictions had humbled them, and they were ready to hear the word of God.
• How was being poor a blessing for the Zoramites? (Read Alma 32:12-13) It helped them to be humble and seek for wisdom from God.
The poor Zoramites were compelled to be humble by their poverty, but they still had the choice whether or not to listen to the words of the Lord, and because they chose to listen they were blessed.
• Read Alma 32:14-15. Why is it better to humble ourselves than to be compelled to be humble? We reduce the difficulties in our life that are sent as reminders for us to be humble. We also are blessed for being obedient.
• Why is it important for us to be humble? Those who are humble are more likely to listen to and obey the Lord’s instructions because they realize the need for the Lord’s help and direction in life.
• What is something that can lead people to humble themselves without the compulsion of difficulties? (See Alma 32:13- 14) The word of God. Explain that when we read the scriptures or hear a talk or lesson at church, we may experience a desire to repent of something we are doing that is not right.
Alma also taught the Zoramites about having faith in in the word of God.
• What is faith? (Read Alma 32:21) To believe in something that is real and true, even though we haven’t seen it for ourselves, is to have faith. The Lord wants us to faith in him: that he lives, loves us, and that his words are truth. Alma taught the poor Zoramites how to develop that faith in God.
Show the children the fruit tree seed and tell them what type of seed it is. Explain that the seed could grow into a large fruit tree. Ask the children what they would need to do first in order to get the seed to grow. (Plant it in soil.) (Show the children the illustration of the seed and the soil.)
Alma told the Zoramites that the word of God is like a seed. When we listen to and have a desire to believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, we plant the word of God in our hearts.
• Where do we hear the word of God? In primary lessons, sacrament meeting talks, conference talks, family home evening lessons, family scripture study, etc.
• What happens to a seed when it is planted in the ground? If it is a good seed it begins to swell, and then it sprouts and begins to grow. (Show the picture of the growing seed.) (Alma 32:30)
Explain that after we have heard the word of God and have a desire to believe, we can then experiment on His words by trying them out. When we do this, a swelling of understanding in our heart begins to grow, and we see that the word of God is good. (Alma 32:28)
Once we see that the seed is good, the sprouting plants needs to be nourished in order to grow. (Alma 32:37)
• What does it mean to nourish a plant? (To feed it and provide all the things it needs in order to grow.) What kinds of nourishment does a plant need in order to grow? (Show the children the picture of the plant food, the watering can, the rain, and the sun cutout as each item is mentioned, and explain that we must make sure the plant gets enough water, sun, and fertilizer.)
•What kind of things will nourish our faith in the word of God? (Answers might include listening to the testimonies of others, seeking for the witness of the Holy Ghost concerning the truth of the word, listening to the words of the prophet, and continuing to exercise our growing faith through studying and acting upon the words of God.)
• What would happen if we neglected the care of a growing plant such as not watering it. (It would stop growing, and it would eventually wither up and die.) (Alma 32:38) Does that mean the seed was bad? (No, it means we didn’t do our part to help it grow, and because of that we will not enjoy the fruit that would have grown on it.)
•What happens if we neglect to nourish our growing testimony? (It could wither, die, and be cast aside.) Does that mean the word was not good? (No, it means we did not do our part to help our faith in the word of God grow.) (Alma 32:39)
• What happens when we nourish and take care of a young plant? (It grows) Show a picture of a young sapling tree and ask the children if the young tree is strong enough to withstand the damaging forces in the world. Explain that weeds could choke it out, bugs and animals could eat it, and wind and objects could knock it over and break its tender trunk. A young growing plant needs continual care and protection from damaging influences.
• How can we protect our growing testimony from the harm and damaging influences of the world? (Pull out the weeds of sin that choke out our desire for good, put protective barriers around ourselves by avoiding things that would tempt us, and attach supporting lines of strength by going to church and mingling with others who are also seeking to grow strong testimonies.)
• Ask the children if they believe a small sapling can grow into a big tree with proper care. How long would it take for this to happen? (Many years)
Alma tells us we need to have patience and diligence in nourishing our faith as it develops and grows. (Alma 32:41)
• Show a picture of a full grown tree and ask if the children think it is stronger than a sapling. Point out the tough bark, the wide trunk, and the thick branches that help protect it from damage. Explain that when we develop strong faith in Jesus Christ and his words, we are less likely to be influenced by the harmful evils that are around us.
• Once a fruit tree has grown, it begins to produce fruit and then the harvest comes. What is the fruit of faith? Alma said the fruit of the tree is sweet above all that is sweet, and that it is white, precious, and pure. If we partake of this fruit and feast upon it we will be filled and not hunger or thirst. The fruit is the blessings that come from living the gospel, which include the blessings and joys of eternal life. (Alma 32:42)
• When a tree is grown and producing fruit are we done? (No, we need to continue to nourish it, take care of it, and protect it from harm. If we don’t do these things the tree may suffer from neglect, become open to disease and bug damage, and it may stop producing good fruit.)
• When we have developed a strong faith in Jesus Christ and his words, are we done working? (No, we must continue doing all the things that made our faith strong. We must continue caring for and nourishing our testimony. If we neglect to do this we may become open to the damaging influences and temptations of the world, which could cause the loss of the blessings we worked so hard for.)
Emphasize that just as a good seed with proper care and nourishment can eventually become a fruit bearing tree, if we will learn the word of God, plant it in our hearts, and properly nourish it, our faith in God will grow strong and produce many blessings.
Give each child a cup of soil and a seed. Tell them they can plant the seed in the soil, but they must nourish and take care of it if they want it to grow. Explain that if they will put the plant in their garden after it begins to grow and then continue to take care of it, within a few months it will produce a delicious fruit. Explain that the plant will be a reminder for them to nourish their faith in God and to have patience and diligence as they do this. If they will do the things necessary to nourish their faith, their faith will grow and produce many wonderful blessings.
Weekly Reading Assignment
Remind the children to do their scripture reading assignment for this week: Alma 32:1-43