how the Lord speaks to us
Week 11 is scheduled for study March 11-17, 2024. This week’s lessons are all about the ways in which Satan tries to distract us and how the Lord has prepared ways to speak to us.

Day 1

2 Nephi 26-27; 29-30 – God prepared the Book of Mormon for our day.

For many of us, when we think of the contents of the Book of Mormon, we think mainly of the retelling of the story of those people God led out of Jerusalem, and their history up to the time of their destruction. What we don’t think of is the massive amounts of pure doctrine or teachings of Christ throughout the book. The Book of Mormon is all about Christ, his doctrine, his work among the children of Israel, and his promises to those who keep his commandments, as well as those promises made to those who reject his offered blessings.

The Book of Mormon, though written by people dealing with the contemporary difficulties of their day, focuses on the future of God’s people. The prophets all look forward to the coming of the Messiah for his mortal ministry, but their main focus is on his return for his second coming and reign during the Millennium. We’re on the end of the timeline where the promised book (the Book of Mormon) has been published and is in the process of being taken to all the world. We are preparing for Christ’s second coming.

This is just a guess on my part, but I think the reason there is so great a focus on the Savior’s Millennial reign is that everything that has been set in motion from Adam’s day to this will be completed and fulfilled when the Savior returns. The scriptures mention in multiple places visions of the future and scriptures revealed to prophets that they wrote, but were forbidden to share with others during their lifetimes. All these “hidden” things will be revealed during the millennium. All those new revelations will make our Standard Works look like a primer brochure. We’ll have the visions of prophets like those of the brother of Jared, the writings of Nephi he wasn’t allowed to share with us, all the writings of the prophets who have been with the 10 lost tribes, and so much more. And remember that the Savior has promised that when he returns the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as water covers the seas. All things that have been hidden since the beginning of time will be revealed for all to read.

The Book of Mormon is filled with revelation and explanations of the plan of salvation. It is gifted with the Spirit of the Lord to convert those who are seeking truth. The stories and principles the prophets wrote about are meant to teach us what we need to know to make it safely through the trials of these last days of human history.

Day 2

2 Nephi 26:23-33 – Jesus Christ invites us all to come unto him.

I feel like I am quoting Moses 1:39, the purpose for all God does, ad nauseum. Just as God’s purpose for all that He does is to bring about our exaltation and eternal life, so too is the reason for all that the Savior does. He shares God’s desires to bring us all into exaltation and eternal life. This is why Jesus deals in light or truth in all that he does. All his actions are those that invite us to come to him. Jesus knows full well that without him we cannot return to our Father in Heaven.

Jesus, as Jehovah, made a covenant with Abraham that through his posterity all the families of the earth would be blessed. All the covenants of salvation are available through the priesthood held by those of Abraham’s posterity. But it doesn’t matter which family line you are born into, if you are willing to accept the covenants God offers His children then you are considered as one of Abraham’s posterity. So whether we are born a blood relative or are adopted through obedience, God offers us the same blessings. He only really cares about obedience, not bloodline. Nephi told his people that all the gentiles who repent and are obedient will be blessed by God, and that all the “covenant” children of Abraham who are disobedient will be cursed by God. The willingness to obey is everything.

The gospel and its blessings are free to everyone and anyone who wants to become better than they currently are. If finding and doing good brings you joy then the gospel of Christ is where you belong. This is true for every nation, every culture, and religion on earth. God doesn’t care where you were born. He only cares about whether or not you are willing to accept the sacrifices of His Son on your behalf. If you are willing to come to Christ then all the blessings of the eternities are yours for the taking. There are no conditions or stipulations involved with this. Repent and obey Christ’s commandments, exercise faith in him, and you can have eternal life. That sounds pretty easy. In principle it is. We just have to maintain our resolve to always be obedient to Christ. He was sent to show us the way back home.

Day 3

2 Nephi 28 – Satan seeks to deceive

Bald-faced lies can be so easy to discredit, but deceptions that appeal to our pride, vanity, and sense of self importance are more difficult to see past. When we accept a false image of who we are or of our own sense of self importance, it can be difficult to admit that we were only pandering to our own lusts for power, recognition, love of self, or any one of a hundred other negative things in our life. To accept the truth about these lies only puts our foolishness on display. Small wonder that we resist having to accept such truths ourselves.

Satan has known from the beginning that deception is far more effective at getting people to do what you want than a straight out lie is. The deception I am willing to accept may not be the same one you are willing to accept. As the scripture states, I may feel like all is well in Zion, whereas you may be willing to accept that God will punish the sinner with a few stripes, but in the end all will be saved. Satan has a wide range of deceptions from which to choose. Each of us are susceptible to a different kind of lie. This is why it is so important that we not judge others for their choice of sin. None of us are immune to Satan’s special brand of lies about our own life. All of us need to repent and seek the truth.

The most important thing about Satan and lies is that we each be willing to accept that none of us are immune to his wiles. We each fall to a certain number of Satan’s untruths. Recognition of our own weakness is the first step to accepting that we need to rely on daily repentance.

Day 4

2 Nephi 28:27-31; 29 – God continues to give revelation to guide His children.

Have you ever heard of a heritage lie? Maybe I made it up, but a heritage lie is one what is passed on from generation to generation. It is so old and so well accepted that those who live by it can no longer imagine anything else being true. One such heritage lie is that God has done His work and has left the governing of His church to its leaders. There are no more miracles among the common folk, and the Holy Spirit is something special that only happens in wild and crazy ways, like handling snakes or by going into convulsions and speaking in tongues unknown by humanity.

To simply state that God hasn’t changed in the last two thousand years, and that He still speaks to mankind and answers our prayers through the ministrations of the Spirit is more than many can accept. To accept such a “truth” for them is to admit that they come from generations of gullible Christians. That is just an unacceptable proposition for many.

We believe that the Lord’s love for us is no less than His love for those who lived during Christ’s mortal ministry. Jesus encouraged his followers to pray and get answers to their prayers. Yes, he was advocating personal revelation for each person. It was the apostate leaders of Christ’s church who later convinced everyone that only they could receive direction from God. The people’s responsibility was to do what their leaders directed them to do. Most of these lies were deliberate when they started, but many were started or carried on out of spiritual ignorance.

The truth is that God continues to talk to His children through prayer and the gift of the Holy Ghost. He will answer prayers of anyone who exercises faith in Him, whether inside or outside the Church.

Personal Study

Don’t be afraid of silence.

I have talked to some people who, being faced with silence in their life, are about as excited as I am when someone expects me to put a live viper’s head in my mouth. They are sure that the silence will kill them and have more preferable ways to die.

One of Satan’s grand deceptions in today’s society is that silence is anything but golden. Being alone with your own thoughts is terrifying. Many are so accustomed to noise in one form or another that being left in the quiet to contemplate life’s issues leaves them feeling completely defenseless and vulnerable. This form of deception is effective precisely because noise and confusion drives away the Spirit and His whispers. Once we are cut off from the Spirit’s influence we are open and susceptible to Satan’s influences.

The only way to get used to sitting quietly for extended periods of time is to build up your tolerance for being alone. As scary as it is, it is something that we all need. And once learned, we appreciate it more than we can currently describe. At this point in my life almost nothing is as preferable as being left alone with my own thoughts for extended periods of time. Interruptions are considered intrusions.

The voice of the Spirit is still and quiet. It usually only can be felt or heard when our minds are quiet and there is little chaos in our environment. To be able to hear the Spirit in the midst of noise takes real practice, for the Spirit hates such distractions. In the scriptures we read about marvelous manifestations of the Spirit when someone is first introduced to Him. But as they become more accustomed to His presence in their thoughts, His influence becomes more and more subtle. Eventually, the whisperings of the Spirit become like a second, and welcomed, voice in your head. Listening to His comments about your current situation becomes like having a trusted companion by your side wherever you are.

When it comes to the Spirit, why shout when a whisper will do? How often have you heard one of the apostles mention that they need to keep a pen and paper next to their bedside so that in the early morning hours, when their mind has calmed down, the Spirit can give them the instructions they were not prepared for during the day? It is more common than one might think.

Paul had his big experience on the road to Damascus, but as his life with the Spirit evolved, his life became attuned to living with the quiet instructions the Spirit impressed upon his mind and heart. Joseph Smith was the same way. We don’t need to have the Spirit yelling at us to get our attention once we stop the noise and allow peace and quiet to be part of our lives. Peace and quiet are a choice we each have to make.

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BoM11-2024 – A Marvelous Work and a Wonder