He worketh in me
Week 16 is scheduled for study April 15-21, 2024. This week we have six ways in which the Lord works in us to accomplish His will. But He doesn’t do it without our explicit cooperation.

Day 1

Enos 1:1-17 – God will hear and answer my prayers.

In 2020 I wrote the article below. It talks about prayer, things to consider, and how to do it. I recommend you read it as you look at the questions posed for today’s lesson.

7 Important Principles Found in Enos

Day 2

Enos 1:1-4 – The Lord can help me influence my family for good.

Sometimes the most difficult group to influence for good is our family. Those who know us best are not blind to our deficiencies or less than desirable habits. These they will sometimes use against us if we try to promote the gospel truths we hold dear. This doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it is the excuse they use to continue in their path of resistance to the requirements of eternal joy.

Let’s review the first of the two dotted paragraphs. You’ll have to look up the scriptures on your own. I’ll just make my comments about each of them.

1 Nephi 2:16-18 – The news that they would have to leave home and flee into the wilderness was difficult even for Nephi. He naturally had a believing heart, but this news drove him to his knees in his effort to have his own heart softened so he could be fully supportive and believing of his father’s words. First off, it is easy to miss that both the reactions of Nephi/Sam and Laman/Lemuel tell us that their father Lehi was not afraid to talk about the gospel to them. He appears to have regularly spoken to them about the scriptures and encouraged them all to live by them and keep the commandments.

There are times in many of our lives where we, for whatever reason, feel timid about speaking up about gospel things to our children. We forget that much of their impression of the importance of the gospel comes from what they see in our behavior and attitude about what they learn. If we are lackluster in our approach to living the gospel then it is far more likely they will adopt the same approach. If we are ridged in our views, meaning unyielding and unwilling to see that there might be another way for someone else to perceive the same doctrine then they might use that rigidity against us as a way of rebelling. It all depends on the child. Try as we might, we can’t change the natural inclinations of the child. They come into the world with them. All we can do is set the example we hope will help them choose the right. But we do need to be aware that they are watching the example we set.

1 Nephi 3:15-21 – Persuasion. Nephi was trying to not only do what was right in going to get the plates, but he was trying to help his brothers gather the courage to do the same. These verses show us that Nephi had thought through the reasoning and the need for the brass plates. In a time of fear he needed to help them understand the gravity of their obedience, or lack of it. Whole generations will be spiritually lost without the plates they have been sent to retrieve. Since the prophet was commanded to get them, there must be a way for that to happen, for God never commands something be done needlessly. God will always open a way for His commandments to be fulfilled.

Confidence in the word of God is an important part of how we can display our commitment to keeping the commandments. Belief only takes us so far. It is positive action in those beliefs that demonstrates our faith in what we claim to believe. Others need to see this faith, especially if they are struggling with just the belief part.

1 Nephi 5:1-6 – Sariah was not a faithless wife. After all, she had already followed Lehi down into the wilderness leaving all of her sources of security behind, her home and possessions. But seeing her sons go off after the brass plates, knowing the wickedness and the personality of Laban, she was convinced that he would kill her children and that she would never see them again. And where would that leave her? She and Lehi were getting old. They had just left the fruits of an entire life of industry behind them and were currently sitting in a pile of sand that stretched as far as the eye could see. She was disheartened.

Lehi was patient with her. He appears to have understood how it was possible and almost probable that people would question his visions. Instead of scolding her and chastising her for her lack of faith, he used his own knowledge that God had promised to bring their sons back to comfort her and help her hang on until he could show her that he was right to do the will of the Lord. What a sweet and loving husband to offer her such liberty to feel what she felt while assuring her that God would take care of her and her sons.

1 Nephi 7:20-21 – I’m sorry, but sometimes Nephi comes across as a real do-gooder, and doesn’t seem very tolerant of others who are less perfect than he makes himself out to be. (He did write the book with his name on it.) That is my opinion. But these verses show us that Nephi also had a largess, a bigness of heart that is most admirable. Despite the rude and unruly behavior of his brothers towards him, Nephi “did frankly forgive them.” Laman and Lemuel might not have lasted as long as they did before completely rejecting the teachings of their parents if they had not had such good examples as those provided by Nephi and Sam.

Alma 36:17-20 – At last we have arrived at our final example in this paragraph of the manual. Alma the Younger is describing the suffering he was going through after the angel warned him that he was about to having himself cast off from God because of his horrid behavior. And no, I don’t think the angel used the term horrid to describe Alma’s behavior. You get the point – he had been trying to destroy God’s church behind his father’s back. His own example was leading many straight to hell. Alma now was seeing and feeling the effects of what hell is like. He, himself was horrified at his own behavior, but at this point he still didn’t know how he could be saved from his suffering of knowing what he had done to God and to others by his own choices.

It was at the most severe point of his suffering that he remembered the teachings of his father. Alma had taught his son about a Savior that would come and save the people from their sins. Obviously up to this point in his life he had not listened to his father. The Lord had to take Alma the Younger to this extreme before Alma chose on his own to give his father some credence in what he taught. Not only had his father remained constant in his teachings of the gospel of Christ, but he had continued to love his rebelling son. We don’t know any more about their relationship before this time than that his father still cared about him. This continuity of Alma’s love for his son seems to be what helped his son when he needed help the most. He was now ready to give Jesus and his mission a try if it would save him from the suffering he had been experiencing. The results were immediate. Alma turned to Christ and was filled with joy that exceeded his former pain.

Summary

This is the point of all these scriptural examples from the manual. Life is messy. People make choices that aren’t always the best, including us. But the examples we set, and those examples others have set for us makes all the difference. We never know when someone will be preserved in the right way a few days longer, because of our example. We don’t know when our willingness to be forgiving of their personal affronts to us will help someone else be forgiving as well, or when someone else’s consistent teachings of Christ will sink into our own soul and save us from our self. In every example we have looked at the key comes down to consistency in being a covenant keeper. Those who do so speak up, love openly and freely, and are patient with the weaknesses of others.

I’ll leave it up to you to ponder on the next dotted paragraph in the manual. There is so much to consider in all the resources listed.

Day 3

Enos 1:1-18 – I can receive forgiveness as I exercise faith in Christ.

Enos is regularly used as an example of someone who approaches the Lord (seemingly for the first time) and has all his sins forgiven. I don’t think this is true. There are some tell tale markers that indicate that Enos was already a convert and a good man when he went into the forest to hunt his beasties. For example, he prayed all day and into the night. Who does that but someone who has had lots of previous experience praying? To pray that long usually takes experience expressing yourself to God. Read verse six.

And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.

To know that God cannot lie usually implies experiences in the past that have shown you that God keeps His promises. Enos already had a sure knowledge that God cannot lie. This isn’t something a person new to thinking about God would already know. This is knowledge that comes from prior experience.

I may be wrong about Enos, but I don’t think I am. Everything about his story tells me that he had spent time before pondering the words of his prophet father Jacob. Enos was accustomed to thinking about Jacob’s teachings and what they meant to him. If you watch the church video about Enos it heavily implies that this episode in the woods happened because Enos had just been given the responsibility of maintaining the plates before his father’s death. He was worried that he might not be worthy enough to be the keeper of the sacred record, and that is what prompted him to seek to be cleansed by the Spirit. This tells me that Enos was a very conscientious person, and wanted more than anything to be worthy of the trust and responsibility his father placed in his hands.

My point in going on and on about Enos is that he isn’t so different from us. We already have some knowledge of God. In one way or another God has proven Himself to us time and time again. We just have to remember how many times He has come to our rescue, has kept His promises made to us either through the scriptures, His prophets, or through the answers we have received in prayer. Just because we have prayed to Him before, it doesn’t mean we are yet completely comfortable with where we stand before Him.

Enos wanted to know if he was acceptable to God. He finally decided that he was not going to stop pursuing that knowledge until he received his answer from God, Himself. It took a lot of soul searching, pondering, and praying to receive his answer, and the better part of a day and night. But he did receive it. How sincerely, or desperately do we want to know where we stand before God? What am I willing to do to find out? We’re all different. This story is what Enos went through for his answer. Ours will be a different story, but the path is the same.

Day 4

Jarom-Omni – As I strive to keep His commandments, God will bless me.

It isn’t enough for Satan to let us all be mediocre in our obedience to God’s commandments. Even the mediocre people will still receive many blessings in the hereafter. Satan hates us. His goal is to deprive us of as many of those blessings as he can. Just as continued obedience to God’s commandments leads to life and happiness, so too does adherence to Satan’s promptings lead to anger and hostility. His goal is to get us so filled with rage about anything he can that we eventually kill each other. This is why all societies get slaughtered eventually when they follow Satan.

The verses in today’s lesson point out that each time those who have been blessed by God with truth turn and follow Satan, the end result is total destruction. This pattern is played out over and over again throughout the Book of Mormon. Omni 5:1 tells us that just 325 years after Lehi left Jerusalem the more part of the wicked Nephites were destroyed. That happened about the same time the remaining Nephites found the people of Zarahemla.

Within another 300 years the Lord destroyed most of the Nephites, because of their wickedness, when he died on the cross. In both cases only the more righteous were left alive. And finally, when all of the people turned against the Lord, the few remaining righteous were destroyed along side the rest of their people in their battles with the Lamanites. Come to think of it, there was similar destruction among the Jaredites multiple times, until finally they all turned away from God and were destroyed down to the last man, Coriantumr. It makes me wonder if this cycle of destruction about every 300 years is a real thing, or if it just seems to be.

The sooner Satan can take us out of mortality or ruin our experience in mortality, the better for him. He laughs anytime he can make us suffer. But God has always promised that those who keep His commandments will prosper in the land. While it is true that there are numerous instances in the scriptures where the Lord protects His people from those who would do them harm, there are just as many instances where those who keep the commandments are said to be a happy people. They are happy whether or not they are rich, but the Lord also generally gives the righteous all the precious things of the earth when they are obedient to Him. But the point is that obedience brings happiness.

Day 5

Omni 1:25-26 – “Come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel.”

I find the second half of Omni 1:26 worthy of some private consideration.

26 … Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.

I was captivated by the expression, “offer your whole souls as an offering unto him.” In the law of Moses burnt offerings were meant to consume the entire animal. Nothing was reserved for the priests or for any other purpose. All of it was put into the fire until it had been consumed. This is a totality of commitment. When we are told to offer our whole soul, that means there should be no reservations, split commitments, hesitations, or half measures. We are all in. Living the gospel of Christ will consume us and our time, energy, and commitment.

The difference between an animal offered as a burnt offering and us offering our whole soul to God, is that the animal sacrificed doesn’t have a choice in the matter. It just woke up one day to find out it was its last day on earth. When we offer our whole soul to God it is a conscious choice that we make with our eyes wide open. And there is happiness that comes with this all-consuming commitment (pun intended).

The happiness part of this commitment comes from the last part of the verse we just quoted – “continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.” Elsewhere in the scriptures the phrase fasting and prayer is reworded as rejoicing and prayer. Fasting and prayer should be a happy experience for us. If it isn’t then we are missing something in the equation. The scriptures also tell us that “men are that they might have joy.” The kind of joy God is talking about is eternal joy, not temporary euphoria. Keeping God’s commandments by coming to Christ is designed to bring us lasting joy. And that joy comes because we learn to live like Jesus, who is filled with joy.

Day 6

Words of Mormon 1:1-8 – God will work through me as I follow His guidance.

Mormon included the words of Nephi and his descendants because the Spirit impressed upon him that these were valuable words to include in his record. He must have felt a measure of comfort that Nephi also created his record because the Lord told him to do it, even though he had just finished writing the record of his father. Prophet after prophet did as they were impressed or commanded to do, and the result is what we have in the Book of Mormon. This is how the Lord does most of His communicating with the children of men.

In culture after culture people are inspired through the workings of the Spirit to write, or do, or say what comes into their mind. These are things that they feel are important or helpful to those around them. Most of the time we don’t understand the full importance of what we do, write, or say, we just move forward because we feel strongly about it. Understanding more often comes through hindsight. God has been working this way from the days of Adam and Eve. 

When the prophets tell us it is important that we write a personal history or that we journal our life’s experience, it is the same thing. No explanation other than it will be useful to those who live in a later day. Many of those who reap the benefits of such impressions and deeds are the ones who follow those instructions, even when there are no explicit reasons given. Most of the benefits are meant for those who come after and will read or listen to what was done or recorded.

We can’t begin to calculate how much of our scriptural record would not exist if the prophets had not followed those feelings they received from the Holy Ghost to record their works and talks, their feelings and experiences. Are we each prepared to leave our posterity more alone and in the dark because we don’t follow those same promptings? Are we prepared to answer to the Lord for the excuses we made to not write and record what we felt impressed to do?

Personal Study

The simplicity of exercising faith.

We hear all the time that if it seems too good to be true then it must not be. When it comes to our faith in Christ this statement doesn’t apply, for it really is “too good to be true,” yet it is true. When Enos went to pray for forgiveness he did so not understanding how the atoning sacrifice of Christ was going to make it possible for him to no longer feel guilt for his sins. His was a simple belief, and he was willing to trust and act on that belief that however it could happen, God could really make it happen. This is the key to understanding Enos 1:7-8.

And I said: Lord, how is it done?

And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.

When Enos asked the Lord to explain how forgiveness came, and how it was possible to be forgiven, the Lord could have opened the windows of heaven and revealed the secrets of eternity to him. He could have, but He didn’t. Instead God simply said, ‘You are forgiven because you have trusted in Christ, whom you have never seen.’ That’s all.

So often we feel like the atonement of Christ won’t work for us unless we figure out the puzzle of how he did it first. But that isn’t necessary for it to work for us. All we have to do is believe that Christ made it possible to be forgiven for our sins, and that if we trust in his commandments to us and keep them he will do the forgiving when we work hard to live up to his standards of behavior. Our faith need not be complicated or involved. Simple faith is all that is required. If Christ says it can be so then we accept that as truth and live our life accordingly. That’s it! God, Himself told Enos that because he exercised his faith in Christ’s word his faith had made him whole. I don’t see how it can be any simpler than that.

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BoM16-2024 – He Worketh in Me