listen to the Spirit
Week 32 is scheduled for study Aug. 2-8, 2021. This week’s lessons are alive with opportunities to listen to the Spirit and to fulfill our opportunities and obligations to gather Israel.

Day 1

Doctrine and Covenants 85:1-2 – It is good “to keep a history.”

The Spirit may lead you to study principles in sections 85-87 that are not highlighted in this outline. Follow His promptings.

We hear all the time that we need to keep and write a history of our life. We hear it in Conferences, in the Church magazines, and in almost every week’s lesson in the Come, Follow Me manual. But have you ever taken the time to look past our individual reasons for not writing our history to consider the reasons why we should write a history?

In today’s lesson we are given just two verses to consider. The first verse tells us that the Bishop of the Church in Joseph’s day is to keep a history of all the legal transactions of his office. This is a really obvious reason, for it is only through these transaction records that people can see who did what with the tithes and offerings of the Church. These are historical and public records that are important for organizational and legal reasons. But what about verse two where the Lord says:

And also their manner of life, their faith, and works; and also of the apostates who apostatize after receiving their inheritances.

Before you say, ‘yes, but this is a directive to the Church as an organization, this has nothing to do with me and my own private life’, stop and recall that the Lord also said that what he says unto one he says unto all. No matter how much it may make us squirm or look for loopholes, we have all been commanded by the prophets and by the Lord, Himself, to write our own personal history.

At no time has the Lord required that we take special writing classes to create a history. We don’t have to be talented in writing in any way. All that is required of us is that we be willing to put pen to paper and record stories of our lives, lessons learned, and possibly thoughts about life and the gospel as we understand it.

Consider this

I have done this before, so let me ask you if you have also done this before. When you listen to a story of one of the early members of the Church, do you ever think, “Wow, I couldn’t do that. They were so centered on leaving behind a record. If I wrote anything no one would be interested in what I would have to say. My life is boring compared to what has happened to those early Saints. What could I possibly offer to the world by what I might write. I can’t even write a coherent essay!’

First of all, very few of those who wrote diaries and journals did so with the intent of having their stories read by millions in future generations who would read their writings and strengthen their testimonies through the things they wrote. Most of what we have are collections of common letters written to relatives about what was going on in their life at that moment in time. We have private journals that were considered by the writer to be just that, private. They weren’t meant to be read by anyone else during their lifetime. They didn’t have recordings to refer back to, so they wrote all they could remember about sermons and lessons learned for future personal reference. They knew they would forget things if they didn’t write them down, so they wrote. It is these writings that have shaped our understanding of the trajectory of the Restoration, especially in the early years. We have the writings of those who were faithful, the writings of the apostates, and of those who were converted, but later fell away. We can see how people’s lives change through the things they wrote.

Does this help you see why the Lord required that a record be kept? Things have changed in many ways since the mid 1800’s, but people have not changed much at all. We still waffle between commitment and rebellion. We still tend to start something with zeal and vigor, but when the going gets tough, suddenly we find all kinds of reasons to put that which is inconvenient behind us. People are people. The only real differences is the time period in which we live. Our basic natures are the same.

Think about how many lives have been affected by one person’s history about their life. We learn so much from their simple, unpolished written account that we become connected to them. We feel for them and appreciate the struggles they talk about in their stories. How many of our ancestors who didn’t write a history of their life, a journal, a diary, or any other record that others could read, have just simply disappeared into the anals of history. It is almost as though they ceased to exist. Think of the powerful records you’ve probably read that were written by the common and unpopular people in this world, like The Diary of Anne Frank. She was just a common little girl who happened to be a Jew at a pivotal time in history and wrote a diary of her experiences while hiding in an attic. Who would have guessed it would become a classic piece of literature? The honest truth is that we never know how what we write might be ultimately used by the Lord to mold future generations.

We are all ancestors

We know our ancestors lived, for we have their birth, marriage, and death records, but what about a knowledge of what was important to them, how they felt about the trials of their life, or how they felt about their family, their religion, their country, or even their work? Don’t you think that every person who ever lives learns important lessons? Those lessons die with them if they are not written somewhere.

The two sentences that precede every lesson in this week’s topic tell us to follow the Spirit as we study the topics of this week’s sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Undoubtedly the Spirit will prick us to make a video recording we can store somewhere, write a short description of something that happened to us recently or even many years ago. Each of us will be led in a different direction as to what to write or say. The important thing is that we listen to those promptings and write something. Send it to your friends or family. Print it somewhere so people can find it later if you want to keep it private for now. Just write it.

I have been writing my understanding of the gospel of Christ for more than eight years now. I have written more than one thousand articles. My family doesn’t read anything I write. That saddens me that my children have no interest in my understanding of the gospel of Christ, for that is of such great importance to me. But I continue to write in the hopes that someday some of my posterity several generations from now will have their hearts turned to their forefathers, and someone will find what I have written and have their personal testimony strengthened by what I have written. They will see what life was like during my little window of time here in mortality, and they will be blessed by my humble efforts to put my heart and soul on paper. This is something we can all do in our own way when we follow the Spirit. I am confident that the Lord will bless others through my time spent talking about the gospel of Christ. I just pray that it will be so.

Day 2

Doctrine and Covenants 85:6 – The Spirit speaks with a “still small voice.”

The Spirit may lead you to study principles in sections 85-87 that are not highlighted in this outline. Follow His promptings.

One of the most powerful and profitable things you can accomplish in this lifetime is to establish a recognition of, and a rapport with the Holy Spirit. To be able to recognize when He is speaking to you, prompting you, warning you, or filling your soul with intelligence, is an irreplaceable gift. And to become comfortable enough to recognize His voice then feel free enough to talk back to Him with questions, concerns, or expressions of gratitude, is a demonstration of faith that changes your life forever.

The whole Godhead speaks with a still small voice. Only on special occasions has any member of the Godhead spoken in anything other than a voice of peace. Look at all of the accounts of when the Father has spoken to people, especially in the Book of Mormon, and you will see that He had to repeat Himself multiple times. Why? Because His voice was so quiet and small that people had to really search for it and want to hear it before it became evident what the message was. This hints to us that the Spirit may be speaking to us more often than we are actually hearing Him, as our lives are often so filled with noise and confusion that it can be difficult to hear and recognize any voice amongst the tumult that is quiet and peaceful.

We have to practice searching for, and listening for that voice that is not necessarily our own, but comes to us from time to time to whisper peace or to help us with instructions that guide us and bless us. I can only speak for myself, but when I hear “the voice” in my head, somehow I recognize that it is not originating from my own thoughts, though I cannot distinguish the voice from my own. All I know is that when those thoughts come, and I follow them, things in my life are better, and I find peace where there was none before.

The quiet voice of the Spirit also comes in promptings to do things. We also feel His “voice” as urges to behave in certain ways, often immediately. These communications can be lifesaving, because they bless our life now or if followed allow us to bless someone else’s life during a small window of opportunity that once closed is lost.

Is the Spirit’s voice something you can describe? How do you usually hear Him when he wants to talk to you? Have you figured out how to bring enough inner peace into your daily routine that you know you will probably notice when He is trying to communicate with you? (This takes real practice to achieve.)

Day 3

Doctrine and Covenants 86 – The righteous are gathered in the last days.

The Spirit may lead you to study principles in sections 85-87 that are not highlighted in this outline. Follow His promptings.

For today’s lesson I would like to bounce some ideas off you. The gathering in of the Lord’s harvest appears from these verses to be a more complex process than I had previously thought. Verse 5 tells us that the angels see the beginnings of wickedness among the Lord’s people and want to root them out by harvesting right now.

Behold, verily I say unto you, the angels are crying unto the Lord day and night, who are ready and waiting to be sent forth to reap down the fields;

But the Lord tells them the harvest is not yet ready, for the wheat, His people, are still yet tender in their testimonies. They are too new and fresh to the gospel to withstand such a reaping. It would destroy many of those whom the Lord could save if His people are left to grow more. What the Lord is patiently waiting for is for the full fruit of righteous living to be manifest. This, I believe, is us becoming a more Zionlike people, united with the Godhead in what we do, think, and how we live our lives.

The Lord appears to me to have balanced the world so that they cannot become fully ripened in sin until His people have become fully ripened in their righteousness. He doesn’t appear to have room in His plans for the wicked to overrun the righteous, nor for the righteous to outstrip the wicked in their righteousness. That is my personal observation and conclusion.

When the Savior finishes the parable of the wheat and the tares, he clarifies some things about his people in the remaining verses. It appears that Satan feels like he has won this round, because by planting the tares among the Saints, they have been driven into the wilderness – out of sight, out of mind. But the Lord has given His people the priesthood. What is the purpose of the priesthood? It is to administer covenants that grow and purify His people, and lead them to exaltation. The priesthood is also needed to gather in the lost of Israel back to the covenant. So by secluding Israel – think of the church moving to the Rocky Mountains and being almost alone for a hundred years – the priesthood power and the testimonies of the Saints were able to grow in strength and numbers. Now He is sending His people out into the world to offer these covenants to all who will accept them, thus bringing them into the fold with the rest of God’s people.

The change

In verses 8-12 the Lord tells us that we become the harvesters of the Lord’s fields, for we are those whom He is sending forth to gather the righteous out from among the wicked. When I first read the description of how the Lord wanted to do the harvest, I thought, “How can He do that? He will have to pluck up one plant at a time to separate the wheat from the tares. What a time consuming process. How tedious!” But isn’t that what we are doing when we preach the gospel to the nations of the earth? We are presenting the message to one person at a time. They are baptized one person at a time. This is literally what we are doing when, like in Doctrine and Covenants 4 the Lord talks about the field being white and ready to harvest. We are reaping one soul at a time. It is intensive, and it does take time, but how else can it be done without risking the lives of those the Lord can save from the punishments that are to come? This is the necessary part of the work of redemption. It must be done one soul at a time.

As those who have the priesthood and have made covenants step up to the challenges of these times, so too do the wicked gain in power of their dominion. The ripening process is in full swing, just as the gathering process has already begun. Only when the righteous have all been gathered out and the Lord declares the day of harvest to be here will the wicked finally be in a position to be burned, for by then the righteous will have already been gathered out from among them through the ministering of those, both men and women, who have priesthood power.

Do you see something more or something different in these verses? This is what I have taken away from my reading. Please feel free to comment below and share your perspective.

Day 4

Doctrine and Covenants 87 – Peace is found in “holy places.”

The Spirit may lead you to study principles in sections 85-87 that are not highlighted in this outline. Follow His promptings.

I recommend the following article. It is long, yes long. But it is also well worth the time it takes to read it. The whole article talks about what we mean when we talk about standing in holy places, and how to do that. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

Coming Closer to Zion Through Councils

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 85:6 – Identifying the voice of the Spirit

Here is another article I wrote a few years back on seven concrete ways we can learn to identify and follow the Spirit.

7 Ways to Follow the Spirit

Click the link below to

print a PDF copy of the file.

Stand Ye in Holy Places

Week 32