remember
Week 35 is scheduled for study August 24-30, 2020. To remember the Lord takes constant thinking and awareness of Him, and His influence, and participation in our life. It requires continual acts of good and perpetual righteous living. These habits get easier to do with practice, and are required for us to stay on the path of safety.

Introduction

I was captivated by a quote from the manual in the introduction, so I wrote an article around that quote. It is not one of the regular lessons, but it addresses the introduction to this week’s lessons. You can find it at the link below.

 

Day 1

Helaman 7-11 – Prophets reveal the will of God.

Nephi, Lehi, and others had “many revelations daily” (Helaman 11:23). Frequent revelation is not just for prophets – it’s available to you, too. Recording your impressions can help you receive revelation more consistently.

The point being made in today’s lesson is that the example of being a prophet shown us by Nephi’s ministry is typical of prophets in general. That includes the ministry of our living prophets as well. As you read the scripture verses talking about four of the responsibilities of a prophet, try to identify how Nephi demonstrated each of the aspects of being the Lord’s mouthpiece. Remember that every prophet is more than just a mouthpiece. He is a leader, a disciple of Christ, and a human. Our prophet is still mastering the process we all have to master of becoming more like Christ. The prophet is just further along that path than most of us. He has already been tested, tried, and proven to be true to the Lord and capable and ready to listen to the promptings of the Spirit in all things.

Helaman 7:17–22 – It can be difficult to set aside our notion that the prophet just goes around all day saying, “Thus saith the Lord!” One of his main responsibilities is to teach and clarify the doctrines of Christ. Did you know that Apostles aren’t able to declare official doctrine for the church? Only the First Presidency can issue official declarations of doctrines when clarifications and statements need to be made. An Apostle can teach the new doctrine, but it must first be given to him from the prophet so he knows what must be taught.

Nephi spent a lot of time encouraging the people to turn from their sins and turn to the Savior and repent. He explained to them over and over again what would happen to them if they did not repent, as well as what would happen to them if they did repent. Sadly, most of the people chose not to believe him. Our prophet does the same thing. He is telling us on a regular basis how to treat each other, how to engage more fully in the doctrines of the gospel so we can enjoy the benefits of the happiness they bring. The prophet regularly explains the doctrines and how to apply them in today’s world. The question is, are we listening and applying his counsel?

Helaman 7:29:9:21-36 – In my head everything the prophet says has two parts. First he publicly comes out and tells the members of the church what they need to do, whether it is learning to minister better, find more power in their exercise of the priesthood, or anything else. The second thing that happens comes along anywhere from a month to a couple of years later when the world falls apart a little more than it already was, and those who followed the prophet’s counsel are prepared to handle the spiritual load required because of the increased chaos and wickedness.

Prophets are seers, meaning they see afar off. As one who sees, he learns from the Lord what will be needed by the members of the church and he prepares the church accordingly. This is why in 1995 we received the proclamation on the family. We all looked at one another and said, “Yeah, of course that is what the family is all about. We already know that.” Within 10 years the world was attacking the traditional definition of the family and people who hadn’t thought a decade ahead and already defined the family were running around trying to justify why they treated gender roles the way they did. Many of them then caved under social pressure and adopted the new definitions of the family and gender – the world’s definition. Our prophet is always ahead of the curve. Expect the unexpected, because he sees what is coming before anyone else does, and if we follow his lead we will be ready for what comes our way.

Helaman 10:7 – To my knowledge, not all prophets have had the sealing power, but I know all of them in this dispensation have had it. We think of the sealing power in connection with binding families in the eternities. But what did the Lord tell Nephi the power included? He said, “whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven.” I don’t see that the Lord left anything out, do you? “Whatsoever” is a pretty all-inclusive word.

Those given the keys to the sealing power are already trusted by the Lord that they won’t ask for anything that would go against His will. This means that at the prophet’s discretion almost anything could happen. When Nephi finally admitted that the people were on a permanent one-way downward spiral he decided that since they were going to die anyway, perhaps if they were dying from famine, instead of by each other’s swords, there might be a chance they will become desperate enough to turn to the Lord and seek for another chance at His blessings. The famine Nephi called for lasted for five years, and the people finally did repent. Their repentance didn’t last, but at least they did repent, even if it was only for a short time.

Our prophet, to my knowledge, hasn’t used his keys to the sealing power for anything but temple related things. But let’s be grateful he hasn’t yet been impressed that it is time to seal up the heavens or cause pestilence in the land. I am perfectly content with the more beneficial uses of this priesthood authority.

Helaman 10:4–7, 11–12 – If you aren’t yet retired, how old do you think you will be when you retire? How many years will that give you to direct your own life after retirement if you live to the age of 90+? Nephi is praised in these verses for his “unwearying” obedience to everything the Lord has ever required of him. There was no thought of retirement, of taking it easy and enjoying the remainder of his life in peace. God’s will and the salvation of his people were all that mattered to the prophet.

Look at the age group of our Apostles and our prophet. How many captains of industry are still flying around the world and keeping the kind of hours and schedule the prophet keeps in their mid to late 90’s? These men are like Nephi and Lehi, and all the other good men we learn about in the Book of Mormon. Their personal life is but a shadow. Their reality is their service to God, and is shown by their unrelenting devotion to preaching His gospel and doing His will. The Apostles and the Prophet literally work to the last day of their life. If they were working farm animals we would say of them that they die in their traces, still hooked to the plow. This is the kind of devotion they demonstrate to God and His work. What can we learn from their example?

Day 2

Helaman 9-10 – Signs and miracles are helpful but not sufficient to build enduring faith.

Nephi, Lehi, and others had “many revelations daily” (Helaman 11:23). Frequent revelation is not just for prophets – it’s available to you, too. Recording your impressions can help you receive revelation more consistently.

Signs are markers, something used to know where you are and what is coming. It doesn’t matter if it is a sign on the road or a sign from God. Signs are given to both the wicked and the righteous, though only the righteous believe them and act accordingly. Hence, only the righteous benefit from the signs.

Miracles are rarely given to the wicked. They are used more regularly as a reward or confirmation of the faith exercised by the righteous. If miracles had the capacity and ability to build great and enduring faith the Lord would have His servants out there performing miracles every day. But since miracles are the confirmation of faith already exercised, the number of miracles we see are, in large measure, restricted to how much faith we have already developed. The more faith we develop, the more often we see and recognize miracles.

Miracles really are all around us, but many of us are so intent on defining miracles as being of a particular brand of event, we miss the miracles God sends to us, for we are “looking beyond the mark.” If you want to see miracles start looking for amazing “coincidences.” Since there are no coincidences, if you see something that just happens to have everything fall into place to produce something wonderful, chances are you have just witnessed a miracle. Are you willing to accept it as such?

Day 3

Helaman 10:2–4 – Pondering invites revelation.

Nephi, Lehi, and others had “many revelations daily” (Helaman 11:23). Frequent revelation is not just for prophets – it’s available to you, too. Recording your impressions can help you receive revelation more consistently.

Pondering is almost a lost art. To ponder requires a deep focus on the subject at hand. Pondering assumes we are bringing to bear all of our mental faculties to solve a problem, or to find understanding, or comprehension where currently we feel a distressing lack. Pondering isn’t daydreaming. It isn’t thinking lightly about something. If you have ever seen a picture of the statue of “The Thinker” by Rodin, you should have some idea about the intensity that goes into pondering.

Another aspect of pondering is the lack of a timetable. When we ponder we can’t expect that one session is all it will take and all the mysteries in our lives will be resolved. Pondering allows for incremental progression and all the time it takes to make that progression. This is why pondering isn’t an easy thing to do. Too many times we are impatient with the process and give up, because we aren’t seeing any progress quickly enough.

When Nephi was pondering over the wickedness of the people, he wasn’t just being aware of their wickedness; he was also trying to understand why they would choose it over the happiness and safety that comes with a repentant life. Perhaps if he could understand what had drawn them to Satan’s enticements he could find something that would be sufficient to bring them back to the Lord. I don’t know if this was his exact line of thinking, but this is the kind of thinking the verses refer to.

The Lord, for all His silence sometimes, already knows the answers to the things we are troubled about and puzzled over. He already knows if there is indeed anything at all that can bring his wayward children back, and what it will take for that to happen. But because God loves us, He lets us struggle to learn these things for ourselves by seeking direction through the Holy Ghost. Some of our most profound experiences in life come from having spent time steeped in deep thought in our efforts to comprehend the things of God.

Let’s look at what Nephi’s pondering caused to happen. Here is what verse four says Nephi’s pondering won for him:

… thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.

This is high praise indeed from the Lord. Nephi pondered over his people. As he struggled to find ways to uplift them, encourage them in righteous living, to serve them in any way he could, he was drawing closer and closer to the Lord and His way of thinking and loving. Nephi’s efforts to come to understanding of God’s ways was creating the charity and love within him that was making him more Christlike. Verse four is God’s acknowledgement that his fear (think respect) was in the right place. He feared God, not man. He sought to do only God’s will, not man’s. And Nephi had given his own life in his effort to obey the Lord in all things, rather than to seek his own comfort and to do things in his own way. All these efforts on Nephi’s part just won him the sealing power. He was now completely trusted by God to only do those things that would please God, which means he had no desire to do evil, but to do good continually.

Do we take time in our busy lives to think extensively (deeply) about spiritual things? Are we seeking to understand the nature of the natural man, as opposed to the nature of the spiritual man? Are we asking to be taught by the Spirit in our efforts to grasp the character of God, and do we seek to learn enough about our own selves that we can ask the right questions that will reveal the way to heal our own wounds and flaws? These are some of the kinds of things we should be pondering. Our pondering should be an effort on our part to gain from God enlightenment about whatever it is God wants us to understand for not only our own benefit, but for the benefit of those we love. And the more we ponder and learn, the larger that circle of love grows.

I don’t have a deep understanding of pondering or how to do it well. These thoughts are just the glimmers of comprehension I have gained during my own efforts to come to greater understanding of the gospel and how to apply it in my life. I’m sure you have more impressions you can add to this.

Day 4

Helaman 12 – The Lord wants me to remember Him.

Nephi, Lehi, and others had “many revelations daily” (Helaman 11:23). Frequent revelation is not just for prophets – it’s available to you, too. Recording your impressions can help you receive revelation more consistently.

Verse one of this chapter gave rise to a question for me. Whom do you trust more, someone of whom you know very little, or someone you have had great life experience with, so you feel you know them intimately? In your experience in life do you trust your best friends, or even your greatest enemies whom you know well, better than those about whom you know every little?

This is what we are told by Mormon, “… we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.” Who trusts God, those who know very little about Him or those who have come to appreciate His goodness, His trustworthiness, His love, and His dependability?

This brings up the logical follow up question: How can I learn to trust someone about which I never or rarely give any thought? Can I learn to trust a stranger if that person is never in my thoughts? Everything within me says I cannot. It wouldn’t make any sense. If I am not accustomed to thinking about that person, judging their behavior, weighing their behavior, and learning to appreciate their decisions, how am I supposed to come to trust them? This means I have to remember them.

I don’t believe that when we are told to remember the Lord that it means we are supposed to remember Him in the manner that you recall an old acquaintance about whom you rarely if ever give any thought. To remember God means to keep Him in our mind and heart so that we grow into a state of constant communion with each other. We are seeking to come to learn of His character and His ability to fulfill His many promises to us. We need to remember His promises and then to prove them by keeping His commandments and noting and acknowledging when His promises are fulfilled. Remembering is an active, consistent, and continual behavior that takes place over the course of years and years, not something we do once when someone reminds us that they still exist, and we are led to say, “Oh, yeah, I remember someone saying something about Him once.”

It is small wonder that throughout the scriptures we are told to “remember, remember.” It is this act of remembering – actively keeping Him in the forefront of our minds – that teaches us about the nature and character of God, that allows us to put absolute and unbounded faith in everything He says and does.

The manual suggests you make a list of some of the things Mormon says cause us to forget our God. How long of a list can you make? What you put on your list will tell you what you need to be careful to avoid and what to watch out for in your own life in your efforts to remember your God.

FHE/Scripture Study

Helaman 11:17–23 – Learning to appreciate those who are not prophets.

Several places in the Book of Mormon we read about people who are every whit as righteous and as useful to the people as the prophet is, but we aren’t told their stories. For example, we hear about Moroni, but Nephihah, Lehi, Teancum, and others were also righteous men who helped Moroni promote the cause of freedom. We also hear all about Nephi and his brother Lehi.

18 And behold, the people did rejoice and glorify God, and the whole face of the land was filled with rejoicing; and they did no more seek to destroy Nephi, but they did esteem him [Nephi] as a great prophet, and a man of God, having great power and authority given unto him from God.

19 And behold, Lehi, his brother, was not a whit behind him as to things pertaining to righteousness. (Emphasis added)

Think about the church today. We have our prophet and apostles, our general church leadership, all of whom are righteous and actively engaged in doing good wherever and whenever they can. But where do you think those people came from? When a new General Relief Society President or General Primary President needs to be called, do they just materialize out of thin air, ready to step into the limelight of the Church? Of course not. The church is full of people who are every bit as worthy as our current leaders. The Lord is just using them elsewhere in the kingdom at the moment.

We probably all know at least one person who always seems close to the Spirit, who is first in line to volunteer, and last to leave the service project. In almost every ward there is a core of members who show up for everything that needs to be done, cleaning, moving, trimming, cooking, whatever the need. You can tell who they are. One way to identify a big chunk of this group in most wards when you are new to the ward is to go to Sacrament meeting early. This core of Saints is often the group that is there sitting reverently in the chapel waiting for the meeting to start. They are there every week. If you know what I am talking about you can probably name most of the families and individuals who belong to this group.

Most of us will never be called to be a General President of anything in this life. After all, there can only be so many of those, and it takes a certain skill set to fill those responsibilities. But for every one of those General Presidents and worthy counselors, there are tens of thousands of faithful Latter-day Saints around the world who are “not a whit behind [them] as to things pertaining to righteousness.” We shouldn’t strive to be a prophet, but we should all strive to be as worthy as one. That is possible. That is doable, and it would please our Lord and our Father immensely.

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BoM Week 35

(Helaman 7-12)