Week 08 is scheduled for study Feb. 14-20, 2022. What is the nature of God’s promises? Does it matter if they are fulfilled in mortality or whether we must wait until after this life?

Day 1

Read and ponder Genesis 18-23, and record your impressions. You can use the ideas in this outline to help you study these chapters, and you may also be inspired to search for other messages in the scriptures that the Lord has specifically for you.

Genesis 18:9-14; 21:1-7 – The Lord fulfills His promises in His own time.

Oh, the Lord and His pesky promises. He always fulfills His promises. He has never backed out on a promise, and has never failed to deliver on one, so why do we, as a group, have such difficulty believing Him when He makes us a promise? How would you answer this question?

The following answer to the question in the previous paragraph is my own, born from my own experiences in life. My hope here is that I am not the only one who suffers from a lack of faith at times, and that my short sightedness is more universal than it feels to be at times.

The promises of the Lord are usually grand in their scope, though they can also be small and tender as well. He promises us eternal life, eternal family, godhood, and remission of sin, as well as eternal joy. If I have missed anything here, I am sure it is nice, but these are the things I am most focused on.

There are also promises I have received in my life, like the promise of good health in my calling at Church, health when I am sick, to have my mouth filled with the words I need in a moment of crisis when I need to be able to bear witness of the truth, and many more immediate blessings that have given me joy in this life of trial and hardship.

Yet for all these promises and immediate delivery of blessings, I still sometimes have difficulty believing and remembering to exercise faith in the Lord’s promises. Why? I think it is because I, like so many of us, become so fixated on the present crisis or need that it can be difficult to remember all the times the Lord has come through for me before. It is sort of like in so many of our personal relationships. We may be close, loving, trusting, and ready to go to the ends of the earth for someone, until that day when we are feeling insecure about our self, and all the outward evidences appear to point to a betrayal by the one we love. How quickly circumstantial evidence and our own sense of insecurity or self doubt can erode a trust that has taken years to build. I suppose this is a good reason for periodically counting our blessings.

Short sighted

I may have a hundred and one times the Lord has been there for me, answered my prayers, and supported me in times of suffering, yet when the heavens seem silent, and my wife and I still haven’t been given children after many years of trying, I might begin to wonder what God is doing in yonder heavens. And how about those who suffer from same gender attraction, who have had countless answers to prayers in the past, but over whichever question is now foremost in their mind about why they can’t seem to find happiness in this life they now feel abandoned by God and His Church? Or what about that currently single adult who just wants to find someone who is able and willing to love them with the same faithfulness they are willing to give?

Are you seeing the pattern here? We ARE short sighted. We focus on our immediate desire or need, and all the other times God has been there for us seem to fade into the distant past and be very difficult to recall. We make false assumptions as humans. We assume we are supposed to find eternal happiness in this life, knowing that this life is only temporary, and that this is not the final destination, but a season of trial and suffering to test our mettle and willingness to obey God.

I have mentioned this in previous lessons and articles. Abraham is known as the father of the faithful. Have you ever considered why he has that title? Look at all the promises the Lord made to Abraham. Go ahead, list the number of times he was promised that all the land he currently walked on and could see would belong to his posterity, and that he would be the father of nations and kings, etc. He was promised eternal increase and limitless posterity. These are all wonderful blessings, but they were given to him in times of duress and struggles.

Abraham lived and died a wanderer. His promise of a land of inheritance was for his posterity, not for him. He was blessed with the riches of the earth, but no place to call home. His promises of posterity started when he was already 62 years old, but were not fulfilled, even a little bit, until he was 100 years old when Isaac was finally born. And the birth of Isaac required a miracle be performed on their behalf, since his wife was in her 90’s when she got pregnant. Abraham didn’t live to see all this posterity he was promised. His promised posterity would be physically given in mortality, but the main promise was for an eternal posterity.

Me and Abraham

This is the difference between me and Abraham. He was able to see beyond mortality and into the eternities. He understood that God’s main promises are eternal, not mortal, in nature. Sure, many of God’s promises come to pass in this life, and we are ever so grateful for them. But this life is temporary, and God wants our joys to be permanent, which can only take place in an eternal world. Abraham was willing to live with the lack of substantial progress towards his promised blessings, while he waited on the Lord to fulfill His promises to him in His own due time and way. Abraham trusted God’s timing and God’s ability to bring to pass anything He promised.

When we have trouble with God’s promises, His apparent lack of attention to our life’s desires, our loneliness, or whatever else it is that is causing us to suffer, our solution to our problem lies in remembering that God is ALWAYS trustworthy, truthful, and will always fulfill His words to us. We have to learn to look beyond the present and obvious lack of fulfilment of promises, and remember that there are going to be times and circumstances in this life when we simply won’t understand what is going on. We won’t see how it is possible for God to bring us happiness again. This is when we are required to walk by faith and trust that God is a God of miracles, that He is a God of truth, and that His love for us is eternal and everlasting. He will never leave us to perish in our loneliness or sorrows. At some point, whether in this life or the next, He has already established a day and time when all our tears will be washed away. All our injustices will be righted, and we will be blessed for the times and in the ways we have placed our faith in Christ and His mission to return us to the presence of our Father.

Abraham waited almost 35 years for the fulfilling of that first promise to have posterity. Any kind of posterity. He had Ishmael, but was told that Ishmael would not be the bearer of the covenant promises the Lord had made with Abraham. As much as Abraham may have loved Ishmael, it wouldn’t be through that son that God’s promises would be fulfilled. He and Sarah had to wait on the Lord’s timing, and do things in the Lord’s way in order to get that first son through whom all their covenant hopes rested. 35 years must have felt like an eternity as they grew older and older, and the time for bearing children passed by them with their eternal promises still unfulfilled. I think we are all much more like Abraham than we sometimes think we are. And the ability to face our personal moments or seasons of crisis will be dealt with the same way Abraham faced his, with patience and faith in God and His promises.

Day 2

Read and ponder Genesis 18-23, and record your impressions. You can use the ideas in this outline to help you study these chapters, and you may also be inspired to search for other messages in the scriptures that the Lord has specifically for you.

Genesis 19:12-29 – The Lord commands us to flee wickedness.

Let’s review Lot’s story. He and Abraham lived together and prospered together. But they both were so blessed that they became too large to live together and needed to separate. There simply wasn’t enough room for all their flocks and people to live in the same place any longer. So Abraham played the peacemaker and offered Lot his choice of valleys. Whichever one Lot wanted was his for the taking, and Abraham would take the other one. Well, Lot looked at the plain Mamre, where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah thrived, and saw how beautiful and lush the ground was. He chose to move his family there, and Abraham went to the other valley that was less desirable.

Lot’s mistake was pitching his tents near, and facing those sinful cities. By the time the Lord tells Abraham He is going to destroy those cities, Lot has moved into town and is now living among those people. His children have married their children. When the angels come and warn Lot that on the morrow they will destroy the city of Sodom, he goes and talks to his children, but they just laugh at him. They no longer believe what Lot believes.

The next morning Lot is still dragging his heels about leaving town, so the angels actually grab his hand, and the hands of his remaining family, and take them outside the city gates. The angel tells Lot to flee to the mountains for safety, and to not turn around to watch the destruction or they would get caught up in it and be destroyed. But Lot argues with the angel. The mountains were a scary place, so couldn’t he just go to a tiny town on the edge of the valley instead? The Lord exercised His patience with Lot and agreed to not destroy that small place, but urged Lot to hurry, for He couldn’t do what they came to do until Lot was safe.

Lot, his wife, and their two youngest daughters fled to the edge of the valley to that small town, but when the destruction starts, his wife turns herself around to watch. She is turned into a pillar of salt. So Lot, now not feeling safe even in this little town, does flee to the mountains and takes refuge in a cave.

Learning from Lot

There is more to his story, but that is as far as we need to go for this telling. Lot’s problem was that he chose the plain of Mamre because of its promise of prosperity. He overlooked the sin he was accepting when he chose to live even in the same plain with Sodom and Gomorrah. Eventually, Lot even moved into town to live among these people known for their wickedness. His children became enveloped in the lifestyle of these cities, and in the end were destroyed with them.

What is our lesson we can learn from Lot’s story? Are we sometimes so hungry for that bigger paycheck, the opportunity for advancement or fame that we ignore the culture into which we must live in order to achieve our goals? It can be difficult to see how certain choices we make can lead to sin and sorrow when the allure of prosperity and fun beckon to us in the here and now. We may think we can handle the temptations. We may not even see the traps that lay before us. But if we find ourselves in a Lot-like situation, are we willing to flee? Do we head for the hills in an effort to escape the penalties that are bound to come to those who live lives of wickedness, or do we, like Lot’s children, laugh off the warnings and assume that the wickedness in which we are surrounded can’t possibly be that bad?

The Lord never tells us we can’t live among those who don’t believe in Him and His ways. But He has always been clear that we are to resist and avoid sin and sinful ways with all the energy of our souls. This is what it means to stand in holy places. When we make our homes a sacred place through prayer and scripture study, righteous living, and godly loving, our home becomes a place of refuge from the evils of the world. Temple attendance and our ward and stake houses are also holy places where we should be spending our time to keep ourselves clean from the sins of the world. This is how we flee from wickedness today.

Day 3

Read and ponder Genesis 18-23, and record your impressions. You can use the ideas in this outline to help you study these chapters, and you may also be inspired to search for other messages in the scriptures that the Lord has specifically for you.

Genesis 19:26 – What did Lot’s wife do wrong?

It is easy to condemn Lot’s wife for turning back to Sodom when they were supposed to be fleeing for their lives. But what was she leaving behind? Her children, and quite possibly her grandchildren were there being destroyed with the rest of the population. To leave Sodom was to leave all her loved ones to die a horrible death. If anything, she was probably most guilty of misplaced loyalties. She loved her children, and possibly her neighbors, more than she loved the Lord. If they had taught their children to love the Lord, their children obviously hadn’t learned to accept those lessons in their lives, for they mocked Lot when he warned them that God would destroy the city the next day.

My guess is that what caused Lot’s wife to turn around, even after she had been warned not to do so, wasn’t just stubbornness or a desire to be disobedient. She had every reason to miss her children, to want to mourn for their deaths, to mourn for the loss of her home and all their prosperity had provided for her. She wasn’t seeing what was most important. The Lord was saving their lives. She, in essence, ran back into their burning house to save the equivalent of a houseplant from the fire. If she trusted in the Lord with all her heart, she would have, even in her moment of tremendous sorrow, been able to find room for gratitude that God had spared their lives.

How often do we also run back into a spiritual fire for the wrong reasons?

Lessons learned

If anything, this story should show us the importance of keeping our sight on God’s commandments, and on living those commandments to keep our souls safe from sin. Sodom and Gomorrah wasn’t the first, nor the last time God destroyed the wicked when they were ripe in their iniquities. It makes me wonder how many others through history, like Lot’s wife, either didn’t leave when the warnings to flee came, or they went back when they should have kept going.

This reminds me of the Nguyen family we hosted back in the 70s when Saigon fell to the communists. The family was being evacuated from a rooftop by helicopters. They were under fire. It was a very dangerous evacuation. These were people who had helped the US military while they had been in the city. Those left behind would be killed by the communists, so the US government was trying to get them all out as quickly as they could. The family got to the rooftop and waited for the next chopper to come get them. They were warned not to go back down the stairs, because this would be the last helicopter that would be able to make it to their location. But momma couldn’t bear to leave that last suitcase at the bottom of the landing and went back down for it. In her absence the helicopter came, the family, under sniper fire, was loaded onto the chopper, and they left, leaving momma on the rooftop with her precious suitcase. The family was moved to the US, and eventually ended up making a life for themselves on the east coast of the country. We don’t know if they ever saw their wife and mother again, because she was trapped in Saigon. Such losses are always so senseless, whether it is because of foolish decisions over a suitcase or foolish decisions over sins. The loss for all is just as painful.

Day 4

Read and ponder Genesis 18-23, and record your impressions. You can use the ideas in this outline to help you study these chapters, and you may also be inspired to search for other messages in the scriptures that the Lord has specifically for you.

Genesis 22:1-19 – Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac is a similitude of God and His Son.

Our Father in Heaven works in patterns that repeat over and over again. One of those patterns is to perform physically first what He later performs spiritually. I haven’t been able to figure out what the significance of this pattern is, but it happens throughout the plan of salvation. For example, the Law of Moses performed physical sacrifices representing the future sacrifice of the Savior. And baptism is the physical representation of the rebirth required spiritually through the baptism of fire through the Holy Ghost.

The Abrahamic sacrifice of offering up his only son is another example of this physical demonstration of a spiritual act that would play out in the future with the Son of God being offered up. It also served as a means of giving Abraham yet another test of his faith and willingness to be obedient to whatever the Lord required of him.

Right now, I think this second form of testing is the lesson for us to learn from with the Abrahamic sacrifice. It was a sacrifice that flew against everything promised to Abraham. To kill his long promised son appeared to negate all the promises of a priesthood posterity Abraham had been promised through this specific son for decades. Abraham had been offered up as a human sacrifice, had been saved by an angel, and the priests were killed who tried to sacrifice him. He knew that God saw human sacrifice as repugnant and offensive, yet here he was, being told by God to kill his only son.

My mother told me when I was younger that into every life will come a time when the Lord will reach into our very heartstrings and give a pull to see if we can withstand the test He gives us. If we pass this test then both we and the Lord knows that we will be obedient under most any condition. These tests can be found in our personal lives, as well as in the scriptures.


Nephi was told quite suddenly that he had to kill a relative because God commanded it. He had never killed anyone before. The act was repugnant to him, and against everything he had ever been taught by the Lord to do and feel. But here he was being told by the Spirit to do the deed. Because he was able and willing to listen to the Spirit, he was taught the wisdom behind the need for Laban’s death, and he exercised his faith and took Laban’s head.

When my wife was single, she went to Romania to adopt a boy. She was supposed to be there just a matter of a few days. Instead, she was led to a girl. She had a profound witness that this was the child she was to adopt. Yet she was then put into a struggle for power between two US departments who decided to use her as a test case to prove who had the ultimate jurisdiction in adoptions and citizenship of foreigners. Instead of being there for a few days, the struggle dragged on for months. Everyone admitted she had done everything legally, yet the government wouldn’t allow her to bring her daughter into the country. Over and over again she was promised that the visa would come through the next day, only to never happen. Finally, her appeals made it to the supreme court in Romania, and she was vindicated by their government, yet the US government still wouldn’t allow her to bring her legal child into the country. At one point she finally broke and ran from the embassy, sobbing. As she stood by the wall of the embassy, she rehearsed to the Lord all the things she had done to follow and keep his commandments. She wanted to know why when she had done everything she was supposed to do, she still was being denied the ability to return home with her new daughter.

She had ways of entering the country illegally, yet she had to choose to either go that direction or continue to keep the commandments and obey the Lord, even if that meant never being able to return to the US herself. Ultimately it took the involvement of the Vice President of the United States to break the deadlock between the two warring departments and get her back into the country with her daughter. But it was that situation at the embassy where she hit her final brick wall that nearly broke her resolve to keep going.

I have faced my own situation in my life where I had to choose to follow my priesthood leaders or walk away from the Church, because my priesthood leaders had betrayed me and everything I had ever been taught about the Church. I was in a very dark place, was terrified as to what the future held for me and my family, and knew that if I did as they commanded me to do, everything I had ever worked for would be destroyed. Yet at that same time the Brethren gave multiple talks in General Conference about following our priesthood leaders, even when we don’t agree with them. I had to make a choice, a heart wrenching choice. It was the most difficult of my life.

Blind isn’t necessarily blind

Abraham was in this same type of situation. He was being commanded to go against everything he had put his faith in for the last many decades. There was no reasoning through this demand by God. The sacrifice he was to make was a burnt offering, which included the complete burning of the sacrifice down to ash. There would be no coming back from this act. This act of obedience would require complete and total obedience with zero understanding of a why behind the act. Yes, Abraham was being told to exercise blind faith. But it wasn’t really blind, was it. He had decades of experience with the personality of God. He knew that God always kept His promises. He knew that God loved him and his family. Surely, God, in all His wisdom and power had some way to still fulfill His promise to Abraham, even though he could not see any way for it to happen. So it was a supreme act of faith for Abraham to go through with the commandment he had received.

All of us will be placed into a situation or possibly multiple situations in our lifetime where we must learn to trust God and do as we are directed, even though we may not see any rhyme or reason to the prompting. This is why we need to practice spirituality with intent and direct purpose. These tests are only passed by those who know enough of the divine personality to be able to trust in the love of God enough to do the unthinkable, even if they can’t see any way through the current test. But God is good, and He always fulfills His promises. Our greatest blessings will come after the Lord knows that we have fulfilled our purpose for being in mortality, which is to prove us to see if we will whatever He commands us to do (Abraham 3:25).

25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

FHE/Personal Study

Genesis 21:9-20 – God honors His promises

Hagar was not a good servant. When she found she was with child, and knew that her mistress could not bear children, she became uppity and disrespectful to Sarah. And when Sarah had her miracle child, Isaac, and they celebrated the day he was weaned, Hagar’s son, Ishmael mocked the child. Ishmael was 12 years older than Isaac. Being in his mid teens this would have made him an adult in the eyes of the tribe, but in any age, someone in their mid teens is not usually known for their wisdom and restraint.

Unfortunately, Sarah saw him mocking her son and reported it to Abraham, along with a request to get rid of these two ingrates. The Lord told Abraham to do as Sarah requested. One would think that Hagar and her son deserved whatever the world could throw at them at this point, and things did get dire for them when their water ran out in the desert. But the Lord had promised Abraham that ANY of his seed would be blessed, so true to His word, the Lord showed Hagar where she could get water and then promised her that her son would be prospered and made great.

We don’t know if Abraham and Sarah ever had any contact with Hagar and Ishmael after this time, but the Lord did as He promised He would do, and Ishmael had 12 sons, each of whom became a people, just like the 12 tribes of Israel, but without the priesthood inheritance. This demonstrates that sometimes the blessings we receive aren’t necessarily due to our personal worthiness, but may be coming because of the promises the Lord has made to someone else. It begs the question of how often our children are able to be blessed because of our personal efforts to be obedient to the Lord.

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OT08-2022 – Is Any Thing Too Hard for the Lord?

Week 08