Week 27 is schedule for study June 27-July 3, 2022. This is a “Choose ye this day” kind of lesson. If God really is the power in your life then commit yourself to Him. If not then commit yourself to whatever it is you think is better. Just choose!

Day 1

When you read the scriptures, you are exercising faith, which prepares your heart and mind to hear the “still small voice” of the Spirit.

1 Kings 17:1-16 – An invitation to sacrifice is an opportunity to exercise my faith.

In our hymn, Praise to the Man is the line “sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.” This is an eternal truth. There is something about the laws of God that are designed to teach us that the best blessings are reserved for those willing to be inconvenienced in order to obtain them. Matthew 10:39 gives us this insight.

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

One of the constants taught in Matthew 10, taught by Christ in almost every verse of that chapter, is that the celestial life is focused on serving others first and foremost. Those worthy of that kingdom lose their concern for making sure they are personally cared for. It is the welfare of others that is foremost in the celestial mind. This is completely foreign to our life on earth, for Satan and his agenda are what is taught in our sin-filled society. From birth we have been taught only the need to elevate self, to care for self first, to seek first for our own advancement, etc. But this is not God’s way. I suggest you read D. Todd Christofferson’s talk, Finding Your Life. Elder Christofferson talks at length about how seeking for the welfare of others before our own needs is how we find eternal life.

This discussion about putting others before ourselves really needs an entire book to cover it thoroughly. This is the sacrifice Elijah was asking of the young widow of Zarephath. She and her son were on the verge of starvation, yet he asked that she put off feeding herself and her son until after she had fed him. Her response to his request, and the miracle that followed her obedience, is a demonstration that there is, in fact, spiritual power in sacrifice. I also addressed an aspect of this discussion in an article that was too long to include in today’s lesson. I hope it gives some more perspective to this topic.

Lessons From a Young Widow

Day 2

When you read the scriptures, you are exercising faith, which prepares your heart and mind to hear the “still small voice” of the Spirit.

1 Kings 18 – If the Lord be God, follow him.

Here is an interesting quote from the manual.

The Israelites may have felt they had good reasons to worship Baal despite the Lord’s command, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Baal was known as the god of storms and rain, and after three years of drought, they desperately needed a storm. And Baal worship was socially accepted and endorsed by the king and queen.

Come on now, confess. Wasn’t there some little voice in your head that told you when you read that quote that Israel’s excuse made sense? That is what the voice in my head told me. It wasn’t until I mulled it over and tried to look at it from a different angle that the thought occurred to me how silly those reasons were for worshiping Baal. They wanted rain, because they were in a drought, and society promoted Baal as their only way to get rain. There were statues of Baal all over the place, and even the king and queen worshiped him. They had to be right. Right?

Israel had so completely abandoned their own God that they were completely taken in by the appearance of the power of this false god that was not capable of doing anything. Why? Because he never existed in the first place. The God they had abandoned made the universe, and the planet they lived on. He gave them a way to get rain centuries before, but they had stopped praying to Jehovah, weren’t offering sacrifices any more, and had stopped exercising all faith in Him. So of course they couldn’t now expect Him to give them rain. They didn’t know Him. They no longer knew anything about Him, except from what remained of the knowledge of Him in the general society.

Elijah’s demonstration about the power of Israel’s God versus the king and queen’s god is what this chapter is all about. Israel had stories of God’s power from centuries before, but since they hadn’t obeyed Him in more than a lifetime, His miracles were for those of past generations, not for “today’s” generation. They simply no longer believed. I think this is why the Lord was willing to give them such a grand display of their god’s spiritual impotence, and His mighty power. Elijah wanted to show them in unmistakable terms what they had forsaken, and the power God actually offered to put into place in their lives, if they would just believe Him and keep His commandments.

Day 3

When you read the scriptures, you are exercising faith, which prepares your heart and mind to hear the “still small voice” of the Spirit.

1 Kings 19:1-18 – The Lord often speaks in quiet, simple ways.

One of the consistent aspects of serving God is that His principles we are given to guide our lives are easy to talk about or discuss, but infinitely more difficult to put into practice and become good at living them. How to listen to the Spirit is a great example of this.

When Elijah came back from killing more than 400 of the false priests of Baal, and having called down fire from heaven to consume the offering he had made to the Lord, he was discouraged. I’m not quite sure what, exactly, he was expecting to have happen. Surely he didn’t expect to become suddenly popular and in demand among the people. After all, he had just made fools of the whole house of Israel for being duped by the worship of false gods. Whatever he was expecting, it didn’t happen, and he was in need of some consolation.

The Lord decided to remind Elijah how things worked in His kingdom, so he sent Elijah on a journey to a mountain to seek the Lord. I find this interesting, since Elijah obviously already had the Lord’s attention and ear. After all, if Elijah declared a famine the Lord honored his call for famine, if he prayed for rain, the Lord sent rain. So it wasn’t a matter of faith in God that was the problem. Elijah seemed inconsolable about faithless Israel.

Once Elijah arrived at the mountain, he witnessed some of nature’s grandeur in the power of its wind, in an earthquake, and in a mighty fire. Elijah recognized these as natural events, and ones not with God’s immediate presence in them. But when he heard the still small voice, he knew that this was God speaking to him, so he went out and spoke with God. Elijah was familiar with that voice. It was the voice that filled his soul with comfort and peace. I believe (and this is not stated anywhere, it is just my opinion) that this is what Elijah was seeking, it was the comfort of the Spirit that everything was going to be alright.

We know that Elijah knew the difference between the mighty demonstrations of God’s power in the wind, earthquake, and fire, and His still small voice, because Elijah never sought to speak to God when he saw the destructive power of the elements. It was only when the familiar peaceful voice of the Spirit came to him that he knew the Lord was ready to speak to him. Now he could go and bare his soul to his maker.

We most likely won’t have any of the grand demonstrations of God’s power that seemed to surround Elijah. But all of us need to learn to calm our soul enough that when the Spirit speaks in the still small voice, in any form that voice takes, we hear it and recognize it for what it is. It may come as words in our mind, as impressions to do something, as realizations of the way something really is, as sudden comprehension that fills our mind, or even as something as simple as a warmth in our soul to help us recognize and accept truth. All of these things are bound up in what we call the “still small voice.”

It takes years of trial and error to learn to recognize when the Spirit speaks to us in one way versus another way. We all have a favorite way, or ways, but we each need to learn to adapt to hearing His voice in whatever manner He needs to speak to us. And that manner of speaking may change based on our calling in the Church or because of our own spiritual growth. All of us have some small concept of what it means when we talk about the still small voice, but each of us is still learning to keep in touch with it, inviting it to be part of our lives more often, and to learn to hear it in all its forms.

Day 4

When you read the scriptures, you are exercising faith, which prepares your heart and mind to hear the “still small voice” of the Spirit.

1 Kings 19:19-21 – Serving the Lord takes priority over worldly concerns.

I don’t know about you, but I had to read the last verse of this chapter multiple times before I finally made sense of it. Here it is.

21 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

Elijah had just ordained Elisha to be the prophet in his stead. What Elisha, who was evidently wealthy, did as a prelude to his new assignment from the Lord is impressive. He took the symbol of his wealth, one of his pair of yoked oxen, and cooked them to feed his neighbors. But this is not the most impressive part. It is that he took the instruments used to harness and use his oxen and cooked them as well. Think of this like one of the offerings made to the temple where everything was consumed as a complete offering to God. Nothing was held back. So not only did Elisha physically and symbolically kill the source of his earthly comfort, he also destroyed that with which he put them to their use to produce that wealth.

Elisha was turning his back completely on his past as he embraced his new future. This meal he offered to his neighbors was his demonstration of his faith and commitment to serving God the rest of his life. We are not usually asked to walk away from everything that is important in our lives to serve God. Instead, God asks us to just give Him priority over our earthly things and commitments. Ours is a much lesser commitment, but when given with our whole heart is just as powerful in its effect as if we had walked away from everything we possessed to serve Him. Spiritually speaking, the commitment is as powerful as the deed, for they both produce the same spiritual result.

I suggest you refer back to Day 1 of this week’s lessons. Do you see a connection between serving others over our own comforts and wants and the commitment we see in Elisha walking away from his past to embrace his new future?

FHE/Personal Study

1 Kings 19:11-12 – Still small voice

11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lordbut the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

I have read and reread these verses many times. Why would the Lord tell Elijah to go and present himself on the mountain before the Lord then put on this display of power before speaking to Elijah? Elijah knew God doesn’t normally speak to us in such grand ways as the wind, quake, and fire. It is my humble opinion that since Elijah was distressed over the spiritual state of Israel, such displays jolted his attention away from his own troubling thoughts so when the still small voice came, he was prepared to hear it. Just my opinion.

A member of our Primary Presidency opens Primary each week by standing at the pulpit and speaking very softly to the children. “If you can hear my voice, put your hands on your cheeks. If you can hear my voice, put your hands on your head.” She does this until she has everyone’s attention. And once they see what is happening they usually shift their focus to her voice quickly. This reminds me of the Book of Mormon passages where the Lord speaks in the still small voice to the people, but they are so caught up in their own thoughts and conversations that it takes several repetitions before they are able to focus on the voice and hear it clearly.

Why do you think the Lord has chosen to speak to us quietly and peacefully, rather than with a boom in His voice that shakes the ground around us? It has to be for our own good. How would you explain His choice of volume to your neighbor?

Compare God’s choice of communication with us to Satan’s method. Does the world speak to us in quiet, peaceful tones, or does it scream, accuse, shout, bang, and make as much of a distraction from God’s method as it can? Even when the world does speak in quiet tones, its message is subversive in its efforts to lead us away from the teachings of God.

God wants us to be settled, still, calm, and quiet, so we can thoroughly focus on what He wants to teach us. The teachings of the world only want to hammer their message into place, and cause as much confusion as possible, so you don’t question what is being taught. God invites us to question, contemplate, and consider, so we will best understand and learn wisdom.

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OT27-2022 – If the Lord Be God, Follow Him

Week 27