simple faith
Week 28 is scheduled for study July 4-10, 2022. This week we are studying the power of small and simple things that produce great blessings. All we need is simple faith, simple works, and time.

Day 1

As you read the scriptures, the Holy Ghost may bring to your attention certain phrases or passages. Consider writing down why those passages are meaningful to you.

2 Kings 2-6 – God can work miracles in my life.

So often when a coincidental blessing happens in life we are tempted to describe it to others by saying something like, “and as luck would have it …”. But God and His prophets have made it abundantly clear that to the faithful there is no such thing as a coincidence. To the faithful God’s hand is in everything that happens to us. This doesn’t mean that the Lord is responsible for the awful things people do to each other. What it means is that He is there in our difficult times of life to lift us up and encourage us. He gives us strength to overcome our obstacles.

I recommend reading the following article before coming back to today’s lesson.

Now I would like you to consider a question: at what point does something that happens that is good go from just being “good” to being a miracle?

I think 2 Kings 3 is a great example of something that was good that those who were faithful to Jehovah considered to be a miracle. The kingdoms of Israel, Judah, and their vassal kingdom of Edom joined forces to fight against the rebelling vassal kingdom of Moab. Jehoram, king of Israel, the northern kingdom, Jehoshaphat, king of the southern kingdom of Judah, and the regent of Edom relied on Jehoshaphat’s recommendation to attack Moab by way of Moab’s southern boarder. This required that the three armies travel through the completely dry desert for seven days.

At the end of seven days the armies were about to die from lack of water. Jehoram was an unbeliever, but Jehoshaphat was a godly man. He brought the leaders of their armies to see the prophet to ask for God’s direction on how to deal with this problem of no water. Elisha told them to dig ditches – many ditches. He promised that if they dug their ditches that God would not send either wind nor rain, but He would fill their ditches for them. And in addition to giving them all the water they could possibly want, He would help them win their war against Moab.

The kings returned to their camp and ordered the dying men to start digging as if their lives depended on it. Actually, their lives did depend on it. The digging of the ditches was the faith that preceded the miracles. The next morning, right after the morning sacrifices, evidently the Lord sent torrential rains upon the mountains around them, sending a flash flood down into the valley filling up all their trenches. That was the good event/miracle number one.

The second miracle was when the army of Moab came into the valley, the sun was shining on the water, causing it to look to them as red as blood. In their eyes the three armies must have turned on each other and slaughtered everyone down to the last man. They charged into the middle of the Israelite camp thinking all they had to do was to plunder all the spoils of war, completely unopposed. Imagine their surprise when from every tent a fully prepared army issued forth ready to fight them! The following fight was more of a route, and Israel beat them so soundly, even following them into their own land, still slaying them and burning their cities as they went, that the king of Moab offered up his own son and heir to their god on the walls of the city in a human sacrifice.

The Israelite kings were so sickened by this display of stubbornness to continue fighting that they decided they had made their point to their vassal state and they turned and went home.

Interesting thing is that to Israel and Judah, the filling of the ditches was a miracle. The tricking of the eye of the army of Moab was a miracle, for it handed them the win. Do you think the king of Moab saw these events as miracles? He had no faith in the God of the Hebrews. In his eyes, the sacrifice of his own son and heir saved his people from being destroyed that day. That was a miracle to him.

Every miracle has two ways to view the event. You can either view it with the eye of faith or the eye of skepticism. How you choose to interpret the event is what determines whether you consider it a miracle. No doubt the Egyptians who got hit with plague after plague didn’t consider each plague a miracle and blessing from God. But to those who were in bondage, each of those “miraculous” events brought them one step closer to the deliverance they had been promised. So I repeat my question: at what point does something that happens that is good go from just being “good” to being a miracle?

Day 2

As you read the scriptures, the Holy Ghost may bring to your attention certain phrases or passages. Consider writing down why those passages are meaningful to you.

2 Kings 4:8-17; 7:1-16 – The words of the Lord through His prophets will be fulfilled.

Have you ever considered the difference between a historian and a prophet? Here is an article that talks about the differences. It also points out which of the two is more reliable. I cannot emphasize enough that prophesies are not predictions, they are statements of fact being given to us by Him who knows everything.

Just remember that in order to receive the blessings promised by the prophets, we must act in faith so that when the prophesized events take place we are able to receive the promised blessings by being prepared.

Day 3

As you read the scriptures, the Holy Ghost may bring to your attention certain phrases or passages. Consider writing down why those passages are meaningful to you.

2 Kings 5 – If I am humble and obedient, Jesus Christ can heal me.

The point of miracles is that they are completely out of our control. There is simply no way we could do on our own what God can do for us. Such events are called miracles because we can’t explain how they are done. All we can do is stand back, watch, and wonder. Naaman learned a lesson in how miracles work when he humbled himself enough to perform the simple actions required by the prophet to be healed of his leprosy. We know that God used some kind of law to cleanse his disease, but we have no idea what law it is that was used, nor how we could possibly harness that law to do something like that ourselves. Hence, we call it a miracle.

Most miracles are based on simple faith. The results of using simple faith, a trust in God to fulfill His promise about something, results in miracles in our lives. These miracles range from spiritual witnesses, to healings, to forgiveness for sins. All of these things are life changing in their power, yet require so little from us. Naaman was insulted that Elisha only required that he wash in the Jordon river seven times to cleanse himself of leprosy. As Naaman pointed out to his servants, he came from a country with mighty rivers of great renown and reputation. He was actually insulted that the prophet’s instructions were to wash in a little no name river like the Jordon. It was his servants who pointed out that he was only insulted because of the simpleness of the way to be cleansed. I guess in Naaman’s mind the prophet was going to have to require something difficult. He wasn’t really sure what to make of instructions of this level of simplicity. How often have we procrastinated repentance because of our mistaken perception that the sin would require more than we have to repent of it? Yet how simple is the way God has prepared for us to be forgiven for our sins? We often mistakenly make life harder on ourselves by not accepting the simpleness of the way to receive our forgiveness.

When we partake of the sacrament each week we face the same dilemma Naaman did. We recognize the seriousness of our sins. And the assumption often is that some grand penance is going to be required in order to be forgiven for those sins. Yet our sacramental promise to to remember Christ throughout the week. The promise for that simple gesture of submission to God is that He promises that the Holy Ghost will be with us all the time. And it is the Holy Ghost that leads us and teaches us how to repent.

When we approach God to be forgiven for our sins what does Christ require of us to receive his forgiveness? He only requires that we keep the commandments and promise to stay away from those sins in the future. He is looking for a change of attitude and a change of heart. And if we are having trouble obtaining those changes, if we go to God and ask for them in faith, Christ will change our heart so we lose the desire for those sins. We gain a new heart, new attitudes. Why? Because we asked for them and exercised a small amount of faith in Christ by seeking to keep and live his commandments in our life.

Miracles don’t require blood letting or grand sacrifices. Most miracles require only simple observance and acceptance of God’s commandments. We do that, and the miracles will manifest themselves in our lives, often unbidden and unlooked for. Miracles are the blessings of confirmation to the faithful.

The manual suggests the following talk. After having read the above paragraphs, I hope you will be able to watch this with a fresh perspective on how to have God perform miracles in your life. Be sure to watch the whole talk.

Day 4

As you read the scriptures, the Holy Ghost may bring to your attention certain phrases or passages. Consider writing down why those passages are meaningful to you.

2 Kings 6:8-23 – They that be with us are more than they that be with them.

At first I worried about today’s topic, mainly because I have never seen heavenly hosts backing me up during a tough time. I haven’t had any visitors from beyond the veil, nor have I heard voices of messengers giving me assurance and guidance. At least I am not aware that I have. So with my own sense of being terribly limited in my ability to address this issue, I felt I lacked the perspective to talk about this with you today. Then I went to Primary.

My wife and I lead the music in Primary, so we also are there every week for the talk and scripture reading. As I contemplated what Elisha might have been feeling, knowing what spiritual support he had from God in his precarious situation, I suddenly remembered the little girl who gave the talk in Primary yesterday. She was just old enough to be able to read simple words one at a time. Her father stood behind her with his left hand on her back and his right hand pointing to each word so she wouldn’t get lost in her effort to read her short talk. When she ran into difficulty with a word he would give her a little help then let her continue on at her own pace. Her roughly 50 word talk took almost five minutes to read, but the look of joy on her father’s face when she finished was one of sheer exultation. And she, taking for granted the help she had just received, bolted back down to rejoin her class.

As I have been contemplating that scene from Church yesterday, I remembered that I have had times in my life when I was distressed and not sure I could do what needed to be done. I can still feel what it was like to have a grownup standing behind me helping me, encouraging me, and lending their physical presence to help me gain the confidence I needed to get through what I needed to do. Their breath on my neck, their body warmth against my back, the hand on my shoulder, and their gentle voice in my ear, fills me with that sense of security even now, all these years later. I think this was the kind of lesson Elisha was trying to teach to his servant.

When it comes to spiritual crises in our life, we aren’t alone. We have all three members of the Godhead pulling for us. They want only for us to succeed, to feel loved, and to be confident in doing well. Our success is their success, for they love us perfectly. I don’t know how involved others are in our life, though I know many have had experiences foreign to me of relatives intervening on their behalf. The point is that we may not see someone standing next to us when we are nervous or afraid by life, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. When we pray to God for comfort He sends us the Spirit to instill in our heart His love for us.  This is the same calming and strengthening that I saw that father give his daughter in her talk. God loves us and will not leave us comfortless, unless we choose not to seek His comfort.

FHE/Personal Study

2 Kings 5:1-15 – Does the “simpleness of the way” trip us up?

This topic goes back to revisit Elder L. Whitney Clayton’s talk, Whatsoever He Saith unto You, Do It. It seems odd to me that it is human nature to buck against something simple that can produce great rewards. That just doesn’t make any sense. For something great to come of it, surely we have to do something great, complicated, involved, or just plain hard to make it happen. It boggles the mind that those things which seem so complicated in our lives can be fixed through such simple means as praying with real intent, studying our scriptures daily, paying our tithes and fast offerings, and keeping the commandments.

Our problem is that we don’t see the connection between doing these simple daily things and the complexities of our lives. Yet Elder Clayton assures us that they are indeed connected. This is why it takes faith to approach the Lord for solutions to our difficulties in life. If we don’t see how they are connected, it can be so easy to abandon our daily practices of obedience, assuming they have no effect on what appears to be the cause of our problems in life.

I suggest reading this article: Where Is the Greatness in Small Things?

Click the link below to

print a PDF copy of the article.

OT28-2022 – There Is a Prophet in Israel

Week 28