I had the opportunity in the beginning of January to help some youth in our ward get excited about studying the Book of Mormon and the hastening of God’s work this coming year. I could have chosen a variety of story lines to illustrate this point, but I chose two brief clips from Frozen 2 and Moana. These scenes visualized that moment when Elsa and Moana respectively heard voices calling them and knew there was more to their lives what they thought.
They felt a clarion call. It drove them to action, and as they heeded they blessed – actually saved – their people. We discussed the hastening of God’s work and how our prophet is calling on all of us to rise, to prepare, to receive our own revelation and to strengthen our relationship with Christ. We have been challenged to gather – to save – Israel on both sides of the veil. I’ve definitely felt the call and I’m sure you have too.
All of this hastening…this call to MORE…isn’t about doing more but being more. It’s not about fitting in more but fitting in that which is most needful. It’s about rising, lifting, and being strengthened through the grace of Christ. Through his prophet Pres. Russell M. Nelson, Christ is calling us, the men and women of the Church, the youth battalion, the children, to help gather scattered Israel. That includes scattered living rooms and scattered weekly schedules and scattered teenage brains and scattered families. We all have a different MORE but Christ will meet us wherever we are, thrilled that we’re making any effort to grow closer to him.
There’s no room for feeling like we’re falling behind or inadequate. Your Come, Follow Me study path might look very different than mine. What matters is that we make room for strength and intention and consistent efforts as we inch along the covenant path, begging our children and families and anyone else to join us for the ride. The Lord is teaching me so much and I’m sure he’s teaching you too. What an exciting time!
DISCUSS and PONDER:
How can we include Christ more frequently in our casual conversations with others at church or around the neighborhood? Do we share any insights we or our families have gained in our studies that week? Have we felt the almost palpable excitement throughout the Church as we heed the call of a prophet and prepare for General Conference? Stop someone in the hall and ask them what they’ve learned or been studying that week. Listen for insights and ideas and what’s working for others and examine what’s working for you. Share how your family has grown through studying together, even if it doesn’t always go flawlessly.
2 Nephi 26-30 Overview
This is a powerful week as we examine five chapters written specifically for our very day. It’s packed full of doctrine, calls to action, and promises. I like to break things down (especially General Conference talks) using this framework and have done so here for these chapters. It’s helpful for me to see it mapped out like this and maybe you’ll find it useful too. Better yet, create your own chart and fill in what stands out to you.
Nephi has just concluded quoting Isaiah for several previous chapters and concludes: “I prophesy unto you concerning the last days,” (2 Nephi 26:14). He’s speaking directly to us! He’s concerned about what he sees, the tactics of the adversary, the “works of darkness” (2 Ne. 26:10, 22). However, as we know, the Lord hasn’t left us alone to fend for ourselves. God inspired prophets long ago to write “unto [us] as if [we] were present, and yet [we] are not and they “[knew] our doing.” (Mormon 8:35).
Nephi speaks of “a marvelous work and a wonder” led by the Lord Himself (2 Nephi 27:26). As the manual points out, “at the center of that work would be a book—a book that speaks from the dust, that exposes Satan’s lies, and that gathers the righteous like a standard. That book is the Book of Mormon, the marvelous work is the work of the Lord’s Church in the latter days, and the wonder is that He invites all of us, in spite of our weaknesses, to participate.” (CFM, pg. 34). We are invited to participate in the “greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today” (Hope of Israel, Pres. Nelson). This makes me feel like standing at attention, ready to march forth, and to respond in faith.
DISCUSS and PONDER:
How do we help our each other catch and maintain this excitement? How can we all feel more of the “marvelous” and “wonder” instead of just “work”? How do we heed the call?
2 Nephi 26:20-33
Jesus Christ invites all to come unto Him
Jesus says, “Come.” He invites. He welcomes. Nephi foresaw our pride, our stumblings, how quick we would discount the Lord’s hand and put down faith, how we would use our own wisdom and learning to get gain and “grind upon the face of the poor.” (2 Ne. 26:20-22). He knew the hold Satan would have upon our hearts. So, what does he teach us? The next several verses beautifully demonstrate Christ’s unfailing love, His mercy, His invitation to “come unto me” (2 Ne. 26:25). We learn of a Christ that “doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world,” and “layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him” (2 Ne. 26:24). He invites all men to “come unto him and partake of his goodness” (2 Ne. 26:33). Our manual is called, “Come, Follow Me” for a reason.
As a mother, if there is one lesson I hope my children learn this year it is this: we are never out of the reach of our Savior’s love. We have never sinned too far. He is always waiting with outstretched arms, inviting, pleading, and loving. We are invited to repent, to partake of the goodness of His atoning sacrifice and grace, and He will walk with us if we allow Him into our lives and try to follow Him.
DISCUSS and PONDER:
How does knowing this Jesus change the way we treat others? What can we do to “continue to minister, for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them” (3 Ne. 18:32)?
2 Nephi 26-27
What is the book mentioned in these chapters?
The CFM manual details Nephi’s prophecy about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (though its name isn’t mentioned), along with other biblical prophecies that allude to it. I found it worthwhile to review a few of the scriptures listed so I can help my family understand that many have known and prophesied of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in our day.
I love this picture of Pres. Nelson and a young boy named Riley. They are both studying intently from the Book of Mormon, neither aware that the photo was being taken. I like to think of a seasoned prophet of God studying holy scripture in much the same way as a child does. The Lord speaks to both. Missionaries are reminded of this truth that applies to each of us: “The Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit, is your most powerful resource in conversion. It is the most correct of any book on the earth (see introduction to the Book of Mormon). It teaches the doctrine of Christ plainly, especially in the lessons you teach investigators. Use it as your main source for teaching the restored gospel.“ (Preach My Gospel pg. 104).
DISCUSS and PONDER:
How are we using the Book of Mormon as the main source for teaching the gospel in our home and as the most powerful resource in our own conversion? In our family’s conversion?
2 Nephi 28
Satan seeks to deceive
I find it helpful to list some of Satan’s lies and tactics that Nephi describes in this chapter and discuss how we see them manifest. Much like studying the plays and strategies of an opposing team, the more we can see how Satan plays his game, the stronger our defense becomes.
After the October 2019 General Conference, I reviewed with my family Elder David A. Bednar’s talk “Watchful Unto Prayer Continually.” You may recall this talk uses cheetahs and topis to teach us about vigilance and deception. In reviewing this talk I noted several doctrines Elder Bednar teaches about Satan and his tactics:
- Satan preys on unwary youth by camouflaging the deadly nature of sin.
- Spiritually dangerous ideas and actions frequently can appear to be attractive, desirable, or pleasurable.
- Spiritual complacency and casualness make us vulnerable to the advances of the adversary.
- Satan attempts to pacify and lull the children of God into a false sense of “carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.”
- The Father’s plan of happiness is designed to provide direction for His children, to help them experience enduring joy, and to bring them safely home to Him with resurrected, exalted bodies.
- Satan does not have a body, and his eternal progress has been halted.
- Because a physical body is so central to the Father’s plan of happiness and our spiritual development, Lucifer seeks to frustrate our progression by tempting us to use our bodies improperly.
- Satan “is the enemy of righteousness and of those who seek to do the will of God.” All day, every day, his only intent and sole purpose are to make the sons and daughters of God miserable like unto himself.
So, what does Elder Bednar counsel that we do?
- Be aware of beguiling bad that pretends to be good.
- Stay Awake and Be Alert
- Constant vigilance is required to counteract complacency and casualness.
- Keeping watch denotes the act of staying awake to guard and protect. Spiritually speaking, we need to stay awake and be alert to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and the signals that come from the Lord’s watchmen on the towers.
- Focusing our lives in and on the Savior and His gospel enables us to overcome the tendency of the natural man to be spiritually snoozy and lazy.
- “Watch, therefore, that ye may be ready.”
- Never take the first enticing step toward going where you should not go and doing what you should not do.
- Understanding the intent of an enemy is vital to effective preparation for possible attacks.
- Look for the lessons and warnings found in the simple events of everyday life.
- Seek for a mind and heart open to receive heavenly direction by the power of the Holy Ghost,
- Reflect on this episode with the cheetahs and the topis and identify additional lessons for you and your family. Respond in faith to this invitation.
- Press forward on the covenant path
Elder Bednar then promises:
- We will blessed with eyes to see and ears to hear, and the Holy Ghost can increase our capacity to look and listen
- If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.
- Some of the greatest instructions that we can receive and many of the most powerful warnings that can safeguard us will originate in our own ordinary experiences.
- Inspired thoughts will come to your mind, spiritual feelings will swell in your heart, and you will recognize actions that should be undertaken or continued so that you can “take upon you [the] whole armor [of God], that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.”
- The blessings of effective preparation and spiritual protection will flow into your life as you are watchful unto prayer vigilantly and continually.
- Spiritual safety and enduring joy in our lives.
Here is a table I made listing these doctrines, actions, and promises. They are powerful! I love how our leaders teach us – as Nephi did long ago – clearly and frankly how Satan works and how we can overcome his deception.
The CFM manual suggests wrapping some thread around someone’s wrists to represent “a flaxen cord.” A flaxen cord is very thin-like string. Alone, its plant fibers are weak, subtle, and barely noticeable. However, when it is wrapped multiple times it becomes strong and nearly impossible to break. This blog might help explain the object lesson in greater detail and this blog explains more about flaxen cord. Afterwards discuss: How is the flaxen cord like Satan’s temptations? How does it become stronger? How can we detect when we’re getting tied up by Satan? Will Satan stand by us in the end?
You may want to read this BYU Devotional address by Carlos E. Asay that was given in 1982 and is still very much applicable. He urges, “Please be careful. Do not allow the chains of Satan to fall upon you. Do not allow those little threads to encircle you about. Throw them off. Cut them loose. Do not allow him to make you his. Satan is very uncomfortable, he is very miserable, and he seeks to make you and me miserable like unto himself.”
2 Nephi 28:27-31, 29
God continues to give revelation to guide His children
I recently finished reading Insights from a Prophet’s Life by Sheri Dew. It is a powerful reminder to me that the Lord prepares His servants for their specific time to bless the world. Pres. Nelson is our prophet and the Lord continues to unfold the restoration of all things through him. If the last two years are any indication, there’s more in store for us than we ever imagined! I, for one, hope to never say “we need no more” (2 Ne. 28:27) or “we have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!” (2 Ne. 28:29). Nephi teaches us, and we see it still unfolding today, that the Lord “give[s] unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Ne. 28:30). We are promised “for unto him that receiveth I will give more” (2 Ne. 28:30).
I served my mission in an area that was predominantly Christian. These good people loved their bibles! I often wished I had $1.00 for every time I was told in some way or another “A bible! A bible! We have got a bible, and there cannot be any more Bible” (2 Ne. 29:3). We tried to help others understand, as the Lord also pleads with us, “because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written” (2 Ne. 29:10). In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we believe in continuing revelation, that God has not spoken His final word, and that He will speak to us today just as He has in the past. The heavens are open.
DISCUSS and PONDER:
What are some reasons we are reluctant to receive more of God’s word? How can we show Him that we are open to receiving whatever He chooses to share with us? In the past two years, how have you seen the Lord reveal truth a little at a time? How have various changes prepared you to receive other changes?
2 Nephi 29-30
God prepared the Book of Mormon for our day
There are so many promises attached to reading the Book of Mormon! I made this chart with a few of them and put it up on our fridge because I want us to be reminded of them often. Just the other day I was feeling discouraged and overwhelmed and looked at which promise I most needed. I decided to double my efforts to study from the Book of Mormon because I really sought an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord in my heart.
The Book of Mormon is written for our day and “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (2 Ne. 30:15). All things “shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more, for a long time” (2 Ne. 30:18). Like you, I want to minimize Satan’s power and influence in my family and the Book of Mormon is a powerful tool the Lord has provided for our day.
DISCUSS and PONDER:
What would happen if we consistently sought after promises from the Lord and then did what it took to obtain those promises? What power would we unlock in our lives?
What truths have you learned as an individual or family in the Book of Mormon?
Do you hear the call of a prophet? Our prophet has called on us to transform our homes into sanctuaries of faith, “to focus our lives on God’s plan of salvation…and Jesus Christ and His gospel.” He invites us all, despite our weaknesses and shortcomings, to participate alongside him in this marvelous work.
Will we heed the call and bless – even save – His people?