Thank you for your thoughtful preparation for and participation in Sunday School. I hope this deepens your study as you continue to ponder the passages we discussed today.
O That Ye Would Awake
O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep…and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.2 Nephi 1:13
Lehi’s admonition to his sons to awake is repeated multiple times throughout the passages we studied in the past two weeks. As you ponder what it means to be spiritually awake, review the following scriptures:
The verses above contain the same warning of vigilance from multiple prophets throughout time: Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, and Isaiah. In our day, Elder Carlos Asay added:
‘Shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound’ indicates the need to overcome bad habits, even the seemingly little habits that grow into strong ‘chains of hell.’
The challenge to ‘arise from the dust’ means to overcome evil behaviors that destroy character and ruin lives. Physical appetites must be controlled.Carlos Asay, General Conference, April 1992
Recently, a tree was removed from my property because it had been weakened by fast-growing vines that cut off essential nutrients and sunlight. Although the vines were initially small and light, over time they grew thicker and heavier eventually overwhelming the tree and causing it to bend under the weight.
To prevent other trees from suffering the same fate, I removed vines from all other trees in the area. Knowing that even the smallest vines could eventually uproot a tree, I carefully cleared all the creeping plants.
So it is with our spiritual growth. Small and seemingly insignificant habits can grow from thin vines to strong chains unless we are awake and alert.
Spiritual complacency and casualness make us vulnerable to the advances of the adversary. Spiritual thoughtlessness invites great danger into our lives.
Constant vigilance is required to counteract complacency and casualness. To be vigilant is the state or action of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties. And 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.
As we are blessed with eyes to see and ears to hear, the Holy Ghost can increase our capacity to look and listen when we may not typically think we need to look or listen or when we may not think anything can be seen or heard.David A. Bednar, General Conference, October 2019
What are some vines that may be slowing your spiritual growth? How can you shake them off?
Trust in the Arm of the Lord
When you are confronted by challenges and uncertainty, in whom do you place your trust? Study the scriptures in each column and contrast the two approaches:
|The Arm of the Lord||The Arm of the Flesh|
|2 Nephi 1:15||2 Nephi 4:34|
|Mosiah 16:12||2 Nephi 12:8|
|Alma 34:16||2 Nephi 28:31|
|Mormon 5:11||Doctrine & Covenants 3:7|
Although it may be more convenient and comfortable to rely on your own abilities or the abilities of the world, the Lord lovingly invites us to grasp his outstretched arms.
Lean on my ample arm,Lean on My Ample Arm, Hymn 120
O thou depressed!
And I will bid the storm
Cease in thy breast.
Whate’er thy lot may be
On life’s complaining sea,
If thou wilt come to me,
Thou shalt have rest.
If thou wilt come to me,
Thou shalt have rest.
How can you more fully trust in the arm of the Lord?
Consecrate Thy Afflictions for Thy Gain
In 2 Nephi 2, Lehi speaks with his son, Jacob, the “firstborn in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness.” Although both Lehi and Jacob have experienced times of affliction in the wilderness, he reminds his son to see greater purpose in suffering:
Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.2 Nephi 2:2
In our times of tribulation, we would do well to remember the words of Elder Richard G. Scott:
Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.
When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?Richard G. Scott, General Conference, October 1995
How have your past afflictions worked for your gain? How might today’s afflictions consecrate you?