Melanie Stroud

Episode 5 – Genesis 12–17; Abraham 1–2 “To Be a Greater Follower of Righteousness”

From the Manual:  Because of the covenant God made with him, Abraham has been called “the father of the faithful” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:41) and “the Friend of God” (James 2:23). Millions today honor him as their direct ancestor, and others have been adopted into his family through conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet Abraham himself came from a troubled family—his father, who had abandoned the true worship of God, tried to have Abraham sacrificed to false gods. In spite of this, Abraham’s desire was “to be a greater follower of righteousness” (Abraham 1:2), and the account of his life shows that God honored his desire. Abraham’s life stands as a testimony that no matter what a person’s family history has been, the future can be filled with hope.

Here is a link to all of the resources listed in the podcast on beacons – this helps you open the videos on your phone.  Go to page 2 at the top – resources for this week.

Here’s a link via Spotify to my sister’s adorable podcast of 2020 Book of Mormon for Youth

Educate Your Desires, Elder Andersen Counsels

My interview with Alissa Parker

This is Season 4, Episode 5, Genesis 12-17, and Abraham 1-2, “To Be a Great Follower of Righteousness.” Okay, so sometimes I get a little intimidated by the teaching material here in the Old Testament. And sometimes I get discouraged and say, “Well, I don’t know enough.” And I don’t even have time to put all this into one podcast. And then I’m reminded of the scripture that I’ve shared with you many times in First Nephi, when Nephi goes, “You know what, I don’t understand all of that. But this I do know, I know that He loves his children. Nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” And maybe that should be the name of this podcast this year is “I Don’t Know the Meaning of All Things, But I Know God Loves His Children.” And that’s what I know. And that’s what I hope to share with you every week – how we can take these stories from the Old Testament, and simplify them, and apply them to our life. So here we go. 

I want to thank you guys for all the reviews and nice messages this week. It means so much. Thank you for being doers of the word and not hearers only. And I do believe that as you leave more reviews, it makes it so that more people can find the podcast. So I do appreciate that. This week, I also found a great video from the Bible videos about being a doer. I will also link that because it was really good. And it’s something that I’ve always thought about – seeing your natural face in a glass. And it made me go, “Hmm, I actually do know something sometimes.” So I will also link that. But I asked on Instagram, remember on Sunday, what did you do as a result of the lesson? Or what did you learn? And Amy said this:

“This week, as I listened, I had a prayer in my heart to find something I could do in response to what I learned while listening to the podcast. Near the end, the question was asked – what are you worrying about that you don’t need to? I knew that one was for me. This week, I’m inspecting my life for things I’m worrying about that God’s prophet or the spirit has told me I don’t need to. And I’m asking heavenly Father to help me let it go and give it to Him.”

Yay! Yay! [Mimics applause noise]. Probably nice if I got a real background noise for that. That was a pretty pathetic crowd cheer. But I love when people are thinking and internalizing and doing. That’s the purpose of the gospel. That’s the purpose of lessons. That’s the purpose of all of this is – that we let these stories and these lessons make us better. This next one I really liked. This man wrote and said:

“My brother and I were driving down the road and came across an older lady standing behind her car in the left turn lane. Her hood was up and there were no lights on other than her cell phone in her hands, and she was trying to flag oncoming traffic from getting stuck behind her broken down car. Our immediate decision was to push her through the intersection. And basically when they got to her, we found she didn’t speak English. My brother asked if she spoke Spanish and immediately began conversing in her native tongue. He served a mission in Chile. Long story short, her battery was dead and the only set of keys were in the ignition in the doors, and it was locked. I went to the truck where I had wire hangers inside and my electrical hand tools. I parked up behind her and went to work fashioning a hook to open the door. By pulling on the hook, my hands and mind were guided by the Holy Ghost in how we could unlock the door. In one shot, I made an entry to the vehicle through the door and was able to snag the lock and open the door. [And I think that probably is a miracle because nowadays it’s pretty hard to do.] She immediately raised her hands and gave thanks to God for the two hombres that stopped to help her. I was touched by the Holy Ghost as to our involvement. It was an answer to my prayers to know who I could help and how I had accepted your challenge to pray for opportunities to help others. It was a great experience. And while I worked the lock, my brother shared a little bit of the gospel with her as he explained why he spoke Spanish and why his brother did not. Thanks for challenging us to look for opportunities to serve. We were blessed that evening with the Lord’s work. It’s sad that in these times, it’s often easier to let others do the work. [And then he said this.] A recent returned missionary spoke of the Adversary immediately putting doubt in our minds when we’re prompted to help others. How true it is. Our Heavenly Father’s always waiting for us to be ready to serve.”

I love it. I love it. And if we just pray and say, “Who needs my help?” and then look around, He will put people in our path. This week, I went to buy a light that I needed off of Facebook Marketplace. And the lady says, “Oh, I’m not going to be there. I have to take my granddaughters to school and gymnastics.” And I just wrote back, “Oh, your daughter must be so lucky to have such a nice mom who helps out with that.” And then she replied by saying, “Well, my daughter’s in the hospital and my husband and her husband are truckers and they’re out. And I don’t know what to do.” And it turned into something where I could do a little something to help. And sometimes I think it’s kind of scary for a stranger to go, “Yeah, why don’t you help me?” I’m like telling her, “No, really, I’m just looking for opportunities to help. I’m not a psycho.” But it turned out to be a sweet experience. And so I think we just need to always have our eyes open, and God knows who needs us, and He wants to help us. So let’s listen up. 

All right. In the manual, it says: “Because of the covenant God made with him, Abraham has been called “the father of the faithful” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:41) and “the Friend of God” (James 2:23). Millions today honor him as their direct ancestor, and others have been adopted into his family through conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet Abraham himself came from a troubled family—his father, who had abandoned the true worship of God, tried to have Abraham sacrificed to false gods. In spite of this, Abraham’s desire was “to be a greater follower of righteousness” (Abraham 1:2), and the account of his life shows that God honored his desire. Abraham’s life stands as a testimony that no matter what a person’s family history has been, the future can be filled with hope.”

Alright, this first section is from Abraham, 1:1-19. And it says, “God will bless me for my faith and righteous desires: Like many of us, Abraham lived in a wicked environment, yet he desired to be righteous. President Dallin H. Oaks taught the importance of having righteous desires: “As important as it is to lose every desire for sin, eternal life requires more. To achieve our eternal destiny, we will desire and work for the qualities required to become an eternal being. … If this seems too difficult—and surely it is not easy for any of us—then we should begin with a desire for such qualities and call upon our loving Heavenly Father for help with our feelings [see Moroni 7:48]” (“Desire,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 44–45). As you read Abraham 1:1–19, consider how these verses demonstrate what President Oaks taught. Questions like these might help:  What did Abraham desire and seek after? What did he do to demonstrate his faith? [Ding, ding, ding – what did he DO?] . What are your desires? Is there something you feel you should DO to purify your desires?  What challenges did Abraham face because of his righteous desires? How did God help him? What messages do these verses have for those whose family members do not desire righteousness?”

So when President Oaks was talking about desire, it reminded me of an interview that I had with my niece a few years ago when we did that Book of Mormon for Youth podcast. And if you never heard it, I started it, did it for a couple months, and it was too much. So I handed it over to my sister. And it was really cool. But way too much work. She did it for a year, and then that thing ended. But if you haven’t ever listened to it or had your kids listen to it, it was almost daily. It was almost five days a week that there was just a small thought in the mornings before the kids went to school. You could listen to it. So if you haven’t looked that up, it’s pretty fun. But I want to play a little part that my niece talked about desire, because I think it’s super important.

[Playing recording from prior episode]

Preslie: Okay, so my mom, I can’t remember the exact story, but she told me that she prayed for the want once. And I don’t really understand the scriptures that well because the words confused me. 

Melanie: Right. 

Preslie:  And so I sometimes pray before I read my scriptures that I’ll not only have the want to read the scriptures, but I’ll also understand it. 

Melanie: Uh huh. 

Preslie:  So that makes it, like, kind of exciting for me. Like, I’m, like, “I have the want to read.”

Melanie:  That’s so cool. I’ve never heard of that. I’ve never heard Shelby talk about that. Like, to pray for the want. 

Preslie:  Yeah, I love it. It helped me to want to read my scriptures. And, like, so she told me it was when she was younger. So she didn’t know the word “desire”. So she is just, like, praying for the want to do this.

[End of recording]

Isn’t that a cool thought? Praying for the want. And I think that’s something that we’re gonna have to do over and over again in our lives because sometimes we really desire righteousness and we really desire to pray for those around us and, you know, read our scriptures, and do all the things. And then we get into slumps and we get into times where we’re like, “I don’t even know if this is right. I don’t even know what I want.” And so praying for the want is a great idea. And it’s maybe a great thing to teach your kids. You know, like, maybe you don’t want to go to church. Why don’t you pray for the want to go to church. And I think Heavenly Father blesses righteous desires. And so if we’re asking Him to help us desire things, He’ll help us. So out of the mouth of babes. [Laughing] Yeah, Preslie, you’re a babe. 

Alright, where are we? Alright, we are going to go ahead and start in Abraham, starting in verse one. It says:

“In the land of the Chaldeans, at the residence of my fathers, I, Abraham, saw that it was needful for me to obtain another place of residence; And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me.”

So the questions you know, that we just asked, 1000 questions, it says, “What did Abraham desire and seek after.” And we learned in the very first and the very second verse that he was seeking greater happiness and peace and rest. 

And the next verse says: 

“I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same.”

So he wanted the priesthood.

“I having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge.” 

So he wanted to learn more, and to be a greater follower of righteousness. That’s another thing where I think you can pray for the want. Like, “Heavenly Father, I don’t even want to keep the Sabbath day holy. Heavenly Father, I don’t even want to stop swearing, it’s really fun.” [Laughing] Or whatever, “Heavenly Father, help me have the want to do this.” And so that’s what he wanted. He wanted to learn more, he wanted to be more righteous, he wanted all of these things. And we know that Abraham became a mighty man, that actually all the posterity of the Earth turns to this Abrahamic covenant. And he was basically the guy. It came, because first he desired for these things. And then as he desired it, they became part of his life. He wanted to “be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.” He did a lot. He did a lot to get where he was. And then we hear a little bit of background on Abraham and the family that he came from. This was interesting, he said:

“My fathers, having turned from their righteousness, and from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given unto them, unto the worshiping of the gods of the heathen, utterly refused to hearken to my voice.”

So here’s Abraham, when he was younger, saying, “Hey, let’s not do this anymore.” And he said, “They didn’t listen to me.” Because we kind of learned from Nephi that people don’t really want to listen to the young person telling you what to do. And so he’s telling his dad, like, “Let’s not do this.” And it kind of reminded me of this story when President Nelson said, he went down into the basement and, like, broke his dad’s alcohol on the floor, and his dad was really nice. And I’m not saying anybody should go break their alcohol on the floor, because then you might get sacrificed, but he did desire righteousness, and he wasn’t able to live it in his home. And I think that happens with a lot of people. But then we see what Abraham was able to do. So have faith, hang on. And it says:

“Therefore they turned their hearts to the sacrifice of the heathen in offering up their children unto these dumb idols, and hearkened not unto my voice, but endeavored to take away my life by the hand of the priest of Elkenah. The priest of Elkenah was also the priest of Pharaoh.”

So when he said he wanted peace, he didn’t just want less fighting.He wanted to not be MURDERED. [Laughing]  And when it said that they were offering up their children unto these dumb idols, I thought, you know – what dumb idols are we offering our kids up to? Think about it. Like, phones? TV? I don’t know, maybe it’s a good question to ask. What am I presenting to my children, maybe more than I’m presenting the gospel to them? That’s a good question. Verse 8:

“Now, at this time it was the custom of the priest of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to offer up upon the altar which was built in the land of Chaldea, for the offering unto these strange gods, men, women, and children. And it came to pass that the priest made an offering unto the god of Pharaoh, and also unto the god of Shagreel, even after the manner of the Egyptians. Now the god of Shagreel was the sun. Even the thank-offering of a child did the priest of Pharaoh offer upon the altar which stood by the hill called Potiphar’s Hill, at the head of the plain of Olishem. Now, this priest had offered upon this altar three virgins at one time, who were the daughters of Onitah, one of the royal descent directly from the loins of Ham. These virgins were offered up because of their virtue; they would not bow down to worship gods of wood or of stone, therefore they were killed upon this altar, and it was done after the manner of the Egyptians.” 

And when I read this, too, I thought, “Man, how do we raise kids like this?” Three girls, they’re like, “Sorry,I’m not gonna worship this. I know it’s wrong. I’m not gonna do it.” And they said, “Well, we’re going to kill you if you don’t.” They go, “Okay, here we are, kill us.” That is some faith. 

Alright. And in verse 12, it says:

“And it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this altar.”

And he talks a little bit about what the altar looked like. And it said:

“And as they lifted up their hands upon me, that they might offer me up and take away my life, behold, I lifted up my voice unto the Lord my God, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and he filled me with the vision of the Almighty, and the angel of his presence stood by me, and immediately unloosed my bands; And his voice was unto me: Abraham, Abraham, behold, my name is Jehovah, and I have heard thee, and have come down to deliver thee, and to take thee away from thy father’s house, and from all thy kinsfolk, into a strange land which thou knowest not of; And this because they have turned their hearts away from me, to worship…[a lot of gods. I’m not going to say all their names again.] Therefore I have come down to visit them, and to destroy him who hath lifted up his hand against thee, Abraham, my son, to take away thy life. Behold, I will lead thee by my hand, and I will take thee, to put upon thee my name, even the Priesthood of thy father, and my power shall be over thee. As it was with Noah so shall it be with thee; but through thy ministry my name shall be known in the earth forever, for I am thy God.”

Isn’t that cool? And there’s a video on the website in this lesson. And it is, like, straight-up Temple of Doom. [Laughing]  Like when they walk in [chanting] UM-BAY-YAH-BUH!! You know, and then it’s the Temple of Doom. They don’t rip out Abraham’s heart, because he’s saved by the Lord. But as I read this, I know I’ve heard the story before, but I thought of it differently. And I didn’t ever put Abraham being saved as a kid, along with Abraham sacrificing Isaac. Because think about it, he was saved by Jesus Christ from being sacrificed. So do you think when the Lord asked him to sacrifice Isaac, that there was this hope in his heart that the Lord would come down and do for Isaac what he did for him? Maybe it made it a little bit easier for him to make that choice, because he had already been through that experience and witnessed the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And so in our lives, maybe the Lord gives us experiences where He helps us. And when He saves the day, because He knows in the future, that we’re going to run into another crisis, we’re going to have another hard time. And He needs us to remember the time that He saved the day, so that we’ll have faith in Him, always. So stack up your experiences, don’t just put them on a shelf and forget about them. Talk about them, remember them, write them down, share them with your children. Because you’re gonna need those experiences. When you run into the hard one day, when you’re asked to sacrifice your child…You may not be asked to do it on an altar, but you may be asked to let them go. [Choking up] They may die, they may lose the faith. And those are the times when you’re going to have to turn back to the faith that you had earlier in your life, and you’re going to have to remember it. So if you’ve never written it down, if you’ve never talked about it, if you never counted it as a big deal, it’s going to be a lot harder to go through those experiences later in your life because you’re going to forget. And when you get angry, you push out the Holy Ghost, and one of the roles of the Holy Ghost is to bring things to your remembrance. So right now, do all you can to fortify your life. Write these things down. Bear your testimony. When you bear your testimony, the Spirit confirms it to you, again, that what happened was true and was His power. So anyway, I didn’t mean to go there, but I just thought it was a cool thing. I never put two and two together there. 

Alright, the lesson referred to a talk called Educate Your Desires, Elder Anderson Counsels. And In that article, it says, “I bear testimony of the power of desire. I testify that if we will seek to build our righteous desires, heaven will not abandon us and our Heavenly Father will give us answers to our prayers. He will help us overcome our unrighteous desires and strengthen those things that are true and lasting.” And that’s what happened with Abraham. And that’s what can happen with us. The lesson refers to Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” And I think sometimes we spend a lot of time asking God for financial gain or for things that maybe aren’t as important as praying for the want. “Heavenly Father, help me to want to read my scriptures. Heavenly Father, help me to want to be good.” Because all of those things will lead to a faith-filled life. But first, we have to want to have a faithful life. Faithful life, faithful lifetime, faithful life [Getting tongue-twisted.] Say that 10 times fast. That’s hard to say. Think about the things that Abraham was seeking and think about the things that you’re seeking and what you’re praying for. Because he wanted greater happiness, peace and rest, and righteousness, and the priesthood, and to receive instruction. And that’s what he got, because that’s what he wanted. 

Let’s go to the next section, Abraham 2:10-11. It says, “Who is included in the Abrahamic Covenant?…the Abrahamic covenant applies to members of the Church today, whether they are literal descendants of Abraham or adopted into his family through baptism and conversion to the gospel of Jesus…” I think I cut something off, because we don’t really call it the “Gospel of Jesus” much. Probably said, the “Gospel of Jesus Christ.” But I have in my notes, the “Gospel of Jesus.” “To be counted as Abraham’s seed, an individual must obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” And I just want to go through this part real quick, because we have to talk about Abraham and Sarah, and having a baby old, and Hagar.  That part is so important. So I’m just going to say that this is what Abraham was promised–that it’s going to come through his seed. He’s promised by the Lord. “And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name.” So, when we receive the gospel, we are part of this Abrahamic covenant “and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father; And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee.”

And then he says that the priesthood is going to be handed down through all this time, and in “thy seed after thee.” And this was his literal seed. But remember, he’s old, so he’s probably going, “Huh?” “And in thy seed after thee…shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.” 

In the part before this lesson, there was a whole thing about covenants. And I suggest you go in and read it. If you’re in your manual, skip back one lesson, and it’s not going to go to the last lesson, it’s going to go to a part about covenants. And in that part, it says, “…the focus of this covenant was not just on the blessings Abraham and his family would receive but also on the blessing they would be to the rest of God’s children. And in Genesis 12:2-3: “…Thou shalt be a blessing (God declared)..and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” And I thought that was so cool, because not only are we promised all of these blessings, but we’re also promised that we can be a blessing, that we can share the gospel, that we can share our testimonies, that we can go help some lady on the side of the road who locked her keys in the car and is in a panic, that we can be instruments in sharing the gospel and in sharing Christ’s love with others. And that’s a cool part of this covenant, too. I think that’s a pretty cool part. Because when I look back at my life and the times where I’ve really felt the spirit and known that God was real, it wasn’t so much the times when someone showed up to help me, but it was the times when God whispered to me to go help somebody else. And then they said, “I needed you today”, or “I’ve been praying”, or whatever, because then it solidified it to me. And maybe that’s another reason why I tell you guys to be doers. Be doers. Pray to see who you can help. Because when you have those experiences, those are the things you can’t just write off as coincidences. It helps solidify your foundation. So that’s cool. Be a blessing. 

So in this first part, it talks about basically, Abraham had a pretty crappy start, he had a family that was pretty dysfunctional, and so dysfunctional to the point that he was given to be sacrificed to these wicked gods, and look what he turned into. And so the lesson I learned from this maybe is – stop thinking about your start and start thinking about the possibilities and the promises. How can you be a blessing? How can you be a doer. And I’m sure some of you will say, “Oh, that’s really easy for you to say. You had great parents, and you grew up in this great life. And you didn’t have these trials.” And I’m going to say, “100%, you’re correct. I’m so grateful for my start, I had a good start. I have a good family history of people who were righteous and who wanted me to grow up loving the Lord. I was so lucky to have the good start that I did have. But I also know the value of therapy. I know the value of wanting to be happy. I know the value of turning things over to the Lord and saying, “You have to carry this for me, because I can’t go forward carrying all this heavy, and I need to let it go because I have other things to do.” And if I’m just a victim my whole life and that’s all I can talk about and all I can think about, then I’m going to have a life that’s not full of peace. And the Savior comes to offer us peace. So if your cruddy start is ruining your life, please get some expert therapy from accredited medically trained therapists and work through it. But also have faith in what Jesus can do. Have faith in the loads that He can lift off of your back. And if you don’t think he can, read Mosiah 24, because while they were in bondage, while they were being persecuted and probably whipped, and whatever by the Lamanites, He took away their burdens so that they couldn’t even feel them. It’s what President Nelson talks about: saints can be happy in any circumstance. So get some therapy, turn to the Lord. And remember Abraham. Yeah, he had a cruddy start, but look at what he did. It’s pretty cool. 

Alright, so he was told all of that when he was 75 years old. And then we’re gonna jump down in the section where it talks about families. And it talks about Abraham and Sarah, and these babies. And it included this question, “How can we trust God’s promises even when they seem impossible?” And I want to read from Genesis 15 for a minute. It says, “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not , Abram.” So, Abraham was called “Abram” until this later part in his life we’re going to talk about. So he was called Abram. So when I say “Abram”, don’t just think that I’m getting lazy and only saying half his name. This is what he was called first in this life. And it says, “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” And I loved this and lost my mind. And I just thought, I am going to write this on my wall and put it up – “I am they shield and they exceeding great reward.” You know who’s speaking here? It’s Jesus Christ. And you know what he’s saying? “I’m going to protect you. I’m a shield, but I’m also a super great reward in your life for your righteousness.” Sometimes I think we think of our being righteous and our doing what we’re supposed to be doing and keeping the commandments or whatever, as gaining blessings for the next life. And I think that’s okay. I think it’s okay if we think that. But I also think that we have to remember this scripture in Genesis, because the reward for righteous life and righteous desires isn’t just what happens in the next life. It’s being able to be acquainted with Jesus Christ. And that is an exceedingly great reward. And that is, the biggest reward that I have in my life right now is the choices that I’ve made. And the faith that I’ve chosen to have have brought me closer to Jesus Christ. Reading the Book of Mormon every day has brought me closer to Jesus Christ, and that is an exceeding great reward. And it’s right here in this life right now. So if we follow Abram (Abraham’s) example, and we desire things of righteousness, and we try to be righteous, and we move forward in that direction, repenting when we make mistakes because the Lord knew we were going to make mistakes, and keep moving forward and praying for the want, then we get him as a shield to deflect the arrows of life. And that is the reward. Being able to have Christ in our life here,and now is the reward for our faithfulness. And it’s a pretty cool reward. So who knew? Who knew that Genesis 15:1 was the scripture of the hour and of the week. Because now we know.

In verse 2 it says, “And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and

the steward  of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.” So he’s like, “You know, I don’t have any kids. But this guy was born in my house, so is he the guy.” And in verse 4 it says, “And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars,if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed  be. And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”  When Abraham is like, “I don’t understand how is this happening? We’re old, and we have no kids.” And He goes, “Here, look, all these stars. This is how many kids you are gonna have.” But the cool thing is the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 1 says this, and it’s so beautiful. And that’s why I’m grateful for Joseph Smith. And I’m grateful for all of these things, because it says, “And it came to pass that Abram looked forth and saw the days of the

son of man. And was glad, and his soul found rest and he believed in the lord and the lord counted it unto him for righteousness.” And remember last week, or two weeks ago, when Enoch was so sad about the wickedness of the earth? And the Lord said unto him, look, and he was shown Jesus, and then he was able to find peace. And that’s what happened here. He didn’t just see the stars, he saw Jesus Christ, and it brought him peace. “If Jesus Christ could do all these things that I just saw him do, then He can somehow make it so that we can have kids when we’re really old.” Jesus is what brought Abraham peace. Not looking at the stars, but looking at the life of Jesus Christ. We’re not looking at Him enough. If you’re feeling a lack of peace in your life, it’s because you’re not looking to Jesus Christ, you’re not looking to the source of peace, to the Prince of Peace. And I say it all the time – go to the Book of Mormon. It is the vehicle that will bring you to Jesus Christ because it testifies of Jesus Christ on every page, even in the war chapters, when you’re like, “What am I going to learn from this?” The Lord has something to teach you everywhere in that book. And what he’s teaching you is I’m real. I’m here. And I can change your life. 

So now we’re going to skip ahead to Genesis 16. Because now Abraham is 85 years old, and he still doesn’t have babies. And I’m kind of curious, like, why at 75 did he think that it was possible? And now at 85, he’s like, “Yeah, no, it’s not possible anymore.” And maybe because they lived a really, really long time back then. Maybe their 75 was like our 40. You know, like, it could be possible to have a baby still at 40. Summer, Shannon, like my friends that had babies late in their life. But at 50? Yeah, no, it’s not gonna happen. So maybe their 75 was like our 40 and 50. But anyway, it says in verse 1 of Genesis 16: Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.” And in that Old Testament Made Easier Book by David Ridges that I like (and I will also link that in the everything), it says that it was not only the custom, but also the expectation in their culture, that she ask her husband to marry one of her servants and have children by her for them. And it said, “Because Sarah owned her servant, the child of such a marriage would legally belong to Sarah.” And I thought, “Man, Hagar was like, ‘I thought I was just gonna clean your house. I didn’t know I was gonna have to sleep with your husband and give you my babies.’” But maybe she did, because it was a custom back then. 

So what else? But this story is important, and we learned an important lesson here.  In verse 4, it says, “And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes (she flaunted it in front of Sarah). And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: (I have brought this on

myself – please help me) I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised  in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee.” So, in that David Ridges book, it said that she flaunted it in front of Sarah. So I don’t know exactly what’s going on as much as Sarah is jealous that Haggar has gotten pregnant. And maybe she’s a little bit like, “Look, I got pregnant, look at me.” I don’t know. But there’s a problem now. And Abram said in disarray, “Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.” And I feel bad for Hagar, because Sarai said, “Go have a baby with her.” And then when she got pregnant, she’s like, “How dare you get pregnant”, and then slap-slap, or whatever she did that made Hagar run away. And then, as Hagar is off crying by the fountain, it says, “And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.”

“She’s so mean.” Maybe here she was saying, “Do you know what she did? This was her idea. And now she’s mad at me.” I don’t know. But it says, “And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress,and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.” And FYI, he’s going to be pretty wild — plan for it!  

But in all of this, I just want to say, “Why do I have to learn and have these experiences for you every week?” Because I’m just gonna give you the brief version of what happened to me this week. And then I read this lesson, and I go, “Oh, my gosh, for real? Do I always have to learn the exact lessons in the lesson so these people don’t have to learn the lessons?” Long story short, I have a calling right now, in one of my stakes. I’m not gonna tell you where because I have dual citizenship. Do you know you can have dual citizenship? My records are in Georgia and in Arizona. And that’s kind of amazing. But anyway, I have this calling, and it’s kind of a brand new calling. There’s not a lot of instruction about it. And it’s been challenging. And we’ve gotten direction from one way do this, and so I do it. And then we get direction from another way, “No, don’t do this, do this,” and so I do it. And then I got direction last week, and someone says, “Oh, no, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be done. Do it over.” And I kind of had hit my breaking point. And I told my leader, like, “This is not the job for me, I have ADD really bad. I need structure. I need order. I can’t do this. This is not the job for me. I’m just not somebody that can do this.” And what I heard back was, “Yeah, you can. Why don’t you read the story of Nephi and how the Lord helped him. And he helped him build the tools. And then after he built the tools, he was able to build the boat.” And my first reaction, what I wanted to do was to write back and say, “That was a really poor analogy.” [Laughing]. I hope he’s not listening to this. But when I first read it, I was a little offended because I was like, “You’re not even taking what I’m saying into consideration. And the Lord didn’t show Nephi how to make a hammer and then say, ‘Just kidding, that’s not how you make a hammer’, and then show them how to make a hammer again, and then say ‘Just kidding, that’s not how you make a hammer.’” So this is in my mind, like, this story doesn’t apply, because I was being very prideful. And this isn’t the first time that I’ve gotten a calling that’s a new calling to the church. I was made the Just Serve coordinator back when Just Serve was barely starting out. And there’s a learning curve with new callings in the church and I get that that leader isn’t the one who had been giving contrasting information. It’s just the nature of this new calling rolling out. So anyway, as I was kind of getting a little snarly in my mind about it, the words of the blessing that I got when I got set apart for this calling came into my mind. And when they gave me the calling, one of the things that they said was, “Be humble.” And, at the time, I thought, “Well, that’s interesting. Why are they telling me to be humble? I’m so humble.” [Laughing] Okay, but I was actually like, “This is an interesting thing.” And it kind of just stuck in my mind, right? So when this happened, those words came back to me. And I thought, “Be humble.” So I looked up humble in the thesaurus when I felt that, and some of the synonyms for humble are –  gentle, ordinary, quiet, content, obliging, mild, and submissive. So I read this story of Hagar. And when the angel comes to her, what does he call her at the beginning? He calls her Hagar Sarai’s maid. So he’s putting her in that same place, right when he gets there. And she could be like, “I’m a person, too. I’m not just a surrogate, you know.” But he says, “Return and be submissive.” And I’m sure that was really hard for Hagar to do. I ran into the same problem of not wanting to be submissive. And then, realizing that humility is what we all need, because we don’t always all get it right. And when I read that, about being gentle, and being ordinary, I thought, “Sometimes I make things too big.” And part of the problem was, I was trying to create these giant things when they didn’t need to be giant. And I need to be quiet. And I was happy that I didn’t fire back a mean note, because I know, instead of that, I’m telling the whole world! He saw it. Okay, okay, I get it. I get it. I get it. Why am I your example? I’m frail and dumb, and whatever. But I kept quiet. And I didn’t fire back the note. And because I didn’t, I was able to be humble, and I was able to see that he was right. And we’re going to have to be Hagars. We’re going to have to. We’re going to have to be the people in our life. At some point or another, we’re going to have to be the one that hears the word “submit”, go back to the bad situation, or whatever, and be submissive. The natural man does not like to be submissive. We like to be right. And guess what? When we can be wrong, our life’s gonna turn out a lot better. It just is. So there’s a lesson for the week that I had to learn, jerks, because I am trying to teach you these lessons.

And then this is so cool. Oh my gosh, this is exactly exactly what I needed to hear, too, in verse 13. It says, “And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?” And if we read the Joseph Smith translation, like, I felt like that was cool. Like God sees me. I felt like that was cool. But the Joseph Smith Translation of this said, “And she called the name of the angel of the Lord. And he spake unto her saying, Knowest thou that God seest thee? And she said, I know that God seest me, for I have also here looked after him.” And I think the cool thing was, in my mind when I had Hagar snarly at the fountain, Hagar was praying to God at the fountain, because she said, “I’m right here. I looked for Him, and you came. And I know that God seeth me.” And when I had this experience this week, and I was reminded of those words to be humble, I knew that God seeth me. I know, He sees me. And I know He directs me. And I know He leads me. And I’m so grateful for that. And if you haven’t watched The Chosen yet, I’m gonna wreck a part for you. Because Season 1 is long past, you should have watched that by now. But one of the disciples, I think it’s Simon, I don’t remember. But he’s running around, and he’s doing all these things. And he’s following Christ around. And he used to be this fisherman, remember? But his wife is staying home with her mother that’s sick, and he’s now gone to serve the Lord. And he comes back home to do something, and Jesus is with him. And his wife is working. She’s not complaining, she’s just working and things are hard. And Christ, he puts his hand on her arm, and he says, “I see you.” And it was such a powerful, powerful thing to me. Because sometimes we think our contributions are small. Sometimes we think nobody notices what we’re doing, or our hard. And when He put his hand on her and said, “I see you,” it was such a testimony to me that the Lord is aware of us. And, in this part, when the angel says, “Do you know God sees you?” And she goes, “I know He sees me because I was just praying for him.” So, instead of getting angry, we need to be turning to the Lord, and everything changes. 

I asked the question on Instagram last week, “When has the Lord helped you when you were wronged?” And I want to read a couple of these. And I hope that nobody gets their feelings hurt when I don’t read their story. I just don’t have enough time to read all of them. But I wanted to read a few. The first ones said:

“Just a couple weeks into the separation stage after a 28 year marriage I was impressed to not only forgive, but love the person my former spouse chose over me. I struggled with this. How could I ever do something that Hard!!!!  On my own I could not. But through the atoning sacrifice of my Savior Jesus Christ I have been able to move the mountains of anger and hurt and establish a relationship with someone that caused the greatest spiritual growth spurt of my life! Now my children and grandchildren just have more people to Love them and I can share all the important Family times without the vindictive attitudes so prevalent in divorce. Only the Savior can give me Peace during such a growing experience.”

Oh my gosh, that has got to be one of the hardest things, and we see it in divorce all the time. We see just these angry people like – fire fire – and they can’t wait to tell you the next bad thing. And they’re always up in arms about stuff. And I think this is a beautiful, beautiful story of how someone who was wronged was able to forgive because of Jesus Christ. And I know that when I got divorced, I was terribly afraid of being jealous. And I prayed over and over, “Please help me not be jealous. Please help me to just be able to be kind and to love my ex, and to be civil, and for us to create as good of an experience for our children as we can. And I get along with their dad. And every future happy occasion in our lives are going to include each other. So I don’t want to hate him. And I don’t want to not be able to be in a room with him. And I want to be like this lady, but it’s hard. And like she said, she had to pray really hard for it. And so did I. And we keep praying, right? We keep asking for miracles. And we keep asking for humility, and the Lord can give it to us. Alright, the next one said, 

“I wrestled with forgiving someone who hurt my child. I was furious with him, and hurt and devastated. All the emotions. And we lived in the same ward. Our lives crossed a few times a week so I had frequent painful reminders of the situation. I knew that I couldn’t forgive this guy without divine intervention, so I was praying a lot and asking for help. One Sunday I spoke in sacrament meeting. As I sat on the stand I noticed the man sitting with his family. I had this little flicker of compassion for him. God helped me see that he loved the man even though he had flaws. And then I felt a rush of forgiveness for him. It was over. I could let go. I love that scripture – “the Lord hath heard thy affliction.” He heard mine.”

How beautiful is that? And that reminds me of the interview I had with Alyssa Parker, the mother of Emily Parker, who was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. Remember? And if you didn’t listen to it, it’s Season 3, Episode 20. And my interview in Episode 21 with Amber Bell was also so good. But Alyssa Parker, we know, if you don’t remember in the Sandy Hook shooting, a man walked into an elementary school and shot and killed twenty 6 and 7-year-old children and six adults. And I talked to this mother, and she went through her pain and the process. And it was years later when she was on a jog and all of a sudden, she just felt love for this man and she was able to forgive. And I think that is a gift that we can only be given through the Savior because I don’t know how you do that. I don’t know how you can feel compassion towards somebody who is that evil that did such a terrible thing. And it’s because of the Savior Jesus Christ. So I really appreciated that comment.  I loved it. Somebody else said:

“I love that I can come to God in my prayers with however I am feeling. I have told Him how angry I am, how hurt I am, how disappointed…and so many other feelings. I feel kind of bad, but I’ve yelled and everything. And as I share these feelings with Him, I feel Him there, loving me all along the way. And when I’m all done being angry and sobbing and whatever else, He is still there, sending me comfort and love. I honestly just feel like His arms are wrapped around me telling me how much He loves me, no matter what. And as I try to turn to Him, instead of other people or things (like food or social media or other numbing mechanisms), I feel His love fulfilling and transforming me. I find that He places things in my life (like scriptures, podcasts, quotes, people sharing their experiences or testimony) that help heal me and allow me to move forward.” 

You guys, it’s Jesus, He’s the key. The next one says:

“I had a leader say something to me that made me mad. For a few days I stewed about it. Then I realized that even if he meant to “put me in my place”, I wasn’t going to let his words stop me from fulfilling my calling and being at church. My eternal salvation wasn’t focusing on HIM. It took a few weeks, but I prayed hard, tried to let it go whenever I started to dwell on it and focused on what really counts. The anger, embarrassment and need to correct him finally left. He prob has no idea how upset I was. We are neighbors and friends, 20 years later.”

Sometimes we can’t let it go on our own and we have to ask Christ for His help. I love hearing your testimonies. I’m sick of hearing my same stories over and over again in my closet. So thank you guys for participating when I ask these questions. 

And I want to say I feel bad for Sarai and Hagar here. She’d been told for 90-some years that she would have this great seed that was blessed. And I don’t know if she was told for 90 years, but at least for the last 20 or so years, she had been told that she was going to help, you know, bear all this seed, and she hadn’t had it. And the other question that I asked on Instagram was, how can we trust God’s promises, even when they seem impossible? Here’s a couple things that we get from that. Someone said:

“I once had a tenant who stole thousands from me. I asked God for compensation and shortly afterward had a tenant who for his own benefit did thousands of dollars worth of work on the home that I didn’t have to pay out-of-pocket for.”

And somebody else wrote:

“I wasn’t able to have all the children I hoped to have. While I am thrilled with the two I do have, I felt gipped (jipped? How is that even spelled?). Instead, God has given me a stepson, a disabled sister, and nieces and nephews who lost their dad and live close so that I can be a loving adult for them. I am surrounded with opportunities to mother children who are not my own.”

And I think this is such a hard thing. I have known a lot of people who haven’t been able to have babies for a long time after they wanted to. And I know it can go both ways. People can choose to mother those around, or they can choose to be angry for a long time. And I appreciated this woman’s story. And I had a lady once when I was saying, “I need help. My life is, you know…just there’s things on the website I don’t know how to do.” And this woman reached out to me and said, “Okay, I can do this, I can help you with this, I can do this. And you don’t have to pay me.” And I was like, “Why would you do this? Why are you helping me?” And she said, “You know, I had one child and I wasn’t able to have any more. And I struggled, and I kind of fought with the Lord for a while about it. And then finally I just decided, okay, if this is the only child I get, let me know how I can use my time.” And she said, “I felt like I just need to serve others and help others. And I’ve got more time to do it.” And she said, “And my husband’s a bishop now. So here we go.” And she offered her time to help me. And she’s making this hardship in her life a blessing to her husband, to the ward, to me, like a total stranger. So I think, I don’t know, I think being able to have faith in the Lord and His plan, and not getting bitter is a big deal. It goes back to this, like, “I see you, I will comfort you.” And this is another reason why the Book of Mormon is so cool, because in Helaman 3, it says this – “Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” And that’s verse 35. And I think that’s the key to this whole thing. It’s the key to this story. It’s the key to all of it – that we have to yield our hearts to God. Sarah has to say, “I don’t know why this is happening to me, but I trust you.” And Hagar has to say, “I don’t want to go back to that lady who just slap-slapped my face (or whatever she did), but I trust you, Lord, that you’re telling me to go back there.” And one of the blessings we get for yielding our hearts to God is joy. He gives us joy. He gives us happiness in a lot of things, but he also gives us consolation. And that consolation comes from turning our hearts to Christ, because He will console us in our sad, and He will make our joy bigger, and He can carry our burdens. And I think that’s something that we need to always remember. 

Okay, we are so out of time, but I just want to summarize Genesis 17 so that we’ll be ready for next week. Abraham is now 99 years old. The Lord comes and says, “You know, all of this seed is going to be blessed through your seed.” And he’s like, “Wait, okay, you know, do you realize that we still don’t have kids and we are really, really, really old?” And the Lord talked to him and said, “My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed (everafter).” And he says, “And also Sarai isn’t going to be called Saria anymore. She’s going to be called Sarah.” And I thought, it’s interesting, in The Old Testament Made Easier, it says a name change or new name is often associated in the scriptures with making a covenant and a promised blessing. I think that’s kind of interesting. And anyway, he says, “I will bless her and she will have kids.” And it says, “Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old?” And so I think he was like, “Okay, I trust you, I trust you.” And now he’s just laughing like, “We are so old, this can never happen.” And next week, we shall see if it can happen. But this reminds me of Zacharias. Poor Zacharias, because when he was told that his wife was going to have a baby in the New Testament, remember, he’s like, “How is that possible?” And the Lord struck him dumb, and he couldn’t talk for nine months. So how come Abraham doesn’t get struck dumb from laying on the ground and laughing? And even Mary said, “How can this be? I haven’t been with a man.” But, anyway, I guess Zacharias must have been bad. Maybe we’re just supposed to laugh when things happen. Maybe we’re just supposed to be like, “This is impossible.” So maybe if we laugh instead of getting mad, maybe that is the way to get through our trials. I think it’s a good idea. 

But I am grateful for this lesson. I’m grateful that it teaches us that sometimes it doesn’t go the way we want. And we have to have faith that the Lord will do what He says, and that He will answer us, and He will be there in our time of need, that He sees us, even if He can’t change our situation. I mean, Hagar had to go back to Sarah, and she had to go back to that hard, but she knew that the Lord saw her. And I think that that’s something important for us to remember. And it doesn’t always go the way we hope. We might have to be 100 years old before we have our baby. Oh, my gosh, how terrible, how terrible. But yeah, it was different times. But anyway, I’m grateful for this lesson. I’m grateful for the experience I had this week that taught me the same thing. If I’m humble, then the Lord can soften my heart and make good things happen. 

So I hope you have a good week. I need to tell you all that this is the year of the book. And I’ve been saying it, but I’m really doing it, and I am working hard. My goal is to have it done soon. I am going to a writing retreat thing at the end of this month where we just write for days on end. And we have people there helping us, and I’m serious now. So I’ve said over and over that the podcasts are going to be shorter so that I can work on the book, and then I never make them shorter and they’re still just as long. But for real, in the next few weeks. Because of this, I have to prepare, I have to get things done. I’m not going to be around for that weekend. I really do need to make them shorter for a while so that I can get this book done because I don’t think people realize how long this takes me. But it really does take me like a whole day, probably 12 hours probably to put one of these things out. And then I travel for a whole day. So anyway, I love doing it. And I’m grateful for the opportunity but I really, really please bless that I can shorten these down a little bit in the next couple of weeks so that I can work on the book. Anyway, I appreciate you. I love you. I love this experience. I love that you guys are trying hard to just follow the Lord and do what’s right. You’re amazing. I hope you have a great week and SHINE ON!. 

Check out my book, "Feasting on the Words of Christ," where I share a simple, five-step method for receiving answers to your prayers through the scriptures. You're really going to love it!

And don't be left out - Subscribe below to receive the latest posts, podcasts, and much more.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *