Chapter 16 – The Media
Chapter 17 – The Word of Wisdom
Chapter 19 – Responsibility
Chapter 20 – School and Learning
Chapter 21 – Friends and Peer Pressure
Chapter 22 – Stewardship
Chapter 23 – Idolatry
Chapter 24 – Consecration
PDF VersionChapter_17.htmlChapter_18.htmlChapter_19.htmlChapter_21.htmlChapter_21.htmlChapter_22.htmlChapter_23.htmlChapter_24.html
Chapter 9 – Chastity
Chapter 10 – Obtaining Joy and Satisfaction
Chapter 11 – Fashion  and Modesty
Chapter 12 – Rebellion 
Chapter 13 – Church Meetings
Chapter 14 – Hypocrisy (Sunday-only Mormons)
Chapter 15 – The Sabbath
Chapter 16 – PornographyChapter_9.htmlChapter_10.htmlChapter_10.htmlChapter_11.htmlChapter_12.htmlChapter_13.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_15.htmlChapter_16.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0shapeimage_3_link_1shapeimage_3_link_2shapeimage_3_link_3shapeimage_3_link_4shapeimage_3_link_5shapeimage_3_link_6shapeimage_3_link_7shapeimage_3_link_8shapeimage_3_link_9
Chapter 1 – Understanding Isaiah
Chapter 2 – Leaders and Role Models
Chapter 3 – Gangs
Chapter 4 – Fasting
Chapter 5 – Victims of bullying
Chapter 6 – Bullying
Chapter 7 – HomosexualitY
Chapter 8 – DatingPreface.htmlIntroduction.htmlChapter_1.htmlChapter_2.htmlChapter_3.htmlChapter_4.htmlChapter_5.htmlChapter_6.htmlChapter_7.htmlChapter_8.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1shapeimage_4_link_2shapeimage_4_link_3shapeimage_4_link_4shapeimage_4_link_5shapeimage_4_link_6shapeimage_4_link_7shapeimage_4_link_8shapeimage_4_link_9

The Temptation to Think That the Learning Process Has Nothing to Do With the Lord

The Temptation To Think That the Lord Can’t Teach You What You’re Trying to Learn

Thus saith the LORD,

thy Redeemer,

the Holy One of Israel;

I am the LORD thy God

     which teacheth thee to profit,

     which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. 

(Isaiah 48:17)

     If President Monson were to read this scripture, he might get really excited to read that the Lord would teach him to prophet.  Okay, terrible puns aside, to “profit” in this sense means you get something out of whatever you are doing, whether in money or experience or learning.

     This scripture tells us that it is the Lord (by the Holy Ghost) who teaches us and who enlightens our understanding, no matter who is standing up at the front of the classroom giving the lecture. When you have an “Oh-I-get-it!” moment, that is when the Holy Ghost has enlightened you.  This is another reason having the Holy Ghost with you is so important.   

23 Give ye ear, and hear my voice;

hearken, and hear my speech.

24     Doth the plowman plow all day to sow?

       doth he open and break the clods of his grounds? 

25     When he hath made plain the face thereof,

       doth he not cast abroad the fitches,

       and scatter the cummin,

       and cast in the principal wheat

       and the appointed barley

       and the rie in their place?

26           For his God doth instruct him to discretion,

            and doth teach him.   

(Isaiah 28:23-26)

     This scripture teaches several principles.

     First, the Lord instructs the farmer how to plant his crops.  The Lord can also instruct us how to do our schoolwork.  Why?  Because the Lord knows EVERYTHING, from math to science to writing to art to law and everything in between.  For instance, he showed Nephi how to build a ship.

     Why would the Lord teach farmers how to plant their crops or help us with our schoolwork?  Why would He bother?  Because He cares about us, He is concerned about what is going on in our lives, and He wants to be involved.

When I realized this, I was in the middle of taking a calculus class, and it made it so much easier to trust in the Lord.  I knew the Lord knew calculus better than anyone, so He could help me understand and do the homework better.  I knew sensed that He cared about me so much that He wanted to be involved in my learning.

     Secondly, the Lord inspires the farmer with the BEST way to plant his crops.  This is where the word “discretion” comes in.  Discretion implies prudence and wisdom and efficiency.  In the same way, the Lord can give us ideas about the BEST way to do our homework and our projects and reports and such.  One principle the Lord tries to teach us is to not procrastinate.  Every time you are assigned a project, if you’ll listen, you’ll recognize the still small voice instructing you not to procrastinate and to begin immediately.

     Let’s say you’re taking Speech.  Do you think the Lord can help you with that? 

The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned,

that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary:

     he wakeneth morning by morning,

     he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.   

(Isaiah 50:4)

     The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is wearyIf you’re in public speaking class and you have to give your first speech that day, and you’re really nervous, and the teacher doesn’t call on you to give your speech until practically the end of class when everyone is tired and bored.  It’s a tough situation.  If you’ve done your best to prepare your speech, and you pray for the Lord to be with you, the Lord can help you speak like an old pro and have your tired classmates in the palm of your hand.

     That line also describes another way the Lord can help you, by giving you the ability to explain things to others in a way that they will understand, which is useful if you want to help a classmate who is having a hard time getting a concept.  It is also useful for when you are assigned to give a presentation and teach the whole class something.

     [H]e wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned - Part of becoming a good student is learning to recognize the important things that the teacher wants you to remember, so that you can write those things down in your notes.  How can you learn if you don’t know what is important to learn?!  You might find yourself thinking you’re supposed to learn how to make a dodecahedron, when your teacher wants you to learn how to do a geometry proof!  (*scandalized gasp*)  This line of Isaiah tells you the Lord can help you learn to recognize the important material when the teacher first presents it.   

The Temptation to Avoid Studying That Doesn’t Give Instant Results

The Temptation to Expect the Teacher to Teach Everything Without Preparing Yourself to Receive

That say,

     Let him make speed,

     and hasten his work,

          that we may see it:

     and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh

     and come,

          that we may know it!

(Isaiah 5:19)

     [A]nd let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! – We say this when we don’t feel like working to find something out for ourselves.  We take this attitude when we want the Lord or our parents or our teachers to just give us the answers so that we don’t have to work for them. 

     This is not how the Lord works teaches.  The Lord tells us to seek, knock, study.  It is absolute silliness to say “let the Holy One draw nigh and come”, as we do if it is just to ask Him to do all the work.   It is us that must come to Him.  It is by grace we are saved after all we can do.  (see 2 Nephi 25:23)  When Oliver Cowdery tried his hand at translating the Book of Mormon, he didn’t spend any time thinking about what it could mean, but just asked the Lord, and got chastised for that (see D&C 9:7).  I’ve had to do a lot of studying these scriptures out in my mind before the Holy Ghost has brought me insight on them.  I’ve had to do a lot of writing about what I think it means before Heavenly Father has helped me write something really insightful.  There’s no hurrying the process, no matter how much we want to.

     Many answers can’t be given to us right away, because if they were we wouldn’t fully appreciate them.  Not only does Heavenly Father want us to know the answers, He wants us to love them and make them a part of us.  Just how much would Joseph Smith have appreciated the answer, “Don’t join any of the churches” if he hadn’t done a lot of thinking and studying and searching and testing already on his own before asking the Lord?

     Spencer W. Kimball described the best way to study and learn when he said: “We pray for enlightenment, then go to with all our might and our books and our thoughts and righteousness to get the inspiration. . . .There must be works with faith.”1

The Temptation to Despair Because What You Must Learn Seems So Complex

     Insert your name in place of “Cyrus” as you read this scripture.

1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus,

     whose right hand I have holden,

     to subdue nations before him;

     and I will loose the loins of kings,

     to open before him the two leaved gates;

     and the gates shall not be shut;

2     I will go before thee,

     and make the crooked places straight:

     I will break in pieces the gates of brass,

     and cut in sunder the bars of iron:  

(Isaiah 45:1-2)

     Cyrus was a king of Persia who went on a major conquering streak, but I assert that we can liken this scripture to ourselves and our struggle to conquer the school subjects with which we have difficulty.  We don’t have kings to conquer, but we have teachers that sometimes control their classes like they are some kind of king or queen and they make us feel like little peons.  Or pawns in a big chess game.  We don’t have gates to break through, but we have mental brick walls that we bang our heads against as we try to understand a tricky concept.  Or doing your math homework might feel like being lost in a maze, where the solutions seem to be complex and crooked, instead of simple and straightforward.

     I will loose the loins of kings - Rendered in modern language, this would be something like “I will make kings so scared of you that they’ll pee their pants.”  Again, our high school teachers aren’t kings or queens (no matter what they’d like to think), but they certainly have absolute authority over what grade we get.  And while it would be nice if they were scared of us, all we really need is for them to care enough about us to make sure that we understand everything.  This phrase of Isaiah gives us hope that a difficult teacher will yield to our requests for clarification and extra help.

     [T]o open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut - This can give us hope that the mental brick walls can be broken down, and we’ll begin to understand things we got stuck on before.

     I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight - Have you ever asked for directions from someone and it turns out there’s five million tricky little turns you have to make before you get there?  That’s a crooked place you have to go through, when directions get really complicated.  So when the Lord says He will make crooked places straight, it’s like he’s saying he’ll make it so easy, the road will seem like a straight shot.  That promise is especially useful in school.  When it seems like it takes five bazillion steps to solve those math problems, the Lord can help you to such an extent that all those steps just seem like one.  He can make complicated things become simple.  He can increase the effectiveness of your practicing.  How is it that he can do this?  “I will go before thee,” tells us He’s been there, and done that, so not a single trick can surprise Him or puzzle Him. And if that weren’t enough, He can also help us in a way that is best for us.  

The Temptation to Think You Don’t Need to Know [insert hated school subject here]

The Temptation to Think You Don’t Need More Education

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways,

and my thoughts than your thoughts.  

(Isaiah 55:8-9)

     For as college is more advanced than kindergarten, so are the Lord’s ways more advanced than our ways, and the Lord’s thoughts than our thoughts.  This should bring new meaning to the term “higher education”.  The way I see it, there’s no subject that we can slack off in, thinking that we’ll never use it, because sooner or later we’ll need it, whether in this life or in the life to come.  “Oh, I’ll never need biology,” you might say.  Three thousand years in the future you might find yourself in a celestial biology class picking up all the stuff you missed on earth so that you can get the DNA sequence just right when you’re creating a whale.   

The Temptation to Think That You Don’t Need to Practice What You Learn

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,

and meted out heaven with the span,

and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure,

and weighed the mountains in scales,

and the hills in a balance?

(Isaiah 40:12)

     This scripture is a little obscure, but if you follow my reasoning, you’ll get how it applies to the idea that practice is important.

     At some point the Lord learned how to “measure the waters in the hollow of his hand”, and how to “mete out heaven with the span”, and how to comprehend “the dust of the earth in a measure” and how to weigh “the mountains in scales” and “the hills in a balance”.  He used measuring tools until He got so good at being able to estimate measurements accurately that He could count how many grains on the seashore and how many stars in the sky.  Not only that, but He got so good at it that He could look and just know how many were there!  Practice made Him perfect.  We puny mortals can also acquire this intuitive ability through practice.  Methodical practice brings familiarity, and familiarity (from experience) brings intuition.  And intuition always seems miraculous and godlike, because it is!

     We can become so familiar with math that when we look at a problem we just know exactly what needs to be done.  We can become so familiar with music that we can just look at a piece of music and know what it will sound like.  We can become so familiar with history that when someone mentions a date we instantly know what important events took place then.  We can become so familiar with a sport that we know exactly what we must do to win.  We can become so familiar with language that we know how to express our thoughts at any time.  We can become so good at science that we can look at something and know how it works, whether it is a particle accelerator, a polliwog, or a planetary nebula.  I’ve even read of someone who was so good at cooking that she could look at a recipe in a cookbook and know what it would taste like.  That’s the level of understanding to which it is our privilege to aspire, since we are children of God. 

The Temptation to Think You Can’t or Shouldn’t Learn How to Make Decisions and Evaluate Why Things Are and How They Could Be Better

For I the LORD love judgment. . .

(Isaiah 61:8)

When we look at this from the perspective of learning at school, it tells us that the Lord loves to make judgments and decisions about things, and He wants us to learn to love it too.  When our ability to make good decisions increases, then we are more qualified to make judgments about whether something is good or not.  One of the things we should be learning in school is how to make good decisions.  In math we should be learning how to make decisions about what to try next to get closer to a solution.  In English we should be learning how to make decisions about how to construct sentences that communicate our meaning how we want, and how to construct essays that do the same. 

     The lowest level of learning is that in which you are told how to do something with no information on what it is, why it is important, or what for.  A higher level consists of learning information and facts and right answers.  A higher level than that is learning to how to make decisions based on facts and make high quality works of self-expression.  The highest level consists of learning to discern and pass judgment.  School subjects can be taught in different ways, but you will know you are getting the best education if you are being taught how to make decisions about things and if you are being taught to evaluate things.  (Evaluating things consists of analyzing strengths, weaknesses, comparing and contrasting, tracing causes and effects, and so on.)

The Temptation to Think That You Know It All

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept;

line upon line, line upon line;

here a little, and there a little:     

(Isaiah 28:10)

     First, scholastically, this scripture warns us that we have to understand the easy stuff before we get to the hard stuff.  You crawl before you learn to walk, and you walk before you learn to run.  You learn addition and subtraction before you learn multiplication and division, and you learn fundamental properties of mathematics before you learn algebra and geometry, which you must learn before trigonometry, which you must learn before calculus.

     Second, this scripture tells us that we don’t know it all, no matter how educated we think we are.  “And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know”  (1 Corinthians 8:2).  So keep in mind as you finish a class in a subject that there is always a deeper level of understanding than the level you have gained, like the layers of a huge onion, and until you are told there is no more, there is always more. 

     So what have we learned from Isaiah that will help us in our schooling? 

  1. 1)The Lord is who teaches us and enlightens our understanding through the Holy Ghost.

  2. 2)The Lord can inspire us with ideas and specific techniques that are wise.

  3. 3)We must do our part to learn by searching and studying ahead of time.

  4. 4)The Lord can help us explain to others what we know.

  5. 5)The Lord can help us know what things the teacher says are most important to write down and remember

  6. 6)The Lord can remove obstacles to your learning.  He can make something that is complex seem simple.

  7. 7)The Lord’s ways are higher than ours, and someday we will need to know the things He knows.

  8. 8)The Lord knows everything about the earth; He knows it inside and out, upside down, and even backwards.  The Lord comprehends all things because methodical practice has led to familiarity, which has lead to intuition.

  9. 9)We have to learn little by little.

  10. 10)The highest education is learning to make good decisions and to evaluate things.

11) You don’t know everything yet.  There’s more to learn.


1 The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, Bookcraft Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1982, p. 122.

 Chapter 9 – Chastity
 Chapter 10 – Obtaining Joy and Satisfaction
 Chapter 11 – Fashion  and Modesty
  Chapter 12 – Rebellion 
Chapter 13 – Church Meetings
Chapter 14 – Hypocrisy (Sunday-only Mormons)
 Chapter 15 – The SabbathChapter_9.htmlChapter_10.htmlChapter_10.htmlChapter_11.htmlChapter_12.htmlChapter_13.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_14.htmlChapter_15.htmlshapeimage_6_link_0shapeimage_6_link_1shapeimage_6_link_2shapeimage_6_link_3shapeimage_6_link_4shapeimage_6_link_5shapeimage_6_link_6shapeimage_6_link_7shapeimage_6_link_8
 Chapter 16 – Pornography 
 Chapter 17 – The Media
 Chapter 18 – The Word of Wisdom 
 Chapter 19 – Responsibility
 Chapter 20 – School and Learning 
 Chapter 21 – Friends and Peer Pressure
Chapter 22 – Stewardship
Chapter 23 – Idolatry
Chapter 24 – ConsecrationChapter_16.htmlChapter_17.htmlChapter_18.htmlChapter_19.htmlChapter_21.htmlChapter_22.htmlChapter_23.htmlChapter_24.htmlshapeimage_7_link_0shapeimage_7_link_1shapeimage_7_link_2shapeimage_7_link_3shapeimage_7_link_4shapeimage_7_link_5shapeimage_7_link_6shapeimage_7_link_7shapeimage_7_link_8
Chapter 1 – Understanding Isaiah
 Chapter 2 – Leaders and Role Models 
 Chapter 3 – Gangs
Chapter 4 – Fasting 
Chapter 5 – Victims of bullying
 Chapter 6 – Bullying 
Chapter 7 – HomosexualitY
Chapter 8 – DatingPreface.htmlIntroduction.htmlChapter_1.htmlChapter_2.htmlChapter_3.htmlChapter_4.htmlChapter_5.htmlChapter_6.htmlChapter_7.htmlChapter_8.htmlshapeimage_8_link_0shapeimage_8_link_1shapeimage_8_link_2shapeimage_8_link_3shapeimage_8_link_4shapeimage_8_link_5shapeimage_8_link_6shapeimage_8_link_7shapeimage_8_link_8shapeimage_8_link_9