This lesson was designed by the First Presidency and the apostles and they’ve asked us to talk about this today in preparation for the new year and the new direction we’re going to go with the home centered gospel learning. Today let’s focus on personal scripture study, which can also apply as you study together as a family.
Let’s start with some scriptures. Open up to Joshua and while that is being read, I want you to look for two things: things we are being instructed to do and promised blessings. This will be related to studying the scriptures.
8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
What do you see in there that we should do?
- meditate therein day and night
What do you think that means?
- To think about it.
Right. To think about it and have it in your mind, in your heart as you are thinking throughout the day.
What about the part that says, “observe to do according to all that is written?” So, we’re not just reading it, we also need to do something.
What do you see there that might be blessings?
- To be successful (and that might be subjective, might depend on your day as to what success will mean)
- Make your way prosperous
What does that mean to you?
- That whatever you try to do it’s going to work out.
Right, so maybe our path will be cleared a little so that we can get those things done during the day that we need to.
- I also think that a path that is prosperous may not just benefit you, but it benefits everyone around you. So, it can help those who are in your sphere of influence.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
What do you see there that we might need to do, or what might scripture study do for us?
- For correction, to help us get better
- For instruction and inspiration
What about blessings?
- I think for instruction and inspiration is a blessing.
I agree! Inspiration is something we need throughout the day.
1 Nephi 15:23-25
23 And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree?
24 And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.
25 Wherefore, I, Nephi, did exhort them to give heed unto the word of the Lord; yea, I did exhort them with all the energies of my soul, and with all the faculty which I possessed, that they would give heed to the word of God and remember to keep his commandments always in all things.
What do we need to do? There a couple of them in 24 & 25 that are similar.
- Hearken unto the word/give heed
- Hold fast
What blessings do you see there?
- Never perish.
- Not overcome by the adversary.
- One of the ones I love the most in there is, “neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness.” I that sometimes as we go through life, I try to check myself and ask, ‘am I really on the right path?’ Because sometimes you meet people that it is hard to communicate with because you have totally different perspectives and sometimes it feels like blinders are over their eyes and it’s hard to connect and communicate because of that veil of blindness.
- The heading on that chapter for 2 Timothy chapter 3 says, “the scriptures guide men to salvation and through perilous times of the last days.” So, that’s a huge promise.
2 Nephi 32:3
3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
So, what do we need to do?
- Feast upon the words.
So, that’s like what was said earlier, it’s more than just checking it off a list. Feasting is kind of like at the Thanksgiving table. Taking it all in and enjoying every bite. So, when we’re reading, we need to have that kind of mindset of really enjoying what we’re reading and looking for something.
What is our promised blessing?
- We will be told what we need to do.
Isn’t that a great one, because I certainly don’t know everything. My brothers may claim I know everything, but I really don’t.
22 But now hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men, and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men, or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto.
23 Behold thou art Hyrum, my son; seek the kingdom of God, and all things shall be added according to that which is just.
In your mind, when you read scriptures like verse 23, say, ‘Behold thou art ______, my daughter…’ put your name in there. That’s one way to make the scriptures personal.
What should we do? Look at 22 because I think there’s something interesting when he says, “which hath gone forth” and “which shall come forth.” What do you think that is referring to?
- Listen to the prophets.
- I also think its church history- study what’s happened. Look at the Book of Mormon as well as, looking at the prophecies that are gong to happen.
Yes, study the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and study what the prophets teach.
- It’s an Article of Faith, ‘we believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe He will yet reveal many great and important things.’ If we believe that, we’re going to listen to our prophets.
What do you see that we should do in verse 23?
- Seek the kingdom of God.
What is the promise there?
- All things shall be added which is just.
D&C 33:16-18 These are short verses, but full of goodies. This is the pie of our Thanksgiving!
16 And the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction; and the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things.
17 Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom—
18 For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that I come quickly. Even so. Amen.
What are we told we need to do here?
- What does it mean to always have your lamps trimmed?
What does that mean?
- I was thinking that we need to look at our lives and see what you need to trim out, cut out and leave what’s most important.
What does it mean to literally have a lamp trimmed?
- To have it full and ready.
Yes, to have the oil and the wick is ready. You don’t need a lamp without a wick. You need all things related to the lamp prepared. Having your lamps trimmed and burning. So, we need our lamp burning. If it’s out, then maybe we’re not living the gospel, we’re not sharing the light of Christ. Is that what you think?
- I was thinking of the lamp being your testimony. Having your testimony in good repair and ready to go.
- The reference for it says ‘being prepared.’
So, let’s put that on our list: be prepared. That’s something we’re being asked to do. How does that relate to reading our scriptures? Is reading our scriptures helping us to be prepared? Is that adding oil to our lamp? To shine the light of Christ, we need to know what the light is, we get that from the scriptures.
What does, “the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things” mean?
- I think the Spirit is actually intelligence. So, when we are living our lives in a way that the Spirit can reside with us, even worldly intelligence just comes faster. We’re able to do more, we’re able to understand more, not just in relation to things of the gospel, but of things in our lives that we’re struggling with or trying to figure out. It’s an overall blessing.
What do you see in verse 17?
- Be faithful and pray always.
I don’t imagine he means for us to go into our closet and pray literally all day, though those of you with little ones may want to do that, I think that’s a prayer in your heart all the time, to be conscious of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
- I find it interesting about the lamps trimmed – it’s burning. It’s in action and have oil with us also. I’m curious what our ideas are on this oil.
- I heard a talk once in Sacrament meeting, and she said there was a time in her life when she was younger that she gleaned a lot and filled her spiritual reservoir, when she was less busy. It gave me hope because at different stages of your life you might be able to pull from the experiences you had when you had more time. During the good times, we need to be harvesting, we need to be learning and growing, then when we hit those hard times, when you’re raising little children or when there’s a death or when there’s a hard trial, you have that reservoir that you can pull from.
- I also think if we document those times that we are spiritually uplifted, have you ever read your own testimony? Writing my own testimony down for the days when I don’t feel that Spirit as much, t be able to go back and reflect on that, in my own words. Talk about having a spiritual reservoir when you can read what you knew to be true in a time when you may be doubting. It’s pretty powerful.
I do think these things relate to this sister’s question about the oil. These experiences when we have time and we’re able to devote our energy to it and feasting on the word. Then we can fall back on that reservoir of oil when we don’t have as much time.
- Sometimes I feel like I’ve depleted all of my reservoirs and that’s when we need someone who has extra oil. Obviously, the main source of oil is our Savior, so going to those sources in a time of need is important.
- You talk about burning, it’s not just when it’s ready with oil and a wick, but they’re burning so I think a couple of things we can get from that is one, it brings us warmth and second, it’s giving light to others. We need to share that testimony maybe for others that may be having those moments that they’re faltering and we can lift them up. It’s not always bearing our testimony, but showing it. We’re not hoarding the light.
When we talk about and when we think about personal scripture study, and we can relate this to family scripture study, as we move into the new year, this is something that I want us to be thinking about now till the end of the year as we are preparing our minds and ourselves to engage in more scripture study at home, individually and as a family, if that’s possible in your home.
What do you do now to make your personal scripture study more meaningful?
- We always have a morning devotional before the kids head off to school and at night when we have more time, we thought why not have them pass around the scriptures. It’s been kind of hard with all different ages, but we try to teach to the oldest and that way they can follow his example. I would suggest literally holding the scriptures, put away our electrical devices, and having the kids find the scriptures, like a treasure hunt. Getting the kids familiar with where things are located.
- It’s really challenging when you have teenagers who want more intellectual stimulation and little toddlers who only want to read for two minutes. We do our family scripture study before the kids go to bed and sometimes this may change depending on the night, but sometimes it’s best to read the verse, say our prayer and then dad will stay up with the teenagers and I’ll go put the little ones to bed. It’s finding a balance of keeping the little ones engaged and not having frustrated teenagers because they want the little ones to be quiet like robots. Be flexible and try to make it fun, but also knowing when the teenagers need that extra depth.
- We aren’t the greatest at it, at having family scripture study, especially because we’re all pulled in so many directions, but one thing that I think is helpful is not waiting until it’s perfect. If somebody is gone, then they just miss that part. If you keep reading the scriptures then you’re going to come back to it. It’s ok if someone misses something, you don’t have to make sure it’s perfect.
- I am all for a captive audience and especially with a little boy, anytime we sit down to read scripture, that’s when he realizes he has to go to the bathroom, urgently! But I’ve found in the car is the one place that by law, you’re supposed to restrain your children [laughter]. It’s being a good parent to retrain them and if you can get some of that done in the car when they can’t leave, it’s helpful.
- We got one of those Articles of Faith CDs and in the car, that’s when my kids learn the Articles of Faith while listening to a CD.
Some suggestions can be found on the church website, on the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families, I’m pretty sure that’s where I found it, here are some things they suggest that can help us while we study scriptures:
- Look for Truths about Jesus Christ
- Look for Inspiring Words and Phrases
- Look for Gospel Truths
- Listen to the Spirit
- Liken the Scriptures to Your Life
- Ask Questions as You Study
- Use Scripture Study Helps
- Record Your Thoughts and Feelings
- Study the Words of Latter-day Prophets and Apostles
- Share Insights
- Live by What You Learn
These are all the things that we have talked about today. Let’s hear a quote on this subject by President Monson, “As we read and ponder the scriptures, we will experience the sweet whisperings of the Spirit to our souls. We can find answers to our questions. We learn of the blessings which come through keeping God’s commandments. We gain a sure testimony of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of Their love for us. When scripture study is combined with our prayers, we can of a certainty know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. … As we remember prayer and take time to turn to the scriptures, our lives will be infinitely more blessed and our burdens will be made lighter” (“We Never Walk Alone,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 122).
What are two or three of the blessings that you heard that are promised as we read and ponder the scriptures?
- Sweet whisperings of the Spirit to our souls.
- Answers to our questions.
- Blessings from keeping the commandments.
- Gain a testimony of Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of Their love for us.
- Combining scripture study with prayer, we can of a certainty know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.
- Infinitely more blessed.
- Burdens will be lighter.
Next is a quote by Elder David A. Bednar. In it, he compared consistent family scripture study and other righteous habits to small brushstrokes that make up a beautiful painting. He said, “In my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field. The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes—none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive. In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a mass of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint. However, as you gradually move away from the canvas, all of the individual brushstrokes combine together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field. Many ordinary, individual brushstrokes work together to create a captivating and beautiful painting.
Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.”
So, he describes this painting in his office of a wheat field and when he stands up close, all he sees are these brushstrokes of color. But when he stands back, he sees this masterpiece. Then he likens that to consistent study at home. What we’re creating within our families and within ourselves is this masterpiece of spiritual strength and gaining spiritual results. I love imaging the brushstrokes as we do these things, we’re not waiting for perfect family situations where everyone is in attendance and everyone has to read, and everyone has to understand every word. We’re not waiting for those perfect moments. As we can and are able, we create these brushstrokes. Believe it or not, that was an article from 2009, so he was talking back then about being more concerned at home and teaching at home.
The last quote is by President Nelson and he said, “I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. Your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings, and the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease. Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining.” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2018).
What are a couple of things that stuck out to you?
- The Sabbath day will be a delight.
- Your children will be excited to learn.
- The influence of the adversary in your life and home will decrease.
That is huge. This is from our current living prophet. If you want the influence of the adversary to decrease in your home, this is what we need to do. “Remodel your home into a center of gospel learning.” He does say over time, so we don’t expect a light switch change, but we can make the effort.
I’m so glad that I got the chance to share this topic with you. I’m hoping that you feel inspired and excited to do more gospel and scripture study in your home, individually and as a family. Next week will be our last council meeting and we’ll talk about the changes that are coming in the new year and how we’re going to move forward in a positive way and I’m hoping you will come and share your thoughts. I leave you my testimony that I have experienced these blessings too and I’m excited to learn more and to keep studying and experiencing these blessings and I leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Things we are instructed to do:
- meditate therein day and night
- observe to do according to all that is written therein
- the law shall not depart out of thy mouth
- observe to do according to all that is written therein
- hearken unto the word of God
- hold fast unto it
- give heed unto the word of the Lord
- give heed to the word of God and remember to keep his commandments always in all things.
- feast upon the words of Christ
- hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth
- study my word which shall come forth
- seek the kingdom of God
- be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready (be prepared)
- read and ponder the scriptures
- keep God’s commandments
- scripture study is combined with prayers
- remember prayer
- take time to turn to the scriptures
- diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning
- make thy way prosperous
- have good success.
- make thee wise unto salvation
- may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
- never perish
- neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them
- the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
- then shall all things be added thereto
- all things shall be added according to that which is just.
- the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things
- experience the sweet whisperings of the Spirit
- find answers to our questions
- learn of the blessings which come
- gain a sure testimony of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of Their love for us
- we can of a certainty know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true
- our burdens will be made lighter
- your Sabbath days will truly be a delight
- your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings
- the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease
- changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining