Sunday, May 7, 2017

back to basics


i chose an unusual topic for my relief rociety lesson today, what i decided to call, “back to basics.” i feel as though with our busy lives these days, time is simply flying by and sometimes we forget the simple things we should be doing. the idea came to me whilst watching the sunday morning session of the most recent general conference, during elder claytons talk... he recalled speaking with a bishop who had suggested that members of his ward struggling with every day trials and issues do the simple things to help, but that they thought the things he spoke of didn't apply to them! he then spoke about how naaman was told to do something so simple to be healed, but that he didn't want to do it, because it seemed so easy! it really struck a chord with me and i felt that i should base my next lesson on those "simple and basic things"... so here you have it!

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During his talk “Whatsover He saith unto you, do it.” During the Sunday morning session of the April General Conference, L Whitney Clayton said:

A few years ago, I spoke with a young bishop who was spending hours each week counselling with members of his ward. He made a striking observation. The problems that members of his ward faced, he said, were those faced by Church members everywhere—issues such as how to establish a happy marriage; struggles with balancing work, family, and Church duties; challenges with the Word of Wisdom, with employment, or with pornography; or trouble gaining peace about a Church policy or historical question they didn’t understand.

His counsel to ward members very often included getting back to simple practices of faith, such as studying the Book of Mormon—as we were counselled by President Thomas S. Monson to do—paying tithing, and serving in the Church with devotion. Frequently, however, their response to him was one of scepticism: “I don’t agree with you, Bishop. We all know those are good things to do. We talk about those things all the time in the Church. But I’m not sure you’re understanding me. What does doing any of those things have to do with the issues I’m facing?”

It’s a fair question. Over time, that young bishop and I have observed that those who are deliberate about doing the “small and simple things”—obeying in seemingly little ways—are blessed with faith and strength that go far beyond the actual acts of obedience themselves and, in fact, may seem totally unrelated to them. It may seem hard to draw a connection between the basic daily acts of obedience and solutions to the big, complicated problems we face. But they are related.

Some rewards of obedience do come quickly; others come only after we are tested. God asks us to bear with Him—to trust Him and to follow Him. Things work out when we stand firm during the “trial of our faith,” however hard that test may be to endure or slow the answer may be in coming. I am not speaking of “blind obedience” but of thoughtful confidence in the perfect love and the perfect timing of the Lord.

The trial of our faith will always involve staying true to simple, daily practices of faith. Then, and only then, does He promise that we will receive the divine response for which we long. Only once we have proven our willingness to do what He asks without demanding to know the whens, the whys, and the hows do we “reap the rewards of faith, and diligence, and patience, and long-suffering.” Real obedience accepts God’s commandments unconditionally and in advance.

What are some things we need to do in the gospel? The standard answers to every question in primary. So… who can help me? 

Examples:
PRAY
READ YOUR SCRIPTURES
GO TO CHURCH
ATTEND THE TEMPLE
PAY YOUR TITHING
FAST
HAVE FAMILY HOME EVENING
KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS

and my personal favourite, BE GOOD TO YOUR MOTHER haha

So let’s cover a few of them. I truly believe that by ensuring we do the little things, our lives will gain greater insight and purpose and we will draw closer to our father in heaven day by day.

PRAYER (ceramic children)
We all know what prayer is. It is our method of communication with our father in heaven. We can speak and he will listen. We can pour out the desires of our hearts, our gratitude for our blessings and draw closer to him.
Choose to converse with your Father in Heaven often. Make time every day to share your thoughts and feelings with Him. Tell Him everything that concerns you. He is interested in the most important as well as the most mundane facets of your life. Share with Him your full range of feelings and experiences.

Because He respects your agency, Father in Heaven will never force you to pray to Him. But as you exercise that agency and include Him in every aspect of your daily life, your heart will begin to fill with peace.

Parents, help safeguard your children by arming them morning and night with the power of family prayer. Children are bombarded every day with the evils of lust, greed, pride, and a host of other sinful behaviours. Protect your children from daily worldly influences by fortifying them with the powerful blessings that result from family prayer. Family prayer should be a nonnegotiable priority in your daily life.

READING 1:
On several occasions President Ezra Taft Benson shared the poem “Prayer,” by Eliza M. Hickok, with members of the Church. It is a poem he learned while he was in the Aaronic Priesthood:
I know not by what methods rare
But this I know, God answers prayer.
I know that He has given His Word,
Which tells me prayer is always heard,
And will be answered, soon or late.
And so I pray and calmly wait.
I know not if the blessing sought
Will come in just the way I thought;
But leave my prayers with Him alone,
Whose will is wiser than my own,
Assured that He will grant my quest,
Or send some answer far more blest.

And please remember sisters: If you are too busy to say your prayers and read your scriptures, you are busier than God ever intended you to be!

SCRIPTURE STUDY (scripture quad)
We are forever being reminded of the importance to daily study the scriptures. President Monson spoke just twice at the most recent General Conference, with his talks both being less than 4 minutes. He took the time however, to remind us of the importance of studying the scriptures, in particular, the Book of Mormon. What greater reminder could we possibly have, than one directly from our prophet?

READING 2:
“This morning I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives. The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated.
We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety. If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true—and I solemnly testify that it is—then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Because the Book of Mormon is true, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth, and the holy priesthood of God has been restored for the benefit and blessing of His children.
If you do not have a firm testimony of these things, do that which is necessary to obtain one. It is essential for you to have your own testimony in these difficult times, for the testimonies of others will carry you only so far. However, once obtained, a testimony needs to be kept vital and alive through continued obedience to the commandments of God and through daily prayer and scripture study.
My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.”

That was President Monsons entire talk. Pretty much sums it up!

Elder Richard G Scott spoke of it also in 2014, “Study the word of God in the scriptures and the words of the living prophets. We talk to God through prayer. He most often communicates back to us through His written word. To know what the voice of the Divine sounds and feels like, read His words, study the scriptures, and ponder them. Make them an integral part of everyday life. If you want your children to recognize, understand, and act on the promptings of the Spirit, you must study the scriptures with them.
Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!
There are many prophetic promises of the blessings of daily studying the scriptures. I add my voice with this promise: as you dedicate time every day, personally and with your family, to the study of God’s word, peace will prevail in your life. That peace won’t come from the outside world. It will come from within your home, from within your family, from within your own heart. It will be a gift of the Spirit. It will radiate out from you to influence others in the world around you. You will be doing something very significant to add to the cumulative peace in the world.”

GO TO CHURCH (Relief Society / Priesthood lesson manual)
This is pretty self explanatory. Church is not a museum for saints, it is a hospital for sinners. Go to church not for others, but for yourself. It enables us to renew our covenants each week by partaking of the sacrament and allows us to learn more of the gospel and the teachings of the Savior. If for any reason you cannot attend every week, go as often as you can. The Lord knows our hearts and understands our circumstances.

ATTEND THE TEMPLE (Framed temple pic and temple ornament)

READING 3
Go to the temple. We all know there is no more peaceful place on this earth than in the temples of God. If you don’t have a temple recommend, qualify to get one. When you have a recommend, use it often. Make it a goal to have a recommend at all times, even if you cannot make it to the temple for any reason.  Schedule a regular time to be in the temple, for example, once within each calendar month. Don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from being there.
While you are in the temple, listen to the words of the ordinances, ponder them, pray about them, and seek to understand their meaning. The temple is one of the best places to come to understand the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Seek Him there. Remember that many more blessings come from providing your own family names in the temple.

Raise your children to love the house of the Lord. Ensure they know where you are headed. Take them to the grounds so they also become familiar with the temple. My children love to be at the temple even though they know they cannot yet enter. One of the most wonderful experiences of my life was taking Madeline to visit the Salt Lake City Temple and watching her stare up at that amazing building with pure awe in her eyes. We regularly discuss the temple in Family Home Evening – and both of my children love to look at pictures of any of the temples around the world.

Elder Quentin L Cook said in his talk “See yourself in the temple”: Please know how earnestly we desire that everyone make any necessary changes to qualify for the temple. Prayerfully review where you are in your life, seek the guidance of the Spirit, and talk to your bishop about preparing yourself for the temple. President Thomas S. Monson has said, “There is no more important goal for you to work toward than being worthy to go to the temple.”

PAY AN HONEST TITHE (Jar of coins)
The basic purpose for tithing is to provide the Church with the means needed to carry on His work. The blessing to the giver is an ancillary return, and that blessing may not be always in the form of financial or material benefit. The scriptures tell us that by faithfully paying our tithing, “the very windows of heaven will be opened unto us, to pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

READING 4:
President Hinckley recalled an experience he had as a stake president during a talk he gave in 1982. A man whom I knew came to get his temple recommend signed. I questioned him in the usual way and asked, among other things, whether he was paying an honest tithing. He candidly replied that he was not, that he could not afford to because of his many debts. I felt impressed to tell him that he would not pay his debts until he paid his tithing.
He went along for a year or two in his normal way, and then made a decision. He talked about it some time later and he said: “What you told me has proved to be true. I felt I could not pay my tithing because of my debts. I discovered that no matter how hard I tried, somehow I could not manage to reduce my debt. Finally my wife and I sat down together and talked about it and concluded we would try the promise of the Lord. We have done so. And somehow in a way we can’t quite understand, the Lord has blessed us. We have not missed that which we have given to him, and for the first time in many years we are reducing our debt. We have come to the wisdom of budgeting our expenditures and of determining where our funds have been going. Because we now have a higher objective, we are able to curtail some of our appetites and desires. And above all of this, we feel we can now go to the house of the Lord with clear consciences as those deserving of this wonderful blessing.”

I can testify to the blessings that come from tithing. My husband and I certainly are not rich, but we have always had enough. I know it is from faithfully paying our tithing, even during hard times.

FAST (Empty Plate)
One Sunday each month Latter-day Saints observe a fast day. On this day we neither eat nor drink for two consecutive meals. If we were to eat our evening meal on Saturday, then we would not eat or drink until the evening meal on Sunday.

All members who are physically able should fast. When we fast each month, the Lord asks us to help those in need. One way we do this is by giving through the proper priesthood authority the money we would have spent on food for the two meals. We should give as generously as we are able. Through our fast offerings we become partners with the Lord in administering to the needs of our less-fortunate brothers and sisters.

Fasting can have many purposes. We can overcome weaknesses or problems by fasting and praying. Sometimes we may wish to fast and pray for help or guidance for others, such as a family member who is ill and needs a blessing. Through fasting we can come to know the truth of things.

One thing I recently learnt from the scriptures it is appropriate on occasion to use fasting to show gratitude. It is demonstrated in Alma 45:1
“Behold, now it came to pass that the people of Nephi were exceedingly rejoiced, because the Lord had again delivered them out of the hands of their enemies; therefore they gave thanks unto the Lord their God; yea, and they did fast much and pray much, and they did worship God with exceedingly great joy.”

How’s that?! I don’t know how keen I would be on fasting to show gratitude, but I certainly learnt something new!

HAVE FAMILY HOME EVENING (FHE lesson manual)
There are so many awful things in the world today, beating down our doors and trying to sneak their way in, to destroy our homes and families. To strengthen your family and cultivate peace, remember this tool: weekly family home evening. Be cautious not to make your family home evening just an afterthought of a busy day. Decide that on Monday night your family will be together at home for the evening. Do not let employment demands, sports, activities, homework, or anything else become more important than that time you spend together at home with your family. Again, remember the Lord knows our circumstances. If Monday night does not work for you, set aside another night that does!

READING 5:
The structure of your evening is not as important as the time invested. The gospel should be taught both formally and informally. Make it a meaningful experience for each member of the family. Family home evening is a precious time to bear testimony in a safe environment; to learn teaching, planning, and organizational skills; to strengthen family bonds; to develop family traditions; to talk to each other; and more important, to have a marvellous time together! Sister Linda S. Reeves boldly declared: “I must testify of the blessings of daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening. These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives, and add protection to our homes.”

KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS (chalkboard commandments)
There are 10 of them. Some rules and regulations if you will, that God gave us to make sure we are safe. I am sure you are familiar with them and if you’re not, maybe look them up tonight. It’s not that hard. I often like to refer back to something my Sunday School teacher in my teens said. They are called the 10 commandments for a reason. If God wasn’t that fussed over them, he would have called them the 10 suggestions.

I am not suggesting that all of life’s struggles will disappear as you do these things. We came to mortal life precisely to grow from trials and testing. Challenges help us become more like our Father in Heaven, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to endure those challenges. I testify that as we actively come unto Him, we can endure every temptation, every heartache, every challenge we face.

Sisters I urge you to do the simple things, so that the harder things become easier… and the difficulties in your lives seem bearable. Please do what you can, when you can and build yourself up as you follow the Saviour and fill your lives with light.

References:
Whatsoever He saith unto you do it (Elder L. Whitney Clayton)
See yourself in the temple (Elder Quentin L. Cook)
Tithing: An opportunity to prove our faithfulness (President Gordon B. Hinckley)
Make the exercise of faith your first priority (Elder Richard G. Scott)
Fasting (Gospel Principles Chapter 25)

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i think it went really well! here's hoping it helped someone other than me! ♥

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