Sunday, October 19, 2008

Am I prepared to attend Sunday School?

I think that this is a topic that does deserve a little bit of our attention. As a Stake Sunday School our main goal is for each individual to have a spiritual experience each time they attend a Sunday School meeting. I know that this is a lofty goal and a little hard to measure, but that is a topic for another time. As members of the Church, are we preparing ourselves for the Spirit to have influence during our meetings?

Certainly you will not hear any argument on the importance of teaching by the Spirit from either myself or my counselors. I believe that we all know and understand how important it is to have that guiding influence and to listen to it as we prepare and teach lessons. However, we often overlook the importance of receiving by the Spirit. As members of the Sunday School classes that is our responsibility. The way that we prepare ourselves prior to entering those meetings can make a big difference on how we receive the Spirit and how well we receive the message.

In October 2006 at General Conference, A. Roger Merrill, the Sunday School General President spoke about this topic. I feel that it bears noting and that it bears another look at his talk. I will include the link following my own comments.

The Lord has told us on many occasions that we need "Ask, and ye shall receive." According to President Boyd K. Packer,"No message appears in scripture more times, in more ways than, 'Ask, and ye shall receive' " ("Reverence Invites Revelation," Ensign, Nov. 1991, 21). Are we following that advice. When we pick up our scriptures, do we spend a few moments on our knees that we may understand the message that our Father has for us? Or are we merely reading our ten minutes or so and closing the book? Do we take the time to discuss the scriptures with our family, to discuss how those verses apply to our lives at that very moment or in the not to distant future?

President A. Roger Merrill had this to say during his talk, "In our Church meetings, in our personal and family scripture study, and even this day as we listen to the Lord's prophets and apostles, some of us will receive more than others. Why? I am learning that those who truly receive do at least three things that others may not do."

What is it that they do. President Merrill suggests that they first seek the word of God. In this world where everything is at our fingertips over the internet or the television we can sometimes find ourselves to have an attitude of spiritual passiveness. We expect some great revelation to be given to us without doing the necessary work to receive it. Oliver Cowdery received this direction from the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith, "But behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right (Doctrine & Covenants 9:8)." We, like Oliver, need to remember that we first need to seek an understanding and ask the Lord in faith that we may receive the revelations that are held for us within the words of the scriptures and the prophets.

Second, those who receive, feel. If our desire is there, if we truly are seeking further knowledge, truth and light, we will feel the answers to our prayers, the answers to our questions, the revelations that the Lord has in store for us. It may not be the exact answer that another member receives as we may be in a different state at the time. The revelation that we receive will be what we need to continue our journey forward on the "straight and narrow path" that will lead us to exultation. 

Third, those who receive by the Spirit intend to act. I think that James said it well, when he said that "faith without works is dead." Truer words have probably never been spoken. We are saved by the mercy of our Savior only after all we can do. We must be prepared to act upon the inspirations that we receive. If we are not willing to change our ways, to have a change of heart, "that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually" (Alma 5:2), then we will not receive as much of the message as those who are willing to make that change.

I hope and pray that we will prepare ourselves that we may hear the word of God in our Sunday School lessons as we study the scriptures and participate in the lessons taught each week. I testify that you do prepare to hear that message, if you study the scriptures outlined for that lesson, that you will find a message contained just for you to help you through your trials at that time. I testify that we can each have a spiritual experience each and every sunday as we attend our classes. In the name of my beloved Savior, even Jesus Christ, amen.

President A. Roger Merrill, Receiving By The Spirit link

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Everyone is a teacher.

"Every member of the Church teaches for virtually his whole lifetime."
-Elder Boyd K. Packer

We are constantly teaching, whether it be in the home with our children, at church in classes, in the home of other members as we fulfill home and visiting teaching duties, or as we visit those who are not of our faith. We teach by example and by word. It is for this reason that we have a Teaching the Gospel course of study. If it is properly utilized and taught, it can and will make better teachers of us all. It will help us in daily meetings with co-workers as well as within the classrooms of Church.