I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks, feeling like I had lost my way in scripture study and the blog. But I’m recommitting to daily study and weekly posting! My family needs this spiritual boost every day, and I need it to stay sane, be a halfway decent parent, and keep myself focused on spiritual things. Sometimes we lose our way and think that’s it, there’s no going back. But the Gospel teaches us that every day––every moment of every day––we can start fresh. Seeking forgiveness and help through the Savior’s Atonement allows us to find our way back to God and the path He wants us to walk.
Last week I intended to post some ideas for teaching children specific principles from the Sermon on the Mount. Here they are:
- Matthew 6:6, 17-18 One central idea I took from these verses was the need to not seek recognition for good things we do. We don’t need praise to justify good deeds or righteous choices…we just do/make them. Secret service can be a lot of fun for families to do together. Select one or more individuals or families and identify one way your family could serve each. Perform the service secretly and/or anonymously.
- Matthew 6:22-23 “[I]f therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” Make two large eyes, one from dark (opaque) construction paper, one from vellum or another translucent but sturdy paper. On the opaque eye with the help of your children write a list of bad choices within the realm of their understanding. Hold a light behind the opaque eye. Can you see any light? Can that light illuminate anything through the eye? Make a similar list on the translucent eye but of good choices (e.g. praying daily, sharing, attending church as a family). Repeat the exercise with the light. Read the scripture and discuss.
- Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it shall be given you.” Have a child stand on one side of a door and you on the other. Tell your child the goal is to reenter the room where you are but without pushing the door/turning the knob. Once s/he has figured out knocking and asking, invite her/him into the room and share the scripture. My girls did the object lesson at the same time and worked through the dilemma together. I testified that God hears their prayers and will answer them. Understanding that God does hear our prayers and questions, and will provide answers establishes an important foundation for additional Gospel understanding. For example, today we revisited Matthew 7:7 while talking about Joseph Smith and the First Vision.
Best of luck this week as you work on Matthew 8-9 and Mark 2-5!
Through Jesus Christ we can be transformed.
Change and transformation are two of my favorite Gospel topics. I find it so compelling that a person can identify character traits, desires, behaviors and more that they want to refine or change and become a new, better person. The source of the power that effects those changes? Jesus Christ.
This morning I retold the story of the marriage feast at Cana (John 2:1-11, NT). My kids could understand how special the occasion was and that running out of wine was a big problem. Thinking ahead, I had poured a glass of apple cider and hidden it on my counter. As I told my kids how Jesus’ mother instructed the servant to “do whatever he tells you,” I pulled a matching glass out of my cupboard and filled it with water to illustrate Jesus’ instructions. I turned my back to the kids while describing the instructions to fill a cup and take it to the governor of the feast. I poured some of the water into my pre-filled glass of cider. Swapping the glasses, I handed the apple cider to one of my kids and asked her what her drink tasted like. Apple cider!
We talked about Jesus’ divinity and how he could transform water into the best wine. The kids had good thoughts to share about Jesus’ power to create, change things, and transform them. I testified of His power to transform us if we will identify those parts of our lives we want to change and seek His help.
2 Nephi 21:1-5
This prophecy of Jesus Christ describes just some of the attributes that define His divine nature. Wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of God (respect and obedience) are all hallmarks of a righteous character.
The defining of Christ by what He is not in verse three invites a comparison between divine nature and mortal conditions. The five senses define mortality’s obvious means of interacting with the physical world, gathering information, and more. Indeed humans rely on the five senses as necessary and indispensable to gaining knowledge and making judgments about the world around us.
But Christ “shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears” (v. 3, emphasis added). Rather than relying on the standard mortal means of observing, knowing, and judging, Christ relies on His divine characteristics.
This suggests to me that mortal means of seeing and hearing are not fully sufficient to comprehend truth nor to make the best judgments. Luckily for us humans, we can access the divine part of ourselves and further foster Christ’s divine attributes in order to “see,” “hear,” and understand truth. Righteous judgment requires godliness—the divine parts of ourselves coupled with refined, godly characteristics.