Saturday, 25 March 2017

How can the Savior help me during my trials?

Matthew 11:28–30Philippians 4:131 Nephi 17:3Helaman 5:12D&C 19:2368:6 (Jesus Christ can give us strength and ease our burdens)
Mosiah 23:21–2224:8–17 (The Lord strengthens the people of Alma to help them bear their burdens)
Isaiah 53:3–5Alma 7:11–13 (Jesus Christ understands our suffering because He experienced it)
Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 81–84
W. Christopher Waddell, “A Pattern for Peace,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 90–92
Neill F. Marriott, “Yielding Our Hearts to God,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 30–32
Dallin H. Oaks, “Strengthened by the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 61–64
Adversity,” True to the Faith (2004), 8–11
Music for youth theme: “Lay it Down

Saturday, 11 March 2017

What is Grace?

"Brothers and sisters, all the Lord expects of us is to try, but you have to really try!" --President Hinckley

Grace: The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.

It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by His atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.
Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the Fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23). It is truly the grace of Jesus Christ that makes salvation possible. 
A Woman in a Pit
Think of a woman in the bottom of a pit. At the top, is a friend with a ladder, lowering it to her friend. What is required in order for the woman in the pit to be saved? What is the role of her friend? What is the role of the woman in the bottom of the pit? Think about the Savior as the person at the top, and us at the bottom. How does that teach us about Grace?

What do you know about Grace?
What do you think grace means to you?
How do you see it in your life?
Do you believe in grace?
What are your questions about grace?

Grace in your life
How do you see grace in your life?
Think of examples from the scriptures. Who received grace from God in these stories? (Nephi, Ammon, Alma the Younger.)

What if I'm not Good enough?
Think of this example from brother Cornish:

Through a series of tender mercies as a young doctor coming out of medical school, I was accepted for pediatric residency training in a high-powered, competitive program. When I met the other interns, I felt like the least intelligent and least prepared of all. I thought there was no way I could measure up to the rest of the group.
Early in our third month, I was sitting in the nurse’s station in the hospital late one night, alternately sobbing to myself and falling asleep as I tried to write the admission orders for a small boy with pneumonia. I had never felt so discouraged in my life. I didn’t have any idea how to treat pneumonia in a 10-year-old. I began to wonder what I was doing there.
Just at that moment, one of the senior residents put his hand on my shoulder. He asked me how I was doing, and I poured out my frustrations and fears. His response changed my life. He told me how proud he and all of the other senior residents were of me and how they felt like I was going to be an excellent doctor. In short, he believed in me at a time when I didn’t even believe in myself.
As with my own experience, our members often ask, “Am I good enough as a person?” or “Will I really make it to the celestial kingdom?” Of course, there is no such thing as “being good enough.” None of us could ever “earn” or “deserve” our salvation, but it is normal to wonder if we are acceptable before the Lord, which is how I understand these questions.
Sometimes when we attend church, we become discouraged even by sincere invitations to improve ourselves. We think silently, “I can’t do all these things” or “I will never be as good as all these people.” Perhaps we feel much the same as I did in the hospital that night.
Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others. If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick.
The Atonement
The Savior’s Atonement cannot become commonplace in our teaching, in our conversation, or in our hearts. It is sacred and holy, for it was through this “great and last sacrifice” that Jesus the Christ brought “salvation to all those who shall believe on his name.”
--President Uchtdorf

Ephesians 2:8–92 Nephi 25:23 (By grace we are saved)
Philippians 4:13Jacob 4:6–7 (The grace of Jesus Christ gives us strength)
Moroni 10:32–33 (Grace can make us perfect in Christ)
Bible Dictionary, “Grace
J. Devn Cornish, “Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 32–34
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Gift of Grace,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 107–10
David A. Bednar, “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 87–90
Grace,” True to the Faith (2004), 77–78

Saturday, 25 February 2017

What is the Purpose of Life?

Consider this story about an Olympian, from Bishop Gary E. Stevenson's talk in April 2014:

I speak of these games this morning directing my thoughts to young men, young women, and young single adults—you who are in your critical years which set the course for your life. I feel a great sense of urgency in addressing you.
For you to feel that urgency, I first share the story of Noelle Pikus-Pace, one of those Latter-day Saint athletes. In Noelle’s event, the skeleton, athletes build momentum as they sprint and then plunge headfirst on a small sled. With their faces inches above the ground, they race down a winding, icy track at speeds that top 90 miles (145 km) an hour.
Remarkably, years of preparation would be considered either a success or a disappointment based on what happened in the space of four intense 60-second runs.
Noelle’s previous 2006 Olympic dreams were dashed when a terrible accident left her with a broken leg. In the 2010 Olympics her dreams fell short again when just over one-tenth of a second kept her from the medal stand.2
Can you imagine the anxiety she felt as she waited to begin her first run in the 2014 Olympics? Years of preparation would culminate in only a sliver of time. Four minutes total. She spent years preparing for those four minutes and would spend a lifetime afterward reflecting on them.
Noelle’s final runs were virtually flawless! We will never forget her leap into the stands to embrace her family after crossing the finish line, exclaiming, “We did it!” Years of preparation had paid off. We saw her Young Women medallion around her neck as the silver medal was placed there beside it.3
It may seem unfair that Noelle’s entire Olympic dreams hinged on what she did during just four brief minutes. But she knew it, and that is why she prepared so diligently. She sensed the magnitude, the urgency of her four minutes, and what they would mean for the rest of her life.
Now, consider how your pathway to eternal life is similar to these athletes’ “four-minute performance.” You are an eternal being. Before you were born, you existed as a spirit. In the presence of a loving Heavenly Father, you trained and prepared to come to earth for a brief moment and, well, perform. This life is your four minutes. While you are here, your actions will determine whether you win the prize of eternal life. The prophet Amulek described, “This life is the time … to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day … to perform [your] labors.”5

What is our purpose in life?
2 Nephi 2:24: TO HAVE JOY!

How do we have joy in this life?
What makes you the happiest?
Think about our lesson last week--how do our bodies enable us to have joy?

How do our trials bring us joy?
President Uchtdorf:
For a moment, think back about your favorite fairy tale. In that story the main character may be a princess or a peasant; she might be a mermaid or a milkmaid, a ruler or a servant. You will find one thing all have in common: they must overcome adversity.
Cinderella has to endure her wicked stepmother and evil stepsisters. She is compelled to suffer long hours of servitude and ridicule.
In “Beauty and the Beast,” Belle becomes a captive to a frightful-looking beast in order to save her father. She sacrifices her home and family, all she holds dear, to spend several months in the beast’s castle.
In the tale “Rumpelstiltskin,” a poor miller promises the king that his daughter can spin straw into gold. The king immediately sends for her and locks her in a room with a mound of straw and a spinning wheel. Later in the story she faces the danger of losing her firstborn child unless she can guess the name of the magical creature who helped her in this impossible task.
In each of these stories, Cinderella, Belle, and the miller’s daughter have to experience sadness and trial before they can reach their “happily ever after.” Think about it. Has there ever been a person who did not have to go through his or her own dark valley of temptation, trial, and sorrow?
Sandwiched between their “once upon a time” and “happily ever after,” they all had to experience great adversity. Why must all experience sadness and tragedy? Why could we not simply live in bliss and peace, each day filled with wonder, joy, and love?

2 Nephi 2:25 (We were created to have joy)
Alma 12:2434:3242:4Abraham 3:25–26 (This life is a time to be tested and prepare to meet God)
3 Nephi 12:3–12 (The Savior names several godlike attributes)
3 Nephi 12:48 (Heavenly Father wants us to become perfect as He is)
D&C 138:53–56 (We are here to help build God’s kingdom)
The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129
Thomas S. Monson, “The Race of Life,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 90–93
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Your Happily Ever After,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 124–27
Gary E. Stevenson, “Your Four Minutes,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 84–86
Plan of Salvation,” True to the Faith (2004), 115–16

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Why Should I Treat My Body Like a Temple?

Our bodies are in the image of God! But why is it so important that we have a body?

"Have we ever really considered why having a physical body is so important? Now, I know we can all say the right words when answering the question about why we are here on the earth, but do we really understand why a body is so central to the Father’s plan of happiness? Do we perhaps recite this answer so frequently and routinely that we fail to recognize its true importance?"

1. It's an essential step in becoming like Heavenly Father
2. Our bodies give us the ability to create
3. Our bodies allow us to be tested

--Elder Bednar

Modesty in Thought and Deed

What does it mean to be modest?

Why should you be modest?

How does being modest make you happy?

What does Chastity have to do with my body being a Temple of God?

Taking Care of Your Body

What can you do to take care of your body?

Why is it important?
* "In the premortal realm we learned that the body was part of God’s great plan of happiness for us. As it states in the family proclamation: “Spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life”
--Sister Susan Tanner

Do it for Yourself and Others
Do it for you! You are happier when your body is healthy and taken care of.

Do it for those you love. Think about how you feel when someone you love doesn't care for their body. How do you think Heavenly Father feels?

Do it for Heavenly Father. Your body is a gift from Him. One of the greatest of His gifts!

In the end....
What would happen if we truly treated our bodies as temples? The result would be a dramatic increase in chastity, modesty, observance of the Word of Wisdom, and a similar decrease in the problems of pornography and abuse, for we would regard the body, like the temple, as a sacred sanctuary of the Spirit. Just as no unclean thing may enter the temple, we would be vigilant to keep impurity of any sort from entering the temple of our bodies.

Likewise, we would keep the outside of our bodily temples looking clean and beautiful to reflect the sacred and holy nature of what is inside, just as the Church does with its temples. We should dress and act in ways that reflect the sacred spirit inside us.
--Sister Tanner

Genesis 39:1–21Daniel 1:3–21 (Joseph and Daniel show respect for their bodies)
1 Corinthians 6:19–20D&C 93:33–35 (We are the temple of God)
D&C 88:15–16 (The spirit and body are the soul of man)
D&C 130:22Moses 6:9 (We are created in the image of God)
Gordon B. Hinckley, “Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2000, 50–53
David A. Bednar, “Ye Are the Temple of God,” Ensign, Sept. 2001, 18
Susan W. Tanner, “The Sanctity of the Body,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 13–15
Virtue,” Young Women Personal Progress (2009), 69–72

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Previous Week Continued--focused on Prayer

Why do we Pray?
Make sure you check out the article in the New Era this month!  It's fabulous, and talks about the 5 Promises of Prayer. 
1. Strength to Overcome
2. Knowledge and Guidance
3. Forgiveness
4. Desire to Do the Lord's Will
5. Peace

To better understand prayer, I have listened to the counsel of others, pondered the scriptures, and studied the lives of prophets and others. Yet what seems most helpful is seeing in my mind a child approaching trustingly a loving, kind, wise, understanding Father, who wants us to succeed.

How do you get answers to your prayers?
I have discovered that what sometimes seems an impenetrable barrier to communication is a giant step to be taken in trust. Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time, in packets, so that you will grow in capacity. As each piece is followed in faith, you will be led to other portions until you have the whole answer. That pattern requires you to exercise faith in our Father’s capacity to respond. While sometimes it’s very hard, it results in significant personal growth.

Some misunderstandings about prayer can be clarified by realizing that the scriptures define principles for effective prayer, but they do not assure when a response will be given. Actually, He will reply in one of three ways. First, you can feel the peace, comfort, and assurance that confirm that your decision is right. Or second, you can sense that unsettled feeling, the stupor of thought, indicating that your choice is wrong. Or third—and this is the difficult one—you can feel no response.
--Elder Scott, Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer

What if you don't get an answer?
Sometimes we seem to get no answer to our sincere and striving prayers. It takes faith to remember that the Lord answers in His time and in His way so as to best bless us. Or, on further reflection, we will often realize that we already know full well what we should do.
Please do not be discouraged if this does not work for you all at once. Like learning a foreign language, it takes practice and effort. Please know, though, that you can learn the language of the Spirit, and when you do, it will give you great faith and power in righteousness.
--Elder Cornish, the Privilege of Prayer

We must not imagine that any kind of prayer, no matter how sincere, will be very effective if all we do is to say the prayer. We must not only say our prayers; we must also live them. The Lord is much more pleased with the person who prays and then goes to work than with the person who only prays. Much like medicine, prayer works only when we use it as directed.
--Elder Cornish, the Privilege of Prayer

Saturday, 14 January 2017

How Can I Know My Heavenly Father?

We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us and wants us to draw near to Him.

How does Heavenly Father feel about us?
Think about the father that came to talk to you. How did he feel about his children? How do you think that compares to our Heavenly Father?

Why should we get to know Heavenly Father?
Actually, because He knows how desperately we need His guidance, He commands, “Thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private.”1
It matters not our circumstance, be we humble or arrogant, poor or rich, free or enslaved, learned or ignorant, loved or forsaken, we can address Him. We need no appointment. Our supplication can be brief or can occupy all the time needed. It can be an extended expression of love and gratitude or an urgent plea for help. He has created numberless cosmos and populated them with worlds, yet you and I can talk with Him personally, and He will ever answer.
--Elder Scott, 2007 Talk (see below)
How do we get to know Heavenly Father?
By learning about Him. We can do this through the scriptures and through the words of the Living Prophets. When we learn about Jesus Christ, it is like learning about Heavenly Father. How do you feel about that? What do you think the main difference is?

The best way to learn about Heavenly Father is to pray. Knowing "about" someone is not the same as "knowing" them. It's a good start, but not the end.

What tools has Heavenly Father given us to draw closer to him?

  1. Prayer
  2. Scriptures
  3. The Prophets and Apostles
  4. Friends and Family who know Him

John 17:3 (The importance of knowing Heavenly Father)
1 John 2:3–54:7–8Enos 1:1–7Mosiah 4:9–125:13D&C 88:63–6593:1 (How we come to know Heavenly Father)
D. Todd Christofferson, “Abide in My Love,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 48–51
Richard G. Scott, “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 8–11
Robert D. Hales, “Seeking to Know God, Our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 29–32

Individual Worth #1

Sunday, 18 December 2016

What is Zion?

The Lord commands us to "seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion" (D&C 6:6). Zion refers to the Lord's people who are of one heart and one mind and dwell together in righteousness. We can establish Zion by building unity and spiritual strength in our homes, wards or branches, and communities.

What are some words that come to mind when you think about Zion?

What does it mean that "Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion"? (Moses 7:69)
Do you think they literally walked with God?
How can we walk with God in our daily lives?
* Reading our scriptures
* serving others
* praying daily
* being a missionary
* being kind
* thinking of others first

How do we flee Babylon and come to Zion?
He called for the elders of His Church to be sent forth across the world to accomplish this gathering, commencing an effort that continues in full vigor today. “And behold, and lo, this shall be their cry, and the voice of the Lord unto all people: Go ye forth unto the land of Zion, that the borders of my people may be enlarged, and that her stakes may be strengthened, and that Zion may go forth unto the regions round about” (D&C 133:9). --Elder Christofferson

How can we build Zion in our Ward? In our Family? In our YW?
Caring for the Poor

After Christ came, the Nephites and Lamanites had a Zion-like community for a long time. In 4 Nephi 1:1-18, it describes this community. What was it like?

Personal Progress: Divine Nature #3--strengthen a relationship with a family member or friend

Mosiah 18:21D&C 38:26–27 (We should seek unity)
1 Nephi 13:37D&C 6:6 (Seek to bring forth Zion)
4 Nephi 1:1–18 (The Nephites and Lamanites live together in a Zion-like state)
D&C 97:21Moses 7:18 (What is Zion?)
Henry B. Eyring, “Our Hearts Knit as One,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 68–71
D. Todd Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 37–40
Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Sisterhood: Oh, How We Need Each Other,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 119–121
Zion,” True to the Faith (2004), 189–90
As Sisters in Zion, Hymns, no. 309