The Book of Mormon–Keystone of Our Religion (Teachings of President Benson)

“The major mission of the Book of Mormon, as recorded on its title page, is “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” The honest seeker after truth can gain the testimony that Jesus is the Christ as he prayerfully ponders the inspired words of the Book of Mormon.”

“I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness” (Marion G. Romney, Ensign, May 1980, p. 67).

“We … should know the Book of Mormon better than any other book. Not only should we know what history and faith-promoting stories it contains, but we should understand its teachings. If we really do our homework and approach the Book of Mormon doctrinally, we can expose the errors and find the truths to combat many of the current false theories and philosophies of men.”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson. Chapter 9.

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The Power of the Word (Teachings of President Benson)

“The word of God, as found in the scriptures, in the words of living prophets, and in personal revelation, has the power to fortify the Saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life.”

“The Prophet Joseph Smith said that “the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (Book of Mormon, Introduction, italics added.) Isn’t that what we want for the members of our wards and stakes? Aren’t we desirous that they get nearer to God? Then encourage them in every way possible to immerse themselves in this marvelous latter-day witness of Christ.”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson.

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Our Savior and Redeemer (Teachings of President Benson)

“We may never understand nor comprehend in mortality how He accomplished what He did, but we must not fail to understand why He did what He did. Everything He did was prompted by His unselfish, infinite love for us.”

“Christ’s great gift to us was His life and sacrifice. Should that not then be our small gift to Him—our lives and sacrifices, not only now but in the future?”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson.

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Principle of True Repentance (Teachings of President Benson)

“Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which sincere and meaningful repentance must be built. If we truly seek to put away sin, we must first look to Him who is the Author of our salvation.”

“We must be careful, as we seek to become more and more godlike, that we do not become discouraged and lose hope. Becoming Christlike is a lifetime pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible…there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment.”

“My beloved brothers and sisters, as we seek to qualify to be members of Christ’s Church—members in the sense in which He uses the term, members who have repented and come unto Him—let us remember these six principles. First, the gospel is the Lord’s plan of happiness, and repentance is designed to bring us joy. Second, true repentance is based on and flows from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other way. Third, true repentance involves a change of heart and not just a change of behavior. Fourth, part of this mighty change of heart is to feel godly sorrow for our sins. This is what is meant by a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Fifth, God’s gifts are sufficient to help us overcome every sin and weakness if we will but turn to Him for help. Finally, we must remember that most repentance does not involve sensational or dramatic changes, but rather is a step-by-step, steady, and consistent movement toward godliness.”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson.

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Living Joyfully in Troubled Times (Teachings from President Benson)

“We have no cause to really worry. Live the gospel, keep the commandments. Attend to your prayers night and morning in your home. Maintain the standards of the Church. Try and live calmly and cheerfully. … Happiness must be earned from day to day. But it is worth the effort.”

“Be cheerful in all that you do. Live joyfully. Live happily. Live enthusiastically, knowing that God does not dwell in gloom and melancholy, but in light and love.”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson.

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Eternal Life-Knowing God (FHE plans and quotes from Elder Hales)

Lesson Plan

What are some gifts that you have received? (Children will likely mention toys, Lego, books, etc).

What is the greatest gift that you have ever received? We have all received the same greatest gift, and the answer is found in D&C 14:7.

“And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.”

The greatest gift is eternal life. What is eternal life? The answer is found in John 17:3.

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

Dad gave a great talk on this subject just a few weeks ago. He said “Life eternal is knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ. As we strive for eternal life we must strive for a knowledge of God. Even more, we must not only have a knowledge of Him but also truly know Him. The better we know Him the more we love Him. How can we fully love something we do not understand? How can we truly love someone we do not know? The more familiar we are with someone, the more we understand and love that person.” (Jared’s talk is here).

In October 2014, Elder Robert D. Hales spoke about eternal life and knowing Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Watch the first segment of Elder Hales talk (up to 3:33).

“My own testimony grew as I learned about Heavenly Father and the Savior from the teachings and testimony of my parents, teachers, the scriptures—which I read diligently—and especially the Holy Ghost. As I exercised faith and obeyed the commandments, the Holy Ghost testified that what I was learning was true. This is how I came to know for myself.”

Discuss ways that we can know God: study scriptures and the words of the prophets, love and serve others, meaningful prayers, etc.

Concluding remarks from Elder Hales:

“I testify that our Heavenly Father wants us to seek this knowledge now. The words of the prophet Helaman cry from the dust: “Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation … , a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”Indeed, we will not fail.

That sure foundation is Jesus Christ. He is “the Rock of Heaven.”When we build our house upon Him, the rains of the latter days may descend, the floods may come, and the winds may blow, but we will not fall. We will not fail, for our home and our family will be founded upon Christ.”

Further Study

“All of us need to know God more fully in order to love him more deeply and obey him more completely.” Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Grandeur of God”. October 2003 General Conference.

The March 2014 New Era magazine has a great explanation of John 17:3, including quotes from General Authorities.

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Pray Always (Teachings from President Benson)

“We need the sanctifying influence which comes from devotion in the home–prayer as a family.”

“The differences and irritations of the day melt away as families approach the throne of heaven together. Unity increases. The ties of love and affection are re-enforced and the peace of heaven enters.”

A poem that President Benson memorized as a young boy:

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.

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October 2014 General Conference: Key Messages by the Prophet and Apostles

In March I had an assignment to teach a Primary Sharing Time lesson about prophets and apostles. I wanted to prepare the children for the upcoming General Conference, so we spent some time talking about the apostles and some of their key messages from the previous conference. We didn’t get through all of them, but this is a good summary for more personal study.

President Monson: Ponder the Path of Thy Feet
The Savior’s example provides a framework for everything that we do, and His words provide an unfailing guide. His path will take us safely home.

Physically walking where Jesus walked is less important than walking as He walked.

President Monson (closing remarks): Until We Meet Again
May we be people of honesty and integrity, trying to do the right thing at all times and in all circumstances. May we be faithful followers of Christ, examples of righteousness, thus becoming “lights in the world.”

President Eyring: Continuing Revelation
Heavenly Father hears your prayers. He loves you. He knows your name. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and our Redeemer. He loves you beyond your ability to comprehend. God pours out revelation, through the Holy Ghost, on His children. He speaks to His prophet on the earth, who today is Thomas S. Monson. I witness that he holds and exercises all the keys of the priesthood on earth.

President Uchtdorf: Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth
But I suggest that this personal testimony of the gospel and the Church is the most important thing you can earn in this life. It will not only bless and guide you during this life, but it will also have a direct bearing on your life throughout eternity.

God cares about you. He will listen, and He will answer your personal questions. The answers to your prayers will come in His own way and in His own time, and therefore, you need to learn to listen to His voice. God wants you to find your way back to Him, and the Savior is the way. God wants you to learn of His Son, Jesus Christ, and experience the profound peace and joy that come from following the path of divine discipleship.

President Uchtdorf (priesthood session): “Lord, Is It I?”
May I suggest that the holy scriptures and the talks given at general conference are an effective mirror we can hold up for self-examination. As you hear or read the words of the ancient and modern prophets, refrain from thinking about how the words apply to someone else and ask the simple question: “Lord, is it I?”

President Packer: The Reason for Our Hope
If we seek to understand His Atonement, we will come to a deep reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ, His earthly ministry, and His divine mission as our Savior. “Through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved” (Articles of Faith 1:3).

Elder Perry: Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families
The gospel of our Lord and Savior provides a sure and solid foundation.

Jesus is the great Exemplar. The only way to find lasting peace is to look to Him and live.

Helaman 5:12

Elder Nelson: Sustaining the prophets
A prophet has stood at the head of God’s Church in all dispensations, from Adam to the present day. Prophets testify of Jesus Christ–of His divinity and of His earthly mission and ministry. We honor the Prophet Joseph Smith as the prophet of this last dispensation. And we honor each man who has succeeded him as President of the Church.

The living Lord leads His living Church! The Lord reveals His will for the Church to His prophet.

Elder Oaks: Loving Others and Living with Differences
We challenge all youth to avoid bullying, insults, or language and practices that deliberately inflict pain on others.

Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable.

Elder Ballard: Stay in the Boat and Hold On!
The words of the Lord are found in the scriptures and the teachings of the apostles and prophets. They provide us counsel and direction that, when followed, will act like a spiritual life jacket and will help us know how to hold on with both hands.

We should focus on studying, living, and loving the doctrine of Christ.

Elder Scott: Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority
Our Father in Heaven has given us tools to help us come unto Christ and exercise faith in His Atonement:
1) Prayer: Family prayer should be a nonnegotiable priority in your daily life.
2) Scripture study: 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!
3) Family home evening: 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 marvelous time together!
4) Temple attendance: Schedule a regular time to be in the temple. Don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from being there.

Elder Hales: Eternal Life—to Know Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ
My own testimony grew as I learned about Heavenly Father and the Savior from the teachings and testimony of my parents, teachers, the scriptures–which I read diligently–and especially the Holy Ghost. As I exercised faith and obeyed the commandments, the Holy Ghost testified that what I was learning was true. This is how I came to know for myself.

Helaman 5:12

Elder Holland: Are We Not All Beggars?
She hath done what she could. (Think of mother Teresa or the widows mite)

I pay a personal tribute to President Thomas Spencer Monson. I have been blessed by an association with this man for 47 years now, and the image of him I will cherish until I die is of him flying home from then–economically devastated East Germany in his house slippers because he had given away not only his second suit and his extra shirts but the very shoes from off his feet. “How beautiful upon the mountains [and shuffling through an airline terminal] are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.” More than any man I know, President Monson has “done all he could” for the widow and the fatherless, the poor and the oppressed.

Elder Bednar: Come and See
Devoted disciples of Jesus Christ always have been and always will be valiant missionaries. A missionary is a follower of Christ who testifies of Him as the Redeemer and proclaims the truths of His gospel.
The Church of Jesus Christ always has been and always will be a missionary church. The individual members of the Savior’s Church have accepted the solemn obligation to assist in fulfilling the divine commission given by the Lord to His Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament.

Elder Cook: Choose Wisely
I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness.21 We must not take our eyes off or drop that ball for any reason.

Elder Christofferson: Free Forever, to Act for Themselves
I know that beyond desiring His help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God for Him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. My plea is simply to take responsibility and go to work so that there is something for God to help us with.

Elder Andersen: Joseph Smith
Each believer needs a spiritual confirmation of the divine mission and character of the Prophet Joseph Smith. This is true for every generation. Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers from God.

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Strengthening and Defending the Family (Highlights from the April 2015 General Women’s Session)

The April 2015 General Women’s Session was such an inspiring meeting. As a wife and mother, I especially appreciated the focus on strengthening and defending the family, since this is something I think about and pray about everyday. After re-reading the talks, here are the quotes that stood out to me.

Cheryl A. Esplin “Filling Our Homes with Light and Truth”.

“When filled with the Spirit and with gospel truth, we have the power to withstand the outside forces of the world that surround and push against us.”

Families are the Lord’s workshop on earth to help us learn and live the gospel. We come into our families with a sacred duty to help strengthen each other spiritually. Strong eternal families and Spirit-filled homes do not just happen. They take great effort, they take time, and they take each member of the family doing his or her part.”

“The answers to our prayers may not come dramatically, but we must find quiet moments to seek greater light and truth.”

Carole M. Stephens, “The Family is of God”.

“As we use our time in mortality to study and apply the Savior’s teachings, we become more like Him. We come to understand that He is the way—the only way—we can overcome mortal challenges, be healed, and return back to our heavenly home.”

Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Defenders of the Family Proclamation.”

“The proclamation on the family has become our benchmark for judging the philosophies of the world”.

“We need to boldly defend the Lord’s revealed doctrines describing marriage, families, the divine roles of men and women, and the importance of homes as sacred places…If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan!”

“We eagerly teach our children to aim high in this life. We want to make sure that our daughters know that they have the potential to achieve and be whatever they can imagine…Do we also teach our sons and daughters there is no greater honor, no more elevated title, and no more important role in this life than that of mother or father?”

“We need to take a term which is sometimes spoken of with derision and elevate it. It is the term homemaker. All of us—women, men, youth, and children, single or married—can work at being homemakers. We should “make our homes” places of order, refuge, holiness, and safety. Our homes should be places where the Spirit of the Lord is felt in rich abundance and where the scriptures and the gospel are studied, taught, and lived. What a difference it would make in the world if all people would see themselves as makers of righteous homes. Let us defend the home as a place which is second only to the temple in holiness.”

President Monson (from the video):”The home is the basis of a righteous life.”

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We talk of Christ (FHE plans and quotes from President Packer and Elder Christofferson)

Our family theme this year centers on Jesus Christ as our foundation. Teaching about Jesus Christ is the essential family curriculum! I want to introduce my children to one of my favorite scriptures, so tonight’s lesson is built around this verse:

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).c53e03b589db4bc6da442f2d6bed4b27

Lesson Plan

Read 2 Nephi 25:26. Remind the children that everything we do in the gospel is designed to bring us closer to Jesus Christ. Prophets in all time periods have always testified of Christ (we talked about this in Primary yesterday). It is important for us to learn about Jesus, about his life, his miracles, and his teachings. That is why read scripture stories as a family.

Ask the children: what are some of your favorite stories about Jesus Christ?

At the last session of General Conference, President Packer and Elder Christofferson both spoke about Jesus Christ and his atonement. I plan to have my children color a picture of Jesus Christ while we discuss as much of the talks as we can! Below are the points that especially stood out to me:

President Packer

“Those who will repent and forsake sin will find that His merciful arm is outstretched still. Those who listen to and heed His words and the words of His chosen servants will find peace and understanding even in the midst of great heartache and sorrow. The result of His sacrifice is to free us from the effects of sin, that all may have guilt erased and feel hope.

Had He not accomplished the Atonement, there would be no redemption. It would be a difficult world to live in if we could never be forgiven for our mistakes, if we could never purify ourselves and move on.

The mercy and grace of Jesus Christ are not limited to those who commit sins either of commission or omission, but they encompass the promise of everlasting peace to all who will accept and follow Him and His teachings. His mercy is the mighty healer, even to the wounded innocent.”

“If we seek to understand His Atonement, we will come to a deep reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ, His earthly ministry, and His divine mission as our Savior.”

“The true success of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be measured by the spiritual strength of its individual members. We need the strength of conviction that is found in the heart of every loyal disciple of Christ.”

“As one of the Twelve Apostles, I bear witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. He lives. He is our Redeemer and our Savior. “Through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved” (Articles of Faith 1:3). He presides over this Church. He is no stranger to His servants. As we move into the future with quiet confidence, His Spirit will be with us. There is no end to His power to bless and direct the lives of those who seek truth and righteousness. I bear witness of Him in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” (source)

Elder Christofferson

“The gospel of Jesus Christ opens the path to what we may become.”

“Divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience. But I know that beyond desiring His help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God for Him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. My plea is simply to take responsibility and go to work so that there is something for God to help us with.” (source)

Further Reading

Neil L. Anderson, “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus”.

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