Sunday, April 19, 2015

Youth Lesson - What does Joseph Smith’s example teach me about learning the gospel? - April 2015

Is there anything we have talked about in past weeks that I didn’t explain well that you have questions about?

What have you learned in personal gospel study this week?

Have you had any interesting gospel conversations with friends or family this week?

What do prophet’s example teach me about learning the gospel?

We look to the examples of prophets and apostles to teach us things. Prophets in the scriptures like Adam, Moses Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Peter, Paul, Nephi, and Moroni. Also modern day prophets like Joseph Smith and Thomas S Monson.

Even though we look to these examples, we must know for ourselves.

Who were the 2000 stripling warriors?  How did they know for themselves that God would protect them?  “We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”(Alma 56:48)

How did Alma find out for himself that God was real?
45 And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
46 Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

What were the desires of Nephi?
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.

How does James tell us to find out for ourselves?

This was how Joseph Smith learned for himself what the truth was.  He pondered the scriptures...and he likened them to himself.

Hymn 26 - Joseph Smith’s First Prayer

What Is a Testimony

We often hear members of the Church say that their testimony of the gospel is their most prized possession. It is a sacred gift from God that comes to us by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is the calm, unwavering certainty we receive as we study, pray, and live the gospel. It is the feeling of the Holy Ghost bearing witness to our souls that what we are learning and doing is right.
Some people speak of a testimony as if it were a light switch—it’s either on or off; you either have a testimony, or you do not. In reality, a testimony is more like a tree that passes through various stages of growth and development. Some of the tallest trees on earth are found in Redwood National Park in the western United States. When you stand at the base of these massive trees, it is amazing to think that each one grew from a tiny seed. So it is with our testimonies. Although they may begin with a single spiritual experience, they grow and develop over time through constant nourishment and frequent spiritual encounters.
It’s not surprising, then, that when the prophet Alma explained how we develop a testimony, he spoke of a seed growing into a tree. “If ye give place,” he said, “that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, … it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.”12
This is often how a testimony begins: with sacred, enlightening, assuring feelings that demonstrate to us that the word of God is true. However, as wonderful as these feelings are, they are only the beginning. Your work to grow your testimony is not done—any more than the work of growing a redwood tree is done when the first tiny sprout pokes out of the ground. If we ignore or neglect these early spiritual promptings, if we do not nurture them by continuing to study the scriptures and pray and by seeking more experiences with the Spirit, our feelings will fade and our testimonies will diminish.
As Alma put it: “If ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.”13
In most cases, our testimonies will grow the same way a tree grows: gradually, almost imperceptibly, as a result of our constant care and diligent efforts. “But if ye will nourish the word,” Alma promised, “yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.”14