We have children from ages three to twenty-one living in our home. We do different things with the younger children than we do with the older children. Most of the teenagers and young adults know the stories of the Book of Mormon. They are most interested in understanding the truth, seeing the patterns of God, and learning to apply these principles in their life. They are interested in the outcome of living God's laws.
We constantly shift and change things to fit our family's schedule, but what works for us right now is to get up and have family scripture study from 5:00-5:30 a.m. Kids start leaving the home at 5:30 a.m., and all of them are finally home again at 9:30 p.m.
Morning scripture study is not required. If they want to come, they need to set an alarm and show up. All of our children are not interested in studying the scriptures. We have found it is not fun to have children at family scripture study who don't want to be there, so they sleep while the interested ones make the effort to come. The little children are also asleep at this time and not making noise.
While everyone is gathering, we pass off the scriptures we've been memorizing. Most of us are following the Memorize For Life formula, so we always have something to pass off. This just takes a couple minutes each day.
Our teenagers aren't interested in creating a Book of Mormon scrapbook like the little children. Instead, each one has a simple spiral notebook where they can take notes, ask questions, and write down other helpful references. Sometimes we study by chapter, sometimes we study by topic. This week we are studying Alma 17. We usually only get through two to three verses a day, but I find myself learning new things every day.
We ask a lot of questions. It doesn't matter if we have answers to all of the questions; we still write them down. We get to think about our questions during the day and listen to the voice of God as He teaches us and gives us greater understanding. This process requires us to ask, seek, and knock.
Here are a some of the things we talked about on Monday and Tuesday.
1 And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla.
2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
3 But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God. Alma 17
What's the purpose of fasting? Why do we fast? What is fasting? Fasting sometimes means going without food and water, but is this its only meaning? “Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.”D&C 50:14 Could fasting also mean rejoicing? Does it have other meanings?
One of our daughters asked if there is a connection between the way we eat, fasting, and receiving knowledge. She read us this scripture from the word of wisdom, “And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;” D&C 89:18-19
We would like to take more time to study fasting and increase our understanding of how to fast in a way that brings results. We put this on the list of topics we would like to study.
What's the pattern we see in Alma 17:1-2? What is the key to receiving the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation? What is the key to teaching with the power and authority of God? What kind of labor is required to receive these spiritual gifts? What does teaching with power and authority of God look like? When we use God's words correctly, does he authorize and give power to those words because they are His words? Is this why having a sound understand of the word of God is important before we can teach with power and authority of God?
4And they had been teaching the word of God for the space of fourteen years among the Lamanites, having had much success in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, by the power of their words many were brought before the altar of God, to call on his name and confess their sins before him. Alma 17
What is the altar of God? Is this an ordinance?
What does it mean to have a knowledge of the truth? Who is the truth? “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6
What does it mean to have knowledge of Jesus? What is the difference between faith and knowledge? “And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.” Ether 3:19
5 Now these are the circumstances which attended them in their journeyings, for they had many afflictions; they did suffer much, both in body and in mind, such as hunger, thirst and fatigue, and also much labor in the spirit. Alma 17
How do we labor in the spirit? What sacrifices do we make in our relationship with God? Do we make sacrifices so we can be more effective servants?
One of our sons has been reading The Second Comforter and our discussion reminded him of these words.
Doing the Lord's everyday work is more important than it may seem at times . . . How the Lord finds you spending your time is important to whether He can visit with you or not . . . The right kind of life puts you in the right place at the right time to receive the Second Comforter
6 Now these were their journeyings: Having taken leave of their father, Mosiah, in the first year of the judges; having refused the kingdom which their father was desirous to confer upon them, and also this was the minds of the people; Alma 17
These sons of Mosiah gave up ruling the kingdom of the Nephites to be servants among the Lamanites. Which one would we prefer? Do we want to be a king or a servant? What did Ammon know of our Lord that most do not?
And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. Luke 22:24-27
We would love to hear what you've learned from these verses. What questions, thoughts, and insights do you have to share? Feel free to leave a comment!