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The Gospel in our Daily Lives
Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. [James 1:22]
Teach your family that the full blessings of the gospel come only through actively living the gospel.
FOR THE PARENT
Sometimes a member of the Church may wonder, "I belong to the Church. I know the gospel is true and try to teach my children about it. So what is wrong? Why am I unhappy?" We all need to realize that the blessings of the gospel do not come from just knowing about it or belonging to the Church. Blessings come from actually living gospel principles in our everyday lives.
The home is the most effective place to teach children how to use these principles and reap the blessings of the gospel. When you, as parents, work to change and grow with your family, your children will see that living the gospel is an important part of life. They will see that people can change and become better. This will help them commit themselves to put the gospel to work in their own lives. Your commitment to apply the gospel in your life will be the strongest influence for helping your children to do the same. Then the gospel can bring into their lives those blessings that Heavenly Father is waiting to give them. (See Deuteronomy 26:16, Joshua 24:15.)
1. Center this family home evening on a special, favorite meal. Seat family members around the table, and begin your lesson. Do not have the prayer or let them begin to eat until the appropriate time in the lesson.
2. Make a chart. Divide the cart into halves. On the top of the left half, write "Physical Needs," on the right side write "Spiritual Needs." Have a marker ready to write on the chart.
3. Make wordstrips with different gospel principles written on them, and put one or more under each family member's plate. Some examples are "kindness," "honesty," "prayer," "reverence," "obedience," and "self-control."
4. Make the following wordstrips: "irreverence," "selfishness," "unkindness," "laziness," "dishonesty," "disobedience," "anger," and "lack of prayer." Have a plate ready on which to collect them.
SUGGESTED HYMN AND SONG
"Let Us All Press On" [Hymns, no. 243].
"I Want to Live the Gospel" [The Childrens Songbook, p. 148].
Physical Food and Spiritual Food Begin your lesson by having family members sit down to a special dinner that you have prepared. Do not let them begin to eat. Instead, have them look at the food and discuss why they especially like each item and why the food is good for them.
Discuss the importance of a balanced diet and how our bodies need many different things to stay healthy.
On the left side of the chart list some of the ingredients of a good, balanced diet.
Point out that the gospel contains the ingredients for a good, balanced diet for our spirits. On the right side of the chart add some of these spiritual ingredients.
Your chart may look something like the following:
|Feeling the Spirit
Developing our talents
Now tell them that since they have discussed their dinner and how they feel about it, they can all leave the table.
- Do you think this is a good idea?
- Are you still hungry?
- Why didn't the food do you any good?
Emphasize that we must eat the good food if our bodies are to benefit from it. Point out to your family that just as food feeds our bodies, the gospel feeds our spirits. It is spiritual food.
- Can we benefit by knowing about the gospel, being around it, understanding it, discussing it, or even feeling that it's true if that is all we do?
- What do we need to do before the gospel can really help us? (We must live it for it to do us good just as we must eat the food for it to do us good. )
Now have your prayer, and begin to eat while you finish your discussion.
We Need the Blessings of the Gospel
Have the family members take out the wordstrips from under their plates. Talk about why you need to live the principles written on them if you want to satisfy the spiritual needs you just listed. For example, for the wordstrip "kindness," you might ask:
- How does kindness help us?
- What would happen to our lives without kindness?
- How does being kind help us to stay spiritually healthy and happy?
After you discuss each wordstrip, explain that living all the principles of the gospel is like eating a balanced diet. By doing all of the things that our Heavenly Father has asked us to do we will stay spiritually happy and healthy.
What Can We Do?
Tell the following story. Hold up the wordstrips indicated in parentheses in the story. Place them one by one on the plate that you have provided.
David belonged to the Church, and he said he believed it was true. He went to church every Sunday; but he thought that most of the time it was boring, so he didn't pay much attention. He thought it was more fun to talk and joke with his friends. (Hold up the wordstrip "irreverence.")
He liked family home evenings because his father told such good stories and his mother made such good treats (hold up "selfishness"), but even during the lessons he enjoyed teasing his sisters ("unkindness").
During the week, David's life was filled with problems. He played instead of doing his homework ("laziness"), and then copied his friend's work ("dishonesty"). He didn't obey his parents ("disobedience") and wondered why they picked on him when he got into trouble. He had a terrible temper ("anger"), and figured that other people deserved to be treated unkindly because he didn't have many friends. He forgot about his prayers most nights ("lack of prayer"). He just didn't think he had time.
One day in Primary, David heard his Primary teacher say, "The gospel brings us so much happiness."
David thought, "The gospel doesn't bring me happiness."
- Why didn't David find happiness in the gospel?
Show the plateful of negative wordstrips.
- Would such a meal be good for our spirits?
- Why not?
Discuss some of the things that David needed to do to bring the blessings of the gospel into his life. You may want to use the other set of wordstrips.
Let family members talk about some of the things that cause unhappiness in their lives. See if they can think of ways that living the gospel could improve their lives. Praise them for the good choices they do make, pointing out the blessings that come from making such right choices. Help them realize how many more blessings they could receive by living the gospel more fully.
Each Person Must Do It for Himself
- What could David's parents do to help David live the gospel?
Explain that although they could teach him and pray for him and try to remind him, only David can make the decision that he is going to make the gospel work in his life. He is the only one who can live for the blessings that Heavenly Father is waiting to give him.
Tell your family that you will be teaching the gospel to them in your family home evenings and sharing some of the experiences from your life. Explain that the only way that family home evenings can help you is if each person applies the things he learns to his life.
Explain that applying the gospel means living it every day and learning to do the things that Heavenly Father has commanded us to do.
You Can Do It
After the dinner is over, challenge family members to put the gospel into practice in their lives more and more each day. Share with them your commitment to change and to grow. Discuss with them some of the things that might make it hard to begin to change the patterns of their lives, such as pride, habit, fear of what others may think, or lack of faith that such a change will really bring happiness. Admit that you know that it will take effort every day to grow and change, but remind the members of your family of the great blessings that will come to them as they make that effort.
Discuss some of the lessons you will be having in family home evening. Point out specific blessings that can come to you as a family as you make an effort to live what you learn. Close by challenging each family member to commit himself to live the principles he learns each week (see Matthew 6:33, 7:24; 1 Nephi 3:7).
ADAPTING FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN
Begin by asking the following questions. Have the children raise their hands for the answer that shows what Heavenly Father wants them to do.
1. When mother is busy fixing dinner you should--
a. Go play with your friends. b. Help her.
2. When your little sister is crying you should---
a. Call her a crybaby. b. Give her a hug and find a toy to share with her.
3. When your father asks you to do something you should--
a. Do it quickly. b. Pretend you didn't hear him.
4. When your brother breaks one of your crayons you should--
a. Forgive him. b. Punch him and go tell your mother.
5. When you have a problem that worries you, you should--
a. Cry about it. b. Discuss it with your parents and pray to Heavenly Father about it.
Make up other questions that fit the needs of your children.
After the questions, tell your children how proud you are that they know what Heavenly Father wants them to do. Then explain to them that there is something even more important than knowing what Heavenly Father wants them to do. See if they can guess what it is as they listen to the following story:
Sammy had a wonderful lesson in Primary. He learned about sharing. His teacher told him that Heavenly Father was happy when people shared. She said that if the children shared, they would be happy, too. Sammy went home and told his mother and father. They were proud that Sammy knew about sharing.
Later that day, Sammy was playing with his clay. His little sister, Jane, saw him and wanted to play with the clay, too. Sammy didn't want to give Jane any of his clay. Sammy's mother reminded Sammy about sharing. Then Sammy remembered that Heavenly Father wanted him to share. He wanted to do what Heavenly Father wanted, so he gave some clay to Jane. Mother and father were happy. Jane smiled happily as she pounded the clay. Sharing did make Sammy happy. Sharing was much better than just knowing about sharing.
Remind your children of the times when they have made the right choices and tell them how wonderful they were. Also remind them of some of the things that they have learned in family home evening and how they tried to live them. Let them tell you how they felt when they really did the things that they learned about.
Praise them for all of their efforts, and tell them that you all want to work very hard to do the things you learn about that Heavenly Father wants you to do. Remind them throughout the week to do what they know is right.
ADAPTING FOR TEENAGERS AND ADULTS
Begin by having the dinner as suggested in the regular lesson. Use the discussion under the heading "We Need the Blessings of the Gospel."
- What is likely to happen to a person's faith who belongs to the Church and understands the truth but makes no real effort to live the gospel?
Discuss James 1:22.
- What does "deceiving your own selves" mean? (Thinking we can know but not do. )
Also read and talk about Matthew 5:48.
- Does Heavenly Father expect perfection immediately?
Explain that the more principles of the gospel we can live in our lives, the more spiritual blessings we will receive. Read and discuss Doctrine and Covenants 82:10. We do not have to be perfect before the Lord will give us blessings; he is eager. and waiting to bless our lives (see D&C 10:6546).
He wants us to be happy.
You may want to use the section "Each Person Must Do It For Himself."
- In what ways is it possible for one person to help another live the gospel?
- Can a person be helped if he is unwilling to receive help?
Conclude your lesson with section entitled "You Can Do It."
SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE HOME EVENINGS
Increasing in Ability to Live the Gospel
Have two family members stand side by side. Then have them take three normal steps forward. Ask them what they think President Kimball meant when he said we should "lengthen our stride." (Take bigger steps in our journey toward perfection.)
Have family members suggest some gospel principles in which they need to improve, such as honesty, kindness, self-control, tithing, unselfishness, missionary work, and service. Ask how they can take bigger steps in learning to live these principles. Have family members suggest and write down ideas for taking bigger steps in each of the areas. Have family members choose one or two of the ideas to work on during the coming week, and get their commitment to try to improve in those areas.
You may wish to read to them or give them a copy of the following statement by Elder Heber J. Grant, "That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1901, p. 63). Suggest that the more they practice any gospel principle, the easier it will be to live it.
Living the Gospel Begins with Our Thoughts
Begin by telling the family about Larry and Jerry:
Larry spent much of his time daydreaming. He loved to think about what it would be like to be rich. He planned what he would buy if he had lots of money, and he imagined living in luxury.
Jerry spent much of his time thinking, too. He liked to think about what was really important in life. He thought about people and what truly brought them happiness. He thought about the gospel and why Heavenly Father gave us the commandments.
Later, both Larry and Jerry were given an opportunity to make a great deal of money very easily. To do it, however, they would need to "stretch the truth" to convince others to invest money also.
- Who was more likely to give in to the temptation, Larry or Jerry? (Larry.)
Ask them to explain why they think one was weaker than the other.
Have someone read Matthew 6:19-21. Then ask family members to suggest other "treasures" their hearts might be set upon. As each is suggested, quote Proverbs 23:7, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Then ask whether the suggested "treasure" or thought will bring a man closer to God or pull him farther away from him.
Explain how the things we think about often end up controlling our actions. Read aloud Luke 6:45. Discuss how a person can control and direct his thoughts (for example, by seeking the right surroundings, reading scripture and good books, praying, or singing hymns).
End by reading Doctrine and Covenants 121:45. Discuss the great blessings that come from virtuous thoughts.
Learning to Show Faith by Our Works
Spend an evening discussing James 2:14-26. Talk about each verse and what it means. Then have each person rate his own faith by privately responding to the following questions, answered by always, sometimes, or never:
1. Do I forgive quickly?
2. Do I gladly help my neighbors?
3. Am I honest?
4. Do I stand up for the right even when my friends mock me?
5. Do I willingly accept Church callings?
6. Do I give of my time to each family member?
7. Do I pray sincerely every day?
8. Am I kind to strangers, friends, and family members?
9. Do I refrain from judging other people as being either better or worse than me?
10. Do I avoid even the appearance of evil?
Family members may score themselves by giving ten points for every time they answered always, five for every time they answered sometimes, and none for every time they answered never. (They need not tell others their score.)
Have each family member choose one of these areas in which to strengthen his faith by improving his works. Suggest that he work on these principles one by one until his score is one hundred.
Using the Gospel to Take Care of Our Needs
Have the family list different kinds of problems people have, such as fights with brothers and sisters, money problems, sickness, not having any friends, poor grades in school, failure in business, or the death of a loved one. Discuss how the gospel helps us with our problems. Go over each of the problems on the list and discuss how living the gospel could help a person with that problem. Point out that living the commandments can solve some kinds of problems (for example, if we are honest in our dealings, we will never have to be ashamed of being caught in a dishonest act). Explain that living the commandments, however, does not guarantee that we will never have other kinds of problems. Knowing who we are, why we are on earth, and where we are going can help us endure and cope with these other problems. Express your appreciation for the sacrifice that the Savior made, which conquered the lasting effects of the most damaging of problems, sin and death.
Use the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 6:8-17 to illustrate how the Lord can be with us. He will give us whatever support we need to live our lives successfully if only we will look to him and the gospel for aid to meet our own personal challenges.
(See Daily Living home page; Family Home Evening home page; Family Home Evening Lessons home page)
Copyright © 1983 by THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints
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