Week 01 is scheduled for study Dec. 26-Jan. 1, 2023. If we want to learn from the Savior we must work for that knowledge. When God teaches us He also gives us experiences to back up our knowledge.
Note: Here is the breakdown of the name of this article (CFMNT01-2023 – Learn From the Savior)
CFM – Come, Follow Me (In subsequent weeks I have left this part out to simplify the title a bit.)
NT – New Testament
01-2023 – Week one of the year 2023.
As part of the changes to my writing schedule this year I needed a way to identify parts of the lessons, even if they are not all in the same article. Spelling everything out takes up way too much space. Hence the abbreviations. This lets you know at a glance which week’s lesson this particular article belongs to.
The purpose of the scriptures is to help you come unto Christ and become more deeply converted to His gospel. The Come, Follow Me curriculum can help you understand the scriptures and find in them the spiritual strength you and your family need.
To truly learn from the Savior, I must accept His invitation, “Come, follow me.”
Though the title for today’s lesson doesn’t include the information from the introduction to the overall lesson, I’m going to include that intro to today’s lesson, because it fits well.
The title of the week’s lessons is “We are responsible for our own learning.” And the first day’s lesson is entitled, “To truly learn from the Savior, I must accept His invitation, “Come, follow me.” Did you notice that these two things are intimately connected? The first thing I would like to point out is that we can’t follow Jesus without any intent. There must be a reason for following him. No one can define our personal intention for following Jesus, that is something we need to produce on our own. This is what makes us responsible for our own learning. It is what we learn that allows us to follow Jesus.
Following Jesus – coming to Christ – requires great effort, real commitment, and purposeful living. We don’t follow Jesus; we don’t pattern our life after him without cause and without purpose. So what is it you want to gain from committing your life to emulating his life? According to the world, to follow Jesus means great sacrifice and deprivation. You have all those commandments to keep, those nuances of living to master, and those habits to both break and forge in order to become more like our Master.
Unfortunately, and I fear I am among this number, far too many of us proclaim we are trying to be like Jesus, but have not personally figured out why we want or need to do so. We are blindly following a teaching that seems pleasing to the ear. For some of us it takes a while before we realize that coming to Christ, becoming like Christ, is a real commitment, and one that requires us to be fully and wholly dedicated to not only the end goal of that lifestyle, but the process achieving that lifestyle requires of us. To truly become like Christ is the goal of a lifetime, and is the greatest achievement any soul can accomplish in this life, for it will require all that we are to get there.
The importance of questions
Discipleship is all about learning from a Master. We can’t learn from (and of) our Master if we never seek to understand his ways. This requires questions, and lots of them. We all come with our own preconceived notions and assumptions. These come from how we were raised and from our experiences earlier in life. This means that everyone’s journey to becoming Christlike must be tailored to their own experiences. The principles we must learn remain constant for all, but how we learn them is very personal and individual. The path I take to becoming Christlike will happen by me asking and seeking answers to a wide range of questions that you may never need to ask. Your questions are needed for you to personally come to understand Christ. My questions are needed for me to personally come to understand Christ. In this way our salvation is truly unique and individual. Yet the path, the process we all have to participate in to get to our end goal is universal in its scope and application, for we all have to do the same kinds of things along the way.
We all need to remember that questions require paying attention. They require that we be seeking for something so that when something happens in our life we notice that we have seen what looks like a discrepancy, or we notice that we have seen a verification of something we have already chosen to believe. Seeking requires the assumption of finding, which our Master, Christ, has promised we will do when we honestly seek for answers. Our lives must become one big round of doing, noticing, comparing, questioning, accepting, seeking, and believing some more. And those things don’t come in any specific order, but all of them will get involved before we take too many steps toward our goal of becoming like Jesus. It all sounds very purposeful doesn’t it? That’s because it is. Those who don’t do these things purposefully cannot walk the path of discipleship. They may make great companions to those on that path, but they cannot personally walk that path without purposeful and deliberate living.
Discipleship requires change. And how can we expect to change unless we are seeking answers that will instill in us a greater desire to make those changes? Discipleship doesn’t ever just happen. It must be deliberate and intentional. Isn’t it wonderful that Christ has promised us that if we seek answers from our Father in Heaven we will find those answers?
One of the greatest things I have learned about seeking answers from the Lord is that God is a very thorough teacher. A straight up answer is often something more than what we can handle at the moment. So despite having the faith to get the answer, we have to be prepared to receive it so it can do us the good God intends our answer to do for us. Many of the answers we seek will require that we experience things in life so that when that question gets answered it makes sense to us. God needs to provide us with some context for the answer to make sense. He doesn’t want us to just intellectually comprehend the answers of our heart. He wants those answers to change our lives for the better. Happiness and joy come from the changes we make in our life that bring us one step closer to being like Jesus.
How often have you seen someone new to the Church who has to go through this process? For example, let’s look at someone who is learning about the law of Tithing. Jim is fully committed to all of the places he has put his money in his life. His boat, recreational vehicles, his “toys”, and his lifestyle are all funded, fully using his entire income. Now Jim has learned that the Lord wants the first ten percent of his income for His own purposes. Jim doesn’t fully comprehend or understand why the Lord would want his money. Nor does Jim understand how giving up a tenth of his income, and something else in his life that the ten percent is currently funding, will make him happier than he already is.
Jim starts by questioning the law. He also studies the law and listens to the testimonies of the missionaries and perhaps even members who are currently living the law. They claim he will be happier if he pays his tithing. Because Jim is trying to learn to live by faith, he agrees to try this law and pay his tithing. This takes some time and practice, for he has to shuffle his priorities and his expenditures to make room for the first ten percent of his income to go to the Lord. At first this is difficult, for as of yet there has been no indication that the promises will be fulfilled for him to be blessed and be happier.
Next Jim gives the law time to work in his life. The promises of this law may come sooner, or may come later, but if he consistently does those things required to receive a testimony of that law, the promises always come. At least the law of tithing is something tangible we can do to demonstrate our effort to obey the Lord. This is one of the things that make it one of the easier laws to obey. All the steps are out in the open and trackable in the financial books.
For my own part I paid tithing from the time I was a child. Yet there were times during my early years of marriage when finances were so tight that I had to choose between paying my tithing and paying my rent. That was hard. Yet every time I paid my tithing first, somehow I was able to pay whatever other necessary bills I had. I had been over the bank statement and my expenditures. Try as I might, I knew there wasn’t enough to cover everything, yet there was. I don’t know where God went to school, and where He learned to count, but His way was certainly better than mine. It is just this kind of context and learning Jim needs to experience for him to receive his testimony of tithing. We all need to see how the gospel of Christ effects us in order to better understand the answers we receive.
This is also why we need to be living the gospel if we expect answers. The answers we seek don’t usually come to us in a vacuum, without any understanding. We need to live the laws, practice the principles, and then and only then can we expect to better comprehend the answers God is wanting to give us to our questions. We prepare ourselves for those answers through living the gospel. Christ’s gospel is one of action, not book learning. His gospel is designed to change us into celestial citizens. This requires us to become something more than what we currently are. And we don’t comprehend just yet what kind of person that is. We must live by faith, asking, seeking for understanding, and living by hope. By this method we are taught what it means to feel the joy of living as a celestial person lives. It doesn’t happen overnight, but one step at a time, and only as quickly as we pour our heart and soul into the process. It is important to note here that the blessings from paying our Tithes are not just financial. Many of the blessings in our lives that we aren’t even aware of come from having been faithful with our tithes.
The joy of purposeful discipleship
I don’t know how those raised to believe in predestination find any joy in life. How can you fine hope and joy without ever knowing if what you are doing is going to make any difference in the end? To those who are taught predestination, it doesn’t really matter if you are good or bad, God will choose whom He will choose, and the rest will be thrown down to hell. That makes the effort to make personal progress difficult and disheartening.
The Lord has taught us in many ways, and on many occasions, that if we will make the effort to seek for Him, we will find Him, for He will reveal Himself to us. If we ask questions, He will answer us. When we exercise our faith and act in obedience to His commandments, God intervenes in our life and in our soul, making changes here and there, at our request, that teach us how to live happier and more joyful lives. The principle to remember here is that God never forces Himself upon anyone. We must seek Him. But when we do, the changes He can make in our life are nothing short of miraculous and wonderful. This is where we find joy in our discipleship as we come unto Christ.
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