Scheduled for study July 22-28, 2019. Missionary work is the theme this week. The lessons look at what our relationship with the Lord is, as well as how we should be viewing those to whom we seek to teach the gospel message.

Day 1

Acts 16-21 – The Spirit will guide me in my efforts to share the gospel.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read about Paul’s efforts to preach the gospel, the Spirit may prompt you with thoughts or feelings. Write these promptings down, and make plans to act on them.

This may just be me, but I feel like sometimes I/we wonder if the Spirit will really tell us how we are supposed to talk to people about the gospel. Let’s look at how Paul approached his missionary work. When chapter 16 opens Paul chooses a companion to go with him. His name is Timotheus, a Greek. Mind you, the Church had already said that circumcision was not to be preached to the gentiles, but Timotheus would be dealing with a lot of Jews, so Paul asked of him what many would consider a great sacrifice, that he willingly submit himself to circumcision. He did. Good man.

The scriptures don’t give any indication that the Lord wanted Timotheus to be circumcised, but Paul asked it of him. We don’t have any idea if the Spirit was behind this request or if it was Paul’s knowledge and experience in dealing with the Jews and their closed-mindedness that caused him to reason that this would be a big help in doing their missionary work. If Timotheus, a Greek, had submitted himself to the covenant of circumcision, according to the old law then he must be a “real” convert to the Church. It was not needed, but if the Jews they would be approaching wouldn’t listen to them because of this gentile with Paul then Timotheus really did a good thing by submitting to this very painful ritual.

In Acts 16:6-10 it describes Paul’s direction of travel once he had delivered to all the Churches what the Brethren in Jerusalem had asked him to give the Saints.

Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,

After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

They tried to go to Asia, but the Spirit said “No.” So they went to Mysia then tried to go to Bithynia, but again the Spirit said, “No.” Finally, when they arrived at Troas Paul had a vision at night of a man from Macedonia who pled with Paul to come and teach them the gospel, so Paul decided that they needed to go to Macedonia.

What can we learn from just these five verses? First off it is obvious that Paul didn’t know where he was supposed to go. He tried to go here and the Spirit forbade him, so he went somewhere else. Then he tried to go on to another place, but again, the Spirit said, “No.” Note that the Spirit didn’t tell him where he was supposed to go, he was just told that where Paul wanted to go was not the right choice. It wasn’t until they got to their next destination that Paul finally had a dream directing him to go to Macedonia.

What this teaches us is that we don’t always get the privilege of having our steps guided every step of the way when trying to share the gospel message. Often the Lord expects us to make many, if not most decisions on our own. If we choose incorrectly he will tell us so, but otherwise he is often silent, expecting us to learn wisdom and take initiative in doing the work we have been called to do.

This principle of doing things on our own and waiting for the spirit to either stop us or redirect us when we have gone wrong is true whether we are called as missionaries, as ministering sisters or brothers, or as covenant keeping members of the Church who want to do good. As the saying goes, the Lord can’t steer a parked car. We need to be moving in order for the Lord to give us directions. So initially, forward is the best direction we can go, until the Spirit tells us to go another direction or to change our tactic.

My/our initially expressed concern that the Spirit may not get involved with us as we do missionary work is not valid. If anyone is willing to move forward and do what they can to share the goodness of the gospel with someone else, whether by good deeds, a listening ear, or outright preaching of the gospel, the Spirit will be in attendance. In Doctrine and Covenants 4 we are told that in this dispensation all we have to have in order to be called to do missionary work is a desire. Pretty simple, just a desire.

Notice that each step of the way through Paul’s journeyings unless the Spirit directly tells him to go to a certain place he chooses to go where he thinks he can do the most good. Sometimes the Spirit sends him places, but as often as naught the Spirit keeps his opinions to himself, unless Paul needs to be taught or corrected. This same experience is what we have as we try to fulfill our callings in the Church. There is a lot to be said for taking initiative and just choosing to do good.

Day 2

Acts 16-21 – I can declare the gospel in all circumstances.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read about Paul’s efforts to preach the gospel, the Spirit may prompt you with thoughts or feelings. Write these promptings down, and make plans to act on them.

Today I will make only one point then send you back to the manual. As we read about Paul’s experiences in jail, getting stoned, beaten, and who knows what else, the character trait that stands up and shouts at us is his unwillingness to be beaten into silence or submission. Paul was converted to the Lord and his gospel. He was there to share it with whomever would listen to it. Paul saw no reason to be timid about the message, after all, was there anything he needed to be embarrassed about or ashamed of? No! Just because the Jews in the various cities couldn’t get him to shut up about his message, their petty squabbles with him were not going to get him to be cowed or shut down in submission and silence.

This brings up the uncomfortable question for each of us. If we are timid about speaking the truth about the Lord’s gospel, or about talking to our neighbors about the blessings to be found in membership of the Lord’s kingdom, what is it we are afraid of? If our fear of something outweighs the joy we feel in the gospel and the hope it gives to our lives then we are being controlled by that fear.

We are taught that perfect love casts out all fear. If we learn to focus on our joy, the peace the gospel brings, and the happiness we experience when we feel the soothing influence of the Holy Ghost, we will soon realize that it is doubt that is causing us to shut down. Once we remember our blessings, and all the times the Spirit has caused us to want to shout Hosanna! we will begin to forget our fears and will become more like Paul, who preached the kingdom and its blessings no matter where he was, whether on the street or in jail.

Now I recommend that you go back and reread these chapters and think about how Paul’s experiences would have been handled by you.

What can you learn from Paul’s dealings with those who wanted him shut down or driven out of town?

What part of yourself do you need to work on or change in order to be more bold and unapologetic about your participation in the gospel of our God?

Day 3

Acts 17:16-34 – We are the offspring of God.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read about Paul’s efforts to preach the gospel, the Spirit may prompt you with thoughts or feelings. Write these promptings down, and make plans to act on them.

I recommend seeing the video mentioned for today’s lesson a couple of times. Think about what Paul is saying to these Greeks about our relationship to God, and not just to Him, but with Him. Think about how different all the peoples of the earth are from one another. Surely some are not really God’s offspring. Surely God could not be the literal Father to every soul on earth, especially considering how different we all are from one another.

But the scriptures teach us that God is the literal Father to each and every one of us. All of us were given spirit bodies in our premortal life, and we were raised as His children, brothers and sisters to each other. The varieties and differences within our family are vast, but we are all, nonetheless sisters and brothers to each other. It doesn’t matter if you speak a language that is foreign to me or that your people are taller or shorter than me, that your physical features vary from mine or that you think differently than I was raised to think. We are still from the same Father, family all. We are not step children, adopted children, or even strangers who are tolerated in God’s household. We are all His children, and his grand purpose in the eternities is to lead us to Godhood so we can each be just like Him.

This is the vision we need to learn to keep in front of our eyes all the time. Differences need not separate us, but unite us in love. Language, color, features, or form count no more to God than the number of hairs on our heads. None of that affects God’s love for us, and none of that should affect our love for each other.

Day 4

Acts 17:11; 18:24-28 – How can we be more like the Saints in these scriptures?

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read about Paul’s efforts to preach the gospel, the Spirit may prompt you with thoughts or feelings. Write these promptings down, and make plans to act on them.

I think one of the keys to answering this question is to look at the verses in today’s lesson and see what characteristics these saints mentioned had. The Saints in Thessalonica are known for their “readiness of mind.”

How would you describe what it means to have a “readiness of mind?”

Do you think their readiness of mind affected their study of the scriptures? How or why not?

Did the Saints in Thessalonica already understand the doctrines Paul came to teach them?

How did their readiness of mind help them better learn the doctrines they were presented by the Apostle?

I love the description of Apollos in chapter 18. He was eloquent, and dynamic, but was untutored in the gospel. But he was zealously faithful and firm in what little he knew. He only knew of John’s baptism, so he was without knowledge of most of the gospel of Christ.

Did Apollos’ ignorance of the gospel prevent him from opening his mouth about the truths he did know?

In verse 25 he is described as being “fervent in the spirit.” What does that mean to you?

Verse 28 shows that his excitement and conversion to the gospel was an intimate part of his character and soul. Even though he had just freshly been taught many truths he hadn’t known before, he was ready to open his mouth and do all in his power to convince his fellow Jews that the evidence that Jesus was the Christ was sitting right there in their own scriptures. This means that in at least the spiritual realm, he was an educated man.

Y/N – Does studying the scriptures on a regular basis change us in any way?

If so, how?

Here is a rhetorical question (meaning you aren’t expected to answer it): How can we ‘speak and teach diligently the things of the Lord’ if we don’t know what has been taught by the Lord? The answer, of course, is we can’t. This is why we study the scriptures, it is to gain for ourselves an understanding of what the Lord wants of us and to learn of his ways. We can’t expect to help others learn of God’s ways if we don’t know them ourselves.

Day 5

Acts 19:1-7 – “Baptism by water is but half a baptism …”

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read about Paul’s efforts to preach the gospel, the Spirit may prompt you with thoughts or feelings. Write these promptings down, and make plans to act on them.

Baptism without the bestowal of the Holy Ghost is like getting halfway through a heartfelt prayer then suddenly stopping and walking away. What good was accomplished by the first half if there is no effort to complete the process?

I have always been fascinated by the second half of the baptismal process. When hands are laid on your head for the bestowal of the Holy Ghost the first thing that is done is to confirm that what was done in being baptized was done by the authorized authority of God. It isn’t said that way, but that is what it is. The one holding the priesthood of God and performing the confirmation says “we confirm you a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints …” The baptism was to baptize them into membership in the Lord’s Church. By the laying on of hands that baptism is confirmed by one holding the priesthood of God. It may or may not be the same person who did the baptizing, but it is always a holder of the Melchizedek priesthood.

The baptism is an Aaronic priesthood ordinance, but the confirmation of that baptism and the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost is a Melchizedek priesthood ordinance. This means it takes both priesthoods to bring someone fully into the Church. Can you see why those baptized by John the Baptist had to be rebaptized to enter into the Lord’s Church? In order to receive the Holy Ghost they had to be confirmed a member by a holder of the Melchizedek priesthood. John baptized them for the remission of sins, and to prepare them for the Savior that was to come after him. Christ followed with the Melchizedek priesthood, which allowed the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Baptism may be the gateway ordinance to set us on the path to exaltation, but what good is getting set on the path if we cannot walk that path? It is the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit who teaches us all things of a spiritual nature, testifying of truth along the way so we can learn to think, act, and feel as God does. Either half without the other is pointless.

Think about what it means to have been baptized by one authorized to perform this sacred ordinance. How has that given you opportunities to change your life?

Think about the gift of the Holy Ghost that you were given by the laying on of hands after your baptism. How did that gift make your baptism the most important step in your life up to that time?

Scripture Study and Home Evening

Record impressions

Impressions can be called by many different names. You can think of them as insights, urges, nudges, thoughts, an internal voice, feelings, etc. Impressions are whatever comes to you as you read the scriptures or pray that make you think of things to do, ways to act, ways to feel, internal resolutions to adopt, or answers to your prayers or to what you were seeking in the scriptures. There is a lot bound up in the term impressions.

It is part of the nature and practice of the Holy Ghost that He rarely argues with us for long. If He gives you what He considers to be sufficient communication, and you don’t do something with it, He may withdraw it. And once withdrawn, most spiritual communications evaporate into the ether, never to be retrieved. Sometimes if we quickly repent and seek for what had already been given us, but was originally ignored or rejected, it will come back to us. But sometimes the opportunity passes and we will have to wait upon the Spirit to decide if and when He will try to teach us that lesson again.

This temporary nature of many impressions is why we are encouraged to record them, either verbally or in writing. If we record them by writing them down then we can reference them later and deal with them. It is also important that when we record them we do so with the intent to do something about them later. If we don’t have any intention of doing something about them there is no reason to record them, and even if we do they may slip from our mind or become fuzzy and confused before we can finish recording them.

There is power in recording impressions. Many times in the recording of one impression, others come to build on what we just recorded. Often the recording of an impression will help to keep it fresh in our minds as we continue our studies in the scriptures and they open doors of understanding elsewhere in our studies. This also works when we record impressions from our pondering either before or after our prayers. Impressions are private and not something we share with others lightly, unless we feel sharing it is something we should do. This reserve is all part of treating what is revealed to us – and it is revelation – with sacred respect.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

New Testament 30