Scheduled for study Aug. 21-Sept. 1, 2019. Our journey back to our heavenly home is not a solitary one. We must learn to deal with diversity among our eternal-family members, and find unity of purpose among all our differences.

Day 1

1 Corinthians 8-13 – Ye are the body of Christ.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you prayerfully read today’s lesson, the Holy Ghost ma speak to you in subtle ways (see 1 Kings 19:11–12). Recording these impressions will help you recall the feelings and thoughts you had during your study.

I don’t know about you, but I have always found Paul’s description of the body of Christ to be a little puzzling. I get the gist of what he is saying, but I had a difficult time with the point he was trying to make with the Corinthian Saints. As the manual points out, his message is one of unity and the need to recognize our individual part in the health of the Church as the body of Christ.

It can be easy for us to begin to think of ourselves as unimportant to the Church as a whole. After all, with millions of members what difference will one member more or less make to the operation as a whole? I think the difference is probably more important to our Father in Heaven than it is to any one of us. Let’s look at an example.

Suppose you are just the tip of the index (first) finger, and you leave the Church. How does that change the functioning of the Church as a whole? First off, bodies, whether they be physical or the body of Christ, are adaptable. If I am missing the tip of my pointing finger I can still point with that finger, or I can point with my other hand, or even point with my middle finger. Pointing with my other hand requires deliberate thinking and a change of habit on my part. Pointing with my middle finger causes me social problems associated with the use of the middle finger. But the point is, I can manage.

That is just one small piece of one small part of the body, and in its absence I already have adaptations I have to make because something that belongs there isn’t any more. Now think about the finger tip itself. If the tip of my pointing finger had thoughts of its own, do you really think that something that small and unable to do anything on its own would think itself important to the body? Probably not.

Each of us are only small bits of the overall Church or body of Christ. Body in this sense means the collective or the collection of saints that make up the Church, not the actual physical body of Christ. The plan of salvation was designed by our Father in Heaven to work properly with the cooperation and participation of all of His children. The more of the family who join the Church, the more functional the whole Church becomes. As more and more parts of the body/Church are able to more fully do the work they were designed to do, the more the Church can accomplish through the lives of its members.

So yes, every member counts. Every member who participates in the Church of Jesus Christ improves the functioning of the Church as a whole. My friend is on a mission to France with his wife. In their little branch no priesthood organization is fully organized. There is only one deacon, and one teacher. It took him a while to convince the Branch President that if they want the full blessings of the priesthood in the branch they need to have at least one fully functional priesthood arm, and that should start with the Branch Presidency. Their Branch had been operating with only one counselor for a long time.

Now that this Branch has called someone to fill the empty position in the presidency, they now have a fully functioning Branch Presidency. They are calling the one deacon to be the President of the Deacon’s quorum, and the one teacher to be the President of the Teacher’s quorum. These young men will now experience what it means to be in a position of priesthood leadership. As they operate as a president of a quorum the Lord will give them greater inspiration, and they will begin to think in terms of their responsibility to build their quorums. When they were just priesthood holders at large, with no responsibilities, they lacked the sense of ownership and direction to go and do the Lord’s will to minister and serve others as a priesthood leader should. The Lord will be able to bless them now in ways He could not have blessed them and the branch before they had functioning priesthood bodies. With every person they activate or convert their quorums will be able to bless them with greater and greater blessings.

We may see ourselves as unimportant and unable to effect great changes, but the Lord uses the simple and small things of the earth to do just that. When we choose to be faithful to our calling, no matter how humble we may feel it to be, the Lord can produce great changes in our own life, as well as in the ward or branch in which we live and serve.

Day 2

1 Corinthians 10:1–13 – God provides a way to escape temptation.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you prayerfully read today’s lesson, the Holy Ghost ma speak to you in subtle ways (see 1 Kings 19:11–12). Recording these impressions will help you recall the feelings and thoughts you had during your study.

This passage tells us that the sins of Israel, as demonstrated by the stories of their weaknesses after leaving Egypt, were written for our day. This reference is found in the JST changes for verse 11 as seen below in red.

11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they were written for our admonition also, and for an admonition for those upon whom the end of the world shall come.

The lesson Paul was trying to get across to the people was that none are safe from temptations of every kind. The children of Israel were shown great miracles and many mercies by the Lord, but they allowed Satan’s temptations to carry them away to great sinning. Not all fell for the same sin. Some fell for the sin of idolatry, others for the sin of fornication, while yet others provoked the Lord by their lack of belief and unwillingness to demonstrate faith after all God had done for them.

Satan wants all of us. None are exempt from his list of most wanted. His desire to destroy us is equal in his hatred of us as God’s desire to exalt us through love. Since we are all going to be tempted, what is our sure defense? Is there a sure defense? Here is Alma’s solution to the temptations we all face – Alma 13:27–29.

27 And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;

28 But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;

29 Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.

Paul taught the people in 1 Corinthians 10:12 that those who think they are impervious to Satan’s attacks should be wary, for they might fall.

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Paul’s point is that none of us are bulletproof. All of us are at risk in mortality. There is only one way to escape the snares and enticements of the devil, and that is to constantly turn to the Lord and seek for constant repentance, humility, and submission to God’s will.

Day 3

1 Corinthians 10:16–17; 11:16-30 – The sacrament unifies us as followers of Christ.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you prayerfully read today’s lesson, the Holy Ghost ma speak to you in subtle ways (see 1 Kings 19:11–12). Recording these impressions will help you recall the feelings and thoughts you had during your study.

One of the purposes of meeting as a body of Saints in our Church meetings is to gain strength and encouragement from those who have like beliefs. Life can get pretty lonely during the week. Being able to look forward to meeting with other Saints and renew our covenants with the Lord as a group of believers brings with that prospect a level of comfort. It is strengthening to know we are not alone in our beliefs, and especially in the making of our covenants. Those who are homebound and need to have the sacrament brought to them each week are grateful, but many would feel much better if they could meet with their fellow Saints to partake of this sacred ordinance.

As we think about the coming Sabbath day, we might do well to also think about how our attendance in the meeting is helping to bolster the faith of our fellow Latter-day Saints.

Are we appropriately preparing for the renewal of our covenants?

Are we thinking ahead and preparing ourselves for that day when we can go into the chapel, pray, sing sacred hymns, and openly renew our covenants with God?

How do you think your preparation and behavior during the sacrament meeting affects the attitudes and testimony of others around you?

How do you think the act of renewing your covenants with your fellow Saints affects your perception of your belief in Christ?

Does taking the sacrament with your fellow Saints each week help your sense of unity with them?

Do you think participating in the sacrament as a family or with your friends brings you closer together? If so, can you describe how?

Day 4

1 Corinthians 11:3–15 – Why did Paul write about head coverings and hairstyles?

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you prayerfully read today’s lesson, the Holy Ghost ma speak to you in subtle ways (see 1 Kings 19:11–12). Recording these impressions will help you recall the feelings and thoughts you had during your study.

Customs of dress, behavior, and attitudes change from culture to culture, and from one time period to another. There is nothing doctrinal about these attitudes in the Church. For example, in Paul’s day the women always sat on one side of the synagogue, and the men on the other. Today we all sit as families or groups of friends. In Paul’s day the men did not cover their heads, but the women were required to. That was a cultural tradition for what was considered appropriate behavior. There was nothing in those traditions that would guarantee or prevent someone’s salvation if they didn’t follow the traditions as prescribed.

The point that Paul makes that is doctrinal, and completely important is that salvation/exaltation requires a man and a woman as a companionship. We cannot become Gods as single people. Godhood is granted as couples. This means that whatever we have to do to support our eternal companion should be at the top of our priority list, right below our devotion to God, Himself. Our eternal happiness depends on the relationship we build with our companion.

The side note to this doctrine is a reminder that not everyone will leave mortality with an eternal companion. With that said, we also need to remember that every child of God will be given the opportunity to have a companion before the resurrection is completed. No one who has kept themselves worthy will be denied any blessing the Lord has to offer His children for their eternal happiness. There are certain doctrines that require us to believe that God really is no respecter of persons. His love is truly universally equal for all of His children, and none will be left behind or denied any blessing for which they have qualified themselves through their efforts to obey and honor the commandments.

Day 5

1 Corinthians 12-13 – Spiritual gifts are given to benefit all of Heavenly Father’s children.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you prayerfully read today’s lesson, the Holy Ghost ma speak to you in subtle ways (see 1 Kings 19:11–12). Recording these impressions will help you recall the feelings and thoughts you had during your study.

People are so funny when it comes to the concept of diversity. So many of us think that to become unified we need to start doing everything alike, whether that means dressing the same way, behaving the same way, or believing everything in the same way. But diversity isn’t the enemy, the enemy is uniformity.

Remember the lesson on the body of Christ, how all the parts of the body need to be different so the whole body works efficiently? Paul even points out that the whole body can’t be an eye or just a foot. Neither can the head work at full capacity without the foot. Heads were not designed to work alone, but with all the other parts of the body. For the body of Christ to be “whole” we need all those parts, which means a diversity of members.

With this diversity of members, which comes with diversity of thinking, customs, manners, and expectations, comes a diversity of spiritual gifts as well. The Lord understands perfectly that we will all suffer if we are without any of the spiritual gifts. That need to have all of the spiritual gifts means that each of us is given at least one, sometimes a few gifts, but not all, and never none. The list of gifts is found in at least three places in the scriptures, and none of the lists is by any stretch of the imagination complete. These lists are only representative of the kinds of gifts God gives His children to enable them to be blessed and to bless the lives of others. None of the gifts are given with the selfish purpose of only blessing the life of the one who receives the gift. All are given with the intent the gift(s) be shared.

Spiritual gifts fall under the category of talents, abilities that are natural in us for some, or can be cultivated once discovered. Gifts don’t have to be at the level of a prodigy or a savant in order to be considered worthwhile. We may just have a knack for being able to sense or see when others may need help. Our ability may be something as simple as being able to speak in a heartfelt way when we pray that softens the hearts of others who hear us. The prophet is the only one who has been gifted with all spiritual gifts. And even then he doesn’t have access to them until they are needed.

This limited nature of the gifts we each receive should be a good demonstration to us that a spiritual gift is special. This is something we should not only seek after, but cherish once we identify what our ability is. Obviously the abilities to give blessings is primarily for those using the priesthood to bless others, but mothers and wives are able to gain great power in their prayers of faith to bless the lives of those they love.

Speaking in tongues is not something that usually reveals itself in the meetings of the Latter-day Saints. It is mostly seen among the missionaries as they miraculously learn a foreign language in their missionary service. The whole world is aware of the reputation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to teach languages faster and better than any other organization on earth. Many governments and organizations have tried to duplicate our success, but since our success is a gift from God, none have been able to succeed in duplicating what our missionaries experience all the time when learning a new language.

My point is this – it is diversity, differences among the members of the Church that brings about our ability to faithfully constitute the body of Christ. It is not because we are all the same, but BECAUSE we are different that we are able to fill each other’s needs. We should be grateful for our differences, in culture, habits, thinking, and in the differences of our spiritual gifts, for that is what heals us all the best.

Scripture Study and Home Evening

1 Corinthians 9:24–27 – Paul compares living the gospel to running a race.

Here are some thoughts on the four verses in this section. Perhaps reading my rewrites/explanations will help you in discussing these verses with your family or friends.

24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

In mortality, when people run a race they all run the race, but there is only one winner of the race. So in the race we are talking about, run with the same mindset, the same determination to win that those who run a foot race do. Don’t just run for a “participation” prize. Seek for the winner’s prize.

25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

Those who run a race with a serious intent to win it temper or modify their behaviors and attitudes in all things so they are in the best shape and condition to win the prize. They who run races in mortality are running for a temporary crown of victory, but the race we are running is an eternal crown of glory.

26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

The race we run in mortality is not without its purpose. The fight we are engaged in is not like the madman who beats the air to conquer an imaginary foe (thing of Don Quixote jousting with windmills).

27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

The phrase “keep under” in Greek means to “rigorously discipline.” This means we need to seriously learn to control our bodies, so we master our own body, rather than our body mastering us with its desires. One idea for the rest of Paul’s sentence is that he disciplines himself so that even though he has preached the gospel to others, he remains disciplined so that he, himself doesn’t get cast out of the race in the end. You may have other thoughts on what he means when he refers to himself as having the possibility of being a castaway.

Here are a couple of further questions to consider:

What are the qualities of a foot race that can compare with the qualities of our efforts to return to God?

What do we need to do in our efforts to return to our heavenly home that can compare with the discipline required of an athlete?

Do you think these changes and the discipline is really necessary for our eternal happiness?

 

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

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