second coming
Week 22 is scheduled for study May 22-28, 2023. Get ready. We are preparing for Christ’s second coming. Is your heart in the right place? Are you enlarging all that God has given you?

This week’s message says, “As you read Joseph Smith–Matthew 1; Matthew 24-25; Mark 12-13; and Luke 21, you might ask, “What messages do these chapters have for me? for my family? for my calling?” [Emphasis added] The following article was the answer to this question. Instead of these chapters telling me about the coming of the Savior, I could only see their connection, as a collection of stories, that told me how I would be treated at the final judgment. I hope you take the time to see what I first learned from this week’s assignments.

What Can We Expect in the Final Judgment?

Day 1

As you read Joseph Smith–Matthew 1; Matthew 24-25; Mark 12-13; and Luke 21, you might ask, “What messages do these chapters have for me? for my family? for my calling?”

Joseph Smith–Matthew 1:21-37; Mark 13:21-37; Luke 21:25-38 – Prophecies about the Savior’s Second Coming can help me face the future with faith.

How we see ourselves faring in the days leading up to the Lord’s return is pretty much up to us. God has repeatedly said that the wicked have good reason to fear, because their plight and punishment will just be getting started when he returns. But at no time has Jesus ever told his followers that they need fear or be disturbed by the unsteady and wicked conditions of the world. Do you think that perhaps it might have something to do with the command that we learn to be in the world, but not of the world?

More and more often we are told to separate ourselves from the world, not to participate in their beliefs, practices, ways of living, etc. If I am not a believer in the philosophies “of the day” then I am free to found my lifestyle on eternal truths that won’t change and cause me concern. When I seek to stand in holy places, like my home, the church house, and the temple, all places (supposedly) filled with the Spirit then my heart will be filled with the peace that comes from Christ. This peace is not available in the world, because they do not seek out Jesus and his teachings.

When we keep the commandments and have learned to serve one another, the aggression and discomfiting behavior we see among the peoples of the world won’t have any place in our holy places. In these places we will be ministering to one another, caring for each other’s needs, and teaching each other to live by the Spirit so that we do what Jesus would do if he were already here. We will, in essence already be living our Christlike life in our own Zion society. What the world does will have an impact on us, and some of us will suffer, but our hearts will be filled with love and concern for others. We won’t be living our lives filled with fear, doubt, and uncertainty about what tomorrow will bring.

I think the above reasons are why the leaders of the Church have, over the years, more and more taught us to seek Christ in all things. This is how we will find our safety and courage to face the last days without being overwhelmed by the wickedness around us. Our leaders are showing us how to safely separate ourselves from the influences of Satan and those who seek to exploit and control others for fame and power. This separation doesn’t happen by accident. We must decide to consciously pull away from those things that do not originate from the Spirit, and bask in all things spiritual. This is where we will find our fortress of defense in the last days.

Day 2

As you read Joseph Smith–Matthew 1; Matthew 24-25; Mark 12-13; and Luke 21, you might ask, “What messages do these chapters have for me? for my family? for my calling?”

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:26-27, 38-55; Matthew 25:1-13; Luke 21:29-36 – I must always be ready for the Savior’s Second Coming.

In the parable of the servant found at the end of Joseph Smith—Matthew 25, Jesus demonstrated what happens when we lose sight of our objective, our goal. The servant was given a position of responsibility in the Master’s house while the Master was away. The Lord said that if the servant begins to think that the Master is delaying his return, so he begins to fall into bad habits, like eating and drinking with the drunken, and beating other servants, then when the Master returns he will cut off that servant and cast him out. But, if the servant remains steady, always looking forward to the day of the Master’s return, even though he has no idea when that will be, the Lord will bless him and give him power over all his possessions for the faithfulness he demonstrated in his duties.

The difference between the behaviors of this steward lies in his attitude. Only when he keeps his eye on the Master that is coming, meaning his attention and the focus of his life is based on the approval of his Master, can the servant muster the emotional and spiritual strength to remain faithful. A person who loses faith that they will be able to remain faithful to the Lord is one who lapses into the worldly vices of “eat, drink, and be merry.” Though we can be pretty sure that the Savior will not return in our lifetime, we cannot guaranty it. In order to remain faithful to the responsibilities he has given us we must assume that he could “walk through that door” at any moment. In this way we keep our focus and attention on the Savior. That helps us remain strong and endure to the end.

This story illustrates beautifully the nature of our own humanity, and how to overcome it and be better than what normal mortality would otherwise dictate we do. I add here that there is heavenly joy in being and staying prepared to meet our Savior. Lapsing into worldly practices slowly strips us of that glorious joy.

Day 3

As you read Joseph Smith–Matthew 1; Matthew 24-25; Mark 12-13; and Luke 21, you might ask, “What messages do these chapters have for me? for my family? for my calling?”

Matthew 25:14-30 – Heavenly Father expects me to use His gifts wisely.

In the immediate story of the New Testament setting, the Lord was speaking to his disciples. Though his story of the talents was about money, very few of his followers actually had any substantial material blessings to speak of. They were the poor and the humble, not the wealthy and prosperous. We are more like them than we might wish to be.

We can take a lesson from the world around us when it comes to learning from the parable of the talents. It is the very diversity of the world around us that makes it self sustaining. This is how God designed it to work. We, as His children are also diverse, each having small or large abilities that help us contribute to the family of God in our own way. We may be more patient with others than our neighbor, a better listener, more quick to do good, wiser in spiritual or physical things, or even physically or emotionally handicapped that can teach both us and our neighbor to be more godly in our conduct. Whatever God has given us to work with we can consider our “talent”. Ask yourself, “What am I doing with what God has given me to show Him that I am improving on that given responsibility?”

We can’t always consider God’s “gifts” as things that are easy, though all of them are blessings in their own way. We are just tasked with taking what we have to work with and improving on it. If I am poor, am I the best poverty has to offer? I mean by that am I humble about my circumstances? Have I rid myself of my envy of those who have more? Have I learned to be frugal with what I have to be the most responsible poor person I know? What am I doing with my personal circumstances to make myself better than I was last week?

This life is a test to see if we will do all things whatsoever God commands us to do. We are all under the same injunction to obey Him and improve ourselves. He knows what we need to do in order to become more like Him. It is God who put us where we are. Now what are we going to do with the circumstances we were born into? What we are born into is rarely easy or something to be boastful of. We all need to work to improve what we are and what we have to make something more of our self. No matter what our initial circumstances in life, becoming more like our Savior should be at the top of our list of accomplishments. In large measure, this is what our Father in heaven is hoping we will do with what He has given us.

Day 4

As you read Joseph Smith–Matthew 1; Matthew 24-25; Mark 12-13; and Luke 21, you might ask, “What messages do these chapters have for me? for my family? for my calling?”

Matthew 25:31-46 – When I serve others, I am serving God.

Remember this as you read the parables in the lesson; though God judges us as individuals, we are judged on the love we have developed for the welfare of others. This is the celestial way, the celestial mindset. We can’t be ready and worthy of living with God and Christ if we haven’t learned the value of the souls around us. Our Father and elder brother live their lives in the service of those around them. We won’t be happy in their presence for long if our focus is mainly on our own enjoyment. The world teaches us to focus on ourselves, but God focuses on others. Christ’s atoning sacrifice was literally for everyone but himself. He was the only one who didn’t need to repent of anything.

This lesson of learning to put the needs of others before our own desires is perhaps one of the most difficult lessons we will learn in this life. It is vital that we learn it and learn to enjoy it, for service to others is the source of our fount of happiness in the eternities.

FHE/Personal Study

Mark 12:38-44; Luke 21:1-4 – Widow’s mite

Jesus points out to us the great pretense of the scribes. They put on a show of righteousness, but have evil designs in their hearts. The widow, on the other hand, was obviously poor and lacked any social status. Yet in her humble circumstances she still worshipped God with all her soul, giving the last of her meager income as a donation to the temple treasury.

What can we learn from this comparison? We learn that God doesn’t care if we are rich or poor, only that we do things with our hearts in the right place. The widow had almost nothing, yet she demonstrated her love for God by giving all that she had, which was next to non-existent, to the Lord’s House. God doesn’t care about our possessions. His concern is for our intentions and our desires.

We put such stock and store in the amount someone donates. The Lord doesn’t care how much we have. The entire earth is His to do with as He sees fit. If there isn’t enough gold and silver for His purposes then He can make more. There is no end to His wealth, so what does he care how much of His wealth we momentarily use in mortality? We look on the size of the donation, because we can’t just make more money to suite our needs. He looks on the intents of the heart, because that is what is most important in the eternities. That is something He can’t make more of. Our goodness must come from within us. It must be given freely of our own choice, so He values what we offer Him freely more than anything else.

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NT22-2023 – The Son of Man Shall Come

Week 22