Week 48 is scheduled for study Nov. 20-26, 2023. Rejoice that God loves all His children equally and has provided for the same salvation to be offered to each and everyone of us.

Day 1

As you read the Epistles of Peter, you may receive spiritual impressions. Promptly record them while you are “yet in the Spirit” so you can accurately capture what God teaches you.

1 Peter 1:3-9; 2:19-24; 3:14-17; 4:12-19 – I can find joy during times of trial and suffering.

There are several lessons every person has to learn. Most learn these lessons one at a time, and usually the hard way.

  1. Life isn’t fair.
  2. Learning to accept responsibility for how we react to adversity, i.e. we learn not to spend our time blaming others for our problems.
  3. Life is happier when we learn to take our focus off ourselves and put it on the welfare of others.
  4. Joy is a spiritual state, not a physical state. The exterior events that go on around us have nothing to do with our relationship with God. He can give us peace and happiness despite the adversities we are currently experiencing.

Today’s lesson focuses on joy and where it comes from. It can be difficult to comprehend that the world can’t experience real joy, for the world isn’t making and keeping covenants with God. They are focused on their own comfort and convenience, not the welfare of others or pleasing God. Our personal welfare, no matter how much money, prestige, or fame we have, can be taken away in the blink of an eye. Therefore we are always in need of being on guard to protect this precious resource. Where is the joy in that?

We have learned that Jesus was able to suffer what he did for us, because of “the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). What joy is that? It is the vision, the hope, the assurance of a reward that is eternal that comes from God. Jesus believed in the words of his Father, that he would sit on His right hand, and that all things would be put under his feet, that he would spend the rest of eternity with those whom he loved dearly. Note that these promises were not anything that would happen in this life, but in the next.

The joy Abraham received was in the blessing that his posterity, not him, would receive a land of inheritance and that the covenants God made with him would bless him and his posterity for all eternity. Abraham didn’t live to see any of his promises take place in this life, yet his belief in these promises made him able to handle all the hardships of this life, because his hopes extended into the eternities.

We find joy in our standing with God when we learn to put our faith and hopes in His promises to us. We know that all of our greatest blessings will be eternal in nature, so it really doesn’t matter what happens in this short life, for we have been promised by Him who cannot lie glory and happiness that will last forever. It is this change of focus that gives us joy in this life, no matter what we are experiencing physically at the moment. Only when we take our sight off those promises and think just about what hurts at the moment do we lose our sense of joy and gratitude for the promises we have been given.

Day 2

As you read the Epistles of Peter, you may receive spiritual impressions. Promptly record them while you are “yet in the Spirit” so you can accurately capture what God teaches you.

1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:1-6 – The gospel is preached to the dead so they can be judged justly.

Only the Latter-day Saints believe that God treats all of us with equal love and mercy. The rest of the Christian world believes that only those who are taught the gospel of Christ in this life have a chance at heaven in the next life. They don’t have a clear understanding of today’s scriptures.

The mortal experience is more than just when we have a mortal body in our possession. This overall experience lasts until the resurrection, which means that all those who haven’t yet been taught the gospel of Christ will, at some point before the resurrection. Everyone, without exception, will have the opportunity to hear and accept or reject Christ’s teachings, before they are resurrected. This way God can judge even the spirits the way He will judge those in the flesh, for all will have the same opportunities to accept the gospel and repent before the resurrection. No one will be left out or denied an opportunity for the blessings of eternal life. Eternal life is the whole reason for why God does all that He does. This equal access to Christ’s teachings is central to the whole plan of salvation.

Think back on your experiences with General Conference. How many times have you heard one of the Brethren make the statement that we are gathering Israel or saving Israel on both sides of the veil? Those who came before us are just as important to God as we are. In fact, we are responsible to them for doing for them what they can no longer do for themselves. We must find them and do their covenant work for them. As much as we might accomplish in this life, it will still take a thousand years to complete the work of offering the gospel to everyone once Jesus returns. This will be the main focus of the work of the Millennium, to get the temple work done for each and every child of God who has come to earth. When all is said and done, no one will have been left out or short changed when it comes to the opportunities for godhood and eternal blessings.

Being alive and in possession of the gospel of Christ doesn’t give us any special advantage that isn’t also available to all those who died without ever hearing the gospel preached to them. What it does is make us responsible for making sure that we do all in our power to bring them the gospel message, since they are already out of this phase of mortality. This means that we will be held responsible by God if we don’t do all in our capacity to help save as many of our brothers and sisters as we can, whether it be those still living with us or those who have passed on to the spirit world. Our own salvation rests on our efforts to connect ourselves to those who have come before us.

Day 3

As you read the Epistles of Peter, you may receive spiritual impressions. Promptly record them while you are “yet in the Spirit” so you can accurately capture what God teaches you.

2 Peter1:1-11 – Through the power of Jesus Christ, I can develop my divine nature.

I see two principles at play in today’s lesson.

Principle 1

We are told time and time again that if we are just a little bit better today than we were yesterday then that is enough. It isn’t the amount of progress we make each day that counts, but that we are earnestly striving to be better each day. Almost all of us would be in trouble if we had to be hitting specific milestones of goodness by a certain date. Too much pressure.

The Lord wants to see that we are serious about the process of becoming like Christ. There is no expectation that we will have that process mastered by our 85th birthday. As the manual states, learning the characteristics of charity and godly virtues is something that is interwoven, and has to happen one small step at a time. As soon as we become comfortable having adapted or adopting a new practice in our life, we can go to work on the next one of our choosing. There is no one already defined path. Each of us has to learn and grow at our own pace.

I have stated numerous times before that because of our individual talents and abilities, our pathway to perfection is our own. No one else can copy it. But we must be deliberate about our efforts in becoming better each day. No one will be saved by accident. Salvation is the result of a deliberate series of choices.

Principle 2

The second principle that comes into my mind is that God knows how long it takes to walk the path from completely lost to perfection. Mortality just doesn’t offer that much time. While we are here we learn the basics of obedience and establish our desires. Once we leave this life we have the rest of eternity to complete this process. The important part here is that we need to be serious about it while we are still in our body and afterward while we await the resurrection. Until the final judgment we must demonstrate a consistent desire to be like and with Christ. This is the time for showing God that we do indeed have a desire to be with Him again. Remember that the Book of Mormon teaches us that the judgment is one of restoration. If we have demonstrated that we have a love of being good, we will have goodness restored to us again. If we have learned compassion then we will be rewarded with compassion.

Again, perfection isn’t in the picture, but we must be able to demonstrate that perfection is where our desires lay. We must be working toward that goal. As we take our ministering duties seriously, both in and outside of our immediate circle, we will grow in godly attributes, and our joy and hope will increase along the way.

FHE/Personal Study

Improving Our Teaching

Be ready always

For the longest time I lived by the assumption that bearing my testimony or sharing my hope in Christ was reserved for formal discussions with that end goal in mind. It took me years, and several children, before I began to realize that defining teaching moments happen and are unplanned and unscripted. If we don’t have something to share or give during those brief moments of receptivity, we may lose our opportunity completely until another day.

As an example, I saw a video posted on social media where the children decided they wanted to trap their father. They built a pyramid of plastic cups in front of the front door so that when he came home from work he would knock them down “by accident.” Boy would he be surprised! What the children didn’t know was that his wife was preparing to catch it all on video. When the children were in the other room he opened the door and saw the cups. He stopped, not knowing what he should do. She whispered to him what the children were planning and encouraged him to go outside and wait a moment before coming back in and springing the trap. While he was outside, she called the children back into the room, because she thought she heard him coming home. They all hid behind corners and chairs, so when Dad came in and “tripped” over the cups, falling to the floor, the children jumped up and shouted to each other, “We got him! We trapped him!” They laughed, exulted in their cleverness, hugged each other, and danced around the room at the success of their operation. Meanwhile Mom caught the whole thing on video. It was very touching to see how much pleasure this little maneuver on the parents’ part gave to their kids.

My point in sharing this is that the decision to have Dad go back outside and make a grand entrance was only available to make for a small moment, and what they chose to do made a huge difference in the happiness of their children that night. We all have opportunities to uplift another, console someone who is feeling dejected, or to strengthen someone feeling weak. If we are self absorbed we will likely miss those opportunities. A celestially thinking person thinks about the needs and wants of others before their own needs and wants. We can’t catch all the opportunities that come our way, but when we are deliberately seeking to be ready to offer the goodness of God to those around us, we can catch more and more of the chances that come our way. All it takes is to learn to look for them, and not get caught up in our own dramas.

We don’t always have to have a formal testimony at the ready. Sometimes just making an observation about how living the gospel of Christ has improved the quality of our life is just what they need to hear. Instead of assuming we need to speak of revelation, perhaps we can just speak of our experiences with the Spirit or of the times we saw or did good in someone else’s life and it made us happy. What we are being ready to do is to always acknowledge God’s goodness in our own life and be willing to share than in whatever form is required for the benefit of another person.

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NT48-2023 – Rejoice With Joy Unspeakable