Tag: Sunday School

Lesson on Second Coming

So I’ve been working on my lesson for Sunday and I am very happy with how it has turned out.  It is on a very challenging topic- signs of the second coming.  It is probably my least favorite gospel topic.   Here are my notes for the lesson.  If anyone has any insight into the topic let me know.  JS Matt is the Joseph Smith translation of Matthew 24.  They are similar so if you have any thoughts on Matt 24 that would be great.  Hopefully everything will turn out well on Sunday.  Somehow Heavenly Father always helps me out if I make a good effort.

Second Coming- JS Matthew 1 or Matthew 24

Today we are going to talk about a tough topic- the second coming.

JS Matt 1:4- What questions did the disciples ask

  1.  When will Jerusalem be destroyed
  2. What are the signs of His coming?

For this lesson we are going to dive into this chapter.  Tricky chapter because it changes focuses between the 2 questions

JS Matt 1:6, 9, 22- Many saying “I am Christ”.  False prophets. 

  1. How do we see false prophets in our society?

JS  Matt 1:7- Hated of all nations,

  1. How are the faithful hated? Prop 8.  We are accused of hate.

JS Matt 1:8- Many shall be offended

  1. What does that mean that many shall be offended by the gospel?

JS Matt 1:10- Love of many shall wax cold. 

  1. The word “wax” means to “become.”
  2.  How are people becoming cold?  There are so many things that people used to be horrified by that don’t phase people.   I’m even surprised by the number of shows about murderers like Snapped.
    1. Elder Oaks Preparation for Second Coming

Evil that used to be localized and covered like a boil is now legalized and paraded like a banner. The most fundamental roots and bulwarks of civilization are questioned or attacked. Nations disavow their religious heritage. Marriage and family responsibilities are discarded as impediments to personal indulgence. The movies and magazines and television that shape our attitudes are filled with stories or images that portray the children of God as predatory beasts or, at best, as trivial creations pursuing little more than personal pleasure. And too many of us accept this as entertainment.

The men and women who made epic sacrifices to combat evil regimes in the past were shaped by values that are disappearing from our public teaching. The good, the true, and the beautiful are being replaced by the no-good, the “whatever,” and the valueless fodder of personal whim. Not surprisingly, many of our youth and adults are caught up in pornography, pagan piercing of body parts, self-serving pleasure pursuits, dishonest behavior, revealing attire, foul language, and degrading sexual indulgence.

JS Matt 1:11- He who remaineth steadfast shall be saved.

  1.  Elder Oaks Preparation for Second Coming

Are we following the Lord’s command, “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly”? (D&C 87:8). What are those “holy places”? Surely they include the temple and its covenants faithfully kept. Surely they include a home where children are treasured and parents are respected. Surely the holy places include our posts of duty assigned by priesthood authority, including missions and callings faithfully fulfilled in branches, wards, and stakes.

As the Savior taught in His prophecy of the Second Coming, blessed is the “faithful and wise servant” who is attending to his duty when the Lord comes (see Matt. 24:45–46). As the prophet Nephi taught of that day, “The righteous need not fear” (1 Ne. 22:17; see also 1 Ne. 14:14; D&C 133:44). And modern revelation promises that “the Lord shall have power over his saints”

JS  Matt 1:12-17, 34- Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem

the Lord’s prophecies were fulfilled in A.D. 70. Believing that the Messiah would come and help them in battle, the Jews revolted against the Romans in A.D. 66. Four years later the Romans had destroyed the entire city.

JS Matt 1:18-19– Trials of Jews. What ways has this been fulfilled? Persecution of jews?

JS Matt 1:23- Wars and rumors of wars.  What is a rumor of war?

JS Matt 1:26- 2nd coming like light from East

JS  Matt 1:29- Famines, pestilence, earth quakes .

            2010 Natural Disasters

182 flood

83 storms

29 extreme temperature events

25 landslides

14 droughts

7 wildfires

6 volcanic eruptions

23 earthquakes including tsunamis

4 avalanches

208 million were affected

222 billion costs

296,800 deaths (Haiti was a  huge portion of this)

JS Matt 1:31- Gospel preached to all nations

  1.  Why is missionary work so important to the 2nd coming?
  2. Helps explain why missionary work is so hard.

JS Matt 1:33- Sun will be darkened

  1. 1.      Shall the sun be darkened-

The images used here are not to be taken literally. They are often employed by the sacred writers to denote “any great calamities.” As the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars, would be an inexpressible calamity, so any great catastrophe – any overturning of kingdoms or cities, or dethroning of kings and princes is represented by the darkening of the sun and moon, and by some terrible convulsion in the elements.

JS  Matt 1:34- This generation shall not pass until signs foretold

  1. This discusses the destruction of Jerusalem

JS Matt 1:36- Heavens shake, tribes morn

  1.  By the tribes he means the children of Israel or covenant people- How will we mourn last days?

JS Matt 1:37- Whoso treasureth up word will not be deceived

JS Matt 1:38-39- Allegory of fig tree.  What do you think he means by this allegory?

Elder Oaks Prepartion for the 2nd coming

  1. 1.      The Savior taught this in the parable of the fig tree whose tender new branches give a sign of the coming of summer. “So likewise,” when the elect shall see the signs of His coming “they shall know that he is near, even at the doors”

JS Matt 1:40- Day and Hour No Man Knoweth.  I kept thinking this with the recent predictions. 

  1. 1.      How can we be ready if we don’t know when it will happen?

JS Matt 1:41-43- End will be like days of Noah

JS Matt 1:44-45- 2 in field/ 1 taken, 1 left (10 virgins)

JS Matt 1:46- Watch Therefore

  1. Elder Oaks Preparation for Second Coming- While we are powerless to alter the fact of the Second Coming and unable to know its exact time, we can accelerate our own preparation and try to influence the preparation of those around us.

JS  Matt 1:47-48, 50- If man knows thief coming won’t he be ready?

  1. 1.      At first it seems like a contradiction to have a thief in the night and yet we have to be prepared for the thief.  Nevertheless, that is what is asked of us.

JS Matt 1:51-54- Man who gives up waiting on the Lord to Sins will be Punished-

  1. 1.      Elder Eyrring has a talk about the increasing law of returns.  Meaning the more we sacrifice the more we are blessed.  With the world it is the decreasing law of returns- longer you keep something the lower it is valued.  Often we give up too soon.

Waiting for a harvest takes more judgment in life than it does in gardening. In your garden, you can tell if the seed sprouts. And even an amateur can tell when the corn or carrots are ready. But I remember a story told to me long ago, far from here, by a sad voice. I remember it not because it was unique but because I have heard the same story told, again and again, about waiting or failing to wait. The details vary, but not the feeling of drama.

She said it happened on a summer Saturday afternoon. She was tired. Tired of being single. Tired of trying to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. Not so much tired of being kind and virtuous as tired of nothing good seeming to come of it. She’d not had a date in months.

She saw no prospect of even becoming friends with, let alone marrying, a man who shared her faith and ideals. In frustration she found herself deciding something. She decided that afternoon, consciously, that years of good works and restraint had produced too little and promised no more. She said to herself almost aloud, “Oh, what’s the use?”

The phone rang. It was a man’s voice, a man she knew. He lived in the same apartment building. He’d asked her out before. She’d refused because she was sure he’d expect her to compromise her standards she’d preserved at great effort. But, almost as if directed by a scriptwriter, he called at that instant.

She didn’t say, “Yes.” She said, “I’ll think about it.” She thought about it. He called again. And finally, she repeated to herself, “Oh, what’s the use?” She went. She found she had been right about his intentions. And in a choice about time and about waiting or not waiting, her life changed. So, she will never know what might have been ahead on the path she decided wasn’t worth the price; she knew quickly the other one was uphill, and a hard climb.

All of us make decisions every day, almost every hour, about whether it’s worth it to wait. The hardest ones are where the waiting includes working. Does it make sense to keep working, to keep sacrificing, when nothing seems to be coming from the effort?”

Help with Lesson

Today I am asking for help.  This Sunday I am teaching the New Testament lesson in Gospel Doctrine (Sunday School) at church.  The lesson focuses on John 9 and while it is an undeniably moving chapter, I am having a tough time putting my feelings in a coherent form.

John 9 focuses on Jesus’ miraculous healing of a blind man.   Jesus declares ‘I am the light of the world’ and then spits on the ground, making a clay which he applies to the blind man’s eyes.  After the man washes in the pool of Siloam he rejoices saying ‘whereas I was blind, now I see!’.

Such a dramatic healing is without a doubt one of the most amazing miracles in the New Testament.  I suppose where I am struggling is why Jesus chose this man?  There must have been thousands of blind people in Jerusalem, why heal this man?  Was it just to prove a point about healing on the sabbath to the Pharisees?  Was it to because Jesus knew the man would be such a diligent missionary?  Was the man somehow more worthy or faithful than other blind people?

Also, why did Jesus feel a need to go through the spitting and the clay ceremony?   I can find no similar ordinance or practice in any other scripture story?  Biblios says that making clay with spittle was part of many spells and incantations of the day, so it may have been Christ’s way of refuting superstitions and myths?  Perhaps he was doing this just to prove that his laws and methods do not follow the worlds?

I guess in going through such difficult health problems I find it tough to teach about miracles.  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in them and have faith in my Heavenly Father, but I just wonder why?  Why are some people seen as worthy of healing and others struggle so? Is there anything I could do to be more worthy? I know my faith can always be strengthened.  It is never a finished transaction but it seems strong.  I have never wavered throughout my life in my belief in Jesus Christ’s atonement or His love for me.  I know He loves me and it is His love that has carried me through these hard months.

Still, I don’t understand why when I am trying to do such a noble thing as get in shape I am confronted with so many obstacles? I know someday it will make sense but right now I am forced to go with faith alone.   Perhaps that is what He is teaching me?  It wouldn’t be the first time.  There have been many times in my life when I faced unknowns and only years later did I understand why I needed that lonely experience.

For example, my emotionally abusive missionary companion comes to mind.  At the time I could not comprehend why the Lord had abandoned me when I was showing such faith as his obedient servant.  Why when others have such positive training experiences did I get this sister?  It was only later in my mission that I saw those months in a new light.  It was during those lonely times that I turned to the Lord the most; thereby, making me a strong and powerful missionary.  The last six months of my mission were full of converts, amazing companionships, and powerful experiences and I believe that was a direct reward from the Lord for my faith during those tough months.

There are also experiences which I still don’t understand. For instance, why did I have to gain weight at 9 years old- at an age when I was practically helpless to solve the problem?  Why did I have to be picked on and made fun of?  Was that just to make me strong and independent? If so, why is that independence so important to my character?   Couldn’t there have been another way?  God and Jesus Christ know all and evidently the answer is No, but I am not going to pretend like I understand all the why’s behind that No!

I guess in the end I just wish I was one of the lucky one’s.  I am a little envious of the blind man and of every other healing I read about.  I want that to happen to me! I believe it could happen.  I have faith in miracles but I do not feel it will happen.  I just know there are no easy solutions to this problem- no miracle drug, no quick fix diet, no exercise that will change everything.  For some reason the Lord wants me to chisel away at this bit-by-bit.  I wonder why?  What is He trying to teach me? At this moment, I don’t know.  I will someday.

Anyway, those are some of the issues I am struggling with in crafting this lesson.  If any of you have any thoughts about John 9 or healing in general I would love to hear them.  Also if you have any suggestions for teaching others when you are the one with all the questions that would be great!  How do you show the confidence to instruct others when you are unsure yourself?   You can post thoughts as a comment or if it is too personal email/call me.  Thanks in advance.