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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Scripture Study

                Individuals and families grow stronger as we spend time and make efforts to study the word of God.  There is something about the word of God that reaches all sincere students of it.  I do not understand how it is so, but I know that the scriptures are written in such a way that children can understand the principle taught and adults can gain more understanding.  Each time I study the scriptures I learn something more or read things that I did not see previously.

                There is a difference between simply reading the scriptures and actually studying them.  One summer I spent time in the scriptures in three different ways and learned that there is a big difference in how much I learned.  I listened to the scriptures on CD as I jogged, I read a chapter each day, and I spent time searching for principles.  As I listened, I heard what was being said, but I did not internalize it.  Reading helped me internalize the scriptures more than simply listening to them, but there were no “hooks” on which to hang the things I read.  When I was searching the scriptures, the principles were the “hooks” on which to hang the stories and statements.

                Lori Fuller suggested three ideas for enhancing our scripture study.  The ideas can be personalized and adapted to our own needs. 
1) Approach scripture study with a question and search for the answer.  2) Choose a specific subject or topic to study.  3) Search for specific guidance for self and/or family (“Scripture Study for Family Strength,” Ensign, Aug. 2013, 20-21). 

                Of course, there are some things we should do no matter which approach we take to studying the scriptures.  We should always begin our scripture study with prayer, asking for help understanding the principles being taught and finding the answers we need.  We should highlight the scriptures that mean something to us.  We should make notes in the scriptures themselves or in a separate notebook.  We can use the topical guide to find specific information or the Bible Dictionary to define specific words and gain greater understanding.

                President Henry B. Eyring, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared how he enhanced his personal scripture study.  “When I came into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Richard G. Scott suggested I buy an inexpensive set of scriptures and mark the insights and revelations I would gain in my new calling.  So I did.  But I went a little further.

                “I asked Heavenly Father what He would have me do as an Apostle.  I wrote down what I felt His answers were.  I typed, color coded, and pasted those answers in the front of my scriptures.  For example, the first [answer on the list] was `I am to be a witness that Christ is the Son of God.’  Then I read my scriptures looking for ideas that taught me how to witness that Christ is the Son of God.  Every time I came to something I marked  it in blue.  Soon I developed my own topical guide around what I thought the Lord wanted me to do.  I have learned much through this process.

                “Going to the scriptures to learn what to do makes all the difference.  The Lord can teach us.  When we come to a crisis in our life, such as losing a child or spouse, we should go looking in the scriptures for specific help.  We will find answers in the scriptures.  The Lord seemed to anticipate all of our problems and all of our needs, and He put help in the scriptures for us – if only we seek it” (“A Discussion on Scripture Study,” Ensign, July 2005, 24). 

                Studying the scriptures as a family is a bit trickier than studying individually.  When my children were very small, I would carry them from their beds to the living room each morning and read scriptures to them as they were waking.  As they grew, scripture study was more challenging.  Even though I kept trying, I never found a way that worked real well for our family.

                Somehow my children got the message that families should study the scriptures together.   Each of them gathers their family around them, and each member of the family takes a turn to read a verse or two.  The children who know how to read take their turns reading; one or the parent helps the children who do not yet know how to read by reading a few words and having the child repeat the words.  As I have participated with them in their family scripture study and prayer, I sense that the children enjoy the experience very much.  I believe children can internalize much of what is read and hear during scripture study.  I also believe that children become better readers as they read the scriptures; I am always pleasantly surprised at the “big words” my grandchildren seem to automatically know.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminded us that “our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results.”
 “As our sons were growing up, our family … had regular family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening….
“Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile.  Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as `He’s touching me!’  `Make him stop looking at me!’  `Mom, he’s breathing my air!’  Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking.  And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification.  At time Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.

“Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening, I believe I know how they would answer.  They likely would not identify a particular prayer or a specific instance of scripture study or an especially meaningful family home evening lesson as the defining moment in their spiritual development.  What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent.

“Sister Bednar and I thought helping our sons understand the content of a particular lesson or a specific scripture was the ultimate outcome.  But such a result does not occur each time we study or pray or learn to together.  The consistency of our intent and work was perhaps the greatest lesson – a lesson we did not fully appreciate at the time” (“More Diligent and Concerned at Home,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 20).  

I was listening to the Glenn Beck radio program for a few minutes recently.  At the time, Glenn was explaining the importance of studying the scriptures together as a family.  He described the difficulty his family had trying to find a good time to sit down together to study the scriptures.  One day he said to his family:  We eat dinner together as a family every day.  We are going to combine dinner and scripture study.  He said that his family reads and discusses a chapter in the scriptures as they eat dinner each day; he also said that he can sense that his children and family are growing spiritually.

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) said, “When individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, other areas of activity will automatically come.  Testimonies will increase.  Commitment will be strengthened.  Families will be fortified.  Personal revelation will flow” (“The Power of the Word,Ensign, May 1986, 81).  

President Howard W. Hunter, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught:  “When we follow the counsel of our leaders to read and study the scriptures, benefits and blessings of many kinds come to us.  This is the most profitable of all study in which we could engage.” (“Reading the Scriptures," Ensign, Nov. 1979). 

I know from personal and family experience that scripture study helps us to grow stronger as individuals and families.  I encourage you to begin a program of scripture study!

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