Monday, March 20, 2006

3 Nephi 20, 21 & 22 - Reach a Little Higher

[student work, questions from page 172, student seminary manual]

Today we covered 3 Nephi 20-22. As a prelude to the lesson, I began by calling a student volunteer to the front of the room. As it happened, it turned out to be the tallest student in the class. I asked him to show how high he could reach. He went over to the wall and rested his verrry long arm at a very tall spot on the wall.

Then when it appeared he had reached as high as he could, I asked him to reach a little higher. Invariably, even though the student thought he was reaching as tall as he could, he still was able to stretch more - even without standing on his toes!

A few years back, President Hinckley asked that we all reach a little higher, to do a little more. Not a lot more, just a little more. I shared this with the class and asked why President Hinckley asked this of us.

I then drew a small bucket on the board and asked the class to imagine the room were filled with rocks. That being the case, would all those rocks fit in such a small bucket? What if the rocks were candy bars? Financial blessings? The class could see the bucket still was too small to hold a room full of much of anything.

I asked the class to read D&C 111:11 (the five "11"s verse).
"Therefore, be ye as wise as serpents and yet without sin; and I will order all things for your good, as fast as ye are able to receive them. Amen."
I asked the class again why they thought President Hinckley had asked everyone to stretch a little farther. They started thinking much more deeply about this, realizing that the prophet wanted them to have more and more blessings.

Then I drew a larger bucket subsuming the smaller bucket. I shared with the class that the faster we enlarge our souls, the more the Lord is able to fill us with the good things of His kingdom. I told them they'd see this analogy also in what they were about to study in today's block of scriptures.

I passed out sheets to four teams with questions divided amongst them from the seminary student manual (page 172, Studying the Scriptures, activities A through D). I told them that the Lord also was teaching the Nephites in these chapters to reach a little higher. The students were to research their assigned verses and draw an illustration of what they learned. Tomorrow they will share with the class these important topics from 3 Nephi 20-22.

I also felt impressed I needed to share the specific information/quotes from the CES manuals for today's block of scriptures: the sanctity and power that comes from the sacrament. So I read several quotes on the sacredness of the sacrament from the teacher's manual, institute manual, and student manual that went with today's scripture block.

There were so many other things I could have shared, had I a different class with different needs, much as another seminary teacher's class might need different things than what I do in mine. Between this, and what my students gained through their research projects in today's class, I hope they were deeply fed with the appropriate spiritual sustenance they needed for the day.

Tomorrow I will continue to summarize a few final points from 3 Nephi 20-22, in addition to what the students will share.

But one of the additional points I felt impressed to share today with this particular class was the importance of hearkening to the prophet in stretching a little farther. We do this so we can receive all the Lord has waiting for us, just as the Savior was teaching the Nephites in 3 Nephi (and as President Hinckley has admonished us to do).

I read to the class a quote from an additional CES Book of Mormon institute manual, this one reprinted in 1981 (the current institute manual being reprinted in 1996). (I work to use just CES instructional materials for my scripture resources, since that is what we've been asked to do.)

Therein, referencing 3 Nephi 21:1-8, the manual quotes President Kimball telling a congregation (in a mission dedication) that the reason some people were dying before seeing the New Jerusalem temple being built (even though their patriarchal blessing said otherwise) was because church members in general were not being diligent in missionary work amongst the Lamanite people.

President Kimball taught that day in December 1963, that we ourselves either hinder the Lord's timetable or speed it up by our willingness to be obedient and receive the blessings (pages 427-8). Wow. That is powerful. We truly do have more power than we think to bring about great good!

Thus, as today's lesson brought out, when we decide to approach the Sacrament with fervent and clean lives, we receive great power to build ourselves and the kingdom. When we pray as the Savior demonstrates in 3 Nephi, we open the windows of heaven to greater understanding of God's purposes. When we strengthen the stakes of the house of Israel, we are furthering the Lord's mission and enlarging our own "tents" and "buckets" to receive all the blessings He has for fast as we are able to receive them (D&C 111:11).

What a glorious thing. I love the gospel, for therein lies joy and peace and spiritual safety - if we are willing to "reach a little higher."

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