Monday, February 22, 2016

February 21, 2016 - The Plan of Salvation - The Importance of Learning and Agency

Read the sections "Agency and Accountability" and "Education"
in For the Strength of Youth.

I know, I shook things up, putting the challenge first.
But, knowing you, y'all are awesome and can handle it.

This week, we combined (well, we attempted to combine) two lessons: Why is learning an important part of Heavenly Father's plan? and  What is the role of agency in learning the gospel?

And, in case you forgot, now you totally see why you've accepted the challenge to read those two sections in For the Strength of Youth.

Yesterday was an interesting class. It was a bit hard for you all to concentrate, I think, because of the beautiful (if a little chilly) day outside. But I think we got some learning done.
I appreciated all the participation you gave ... even if "Andre le Roc" did look quite nice in those aqua ballet flats. (In truth, I'm still snickering about that.)

As you (my clever, awesome class) pointed out, the reason we were sent here to Earth is to learn and to grow. And we wouldn't be able to become like our heavenly parents if we couldn't choose for ourselves or learn anything ... hence the need for the Plan of Salvation/the Plan of Happiness.

With Satan's plan, we wouldn't have had agency. We're not sure what his plan was exactly (maybe we would all be compelled to make the right choices. Maybe there wouldn't be right and wrong choices to make so our actions wouldn't matter either way), but no matter what his plan was, it negated our agency and wouldn't have allowed us (God's children) to attain ANY degree of our Father's glory.

Agency is vital. Allowing us our agency is the whole reason behind Christ's Atonement -- his suffering, death, and resurrection FOR US. FOR ALL HUMANKIND.
That's a huge price for Him to pay ... and he loves you all so much.
If He had to go through it all JUST for ONE, SINGLE ONE of you, He would do it, not hesitating for a second. Because He loves you.
Please remember that. Please be aware of how precious and loved you are. Always.

Without agency, we would only be acted upon -- like seaweed on the ocean floor, influenced by the current, but unable to make our own changes. That is not what Heavenly Father wants for us. He knows that, to be like Him, to be able to be as He is, we need to know how to act for ourselves. We need the opportunity to make choices for ourselves.

It's important.

It's also very important to learn.

One of my favorite scriptures is Doctrine 109:7:
"And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith;"
I find that, in my experience, it nicely dovetails (which means that it fits perfectly and securely) with Alma 30:44:
"The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.
 The more I learn, the more that I am convinced that God exists and established rules for how things work/interact. I enjoy learning about science (and many other things) ... and the more that I learn and observe, the more I see God's hand in all things.

For an example, Rhinovirus (the common cold) is a virus that survives best at a temperature of around 91.4-95°F ... what happens when we come down with a bad cold? Not only do we have an immune response where our white blood cells go and chow down on these invaders, BUT!! Our bodies have another response: we run a fever. This raises our internal temperature to something very inhospitable to the virus. I find this absolutely amazing. I have a testimony that our bodies are amazing creations ... and that they ARE creations. They are gifts from loving heavenly parents to us; to help us grow and become more like them.

There's also been amazing amounts of research done in the areas of Book of Mormon studies -- they've found the presence of horses in the Americas in the fossil record recently, they're doing an amazing dig out in Oman (where, it appears, Nephi and his family built the ship and sailed for the promised land).

If you look for God's hand in these things, looking in faith, you will find it.

Of course, temporal knowledge and spiritual knowledge will come in different ways. We have to prepare ourselves for both of these.
Remember, when we die, we can't take everything with us. We will take our memories, our knowledge, and those relationships we have to others (if we're sealed to our families and our spouses, we will have those eternal bonds ... IF we keep the covenants we've made with our Heavenly Father).

Also, please be aware, the Lord does not set us up to fail. He is on our side, cheering us on. He wants us to make good choices that will lead us to become closer to Him, that will bring us joy and His peace.

Yesterday, in Relief Society, we talked about "Help from on High," one of the lessons from the Howard W. Hunter manual.
As Sister Berg taught the lesson, she talked about patterns of faith.

This is like the pride cycle of the Nephites, but HAPPY.
  1. Act in Faith
  2. Pray/Study Scriptures
  3. Ponder
  4. Act on Promptings from the Holy Ghost
  5. Faith is strengthened
  6. Repeat
As you see, as we continue this cycle, our faith is strengthened each time, allowing us to grow and develop so that we have greater, stronger faith to allow us to do all things the Lord asks of us. We will also be familiar with the voice of the Holy Spirit, so we can recognize his influence in our life. Which, then, will strengthen our faith.

Sister Berg also shared this video:
Patterns of Light: Spirit of Revelation - David A. Bednar
(Sorry that I couldn't get it to imbed. I tried. But it's just not going to happen. Oh well.)

I hope that you find this helpful and enlightening (no pun intended).

Next week, we'll be discussing why it's important to teach the gospel, how we can help others to understand Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness, how to help others participate in learning, and how we can use Church music to help learn/teach about the Plan of Salvation.
I don't think we'll cover any of this in depth ... but we're going to try to touch upon these topics.

Go forth and be awesome!

     Sister Cox

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