Cover image: “Shield of Faith” by Steve Goad.

Congratulations! You’re in the last week of the inaugural year of the higher and holier way of individual and family gospel learning and scripture study. This year we had the chance to get to know Jesus Christ in a personal way. We studied how and where He lived, learned about His interactions with those around Him, and read testimony from people who personally and physically interacted with Him.

Most likely you took some time to ponder and to discuss His character and attributes and came up with ideas on how to become a little more like Him. Hopefully throughout this process you have felt a stronger trust that He can and will strengthen you to deal with the challenging circumstances of human life. Take a moment to analyze yourself and feel the joy of progress. In some way, you are more Christ-like today than you were on January 1, 2019. Amazing!

You know what else is amazing? Drive-thrus. They really are an amazing creation. Did you know the first one was started in 1947? It was Red’s Giant Hamburg on Route 66 in Springfield, Missouri.  Today there are all sorts of services you can obtain with drive-thru windows practically anywhere. With minimal effort you can now buy groceries, do your banking, have your prescriptions filled, purchase a variety of meals and desserts at a moment’s notice and all while you sit in your car. 

It is very convenient, especially if you have young children. You don’t even need to get dressed if you don’t want to. It is quick, efficient, and easy. There is no preparation needed, and no significant investment on your part. All the work is done for you. Just Grab and Go. We can save so much time by using drive-thrus.

But you wouldn’t want to buy a holiday meal at a drive-thru. Even though holiday feasts require a vast amount of time and preparation, that is part of the attraction of the celebrations and traditions.  It’s not just about eating the food. Even though a drive-thru meal can satisfy physical hunger, a holiday meal can satisfy a deeper hunger and need. 

Now think about your approach to scripture study. Do you approach scripture study like a drive-thru? Minimal effort?  Minimal investment? Minimal thought or preparation? Or do you prepare like a special holiday feast? When it comes to spiritual growth, there are no spiritual drive-thrus.  

As we move forward to 2020, take some time to think about how you will approach your scripture study this year. When and how will you feast? What will it consist of? As you ponder this, consider what Boyd K. Packer said in 1995 in a talk entitled Shield of Faith ,(italics added).

The shield of faith is not produced in a factory, but at home  in a cottage industry. . . the shield of faith is to be made and fitted in the family.  No two can be exactly alike. Each must be handcrafted to individual specifications.  The plan designed by the Father contemplates that [parents], … fit each child individually with a shield of faith made to buckle on so firmly that it can neither be pulled off nor penetrated by those fiery darts.

In the Church we can teach about the materials from which a shield of faith is made: reverence, courage, chastity, repentance, forgiveness, compassion. In church we can learn how to assemble and fit them together. But the actual making of and fitting on of the shield of faith belongs in the family circle.  

Our leaders [should] press members to understand that what is most worth doing must be done at home. Some still do not see that too many out-of-home activities, however well intended, leave too little time to make and fit on the shield of faith at home.”

This is what we are doing in the Come, Follow Me program.  We are building shields of faith for our children individually. This program was implemented as a guide to help families in our responsibilities to teach our families.  It is an invitation to grow and develop with our families as we strive to strengthen and fortify ourselves against the wiley ways of Satan.  

Granted, it might not be feasible to have a study-feast every day, but there should be days where you do feast together. You will need to plan for those opportunities. They won’t magically happen.  But the “power is in you” (Doctrine & Covenants 58: 27-28) to succeed.

Jeffery R. Holland gave some advice for ministering that applies beautifully to our efforts with this program in our homes. He said: 

“We thank you for following our beloved prophet in this wonderful endeavor and suggest that you not wait for many more instructions. Just jump into the pool and swim. . . Don’t be immobilized wondering whether you should do the backstroke or the dog paddle. If we follow the basic principles that have been taught, stay aligned with priesthood keys, and seek the Holy Spirit to guide us, we cannot fail.”

I believe we can each find ways to teach our families that are meaningful and spirit-filled. Reading and studying the Book of Mormon together with our families will bring blessings and light into our lives. I am looking forward to developing some new habits and creative ways of studying in the Book of Mormon. 

So, Godspeed you on your journey in the new year. And in the manner of John, as he concludes Revelations, I also bid farewell, it’s been a great year of discovery: May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Revelations 12 – 22

Discuss:

Discuss your impressions and points that peak your interest this week.  What was meaningful to you? Did you learn anything new or come to think about something in a new way?  What do you see as the overall theme of John’s writings? 

According to  Discover the Book of Revelations website there are four themes in Revelations.  They are: 

“First, it was written to encourage believers to endure persecution and to persevere through suffering, knowing that the victory of Christ over the world and the Devil is guaranteed and certain.

Second, it was written to show how all of prophecy focuses on Jesus Christ, His person and His program for the world.

Third, the book seeks to unite all the various lines of biblical prophecy (both Old and New Testaments), and to show how they converge upon the second coming of Christ to rule the earth in His messianic kingdom.

Fourth, John seeks to correct some moral and doctrinal problems that existed (and still exist), in the churches, and to instruct Christians in such things as salvation, prophecy, the person of Christ, and Christian living.”

–Take some time to discuss these themes and maybe even point out specific verses you find supporting them..

Apply:

Applying what we learn gives us power to change our hearts, our relationships, and our lives and leads to deeper conversion to Jesus Christ and His gospel.

–Look at the weaknesses of the early Saints, can you relate to any of them? Are they a weakness for you?  If so, what can you do to overcome them?  

–What kinds of persecution do you have to endure today? What can you learn from John that will help you to endure persecution? Or to persevere through suffering? 

Every Knee Shall Bow Every Tongue Confess by J. Kirk Richards.

Lesson Enhancements:

Here are some ideas of activities you can do throughout the week.

–Reading the chapter heading can help to understand what is going on in the chapter.  You might consider this a guide for your discussions.

— Reading Revelations can lead to more questions than answers. There is a lot of symbolism and imagery involved in John’s writings that can be hard to understand. If you want to do an in depth study, by all means, do so, but if that seems too intimidating, pick a few things that stand out to you, or phrases you read over and over, and look for the symbolic meaning of those. Or pick one chapter and to try and figure out as many symbols as possible.  

–Look at all the blessings that come to “those that overcome”.  Which one do you appreciate the most? Which one would you most like to receive? Have you seen any of these blessings in your life thus far?  Write your thoughts in your journal.

–Make a list of the descriptions of Jesus Christ throughout the book. I saw a list with 16 descriptive phrases. Can you find them all?

–Read all the footnotes as you study this week.

 –A Christian source, Discover the Book of Revelations, includes an overview of the Book of Revelations. Near the bottom of the webpage, there are links to every chapter, so you can go to each one individually.  Each chapter includes possible interpretations for various symbols and images, and also review questions at the end. How many of the questions can you get right?

The War in Heaven Continues on Earth: 

–Revelations 12: 7-17 tells us about the ‘War in Heaven’.  Here are a couple of articles that add to our understanding of what happened. 

*An LDS article from the Bible Dictionary, link found here.  

*Kevin M. Bulloch’s article entitled The War in Heaven and Satan’s Continuing Battle for Power, click here.

Celestial Glory: Revelations 21; 22: 1-5

–Take some time to review of the three degrees of glory with an assortment of articles and quotes from LDS leaders in the General Teachings Concerning The Three Kingdoms of Glory. Click here for the link.

Specifically for teaching Revelations to Children & Teens:

ShareFaith Kids presents a video about Revelations 21 & 22.

–What’s in the Bible is a youtube channel that has a Good way to explain Revelations to older kids (1.14min) Click here to access Teaching Revelations to Kids.

–Revelation for Kids, a website with lots of resources and articles you can use to teach children about Revelations.  Check it out here.

–The blog, RadicalChristianWoman, tell us 10 truths we should teach our children about revelations. Click here for the link.

–kidsstudybible–is a site that translates each chapter into understandable everyday language children can grasp. Check it out here for a list of all the chapter links.

–Draw your own pictures of different scenes.

Videos:

–From The Bible Project:

Overview Revelations 1-11

Overview Revelations 12-22

 –Another Christian source with a 5-minute overview video of the Book of Revelations

Review the year:

–Take some time to review your accomplishment for the year.  What worked for you or your family? How did you feel when you were successful? What difference has this study made in your life? What ways can you improve?   

–Make a goal(s) for next year.  What will you keep or sustain from this year?  What will you change? Make some specific goals to help you progress. Here are two links to reviewing how to make SMART goals, goals that help you succeed.

Mindtools article on SMART goals

Smartsheet essential guide for writing SMART goals

–Read 25 quotes about the power of the Book of Mormon by Russell M. Nelson click here.