Look around you. Look at all of the things that Heavenly Father has given you! You might be sitting on a chair or a couch. The wood that was used for furniture came from trees that Heavenly Father blessed us with. The clothes that you are wearing are made of fibers that Heavenly Father created. Even the food that you eat is a gift from Heavenly Father. But more important than the things that we receive from Heavenly Father are the promises that we receive.
Can you think of some promises that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ make to us? They promise us that we can be with our families forever. They promise us that we can live again after we die. They promise us that because of the Atonement, we can live with Them again and have eternal life. What magnificent promises!
The Lord promised Lehi, “Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands” (1 Nephi 2:20). The Lord kept His promise and led Lehi and his family to a promised land. The Nephite prophets reminded the people of the Lord’s promise. The prophets said “that if [the people] did not keep the commandments, … they should be destroyed from off the face of the land” (Jarom 1:10). When the Nephites broke God’s laws, rejected the prophets, and turned to wickedness, they had many wars and were destroyed, just as God had warned.
Our loving Father in Heaven has given us wonderful promises. As we keep His commandments, He will bless us. We can be sure that our families will be together forever when we keep the commandments and live worthy to enter the temple. We can be sure that we will live with Heavenly Father and Jesus again when we keep all of Their commandments. We know that Heavenly Father and Jesus will keep Their promises—Their promises are sure!
Cut out the basket and handle on page 14 on the solid lines, fold along the dotted lines, and paste the tabs where indicated (see illustration). Cut out 30 strips of paper. On each paper, write one blessing you have received and one act of service you will perform to show gratitude for that blessing. (For example, “I am thankful for food to eat. To show my gratitude, I will help to prepare or clean up after a meal today.”) Fold the slips of paper and put them in the basket. Each day this month, choose a slip of paper, think about the blessing, and perform the act of service.
Note: If you do not wish to remove pages from the magazine, this activity may be copied, traced, or printed from the Internet at www.lds.org. Click on Gospel Library.
(Note: All songs are from Children’s Songbook unless otherwise noted; GAK = Gospel Art Picture Kit, TNGC = Teaching, No Greater Call.)
1. Play a game of “Blessing Squares.” Using either a poster or a chalkboard, make a 5 x 5 grid. In the center square, write “Psalm 100:4.” This square is a “free” square. Have the children look up this psalm and repeat it several times. Ask the children to help you fill in the squares with things that Heavenly Father has given us, such as family or a living prophet to lead us. Anticipate their responses by having pictures of some of the things they will say, such as family members, scriptures, food, animals, etc. (Use Primary picture packets, GAK, and pictures in the Friend.) When a child suggests something, have him choose which square to put the picture in. If a child suggests something that you do not have a picture for, let him write the word in a square. As you are making the game, ask a helper to write the blessings on the game board on strips of paper. Put the papers in a basket. When the board is filled in, have the children pass the blessing basket along the rows as they hum “Thanks to Our Father” (p. 20). Randomly stop the music and invite the child who is holding the basket to choose one of the blessings. Cover up that item on the game board. When you have five in a row, either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, sing a song about gratitude from the Children’s Songbook. If your five-in-a-row includes the free square, repeat the scripture together.
For older children: When covering the game board, cover them with twelve letters that spell “thankfulness” in a random order. When the squares are covered, ask the children to unscramble the 12-letter word.
Sing “For Health and Strength” (p. 21) and express your gratitude to a loving Heavenly Father who gives us everything that we have.
2. Ask the children to close their eyes and listen to a hymn. Have the pianist play “God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son” (Hymns, no. 187). Before the children open their eyes, ask them how the music made them feel. Explain that this hymn is meant to help us think of someone special and that you want them to discover who that person is with some picture clues. Tell them that when the music pauses for a long time, they can open their eyes to see a clue. After they see the picture, they should close their eyes again and wait for another long pause. Have the pianist play the hymn again, pausing at the end of each phrase. At each pause show the following pictures in order: (1) GAK 600 (The World), (2) GAK 200 (The Birth of Jesus), (3) GAK 212 (Sermon on the Mount), and (4) GAK 239 (The Resurrected Jesus Christ). After the final clue, ask the children to whisper the name of the special person (Jesus Christ). Tell them the words of the hymn and show how the words go with the pictures. For example, explain that the picture of the world goes with “God loved us, so he sent his Son,” because He sent His Son to the whole world. Ask the children when they might sing this song about Jesus (during the sacrament). Explain that we have a scripture that is very similar to this song. Help the children memorize John 3:16 by matching its phrases with the same four pictures. (TNGC, pp. 171–72.) Tell them that the sacrament is a special time to think about Jesus. Remembering scriptures that you have memorized is a good way to think about Jesus during the sacrament. Encourage the children to share other ways. Invite the bishop or another priesthood holder who has been approved by the bishop to share his feelings about the sacrament. Sing “To Think about Jesus” (p. 71) and bear testimony that Jesus is the Son of God.
3. Liken living the gospel to taking a spelling test. Usually the teacher gives us the words beforehand and helps us learn to spell the words by giving us worksheets or drills. A teacher truly wants his or her students to learn to spell the words and to do well on the test. Similarly, Heavenly Father wants us to do well on our test here on earth. He wants us to live worthy to return to Him. Just as the teacher gives us the words beforehand, Heavenly Father has told us the things that we need to do to enable us to live with Him. He helps us along the way.
For younger children: Help small children liken (TNGC, pp. 170–71) living the gospel to something they will understand such as obeying their parents or obeying a lifeguard at a swimming pool.
Display several gift sacks or wrapped boxes. Explain that we receive blessings for being members of the Church because the gospel teaches us how we should live. The gifts represent blessings. On the outside of the gifts, use a label to identify the blessing. Select commandments that the children can keep from the list of “Requirements for Exaltation” on pages 303–4 of Gospel Principles. Inside the gift sack, place a card with a scripture reference that tells Heavenly Father’s promise for living that particular commandment. For example, “Tithing” (Malachi 3:10); “Baptism” (Alma 9:27); “Honoring Parents” (Exodus 20:12); “Word of Wisdom” (D&C 89:18–20). Have the children look up each scripture and read it together. Share a story or sing a song to reinforce the gospel principle. For instance, “Not Enough for Tithing?” (Ensign, Oct. 2005, 67) shows the way we are blessed for paying tithing. Sing “For Health and Strength” (p. 21). Share a personal experience about how living the gospel has blessed your life. Testify of the blessings of belonging to the Church.
4. Use a sing-a-story (TNGC, pp. 174–75) to teach about our journey on the earth and living with Heavenly Father again. Tell the story by using songs such as “I Lived in Heaven” (p. 4), “I Think the World Is Glorious” (p. 230), “I Am a Child of God” (pp. 2–3), “Families Can Be Together Forever” (p. 188), “Keep the Commandments” (pp. 146–47), “Did Jesus Really Live Again?” (p. 64), and “I Know My Father Lives” (p. 5). Join the songs with a simple narrative which includes scriptures such as Abraham 3:22–26, 1 Nephi 17:3, and John 3:16. After singing “I Know My Father Lives” repeat the sentence, “The Spirit whispers this to me and tells me that I can.” Challenge the children to extend the final sentence. For example, “The Spirit whispers this to me and tells me that I can … return and live with Heavenly Father again.” Ask the children to think of other things that they can do and repeat the sentence with each new idea. Bear testimony that we can return to live with Heavenly Father if we keep the commandments.
5. Song Presentation: “For Health and Strength” (p. 21). This round is a one-line prayer of gratitude and praise. Sing the song for the children. Invite them to pitch lead the melody and then sing it again. Reinforce the words by teaching the children to sign four of the words. For the word health, extend the forefinger and the middle finger—this is the hand shape for H. Both hands form the H shape and touch the chest and then the waist. For food, use the right hand to act as if you are placing food in the mouth. The sign for praise is made by combining the signs for true and applaud. First the forefinger of the right hand is upright and moves straight forward from the mouth, then a hand-clapping motion is made. To sign the word Lord, use the thumb and first finger of the right hand extended (hand shape L), move the hand from the left side of the chest to the right hip.
Another fun way to review the song is to teach it in a different language. The English and German words to “For Health and Strength” are very similar:
“Für Hilf und Kraft, fürs täglich Brot wir danken dir, o Gott.” (Pronounced similar to “fyur hilf oont kroft, fyurs teglikh brote veer donken deer, oh Gote.”)
It is fun to speak a different language! German has some sounds that we do not have in English. The “ü” sound is made by saying a long “e” and then rounding the lips. The “ä” sound is a short “e” sound. German does not have a “w” sound; the “w” makes the sound of “v.” Point out the similarities in such words as for/für, and/und, health/Hilf, bread/Brot (bread stands for food here), God/Gott.
6. Friend references: “The Windows of Heaven,” Sept. 2005, 10–13; “I Celebrate,” May 2002, 10; “Gratitude,” Nov. 2004, 7; “Special Witness: We Have a Savior,” Mar. 2002, 7; “Picky Nicky,” Feb. 1993, 40–42.