In June 1831 the Lord gave several revelations calling Saints in Ohio to travel to Missouri. This lesson focuses on the relationship between obedience and receiving additional revelation from the Lord. The lesson also addresses what it means to “take up [our] cross” (see D&C 56:2).
Before class, prepare three clues, each one leading to the next. For example, the first clue might direct students to look for the second clue under or inside an object somewhere in the classroom. The second clue could direct them to look for the third clue elsewhere in the classroom. The third clue should say: “Read Doctrine and Covenants 52:1–6. Find a principle that is similar to this activity.”
Tape the first clue to the board, and write the following instructions next to it: Follow this clue to learn how to receive continual guidance from the Lord.
After students read the first clue, invite them to follow the instructions to find the second clue. Then invite them to read the directions on the second clue and search for the third clue.
Before students follow the directions on the third clue, explain that the passage they will be searching contains instructions given to the Prophet Joseph Smith and other priesthood leaders at a conference of the Church held in Kirtland, Ohio, in June 1831. Remind students that the Lord had previously revealed that the Saints would establish a city called Zion (see D&C 28:9), but He had not yet revealed its location.
Invite students to follow the instructions in the third clue. Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 52:1–6. Invite the class to follow along, looking for a principle that is similar to the activity they have just completed.
According to verses 4–5, what can happen when we are faithful to God’s instructions? (As we follow God’s instructions faithfully, He reveals more of His will to us. Write this principle on the board. You also might want to suggest that students write it in the margin of their scriptures.)
How was the activity similar to this principle? (As students followed each instruction, they received additional directions, ultimately leading them to the answer they were seeking.)
What do you feel are some benefits of receiving the Lord’s guidance and truth little by little rather than all at once?
As an additional example of the truth identified above, explain that a recent convert named Sidney Gilbert found that he was not listed as one of the missionaries called to travel to Missouri. He went to the Prophet Joseph Smith and asked what the Lord would have him do. The Prophet inquired and received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 53. The revelation instructed Brother Gilbert to forsake the world, be ordained an elder, and travel to Missouri to help with the business transactions of the Church (see D&C 53:1–5).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 53:6–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the time when the Lord said He would give Sidney the rest (“residue”) of His instructions. (You may want to explain that the Lord referred to this list of instructions as “ordinances.” The word ordinance can sometimes refer to a rule or a decree.)
Why do you think we must obey the instructions the Lord has given us before we can expect to receive more?
Invite students who have had experiences with this principle to share their experiences or testify of its truthfulness. You might also want to share an experience or your testimony.
Encourage students to write down a question, concern, or decision they are facing for which they would like to have the Lord’s help and guidance. Then invite them to ponder and write down any direction the Lord has given them that they can heed more fully in order to invite further guidance from Him.
Ask students if they know someone who gave up something important in order to obey one of the Lord’s commandments. (Examples could include someone sacrificing to join the Church, to go on a mission, or to obey certain standards of the Church.) Invite a few students to share their examples. Then ask students to summarize what they learned about Ezra Thayre as they studied Doctrine and Covenants 56. (If they need help, remind them that Ezra Thayre was commanded to serve a mission with Thomas B. Marsh, but because of pride and selfish concerns, he was not ready to leave when it was time to depart.)
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 56:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said about those who refuse to obey His commandments.
What did the Lord say about those who refuse to obey His commandments?
According to verse 2, what must we do to be saved? (To be saved, we must take up our cross, follow the Savior, and keep His commandments. Write this truth on the board.)
What do you think it means to “take up [our] cross”? (The Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 16:24 defines the phrase this way: “And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments” [Matthew 16:24, footnote e]. The reference to the cross is a reminder of the Savior’s determination to do the will of His Heavenly Father. We take up our cross by showing our willingness to keep the Lord’s commandments and “deny ourselves,” or sacrifice, whatever is necessary to be obedient to God.)
What commandments has the Lord given that require you to take up your cross and make sacrifices to be obedient? (Some examples can be found in For the Strength of Youth.)
Read the following examples (or create some that are more applicable to the students in your class), and ask how the individuals could take up their crosses and obey the Lord’s commandments:
A young man is approaching the age when he will be able to serve a mission. He worries about everything he will leave behind when he serves.
A young woman knows that the youth in her ward will be visiting the temple in a few months, but she doesn’t have a temple recommend. There is something in her life right now that will prevent her from receiving one.
Explain that if we choose not to take up our cross, we may lose opportunities to bless others and to receive blessings ourselves.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 56:3–8 by reminding students that because Ezra Thayre had been disobedient, his mission call was revoked and he lost the opportunity to serve at that time. Invite students to ponder what they need to do to take up their crosses and be obedient to the Lord’s commandments. Encourage them to act on any promptings they receive.
Ask students how it would be to live in a community where everyone was righteous, kind, and charitable. In Doctrine and Covenants 59 we learn how we should live in order to qualify for the blessings of the temple and prepare to live in God’s presence.