December 3, 2015

Becoming Scripture Savy

Have you ever been in a Sunday School class or in a conversation with someone about a gospel topic and found yourself wishing you could participate more, or knew more answers from the scriptures?Well I have. Even though I served a mission for my church and felt like I knew the scriptures pretty good at the time, (cocky 21 year old maybe) I still found myself lacking. For a long time I was just content with not being able to participate in those conversations. After all I was a busy person, just like everyone else out there, right? I didn't have the time it takes to become a scripture scholar. I never could have been so wrong. If we are too busy to talk with God through prayer, and too busy for Him to answer us through the scriptures then we are way more busy than He ever intended us to be. So now what? You have to dedicate hours of your week to studying scriptures to get to where you want to be? No. You don't.

This past Spring I found myself needing the Lord's help like I have so often. You can read about that experience HERE. I made a promise with Him. Many of you know if we make promises with God He  ALWAYS keeps His end of the bargain, it is us that fails. Anyhow I promised Him if He would keep my heifers from calving in the middle of the night or make sure they were born alive if they did come in the night, then I would do my part. For me that part was studying my scriptures more diligently. At first it was just five minutes in the wee hours of the morning, right after I checked those heifers. But slowly my hunger and thirst for knowledge and answers became stronger. Morning is the most peaceful time in our home, so that's when I read. I have found a few things that keep me on track with my studies.

First of all I always get up a little earlier than normal for that day. School days, Saturdays, Sundays. That doesn't mean I never get to sleep in. Saturday is my ONLY day to sleep in. So I do, by half an hour or maybe a little longer. Each day my alarm is set differently, but always allowing myself time to study. Anywhere from five minutes to half an hour. It's an appointment. An appointment with Heavenly Father. I know He's going to be there. Where will I be? Maybe mornings aren't your thing. Perhaps it's most peaceful in your home at night after everyone has gone to bed. Perfect. Do it then. Your lunch hour at work, great! Just pick your favorite time and be there. Let me just say another thing. This is not for Him. He's attained His glory. It is for yourself. 

Second, what to study? Really whatever you want. You could study by topic, read from beginning to end, whatever suits your fancy. I wanted to be able to participate in the Sunday School lesson. I also wanted to study in Spanish to polish it up a bit. I wanted to study the words of modern day prophets. Oh that's too much, you are thinking! No, it's not. It's fine. I study by amount of time, not chapters or coverage of material. A normal morning might look like this for me. Ten minutes in the New Testament, five minutes in the Book of Mormon in Spanish, and five minutes of the latest talks in the Conference edition of the Ensign. I'm able to cover the entire Sunday School lesson before Sunday, read at least one General Conference talk a day, and I don't even look at how far I get in my Spanish scriptures. Every day is different. You would be amazed at how much you can learn in five minutes. Plus you start remembering where things are found in the scriptures because you are not speed reading... you are studying, which is much more effective and beneficial. Sometimes I even just sit and think about what I just read.

Third, I mark my scriptures. I mark my Ensign. I write in the margins, things that come to my mind. I consider that to be personal revelation for myself. It is so wonderful to have those tid bits of my communication with God written down right where I will see them. Sometimes I don't see them for a long time, but when I do it's like a little treasure to me.

Oh, and that meeting for just the men in our church? Well all of those talks are printed in the church magazine, the Ensign. I read those too and find it pertains to me just as much as it does to them. By the way the women have their own private meeting as well and those talks are also in the Ensign.

There was a time when the scriptures were not available to the general public. Imagine not having any scriptures to read! We are so blessed to live in a time and place where we are free, and have access to the Savior's life and example, even though He lived so long ago. I feel much more confident in the scriptures than I ever have. The best part is that it's never too late to start studying the scriptures. There is always time to gain knowledge, even if you only have one day, one week, or one year left to live. And I think most of us may have a little more time than that. Tap into Christ's life and example by filling your hunger for pure knowledge with His word and the words of His disciples.

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