The Sabbath is also called the Lord’s day (see Revelation 1:10). Why do you think that Jesus Christ is called the Lord of the Sabbath? (see Matthew 12:8). Review together a few verses that can help inspire members to think of ways to center their Sabbath day experiences on Jesus Christ (for example, Helaman 5:12; Ether 12:41; Moroni 10:32; and D&C 6:36–37). What other verses can members share that could help them make the Sabbath more Christ-centered? What goals can we set to help us focus on the Savior throughout the Sabbath day?
Step 1 – Read each of the scripture passages and see what comes up for you. Take notes, record impressions and ideas OR at least write a few keywords for each verse. If one of the verses doesn’t really inspire you at all – THAT’S OK! There’s a good chance you can skip it as long as you have 2-3 really good ones. Save your notes and re-write them so you can glance at them in class.
Step 2 – For each verse, choose and match up the questions which fit that verse best. The questions are included right in the short paragraph. Is it just one of the questions or all of them?
Step 3 – Remember, discussion is the ultimate goal of Relief Society or Priesthood. In order to help promote more discussion, convert the questions from the Sabbath paragraph to sister speak if you can. Or perhaps better said, if you were talking to your good friend, how would you rephrase it in a natural conversation? You will have the most success if you treat your class discussion like a friend-to-friend conversation rather than a lecture.
Overview: There’s more class material here than one would expect from a single paragraph. The first two verses are basic descriptions or definition verses. They are meant to set the foundation for the weightier verses (#3, #4, #5 and #6). They are essential and profound concepts, but I would not worry about spending lots of time on the first two verses and save the time for the last four.
The very first cited verse is short:
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,”Revelations 1:10
Which “Lord” is this verse talking about? It’s easy and common to merge Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father together into that fuzzy, nebulous “God/Lord” place in our heads. And not know for sure which is being referred to by the titles “God” and “Lord.” However, the scriptures noticeably open up to us when we take the time to understand precisely whom the verse is referring to. Is the word “God” or “Lord” actually Jesus Christ or is it Heavenly Father? Although the Two are completely united, they have different roles. Learning the differences greatly improves our spiritual understanding and our scripture reading experience. So it was cheering to see this lesson making the distinction as well.
For this verse, I recommend including verses 9 and 11 for more context. See if this helps you know which “Lord” is being referred to without the lesson material telling you:
9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches…Revelation 1:9-11
“Alpha and Omega” and “the first and the last,” are both titles the Savior gives himself numerous times. These verses are chiefly referring to Jesus Christ.
This first concept, is pretty profound all on its own. This is the whole emphasis of Paragraph #2 really. The Sabbath is Jesus Christ’s day, and my guess is there are quite a few of us who don’t often think of the Sabbath specifically that way.
Possible Development: The Sabbath is also called the Lord’s day. Who is the “Lord” as referred to in Revelation 1:10 (or 1:9-11)? Read these verses with the class and let them answer the question by discussion if possible. Guide the discussion to the main topic, that the Sabbath is Jesus Christ’s day.
Next question and verse is a bit deep as well. If John wasn’t clear enough in Revelation, then Matthew is quite concise of just who the Sabbath day belongs to. Since Matthew 12:8 is just a short description verse, I would read it first and then ask the associated question.
“For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” Matthew 12:8
Possible questions: Why do you think that Jesus Christ is called the Lord of the Sabbath? Why is the Sabbath referred to as Jesus Christ’s day, instead of Heavenly Father’s day? (For that matter why is the Church called “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” instead of “The Church of Elohim”? A: Because Christ founded the Church and leads it. He is the one responsible for communicating with the prophets and guiding the Church.) Why is understanding Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath an important principle? Why do we want to center our Sabbath day around Jesus Christ? (See John 20:1-19 from the Sabbath paragraph #1 for further inspiration on these questions. In short Christ’s atonement, resurrection and breaking of bread/water are the chief reasons for the Sabbath). Does this make our prayers to Heavenly Father any less needed or important? (No!)
Verse #3 Helman 5:12 is a powerful verse and explains just why we need to build, fortify ourselves, and base ourselves on Christ. Which, incidentally, is one of the chief purposes of the Sabbath day also ~ to help us align ourselves to a Christ-centered life.
“And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” (Helaman 5:12)
Possible Class Development: Keeping the Sabbath is a sure foundation for our lives. One of the most memorable illustrations I’ve seen related to this verse happened decades ago and I still remember it vividly, it made such an impression! The teacher had two pie tins, one with mounded sand, and the other contained a large, flat rock. She used two children’s building blocks (tall & rectangular in shape), with a third triangle block for a roof to construct a house on the rock and then poured in a pitcher of water into the pie tin/rock. Of course nothing happened to the house. Then she transferred the house to the mound of sand, and when she poured the water in, the house fell. Analogy, the house on the rock is a Christ-centered life which keeps the Sabbath, and the sand is a life which does not observe the Sabbath.
Here is a youtube.video which illustrates something very close to the above description. I would definitely practice at home first before doing this in class.
Possible Quote: Elder Ian Ardern quoted Elder Hales at the last general conference in October 2017, “Unless you are fully engaged in living the gospel—living it with all of your ‘heart, might, mind and strength’—you cannot generate enough spiritual light to push back the darkness.”
Possible Class Discussion: What are some of the mighty winds, shafts & hail we face today (trials & temptations)? How does coming to Church and observing the Sabbath day help us with hardships and with the temptations of Satan? We create a very different space and experience in our lives, when we come to Church. What happens to us during that time and space? How does coming to Church and keeping the Sabbath day help “push back the darkness?”? What difficulties in life have you experienced, where the Gospel helped you? What are your favorite parts of coming to Church, why do you enjoy it ~ what fills your soul? (Sacrament, hymns, talking to people, RELIEF SOCIETY, fulfilling a calling, warmth of congregation, giving service etc.)
My impressions: This is the Lord Jesus Christ’s Church. It is here you will find the elements needed to create a house on a sure foundation of rock.
Verse #4 Ether 12: 41 is a simple message, and further develops the idea of securing Christ as our rock:
“And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.” (Ether 12:41)
My impressions: I’ve noticed when I seek the Savior, Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost also align themselves with me. The Savior brings Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost along with Him into our lives when we seek after Him. How? My prayers to Heavenly Father are enhanced, more powerful and connected when I’m living a Christ-centered life. In fact, I’d even say my prayers themselves are more inspired, the words I speak are better, and I end up feeling closer to Heavenly Father through my prayers. The Holy Ghost is the conduit from which inspiration, personal revelation and our deeper conviction of Christ comes. When seeking Christ, our hearts automatically open up to the Holy Spirit. His companionship is enhanced and encouraged when we actively love and seek after Christ. I think of the Sabbath day as a dedicated time-out to help us re-center ourselves on the True Rock.
Possible Questions: What does seeking after Christ mean? What are some ways to seek after Christ? What can we do on the Sabbath day to re-center ourselves on Christ? Why is knowing Christ and about Christ helpful in keeping the Sabbath?
Important Teacher Tip: These last two scripture references, verse #5 & #6 develop another dimension of the points made in verse #4. Because you may run out of time at this point, decide which of the next two verses is most important to you. You have already developed a rich, full discussion with deep, beautiful understandings regarding Christ and the Sabbath. Don’t ever worry if your class discussion is so successful, you’re only able to cover half of the verses. Discussions greatly increase the quality of the Relief Society and/or Priesthood experience. Discussion also enables the concepts to be retained longer after class. It’s better to make 3 gospel points well than 6 points, soon-to-be-forgotten.
Verse #5 is Moroni 10:32. “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.” (Moroni 10:32)
To sum up this verse: We get closer to Christ by eviscerating ungodliness out of our system. And of course, replacing it with godliness. This leads to us acquiring His grace in such a measure, it perfects us.
This verse contains an important word, ungodliness which by itself could be an involved discussion. Our definitions of this word are different from most Christian sects. In order to look at ungodliness, let’s look at the opposite ~ godliness itself. I’m including some references and quotes to put this in context. It’s not the easiest word to wrap our understanding around.
From the dictionary – godliness; conforming to the laws and wishes of God; devout; pious.
The thesaurus only had three words: piety (that’s hilarious), sanctity and virtue. They kind of got close with the virtue.
While this rather mundane dictionary definition does lightly touch on the scripture’s use of the word, Lorenzo Snow (whom I’m wild about quoting) eloquently captures the LDS understanding and concept of godliness. It gives me chills to read this again.
First, President Snow describes a heightened sense of others around us as godliness:
“We have just got to feel … that there are other people besides ourselves; we have got to look into the hearts and feelings of others, and become more godly than what we are now.”
He then uses the Savior, Brigham Young and Joseph Smith as examples. I find this quote both historically endearing and quite deep actually:
“… There is a self sacrifice to be made for the interests of those with whom we are associated. We see this in the Savior, and in brother Joseph, and we see it in our President [Brigham Young]. Jesus, brother Joseph, and brother Brigham have always been willing to sacrifice all they possess for the good of the people; that is what gives brother Brigham power with God and power with the people, it is the self-sacrificing feeling that he is all the time exhibiting. It is so with others; just in proportion as they are willing to sacrifice for others, so they get God in them, and the blessings of the eternal worlds are upon them, and they are the ones that will secure not only the rights of this world but will secure the blessings of eternity. Just in proportion as you … sacrifice one for another, just in that proportion you will advance in the things of God. Now if you want to get heaven within you and to get into heaven you want to pursue that course that angels do who are in heaven. If you want to know how you are to increase, I will tell you, it is by getting godliness within you.” (Lorenzo Snow, Lesson 22)
Possible Class Discussion: What kinds of activities could we engage in on the Sabbath Day which would help us find more “godliness.”? Given President Lorenzo Snow’s explanation of godliness, who can you think of who fits this description? How is the habit of thinking of, and doing for others, help us to be more like Christ?
Verse #6 is D&C 6:36-37
36 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.
37 Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen. (D&C 6:36-37)
My impressions: “Look to me in every thought.” I love this phrase, it’s another way of saying “lean on me.” It is directly spoken to you and I. Not only is it personable, it is a powerful invitation to live every day of our life with Him in it. Like a true companion, He is where I need to look and borrow from when I’m angry or unforgiving and need more grace – when I’m sad and need more strength and hope – when I’m fearful and need more courage – and when I’m doubtful and need more faith. He is whom I turn to and plead to when I can’t get rid of the negativity out of my head. The Savior has literally invited us to walk side by side and be yoked with Him. That’s humbling! That’s a privilege I can scarcely wrap my head around really. How could it be Supreme Beings on their level even care this much?
Possible Class Questions: How can we look to the Savior in our thoughts? Why would looking to the Savior help us to not doubt our lives nor be fearful? (Developing our relationship with the Savior brings peace, confidence and a sense of well-being) How does the Sabbath Day help us look to the Savior? (sacrament, hymns, lessons, chances for service etc)
Isn’t this amazing? We just got a full class discussion out of a paragraph!
Below the suggested hymns, are all the teacher tips pulled from Paragraph #1, in case you haven’t seen them or would like a refresher.
Secret tip: You can even use Step 1 (at the beginning of the post) as a class activity for each verse as it comes up. Give the class paper, pencils, and about 1-3 minutes for each verse as you cover it in class. Then have people voluntarily share what they wrote. Great warm-up and discussion prompt! Just don’t use it every Sunday. I’ll post different ways to shake class discussions up soon.
Best teacher tip secret: After any verse we read together as a class, I usually ask something like, “What comes up for you when we read these verses? Or, “What stands out for you?” Or, “If you were to sum up these verses for a friend…how would you describe them? Or “What do these verses mean to you?” Or some variation of these types of discussion-inviting questions. This tends to lead to a more open-ended discussion, but it usually ends up being the best part of any class time. Just roll with it! People will come up with brilliant, inspired associated thoughts and topics. The more they talk, the more depth they experience and the more they retain after the class is over.
It is a proven study that when people verbalize what they learn or know, their retention rate is 73% higher.
Teacher Tip: If the open-ended approach ever feels like it is getting too far from the object of the lesson, or if your class insists on being quiet, fall back on your prepared questions (from step 3 above) and thoughts. I use this little two-part plan more than any other method and as I noted before, we usually fill up the class time with minimal effort.
Another teaching tip: Talk to your group in the same way you talk to a friend, like you’re engaged in a conversation. Respond back to those who offer comments, showing them you understand and appreciate their points. Being personable is a powerful teaching tool which gets results.
Next teaching tip: Be ready with your own insights and answers to the questions you ask. This is where your own notes from Step 1 above – about each of the scripture references will come in very handy. Two reasons! 1) In case the class doesn’t have a lot of feedback to a certain question, or 2) Your previous written notes will readily become a part of your natural and friendly responses to others’ comments in class.
Another teacher tip: If you would like to have even more meaningful discussions with your group, hand out various verses with an associated question to individuals ahead of time. Usually best a week ahead of the class, sometime during the week before class or even right after Sacrament. I use this as an excuse to take people cookies and chat a while. Choose people who are not called on so much! Ask them to contemplate the verse and question and share their thoughts at the appropriate time. Well thought out comments will often jump-start really good discussions for the whole group. Most people like being asked to be involved, especially when they have some heads up.
Want to be an even better, more confident teacher? 9 Tips For Memorable Teaching
Coming Soon: Sure-fire class activities to add variety, enliven your class and shake things up.