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I love the placement of Howard W. Hunter Chapter 19: Our Commitment to God. It comes right after the chapter about honesty and just before the chapter about charity. We can't be fully committed without being honest and we don't develop true charity without being committed to God.
President Hunter doesn't simply spout out this unattainable in this life goal either. He lists example after example of people from the scriptures that were committed to God- completely. They weren't focused on the immediate natural man consequences, they focused on the eternal consequences and rewards whenever they acted. What a freeing way to go through life.
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Where does our complete devotion lie? Do we try to split it between those things with more immediate gratification and the Lord or do we fully commit ourselves? Christ said it best in Matthew 6:24, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
- If we are completely committed to God, we are like an evergreen tree- we stay green and alive all year long. Use the square handout above as a reminder of that. If you can, bring a few branches of evergreen for a visual example.
- Use the same square handout above but attach it to a seed or mini plant instead. You could even tie in the parable of the seed and the sower (Matthew 13:4-9) and the type of soil we need to be in order to be living members. President Henry B. Eyring spoke about this parable in the April 2016 General Conference as well.
- I was reminded of Returning with Honor while reading this chapter. When missionaries serve with full commitment to God, they return home with honor. We are all striving to do the same thing. We want to return to our Father in Heaven with honor after serving and learning on this earth with our full commitment to Him. You can focus your lesson around this concept and use this Return with Honor banner as a visual throughout.
- Contributions essentially are things we can check off our list: Visiting/Home Teaching for the month- check; Paid tithing for the month- check; Went to church this week- check. They are things we check off and are done. They don't require a ton of thought or energy. Commitment is a complete way of being. It's loving our home and visiting teachees so that they are in our thoughts and prayers every day. We don't go to church once a week and move on with the rest of our lives- What we learn on Sunday penetrates our lives and makes us better people. We pay tithing, not to check it off, but to help the Lord's kingdom continue to flourish. Use the checklist example to begin and show the difference in attitudes as well as behavior when we change from contribution to complete commitment.
- Split into groups to discuss each scripture story mentioned in this chapter. Ask each group to discuss the story and how they know these individuals were completely committed to God as well as come up with a modern day example. You can make a chart on the board for groups to fill in as they find their answers or have each group present. Then pass out the handout above with these scriptural examples on one sheet and a reminder to be on that list as well.
- We often make goals- each new year, every Sunday, each time we start a new phase in our lives. What is the difference between goals we accomplish and those that fall by the wayside? Why do we keep trying? Why is it important to keep striving for those important goals?
- Use a weave to demonstrate the principle of total commitment. Each time we follow the Lord, act on a prompting; we weave another line into our tapestry of life. It is these continued acts each time that show our complete desire to follow the Lord no matter what.
- Commitment is enduring well to the end. We aren't simply hanging on- we keep climbing.
- End your lesson with a choral reading of one of the scriptural example responses such as Rebekah's "I will go." Read more about how to do this in 10 Ways to End Your LDS Lessons.
- Come join our Private Facebook Group where more ideas are shared from other teachers like you (yes, men included).
Questions to Ponder
- How would you define the difference between a "contribution" and "total commitment"? Can you think of another example?
- How would lives change as people make a total commitment to God?
- How does the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego apply to your life specifically?
- How does the story of Joshua (in section 2) apply to your life? What can you learn from it?
- How can you develop a commitment to obey God regardless of other's actions?
- What can you do to help children and youth develop a total commitment to God?
- What can you learn from the scripture stories in section 3? What other examples can you think of?
- What do you think the Lord loves about "an unwavering determination to obey his counsel"?
- Why is belief along not sufficient?
- Why does doing Heavenly Father's will help us prepare for harder times?
- How can you apply President Hunter's teachings about living your religion?
- In what ways are you a "living member"? How could you become more "alive"?
Suggested Study Schedule
Remember to join in our Private Facebook Group for more discussions and ideas.
Watch: Full Commitment (about 1 minute)
Watch: Ministry of Howard W. Hunter: Putting the Lord First (about 2 1/2 minutes)
"Commitment to the Lord" by Elder John B. Dickson
"The Need for Total Commitment" by Brother Theodore M. Burton
"Can Ye Feel So Now?" by Elder Quentin L. Cook
"Commitment" by Elder F. Burton Howard
"Endure and Be Lifted Up" by President Russell M. Nelson
"As Sisters in Zion"- Hymn #309 (Women)
"As Zion's Youth in Latter Days"- Hymn #256
"Called to Serve"- Hymn #249
"Carry On"- Hymn #255
"Faith of Our Fathers"- Hymn #84
"God Speed the Right"- Hymn #106
"I Believe in Christ"- Hymn #124
"I Have Work Enough to Do"- Hymn #224
"I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go"- Hymn #270
"Let Us All Press On"- Hymn #243
"O Thou Rock of Our Salvation"- Hymn #258
"Onward, Christian Soldiers"- Hymn #246
"Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel"- Hymn #252
"The Iron Rod"- Hymn #274
"True to the Faith"- Hymn #254
"Up, Awake, Ye Defenders of Zion"- Hymn #248
"We Are All Enlisted"- Hymn #250
"We Are Marching On to Glory"- Hymn #225
"We Have Partaken of Thy Love"- Hymn #155
"Who's on the Lord's Side?"- Hymn #260