I know it can be hard to herd the cats together for family scripture study. Many times, it probably seems that what you are doing isn't working. Maybe it isn't, but whether a tweak is needed or not, I am a major, major believer in the value this time can impart.
I've shared this before, but our current program in my house is that my wife takes on morning scripture study before school and oversees self-study (meaning policing to make sure the kids aren't goofing off) from around 9 till around noon on Sundays.
Each Sunday, each child chooses their own question and spends the morning researching the answer from the scriptures. Part of the task is that they have to write up their answer and email it to me. Sunday nights after dinner, we read the questions and answers, and we all talk about them.
When we first started doing scripture study, it was in the evenings, and everyone was cranky and in a hurry. Then, my wife integrated it into the school day, but honestly it wasn't happening regularly. I took upon myself to get the momentum going on the morning study, then after we had done it for a while, handed it off to her so I could use more morning time for writing. That's been going for years.
We started Sunday questions maybe a year ago as a way to help the kids stay engaged in Sunday scripture study because they were spending a lot of the day doing other things that are not as important. At first, I had to chase them down to get them to come up with questions. The questions were poor, so I had to spend a lot of time helping them learn how to ask better questions. For a long while, they had to email me their questions for pre-approval. Now, they are good enough that they don't have to submit them ahead of time.
Their answers tend to be very good, and they tend to do a great job mostly on their own. I will post a 12 year old's work from last Sunday below. He did 100% of the work on this, including typing it up and formatting it.
For what it's worth, our 7 year old just reads and has to retell stories to us about what he read. But honestly, I think he's milking the fact that he is the youngest, and it's time for him to get his butt in gear and start doing questions.
My point in sharing all of this is to make a case that:
- Scripture study at home is very valuable.
- Massive improvement can occur over time.
- It may take a lot of effort up front, but it will get to the point where it does not take a lot of effort on your part--just consistency.
- Little kids can and should learn serious doctrine.
During his ministry, Jesus taught about the kingdom of God
He used parables to describe the kingdom of God.
To start off a ton of his parables, he started with, "The kingdom of God is like ..."
What did he compare the kingdom of God to?
33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
1: Leaven (Matt. 13:33)
- When leaven, also called sourdough starter, is mixed with flour, the flour becomes part of the sourdough.
- The leaven will cause the flour to rise.
47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
2: A net (Matt. 13:47-50)
- The net attracts all of the fish, which represent people.
- There will be a separation between the good fish (good people), and bad fish. (bad people)
44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
3: Hidden Treasure (Matt. 13:44)
- The treasure is worth all that you have.
- Takes work to find it.
- Not clear by default.
- You need to sacrifice everything to get it.
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
4: Pearl of Great Value (Matt. 13:45-46)
- Like the Hidden Treasure, it is worth all you have.
- Takes work to find it, like the Hidden Treasure.
- You need to sacrifice all that you have.
31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
5: Mustard Seed (Matt. 13:31-32)
- The field is your heart.
- If you grow into a tree, you will become a king with all the birds of the air, representing people, nest in your branches.
- This relates to the idea of "The brother's keeper".
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
6: Parable of the Weeds (Matt. 13:24-30)
- Jesus is the Farmer.
- The Field is the World.
- The Good Seeds are the Sons of Righteousness.
- The Weeds are the Sons of the Evil One.
- The enemy is The Devil.
- The Harvest is the End of the Age.
- The Reapers are Angels.
- The fruit of the Field is Judged.
- The weeds will be bundled and burned.
25 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
7: Ten Virgins (Matt. 25:1-13)
- Requires waiting.
- Oil is needed, and is the holy ghost.
23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: 26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. 29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
"8: Narrow Gate (Luke 13:23-30)
- Narrow meaning only a few can enter.
- Only Jesus is at the Door. (2 Nephi 9:21)
- Only the people that Christ knows can enter. (Implies needing a relationship with him)
- Workers of iniquity" cannot enter in. (Implies a need for sinlessness)
- Many people think they can enter, but cannot. (Parable of the Weeds)
In conclusion, the Kingdom of God is:
- A place that glorifies the humble
- A place that takes everything
- A place that only a few can enter
- A place that attracts all people