RS Lesson 15: Advancing the Work of the Lord
by Kelly Ann
After several Relief Society lessons on missionary work (12, 13, and 14), reading the title “Advancing the Work of the Lord” initially brought me back to that theme. I also think the term “the work of the Lord” is most often used independently to refer to the growth of the church. However, proclaiming the gospel is only one of the four missions of the church. In thinking about of “advancing the work of the Lord”, it is important to remember the other missions of the church: to redeem the dead, to perfect the saints, and to care for the poor and needy. “Advancing the work of the Lord” should be an all encompassing term.
So even though the lesson contains a heavy slant on missionary work and the growth of the church (although in fairness the lesson really isn’t just about missionary work and the growth of the church), I want to focus on all aspects of “advancing the work of the Lord” in the three major sub-topics of the lesson. The sub-topics being to encourage members to be anxiously engaged in the work of the Lord, to remember that the work is of God – not mankind, and that the world is changing to embrace the work of the Lord.
To start (after giving a similar intro), I would share the following scripture listed as a reference in the lesson:
As background, D&C 64 contains a bit of a reprimand to various individuals and encouragement to continue their tasks in a very busy season in the early church. The verses shared are part of the encouragement.
I would then have a discussion incorporating questions and quotes depending on the audience. [Hoping that you find these notes useful as they aren’t totally conclusive).
Questions for Discussion:
(including a few recommended in the supplementary section of the lesson)
Have you ever become “weary in well doing”? What helps you stay driven? How does knowing that you are a part of a great work affect your outlook?
What small things can we do to be engaged? How can we pick up ourselves when we become discouraged? What is the importance of forgiveness (see the beginning of D&C 64 for reference)?
How do we engage both our heard and mind? How can we engage all of our senses?
(Thought - I really like the imagery of eating mentioned in the scripture. The lesson speaks a lot of doing but I think it is important to remember that we can’t subsist without our own nourishment. Note I have not yet fully developed this as a thought).
What does the expression “advancing the work of the Lord” mean to you individually (may range from missionary work and church growth to other missions to really anything as mentioned aboved)?
(Thought - I like the terms “well-doing” and “the good” from the scripture as easy pinpoints of what it can mean. Or better yet simply to “come unto Christ” in all ways possible.)
How have you been engaged in the work of the Lord throughout your life? How have you seen others be engaged? What good have you seen from your labors? What bad have you seen from your labors?
How does technology affect doing the Lord’s work? Does it help or hinder it? If so, how?
Do you see your callings as “advancing the work of the Lord?” What about home and visiting teaching? In what ways, can we be engaged beyond our formal assignments?
What types of service, whether or not related to church, do you enjoy doing on your own initiative? Do you think people outside the church are called to do different things?
How can we ease human suffering in general? Do you think doing so opens people up to seeking God?
How have you felt guided by God in the service that you have rendered? Share Examples.
How can we remember that ultimately it is God’s work?
How do you think the world is changing to embrace the work of the Lord?
Quotable Quotes from the Lesson: (could be shared through course of discussion)
From the Life of George Albert Smith
(last paragraph): President Smith understood that the work of the Church is successful because it is the Lord’s work, and he taught the Saints that the opportunity to participate in that work is a blessing the Lord offers each member of His Church. During the first general conference after he was set apart as President of the Church, he said: “I realize the great responsibility that is upon my shoulders. I know that without the help of our Heavenly Father, the organization with which we are identified cannot be successful. No man or group of men can make it successful, but if the members of this Church will continue to keep the commandments of God, live their religion, set an example to the world, [and] love their neighbor as themselves, we will go forward, and increasing happiness will flow to us.”
From Teachings of George Albert Smith: There is ample opportunity for every member to participate in the work of the Lord
(third paragraph): How anxious we should be to go about doing good. It is a slothful servant who waits until he is commanded in all things. [See D&C 58:26–27.] Our Heavenly Father expects us to magnify our calling, no matter where it may be, no matter how humble our lot in life may be.
(last paragraph): Can you not see how a marvelous work and a wonder has been going forward? Can you not see how we as individuals have only contributed our mite, but the multitude has united, and the word of the Lord has been disseminated among the children of men; not in a militant way, but in kindness and in love, with a desire to bless all mankind?
From the section – Opposition will not stop the progress of the Church, because it is the work of God, not of man.
(fifth paragraph with edits): This is God’s work. It is not the work of any man or woman. No man or woman or set of men and women could have carried it forward and made it successful in the face of the opposition of the world. Many times they [who oppose the work] have felt that the end of the Church had come, and each time by the majesty of his power, the Lord has lifted it up, and it has gone forward from city to city, from village to village, from nation to nation.15
(eighth paragraph): We need not feel anxious about the progress of Zion, for the good old ship will sail proudly on, and those who are faithful and true will land with her safely in the harbor of God, crowned with glory, immortality and eternal life. I have no fear for these aged men and women that have kept the faith. I have no fear for the boys and girls who are walking in obedience to the commandments of the Lord. … But the Latter-day Saints who knowing the will of our Father have not done it, those who hear the teachings of the Lord from time to time and turn their backs upon them, I fear they will not reach the goal unless they turn and repent with all their hearts.18
From the section – God adjusts conditions in the world so that His work can spread throughout the earth.
(middle of last paragraph): “We may be puny and weak of ourselves, but if we will be virtuous and pure in our lives, if we will do what we know to be right, men and women will be raised to continue the work of the Lord, until our Father’s work will have been done in the way that He desires.”
Links: (Possibly worth checking out for more ideas)
The Lesson itself:
http://chickenscratchnsniff.blogspot.com/2012/06/george-albert-smith-chapter-15.html (includes good links to relevant conference articles)
(All are pertinent, hence listed, but the bolded ones were particularly intriguing to me. I am shamelessly encouraging you to search the archives when you have a chance).
Exponent RS/GD/or VT lesson outlines about missionary work:
1. http://www.the-exponent.com/relief-society-lesson-14-how-to-share-the-gospel-effectively/ (last week’s lesson worth referencing)
2. http://www.the-exponent.com/relief-society-lesson-13-doing-our-part-to-share-the-gospel/ (has some good questions and quotes)
3. . http://www.the-exponent.com/relief-society-lesson-33-missionary-work/ (has a lot of really good links)
Exponent posts discussing missionary work in various forms:
1. http://www.the-exponent.com/guest-post-are-we-gathering-or-dispersing-our-fold/ (the title itself says a lot)
2. http://www.the-exponent.com/fast-food-or-feasting-spiritual-development/ (ties in to the thought about what it means to eat)
6. http://www.the-exponent.com/virtual-oases-xxviv/ (contains an interesting link to a Segullah interview on women and missionary work: http://segullah.org/interviews/johanna-smiths-interview-of-sarah-elizabeth-jensen/)
Exponent RS lesson outlines referencing the term “the work of the Lord”:
Exponent post referencing the term “the work of the Lord”:
http://www.the-exponent.com/food-flesh-and-spirit/ (again ties to the idea of eating)