Chapter 1: Jesus Christ- Our Only Way to Hope and Joy

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What a great lesson to start out the new year! Howard W. Hunter Chapter 1: Jesus Christ- Our Only Way to Hope and Joy helps us transition from Christmas to the new year perfectly. As you plan your new year's resolutions include Christ. 

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How often do you really think about the Savior? Not for only a second, but for at least a minute. Is it only while you are doing obviously spiritual things or do you think about the Savior while doing things that at first appear unrelated? Be more deliberate about your thoughts today and notice where they go and how often. Is there a better place for them? 

An excellent part of this lesson, is the scripture story of Christ calming the tempest. We often ask as did the disciples, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" (Mark 4:38). Of course He does! He thinks about you more often than you probably think of Him. He is very mindful of you and what is going on in your life. He atoned for your sins, your pains, your sicknesses- He knows! But how often do we ask a similar question? "I'm doing everything that I'm supposed to, why is life still such a struggle?" How often do we wish our circumstances to be different? How often do we compare ourselves with others and spiral down in self-pity? The Savior's response is poignant, "Why are ye so fearful? how is that ye have no faith?" This is even worse than Peter sinking in the sea after he walked on water. Peter at least had little faith. Here we're told we have no faith when we ask such questions or dwell on the negatives in our lives. How do you use your faith as an anchor in your life instead of letting fear be your motivator? How do you overcome all the worry? President Hunter states it clearly, 

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We come unto Christ. We get to know Him. We study His life, His teachings, and emulate His example. We keep the commandments, follow the prophet, listen to the guidance from the Holy Ghost. Then our lives become motivated by faith. Then we notice the good more than the bad. We find the peace that Christ promises all of us- internal peace that only leaves when we choose. 

Teaching Ideas

  • This is a great quote from Anchored Hope Design to go along with this lesson. How do you build a Christ centered home? Do you try to do it alone? How does your home influence your actions?
  • Brainstorm away! We know we should think more of Christ, we know we need to know Him better but most of us get hung up on the how...especially since it's different from person to person. Get some helpers and have a few of you writing ideas on the board at the same time so it goes quicker and ideas can really flow. Pick out a few ideas and talk about each for a minute. Then have everyone write down 3 that they will try this month (follow up next month).
  • As you prepare your lesson, take one day to tally up how often you actually thought about the Savior. If you can remember, mark it down each time you do. Share your experiment and what you learned.
  • Give specific examples of when most of us tend to think about Christ. Then give examples of when most of us don't. How can we change so that we do?
  • Let's talk about triggers. There are certain things that trigger an emotion or action from us. For example, if it snows, you know you'll see photos of it all over Facebook accompanied by grumblings or joyous shouts. What emotions and actions does snow trigger for you? For me, each time it snows, especially if it completely blankets the ground, it triggers the thought of Isaiah 1:18. What is one trigger that you can change from a negative reaction to one that leads back to Christ instead? It'll take effort to change it but it'll be worth it.
  • One way to help our thoughts turn more to the Savior is through pondering the scriptures. Use these 52 scriptures about the Savior in your lesson. Challenge your class to pick one to ponder this week, month, or for the year. 
  • Start with the story of the Woman at the Well. Christ offers her living water. How can we drink living water and eat the bread of life? You can do an object lesson with this one too. Have several pitchers of water. Label each one different such as "Win the lottery," "Enabling power of the Atonement," "Travel the world," etc. Think of things that bring momentary happiness versus those that bring joy. Add salt or other not so great flavors to all of the pitchers that aren't related to Christ. Offer a few people in your class a glass of water letting them pick the pitcher or offer a particular one and see who volunteers to drink it. Build on the reactions and tie it back into drinking living water.  There is only one type of water that will quench our thirst.
  • Put the words of "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee" on the board. Read or sing it together as a class, plan a special musical number with it, or ask a self reflection question then play the music as people ponder the answer. 
  • Ask people beforehand "What think ye of Christ?" Read some of the answers out loud during your lesson. Having a hard time finding people to answer? Use the answers from's Christmas campaign #ASaviorIsBorn. They have a social media thread on the site that you can go through and gather answers from people around the world. You could also write down some of the thoughts on paper to hang up all over the white board. Tell your class that those are the answer, now what was the question (Jeopardy style). At the end of your lesson have people write down their own answers.
  • Start your lesson discussing things that make you happy. Discuss where true joy comes from as well as some of the counterfeits Satan tries to get us to use instead.
  • Ask your class, "What is the greatest need the world has?" Lead the discussion towards President Hunter's answer: Active and sincere faith. Show how it solves of the biggest problems in the world.
  • Discuss some of the hardships that we face on a daily basis. Write the answers on the board towards the bottom and along the sides. After you've gathered a good list, draw in waves and the tempest. Then add the boat and a photo of Christ. Discuss the scripture story of Jesus calming the the sea. What is our reaction when those hardships come? Do we have faith? Continue to talk about faith motivated actions that we can do instead of fear motivated actions. See the following video to see this one better plus other ideas.
  • See more about President Hunter life before you teach with this online exhibit.
  • It's New Year's- what are some of your resolutions? Do they include Christ? 
  • Share your ideas and discover more in our Private Facebook Group. 
  • Still looking? Try The Ready Resource for Relief Society. It includes quotes, summary, and handouts for every lesson. I personally have never seen these in person, however, since several of you have recommended it, it's worth mentioning. 

Music Suggestions

Listen to these hymns throughout the week as you ponder the lesson, use one in your lesson, or suggest them as an opening hymn.

"Come, Follow Me"- Hymn #116

"Come, All Ye Saints Who Dwell on Earth"- Hymn #65

"I Believe in Christ"- Hymn #134 or listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

"Lord, I Would Follow Thee"- Hymn #220 or listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

"More Holiness Give Me"- Hymn #131 or listen to this Relief Society Choir

"Nearer, Dear Savior, to Thee"- Hymn #99 

"The Lord Is My Light"- Hymn #89

"Abide with Me; 'Tis Eventide"- Hymn #165 (or Hymn #166

"Come unto Jesus"- Hymn #117 or listen to the Mormon Tabernacle  Choir

"I Need Thee Every Hour"- Hymn #98 or the Men's Choir Hymn #334

"Guide Me to Thee"- Hymn #101

"I Know That My Redeemer Lives"- Hymn #136 or listen to this combined choir

"I Stand All Amazed"- Hymn #193 or listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

"Jesus, Lover of My Soul"- Hymn #102 

 "Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me"- Hymn #104 

"Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee"- Hymn #141 or the Women's Version Hymn #315

"Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer"- Hymn #103

"Where Can I Turn for Peace"- Hymn #129 

"Master, the Tempest is Raging"- Hymn #105 or listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Questions to Ponder

  • How will you make Jesus a more central part of your life this year? How does this goal influence your New Year's resolutions?
  • How can you increase the focus on the Savior in your home? How can your family help with this goal? 
  • What specific things can you do to come to know Christ better than you do right now?
  • What are you willing to give up in order to receive the hope, joy, and peace that Christ offers? What is the cost for such gifts? When have you experienced these gifts?
  • Do you agree that sincere and active faith is the greatest need in the world today? Why do you think so? How does faith solve the problems in the world?
  • How can you show faith even when everything seems to be going wrong? What role does faith play when life seems unfair?
  • How do you build your faith so when everything else falls apart, your faith doesn't? 
  • What fears do you have? How does faith overcome fear? When have you been able to replace your fear with faith?
  • How has the Savior calmed the storms in your life?
  • How can you "embrace life joyfully" no matter what else is going on in your life? 
  • How do you maintain an eternal perspective? How does this help you?
  • In what ways has the Savior helped you live a more abundant life? What does an abundant  life mean to you?
  • What are some counterfeits to hope and joy that Satan uses to deceive us?
  • How often have you thought about the Savior this past month? Was it more than normal because of Christmas? What helps you elevate your thoughts towards the Savior more?
  • What can you do to serve Christ more valiantly?
  • How does centering our lives on Jesus Christ and His gospel prevent things from ever going permanently wrong?

Study Guide

Come join our Private Facebook Group where we discuss these lesson every month. Share your ideas; get some from others. Ask to join here.


Howard W. Hunter Chapter 1: Jesus Christ- Our Only Way to Hope and Joy