“Sharing Time: Joseph Smith Asked Heavenly Father to Help Him Choose the Right,” Friend, Jan. 1997, 12
Do you know the name of the person who organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; established a bank, a newspaper, and a printing office; supervised the building of the Church’s first temple; initiated extensive missionary work; made a translation of the Bible; received keys of authority from Moses, Elias, and Elijah; and translated the Book of Mormon?
If you answered Joseph Smith, you are correct.*
Joseph lived with his large family on a farm. He worked very hard helping his father and brothers clear trees from the land, care for their animals, and plant crops. Because his help was needed on the farm, he rarely was able to attend school.
When he was fourteen years old, there was great excitement in his community about religion. There were many churches, and each one thought it had the truth. Joseph did not know which church he should join.
He loved Heavenly Father and wanted to do what was right. He wanted to choose the right church to join. He said, “What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?” (JS—H 1:10.)
One day while he was studying the Bible, he read, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Joseph decided to ask Heavenly Father which church was right and which he should join.
On a beautiful spring morning, he went to a grove of trees and knelt to pray. As he began to pray, a frightening, evil power came over him. He felt that he was going to be destroyed. As he called out to Heavenly Father to save him, a pillar of light came from heaven and rested upon him. The evil feeling vanished, and he saw two bright and glorious Beings standing above him in the air. One of Them spoke to Joseph, calling him by name, and said, pointing to the other, “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS—H 1:17).
Joseph saw Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ; he listened carefully as Jesus told him not to join any of the churches.
Joseph wanted to choose the right. Heavenly Father and the Savior were pleased with his desire and helped him understand what was right. Because Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ knew that Joseph Smith would always strive to choose the right and be obedient to whatever They asked him to do, They chose him to restore the true church to the earth.
Carefully color each piece of the flannel board story. Mount the entire page on a sheet of construction paper or lightweight cardboard. Carefully cut out each piece, then glue a piece of sandpaper or flannel on the back of it. Now you are ready to tell the story of the First Vision, placing your story pieces on a flannel board. When you finish telling the story, place all the pieces together in an envelope. You may want to tell the story for family home evening.
1. Have the children sit in a circle. Explain that “opposition in all things” means that we have choices. Give examples of opposites: hot—cold, happy—sad, good—evil, light—dark, honest—dishonest, etc. As music is played, have the children pass two different-colored beanbags around the circle. When the music stops, the child holding one beanbag gives a word that has an opposite; the child holding the other bag guesses what it is. Explain that one of the greatest blessings that Heavenly Father has given us is agency, which means that we are free to choose from the opposites and varieties in life. Explain that when we choose the right, Heavenly Father blesses us. Suggest that they share this activity with their families.
2. Tell the children that one of the most precious gifts Heavenly Father has given them is their agency. In the scriptures, we learn how individuals in the same story made different choices. Divide the children into four groups, and give each group scriptural references to such a story. Give them time to read and discuss their story, then share it with the whole Primary, pointing out the different choices made by the people in it. Make a list of these stories for each child and suggest that they share this activity with their families: (1) King Noah and his priests listen to Abinadi. Read Mosiah 17:1–4, 11–12. (2) Cain and Abel make sacrifices to the Lord. Read Moses 5:16–21, 29–35. (3) Nephi and his brothers go back to Jerusalem to get the plates. Read 1 Ne. 3:1–7, 11–15, 28–31. (4) Alma’s sons Shiblon and Corianton go on missions. Read Alma 38:Preface, Alma 38:2–4; Alma 39:Preface, Alma 39:1–4.
3. Explain to the children that many songs they sing in Primary help them choose the right. Give each class a slip of paper with the title of a Primary song on it. Give them enough time to practice and discuss their song, then have each group sing it for the entire Primary and explain what good choices it helps them make. Have the entire Primary sing the song. Bear your testimony about how these songs (all from the Children’s Songbook) help you when you have to make a choice: “Nephi’s Courage,” p. 120 (be courageous and choose to do what the Lord commands); “I Feel My Savior’s Love,” p. 74 (follow the Savior and give my life to Him); “I’m Trying to Be like Jesus,” p. 78 (love one another; show kindness; be gentle and loving); “The Church of Jesus Christ,” p. 77 (have faith, believe in Jesus Christ, honor His name, do what is right, follow Christ’s light, and proclaim His truth); “Dare to Do Right,” p. 158 (do right; be true and do your work bravely, kindly, and well); “Love One Another,” p. 136 (love one another).
4. Invite three adult ward members, including one member of the bishopric/branch presidency, if possible, to share with the children a time when they had to choose between obeying or disobeying a commandment. Position the three adult members in separate areas in the room. Divide the children into three groups, and have them rotate from speaker to speaker.
5. Discuss with the children how to make good media choices. Remind them of “My Gospel Standards,” which appears on the back of the achievement days booklet. Discuss the standard, “I will only read and watch things that are pleasing to Heavenly Father.” Ask the children to share personal experiences of times when they made good decisions about which television shows or movies to watch. Read “Brainwashing” (Friend, Nov. 1995, pp. 2–3). Suggest that the children share this story with their families during family home evening. Give each child a copy of “My Gospel Standards” to take home.
6. For additional resources on the topic “Choose the Right,” see these Friend articles, stories, and Sharing Time pages: “Heavenly Father’s Plan,” Apr. 1995, pp. 36–37; “The Courage to Choose the Right,” July 1991, pp. 12–13; “Clean Thoughts,” Nov. 1995, pp. 4–5; “Choose the Right,” Mar. 1995, IFC.