Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Communications with God

 “When a man has the manifestation from the Holy Ghost, it leaves an indelible impression on his soul, one that is not easily erased. It is Spirit speaking to spirit, and it comes with convincing force. A manifestation of an angel, or even of the Son of God himself, would impress the eye and mind, and eventually become dimmed, but the impressions of the Holy Ghost sink deeper into the soul and are more difficult to erase” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 2:151).

I have thought a lot lately on the mission of the Holy Ghost. What an important member of the Godhead. I am so grateful for the manifestations of the Holy Ghost in my life; whether it is providing me comfort, giving me fruits of the Spirit, or teaching me what it truth.

I read an article from the 2004 September Ensign entitled Eight Ways God Can Speak to You. In the article, Elder Dallin H Oaks explains eight ways that Heavenly Father speaks to us through his Spirit.

1. The testimony or witness of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ and that the gospel is true is a revelation from God.

2. Prophecy is another purpose or function of revelation.
Speaking under the influence of the Holy Ghost and within the limits of his or her responsibility, a person may be inspired to predict what will come to pass in the future. Prophecy is part of the calling of a patriarch. Each of us is also privileged occasionally to receive prophetic revelation illuminating future events in our lives, like a Church calling we are to receive.
3. A third purpose of revelation is to give comfort.

A revelation of comfort can come in connection with a blessing of the priesthood, either from the words spoken or simply from the feeling communicated in connection with the blessing.Another type of comforting revelation is the assurance received that a sin has been forgiven. This revelation, which comes when a person has completed all the steps of repentance, gives assurance that the price has been paid, that God has heard the repentant sinner, and that his or her sins are forgiven.
4. Closely related to the feeling of comfort is the fourth purpose or function of revelation, to uplift.
At some time in our lives each of us needs to be lifted up from a depression, from a sense of foreboding or inadequacy, or just from a plateau of spiritual mediocrity. Because it raises our spirits and helps us resist evil and seek good, I believe that the feeling of uplift that is communicated by reading the scriptures or by enjoying wholesome music, art, or literature is a distinct purpose of revelation.
5. The fifth purpose of revelation is to inform.
This may consist of inspiration giving a person the words to speak on a particular occasion, such as in the blessings pronounced by a patriarch or in sermons or other words spoken under the influence of the Holy Ghost. In other circumstances, needed information is communicated by the quiet whisperings of the Spirit. A child loses a treasured possession, prays for help, and is inspired to find it; an adult has a problem at work, at home, or in family history research, prays, and is led to the information necessary to resolve it; a Church leader prays to know whom the Lord would have him call to fill a position, and the Spirit whispers a name. In all of these examples, familiar to each of us, the Holy Ghost acts in His office as a teacher and revelator, communicating information and truths for the edification and guidance of the recipient.
6. The sixth type or purpose of revelation is to restrain us from doing something.
The revelation that restrains is one of the most common forms of revelation. It often comes by surprise, when we have not asked for revelation or guidance on a particular subject. But if we are keeping the commandments of God and living in tune with His Spirit, a restraining force will steer us away from things we should not do.
7. A common way to seek revelation is to propose a particular course of action and then to pray for inspiration to confirm it.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stressed our responsibility to do all that we can before we seek a revelation: “We’re expected to use the gifts and talents and abilities, the sense and judgment and agency with which we are endowed. … We’re expected to do everything in our power that we can, and then to seek an answer from the Lord, a confirming seal that we’ve reached the right conclusion.” 
8. The eighth purpose or type of revelation consists of those instances where the Spirit impels a person to action. This is not a case where a person proposes to take a particular action and the Spirit either confirms or restrains. This is a case where revelation comes when it is not being sought and impels some action not proposed. This type of revelation is obviously less common than other types, but its rarity makes it all the more significant.

How many of us  have really contemplated the many ways Heavenly Father communicates with us? Christ has told us in John 14:

 26 But the aComforter, which is the bHoly Ghost, whom the Father will send in my cname, he shall dteach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
 27 aPeace I leave with you, my bpeace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be ctroubled, neither let it be afraid.


The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ~ Edmund Burke

President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “In that sacred volume of scripture, the Book of Mormon, we note the great and prolonged struggle for liberty. We also note the complacency of the people and their frequent willingness to give up their liberty for the promises of a would-be provider. …
“This is our need today—to plant the standard of liberty among our people throughout the Americas.
“While this incident occurred some seventy years B.C., the struggle went on through one thousand years covered by this sacred Book of Mormon record. In fact, the struggle for liberty is a continuing one—it is with us in a very real sense today” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1962, 14–15).

Do something meaningful in defense of your God-given freedom and liberty
(in Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 58; or Ensign, May 1988, 51).

I am grateful for the liberties and freedoms I have, and especially for those men and women who, like Captain Moroni, raise the Standard of Liberty, even unto the lying down of their lives.

“God will be with us. He will watch over us. He will protect us … if we will be true and faithful and obedient and hearken to His word.” President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), “God Will Protect Us in These Perilous Times,” Church News, Feb. 22, 2003, 3.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quotable Quotes

I am grateful for the chance to be able to listen to the words of the prophet, and other leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today I thought I would share a few of the quotes that I have found:
May we ever remember that the mantle of leadership is not the cloak of comfort but rather the robe of responsibility. May we reach out to rescue those who need our help and our love.” —President Thomas S. Monson
I love how President Monson says this - may we reach out to rescue those who need our help and our love.
"Conversion is the goal of all gospel learning and teaching. Conversion is not a one-time event. It is a lifelong quest to become more like the Savior." - Elder Russell T. Osguthorpe 

 Conversion is not a one off thing- we should not think that because we have been baptized, that the journey is over. Conversion is a life long process.


 "Dear sisters, our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, know us and love us. They know when we are in pain or suffering in any way. They do not say, “It’s OK that you’re in pain right now because soon everything is going to be all right. You will be healed, or your husband will find a job, or your wandering child will come back.” They feel the depth of our suffering, and we can feel of Their love and compassion in our suffering." - Linda S Reeves

This one is for all the sisters that are out there who are suffering or in pain. Sisters, you are known to Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus. You are never alone. They love you and know what you are going through. This quote gives me such hope and comfort. I am so grateful that I do not have to go through the trials that I face alone.

". . . choose your clothing the way you would choose your friends—in both cases choose that which improves you and would give you confidence standing in the presence of God. Good friends would never embarrass you, demean you, or exploit you. Neither should your clothing."  -  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland  

This is a quote I heard in one of my classes at school. As disciples of Christ we need to dress the part, no matter where we are, and what we are doing. I love how Elder Holland says we should wear clothes that would give us confidence standing in the presence of God.


 President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “If you want to get the spirit of your office and calling as a new president of a quorum, a new high [councilor], a new bishop [or, I might say, a Relief Society president]—try fasting for a period. I don’t mean just missing one meal, then eating twice as much the next meal. I mean really fasting, and praying during that period. It will do more to give you the real spirit of your office and calling and permit the Spirit to operate through you than anything I know.” 

I have really contemplated this a lot, especially since I recently became the first counselor in the Relief Society Presidency in my ward. I have felt so inadequate in this calling, and have needed the blessings that come through prayer and fasting.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Obtaining Spiritual Gifts

Seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given. (Doctrine and Covenants 46:8)

This week in one of my classes at BYU Idaho, we had the chance to listen to the devotional given by Elder Kim B Clark, entitled The Spirit of Ricks. I have been pondering over this talk, and have felt such thankfulness to the Lord for the gifts of the Spirit he has given to me in my life. This post consists mostly of my musings from this talk.

When we are baptized and confirmed, we are blessed to receive the Holy Ghost, which means we are, upon our worthiness, to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and receive spiritual gifts. The gifts of the spirit are made manifest into our lives through the Holy Ghost, and are gifts given to us by Heavenly Father.  But receiving the gifts of the spirit are a matter of personal faith, obedience and spirituality. "The contributions you make and the blessings you in turn derive depend on the power of the Holy Ghost in your life and the way you use the spiritual gifts the Lord gives you."

 Elder Clark asks: what must we do to strengthen the power of the Spirit in our lives? 

 In order to strengthen the power of the Spirit, we must first understand how the Spirit works. "The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit and the third member of the Godhead.  The Holy Ghost is the great connector and communicator between heaven and earth.  He conveys and manifests the powers of heaven to those who qualify for the gifts of God.  These gifts come from Jesus Christ through the power of His atonement and through His mercy and grace."

Elder Clark goes on to say that "there are three things we must do to obtain these gifts and put them to use in the way the Lord intends: Qualify, Seek, and Receive." How do we qualify for the gifts of the spirit? We must always remain worthy of the companionship of the Spirit. We must do nothing that would offend the Spirit. We must keep our promises with exactness and with honor and, by so doing, qualify for the gifts of God. 

Seek means to "diligently seek spiritual gifts". Here are President George Q.  Cannon's thoughts on  seeking these good gifts: "How many of you are seeking for these gifts that God has promised to bestow?  . . . How many of you ask the Father in the name of Jesus to manifest Himself to you through these powers and these gifts? If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect.  Have I imperfections?  I am full of them.  What is my duty?  To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections." 

Very powerful questions, he asks here. I know in my own life that I haven't thought to ask for these spiritual gifts. I just assumed that I would be given them if I needed them. Receiving these gifts of the Spirit is also a very important part. We must receive them with a spirit of gratitude, using the gifts in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. According to Elder Clark,

"The Holy Ghost may bestow upon us a spiritual gift; but unless we embrace the gift and use the gift the way the Lord intends, we have not received it."

Let me close this post today by a comment from President Henry B Eyring taken from the Feb 2013 Ensign:

"God knows our gifts. My challenge to you and to me is to pray to know the gifts we have been given, to know how to develop them, and to recognize the opportunities to serve others that God provides us. But most of all, I pray that you will be inspired to help others discover their special gifts from God."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Lord Looketh on the Heart

Earlier this week, my son was so excited to watch another one of those "people's choice" award shows that come on at this time of year. He had been excited to exercise his right to vote, and was wondering if any of the people he had voted for won an award. In a world that judges a person by the wealth that they accumulate, or the titles and awards that are bestowed, I am grateful the Lord's plan is different. President Thomas S Monson taught,
"In our world, moral character ofttimes seems secondary to beauty or charm. But from long ago the Lord’s counsel to Samuel the prophet echoes: “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). When the Savior sought a man of faith, He did not select him from the throng of the self-righteous who were found regularly in the synagogue. Rather, He called him from among the fishermen of Capernaum. Doubting, unschooled, impetuous Simon became Peter, Apostle of faith. When the Savior chose a missionary of zeal and power, He found him not among His advocates but amidst His adversaries. Saul the persecutor became Paul the proselytizer. The Redeemer chose imperfect people to teach the way to perfection. He did so then. He does so now. He calls you and me to serve Him here below.”
We tend to judge people, and sometimes ourselves, based on our own understanding, or the outward appearance. We are all on our own levels of growth. We may be having the exact same experience, at the exact same time, thinking that we understand the situation, but we don't. We are judging by our own knowledge, not seeing the whole picture. The Lord sees the intents, and the reasons behind the actions. He sees the level of growth that each person is at, and helps them to progress on their own individual level. I am so grateful that the Lord through his tender mercies, loves me so much to give me the chance to progress and grow. I am grateful that when I do judge myself, or others unrighteously, he gives me the chance to repent. It is these simple ways that he teaches, that has such profound meaning in my life.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Frugality Borne of Faith

Have you ever sat down and thought to yourself, I am so grateful to be frugal? I am so happy I have to clip coupons, not spend money, or go without? Prosperity to me, means being able to walk into a store, and buying anything I wanted without having to worry about money--that is what I dream about. But are these really the lessons I need to be learning or passing on to my children? Not really. By working hard, and sacrificing to get the things that we have, we appreciate more fully the blessings Heavenly Father gives us.
Elder Bednar said, "There is a responsibility to be prudent in the management of [our] resources, and there are places where we need to improve. If there is an example of use it up, wear it out, making do, or do without, we are that place."
Ponder for a moment this statement by President Henry B Eyring:
"I testify to you that that spirit of sacrifice, that spirit of trying to give just a little bit more and ask a little less brings down the powers of heaven."
President Eyring gives an example of the sacrifices that went on in Idaho; those first pioneers who settled there and built up what is now Brigham Young University Idaho in their poverty. "The first principal, Jacob Spori, housed his family in an unheated grain storage shed in his first winter because that's all they had. The people here [in Idaho] have treated all they had as the Lord's and always counted it as enough. And they have used it as if it was the offering of the poorest widow to her Lord and to His Kingdom. Nor have they felt badly treated when the Lord asked them to take less and yet give more. Because of that faithful obedience and sacrifice, I certify the Lord has poured out His Spirit here." President Eyring calls this frugality borne of faith.
"There will come times when the Lord's prophet will ask us to do more with less. Knowing that will come, we must and will find ways to improve and to innovate that require little or no money."
As I take in the words of President Eyring, and really try to understand their meaning, I feel such thankfulness to the Lord for blessing me with the resources I have. I hope I can be steadfast like those early pioneers, and remember that all things are the Lord's, given to me by the Lord for his purposes. They did not complain, or want for more. They made due with what they had. From their examples I am learning to have such gratitude for all that I have. It is enough, and sufficient for my needs.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Keeper of the Gate

I have been contemplating a lot on two verses of scripture found in Helaman: 

28 Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. 
These two verses are deeply related. Heavenly Father wants all of his children to return home to him. He says that so clearly with the gate of heaven is open to all people. But there is only one way into the gate and that is by believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  

41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. 
Second Nephi teaches us that Jesus Christ is the keeper of the gate, and cannot be deceived. Christ knows us on a personal level. He knows our we make mistakes. He knows our weaknesses and promises that he will turn them into strengths if we would just repent. 

That brings me to my second scripture in Helaman: 

10 ... the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins. 

The world's view is quite the opposite to this. Especially in today's society we see the attitude that was found in Second Nephi 28
And there shall also be many which shall say: aEat, drink, and be bmerry; nevertheless, fear God—he will cjustify in committing a little dsin; yea, elie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a fpit for thy neighbor; there is gno harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God. But as it says in Helaman, the Lord will not redeem us in our sins, but from our sins. 

This requires action on our part. This means that we actively and daily use the Atonement in our lives.  Elder M Russell Ballard said,"None of us will ever be so lost that we cannot find our way again through His Atonement and His teachings." That is a great promise! I am filled with such Gratitude as I think of the Atonement, and the suffering that my Savior did on my behalf. There is no way that I can repay him, but he doesn't ask us to. He just asks for us to use repentance to help better our lives, and that we remember Him.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

WhenThou Art Converted

 Becoming Converted, is a topic that I frequently ponder on. I am so grateful for the testimony of Jesus Christ that I have been given, but there are times I wonder if I do enough to strengthen it.

President Harold B. Lee taught: “Testimony isn’t something that you have today and you keep always. Testimony is either going to grow and grow to the brightness of certainty, or it is going to diminish to nothingness, depending upon what we do about it. I say, the testimony that we recapture day by day is the thing that saves us from the pitfalls of the adversary.”
Elder Joseph B Wirthlin talks about the conversion process that the apostle Peter had to undergo:

The night before His crucifixion, Jesus shared the feast of the Passover with His twelve beloved Apostles, most of whom had been with Him throughout His ministry. At one point during this sacred evening, the Lord looked upon Peter, His senior Apostle and loyal friend. Knowing what would be required of Peter after the Ascension, the Lord said: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31–32; emphasis added.)

Imagine for a moment that you are Peter. Three years ago a holy stranger invited you to set aside your fishing boat and nets, your means of support for yourself and your family, and then asked you to follow Him. You did so without hesitation, and for three years you have continued to follow and to love and support and sustain Him. You have seen Him confound the wise, comfort the weary and the afflicted, heal the sick, and raise the dead to life. You have seen Him conquer evil spirits, calm the troubled seas, and for a few minutes, at least, you even walked on the water toward Him. You were at His side when Moses and Elias appeared to Him; you saw Him transfigured before your very eyes. You have committed your entire life to Him. And now He questions you by instructing you to strengthen your brethren “when thou art converted.”

Peter was surprised. He assured the Lord, “I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” (Luke 22:33.) But Jesus knew and understood. He was not condemning Peter for a lack of conviction; Peter demonstrated his conviction during the Lord’s arrest. Rather, the Savior was telling Peter what he needed to do when his testimony became more secure. 

"How can you become converted? How can you make the gospel of Jesus Christ not just an influence in your life but the controlling influence and, indeed, the very core of what you are?"
Elder Todd B Christofferson answers his own questions with this counsel:

1.  Beware of Pride.

2. Know what the Gospel is and grow to understand it more fully.

3. Pray. "Pray about your hopes and fears, your friends and family, your school and work, and the needs of those around you. Most of all, you should pray to be filled with the love of Christ. This love is given to those who are true followers of Jesus Christ, who ask for it with all the energy of their heart."

4. Serve Others. "To be converted, you must not only open your heart to a knowledge of the gospel and the love of God, you must practice the gospel law. You cannot fully understand or appreciate it unless you personally apply it in your life."

5. "Offer the Lord the gift of your broken, or repentant, heart and your contrite, or obedient, spirit."

I am grateful that the Lord provides for me so many opportunities to be humble and become converted unto Him and His Gospel. I pray that we each follow the counsels of our church leaders and become truly converted.



Monday, February 4, 2013

Becoming the Grateful (Wo)Man

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (1997), 250.)

President Henry B Eyring spoke in 2001 at a BYU-Idaho devotional. My most favorite moment from his talk is this promise that he made: "I bless you that every day, if you will ask in prayer to be shown where the hand of God intervened in your life that day, I bless you that you will see that. It will be made manifest to you. You will see that He is leading and guiding and lifting you, and that He knows you."

 I want to be the kind of person that President Eyring speaks of. One who can see the hand of God in my life every day.   What things do you do that help you see the hand of God in your own lives? Does gratitude play a part?

“The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life."  (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), 263.)