July 29, 2013

My Farewell Talk

 I gave this talk on July 28th 2013. Hopefully you can gain new perspective on ways that we can receive personal revelation from our Heavenly Father as you read.

Read JSH 1:11-13.
·         11 While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: 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.
·          12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
·          13 At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.

Steps to receiving Personal Revelation
1.      Find a specific question.
2.      Pray with real intent.
3.      Search the scriptures for an answer.
4.      Continue in prayer and fasting.
5.      Listen.
6.      Ponder what you have learned through the spirit.
7.      Act. (showing faith in God)
8.      Show gratitude.

1.      Find a specific question.
·         We will not find an answer unless we first have a question.
·         April 2008 General Conference- David A. Bednar said, while talking of faith:
o   (Going back to Joseph Smith) “Joseph’s questions focused not just on what he needed to know, but what was needed to be done! His prayer was not simply, “Which church is right?” His question was, “Which church should I join?”
·         During the first step of receiving revelation we should already be committed to acting on whatever answer we receive.

2.      Pray with real intent.
·         From the same talk from Elder David A. Bednar he said:
o   “As we speak of prayer, I emphasize the word meaningful. Simply saying prayers is quite a different thing from engaging in meaningful prayer. I expect that all of us already know that prayer is essential for our spiritual development and protection. But what we know is not always reflected in what we do. And even though we recognize the importance of prayer, all of us can improve the consistency and efficacy of our personal and family prayers.”
·         Under Prayer in the Bible Dictionary it says:
o   “As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part. Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”

3.      Search the scriptures for an answer.
·         In October 1979 President Howard W. Hunter gave import insight into the importance of scripture study:
o   “Scriptures contain the record of the self-revelation of God, and through them God speaks to man. Where could there be more profitable use of time than reading from the scriptural library the literature that teaches us to know God and understand our relationship to him? Time is always precious to busy people, and we are robbed of its worth when hours are wasted in reading or viewing that which is frivolous and of little value.   Reading habits vary widely. There are rapid readers and slow readers, some who read only small snatches at a time and others who persist without stopping until the book is finished. Those who delve into the scriptural library, however, find that to understand requires more than casual reading or perusal—there must be concentrated study. It is certain that one who studies the scriptures every day accomplishes far more than one who devotes considerable time one day and then lets days go by before continuing. Not only should we study each day, but there should be a regular time set aside when we can concentrate without interference.”
4.      Continue in prayer and fasting.
·         Heavenly Father wants us to show that we are humble enough to heed his word. By fasting we show that we are willing to sacrifice and act and are committed to our cause.
·         In Exodus 34:27-28 Moses is receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord. It says:
o   27 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
o    28 And [Moses] was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
o   Moses was committed to receiving this sacred revelation. We should take fasting just as seriously.

5.      Listen.
·         One of the greatest lessons that I have learned this last year as I prepared to serve a mission is the importance of silence. I used to think that a long pause while searching for the right words to say was out of place, but the more I learned about the spirit the more I began to understand that it is called the “still small voice” for a reason. We have to listen carefully in order to be guided by the spirit.
·         We each hear the spirit differently and need to learn how he personally speaks to us so that at any moment we will be able to listen and understand what it is trying to say to us.

6.      Ponder what you have learned, through the scriptures and spiritual promptings.
·         It is often said that faith is like a seed. In Alma 32:28 it says:
o   “Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.”
·         I believe that personal revelation goes hand in hand with faith, in fact, it is hard to have one without the other. We can gain and strengthen our faith through personal revelation, and we receive personal revelation through actions of faith.

7.      Act.
·         In Alma 32 it says concerning the seed:
o   36 “…For ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.
o    37 And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.
o    38 But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root…
o   41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.”
·         In James 2:14 it says:
o   “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
·         For example: what good is a car if you never drive it, or a book if you never read it. In John it also uses the example of a body without a spirit. What would be its purpose?
·         I know that as we go forward with faith, that as we act on what answers we receive from our Heavenly Father, that we will be blessed beyond measure.

8.      Show gratitude.
·         President Thomas S. Monson in the October 2010 General Conference said:
o   “My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.”

·         --Given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf at the recent Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting
·         We human beings have a strange tendency to complicate simple things. We set up rules, laws, bylaws, processes, and subprocesses. Eventually, we pile up load after load until we end up under a huge weight of expectations that are so complicated it is difficult to keep track of them, let alone meet them.
·         Too often, we complicate the beauty and simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ with endless lists of meticulous expectations. However, when we focus on the “why” of the gospel, much of the confusion fades away. Why are we here? Why are we asked to obey the commandments? Why is the Atonement of Jesus Christ of such value to us?

Why am I going to serve a mission? Why am I here on earth? Why do I have a testimony?
I challenge you to find your “why” through the steps above.

I know that as we sincerely seek out God, our Heavenly Father, we can become who he knows we can be. We are children of God and He loves each one of us. I KNOW that Joseph Smith was a prophet called by God and given the authority and power to restore Christ's church to the earth. I know that we have a living prophet to day, President Thomas S. Monson. I believe in Christ, my Savior and Redeemer. I know that he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and then died on the cross that all of God's children may return to live with our Heavenly Father again. I know that the Book of Mormon was translated by the power of God and that it contains great truths and is another Testament of Jesus Christ and goes hand in hand with the Bible. I know these things for myself because I have done as Moroni directs... 
"(3) Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
 (4) And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
 (5) And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."

You can know these things for yourself as well if you follow the scripture above. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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