President's Pen 5-2-16 (Pattern of Revelation)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ,  by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! We begin with the “End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ and the best missionaries in the world!

Elders & Sisters,

We love you and continue to pray for your well being and success.  We also pray for your investigators, the members that support you, the local leadership you serve with, and for the Lord to bless our efforts.  Thanks for all you do to serve with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.  

I wanted to share with you a simple pattern for revelation that will bless you personally as well as guide you while working with your investigators.  In Doctrine & Covenants the Lord defined what revelation is and how it comes, “I will tell you in your mind (thoughts) and in your heart (feelings), by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation” (D&C 8:2–3). Consider now the following examples and look for the pattern of how revelation is received… 

  • Joseph Smith…  Of all the churches he's attended, which one he should join?  He ponders on the topic, attends the various sects, and then studies in the bible for more insight.  While reading in the book of James he comes upon the scripture we all know and love, "if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God." He then wisely follows this counsel, enters into a grove of trees, offers a humble prayer, and the last dispensation of time is opened.  
  • Tree of Life… Following Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life, he shares it with his family, and Nephi then wants to understand its meaning. Nephi ponders in his heart the meaning of the vision and is carried away in the Spirit of the Lord.  The Lord then reveals the interpretation of the dream for his understanding.  When asked by Laman and Lemuel how Nephi had come to a knowledge of what was taught by Lehi, Nephi simply asked, "Have ye inquired of the Lord?"   
  • The Sons of Mosiah…  They wanted to know the word of God as they began their mission to the Lamanites.  They waxed strong in the knowledge of truth and gained a sound understanding as they had searched the scriptures diligently.  They had given themselves to much prayer and fasting and by doing so gained the spirit of revelation.  
  • Moroni's promise…  We desire to know if these things are true (Book of Mormon). We ponder in our hearts what we have studied.  We then ask God with sincere hearts and real intent if these things are true.  The truth is then revealed to us by the power of the Holy Ghost.  
  • The Savior's teaching…  "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."

Five brief examples, but all with a common theme of how revelation is received. First, we ask questions or desire understanding.  Second, we ponder or study the things we desire to know.  Third, we inquire of the Lord in prayer.  Fourth, revelation is received by the Spirit.  Simply stated as taught by the Savior; ask, seek, knock and it shall be opened to you.  A pattern to be followed and one you can find throughout the scriptures…

In comparison, we learn of Oliver Cowdery's experience as he desired to participate in the translation of the Book of Mormon.  "Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me…"  From this account in the Doctrine & Covenants we clearly we see that Oliver was looking for the spirit of revelation, but hadn't taken the necessary steps to to be given this opportunity. The opposite of Nephi's experience, Laman and Lemuel desired to know the meaning of the vision, but didn't bother to ask.  

If we desire to receive personal revelation to bless our lives and or the lives of our investigators, we need to follow the pattern of how the Lord will instruct us.  First, ask the type of questions where the Lord's help is needed.  Note that this can't be the mundane or questions where we can find the answers for ourselves, but those where we need divine guidance.  Second, give serious study and thought to the question you are asking.  This can't simply be brief meditation, but real work that requires our effort and diligence.  Finally, pray with a sincere heart and with real intent.  This has to be something you truly desire to know with the understanding that you'll get up off your knees and go to work until the answer is given and then ultimately do what you're asked to do.  You also need to be specific with the Lord in your prayer and ask if the decision you've come to is right.  You can't offer an open ended prayer and expect the Lord to tell you which of the options is correct.  The Lord expects you to study it out in your mind and then ask Him if your conclusion is right. (D&C 9:8)

Consider now how you can apply this teaching in your own life or the work you're doing for your investigators.  What questions do you have for the Lord where you need guidance, confirmation, or insight?  What will you do to study and ponder on this topic to demonstrate to the Lord that you have put in the right effort?  How will you pray and will you take to the Lord your study and conclusions so the Spirit can reveal a witness of what is true?  Will you patiently wait for the answer?  I believe the Lord will test our resolve at times as we humbly wait for an answer.  It is important to remember that answers come when He is ready to give them to us, in the interim we must be persistent and faithful.

When it comes to how the revelation is received, Elder Bednar teaches how it can be compared to light replacing darkness.  In some cases, revelation comes as if a light switch was turned on, inspiring our hearts and minds to know what to do in that very moment.  In most cases, revelation is received gradually, similar to the way the sun rises over a mountain peak, line upon line and precept upon precept.  Whether the revelation comes quickly or more gradually, we need to wait upon the Lord's timing.  We must personally be in tune, worthy, and capable of listening to how the still small voice enlightens the mind and touches the heart.  

The question that often arises then is how do I know if the revelation received is what I want or what the Lord wants?  President Henry B. Eyring stated the following in the October 2015 General Conference, "As you obey, the impressions from the Spirit will come more frequently, becoming closer and closer to constant companionship. Your power to choose the right will increase.  You can know when these impressions to act for Him are from the Spirit rather than from your own desires. When the impressions square with what the Savior and His living prophets and apostles have said, you can choose to obey with confidence. Then the Lord will send His Spirit to attend you."  If the impressions you're receiving don't square with revealed truths, you are likely clouding the real answer by your personal desires.  

Some additional guidance on whether the inspiration is from God or not was given Hartman Rector Jr of the Seventy, "One, is it within the bounds and limitations of your calling, and does it require a service consistent with your calling? Two, is it consistent with the revealed word of God? The scriptures and the directions of the living prophet of God today—those are the revealed words of God. Three, is the receiver of the communication a fit receptacle? Is he in condition to receive such a communication from the Lord? Four, does the communication edify and cause you to rejoice? Five, does it cause your bosom to burn or speak peace to your soul, or are you left troubled by the communication? Six, is the communication vivid to the understanding, or does it leave a cloud or a hazy impression?"  Good counsel for each of us to consider as we seek the Lord's guidance.  Ultimately we should follow the Savior's example, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).

What a great blessing it is to know that we can be connected to our Heavenly Father and receive personal direction for our lives.  We need this direction in our missionary work as the Spirit tells us where to go, what to do, and what to say.  This is one of the great blessings that comes as we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and learn to recognize and follow its promptings.  Seek earnestly to be worthy and to receive this guidance.  Follow the inspired pattern for personal revelation: ask, seek, knock and do all you can to have the Lord involved in the details of your life.

Mission Update

For the month of April we were blessed to have 34 souls baptized and receive a remission of their sins.  We are 26% of our annual goal, well within reach of baptizing a ward, and we are making great strides as we continue to find and work with our members.  Please continue to remember the law of the Lord's harvest.  We reap what we sow!  Do all you can each and everyday to find those the Lord has prepared so we can invite them to receive the blessings that only come through faith in the Savior and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.  We love you!

President Hall