Sunday, May 25, 2014
WHY -- 20 Reasons WHY Personal Revelation is so Important
At 8:51 this morning a thought popped into my mind.
I was rushing to prepare for 9:00 church. "You're teaching young women today." Yikes! I had completely forgotten it was my turn to teach after being out of town all week. Good thing I have loved studying this topic for years and had a file full of articles, including a collection of my favorite principles and quotes about it. I thought I'd share some of them with you.
20 reasons WHY personal revelation is so important
HOW -- Here are 20 different ways God speaks to us.
WHAT -- Here are 20 things we can do to receive more personal revelation.
1. It’s the most important skill we can learn in this life.
Of all the skills I can teach my children before they leave our home, of course I want them to learn how to read and cook and communicate, but this one tops them all. This one helps other skills fall into place. Julie Beck said, “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life” (Ensign, May, 2010).
Gerald Lund said, "One of the most important—if not the most important—challenges in learning how to come unto Christ and to be perfected in him is to learn to hear, to recognize, and then to follow the voice of the Lord" ("The Voice of the Lord," BYU Devotional, Dec. 2, 1997).
2. We need it to survive spiritually in the last days.
Boyd K. Packer said, “These are sobering times...you won’t survive spiritually unless you know how to receive revelation. ... It’s a noisy world, and you’re going to have to learn personally, and privately and individually that revelation will come when the Lord can speak to our feelings. ... Learn to receive revelation. ... Learn that in the still, small hours of the morning, the Lord will speak to you. He will never fail to answer your prayers” (BYU Hawaii Commencement Address, August 5, 2008).
3. It’s the sweetest experience.
President Thomas S. Monson said, “I know that the sweetest experience in all this life is to feel His promptings as He directs us in the furtherance of His work” (Ensign, May, 2008).
4. It’s the only answer to difficult decisions.
My high school seminary teacher asked what’s the right way to answer a boy who asks you on a date, when you don’t want to hurt his feelings or lead him on. None of our answers were right. The only right answer was to do what feels right in that moment.
5. It solves the Mary and Martha dilemma.
Choosing the “better part” is always choosing what feels right in this moment. Martha would have been troubled no matter what she chose if it went against what her conscience said was right in that moment. There may be other times where the Spirit would direct Martha to prepare food for Jesus’ followers, so following that feeling she wouldn’t have felt troubled.
6. It leads to the tree of life in Lehi’s dream.
The iron rod is the word of God, which is scriptures, prophets, and following personal revelation from the Spirit. Personal revelation is the only type of word of God that unfailingly leads to the tree, falling down to worship God, leads you along your own personal path of righteousness, and prompts you to do more of the other two types of word of God. The Jews had scriptures and a prophet, yet didn’t have personal revelation. The tree of life is more than just feeling God’s love for us, but receiving the gift of charity, which is the most desirable, sweetest, most joyous of all things. It changes us to a new creature through a spiritual rebirth, from carnal to spiritual nature, changes our desires to match God’s.
7. It yokes us to the Savior, makes our burden light and easy, and gives rest to our souls.
When filled with the Spirit it seems nothing can phase you. Things that used to seem difficult or upsetting or stressful aren’t anymore. Doing the right thing becomes natural and easy. Because the wicked Nephites boasted “in their own strength, they were left to their own strength; therefore they did not prosper...” (Helaman 4:13). As soon as you unhook yourself from the yoke with Christ, you become weak. When you ask to be hooked back in by repenting and obeying promptings of the Spirit you become strong.
8. Power to overcome weaknesses and sins we couldn’t on our own.
Yoking ourselves to the Savior in this way pairs us with Christ’s infinite power. It’s not all on our back any more. We receive His grace, which is power to do and become bigger, better, more magnificent than we can on our own. (See David A. Bednar,In the Strength of the Lord). "What may appear initially to be a daunting task will be much easier to manage over time as you consistently strive to recognize and follow feelings prompted by the Spirit. Your confidence in the direction you receive from the Holy Ghost will also become stronger. I witness that as you gain experience and success in being guided by the Spirit, your confidence in the impressions you feel can become more certain than your dependence on what you see or hear." (Richard G. Scott, Ensign, Nov. 2009).
9. Fruits of the Spirit are from the Spirit.
Receiving and following personal revelation fills us with the Holy Ghost. James E. Faust said, “Paul answered this by saying they are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. I wish to testify as a living witness that joy does come through listening to the Spirit, for I have experienced it” (Ensign, June 2006).
10. Gifts of the spirit are from the Spirit.
Robert D. Hales said, “We are commanded to ‘seek...earnestly the best gifts’ (D&C46:8). These gifts include the Holy Ghost and personal revelation” (Ensign, Nov. 2007).
11. It helps us help in the most helpful ways.
Personal revelation puts words into our mouths so we can help, teach, comfort, and encourage others. The Spirit helps us know when to help and when holding back is the better for the person or for us. It helps us know what the person needs the most – a dinner, a clean kitchen, a book, a note, or a visit.
12. Personal revelation can make work fun, and tell us when to stop.
I woke up on a Saturday morning during a week of asking God to tutor me in living by the Spirit. My husband woke up with a fever so he couldn’t mow the lawn as planned. I felt prompted to mow the lawn for him. I have never enjoyed mowing the lawn before, but I was filled with joy while serving him in following this prompting. Then I stopped to ask the Lord, “Should I mow the back lawn too?” The answer I received was that the front was enough, and not to do the back. What an epiphany it was to realize the Spirit was easier on me than I was on myself. Had I disobeyed that prompting and mowed the back lawn, my joy likely would have turned to resentment that I had to mow the lawn at all. But I obeyed and retained my joy. Obeying promptings leads to happy feelings. Disobeying promptings leads to yucky feelings.
13. The Spirit is the light that pushes back the darkness.
“Unless you are fully engaged in living the gospel – living it with all your ‘heart, might, mind, and strength’ (D&C 4:2) – you cannot generate enough spiritual light to push back the darkness” (Robert D. Hales, Ensign, May. 2002).
14. It’s the way we know God, learn and live the gospel, and qualify for eternal life.
Robert D. Hales said, “Personal revelation is the way Heavenly Father helps us know Him and His Son, learn and live the gospel, endure to the end in righteousness, and qualify for eternal life–-to return back to their presence” (Ensign, Nov. 2007).
15. Makes our testimonies grow.
Elder Hales said, “The more we receive and acknowledge personal revelation, the more our testimonies grow. As a bishop, my testimony grew each time I received revelation to extend callings to ward members. ... More importantly, I am strengthened by the personal revelations I receive in my role as a son of God, a husband, and a father” (Ensign, Nov. 2007).
16. Helps us not be offended.
Two people can receive the same counsel, and depending on whether or not they have the Spirit they react with either offense and resistance, or soft hearted obedience and willingness. Lehi’s sons were all told to get the brass plates. Laman and Lemuel murmured and resisted. Sam and Nephi willingly obeyed. When Julie Beck gave a talk called “Mothers Who Know” (Ensign, Nov. 2007), some women’s lib Mormon sites bashed her and her message, yet a woman in my ward bore a humble testimony the next week about Beck’s talk saying, “She has given me a lot to work on.”
17. Spiritual growth becomes meteoric...
...when we make a commitment to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. (See Following the Light of Christ into His Presence by John Pontius). “There is no limit to the revelations [we] may receive” (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 490). "If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things" (D&C 42:61).
18. Spiritual protection.
Receiving and following personal revelation fills us with the Holy Ghost, who is a great protector from Satan and harm. I couldn’t possibly count how many times members in our family have been protected by following promptings to move lanes on a freeway or take a different road home than usual.
19. The best kind of leadership training.
The president of our BYU married student stake felt so strongly about this topic that his presidency taught it at every meeting where I ever heard them speak. The stake president spent his own money to create a binder for every family in the stake, helping us all become skilled at using personal scripture study as a means of receiving personal revelation. He knew our stake contained some of tomorrow’s leaders of the church, business, government, and families all over the world. He knew that personal revelation is the best way to get the best answers to all our question and problems in all these areas so he focused on it intensely. It intensely blessed many, many lives.
He taught us to open our personal scripture study with a prayer of asking, and close it with a prayer of thanks for the answers we found. In between those prayers he taught us to study the scriptures and words of prophets wherever we felt prompted to study to find the answer to our question, and then to ponder, and then to write about what we read and felt. Often as we ponder and write personal revelation starts to flow. This method has blessed my life more than I can say.
20. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young both told the next prophet that personal revelation was the most important thing to teach the people.
“Several years after the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred, he appeared to President Brigham Young and shared this timeless counsel: ‘Tell the people to be humble and faithful and [be] sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach [you what] to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits. It will whisper peace and joy to their souls, and it will take malice, hatred, envying, strife, and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness, and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the Spirit of the Lord they will go right’” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 98, quoted by David A. Bednar, Ensign, Nov. 2010).