Holy Ghost

Truth is truth. It is absolute. I LOVE that about truth. Even if you do not agree with me whenever I express a truth, it doesn’t matter! If it is truth I cannot change it.

We cannot change TRUTH to make it become what we might like it to be. We can attempt to bend, twist and make it convenient or more comfortable for our lifestyle but this still does not make it absolute truth.

TruthIt’s like black and white. Either it is truth or it’s not. I wouldn’t like just a little bit of truth. Been there. Done that. Just a little bit of truth is way too frustrating. I feel stuck. Or confused, I lose sight of the right path.

I’d like it all. Well, as much as I can humanly contain, please!

 

“Opinion? Of course, there is a difference of opinion; but again, opinion cannot change laws or absolute truths. Opinions will never make the earth to be flat, the sun to dim its light, God to die, or the Savior to cease being the Son of God.” Spencer W. Kimball

Truths are discovered. An unschooled four year old may not know that 2 +2 = 4. But it is true, even while he has not yet discovered it.

There was a time when people believed the earth to be flat. Still, this did not change the truth of its spherical shape. Before it was discovered to be so, opinions likely differed, but did not change this solid truth.

Spiritual truths, invisible to our mortal eyes are that much more absolute. Jesus Christ has said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6). That has got to be an absolute truth.

Unchanging. Whole. Perfect.

We are promised that the Holy Ghost- He being Truth will guide us into all truth. On this temporal plane is it possible to know completely absolute truths?

“When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what he hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13

Beginning with the tiniest grain of faith and believing what Jesus Christ has said, is a great start to seeking His guidance. Being led along we are able to increase our own knowledge of the truth little by little. Suddenly one day we shall see plainly that glorious absolute and perfect Truth.

“God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).

Once Heavenly Father had occasion to shower me with His love and comfort, I went from believing that He is wholly love, to experiencing His all encompassing love filling and overflowing my heart and being until I could not contain it all.

The more times this happened, the more I have been able to learn from, imitate His love and feel a similar warmth, compassion and kindness for others. I am learning to become more like Him according to love.

“For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37 (NASB)

Like God’s love, truth works in my life in a similar way.  My first testimony of the true gospel proved to me that the Book of Mormon is true. However, I did not know the absolute complete truth of the restored gospel-yet. It was not fully revealed to me. If it would have been, I suppose my need for faith would have vanished and my progression would have been halted.

“The best way of finding truth is simply to go to the Origin of all truth and ask or respond to inspiration. For success, two ingredients are essential: first, unwavering faith in the Source of all truth; second, a willingness to keep God’s commandments to keep open spiritual communication with Him.”                                Richard G. Scott

Instead, little by little I sought to know and understand more and I learned to ask of the Lord. “The Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6). He reveals God’s truth when we seek it. I believed that He would reveal His truths, and believed and hoped that He would communicate with me. I was willing to persevere, seeking Him humbly and (sometimes) patiently.

And I had many questions. “Were we truly spiritual beings in the presence of our Heavenly Father before coming to this earth?” “Which is the only true church accepted by Jesus Christ?” “Was this church organized through revelation by the Savior?”

“Was Joseph Smith a true prophet?” “Is Thomas S. Monson the prophet called by the Lord today?” “Is there life after death?”

Some truths were confirmed even without my asking.

 “He has given the key. You may know. You need not be in doubt. Follow the prescribed procedures, and you may have an absolute knowledge that these things are absolute truths.

The necessary procedure is: study, think, pray, and do. Revelation is the key.

God will make it known to you once you have capitulated and have become humble and receptive.

Having dropped all pride of your mental stature, having acknowledged before God your confusion, having subjected your egotism, and having surrendered yourself to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, you are ready to begin to learn. With preconceived religious notions stubbornly held, one is not teachable.

The Lord has promised repeatedly that he will give you a knowledge of spiritual things when you have placed yourself in a proper frame of mind.

He has counseled us to seek, ask, and search diligently. These innumerable promises are epitomized by Moroni in the following: “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5)

What a promise! How extravagant! How wonderful!”  Spencer W. Kimball

I love the clarity of truth. I love the feeling of expansion in my heart, in my mind and soul. I thrill that our hearts and minds are created to recognize truth.

If there was no such thing as truth, how could there be a right and a wrong?

I’m grateful for our loving Father in heaven who promises to reveal His truths and faithfully does so in remarkable ways. I know that once a person knows absolutely the truths of the gospel, even upon threat of bodily harm or death, it will not be denied. That perfect assurance is what I love about Truth.

faithI had a brief chat recently, with someone that loves just about everything about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, while rejecting the truth of the restored gospel. “All you need do is kneel in prayer and ask Heavenly Father whether this is the true church”, said I.

The response, “But I don’t believe all that other stuff”, meaning our controvertible history, questionable to the outside world, but truth and glory to the LDS heart.

I accused my chum of having the very little faith necessary, to not even consider approaching God in humble prayer, trusting Him to respond as He has promised each of His children. This episode along with ongoing thoughts and desires has me pondering the meaning of faith.

Not at all am I an expert. I am aware of the breadth of this topic and do not even promise to make a dent in its meaning.

Faith. This small word carries the weight of potential huge impact on the lives of mortals and is especially meaningful for our eternal destiny.

When you hear the word faith what comes to your mind? Today, I’d like to share one way I see it.

Picture a ruler.  Let’s make it a scale of one to ten. And let’s begin at where the majority of humankind seems to be. Now, please do remember, this is faith according to Lily…it is not gospel! It’s one concept to ponder in our spare time. 🙂

Where would you say the majority of people fit on a scale of faith? Where are you on this scale?

For fun here is my scale:

1.  Never having heard the gospel, still, most folks believe in something, -science, evolution, philosophies, etc-we’ll give them a one. “Live and let live” is their motto.

“By faith the harlot Rehab perished not with them that believed not” Hebrews 11:31

2.  These believe in Jesus Christ. Might not attend or associate with any church, but they do know of Him.

3.  These believe in Jesus Christ, are members of some church but do not know or follow all of His commandments. They have faith, but do they believe Him and all His words? Do they seek to know more from Him? Do they expect to hear from Him?

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

4.  Let’s place believers of the atonement of Jesus Christ, the gift of the Holy Ghost  and members of the true gospel at this level.

“By faith Moses…refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter…choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season…esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt…by faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king” Hebrews 11:24-27

5.  These are members of the true gospel. However obeying commandments is not high on their list of priorities.

“Through faith (Moses) kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them” Hebrews 11:28

6.  These people believe the true gospel and live to obey the commandments of the Lord.

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down” Hebrews 11:30

7.  Attention to prayer, communication with God and a relationship with Christ is important to this group.

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts”        Hebrews 11:4

8.  These diligently seek God. Desire to hear from Him. Sacrifice and serve when called upon. They are tested and face trials with His divine help.

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went…For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:8-11

9.  These faithful follow directions and build an ark. That is, they have enough faith to accept their God given assignment.

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet…prepared an ark to the saving of his house” Hebrews 11:7

10.  These champions offer up all that they have.

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…his only begotten son” Hebrews 11:17

The following inspiring thoughts are written by Michael T. Ringwood of the Seventy in January’s Ensign, page 56 :

“Let’s look at Joseph Smith as an example of faith and of demonstrating the particles of desire, belief, and hope.

Joseph wanted to find the true Church of Jesus Christ. His desire was so strong that it led him to the scriptures, where he read, “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God” (James 1:5) He thought about this scripture. He desired to have wisdom, and he believed that he would receive it if he asked God. He did the only logical thing: he prayed and asked God.

Now think about this for a minute. Joseph had the desire to know the truth. He believed the words of James. He hoped for an answer. But if he had stopped there, we would not be here today. Exercising faith meant he had to enter the grove and pray.

I believe that when Joseph went into the grove to pray, he expected to walk out with an answer. He might not have expected to see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, but he did expect an answer. What a great example of faith! He had desire, he believed, he hoped and he took action.

The faith of a 14 year old boy changed the world. Because of Joseph’s prayer in the Sacred Grove, the heavens were opened and God spoke again …”

 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1

So…what do you think of my list? Missing anything?

When you hear the word ‘faith’ what comes to your mind?

What does ‘faith’ look like in your life?

 

Our family travelled to Orleans to celebrate Christmas a couple of weekends ago.  Sunday the 16th, at Chapel Hill Ward I appreciated a marvelous talk by Brother George Piper, Stake High Councillor. He kindly assented for it to be posted and shared with you.

In here are sweet morsels of truth. I’ve bolded my favorites along with highlighting each of the gifts listed. If you would like to ponder and enjoy the whole of George’s talk, please click here.

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“There is a simple theory. When you’re on the receiving end, you will discover three things in the great gift giver: he felt what you felt and was touched; he gave freely; and he counted sacrifice a bargain.

(Now you can see it won’t be easy to use this theory to make big strides in your gift giving this Christmas. It will take some practice, more than one holiday, to learn how to feel and be touched by what’s inside others. And giving freely and counting sacrifice as joy will take a while.

But you could start this Christmas being a good receiver. You might notice and you might appreciate. You have the power to make others great gift givers by what you notice. You could make any gift better by what you choose to see, and you could, by failing to notice, make any gift a failure.)

Gift giving takes a giver and a receiver. I hope we use our little theory, not to criticize the gifts and giving that come our way this year, but to see how often our hearts are understood and gifts given joyfully, even with sacrifice.” Henry B. Eyring (BYU Devotional,  Dec 9, 1980)

Here is my list of 15 Christmas Gifts we might overlook or neglect to fully appreciate. And by so doing we might fail to rejoice in Him who is the giver of these Gifts, even Jesus Christ.

Please remember that this list is by no means exhaustive or all-inclusive. I hope you’ll begin your own list this very day of the gifts you are truly grateful for that have come to you through your Heavenly Father and His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ and/or through His atonement.

I hope you’ll consider President Eyring’s three qualities of a great gift giver and how they apply to each gift.

1.      He felt what you felt and was touched

2.      He gave freely

3.      He counted sacrifice a bargain

“And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” Doctrine and Covenants 88:32-33

Unconditional or Universal Gifts

The first six gifts are unconditional or universal gifts that are free to all whether they believe in Jesus Christ and live His teachings or not.

1)      The gift of the resurrection: to rise from the dead with a perfected, immortal body. All physical, emotional and developmental disabilities will be healed or removed in the resurrection; we will be restored to perfect eternal health.

“The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.” Alma 11:43

2)      Closely connected to the resurrection is the gift of preservation of human intelligence and identity.

“Death is not the permanent annihilation of the human personality and individuality!  President Brigham Young wisely declared that the preservation of human intelligence and individuality through the atonement and resurrection ‘is the greatest gift that ever was bestowed on mankind’”. – Virginia Pearce, Through His Eyes

Until I read that quote I wasn’t fully aware of this tremendous gift.

3)      The gift of being judged by Jesus. All will be resurrected and at least temporarily be able to stand in the presence of Jesus to be judged by Him.

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” John 5:22

4)      The gift of individual accountability. All men will be punished for their own sins but not for the sins of another. Clearly this gift flows out of the atonement.

(One of the) “unconditional blessing(s) of the atonement is expressed in our second article of faith: ‘we believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.’

Although each of us is certainly influenced by the fall of Adam (that is we all experience pain, suffering, sickness, and death), the infinite mercy of Christ prevents us from being punished for Adam’s transgression or the sins of anyone else.  We may suffer because of the sins of another, but that suffering does not occur as a punishment imposed by God.  For God to punish one person for the sins of another would not be just.  – Kent R Brooks, Sperry Symposium Classics, The New Testament, page 165

5)      The gift of a perfect example in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ during His time here on our earth.

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps” 1 Peter 2:21

6)      The gift of Christ being able and eager to ‘succor’ us in our hour of need.

“Elder Jeffrey R Holland noted “the word succor literally means “to run to”...Even as he calls us to come to him and follow him, he is unfailingly running to help us.”  Such is the love of the Good Shepherd.

As John so beautifully recorded:angels-singing-1

“The sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out…And…he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice” (John 10:3-4).

Jesus understands perfectly every feeling, every temptation, every pain, every weakness, every sickness, every infirmity, and every difficulty known to man. He knows us. He loves us. He desires to help us.  And “that teacher come from God” (John 3:2) can enable us to do all things, if we will but let him.” Kent R Brooks article, ibid, page 172

“And He shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith He will take upon Him the pains and the sicknesses of His people. And He will take upon Him death, that He may loose the bands of death which bind His people; and He will take upon Him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that He may know according to the flesh how to succor His people according to their infirmities.” Alma 7:11-12 

Freely Available Gifts with Requirements

The last nine gifts are freely available to all but require us to ask, seek, live for, and do something to fully receive them.

7)      The Gift of Faith in Jesus Christ and the opportunity to be able to pray in the name of Jesus Christ and receive according to our faith. Jesus is our mediator and our advocate with Our Heavenly Father. God Our Heavenly Father honours what Jesus asks for.  Jesus asks our Heavenly Father in our behalf, for whatever we have asked God for, that is righteous, with faith in Jesus’ name.

“And after that He came men also were saved by faith in His name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth He spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.” Moroni 7:26 (BOM) 

8)      The gift of repentance and the ability to “re-turn” to God. 

“O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.” 3 Ne. 10:6 (B0M)

9)      The gift of baptism and the opportunity for spiritual rebirth with Christ as our father.

“Behold, I am He who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.” Ether 3:14 (BOM)

Connected with this choice gift is the gift of forgiveness of our sins.

“Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” Doctrine & Covenants 58:42

Also note the relief that can come to us when we forgive others with the Saviour’s help who have injured us.  (See Doctrine & Covenants 64:9-11)

10)   The gift of the new commandments that the Saviour gave us during his ministry that superseded the schoolmasterly Mosaic Law, and the connected opportunity He offers us to obey them and be blessed.  We are blessed by obedience in two ways:

i.  We are freed from the future consequences of sin

ii. We become eligible for the specific blessings promised by the Father and connected to each commandment.

11)  The gift of mercy is clearly extended to us through the Saviour’s atonement to those with a broken heart and a contrite spirit who have entered into a covenant relationship with him and the Father.

“President J. Reuben Clark Jr. said “I believe that our Heavenly Father wants to save every one of his children….I believe that in His justice and mercy He will give us the maximum reward for our acts, give us all that He can give, and in the reverse, I believe that He will impose upon us the minimum penalty which it is possible for Him to impose.”  Kent R. Brooks, article, page 167

“A sense of falling short or falling down is not only natural but essential to the mortal experience… The Saviour’s victory can compensate not only for our sins but also for our inadequacies; not only for our deliberate mistakes but also for our sins committed in ignorance, our errors of judgement, and our unavoidable imperfections.

ShepherdsHe gives us strength enough to rescue us [and] warmth enough to tell us that home is not far away… 

Sometimes we talk about how important it is to be on the Lord’s side.  Perhaps we should talk more about how important it is that the Lord is on our side.” (Bruce C Hafen quote on page 173 of Kent R Brooks article)

12)   The gift of temple covenants, temple work, and the redemption of our deceased ancestors.

“From Adam to the time of Jesus, ordinances were performed in temples for the living only. After Jesus opened the way for the gospel to be preached in the world of spirits, ceremonial work for the dead, as well as for the living, has been done in temples on the earth by faithful members of the Church. Building and properly using a temple is one of the marks of the true Church in any dispensation, and is especially so in the present day.” – “Temple” in LDS Bible Dictionary

13)   The gift of the pure love of Christ – to experience it or be a recipient of it. 

“ I believe that I am a child of God—that I am His spirit daughter, precious in His sight, known completely, and loved beyond human comprehension.” Virginia Pearce, “Through His Eyes

 “But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in Him, and serve Him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, He will, according to His own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.”  Mosiah 7:33 

14)   The gift of eternal life and the promise of perfection.  This is exaltation or life in the presence of God.

“And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.”  Doctrine & Covenants 14:7 

 “If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith.

“Should all prayers be immediately answered according to our selfish desires and our limited understanding, then there would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life and godhood.

“Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, longsuffering, and self-mastery.”Spencer W Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, Deseret Book Co., 1973, pp. 97–98.)

15)   The gift of the Holy Ghost, the promised companionship of the third member of the Godhead and the invitation to seek revelation as we travel through mortality 

Jesus promised He would not leave us comfortless and He didn’t.

“The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life” Sister Julie B. Beck

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you.”  John 14:26

I pray that at this beautiful Christmas season you will reflect quietly on the wondrous gifts we have each been given and how our Heavenly Father and also our Saviour Jesus Christ would want us to acknowledge these gifts and utilize them in our daily lives.

I conclude with gratitude for the Christmas gifts Jesus Christ and Our Heavenly Father have freely given us and my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its restoration in these the latter-days. Also I leave a challenge with each of you to remember the tremendous blessings we have been given at Christmas and always.

No wonder the angels could not be restrained from singing their anthems of praise at the birth of Jesus.  No wonder shepherds left their flocks (sheep destined for temple alters) to come adore the new born babe in Bethlehem. No wonder wise wise menmen travelled great distances to lay their humble gifts at the feet of a baby king who gave them gifts transcending every need or eternal soul felt desire.

Always remember, “He felt what you felt and was touched; He gave freely; and He counted sacrifice a bargain.”  Jesus was, and is, the perfect gift Giver.  

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

What gifts are you truly grateful for that have come to you through your Heavenly Father and His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ and/or through His atonement?