Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Holy Ghost as Your Companion

We can, if we live worthy of it, have the blessing of the Spirit to be with us, not only now and then, as in such remarkable experiences as we’ve had today, but always. You know from the words of the sacrament prayer how that promise is fulfilled: “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them.”

To always have the Spirit with us is to have the guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost in our daily lives. We can, for instance, be warned by the Spirit to resist the temptation to do evil.
For that reason alone, it is easy to see why the Lord’s servants have tried to increase our desire to worship God in our sacrament meetings. If we partake of the sacrament in faith, the Holy Ghost will then be able to protect us and those we love from the temptations that come with increasing intensity and frequency.
The companionship of the Holy Ghost makes what is good more attractive and temptation less compelling. That alone should be enough to make us determined to qualify for the Spirit to be with us always.
s 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.
Those commandments come with this promise from the Lord:
“And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy” (D&C 11:12–13).
I bear you my testimony that God the Father lives, that the resurrected Jesus Christ leads His Church, that President Thomas S. Monson holds all the keys of the priesthood, and that revelation through the Holy Ghost guides and sustains The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its humble members.
I further testify to you that these wonderful men who have today been speaking to us as witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ, as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, are called of God. I know that the Spirit led President Monson to call them. And as you listened to them and their testimonies, the Holy Spirit confirmed to you what I now say to you. They are called of God. I sustain them and love them and know that the Lord loves them and will sustain them in their service. And I do it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Come Back and Feast at the Table of the Lord

                                           Christ with sheep

“To those who have transgressed or been offended, we say, come back. To those who are hurt and struggling and afraid, we say, let us stand with you and dry your tears. To those who are confused and assailed by error on every side, we say, come to the God of all truth and the Church of continuing revelation. Come back. Stand with us. Carry on. Be believing. All is well, and all will be well. Feast at the table laid before you in The Church ofJesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and strive to follow the Good Shepherd who has provided it. Have hope, exert faith, receive—and give—charity, the pure love of Christ.”1

Throughout his life, President Hunter helped many Church members return to activity. Relating such an experience from early adulthood, he said:
“My ward bishop assigned me as a ward teacher to a brother who boasted he was the oldest deacon in the Church. Home teaching was ward teaching in those days. His problem was that he loved to play golf on Sunday. It was discouraging to meet month after month with him and his wife and see no apparent progress. But finally, the right word was said to him and it struck a responsive chord. The word was covenant. We asked him, ‘What does the covenant of baptism mean to you?’ His expression changed, and for the first time we saw a serious side to him. Eventually he came to our classes, gave up golf, and took his wife to the temple.”3
“We are confident that many have longed to return, but have felt awkward about doing so. We assure you that you will find open arms to receive you and willing hands to assist you.” (Ensign, March 1986, p. 88.)
I think all of us were impressed by this magnanimous appeal akin to what the prophet Alma stated in theBook of Mormon regarding an invitation that was extended by the Lord. He said:
What should we do to help those who have lost their way in the wilderness?
The Lord, our Good Shepherd, expects us to be his undershepherds and recover those who are struggling or are lost. We can’t tell you how to do it, but as you become involved and seek inspiration, success will result from efforts in your areas, … stakes, and wards. Some stakes have responded to previous pleadings and have had remarkable success.
f we do this, eternal blessings will come to us.5
Seeking after the lost, the wayward, and the straying is the Lord’s business. … The prayerful plea of Alma is a good reminder of the sacredness of our task:
“O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing [souls] again unto thee in Christ.
Over the years the Church has made some monumental efforts to recover those who are less active. … And all to what end? It is to save the souls of our brothers and sisters and see that they have the ordinances of exaltation.
We are leading toward one objective for each individual member of the Church. That is for all to receive the ordinances of the gospel and make covenants with our Heavenly Father so they may return to his presence. That is our grand objective. The ordinances and covenants are the means to achieving that divine nature that will return us into his presence again. …
Keep in mind the purpose: to invite all to come unto Christ. …
I testify, my brethren and sisters, to his divinity and power to save those who will come to him with broken hearts and contrite spirits. Through the ordinances and his Holy Spirit, each individual may become clean.10

Sunday, June 5, 2016

“I Was a Stranger”

On the day Relief Society was organized, Emma Smith declared:  "We are going to do something extraordinary....We expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls."  Those pressing calls and extraordinary occasions presented themselves frequently then--as they do now.
                             Tents in a refugee camp
There are more than 60 million refugees, including forcibly displaced people, worldwide.  Half of those are children. "These individuals have undergone tremendous difficulties and are starting over in....new countries and cultures. While there are [sometimes] organizations that help them with a place to live and basic necessities, what they need is a friend and ally who can help them [adjust] to their new home, a person who can help them learn the language, understand the systems, and feel connected."

As sisters we make up more than half of the Lord's storehouse to help Heavenly Father's children. His storehouse is not composed just of good but also of time, talents, skills, and our divine nature.  Sister Rosemary M. Wixom has taught, "The divine nature within us ignites our desire to reach out to others and prompts us to act."

Recognizing our divine nature, President Russell M. Nelson urged:

"We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world...; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strenghthen children and families...

"...Married or single, you sisters possess distinctive capabilities and special intuition you have received as gifts from God.  We brethren cannot duplicate your unique influence."
                                 Aid worker surrounded by children in a refugee camp
A First Presidency letter sent to the Church on October 27, 2015, expressed great concern and compassion for the millions of people who have fled their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships.  The First Presidency invited individuals, families, and Church units to participate in Christlike service in local refugee relief projects and to contribute to the Church humanitarian fund, where practical.

With these truths in mind, we have organized a relief effort called "I Was a Stranger."  It is our hope that you will prayerfully determine what you can do----according to your own time and circumstance---to serve the refugees living in your neighborhoods and communities. This is an opportunity to serve one on one, in families, and by organizations to offer friendship, mentoring, and other Christlike service and is one of many ways sisters can serve.

The Savior said:

"For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:  I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:  I was a a stranger, and ye took me in:

"Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me."

My beloved sisters, we can be assured of Heavenly Father's help as we get down on our knees and ask for divine guidance to bless his children.  Heavenly Father; our Savior, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost are ready to help.
                           Aid worker embracing a refugee
As we consider the "pressing calls" of those who need our help, let's ask ourselves, "What if their story were my story?"  May we then seek inspiration, act on impressions we receive, and reach out in unity to help those in need as we are able and inspired to do so.  Perhaps then it might be said of us, as the Savior said of a loving sister who ministered to Him:  " She hath wrought a good work....She hath done what she could."  I call that extraordinary!