Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Listen and Obey

            This is General Conference weekend for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We meet in General Conference each April and October to hear counsel from those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators as well as other inspired leaders. There is always a certain sense of excitement in the air at conference time, and this time has been no different. We know that the counsel given at General Conference is what we need to know for the coming six months particularly as well as for later times.

            I listen to the talks at General Conference, and I study them for the next six months. This semester I have been pouring over conference talks for various assignments for my classes. In doing so, I learned a lot about myself. In particular, I listen to the talks and know the counsel, but I am slow to put the counsel into my daily life. Let me give a couple of examples.

            In the women’s session of October 2018 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson told the sisters, “[Gathering Israel] is a cause that desperately needs women, because women shape the future.” He extended “a prophetic plea” to the sisters to “shape the future by helping to gather scattered Israel.” He offered four invitations to the sisters to help us get started with this task. 

First, I invite you to participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other media that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind. Pray to know which influences to remove during your fast.

Second, I invite you to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year…. As you read, I would encourage you to mark each verse that speaks of or refers to the Savior….

Third, establish a pattern of regular temple attendance….

My fourth invitation, for you who are of age, is to participate fully in Relief Society. I urge you to study the current Relief Society purpose statement…. I also entreat you to savor the truths in the Relief Society declaration published almost 20 years ago. A framed copy of this declaration hangs on the wall in the office of the First Presidency. I am thrilled every time I read it. It describes who you are and who the Lord needs you to be at this precise time as you do your part to help gather scattered Israel.” (Emphasis added.)

            I listened as President Nelson offered those four invitations, and I immediately got started on three of them. I began a ten-day fast from Facebook and started reading the Book of Mormon before I went to bed that night. I re-established my pattern of weekly temple attendance during the following week.

            I thought that I was being obedient because I completed the ten-day fast and finished the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. I was attending the temple weekly if at all possible. I recently had the opportunity to go back and study the words of the prophet. After doing so, I gave myself a grade of less than 50 percent. I did the fast from Facebook, but I did not pray about what other influences to remove from my life. I listened to the Book of Mormon and finished by the end of the year, but I did not mark each verse that refers to the Savior. I feel comfortable with my temple attendance, but I failed to give my full support to Relief Society. I did not attend any Relief Society function until February 2019 when I was released from Primary, and I could not remember what was in the purpose statement or the declaration. I clearly understood that I was not measuring up in my obedience to prophetic counsel.

             My second example is from yesterday when I reviewed President Nelson’s talk in the April 2018 General Conference. He spoke about revelation for the Church of Jesus Christ as well as personal revelation. He shared some experiences in receiving revelation both in his personal life and as a Church leader. He strongly encouraged us to improve in our individual ability to receive revelation to guide us in our lives and callings. 

I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation, for the Lord has promised that “if thou shalt [seek], thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things – that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:61).

Oh, there is so much more that your Father in Heaven wants you to know. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe!”

Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.

            I read that quote and considered my worthiness to receive revelation. I felt that I was doing okay in most of the categories, but I remembered one area where I was falling far short. I have been counseled numerous times to write down the information that I receive through personal revelation, but I have not done so on a regular basis. I do not question my ability to ask, recognize, and receive revelation, but I have a real problem with writing down information. I like to write about it in my journal where I can give all the details, but I have difficulty remembering the time frame. Therefore, the information is not readily available to me.

            As I was pondering my lack of obedience in this particular task, I shared all these problems with the Lord, felt His Spirit, and knew that He was listening. I did not have an answer to my problem when I closed my prayer, but I started reading 2 Nephi 29. I have read this chapter dozens, maybe even hundreds, of times over the years. I came to verse three that says, “And because my words shall hiss forth – many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.” I usually associate this verse with the situation today where people say that they do not need the Book of Mormon – Another Testimony of Jesus Christ because they have the Bible. However, I was given a new thought this time, something that I had never previously considered, or at least do not remember thinking.

            Nephi wrote those words nearly 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ at a time when there was no Bible. The Bible was not compiled, assembled, or put together until approximately 400 years after the death of Christ. So Nephi wrote his words nearly 1,000 years before the Bible even existed. I found this insight to be amazing and wondered where I could record it. The Spirit whispered to me to mark it right there in the scriptures on my cell phone and then to add a note in the note section. I did so and found that the note even has the date on it!

            I found this to be an easy way to make a record, but I might not have received the insight and lesson without remembering the need to write down personal revelation and pondering how to do it. I can still add it to my journal, but I now have a record of where I can find it.

            In addition to the lessons I learned in my two examples, I was prompted to share this information in my blog. I hope that my learning experiences will be helpful to my readers.

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