Alma is lauded as a great prophet. He taught that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Jesus Christ. This supported King Benjamin’s words to his people and echoed the prophecy of Abinadi to the wicked King Noah. These three prophets are among my mentors.
Have you ever wondered why King Herod or the Roman armies didn’t look for the miraculous star in the sky to find out the location of the birth of Christ? They couldn’t see it? Once the king realized he had been outwitted by the wise men perhaps he wished he’d followed the star that showed the way to the birthplace of the Christ child. We may never really understand all his feelings.
You may ask how I know this to which I would respond “It is still happening in our day.” Perhaps it was just like men today who struggle to see blessings of obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The implications of obedience are obvious to those that follow the commandments, but they are hidden to the wicked or those unaware.
That happens all around us in our day … tithing, temple attendance, family history, daily scripture study, list your particular challenge among the many possible. Those that do not follow God’s word live with regret in this life and sorrow in the world to come.
We cannot navigate our salvation on our own, and we can’t steer our lives successfully here on earth without help either. Gratefully, the Lord doesn’t expect us to. He has given us a Liahona of sorts.
Christ promised his followers a gift to sustain and comfort them when he could no longer be with them. He has promised us the same blessing in our day.
A brother from the High Council spoke in our congregation this week. He shared an experience from his mission that impressed me for a couple reasons I will mention. He said that as a young missionary in Salt Lake City, he had many opportunities to teach the gospel. For a period of time he and his companion taught a single mother trying to make her way back to the Church. She had often missed appointments.
On one particular evening they were not totally surprised to find her not at home after they had set an appointment. He took out his notepad and proceeded to write a message to her explaining that their work was really important, and that they were very busy, and not to have her there was a challenge. After finishing his note, he felt the Spirit suggest, “Now Elder, tuck that note in your scriptures.” He obeyed, and he’s glad that he did.
Returning home they had a message waiting on the answering machine letting them know she’d been in a minor car accident, and was profusely sorry that she’d missed the appointment. He stated further “My righteous indignation evaporated. What changed? My perception. I now saw things as they really were.”
This anecdote impressed me, both that he would be willing to share how close he came to making a mistake that could have had serious consequences and the necessity of following the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the details of our lives.
Few reject the influence of the Holy Ghost in the work and efforts of full-time missionaries. It is true that this labor could not progress as it does without the guidance of the Spirit. Just this week I read a letter from my missionary nephew where he wrote about the amazing, miraculous week they had. He described an experience where he went on exchanges with a different missionary and in the process tried an approach new to him.
He said “Truthfully, house-to-house is probably one of my least favorite ways to do finding, but he had a cool way of doing it that I’d never done before, so I decided to give it a try. During daily planning, we each prayed separately and then prayed together. We looked at the map and chose about twelve street names that stood out to us. We prayed over these street names and then each chose 3-5 ourselves.
We compared the ones we had chosen and none of them were the same. So we prayed again.” Then he goes on to describe the miracle that happened. This time two of the streets they had chosen were the same. Later that day, when they arrived on the first of the two streets they had selected, they began knocking every door. They made contacts and friends.
He concluded his letter as follows: I’m so thankful to be serving here and for the ability to pray and for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know there are many good and righteous people on the earth, but only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the same church that Jesus Christ organized on the earth, can we receive the ordinances and fullness of the gospel that we need.
So what impressed me about this? I find it refreshing that missionaries know they will receive guidance in their work. The pathway is not always obvious even to them, who easily pray two dozen times every day. But when the way is not clear and they need further guidance, they pray again until they recognize the promptings of the Spirit and receive the spiritual direction for their day. I love that! I am reminded of those times as a missionary depending on the Lord for guidance and direction constantly.
Missionaries draw on that power daily in their work. But some disbelieve that the influence of the Holy Ghost is part of the guidance and direction in their own lives. We should consider and apply this power available to us with those of our friends and family members whom we love.
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones. He is often referred to as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the Comforter.
We often talk about baptism and many remember fondly the date of their baptismal services. That is just the way it should be. But what I am emphasizing now is the confirmation that took place afterwards. I had the remarkable opportunity to be baptized in the tabernacle on Temple Square. And back in those days, the confirmation took place the following Sunday—I think it was on fast and testimony meeting Sunday then.
Of course, this occurred many years ago, and I don’t remember all the words my father spoke as he laid his hands on my head, but I remember the charge: Receive the Holy Ghost. Chills coursed through my 8-year-old body as I heard that gift administered. Today confirmations usually take place at the water’s edge, meaning following shortly after baptism.
Those who live in accordance with the promises made at baptism can have this blessing to provide direction and guidance in their lives with the influence of a member of the Godhead with them always. Let me say that again. As members of the Church, when we try to follow the teachings of Christ and try to do as he would do, we have the presence of a member of the Godhead with us constantly. The Gift of the Holy Ghost is real.
Rhetorically I ask “Have we overlooked this most important gift to help us get through the challenges of this life?” I can do a better job of implementing that privilege daily. If you are thinking maybe you can as well, you will enjoy the following reference. Elder Neil L Andersen provides three examples from our world today that reveal the Lord’s hand at work in bringing more spiritual power to His saints:
Finding our ancestors – a challenge from Elder Andersen in 2014 turned hearts to their fathers:
“I want to challenge each of you to set a personal goal to help prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms you perform in the temple. Again, my challenge for you is to prepare as many names for the temple as you perform baptisms in the temple.”
The youth of the Church have responded by the thousands and tens of thousands, and names submitted by youth have more than doubled since the challenge was issued only eighteen months earlier. Technology wonders revealed in our day have enabled this. It has only been in the last few years that technology has allowed us to link our generations more completely. The growth in the number of temples has also facilitated this explosion.
The number of operating temples has increased from a dozen when I was born to more than 12 dozen in just as many years. How many were operating when you were born? It may surprise you. The proliferation of temple building is astounding, even to the casual observer, since the challenge was given. Our beloved prophet President Monson—the mouthpiece for the Lord—said the following:
“My brothers and sisters, in our lives we will have temptations; we will have trials and challenges. As we go to the temple, as we remember the covenants we make there, we will be better able to overcome those temptations and to bear our trials. In the temple we can find peace.”
Compensatory spiritual blessing for the righteous through God’s word – The words of the Lord’s prophet, the First Presidency, and the Quorum of the Twelve are always available to lighten our path and help show us the way. Increased emphasis as of late has been directed toward the importance of the Sabbath, for instance.
As we take the sacrament, we remember the Savior and His Atonement. We come repenting of our sins, pledging our loyalty to covenants made with Him, and hearing again the promises He makes to us. To always have His Spirit with us is a privilege of enormous value.
Dealing with life’s challenges is sometimes difficult and fraught with many trials and obstacles that seem to stand in our way. But with help, these problems are manageable instead of overwhelming, draining, and self-perpetuating.
Have you ever looked for a needle in a haystack? Did you find it? Though few of us may have had that opportunity rhetorically speaking, we have all had situations too overwhelming to handle on our own. Think about it. Whether it was navigating the death of a loved one, making an important decision that may greatly direct or influence our lives, or establishing a relationship of seminal importance, these occasions have occurred numerous times and in critical ways.
Frequently, we don’t realize the importance of these moments until later on, which is good because we both see and understand the situation better with hindsight, and we come to further appreciate the experience because our perspective, desires, and realization change.
That is the way the Lord meant for us to learn from experiences, but he didn’t leave us alone to successfully navigate this life by ourselves. He is in the details.
There is no other way.
5. And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God. Alma 31:5
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.