Episode 17. May 22, 2016. Today’s episode will talk about 4 ways that we can increase the light that we have in our lives.
The number four is both popular and common. For example, 4X4 Pickups, 4 leaf clovers, there are four seasons, four major compass directions, four members of the Beatles and now a rejuvenation of the Fantastic Four. If you’re a basketball fan, the Final Four, if not then there is 4 Square. In the scriptures there are, the Four Sons of Mosiah. Revelations speaks of 4 beasts and then 4 angels, Daniel speaks of Four winds, Christ fed the FOUR thousand. Most temples have the symbol of the Four Corners of the Earth on the front. Okay you get the point. Today I want to talk to you about 4 ways we can fill our lives with light. I don’t really expect to tell you something that you do not already know. But my hope is that as you listen the spirit will be the teacher and whisper to each of us that which we individually need to act upon.
There are many scriptures that support the idea of filling our lives with light, but there is one in particular I want to refer to. It is found in Doctrine and Covenants Section 88:67 “And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.” There are two key takeaways for me in this scripture. First when we are filled with light there will be no darkness in us and Second, when we are filled with light we can comprehend all things. In a world that is ever more chaotic, confusing and corrupt, our need for these two great blessings grows. So for the next few minutes, I want to share with you 4 ways we can fill our lives with light. They are: 1) Studying the Scriptures 2) Sanctifying Temple Service 3) The Strengthening of Souls and 4) Seeking the Spirit.
First, Studying the Scriptures. This is one of the most fundamental aspects of the life of faithful a Latter-Day Saint. At our recent general conference, Elder Hales spoke on this very topic. I love what he said, “when we want God to hear our voice, we pray, when we want to hear his voice we read the scriptures. Elder Packer has said, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. [“Little Children,” Ensign, November 1986, 17]. In other words, reading and studying the scriptures can transform us. If we are not reading, studying and pondering the scriptures every single day, we are foregoing important light and understanding and personal sanctification. Just one example. In Nephi 4:1-2, it says “And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying, Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands? Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they parted hither and thither…” Why did Nephi have such great faith? Because he knew that if the Lord would help Moses, then he could certainly help them. He drew strength from knowing how the Lord had responded to others who found themselves in tough situations, knowing that he could access that same power. And Nephi and his brothers were in a tough situation. I find that my most productive time with the scriptures is when I have a pen and paper in hand. I have also found that when I start writing, thoughts and understanding comes to me that I had previously not considered. I invite you to join me in reading, studying and pondering the scriptures every single day.
Second Sanctifying Temple Service. It is coming to know God by being in His house where we can partake freely of his spirit through the ordinances of the temple. I reference the scripture in 1 Nephi 18:3. This was during the time that Nephi was building a boat after the manner shown unto him by God. Where did Nephi get his instructions? “And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.” The mount, was Nephi’s temple. He went there often. It was there that he received direction and guidance on how to do something that he did not know how to do by himself. The temple brings us great blessings. As I have mentioned in privious znukcasts it has now been almost 10 years since my wife and I have been going to the temple every week. We used to go most often independent of one another because we found it difficult to find a slot that worked for both of us. Since being here in Manila, we get to always go together. The most important thing has been the consistency with which we have attended. I bear you my witness that it has made a huge difference in our lives. Our personal lives are better and our marriage, which was already great, is now even stronger. This has also been my way of trying to offer more of my will to the Father. At the centennial celebration of the Logan Temple, President Bensen speaking to those who faithfully attend the temple said “You will love your family with a deeper love than you have loved before” I bear you my witness this is true. We can all be more engaged in temple work and temple worship. This also means we should be doing some work on family history. I know personally the miracle associated with finding an ancestor for whom I have sought for many years. I know the gentle feelings of the spirit pushing me to do something because a family member is waiting for me on the other side. I have seen the Lord answer my prayers through others along this journey. I know the work we do in the temple matters. There are other blessings associated in the temple, for it is there that the spirit whispers often to us. I do know that the more often we are in the temple, the more often we receive guidance. Elder Packer in his book the Holy Temple said this: Sometimes our minds are so beset with problems, and there are so many things clamoring for [our] attention at once that we just cannot think clearly. At the temple the dust of distraction seems to settle out, the fog and the haze seem to lift, and we can ‘see’ things that we were not able to see before.” Therefore, I wonder, do we fully appreciate the power of the temple in our lives? Could each of us not find a way to increase our temple attendance? If we are going once every couple of months, can we commit to go monthly? If we are going monthly, can we go twice a month? If we are going twice a month, can we go weekly? My witness is that the light that fills our temple, will begin to have greater place in us as well.
The third, Strengthening Souls, is about serving others. There are two important aspects of service. One is the benefit that comes to others, the second is the benefit that comes to us. When we talk about the benefit of others, I want to emphasize that I am not just talking about home teaching or other church related service, but also about finding those who are hurting spiritually or emotionally and buoying them up, whether they are members of the church or not. Lifting them to see the grand perspective of the Great Plan of Happiness. In a 2006 General Conference, Elder Don R. Clark said this: “I have learned that a person does not need to have a Church calling, an invitation to help someone, or even good health to become an instrument in God’s hands”. When we serve others we are acting as the Savior acted on our behalf. We are doing something for them that they may not be able to do for themselves. The other aspect of service is what it does for us. President George Albert Smith taught, “It is not what we receive that enriches our lives, it is what we give.” In that same 2006 General Conference, Elder Baxter said: “Selfless service is a wonderful antidote to the ills that flow from the worldwide epidemic of self-indulgence. Some grow bitter or anxious when it seems that not enough attention is being paid to them, when their lives would be so enriched if only they paid more attention to the needs of others. Stretching our souls in service helps us to rise above our cares, concerns, and challenges. As we focus our energies on lifting the burdens of others,…Our own burdens diminish. We become happier. There is more substance to our lives.” When we strengthen the souls of others, we are doing what the Lord would do if he were here. Service is an absolute requirement for our sanctification. There are many we can reach out to and touch. It is my hope and prayer that we may all be engaged in the strengthening of souls as individuals and as families.
Fourth, Seeking the Spirit. This is about seeking to know what the Lord’s will is for us and then having the courage to pursue it. It involves the three things I have already spoken of, but adds to it prayer, pondering, listening for the promptings of the spirit and then acting upon those promptings. Learning to recognize the voice of the spirit takes time and experience, much like playing basketball. When one of our sons was very young he wanted to sleep over at a friends house. My wife and I have never been big fans of sleepovers and our kids knew that, so I started thinking I could teach my son about receiving answers to his prayers. I invited him to go into his room and pray to Heavenly Father about whether or not he should go, thinking surely the Lord will tell him no. So he dutifully went into his room and came out a few minutes later and when I asked how he felt, he said he felt great about going. While I was initially surprised at his response, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had asked him to do something for which he had no experience. Of course he felt great about going, that was what he wanted to do all along! Hearing the still small voice takes practice and experience. How could I expect my 7 year old son to understand that? When Captain Moroni was still very young, we read in Alma 43 that he sent messengers to the prophet Alma, asking him to inquire of the Lord where the armies should go. But in time we know that Moroni learned how to receive inspiration for his stewardship himself, for we read in the 48th chapter as Mormon reflects on Moroni’s life that he became “a man of a perfect understanding”. (Alma 48:11)–suggesting that he learned how to receive and recognize personal revelation. We can see this by the way Moroni conducted warfare, introducing two completely new methods, one involving “arm-shields, shields to defend their heads, and also thick clothing (43:19), the other involving erecting small forts, or places of resort; with banks of earth thrown up round about, also building walls of stone.” One of the best ways to seek the spirit is through heartfelt, sincere and consistent prayer. That means kneeling in the morning and at night and offering our prayers of thanksgiving and need. It means stopping to listen to see what it is Heavenly Father might tell us. Again, having a pencil and pad close by is a great way of telling the Lord we are ready to receive instruction. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught, “There is no limit to the revelations [we] may receive” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985], 490; emphasis added). In the 1880 conference President Woodruff told of dreams he had after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith in which he conversed with the Prophet many times. He then related another dream in which he talked with Brigham Young, and this is what he said: “I saw Brother Brigham and Brother Heber ride in [a] carriage ahead of the carriage in which I rode when I was on my way to attend conference; and they were dressed in the most priestly robes. When we arrived at our destination I asked Pres. Young if he would preach to us. He said, ‘No, I have finished my testimony in the flesh I shall not talk to this people any more. Then (said he) I want you to teach the people—and I want you to follow this counsel yourself—that they must labor and so live as to obtain the Holy Spirit, for without this you cannot build up the kingdom; without the spirit of God you are in danger of walking in the dark, and in danger of failing to accomplish your calling as apostles and as elders in the church and kingdom of God. And, said he, Brother Joseph taught me this principle.’ ” (Journal of Discourses, 21:318.). Is not our need even greater today? To summarize this point I want to read something from the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said that the greatest torment he had . . . was because this people would not live up to their [spiritual] privileges. . . . He said . . . he felt . . . as though he were pent up in an acorn shell, and all because the people . . . would not prepare themselves to receive the rich treasures of wisdom and knowledge that he had to impart. He could have revealed a great many things to us if we had been ready. [JD 10:167]. Are we living up to our spiritual privileges? Are there rich treasures that the Lord could reveal us if our lives were filled with greater light?
I want to close by returning to the Book of Mormon and referencing the story of the Brother of Jared. This prophet of God needed light. In this case it was light for the barges. How did he get that light? He exercised his faith that the Lord could touch 16 stones molten from rock and that they would give off light for what we know was at least a year. Is it any different for us? I know that He can and will touch our lives and fill them with light as we exercise faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and focus more on studying the scriptures, engaging in sanctifying temple service, strengthening the souls of others and by seeking the spirit.