Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 2009 General Conference: Finding Strength in Challenging Times

Elder Allan F. PackerElder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy addressed individuals and families across the world challenged by current conditions, with the knowledge that it is a wonderful time to be alive, especially for the youth. We see children and grandchildren having full, satisfying lives even as they have challenges, setbacks, and obstacles to overcome.
These are the days when prophecies are being fulfilled. We live in the dispensation of the fulness of times, which is the time to prepare for the Savior’s return. It is also the time to work out our own salvation.
When the winds blow and the rains pour, they blow and pour on all. Those who have built their foundations on bedrock rather than sand survive the storms. There is a way to build on bedrock by developing a deep personal conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and knowing how to receive inspiration. We must know—and know that we know. We must stand spiritually and temporally independent of all worldly creatures. This begins by understanding that God the Father is the Father of our spirits and that He loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Savior, and that the Holy Ghost can communicate with our minds and our hearts. This is how we receive inspiration. We need to learn how to recognize and apply these promptings.
Elder Packer recalls when he was young, he played football in high school. They practiced until the skills became natural and automatic. During one play against our big rival, my assigned opponent, moved to my right into the line of scrimmage.
There was a lot of noise from players and fans. I reacted as the coach had taught us and followed my man into the line, not knowing if he had the ball. To my surprise, I felt the ball partially in my hands. I gave it a tug, but my opponent didn’t let go. As we tugged back and forth, amid all the noise I heard a voice yelling, “Packer, tackle him!” That was enough to bring me to my senses, so I dropped him on the spot.
Elder Packer finds a lesson in wondering how heard that voice above all the other noise. He explains that he had become acquainted with the coachs voice during practice, and learned to trust it.
In like manner, we need to be acquainted with the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and to practice and apply gospel teachings until they become natural and automatic. These promptings become the foundation of our testimonies. Then our testimonies will keep us happy and safe in troubled times.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks defined a testimony this way: “A testimony of the gospel is a personal witness borne to our souls by the Holy Ghost that certain facts of eternal significance are true and that we know them to be true.” At another time Elder Oaks said, “Testimony is to know and to feel, conversion is to do and to become.”
There are several things we can do to develop a deep conversion and learn how to receive divine inspiration:
For I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life . . . according to their wills...Alma 29:4
We will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. Alma 32:28

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right. And if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-9

Joseph Smith:
A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.
Testimonies can come as dramatic manifestations, but they usually do not. We risk missing the answers which come as quiet, reassuring feelings and thoughts that most often come after our prayers, while we are doing something else.

Seeking a testimony of truth opens the window of inspiration. Prayer is the most common and powerful way to invite inspiration. Asking a question, even in our minds, will start to open the window. The scriptures teach, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

Thus a personal witness will come, and we will know—and know that we know. We will then be independent of all other worldly things, for “by the power of the Holy Ghost [we] may know the truth of all things” which are right and expedient for us. We will receive strength, comfort, and help to make good decisions and act with confidence in troubled times.

This witness is not limited to the leaders but is available to all men, women, youth, and even little children. Having the capacity to receive personal inspiration will be necessary in the coming days.

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