Tag Archives: personal revelation

I Usually Don’t Know it’s Revelation…

jesus-at-the-door-39617-galleryPersonal revelation is a tricky thing. Too much of it and our agency may be infringed upon. Too little of it and we’re literally on our own, rudderless in a sense. Receiving direction from the heavens when needed in quite a blessing–a miracle in any sense of the word. The problem is, I’m not expert, even after decades of trying to become one. I’m not sure I’m better at recognizing promptings and direction now compared to a year ago or even a decade ago. Maybe I am. I really just don’t know.

Sometimes when we’re sharing an experience with someone (in a class or a personal conversation or a post) we say something like, “The spirit told me to…” or “I felt prompted to…” and we go on with the story. I’ve done that, I’m sure of it. And there are worse things in the world. The funny thing is this: I rarely know the Lord is prompting me when He is. On a few occasions I’ve felt sure the Holy Ghost was whispering to me, but those occasions are actually pretty rare.

More often, I think that maybe there is a chance I’ve been prompted. Not totally sure, but maybe.

I’m just not always sure. So I will have this thought or feeling or nudge (probably my favorite description of a prompting from God) and I’ll wonder about it a little. But it is a nudge toward something good or helpful or charitable, so I’ll move forward not knowing for sure if God’s hand is in this moment or not. Often, good things will come of it. Periodically, amazing or miraculous things will come of it. And as I look back over the situation and story it will become obvious that I had received a prompting or guidance and that the Lord was working in our lives. But I typically don’t know for sure until after the whole story is over.

Interestingly, we find this idea in the Book of Mormon, in the report of Nephi:

12 For the Lord had not hitherto suffered that we should make much fire, as we journeyed in the wilderness; for he said: I will make thy food become sweet, that ye cook it not;

13 And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.

14 Yea, and the Lord said also that: After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God; and that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction; yea, that I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem.

15 Wherefore, I, Nephi, did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord, and I did exhort my brethren to faithfulness and diligence. (1 Nephi 17:12-15)

The Lord seems to be saying to Nephi, “You’ll be led, but you won’t really know it for sure until after you’ve arrived in the promised land and avoided the destruction in Jerusalem.” They would hopefully trust the Lord and sense that there was a divine hand in their lives, but they wouldn’t know for sure until after they had arrived in the promised land (v. 14). Nephi determined to strive to keep the commandments so that he could eventually received that assurance (v. 15).

We can trust the Lord. We can act on promptings. We may not be totally sure that we’re being prompted, but as we act in faith, the assurances will come as we look back.

Sometimes our lives are like neo-impressionistic art. The dots of color that make up the moments and events of our days can appear unconnected and chaotic at times. We can’t see any order to them. We can’t imagine that they have a purpose at all.

However, when we step back and take an eternal perspective, when we look at our lives in the frame of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can begin to see how the various dots in our lives interconnect. We may not be able to see the entire picture just yet, but we’ll see enough to trust that there is a beautiful, grand design. And as we strive to trust God and follow His Son, Jesus Christ, one day we will see the finished product, and we will know that the very hand of God was directing and guiding our steps.

We will know that the Master Artist had a plan for those random dots all along. We will see that He has amplified our talents, prepared opportunities, and introduced us to possibilities far more glorious than we ever could have imagined or accomplished on our own.

I have certainly seen this in my own life.

An Evening with Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults • January 14, 2018

Maybe the “trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6) that has to come before you receive a witness is, at least sometimes, just not knowing for sure but moving forward anyway…

Be Encouraging,

BJM

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Pinterest and Personal Revelation…

pinterestOk, yes, I have a Pinterest. Or better said, I’m on Pinterest. However you say it. I have an account with Pinterest (yes, that sounds better…). I suppose that Pinterest may have started as a little more female-centered but over the months more and more people, regardless of gender, have found Pinterest to be a great way to keep track of things they like.

I use Pinterest to keep track of all kinds of things including things to do in the yard, LDS ideas, and especially photography. I also use it to keep track of clothes I want to buy for Janese (points for me, I know). It makes it easy to find (and re-find) the things and ideas that I discover and value. Go ahead, check out my Pinterest boards if you’re bored…

When we keep track of things, it shows that we value it.

The same principle applies to spiritual communications. What do we do with spiritual thoughts, impressions and personal revelations and experiences? If we can’t immediately act on a prompting, or we need the prompting to be a bit more clear before we act upon it, how do we show we value it?

richard-g-scott-largeElder Richard G. Scott spent an hour teaching people at BYU’s Education Week back in 2007. During his talk, he taught the following principle and asked people to write it down:

Throughout the remainder of my life, I will seek to learn by what I hear, see, and feel. I will write down the important things I learn, and I will do them. (“To Learn and to Teach More Effectively” 2007)

In fact, he taught them that if he ended the presentation at that point, they would know what they needed to know to bless their lives from that point on. I have found that what Elder Scott taught that day is true. He also shared:

Write down in a secure place the important things you learn from the Spirit. You will find that as you record a precious impression, often others will come that you would not have otherwise received. Also, the spiritual knowledge you gain will be available throughout your life. Always, day or night, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, seek to recognize and respond to the direction of the Spirit. Have available a piece of paper or a card to record such guidance. (“To Learn and to Teach More Effectively” 2007)

If you’re used to “pinning” great ideas, pictures, explanations, etc., this idea isn’t foreign to you. When something comes up on your screen that you want to remember and eventually act upon, you “pin” it. The same is true for spiritual things. When you learn truth through what you hear, see, or feel through the influence of the Holy Ghost, record it somewhere safe. That act shows that you value that impression and you are qualified for more impressions to continue.

Can you imagine what Heavenly Father must think when, while almost asleep in bed, you turn the light back on in your room to record a spiritual thought or impression because you don’t want to forget it and you want to act on it? That act alone shows how you value the impression and desire more.

I’ve always written in a journal. My journal is now on Google Drive, and I have the app for Google Drive on my iPad and iPhone. At night, as I’m reviewing the day’s events, I take a few minutes to record some of the impressions and observations of the day. I record spiritual experiences and moments that prove that God has had a hand in my life that day. As I’ve done that, the Spirit has quietly testified to me that Heavenly Father knows and loves me and my family. I’m thankful for the chance to “pin” spiritual things!

Be Encouraging…

BJM

Want to Be Better At Personal Scripture Study? Try This!

scripturesOne of the main topics I’m invited to speak on when I visit other church units is the topic of personal scripture study. So many people wish they were better at studying the scriptures, but very few are sure what to do about it. They just don’t have a lot of confidence when they’re alone, out of church, with their scriptures.

Let’s try to fix that.

So, I’ll share a principle of scripture study and then illustrate it. If you already do this, stop reading. But if you are looking for a way to take your scripture study from “duty” level to “meaningful”, this might help. Here’s the principle: The power of the scriptures is found in the doctrines and principles. Once you can pull out the principles from the stories or scripture blocks, you can act on these truths and invite the power of the Lord into your life daily…

According to the Gospel Teaching and Learning Handbook, people who are studying the scriptures should:

Identify, understand, feel the truth and importance of, and apply gospel doctrines and principles. (Gospel Teaching and Learning, 2.0)

Granted, that is easier said than done. But, it isn’t that hard, either. Here’s a couple tips:

  1. Take scripture blocks one small chunk at a time (ie., don’t study the whole Book of Daniel in one long sitting. Instead, focus in on just Ruth 1 and 2, or Matthew 25:1-13, or even just a couple verses like 2 Nephi 32:1-3).
  2. Start by trying to gain a basic understanding of the context and main story line (if there is a story line, which there isn’t always). Understanding the context means that you have at least a rudimentary understanding of who is speaking or writing (and who is being spoken or written about or to) and what circumstances they’re in. Where are we in the time line of history? What do you know about the person speaking?
  3. Now for the big deal of scripture study…What is the truth from this block that was not only true for the person in the story, but is true for anyone, anywhere, anytime? When you find what is not only true for the person in the scriptures but is also true all of the time, you’ve found the principle! We’ll talk more about this in a second, and illustrate it.
  4. Once you’ve determined a principle found in the particular scripture block that you’re studying (surely there may be more than one principle taught in any given block), you work to really understand the principle. What does it really mean? As you grow in understanding, your feelings about the principle will strengthen. You will begin, through the power of the Holy Ghost, to know the principle is true.
  5. Once you feel like you understand the principle, what are you going to do about it, specifically? When and where will you act on this principle? Finding this newly discovered principle will not invite power into your life until you act on what you know.

Here’s one example of what it might look like:

issueI sit down a begin to study Mark 5:25-34. This is one version of the story of the woman with the “issue of blood” who touches the hem of the Savior’s garment and is healed. I know this is during the Savior’s mortal ministry. I know the woman is sick with a problem that involves hemorrhaging. I have a basic understanding of the story. In the story, in verse 27, the woman reaches out and touches the Savior’s clothes in an act of faith, believing that she will be healed (v. 28). She is healed. It works and is a miracle from Christ.

Here’s a question: Why was she healed? Why did this work? I believe that she reached out for the Savior in an act of faith, and our acts of faith combined with the merciful healing power of Christ healed her. Wait. Maybe that is a principle. Here it is, one one simple, succinct line: When we reach out to Christ in faith, His power can strengthen and heal us. There’s one of the principles taught by this story! Here’s how I know: it isn’t just true for the woman in the story. Anyone, anywhere, who reaches out to Jesus Christ in faith really will experience His power, strengthening, and grace in their life. This is true even if they never lived in the Jerusalem area. Even if they didn’t live during Jesus’ life time. Even if they’re, well, me.

Now, what could this look like in my life? How can I “reach out” to Christ in my life. Well, maybe I need to reach out to Him in faith by being a little more diligent in serving others. Maybe I need to reach out to Him by improving the frequency and intensity of my prayers. Maybe I need to reach out to Him by being more forgiving to my spouse or siblings. There are many ways to apply scriptural principles, but what does the Lord want me to do about this now, in my life?

Once I begin to apply this principle in my life, I will start to really understand how personal scripture study can be a blessing to me and invite the power of Christ into my life…

This isn’t too hard. In fact, try it. Today. Choose a small block of scripture and search for a true principle and then determine how best to act on it. You can do it. I know you can!

Be Encouraging

BJM

Some Things Can’t be Discovered; They Have to be Revealed…

revelation

When it comes to finding the answers to life’s questions, I would do well to follow the key given in D&C 9:8, which teaches:

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right…

All problems, if I’m going to get answers, require that I do some research. I have to do my homework. I have to ask questions to people who know things, Google questions to find research done by others, and ponder what I find. I have to pay a price, so to speak. Many answers come in the middle of the research.

But when it comes to spiritual things, there are a few answers that cannot be “found out” through research alone. Some things must be revealed by God in the form of personal revelation. Some examples include:

  • Does God exist?
  • Is He my Father in Heaven?
  • Did Jesus die for me?
  • Is the Book of Mormon the word of God?
  • Are there really prophets on the earth today?
  • What is God’s view of marriage?

Now, with this said, that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be research done. Certainly, one who is trying to find the answers to the questions above still needs to “study it out in [their] mind”. In many instances, studying things out in our minds and doing research is preliminary to asking God in faith. It is a requirement. And this research will produce all kinds of answers; many good, many not reliable.

But one cannot find God through research alone. One cannot determine the authenticity of the Book of Mormon through research alone. Although there are a lot of opinions out there regarding what a family is, and many of them are very logical and well thought out, you can’t find God’s view through a poll or magazine article. Neither you nor I are able to determine if Jesus died for us through online surveys, mathematic equations, or reasoning alone. It isn’t that people aren’t smart enough or that the appropriate tests haven’t been developed. That isn’t it at all. These truths aren’t discovered; they’re revealed.

I know there is a lot written about religious items, principles, events, etc. There are endless opinions. Endless. So, after much studying, there comes a point where you won’t be able to settle within your heart whether certain things are “true” until you ask God and wait for, pray for, and recognize a revealed answer.

And with that…you know

These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...