Acting on the Spirit
I am happy to have the chance to talk today. Last week Anastazia came up to me and said. Brother Hayhurst asked if we would talk in church next week. She has been expecting this assignment for awhile, and she has been excited about doing it. I asked her how long she was supposed to talk and she said I think 20 minutes. And I thought that’s perfect that should leave me with just a 2 minute talk.
As Anastazia has already said we get to talk today on Acting on the Spirit.
Sometimes it is hard for me to decide if the spirit is asking me to do something. That, I believe, is mostly fear on my part. There have been a few times in my life when I knew for sure that the spirit was prompting me. Anastazia spoke about a time when I was prompted to act. I can testify that that day I was blessed with the spirit. It was not a small prompting but rather I knew that I could not continue sitting any longer but had to stand up and check on Anastazia. While we were waiting for the ambulance to arrive Ken gave her a blessing and he was prompted on what to say. When we met with the doctor, the doctor used the exact same words that Ken had blessed Anastazia with. There was no coincidence we were blessed that day. Acting on the spirit brings us blessings.
Sometimes I have answered a question in a Sunday school or Relief Society class and felt the Spirit confirm to me that what I had said was true and that my understanding of that thought was increased. The same type of thing happens when sitting in a class and listening to what is being taught and gaining a confirmation and deeper knowledge of what is being talked about.
What do we need to do when we feel prompted? Sometimes it can be as simple as using the right scripture or thought when going visiting teaching. Maybe we need to call a friend and do something with them or just talk on the phone. We may even find that it’s the right time to share a Book of Mormon.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin told a story of a time when he was in Hawaii with his wife on a church assignment.
As we walked back to our car after laboring up a trail in the mountains, we came upon a young man headed toward the overlook. I offered a polite greeting. From his answer, I could tell he was from Germany.
His countenance bespoke a sincere heart and an approachable personality. I spoke his language and understood his culture, having served a German-speaking mission. The Spirit prompted me to introduce the gospel to him. However, due to other people around us, our brief encounter was interrupted without my having said a word about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I failed to be the missionary that every member of the Savior’s Church ought to be.
As we drove away, I had the disturbing feeling that I had failed in my duty to proclaim the gospel. I was troubled while we drove around the island to see Molokai’s beautiful waterfalls. As we got out of our car, another car drove up and stopped. The young man we had seen earlier stepped out, smiled, and gave me a warm handshake. As I grasped his outstretched hand, I thought to myself, “this time I will do my duty”.
They went on to have a conversation and in the end he got the man’s address and telephone number. When Elder Wirthlin got back to Salt Lake he wrote to the President of the Mission to send the missionaries to him. Elder Wirthlin said, I don’t believe my wife and I met this young man twice by coincidence.
But the Lord doesn’t always give us a second chance to share the gospel. I failed to follow the Spirit the first time the still, small voice unmistakably spoke to my heart and mind.
We must act when the Spirit speaks. When I did, the young man responded positively to my message. It wasn’t really my message. It was God’s, brought to my mind by the Spirit of the Lord. I was but an instrument in the Lord’s hands.
The Spirit will always guide and direct aright. It will protect you from temptation, enlighten your mind, and comfort your heart. Follow the Spirit to focus your energies on that which matters most.
The truths of the gospel do not change. If you will follow the Christ, follow his prophet, and follow his Spirit, you will always choose the right. As a result of your wise choices, your testimony will grow stronger, and great blessings of joy, happiness, and peace will be yours.
Now since I want that same peace that Elder Wirthlin talked about I thought about what I needed to be doing so that I can be prepared to recognize the Spirit.
I’m sure that the answers are the standard answers that seem to be our basic response, read the scriptures, pray, attend our church meeting, etc. So let’s talk about these and what we need to do. The importance of scripture reading – the more we read the scriptures the better we are at recognizing what is being taught. In Doctrine and Covenants 33:16 it says:
16 And the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction; and the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things.
So the spirit will help us understand and have a greater knowledge of the gospel. Then in Doctrine and Covenants 84:85 it states:
85 Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.
If we are studying our scriptures if we have a knowledge then when the time comes the Spirit will bless us with the very thing that we need to say. A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity with Anastazia to go with the Sister Missionaries to meet with a family. As we were talking I was able to share a thought that came to me and the spirit confirmed to me that what I was saying was true. I’m sure many have had this same experience and it is comforting and makes you feel like you can share the gospel. I’m not as afraid to try and share with others because I know that the Spirit will be there to assist me.
Praying is the way that we talk to God. We need to spend time creating a relationship with him telling him what we are doing, sharing our thoughts, telling what we hope for. The more we truly become closer to the Lord the easier it will be to feel his spirit as we will be in closer contact with Him and what he wants for us. I’m sure all of us have had a good friend who you could talk and sometimes with out words know what they would say or do. This is the kind of relationship that we want with the Lord. So then the spirit will easily tell us what we need to be doing. In the Bible Dictionary under prayer it states:
As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.
Attending our church meetings how does this help us respond to the spirit. It really is an easy way to feel the spirit. We have the opportunity to sit and feel the spirit to be taught and spend a few hours a week apart from the outside world. To be able to share testimonies with others and be surrounded by friends and family who have the same desires spiritually as we do. It is a time to learn and to teach. It helps strengthen are resolve for the coming week.
The temple is the perfect place to feel the spirit. If we go on a regular basis we can feel the spirit perfectly and then it will become easier to recall the same feelings when we are prompted outside of the temple.
So we know some ways to get closer to the spirit to know how to feel the spirit so what is the next step? Are we asking to be prompted? And then are we willing to act on the promptings we receive? There are a lot a great stories in the scriptures that tell of being prompted by the Spirit and what we need to do in that situation. I have thought of two times in the Book of Mormon. One is the story of Nephi talking to Laman and Lemuel. This is in Chapter 15 of 1Nephi. Laman and Lemuel are telling Nephi that they can’t understand the words which their father had just spoke to them about the branches of the olive tree. And Nephi says this is verses 8-11. Then Nephi goes on to explain the vision to them. I think this is a prime example in our lives we want to feel the spirit but it is hard and sometimes we aren’t taking the time to act on promptings we are given.
On the other hand sometimes we do follow, to the letter, what we are prompted to do. Maybe we have prayed and asked for opportunities and then been nudged to act on a feeling. Maybe we act in a way that we might not even know that we have helped another. That is one of the great things about the Lord he uses us as we are willing to be used. Nephi is a great example of acting on the Spirit. In 1Nephi chapter 17 it talks about Nephi being called to build a ship verses 7-9. Nephi acted on the spirit he went when the Lord called and he was willing act to do his bidding even when his brothers were against him and making fun of him.
We’ve talked about some of the things we need to do to act on the Spirit. The last thing I wanted to touch on was How do we call upon the Spirit to give us insight? I am referring to trying to live our lives in accordance with what we need and want in our lives. The Lord wants us to feel His spirit, continually if we can. And he wants us to grow and become more like Him. How do we find out and then act on what He wants us to do. The one thing I thought of was priesthood blessings. I’m sure there are others but this is what I wanted to share. We are so lucky in this church to be blessed by the priesthood in most cases to have husbands or family members or righteous priesthood leaders that can give us blessings. We need only to ask for this blessing.
In our family at the beginning of each school year Ken gives all the kids and myself of blessing. I’m sure many do the same. This allows all of us to act on the Spirit. Ken has the opportunity to ponder what the Lord would have him say to each of us. Each of us also has the opportunity to share what they may want or need during this year. It allows everyone the chance to vocalize to Heavenly Father and to themselves what they are in need of. Sometimes after the blessing we talk about what has been said and how we might apply that in our own lives.
Many times in the scriptures priesthood leaders bless their family and other people in that way. It is our responsibility to ask for this blessing. I know that I have personally had times when a blessing was the only thing that I had. I needed the strength to endure that which the Lord had allowed me to go through. He knew that I was willing to act on what He would have me do and then through the blessing of the priesthood he made my burdens light. He makes all things easier to bear. He wants to help us through each of our trials and he will if we just act on the principles He has given us.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints