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Insight Archive

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Humble Communication

As I reflect upon what I learned from past experience, I see I have learned many lessons. The most fondest of memories was when I was able to sit at a desk with a partner and turn my head to see our opponents; and in the center of the room, see the person who held our victory, or defeat, in his (or her) hands. It was vital we win his (or her) favor. We did this by presenting arguments and building it upon evidence in the presentation he (or she) desired based on their "paradigm." In order to obtain victory from this judge, it was critical for us (my partner and I) to know what each one of us wanted to present. We had to be able to present the same arguments. We had to be able to answer questions as the other would. We had to be one. At several points in my "debating career" I had a partner who did not have the same motivation as me. She didn't have the same amount of experience as me. Therefore, she couldn't understand me. As a result, the person sitting in the middle of the room couldn't understand us and it was impossible for us to win his (or her) favor. Having a partner who doesn't communicate, nor tries to understand, holds back the potential for that team. I found this through experience. Luckily, I had the opposite experience as well. I found when I was with someone who did his absolute best to understand me (and I him) we took more victories than defeats. This was due ENTIRELY upon our communication, before, during, and after the debate round and tournament. We would council with each other, and thus our wills were perfectly aligned. In life, if we want to have the best potential we can have, we must align our wills with the Will of Him who gave it to us. We must communicate with our Heavenly Father.

When God's children talk to Him, we call it "prayer." When God talks to His children, we call it "Revelation." One of the questions asked by ALL people at some point in their lives deals with this relationship with their Creator. It is usually along the lines of "How do I know when God is speaking to me?" As missionaries, we usually hear, "How do I know when I have got an answer?" Today, I wish to answer both of those questions by answering the over-arching question, "How do I recognize revelation?" When we receive revelation, it comes to us in a variety of ways, means, or channels. I want to be able to identify this variety of ways we can receive revelation:

Joseph Smith "saw two Personages, whose
brightness and glory defy all description..."
1.) The First way I think of people receiving divine guidance from God is seeing Him. This is often the biggest way God communicates with His children. We see examples of this in the Bible. The foremost example being Moses who beheld, "the [presence] of the Lord..." And "hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God" (Exodus 3: 2 {see footnote 'a'}, and 6). Later in the Exodus of the Children of Israel, "the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Exodus 33: 11) upon the top of Mt. Sinai. But let's keep in mind Moses was not the only person who saw God. We read of Jacob (AKA Israel) (Genesis 32: 30), Solomon (1 Kings 9, and 11), and Isaiah (Isaiah 6: 5). This pattern of God speaking to His children hasn't stopped. We had one such experience occurr in 1820 when a young boy sought answers to his religious questions. Joseph Smith Jr., recorded, "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me... When the light rested upon me, I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other--"This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Behold my Beloved Son, in whom
I am well pleased... hear ye him
2.) Also, along those lines are hearing the Voice of the Lord, without seeing His body. A Biblical example of this form of revelation occurs immediately after the Lord, Jesus Christ, was baptized. He came, "straightway out of the water: and... lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt 3: 16-17; see also Mark 1: 10-11, and Luke 3: 22). This form of revelation was given to the people here in the Americas after his resurrection. "they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard... And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not... And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came. And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them: Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him." (3 Nephi 11: 3-7) Now, I want to be perfectly clear. Those first two examples are far more rare than common. The spirit of the Lord is often, subtle, and quiet, just as the prophet Elijah experienced (1 Kings 19: 12-13). His voice is "not a harsh voice, neither [is] it a loud voice." (3 Nephi 11: 3)

3.) The Lord is not going to shake people with thunder and lightning when "a still small voice" can  "pierce... to the center." This is another channel of revelation. We read "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness [and], temperance" (Galatians 5: 22-23). This is what the fruits of the Spirit is. No matter what form of revelation we receive, we can test it by asking, "does this provide the fruits of the spirit?" We must recognize our feelings. This is how every other means of revelation is confirmed. Because God is the author of peace (1 Corinthians 14: 33). I shared in my first post:
"I felt a void in my heart be filled. My heart felt like it did when I was 6 and living with that family, whom I loved. I felt safe, warm, welcome, and at home. I felt the love I used to have. It was the true love of Heavenly Father and Christ. The feeling of it started out in my heart, but expanded until it had reached my extremities. I knew it was the Love of God and Jesus Christ which brought that feeling..."
4.) The final way we receive revelation is often times, the most over-looked and shrugged off to be naught by most Christians (including a lot of Latter-day Saints). This is the most common way I receive guidance from God. Alma said, "Now, 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... 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... enlighten my understanding..." (Alma 32: 28, emphasis added) Brigham Young taught, "I … believe positively that there is nothing known except by the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether in theology, science, or art." (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, Chapter 6: The Communication between God and Man) This form of revelation stems from the root of our divine nature as children of God. He has given us this, a most wonderful gift. Without it, we would be no better than the beasts of the earth. Often times, we, as humans, call this form of divine guidance, "reason." "God is not the author of confusion" (1 Corinthians 14: 33); man is. God is not going to try to confuse us to get us to follow Him; man does. God leads us by ideas which make logical sense; man does not. Isaiah wrote, "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk... For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little" (Isaiah 28: 9-10). I have shared with you my experience with this means of revelation previously:
"As I read, I was thinking about religion (which you should be when reading). I was pondering my beliefs and the truths I knew. I thought, and connections were being made. I thought about the fact all things are brothers and sisters. We were all created by our Heavenly Father (or Creator). Spiritually all who have lived, are living, and will be living are MY brothers and sisters. Then, I thought about what I had been through. I thought about my role as a brother in those situations. I was to make sure my younger brother was safe. I wanted him to be as happy as he could be. I had to make sacrifices. Christ was (is) our big brother. He was doing the job I was doing. I would take a bullet for my brother if I knew he would become better for my sacrifice. Christ did that same thing for me."
Brigham Young observed, "Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind has been given by direct revelation from God, though but few acknowledge it." (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young Chapter 4: Knowing and Honoring the Godhead) My invitation to you is to not deny the Holy Things of God. Accept the revelation God has given to you, and keep seeking it. I promise, you will find peace in this life, and joy in the next.

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