Having the Constant Companionship of the Holy Ghost

Elder Ronald A. Rasband

Brigham Young UniversityIdaho Devotional

February 28, 2006

 

Thanks to President Kim Clark and his wife, and all of the staff for their hospitality here at BYU–Idaho. It is a great honor for Sister Rasband and I to be assigned here.

I love my wife—my eternal companion. I am grateful for her remarks here today. She is a remarkable companion to me on our journey through life. She has a great love for you young people as you can tell.

It is a real privilege of being able to speak here at BYU–Idaho. We have a special love for you students. My wife and I met as students at the University of Utah. We lived in married-student housing, and years later went back to the University as a bishop in a student ward. Our five children have all attended BYU–Provo. Three of them have graduated and one is still attending.
It seems that our lives have been closely connected to students and young married couples.

When we served as mission president and companion in New York City, we recommended many of our returned missionaries to BYU–Idaho, then Rick’s College. A few of them, and others we know, are here today. We offer a special welcome to all of our friends and associates.

Now in my current assignment, I labor in love concerning Young Single Adults, and young marrieds in my areas of supervision, especially in California north to Alaska. You are very much on the minds and in the prayers of the Brethren. We know of the intense pressure that is on you from all aspects of life. Remember, the Senior Brethren have children and grandchildren that have very personal connections to your stage of life.

Our youngest son has recently returned from serving in the Russia Moscow South Mission. Part of his mission (a year) was spent in a country that full-time missionaries had never been to before. Kazakstan—in the city of Almaty. This city is near the border of China.

Shortly after he arrived there, a report came from my fellow Seventy, Elder Dennis Neuenschwander, Area President, who said he had visited Almaty—and gave the missionaries their first copy of “Preach My Gospel.” He wrote to me and said it had been delivered to the uttermost corner of the earth. I thought of the 58th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 64. “For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature, with signs following them that believe.”

Two years ago our family returned from serving in the Area Presidency in the Europe Central Area in Frankfurt Germany where we had sixteen missions to supervise. We were so pleased to tour, visit them, and actually see how the important new focus of ‘teaching’ by the Spirit was going. It has been so thrilling to see the progress that is being made in the missions now that “Preach My Gospel” is in every mission, and now in your bookstore and Church Distribution Centers. I know some of you are very familiar with this new missionary tool. As returned missionaries, prospective missionaries, and as members of the Church, there is much to be learned from this book.

“Preach My Gospel” is taken from Doctrine and Covenants Section 50, verses 13-14, when the Lord asks this important question:

Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained?

To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth.

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have been inspired to “raise the bar” for not just missionaries, but really for all of us. The entire Church is striving to rely more on the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Certainly as students, your lives can be and must be directed by the Holy Ghost. Your daily academic pursuits, including studies and testing, social interactions, religious education, and your very life where your temporal and spiritual requirements are inseparable and need to be Spirit-influenced.

This afternoon I would like to speak about a subject more basic than being guided by the Spirit, but critically linked to it. That is how you each must be living and prepared to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost in the first place.

Through confirmation and by the laying on of hands, you have already been given the gift of the Holy Ghost. As it states in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 39:23, “And again, it shall come to pass that on as many as ye shall baptize with water, ye shall lay your hands, and they shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost…”

This will be a great privilege for you throughout your lives to have this special gift from the Lord.

Enjoying the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is quite a different matter—and a goal for all of us to try and achieve.

Anger, disunity, contention, lying, and impurity of thoughts and deeds to name a few vices, chase away the holy presence of this Third Member of the Godhead. Such unaltered and unrepentant behavior causes Latter-day Saints to lose the Spirit, and lose confidence.

Let us take improper thoughts, even immoral thoughts as an example. From the Doctrine and Covenants Section 63:16 we read, “And verily I say unto you, as I have said before, he that looketh on a woman to lust after her, or if any shall commit adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit…”

We know how not having the Spirit impacts teaching the gospel. For example: From Doctrine and Covenants 42:14 we read, “And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.” No Spirit—no teach!

I would offer you a little formula today that you can remember easily, that through my experience as a father, student-ward bishop, mission president, and General Authority, almost certainly will enable you to have the Spirit as your constant companion.

FIRST, bridle your passions. Let us look at Alma’s teachings to his son, Shiblom, who was beginning his mission. In Alma 38:10-12, we read:

And now, as ye have begun to teach the word even so I would that ye should continue to teach; and I would that ye would be diligent and temperate in all things.

See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength.

Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness (Alma 38:10-12).

I would like to focus on the word BRIDLE. Every Idaho farm boy or girl sitting here today knows what this is.

To bridle our passions is a remarkable caution the Lord gave the Prophet Alma in the Book of Mormon. A wild horse needs to be “broke” or trained to succumb to the will of its master. A bridle or harness is used for this purpose. It is also used thereafter to guide and restrain the animal. Similarly, our natural passions need to be broken so that we can likewise follow the will of our Master, even the Lord Jesus Christ. Passions, like wild horses, need to be bridled and restrained as we strive to be obedient and follow the Lord’s teachings.

In a worldly environment such as we live, and which you now face as students, which could suggest one can have everything now, bridling our passions in terms of our physical yearnings is mandatory. You just must do it.

Some examples that you might be facing could be:

-Staying out to late.
-Living on the edge of the Honor Code.
-Watching inappropriate movies, DVD’s, television shows.
-Being obsessed with video, Internet games.
-Playing popular games of chance, like Poker.
-Indulging to any degree with Internet pornography, or magazines.

All of these are examples of natural man (woman) passions and the adversary’s temptations that need to be bridled.

From the Doctrine and Covenants we find and read the SECOND part of the formula: “Garnish Your Thoughts:”

Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God …

The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46).

The Lord uses another fascinating phrase here, to let virtue garnish our thoughts unceasingly. In other words, to enhance or embellish our thoughts with virtue. I think of a common garnishment as an addition to a nice plate of food. The garnish adds beauty and delight to the meal, just as virtue does to our thoughts.

So what does it mean for us to garnish our thoughts with virtue? There are several helpful references in the scriptures that can be considered, for example the Thirteenth Article of Faith:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things (Thirteenth Article of Faith).

Alma taught that in resisting temptation we could draw upon the Scriptures to increase our personal virtue and strength:

And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God (Alma 31:5, emphasis added).

The Book of Mormon challenge President Hinckley recently gave the entire Church is a good example of this.

Paul in writing to the Philippians in the New Testament also advised:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

It has been my experience, with thousands of young people, that very little occurs in the way of transgression that is not first rehearsed and debated in one’s own mind and soul. A huge key in avoiding these pitfalls is to let virtue be in our thoughts and deeds always, not allowing our minds to wander. I can recommend it without reservation as a way for you to flee from temptation and transgression.

As members of the Church, we know how strongly President Gordon B. Hinckley feels about this subject. He has written:

Challenging though it may be, there is a way to apply traditional moral principles in our day. For some unknown reason, there is constantly appearing the false rationalization that at one time in the long ago, virtue was easy and that now it is difficult. I would like to remind any who feel that way that there has never been a time since the Creation when the same forces were not at work, that are at work today. The proposal made by Potiphar’s wife to Joseph in Egypt is no different from that faced by many men and women and youth in our day.

The influences today may be more apparent and more seductive, but they are no more compelling. One cannot be shielded entirely from these influences. They are all about us. Our culture is saturated with them. But the same kind of self-discipline exercised by Joseph will yield the same beneficial result. Notwithstanding the so-called “new morality,” notwithstanding the much-discussed changes in moral standards, there is no adequate substitute for virtue. God’s standards may be challenged everywhere throughout the world, but God has not abrogated his commandments.

The THIRD part of this formula is we must ask for the Spirit—pray for it.

From Doctrine and Covenants, Section 63:64, “Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit; and in this there is no condemnation, and ye receive the spirit through prayer…”

“Ye receive the spirit through prayer.” I have seen so many missionaries humbly kneeling, sweet appealing for the power of the Spirit. Our Father has provided in His Plan of Happiness, a Savior for us, even Christ the Lord. Through self-control and repentance, we can each tame the natural men and women that we are.

I invite you today to consider your passions and where necessary, bridle them in your life.

I invite you today to take greater control of your thoughts, garnish them with virtue, such as of the beloved Word of God.

I invite you to humbly and prayerfully plead with the Lord to bless you with the Holy Ghost.

I invite you to go before the Lord and ask him to bless you with strength, to be the greatest generation of young people, going into the world with power and authority and the Holy Ghost, inviting people of all lands to come unto Christ.

I promise you as a servant of the Lord, that he will bless you with the presence and companionship of the Holy Ghost. Bridle your passions, garnish your thoughts, and by the prayer of faith you will be led by the Spirit and join in this magnificent miracle.

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