It is good to be with you on another great day at BYU-Idaho. I welcome you to a new semester and pray that the Lord’s choicest blessings will be yours.
I want to speak with you today about the spirit of revelation that comes through the power of the Holy Ghost. This is a topic that is familiar to you. You have discussed and maybe even taught this topic in many lessons and classes. I also know that you have experience with the Spirit and have received personal revelation. I want to build on that knowledge and experience today. I pray that the Holy Ghost will be with us to teach us what you and I need to do to have the spirit of revelation in our lives, every day. I want to begin with two stories involving young people very much like you. The stories are true.
A young woman walked slowly across the campus, deep in thought. She was at the beginning of her last semester of college. She had started to think seriously about serving a mission, but she had also been looking for a job. Just that morning she had received a very nice job offer. As she walked, she pondered what to do.
The young woman fasted and prayed to know if she should serve a mission or should take the job offer. Somewhat to her surprise, the mission did not feel right to her. Without a lot of specific guidance, she decided to take the job. Three months later she met the man who would become her husband.
A young father sat in his darkened apartment. It was 5 a.m. His three small children were sleeping at the neighbors. Everything in his life had been going so well; and then without any warning, everything changed. He had just come home from the hospital where he had spent all night watching his wife struggle to live. She had died an hour before of a massive brain hemorrhage.
In the next few days the Lord blessed the young father with tender mercies that helped him understand his wife’s death and gave him the strength he needed to move forward to finish school and rear their children. It was a challenging, but spiritually powerful time that became the foundation of a strong family with children who knew and loved the Lord.
Each of these young people acted in faith and received guidance, protection, and heavenly power from the Lord. This is the spirit of revelation.
You and I likewise face decisions and challenges every day. You, especially, face many critical decisions and choices at this time in your lives. Some decisions are difficult and life changing—decisions about missions, majors, occupations, dating, marriage, children, where to live, and how to live. Other decisions may seem simple and much less important. Yet even the small decisions may be part of a pattern that will lead to significant consequences.
You and I need the Lord’s guidance and protection every day. There will be times when we will seek His help, and there will be times when He will warn us before the danger is apparent. Every day we need what the Prophet Joseph taught Brigham Young:
"Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it."1
This is what it means to have the spirit of revelation in our lives every day: “hearts . . . ready to receive [revelation]”2 from the Lord through the Holy Ghost. Revelation will come in the Lord’s own way and time; our capacity to receive revelation will grow over time as we “[continue] in God.”3 As our daily walk qualifies us for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, the Lord has promised: “my Spirit shall be in your hearts,”4 to “teach [you] all things,”5 “guide you into all truth,”6 and “show . . . you all things what [you] should do.”7
I want to talk with you today about how to have the spirit of revelation in your life, every day. My talk has two parts. In the first part, I focus on the nature of the spirit of revelation—what it is and how it comes into our lives. I then turn to three principles for daily living that will open our lives to the spirit of revelation: 1) live righteously; 2) ask, seek, and knock; and 3) act in faith in Christ to love and serve one another.
The Spirit of Revelation
In the 8th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord gave us a great key to and a powerful example of the spirit of revelation:
"Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
"Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground."8
First, the great key: Through the spirit of revelation, the Lord makes things known to us by the power of the Holy Ghost. As President Joseph F. Smith taught, the Lord does not reveal Himself to man through the natural eye or ear:
". . . let me tell you [that] when the Almighty reveals Himself unto man, He does it by the power of the Holy Ghost, and not through the natural eye or the natural ear. He speaks to man as if He were speaking to him independent of his body; He speaks to the spirit."9
The things of God are revealed by the Spirit of God and must be spiritually discerned. As President Boyd K. Packer has taught:
"Perhaps the single greatest thing I learned from reading the Book of Mormon is that the voice of the Spirit comes as a feeling rather than a sound.
"The gift of the Holy Ghost, if you consent, will guide and protect you and even correct your actions. It is a spiritual voice that comes into the mind as a thought or a feeling put into your heart."10
The scriptures declare that the voice of the Spirit is still and small and whispers in perfect mildness.11 As Elder David A. Bednar has taught, such revelation may come a little at a time or it may come more directly, all at once:
"Some revelations are received immediately and intensely; some are recognized gradually and subtly. . . . [T]wo experiences with light . . . help us to better understand these two basic patterns of revelation. A light turned on in a dark room is like receiving a message from God quickly, completely, and all at once. . . . However, this pattern of revelation tends to be more rare than common.
"The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God 'line upon line, precept upon precept.'12 Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time. . . . This pattern of revelation tends to be more common than rare. . . ."13
Now, for the example: The scriptural story the Lord uses to teach us about the spirit of revelation is Moses bringing the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.14 I am sure the story is familiar to you: Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt into the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Pharaoh sent an army with horses and chariots to recapture the Israelites and bring them back to Egypt.
Let’s pick up the story as the children of Israel are camped near the Red Sea. Please turn with me to Exodus, chapter 14, verse 10. As we read these passages, please note that the dividing of the Red Sea was only part of the spirit of revelation at work in the salvation of Israel.
"And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.
"And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
"The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
"And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
"But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea."15
Please note that Moses witnessed to the children of Israel that the Lord would fight for them. He prophesied they would be delivered from the Egyptians if they would act on the Lord’s command to go forward under Moses’ direction.
The angel of the Lord and the pillar of the cloud then moved behind the Israelites to protect them from the Egyptians. The cloud was darkness to the Egyptians and a light to Moses and the camp of Israel:
"And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided."16
During this night of miracles, the children of Israel went forward on the seabed with faith in the Lord while great walls of water loomed on either side. The Lord delayed the Egyptians’ progress, and Moses then lifted his rod again bringing the walls of water down upon the Egyptian army.
In this example we see both dramatic revelation of the Lord’s power and the still small voice of the Spirit guiding and directing through minds and hearts. Through the power of the Holy Ghost, Moses and the children of Israel received:
A witness of true doctrine and promised blessings
Assurance of the Lord’s power and protection
Divine direction and guidance
Individual strength to overcome fear and move forward
Revelation of the Lord’s almighty power to protect and to open the way.
This story illuminates the richness of the spirit of revelation. It is a vivid example of prophecy, witness, assurance, direction, strength, and power that comes from the Lord through the spirit of revelation. It is a story highly relevant to the world we now face.
Everything that is dear to our hearts, every righteous hope and dream depends on an increased measure of the spirit of revelation in our lives. Whatever level of the spirit of revelation we already have received, it will not be sufficient for what lies ahead.
Brothers and sisters, an increasing measure of the spirit of revelation is everything to us. This is why it really matters, why it is so crucial that each of us strive to have the spirit of revelation in our lives, every day.
Three Principles for Daily Living
I want to share now three principles for daily living that will open our hearts and minds to the spirit of revelation. These principles are timeless; they guided Moses and they will guide us.17 I begin with:
Principle #1: Live Righteously
The short version of this principle is very simple: be good; keep the commandments; be true to your covenants; choose the right, every day. Of course, this includes serving in your callings, doing your home and visiting teaching, and attending the temple. We all can create a structure of righteousness in our lives by making our covenant responsibilities firm commitments in our daily and weekly schedules.
President George Albert Smith gave us a beautiful statement about living righteously. I hope the metaphor he uses will stay with you all of your life. Here it is:
"There are two influences ever present in the world. One is constructive and elevating and comes from our Heavenly Father; the other is destructive and debasing and comes from Lucifer. We have our agency and make our own choice in life subject to these unseen powers. There is a division line well defined that separates the Lord’s territory from Lucifer’s. If we live on the Lord’s side of the line Lucifer cannot come there to influence us, but if we cross the line into his territory we are in his power. By keeping the commandments of the Lord we are safe on His side of the line, but if we disobey His teachings we voluntarily cross into the zone of temptation and invite the destruction that is ever present there. Knowing this, how anxious we should always be to live on the Lord’s side of the line."18
Brothers and sisters, your faith and obedience are hallmarks of this university. I feel your goodness, every day. I also know that you face temptations. Lucifer makes his side of the line seem easy and exciting. When you feel temptation to move toward Lucifer’s side, let President Smith’s metaphor come into your mind. Resist temptation and embrace living on the Lord’s side of the line.
If you make a mistake and fall into temptation and sin, come back quickly. You have the power to do it. Don’t wait; don’t linger in the zone of misery and destruction. Begin to repent now, today. You are not in bondage to your past with no way out. You can be free! Through the Atonement of Christ, you can be changed and delivered from sin, false ideas, and poor attitudes. Choose to repent. When we repent of our sins and seek to live on the Lord’s side of the line every day, the transforming power of Christ’s Atonement will take hold in our lives. Our hearts and minds will be open to the Spirit, and the spirit of revelation will be with us, every day.
Principle #2: Ask, Seek, and Knock
Our Heavenly Father always knows what is best for us. He wants to give us the revelation we need; but in order to receive it, we must go to Him in prayer in the name of His Son, express our gratitude for our many blessings, and ask for what we need. Jesus said:
"And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
"For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."19
Brothers and sisters, pray to the Father in the name of the Son, every day, morning and night. Take the time to talk to your Father in Heaven with faith and real intent. Thank Him for His many blessings. Go to Him with specific questions and concerns. Pray for others. Pray for help in school. Pray about everything, every day, morning and night. In between “let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually. . . .”20
That is not all. If you want the spirit of revelation in your life, you must seek the voice of the Lord, every day. You must knock on the door that leads to divine instruction, every day. As Elder Robert D. Hales has taught, that means searching the scriptures, including the words of the living prophets:
"…the prophets of the Lord cry out to us on earth today: take hold of the scriptures! …walk by them, live by them, rejoice in them, feast on them. Don’t nibble. They are 'the power of God unto salvation. . . .'
"What a glorious blessing! For when we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures; for His words are spoken through His prophets. He will then teach us as we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit."21
This means that we must ponder and listen carefully when we search the scriptures or hear the living prophets. We must listen with focused attention because in them and through them we can hear the voice of the Lord. When ideas or impressions or insights come, we should write them down, “treasure them up in our hearts,”22 and act on them. In this way we will experience the power of the word of God, every day.
I am grateful that so many of you set aside time, every day, for prayer and for searching the scriptures. I know that many of you have found what I have found: it is good to start and end the day with prayer, and it is good to have a regular time to search and ponder the scriptures. Make sure you set aside sufficient time for prayer and study, and make those times a firm commitment in your daily schedule.
I know that if we will use those times well—if we will pray diligently, listen, and write down what we receive in our prayers and studies—the Holy Ghost will teach us and we will hear the voice of the Lord, every day. Then when He gently and quietly speaks to us sending us on His errand, we will hear Him and we will go. When challenges come or hard decisions loom, He will hear our prayers and we will know His voice. We will have the spirit of revelation in our lives, every day.
Principle #3: Act in Faith in Christ to Love and Serve One Another
Love is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Jesus taught: “[Love of God] is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, . . . love thy neighbour as thyself.”23
This love is both intensely practical and powerfully spiritual. Jesus is the great example. In His mortal ministry He taught sublime doctrine of great spiritual power. His atoning sacrifice brought light, hope, and salvation to all who have faith in Him. He also had divine compassion for people who were suffering. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and opened the ears of the deaf. He did all of this because of His pure and perfect love.
His example must become the guiding light that we hold up by doing what He did—serving our brothers and sisters and inviting them to come unto Him, every day. President Monson leads us today in this great work. He has taught us that people to love and serve are all around us:
"My brothers and sisters, we are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness—be they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us."24
We are the Lord’s hands, every day. I see that in your lives. In so many ways you act with faith in Christ to lift and strengthen those around you through simple acts of service, every day. I know that if we all will pay attention and pray for the Lord’s guidance, He will bless us with opportunities to serve. We cannot always schedule our service, but we can make sure to pray about it and think about it, every day.
Serving others is a powerful way to seek, recognize and act on the spirit of revelation. Our service may be as simple as words of encouragement to someone having a hard day; it may be sharing food with someone whose cupboards are bare; it may be bearing testimony to someone whose soul is wounded.
When we act in faith to serve with love, we humble ourselves before the Lord and leave behind selfish concerns. If we are worthy and act in faith in Him, the Lord will go with us and will bless us with His Spirit and His love. Thus, as we seek the spirit of revelation to serve others on a daily basis, we develop the capacity to receive and recognize the Lord’s guidance when we face our own challenges and decisions.
As we learn to act in faith in Christ every day, service with love and faith will bless our families, our roommates, people in our classes, and people in our wards and stakes. We will know the Lord Jesus Christ whom we have served. He will be close to the thoughts and intents of our hearts, and we will have the spirit of revelation in our lives, every day.
Conclusion and Testimony
My dear brothers and sisters, it is a great day in the kingdom! You and I live in a time when the fulness of the gospel is on the earth. I bear you my witness that God lives. Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer. He lives! In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is priesthood power and sacred ordinances that open to us rich spiritual blessings and privileges. By virtue of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice and by obedience to His commandments, we may receive heavenly guidance, comfort, and strength through the Holy Ghost, every day. The spirit of revelation is a supernal gift to us from a loving Heavenly Father through the mercy and grace of His Beloved Son.
I pray that we will feel the Lord inviting us to receive this priceless gift He so much wants to give us. I know by my own experience and by the spirit of revelation that if we act on that invitation and live righteously, pray and search the scriptures diligently, and serve with love and faith, every day, this great promise of the Lord will be ours:
". . . I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."25
I so testify, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p 98
3 D&C 50:24
4 D&C 84:88
5 D&C 75:10
6 John 16:13
7 2 Nephi 32:5
8 D&C 8:2-3
9Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, (1998), Chapter I: I Know That My Redeemer Lives, xxvi-9
10 Boyd K. Packer, “Counsel to Youth,” Ensign, November, 2011, p 17