LDS Business College Devotional
October 11, 2011
There is a great spirit here today, and I express my gratitude to each one of you and hope that the Spirit will continue to be with us and that He will be able to teach you the things that you need to know and that we will all feel the Spirit together and rejoice and be edified.
This is such a great time of life for you, and I am thrilled for you to be right where you are, right now. You have exciting and challenging times that you are going through now, and that are yet ahead, and you are making important decisions, decisions that will determine your future homes and your happiness. And you are going through things that will require that you exercise a great deal of patience, and that you be empowered by purity in your lives. You are establishing, right now, patterns of thought and language and behavior that will determine your progress spiritually and temporally, and that will also define you and your personality.
At times as you go through this period, you may feel somewhat overwhelmed. There may be times, as you travel along your divinely appointed path to obtain your divinely appointed destiny, a sense of discouragement. That’s not uncommon. You may sometimes question yourself and ask, “How can I, as just a young student, have the wisdom and the strength and the determination to make all the right choices?” That’s a big one, isn’t it? And you might ask, “How can I feel this perfect peace that I read about in the scriptures, and that the Savior has promised? And how can I ensure that I will obtain enduring happiness throughout my life?”
In essence, the kind of questions you are asking yourself are “Who am I, really? And why am I really here, and what am I supposed to be doing? Where am I really going?”
My sweet brothers and sisters, I testify that the answers to these questions, and all questions of eternal significance, can be found in the temples of our God. Today I would like to invite you to come to the temple.
The prophet Isaiah saw our day, and he prophesied that we would be invited to come to the temple and to receive the blessings that are there. He prophesied: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2:2-3)
By revelation, the Prophet Joseph Smith did receive, here in the last days, all of the priesthood keys necessary to establish temples again on the earth. The early Saints were commanded to fill the temple, when the Lord said, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” (D&C 88:119)
We know that through much sacrifice, through trials and privations, the Lord’s people did build temples. Our prophet today, President Monson, continues to invite us, the youth, to come to the temple. And when I say “us, the youth” I’m including myself, because I’m young at heart—not as beautiful and wrinkle-free, but I am young at heart—but I hear President Monson’s voice speaking to each one of us when he says, “In its gleaming glory, the temple seems to beckon to each who views its splendor, ‘Come! Come to the house of the Lord. Here is found rest for the weary and peace for the soul.’ ” (“Houses of the Lord,” Ensign, Oct. 2010) And he also challenges us, and says, “There is no more important goal for you to work toward than being worthy to go to the temple.” (“The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World,” Ensign, May 2011)
Today we will talk about the temple and why it is so important to attend the temple. And I join my voice with those who have gone before and invite you to also come to the temple, whether you are single or married, whether you are a new high school graduate or a returned missionary, or preparing to get married in the temple. Come to the temple. Whether you go to the temple to do baptisms for the dead or to do full endowments and sealings, come to the temple. Come and partake of the glorious blessings that have been promised by prophets of ancient days and by our living prophet today. As we come to the temple, we come unto Christ. Come to the temple and learn of His ways and learn to walk in His paths.
There are many reasons to come to the temple, but today I’d like to talk about three. First of all, the temple is the house of the Lord, and we can feel His presence there. Second of all, in the temple we receive heavenly power. And third, in the temple we are sealed in eternal family relationships.
The temple is the house of the Lord, and we can feel His presence there. And you know that this has to be true, because when we go into the home of a man or a woman, it is interesting how quickly we feel the spirit that is there, don’t we? And very quickly, if we spend any time at all, we begin to learn the ways of that person, and we are taught of the path that that person has taken. And so it makes sense that when we go into the house of the Lord, that there we are taught of His ways and we learn to walk in His paths, and we feel His spirit there.
When you enter the temple, it feels peaceful, and it feels warm. It’s different from the world. It’s separate and apart from the world. We see things that are different. It’s certainly not about pride and about wealth and fame or power, in a worldly sense. We see everyone dressed the same, in white, and we feel people talking in still, small voices, with voices of perfect mildness and of peace. When we come to the temple, we see people praying and reading scriptures. It’s different in the temple.
In the temple of God, we feel the glory of God, and we gain a sense of His holiness. “Man of Holiness” is His name, and in His holy house, His children learn the way to become like Him and to become holy. We learn the path that we must walk to be prepared to abide in His presence.
In the temple, we learn our divine identity. We learn that we are indeed sons and daughters of God. As President Hinckley taught, the temple affirms that each man and woman born into the world is a child of God, endowed with something of His divine nature. We learn that Heavenly Father has provided a plan for us to fulfill our divine nature and our divine destiny. We learn that He created the earth for us and provided an opportunity for us to use our agency so that we might grow and gain experience. We learn what we are to do to fulfill our divine role, both male and female. Most importantly, we learn that Heavenly Father provided a Savior for us, His very own Only Begotten Son. We learn that the Savior sacrificed for us, and that His Atonement makes our return to the presence of God possible. We remember the sacred covenants that we made at the time of our baptism, and we make sacred temple covenants as well. As we make and keep these covenants, we follow in the path that the Savior has followed. We do the things that the Savior has done.
As we make and keep sacred temple covenants, we come to know our Savior more fully and more completely. We learn how to more fully take His name upon us, to be more obedient, more repentant, more consecrated, to become more chaste, more pure, more virtuous, and more holy. In the temple, our Heavenly Father gives us the opportunity to make and keep sacred covenants and to receive the priesthood ordinances that will bless us and prepare us to become like Him and to dwell with Him throughout eternity.
I testify that as we come to the temple, we can grow in knowledge and in wisdom and in understanding of these sacred things.
One young woman—and you’ll forgive me, you handsome young men—but today I’m going to use women for examples. But that’s OK, because we can all learn from virtuous women. We can all learn from one another. One young woman, a teenager from Idaho, was struggling in her life. She was struggling with some very difficult family relationships. She struggled to fit in, and she struggled to know how to balance what she was learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ and what she was experiencing as the reality of her life.
Last month, this young woman, who I will call Jane, was visited by one of our Young Women general board members, a Sister Diane Robison. Sister Robison was able to encourage her, to love her, and to challenge her to be worthy and prepared to come to the temple. The other day, Sister Robison received this email, and she shared it with me and has given me permission to share it with you. This young woman wrote—and this is exciting: “Just to remind you, I’m Jane. You visited me when you were in Rexburg, Idaho. I’m so sorry I haven’t emailed you yet, but things have been crazy with school.” And you can totally relate to that. “I was able to do baptisms on Wednesday, and when I was waiting”—and this is baptisms for the dead—“I was able to do baptisms on Wednesday, and when I was waiting to go into the confirmation room, I was looking through a glass window to watch someone new do it for the first time. And I thought of something really cool. I thought of the glass window I was standing in front of as a symbol of birth. The baptismal font was a symbol of purity and life, and the room it was in was a symbol for life itself. The glass window at the other side of the font was a symbol of death. On the other side of that glass window was a picture of Jesus. In order to get back to Jesus, we have to stay pure. The font is right in between the two glass windows, and it is on the straight and narrow path. I just thought that was cool, and I might as well share it with you.”
How precious is that, that a young woman who is struggling is so loved by her Father in Heaven that she can come to the temple and be taught by the power of the Holy Ghost of the ways of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and how to walk in His path. As this lovely young woman, who is a precious daughter of God, learned that day, the path of the Lord is straight, and it is narrow, and it does lead to eternal life. We entered the gate to the path when we were baptized, each one of us. And then we received the Holy Ghost. And we continue on that path as we continually repent and as we walk in paths of virtue. And oh, the glorious blessing when we become pure and clean and when we become prepared to enter the presence of the Lord. This is what we learn in the temple. When we enter the temple, we feel His presence. We feel His love. We feel His spirit as we enter the doors in holiness and purity.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord told the Saints of God, “And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;
“Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it”—and if you hear nothing else I might say today, listen to this promise for it is a reason to come to the temple—for the Savior says, “I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that come into it shall see God.” (D&C 97:15-16)
Walk in paths of virtue and come unto Christ. Come into the temple. Learn of His ways and walk in His paths and prepare to enter the presence of the Lord. President Monson has asked, “How far is heaven?” And then he answers, “I testify that in the holy temple, it is not far at all—for it is in these sacred places that heaven and earth meet and our Heavenly Father gives His children His greatest blessings.” (“Blessings of the Temple,” Liahona, October 2010)
Now the second reason I’d like to talk about why it is so important to get to the temple today is because in the holy temple we receive heavenly power. In the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith prayed for these blessings: “That all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house may feel thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness …
“ ... That they may grow up in thee, and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost, and be organized according to thy laws and be prepared to receive every needful thing.” (D&C 109:13, 15)
These are great blessings. How would you like to have heavenly power? How would you like to grow up in the Lord, become spiritually mature in the Lord, if you will? How would you like to receive the fulness of the Holy Ghost, and be organized according to the laws of God? Now, I know we all want to be organized, but to be organized according to the laws of God—that’s a powerful thing, and also to obtain every needful thing.
Because the temple blessings are so great, people—thousands of people—have sacrificed much to attend the temple. One such person was a young woman named Elvira Stevens. When Elvira was 12 years old, she was taught the gospel by a missionary, and she prayed in her heart that she might know the truth. When she was satisfied that the Lord had given her the testimony that she needed in her heart, she was baptized in 1844. After her baptism, she went with her parents to Nauvoo, where her father died after a brief illness. Elvira and her mother, four months later, were preparing for the journey across the wilderness, parching corn and doing all other things to prepare. And her mother, who was overcome with toil and with grief and with exhaustion, also died, leaving Elvira an orphan. Their farm and their household goods were sold, and the five children received 10 dollars each to outfit them for their western journey.
Elvira parted with her twin brother, also only 14 years old, with tears in her eyes, and she never saw him again, for he died only six years later. Elvira was taken 25 miles across the prairie among strangers, and there she spent the winter. There were no children for her to play with, no one to feel tenderly for the lonely and quiet aching heart of this orphan girl. When the spring approached, she rejoined her married sister to wait upon her, and began traveling west with her, sometimes living in a brush house, and sometimes sleeping under a wagon while traveling.
Elvira once awoke to find several inches of snow covering them. Exposure brought her to death’s door, but she lived after long suffering. In May of 1846, as Elvira was struggling to survive somewhere in Iowa, the Spirit guided the Saints’ decision to formally dedicate the Nauvoo Temple, even though they had abandoned the temple several months before, before the temple was completed. A private dedication occurred the evening of April 30, 1846, and the public dedicatory services took place the following three days. Few of those already on the trail to Winter Quarters returned for the temple dedication. But one who did was 14-year-old Elvira Stevens. She was the only one of her company to do so.
Elvira crossed the Mississippi three times to attend the services. She wrote years later, “The heavenly power was so great, I then crossed and re-crossed to be benefitted by it, young as I was.” Elvira had not yet received the temple ordinances, but the spiritual power of the edifice itself and the circumstances of the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple remained prominent memories of her brief and troubled life in Nauvoo. (Carol Cornwall Madsen, In Their Own Words: Women and the Story of Nauvoo [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994] p. 23, quoted in Young Women Manual 3, Lesson 16: “Temple Endowment”)
What sacrifice would each of you be willing to make to attend the temple? Just consider that question. The sacrifice to attend the temple brings forth the blessings of heaven. Elvira did receive blessings for her efforts. Armed with the heavenly power from the temple, young Elvira Stevens was indeed prepared to obtain every needful thing. After three years on the trail, she arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in the first company of 1848, walking beside two yoke of oxen, caring for a sick sister and a brother-in-law who had somehow managed to break his arm. A few years later Elvira Stevens married, and she went on a mission to the Sandwich Islands with her husband. She obtained an education and, as an adult, she became Dr. Elvira Stevens Barney, one of the first women doctors here in Utah.
Whatever our journey here in life, wherever we may be along life’s trail, we may come to the temple and find heavenly power. Some degree of sacrifice has always been associated with attending the temple. You who live and study right here in the shadow of the Salt Lake Temple may have to make a different type of sacrifice to attend the temple. It may be sacrificing some sleep or foregoing a fun, leisure-time activity that you enjoy engaging in. It might be that you need to pay tithing. It might be changing the way you think or speak or some of the activities that you engage in, so that you will be more prepared to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost to be with you. It might be needing to repent and change your life, so that you may be worthy to obtain a temple recommend and to attend the temple.
It is worth it. Whatever sacrifice the Lord requires of you to come to the temple, I testify that it is worth it. The blessings are great. President Boyd K. Packer taught the “temples are the very center of the spiritual strength in the Church.” And he quoted President George Q. Cannon, who said at the dedication of the Logan Temple, “Every foundation stone that is laid for a temple, and every temple completed according to the order the Lord has revealed for his holy priesthood, lessens the power of Satan on the earth, and increases the power of God and godliness, [and] moves the heavens in mighty power on our behalf.” (“The Holy Temple,” http://lds.org/temples/purpose/holy/0,11707,2028-1,00.html)
When our minds may be clouded with confusion and with the clamoring of many voices, conflicting voices that seek after our attention and distract our attention, come to the temple. Armed with heavenly power, we see things more clearly, and as a matter of fact our troubles sometimes seem to melt away. We are blessed in all the affairs of our lives. Our prayers are answered and our questions can be resolved when we come to the temple and receive the fulness of the Holy Ghost.
Our living prophet has promised, “As you and I go to the holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants that we [have made], we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation. In this sacred sanctuary, we will find peace; [and] we will be renewed and fortified.” Those are magnificent promises made to the youth by a prophet of God.
And then he calls to each one of us: “May we make whatever sacrifices are necessary to attend the temple and to have the spirit of the temple in our hearts and in our homes.” (“The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World,” Ensign, May 2011) And I might add, so that even when we are not physically in the temple, we carry that spirit with us as we go forward.
President Hinckley taught, “Temple work is concerned with the family.” (“Why These Temples?” http://lds.org/temples/purpose/why/0,11581,1953-1,00.html
) So the third reason I would like to invite each one of us to come to the temple today is so that we may be sealed in eternal family relationships. As President Hinckley continued to teach, “With each of us as members of God’s eternal family, and with each of us as members of earthly families [the temple] is concerned with the sanctity and the eternal nature of the marriage covenant and family relationships.” (“Why These Temples?”)
In September of 1823, the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Moroni’s message was so important that he repeated it four times. He quoted Malachi: “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
“ … And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” (Joseph Smith—History 1:38-39)
Elijah did come as prophesied. He came to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple and restored the sealing power. In 1918, the Prophet Joseph F. Smith received the vision of the redemption of the dead, where it was revealed to him that the prophet Elijah was to plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to their fathers, to foreshadow the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fulness of times for the redemption of the dead, and for the sealing of the children to their parents, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted.
President Smith saw this, our day right now. This was 1918, but he saw you right now. He saw the building of temples. And he saw you who are sitting here today, who are of this generation, and knew that you were reserved and prepared to come forth in this, the fulness of times, to partake in this, the work of salvation, to partake in laying the foundation of the latter-day work, including the building of temples and the performance of ordinances for the redemption of the dead.
You were taught and prepared in pre-earth life to participate in this great and glorious work. The reason you are here is to go to the temple and to unite past, present, and future generations into one eternal family. You are to do this by being worthy to attend the temple to obtain your own temple ordinances. And you also are to be worthy to attend the temple to obtain the same ordinances for your ancestors.
President Kimball taught that in pre-earth life we committed ourselves to Heavenly Father, that if he would send us to earth and give us bodies and the priceless opportunities that life afforded, we would keep our lives clean and we would marry in holy temples and rear families and teach righteousness. We covenanted to participate in those things.
One of the most sacred days of my life was the day that I was married to my husband in the Mesa Arizona Temple and was sealed to him for time and for all eternity. I do not remember everything, or much of anything the sealer said, honestly, but I remember what I felt. I remember kneeling across the altar from the most handsome man in the entire world—I was sure of it—and I felt exquisite joy. The Spirit of the Lord seemed to just burn in my heart. I was very much in love and I was so happy that I couldn’t stop smiling. In fact, I smiled so much that my cheeks hurt.
After the sealing ordinance was performed, the sealer invited my husband and me to stand together and look in one of the two large mirrors that were on opposite sides of the sealing room. As we stood there together looking at our image, the two of us seemed to go on and on forever and forever. That was the idea. The sealer told us that our ancestors were rejoicing that day in our union. He also told us that the spirits that had been assigned to us—we found out later, seven of them—were there and they were waiting to be born, and that they were rejoicing. He promised us that if we would be faithful to the covenants that we had made, we would be the link to join the generations of our family past and future, and bring them together for eternity.
Since that day, our seven children were born, and now they have all been married and sealed to their companions for eternity in the temples. And we are now engaged in the process of preparing our grandchildren to come to the temple. And since that day when we were married, my parents and my grandparents have passed away. They have now gone on. And my husband and I are engaged in attending the temple and doing the ordinance work for those of them that were not fortunate enough or blessed to receive those ordinances when they were in mortality. So we provide for them, our ancestors, the blessings of eternal life.
Now just last week in conference, Elder Bednar spoke to you about this very subject. You remember, I can tell. Last week, he said you have been prepared for this day—you, the youth—to build up the kingdom of God. “You are here upon the earth now to assist in this glorious work.” (“the Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” http://lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/the-hearts-of-the-children-shall-turn?lang=eng&query=Elder+(name%3a"David+A.+Bednar")
) Now I’d like to share a brief video with you that shows Elder Bednar teaching the importance of the work we are to assist in, and the importance of coming to the temple on behalf of your family members, your specific family.
We go to the lds.org website, and you can watch this at any time at your own convenience because it’s public, and you click on the menu and go to “youth.” Click on the youth link under family and there we scroll down not very far to the video, “Family History: The Time is Now.” Now as you watch this, I’d like you to ask yourself the question, “What is Elder Bednar asking me to do? What are the blessings when I participate in this sacred work? And really, what am I going to do about it right now?”
Elder Bednar: “Each of us benefits from all of those who have gone before. Learning those stories helps us really understand who we are and where we came from.
Young man: “The best part to me of doing family history work is definitely learning about who we are.”
Young woman: “It helps you see what your potential could possibly be.”
Young woman: “I’m very proud of my heritage.”
Young woman: “It teaches you how hard your ancestors have worked to get you where you are, and it just makes you want to strive to be a better person.”
Young woman: “It gives me hope for the future.”
Elder Bednar: “This is the work of salvation. It’s not just indexing. It’s not just researching names. These are people, sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. We are here to participate in the work of salvation in inviting all of these people to come unto Christ and receive the saving ordinances of the gospel. That’s who we are. That’s why we’re here on the earth. With the technology capability that you young people have, you are prepared for this day. The time is now.”
Young woman: “The easiest way to get involved in family history would be to go to Family Search and to put your name in and search for people you know of.”
Young man: “You can just go on the Internet, and it’s all right there for you. I don’t think it’s just for old people.”
Young woman: “It can actually be really fun.”
Young woman: “It’s really easy.”
Young man: “Once I got online, it was just easy. It was … it made me wonder why I didn’t do it before.”
Elder Bednar: “I don’t know of a greater blessing than ultimately realizing that God trusts us and depends on us to do His work.”
Young woman: “Once I started doing it, it made me feel right, and it made me feel so good, and I wanted to share it with everybody.”
Young man: “When I was young, it was just my dad, my mom, and I and we weren’t members, but I remember when they were taking the discussions, I remember the peace that we felt. I was young, but I remember it. And now that I’m older, I understand that it’s just the greatest gift that anyone could ever have to be with their family forever.”
Elder Bednar: “It’s a remarkable spiritual experience when you do the work for your own ancestors and you take your family names to the temple to perform the ordinance work.”
Young man: “The way I put it was the temple day was our game day. I love going to the temple and the feeling I have in the temple. My first thought of it was, I’m going to work for my ancestors as they did for me.”
Elder Bednar: “With a young man like you, I will rarely ever ask the question, Are you preparing to go on a mission. I will ask the question, Are you worthy to be in the temple, and will you be next year, and will you be the year after that? Are you doing the research in your own family and helping other people with their research? That, for a young person in the wickedness of the world in which we live today, is one of the greatest safeguards against the temptations of the adversary. The time is now.”
I hope you felt the spirit of that invitation to come and to participate in the work of salvation. You are magnificent, each one of you. I have felt the Spirit of the Lord with you, and with us today. Come to the temple and be sealed in eternal family relationships. Come to the temple and receive heavenly power. Come to the temple, and know that you enter His house and feel His presence there. Come to the temple to be purified and prepared to see God’s face and to know that He lives. I testify that as we come to the temple, we will know who we are and what we are here for, what we are to do, and where we are going. We will receive answers to our prayers and receive revelation.
I testify that God does live and that He loves us. This is His work. It is His work and His glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of each one of us. He has provided the plan. He has prepared the way. He loves us so much that He sent His Only Begotten Son. I testify that Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior and our Redeemer. And through the power of His infinite and eternal Atonement, we may be saved if we will just believe and obey. I testify that Joseph Smith was the mighty prophet of the Restoration, and that he did bring forth the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and that it is true. I testify that we are led by a living prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson. I testify that if we will prepare, we may be worthy to come to the temple and make and keep sacred covenants and receive all of the blessings that our Father in Heaven has in store for us, even the blessings of eternal life and exaltation. And I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.