Choose Ye This Day
LDS Business College Devotional
Feb. 9, 2010
Thank you for this invitation to address you today, young
people from all nations, and so I would like to greet you—Bonjour, Guten Morgen, Graus Wiche—that’s a little bit different,
that’s Russian, if you didn’t know—Bom
Dia, Buenos Dias, Modolele, and et cetera.
I mention young people because you
are looking great, you have a lot of enthusiasm, and hopefully you are all
wanting to become older, and that means, supposedly, wiser also. That’s a
different question. You’ve reached, now, a critical point in your life where
the decisions and the choices that you will make will not only determine your
temporal, immediate future, but even more important, will also determine your
spiritual longtime future.
My purpose today is to help you,
and it is to help you to make the right choices, or choosing right when the
world is wrong. We know about that situation. Why select such a theme? Go to
the index of your scriptures and you go to the word choice or choose. You’ll
find a lot of references. It’s interesting—I picked out some, for example,
because making choices is a constant job. It is a job in reality. Every day,
almost every minute, you have to make decisions based on choices.
In the index, we read some choices
from parents—Lehi wishes their sons might be a chosen people of the Lord.
That’s a wish from all parents, that you will remain chosen people of the Lord.
For a farmer, for example, they’re
talking about a branch planted in a chosen plot in the vineyard. And if you
know a little bit about gardening, you will make some choices where you put
flowers. Ask my wife about it—she’s a very good counselor about this.
Prophets make choices about
revelations they give, and which revelations are going to be kept or are going
to be part of the scriptures, in the Book of Mormon. People make choices all
the time. Here they have to choose judges, by the voice of the people. That’s
what we have in a democracy, by the way. We have a choice to vote, a choice to
elect those we think will do the best for the country.
Our Heavenly Father is making
choices. Do you know about that? Men are free to choose liberty and eternal
life, or captivity and death. That’s a terrible choice to make. Or, he will
choose disciples to warn all the people. That’s a constant job for our Heavenly
Father, having prophets, seers and revelators.
About His Son, Jesus Christ—the
Son was God’s chosen from the beginning. God’s Chosen will suffer for man’s
sins, return to God, and for us, we made a choice to come here, to live on this
earth. You made a choice to attend this LDS Business College. You have chosen
to be here today, to attend the devotional. And as Shakespeare said, “To be or
not to be.” That’s quite a question, but that’s quite something to be done—to
become or not to become. That’s also a matter of choice, and we will see why.
And so, if you suddenly realize
the importance of making right choices under difficult circumstances, where the
world is trying to tell you, “You can do it”—making wrong choices. They won’t
tell you that it is wrong, but they will say the consequences don’t matter. It
is important to know how to make those decisions.
Are you familiar with the
scriptures, for example, describing the world of today? I would like to share
with you, in the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, what kind of
revelation we have received to make right choices. It’s very interesting—this
is given at the beginning of the Church. We are in November of 1831. Today we
are in 2010—a little bit later. Are these revelation instructions as valid as
they were, as they are, and as they are going to be? I’m quoting from the first
section, starting with verse 11, and I’d like to show you the process. It’s
interesting to analyze the scriptures and try to learn personally what it means
It starts by saying “the voice of
the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear.” So
you have to be listening. And it says: “Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which
is to come, for the Lord is nigh.” (v. 12)
First point: the Lord will speak.
Second: Be prepared to listen.
Now, third point, verse 14: “The
arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they…will not hear
the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to
the words of the prophets and apostles.” What’s going to happen to them? There
will be a separation; they shall be “cut off from…the people.” Do we see that?
It is obvious that we can start seeing the biggest gap, separation, between
those who are listening to the voice of the Lord, and those who are not
hearkening to the voice of the Lord.
Why is it so? Why will we see that
separation? Verse 15 says, “For they have strayed from mine ordinances.” They
“have broken mine everlasting covenant.” And now, [in] verse 16, He is going to
give you the reason how come this is happening: “They seek not the Lord to
establish his righteousness.” And if you don’t know what righteousness is, it’s
very simple. It’s doing what is right, according to divine law. That’s what
So they seek not the Lord to
establish His righteousness, but what do they do? “Every man walketh in his own
way”—I decide what is right. That is the message—“and after the image of his
own god.” I don’t need religion or God anymore, they say; it is so much easier
to be my own god, and make my own decision. Is it not? And especially to decide
what is right and what is wrong. And being my own god, everything I do is
always right, of course. And so I’m very happy. I don’t have to worry about the
consequences. We’re talking about the substance of what it is, and it is “that
of an idol,” and it will perish, of course, in Babylon. (See verse 16)
Now that’s a description of what’s
happening right now. Individuals say, “I make my own decision. I don’t need a
Supreme Being. I don’t need a religious person. I don’t need parents to guide
me. I don’t need teachers to tell me what to do. I can do it so much better
myself, in less time than listening.”
The Lord is calling this a
calamity, if you didn’t know. And the Lord says, “I the Lord, knowing the
calamity which would come upon the earth”—what did He do? He calls a prophet;
his name—Joseph Smith. He speaks to him from heaven, which is called revelation.
What’s the message? Commandments. And your first reaction is to say, “Lord, we
already have ten commandments. Moses got them. Isn’t that enough?”
And the Lord says, “Wait a minute.
You are in 2010. Maybe you need something more to help you.” But the process
that we learn is a very interesting one. You know the Lord by revelation, and
you will know the Lord because He will give commandments. That’s the process.
Why? Verse 20-21: “That every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even
the Savior of the world; that faith…might increase in the earth.” In reality,
we’re talking about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His Heavenly Father.
That’s what we call a divine spiritual foundation.
So first, we need to understand
the necessity—it’s a necessity to understand the process of knowing God and His
Son Jesus Christ. You start with a question, of course. And the question is, do
you personally have a spiritual foundation? Do you believe in God and His Son
Jesus Christ, as Savior and Redeemer of this world?
Now I’d better suppose that all of
you would answer yes, we do. Well, the second question: If you tell me that you
believe in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, how did you acquire that knowledge?
How do you know it? And it’s interesting, when you ask people about this, most
of the time they will answer, “My mother told me.” Isn’t that so?
And then I will say, “Well, if
your mother told you, or your dad, or your parents, how did they know?”
And then they smile and say,
“Well, it’s very easy. It’s grandmother or great-grandmother or something like
“Yes, but great-grandmother—how
did she know?” And finally they come with an answer which is very interesting.
Because probably a priest or a preacher—somebody must have known about this,
and they say, “Yes, through what?” And the answer comes immediately: “The
Bible. Scriptures.” And that is, of course, the correct answer.
The Bible is an ancient record of
God’s dealings with prophets—men called by God to reveal true knowledge of God
and His plan of salvation for His children. Thus, the true knowledge of God,
Jesus Christ, and His gospel is revealed through the scriptures—number 1—and
prophets and apostles. That’s the key of knowledge. There is no other. If you
know the key then you can open the door. That’s called a testimony, defined by
what we know is true.
Second: Once we have the spiritual
foundation—the knowledge of the scriptures and the prophets of our day—how are
we going to keep this foundation and start to build upon that foundation?
Let’s go to another
scripture—section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In that section, we read
something very interesting about the developing part. We are at the end of
section 130; we go to verse 18, talking about principles of intelligence that
will be attained in this life. “Whatever principle of intelligence” that you
get, it will rise with you in the resurrection. That’s the only thing that you
will have with you, in reality—not the things of the world.
Now, “if a person gains more
knowledge and intelligence in this life through” what?—“diligence and
obedience”; two conditions—“than another, he will have so much the advantage in
the world to come.” (v. 19) Why is it so? Well, because there is a law, and it
has been “irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world,
upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from
God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (v. 20-21)
Now, if you’re listening
carefully, what does it mean? You have a knowledge of God and His Son Jesus
Christ through scriptures and through apostles and prophets. The Lord usually
gives them to teach or warn about what? Commandments. And so our responsibility
becomes to obey the commandments in order to be blessed. It is as simple as that—or
as complicated as that.
So the third point is that
spiritual knowledge, combined with diligence and obedience, depends on a
choice—a choice made when you are surrounded by what we can call unrighteous
influences—people doing the wrong things, having the wrong friends, going or
making a choice of wrong internet connections, leading to pornography, going to
the wrong movie, or taking the wrong drugs. The list is quite long. I could go
on and on. We know what is right, and
supposedly, we know what is not right. And again, the result of the choice will
determine our eternal future.
May I take a moment to share one
of my personal experiences with making the right choices under challenging
circumstances? When I was serving in the Belgian Air Force, I was the only
member of the Church in all the armed forces of my country, army and navy
included. That’s what we call a minority, is it not? And I was grateful that I
had been taught righteous standards as a young convert and, not to be
rationalizing away, especially in times of increased wickedness. My first
assignment to an Air Force base presented me with ample opportunity to
participate in behavior I knew was wrong. Shortly after my arrival, a welcome
party was scheduled for the officers’ mess. I knew alcoholic beverages would be
served, and so I decided to visit with the commanding officer about the party.
I thanked him for the welcome. I
mentioned that I didn’t drink alcohol. He looked quite surprised—imagine—and
asked if I had a health problem. Of course, I said no, but I told him that as a
member of the Church, I believed in what was called the Word of Wisdom.
He said, “What are you talking
about?” Well, I explained this law of health to him and told him that I would
obey it. The commander asked questions about the Church and why the Word of
Wisdom was revealed in modern times. The conversation turned into a gospel
lesson, and lasted much longer than I had expected. Finally he said, “I respect
your conditions, and I think that they are wise. I will see that a jar of
orange juice is placed next to the glasses of beer and other alcoholic
When I entered the officers’ mess
a few days later for the welcome party, to my happy surprise, the jar of orange
juice was sitting on the counter. As it turned out—this was interesting—several
officers joined me in drinking orange juice instead of beer.
Being righteous when we are
surrounded by unrighteous influences is a challenge we all face one day or the
other. Given that reality, what can we do to prepare for and pass the test of
living righteously in a wicked world?
One way we can prepare for this
test is to seek strength through revelation, using your spiritual foundation,
both personal revelation and revelations from the prophets, seers, revelators,
and scriptures. Revelation is a Liahona,
or compass that gives us daily guidance, helping us make correct decisions by
deepening our understanding of the Lord’s will in our lives. Revelation gives
us true knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come.
If you go to “Revelation” in the
Bible Dictionary in your scriptures, it tells us that without revelation “all
would be guesswork, darkness, and confusion.” Personal revelation often
includes insight into specific ways we can more fully follow the Savior. These
insights safeguard, guide us, help us master our thoughts and desires, and
strengthen us to live in conformity—with what? Commandments, of course.
President Ezra Taft Benson,
prophet, declared: “The word of God, as found in the scriptures, in the words
of living prophets, and in personal revelation, has the power”—it is power—“to
fortify the Saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold
fast to the good, and find joy in this life.” (“The Power of the Word,” May
1986 Ensign, p. 79)
Modern revelation confirms earlier
revelation. I intentionally use the word “modern” and “earlier,” not the words
“new” or “ancient.” Why is it so? Well, for many people, “ancient” means “does
not apply to me anymore. That was good for the past generations; we are the new
generation. We don’t need this.”
But the Lord, however, is eternal.
And likewise His words are eternal and do not change. His gospel is the same
yesterday, today, and will be tomorrow. And that’s regardless of when it is
revealed. It doesn’t matter. The Old Testament, the Pearl of Great Price, the
Book of Mormon, all detail God’s dealings with earlier prophets, and they
establish a foundation of righteousness that will never change. The testaments,
covenants and lessons contained in these sacred books have application in our
time and help us hold fast to the Iron Rod.
If you’d like to take an example
from earlier prophets, we can take two of them—one who failed, one who
succeeded. Their names are Cain and Enoch.
Cain received spiritual knowledge
from his parents. He was taught, but he did not hearken. In his own words, he
said, “Who is the Lord, that I should know him?” (Moses 5:16) Translation: “I
don’t need to know him. I know better.” You see the similarity with the first
section of the Doctrine and Covenants. He had no desire to know the true God,
and that led him to love Satan more than God. First wrong choice. The
consequence followed with another wrong choice—the second. He makes the wrong
offering of the fruit of the land. Then, third wrong choice—he turns angry,
because his offer is not accepted. And that will lead to a fatal decision, the
destructive choice of murdering, murdering his brother—for one reason: gain. Again,
“And Cain gloried in that which he
had done, saying: I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my
hands.” (v. 33)
Final result? The Lord curses
Cain, Cain is shut out from the presence of the Lord. The sure conclusion for
us today, learning from earlier prophets in the story: to follow Satan leads to
misery and captivity, and Cain’s wrong choices did affect all of his descendants
as well as himself. Sometimes I hear people say, “It doesn’t matter what I’m
doing. This is my life.” Sorry to disappoint you. It’s not your life. It’s
those who are around you, it’s your descendants who will pay the price for your
Righteous or unrighteous choices
always affect our family members one way or another.
I mentioned the other person is
Enoch. Enoch, who also received spiritual knowledge and faith from his father,
Jared. He is also taught. But what was his reaction when he received a call
from the Lord? He said, “Lord, why me? I am slow of speech, and I have this,
and I don’t like to be in front of people, and so on.” (See Moses 6:31) Well,
that’s a normal reaction. But the Lord told him, “Now, you go, and you teach,
and I’ll be with you, and I will walk with you and I will bless you.” (See
Enoch is transformed, literally,
into a prophet of the Lord. He is blessed, blessing his people, and he helps us
understand the importance of faith in the callings of the Lord. He had the
power to choose. We need agency so that we are responsible for our choices.
Let’s go to the Book of Mormon. Second
Nephi 2:25-27 explains the importance of respecting and having reverence for
agency. Verse 25: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might
have joy.” So the first message—we’re here to have joy, depending, of course,
on the way we’re going to choose.
“The Messiah cometh in the fulness
of time that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they
are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from
evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the
punishment of the law in the great and last day, according to the commandments
which God hath given” them. (v. 26) Again, a reference to commandments.
“Wherefore, men are free according
to the flesh; … All things are given them which are expedient unto man. And
they are free to choose”—here’s the word—they can choose “liberty and eternal
life”—how?—“through the Great Mediator of all men.” First choice.
Second: you can “choose captivity
and death, according to the captivity and power”—not of Christ but—“of the
devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (v.
The choices, again, to follow
Christ will always lead to liberty, happiness, eternal life—short-term temporal
future and long-term spiritual future.
Now let’s go to term number four.
What is the application of what we learn in the present world? Today the word
“discriminate” has been quoted by those who would have us believe that
discrimination is a bad thing. We hear it all the time in the media today. But
we all discriminate on a daily basis, whenever we make a choice. Do we not? We
make a difference. Living righteously in a wicked world requires that we not be
afraid—don’t be afraid to make right choices, even if you are criticized.
Many of us are fearful of what our
peers will say, that we will be looked upon with disdain and be criticized if
we stand for what is right, and be mocked. But I remind you, from the
scriptures, that wickedness was never happiness. The evil never was happiness;
sin never was happiness. Happiness lies in the power of love and the sweet
simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We know that the people of Sodom
and Gomorrah were destroyed by grievous sexual sins, but we may be unaware that
their refusal to discriminate against lesser sins also contributed to their
destruction. The Old Testament warns: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy
sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and
in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy.
“And they were haughty, and
committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.”
We also can be destroyed,
physically, spiritually—by committing small sins. I could have accepted a drink
of alcohol. Nobody would have known. A seemingly small sin, in reality, with
the other Air Force officers. But keeping the Word of Wisdom helped me avoid
larger temptations and sins, such as when I was later invited to accompany my
fellow officers to a bar located off base, not in the base. I chose a better
environment. I spent my free time with true friends, who helped me to be my
best. The gospel was the answer. Guidance from the Spirit was the source of my
strength, and obedience to the commandments was a confirmation of my faith in
Now, fifth and last: the
justification of being here at the LDS Business College is only to succeed, and
it will be as a result of your choice—of a right choice, because it is choosing
success instead of failure, which is another choice. Let me quote from an
article in Healthy magazine, from
John Anderson, the editor: “Success is a choice. Failure is optional.” We can
choose to succeed, and conversely, failure is a choice, a decision we make.
Success is optional—literally, an option for us to select. We can choose
failure or success. Think about this. This is your choice.
Do you know about the law of
attraction? We’re not talking about men and women; that’s a little bit
different. That law states that we eventually become what we want, what we
think about. We literally attract what we want and ponder—positive or negative.
“Clearly,” continues Anderson, “a first step towards positive change is the
desire to change. No desire, no change. And then the visualization of achieving
Just transform the word “change”
for “repentance,” and you also clearly understand this great gospel principle
and why Enoch had to preach repentance for his people to become of one heart
and one mind with the Lord. That brings true joy in comparison of pain if you
do not have the desire to make the right choices.
Anderson’s article ends with these
words: “Remember, it is impossible to fail unless we give up. Choose to
Personal experience again: The two
major choices that I made in my life that made a tremendous difference—the
first one was conversion, accepting the message of the Restoration from the
missionaries; accepting to make a choice to pray about it; accepting baptism,
the Gift of the Holy Ghost, priesthood, service, and callings.
The second most important choice
that I make is right here with me. She’s there. Next year we will celebrate 50
years of being together. I made that choice when I became a member of the
Church. I had not the right kind of example in my family. My parents divorced,
with tremendous consequences for my brothers and sisters. I was the oldest.
When that happened, I made a decision. And the decision was, “This is never
going to happen to me.” And the choice was given, and the choice was in front
of me within the Church—eternal marriage, and sealing in the temple.
For the last almost 50 years
together, when we first met and we started to date, we made a choice. And the
choice was, we will always put God first in our lives. And that makes a
difference. Joy and happiness for 50 years. It’s a long record, but it’s a good
one. I wanted to share it with you.
I conclude with a quote from Elder
Faust, a member of the First Presidency, which will summarize the message of
today. He said, “As we look into the future, we are going to need to be
stronger and more responsible for our choices in a world where people ‘call
evil good, and good evil.’ We do not choose wisely if we use our agency in
opposition to God’s will or to priesthood counsel. Tomorrow’s blessings and
opportunities depend on the choices we make today.” (“Choices,” May 2004 Liahona, pp. 51-54)
What do we need to remember? Very
simply, the choices we make today to follow Jesus Christ will help us draw,
tomorrow, closer to Him. Let us choose liberty, happiness and eternal life. And
as the prophet Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” And you
know the rest of the sentence. He said, “For me and my family, we will choose
to serve God.” (See Joshua 24:15)
I testify to you, that as we seek
personal revelation, that spiritual foundation of God and His Son, Jesus
Christ, keep our eye on the Lord’s anointed—prophets, seers, and
revelators—hold fast to righteous standards, and strive to make a difference
through our example and influence, we will find joy in this life and the next
As a special witness of Christ, I
testify of Him as our Savior, our Redeemer. Of the existence of God, and a
modern prophet today, President Thomas Monson, let us hearken to the words of
the Lord. There is revelation today. And let us commit—not just to hearken or
listen—but to obey the commandments. We have them. Let us obey, let us be diligent,
in order to be blessed, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.