Knowing the Will of God

Would you like to know God’s will for your life?

Is this the right job for me?
Where should I live?
Who should I marry?
Should we have a child now?
Should we buy this house? This car?

You’ve probably asked yourself questions like these and felt a great deal of uncertainty in your decisions. If only you could know the will of God. That knowledge would help when you encountered difficulties in your career or marriage. Knowing your spouse was God’s choice for you would certainly help navigate through the difficult times. Should you stay with your job when tensions rise between your boss or coworkers? (If I stick it out, will I be blessed?) Only God knows, but how can you be certain that the answers to your prayers are from God and not from some other source?

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
(John 14:27)

What greater peace could someone have than knowing God’s will for their life, knowing that he is watching over them and guiding them on the path which will be most beneficial to them?

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
(Matthew 7:24-25)

What is this rock that Jesus speaks of?

“[Jesus] saith unto [his disciples], But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
(Matthew 16:15-18)

Jesus mentions a rock only a few times in scripture, so it would seem safe to link these two scriptures and discover a deeper meaning. The rock he likely speaks of is the rock of revelation. It is this rock that we need to build our houses on if we are to have the peace God wants us to have in our lives.

So how do we know when it is God who is speaking?

“Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God!”
(2 Nephi 27:14)

“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
(Amos 3:7)

From these verses we can see that God reveals his mind and will through his prophets. We can also see that God oftentimes provides multiple witnesses to give us more certainly about his will. What better witness could one ask for than the revelation of God through one of his prophets? So how do you find one of these prophets?

“And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!”
(Numbers 11:27-29)

This is the key! Find a man with the Holy Spirit and you have found a prophet. Ask him to pray to God concerning your situation and you will receive another witness of the direction you should go in life. For your own personal witnesses, you also need to make sure you have the Holy Spirit when you receive answers to your prayers. If the witnesses agree then follow the guidance you’ve received from God. In this way you can know with certainly that you are pleasing God and you will be blessed with the peace that comes with this knowledge.

Related article: “Do You Have the Holy Spirit?


The Fading Zeal for Zion

Being the curious sort that I am, I gathered the number of full-time missionaries per year back to 1977 from the Statistical Reports in the Ensign magazine and made up a simple chart to more easily digest the data.

Full Time LDS Missionaries 1977-2010

Full Time LDS Missionaries 1977-2010

The first thing that really jumped out at me was the sudden drop off between 2002 to 2004. Equally alarming is the basic flat-line that has continued up until today. Now certainly there were dips in the chart before this (one from 1981 to 1982 and another from 1993 to 1994), but none of them was as dramatic and they both rebounded back to the general upwards trend the very next year.

This next chart is even more depressing than the last one. It tracks the number of converts each year. The high point was in 1990 and then it pretty much flat-lined (although some might argue that it’s on a slight downward trend). This is understandable given the growing disinterest in religion in our secular age.

LDS Converts 1977-2010

LDS Converts 1977-2010

And now the good news. Yes, the Church is still growing!

LDS Child Baptisms 1977-2010

LDS Child Baptisms 1977-2010

No this chart isn’t a membership chart. It records the number of children baptized per year. There have been two major jumps in this number. One starting in 2001 and the other in 2007. However, you’ll notice that while the number of converts is hovering around 275,000/year, the number of children baptized is only around 120,000/year. The question is, “Will the number of children baptized per year continue to increase to offset the losses in the mission field?” Only time will tell.

Do You Have the Holy Spirit?

The Dove of Peace

It’s pretty much useless to read the scriptures unless you read them with the same spirit that inspired the authors to write them, namely the Holy Spirit. As a follower of Christ, it should be the goal of every Christian to have the Holy Spirit with them always. This is impossible to do unless you know how to tell if you have the Spirit. So how do you know? The easiest indicator is your feelings. Are you happy? Are you at peace?

“And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.”
(Mosiah 4:3)

If you are feeling anxious or angry or any other negative emotion, you most likely have lost the Spirit. So, how do you get it back?

“And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.”
(3 Nephi 9:20)

Having our hearts broken is the natural consequence of losing something we desire. This is what happened to the poor people who Alma met that were “cast out of the synagogues because of the coarseness of their apparel.” (Alma 32:2) Alma said something rather interesting to this group of people:

“And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.  And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?”
(Alma 32:13-15)

Here we see that it is possible to humble ourselves without being “compelled.” Alma tells us that those who do so are “more blessed” than those who don’t. Why do you suppose this is? Alma’s words seem fairly stern to a group of people who had lost everything. They were poor and destitute of wealth and had just lost the last thing that they loved: their place in the house of worship. While it’s obvious that Alma had sympathy on these people, he also let them know that if they had humbled themselves earlier, they would have been better off in the long run. The Christian writer C.S. Lewis put it this way:

“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”

So why do we often wait to repent when we know that the sooner we turn to righteousness, the sooner God can bless us? If God is not blessing us, do we take our sorrows to him? And are we willing to accept the solution he offers, even if it doesn’t make sense? This is what it means to have a contrite spirit. It means you realize that you made a mistake and you’re willing to ask God what you should do to change. But not only do you ask him how you should change, but you actually attempt to change or repent.

If we have this humble attitude towards God, the Spirit will draw close to us and we will feel the peace and joy it brings. If we make a habit of running to the Lord when we’re feeling out of sorts and then implementing the changes he inspires us to make, the Spirit will attend to us more and more until at last we become holy as our Father in Heaven is holy.