Brother Kimber married Shanna DeGraw in the Jordan River Temple on March 12, 2005, and they are the parents of six children – four girls and two boys – ranging in ages from fifteen down to four. Brother Kimber currently resides in Clinton, Utah where he serves as the stake clerk. Previous Church callings include: ward missionary, ward clerk, Elders Quorum counselor, Sunday School president, bishopric counselor, and Primary teacher.
We have just been favored with a beautiful rendition of a sacred restoration hymns and I couldn’t help but picture you in my mind’s eye as those future leaders who will bear off the kingdom triumphantly as we prepare the world for the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ. And I am confident that when Abraham had his vision of the many noble and great ones that would come to the earth your faces would have been among those that he would have seen.
My dear friends, I want to begin today by thanking you for your devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your participation in this devotional today is a sign of your sincere desire to exercise faith in Christ and become more like Him. You are to be commended for your sacrifice, however small or great it may be. Thank you for your good example.
I wonder if I might impose upon you a request to make yet another sacrifice this morning. Over the past few weeks I have prayerfully considered these remarks with the desire to somehow assist you in your lifelong pursuit of becoming a true follower of Jesus Christ. So, if you are willing, I would like to recommend that you now offer a prayer in your heart, that all of us may be edified and uniquely instructed by the power of the Holy Ghost. For by the power of Holy Ghost we may know all things what we should do. Will you please do that for us? Thank you so much.
As disciples of Jesus Christ we have come to know Him by many titles: The Great Jehovah, the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Holy One, the Lamb of God, the Good Shepherd, the Atoning One, the Prince of Peace, to name just a few. The various name-titles of Jesus Christ which have so endeared us to Him speak to the many important roles Christ plays in our lives.
In most cases, these revered titles given to Jesus Christ are held by Him alone. Indeed, Christ stands alone as the Only Begotten of the Father, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. However, there are a few titles given to both the exalted Son of God and the lowly sons of men. One such title is that of prophet. We don’t often refer to Jesus as a prophet, but He was most assuredly a prophet in every way. In fact, the saints of His day often referred to Him as the Prophet.
As the Prophet of His dispensation, Christ both exemplified and reaffirmed specific patterns indicative of all prophets in every era. These prophetic patterns can be observed in the ministry of every prophet since the first man, Adam, down to the time of Christ in the meridian of time, and up to the living prophet on the earth today, President Russell M. Nelson. Prophetic patterns can be relied upon, much like the consistent rising and setting of the sun, as time-tested truths bearing witness to all of a prophet’s sacred commission and divine authority. Today I wish to discuss four critical prophetic patterns. By understanding these prophetic patterns and applying them to our lives, we will become more capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ.
Prophetic Pattern #1: The prophet always leads us toward Jesus Christ.
As we consistently follow prophetic counsel, we will always be drawn closer to the Savior. We can have absolute confidence that when we stand with the prophet, we stand with the Lord. Around 600 years before the birth of Christ, the Prophet Lehi had a spectacular vision of the tree of life. In relaying this vision to his family, Lehi recounts: “And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.” Please note that Lehi, the Lord’s prophet, was standing next to the tree – a symbol of Jesus Christ – as he observed the countless people in his vision. Lehi further states that as he beheld his wife, Sariah, and his sons Sam and Nephi, they appeared “...as if they knew not whither they should go.” It wasn’t until Sariah, Sam and Nephi heard Lehi beckoning voice of Lehi unto them that they commenced in the path which led to where Lehi and the tree were. As Lehi’s family and others made their way toward the voice of the prophet, they subsequently found themselves standing at the tree of life, partaking of a fruit “...which was desirable above all other fruit.” Conversely, those who walked toward the voices of the world, or simply ignored the prophet’s beckoning, found themselves lost in strange roads and ultimately cast out from the presence of the Lord. We can trust that not only will the prophet lead us to Jesus Christ, he will also never lead us astray.
You are most likely familiar with President Wilford Woodruff’s emphatic statement in this regard: “I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would remove me from out of my place.” I bear my personal witness of the truthfulness of this principle. It has ever been true. The prophet always leads us toward Jesus Christ.
Prophetic Pattern #2: The prophet represents Jesus Christ to the world.
Just as Jesus represents His Father to all people, the prophet, in turn, represents Jesus Christ to the world. This means that the prophet has both the authority and responsibility to reveal the mind and will of the Lord to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. In doing so, the prophet does not attempt to appease the will of the people. He must deliver the Lord’s intended message, regardless of personal preferences, political views, social standards, or cultural norms.
On this topic, President Ezra Taft Benson has taught: “As a prophet reveals the truth it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words, but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him. When the prophet points out the sins of the world, the worldly either want to close the mouth of the prophet, or else act as if the prophet didn’t exist, rather than repent of their sins. Popularity is never a test of truth. Many a prophet has been killed or cast out. As we come closer to the Lord’s second coming, you can expect that as the people of the world become more wicked, the prophet will be less popular with them.”
It is inevitable that worldly voices of scoffing and scorn will grow more numerous and more boisterous, for we certainly live in a day where many “...call evil good, and good evil.” And while individuals are free to reject the prophet’s counsel if they so choose, they are not free to negate the consequences of doing so. And there will be consequences!
You’ll recall the account of the ancient Israelites and the brazen serpent. The children of Israel had not been as faithful as they should have been, and the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people as a means of humbling them. But, according to the prophetic pattern, the Lord instructed his representative, Moses, on how to spare the Israelites from the effects of the fiery serpents. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” In other words, to be saved from the venomous bite of a fiery serpent, the inflicted Israelite simply had to look upon a brass serpent that had been raised up on the end of a pole. Many died because they refused to hearken to prophetic counsel – a simple, yet crucial invitation to look and live. My dear friends, following the living prophet is just as critical for us today as it was for those ancient Israelites. There is always safety in following prophetic counsel.
Now, there are those who might suggest that a prophet’s counsel does not constitute a commandment. This is a dangerous proposition. Speaking to the general membership of the Church, the Lord said this of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “...thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me.” Let me reiterate that the Lord expects His saints give heed unto all of the prophet’s words and commandments. We would be wise to strive to live by every word which proceeds forth from the Lord’s authorized representative.
I appreciate the following counsel from President Harold B. Lee in this regard: “We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.’” I testify that there is a prophet in Israel today, and that he represents Jesus Christ to the world.
Prophetic Pattern #3: The prophet’s counsel is always timely and relevant.
The Lord needs living prophets to preside over His living Church. While the doctrine of Christ is eternal and unchanging, each era has unique challenges and circumstances, requiring unique counsel and warnings. President Ezra Taft Benson gives us the following insight to this prophetic pattern: “God’s revelations to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore, the most important prophet, so far as you and I are concerned, is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us.”
Just think for a moment with me of the relevant and timely counsel given to us through our current prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. Priesthood quorums have been restructured, combining high priests and elders into one elders’ quorum. The need to use the proper name of the Church has been reemphasized in meaningful and lasting ways. Significant emphasis has been placed on home-centered, Church-supported gospel teaching and learning. The Seminary curriculum has been aligned with “Come, Follow Me.” Women, youth and children can now serve as witnesses of baptismal ordinances. Ward Young Men presidencies have been discontinued. The temple recommend questions have been revised. New Young Women and Young Men themes have been introduced. Several policy changes to the Church’s General Handbook have been made. A higher and holier way of ministering to one another has replaced home and visiting teaching. The Sunday meeting block has been adjusted. A new Children and Youth program has been introduced. And temples are being announced and built at a staggering pace. Do we need any further evidence that the Lord is hastening His work by revealing His will through a living prophet? What a blessing to be firsthand witnesses of such timely and relevant prophetic revelations.
Allow me to share a brief personal experience to further illustrate the need for us to receive continuing revelation through the Lord’s prophet. During my high school years, my father and I went on many backpacking trips together. On one such trip, as we were driving to our destination, we came upon a section of road that was undergoing major repairs. We were stopped by a flagger – a road crew worker with a stop sign – and instructed to wait. After waiting for a few minutes, a pickup truck drove out in front of us with an orange, metal sign on the tailgate which simply read, “Pilot car. Follow me.” We were then waived on by the flagger as he motioned for us to follow the pilot car. As we followed closely behind the pilot car we meandered back and forth across both sides of the road to avoid construction machinery, deep trenches, and damaged sections of the road. We eventually made our way through the construction zone, and safely continued on with our journey. This particular stretch of road would have been very dangerous to navigate without the help of the pilot car. You see, the driver of the pilot car was aware of the many dangers that we were not. I’m certain that there were dangers present that we did not perceive. But, by simply following the pilot car, we were led safely through what would otherwise have been a very treacherous road. And so it is with following the prophet. On the road of life, conditions are constantly changing. New potholes are formed. Different sections need to be torn up and repaired. Additional lanes need to be added. The driver of the pilot car, our beloved prophet, uses continuing revelation to warn us of impending dangers and to reveal the mind and will of the Lord for our day. The road that we travel as Latter-day Saints, the covenant path, has ever led to the same destination of eternal life. Yet, the passage of time brings new obstacles and challenges for each era of Christian commuters. Hence the need for continuing revelation through a living prophet. I bear my witness that the prophet’s counsel is always timely and relevant.
Prophetic Pattern #4: Personal revelation will always align with prophetic counsel.
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, personal revelation is a fundamental principle of our faith. Indeed, it is through personal revelation that we establish and grow our faith. President Russell M. Nelson has recently observed that, “The privilege of receiving revelation is one of the greatest gifts of God to His children.” He has also asserted that, “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost,” A valuable companion principle to personal revelation is contained in Doctrine and Covenants Section 132, where the Lord reaffirms that His house is a house of order, and not a house of confusion. When we understand that there is order to revelation, and that God cannot be the author of confusion, we are left to conclude that the Lord would never reveal something to an individual that would be contrary to what the prophet has revealed.
In the early days of the restoration, the Church membership faced confusion because they did not understand the order of revelation. Hiram Page, one of the eight witnesses of the Book of Mormon, believed he had been receiving revelations through the medium of a seer stone. Several saints, including Oliver Cowdrey, didn’t know whether to believe in the revelations of Hiram Page, or Joseph Smith. On September 26, 1830, the Lord revealed the following through His prophet: “And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him; For, behold, these things have not been appointed unto him, neither shall anything be appointed unto any of this church contrary to the church covenants. For all things must be done in order.” While Brother Page was deceived due to a lack of understanding about the order of revelation, others allow themselves to be deceived due to sin or disobedience.
President Dallin H. Oaks has taught: “Unfortunately, it is common for persons who are violating God’s commandments or disobedient to the counsel of their priesthood leaders to declare that God has revealed to them that they are excused from obeying some commandment or from following some counsel. Such persons may be receiving revelation or inspiration, but it is not from the source they suppose. The devil is the father of lies, and he is ever anxious to frustrate the work of God by his clever imitations.” Do not allow the adversary to deceive you in this way. I testify that personal revelation will always align with prophetic counsel.
I hope that these four prophetic patterns will serve to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. I hope that they will fortify you against the voices of the world, for there are many who would lead you away from Jesus Christ and His Church. Indeed, there are those who would say that we don’t need a prophet or organized religion to follow Jesus Christ. But not you! You have chosen to consistently follow prophetic counsel no matter what because you know that the prophet always leads us to Jesus Christ. There are those who would say that the prophet needs to get with the times, be more progressive, and adopt the ways of the world. But not you! You have chosen to consistently follow prophetic counsel no matter what because you know that the prophet represents Jesus Christ to the world. There are those who would say that the prophet is too old and too out of touch with reality. But not you! You have chosen to consistently follow prophetic counsel no matter what because you know that the prophet’s counsel is always timely and relevant. There are those who would tell you that commandments and prophetic counsel shouldn’t keep you from “being your authentic self” (which is today’s vernacular for justifying submission to the natural man). But not you! You have chosen to follow prophetic counsel no matter what because you know that personal revelation always aligns with prophetic counsel.
These prophetic patterns, taken collectively and woven together, form a tapestry of truth that will shield you from the scoffs and scorns of the world. I bear my solemn witness of their truthfulness. I declare my witness of Jesus Christ, that He lives, and that He reveals his mind and will through His servants, the prophets. I testify that President Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s prophet and mouthpiece on the earth today.
May you be blessed with spiritual and physical safety as you continue on your path of discipleship. May you be blessed with increased faith and capacity to take up the cross, and follow the Savior. I so pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.