I want you to know that you are led by a man of God, as President Kusch said. It was about 25 years ago that I had the privilege of being an Elder's quorum president in that stake in California. I learned quite a bit about his great leadership then. Years later when he became a mission president, my nephew had the great privilege of serving under him. He grew quite a bit. I can testify that you are led by a man of God. Speaking of mission presidents, my mission president and his wife from my time as a young missionary are here in the audience. They say you're called not only to serve in a certain place, but you're called to serve under a certain mission president. I know in my case that that's right. Much of what I've become in my life I owe to that great man.
I have two goals today: to help you realize that you are indeed receiving revelations on a constant basis, and 2) to have you be committed to act on the revelation you do receive immediately.
Joseph Smith said, “The Holy Ghost is a revelator. No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations.” Now, I know some of you are saying, “Well, what does that say about me? I have never had a revelation!” I want to you you are wrong. You are indeed.
President Kusch said that I had served as a mission president over Brazil São Paulo Interlagos Mission. When I got there, I told the missionaries the importance of following the promptings of the Spirit. I had a number of missionaries come set up appointments to see me. They said with tears in their eyes, “President…I don’t think I have ever had a prompting from the Spirit.” It hit me that it was my responsibility to help these wonderful young, worthy elders and sisters understand how the Spirit works. I want to share with you today some of the things that I shared with them.
Of course, God can talk to us any way that he wants. He can appear to us, he can send an angel, he can make us hear a voice. But, we learn from Alma 37:6, that the Lord works by small and simple means. So, God will usually work in the simplest way possible when he's going to talk to us.
So, in order to understand how this works, we have to remember that the Holy Ghost is a spirit. And, when he talks to us, it is one spirit (the Holy Ghost) talking to our spirit. The problem is we've have been in these earthly tabernacles, these physical bodies for so long that we get a little bit confused and we don’t really relate to things as we should. So, we need to understand it in a PHYSICAL way - the spiritual event, the spiritual communication. In a physical way it appears to us like a positive thought that will just pop into our heads………..BING!! And that is revelation. That's the Holy Ghost talking to us.
The problem is is that we take credit for it. We think it's our thought as a result we don't usually act on it. Let me give you an example:
You're playing a computer game or you are in Pinterest or you're watching TV, whatever it is, and all of a sudden you have a thought pop into your head (BING!!) to call so-and-so. Now so-and-so is a friend of yours who you haven’t seen in five years, you haven't even thought about in two years. But, all of the sudden while you're doing this one thing (BING!), I need to call so-and-so. But you think it's your thought so, you say, “I will. I will when I am done doing this.” Then, when you're done with it, you have already forgotten about it and you never call. And you don’t feel badly about it because you figure it was just your idea.
Does it make sense that you, that while out of the blue, you would be thinking about this person that you haven’t thought about in years, while you were doing something else? No, the Holy Ghost knew that that person need to hear from you right then. And that's why you had that thought.
Now, when I would tell this and teach it to my missionaries, some of them would say, "Now, President, that makes sense, but how can I tell the difference between the Holy Ghost prompting me and when it's just my own thought?" I said, "Elders and Sisters. It just doesn't matter. Do it. Just act on it. And they would say, "Now, what do you mean?" Now let's think about it for a second. It it really was your idea, and it probably wasn't - most often it will be the Holy Ghost - if it really was your idea to do this positive thing and you do it, will God be mad? Of course not. However, if it was a prompting from the Holy Ghost and you don't do it, you risk losing His confidence in you and the next time he's going to have to prompt someone else.
I said that we're going to have a new rule in this mission. And then I stole this from a great man - who when he shared it with me, he was the President of the Sparks Nevada Stake. It goes like this: “Any positive thought to say or do something is a prompting from God until proven otherwise. Just act on it!” And that was our rule. We needed to act when those thoughts came.
And I thought them that it's kind of like every time we act on a promptings, it like we are tuning in on our Celestial Radio. So, the next time we act on it, it'll be a little clearer and easier to understand still. So, if they wanted to understand, the difference between the Holy Ghost and their own thoughts, they just needed to keep acting on it and it would tune in and get better each time.
Some of you are thinking, could this be true? Let's see what the scriptures and our living prophet have to say about this very thing:
D&C 6:15 – “…and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of Truth.”
D&C 6:23 – “Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”
D&C 8:2-3 – “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…”
D&C 11:13 – “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.”
Also, from President Russell M. Nelson in his first General Conference as President of the Church, he taught us about revelation. He said, “The privilege of receiving revelation is one of the greatest gifts of God to His children (NOTE: He did NOT say that it is one of the greatest gifts of God to his PROPHETS, but to His children….YOU AND ME!! And THEN, he goes on to tell us EXACTLY how to get revelation!! Do you want to know?? Here he goes…..) Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take (NOTE: He is saying to ACT ON YOUR BINGS!!) And then he said, "As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will “grow into the principle of revelation.” Who would know better than what revelation is than our prophet?
If you think about what he's saying it's that if you act on a prompting, you're tuning into your celestial radio and each time it will get clearer and clearer. Now, of course, with him it's ultra clear. Some of you have heard that he keeps a pen and a notepad at the side of his bed every night. Why? Because he gets those BINGS in the middle of the night. We need to act on these things.
Elder Rasband, in an April 2017 General Conference, quoted Joseph Smith. "Now if the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that if you listen to the first promptings, you will get it right 99% of the time." Almost always is the Holy Ghost speaking to you. We need to act on those things.
Now, one thing that we need to remember is that the adversary is also a spirit. And as such, he talks to us in the very same way. We will get BINGS that will pop into our head from him.
Now one of the things that's different between the adversary and the Holy Ghost, is that the Holy Ghost wants us to recognize that those promptings are from God. The adversary, on the other hand, he wants us to think that both his promptings AND the promptings from the Holy Ghost are our own thoughts! He wants us to believe that.
There are four important things to know about the promptings from the adversary. This is really important to remember each of these four things:
First: IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU'RE A BAD PERSON IF YOU'RE GETTING PROMPTINGS FROM THE ADVERSARY: You'd be a fool to think that if you got a prompting from the adversary. What happened to Joseph Smith when he went into the grove of trees to pray? He was overcome by the adversary - almost to the point where he gave up. And our Savior, after forty days and forty nights of fasting, do you remember what happened? The adversary appeared and tried to tempt him. So, no. If the adversary tempts you it doesn't mean you're a bad person. In fact, it probably means just the opposite. It means that you're great, and he's trying to knock you off your mark.
What he's doing also, the next thing: HE IS USUALLY THE 2nd VOICE: Now of course, the adversary can often be the first voice. He's always trying to talk us into doing something bad. It's easy to recognize the adversary. But when he is the second voice, that's dangerous. Because oftentimes we think it's our own thought. The first voice is usually from the Holy Ghost, but, the second voice is right on His heels because he needs to try and talk us into doing what he just told us to do.
Also: HE USES LOGIC: He is so good at that. He is really good at using logic. I could write a book this thick on all the times I was fooled by that second voice until I finally understood this principle. Because his logic makes so much sense. Now, God doesn't need logic. God knows what's right, so he doesn't need logic. How much sense does it make to build an ark on dry ground? How much sense did it make for David to think that he could go fight Goliath? Or Moses that by raising his rod, that by doing so the Israelites would cross the sea on dry ground? No, God doesn't need logic. What he needs are sons and daughters who will have faith to act on His promptings.
Finally, possibly the most dangerous of all: THE ADVERSARY OFTENTIMES WILL SPEAK TO US IN THE FIRST PERSON: He will say things like, “Nobody likes me," “I'm ugly,” “I'm stupid,” “I don't feel like praying,” “I don't get anything out of my scripture reading” or “I don’t want to live anymore.” He will say it over and over and over, talking in the first person, hoping that you will take ownership on that thought and begin acting accordingly. You need to understand that this is not you. That when those negative thoughts come into your head, that is a prompting, a BING, from the adversary that is hoping you will believe it's your thought. We need to recognize these and kick these thoughts out.
I'd like to give a couple of examples of acting on the adversary. This could happen to anyone: a husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, brother and sister. I'll just use a husband and wife in this case. They had just had a rather heated discussion, and the wife, saying that she didn't want to add to that bad spirit, got up and left. The husband (“BING!”), “I should apologize.” Right afterwards (“BING!”), “No, why should I? She started it!” Which one does he listen to?
Or one that happens to us all of the time. This has happened to everyone here. You have a friend over who (“BING!”), it's a non-member friend, ("BING!"), “I should invite him to our ward activity this Friday night.” (“BING!”), “No. If I do, he's going to think I have only been pretending to be his friend so I can convert him. I’d better not do that. I'll ruin our friendship! Ok, I won't.” This happens all of the time. I've lived in California, Wyoming, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nevada - a lot of places where the church isn't very strong. I've never come across anyone in another church that's had fear to invite someone else to their church. They invite and if someone says "no" they go, "ok." Why is it that we have that fear? Because of the second voice. You need to recognize it.
So, in reviewing really quickly, the four things that are important to remember about the adversary's promptings:
- It doesn’t mean you are bad
- He is usually the second voice
- He uses logic
- He oftentimes speaks in the first person
Brothers and sisters, it is VERY important that we work to become expert at recognizing the promptings of the adversary so we can kick them out and never act on them.
Now I want to return to talking about the FIRST VOICE:
In Brazil, my missionaries would say, "President, I'm not sure about this. I thought I was acting on a prompting, but it was just my own thought.” I would say, "Well, Elder what do you mean?" “I was walking by and I thought that we should stop by and clap at this house.” Now, in Brazil we don't ring doorbells and knock, we clap to have permission to come onto the property. And so he said, "I felt impressed to clap at this house, so we clapped and nobody answered, or they answered but they were really rude. I said, "Elders, it doesn’t work out that way." It's not always going to work out the way that you want. You can't say it didn't work out. You can say that it didn't work out the way you thought. Abinadi was prompted, he was told to go and give that great speech to King Noah, and he did. A lot of people could say, "Well, that didn't work out." Was that a surprise to God? No, it worked out exactly like God knew it would. But, he still needed that message to be sent. So, just because it doesn't happen - I told them, I said, "It's not like Paul Harvey. You don't always get to know the rest of the story." And that was when I found out that 18 and 19 year olds have no idea who Paul Harvey is, so it was a wasted analogy - and may be on some of you as well. You don't get to know how it ends, you just have to trust that it's what God wanted. They still have their agency, but we still need to do what God wants. So, if it doesn't work out like we thought it would, we shrug our shoulders and move on and smile.
I finally had an experience that I could prove to our missionaries about this. I was interviewing a woman for baptism. I said, "How did you get to know these missionaries?" She said, “I love these missionaries, but they're not the reason that I am getting baptized.” I said, "Well, why are you getting baptized?" She said, “A few months ago, I was saying a prayer - well, I can't really say I was saying a prayer - I was yelling at God. And I said, "God I don't think you really exist, if you do, prove it to me. Send me your angels." Then I heard a clap at the door. I went to the door and peeked out, and it was two of your missionaries! I said, "No way! I am not answering the door." They finally left after they clapped for a while. Then I had this thought that came into my mind (she didn’t know it, but it was a “BING!”) that seemed to say, “Those were my angels!” Then I said, "No. It couldn't be. There's no way He could have even answered my prayer that fast. Because I just barely said it and all of the sudden they're there at my door." Then there was a second BING that came to her. For months it haunted her. She said that finally, about three months later… two weeks before my interview with her... she said two missionaries were walking down the street – the two that are going to baptize me now – they were walking on the other side of the street coming towards me. I crossed the street and stopped them and before I could say anything I started crying and I finally said, ‘What do I need to do to join your church?’
I told my missionaries. I said, "I don't know which one of you felt prompted to clap at that door. When nobody answered and they said, "Well, I guess this it was just my own thought.” We can't think that way. We need to trust that we did what God wanted, and know that even if we didn't get to hear the rest of the story here, we did what he wanted and blessings will happen.
Another message that I taught our missionaries is that even when it doesn't make sense, we need to act on it. It's really important to act on it - even when it doesn't.
Sister Gunnerson, a wonderful sister missionary in our mission, was on her way to an appointment one day, and she had a thought that popped into her head (BING!!), “We need to go see Kelvin”. Kelvin was a young teenager that they were helping try to reactivate. But then she gets another thought (BING!), "No, Kelvin's at school, and we have this appointment that's already set on the other side of the area. We've got to go there.” But, then she remembered what President Dalton had told her to act on the first prompting and don't listen to the second prompting - even when it didn’t make sense. So, she told her companion, “We've got to go see Kelvin.” Her companion said, “Kelvin's at school right now, and we've got this appointment on the other side of the area.” She said, "We're going to see Kelvin." They clapped and Kelvin’s mom answered the door. They said, "Is Kelvin here?" "No, he's at school." Sister Gunnerson’s companion said what any good companion would say…“Told ya so.” But, Sister Gunnerson KNEW why she was there. She turned around and saw a 4 year old boy out there on the curb. She went up to that 4 year old boy and she said, “Do you know a family we could take to our church?” The boy pointed to a house just a few doors down from Kelvin's. She said, “What’s their name? Do you know them?” She went to that house and clapped. It was a little more than three weeks later that they baptized the woman that answered her door, her husband and their two children.
Sister Gunnerson said, “President Dalton, thank you for teaching me to act on that first prompting, even when it doesn’t make sense. Because you see, God KNEW that she needed us in her home right then. But, He also knew that we had no idea where she lived. So, He told us to go to Kelvin’s house and he would do the rest.” Brothers and sisters, we need to act - even when it doesn't make sense.
Elder Rasband, in that same talk in general conference said, “We must be confident in our first promptings. Sometimes, we rationalize; we wonder if we are feeling a spiritual impression or if it is just our own thoughts. When we begin to second-guess, even third-guess, our feelings – and we all have – we are dismissing the Spirit; we are questioning divine counsel. First promptings are pure inspiration from heaven. When they confirm or testify to us, we need to recognize them for what they are and never let them slip past. So often, it is the Spirit inspiring us to reach out to someone in need, family and friends in particular.”
Now, these stories are not in the sole custody of missionaries. These things can happen to all of us, all of the time. I'd like to end with a story from a person from all of the people who I've known personally in my life, who's closest to God. She's passed away. It's my mom.
She shared this story with us one time in a Family Home Evening. Now, my mom would always start her days in her morning prayers saying, "God, trust me with at least one prompting that day." And I PROMISED Him that I would act on it IMMEDIATELY. Well, one day in a Family Home Evening she shared with us a story. It happened years earlier, and she didn't share with us the name of the person. It went like this. She said that she was folding laundry (now, my mom was always folding laundry) - I'm No. 9 out of 11 kids - so she was always doing the laundry. She was doing the laundry, and all of the sudden she had this (BING!!). I need to call so-and-so. So, stopped what she was doing and she went to make the call and the call went like this:
Other Woman: “Hello” (in a mean, irritated voice)
My Mom: “Hi! This is Sister Dalton. How are you doing?”
Other Woman: (in that same mean voice) “Fine.”
My Mom: “I just felt that I should...”
Other Woman: “Okay” (in that same rude voice)
My Mom: “Is there anything I can do for you?”
Other Woman: “No. Bye!” (in a mean voice – and hangs up on my mom).
My mom shrugged her shoulders and smiled. She knew she did what God wanted and went back to the laundry. Three days later, a knock came to our door. My mom answered the door. “Why did you call me?” “Well, I just felt that...” “No. I have to know. Why did you call me three days ago when you did?” My mom said, “Come in and I'll tell you.” She came in and sat down and said, “I was doing the laundry and of a sudden I had the strongest impression that I needed to call you." The woman started to crying uncontrollably. When she finally came to, she said, “Let me tell YOU why you called me!! For months, I had been falling into a deeper and deeper state of depression. I hadn't shared it with anybody. Three days ago, I decided that I was going to end my life. I got on my knees and said a prayer to God and said that unless a miracle happens, tonight my sweet husband's coming home to a dead wife. I was in the very act of doing so, when the phone rang. Without thinking, I grabbed it. And then after I grabbed it, I said, “Why did I answer the phone?” And that's why I was so rude to you and I am sorry that I was. But, as soon as I hung up the phone with you, this thought popped into my head, “That was your miracle.” 'No, it's just a coincidence.' But for three days, I kept getting that thought. 'That was your miracle. Ask her. That was your miracle. Go ask her.' So, I had to ask you, and now I know that you Sister Dalton were my miracle. Thank you for acting on a prompting. You saved my life.
And then my mom said, and this has stuck with me forever, “What would have happened had I said, ‘I will call her. AFTER I finish doing the laundry?” Brothers and sisters, we have to act on these promptings, and we have to act on them immediately. I don't want you thinking that we should test God by saying we're going to do something stupid unless a miracle happens. That's not what I'm trying to teach you. Because there will be people that won't act on their promptings - you can count on that. But I am asking you to act on your promptings.
In conclusion, President Spencer W. Kimball said, “God does notice us, and He watches over us. But, it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.”
The question is, "Do you want to be part of that army?" Some of you have been thinking about some BINGS that you've missed in your life. Now you're recognizing them for the first time. Don't worry about that. Worry about going forward. Commit now that you're going to act on the BINGS. Some of you had some BINGS during this talk. Act on those BINGS. That's revelation you're receiving.
I challenge you to in your morning prayers each day to ask God to trust you with a prompting today, and I promise I'll act on it.
I testify that this is God's work. And that He needs more people to join His army that are seeking for promptings and are willing to act on them the minute they come. And if you do that you will change lives for eternity. And every so often, you'll even get to know the rest of the story.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.