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Gifts of the Spirit: Special ones for these Last Days

Ive come to believe there are certain gifts of the spirit we must
earnestly seek after, and attain, which are imperative to living in
the fullness of times. Just as there is a fulness of light, the forces
and strength of dark are becoming both stronger and more
pervasive. We will yet experience a fullness of darkness.

Elder Neil L. Andersen gave an especially powerful promise at


Education Week a couple of years ago and some of the words I
heard have stayed with me in a really powerful way. I wanted to
share them with you:

As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual


power for the righteous. As the world slides from its spiritual
moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him,
offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and
greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling.
The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the
emerging twilight.

To understand better, think of these comparisons: If the world


were growing more physically dark, He could give us enhanced
night vision. If loud noises were constantly in our ears, He could
give us a filtering mechanism to block the unwanted sound. My
brothers and sisters, as evil increases in the world, there is a
compensatory power, an additional spiritual endowment, a
revelatory gift for the righteous.

The Lord has long anticipated this most important period of


human history. He knows the end from the beginning. The Savior
has assured us in our day, Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for
I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you. (End Quote.)

Those are not just empty promises, but real and meaningful. The
Lord is willing to stand by us, and we will know of His presence in
our lives to the extent that we are able to attune ourselves to feel
it and worthy to receive it.

The first of these spiritual gifts we must have and which the Lord
is most anxious to bestow is the gift of discernment. James E.
Talmage doesnt mince any words on the subject:

Oh, that we all had the power of discernment. That is a gift of the
Spirit, to which we are entitled and we will have it as we live for it.
With that gift we shall be free, to a great extent, from the
deception that otherwise might lead us astray. As the Lord gives
revelations, so does Satan, each in his way. As the Lord has
revelators upon the earth, so has Satan, and he is operating upon
those men by his power, and they are receiving revelations,
manifestations, that are just as truly of the devil as was his
manifestation to Moses. We need the power of discernment. We
need the inspiration of the Lord, that we may know the spirits
with whom we have to deal, and recognize those who are
speaking and acting under the influence of heaven, and those
who are the emissaries of hell.

Our Lords words on this subject are equally plain, and equally
powerful. In John chapter 4, verse 1, He warns, "Behold, believe
not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of
God: because many false prophets are gone out into the
world." Theres that wording: false prophets. We hear it a lot.
Prophets speak boldly, powerfully, directly and they move my
heart. I think false prophets can be powerful and direct -- and
they can move my heart, too. Even when I dont mean for it to
happen. A recent conference talk entitled Spiritual Whirlwinds
(Also by Elder Andersen, incidentally) puts it this way: More
concerning than the prophesied earthquakes and wars 3 are the
spiritual whirlwinds that can uproot you from your spiritual
foundations and land your spirit in places you never imagined
possible, sometimes with your barely noticing that you have been
moved.

In passing, Id like to reference Christs words about the last days.


He speaks of wolves in sheeps clothing, of tares growing up
amongst the wheat until it chokes it. The Lord has told us that
there are both wheat and tares in our church, and there will be
until the very end. We can learn to distinguish one from the other
inasmuch as we take the matter to the Lord, for, by their fruits ye
shall know them.
Closely connected to the gift to discern is the gift to decide.
Another gift which we must seek is the gift of deciding. The
creation, the fall, the atonement all parts of our earth life
experience have, at their core, one essential gift: the gift to
choose. The way these two are related is really expertly explained by
Elder McConkie: Where the Saints are concerned -- since they have
received the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost --
the Lord expects them to discern, not only between the righteous and
the wicked, but between false and true philosophies, educational
theories, sciences, political concepts, and social schemes.
Unfortunately, in many instances, even good men hearken to "the
tradition of their fathers" (D. & C. 93:39) and rely on the learning of the
world rather than the revelations of the Lord, so that they do not enjoy
the full play of the spirit of discernment.

But the gift of discernment is only as useful as our gift to act,


and to speak. Centuries ago, Dantes inferno recognized
Satans power to keep others from being brave enough to act
and speak in favor of God. Im not sure political correctness
was a thing in the 14th century, but apparently bravery and
cowardice knows no era. His poem has him asking Virgil, our
narrator,

And I my head oppressed by horror said:


Master; what is it that I hear? Who are those people so
defeated by their pain? And he to me: This miserable way is
taken by the sorry souls of those who lived without disgrace
and without praise. They now commingle with the coward
angels, the company of those who were not rebels nor faithful
to their God, but stood apart.

Never in the history of the earth have you and I and common men
everywhere had the capacity to speak as far and wide as we do today.
Scotts oldest sister and her husband wrote a blog post sharing gospel
principles from a perspective unique to their situation. They published
it, feeling exposed, vulnerable, and worried. To take their minds off
things, they went to see a show. While they were gone, it. Went. Viral.
and that next year they had TV appearances, speaking engagements,
and further writing opportunities. They bore their testimony, and it
was heard far and wide. When they came to visit us, we would go out
together and they were inevitably recognized. You could assume it was
a perfect happily ever after to being brave enough to share their
gospel truth. A story fit for the Ensign. But speaking their truth came
at a high cost at one point they had someone who appeared to be
both threatening and possibly stalking. Voices online harassed,
judged, and condemned them both. They called them and their lives a
lie. His sister wept.
Speaking truth today in almost any and every capacity will come
with serious backlash. That may be one of the most obvious things
said over this pulpit. But as Neal A Maxwell said, Joshua didnt say
choose you next year whom you will serve; he spoke of this
day, while there is still daylight and before the darkness
becomes more and more normal. Elder Maxwell was right: the
world is increasing in darkness. If we do not practice taking a stand
now if we cannot speak our truth in our spheres today how will we
have the strength to do so when it is even harder? And if we cannot
take a stand, how can we fight on the Lords side?

Using our voice in these days is hard and one of Satans favorite tools
is to paralyze us with fear. Fear of getting it wrong, fear of offending
others, fear of ridicule and repercussions these things feel so real.
We see others around us who take a stand being taunted, and its
overwhelming. But this is a place where compensatory powers
promised to us the ones Elder Andersen was talking about this is
where God is anxious to bestow special gifts for those who will speak
His truths. As long as your heart is pure, you cannot disappoint Him.
And His blessings will flow unto you without you exerting the slightest
effort. They will come to you simply because you have been pure and
brave, and the laws of Heaven dictate that they must.
I testify that God has sent us here in these times to bring light
unto those in our spheres. We can bring clarity and understanding.
We may make mistakes from time to time we may have a little zeal
but not perfect understanding, and thats okay. We have the capacity
to learn to discern, decide, and to speak. I testify that God has greater
truths to reveal than each of us currently know and that He will reveal
further light to us as we demonstrate a capacity to act according to
what we know. I testify that Christ loves us, and that He died for us.
He will truly take things at our pace we only need be moving in the
right direction.