Who knows what brings a certain idea to mind. Well, I don’t know what brought this one to my mind (my aging mind with only about a 2GB “hard drive” … no wonder I forget so much so quickly!). I decided I’d like to share something I put together 3 years ago. It’s a message about spirituality, and it was presented at the BYU Women’s Conference. The title they gave was: “Replenishing and Fortifying Our Spiritual Reserves.” The more I worked on what I wanted to share, the more I wanted to have this title: GOT OIL? IF you decide to read this, I think you’ll realize why I chose that title (I still like it a lot). (Note: If you didn’t already know it, I use a lot of “ALL CAPS” when I write things down. Perhaps I should use italics, or underline, or even bold … but my habit is CAPS.)
It’s been a wonderful experience to ponder on the theme of this year’s conference and the theme for this session: “REPLENISHING AND FORTIFYING OUR SPIRITUAL RESERVES.” I’ve thought so much about having a SPIRITUAL RESERVE. I’ve wondered what that means.
I have come to feel that it’s having “enough and to spare” of SPIRITUALITY. And WHAT IS SPIRITUALITY?
Years ago I had been invited to participate in a Sunday evening fireside. When I arrived, the woman who had invited me – the only one I knew in this area – hadn’t come yet, so I just sat at the back and waited. Two older sisters were sitting right in front of me, and in a loud whisper the one asked the other: “Who did you say is speaking?” The response went something like this:
“Her name is Mary Ellen Edmunds, and I hear she’s really SPIRITUAL….” Well… that got me thinking…. What did she mean? That I attend meetings regularly? I do. Keep all Ten Commandments? I hope so! Pay my Tithing? Yes. Did I have a GLOW about me? No.
I think SPIRITUALITY is a whole lot more than what someone may have thought. Simply stated, I think SPIRITUALITY is the DESIRE (and the increasing ABILITY) to SEEK, RECOGNIZE, and RESPOND to the SPIRIT – It’s doing what we need to do to have the SPIRIT – the GIFT of the HOLY GHOST – with us ALWAYS. Spirituality leads to Godliness, to holiness, to personal goodness, to a mighty change of heart – to a sweeter relationship with our Heavenly Father and our Savior (as well as with each other).
I love the way Alma speaks of SPIRITUAL REBIRTH as an AWAKENING. He tells us that with some, God “awakened” them, and that they “awoke unto God.” This awareness of God, and a sensitivity to what is sacred with the help of the Holy Ghost, is the essence of spirituality.
(See Nephi Jensen, “What Does It Mean to be Spiritual?” Nephi Jensen. Improvement Era 1940)
The guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, can sometimes lead us to life-saving actions – for ourselves as well as others – both temporally and spiritually.
A friend who avoids going to doctors had a strong prompting a few years ago to do just that; she’d been experiencing unusually strong dizzy spells. It was discovered that she had a life-threatening cerebral aneurysm. If she hadn’t responded to the prompting and received treatment – surgery – she may not be with us today.
Years ago a Primary chorister followed a strong prompting to visit a little girl who had stopped coming to Primary, mostly because she was the only one in her family who was participating in the Church in any way. The chorister told her she missed her. She said “We don’t have anyone to sing the high notes.” The little girl came back, and she never left again. Her life was changed for the good – and she eventually sang the high notes as a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!
SPIRITUAL GROWTH comes from SPIRITUAL SOURCES. Each time we respond to the Spirit – to PROMPTINGS from the HOLY GHOST – we increase our spirituality. We REPLENISH our SPIRITUAL RESERVE.
From the BIBLE DICTIONARY: (p. 704) The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to have, whenever one is worthy, the companionship of the Holy Ghost. More powerful than that which is available before baptism, it acts as a cleansing agent to purify a person and sanctify him from all sin. Thus it is often spoken of as “fire.”
ELDER BRUCE R. McCONKIE: Men are born into mortality with the talents and abilities acquired by obedience to law in their first estate. Above all talents – greater than any other capacities, chief among all endowments – stands the talent for spirituality. (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man, p.234)
If we think of spirituality as a TALENT … it likely means we can IMPROVE our ability to recognize and respond to the Spirit (rather than DEMONSTRATING how spiritual we are in a TALENT SHOW).
JACOB teaches: . . . Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal. (2 Nephi 9:39) And from the APOSTLE PAUL: …to be spiritually minded is LIFE and PEACE. (Romans 8:6) Part of what being “spiritually minded” means is to follow the Savior’s admonition to “look unto [HIM] in every thought…” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36)
ELDER DALLIN H. OAKS: The first of the Ten Commandments – “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3) – epitomizes the nature of spirituality. A SPIRITUAL PERSON HAS NO PRIORITIES AHEAD OF GOD. (Dallin H. Oaks, Pure in Heart, p.120)
Nothing comes before Him – there are NO priorities ahead of God. This can be a very helpful KEY to keep in mind as we strive to PRIORITIZE the many responsibilities we have in our busy lives.
PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON: We must put God in the forefront of everything else in our lives. … When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. (“The Great Commandment – Love the Lord,” Ensign, May 1988)
One thing that came to my mind as I pondered about having a SPIRITUAL RESERVE was the RESERVOIRS which hold in RESERVE the water we need. When we speak of the RESERVOIRS OF WATER, we worry when there is a DROUGHT. With our PERSONAL SPIRITUAL RESERVOIRS, we should worry even more when there is DOUBT. As PRESIDENT UCHTDORF taught, “Please, first doubt your doubts, before you doubt your faith.” (LDS Church News, Saturday, 05 October, 2013)
AVOID DROUGHT IN YOUR SPRITUAL RESERVOIR … AVOID DOUBT in your SPIRITUAL LIFE
Our personal SPIRITUAL RESERVE is compared to OIL in the SCRIPTURES. We’re familiar with the PARABLE about the 10 VIRGINS – FIVE had a “RESERVE” of OIL for their LAMPS, and FIVE did not. SO WHAT IS THE OIL? WHAT DOES IT REPRESENT? The OIL is the SPIRIT – it is the HOLY GHOST. It represents the depth and strength of our TESTIMONY of JESUS CHRIST – the “condition” of our SPIRITUAL RESERVE.
The five WISE VIRGINS had prepared themselves carefully for the coming of the BRIDEGROOM (JESUS CHRIST). They had filled their lamps with OIL to provide LIGHT (and maybe also some HEAT) – they had fortified their SPIRITUAL RESERVE with good works, love, obedience, with being true and faithful. In this parable, the Lord uses OIL to represent SPIRITUAL PREPARATION, something which CANNOT BE BORROWED AT THE LAST MINUTE.
PRESIDENT SPENCER W. KIMBALL I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ. . . . [The five who were foolish] had the saving, exalting gospel, but it had not been made the center of their lives. (Faith Precedes the Miracle, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972, pp. 253-54; see also Matt 25:1-13)
It’s HAPPIFYING to me to be with all of you and to know that you are wise women – you’re here because you have a desire to be TRUE and FAITHFUL. You have OIL… you have a SPIRITUAL RESERVE, and you “LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE!” THANK YOU!
PRESIDENT JAMES E. FAUST: … spirituality is like sunlight: it passes into the unclean and is not tainted. May our lives be such, that the spiritual within us may ascend up through the common . . ., the evil, and sanctify our souls. (James E. Faust, To Reach Even unto You, p.16)
ELDER DALLIN H. OAKS: We should seek after spiritual gifts. They can lead us to God. They can shield us from the power of the adversary. They can compensate for our inadequacies and repair our imperfections. (“Spiritual Gifts,” Ensign, September 1986)
We seek THE BEST GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT and use them in kindness and service to others.
PRESIDENT DAVID O. McKAY: The development of our spiritual nature should concern us most. Spirituality is the highest acquisition of the soul, the divine in man. (David O. McKay, Pathways to Happiness , p.377)
There are no limitations to our faith when we build it upon spirituality – when we add OIL to our LAMPS and our LIVES, ONE DROP AT A TIME. (Talk about essential oil!!)
HOW DO WE KEEP OIL IN OUR LAMPS – HOW CAN WE REPLENISH OUR SPIRITUAL RESERVES? By keeping the commandments of God. By living our religion with all our hearts.
WILFORD WOODRUFF: When we are laboring for the kingdom of God, we will have oil in our lamps, our light will shine and we will feel the testimony of the spirit of God. (See Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham, p.124) (JD 22:208, January 9, 1881).
Here are a few SUGGESTIONS as to how we might replenish and fortify our spiritual reserves – add oil to our lamps and to our extra supply of oil. As I share some ideas, I sincerely hope the Spirit will prompt you to choose even ONE THING which will make a difference in your life. As always, you’ll learn so much more from the SPIRIT – from the Holy Ghost – than you will from me. These ideas are not necessarily in any order (so – for YOU – the LAST may be FIRST!)
1- THINK DEEPLY – PONDER and MEDITATE more. These are significant, wonderful ways to increase spirituality. Find a time and a place where you can do this, even for short periods of time. Maybe it will be while you’re driving, or walking, folding laundry, rocking a baby, taking time for a longer-than-usual moments in just letting your mind be QUIET as you welcome promptings from the Holy Ghost. These can be REFINING experiences.
PRESIDENT DAVID O. McKAY: We pay too little attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion…. Meditation is the language of the soul. It is defined as ‘a form of private devotion, or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, continued reflection on some religious theme.’ Meditation is a form of prayer. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 29)
Often, meditating becomes a time when we can do more LISTENING, when we can give our Heavenly Father a chance to communicate with us through His Spirit. My personal times of meditation and pondering have brought me sweet spiritual experiences.
2- PRAY EARNESTLY – Do what you need to do to make your communication with your Heavenly Father matter more and be more enjoyable. Communicate honestly and often. There is a huge difference between “saying your prayers” and “communicating with your Heavenly Father” – COUNSELING with Him. (Which means we give Him a turn! – We allow Him to tell US what’s on HIS mind, not just the other way around). The most meaningful experiences with prayer happen when we allow the Spirit to help us know what to pray about. Prayer is the opportunity to turn to the spiritual things in life, and to discover a sweeter, deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father, the Savior, and the Holy Ghost.
3- SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES – Put these meaningful, wonderful thoughts and reminders into your heart OFTEN, and you will have OIL for your lamps – you will have the LIGHT you need in your life. Studying the scriptures increases our spirituality, and with that increased spirituality we can see our way more clearly to gain the inspiration from the Lord for our challenges and problems.
THE LAW OF THE FAST is a source of spiritual strength – Read ISAIAH CHAPTER 58 again to be reminded of some of the sweetest blessings in all of scripture! FEAST on the scriptures, and you’ll have PLENTY of things to think and ponder about.
4 – FOLLOW THE PROPHET – Most if not all of us had the opportunity (the blessing) to raise our hands to sustain President Thomas S. Monson as not just the PRESIDENT of the Church, but the current LIVING PROPHET. And we sustained him and 14 others as “Prophets, Seers, and Revelators.” What does it mean to SUSTAIN them?
ELDER DAVID B. HAIGHT: When we sustain the President of the Church by our uplifted hand, it not only signifies that we acknowledge before God that he is the rightful possessor of all the priesthood keys; it also means that we covenant with God that we will abide by the direction and the counsel that come through His prophet. It is a solemn covenant. (Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 17; Ensign, Nov. 1994, 14–15).
If you want an incredible resource for things to PONDER . . . go to the talks from these 15 and other speakers at the recent General Conference. This is an opportunity for great spiritual refreshment and renewal.
PRESIDENT MARION G. ROMNEY: (After a General Conference) We have heard enough truth and direction in this conference to bring us into the presence of God if we would follow it. We have been taken on to the spiritual mountain and shown visions of great glory. (Conference Report, Apr. 1954, 132–33).
PRESIDENT HOWARD W. HUNTER: Our modern-day prophets have encouraged us to make the reading of the conference editions of our Church magazines an important and regular part of our personal study. Thus, general conference becomes, in a sense, a supplement to or an extension of the Doctrine and Covenants. (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 212)
5- EXPRESS GRATITUDE OFTEN! – Being thankful (and expressing thanks) is a healthy thing to do. PSALM 92:1 – It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.
PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON: The Prophet Joseph said at one time that one of the greatest sins of which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty is the sin of ingratitude. I presume most of us have not thought of that as a great sin. . . . sometimes I feel we need to devote more of our prayers to expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings already received. We enjoy so much. (God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], p. 199.)
PRESIDENT MARION G. ROMNEY: It is perfectly evident from [Doctrine and Covenants 59:7] that to thank the Lord in all things is not merely a courtesy. It is a commandment as binding upon us as any other commandment. (Marion G. Romney, Area Conference Report, San Jose, 1977:12)
6- COME TO THE TEMPLE! – This can be like jumping in a reservoir full of water… except that it’s a reservoir of SPIRITUALITY. Even if we can just be on the GROUNDS of a Temple, or sit in the foyer for a little while – get your soul “FILLED” as often as possible! The temple provides a unique setting for understanding spiritual things.
PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON: I promise you that, with increased attendance in the temples of our God, you shall receive increased personal revelation to bless your life . . . . (“The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign, May 1987, 85). There is a power associated with ordinances of heaven — even the power of godliness — which can and will thwart the forces of evil if we will but be worthy of those sacred [covenants made in the temple of the Lord]. ¼ Our families will be protected, our children will be safeguarded as we live the gospel, visit the temple, and live close to the Lord. (Atlanta Georgia Temple Cornerstone Laying, 1 June 1983)
PRESIDENT GORDON B. HINCKLEY: . . . who, in these times of stress, would not welcome an occasional opportunity to shut out the world and enter into the Lord’s house, there to ponder quietly the eternal things of God? (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Why These Temples?” Ensign, Aug. 1974, 40–41) I am satisfied that if our people would attend the temple more, there would be less of selfishness in their lives. There would be [more] love in their relationships. . . . [and] more of love and peace and happiness in [their] homes. (Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 6 Apr. 1984.)
ELDER BOYD K. PACKER: Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people. . . . Blessings there will not be limited to our temple service. We will be blessed in all of our affairs . . . both spiritual and temporal. (Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, p. 265, 182)
7- LET YOUR HEART BE FILLED WITH LOVE! – Pray with all the energy of heart to be FILLED with this love, this charity! Without CHARITY – PURE LOVE – we are NOTHING!! CHARITY NEVER FAILETH! It sometimes getteth tired, and maybe even getteth frustrated and impatient . . . but it NEVER faileth! Matthew 25:34-40 – The “INASMUCH” miracle
PRESIDENT SPENCER W. KIMBALL: One can learn to be loving. If one patterns his life in the mold of love – if he consciously and determinedly directs his thoughts, controls his acts, and tries to feel and constantly express his love – he becomes a person of love, for “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 245, 251).
Don’t you love experiences like when someone asks how you are and then waits to hear your answer??
PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON: When we have the Spirit, we will love to serve, we will love the Lord, and we will love those whom we serve. (Come Unto Christ, p. 20)
There is a need for us to be filled with the Spirit – with oil for our lamps – and to cherish the gift of the Holy Ghost so that our lights may shine for others and we can help in the hastening of the work of bringing Heavenly Father’s children back to Him.
l A CHURCH LEADER told a group I was in of visiting less active members with another stake leader following a training meeting on working with Church members who were less active.
One woman was a “porcupine.” When she saw them on the doorstep she almost screamed at them. “I know why you’re here!” He responded with “Why ARE we here?” She said “You’re trying to get me to come back to church.” He said that had never entered his mind. So she asked “Well then, why ARE you here?” He responded with “May we come in and tell you why we’re here?” — and he did this with such love and gentleness that she let him in. (Maybe she was curious!). They sat down in the living room, and with genuine love he said “This evening the two of us knelt in prayer, asking Heavenly Father who needed us to visit. Your name came to mind. Can you think of any reason He’d want us to come and see you?” She burst into tears and said “Yes … because I’m miserable! And I’ve been miserable for years!” And she poured out her story and her heart to them. She was experiencing SPIRITUAL DROUGHT and MANY DOUBTS…. What followed was a tender time of comfort and healing.
As they got ready to leave, he asked “May we offer a prayer for you before we go?” She quickly said yes and told them she couldn’t even remember the last time a prayer had been offered in her home. As the two brothers left, she was in tears, thanking them for their visit.
PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON: This latter-day work is spiritual. It takes spirituality to comprehend it, to love it, and to discern it. Therefore, we should seek the Spirit in all we do. That is our challenge. (Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , p.92)
Brother RICHARD L. BEDNAR and SCOTT R. PETERSON shared the following: Trivializing spiritual activity is a major stumbling block to cultivating true spirituality. As long as we call activities spiritual when they are not, true spirituality is blocked and frustrated . . . . If we trivialize spiritual activities, we can easily take for granted what could be truly spiritual activities by executing them in a half-hearted way and still calling them spiritual, even though the Spirit is absent. Either way, we have sacrificed spiritual substance for its much more evident, yet empty, form. (Richard L. Bednar and Scott R. Peterson, Spirituality and Self-Esteem: Developing the Inner Self, p.127)
THE LOSS OF SPIRITUALITY IS IMMEDIATELY NOTICEABLE . . . And SPIRITUAL DEATH is the most TERRIBLE of ALL DEATHS . . . .
PRESIDENT GORDON B. HINCKLEY: It is not enough [for us, you and me, now, in our time] to simply be known as a member of this Church. A solemn obligation rests upon us. . . We must live as true followers of the Christ, with charity towards all . . . Be grateful, and above all, BE FAITHFUL. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Dawning of a Brighter Day,” Ensign, May 2004)
PRESIDENT J. REUBEN CLARK Jr: “Our faith must not be difficult to detect.” (“The Charted Course of the Church in Education,” rev. ed. (1994), 7)
ELDER JEFFREY R. HOLLAND: Drawing upon my vast background of children’s bedtime stories, I say you can pick your poultry. You can either be like Chicken Little and run about shouting “The sky is falling; the sky is falling” or you can be like the Little Red Hen and forge ahead with the productive tasks of living, regardless of who does or doesn’t help you or who does or doesn’t believe just the way you believe. (“Terror, Triumph, and a Wedding Feast,” CES Fireside for Young Adults, 12 September 2004, Brigham Young University)
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS 11:12-14 (p. 22) And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good — yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit. 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; And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.
HYMN #143: “LET THE HOLY SPIRIT GUIDE”
(With just a few slight changes in some of the words)
Let the Holy Spirit guide; Let him teach you what is true.
He will testify of Christ, Light your mind with heaven’s view.
Let the Holy Spirit guard; Let his whisper govern choice.
He will lead you safely home If you listen to his voice.
Let the Spirit heal your heart Thru his quiet, gentle pow’r.
May we purify our lives To receive him hour by hour.
May we do all we can do – in this season of our lives – to REPLENISH and FORTIFY our SPIRITUAL RESERVES – our SPIRITUALITY. I am convinced that as we do this the best we can, the theme of this conference will come true in our lives: . . . NO GOOD THING WILL BE WITHHELD FROM THEM THAT WALK UPRIGHTLY. (Psalm 84:11)
DOCTRINE & COVENANTS 45:56-59
56- And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins. 57- For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived – verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day. 58- And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; and they shall multiply and wax strong, and their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation. 59- For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver.