Monday, October 5, 2009

Safety in Following Modern Prophets

This past weekend was the world general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I always look forward to conference weekend, and not just because I get to attend church in my pajamas (well, I usually get dressed, but I could if I wanted to) and participate from the comfort of my living room couch! I love that I get to spend the weekend listening to and pondering the words of Prophets, apostles, and other wonderful, inspired men and women. I love the beautiful and inspiring messages of about Christ and His teachings, about learning His ways and following His example.

I have been thinking lately about why we need modern prophets when God has already made so much known to us in the Bible. It's a good question. (When I talk about the prophet, I mean the man called by God to lead His church and reveal His will.) I began to think that we no longer board arks, or follow Moses out of Egypt, or look at a staff to be healed. How many of us have sold all we have to follow Christ, or fled to the mountains outside of Judea to escape destruction. Yet, these are some of the instructions that were given to people in the Bible. I think that we all understand that those things are not required of us today. They were specific instructions given to specific people or groups of people at specific times and in specific circumstances.

While the gospel has been the same from the beginning, the needs and circumstances of those who follow Christ change from time to time. We know that there will be great difficulties ahead for us in the last days, but the scriptures provide little specific instruction on how to deal with these trials. Modern prophets have been able to help us prepare for modern challenges. For example, for decades modern prophets have told us that we need to be self-reliant and free of debt. President Ezra Taft Benson declared, “The revelation to store food may be as essential to our temporal salvation today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah”1 In 1833, long before the attorney general's warning, God, through His prophet, warned the people against the use of tobacco. Generations ago, the Prophet instructed us to meet together weekly as families to strengthen each other and study the gospel. This counsel was given long before we knew of the extreme challenges that the family unit would face now and in the days ahead. The prophet also teaches and reminds us of timeless essentials, such as developing faith and studying the scriptures, that will keep us focused on Christ. Yesterday President Monson reminded us of the need to serve and bless the lives of others. Sun. Morning

We don't know exactly what our future challenges will be but through modern and living prophets, the Lord tells us how we can be prepared. Those who follow the prophet need not be confused by various religious teachings or by modern social philosophies. I take great comfort in knowing that the church can easily adapt to the modern world without losing track of those things which are essential. God has already revealed in scripture much of what we need to know for our spiritual and temporal salvation, but He has not left us alone. God still loves us and he still gives us direction that is specific to our time so that we can know to do those things that will bless us and lead us to Him. God has given us a prophet on earth today and has promised that He will not allow the prophet to lead us astray.

Individually, we can each turn to God for counsel regarding our individual needs and responsibilities and for confirmation of prophetic counsel, collectively, we look to a living prophet who receives a constant flow of revelation from God to guide the work of God on the earth. We are blessed to have a prophet to strengthen our faith in Christ and guide us in those paths which will bring us to him and bless us during our mortal sojourn. I am so grateful that God has sent a prophet in my day and for the many blessings I have seen in my life as a result of following his inspired counsel.

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