Thank you, Melanie, for your wonderful and timely message. Isn’t she wonderful? I am so blessed and grateful to have her by my side.
Aloha, my dear brothers and sisters and friends at BYU–Hawaii. How blessed we are to have the technology to join in this devotional, although I admit I wish I could be with you again on your beautiful campus in Laie. I trust the Lord and His spirit will be with us because of the goodness you bring to this gathering and the message our Savior has for you to hear.
I am pleased to have join with us for this broadcast your new University President, John Kauwe and his dear wife, Monica; and the great administration and faculty of BYU–Hawaii.
I do not need to tell you we are in a singular and stressful time with the Covid-19 pandemic. It is real; in congregations across this Church we have lost precious souls to this virus. Personally, I have lost dear friends. Be careful my friends, protect yourselves and be conscious of your responsibility to protect others as well.
I congratulate you for choosing to attend this fine institution. Our family has ties to this great school—my granddaughter, Haylie, attended BYU–Hawaii; another of my granddaughters, Maggie, will be attending soon. We feel you are a part of our family and have a special place with us.
This is a time for you to be resourceful, diligent, and steadfast in your academic and spiritual studies. You are preparing yourselves to take advantage of so many dreams and opportunities ahead of you. Most of all this is a time for you to center your life on the Lord Jesus Christ, His life and Atonement, His Church and gospel. Nothing is more important than to know that God our Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ have opened the heavens, called Prophets and Apostles to lead Their work, restored the everlasting gospel to bless our lives and have intimate knowledge of the divine design for each of us.
When I was called as an Apostle, just five years ago now, President Thomas S. Monson said, “This is a call from the Lord Jesus Christ.” I will always remember and hold close to my heart those words. In my first conference address a few days later I spoke of the hymn, “I Stand All Amazed,” for that was how I felt. President Monson emphasized that as an Apostle I was to be one of the “special witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world” as described in a revelation on the priesthood to Joseph Smith. I did not take that charge lightly. I pored over the scriptures identifying the Lord by His names and titles, all the while focusing on their significance in my life and the lives of all God’s children. Today in my personal study, I continue to do so, and I have more than two hundred names so far. He is:
• Creator of all Things
• Finisher of our Faith
• God of Israel
• King of Kings and
• The Resurrection and The Life
There is “none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Studying the names of Jesus Christ is not reserved for those called to the holy Apostleship. I encourage you to know Him not only through His teachings, His miracles, and His parables, but to know Him by His many names.
President Nelson, in a worldwide devotional to Young Adults in 2017 counseled, “Study everything Jesus Christ is by prayerfully and vigorously seeking to understand what each of His various titles and names means personally for you.”
I promise that as you follow the counsel of our living Prophet, President Nelson, you will be able to answer the question the Lord posed to his disciples as they journeyed to Caesarea Philippi, “Whom say ye that I am?”
The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ is one of the great resources in your study. It is fitting that Nephi pays tribute to the Lord in the very first verse of the book. You all know the words: “I, Nephi having been born of goodly parents.” Then he continues that verse with, “having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days… I make a record of my proceedings….”
I, like many of you, could write of being “highly favored of the Lord in all my days.” I was raised by parents who were modest in their means. My father drove a bread delivery truck getting up every morning at four a.m. and working until dinner time; my angel mother tried so hard to stay at home and raise her family. Their righteousness, obedience, loyalty, and trust in the Lord is embedded in me.
Following King Benjamin’s mighty discourse where he described “the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering. . . and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world,” the Nephites “cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent,” there is another of Christs names, “which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts.”
As you immerse yourself in the “Word of God,” another of His names, I promise you will feel that mighty change in your heart. You will know He is the “First and the Last” and that He will always be there for you.
Moroni called for us “to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written.” He was talking about the prophecies of ancient prophets and the teachings of prophets today. When we seek Jesus, as these Nephites did, we receive a witness of His divinity, we desire to follow His example, we recognize His power and His mission to atone for each one of us, that we may have eternal life.
He who raised the dead, made the blind see and healed the sick, can change our hearts because He is:
• Almighty God
• Hope of Israel
• Bright and Morning Star
• Good Shepherd
• Beloved and Chosen
• Light of the World
• High Priest of good things to come
• Mighty to save
• One who has all power
Christ’s influence, imprint, and reach are all-encompassing. He is there when we falter and when we press forward. If we slip, His “light which shineth in darkness,” another of His names, is there to lead us back to safety. He loves us in our brightest and our darkest hours. He is our “Exemplar” in virtue, obedience, patience, and charity.
When we speak of Jesus Christ as “the light of the world” I think of the Brother of Jared placing sixteen small stones before the Lord. The account in Ether is very instructive. Amidst the calamities of the Tower of Babel, the Brother of Jared appealed to the Lord for deliverance. The Lord, the “Living God” instructed them to journey with their families and animals “that they should come forth even unto the land of promise.” They reached the seashore and waited, perhaps growing complacent, because they remembered “not to call upon the name of the Lord.”
At the end of four years the “Lord of Hosts” came to the brother of Jared in a cloud “and for three hours…chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.” I think we all have had experiences where we have been corrected by parents, teachers, friends or leaders. Maybe four, five, ten, and even twenty minutes. Imagine three hours!
Did the Lord dismiss the brother of Jared and look for another disciple to exhibit obedience and commitment to be led to the promised land? No. Neither does He give up on us when we falter. The Lord, the “Righteous Judge,” instructed the brother of Jared to build barges to cross the deep, to shape holes in the top and bottom to allow them to breathe fresh air. They would be steered by the winds and the waves of the sea commanded by the Lord.
The brother of Jared asked, “…wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?” The Lord, the “Light of Men,” asked, “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?”
The brother of Jared went up to the mountain and moltened sixteen small stones. “Touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger,” he said, “and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness. . . that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.”
The Lord granted the request by touching the stones, the veil lifted, and the brother of Jared saw the finger of the “Mighty God;” another of His names. The Lord then showed himself to the brother of Jared and in vision, laid out the full history of the world.
We, like the Jaredites, are on a journey to the promised land which is exaltation with our Father in Heaven and His Son. The Lord has said, “Ye are the light of the world.” Do you feel that glow of the gospel in your heart and do you touch others with your sure knowledge and testimony that Jesus is “the great Redeemer,” the “light of truth,” “the light which ye shall hold up.” Those are His names for He is “the light…a light that is endless, that can never be darkened.”
In my life, I have had the opportunity to visit the Sacred Grove where young Joseph Smith knelt and prayed for guidance. Brothers and sisters, as Joseph describes, this event changed the world.
“…I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so when. . .thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.”
“At this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.”
“When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!
The name “Beloved Son” says much about Jesus Christ and the love and confidence the Father has in “His First Born.” As part of the Father’s plan of happiness, Jesus Christ was to be “the Light and the Redeemer of the world.”
That light in the grove ushered in the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In April, earlier this year in general conference, President Russell M. Nelson presented the inspired document prepared by The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and The First Presidency: The Restoration of The Fulness Of The Gospel Of Jesus Christ A Bicentennial Proclamation To The World.
I encourage you to personally study the Proclamation. You might consider committing it to memory. So many important truths about Jesus Christ are made clear and will strengthen your testimony and that of others as you share what you know. I recently spoke on this at a missionary devotional and at a Face to Face event with Young Adults. I hope you were able to participate.
Now, reading from the Proclamation:
“We declare that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, organized on April sixth, Eighteen Thirty, is Christ’s New Testament Church restored. This Church is anchored in the perfect life of its chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ, and in His infinite Atonement and literal Resurrection. Jesus Christ has once again called Apostles and has given them priesthood authority…”
“…We gladly declare that the promised Restoration goes forward through continuing revelation. The earth will never again be the same, as God will “gather together in one all things in Christ” (Ephesians 1:10).”
The Savior continues to lead us by revelation both in the Church and in our personal lives. The covenant path is well-marked and our contributions to the Kingdom of God are part of a great, divine design. As we follow the “Shepherd of Israel,” we come to see Him as our refuge and protector.
Just as tempests steered the Jaredites to the Promised Land, challenges, setbacks, and disappointments propel us forward on our journey. We may see only commotion and the “fierceness of the wind,” but the Lord sees progress in our personal development and changes in our hearts. We may go down into the deep as did the Jaredites, but the Lord will bring us up, and even while we are there, He will continue to provide us His light. From the storms of life we become faithful and effective servants of Jesus Christ able to, someday, command mountains as did the Brother of Jared. “For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved.”
You are not going to be moving mountains surrounding your campus any time soon—but what of the mountains of doubt, rejection, disappointment, and sorrow that weigh you down. It may be hard to get a firm footing amidst all the calamity and confusion. But if we seek Jesus, we find He is the “Rock of Salvation,” the “Rock of Strength.” Helaman describes to his son:
“It is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation where on if men build they cannot fall.”
That sure foundation is here at BYU–Hawaii where your spirit is lifted by truth and you are surrounded by those who believe in the “Lawgiver,” the “Mediator,” the “Savior of the World.”
That sure foundation is found in the temple. That blessed sanctuary, the Laie Hawaii Temple, just blocks from the campus, is again open for limited, sacred work. What a blessing to have the spirit of Jesus Christ, the “Exalted One” abiding in that holy house. As I emphasized in our last General Conference, make sure you are “recommended to the Lord” with a current temple recommend even a limited use recommend. That sacred document says so much about your choices to stand firm in the gospel and to reverence the “Son of the Highest.”
That sure foundation abides in your homes whether in the dorms, an apartment or with your family where your prayers and righteous desires invite the Spirit to attend you.
That sure foundation is in Church attendance and fulfilling your ministering assignments. It is in partaking of the sacrament, renewing covenants with Him, and thus growing in understanding of the “Redeemer of the World,” the “Spirit of Truth,” the “King Immanuel,” the “rock of righteousness.”
That sure foundation comes in trusting the Lord. Addison Pratt, a missionary in the first company sent to the Pacific in Eighteen Forty-Three, placed his trust in the Lord God. Like Pratt, I have been to the islands of the Pacific on assignment and found as he did, that the people are both beautiful and believing. Pratt wrote to his wife after a year of no correspondence from home, “Often at dusk in the evening when all is still and silent, but the distant roar of the breakers upon the coral reef… I take a long and lonely walk upon the beautiful sand beach that skirts the island; and as I gaze upon the broad ocean that separates us…I ask—has grim death made any inroads [in my family]? I am led to say there are none gone; for I committed you to the care of my Heavenly Father when I left you, and when I have done so, I have never been disappointed.”
Pratt’s work in the Restoration was to follow the call of the “Master.” It took him far from home, but never did he falter in his faith and trust in the work. You too, may be far from home, and you must guard your faith and trust in the Lord. In Proverbs we are reminded to, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding . . . and he shall direct thy paths.”
The Jaredites, in their journey of three hundred and forty-four days, nearly a year, showed such faithfulness. Did they tie their brother to a mast or raise their fists in anger to the sky as did Laman and Lemuel on their journey to the promised land? No, “they did sing praises unto the Lord;… all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.” Though they were out on the sea, amid “great and terrible tempests” they were firm in their foundation, knowing Christ was “the Son of the Living God.”
And when they landed in the promised land, “they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.”
It was no different for the pioneers as they gathered to Zion. William Clayton, who wrote that stirring anthem “Come, Come Ye Saints,” sent a letter to the Saints in England after he arrived in Nauvoo before the trek west. He said, “To the praise of God . . . all I have endured has never hurt or discouraged me, but done me good. … We have sometimes been almost suffocated with heat …, sometimes almost froze with cold. We have had to sleep on boards, instead of feathers. … We have had our clothes wet through with no privilege of drying them or changing them, … had to sleep … out of doors, in very severe weather, and many such things which you [have] no idea of. … [Yet] we have been … healthy & cheerful. … If you will be faithful, you have nothing to fear from the journey. The Lord will take care of his saints.”
I felt the Lord heal my family and me when our precious little grandson, Paxton, died at age three. He had been born with a rare genetic disorder, and suffered from countless health problems. Heavenly Father taught our family many special and tender lessons during the short years Paxton blessed our lives. No question, we were out on the water with the wind and the waves, yet He provided us His light, even in the depths of our grief.
My sister, Nancy Schindler, made a beautiful quilt in honor of Paxton. Knowing my love for the Savior and my desire to know him by all of His names, she called it “Name above All Names.” The quilt features twenty-six of the names of Jesus Christ—names beginning with the letters A through Z. The quilt reminds me of the glorious future family reunion with Paxton made possible through our Savior’s suffering, sacrifice, and Resurrection.
We have nothing to fear from the journey to the Promised Land. The Lord will take care of his Saints. We can, like the Jaredites, sing praises to the name of the Living God all the day long.
I have used many of His names in my message today. He is our “Salvation,” brothers and sisters, our “Redeemer,” “Heavenly King,” the “Holy Messiah . . . full of grace and truth.”
The Savior referred to Himself in statements that reveal both His divine nature and His eternal roles:
• “Be still and know that I am God”
• “I am able to make you holy”
• “I do [the Father’s] will”
• “I, the Lord … delight to honor those who serve me”
• “My grace is sufficient for you”
• “You shall have peace in me”
• “Fear not … for you are mine”
• “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever”
Dear friends, brothers and sisters, that is the Most High God I know, that I listen to and love with all my heart. From the depths of my soul I bear testimony of Him, “the Lamb of God,” the “Son of the Highest,” the “Lord Omnipotent.” He has promised, “…for you are my friends, and ye shall have an inheritance with me.”
I leave you my blessing; if you will study His many Names, you will feel the love of the Lord in your life, and in the process, come to know Him for who He is: “The Prince of Peace,” “the Only Begotten of the Father,” “Lord of Lords,” and “The Light and Redeemer of the World;” all to which I testify and bear record, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.