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D&C Lesson 15: "Seek Ye Earnestly the Best Gifts"

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INTRODUCTION: Consider this quote from Brigham Young on the necessity of the gifts of the Spirit in the Church.

I have already said that Christ set in his Church Apostles and Prophets; he also set in his Church evangelists, pastors and teachers; also the gifts of the Spirit, such as diverse tongues, healing the sick discernment of spirits, and various other gifts. Now, I would ask the whole world, who has received revelation that the Lord has discontinued these offices and gifts in his Church? I have not. I have had revelation that they should be in the Church, and that there is no Church without them. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.136; JD, Vol. 13:p. 144.)
1. ALL FAITHFUL MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH CAN RECEIVE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.

Isn’t it wonderful that the Father offers every faithful child at least one of the gifts—the powers—that comes from the expressions of his Spirit? Joseph Smith taught, “A man must have the discerning of spirits, as we before stated, to understand these things, and how is he to obtain this gift if there are no gifts of the Spirit? And how can these gifts be obtained without revelation?” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Four 1839-42, p.206).

This is one additional way in which the Lord reveals himself and his power to all of his people. “All have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.” (D&C 46:11)
 
Study the lists of gifts in D&C 46,1 Corinthians 12-13 and Moroni 10. Which gifts are mentioned in all three locations? Which ones are unique to one writer or another?

The literature of the Church is filled with records of the expressions of these various gifts. All of us who have spent time among the believers have heard accounts of miracles and healings and prophecies and tongues. The realization that every faithful member has the opportunity to experience these divine episodes offers us yet another way to increase our testimonies and our love of this work.

Have you learned what your gifts are? You should recognize that the Lord may have bestowed a gift upon you that is not as obvious as those mentioned in the scriptures cited above. The scriptures say that “there are many gifts” (D&C 46:11). Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that there are many gifts:
The gift of knowing by revelation "that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world" (D&C 46:13); also the gift of believing the testimony of those who have gained this revelation; the gifts of testimony, of knowing that the Book of Mormon is true, and of receiving revelations; the gifts of judgment, knowledge, and wisdom; of teaching, exhortation, and preaching; of teaching the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge; of declaring the gospel and of ministry; the gift of faith, including power both to heal and to be healed; the gifts of healing, working of miracles, and prophesy; the viewing of visions, beholding of angels and ministering spirits, and the discerning of spirits; speaking with tongues, the interpretation of tongues, the interpretation of languages, and the gift of translation; the differences of administration in the Church and the diversities of operation of the Spirit; the gift of seership, "and a gift which is greater can no man have." (Mosiah 8:16; Alma 9:21; D&C 5:4; 43:3 4; Rom. 12:6 8; Mormon Doctrine, p.314)
Marvin J. Ashton encouraged us to look for the more obscure gifts:
Let us review some of these less conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost. (Marvin J. Ashton, “There Are Many Gifts,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 20)
Joseph Smith said, “All the gifts of the Spirit are not visible to the natural vision, or understanding of man; indeed very few of them are,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.244).

2. GOD GIVES GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT FOR THE BENEFIT OF HIS CHILDREN.

In D&C 46, the Lord uses some form of the words “profit” or “benefit” to
explain the purpose of these gifts he has imparted to us (D&C 46:9, 12, 16,29).

Thus we learn that the gifts are given to profit us individually but also that “all may be profited” by them. While the worthy receipt of these gifts blesses us in our relationship with heaven, their expression blesses the whole household of God.

Review D&C 46:9. This verse not only describes a way in which these gifts bless us, but also offers wonderful encouragement for all of us who are less than perfect.
For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts (emphasis added).
3. WE SHOULD SEEK AND CULTIVATE THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.

I have found gifts mentioned in every one of my family member’s patriarchal blessings. Patriarchs under the influence of the Spirit have given members of my family (and probably of yours as well) prophetic indications of divine attributes. I have even been astonished many times at unexpected aptitudes in my loved ones. I have from time to time watched one or the other of them labor and pray and plead for a gift not immediately available, to manage a critical need.

We have been commanded by the Lord to “seek . . . earnestly the best gifts,” while never losing sight of their purposes. Read D&C 46 carefully and identify the efforts necessary to obtain and exercise gifts of the Spirit.
 
In 1997, the presidency of the Relief Society wrote:
Many of us already have spiritual gifts, but we sometimes fail to recognize them. We may think they are reserved for people with special needs or callings. For the same reason, we may neglect to earnestly seek spiritual gifts, even though they have been promised to us. The Savior tells us, “Ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally . . . that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me.” (D&C 46:7, 9)
In section 46, the Lord lists six qualifications to receive spiritual gifts: (1) They are not to be sought as signs (see D&C 46:9); (2) they are to be used in the service of others (see D&C 46:12, 26); (3) we should ask “in the Spirit” (D&C 46:30); (4) they are to be used “in the name of Christ” (D&C 46:31); (5) we must thank God “for whatsoever blessing [we] are blessed with” (D&C 46:32); and (6) we “must practice virtue and holiness before [the Lord] continually” (D&C 46:33).
The third qualification, to ask “in the Spirit,” is especially important. President Brigham Young once received a message from the Prophet Joseph Smith after the Prophet’s Martyrdom that illustrates the importance of having the Holy Ghost with us: “Tell the brethren to be humble and faithful and be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord, and it will lead them aright. Be careful and not turn away the small, still voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their heart open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits—it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts, and their whole desire will be to do good” (quoted in Juvenile Instructor, 19 July 1873, 114). [Relief Society General Presidency, “Seeking the Best Gifts,” Ensign, Jan. 1997, p. 55]
CONCLUSION: You have a gift. Perhaps you have several. You have been commanded to seek other gifts. They come by revelation and by the power of the Holy Ghost, which gift I think you all have. Take a moment now to ask yourself some questions: perhaps questions like these:

• Have I identified my gift(s)?
• Have I employed them to bless myself and others?
• Have I sought the best gifts earnestly?
• Are their gifts in my life which I have not acknowledged and for which I ought to give thanks?
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