In Fulfillment of a Prophecy

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Elder Teh

Devotional Talk Given at
Brigham Young University–Hawaii

March 25, 2008
Elder Michael J. Teh
First Quorum of the Seventy

ALOHA NUI KAKOU! I share that greeting from my colleague Elder Keith R. Edwards of the Seventy who is the President of the Philippines area and an alumnus of this great institution of learning back when it was known as the Church College of Hawaii. My elder sister, who also graduated here in the 1980s, is very excited about my assignment to speak to you today. She said: "Be sure and let me know how your message went." I replied: "If they informed you that they are taking your name off of the roster of university alumni by virtue of your relation to me, you will know that my talk didn't go too well.

We congratulate President and Sister Steven Wheelwright for their appointment to serve in this institution. We thank them, for recognizing this as an opportunity from the Lord and for making themselves available to give of their time, talents and love to you who are present here today and to the community in general.

Brothers and Sisters, what a thrill and privilege it is for Sister Teh and I to visit this historic institution and for me to be afforded the opportunity to address you. I have pleaded with the Lord as I tried to organize my thoughts during the past few weeks. I pray for his spirit to be with us now that we will "understand one another," and that we "both are edified and rejoice together." (D&C 50:22)

In announcing the inspired Perpetual Education Fund program, President Gordon B. Hinckley said: "Education is the key to opportunity." That is why the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints always emphasize the need for continuing education. We believe that "the Glory of God is Intelligence" and "whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come." (D&C 130:18-19)

It is important that this pursuit of knowledge, important as it is, must be coupled with a continuing desire to serve God and our fellowmen. It should not become an all-consuming, all encompassing activity so as to make us shut everything else out. There has to be a balance in our activities. After all, the pursuit of knowledge in the gospel sense is not limited only to the secular but includes the spiritual and emotional aspects as well. In fact, if we limit ourselves only to the pursuit of secular knowledge, we may be setting ourselves up to be numbered among a group of people that the Apostle Paul described to his protégée, Timothy, as: "Ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim. 3:7) And where the scriptures describe truth as: "the knowledge of things as they were, as they are, and as they are to come", we may spending our time and resources on things that will be of little or no importance in the eternal realm. Our quest for knowledge then should encompass what is described in the following passages:

"And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom."

"Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;"

"Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms."

"That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you." (D&C 88:77-79)

Now, what is that calling? What is that mission? Listen to the vision of a prophet of God, even President David O. McKay, when he broke ground in 1955 for the establishment of this institution and in reference to the passage of scripture we just read:

"Now, that tells us what this school is being built for… First, the things pertaining to God and his kingdom, a testimony of the existence of Deity, know that he lives and that he is our Father, the Father of all mankind and ruler of brothers; what that means toward peace, establishing peace in the world. Secondly, that those who are obeying those principles will develop manhood, character, and make noble men and women. The world needs them… The world needs men who cannot be bought or sold men who will scorn to violate truth – genuine gold. That is what this school is going to produce. More than that, they will be leaders. Not leaders only in this island but everywhere. All the world is hungering for them, and, best of all, the world is recognizing them."

"You mark that word, and from this school, I'll tell you, will go men and women whose influence will be felt for good towards the establishment of peace internationally."

The mission of this university has captured so well that vision of a servant of the Lord. President Wheelwright reminded us of that mission during his inaugural address last November 2007. "First, we must educate for eternity, integrating the divine with the academic. Second, we must train leaders of character and integrity."

I have been informed that presently, there are 2,427 students enrolled from 74 countries. Imagine that, 74 countries are represented in this institution. That's as international as one university can get.

All of you will return to your native lands. And I will tell you that that is what we intend for you to do. You will have the opportunity, even the blessing and privilege of fulfilling the prophecy in your own lives and in your own nations. You will play a part in bringing about peace internationally. The prophetic utterance of President David O. McKay can and will have its fulfillment in each of you individually. Each and every one of you will have to decide whether you will become part of that great vision or that you are simply here for an education or a degree.

As you look into your future careers and path; as you return to your homelands and integrate yourselves into society; as you have your hands in government affairs or simply take your place among the citizenry; especially if what you consider to be your home is reeling from the effects of immorality, corruption, and the deterioration of values; (perhaps I have just described multiple nations of the earth) remember that you can and have been taught to make a difference.

The following counsel from the proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel provides additional insight:

"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:"

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

"My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:"

"For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head…"

"My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not."

"If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:"

"Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:"

"We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:"

"Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:"

"My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:"

"For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood."

"Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird."

"And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives."

"So are the ways of everyone that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof." 2

Allow me now to share with you some thoughts that will help you to make the most out of your stay here, receive a well-rounded education, and fulfill the prophecy in your life.

Keep the Sabbath day holy. Perhaps this is one of the commandments that is often misunderstood, hence, often violated. Our mortal minds find it difficult to understand how setting one particular day apart from the rest of the days of the week help us to become better members of God's kingdom. But the scriptures have made it clear how seriously the Lord regards Sabbath day observance. In the Mosaic Law, men were put to death for breaking the Sabbath. Although such consequences have been done away with when Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law, I believe that a certain level of death is administered to our spirits whenever we fail to keep it holy as we have been commanded.

"And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;"

"For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;"

"Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;"

"But remember that on this the Lord's day, thou shalt offer thy oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord." 3(D&C 59:9-12)

Attending our Sunday meetings is a commandment from the Lord. It is not an option. We need that recharging for our spirits through the renewal of sacred covenants. Indeed, the sacrament service is one of the most important meetings that we attend.

Now, here comes the part that for many of us, define Sabbath day observance: "And on this day thou shalt do none other thing…" (D&C 59:13) We then take this portion and combine it with: "this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors…" So what do we have, a whole new definition of Sabbath day observance. Many of us basically do nothing on the Sabbath and lull ourselves to believe that we have kept it holy by doing so. Well, President Kimball straightened us out, didn't he, when he taught that we are not keeping the Sabbath day holy if we merely lounge around and do nothing. That means that we need to be "anxiously engaged in a good cause," doesn't it?

I recall an experience some years back when I was juggling my time between a full-time job, working on a bachelor's degree, serving as a bishop, a husband, and a father to two small children. It was tough trying to balance everything especially when a term paper is due or when examination week comes along. I remember making use of every bit of available time I had for schoolwork. Sunday evenings were a particular temptation to do school work. I don't how it worked out for me then, but things seem to quiet down in terms of Church responsibilities (I guess it should after spending your entire day in the chapel for meetings and doing interviews), and even for other things. It also seemed like my children who were about two and four years old at that time have mellowed out or perhaps run out of batteries. I have made the decision, years before that "school work" is part of the labors that I perform throughout the week. So if I were to rest from my labors on the Sabbath, I am not supposed to do school work on Sunday. Well, because of that, my mind was much more open and receptive to things that really mattered and activities that were appropriate. Just having the determination to stick to that conviction had a liberating effect on me. I did not have to worry about school on Sundays! I am sure that you students will find it liberating also. So, after putting in extra time for gospel study than I normally would the rest of the week I retire to bed earlier than usual. Then, if I really had an urgent homework or I needed to study for an examination, I would wake up around 2 or 3 a.m. the following day to take care of it. I have found that to be more effective than trying to cram loads of information into your already saturated mind after a long day.

Remember the scripture: "Retire to thy bed early… arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated." It wasn't until later that I understood that what had happened was more than just my being invigorated. What was also happening in addition was the fulfillment of the promises made by the Lord to those who would keep the Sabbath day holy. I sincerely believe that I was getting a double dose of blessings. Remember, "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated." (D&C 130:20) Let us return now to the promises made in the 59th section of the Doctrine and Covenants:

"Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fullness of the earth is yours." (D&C 59:16)

And as you will read on, the promises seem to be all "agriculture" in nature. Then you might say, this is only for farmers. I am not a farmer, and I am not going to be one. I am going into business. Well, what the Lord is really promising here is an "abundant life." And to achieve the abundant life, you need to be equipped with knowledge and wisdom and training so as to be able to provide for your own and for your family. To be self-reliant.

Many of you are now starting your families. And many others will follow, I hope, very soon. Life will be hard. That's alright. That's the way God wanted it to be if we are to eat bread. More comfort will come as you grow older and as the children grow older.

When Grace and I were a young married couple life was very tough. We always struggled to make both ends meet. In some miraculous way, they always do. There was a time when bills were due and there was no food on the table, neither was there any money to take care of both. We actually considered pawning our wedding ring but the appraisal was not very promising. It wasn't worth much so we ran the risk of losing it for almost nothing. So, we abandoned that plan. Again, we survived that crisis.

We bought our first washing machine 4 years into our marriage. What a relief that was. We got our first beat up van when our oldest child was 10 years old.

Sometimes, as married couples, we become impatient, and we want things to happen faster, we want comfort to come faster. We wish we had parents who were millionaires and would give us a big inheritance when we get married, so we didn't have to go through those things again. If you asked us now, would we go through all of those struggles again? The answer is a resounding: "Yes we will!" Those were times when we were experiencing a lot of growth and strength of character individually and as a couple. Those were times when our love for each other started to really blossom from what we thought was already a perfect relationship when we got married.

So, be patient and do what the Lord tells you to do. Pay your tithes and offerings without fail. They always come first. That is the only way the Lord can perform miracles for you to witness.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

"I think…all of us in this Church… have a fourfold responsibility. One, members and leaders have a responsibility to their families, to see that their families have a measure of their time. …None of us can evade that… That is basic and fundamental."

"If we are employed, we have a responsibility to our employer. We are not at liberty to short-change him…"

"We have a responsibility to the Lord, of course, to do that which is expected of us as a servant in His house."

"And…we have a responsibility to ourselves to take some time to do a little meditating, to do a little exercise."

"…How do you balance them? I don't think that is difficult. I served in many capacities in this Church. I am the father of five children, who were young and growing up when I was serving in those various capacities… We enjoyed life…

We just did what the Church expected us to do."

God bless you my young brothers and sisters. He has a work for you to do. What a privilege it is for us to have the opportunity to come to this earth. The Prophet Joseph Smith has said that: "Happiness is the object and design of our existence and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it." Brothers and sisters, that path is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we are not happy now, then we need to do something about it. Let's get with the program. God intends for us to enjoy true and lasting happiness in this life. What a wonderful life it is. It is full of challenges. But it's wonderful nonetheless.

Now the scriptures are replete with many promises, wonderful promises, many of which we don't really understand now.

In the 76th section of the Doctrine and Covenants it reads: "For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.

Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.

And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.

Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.

And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.

For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man."

What a privilege and blessing it is for me to be with you, to feel of your spirit. Thank you for what you do here. Thank you for the desires of your heart…I testify to you that we enjoy the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I testify of President Thomas S. Monson, the Lord's mouthpiece on the earth today. I testify of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am grateful for His atoning sacrifice, that we have the opportunity to repent, to change everyday, so that we can move ever closer to our desires, to our mission of becoming more like our Father in Heaven and eventually return to live with Him. We express our love to you, and our respect to you, our dear young brothers and sisters, our future leaders, the hope of this Church. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

1. President David O. Mckay, Dedicatory Address at Groundbreaking Ceremonies for the Church College of Hawaii, February 12, 1955.

2. Proverbs 1: 5, 7-19

3. D&C 59: 9-12

4. D&C 76 : 1-10