General Authority Seventy teaches about God’s gifts in campus devotional

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Elder Michael T. Ringwood addresses students in the Marriott Center on Jan. 14. (Preston Crawley)

General Authority Seventy Elder Michael T. Ringwood addressed the BYU student body in today’s devotional with a message he said he hoped would touch each student’s heart, regardless of their current needs or circumstances.

Ringwood’s message revolved around the story of the unnamed Shunammite woman found in the Old Testament. After opening her home and caring for the prophet Elisha, he asks her, “what is to be done for thee?”

The woman in the story replies to the prophet by saying, “I dwell among mine own people,” or in Ringwood’s words, “I have everything I need.”

“If President Russell M. Nelson was standing here this morning and he asked each of you what he could do for you, how would you respond?” Ringwood asked the audience. 

Ringwood said God has provided each person with everything they need to successfully make the journey back to Him. He outlined eight gifts God has given to accomplish this journey.

BYU senior Levi Crockett plays the organ in the Marriott Center at the Jan. 14 devotional. (Preston Crawley)

The Light of Christ

This first gift of God, the light of Christ, is given to every child born on Earth, Ringwood said. 

“It only makes sense that a loving Heavenly Father who desperately wants us to return to Him would give us the ability to know right from wrong,” he said.

Agency

Ringwood said God gives the ability to choose to every person because He has provided the way to know which choices are right. 

“Forcing us to choose His way would not have worked because it is in choosing Him and his ways that we become like Him,” he said.

The more we use these gifts, the more we appreciate their role in bringing us back to our heavenly home, Ringwood taught.

Commandments

Heavenly Father provides borders and boundaries that help us, Ringwood said. If we exercise our agency righteously, we can navigate life’s straight and narrow path back home. 

He quoted D&C 59:4 that says we are “crowned … with commandments not a few.” 

“I love viewing commandments as a precious gift from a loving Heavenly Father,” Ringwood said. “Without commandments, it would be difficult to know that we are exercising our agency wisely.”

Jesus Christ

Ringwood emphasized Jesus Christ and His Atonement are the most precious gifts given by a loving God who knew we would make mistakes on our journey. 

“It is the gift of the Son of God that both nourishes and heals, for it allows us to overcome our poor choices, repent, and be forgiven,” he said.

Grace

The next sanctifying gift God gives is grace, Ringwood said. 

“Heavenly Father knew that to dwell with Him eternally requires more than cleanliness,” he said. “It requires change.” 

He taught that without grace, we would forever be aware of our shortcomings and with no way to overcome them. With grace, however, we are able to move past our faults and become better.

Holy Ghost

This gift, like the others, is available to all of God’s children to assist them in their search for truth, Ringwood taught. 

“Without this vital and essential gift, we would never be able to exercise the faith required to follow Christ and overcome our poor decisions,” he said.

He explained that the gift of the Holy Ghost is a promise of constant companionship given to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Each of God’s children is eligible to receive the gifts and blessings that come through the Holy Ghost’s influence.

Living Prophets

Ringwood said while the previously-mentioned gifts are indeed helpful and necessary, we have circumstances unique to our day that sometimes require divine assistance. This is the role of living prophets.

He asked students to remember invitations extended by President Russell M. Nelson in recent General Conferences, including temple attendance, home-centered gospel learning and restoring the correct name of the Lord’s church. 

“I invite you to search President Nelson’s teachings, especially from General Conference,” Ringwood said. “Hear the Lord’s call to you, obtain his promises and then prepare to count the miracles and blessings that come as a result.”

Happiness

Ringwood introduced this final gift and said Heavenly Father does not just want us to return home, but also to find happiness in doing so. 

“I believe the gifts God has given all his children will help us be happy,” he said. 

He noted Jesus used the phrase “be of good cheer” multiple times throughout the scriptures. 

“We have every reason to be of good cheer,” he said. “Christ came to bring forgiveness, to help us have faith, which is the opposite of fear. He truly did overcome the world.”

BYU Singers perform “How Firm a Foundation” during the Jan. 14 devotional in the Marriott Center. (Preston Crawley)

Ringwood concluded his remarks by reassuring those with heavy hearts that the gifts of God are still in effect for them, regardless of their circumstances. 

“I bear witness the precious gifts of Heavenly Father are still there for you, and they are enough to get you to the only destination that matters in the end,” he said. “We truly do have everything we need.”

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