Tuesday, April 14, 2015

LDS General Conference April 2015: Priesthood Session

M. RUSSELL BALLARD - "The Greatest Generation of Young Adults"

Tonight I speak to missionaries now serving, future missionaries, returned missionaries, and all young adult men in the Church. I pray you will understand and thoughtfully consider what I have to say to you as you journey through these exciting and exacting years of your life.

In the early days of the Church, missionaries were interviewed by a General Authority before they went on their missions. These days you are interviewed to serve as missionaries by your bishops and stake presidents, and most of you will go through your entire lives without being interviewed by a General Authority. That is simply a reflection of the reality in a worldwide church of more than 15 million members. I know I speak for my brethren when I tell you that we wish it were possible for us to know all of you personally and to be able to tell you that we love you and that we support you...

It’s time to raise the bar not only for missionaries but also for returned missionaries and for your entire generation. To that end, please ponder in your heart your answers to these questions:

1. Do you search the scriptures regularly?
2. Do you kneel in prayer to talk with your Heavenly Father each morning and each night?
3. Do you fast and donate a fast offering each month—even if you are a poor, struggling student who can’t afford to donate much?
4. Do you think deeply about the Savior and His atoning sacrifice for you when you are asked to prepare, bless, pass, or partake of the sacrament?
5. Do you attend your meetings and strive to keep the Sabbath day holy?
6. Are you honest at home, school, church, and work?
7. Are you mentally and spiritually clean? Do you avoid viewing pornography or looking at websites, magazines, movies, or apps, including Tinder and Snapchat photos, that would embarrass you if your parents, Church leaders, or the Savior Himself saw you?
8. Are you careful with your time—avoiding inappropriate technology and social media, including video games, which can dull your spiritual sensitivity?
9. Is there anything in your life you need to change and fix, beginning tonight?...

Now, brethren, I testify to you that the Lord Jesus Christ can help us fix anything that needs fixing in our lives through His atoning sacrifice.

This evening, as we prepare to celebrate Easter Sunday tomorrow, please pause with me to remember the gift of Christ’s Atonement. Remember that our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, know you best and love you the most.

Through the Atonement, the Redeemer took upon Himself our troubles, pains, and sins. The Savior of the world came to understand each of us individually by experiencing our dashed hopes, challenges, and tragedies through His suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross. He died as one final act of love for us and was buried in a new tomb on that fateful night.

ULISSES SOARES - "Yes, We Can and Will Win!"
Presidency of the Seventy

The enemy and his angels are trying to distract us. Their purpose is to encourage us to deviate from the covenants that we have made with the Lord, causing us to lose sight of our eternal inheritance. They know well our Heavenly Father’s plan for His children, for they were present with us in that great Council in Heaven when it was all presented. They try to take advantage of our weaknesses and frailties, deceiving us with “mists of darkness … , which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.”...

The war of good against evil will continue throughout our lives since the adversary’s purpose is to make all people as miserable as he is. Satan and his angels will try to shroud our thoughts and assert control by tempting us to sin. If they can, they will corrupt all that is good. Nevertheless, it is essential to understand that they will have power over us only if we allow it.

The scriptures also contain several examples of those who gave that permission to the adversary and ended up becoming confused and even destroyed, like Nehor, Korihor, and Sherem. We need to be alert to this danger. We cannot allow ourselves to be confused by popular messages that are easily accepted by the world and that contradict the doctrine and true principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of these worldly messages represent nothing more than an attempt of our society to justify sin. We need to remember that, at the end, all will stand before Christ to be judged of our works, whether they are good or whether they are evil. As we encounter these worldly messages, great courage and a solid knowledge of the plan of our Heavenly Father will be required to choose the right.

LARRY M. GIBSON - "Fatherhood - Our Eternal Destiny"
Released as 1st Counselor in Young Mens General Presidency

Fathers, I am sure you have heard the saying “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words” (attributed to Francis of Assisi). Every day you are teaching your children what it means to be a father. You are laying a foundation for the next generation. Your sons will learn how to be husbands and fathers by observing the way you fulfill these roles. For example:

Do they know how much you love and cherish their mother and how much you love being their father?

They will learn how to treat their future wife and children as they watch you treat each one of them just as Heavenly Father would.

Through your example, they can learn how to respect, honor, and protect womanhood.

In your home, they can learn to preside over their family in love and righteousness. They can learn to provide the necessities of life and protection for their family—temporally and spiritually (see “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 129).

Brethren, with all the energy of my soul, I ask you to consider this question: Do your sons see you striving to do what Heavenly Father would have them do?

I pray the answer is yes. If the answer is no, it’s not too late to change, but you must begin today. And I testify that Heavenly Father will help you.

DIETER F. UCHTDORF - "On Being Genuine"

The Lord’s prophets have ever raised a warning voice against those who “draw near [to the Lord] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour [Him], but have removed their heart far from [Him].”

The Savior was understanding and compassionate with sinners whose hearts were humble and sincere. But He rose up in righteous anger against hypocrites like the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees—those who tried to appear righteous in order to win the praise, influence, and wealth of the world, all the while oppressing the people they should have been blessing. The Savior compared them to “whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

In our day, the Lord has similarly strong words for priesthood holders who try to “cover [their] sins, or to gratify [their] pride, [or their] vain ambition.” When they do this, He said, “the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”...

I know of a stake where the leaders set some ambitious goals for the year. While the goals all looked worthwhile, they focused either on lofty and impressive declarations or on numbers and percentages.

After these goals had been discussed and agreed upon, something began to trouble the stake president. He thought about the members of his stake—like the young mother with small children who was recently widowed. He thought about the members who were struggling with doubts or loneliness or with severe health conditions and no insurance. He thought about the members who were grappling with broken marriages, addictions, unemployment, and mental illness. And the more he thought about them, the more he asked himself a humbling question: will our new goals make a difference in the lives of these members?

He began to wonder how their stake’s goals might have been different if they had first asked, “What is our ministry?”

So this stake president went back to his councils, and together they shifted their focus. They determined that they would not allow “the hungry, … the needy, …the naked, … the sick and the afflicted to pass by [them], and notice them not.”

They set new goals, recognizing that success with these new goals could not always be measured, at least not by man—for how does one measure personal testimony, love of God, or compassion for others?

But they also knew that “many of the things you can count, do not count. Many of the things you cannot count, really do count.”

I wonder if our organizational and personal goals are sometimes the modern equivalent of a Potemkin village. Do they look impressive from a distance but fail to address the real needs of our beloved fellowmen?

My dear friends and fellow priesthood holders, if Jesus Christ were to sit down with us and ask for an accounting of our stewardship, I am not sure He would focus much on programs and statistics. What the Savior would want to know is the condition of our heart. He would want to know how we love and minister to those in our care, how we show our love to our spouse and family, and how we lighten their daily load. And the Savior would want to know how you and I grow closer to Him and to our Heavenly Father...

I am here because I desire with all my heart to follow my Master, Jesus Christ. I yearn to do all that He asks of me in this great cause. I hunger to be edified by the Holy Spirit and hear the voice of God as He speaks through His ordained servants. I am here to become a better man, to be lifted by the inspiring examples of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and to learn how to more effectively minister to those in need.

In short, I am here because I love my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

I am sure this is your reason too. This is why we are willing to make sacrifices and not just declarations to follow the Savior. This is why we bear with honor His holy priesthood.

Whether your testimony is thriving and healthy or your activity in the Church more closely resembles a Potemkin village, the good news is that you can build on whatever strength you have. Here in the Church of Jesus Christ you can mature spiritually and draw closer to the Savior by applying gospel principles day by day.

With patience and persistence, even the smallest act of discipleship or the tiniest ember of belief can become a blazing bonfire of a consecrated life. In fact, that’s how most bonfires begin—as a simple spark.

So if you feel small and weak, please simply come unto Christ, who makes weak things strong. The weakest among us, through God’s grace, can become spiritually strong, because God “is no respecter of persons.” He is our “faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments.”...

The Church is not an automobile showroom—a place to put ourselves on display so that others can admire our spirituality, capacity, or prosperity. It is more like a service center, where vehicles in need of repair come for maintenance and rehabilitation.

And are we not, all of us, in need of repair, maintenance, and rehabilitation?

We come to church not to hide our problems but to heal them...

Brethren, this is our high and holy calling—to be agents of Jesus Christ, to love as He loved, to serve as He served, to “lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees,” to “look [after] the poor and the needy,” and to care for the widows and orphans.

I pray, brethren, that as we serve in our families, quorums, wards, stakes, communities, and nations, we will resist the temptation to draw attention to ourselves and, instead, strive for a far greater honor: to become humble, genuine disciples of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we do so, we will find ourselves walking the path that leads to our best, most genuine, and noblest selves.

HENRY B. EYRING - "Priesthood and Personal Prayer"

All of us must speak and act in the name of God in moments when our unaided judgment will not be enough without inspiration. Those moments can come upon us when there is not time to make preparation. That has happened to me often. It did many years ago in a hospital when a father told me and my companion that the doctors had told him that his critically injured three-year-old daughter would die within minutes. As I placed my hands on the one spot on her head not covered with bandages, I had to know, as God’s servant, what He would do and say.

The words came to my mind and my lips that she would live. The doctor standing by me snorted in disgust and asked me to get out of the way. I walked out of that hospital room with a feeling of peace and love. The little girl lived and walked down the aisle into a sacrament meeting on my last day in that city. I still remember the joy and satisfaction I felt from what I had said and done in the Lord’s service for that little girl and her family...

It is easier to get the proper feeling of reverence when you are kneeling or bowing your head, but it is possible to feel that you are approaching your Heavenly Father in less formal and even in silent prayer, as you will often need to do in your priesthood service. There will be noise and people around you most of your waking day. God hears your silent prayers, but you may have to learn to shut out the distractions because the moment you need the connection with God may not come in quiet times...

You must pray for it and work to have it. Only with that guide will you be able to find your way along the strait and narrow path through the mists of evil. The Holy Ghost will be your guide as He reveals truth when you study the words of prophets.

Getting that guidance will take more than casual listening and reading. You will need to pray and work in faith to put the words of truth down into your heart. You must pray that God will bless you with His Spirit, that He will lead you into all truth and show you the right way. That is how He will warn and guide you into the right path in your life and in your priesthood service...

With a prayer of faith, God can grant us power in the priesthood for whatever circumstance we may be in. It simply requires that we ask in humility for the Spirit to show us what God would have us say and do, do it, and continue to live worthy of that gift.

I bear you my testimony that God the Father lives, loves us, and hears our every prayer. I bear testimony that Jesus is the living Christ, whose Atonement makes it possible for us to be purified and so be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I testify that with our faith and diligence, we can one day hear the words that will bring us joy: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

THOMAS S. MONSON - "The Priesthood - A Sacred Gift"

Let us take most seriously the callings, the responsibilities, and the duties which come with the priesthood we hold.

I felt a great responsibility when I was called to be secretary of my deacons quorum. I prepared most conscientiously the records I kept, for I wanted to do the very best I knew how to do in that calling. I took great pride in my work. Doing all I can, to the very best of my ability, has been my goal in any position I have ever held.

I hope each young man who has been ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood is given a spiritual awareness of the sacredness of his ordained calling, as well as opportunities to magnify that calling. I received such an opportunity as a deacon when the bishopric asked that I take the sacrament to a shut-in who lived about a mile from our chapel. That special Sunday morning, as I knocked on Brother Wright’s door and heard his feeble voice call, “Come in,” I entered not only his humble cottage but also a room filled with the Spirit of the Lord. I approached Brother Wright’s bedside and carefully placed a piece of the bread to his lips. I then held the cup of water, that he might drink. As I departed, I saw tears in his eyes as he said, “God bless you, my boy.” And God did bless me—with an appreciation for the sacred emblems of the sacrament and for the priesthood which I held.

No deacon, teacher, or priest from our ward will ever forget the memorable visits we made to Clarkston, Utah, to the gravesite of Martin Harris, one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. As we surrounded the tall granite shaft which marks his grave, and as one of the quorum leaders read to us those penetrating words from “The Testimony of Three Witnesses,” found at the beginning of the Book of Mormon, we developed a love for that sacred record and for the truths found therein.

During those years our objective was to become as the sons of Mosiah. Of them it was said:
“They had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
“But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.”
I cannot think of a more worthy goal for a young man to have than to be described as were the valiant and righteous sons of Mosiah...

The years have brought me more opportunities to provide blessings to those in need than I could possibly count. Each opportunity has found me deeply grateful that God has entrusted to me this sacred gift. I revere the priesthood. I have witnessed its power time and time again. I have seen its strength. I have marveled at the miracles it has wrought.

Brethren, each of us has been entrusted with one of the most precious gifts ever bestowed upon mankind. As we honor our priesthood and live our lives so that we are at all times worthy, the blessings of the priesthood will flow through us.

No comments:

Post a Comment