Saturday, October 10, 2015

#LDSConf October 2015: Priesthood Session

NEIL L. ANDERSEN - "Faith Is Not by Chance, But by Choice"

The Savior perceived the strength or weakness in the faith of those around Him. To one, He said approvingly, “Great is thy faith.” He lamented to another, “O ye of little faith.” He questioned others, “Where is your faith?” And Jesus distinguished yet another with, “[In all Israel] I have not found so great faith.”

I ask myself, “How does the Savior see my faith?” And tonight I ask you, “How does the Savior see your faith?”

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not something ethereal, floating loosely in the air. Faith does not fall upon us by chance or stay with us by birthright. It is, as the scriptures say, “substance … , the evidence of things not seen.” Faith emits a spiritual light, and that light is discernible. Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from heaven that comes as we choose to believe and as we seek it and hold on to it. Your faith is either growing stronger or becoming weaker. Faith is a principle of power, important not only in this life but also in our progression beyond the veil. By the grace of Christ, we will one day be saved through faith on His name. The future of your faith is not by chance, but by choice...

How we live our lives increases or diminishes our faith. Prayer, obedience, honesty, purity of thought and deed, and unselfishness increase faith. Without these, faith diminishes. Why did the Savior say to Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not”? Because there is an adversary who delights in destroying our faith!..

Addressing honest questions is an important part of building faith, and we use both our intellect and our feelings. The Lord said, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart.” Not all answers will come immediately, but most questions can be resolved through sincere study and seeking answers from God. Using our mind without our heart will not bring spiritual answers...

Questions concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith are not new. They have been hurled by his critics since this work began. To those of faith who, looking through the colored glasses of the 21st century, honestly question events or statements of the Prophet Joseph from nearly 200 years ago, may I share some friendly advice: For now, give Brother Joseph a break! In a future day, you will have 100 times more information than from all of today’s search engines combined, and it will come from our all-knowing Father in Heaven...

The guidance of the First Presidency and the Twelve help protect our faith.

Although your beginning fire of faith may be small, righteous choices bring greater confidence in God, and your faith grows. The difficulties of mortality blow against you, and evil forces lurk in the darkness, hoping to extinguish your faith. But as you continue to make good choices, trust in God, and follow His Son, the Lord sends increased light and knowledge, and your faith becomes settled and unwavering...

Faith is a choice. Strengthen your faith, and live to be deserving of the Savior’s approving words: “Great is thy faith.” As you do, I promise you that your faith, through the grace of Jesus Christ, will one day allow you to stand with those you love, clean and pure in the presence of God.

RANDALL K. BENNETT - "Your Next Step"
of the Seventy

My heart sank during a recent meeting with wonderful Latter-day Saints. The question was asked, “Who desires to live with Heavenly Father again?” Every hand went up. The next question was “Who has confidence you’ll succeed?” Sadly and surprisingly, most hands went down.

When we perceive a gap between who we are now and who we desire to become, many of us are tempted to choose to lose faith and hope.

Because “no unclean thing can dwell with God,” in order to live with Him again we will need to be cleansed of sin and sanctified. If we had to do this alone, none of us would make it. But we are not alone. In fact, we are never alone. We have heaven’s help because of Jesus Christ and His Atonement...

The Lord more than matches our willingness to act in faith. Our willingness to take a step is not just met; it is exceeded by the Lord’s promised blessings. Heavenly Father and our Savior are eager to bless us. 

DIETER F. UCHTDORF - "Be Not Afraid; Only Believe"

I imagine that Daniel was like many of us who have to work for our testimonies. I’m confident that Daniel spent many hours on his knees praying, laying his questions and fears on the altar of faith, and waiting upon the Lord for understanding and wisdom.

And the Lord did bless Daniel. Though his faith was challenged and ridiculed, he stayed true to what he knew by his own experience to be right.

Daniel believed. Daniel did not doubt...

To all of us who bear the holy priesthood of God, I ask, are we like Daniel?

Do we stand loyal to God? Do we practice what we preach, or are we Sunday Christians only? Do our daily actions reflect clearly what we claim to believe?

Do we help “the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted”? Do we just talk the talk, or do we enthusiastically walk the walk?

Brethren, we have been given much. We have been taught the divine truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We have been entrusted with priesthood authority to help our fellowmen and build up God’s kingdom on earth. We live in a time of great outpouring of spiritual power. We have the fulness of truth. We have priesthood keys to seal on earth and in heaven. Sacred scriptures and teachings of living prophets and apostles are available as never before.

My dear friends, let us not take these things lightly. With these blessings and privileges come great responsibilities and obligations. Let us rise up to them...

Satan, our adversary, wants us to fail. He spreads lies as part of his effort to destroy our belief. He slyly suggests that the doubter, the skeptic, the cynic is sophisticated and intelligent, while those who have faith in God and His miracles are naive, blind, or brainwashed. Satan will advocate that it is cool to doubt spiritual gifts and the teachings of true prophets.

I wish I could help everyone to understand this one simple fact: we believe in God because of things we know with our heart and mind, not because of things we do not know.  Our spiritual experiences are sometimes too sacred to explain in worldly terms, but that doesn’t mean they are not real...

Brethren, let me be clear: there is nothing noble or impressive about being cynical. Skepticism is easy—anyone can do it. It is the faithful life that requires moral strength, dedication, and courage. Those who hold fast to faith are far more impressive than those who give in to doubt when mysterious questions or concerns arise.

But it should not surprise us that faith is not valued by society. The world has a long history of rejecting that which it does not understand. And it has particular trouble understanding things it cannot see. But just because we cannot see something with our physical eyes does not mean it doesn’t exist.

HENRY B. EYRING - "You Are Not Alone in the Work"

Any calling we receive in the Lord’s kingdom requires more than our human judgment and our personal powers. Those calls require help from the Lord, which will come. Even the new deacon will learn that is true, and he will go on learning over the years.

One of my grandsons is here tonight in his first priesthood session. He was ordained a deacon six days ago. He may expect that his first performance of a priesthood duty will be passing the sacrament next Sunday. My prayer is that he will see that moment as it really is.

He may think that his work for the Lord is to pass the sacrament tray to people seated in the sacrament meeting. But the Lord’s purpose is not simply to have people partake of bread and water. It is to have them keep a covenant that will move them along the path to eternal life. And for that to happen, the Lord must give a spiritual experience to the person to whom the deacon offers the tray...

Whatever your calling in the priesthood, you may have at times felt Heavenly Father was unaware of you. You can pray to know His will, and with the honest desire to do whatever He asks you to do, you will receive an answer.

Heavenly Father will allow you to feel that He knows you, that He appreciates your service, and that you are becoming worthy of the greeting from the Lord you want so much to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

It is my prayer that every priesthood holder will reach out in faith to rescue every soul for whom he is responsible. God will add His power to His servant’s efforts. 

THOMAS S. MONSON - "Keep the Commandments"

My message to you tonight is straightforward. It is this: keep the commandments.

God’s commandments are not given to frustrate us or to become obstacles to our happiness. Just the opposite is true. He who created us and who loves us perfectly knows just how we need to live our lives in order to obtain the greatest happiness possible. He has provided us with guidelines which, if we follow them, will see us safely through this often treacherous mortal journey. We remember the words of the familiar hymn: “Keep the commandments! In this there is safety; in this there is peace.”

Our Heavenly Father loves us enough to say: Thou shalt not lie; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; and so on. We know the commandments. He understands that when we keep the commandments, our lives will be happier, more fulfilling, and less complicated. Our challenges and problems will be easier to bear, and we will receive His promised blessings. But while He gives us laws and commandments, He also allows us to choose whether to accept them or to reject them. Our decisions in this regard will determine our destiny...

Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of pornography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. The scriptures tell us that the adversary is “the founder of all these things.” We know that he is “the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men.”...

If any of you has stumbled in his journey, I assure you that there is a way back. The process is called repentance. Although the path is difficult, your eternal salvation depends on it. What could be more worthy of your efforts? I plead with you to determine right here and now to take the steps necessary to fully repent...

Throughout our lives we will need to nurture strong testimonies by studying the scriptures and by praying and by pondering the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When firmly planted, our testimonies of the gospel, of the Savior, and of our Heavenly Father will influence all that we do.

I testify that all of us are beloved sons of our Father in Heaven, sent to earth at this day and time for a purpose, and given the priesthood of God so that we can serve others and perform God’s work here upon the earth. We have been commanded to live our lives so that we remain worthy to possess that priesthood.

My brethren, may we keep the commandments! Wonderful and glorious are the rewards which are in store for us if we do.

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