Friday, July 1, 2016

#LDSConf April 2016: Sunday Afternoon Session

ROBERT D. HALES - "The Holy Ghost"

I begin by acknowledging the Light of Christ, which is given to “every man [and woman] that cometh into the world.” All of us benefit from this holy light. It is “in all and through all things,” and it allows us to distinguish right from wrong.

But the Holy Ghost is different from the Light of Christ. He is the third member of the Godhead, a distinct personage of spirit with sacred responsibilities, and one in purpose with the Father and the Son....

Each of us may feel the influence of the Holy Ghost differently. His promptings will be felt in different degrees of intensity according to our individual needs and circumstances.

In these latter days, we affirm that only the prophet may receive revelation through the Holy Ghost for the entire Church.

GERRITT W. GONG - "Always Remember Him"
of the Presidency of the Seventy

The Lord remembers His everlasting covenants—from Adam’s time to the day Adam’s posterity “shall embrace the truth, and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy.”

The Lord remembers His promises, including promises to gather scattered Israel through the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ and promises given to every member and missionary who remembers the worth of souls.

The Lord remembers and assures nations and peoples. In these days of motion and commotion, “some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God,” who guides “the future as he has the past.” In “perilous times,” we “remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men.”

We can always remember Him on the Sabbath through the sacrament. At the end of His mortal ministry and the beginning of His resurrected ministry—both times—our Savior took bread and wine and asked that we remember His body and blood, “for as oft as ye do this ye will remember this hour that I was with you.”

In the ordinance of the sacrament, we witness unto God the Father that we are willing to take upon us the name of His Son and always remember Him and keep His commandments, which He has given us, that we may always have His Spirit to be with us.

PATRICK KEARON - "Refuge from the Storm"
of the Seventy

“… Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

There are an estimated 60 million refugees in the world today, which means that “1 in every 122 humans … has been forced to flee their homes,” and half of these are children. It is shocking to consider the numbers involved and to reflect on what this means in each individual life. My current assignment is in Europe, where one and a quarter million of these refugees have arrived over the last year from war-torn parts of the Middle East and Africa. We see many of them coming with only the clothes they are wearing and what they can carry in one small bag. A large proportion of them are well educated, and all have had to abandon homes, schools, and jobs.

Under the direction of the First Presidency, the Church is working with 75 organizations in 17 European countries. These organizations range from large international institutions to small community initiatives, from government agencies to faith-based and secular charities. We are fortunate to partner with and learn from others who have been working with refugees around the world for many years.

As members of the Church, as a people, we don’t have to look back far in our history to reflect on times when we were refugees, violently driven from homes and farms over and over again...

The Lord has instructed us that the stakes of Zion are to be “a defense” and “a refuge from the storm.” We have found refuge. Let us come out from our safe places and share with them, from our abundance, hope for a brighter future, faith in God and in our fellowman, and love that sees beyond cultural and ideological differences to the glorious truth that we are all children of our Heavenly Father.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love.”

Being a refugee may be a defining moment in the lives of those who are refugees, but being a refugee does not define them. Like countless thousands before them, this will be a period—we hope a short period—in their lives. Some of them will go on to be Nobel laureates, public servants, physicians, scientists, musicians, artists, religious leaders, and contributors in other fields. Indeed, many of them were these things before they lost everything. This moment does not define them, but our response will help define us.

DALLIN H. OAKS - "Opposition in All Things"

The purpose of mortal life for the children of God is to provide the experiences needed “to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.” As President Thomas S. Monson taught us so powerfully this morning, we progress by making choices, by which we are tested to show that we will keep God’s commandments. To be tested, we must have the agency to choose between alternatives. To provide alternatives on which to exercise our agency, we must have opposition.

The rest of the plan is also essential. When we make wrong choices—as we inevitably will—we are soiled by sin and must be cleansed to proceed toward our eternal destiny. The Father’s plan provides the way to do this, the way to satisfy the eternal demands of justice: a Savior pays the price to redeem us from our sins. That Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God the Eternal Father, whose atoning sacrifice—whose suffering—pays the price for our sins if we will repent of them...

From the beginning, agency and opposition were central to the Father’s plan and to Satan’s rebellion against it. As the Lord revealed to Moses, in the council of heaven Satan “sought to destroy the agency of man”. That destruction was inherent in the terms of Satan’s offer. He came before the Father and said, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor”.

Thus, Satan proposed to carry out the Father’s plan in a way that would prevent the accomplishment of the Father’s purpose and give Satan His glory...

The Church in its divine mission and we in our personal lives seem to face increasing opposition today. Perhaps as the Church grows in strength and we members grow in faith and obedience, Satan increases the strength of his opposition so we will continue to have “opposition in all things.”

Some of this opposition even comes from Church members. Some who use personal reasoning or wisdom to resist prophetic direction give themselves a label borrowed from elected bodies—“the loyal opposition.” However appropriate for a democracy, there is no warrant for this concept in the government of God’s kingdom, where questions are honored but opposition is not.

KENT F. RICHARDS - "The Power of Godliness"
of the Seventy

Just a few months before the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, he met with the Twelve Apostles to talk about the greatest needs the Church was facing in that very difficult time. He told them, “We need the temple more than anything else.” Surely, today in these trying times, each of us and our families need the temple more than anything else.

During a recent temple dedication, I was thrilled with the entire experience. I loved the open house, greeting many of the visitors who came to see the temple; the cultural celebration with the vibrancy and excitement of the youth; followed by the wonderful dedicatory sessions. The Spirit was sweet. Many people were blessed. And then the next morning, my wife and I entered the baptismal font to participate in baptisms for some of our own ancestors. As I raised my arm to begin the ordinance, I was nearly overcome by the power of the Spirit. I realized again that the real power of the temple is in the ordinances.

As the Lord has revealed, the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood is found in the temple and its ordinances, “for therein are the keys of the holy priesthood ordained, that you may receive honor and glory.” “Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.” This promise is for you and for your family.

PAUL V. JOHNSON - "And There Shall Be No More Death"
of the Seventy

The Resurrection is brought to pass by the Atonement of Jesus Christ and is pivotal to the great plan of salvation. We are spirit children of heavenly parents. When we come to this earth life, our spirit is united with our body. We experience all the joys and challenges associated with mortal life. When a person dies, their spirit is separated from their body. Resurrection makes it possible for a person’s spirit and body to be united again, only this time that body will be immortal and perfect—not subject to pain, disease, or other problems.

After resurrection, the spirit will never again be separated from the body because the Savior’s Resurrection brought total victory over death. In order to obtain our eternal destiny, we need to have this immortal soul—a spirit and body—united forever. With spirit and immortal body inseparably connected, we can “receive a fulness of joy.” In fact, without the Resurrection we could never receive a fulness of joy but would be miserable forever. Even faithful, righteous people view the separation of their bodies from their spirits as captivity. We are released from this captivity through the Resurrection, which is redemption from the bands or chains of death. There is no salvation without both our spirit and our body.

Each of us has physical, mental, and emotional limitations and weaknesses. These challenges, some of which seem so intractable now, will eventually be resolved. None of these problems will plague us after we are resurrected.

JEFFREY R. HOLLAND - "Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You"

During His earthly ministry, Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the Mount of Transfiguration, where, the scriptures say, “his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” The heavens opened, ancient prophets came, and God the Father spoke.

After such a celestial experience, what does Jesus come down the mountain to find? Well, first He found an argument between His disciples and their antagonists over a failed blessing administered to a young boy. Then He tried to convince the Twelve—unsuccessfully, it turns out—that He would soon be delivered up to local rulers who would kill Him. Then someone mentioned that a tax was due, which was forthrightly paid. Then He had to rebuke some of the brethren because they were arguing about who would be the greatest in His kingdom. All of this led Him at one point to say, “O faithless generation, … how long shall I suffer you?” He had occasion to ask that question more than once during His ministry. No wonder He longed for the prayerful solitude of mountaintops!

Realizing that we all have to come down from peak experiences to deal with the regular vicissitudes of life, may I offer this encouragement as general conference concludes.

First of all, if in the days ahead you not only see limitations in those around you but also find elements in your own life that don’t yet measure up to the messages you have heard this weekend, please don’t be cast down in spirit and don’t give up. The gospel, the Church, and these wonderful semiannual gatherings are intended to give hope and inspiration. They are not intended to discourage you. Only the adversary, the enemy of us all, would try to convince us that the ideals outlined in general conference are depressing and unrealistic, that people don’t really improve, that no one really progresses. And why does Lucifer give that speech? Because he knows he can’t improve, he can’t progress, that worlds without end he will never have a bright tomorrow. He is a miserable man bound by eternal limitations, and he wants you to be miserable too. Well, don’t fall for that. With the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the strength of heaven to help us, we can improve, and the great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed...

My brothers and sisters, the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor... Of Him I bear witness. Of Him I am a witness.

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