Friday, April 19, 2019

Elder D. Todd Christofferson on preparing the world for the Lord's Second Coming

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (born January 24, 1945) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"In two weeks, we will celebrate Easter. The Resurrection confirms the divinity of Jesus Christ and the reality of God the Father. Our thoughts turn to the Savior, and we ponder 'His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice.' I hope we also think about His pending return when 'He will rule as King of Kings and … Lord of Lords.' ('The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,' Ensign, May 2017, inside front cover.) ...
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is uniquely empowered and commissioned to accomplish the necessary preparations for the Lord’s Second Coming; indeed, it was restored for that purpose....
"What can we do to prepare now for that day? We can prepare ourselves as a people; we can gather the Lord’s covenant people; and we can help redeem the promise of salvation 'made to the fathers,' our ancestors. (D&C 2:2) All of this must occur in some substantial measure before the Lord comes again."
- D. Todd Christofferson, "Preparing for the Lord’s Return," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In anticipation of the Easter weekend, when our thoughts are drawn to the Savior and His divine act of love and sacrifice on our behalf, Elder Christofferson spoke eloquently of the powerful feelings of anticipation we should feel of the Lord's return to earth. Members of His restored Church in the latter days have a profound responsibility to help in the preparation for that event. Elder Christofferson suggested things we can do now to help prepare:

To "prepare now as a people" includes the aspects of reaching out to one another in love, helping to strengthen and bless as we minister to one another. Through missionary service we assist in gathering others into the fold; and through efforts in family history and temple service we help to redeem our ancestors. These "three-fold" actions are not new, but our resolve to do better can be renewed!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Elder Quentin L. Cook on united family efforts

Elder Quentin L. Cook (born September 8, 1940) was called as a Seventy in 1996, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2007.
"When a man and woman are sealed in the temple, they enter the holy order of matrimony in the new and everlasting covenant, an order of the priesthood. (See D&C 131:1–4.) Together they obtain and receive priesthood blessings and power to direct the affairs of their family. Women and men have unique roles as outlined in 'The Family: A Proclamation to the World,' (Ensign, May 2017, 145) but their stewardships are equal in value and importance. They have equal power to receive revelation for their family. When they work together in love and righteousness, their decisions are heaven blessed.
"Those who seek to know the will of the Lord as individuals and for their families must strive for righteousness, meekness, kindness, and love. Humility and love are the hallmark of those who seek the Lord’s will, especially for their families."
- Quentin L. Cook, "Great Love for Our Father’s Children," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Cook discusses the ideal scenario of a man and woman, sealed together in the temple, and striving to direct their family through joint and united revelation. The "equal power" of each partner to receive revelation is key to the process. This also implies equal responsibility to seek that revelation, equal need to live worthily of receiving it, and equal acceptance of the joint process in recognizing the gifts and contributions of one another.

The responsibility to live in "righteousness, meekness, kindness, and love" as well as humility are so key to establishing that kind of ideal companionship. We will all be blessed as we make efforts to develop those characteristics.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Elder David A. Bednar on our individual responsibility to learn and grow

Elder David A. Bednar (born June 15, 1952) was serving as the president of BYU–Idaho when he was called and sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2004.
"Each member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an individual responsibility to learn and live the Lord’s teachings and to receive by proper authority the ordinances of salvation and exaltation. We should not expect the Church as an organization to teach or tell us everything we need to know and do to become devoted disciples and endure valiantly to the end. (See D&C 121:29.) Rather, our personal responsibility is to learn what we should learn, to live as we know we should live, and to become who the Master would have us become. And our homes are the ultimate setting for learning, living, and becoming....
"The overarching purpose of Heavenly Father’s plan is for His children to become more like Him. Accordingly, He provides us with essential opportunities to grow and progress. Our commitment to learn and live according to truth is increasingly important in a world that is 'in commotion' (D&C 45:26) and is ever more confused and wicked. We cannot expect simply to attend Church meetings and participate in programs and thereby receive all of the spiritual edification and protection that will enable us 'to withstand in the evil day.' (Ephesians 6:13.)
"'Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness.' ('The Family: A Proclamation to the World,' Ensign, May 2017, 145.) Inspired Church leaders, teachers, and activities help individual and family efforts to grow spiritually. And though we all need help pressing forward on the covenant path, the ultimate responsibility for developing spiritual strength and stamina rests upon each one of us....
"If all you or I know about Jesus Christ and His restored gospel is what other people teach or tell us, then the foundation of our testimony of Him and His glorious latter-day work is built upon sand. We cannot rely exclusively upon or borrow gospel light and knowledge from other people—even those whom we love and trust."
- David A. Bednar, "Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

A critical question for life is how we can learn and comprehend "everything we need to know and do to become devoted disciples and endure valiantly to the end." Elder Bednar seems to be responding to a misconception that the Church provides that; instead, the major responsibility lies with each one of us.  While the church provides assistance and support, ultimately each of us must "work out or own salvation."

So the call is for us to "rise up" and be more faithful in learning, following, repenting, serving, and truly striving to follow the path of discipleship. 

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf on being close to Heavenly Father

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf (born November 6, 1940) served as a Seventy from 1994-2004, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve.  He served as second counselor in the First Presidency from 2008 to 2018.
"First, draw close to God. The first great commandment is to love God. It is a primary reason why we are on this earth. Ask yourself, 'Do I really believe in Heavenly Father?'
"'Do I love and trust Him?'
"The closer you draw to our Heavenly Father, the more His light and joy will shine from within you. Others will notice that there is something unique and special about you. And they will ask about it."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Missionary Work: Sharing What Is in Your Heart," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Uchtdorf's message offered suggestions on how to effectively share the gospel message with those around us. This first point was especially appropriate. As we draw close to God and follow the Savior's example and His commandments in our life, there will be visible evidence of the changes that occur in our character and our appearance. The light of the Spirit shines from the countenance of a true disciple!

As our love and trust for God become deeper and more sincere, we become more like Him, and the evidence of His work becomes obvious to those around us who are honest in heart. That is the easiest and best way to share the message of the gospel: in the example of our lives!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on having Christlike compassion

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (born December 3, 1940) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"When the sacred hour comes to present our sacrificial gift to the Lord, we do have our own sins and shortcomings to resolve; that’s why we’re there. But we might be more successful in such contrition if we are mindful of the other broken hearts and sorrowing spirits that surround us. Seated not far away are some who may have wept—outwardly or inwardly—through the entire sacramental hymn and the prayers of those priests. Might we silently take note of that and offer our little crust of comfort and our tiny cup of compassion—might we dedicate it to them? or to the weeping, struggling member who is not in the service and, except for some redemptive ministering on our part, won’t be there next week either? or to our brothers and sisters who are not members of the Church at all but are our brothers and sisters? There is no shortage of suffering in this world, inside the Church and out, so look in any direction and you will find someone whose pain seems too heavy to bear and whose heartache seems never to end. One way to 'always remember him' (Moroni 4:3, 5:2) would be to join the Great Physician in His never-ending task of lifting the load from those who are burdened and relieving the pain of those who are distraught."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Behold the Lamb of God," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

We do attend Church meetings to be strengthened and edified. Elder Holland suggests that might occur more readily when our focus is less on ourselves and our personal needs, and more on the challenges of those around us.

True Christian discipleship involves turning our focus outward, and loving others as He loves us. That is a powerful reminder about the nature of worship. We worship best by emulating; and the unselfish service of Christlike charity is the highest form of both emulation.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

President M. Russell Ballard on finding joy in faith and faithfulness

President M. Russell Ballard (born October 8, 1928) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985. He became acting president of the Twelve in January 2018.
"The prophet Lehi taught, 'Men [and women] are, that they might have joy.' (2 Ne 2:25) There are many reasons why peace, joy, and happiness may elude us in this life, including poverty, war, natural disasters, and unexpected setbacks in employment, health, and family relationships.
"But even though we cannot control those external forces that impact our lives here on earth, as we strive to become faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can find peace, joy, and happiness despite the worldly troubles that swirl around us.
"...Do the best you can do day after day, and  you know it, you will come to realize that your Heavenly Father knows you and that He loves you. And when you know that—really know it—your life will have real purpose and meaning and you will be filled with joy and peace."
- M. Russell Ballard, "The True, Pure, and Simple Gospel of Jesus Christ," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

For at least portions of our lives, most of us have felt what President Ballard describes, as "peace, joy, and happiness may elude us in this life" because of challenges that include, among other things, "poverty, war, natural disasters, and unexpected setbacks in employment, health, and family relationships." At those times, we learn to endure, knowing that there is always hope for a better future. But crucial to our mortal probation is to learn that we can overcome those challenges "as we strive to become faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ."

We can never do more than this: "the best you can do day after day." Through that level of commitment and faithfulness, we come to feel the love of God and His awareness of our struggles, and find the source of true strength, peace, and joy.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

President Henry B. Eyring on peace through family efforts

President Henry B. Eyring (born May 31, 1933) served in the Presiding Bishopric from 1985-1992, as a Seventy from 1992-1995, then was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He has served in the First Presidency since 2007.
"There is the key to leading your family to rise to that spiritual place you want for them—and for you to be there with them. As you help them grow in faith that Jesus Christ is their loving Redeemer, they will feel a desire to repent. As they do, humility will begin to replace pride. As they begin to feel what the Lord has given them, they will want to share more generously. Rivalry for prominence or recognition will diminish. Hate will be driven out by love. And finally, like it did for the people converted by King Benjamin, the desire to do good will fortify them against temptation to sin. King Benjamin’s people testified that they had 'no more disposition to do evil.' (Mosiah 5:2)
"So building faith in Jesus Christ is the beginning of reversing spiritual decline in your family and in your home. That faith is more likely to bring repentance than your preaching against each symptom of spiritual decline."
- Henry B. Eyring, "A Home Where the Spirit of the Lord Dwells," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In our time, in so many ways, there are challenges that confront families. President Eyring's message in the recent conference offered suggestions and encouragement to assist in confronting those demands. This except shares a key concept: parents can achieve more by nurturing faith in Jesus Christ than by preaching and reprimanding:

As we grow in faith in Jesus Christ, no matter what our age or circumstance, we are transformed. That faith leads to emulation, and to a change in heart and nature. Not only are we blessed as individuals, but all around us are blessed as well!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)
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