Lamentations of Jeremiah: Beware Of Bondage
Elder Quentin L. Cook
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
During the years before the destruction of Jerusalem; the messages the Lord gave to Jeremiah are haunting. He said, “…My people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit…they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed…out…broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Speaking of the calamities to come upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Lord lamented, “For [them] the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and [they] are not saved.”
God intended that men and women would be free to make choices between good and evil. When evil choices become the dominant characteristic of a culture or nation, there are serious consequences both in this life and the life to come. People can become enslaved or put themselves in bondage not only to harmful, addictive substances, but also to harmful, addictive philosophies that detract from righteous living.
Turning from the worship of the true and living God and worshipping false gods like wealth and fame and engaging in immoral and unrighteous conduct result in bondage in all its insidious manifestations. These include spiritual, physical, and intellectual bondage and sometimes bring destruction. Jeremiah and Lehi also taught that those who are righteous must help the Lord establish His Church and Kingdom and gather scattered Israel.
These messages have echoed and been reinforced across the centuries in all dispensations. They are at the heart of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in this, the final dispensation.
Power in the Priesthood
Elder Neil L. Andersen
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
We sometimes overly associate the power of the priesthood with men in the Church. The priesthood is the power and authority of God given for the salvation and blessing of all-men, women, and children.
A man may open the drapes so the warm sunlight comes into the room, but the man does not own the sun or the light or the warmth it brings. The blessings of the priesthood are infinitely greater than the one who is asked to administer the gift.
To receive the blessings, power, and promises of the priesthood in this life and the next is one of the great opportunities and responsibilities of mortality. As we are worthy, the ordinances of the priesthood enrich our lives on earth and prepare us for the magnificent promises of the world ahead. The Lord said: “In the ordinances…the power of godliness is manifest.”
There are special blessings from God for every worthy person who is baptized, receives the Holy Ghost, and regularly partakes of the sacrament. The temple brings added light and strength, along with the promise of eternal life.
All of the ordinances invite us to increase our faith in Jesus Christ and to make and keep covenants with God. As we keep these sacred covenants we receive priesthood power and blessings.
Do we not feel this power of the priesthood in our own lives, and see it among the covenant-keeping members of the Church? We see it in new converts as they step from the waters of baptism feeling forgiven and clean. We see our children and youth more sensitive to the promptings and guidance of the Holy Ghost. We see the ordinances of the temple becoming a beacon of strength and light for righteous men and women across the world.
Teaching with the Power and Authority of God
Brother David M. McConkie
Of the Sunday School General Presidency
There is indeed a secret to becoming a successful gospel teacher, to teaching with the power and authority of God. I use the word “secret” because the principles upon which a teacher’s success rests can be understood only by those who have a testimony of what took place on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. In response to a fourteen-year-old boy’s humble prayer, the heavens were opened. God the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared and spoke to the prophet, Joseph Smith. The long awaited restitution of all things had begun and the principle of revelation was everlastingly established in our dispensation. Joseph’s message, and our message to the world, can be summarized in two words, “God speaks.” He spoke anciently; He spoke to Joseph and He will speak to you. This is what sets you apart from all other teachers in the world. This is why you cannot fail.
You have been called by the spirit of prophecy and revelation and have been set apart by priesthood authority. What does this mean?
First, it means that you are on the Lord’s errand. You are His agent and you are authorized and commissioned to represent Him and to act on His behalf. As his agent, you are entitled to His help. You must ask yourself: “What would the Savior say if He were teaching my class today, and how would He say it? You must then do likewise.
This responsibility may cause some to feel inadequate or even somewhat fearful. The pathway is not difficult. The Lord has provided the way for every worthy Latter-day Saint to teach in the Savior’s way.
Second, you are called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You must not teach your own ideas or philosophy, even mingled with scriptures.
The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation,” and it is only through the gospel that we are saved.
Third, you are commanded to teach the principles of the gospel as they are found in the standard works of the Church, to teach the words of modern day apostles and prophets, and to teach that which is taught you by the Holy Ghost.
“Continually Holding Fast”
Elder Kevin Scott Hamilton
Of the Second Quorum of Seventy
We each have many choices to make as to how we observe the Sabbath day. There will always be some “good” activity that can and should be sacrificed for the better choice of church meeting attendance. This is in fact one of the ways that the adversary “cheateth [our] souls, and leadeth [us] carefully away”. He uses “good” activities as substitutes for “better” or even “best” activities.
Continually holding fast to the rod means that we attend all of our Sunday meetings: sacrament meeting, Sunday school, and Priesthood or Relief Society meetings. Our children and youth attend their respective meetings in Primary, Young Men and Young Women. We should never pick or choose which meetings we attend. We simply hold fast to the word of God by worshipping and attending all of the Sabbath meetings that are offered.
Continually holding fast to the rod means that we strive to keep all of God’s commandments, to have daily personal and family prayer, and to study the scriptures daily.
Continually holding fast is part of the doctrine of Christ as taught in the Book of Mormon. We exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins and change our hearts, then follow Him down into the waters of baptism and receive the confirming gift of the Holy Ghost which serves as a guide and comforter, and then, as Nephi taught, we “press forward, feasting on the words of Christ, until the very end” [Endnote] of our lives.
My brothers and sisters, we are a covenant people. We willingly make and keep covenants and the promised blessing is that we will receive “all that [the] father hath.”[Endnote] As we “continually hold fast to the rod” by keeping our covenants, we will be strengthened to resist the temptations and perils of the world. We will be able to navigate this mortal life with all of its challenges until we actually reach the tree with the fruit “most precious and most desirable above all other”.
Elder Adrian Q. Ochoa
Of the Quorum of the Seventy
My dear brothers and sisters, if you ever come across anything that causes you to question your testimony of the gospel, I plead with you to look up. Look to the Source of all wisdom and truth. Nourish your faith and testimony with the word of God. There are those in the world who seek to undermine your faith by mixing lies with half-truths. This is why it is absolutely critical that you remain constantly worthy of the Spirit. The companionship of the Holy Ghost is not just a pleasant convenience-it is essential to your spiritual survival. If you will treasure up the words of Christ and listen closely to the promptings of the Spirit, you will not be deceived (see Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:37).?
Jesus Christ, who was perfect, and Joseph Smith, who admitted that he was not, were both killed by false accusers who would not accept their testimony. How can we know that their testimony is true-that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Joseph Smith is a true prophet??
“By their fruits ye shall know them.” Can good fruit grow from a bad tree? I know for myself that my Redeemer has forgiven my sins and freed me of my personal yolk, bringing me to a state of happiness that I did not even know existed. And I know for myself that Joseph Smith was a prophet, because I have applied the simple promise in the Book of Mormon: “Ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ… and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 10:4). In simple words: look up.
Drawing Closer to God
Elder Terence M. Vinson
Of the Quorum of the Seventy
Members of this Church are entitled to, and many receive, a spiritual witness and make sacred covenants to follow the Lord. Yet despite that, some move towards Him while others do not. In which category are you?
God should be the center of our universe – our literal focal point. Is He, or is He sometimes far from the thoughts and intents of our hearts? (see Mosiah 5:13). Notice that it’s not just the thoughts of our hearts that are important, but the “intents”. How do our behavior and actions reflect the integrity of our intents?
<p style="margin: 0.
1pt 0cm; text-align: left;”>Our son, Ben, when he was 16 and speaking in stake conference asked the question: “How would you feel if someone promised you something every week and never kept the promise?” He continued: “Do we take seriously the promise we make when we partake of the sacrament and covenant to keep His commandments and always remember Him?”
The Lord gives us ways to help remember Him and His sustaining powers. One way is through that common lot we all share – adversity (Alma 32:6). As I look back at the trials I have faced, it is clear that they have resulted in my growth, understanding and empathy. They have drawn me closer to my Heavenly Father and His Son, with experiences and refining engraved into my heart.
“DECISIONS FOR ETERNITY”
Elder Russell M. Nelson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Your Heavenly Father has known you for a very long time. You, as His son or daughter, were chosen by Him to come to earth at this precise time, to be leaders in His great work on earth.19 You were chosen not for your bodily characteristics, but for your spiritual attributes, such as bravery, courage, integrity of heart, a thirst for truth, a hunger for wisdom, and a desire to serve others.
You developed some of these attributes premortally. Others you can develop here on
earth as you persistently seek them.
A pivotal spiritual attribute is that of self-mastery-the strength to place reason over appetite. Self-mastery builds a strong conscience. And your conscience determines your moral responses in difficult, tempting, and trying situations. Fasting helps your spirit to develop dominance over your physical appetites. Fasting also increases your access to heaven’s help, as it intensifies your prayers. Why the need for self-mastery? God implanted strong appetites within us for nourishment and love, vital for the human family to be perpetuated. When we master our appetites within the bounds of God’s laws, we can enjoy longer life, greater love, and consummate joy.
It is not surprising then, that most temptations to stray from God’s plan of happiness come through the misuse of those essential, God-given appetites. Controlling our appetites is not always easy. Not one of us manages them perfectly. Mistakes happen. Errors are made. Sins are committed. What can we do then? We can learn from them. And we can truly repent.
We can change our behavior. Our very desires can change. How? There is only one way. True change-permanent change -can come only through the healing, cleansing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He loves you-each of you! He allows you to access His power as you keep His commandments, eagerly, earnestly, and exactly. It is that simple and certain. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of change!
Til We Meet Again
President Thomas S. Monson
Of the First Presidency
I thank you for your prayers in my behalf and in behalf of all of the General Authorities and general officers of the Church. We are strengthened by them.
May Heaven’s blessings be with you. May your homes be filled with love and courtesy and with the Spirit of the Lord. May you constantly nourish your testimonies of the gospel, that they will be a protection to you against the buffetings of the adversary.
Conference is now over. As we return to our homes, may we do so safely. May the spirit we have felt here be and abide with us as we go about those things which occupy us each day. May we show increased kindness toward one another, and may we ever be found doing the work of the Lord.
My brothers and sisters, may God bless you. May His promised peace be with you now and always.