President Boyd K. Packer
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Times of war or uncertainty have a way of sharpening our focus on things that really matter.
World War II was a time of great spiritual turmoil for me. I had left my home in Brigham City, Utah, with only embers of a testimony and felt a need for something more. While stationed on the island of Ie Shima just north of Okinawa, Japan I struggled with doubt and uncertainty. I wanted a personal testimony of the gospel. I wanted to know!
During one sleepless night, I left my tent and entered a bunker which had been formed by lining up 50-gallon fuel drums filled sand and placed one on top of the other to form an enclosure. There was no roof, and so I crawled in, looked up at the star-filled sky, and knelt to pray.
Almost mid-sentence it happened. I could not describe to you what happened if I were determined to do so. It is beyond my power of expression, but it is as clear today as it was that night more than 65 years ago. I knew it to be a very private, very individual manifestation. At last I knew for myself. I knew for a certainty, for it had been given to me. After some time, I crawled from that bunker and walked, or floated, back to my bed. I spent the rest of the night in a feeling of joy and awe.
Far from thinking I was someone special, I thought that if such a thing came to me that it could come to anyone. I still believe that. In the years that have followed, I have come to understand that such an experience is at once a light to follow and a burden to carry.
Like most things of great worth, knowledge which is of eternal value comes only through personal prayer and pondering. These, joined with fasting and scripture study, will invite impressions and revelations and the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. This provides us with instruction from on high as we learn precept upon precepts.
One eternal truth that I have come to know is that God lives. He is our Father. We are His children. “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”
Of all the other titles that He could have used, He chose to be called “Father.” The Savior commanded, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven” (3 Nephi 13:9; see also Matthew 6:9). His use of the name “Father” is a lesson for all as we come to understand what it is that matters most in this life.
Parenthood is a sacred privilege and, depending upon faithfulness, it can be an eternal blessing. The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children can be happy at home.
Those who do not marry or those who cannot have children are not excluded from the eternal blessings they seek but which, for now, remain beyond their reach. We do not always know how or when blessings will present themselves, but the promise of eternal increase will not be denied any faithful individual who makes and keeps sacred covenants.
Your secret yearnings and tearful pleadings will touch the heart of both the Father and the Son. You will be given a personal assurance from them that your life will be full and that no blessing that is essential will be lost to you.
As a servant of the Lord, acting in the office to which I have been ordained, I give those in such circumstances a promise that there will be nothing essential to your salvation and exaltation that shall not in due time rest upon you. Arms now empty will be filled and hearts now hurting from broken dreams and yearning will be healed.
Another truth I have come to know is that the Holy Ghost is real. He is the third member of the Godhead. His mission is to testify of truth and righteousness. He manifests Himself in many ways, including feelings of peace and reassurance. He can also bring comfort, guidance, and correction when needed. The companionship of the Holy Ghost is maintained throughout our lives by righteous living.
The gift of the Holy Ghost is conferred through an ordinance of the gospel. One with authority lays his hands on the head of a new member of the Church and says words such as these: “Receive the Holy Ghost.”
A supernal truth that I have gained in my life is my witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Foremost and underpinning all that we do, anchored throughout the revelations, is the Lord’s name, which is the authority by which we act in the Church. Every prayer offered, even by little children, ends in the name of Jesus Christ. Every blessing, every ordinance, every ordination, every official act is done in the name of Jesus Christ. It is His Church, and it is named for Him- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In the Church we know who He is: Jesus Christ the Son of God. He is the Only Begotten of the Father.
Each Sunday across the world where congregations gather of any nationality or tongue the sacrament is blessed with the same words. We take upon ourselves the name of Christ and always remember Him. That is imprinted upon us.
Live True To the Faith
Elder William R. Walker
Of the Quorum of the Seventy
I love Church history. Perhaps like many of you my own faith is fortified when I learn of the remarkable dedication of our forefathers who accepted the Gospel and lived true to the faith.
One month ago, 12,000 wonderful youth from the Gilbert Arizona Temple District celebrated the completion of their new temple with an inspiring performance, demonstrating their commitment to live righteously. The theme of their celebration was “Live True- To the Faith.”
Just as those faithful Arizona youth have done, each Latter-day Saint should commit to “Live True to the Faith.
Whether or not you are a descendant of pioneers, the Mormon pioneer heritage of faith and sacrifice is your heritage. It is the noble heritage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
One of the most wonderful chapters in the history of the Church occurred when Wilford Woodruff, an Apostle of the Lord, was teaching the… gospel of Jesus Christ throughout Great Britain in 1840.
Wilford Woodruff, and other Apostles, had focused their work in the Liverpool and Preston areas of England, with considerable success.
Elder Woodruff’s prayers led to the inspiration to go to a different place to teach the Gospel.
President Monson has taught us that when we get the inspiration from heaven to do something – we do it now – we don’t procrastinate. That is exactly what Wilford Woodruff did. With clear direction from the Spirit to “go south,” Elder Woodruff left almost immediately and traveled to Herefordshire, England. Here he met a prosperous farmer named John Benbow, where he was welcomed “with glad hearts and thanksgiving.”
A group of over 600 people, who called themselves the United Brethren, had been “praying for light and truth.”
The Lord sent Wilford Woodruff as an answer to their prayers.
Elder Woodruff ‘s teaching bore fruit immediately and many were baptized. Brigham Young and Willard Richards joined him and the three Apostles had remarkable success.
In only a few months, they organized 33 branches for the 541 members who had joined the Church. Their remarkable work continued, and ultimately almost every one of the members ot the United Brethren were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
My Great Great Grandmother, Hannah Mariah Harris, was one of the first to listen to Wilford Woodruff. She informed her husband, Robert Harris, Jr., that she had heard the word of God and that she intended to be baptized. Robert was not pleased to hear his wife’s report. He told her he would accompany her to the next sermon given by the Mormon missionary and he would straighten him out.
Sitting near the front of the assembly, with a firm resolve to not be swayed, and perhaps to heckle the visiting preacher, Robert was immediately touched by the Spirit. He knew the message of the Restoration was true and he and his wife were baptized.
Their story of faith and devotion is similar to thousands of of others: when they heard the gospel message, they knew it was true!
As the scripture says: “My sheep hear my voice and i know them and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
Having heard the voice of the Shepherd, they fully committed their lives to living the gospel and following the direction of the Lord’s Prophet. Responding to the call to “gather to Zion,” they left behind their home in England, crossed the Atlantic and gathered with the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois.
They embraced the gospel with all their hearts. While trying to get established in their new land, they assisted in the building of the Nauvoo Temple by tithing their labor – spending every 10th day working on the construction of the Temple.
They were broken hearted at the news of the death of their beloved Prophet, Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum.
But they carried on! They stayed true to the faith.
When the Saints were persecuted and driven from Nauvoo, Robert and Mariah felt greatly blessed to receive their endowments in the temple, shortly before they crossed the Mississippi River and headed west. Although they were uncertain of what their future held, they were certain of their faith and their testimonies.
With six children, they slogged through mud as they crossed Iowa on their way west. They built for themselves a lean-to on the side of the Missouri River at what came to be known as Winter Quarters.
This band of intrepid pioneers waited for apostolic direction on how and when they would head further west. Everyone’s plans were altered when Brigham Young issued a call for men to volunteer to serve in the Mormon Battalion.
Robert Harris, Jr. was one of over 500 Mormon pioneer men who responded to the call. He enlisted even though it meant he would leave his pregnant wife and six children.
Why would he and the other men do such a thing?
The answer can be given in my Great Great Grandfather’s own words: In a letter that he wrote to his wife when the Battalion stopped briefly near Santa Fe, he wrote: “My faith is so strong as ever (and when I think of the things that Brigham Young told us), I believe it about the same as if the Great God had told me.”
Later in the letter he made this powerful statement:
“We must not forget the things which you and I heard and (seen) experienced in the Temple of the Lord.”
Combined with his earlier testimony that “we are led by a Prophet of God”, these two sacred admonitions have become like scripture to me.
18 months after departing with the Battalion, Robert Harris was safely reunited with his beloved Mariah. They stayed true and faithful to the Restored Gospel throughout their lives. They had 15 children, 13 of whom lived to maturity. My Grandmother, Fannye Walker, of Raymond, Alberta, Canada was one of their 136 grandchildren.
Grandma Walker was proud of the fact that her grandfather has served in the Mormon Battalion, and she wanted all of her grandchildren to know it. Now that I am a grandfather, I understand why it was so important to her. She wanted to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers. She wanted her grandchildren to know of their righteous heritage- because she knew it would bless their lives.
The more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wife and righteous choices.
And so it is. Each of us will be greatly blessed if we know the stories of faith and sacrifice that led our forefathers to join the Lord’s church.
… We must not forget that we are led by a Prophet of God.
I testify that we ARE led by a Prophet of God.
The Lord restored His Church in the Latter Days through the Prophet Joseph Smith and we must not forget that we have been led by an unbroken chain of Prophets of God from Joseph to Brigham and thru each succeeding President of the Church to our prophet today – Thomas S. Monson.
Obedience Through Our Faithfulness
Elder L. Tom Perry
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The family home evenings Sister Perry and I have been holding each Monday night have suddenly increased in size. My brother, his daughter, Barbara’s brother and a niece and her husband have moved into our condominium complex. It is the only time I have been blessed having family live near me since I was a boy. Then my family lived on the same block with several members of my mother’s extended family. Grandfather Sonne’s home was next door to the north and Aunt Emma’s home was next door on the south. On the south side of the block lived Aunt Josephine and on the east side was where Uncle Alma lived.
During my boyhood, we interacted with members of our extended family daily and shared special moments of working, playing, and visiting together. We could not get in a great deal of mischief without a report reaching our mothers. Even if they live relatively close to each other, they do not often live next door. Still I have to believe that my boyhood and current situation are a little like heaven with my beloved family members living close to each other. It serves as a constant reminder to me of the eternal nature of family unites.
When I was growing up I had a special relationship with my grandfather. As the oldest son in my family, I removed snow in the winter and cared for the lawn in the summer for our home and my grandfather’s home and the homes of my two aunts. Grandfather usually sat on his front porch as I mowed his lawn. When I finished, I would sit on his front steps and visit with me. Those moments are treasured memories for me.
One day I asked my grandfather how I would know if I was always doing the right thing, given life presents so many choices? As my grandfather usually did, he answered with an experience from farm life.
He taught me about breaking in a team of horses so that they would work together. He explained that a team of horses must always know who is in charge. One key to asserting control and directing a horse is a harness and bit. If a member of the team ever believes that it does not need to obey the will of the driver, the team will never pull and work together to maximize their ability.
Now let’s examine the lesson my grandfather using this example.
Who is the driver of the team of horses? My grandfather believed it is the Lord. He is the one with a purpose and a plan. He is also the trainer and builder of the team of horses, and, in turn, each individual horse. The driver knows best, and the only way for a horse to know he is always doing the right thing is to be obedient and follow the driver’s lead.
What was my grandfather likening to a harness and bit? I believed then as I believe now that my grandfather was teaching me to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. In his mind’s eye, the harness and bit were spiritual. An obedient horse, which is part of a well-trained team of horses, needs little more than a gentle tug from the driver to do exactly what he wants it to do. This gentle tug is the equivalent of the still small voice with which the Lord speaks to us. Out of respect for our agency, it is never a strong, forceful tug.
Men and women who ignore the gentle promptings of the Spirit will often learn, as the Prodigal Son learned, through the natural consequences of disobedience and riotous living. It was only after natural consequences humbled the Prodigal Son that he “came to himself ‘ and heard the whisperings of the Spirit tell him to return to his father’s house (see Luke 15:11-32).
So the lesson my grandfather taught me was always to be ready to receive the gentle tug of the Spirit. He taught me that I would always receive such a prompting if I began to veer off course. And I would never be guilty of more serious wrongdoing if I allowed the Spirit to guide my decisions in life.
As James 3:3 states:
Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
We must be sensitive to our spiritual bits. Even with the slightest tug from the Master, we must be willing to completely alter our course. To succeed in life, we must teach our spirit and body to work together in obedience to God’s commandments. If we heed the gentle promptings of the Holy Ghost, it can unite our spirits and bodies in purpose and guide us back to our eternal home to live with our Father in Heaven.
The kind of obedience my grandfather described in his example of a team of horses also requires a special trust-that is, an absolute faith in the driver of the team. The lesson my grandfather taught me, therefore, also alluded to the first principle of the Gospel-faith in Jesus Christ.
Too often we think of obedience as the passive and thoughtless following of the orders or dictates of a higher authority. Actually, at its best, obedience is an emblem of our faith in the wisdom and power if the highest authority, even God. When Abraham demonstrated unwavering faithfulness and obedience to God, even when commanded to sacrifice his son, God rescued him. Similarly, when we demonstrate our faithfulness through obedience, God will ultimately rescue us.
Those who rely solely on themselves and follow only their own desires and self-inclinations are so limited when compared to those who follow God and tap into his sight, power and gifts. It has been said, “Someone who is all wrapped up in himself or herself makes a very small package.” Strong, proactive obedience is anything but weak or passive. It is the means by which we declare our faith in God and qualify ourselves to receive the powers of heaven. Obedience is a choice. It is a choice between our own limited knowledge and power and God’s unlimited wisdom and omnipotence. According to the lesson of my grandfather, it is a choice to sense the spiritual bit in our mouths and to follow the driver’s lead.
The Prophet Joseph Smith
Elder Lawrence E.
Of the Seventy
The First Vision
A young boy reads the Bible and his eyes pause on a singular passage of scripture. This is a moment that will change the world.
He is anxious to know which church can lead him to truth and salvation. He has tried almost everything else and now he turns to the Bible and reads these words: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
He reflects on them over and over again. The first glimmer of light penetrates the darkness. Is this the answer, the way out of confusion and darkness? Can it be this simple? Ask God and He will answer? At length he decides he must either ask God or ever remain in the darkness and confusion.
And yet as anxious as he is, he doesn’t run to a quiet corner and rattles off a hurried prayer. He is only fourteen, but in his haste to know, he is not hasty. This is not to be just any prayer. He decides where to go and when to make the attempt. He prepares to talk to God.
And then the day comes. It is the morning of a beautiful clear day, early in the spring of 1820. He walks alone into the stillness of the nearby woods beneath the trees that tower above him. He reaches the place where he previously designed to go. He kneels and offers up the desires of his heart.
Describing what happens next he says:
“… saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me…When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – (Joseph,) This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”
Only 24 years later, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum will die because of what began here.
Joseph said that when he was seventeen an angel told him that his “name (would) be had for good and evil among all nations… among all people.” This prophecy is continuing to be fulfilled today as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has spread throughout the world.
Opposition, criticism and antagonism are companions to the truth. Whenever the truth is revealed with regard to the purpose and destiny of man, there will be a force to oppose it. Beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, down to the ministry of Christ and on to our day there will always be an effort to deceive, derail, oppose and frustrate the plan of life.
Look for the biggest dust cloud billowing above the most dirt that is kicked at One who was opposed, challenged and rejected, beaten, abandoned and crucified, One who descended below all things, and there you will find the Truth, the Son of God, the Savior of all mankind. Why did they not leave Him alone?
Why? Because He is the Truth and the truth will always be opposed.
And then look for one who brought forth another testament of Jesus Christ and other scripture, look for one who was the instrument by which the fullness of the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ were restored to the earth, look for him and expect to find the dirt flying.
Why not leave him alone?
Why? Because He taught the Truth and the truth will always be opposed.
The flood of revelation
The revelations poured out upon Joseph Smith affirm that he was a prophet of God. Let’s just look at some of them, just look at some of the light and truth revealed through him that shines in stark contrast to the common beliefs of his day and ours.
God is a personal, exalted being, an Eternal Father. He is our Father.
God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are separate beings.
You are more than human. You are child of God the Eternal Father and may become like Him if you will have faith in His Son, repent, receive ordinances, receive the Holy Ghost and endure to the end.
The Church of Jesus Christ today is fundamentally the same Church He organized during His mortal ministry, with prophets and apostles, Melchizedek and Levitical Priesthoods, elders, highs priests, deacons, teachers, bishops, and the seventy, all as described in the Bible.
Priesthood authority was withheld from the earth following the deaths of the Savior and His Apostles and was restored again in our day.
Revelation has not ceased and the heavens are not closed. God speaks to prophets today and He will speak to you and me as well.
There is more after this life than only heaven and hell. There are degrees of glory and it matters a great deal what we do in this life.
More than a mere passive belief in Christ we should “look unto Him in every thought,” “do all that (we do) in the name of the Son,” “always remember Him and keep His commandment that (we) may always have His spirit to be with (us).”
The billions who live and die without the gospel and the ordinances necessary for salvation are not lost. Through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” administered for both the living and the dead.”
Everything did not begin at birth. You lived before in the presence of God as His son or daughter and prepared for this mortal life.”
Marriage and family are not conventions of men only until death do us part. They are intended to be eternal by covenants we make with God. The family is the pattern of heaven.”
There is no dispute about what Joseph Smith accomplished, only how he did what he did and why. And there are not many options.He was either pretender or prophet. Either he did what he did alone or he had the help of heaven. Look at the evidence, but look at all of the evidence, the entire mosaic of his life, not any single piece.
Most importantly, do as young Joseph and “…ask…God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (you).”
If Ye Lack Wisdom
Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis
Of the Quorum of the Seventy
The other day, my 10-year-old son was studying about the human brain on the Internet. He wants to be a surgeon one day. It is easy to notice that he is a lot smarter than I am.
We like the Internet. At home we communicate with family and friends through social media, e-mail, and other ways. My children do much of their school work through the Internet.
Whatever the question is, if we need more information, we search it online. In seconds, we have a lot of material. This is marvelous.
The Internet provides many opportunities for learning. However, Satan wants us to be miserable, and he distorts the real purpose He uses this great tool to promote doubt and fear, and destroy faith and hope.
With so much available on the Internet, one must carefully consider where to apply his efforts. Satan can keep us busy, distracted, and infected by sifting through information, much of which can be pure garbage.
One should not roam through garbage.
Listen to this guidance, provided by the scriptures:
“… the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know … it is of God.”
In a real sense, we face the same dilemma that Joseph Smith faced in his youth. We, too, often find ourselves lacking wisdom.
In the Kingdom of God the search for truth is appreciated, encouraged, and repressed or feared. Church members are strongly counseled by the Lord himself to seek for knowledge. He said:
“. ..seek ye diligently …yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” However, how can we recognize truth in a world that is increasingly more blunt in its attacks to the things pertaining to God?
The scriptures teach us how:
First, we can know the truth by observing its fruits.
During his great Sermon on the Mount the Lord said:
“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
The prophet Mormon taught this same principle when he said:
“… by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.”
We invite all to study the fruits and the works of this Church.
Those who are interested in the truth will be able to recognize the difference that the Church and its members make in the communities where they are established. They will also note the improvement in the lives of those who follow its teachings. Those who examine these fruits will discover that the fruits of the Church are delicious and desirable.
Second, we can find truth by experimenting on the word ourselves.
The prophet Alma taught:
“… we will compare the word unto a seed… if he give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, [and] if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, … behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and … ye will begin to say within yourself- it must … be that this is a good seed, … for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginning to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
… And now, …will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith…
… for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.”
What a superb invitation by a prophet of the Lord! This could be compared to a scientific experiment. We are invited to test the word, we are given parameters, and we are told the outcome of the test, if we follow the instructions.
Thus, the scriptures teach us that we can know the truth by observing its fruits; or, by experimenting with it personally, giving a place for the word in our hearts, and cultivating it, like unto a seed.
There is yet third way to know the truth, and that is by personal revelation.
Doctrine and Covenants Section 8 teaches that revelation is knowledge. Knowledge of “whatsoever things we … ask in faith, with an honest heart, and believing that we shall receive …”
And the Lord tells us how we will receive the revelation. He says, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.”
Thus, we are taught that revelation can be obtained by asking in faith, with an honest heart, and believing we will receive.
The Lord made it very clear when He warned, “Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith.” Faith requires work – work such as studying it out in your mind, then asking the Lord if it is right. The Lord said, “if it is right, I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong.” Faith without works is dead. Thus, “ask in faith, nothing wavering.”
Alma added, “…he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.”
Alma and the sons of Mosiah are examples of the principle that faith requires works.
In the Book of Mormon we read, “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 …”
Asking with an honest heart is equally important in this process. If we are sincerely seeking the truth, we will do all in our power to find it, which can include reading the scriptures, going to church, and doing our best to keep the commandments of God. It also means that we are willing to do God’s will when we find it.
Joseph Smith’s actions when he was seeking for wisdom are a perfect example of what it means to means to have an honest heart. He said he wanted to know which of the sects was true, so “that [he] might know which to join.” Even before he prayed, he was ready to act upon the answer he would receive.
We must ask in faith and with an honest heart. But that is not all; we must also believe that we will receive the revelation. We must trust the Lord and have hope in His promises. Remember what it written: “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men, liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” What a wonderful promise!
I invite all to seek truth from any of these methods, but especially from God through personal revelation. God will reveal truth to those who seek for it as prescribed in the scriptures. It requires more effort than to just search the Internet. But it is worth it.”
For Where Your Treasure Is
Elder Michael John U. Teh
Of the Seventy
Last January, my sweetheart, Grace, and I received an assignment to visit the members in the Philippines who were devastated by a major earthquake and a super typhoon. We rejoiced because the assignment was an answer to our prayers and a testament to the mercy and goodness of a loving Father in Heaven. It provided some closure to our longing to personally express to them our love and concern.
Most of the members we met were still in temporary shelters like tents, community centers, and church meetinghouses. The homes we visited had either partial roofing or no roofing at all. The people did not have much to begin with and what little they had was swept away. There was mud and debris everywhere. However, they were full of gratitude for the little help they received. When we asked how they were coping, everyone responded with a resounding “We’re okay.” Obviously, their faith in Jesus Christ gave them hope that everything would work out eventually. Home after home, tent after tent, Sister Teh and I were being taught by these faithful Saints.
In times of calamity or tragedy, the Lord has a way of refocusing us and our priorities. All of a sudden, all the material things we worked so hard to acquire do not matter. All that matters is our family and our relationships with others. One good sister put it this way: “After the water receded and it was time to begin cleaning up, I looked around my home and thought, ‘Wow, I have accumulated a lot of garbage these many years.’ “
In working with many members over the years, we have been pleased to observe an abundance of spiritual strength. We have also seen both abundance and a lack of material possessions among these faithful members.
Out of necessity, most of us are involved in earning money and acquiring some of the world’s good to be able to sustain our families. It requires a good part of our time and attention. There is no end to what the world has to offer, so it is critical that we learn to recognize when we have enough. If we are not careful, we will begin to chase after the temporal more than than the spiritual. Our pursuit for the spiritual and eternal will then take a back seat instead of the other way around. Sadly, there appears to be a strong inclination to acquire more and more and to own the latest and the most sophisticated.
How do we make sure that we are not drawn down this path? Jacob gives this counsel:
“Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.”
I hope none of us spend money for that which is of no worth, nor labor for that which does not satisfy.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
A crushing sense of defeat and despair enveloped His disciples as Jesus suffered and died on the cross and his body was placed lifeless in the tomb. Despite what the Savior had repeatedly said of His death and subsequent rising again, they had not understood. The dark afternoon of His Crucifixion, however, was soon followed by the joyous morning of His resurrection. But that joy came only as the disciples became eyewitnesses of the Resurrection, for even the declaration of angels that He had risen was at first incomprehensible – it was something so totally unprecedented.
Mary Magdalene and a few other faithful women came early to the Savior’s tomb that Sunday morning bringing spices and ointments to complete the anointing begun when the Lord’s body was hastily laid in the sepulcher before the approaching Sabbath. On this morning of mornings, they were greeted by an open sepulcher, the covering stone having been rolled away, and two angels who declared, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
“Come see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.”
As bidden by the angels, Mary Magdalene looked into the tomb, but it seems all that registered in her mind was that the body of the Lord was gone. She hurried to report to the apostles, and finding Peter and John, said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.” Peter and John ran to the place and verified that indeed the tomb was empty, seeing “the linen clothes lying … and the napkin that was about his head .
.. wrapped together in a place by itself.” John apparently was the first to comprehend the magnificent message of resurrection. He writes that “he saw, and believed” whereas the others to that point, “knew not the scripture, that [Jesus] must rise again from the dead.”
Peter and John left, but Mary remained behind still in mourning. In the meantime, the angels had returned and tenderly asked her, “Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” At that moment, the resurrected Savior now standing behind her spoke, “Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him [pleading], Sir, if thou have borne him hence tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”
And so, this blessed woman became the first mortal to see and speak to the resurrected Christ. Later that same day, He appeared to Peter in or near Jerusalem; to two disciples on the road to Emmaus; and in the evening to ten of the apostles and others, appearing suddenly in their midst, saying, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Then to further convince them “while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered;” He ate broiled fish and honeycomb before them. Later he instructed them, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Beyond these confirmed witnesses in Jerusalem, we have the incomparable ministry of the risen Lord to ancient inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere. In the land Bountiful He descended from heaven and invited the assembled throng to come forward one by one until they had all gone forth, thrusting their hands into His side and feeling the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet.
Christ’s resurrection shows that His existence is independent and everlasting. “For as the Father hath life in himself; so he hath given to the Son to have life in himself.”
By His Atonement and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has overcome all aspects of the Fall. Physical death will be temporary, and even spiritual death has an end, in that all come back into the presence of God, at least temporarily, to be judged. We can have ultimate trust and confidence in His power to overcome all else and grant us everlasting life.
Having satisfied the demands of justice, Christ now steps into the place of justice; or we might say He is justice, just as He is love. Likewise, besides being a perfect just God, He is a perfect merciful God. Thus, the Savior makes all things right. No injustice in mortality is permanent, even death, for He restores life again. No injury, disability, betrayal, or abuse goes uncompensated in the end because of His ultimate justice and mercy.
By the same token, we are all accountable to Him for our lives, our choices and our actions, even our thoughts. Having redeemed us from the Fall, our lives are in reality His.
Consider for a moment the significance of the Resurrection in resolving once and for all the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth and the great philosophical contests and questions of life. If Jesus was in fact literally resurrected, it necessarily follows that He is a divine being. No mere mortal has the power in himself to come to life again after dying. Because He was resurrected Jesus cannot have been only a carpenter, a teacher, a rabbi, or a prophet. Because He was resurrected Jesus had to have been a God, even the Only Begotten Son of the Father.
Given the reality of the Resurrection of Christ, doubts about his omnipotence, omniscience, and benevolence of God the Father – who gave His Only Begotten Son for the redemption of the world – are groundless. Doubts about the meaning and purpose of life are unfounded. Jesus Christ is in fact the only name or way by which salvation can come to mankind. The grace of Christ is real, affording both forgiveness and cleansing to the repentant sinner. Faith truly is more than imagination or psychological invention. There is ultimate and universal truth, and there are objective and unchanging moral standards as taught by Him. Repentance of any violation of His law and commandments is an urgent matter. The Savior’s miracles are real, as is His promise to his disciples that they might do the same.
See President Monson’s closing remarks from Sunday Afternoon here.