President Henry B. Eyring: Where Two or Three are Gathered
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency opened the Saturday Morning Session of the 186th Annual General Conference with a message dedicated to helping those taking part in conference soften their hearts and prepare to receive the messages.
“Where and when we feel the closeness of the Savior depends on each of us,” he said.
Eyring said he received two letters from individuals pleading for help to feel the same joy they had felt at the time of their individual conversions.
He related their desire to the parable of the seed and the sower.
“We all have had seeds, or the word of God, planted in our hearts at one time,” he said.
President Eyring said that all participating in the conference have the opportunity to soften their heart and receive the word of God.
He said those who will be delivering messages sought the Holy Ghost’s guidance through prayer as they prepared their messages.
“They have prayed to have the power to encourage you to make the choices that will create in your heart a more fertile ground for the good word of God to grow and be fruitful,” he said. “If you listen with the spirit, you will find your heart softened, your faith strengthened, and your capacity to love the Lord increased.”
President Eyring encouraged people to prepare their hearts for the messages by praying throughout the conference — praying during the songs, prayers, as someone approaches the pulpit and as they get ready to close their message.
“Your choice to pray with full purpose of heart will transform your experience in the conference sessions and in the days and months to follow,” he said.
Sister Mary R. Durham, Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency: A Child’s Guiding Gift
Sister Mary R. Durham shared a message about the Holy Ghost’s ability to release the burdens of life.
“It is a source often underestimated, yet it can be used daily to lighten our load and guide our precious children,” she said.
She gave some suggestions for parents to help their children increase their spiritual capacity in their lives.
“First, we can bring to our children’s attention when they are hearing and feeling the Spirit,” she said.
She told the story of Samuel from the Old Testament who as a youth struggled to recognize the Spirit speaking to him but after multiple experiences became accustomed to his voice.
“Second, we can prepare our homes and our children to feel the still, small voice,” Sister Durham said.
She compared this method to people participating in ‘immersion programs’ to help them learn a foreign language.
“Third, we can help our children understand how the Spirit speaks to them,” she said.
Sister Durham told the story of a mother who recognized that her children each have different learning styles and came to the conclusion that the Holy Ghost would teach them in the way that they would be the most receptive.
Sister Durham said that as parents help their children recognize the Spirit communicating with them, they will not need to worry as their children enter new stages of their lives.
“We have taught them to live for the guiding gift of the Spirit,” she said. “This gift will continue to lighten the weight they carry and lead them back to their heavenly home, if they live for it and follow its promptings.”
Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, of the Presidency of the Seventy: I Am a Child of God
Elder Hallstrom spoke of the importance behind the doctrine of all mankind being children of God.
“This doctrine is so basic, so oft stated and so instinctively simple that it can seem to be ordinary, when in reality it is among the most extraordinary knowledge we can obtain,” he said. “A correct understanding of our heavenly heritage is essential to exaltation. It is foundational to comprehending the glorious Plan of Salvation and to nurturing faith in the firstborn of the Father, Jesus the Christ and in his merciful Atonement.”
He said that because of the amount of distractions in life, it becomes easier for people to gradually go from feeling casual about their connection with God to even forgetting it.
“In today’s world, no matter where we live and no matter what our circumstances are, it is essential that our preeminent identity is as a child of God,” he said. “Knowing that will allow our faith to flourish, we will motivate our continual repentance, and will provide the strength to be ‘steadfast and immovable’ throughout our mortal journey.”
Elder Gary E. Stevenson: Where Are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood?
Elder Gary E. Stevenson’s message was directed especially to helping young men and women understand the distinction between and need for priesthood power and priesthood keys.
He said the first step to understanding the necessity of the keys and authority of the priesthood is to know the definition of each.
“Priesthood keys control the exercise of priesthood authority,” he said. “Ordinances that create a record in the Church require keys and cannot be done without authorization.”
He then gave three steps in which young men and women could find ways that the priesthood keys and authority can bless their lives: attending the temple, preparing for missionary service, and going forward with faith.
“I pray that you, the rising generation of young men and women will ‘press forward with a steadfastness in Christ,’ that you you may understand that it is your sacred privilege to act under the direction of those who hold the priesthood keys that will unlock for you the blessings, gifts and powers of heaven.”
Elder Kevin R. Duncan: The Healing Ointment of Forgiveness
Elder Kevin R. Duncan shared a message about why people must forgive their offenders to feel peace and receive forgiveness themselves.
“Even though we may be a victim once, we need not be a victim twice by carrying the burden of hate, bitterness, pain, resentment of even revenge,” he said. “We can forgive, and we can be free.”
Elder Duncan said he thinks that most people probably want to forgive someone, but find it hard to do.
“As we strive to forgive others, let us also try to remember that we are all growing spiritually, but we are all at different levels,” he said.
He said that one key to forgiving others is to make an effort to see them as God does.
He recited the story of Saul of Tarsus, who was known for tormenting the Church. He then pointed out how Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul.
“We all have, in our own lives, Saul-like individuals with Paul-like potential,” he said. “Can you imagine how our families, communities and the world at large might change if we all tried to see each other as God sees us?”
Elder Steven E. Snow: Be Thou Humble
Elder Steven E. Snow taught of the importance of both teaching children how to be humble and how to embrace the attribute as an adult.
“Humility enables us to be better parents, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, neighbors and friends,” he said. “On the other hand, unnecessary pride can dissolve family relationships, break up marriages and destroy friendships.”
He said that sometimes, life naturally brings opportunities to individuals to develop humility.
“If we choose to be spiritually attuned and remain humble and teachable, our prayers become more earnest and faith and testimony will grow as we overcome the tribulations of mortal existence,” he said.
Elder Dale G. Renlund: That I Might Draw All Men Unto Me
Elder Dale G. Renlund spoke of individuals’ need to draw near to the Savior.
“The closer we are to Jesus Christ in thoughts and intents of our hearts, the more we appreciate His innocent suffering, the more grateful we are for grace and forgiveness, and the more we want to repent and become like Him,” he said.
He said that though one’s absolute distance between they and the Lord is important, it is one’s direction that is most important.
“To draw closer to our Savior, we must increase our faith in Him, make and keep covenants and have the Holy Ghost with us,” he said.
Elder Renlund said one of the best ways to draw nearer to the Lord is by conscientiously preparing for and partaking of the Sacrament on a weekly basis.
“The sacrament truly helps us to know our Savior,” he said. “It also reminds us of His innocent suffering.”
Elder Renlund invited everyone to draw nearer to the Lord.
“No matter where you stand in your relationship to God, I invite you to draw nearer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, the Ultimate Benefactors and Givers of all that is good,” he said.