Leaders teach with scripture stories during Sunday morning session

Presidents Dallin H. Oaks, Russell M. Nelson and Henry B. Eyring take their seats before the start of the Sunday morning session of General Conference. Church leaders emphasized principles from scripture stories during this session. (Decker Westenburg)

Church leaders taught through scripture stories during the Sunday morning session of the 192nd Annual General Conference. They shared solutions for modern problems through principles from the stories of Jesus Christ, Esther, Joseph of Egypt and others in the scriptures.

President Russell M. Nelson shared his heartache over the Russia-Ukraine War. He said that even though individuals cannot end wars, they can still control their own behavior and choose to end conflicts “raging in your heart, your home and your life.”

He asked conferencegoers to develop “spiritual momentum” to keep them from being swept away by intensifying darkness and wickedness. President Nelson shared the example of Moses having to discern between God and Satan and how he was able to cast Satan out of his life once he recognized the difference. He encouraged listeners to do the same. 

President Nelson said people can gain spiritual momentum by following five principles: staying on the covenant path, finding joy in daily repentance, learning about God and how He works, seeking and expecting miracles, and ending personal conflicts. 

President Nelson issued a challenge to listeners to end a conflict in their lives that has been weighing them down in the next two weeks before Easter.

“As you act on these pursuits, I promise you the ability to move forward on the covenant path with increased momentum, despite whatever obstacles you face,” he said. “I promise you greater strength to resist temptation, more peace of mind and freedom from fear and greater unity in your families.”

Trust God

Elder D. Todd Christofferson speaks during the Sunday morning session of General Conference. Church leaders emphasized principles from scripture stories during this session. (Decker Westenburg)

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve encouraged listeners to find joy by trusting in God. He pointed out the “mortal myopia” in the assumptions people make about God’s timing in their lives based on the hardships they endure.

He warned listeners against thinking God’s plan is a “cosmic vending machine” where they can expect certain blessings based on the commandments they keep, citing examples of spiritual and modern figures who faced hardship not because of inadequacy or sin but because God wanted to refine them. 

People should keep the commandments because they will help them become refined into saints, not because of some “celestial tally,” he said. Elder Christofferson also reminded conferencegoers that life’s refining process is not supposed to be easy.

“In the midst of this refiner’s fire, rather than get angry with God, get close to God,” he said. “In the end, it is the blessing of a close and abiding relationship with the Father and the Son that we seek. It makes all the difference and is everlastingly worth the cost.”

General Authority Seventy Elder Michael T. Ringwood also shared stories from the Old Testament, which is being studied in the Come, Follow Me program this year. He encouraged conferencegoers to study the Old Testament to see the role prophets play in times of uncertainty and understand how to see God’s hand in a confusing world.

“It is also about humble believers who faithfully looked forward to the coming of our Savior, just as we look forward to and prepare for His Second Coming — His long-prophesied, glorious return,” Elder Ringwood said.

Heal wounds 

Sister Amy A. Wright, second counselor in the Primary General Presidency, instructed listeners on how they can heal broken relationships with God and others as well as broken parts of themselves.

She gave a new perspective on the story of the woman taken in adultery in John 8. Sister Wright pointed out readers know only one facet of her story and that sometimes people condemn others based on one portion of another’s life.

“No one’s life can be understood by one magnificent moment or one regrettable public disappointment,” she said. “The purpose of these scriptural accounts is to help us see that  Jesus Christ was the answer then, and He is the answer now.”

Sister Wright talked about connecting with others while being treated in a cancer treatment facility. She learned from this experience that deliverance from hardship will look different for everyone. 

“Our focus should be less about the way in which we are delivered and more about the Deliverer Himself. Our emphasis should always be on Jesus Christ!” she said. “Exercising faith in Christ means trusting not only in God’s will but also in His timing, for He knows exactly what we need and precisely when we need it.”

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve expanded this idea of healing. He discussed how Christ served others even when they hurt him, the persecution that followed the early Church and how Church donations today help others experiencing oppression.

He emphasized the blessings of religious freedom and focused on how loving God helps churchgoers find hope, serve others and experience unifying values.

“Brothers and Sisters. I invite you to champion the cause of religious freedom,” Elder Rasband said. “It is an expression of the God-given principle of agency.”

Teach others

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve asked conferencegoers to “Love, share and invite.” He said the important thing is not how others respond but that people choose to keep serving and loving others anyway.

He pointed out that people constantly share with others what movies they’ve seen, jokes they find funny or quotes that inspire them. He asked listeners to also start sharing what they love about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“When it comes to missionary work, God doesn’t need you to be His sheriff; He does, however, ask that you be His sharer,” Elder Stevenson said. “Whenever we show Christlike love towards our neighbor, we preach the gospel — even if we  do not voice a single word.”

Elder Ringwood said the reason people are supposed to serve others and help each other get back to Heavenly Father is that it helps them become like Christ.

“We are the focus of our Heavenly Father’s plan and the reason for our Savior’s mission,” he said. “We can remember Nephi’s response when faced with something he didn’t understand: while he didn’t know the meaning of all things, he knew that  God loves his children.”

General Authority Seventy Elder Hugo E. Martinez also added to the message of helping others come back to God when he told listeners how to teach self-reliance to children. 

He said parents and leaders can help their youth begin the lifelong process of becoming self-reliant by being a good example, studying the scriptures with them and working and serving alongside them.

Conferencegoers take photos of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square before the start of the Sunday morning session of General Conference. Church leaders emphasized principles from scripture stories during this session. (Decker Westenburg)
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