Church leaders urge members to keep an eternal focus and seek to see God’s love in first session of General Conference

President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring sit on either side of President Russell M. Nelson’s empty chair. President Nelson is viewing conference sessions from home due to recent health challenges. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

President Henry B. Eyring opened the Saturday morning session of the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He excused President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Church and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, member of the Quorum of the Twelve, who were not in attendance at the Conference Center due to recent health challenges. President Eyring also expressed condolences for the recent passing of Sister Patricia T. Holland, wife of Elder Holland.

“I will be watching General Conference through technology just as most of you,” President Nelson said on Friday, Sept. 29 in his social media post. He also said he hopes he will be able to record his message and share it during conference.

Elder David A. Bednar addresses those watching General Conference. He expressed gratitude to saints who serve selflessly and often go unnamed or unrecognized. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

The first speaker, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve, commended the “stalwart souls” whose names may not be known to the greater population or recorded on histories. Like the pioneers of the last wagon in each company which came west during the early days of the Church, those today who serve faithfully contribute indispensably to the work of the Lord. 

“I am grateful for millions of Church members who today are coming unto the Savior and pressing forward on the covenant path in the last wagons of our contemporary wagon trains — and who truly are no less serviceable,” Elder Bednar said.

Elder Bednar called attention to the saints who diligently serve “in the path of their duty,” often anonymously. 

“It felt like he was talking to me and all the people who feel forgotten,” said Natasha Davies from Vacaville, California.

Elder Bednar said devoted disciples who selflessly submit to the Lord’s timeline and offer their whole souls to God will receive all promised blessings.

“I promise your personal anguish will be relieved and your obedience and faithfulness to patiently submit your will to God will be rewarded in the own due time of the Lord,” he said.

Sister Amy A. Wright, first counselor in the Primary General Presidency, shares an experience when she received the Lord’s answer. She expressed gratitude for being spiritually prepared when challenges came her way. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Sister Amy A. Wright, first counselor in the Primary General Presidency, talked about spiritual preparation and discipleship. Citing the parable of the ten virgins, she reminded members that continuously putting oil in their lamps is essential. 

“I have learned from personal experience that spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord is not only essential but the only way to find true peace and happiness,” Sister Wright said.

Sister Wright explained no matter what challenges are presented in life, “Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to abide the day.”

Elder Robert M. Daines of the Seventy spoke about overcoming being “spiritually face-blind.” He asked members to consider why they are keeping the commandments. He reminded members that when they only see rules they fail to see the sacrifice and love God has for His children.

Elder Daines counseled members to seek to see God’s love through looking for it in the scriptures. 

“Try writing down every time He praises or heals or eats with an outsider, and you will run low on ink before you leave Luke,” Elder Daines said.

Gerardo Ramirez, a youth visiting from Waller, Texas, found that Elder Daines’s words inspired him to make some changes.

“I am gonna start looking at the rules and doing things in a different — an eternal perspective,” Ramirez said.

Elder Daines reassured that in looking for the love of God in His commandments, He will reach out to offer hope.

“Covenants are the shape of God’s embrace,” Elder Daines said.

Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy brought attention to the consequences of decisions. Specifically, Elder Godoy addressed those who have left activity in the Church or have lived “lukewarm” in their covenants.

“As we make current decisions, we should always be asking, ‘Where will this lead?’” Elder Godoy said, warning current decisions made need to consider the eternal effect it will have on future family generations.

“Don’t be the weak link in this beautiful chain of faith you started, or you received, as a legacy. Be the strong one. It is your turn to do it and the Lord can help you,” he said.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson speaks to Church members and friends across the world. He explained that the sealing power of Elijah puts the seal of legitimacy on all living and proxy ordinances of the gospel. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve explained the sealing power restored through the prophet Elijah was essential to bind ordinances on earth with the eternities.

Elder Christofferson quoted Joseph Smith when he said, “Why send Elijah? Because he holds the keys of the authority to administer in all the ordinances of the Priesthood; and (unless) the authority is given, the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness.”

Sealing power restored, as Elder Christofferson explained, puts the seal of legitimacy on all living and proxy ordinances of the gospel.

Elder Ian S. Ardern of the Seventy encouraged members to respond with life-changing compassion.

“Your good works (have) brightened the lives and lightened the load of a people in desperate need and God was glorified,” Elder Ardem said.

Elder Dallin H. Oak talks about the Plan of Salvation. He explained the reason the Church focuses on striving to obtain the Celestial kingdom by becoming like Christ. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, explained Jesus Christ taught us the gospel of becoming. 

“It is not enough to be convinced of the gospel; we must act and think so that we are converted by it,” President Oaks said.

Developing Christlike qualities is the reason God has revealed commandments, covenants and ordinances. 

“He has given us the teachings and the opportunity to make the choices that will assure us the destiny and the life we choose,” President Oaks said.

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