I had a wonderful day listening to the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is a semi-annual conference of uplifting spiritual and Christ-centered messages. It has renewed my faith in Jesus Christ and in my Heavenly Father’s plan for me and all His children, and it has provided me with clear instruction and direction what I should be doing tomorrow and in the next 6 months to draw closer to God and be more like Jesus.
There was confirmed to me the impressions and thoughts I have been having for weeks and months now, all centered on a single sentence from the Bible Dictionary entry for Prayer, as I wrote about last week. “As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part.”
I heard that simple doctrine taught clearly this morning by President Uchtdorf. I have long marveled at the fact that the very first lesson in the Primary manual for Nursery (for children 18 months – 3 years old) and for Sunbeams (for children 3-4 years old) is titled “I Am A Child Of God”. The first lesson of the Gospel Principles manual, used in the class for newly baptized members and those investigating the Church is “Our Heavenly Father”, or in other words, I am a Child of God. The very first principle taught in the first lesson outlined in Preach My Gospel, the guide to missionary service, is God is our Loving Heavenly Father, or, turned around – I am a Child of God. When Moses spoke with God, as described in the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, after God introduces himself, declaring “I am the Lord God Almighty” he then turns to Moses and teaches him, “And, behold, thou art my son.”
The very first thing we want anybody learning about this Church to know and understand is that they are a child of God. That knowledge, the understanding of that simple, literal relationship changes us and must influence all of our other decisions in life. If I am a child of God, then God is my Father and loves me perfectly as a Father does, and sacrifices for me as a Father does, and wants more for me than I want for myself as a Father does.
When I understand that then his commandments are no longer restrictive or constrictive, but full of love and guidance. When I understand that I am a child of God, then I must know that you are a child of God, and our relationship with each God and each other must change the way we interact with each other. The must be, and there will be, more love for others, as Elder Hales taught us. There will be more love, which will naturally lead to caring for others, including doing our assigned Home Teaching, as Elder Holland taught during Priesthood Session. This is not another burdensome program of the Church, but the way in which we show our Christian kindness and love for our friends and fellow members of our ward family. Home Teaching, when done with love and with the understanding that I and you are both children of God, will not be awkward but will be uplifting and will raise both of us up to be more Christ-like.
And, of course, as that sentence plainly teaches, when we understand our relationship with God we will naturally be inspired to pray to Him, as our Father in Heaven, for we will know that he loves us and will answer us sincerely. Sister McConkie and Elder Uceda both gave wonderful messages about the nature of prayer and the benefits of prayer and the blessing that prayer can be in our lives. I will pray more and I will pray differently because I know that I am a child of God and that he is my loving father in heaven.
A clear and deep understanding of the true relationship in which we stand toward God will also affect the ways in which we talk to others and will naturally lead to us sharing the Gospel of Christ. As Elder Andersen and Elder Oaks taught when we are filled with the joy that comes from living the Gospel of Jesus Christ we will naturally want to share that with others, and sharing the gospel can be as simple as simply living the gospel and being a righteous example to those we go to school or work with. Be open and honest when talking about what you believe and know to be true. And share confidently the story of Joseph Smith, as Elder Christensen encouraged. That story of a young boy who wanted to know which church he should join and turned to the scriptures for an answer and pondered the words of ancient prophets and then resolved to ask God, the giver of all truth what he should is an example to us and a pattern we all must follow. Elder Stevenson reminded us of the power of the Book of Mormon, which was translated by Joseph Smith and is evidence of his divine calling as prophet. You can read this book and draw nearer to Christ, and you can pray to know of the truthfulness of the book and of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and God, your loving father in heaven, will answer you.
It was a wonderful General Conference and I am filled with love and with the determination to go forward and do more and be better than I was. Yesterday no longer matters, because through the Atonement of Jesus Christ I can repent and be forgiven and improve myself. I only ever need to worry about one day – Today. If I can make today a good day and do my best today to keep the commandments of God, then everything else will fall into place. And should I prove to be human, and slip up and err again and be less than I should, then I know that I will always have tomorrow to try again, with the help of the Spirit of the Lord.
If this message has intrigued or inspired you in any way, if you are at all curious what could make me feel this way or write this way, I invite you to come and see. Come join us tomorrow for more of these Christ-centered, uplifting spiritual messages, and I promise that if you listen with an open heart you will be touched and there will come to your heart and minds little ways in which you can change to be happier and to be more like Jesus Christ.
Come join us at lds.org or on Twitter with the hashtag #ldsconf, where I will be tweeting and retweeting as @dteeps, or you can find the video on YouTube or Roku (or probably other streaming devices) on the Mormon Channel app.
I know that God lives and that he loves us as an Eternal Father. I know that he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to teach us and to show us a better way and to be a infinite sacrifice for our sins so that we can repent and return to him. I know that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet to restore these gospel truths to the earth. I know that the Book of Mormon teaches more clearly than any other book the divine truths of the Plan of Salvation and of Jesus Christ. And I know that General Conference is a place where we are able to listen to Prophets and Apostles called of God to teach us and to guide us and to inspire us to do more and become more. Come and see. Come and experience the love of God.