Talk Excerpts

Learning the Lessons of the Past
Elder M. Russell Ballard
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“I have a message I feel is important.for all of the youth of the Church.

“Years ago when I was in business, I learned a very expensive lesson because I did not listen carefully to the counsel of my father, nor did I heed the promptings of the Spirit giving me guidance from my Heavenly Father. My father and I were in the automobile business, and Ford Motor Company was looking for dealers to sell their new line of cars. Ford executives invited my father and me to a preview showing of what they thought would be a spectacularly successful product. When we saw the cars, my father who had over 35 years experience in the business cautioned me about becoming a dealer. However, the Ford sales personnel were very persuasive, and I chose to become Salt Lake City ‘s first-and actually the last-Edsel dealer. If you don’t know what an Edsel is, ask your Grandpa. He can tell you. The Edsel was a spectacular failure.

“Now, there’s a powerful lesson for all of you in this experience. When you are willing to listen and learn, some of life’s most meaningful teachings come from those who have gone before you. They have walked where you are walking and have experienced many of the things you are experiencing. If you listen and respond to their counsel, they can help guide you toward choices that will be for your benefit and blessing, and steer you away from decisions that can destroy you. As you look to your parents and others who have gone before you, you will find examples of faith, commitment, hard work, dedication, and sacrifice that you should strive to duplicate.

“It is my message and testimony to you today, my young friends, that for the most important lessons of your eternal lives, there are answers in the scriptures and in the words and testimonies of apostles and prophets. The fact that these words come largely from older men, past and present, doesn’t make them any less relevant. In fact, it makes their words even more valuable to you because they come from those who have learned much through years of devout living.

“You don’t have to be a Latter-day Saint-you don’t even have to be religious-to see the repeating pattern of history in the lives of God’s children as recorded in the Old Testament. Time and again we see the cycle of righteousness followed by wickedness. Similarly, the Book of Mormon records that the ancient civilizations of this continent followed exactly the same pattern: righteousness followed by prosperity, followed by material comforts, followed by pride, followed by wickedness and a collapse of morality until the people brought calamities upon themselves sufficient to stir them up to humility, repentance and change.

“Our Heavenly Father loves all His children, and He wants them all to have the blessings of the gospel in their lives. Spiritual light is not lost because God turns His back on His children. Rather, it results when His children turn their collective backs on Him. Spiritual darkness is a natural consequence of bad choices made by individuals, communities, countries, and entire civilizations.One of the great lessons of this historical pattern is that our choices, both individually and collectively, do result in spiritual consequences for ourselves and for our posterity.

“With all my heart I hope and pray that you will be wise enough to learn the lessons of the past.”

Our Father’s Plan-Big Enough for All His Children
Elder Quentin L. Cook
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“My objective, this afternoon, is twofold:

“First, to address some ‘stumbling blocks’ to faith; and

Second, to describe how our Father’s plan is big enough for all His children.

“My principal concern is for honorable people on the earth who are open to religious faith but have been discouraged or confused by incorrect doctrine. For instance with respect to the doctrine that revelation still exists, some very good people have been confident that the Church could not be true because they have been taught therefore believe that the heavens are closed, and there will be no additional revelation, no scripture, and no pronouncements from heaven. Let me emphasize that this widely held belief is not scriptural, but it is a stumbling block to some.

“One convert, who is now serving as a mission president, describes how difficult this was for him when he was investigating the Church. He said, ‘I had been taught all my life that there would never again be prophets and apostles here upon the earth. So to accept Joseph Smith as a prophet created a large stumbling block.’ However, when he prayed, he states, ‘I received a witness that in fact the gospel had been restored to the earth and that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God.’

“At the time Joseph Smith received revelations and organized the Church, the vast majority of churches taught that the Savior’s atonement would not bring about the salvation of most of mankind. The common precept was that a few would be saved and the overwhelming majority would be doomed to endless tortures of the most awful and unspeakable intensity. The marvelous doctrine revealed to the Prophet Joseph unveiled to us a plan of salvation that is applicable to all mankind including those who do not hear of Christ in this life, children who die before the age of accountability and those who have no understanding.

“After all the Savior has suffered for mankind, it is not surprising that in speaking of existing churches in the First Vision, He would instruct Joseph to ‘.join none of them, for they were all wrong.’ The Savior subsequently ushered in the restoration of His true doctrine with respect to the plan of salvation and other saving principles such as the Doctrine of Christ.

“I rejoice in the great Plan of Salvation that is big enough for all of our Father in Heaven’s children.”

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
Elder Kevin W. Pearson
Of the Quorum of the Seventy

“As parents we have been commanded to teach our children ‘to understand the doctrine of faith in Christ, the Son of the living God.’ This requires more than merely recognizing faith as a good principle. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. True faith must be centered in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Faith is a principle of action and power. It requires us to do, not merely to believe. Faith is a spiritual gift from God that comes through the Holy Ghost. It requires a correct understanding and knowledge of Jesus Christ, His divine attributes and perfect character, His teachings, atonement, resurrection, and priesthood power. Obedience to these principles develops complete trust in Him and His ordained servants, and assurance of His promised blessings.

“There is no other thing in which we can have absolute assurance.

There is no other foundation in life that can bring the same peace, joy and hope. In uncertain and difficult times faith is truly a spiritual gift worthy of our utmost efforts.

We can give our children education, lessons, athletics, the arts, and material possessions, but if we do not give them faith in Christ, we have given little.

“Faith and fear cannot coexist. One gives way to the other. The simple fact is this: We all need to constantly build faith while at the same time avoid the sources of destructive disbelief.”

 Faith in Adversity
Elder Rafael E. Pino
Of the Seventy

“.[W]hen adversity arrives in our lives, the only true source of comfort is God. ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’

“President Howard W. Hunter said, ‘If our lives and our faith are centered on Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right.’

“The Savior said: ‘Therefore whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock-

‘And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.

‘And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand-

‘And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.’

“It is interesting to notice that the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew against both houses! Because, living the Gospel does not mean that we will everlastingly escape adversity. Rather it means that we will be prepared to face and endure adversity more confidently.”

“Temple Worship: The Source of Strength and Power in Times of Need”
Elder Richard G. Scott
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“Each member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is blessed to live in a time when the Lord has inspired His prophets to provide significantly increased accessibility to Holy Temples. With careful planning and some sacrifice the majority of the members of the Church can receive the ordinances of the temple for themselves and their ancestors and be blessed by the covenants made therein.

“Because I love you, I am going to speak to you heart to heart, without mincing words. I have seen that many times individuals have made great sacrifices to go to a distant temple. But when a temple is built close by, within a short time, many do not visit it regularly. I have a suggestion: When a temple is conveniently nearby, small things may interrupt your plans to go to the temple. Set specific goals, considering your circumstances, of when you can and will participate in temple ordinances. Then do not allow anything to interfere with that plan. This pattern will guarantee that those who live in the shadow of the temple will be as blessed as are those who plan far ahead and make a long trip to the temple.

“Fourteen years ago I decided to attend the temple and complete an ordinance at least once a week. When I am traveling I make up the missed visits, in order to achieve that objective. I have kept that resolve and it has changed by life profoundly. I strive to participate in all the different ordinances available in the temple.

“I encourage you to establish your own goal of how frequently you will avail yourself of the ordinances offered in our operating temples. What is there that is more important than attending and participating in the ordinances of the temple? What activity could have a greater impact and provide more joy and profound happiness for a couple than worshipping in the temple together?”

Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers
Elder Russell M. Nelson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“Our prayers follow patterns and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. He taught us how to pray. From His prayers we can learn many important lessons. We can begin with the Lord’s Prayer.

“The Lord’s Prayer is recorded twice in the New Testament and once in the Book of Mormon. It is also included in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

“Though the four versions of the Lord’s Prayer are not identical, they all open with a salutation to ‘Our Father,’ signifying a close relationship between God and His children. The phrase ‘hallowed be thy name’ reflects the respect and worshipful attitude that we should feel as we pray.

“His request for ‘daily bread,’ includes a need for spiritual nourishment as well. Jesus, who called Himself ‘the bread of life,’ gave a promise: ‘He that cometh to me shall never hunger.’ And as we partake of sacramental emblems worthily, we are further promised that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. That is spiritual sustenance that cannot be obtained in any other way.

“As the Lord closes His prayer, He acknowledges God’s great power and glory, ending with ‘Amen.’ Our prayers also close with amen. Though it is pronounced differently in various languages, its meaning is the same. It means ‘truly,’ or ‘verily.’ Adding amen solemnly affirms a sermon or a prayer. Those who concur should each add an audible amen, to signify ‘that is my solemn declaration, too.’

“The Lord prefaced His prayer be first asking His followers to avoid ‘vain repetitions’ and to pray ‘after this manner.’ Thus, the Lord’s Prayer serves as a pattern to follow and not as a piece to memorize and recite repetitively. The Master simply wants us to pray for God’s help while we strive constantly to resist evil and live righteously.”