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A Priesthood Quorum

Elder Henry B. Eyring
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I am grateful to be with you in this great priesthood meeting.  All of us are members of a quorum in the priesthood.  That may not seem remarkable to you, but it does to me.  I was ordained a deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood in a tiny branch of the Church.  There was only one family in the branch. We had no chapel.  We met in our house.  I was the only deacon and my brother the only teacher.

So, I know what it is like to exercise the priesthood alone, without serving with others in a quorum.  I was content in that small branch without a quorum.  I had no way to know what I was missing.  And then my family moved across a continent to where there were many priesthood holders and strong quorums.

I have learned over the years that the strength in a quorum doesn’t come from the number of priesthood holders in it.  Nor does it come automatically from the age and maturity of the members.  Rather, the strength of a quorum comes in large measure from how completely its members are united in righteousness.  That unity in a strong quorum of the priesthood is not like anything I have experienced in an athletic team or club or any other organization in the world.

The words of Alma, recorded in the book of Mosiah, come closest to describing the unity I have felt in the strongest priesthood quorums.

“And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21).

“Rise Up, O Men of God”
Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Of the Presidency of the Seventy

Years ago, when my brothers and I were boys, our mother had radical cancer surgery.  She came very close to death.  Much of the tissue in her neck and shoulder had to be removed and for a long time it was very painful for her to use her right arm.

One morning about a year after the surgery, my father took Mother to an appliance store and asked the manager to show her how to use a machine he had for ironing clothes.  The machine was called an IronRite.  It was operated from a chair by pressing pedals with one’s knees to lower a padded roller against a heated metal surface and turn the roller, feeding in shirts, pants, dresses, and other articles.  You can see that this would make ironing (of which there was a great deal in a family of five boys) much easier, especially for a woman with a limited use of her arm.  Mother was shocked when Dad told the manager they would buy the machine and then paid cash for it.  Despite my father’s good income as a veterinarian, Mother’s surgery and medications had left them in a difficult financial situation.

On the way home, my mother was upset.  ”How can we afford; where did the money come from; how will we get along now?” 

Finally Dad told her that he had gone without lunches for nearly a year to save enough money.  “Now when you iron,” he said, “you won’t have to stop and go into the bedroom and cry until the pain in your arm stops.”  She didn’t know he knew about that. 

I was not aware of my father’s sacrifice and act of love for my mother at the time, but now that I know, I say to myself, “There is a man.”

The prophet Lehi pled with his rebellious sons saying, “Arise from the dust, my sons, and be men” ( 2 Nephi 1:21, emphasis added).  By age, Laman and Lemuel were men, but in terms of character and spiritual maturity they were still as children.  They murmured and complained if asked to anything hard.  They didn’t accept anyone’s authority to correct them.  They didn’t value spiritual things. They easily resorted to violence, and they were good at playing the victim…

We who hold the priesthood of God cannot afford to drift.  We have work to do.  We must arise from the dust of self-indulgence and be men!  It is a wonderful aspiration for a boy to become a man, strong and capable — someone who can build and create things, run things; someone who makes a difference in the world.  It is a wonderful aspiration for those of us who are older to make the vision of true manhood a reality in our lives, and be models for those who look to us for an example.

The Great Plan of Happiness
Elder Marcus B. Nash
Of the Seventy

Several years ago when I was a deacon like many of you young men, my father and I hiked to a mountain stream to fish for trout.  As my dad attached the bait to the hook on the end of my fishing line, he told me that I would need to set the hook in the fish’s mouth when it tried to take the bait or it would get away. 

I did not understand what it meant to set the hook, so he explained to me that the hook needed to be imbedded in the fish’s mouth when it struck at the bait so it could not shake the hook loose, and that the hook would be set if I quickly pulled back on the pole when the fish tried to take the bait.  Now, I really wanted to catch a fish, so I stood on the bank of that mountain stream like a coiled spring, every muscle taut, waiting for the telltale movement at the end of my pole which would signal that the fish was trying to take the bait.

After a few minutes, I noticed movement in the end of my pole and, in that instant, I jerked back on the pole with all of my strength, expecting a big fight with the fish.  To my surprise, I watched at that poor trout — with the hook now set firmly in his mouth — was launched from the water into the air over my head, and landed on the ground flopping behind me.

I have two observations from that experience:  First, a fish out of water is miserable.  Although its gills, fins, and tail work very well in water, they are all but useless on land.  Second, the unfortunate fish I caught that day perished because it was deceived into treating something very dangerous — even fatal — as worthwhile, or at least sufficiently intriguing to warrant a closer look and perhaps a nibble.

My dear brethren of the Aaronic Priesthood, there are a couple of lessons to be learned from this:  first, a basic purpose of your life as Lehi taught, is “to have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25)

In order to have joy, you need to understand that, as a child of your Heavenly Father, you inherited divine traits and spiritual needs — and just like a fish needs water, you need the gospel and the companionship of the Holy Ghost to be truly, deeply happy.

  Because you are the offspring of God (Acts 17:28), it is incompatible with your eternal nature to do wrong and feel right.  It cannot be done.  It is part of your spiritual DNA, as it were, that peace, joy, and happiness will be yours only to the degree you live the gospel.

Now to the second lesson from my fishing experience.  Just as a fish in a mountain stream must be careful of the lures placed in its path to avoid being pulled from the water, so must you and I be wise in order to avoid being pulled away from a happy, gospel-centered life. 

He Trusts Us!
Elder Stanley G. Ellis
Of the Seventy

Several years ago Sister Ellis and I were called to preside over the Brazil Sao Paulo North Mission for three years.  Given our family and business situation, we were impressed to keep our home and business in Houston rather than sell them.

As we began to make the necessary arrangements, it became clear we would need to have our lawyer prepare a “power of attorney.”  That is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to do anything in our name.  The person with this document could sell our home or other assets, borrow money in our name, spend our money, or even sell our business!  The thought of giving someone that much power and authority over our affairs was scary.

We decided to give our power of attorney to a person we trusted, our good friend and partner, who exercised that power and authority very well.  He did what we would have done if we were there.

Brethren, think of what the Lord has given us — His authority and power!  The power and authority to act for Him in all things pertaining to His work!

With this priesthood power, and when necessary, the authorization of those with the appropriate keys, we can perform the ordinances of salvation in His name:  baptize for the remission of sins, confirm and confer the Holy Ghost, confer the priesthood and ordain others to priesthood offices, and perform temple ordinances.  In His name we can administer His Church.  In His name we can bless, home teach, and even heal the sick.

What a trust the Lord has placed in us!  Think of it, brethren, He trusts us!

Spiritual Nutrients
President James E. Faust
2nd Counselor in the First Presidency

In our uncertain physical environment, we need to increase our spiritual nutrients, nutrients that come from the knowledge of the fullness of the gospel and the powers of the holy priesthood. When such knowledge penetrates our souls, we not only draw closer to God but we also want to serve Him and our fellow men.

Some years ago a priests quorum decided to gather food for the needy as a service project. Jim, one of the priests, was excited to participate and was determined to collect more food than anyone else.  The time arrived when the priests met at the chapel.  They all went out at the same time and returned at a specified time later in the evening.  To everyone’s surprise, Jim’s cart was empty.  He seemed rather sober, and some of the boys made fun of him.  Seeing this and knowing that Jim had an interest in cars, the adviser said, “Come outside, Jim.  I want you to look at my car.  It’s giving me some trouble.”

When they got outside, the adviser asked Jim if he was upset.  Jim said, “No, not really.  But when I went out to collect food, I really got a lot.  My cart was full.  As I was returning to the chapel, I stopped at the home of a nonmember woman who is divorced and lives within our ward boundaries.  I knocked on the door and explained what we were doing, and she invited me in.  She began to look for something to give me.  She opened the refrigerator and I could see there was hardly anything in it.  The cupboards were bare.  Finally, she found a small can of peaches.

“I could hardly believe it.  There were all these little kids running around that needed to be fed, and she handed me this can of peaches.  I took it and put in my cart and went on up the street.  I got about halfway up the block when I just felt warm all over and knew I needed to go back to that house.  I gave her all the food.”

The adviser said, “Jim, don’t you ever forget the way you feel tonight, because that’s what it is all about.”  Jim had tasted the nutrient of selfless service.

True to Our Priesthood Trust
President Thomas S. Monson
1st Counselor in the First Presidency

Young Rupert stood by the side of the road watching an unusual number of people hurry past.  At length he recognized a friend.  “Where are all of you going in such a hurry?” he asked.

The friend paused.  “Haven’t you heard? He said.

I’ve heard nothing,” Rupert answered.

“Well,” continued the friend, “the King has lost his royal emerald.  Yesterday he attended a wedding of the nobility and wore the emerald on the slender golden chain around his neck.  In some way the emerald became loosened from the chain.  Everyone is searching, for the King has offered a reward to the one finds it.  Come, we must hurry.

“But I cannot go without asking Grandmother,” faltered Rupert.

“Then I cannot wait.  I want to find the emerald,” replied his friend.

Rupert hurried back to the cabin at the edge of the woods to seek his grandmother’s permission.  “If I could find it we could leave this hut with its dampness and buy a piece of land up on the hillside,” he pleaded with Grandmother.

But his grandmother shook her head.  “What would the sheep do,” she asked.  “Already they are restless in the pen, waiting to be taken to the pasture.  And please do not forget to take them to water when the sun shines high in the heavens.

Sorrowfully, Rupert took the sheep to the pasture, and at noon he led them to the brook in the woods.  There he sat on a large stone by the stream.  If I could only have had a chance to look for the King’s emerald, he thought. 

Turning his head to gaze down at the sandy bottom of the brook, suddenly he stared into the water.  What was it?  It could not be!  He leaped into the water, and his gripping fingers held something that was green, with a slender bit of gold chain. “The King’s emerald!” he shouted.  “It must have been flung from the chain when the King, astride his horse, galloped across the bridge spanning the stream and the current carried it there.”

With shining eyes Rupert ran to his grandmother’s hut to tell her of his great find.  “Bless you, my boy,” she said, “but you never would have found it if you had not been doing your duty, herding the sheep.


”  And Rupert knew that this was the truth.

The lesson to be learned from this story is found in the familiar couplet:  “Do your duty; that is best.  Leave unto the Lord the rest.”

“Rise Up, O Men of God”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
The First Presidency

I recently listened on television to a concert by the BYU Men’s Chorus.  They sang a stirring number entitled “Rise Up, O Men of God.”  It was written in 1911 by William P. Merrill, and a version of it is found in our hymnbook.

The words carry the spirit of the old English hymns written by Charles Wesley and others.  The text reads:

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of Kings.

Rise up, O men of God!
In one united throng.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O men of God!
The church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task;
Rise up and make her great!

Rise up, O men of God!
Tread where his feet have trod.
As brothers of the Son of Man,
Rise up, O men of God!
            (“Rise Up, O Men of God,” Hymns, no. 324)

…The words of Lehi are a clarion call to all men and boys of the priesthood.  Said he with great conviction:

“Awake, my sons; put on the armor or righteousness.  Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust” (2 Nephi 1:23

There is not a man or boy in this vast congregation tonight who cannot improve his life.  And that needs to happen.  After all, we hold the priesthood of God.  If we are boys who have received the Aaronic priesthood we are entitled to the ministering of angels to guide and direct, to bless and protect us.  What a remarkable and wonderful thing that is.  If we have had conferred upon us the Melchizedek priesthood, we have been given the keys of the kingdom that carry with them eternal powers.  These were spoken of by the Lord when He laid His hands upon the heads of His disciples.

With this priesthood comes a great obligation to be worthy of it.