Hear the word of God

We as Church members gather twice a year at general conference to hear the word of the Lord as spoken by His servants. By doing so, we obey the commandment to "gather together and stand in holy places" with the Saints. (D&C 101:22.)

The first conference of the Church was held shortly after the Church was organized. On June 9, 1830, nearly 30 members met in conference and received "much exhortation and instruction." (See History of the Church 1:84-85.)One hundred and sixty-three years later, tens of thousands of Church members - gathered this weekend for conference in the Salt Lake Tabernacle or in meetinghouses in thousands of locations or in their homes listening to conference on television or radio - are still receiving counsel and direction from the leaders of the Church. Conference proceedings on satellite, television, radio and other broadcast services are now available to the Saints in many parts of the world.

"Come listen to a prophet's voice," the popular Church hymn exhorts, "And hear the word of God." (Hymns, No. 21.)

For two days of conference, that is exactly what will happen. We will hear the word of God. We will hear what the Lord would have us receive for our edification and spiritual well-being.

The Lord, as Nephi reminded his brethren, "doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness. . . ." (2 Ne. 26:33.) We need to accept the Lord's invitation to hear His counsel for our day taught in plainness by general conference speakers.

Some may say that the messages of the General Authorities do not change much from conference to conference.

"Prophets," said President Spencer W. Kimball, "say the same things because we face basically the same problems. Brothers and sisters, the solutions to these problems have not changed. It would be a poor lighthouse that gave off a different signal to guide every ship entering a harbor. It would be a poor mountain guide who, knowing the safe route up a mountainside, took his trusting charges up unpredictable and perilous paths from which no traveler returns." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 484.)

The messages of conference - no matter in what period of time - enable us to stay on a safe path.

Another reason for conference is so we can feast on spiritual food. "Behold the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall wander . . . and they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord and shall not find it. . . ." (Amos 8:11-12.)

Is Amos' warning only for the people of his day? No, of course not. The warning voice of the prophets is the same today as it was then.

President Harold B. Lee counseled Church members 20 years ago: "If you want to know what the Lord has for this people at the present time, I would admonish you to get and read the discourses that have been delivered at this conference; for what these brethren have spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost is the mind of the Lord, the will of the Lord, the voice of the Lord and the power of God unto salvation." (Conference Report, April 1973.)

Imagine being in Jerusalem 600 years before the birth of Christ wondering whether or not we ought to listen to what Lehi has to say, then being told that Lehi and his family can no longer be found in the city.

Imagine living in the meridian of time, and having heard the Savior speak to the multitudes on several occasions, we decide to miss His next address. We perhaps would have missed the greatest sermon ever uttered - the Sermon on the Mount.

Imagine passing up an opportunity to hear the Prophet Joseph Smith testify of the truthfulness of the Restoration.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we should listen to conference sessions with the same dedication exhibited by that vast throng of Nephites who had come to hear King Benjamin deliver his farewell address.

The Church is to "warn, expound, exhort and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ." (D&C 20:59.) "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in him." (Eph. 1:10.)

President Kimball testified: "This is the work of the Lord. . . . All things are spiritual with the Lord, and He expects us to listen, and to obey and to follow the commandments." (Conference Report, April 1977.)

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