A focus on increasing faith served as the common message for two senior Church leaders and their wives in a Sunday, March 14, devotional for Spanish-speaking young adults throughout Latin America and Spain.
President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, told listeners: “We all need to increase our faith in God the Eternal Father and in His Son Jesus Christ.
“Faith means trust — trust in God’s will, trust in His love for each of us, trust in His plan of salvation, and trust in His commandments. You are in this meeting because you have that faith and trust.”
One of a half-dozen recent devotionals for young adults worldwide, the streamed broadcast featured President Oaks, Sister Kristen Oaks, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Kathy Christofferson. All four delivered closing messages in Spanish following a translated discussion answering a handful of questions from participating young adults.
President Oaks: ‘Increase our faith’
Listing ways to increase one’s faith, President Oaks singled out offering daily prayers of gratitude to the Father for the Son and His Atonement, studying the scriptures daily, attending Sunday meetings, partaking of the sacrament, keeping commandments, repenting of sins and staying worthy of the Holy Ghost’s guidance.
Mentioning recent modifications under President Russell M. Nelson’s leadership regarding Church meetings and policies, President Oaks underscored how change needs to be personal, not just institutional,
“The changes that will help us become what our Heavenly Father wants us to become are not changes by the Church in its policies or practices, but changes by you and me made in our individual desires and actions,” President Oaks said.
An example is the new challenge to minister, when Church leaders announced two years ago that the program of home teaching would be replaced by ministering.
“This action of the Church changed the name from home teaching to ministering,” he said. “However, the only thing that will make a real change in how members are helped to increase their faith and closeness to our Savior is the action of ministering men and women.”
Of making a change in personal actions, he quoted the late Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who said some “would rather try to change the Church than try to change themselves.”
Added President Oaks: “I pray that each of us will make the personal changes necessary to get on the covenant path and stay on that path for the rest of our lives.”
He closed by testifying of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the fulness of the Lord’s doctrine and the power of His priesthood and of the Savior and the blessings of His Atonement as we repent and keep His commandments.
“This is the great message of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” President Oaks said. “That message, in its fulness, has been restored to the earth in these latter days. Also restored was the authority to officiate in the essential ordinances of salvation and exaltation. A prophet leads us. God is our Father. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.”
“I testify what I have told you in this testimony is true.”
Sister Oaks: 4 ways to foster faith
Acknowledging the difficulty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that “I see everyone behind a mask,” Sister Oaks noted a similarity with the scaffolding and cranes surrounding the under-renovation Salt Lake Temple.
“The temple is covered, just as we are when we wear a mask,” she said, adding that despite the covering, the temple is being strengthened with many upgrades. “In three years, we will see it more beautiful, more perfect, and with the ability to stand up to any circumstance.”
She said Latter-day Saints can be like the Salt Lake Temple. “This is a time to become a stronger, more dedicated, more faithful people, even in the most difficult moments. Heavenly Father can give us blessings as we draw closer to Him. … When we draw near to God, nothing is impossible, and nothing can defeat us.”
She shared four efforts that foster faith:
- Reading the scriptures and memorizing key verses. “There is great power that comes from memorizing scripture. Learning a scripture by heart is like forging a new friendship with someone who will help you, give you inspiration, comfort and motivation.”
- Praying daily. “Prayer is protection and a shield against distracting temptations. Prayer brings comfort and direction. I testify to you our Heavenly Father answers our prayers.”
- Partaking of the sacrament each Sunday. “Jesus Christ promised us that in the way we remember Him, His Spirit will be with us.”
- Doing service. “Forget your problems, your sadness. Find someone you can help, and you will be happy. The more we help others, the happier we are.”
“I promise you that as we draw near to our Savior, great blessings and revelations will come,” Sister Oaks concluded. “You will feel happiness and inspiration.”
Elder Christofferson: A hope in Christ
Just as the woman in the New Testament who touched Christ’s garment with faith to be made whole, individuals through faith can draw down blessings from heaven, Elder Christofferson said.
He offered four examples of what one can learn from the Savior’s life that can strengthen faith.
First, Jesus showed us by His birth that the worth of a soul does not depend on his or her circumstances or surroundings.
Elder Christofferson noted that the great Creator of the earth was born in poverty, in a stable among animals and that “the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). “We can have faith in Him,” he said, “knowing that whoever we are and whatever our circumstances, He looks on our heart, and each of us is of great worth to Him.”
Second, Jesus showed us by His life that each soul can grow and progress. “The love of the Father and the Son is the foundation for our joy here and hereafter, but our Heavenly Father expects us to build on that foundation and grow as Jesus did,” he said, adding “We can also grow step by step with His help.”
Third, Jesus showed us by His suffering and death that love means service and sacrifice. “As we serve and minister as He did, we can have perfect faith in the Savior. He has laid down His life for us, and now He has all power to protect and bless us as His friends.”
And fourth, the Savior showed us by His Resurrection that death is a passage not a destination, that He indeed loves us infinitely, that justice triumphs in the end, and that the Father’s divine plan of happiness is working.
Remaining on the covenant path and striving to be obedient to the Lord merits His assured blessings and peace, Elder Christofferson concluded. “I give you my sure witness that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact. You can live with a perfect hope in Christ for the help you need now and for eternal life to come.”
Sister Christofferson: Being ‘led by the Spirit’
Personal revelation helps when one faces questions and uncertainties, said Sister Christofferson, citing Nephi’s examples in the Book of Mormon.
She highlighted 1 Nephi 4:6 — “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do” — as representative of his faith when seeking the brass plates. And 1 Nephi 2:16 — “I did cry unto the Lord; and he did soften my heart that I did believe of the words which had been spoken by my father” — served as an early foundation for his faith when Lehi’s family departed into the wilderness and the unknown.
“It must have been a test of faith for him as it was for them,” Sister Christofferson said, “but he came to see the prophetic calling of his father, because instead of feeding his doubt, he did the work necessary to fuel his faith by humbling himself and praying with real intent to receive a witness of the truth.”
She quoted President Russell M. Nelson: “Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon and regular time committed to temple and family history work. …
“To be sure, there may be many times when you feel as though the heavens are closed, but I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. This is what personal revelation will do for you.”
Added Sister Christofferson: “I testify that these things are true. The Lord will direct our paths and give us confidence in the future.”
Watch the area devotional in Spanish here: