I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you today. I am not only grateful to be with you, but I am grateful for all of you who seek to help people strengthen, or recover, or restore, or establish faith in Jesus Christ, and His marvelous work in our day.
I want to begin today with a story about Charlotte, my granddaughter, who is seven years old. Charlotte loves to read, and in recent months she has fallen in love with reading the Book of Mormon. Before the schools were closed she would take the Book of Mormon in her backpack, and read it in the bus on the way to and from school every day. She also loved the Book of Mormon stories for children. One day she came to her mother holding a copy of the Book of Mormon stories for children and asked, “Mom, did these things really happen?” Her mother looked at her, and said, “Yes, Charlotte, they really did happen.”
Charlotte’s question is a wonderful question – did these things really happen? It is not only a question about the events and people in the Book of Mormon, but it is a question about the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice and resurrection. It is a question about Moroni and golden plates, and about the call of Joseph Smith to be the great prophet of the restoration. It is a question about the translation of the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. And, it is a question about living prophets and continuing revelation in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As President Russell M. Nelson has taught, we need to seek powerful, enduring answers to Charlotte’s question and all of its corollaries. This is a pivotal time in our lives and in the Lord’s true and living Church. The Prophet has invited us to transform our homes into “sanctuar[ies] of faith” and “center[s] of Gospel learning.”  He has urged us to “…stretch beyond [our] current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation”, warning us that in the days ahead “…it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”
These invitations are a call from the Prophet of the Lord to rise up and do better and be better. President Nelson has said:
…we need to do better and be better because we are in a battle. The battle with sin is real. The adversary is quadrupling his efforts to disrupt testimonies and impede the work of the Lord. He is arming his minions with potent weapons to keep us from partaking of the joy and love of the Lord.
Answering Charlotte’s question, and responding with energy and focus to President Nelson’s call, is a journey of faith in Jesus Christ, and in our Heavenly Father. I would like to share with you today something of my own journey of faith, and what I have learned about Jesus Christ, about faith in Him, about testimony, and about the joy of redemption. I want to share with you two stories many years apart.
Story #1: Believe in God
The first took place in southern Germany. I had been on my mission for two months. It had been a difficult time and I was very discouraged. The language was hard, and we had been rejected and ridiculed and cast out many times. It felt like we were under attack. People had argued with us on points of doctrine, told us we were from the devil, and much worse. I felt the temptations and whispers of doubt about what I was doing. One morning I knelt in prayer and told Heavenly Father of my troubles. It was a heartfelt prayer of real intent. I said to Him, “Heavenly Father, please help me.” As I prayed I heard a voice, as distinct and clear as though someone were standing right next to me. The voice said: Believe in God.
I asked my companion if there were a scripture that said, “Believe in God?” He sent me to the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 4:9.
I sat on the bed and opened the Book of Mormon and read the inspired words of King Benjamin:
Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
As I read those words I felt as though King Benjamin were speaking to me. I felt the power of the Holy Ghost in my heart. I knew this was the answer to my prayer. My prayer was: Heavenly Father, please help me. The answer sent me to the Book of Mormon where I received two messages.
- The first message: these are my words; this is my book, it is true.
- The second message: believe in me. I know all things and I have all wisdom and all power. Trust me.
So, that is what I did. I decided to get up, eat breakfast, pray and go to work, and keep praying and going to work every day. The trials and challenges did not disappear. And there were times ahead when I would feel attacked again. But I knew what I had heard. I knew the message was from the Lord. And so, I trusted in Him.
That experience was a pivotal moment in my life. But there would be more; here is one from many years later.
Story #2: Put on the Whole Armor of God
The second story took place at a very difficult time for me, for my wife Sue, and for our family. We faced significant challenges and setbacks in our lives, especially in our family. It felt like we were under attack. It felt that way because we were. I was plagued by unsettled feelings, doubts about myself, and temptations to take counsel from my fears. It was a hard time.
One night I had a terrible nightmare. I woke up feeling great anxiety that did not leave when I was awake. I got on my knees and pleaded with Heavenly Father for help. As I prayed, words came into my mind that I knew were scripture:
…for we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities, with powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this world, with spiritual wickedness in high places.
Thankfully, I went back to sleep. When I got up in the morning I looked up the scripture. I had not remembered that it is part of the Apostle Paul’s great statement on the armor of God. This is what I read:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
The message that morning was clear: put on the whole armor of God – no chinks, no gaps, no missing parts. Sue and I were active in the Church. We served the Lord and we sought to raise our children in righteousness. But the Lord called us to rise up, to do better and be better. With that message the Lord put our journey of faith onto a steeper trajectory. At the heart of that journey was this invitation from Moroni:
And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the apostles and prophets have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever.
This invitation comes with a promise from the Lord, that I know is true: “Draw near unto me, and I will draw near unto you. Seek me diligently, and ye shall find me…” “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search with all your hearts.”
I want to share with you today what I have learned about seeking – and finding – the Lord Jesus Christ. What I am going to share did not happen all at once. Beginning those many years ago, the Lord gave us line upon line and precept upon precept. Over the years we have learned that small and simple acts of devotion open our hearts to the Lord, and invite the Holy Ghost to minister to us. We have made these simple things the framework of our lives and I want to share them with you.
I will speak about six small and simple activities, but I have organized them into pairs. That is how I think about them; they are companion activities.
Small and Simple Acts of Faith and Covenant Devotion
Pair 1: The first pair is prayer with real intent, and feasting on the words of Christ, especially in the Book of Mormon.
Praying and studying the scriptures are companions. As Elder Robert D. Hales once said, “…when we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures.”
When we began this journey, Sue and I prayed together and individually and with our family morning and night. We read the scriptures every day. And yet, the Lord taught us that we needed to do better. In time, we learned to pray with more gratitude, with greater faith, and with real intent to do what the Lord wanted done. We felt the Lord nudging us to pray more often, and to pray about everything, as Amulek taught. And we had a prayer in our hearts. There were times when we prayed vocally and in our hearts all day long.
We pondered more, reflected more, and spent more time in the scriptures every day, studying them, keeping a scripture journal and really feasting on them. We learned to prayerfully dig deeper into the scriptures than we had ever dug before. Revelations came as the Lord guided us and blessed us. It really was a feast!
The companionship of prayer and the scriptures became more meaningful and more powerful. They have become crucial elements in the framework of our lives.
Pair 2: The second pair is daily repentance and partaking of the sacrament.
President Nelson has taught:
Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The Lord’s call to Sue and me to rise up meant that we had to change things in our lives, we had to repent. The Lord taught us that we should always be asking ourselves two questions: what am I doing I should stop doing? What am I not doing I should start doing?
These questions lead to daily repentance. In the first place, the things we are working on take time and daily attention to them is important as we turn away from old patterns of thought and action, and turn to the Lord for forgiveness, for His redeeming power and for His help to create new, more righteous patterns of life.
Second, we are subject to temptation and we make mistakes. We say things we should not say, or fail to heed a prompting, or do things we should not do. Daily reflection on the day, and daily repentance helps us catch those mistakes before they grow into something far more serious. Daily repentance is a gift of protection and spiritual power from the Lord.
Daily repentance may sound daunting, even discouraging. But repentance is not a dour doctrine. As President Nelson taught, it is liberating and full of hope. I testify that this is true. Repentance is not a distant doctrine in my life. I have felt the joy in daily repentance, when my focus is on Jesus Christ. In those moments of reflection and change I see what I need to do, and I try to do better. With the assurance of the Holy Ghost I feel stronger and I know that with the Lord’s help I can do better and be better.
The ordinance of the sacrament is a wonderful companion to daily repentance. Sue and I have always loved to partake of the sacrament. Yet, as we began asking ourselves those two questions, and as the Lord taught us, our experience in that sacred ordinance changed. The sacrament became more a time of love and gratitude for the Savior, and His Atonement and resurrection. It became more a time of reflection on our repentance, and of renewed covenant making. It became a time to seek the Lord and to find in Him healing power and personal revelation.
In the ordinance of the sacrament we look back on the daily repentance of the week behind, and forward to what we need to do in the week ahead. These companion gifts from the Lord are central to the framework of our lives.
Pair 3: The third pair is ministering to all, and worship in the holy temple.
Ministering is a beautiful principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Savior said:
…whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
We minister in our families, making our homes sanctuaries of love, and faith and centers of gospel living. We minister in our assignments to our brothers and sisters, and in our callings and to our neighbors and friends, inviting all to come and feel the Lord’s love and enjoy all of His blessings. We minister to those on the other side of the veil, that they might also enjoy the blessings of salvation and exaltation.
In all these opportunities to serve, the Lord has called us to minister in a higher and holier way, with His love and with His power. When we seek revelation and then go and do the work, we find the Lord goes with us. We take upon us His yoke, and He works with us and through us to accomplish His glorious purposes. As we seek to minister to all, we find Jesus Christ, for that is where He is. He ministers to all and He calls us to join Him in His work.
The ordinances and covenants of the holy temple are a powerful companion to ministering to all. We minister to all so that they may walk the covenant path, receive their temple blessings and, as often as they can, be in the presence of the Lord in His House. If they keep their covenants they will be “…armed with [His] power, [His] name [will] be upon them, and [His] glory … round about them, and [His] angels [will] have charge over them…”
Of course, these also are our promises and our blessings. We minister to help others go, but we also go. In fact, we go so that we can help them go. We go to the House of the Lord to serve and to worship as often as we can. We go to claim the great and precious privileges and promises the Lord has given us. The temple is a house of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, order, holiness and revelation. It is a house of miracles. It is the house of the Lord and we will find Him there.
All Things in One in Christ
These three companions – prayer and the scriptures, daily repentance and the sacrament, ministering to all and worship in the Holy Temple – are small and simple things. Yet, they bring great blessings. These small and simple acts of faith in Christ work together in a marvelous, even miraculous way. The Apostle Paul taught the Ephesians this principle. Speaking of our day, he wrote:
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.
This surely applies to the continuing Restoration of the Gospel in the Lord’s true and living Church. But as Elder David A. Bednar has taught, it also applies to us individually:
…the power of the Savior’s gospel to transform and bless us flows from discerning and applying the interrelatedness of its doctrine, principles, and practices. Only as we gather together in one all things in Christ, with firm focus upon Him, can gospel truths synergistically enable us to become what God desires us to become and endure valiantly to the end.
With Elder Bednar’s statement in mind, please take a moment and see in your mind’s eye these simple things as interconnected and standing as a whole. Can you see what they really are? These acts of covenant devotion are, very simply, the Lord’s work of salvation. I know He connects and unifies them in Him.
If we do these things consistently and diligently, we are doing the Lord’s work! We have to do them every day, and every week, every month, as often as we can, and we have to do them with faith in Jesus Christ. But if we do, we open our hearts to the Lord and qualify for the ministry of the Holy Ghost. The Lord’s work of salvation becomes the unified framework of our lives. It focuses our lives on Him – we pray in His name, feast on His words, turn to Him to repent, remember Him in the sacrament, minister with His power, and worship in His House.
His work of salvation frames our lives, providing structure to our days, our weeks and our months. The plan of salvation becomes the way we see our lives. It becomes the lens through which we see everything around us. The work of salvation and the Father’s plan inform everything we do, at home, at work, in the Church, in the community.
My dear brothers and sisters, I bear witness of Jesus Christ. He is the Living Son, of the Living God. I know that seeking the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer and the scriptures, in daily repentance and the sacrament, in ministering to all and in the House of the Lord brings great, great blessings. If we seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him, and we will hear His voice. His love, light and power will flow into our lives. He will sanctify us, heal us, change our hearts, and lift and strengthen us by His mercy and His grace. We will do better and we will be better, and the work of strengthening faith in the Restored Gospel will go forward more powerfully than ever before. I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 Russell M. Nelson, “Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints”, Ensign, November 2018
 Russel M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives”, May 2018
 Russell M. Nelson, “We Can Do Better and Be Better”, Ensign, May 2019
 Mosiah 4:9-10.
 Ephesians 6:12
 Ephesians 6:10-12
 Ether 12:41
 Doctrine and Covenants 88:63
 Jeremiah 29:13
 Robert D. Hales, “Holy Scriptures: The Power of God Unto Salvation”, Ensign November 2006
 Russell M. Nelson, “We Can Do Better and Be Better”, Ensign May 2019
 Matthew 20:25-29
 Doctrine and Covenants 109:22
 Ephesians 10:1
 David A. Bednar, “Gather Together in One All Things in Christ”, Ensign November 2018
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