“As you strive to learn who you are, you will see more clearly the things that bring lasting joy,” Elder David A. Bednar promised Latter-day Saints during a recent visit to Japan and Korea.
Members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently gathered September 10-18 at chapels across Japan and Korea to receive counsel from Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
At a special stake conference in Kyoto, Japan, on September 10, Elder Bednar spoke about temple worship. He quoted from Doctrine and Covenants 84:20 and reminded the Saints that the most important part of our temples are the ordinances that are performed inside.
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He also quoted from Matthew 11:28 and asked the congregation to consider what it means to be yoked with Christ, and then followed by describing the blessings of making covenants with the Lord.
To illustrate the proper attitude that Latter-day Saints should have regarding our sacred temples, Elder Bednar shared the story of a man who acquired a valuable pearl and placed it into a beautifully crafted, velvet-lined box. When the man tried to show people the pearl, all they could talk about was the beautiful box; they lost focus on the precious pearl inside.
Likewise, as beautiful as our temples are, we need to remember that the physical building is not as important as the ordinances and covenants which take place therein. Throughout his Asia North Area visit, Elder Bednar encouraged the Saints to take advantage of the blessings of the temple.
Prepare for General Conference
To prepare for the upcoming General Conference in October, Elder Bednar suggested that each member take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. Then for each talk, he said to watch for and take notes on:
- The central doctrine or principle
- An invitation to act
- Promised blessings
“Let this guide your walk and your talk for the next six months,” Elder Bednar said, paraphrasing a quote from President Harold B. Lee.
Korea Nationwide Prospective Missionary Devotional
On Friday evening, September 17, in Seoul, South Korea, Elder Bednar presided over a Nationwide Prospective Missionary Devotional for the youth aged 12-18 and their parents. The Shindang chapel was filled to capacity, and hundreds of members attended virtually.
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Following the pattern mentioned in the Book of Mormon where meetings are conducted “after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost” (see Moroni 6:9), the meeting followed a unique question-and- answer format. The discussion began with Elder John A. McCune, Second Counselor in the Asia North Area Presidency, and Elder Bednar asking each other questions about developing and strengthening faith. The back-and-forth discussion was unscripted, and Sister McCune and Sister Bednar were also invited to share thoughts and insights. Eventually the youth in attendance were also invited to ask Elder Bednar questions.
Education and Faith
During the devotional, the leaders gave inspired direction, counseling youth to define themselves as sons and daughters of God with individual agency. Elder Bednar and Elder McCune spoke specifically about the pressures the youth in Japan and Korea experience regarding the importance of obtaining a good education and career.
“If we are not careful,” Elder McCune cautioned, “the desires for education and a prestigious career can dominate our thinking, causing us to forget who we are and to lose our faith. But if we put Jesus Christ first in our lives, we will be blessed and everything else will fall into place.”
Elder Bednar recounted the story of how as a young married father with two small children, he went through a very difficult graduate program. None of the other four students in his cohort was married, and each seemed to have much more time for study than Elder Bednar. Given his family responsibilities, he wondered whether he would be able to complete the demanding graduate program. On top of everything else, the bishop called him to teach early-morning seminary.
With faith in God and a supportive wife, Elder Bednar persevered. Ultimately, he was the only one in his cohort who eventually completed the program. He promised the youth that if we love God, serve others and honor our covenants, we will be given strength beyond our own.
Elder Bednar described faith in Jesus Christ as a principle of action and of power. First, we act according to the teachings of Jesus; then we are blessed with his power. We don’t receive the power first so we can act; the power comes after we act in faith and do the things that Jesus taught.
Best Way to Prepare for a Mission
When Elder Bednar asked Elder McCune about the best way to prepare to serve a mission, Elder McCune said that the best way is to live worthy to be able to attend the temple, and then to always stay worthy to hold a temple recommend.
The leaders promised that in a world filled with wickedness, we can find shelter, peace and joy through following the Savior and staying on the covenant path. We must learn to love God while we are young.
Seoul West Stake Special Stake Conference
Know Who You Are
Elder Bednar ended his visit by speaking at the Seoul West Stake conference. He began his remarks by discussing the temptations of Jesus described in Matthew, chapter 4. Although we say there were three temptations, he explained, there is actually only one. That one temptation was for the Savior to use his powers as the Son of God for self-satisfaction and worldly prestige rather than in the service of others. In other words, the devil was tempting the Savior to deny who He was, the Son of God.
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The adversary likewise tempts us to deny who we are, explained Elder Bednar. He would cause us to forget that we are sons and daughters of God and act as “the natural man,” who is an enemy to God (see Mosiah 3:19). Rather than focusing on showing our love for the Savior through serving others, we are tempted to assume a selfish attitude of “I want this, and I want it now.” For us to achieve true joy and peace, we must do as the Savior exemplified and turn outward, dedicating our lives to loving and serving others, he said.
God Loves You Personally
Elder Bednar said that when he receives his assignments to visit the Saints, he always considers what God would want them to learn. For those Saints gathered at the Incheon Stake conference, he had one simple message: That the Lord’s love for each of us is individual, personal, and specific. “He knows your name, your concerns, and your fears,” he said.
As described in 3 Nephi, when the resurrected Savior invited 2,500 people to come forward and feel the wounds in his body, they came to him “one-by-one” (3 Nephi 11:14-15). He will also minister to each of us individually, “one-by-one,” Elder Bednar explained.
We create a connection to the Savior through the conduits of the sacred covenants and ordinances that we participate in, and we are saved by Jesus Christ, he said. When we “come unto the Savior” in this way, we are promised by the Savior that “I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
In conclusion, Elder Bednar reassured everyone that putting off the natural man and becoming more like Christ is a lifetime endeavor. We don’t have to be perfect, but we can do a little better each day with God’s help, he said. And we’re not alone. We are yoked with the Savior and have the companionship of the Holy Ghost to help us through the commotion, the noise and the evil of the world.