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Sunday, March 24, 2019

General Conference--The Opportunity to Hear the Word of the Lord

Hello again, everyone! I wanted to post some thoughts here on the subject of General Conference, especially because the upcoming April conference is now less than 2 weeks away. In the Old Testament, the prophet Amos tells us: "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants, the prophets." The Joseph Smith translation of that verse changes the word "but" to the word "until." In Doctrine and Covenants Section 1, which serves as the Lord's designated preamble to all other revelations found in that volume of scripture, the Lord says the following:

"Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.

"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

On the day the Church was reorganized in Palmyra New York, the Lord shared counsel found in D&C 21 in relation to Joseph Smith, which by extension applies to all other prophets which have succeeded him: "Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

"For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

"For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory."

At around the same time that the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants was received, another revelation from the Lord (Section 66) shared the following in relation to the elders of the Church: "And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation."

Wikipedia provides this definition (complete with several more relevant and accurate sources) of a prophet, seer and revelator. With a growing global worldwide Church, the General Conferences which are held every six months enables practices mandated by scriptural requirement to occur, including the opportunity to sustain and be instructed by the leaders of the Church who have been called by the Lord. This is a unique and special opportunity we have twice a year to put aside other everyday pursuits and focus on hearing the Lord's will for our day.

There have been several suggested methods in terms of how each of us can best prepare for General Conference. For most of my teenage and young adult years, I would take the opportunity each March and September to again fully read and review the talks from the previous General Conference. Although that tradition has faded in recent years, another great suggestion I heard is one I have taken to heart for a while as well, and I recommend it fully and wholeheartedly to all.

The suggestion is this: Beginning roughly two weeks prior to each General Conference, take some time to think about and, where practical and feasible, to write down, the specific concerns and questions you have leading up to General Conference. After doing so, with those questions and concerns in mind, pray at least once daily (but certainly more often if needed) regarding the specifics of those concerns and questions, and ask the Lord to help you find answers to those questions.

Then, during General Conference weekend, participate in it to the fullest extent you can. As you listen to or watch the proceedings, continue to maintain a prayer in your heart that you will find the answers you seek. And if you do that, I am of the opinion, based on experiences I have had in this respect, that there will be at least one or two talks that deal specifically and directly with the exact concerns and questions that you have.

As the Spirit speaks to your heart regarding what is said, write down the impressions that come based on what you heard (which may not match exactly with what was said). Refer back to the questions and answers as needed following each conference,  and, where impressed to do so, share your experiences with others concerning the answers to which you were led. In so doing, the Lord can and will tell you what you need to hear, even if that may not necessarily be what you want to hear.

As President Nelson shared in his first major address to the entire Church in General Conference, the Lord is anxious to reveal his will to all those who have questions and concerns. I know that answers to our concerns and questions can be found in General Conference, because that has been my personal experience for years now. May the Lord bless us all in the preparation we undertake in the remaining days before General Conference is my hope and prayer, as I offer these thoughts and my testimony that the things I have shared herein are true, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.