For the Strength of Youth: Faithful and true we will ever stand
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To Young Women leaders: In preparation for general conference, we invite you to discuss this article with your young women.
As the Young Women general presidency, we are thrilled with the release of the new, updated, 2012 edition of For the Strength of Youth. We feel that it will help and strengthen the noble youth of the Church to live the standards and keep the commandments of God. Truly it will help all who heed the words to remain true to the faith. Gaining a testimony of the importance of living commandments and standards will help youth remain qualified to receive the promptings of the Holy Ghost. In this way each person will be worthy to make and keep sacred covenants and be prepared to receive the sacred ordinances of the temple.
As you open your book, the first image you will see is the Heinrich Hofmann painting of the Savior. Then as you turn the page again, you can read the loving and encouraging message from the First Presidency. I'd like to talk about the importance of first, looking to the Savior and second, following the words of prophets and the First Presidency. I would also encourage each of you to ask personal questions as to what you are willing to do in relation to living the standards found in For the Strength of Youth.
Looking to the Savior
Seeing the image of Jesus Christ is a solemn reminder that we have chosen to be His disciples. We have been baptized and confirmed members of His true Church which has been restored to the earth in the latter days. As such, it is our blessing and privilege to live our lives in such a way to be recognized as one who is striving to follow the teachings and perfect example of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
When Jesus lived upon the earth, He taught the gospel to those who would listen. He taught of the importance of having faith in Him and God's eternal plan, our need to repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, receive sacred ordinances and endure to the end. After His physical death and resurrection, there was a falling away-- an apostasy. However, because He is our Savior, He has provided a way, through His appointed servants to reveal His will and provide guidance for our benefit.
Following the Words of Prophets
A restoration of the true gospel began in 1820. It was at this time that a 14-year-old, New York farm boy by the name of Joseph Smith sought personal revelation. Joseph was interested in religion. He wanted to know which of all the religions and sects was right. On a spring morning, Joseph went into a grove of trees and uttered his first vocal prayer asking which of all the churches was true. You see, he believed the words of ancient prophets written in the Bible, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5).
Joseph had a question and he believed that he could pray, with faith unwavering, and receive an answer. When he did so, the heavens, which had been previously sealed, were opened. Joseph received a vision where God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ appeared to him. He was told not to join any of the churches, for they "all were wrong" (Joseph Smith-History 1:19).
God had chosen Joseph Smith to be a prophet. It was through this young prophet that the fulness of the gospel was restored to the earth with all of its priesthood keys and authority. The Prophet Joseph Smith was an instrument in the hands of God just as Adam, Abraham and Moses were. Joseph's role was to reveal the will of God to His children here upon the earth and establish His church.
The prophetic priesthood keys of authority have been passed, in an unbroken chain, from Joseph Smith to Brigham Young, and other great men of God down through the years, until they have reached President Thomas S. Monson, the sixteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We read in True to the Faith, "Your greatest safety lies in strictly following the word of the Lord given through His prophets, particularly the current President of the Church. . . . He promises great blessings to those who follow the President of 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' (D&C 21:4-5)." (True to the Faith, p. 130)
Following the Words of the First Presidency
You may question whether the First Presidency is mindful of the world in which we live. I would respond, "Yes, absolutely." They are fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers. They read newspapers and news magazines, watch televised news, and follow blogs. They sit in counsel with members and know the joys which accompany obedience to the commandments and the sorrow which accompanies sin. They have learned to recognize and respond to personal revelation. If the years of service in callings of Melchizedek Priesthood responsibility for the First Presidency were added up, it would probably total close to one-hundred and fifty years of experience. They know the lessons of the past and they know our day.
Elder Robert D. Hales said, "A characteristic of prophets throughout the ages is that regardless of the consequences, they have had the strength to speak the words of God with plainness and boldness" (Robert D. Hales, "Hear the Prophet's Voice and Obey," Ensign, May 1995, p. 15).
Read the following statements from The First Presidency Message in For the Strength of Youth and see if they would bless your life in our day, March of 2012:
"We have great confidence in you."
"Our Father in Heaven has placed great trust in you."
"He has a work for you to do."
"Stay focused on the temple."
"The decisions you make now will set the course for much of what will follow during your mortal life and throughout eternity."
I would encourage you to ask yourself the questions: How would having faith in these words make a difference in the choices I make? If the Savior asked me to live these standards or if President Monson asked me to, would I do so?
I would also encourage you to read the biographical information written about the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles found in past issues of the Church magazines and the Church News. Read their messages. It will help you come to an understanding that they are men who have been prepared to teach and lead and speak in the name of the Lord. I promise that as you do so, your love and appreciation for their lives of service and sacrifice will be heightened and your willingness to follow their counsel will increase.
It is my prayer that we will remember the importance of looking to the Savior as our greatest example and live as His true followers. May we recognize that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is blessed with prophets, seers and revelators who can guide us with priesthood authority from God. Truly, they teach the word of God for our day.
As we follow and apply their instruction, we will be able to respond to the words in the hymn, "True to the Faith" as it poses the question "Shall the youth of Zion falter?" with an affirming, "NO! ... Faithful and true we will ever stand" (Hymns, 254).