Our Bishop addressed the congregation first. He began his talk by reading the words to the hymn, "I Stand All Amazed"
He extracted the word RESCUE from the text -- and then focused on what that means. He brought out that not only do we all need to be rescued, but that we should all be engaged with rescuing each other. As a ward family this is our job! He also taught that everyone within our ward boundaries needs to be rescued, and that our missionaries are the LIFE GUARDS! And might I add to this analogy and say that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is literally the LIFE PRESERVER!
He then went on to share that this all comes together for him, in the TEMPLE!
Such simple and yet profound doctrine.
Next up, our Stake President -- after a beautiful number by our ward choir and a POWERFUL testimony given by a recent convert couple in our ward, who went to the temple for the first time yesterday.
At this point in the conference it was clear that the Spirit was in attendance. Our Stake President was keenly aware of this fact and commented to the effect that if he were to sit down and say nothing, the purpose of our ward conference would have been accomplished.
Well he didn't, and I am grateful.
I wish I had taken notes so that I could give you more details, but his comments tied in beautifully with what our Bishop had just taught about the blessings of the temple. We had just witnessed this truth in hearing these two sweet converts share their feelings of how their lives have been changed forever, with the knowledge of the gospel -- and now to finally be able to make sacred covenants in The House of the Lord!
Truly we were all witnessing a "full circle" moment in time...
So... with the finesse that only our gentle Stake President possesses, he comments on the POWER that was felt in the testimony we had just heard, and goes on to instruct for the remaining meeting, exactly WHAT a testimony on fast Sunday should be and HOW it is to be obtained. All I can tell you is, that this was masterful!
Sidebar: I've been studying The New Testament this year, as I'm teaching it in Primary. It's been a wonderful experience. A few weeks ago, while reading the Beatitudes, I came upon this particular verse of scripture, that for some reason took on an entire new meaning to me -- that I haven't been able to shake.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.Previously, I had always interpreted this verse of scripture to mean that we should have a great desire to read the scriptures, and thus be filled with the spirit. I'm not saying that is doesn't, however, I believe that the meaning goes much deeper.
If we are to understand that the doctrines and principles taught by Jesus Christ in the Beatitudes are that of a higher law (celestial) we then begin to discern the significance of the power of these words. I believe that this scripture is actually referring to the law of the fast. And to be filled, is to receive a fullness. To receive a fulness, is to literally come into the Presence of our Father in Heaven.
Marion G. Romney had this to say in reference to The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood, "It is of such—that is, those who receive the priesthood and magnify it—that the following was written:"
“They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—
“They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;
“And are priests of the Most High, after the order of … the Only Begotten Son.
“Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God.” (D&C 76:55–58.)
This is beautiful doctrine. And although these scripture seems to be referring to men only (priest and kings) I am assured that equal blessings are reserved for His daughters as well.
Back to our Ward Conference:
So... when our Stake President began to teach the doctrine of a proper fast in relation to having the ability to bear a testimony of POWER my ears were again perked up! He reminded us that our fast is an offering and that with that righteous offering comes the ability to receive power. He explained (my words or understanding. remember? no notes) that a proper fast consist of two parts:
- The going without of food and water for 24 hours.
- Meaningful and sincere prayer.
With the power that comes from a true fast we can then bear pure testimony. This becomes a righteous offering -- as we testify to that which can transform lives!
Thus we see how incredibly powerful is the law of the fast to literally qualify us to receive his Fulness!
Pure Testimony by M. Russell Ballard of The Quorum of The Twelve Apostles, Oct 2004
Joseph B. Wirthlin, "The Law of the Fast", Ensign, May 2001, 73
Note: If anyone is aware of the talk that Pres. Smith was referring to when giving direction on a proper testimony, etc.... please leave the info in the comments section. I would personally love to know, and also to share it. Thanks.