When Moses died, Joshua led the children of Israel.1 Between them and the promised land flowed the Jordan River, obstructing progress to their future. After some time, the Lord inspired Joshua to give directions to his people; twelve priests were to carry the ark of the covenant and enter the water, and the children of Israel were to follow to the other side.
Exercising great faith, the people did as they were instructed. The priests put the ark on their shoulders, and the people removed from their tents. When the priests entered the water, the waters of the river “rose up upon an heap” and “the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over.”2
Difficult challenges and much effort followed, but the Lord, through his prophet, had directed his people to great opportunity and blessings. It is the same for us today. The First Presidency, and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, receive direction from the Lord as He directs His Church. If we follow their guidance, and persist through the challenges that come, we will receive the opportunities, blessings, and miracles the Lord has prepared for each of us.
“…are among the best the Lord has ever sent to this world… [they] have the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation.”President Russell M. Nelson
The Lord is Directing His Church
The past few years have been full of prophetic direction for the Lord’s Church. The sacrament was reemphasized as center of our Sabbath worship. Come, Follow Me was provided as a home-centered, Church-supported tool to strengthen individuals and families. The work of salvation and exaltation was reorganized. We began a new and holier way of ministering to others. The use of technology in doing the Lord’s work has spread throughout the Church.3
Recently, the First Presidency asked leaders to help members find joy in the work of salvation and exaltation by strengthening the faith of the rising generation, gathering Israel on both sides of the veil, and focusing on current prophetic declarations. In addition to the basic principles and duties we share as members of the Church, these three principles can be viewed as priorities for the Lord’s Church in this day.
The Rising Generation
President Nelson once said our young people, “…are among the best the Lord has ever sent to this world… [they] have the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation.”4
Through His servants, the Lord has asked parents and leaders to work together to “help children and youth deepen their conversion, become worthy disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and become men and women of integrity.”5 To help this occur, we encourage you to concentrate on four things: 1) Help young people progress in the new Children and Youth initiative, 2) Call, orient, and help class and quorum presidencies function as they should, 3) Prepare children for baptism and young men for priesthood ordinations and 4) Do everything you can to help every young person choose to serve a mission.
Serving missions is among the most powerful things young people can do to secure a faithful and successful future. On missions they deepen their conversion, strengthen their faith, and develop habits and skills that will make them better students, more effective workers, and outstanding parents to their children. It is no wonder that the Lord said, “And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me.”6
In the October 2020 General Conference, President Nelson taught: “When we speak of gathering Israel on both sides of the veil, we are referring, of course, to missionary, temple, and family history work. We are also referring to building faith and testimony in the hearts of those with whom we live, work, and serve. Anytime we do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—to make and keep their covenants with God, we are helping to gather Israel.”7
The primary responsibility for gathering Israel has been given to members of elders quorums and Relief Societies. They do so under the direction of their presidencies and the supervision provided by the bishop, as presiding high priest, and stake presidencies. It is the members of these quorums and Societies who have been asked to perform this work, not just their leaders.
Those who engage will find joy as they involve themselves in a “newer, holier approach to caring for and ministering to others,”8 sharing the gospel with others, and temple and family history work both for themselves and their deceased ancestors. They will do all that they can to help young people who have yet to serve missions, to prayerfully make the decision to serve.
Doing our part
Because the Lord directs His Church, we will continue to receive important direction from the authorized prophets of our day. As we follow their guidance, we can expect, like Israel in the time of Joshua, opportunities, blessings, and miracles that will profoundly enrich our lives. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that we should “cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.”9
I bear my witness of Jesus Christ. He is God’s son. He lived. He died for us. And He rose to live again. He stands at the head of His Church which He restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. He directs His Church through prophets today. They are teaching us His mind, and His will. When we do our part, He will do His. Indeed, we will see the salvation of God and His arm revealed in our lives and the lives of those we love.
- “Holy Bible,” Deuteronomy 34:8-9
- “Holy Bible,” Joshua 3:16-17
- “God Will Do Something Unimaginable,” by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2020 October General Conference
- “Hope of Israel,” Worldwide Devotional for Youth, June 2018
- “Children and Youth, An Introductory guide for Parents and Leaders,” Introduction, p2
- “Doctrine & Covenants,” 15:6
- “Let God Prevail,” by President Russell M. Nelson, 2020 October General Conference
- “Ministering,” by President Russell M. Nelson, 2018 April General Conference
- “Doctrine & Covenants,” 123:17