For you young men and young women, I have considered three ways that you can “find the keys,” or use priesthood keys and authority to bless your life and the lives of others.
1. Prepare for Missionary Service
My young brothers and sisters, you may not realize it, but the keys of the gathering of Israel, restored by Moses, enable missionary work in our dispensation. Consider the full-time missionary force of approximately 75,000 laboring in the field under the direction of these keys. With this in mind, remember it is never too early for you to prepare for missionary service.
In For the Strength of Youth, we read, “Young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, … work diligently to prepare yourself to represent the Lord as a missionary” ([booklet, 2011], 43).
Young women can prepare also, but you “are not under the same mandate to serve” (Thomas S. Monson, “Welcome to Conference,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 5).
All of your preparation, however, whether you serve as a full-time missionary or not, will accrue lifelong benefits to you as a member missionary. (Check out How to Prepare Now to Serve a Mission.)
2. Attend the Temple
Sealing keys, restored by the Old Testament prophet Elijah, enable ordinances to take place in holy temples. Ordinances performed in these temples enable individuals and families to return to the presence of our heavenly parents.
We encourage you young men and young women to research and find the names of your ancestors and perform proxy baptisms for them in the temple. We note that this is already taking place in significant and unprecedented numbers throughout the world! Baptistries in many temples are filled with young men and young women early in the morning and into the night. Keys are turned that allow families to be bound together as sacred ordinances are performed in these temples.
Can you see the relationship between priesthood keys and blessings? As you engage in this work, I think you will find that the Lord is in its details. An experience demonstrates this. I recently learned of a mother who regularly escorted her children to the temple to perform proxy baptisms. On this particular day, as this family completed their baptisms and were leaving the temple, a man entered the baptistry area with a large batch of his own family names. Realizing there was no one remaining in the baptistry to assist with these family names, a temple worker caught the departing family and asked the children if they would consider reentering and changing once again to assist with these baptisms. They willingly agreed and went back in. As the children were baptized, their mother, listening, began to recognize the names and soon, to the amazement of all, realized the man’s batch of family names were deceased ancestors of her family as well. A sweet, tender mercy for them.
[Recently] the Provo City Center Temple was dedicated as the 150th operating temple of the Church worldwide. We note that when President Thomas S. Monson was sustained as an Apostle in 1963, there were 12 operating temples in the Church. Temples are getting closer and closer to you. However, for those of you who live where distance or circumstances do not allow regular temple attendance, you should always keep yourself worthy to attend. You can do important work outside of temples as you research and submit your family names. (Check out Serving Your Ancestors in the Temple.)
3. Go Forward with Faith
The Old Testament prophet Abraham received a great blessing from the Lord in his dispensation, sometimes referred to as the Abrahamic covenant. Thousands of years later, the blessings of the dispensation of the gospel to Abraham were restored. This occurred when the prophet Elias appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple. (Watch Priesthood Keys Restored in Kirtland Temple.)
Through this restoration, each of you has access to the great blessings promised to Abraham. These blessings can be yours if you remain faithful and live worthy. In the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth, you are given some very practical instruction about how to “go forward with faith.” I summarize some of that counsel: “To help you become all that the Lord wants you to become, kneel each morning and night in prayer to your Father in Heaven. … Study the scriptures each day and apply what you read to your life. … Strive each day to be obedient. … In all circumstances, follow the teachings of the prophets. … Be humble and willing to listen to the Holy Ghost.”
This counsel is followed by a promise leading to promises that come through the blessings of Abraham: “As you do these things, the Lord will make much more out of your life than you can by yourself. He will increase your opportunities, expand your vision, and strengthen you. He will give you the help you need to meet your trials and challenges. You will gain a stronger testimony and find true joy as you come to know your Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, and feel Their love for you” (For the Strength of Youth, 42–43.)
To summarize: prepare for missionary service, attend the temple, and go forward with faith.
I pray that you, the rising generation of young men and young women, will “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ” (2 Nephi 31:20), that you may understand that it is your sacred privilege to act under the direction of those who hold the priesthood keys that will unlock blessings, gifts, and powers of heaven for you.
I testify of God the Father; of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ; of the Holy Ghost; and of the Restoration of the gospel in these the latter days, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Read Elder Gary E. Stevenson’s entire April 2016 general conference talk, “Where Are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood?”
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