PROVO — The Lord protects, guides and watches over those who are his trusted friends in his work, said President Henry B. Eyring on Friday afternoon.
"His work and that of his Father and our Father is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of the children of God," said the first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "And Satan, the enemy of our happiness, opposes those who serve the Lord."
President Eyring spoke at the concluding session of the 2013 Women's Conference, held on BYU's campus in Provo. The annual conference, which attracts LDS women from across the United States and from numerous foreign countries, is co-sponsored by BYU and the LDS Church's Relief Society. Dozens of presenters participated in the conference, including leaders from the church's auxiliaries and boards, BYU professors and others.
President Eyring told thousands of women gathered in the BYU Marriott Center that the Lord's protection is real and his power is greater than all the forces that oppose his faithful servants.
"He watches over them. He sends help to strengthen and sustain them. I have seen it for myself as you have. The Lord knows both the hearts and the needs of his friends who are on his errands."
President Eyring, who addressed the topic, "Divine Protection," said there are physical and spiritual dangers in the world and have been for most of the world's history.
"We will need divine protection in our journey through this last dispensation as it moves toward its climactic end."
President Eyring said he recently received a message from a young mother who wrote: "There have been so many tragedies lately. Is there anywhere we can feel safe?"
"She seemed to be concerned primarily about physical dangers for her family," he said. "Yet many others feel as well the increasing influence of the adversary of our souls in the world around us. The greater hazards in our journey home to our Heavenly Father are that we, and those we love, might not be sanctified and purified, and therefore, not able to be there together."
Quoting the conference theme: "Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end (Doctrine and Covenants 100:12)," President Eyring said his message is "we can have confidence and a sure expectation of joy."
Earlier in the day, Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, also addressed women attending the conference, asking them to study the priesthood.
The priesthood of God is a sacred trust given to bless men, women and children so they can return as families to live eternally together in God's presence, she said, calling righteousness the qualifier to invite priesthood power into their lives.
Sister Burton and her counselors in the Relief Society general presidency, Sister Carole M. Stephens and Sister Linda S. Reeves, said they came to the conference with a clear purpose — "to express our support for living prophets, proclaim our faith and covenants, express our love for (the women of the church) and demonstrate our devotion to our Heavenly Father to accept and embrace the requirements of the gospel, particularly today in regard to the doctrine of the priesthood."
Sister Burton said LDS women are privileged to live in this season of the history of the church when questions are asked about the priesthood. "There is great interest and desire to know and understand more about the authority, power and blessings associated with the priesthood of God," she said. "We hope to instill within each of us a greater desire to better understand the priesthood."
Latter-day Saint women cannot stand up and teach something they do not understand, she said.
She called the priesthood the eternal power and authority of God by which he blesses, redeems and exalts his children. The priesthood cannot be used for selfish means, she added. "Jesus Christ is the perfect example of how the priesthood is to be used to bless, lift, comfort and strengthen others."
Sister Burton called "influence" a complementary gift to priesthood power.
In their first public speaking assignment since being called to serve as the Young Women general presidency in April, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, newly called president, and her counselors, Sisters Carol F. McConkie and Neill F. Marriott, encouraged women to help the youth recognize the dangers surrounding them as they nurture their flames of testimony.
"I can't overemphasize enough the power of our examples as mothers and grandmothers and youth leaders in influencing the testimonies and belief of our young women," Sister Oscarson said. "We cannot expect them to dress modestly and attend their church meetings, to pray daily, study the scriptures and make wise choices if we are not doing those things ourselves. They need to see us modeling virtuous and righteous lives if we want them to develop the good habits that will increase their faith and belief. They need to see us making the temple a priority in our lives."
Contributing: Marianne Holman
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