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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Missionaries outside during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Saturday afternoon session of the 183rd Annual General Conference Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Salt Lake City.

"The same priesthood power that created worlds, galaxies and universes can and should be a part of our lives to succor, strengthen and bless our families and our neighbors — in other words, to do the things the Savior would do if He were ministering among us today."

That was the counsel shared by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve in his Saturday morning general conference address.

He began by speaking of the wonder of looking across the night sky and pondering the vastness of God's creations.

"The power by which the heavens and earth were and are created is the priesthood," he said. "Those of us who are members of the Church know that the source of the priesthood power is God Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ. Not only is the priesthood the power by which the heavens and earth were created, but it is the power the Savior used in His mortal ministry to perform miracles, to bless and heal the sick, to bring the dead to life, and as the Father's Only Begotten Son to endure the unbearable pain of Gethsemane and Calvary — thus fulfilling the laws of justice with mercy and providing an Infinite Atonement — and overcoming physical death through the resurrection."

The power of the priesthood, he added, is a sacred and essential gift of God. It is different from priesthood authority, which is the authorization to act in God's name.

"In our Heavenly Father's great priesthood endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In other words, in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by a husband and wife."

It is crucial for all to understand that Heavenly Father has provided a way for all of His children to have access to the blessings of and be strengthened by the power of the priesthood. "Central to God's plan for His spirit children is His own declaration: 'This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man'" (Moses 1:39).

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Using the example of a young girl who nurtured back to vitality a tomato plant that had wilted from earlier neglect, Elder Ballard said those who hold the priesthood and fail to constantly strive to honor it by serving their families and others will be like those who do not receive the blessings inherent in the power of the priesthood and will wilt spiritually, having deprived themselves of the essential spiritual nutrients, light and power of God in their lives.

He then encouraged members to view the powerful priesthood lessons taught on the recent Worldwide Leadership Training available on LDS.org.

"God has freely given His power to those who accept and honor His priesthood which leads to the promised blessings of immortality and eternal life."