Elder Bednar visits Manila Saints
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Metro Manila 19 August 2008 For most Filipinos in Manila, the long weekend the third week of August was a time for relaxation and enjoyment. But for the Latter-day Saints, the holidays were a time for spiritual feasts as they gathered to hear the messages of Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who visited the Philippines from August 18 to 20, 2008.
 
After visiting the Saints in Cebu, Elder Bednar went to Manila to meet with members, temple ordinance workers, and full-time missionaries.
 
Devotional with Saints in Manila
 
On August 18 Elder Bednar spoke in a devotional attended by more than 1700 members from the Manila, Makati, and Pasig Philippines Stakes at the Buendia meetinghouse. In his message, he quoted Church President George Albert Smith (1870–1951):
 
“There are two influences ever present in the world. One is constructive and elevating and comes from our Heavenly Father; the other is destructive and debasing and comes from Lucifer. We have our agency and make our own choice in life subject to these unseen powers. There is a division line well defined that separates the Lord’s territory from Lucifer’s. If we live on the Lord’s side of the line, Lucifer cannot come there to influence us” (Improvement Era, May 1937, 278).
 
Elder Bednar explained that if we keep the commandments of the Lord we are safe on His side of the line, but if we disobey His teachings we voluntarily move into Satan’s territory and become subject to his influence.
 
He further emphasized that there are many small and simple things that we can do consistently that will keep us on the Lord’s side of the line—things like meaningful individual and family prayers, family home evenings, scripture study, and paying tithing.
 
“It does not take a drastic sin to get us on the devil’s side of the line,” he added. “Once we stop doing the small and simple things, we slowly go to the adversary’s side.”
 
He taught that the gospel should not be a list of dos and don’ts, but should be a way of living that allows us to become more like Jesus Christ, with His help.
 
He counseled the Saints to live the gospel and seek to do the Lord’s will, and promised that if they would do so, though temptations and trials would not go away, they would be empowered to bear them with firmness and happiness.
 
Elder Bednar said that the Atonement of Jesus Christ provides two overarching blessings in our lives. First and foremost, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be cleansed and redeemed from sin. Second, the Atonement strengthens us to do good and to be good.  He emphasized what the Apostle Paul taught about the grace of God—that grace is the strengthening, empowering and enabling element of the Atonement.  He explained that life would not always be smooth sailing and that we need to ask for strength to bear our afflictions joyfully and patiently. “It does not matter what we want; we have to accept what God wants for us,” he said.
 
Elder Bednar ended his message by invoking a blessing on the Saints that the Spirit would bring into remembrance who they are as well as fortify, edify, and strengthen them always as they live in safety, security, and protection on the Lord’s side of the line.
 
Other speakers in the devotional included Elder Michael John U. Teh, Second Counselor in the Area Presidency, who discussed how the gospel is a plan of happiness. He said that the gospel is founded on the principles of faith and action. “Everything we know, we need to do,” he said.
 
Elder Won Yong Ko, First Counselor in the Area Presidency, explained that we are all friends of Jesus Christ and encouraged members to “build a good, friendly relationship with Jesus Christ” through prayer, scripture study, and attending the temple.
 
Elder Keith R. Edwards, Area President, encouraged the Saints to declare the word of God with unweariness and to be tireless in serving the Lord. Both men and women have a significant role to play in the gospel of Jesus Christ, he said.
 
Judy Edwards, wife of President Edwards, spoke about families being the center of the gospel. She said that family members need to help each other be active in the gospel and hold family prayers and family home evenings.
 
Susan Bednar, wife of Elder Bednar, testified that the Lord hears and answers prayers and that He answers prayers in wisdom—in His time and in His way. “The Lord is aware of our difficulties, our fears, our concerns . . . and He is mindful of all of us,” she said.
 
Later that same day, Elder Bednar met with the full-time missionaries from the Philippines Angeles and Manila Missions and ordinance workers serving in the Manila Philippines Temple. On August 19, he met with the full-time missionaries from the Quezon City mission in Provident Chapel, Marikina, and visited the missionary training center, where he also addressed the missionaries. On August 20, he gave a message to the Church employees at the Manila Philippines administration office.