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Moving the Lord's work to `magnificent destiny'

- Grasp opportunities

- Carry gospel forth- Keep commandments

"Something is happening in this Church, something wonderful," President Gordon B. Hinckley declared Sunday morning.

"As we walk in the small world of our individual wards and branches we are scarcely aware of it. And yet it is real and it is tremendous. We are growing. We are expanding. Enough people will come into the Church this year to constitute more than 600 wards or branches."

After briefly mentioning the sesquicentennial celebrations of 1997, President Hinckley said: "The time has now come to turn about and face the future. This is a season of a thousand opportunities. It is ours to grasp and move forward. What a wonderful time it is for each of us to do his or her small part in moving the work of the Lord on to its magnificent destiny.

"A month from now," the prophet continued, "we will reach the 10-million mark in membership. It took over a century from the organization of the Church in 1830 to 1947 to reach 1 million. More of our members now live outside the U.S. than in the U.S."

President Hinckley declared there is not a city of any consequence in most areas of the world that does not have an LDS congregation. "What a remarkable thing it is to contemplate that each Sabbath there are more than 24,000 wards and branches across the world in which the same lessons are taught and the same testimonies are borne.

"If we will go forward, never losing sight of our goal, speaking ill of no one, living the great principles we know to be true, this cause will roll on in majesty and power to fill the earth," he continued. "Doors now closed to the preaching of the gospel will be opened. The Almighty, if necessary, may have to shake the nations to humble them and cause them to listen to the servants of the living God. Whatever is needed will come to pass.

"The great challenges facing us and the key to the success of the work will be the faith of all who call themselves Latter-day Saints. Our standards are certain and unequivocal. We need not quibble about them. We need not rationalize them. The future will be essentially the same as the past, only much brighter and greatly enlarged.

"There must be no diminution in our effort to carry the gospel to the people of the earth. In the future even more of our young men must prepare themselves to go out in the service of the Lord. Our Christian acts must precede them and accompany them wherever necessary.

"As we look to the future we must extend the great work carried forward in the temples, both for the living and the dead."

President Hinckley continued: "But there are many other things we must do as we move forward the work to a new and promising century. Simply put, we must be better Latter-day Saints. We must be more neighborly. We cannot live in a cloistered existence in this world. We are a part of the whole of humanity."

He counseled members to banish any elements of self-righteousness and to live the golden rule. He also exhorted members to keep the Sabbath Day, observe the Word of Wisdom and pay tithing.

Speaking of the Sabbath Day, he said, "Our strength for the future, our resolution to grow . . . across the world, will be weakened if we violate the will of the Lord in this important matter. We cannot disregard with impunity that which He has said."

Of the Word of Wisdom, he continued, "As we read our newspapers, as we watch the television news, these remarkable words first spoken in 1833 come to life before our very eyes: `In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you.' " (D&C 89:4.)

Of tithing, President Hinckley said, "Let us teach our children while they are yet young of the great opportunity and responsibility of paying tithing. If we do so, there will be another generation, and yet another, who will walk in the ways of the Lord and merit His great promised blessing."

Continuing, he spoke of families. "As I look to the future, I see little to feel enthusiastic about concerning the family in America and across the world." He said that the use of drugs and alcohol; indifference to the needs of one another; and child, spouse and elderly abuse "will happen and get worse unless there is an underlying acknowledgment, yes, a strong and fervent conviction concerning the fact the the family is an instrument of the Almighty. It is His creation. It is also the basic unit of society."

The prophet lifted a "warning voice to our people. We have moved too far toward the mainstream of society in this matter. "Of course there are good families everywhere. But there are too many who are in trouble.

"This is a malady with a cure. The prescription is simple and wonderfully effective. It is love. It is plain, simple, everyday love and respect. It is a tender plant that needs nurturing. But it is worth all of the effort we can put into it."

The prophet continued, "I see a wonderful future in a very uncertain world. If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way."

In closing, he said: "we have glimpsed the future, we know the way, we have the truth. God help us to move forward to become a great and mighty people spread over the earth, counted in the millions, but all of one faith and of one testimony and of one conviction. . . ."