As I've been studying the words and guidance of our beloved President Thomas S. Monson this week, the range and depth of the wisdom he shared stagger me. With 54 years of apostolic and prophetic counsel and advice, not to mention books and biographies that detail the intimate lessons and details of his life, it's hard to comprehend the unfailing service, devotion, faith, and commitment of this great man.
But as I've looked over the more recent public messages President Monson shared with members of the Church, I've noticed an inspired and divine focus. Each of these messages strikes the heart of our beliefs, focusing on the quintessential aspects of the gospel that will strengthen us every day of our lives. Here are just a few of those messages:
Days leading up to President Monson's 90th birthday on August 21, 2017, the prophet reiterated a birthday wish, asking that members of the Church “do something for someone else on that day to make his or her life better. Find someone who is having a hard time or is ill or lonely and do something for them. That’s all I would ask.” Let us strive to accomplish this each and every day and ingrain this level of charity in our lives, remembering and following our prophet's example.
Though limited by age and possibly even pain, President Thomas S. Monson stood at the pulpit many times over the last two years as a prophet of God and delivered messages that every member of the Church needs to know—ones that apply so pointedly and poignantly to what we need most today, right now in our lives. I'm infinitely grateful for the opportunities I had to hear our prophet's voice on these occasions:
“'But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him' (Moroni 7:44–47). . . .
"Let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable. As we do so, we will be in a better position to call down the powers of heaven for ourselves, for our families, and for our fellow travelers in this sometimes difficult journey back to our heavenly home" (April 2017 Priesthood Session).
"We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety. If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. . . .
"My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives" (April 2017 Sunday Morning Session).
"Those who are obedient to the Lord’s commandments and who faithfully observe the Word of Wisdom are promised particular blessings, among which are good health and added physical stamina [see D&C 89:18–20]. …
"May we care for our bodies and our minds by observing the principles set forth in the Word of Wisdom, a divinely provided plan. With all my heart and soul, I testify of the glorious blessings which await us as we do" (October 2016 Priesthood Session).
"Essential to the plan is our Savior, Jesus Christ. Without His sacrifice, all would be lost. It's not enough, however, merely to believe in Him and His mission. We need to work and learn, serve and pray, repent and improve. We need to know God's laws and live them. We need to receive His saving ordinances. Only by so doing will we find true, eternal happiness. We are blessed to have the truth and have a mandate to share the truth. Let us live the truth that we might merit all that the Father has for us. He does nothing save for our benefit . . .
"From the depths of my soul and in all humility I testify of the great gift which is our Father's plan for us. It is the one perfect plan to peace and happiness, both here and in the world to come" (October 2016 Sunday Morning Session).
"Wherever you go, your priesthood goes with you. . . . Remember who you are and what God expects you to become. You are a child of promise. You are a man of might. You are a son of God," ("A Sacred Trust," April 2016).
"May we maintain the courage to defy the consensus. May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.
"As we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day—whether to make this choice or that choice—if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice" ("Choices," April 2016).
Conferences, official settings, and important events were not the only places President Monson spoke to us over the years. He, along with his apostles, also uplifted and strengthened us on social media. Here were President Monson's last messages to Church members on Facebook:
As we pray, let us really communicate with our Father in Heaven. It is easy to let our prayers become repetitious, expressing words with little or no thought behind them. When we remember that each of us is literally a spirit son or daughter of God, we will not find it difficult to approach Him in prayer.
He knows us; He loves us; He wants what is best for us. Let us pray with sincerity and meaning, offering our thanks and asking for those things we feel we need. Let us listen for His answers, that we may recognize them when they come. As we do, we will be strengthened and blessed. We will come to know Him and His desires for our lives.
By knowing Him, by trusting His will, our foundations of faith will be strengthened. If any one of us has been slow to hearken to the counsel to pray always, there is no finer hour to begin than now. William Cowper declared, “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.”
Are we prepared for our journey through life? The pathway can at times be difficult. Chart your course, be cautious, and determine to study diligently, pray fervently, and live righteously.
Let us never despair, for the work in which we are engaged is the work of the Lord. It has been said, “The Lord shapes the back to bear the burden placed upon it.”
The strength which we earnestly seek in order to meet the challenges of a complex and changing world can be ours when, with fortitude and resolute courage, we stand and declare with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Although there have always been challenges in the world, many of those which you face are unique to this time. But you are some of our Heavenly Father’s strongest children, and He has saved you to come to the earth “for such a time as this.”
With His help, you will have the courage to face whatever comes. Though the world may at times appear dark, you have the light of the gospel, which will be as a beacon to guide your way.
My earnest prayer is that you will have the courage required to refrain from judging others, the courage to be chaste and virtuous, and the courage to stand firm for truth and righteousness. As you do so, you will be “an example of the believers,” and your life will be filled with love and peace and joy.
I love President Monson and will miss him dearly, but I am grateful for the chance to read the divine messages he taught and exemplified in his life.
Lead image from lds.org
For inspiration from President Monson every day of this new year, check out A Future as Bright as Your Faith.
This dynamic collection of thoughts for each day of the year from President Monson is certain to motivate and inspire us in our pursuit to be of good cheer. Containing 365 quotations and accompanying scriptures for daily reading, this small, carry-along sized book will fit in a purse, briefcase, or backpack. It's also an excellent resource for family home evenings, gospel lessons, talks, or personal study. Give the gift of hope—or keep yours alive—with the words of our beloved prophet.