Barack Obama stopped in Rome to visit with Pope Frances at the Vatican last Thursday. Since his own influence is slowly declining, Mr. Obama apparently sought the visit in order to have some of the popularity and coolness of the Pope rub off on him. Only time will tell if the visit helps him. The New York Times reported that the two powerful men “skirted social issues” particularly the ones that cause tension between them such as religious liberty and right to life. Instead, they visited for about an hour about “income inequality, the conflict raging in Syria, the persecution of Christians around the world and the elusiveness of global peace.”
There is another man in the world, one who is even more powerful than the Pope and Mr. Obama together; he is the prophet of God. Thomas S. Monson is the current prophet of the Lord on the earth today, and he acts and speaks in the name of God. He does not get a lot of press, but he is also “cool” and “popular” with those who follow his counsel. President Monson will most likely be speaking four different times in the upcoming General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 5-6, 2014. You can listen to him speak at this site. Meanwhile, consider some statements made by President Monson as quoted in Church News for the week of December 29, 2013.
“Though exaltation is a personal matter, and while individuals are saved not as a group but indeed as individuals, yet one cannot live in a vacuum. Membership in the Church calls forth a determination to serve. A position of responsibility may not be of recognized importance, nor may the reward be broadly known. Service, to be acceptable to the Savior, must come from willing minds, ready hands, and pledged hearts.
“Occasionally discouragement may darken our pathway; frustration may be a constant companion. In our ears there may sound the sophistry of Satan as he whispers, `You cannot save the world; your small efforts are meaningless. You haven’t time to be concerned for others.’ Trusting in the Lord, let us turn our heads from such falsehoods and make certain our feet are firmly planted in the path of service and our hearts and souls dedicated to follow the example of the Lord. In moments when the light of resolution dims and when the heart grows faint, we can take comfort from His promise: `Be not weary in well-doing. … Out of small things proceedeth that which is great’ (Doctrine and Covenants 4:33)” (See “The Path to Peace,” Ensign, May 1994, p. 62.”)
“There are thousands upon thousands, yes, millions upon millions of spirit children of our Heavenly Father who have lived here, who have never heard of the word `Christ,’ who have died, who have gone back to the spirit world in their state of progression and have been taught the gospel; and now they are waiting the day when you and I will do the research which is necessary to clear the way, that we might likewise go into the house of God and perform that work for them, that they, themselves, cannot perform. Are we willing to accept that challenge? My brothers and sisters, I testify that the Lord will bless you as you do accept and respond to that challenge.” (Delivered at the dedication of the Los Angeles Temple Genealogical Library, June 20, 1964)
“Why are so many willing to give so much in order to receive the blessings of the temple? Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort.” (See “The Holy Temple – A Beacon to the World,” Ensign, May 2011, p. 92.)
At a recent General Conference President Monson spoke about obedience. “Throughout the ages, men and women have sought for knowledge and understanding concerning this mortal existence and their place and purpose in it, as well as for the way to peace and happiness. Such a search is undertaken by each of us.
“This knowledge and understanding are available to all mankind. They are contained in truths which are eternal….
“Some would ask, `Where is such truth to be found, and how are we to recognize it?’ In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, in May of 1833, the Lord declared:
“`Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come. …
“`The Spirit of truth is of God. …
“`And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.
“`He that keepeth [God’s] commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things’ (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24, 26-28). …
“There is no need for you or for me, in this enlightened age when the fulness of the gospel has been restored, to sail uncharted seas or to travel unmarked roads in search of truth. A loving Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing guide – even obedience. A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God.
“We learn obedience throughout our lives. Beginning when we are very young, those responsible for our care set forth guidelines and rules to ensure our safety. Life would be simpler for all of us if we would obey such rules completely. …
“There are rules and laws to help ensure our physical safety. Likewise, the Lord has provided guidelines and commandments to help ensure our spiritual safety so that we might successfully navigate this often-treacherous mortal existence and return eventually to our Heavenly Father.
“Centuries ago, to a generation steeped in the tradition of animal sacrifice, Samuel boldly declared, `To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams’ (1 Samuel 15:22). In this dispensation, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that He requires `the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days’ (Doctrine and Covenants 64:34).
“All prophets, ancient and modern, have known that obedience is essential to our salvation. …
“Obedience is a hallmark of prophets; it has provided strength and knowledge to them throughout the ages. It is essential for us to realize that we, as well, are entitled to this source of strength and knowledge. It is readily available to each of us today as we obey God’s commandments.” (“Obedience Brings Blessings,” Ensign, May 2013).
President Monson is the prophet of God for all the world at this time. He, as well as all those who listen to him and follow his counsel, is more concerned about what happens in the next world than what happens here. He knows that we are each put here on earth for a few years to gain bodies and to learn obedience. He knows that the riches of eternity are available to all who are obedient to the commandments of God, and he desires all to gain those riches. I encourage you to listen to President Monson and his associates as they speak to us during this General Conference.