Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Prophet's Voice

            As I considered what I should write about today, the words of an often-sung hymn came to my mind. The hymn is titled “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice.” The first three verses were written by Joseph S. Murdock (1822-1899) with Verse four written by Bruce R. McConkie (1915-1985). Music was written by Joseph J. Daynes (1851-1920). The lyrics for the first verse are as follow.

Come, listen to a prophet’s voice,
And hear the word of God,
And in the way of truth rejoice,
And sing for joy aloud.
We’ve found the way the prophets went
Who lived in days of yore.
Another prophet now is sent
This knowledge to restore.

            With the passing last Tuesday of President Thomas S. Monson, the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of God and the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I thought it might be wise to review some of the recent counsel given by him. The President of the Church usually speaks four times during the annual and semi-annual general conferences of the Church. However, President Monson had to curtail his talks in recent years due to problems incident to old age. He did not speak at all in the October 2017 General Conference, and he gave fewer and shorter talks in other conferences. I am grateful for even the few words of wisdom that he was able to give. Here are some of them.

            Speaking to the brethren of the priesthood in the April 2017 General Conference, President Monson spoke about the importance of kindness, charity, and love. This counsel is good for all of us.

The scriptures teach us that the righteous exercise of the priesthood is dependent upon our living the principles of kindness, charity, and love. In the Doctrine and Covenants we read:

“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, … by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
“By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-42).

Brethren, let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable. And 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.

            In the same conference President Monson gave a short address to everyone. This time he spoke about the importance of reading and studying the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

This morning I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives. The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated.

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. If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true – and I solemnly testify that it is – then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Because the Book of Mormon is true, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth, and the holy priesthood of God has been restored for the benefit and blessing of His children.

If you do not have a firm testimony of these things, do that which is necessary to obtain one. It is essential for you to have your own testimony in these difficult times, for the testimonies of others will carry you only so far. However, once obtained, a testimony needs to be kept vital and alive through continued obedience to the commandments of God and through daily prayer and scripture study.

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.

            President Monson gave two short talks in the October 2016 General Conference. To the brethren of the priesthood he gave the following message about the Word of Wisdom.

In 1833 the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith a plan for healthy living. That plan is found in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants and is known as the Word of Wisdom. It gives specific direction regarding the food we eat, and it prohibits the use of substances which are harmful to our bodies.

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 (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21)…

Brethren, 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.

            In the same conference President Monson spoke to the general membership of the Church about Heavenly Father’s perfect plan of happiness for His children. 

Our Father’s plan for our happiness and our salvation is shared by our missionaries throughout the world. Not all who hear this divine message accept and embrace it. However, men and women everywhere … recognize its truths, and they plant their feet on the path that will lead them safely home. Their lives are forever changed.

Essential to the plan is our Savior, Jesus Christ. Without His atoning sacrifice, all would be lost. It is not enough, however, merely to believe in Him and His mission. We need to work and learn, search 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 obtain true, eternal happiness.

            President Monson has completed his mortal assignment on earth and has graduated to a place of higher learning. I am sure that he will be busy there helping, serving, and teaching all who come under his influence. The above quotes are only a small portion of the great words of counsel given by President Monson over the course of more than fifty years as an Apostle and Prophet of the Lord. We would all be wise to listen to this prophet’s voice and hear the word of God.

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