The last time that Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addressed students at a BYU Devotional, it was back in 2009, where over 20,000 were in attendance. Apparently students have been known to line up or even camp out in front of the Marriott Center hoping to get a seat inside. I suspect that if I had been a student there, I would have done such a thing myself -- to hear a prophet speak. Thankfully, when a prophet of God speaks, today, technology allows any and all who desire to listen, hear -- and that's just what I did via BYUtv.
The principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are timeless, and have value to individuals at anytime during our lives. Today, President Monson's message, although delivered to BYU students, is one that I took personally and I know you will, too. That's why I'd like to share my notes and a few excerpts from his talk -- to hopefully encourage each of you to take the time to listen to his entire address...
I loved that President Monson began by expressing the tremendous weight of responsibility that he felt in coming to address the students. Certainly I have no idea what that must feel like, only to liken it to how, as a parent, have at times desired to impress upon my own children that which I felt so passionately. He told them that they were the most marvelous audience in the world! I loved that!
Each of us are one of a kind, having unique experiences that are ours alone. Each of us come from various places and backgrounds. And yet, common to all of us is the knowledge of who we are, why we are here, and where we are going -- the Plan of Happiness. What we do and don't do is of utmost importance. The Savior provided the precious gift of the atonement. We can be forgiven. We have in common the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the responsibility to share the gospel, and as Paul taught -- be thou an example. A righteous example.
Followers of Jesus Christ are lights to the world. What is light? Webster includes 15 definitions - President Monson prefers this one, "something that illuminates". The world is increasing in darkness and needs our light. He quoted Harold B. Lee:
"Every soul who walks the earth, wherever he lives, in whatever nation he may have been born, no matter whether he be in riches or in poverty, had at birth an endowment of that first light which is called the Light of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, or the Spirit of God--that universal light of intelligence with which every soul is blessed."
Each one of us has the light of Christ and are blessed. Moroni taught:
"For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God."
Unfortunately for many that light has dimmed and in some cases almost to the point of being extinguished.
"Ours is the responsibility to keep our lights aflame and burning brightly that they might shine for others to see and follow."
"With the decline of religion in our society many people have come to feel that they are sufficient unto themselves, have no need of higher power. Wrong. A loss of religious faith implies a loss of faith in anyone greater than oneself."
Quoted 2 Nephi 28 (scripture mastery):
"O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish."All vulnerable to such an attitude….
Remember on Whom we are reliant. To be examples we must believe.
Each of us has a testimony of differing degrees. We are responsible to develop a testimony that will sustain us. Faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.
Among the most effective ways to gain and keep the faith -- is to read, study and pray -- consistently.
Harold B. Lee wrote this on the inside of his daughter's scriptures when he gave them to her...
"To my dear Maureen Lee Wilkins -- that you may have a constant measure by which to judge between truth and the errors of man's philosophies and thus grow in spirituality as you increase in knowledge… I give you this sacred book to read frequently and cherish throughout your life. Lovingly your father, Harold B. Lee"
President Monson - Brothers and Sisters, have you read the Book of Mormon? Have you put to the test the promise found in Moroni, chapter 10 verse 4-- asking your Heavenly Father, with a sincere heart, with real intent, and having faith in Christ, whether or not that which is found in that book is truth?
Shared Clayton M. Christensen's experience of coming to find out for himself, if Book of Mormon was really true. You can read the entire account on Mormon Scholars Testify.
Christensen questioned his testimony of the Book of Mormon, although he had read it seven times, but realized that each time he had read it previously, it had been some type of assignment. This was a time in his life that he desperately needed to know if it was true, and so committed himself to reading it for one hour late each night. He had been sustained up to this time by the testimony of others, such as his parents. But now, he needed to know for himself in order to go forward in his life and with his higher education -- as he knew that conflicts would arise.
Each night that he read, he would begin with a prayer -- out loud. He told God he was desperate to know if the Book of Mormon was true, and if it was true he would dedicate his life to the gospel. If not, he needed to know that as well...
He read and he pondered... Could this have been written by a charlatan trying to deceive or is it from God? Prayed constantly to know IF it was true, every night…. toward the end of the book he got his answer!
President Monson then paraphrased Ezra Taft Benson: "When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed". He went on to say, "The world will shape human nature, but Christ can change human nature, and changed men and women can change the world."
"I use applied econometrics maybe once a year, but I use my knowledge that the Book of Mormon is the word of God many times, every day of my life. In all of the education that I've pursued, that is the single most useful piece of knowledge that I have ever gained." Clayton M. ChristensenPresident Monson's challenge…
"Set aside time everyday to find out for yourself if the Book of Mormon is a true book -- for it will change your heart and change your life. If you seek this knowledge with a sincere heart, with real intent and having faith in Christ --- I promise that you will receive an answer -- and once you know that the Book of Mormon is true then will follow that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. You will have that burning testimony and knowledge that this Church is true. Such a personal testimony is essential if we are to safely navigate the sometimes treacherous paths through life, with the adversary attempting to deceive us at every turn. As you keep the flame of testimony burning brightly, you will become a beacon of righteousness, even a light for all to see."
President Monson then shared two beautiful examples of individuals who let their light's shine….
"My friends, may we be as the apostle Paul admonished, an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. May we always be known as followers of Christ and as such become as lights in the world. "
He closed his talk by quoting from the movie, The Lion King...
Look inside yourself, you are more, remember who you are…. a child of God, come at this time to live in such a way that you are an example of the believers and a true light in the world….
Watch BYU Devotional - November: Thomas S. Monson
LDS Newsroom: President Monson: To Follow Christ, You Choose to Change
Photo Gallery: President Monson Devotional