Direct thoughts to God-given gifts

Walk in truth

Honor the giversThe giving and receiving of gifts was the topic of President Thomas S. Monson's Sunday morning conference address.

President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of the occasion that prompts the most gift-giving, Christmas. He observed that some are challenged to find something appropriate for "the person who has everything." The congregation laughed when President Monson described a cartoon that showed the Three Wise Men traveling to Bethlehem with gift boxes on their camels: "One said, `Mark my words, Balthazar, we're starting something with these gifts that's going to get way out of hand!' "

"For a few moments," President Monson continued, "may we set aside the catalogs of Christmas, with their gifts of exotic description. Let's even turn from the flowers for mother, the special tie for father, the cute doll, the train that whistles, the long-awaited bicycle and direct our thoughts to those God-given gifts that endure.

"I have chosen from a long list just four: 1. The Gift of Birth. 2. The Gift of Peace. 3. The Gift of Love. 4. The Gift of Life Eternal."

The Gift of Birth. "It has been universally bestowed on each of us," President Monson said. "Ours was the divine privilege to depart our heavenly home to tabernacle in the flesh and to demonstrate by our lives our worthiness and qualifications to one day return to Him, precious loved ones and a kingdom called Celestial. Our mothers and our fathers bestowed this marvelous gift on us. Ours is the responsibility to show our gratitude by the actions of our lives."

He referred to 3 John 1:4 as a formula whereby sons and daughters might express to their parents gratitude for the gift of birth: " `I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.'

"Let us so walk," President Monson implored. "Let us so honor the givers of this priceless gift of birth."

The Gift of Peace. "In the raucous world in which we live, the din of traffic, the blaring commercials of the media, the sheer demands placed upon our time - to say nothing of the problems of the world - cause headache, inflict pain and sap our strength to cope," President Monson observed. "The burden of sickness or the grief of mourning a loved one departed brings us to our knees seeking heavenly help. With the ancients we may wonder, `Is there no balm in Gilead?' " (Jer. 8:22.)

President Monson said the Savior, who was burdened with sorrow and acquainted with grief, speaks to every troubled heart and bestows the gift of peace. " `Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.' (John 14:27.)

"He sends forth His word through the missionaries serving far and wide proclaiming His gospel of good tidings and salutation of peace," President Monson said. Further, he noted, "The passport to peace is the practice of prayer. The feelings of the heart, humbly expressed, rather than a mere recitation of words, provide the peace we seek."

The Gift of Love. "A segment of our society desperately yearning for an expression of true love is found among those growing older, and particularly when they suffer from pangs of loneliness," President Monson said. He quoted Elder Richard L. Evans: " `What they need in the loneliness of their older years is, in part at least, what we needed in the uncertain years of our youth: a sense of belonging, an assurance of being wanted, and the kindly ministrations of loving hearts and hands; not merely dutiful formality, not merely a room in a building, but room in someone's heart and life.' "

President Monson told of a man who wrote to one of his teachers. Then in her 80s, she wrote back: " `. . . I taught school for 50 years and yours is the first note of appreciation I have ever received. . . . It cheered me as nothing has for years.'

"As I read this account," President Monson said, "I thought of the treasured line, `The Lord has two homes: heaven and a grateful heart.' "

The Gift of Life. "Our Heavenly Father's plan contains the ultimate expressions of true love," President Monson said, noting that this gift includes immortality. "All that we hold dear, even our families, our friends, our joy, our knowledge, our testimonies, would vanish were it not for our Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Among the most cherished thoughts and writings in this world is the divine statement of truth: `For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' (John 3:16.) This precious Son, our Lord and Savior, atoned for our sins and the sins of all. . . . He died that we might live, and live everlastingly. Resurrection morning was preceded by pain, by suffering in accordance with the divine plan of God. Before Easter there had to be a cross. The world has witnessed no greater gift, nor has it known more lasting love."

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