Wow. The Worldwide Devotional on January 10, 2016 was awesome! Here are my favorite takeaways, both action items and quotes.
Read or watch them both here. May I recommend you print them so you can mark and ponder as you go along?
My Checklist of 6 Action Items from Wendy Nelson's Talk
- Invite the Holy Ghost to teach me individually.
- Be desperate to become the person God needs me to be! Then I see things differently -- myself, others, my life, entertainment, temptations -- more clearly as they really are. Then I spend time differently -- less social media and more eternal things like learning eternal truths in the temple. Then I use technology righteously, removing anything impure, then I seek and follow leaders' counsel, and find answers from God instead of Google.
- Pray about paying tithing on what we want to make rather than what we make now, as George Q. Cannon did. Very cool.
- Make sure I repent quickly any time I make a mistake, because "unrepented sin is like a magnet for more sin!" (I'm also going to include forgiving quickly, because unforgiveness pushes away the Spirit and eats people up inside)
- Do a 30-day experiment of thanking God for the scriptures, asking Him one question each day before studying, and then watch for an answer as I study that day, pleading to have the Holy Ghost teach me the answer. (Note to self: Use my journal to write the questions and answers each day.)
- Pray to know what gifts God wants me to ask for, make a list of those, and pray with full energy for those gifts, knowing that "each spiritual gift we receive takes us one more step forward into our true selves."
- Stand up and speak up for truth, even when it's not popular.
- Remember who we really are -- it makes such a difference to remember this! My family members and I made covenants premortally about courageous things we would do on earth. God trusted us enough to send us here now -- during "the most compelling dispensation in the history of the world." We were taught premortally to prepare us for "anything and everything [we] would encounter [here] and that teaching endures with [us]." Remember when we are living. We are living in the eleventh hour, the latter part of these latter days. This is the last time God will call laborers to gather the elect from around the earth and we were sent to participate in this gathering!
- Be a devout disciple of Christ who seizes every opportunity to prepare myself and others for the Second Coming and Millennial reign of the Savior. (Is it just me or is this a shift from the brethren just saying preparing for the Second Coming, to preparing for that and the Savior's Millennial reign? I don't remember that emphasis before.) We are "fore-determined by God" to do this. (Hm, I don't recall that word being used before. I just did a quick search on lds.org and couldn't find "fore-determined" used any other time. Interesting.) Gather the elect! Bring truth to others -- it's part of our identity and purpose as Abraham's seed.
- Ask God to teach me how He feels about me and my mission on the earth. "Record those impressions, review them often, and follow through with exactness."
- Expect and prepare to accomplish the impossible!! I love this! Bring my best thinking, my most courageous efforts, and most fervent prayers, knowing full well that God will unfold miracle after miracle! Be able to accomplish the impossible by doing whatever it takes to strengthen my faith in Christ by relentlessly seeking and understanding God's truth! Also by keeping my "covenants with increasing precision." When asked to do impossible things, "step forward with faith and dogged persistence and cheerfully do all that lies in [my] power" to fill God's purposes. Pray for courage not to give up, knowing it will be less and less popular to be LDS or to choose the right.
- Plead for the gift of discernment (a second witness about praying for spiritual gifts and also receiving answers). Learn how to qualify for and access the powers of heaven by asking inspired questions. (Both of them gave this counsel -- repetition means listen up!) Go to the Lord for answers to your most important questions, not Google or social media (a second witness about priorities with social media). Pray to know what to start and stop doing, what to add or remove to my environment so the Spirit can be here more fully. (This is a third witness of asking inspired questions of what the Lord wants us to do next in our journey of becoming who He needs us to be, plus three other witnesses who mentioned this idea during the recent general conference.). Expect to be awakened during the night with promptings and answers to my questions. Just as the prophets and apostles are required to "seek and ponder, fast and pray, and study and wrestle with difficult questions, He requires [me] to do the same as [I] seek answers to [my] own questions."
- Spend more time in holy places like temple and churches, and make my home a more holy place, a sanctuary from "dark distractions of the world." Spend much more time where the Spirit is -- more time with friends seeking the Spirit, more time praying on my knees, more time in the scriptures, in family history work, and in the temple. I love, love, love this promise: "I promise you that as you consistently give the Lord a generous portion of your time, He will multiply the remainder."
- Ask for our own witness to know the prophet is called of God, and about what God's prophet proclaims. (I have a strong testimony of this and preach it repeatedly in my seminary class. When President Hinckley died I was concerned my great love for him would make it hard for me to gain a testimony of President Monson as our new prophet. So I prayed fervently for my own witness that President Monson was God's true prophet. I received that witness the first time I heard him speak as the new prophet.) Follow the prophets even if it's hard, inconvenient, or looks impossible, and I'll be blessed immensely, knowing that prophets see ahead, both the dangers and the grand blessings lying ahead.
- Be very careful about whose counsel I follow, knowing there are "servants of Satan embedded throughout society."
Now My Favorite Quotes
Becoming the Person You Were Born to Be by Wendy Watson Nelson (Click here for the whole talk)
Sister Nelson said desperation is a great motivator
- Would you like this to be the very best year of your life? The year when you follow through—better than you ever have before—on resolutions that mean the most to you? ...They were desperate! ... They were desperate for Jesus Christ to help them do things they could never do on their own. ... Desperation can actually be a great motivator.
- When we’re desperate to be guided by heaven, we work harder than ever to tune in to heaven. When we’re desperate to be physically healthy, we eat and exercise accordingly. No excuses! When we’re desperate to have more money, we eagerly follow the Lord’s law of finances—which is, of course, tithing!
- Consider President George Q. Cannon’s approach to tithing when he was an impoverished young man. When his bishop commented on the large amount of tithing poor young George was paying, George said something like: “Oh bishop, I’m not paying tithing on what I make. I’m paying tithing on what I want to make.” And the very next year George earned exactly the amount of money he had paid tithing on the year before!6
- When we’re desperate to become the people we were born to be, our vision changes. We wake up from the spiritual amnesia the adversary so cleverly administers, and suddenly we see things about ourselves, others, and our lives we’ve never seen before. The world’s “fun” and “entertainment” start to look almost ridiculous, perhaps even spiritually dangerous. We begin to see the adversary’s tricks and traps for what they really are—temptations to make us forget our true identity and our destination.
- We begin to spend our time differently. Time on Facebook doesn’t seem half as compelling as time in the temple. ... We become much more interested in eternal truths the Lord will teach us in His holy house than in the latest sensational comments on social media, which can be so glib and brain-numbing.
- One bright BYU coed told me she discovered a reverse correlation between how confident and happy she felt and the amount of time she spent on social media.
- When we’re desperate to be our true selves, we use technology righteously.
- When we’re desperate to be the true disciples of Jesus Christ we were born to be, we suddenly find the courage and determination to remove anything and everything from our lives that is unholy and impure. ... The scriptures become our “go-to source” for answers and for the comfort we may realize we’ve often been seeking online.
- Would you be willing to try an experiment for 30 days? Daily kneel and thank your Heavenly Father for the scriptures. Tell Him the one question you most need to have answered that day. Plead to have the Holy Ghost with you as you read. Then open your scriptures anywhere, and read until you find the answer.8 Try it for 30 days and see what happens.
- It’s up to us to prayerfully discover which gifts we need. We may need the gift of self-discipline or of cheerfulness. Perhaps we need the gift of patience, or the gift to be healed, or the gift to forgive. Perhaps we need the gift to have our sexual feelings be in harmony with eternal laws. Perhaps we realize that we cannot live one more minute without the gift of unshakable faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. When we’re desperate for any gift of the Spirit, that is when we will finally pray with all the energy of heart for that gift.12 And the great news is that each spiritual gift we receive takes us one more step forward into our true selves.
- What if you learned that the Savior had already returned to this earth—that He, as part of His Second Coming, had already met with some of His true followers in several marvelous, large gatherings13—gatherings about which the world, including CNN and the blogosphere, knew nothing. If you found out that the Savior was already on the earth, what would you desperately want to do today, and what would you be willing and ready to do tomorrow?
- I pray that this year you will have some moments of anguishing desperation that will propel you further along the path to becoming the man or woman you were born to be. Your true self is spectacular! Never settle for less.
Becoming True Millennials by President Russell M. Nelson (Click here for the whole talk)
My Favorite Quotes by President Nelson
President Nelson likes the term "True Millennials" for this generation of choice spirits
- The term Millennial is perfect for you if that term reminds you of who you really are and what your purpose in life really is. A True Millennial is one who was taught and did teach the gospel of Jesus Christ premortally and who made covenants with our Heavenly Father there about courageous things—even morally courageous things—that you would do while here on earth.
- A True Millennial is a man or woman whom God trusted enough to send to earth during the most compelling dispensation in the history of this world. A True Millennial is a man or woman who lives now to help prepare the people of this world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and His millennial reign. Make no mistake about it—you were born to be a True Millennial.
- You were taught in the spirit world to prepare you for anything and everything you would encounter during this latter part of these latter days.1 That teaching endures within you!
- You are living in the “eleventh hour.” The Lord has declared that this is the last time that He will call laborers into His vineyard to gather the elect from the four quarters of the earth.2 And you were sent to participate in this gathering. Again and again I have seen firsthand the powerful influence of True Millennials as they bring others to a knowledge of the truth. This is part of your identity and your purpose as the seed of Abraham!3
- True Millennials ... know who they really are. They are devout disciples of Jesus Christ who instinctively seize every opportunity to help themselves and others prepare for the millennial reign of our Savior.
- Therefore, my first recommendation is to learn for yourselves who you really are. Ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, how He feels about you and your mission here on earth. If you ask with real intent, over time the Spirit will whisper the life-changing truth to you. Record those impressions and review them often, and follow through with exactness. ...I promise you that when you begin to catch even a glimpse of how your Heavenly Father sees you and what He is counting on you to do for Him, your life will never be the same! (Emphasis added.)
- God has always asked His covenant children to do difficult things. ...The Lord will ask you to do difficult things. You can count on it—Abrahamic tests did not stop with Abraham.4
- [President Benson's instructions to President Nelson] included, “Elder Nelson, you are to open the countries of Eastern Europe for the preaching of the gospel.” ... All of Eastern Europe was under the oppressive yoke of communism. Churches were closed, and religious worship was strictly limited. I had no experience that would lead me to believe I could [do it] ... And yet, a prophet had given me an assignment, so I set out to do what seemed utterly impossible. ...The Lord is able to do His own work,5 and I was privileged to watch the unfolding of one miracle after another—always, and only, after I had brought my best thinking, my most courageous efforts, and my most fervent prayers to the task. (Emphasis added.)
- As a True Millennial whom the Lord can count on, you will make history too! You will be asked to accept challenging assignments and become an instrument in the Lord’s hands. And He will enable you to accomplish the impossible.
President Nelson offers ways you and I will be able to accomplish the impossible
- How will you accomplish the impossible? By doing whatever it takes to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ by increasing your understanding of the doctrine taught in His restored Church and by relentlessly seeking truth. As a True Millennial, anchored in pure doctrine, when you are asked to do impossible things, you will be able to step forward with faith and dogged persistence and cheerfully do all that lies in your power to fulfill the purposes of the Lord.6 (Emphasis added.)
- You will have days when you will be thoroughly discouraged. So, pray for courage not to give up!
- ...I promise you that as you follow Jesus Christ, you will find sustained peace and true joy. As you keep your covenants with increasing precision, and as you defend the Church and kingdom of God on the earth today, the Lord will bless you with strength and wisdom to accomplish the impossible.
- You too will learn best by asking inspired questions. ... Our Heavenly Father and His Son stand ready to respond to your questions through the ministering of the Holy Ghost. But it is up to you to learn how to qualify for an receive those answers.
- Begin by spending more time in holy places. The temple is a holy place. So is the chapel, where you make new sacramental covenants each Sunday. I invite you also to make your apartment, your dorm, your home, or your room a holy place where you can safely retreat from the dark distractions of the world.
- Prayer is a key. Pray to know what to stop doing and what to start doing. Pray to know what to add to your environment and what to remove so the Spirit can be with you in abundance.
- Plead with the Lord for the gift of discernment. Then live and work to be worthy to receive that gift so that when confusing events arise in the world, you will know exactly what is true and what is not. 7
- Serve with love. Loving service to those who have lost their way or who are wounded in spirit opens your heart to personal revelation.
- Spend more time—much more time—in places where the Spirit is present. That means more time with friends who are seeking to have the Spirit with them.
- Spend more time on your knees in prayer,
- more time in the scriptures,
- more time in family history work,
- more time in the temple.
- I promise you that as you consistently give the Lord a generous portion of your time, He will multiply the remainder. (Emphasis added)
- ...After fasting, praying, studying, pondering, and counseling with my Brethren about weighty matters, it is not unusual for me to be awakened during the night with further impressions about issues with which we are concerned. And my Brethren have the same experience.
- ...Just as the Lord requires us to seek and ponder, fast and pray, and study and wrestle with difficult questions, He requires you to do the same as you seek answers to your own questions.
- You can learn to hear the voice of the Lord through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.8 As helpful as Google, Twitter, and Facebook may seem, they simply do not provide answers to your most important questions!
- My dear young friends, you can know the mind and will of the Lord for your own life. You do not have to wonder if you are where the Lord needs you to be or if you are doing what He needs you to do. You can know!
- Prophets see ahead. They see the harrowing dangers the adversary has placed or will yet place in our path. Prophets also foresee the grand possibilities and privileges awaiting those who listen with the intent to obey.
- The Lord has promised us that He will never allow the prophet to lead us astray. President Harold B. Lee declared: “You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’ (D&C 21:6).”10
- You may not always understand every declaration of a living prophet. But when you know a prophet is a prophet, you can approach the Lord in humility and faith and ask for your own witness about whatever His prophet has proclaimed.
- The somber reality is that there are “servants of Satan”12 embedded throughout society. So be very careful about whose counsel you follow.13
- ...You were born to be True Millennials! You are a chosen generation,14 fore-determined by God to do a remarkable work—to help prepare the people of this world for the Second Coming of the Lord.
- Now, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I bless each one of you, as though I had my hands upon your heads, with
- the ability to become the True Millennial you were born to be.
- I bless you to have the desire and ability to learn your true identity and purpose,
- that you will expect and prepare to do “impossible” things,
- that you will be undaunted in your efforts to learn how to access the powers of heaven to help you solve your problems and answer your questions.
- And I bless you to follow the prophets with exactness,
- to feel peace in your heart as you do so.
- I bless you to know and feel how much the Lord loves you and how much confidence He has in you.
Click here to see one of my other favorite talks from Sister Nelson, given at BYU Women's Conference in May 2015.
Feel free to leave a comment below with a favorite quote or something you plan to act on from these amazing talks!