Elder Russell M. Nelson was called to be an apostle in 1984. He worked as a surgeon for his career. Read more on Russell M. Nelson.
Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives
My dear brothers and sisters, we live in a most difficult dispensation.
Challenges, controversies, and complexities swirl around us. These turbulent times were foreseen by the Savior. He warned us that in our day the adversary would stir up anger in the hearts of men and lead them astray. Yet our Heavenly Father never intended that we would deal with the maze of personal problems and social issues on our own.
God so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son to help us. And His Son, Jesus Christ, gave His life for us. All so that we could have access to godly power—power sufficient to deal with the burdens, obstacles, and temptations of our day. Today I would like to speak about how we can draw into our lives the power of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
There is no amorphous entity called “the Atonement” upon which we may call for succor, healing, forgiveness, or power. Jesus Christ is the source. Sacred terms such as Atonement and Resurrection describe what the Savior did, according to the Father’s plan, so that we may live with hope in this life and gain eternal life in the world to come. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice—the central act of all human history—is best understood and appreciated when we expressly and clearly connect it to Him.
True disciples of Jesus Christ are willing to stand out, speak up, and be different from the people of the world. They are undaunted, devoted, and courageous.
There is nothing easy or automatic about becoming such powerful disciples. Our focus must be riveted on the Savior and His gospel. It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in every thought. But when we do, our doubts and fears flee.
Covenant-keeping men and women seek for ways to keep themselves unspotted from the world so there will be nothing blocking their access to the Savior’s power.
This faithful, focused woman needed to stretch as far as she could to access His power. Her physical stretching was symbolic of her spiritual stretching.
Many of us have cried out from the depths of our hearts a variation of this woman’s words: “If I could spiritually stretch enough to draw the Savior’s power into my life, I would know how to handle my heart-wrenching situation. I would know what to do. And I would have the power to do it.”
When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do.
When you spiritually stretch beyond anything you have ever done before, then His power will flow into you.
My dear brothers and sisters, today I would like to discuss a principle that is key to our spiritual survival. It is a principle that will only become more important as the tragedies and travesties around us increase.
These are the latter days, so none of us should be surprised when we see prophecy fulfilled. A host of prophets, including Isaiah, Paul, Nephi, and Mormon, foresaw that perilous times would come, that in our day the whole world would be in commotion, that men would “be lovers of their own selves, … without natural affection, … lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God,” and that many would become servants of Satan who uphold the adversary’s work. Indeed, you and I “wrestle … against the rulers of the darkness of this world, [and] against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
As conflicts between nations escalate, as cowardly terrorists prey on the innocent, and as corruption in everything from business to government becomes increasingly commonplace, what can help us? What can help each of us with our personal struggles and with the rigorous challenge of living in these latter days?
The prophet Lehi taught a principle for spiritual survival.
Clearly, Lehi knew opposition, anxiety, heartache, pain, disappointment, and sorrow. Yet he declared boldly and without reservation a principle as revealed by the Lord: “Men are, that they might have joy.” Imagine! Of all the words he could have used to describe the nature and purpose of our lives here in mortality, he chose the word joy!
Life is filled with detours and dead ends, trials and challenges of every kind. Each of us has likely had times when distress, anguish, and despair almost consumed us. Yet we are here to have joy?
Yes! The answer is a resounding yes! But how is that possible? And what must we do to claim the joy that Heavenly Father has in store for us?
That’s it! Saints can be happy under every circumstance. We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year!
My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.
When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation, which President Thomas S. Monson just taught us, and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy.
Just as the Savior offers peace that “passeth all understanding,” He also offers an intensity, depth, and breadth of joy that defy human logic or mortal comprehension. For example, it doesn’t seem possible to feel joy when your child suffers with an incurable illness or when you lose your job or when your spouse betrays you. Yet that is precisely the joy the Savior offers. His joy is constant, assuring us that our “afflictions shall be but a small moment” and be consecrated to our gain.
Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power into our lives. As in all things, Jesus Christ is our ultimate exemplar, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” Think of that! In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy!
Anything that opposes Christ or His doctrine will interrupt our joy. That includes the philosophies of men, so abundant online and in the blogosphere, which do exactly what Korihor did.
If we look to the world and follow its formulas for happiness, we will never know joy. The unrighteous may experience any number of emotions and sensations, but they will never experience joy! Joy is a gift for the faithful. It is the gift that comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life, as taught by Jesus Christ.
He taught us how to have joy. When we choose Heavenly Father to be our God and when we can feel the Savior’s Atonement working in our lives, we will be filled with joy. Every time we nurture our spouse and guide our children, every time we forgive someone or ask for forgiveness, we can feel joy.
The Price of Priesthood Power: Are we willing to pray, fast, study, seek, worship, and serve as men of God so we can have priesthood power?
Well, brethren, in like manner, I fear that there are too many men who have been given the authority of the priesthood but who lack priesthood power because the flow of power has been blocked by sins such as laziness, dishonesty, pride, immorality, or preoccupation with things of the world.
I fear that there are too many priesthood bearers who have done little or nothing to develop their ability to access the powers of heaven. I worry about all who are impure in their thoughts, feelings, or actions or who demean their wives or children, thereby cutting off priesthood power.
I fear that too many have sadly surrendered their agency to the adversary and are saying by their conduct, “I care more about satisfying my own desires than I do about bearing the Savior’s power to bless others.”
I fear, brethren, that some among us may one day wake up and realize what power in the priesthood really is and face the deep regret that they spent far more time seeking power over others or power at work than learning to exercise fully the power of God. President George Albert Smith taught that “we are not here to while away the hours of this life and then pass to a sphere of exaltation; but we are here to qualify ourselves day by day for the positions that our Father expects us to fill hereafter.”
I urgently plead with each one of us to live up to our privileges as bearers of the priesthood. In a coming day, only those men who have taken their priesthood seriously, by diligently seeking to be taught by the Lord Himself, will be able to bless, guide, protect, strengthen, and heal others. Only a man who has paid the price for priesthood power will be able to bring miracles to those he loves and keep his marriage and family safe, now and throughout eternity.
How else can we increase our power in the priesthood? We need to pray from our hearts. Polite recitations of past and upcoming activities, punctuated with some requests for blessings, cannot constitute the kind of communing with God that brings enduring power. Are you willing to pray to know how to pray for more power? The Lord will teach you.
Now, if all of this sounds excessive, please consider how different our relationships with our wife, children, and associates at work would be if we were as concerned about gaining priesthood power as we are in progressing at work or increasing the balance in our bank account. If we will humbly present ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to teach us, He will show us how to increase our access to His power.
In these latter days, we know there will be earthquakes in diverse places. Perhaps one of those diverse places will be in our own homes, where emotional, financial, or spiritual “earthquakes” may occur. Priesthood power can calm the seas and heal fractures in the earth. Priesthood power can also calm the minds and heal fractures in the hearts of those we love.
A Plea to My Sisters: We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices.
Yet the women of this dispensation are distinct from the women of any other because this dispensation is distinct from any other. This distinction brings both privileges and responsibilities.
Thirty-six years ago, in 1979, President Spencer W. Kimball made a profound prophecy about the impact that covenant-keeping women would have on the future of the Lord’s Church. He prophesied: “Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.”
My dear sisters, you who are our vital associates during this winding-up scene, the day that President Kimball foresaw is today. You are the women he foresaw! Your virtue, light, love, knowledge, courage, character, faith, and righteous lives will draw good women of the world, along with their families, to the Church in unprecedented numbers!
We, your brethren, need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them, women who can speak with the power and authority of God!
Today, let me add that we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.
Married or single, you sisters possess distinctive capabilities and special intuition you have received as gifts from God. We brethren cannot duplicate your unique influence.
My dear sisters, nothing is more crucial to your eternal life than your own conversion. It is converted, covenant-keeping women—women like my dear wife Wendy—whose righteous lives will increasingly stand out in a deteriorating world and who will thus be seen as different and distinct in the happiest of ways.
The Sabbath Is A Delight: How can you ensure that your behavior on the Sabbath will lead to joy and rejoicing?
What did the Savior mean when He said that “the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath”? I believe He wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal. God gave us this special day, not for amusement or daily labor but for a rest from duty, with physical and spiritual relief.
Later, the Sabbath was observed as a reminder of the deliverance of Israel from their bondage in Egypt. Perhaps most important, the Sabbath was given as a perpetual covenant, a constant reminder that the Lord may sanctify His people.
No other work transcends that of righteous, intentional parenting!
Not pursuing your “own pleasure” on the Sabbath requires self-discipline. You may have to deny yourself of something you might like. If you choose to delight yourself in the Lord, you will not permit yourself to treat it as any other day. Routine and recreational activities can be done some other time.
Sustaining The Prophets: Our sustaining of prophets is a personal commitment that we will do our utmost to uphold their prophetic priorities.
Imagine the privilege the Lord has given us of sustaining His prophet, whose counsel will be untainted, unvarnished, unmotivated by any personal aspiration, and utterly true!
My dear brothers and sisters, if the Restoration did anything, it shattered the age-old myth that God had stopped talking to His children. Nothing could be further from the truth. A prophet has stood at the head of God’s Church in all dispensations, from Adam to the present day. Prophets testify of Jesus Christ—of His divinity and of His earthly mission and ministry. We honor the Prophet Joseph Smith as the prophet of this last dispensation. And we honor each man who has succeeded him as President of the Church.
Let Your Faith Show: Day after day, on your path toward your eternal destiny, increase your faith. Proclaim your faith! Let your faith show!
The word religion literally means “to ligate again” or “to tie back” to God. The question we might ask ourselves is, are we securely tied to God so that our faith shows, or are we actually tied to something else? For example, I have overheard conversations on Monday mornings about professional athletic games that took place on the preceding Sunday. For some of these avid fans, I have wondered if their “religion” would “tie them back” only to some kind of a bouncing ball.
We might each ask ourselves, where is our faith? Is it in a team? Is it in a brand? Is it in a celebrity? Even the best teams can fail. Celebrities can fade. There is only One in whom your faith is always safe, and that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. And you need to let your faith show!
God declared in the first of His Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” He also said, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” Yet so many people look only to their bank balance for peace or to fellow human beings for models to follow.
Spiritual truth cannot be ignored—especially divine commandments. Keeping divine commandments brings blessings, every time! Breaking divine commandments brings a loss of blessings, every time!
If one tries to segment his or her life into such separate compartments, one will never rise to the full stature of one’s personal integrity—never to become all that his or her true self could be.
The temptation to be popular may prioritize public opinion above the word of God. Political campaigns and marketing strategies widely employ public opinion polls to shape their plans. Results of those polls are informative. But they could hardly be used as grounds to justify disobedience to God’s commandments! Even if “everyone is doing it,” wrong is never right. Evil, error, and darkness will never be truth, even if popular. A scriptural warning so declares: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness.”
Decisions for Eternity: The wise use of your freedom to make your own decisions is crucial to your spiritual growth, now and for eternity.
My dear brothers and sisters, each day is a day of decision. President Thomas S. Monson has taught us that “decisions determine destiny.”….You are never too young to learn, never too old to change. Your yearnings to learn and change come from a divinely instilled striving for eternal progression. Each day brings opportunity for decisions for eternity.
And we should ever revere the worth of human life, through each of its many stages.
From an eternal perspective, death is only premature for those who are not prepared to meet God.
Some of the decisions that will determine your eternal destiny include:
• How will you choose to care for and use your body?
• What spiritual attributes will you choose to develop?
You were chosen not for your bodily characteristics but for your spiritual attributes, such as bravery, courage, integrity of heart, a thirst for truth, a hunger for wisdom, and a desire to serve others.
You developed some of these attributes premortally. Others you can develop here on earth as you persistently seek them.
A pivotal spiritual attribute is that of self-mastery—the strength to place reason over appetite. Self-mastery builds a strong conscience. And your conscience determines your moral responses in difficult, tempting, and trying situations. Fasting helps your spirit to develop dominance over your physical appetites. Fasting also increases your access to heaven’s help, as it intensifies your prayers. Why the need for self-mastery? God implanted strong appetites within us for nourishment and love, vital for the human family to be perpetuated. When we master our appetites within the bounds of God’s laws, we can enjoy longer life, greater love, and consummate joy.
It is not surprising, then, that most temptations to stray from God’s plan of happiness come through the misuse of those essential, God-given appetites. Controlling our appetites is not always easy. Not one of us manages them perfectly. Mistakes happen. Errors are made. Sins are committed. What can we do then? We can learn from them. And we can truly repent.
We can change our behavior. Our very desires can change. How? There is only one way. True change—permanent change—can come only through the healing, cleansing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He loves you—each of you! He allows you to access His power as you keep His commandments, eagerly, earnestly, and exactly. It is that simple and certain. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of change!
A strong human spirit with control over appetites of the flesh is master over emotions and passions and not a slave to them. That kind of freedom is as vital to the spirit as oxygen is to the body! Freedom from self-slavery is true liberation!
Marriage between a man and a woman is fundamental to the Lord’s doctrine and crucial to God’s eternal plan. Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s pattern for a fulness of life on earth and in heaven. God’s marriage pattern cannot be abused, misunderstood, or misconstrued. Not if you want true joy.
Regardless of what civil legislation may be enacted, the doctrine of the Lord regarding marriage and morality cannot be changed. Remember: sin, even if legalized by man, is still sin in the eyes of God!
My dear brothers and sisters, each day is a day of decision, and our decisions determine our destiny. One day each of us will stand before the Lord in judgment. We will each have a personal interview with Jesus Christ. We will account for decisions that we made about our bodies, our spiritual attributes, and how we honored God’s pattern for marriage and family. That we may choose wisely each day’s decisions for eternity is my earnest prayer in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Catch The Wave: I thank God and His Son, Jesus Christ, for the Restoration and its power to propel a magnificent wave of truth and righteousness across the earth.
This wave of truth and righteousness is wondrous! It is not man-made! It comes from the Lord, who said, “I will hasten my work in its time.” This wave is empowered by a divine announcement made 193 years ago. It consisted of only seven words: “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” Uttered by Almighty God, that announcement introduced a young Joseph Smith to the Lord Jesus Christ. Those seven words launched the Restoration of His gospel. Why? Because our living God is a loving God! He wants His children to know Him and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent! And He wants His children to gain immortality and eternal life!
Our Eternal Father and Jesus Christ made multiple appearances to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Thanks Be To God: How much better it would be if all could be more aware of God’s providence and love and express that gratitude to Him.
Our degree of gratitude is a measure of our love for Him.
The family is the most important social unit in time and in eternity.
Be we reminded that a perfect body is not required to achieve one’s divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail or imperfect bodies. Great spiritual strength is often developed by people with physical challenges, precisely because they are so challenged.
The attributes by which we shall be judged one day are all spiritual. These include love, virtue, integrity, compassion, and service to others. Your spirit, coupled with and housed in your body, is able to develop and manifest these attributes in ways that are vital to your eternal progression. Spiritual progress is attained through the steps of faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, including the endowment and sealing ordinances of the holy temple.
Just as the body requires daily food for survival, the spirit needs nourishment as well. The spirit is nurtured by eternal truth.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but we are not. Each day, ours is the challenge to access the power of the Atonement so that we can truly change, become more Christlike, and qualify for the gift of exaltation and live eternally with God, Jesus Christ, and our families. For these powers, privileges, and gospel gifts, thanks be to God!
Ask The Missionaries! They Can Help You!: All missionaries, younger and older, serve with the sole hope of making life better for other people.
The decision to serve a mission will shape the spiritual destiny of the missionary, his or her spouse, and their posterity for generations to come. A desire to serve is a natural outcome of one’s conversion, worthiness, and preparation.
Some of you may want to know how to conquer an addiction or live longer and enjoy better health. Ask the missionaries! They can help you!
Some of you may feel that life is busy and frenetic, yet down deep in your heart you feel a gnawing emptiness, without direction or purpose. Ask the missionaries! They can help you! They can help you to learn more about the true purpose of life—why you are here on earth and where you are going after death. You can learn how the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will bless your life beyond anything you can presently even imagine.
If you have concerns about your family, ask the missionaries! They can help you! Strengthening marriages and families is of utmost importance to Latter-day Saints. Families can be together forever. Ask the missionaries to teach you how this is possible for your family.
Missionaries can also help you with your desire for greater knowledge. The human spirit yearns for enlightenment. Whether truth comes from a scientific laboratory or by revelation from God, we seek it! The glory of God indeed is intelligence.
Increase in learning includes spiritual as well as temporal knowledge.
And if you want to know more about life after death, about heaven, about God’s plan for you; if you want to know more about the Lord Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and the Restoration of His Church as it was originally established, ask the missionaries! They can help you!
Covenants: "When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us."
I wept too, with full realization that the everlasting unity exemplified by this faithful couple was the righteous result of making, keeping, and honoring sacred covenants.
Isn’t that amazing? Some 600 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, prophets knew that the Abrahamic covenant would be finally fulfilled only in the latter days.
Some of us are the literal seed of Abraham; others are gathered into his family by adoption. The Lord makes no distinction. Together we receive these promised blessings—if we seek the Lord and obey His commandments. But if we don’t, we lose the blessings of the covenant.
Ours is the responsibility to help fulfill the Abrahamic covenant. Ours is the seed foreordained and prepared to bless all people of the world. That is why priesthood duty includes missionary work. After some 4,000 years of anticipation and preparation, this is the appointed day when the gospel is to be taken to the kindreds of the earth. This is the time of the promised gathering of Israel.
When we partake of the sacrament, we renew that covenant and declare our willingness to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. Thereby we are adopted as His sons and daughters and are known as brothers and sisters. He is the father of our new life. Ultimately, in the holy temple, we may become joint heirs to the blessings of an eternal family, as once promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their posterity. Thus, celestial marriage is the covenant of exaltation.
When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us. His law is written in our hearts. He is our God and we are His people. Committed children of the covenant remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity. When that doctrine is deeply implanted in our hearts, even the sting of death is soothed and our spiritual stamina is strengthened.
The greatest compliment that can be earned here in this life is to be known as a covenant keeper.
Face the Future with Faith: "Truth, covenants, and ordinances enable us to overcome fear and face the future with faith!"
Be Thou an Example of the Believers : Whether full-time missionaries or members, we should all be good examples of the believers in Jesus Christ.
Ask, Seek, Knock: "Every Latter-day Saint may merit personal revelation."
Lessons From The Lord's Prayers: "Our prayers follow patterns and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. He taught us how to pray."
Celestial Marriage: "[The] proclamation on the family helps us realize that celestial marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other relationship."
Salvation and Exaltation: "In God’s eternal plan, salvation is an individual matter; exaltation is a family matter."
Scriptural Witnesses: "Scriptures of the Restoration do not compete with the Bible; they complement the Bible."
Repentance and Conversion: "A repentant soul is a converted soul, and a converted soul is a repentant soul."
The Gathering of Scattered Israel: "We help to gather the elect of the Lord on both sides of the veil."
Nurturing Marriage: "Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully."