ORLANDO, Florida — Lasting happiness, even joy, comes to those who keep the commandments of God, said President Russell M. Nelson, speaking here in the “happiest place on earth” on Sunday, June 9.
“There is no other way to find joy,” he said. “If you want to be miserable, break the commandments — and never repent. If you want joy, stay on the covenant path.”
Home to more than a dozen theme and amusement parks, Orlando certainly can claim to be the site of many happy memories for countless individuals, said the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
But where, he asked, is the happiest place on earth?
“It is wherever the Spirit of the Lord dwells in the hearts of the people (1 Peter 4:14). It is inside any home that has become a sanctuary of faith and is filled with love. It is inside every House of the Lord,” said President Nelson. “It can be wherever you are when the Spirit of the Lord is with you.”
President Nelson told 15,500 people gathered in the Amway Center in central Florida — and in Church buildings across the state watching a broadcast of the evening devotional — their “first and highest priority in the work of gathering Israel begins in our own home with our own family. We invite all of God’s children on this and the other side of the veil to come unto their Savior, be blessed by the ordinances of the temple, have enduring joy and qualify for that greatest of all blessings, that of eternal life. We start at home with our precious children.”
President Nelson traveled to Florida with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson; Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf; and Elder Shayne M. Bowen, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Lynette M. Bowen.
During his remarks, President Nelson highlighted “truths that have the power to change your life and the lives of those you love.”
These are truths, he said, “that open the heavens and allow us to draw upon the power of God. These are truths that will lead to blessings and happiness here and to ‘never-ending happiness’ (Mosiah 2:41) in the world to come.”
God is our Father
“The most profound truth is that God is our Father,” he said. “What is His work and His glory? To ‘bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ (Moses 1:39).”
President Nelson said Heavenly Father’s deepest desire is that His children will choose to come back home to Him. “He will never violate our agency and force us to come home.”
Daily prayer is the best way to remember that “you are a son or daughter of God and He will guide and watch over you as you pour out your heart to Him.”
Jesus Christ is our Savior
President Nelson asked the congregation to teach their children about God’s Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. “Because of the Savior’s sacrifice, we have access to His healing power,” President Nelson said. “He will heal our hearts, give us strength when we are weak, enable us to do things we could never do on our own and heal us from sin when we repent.”
The Atonement of Jesus Christ can help God’s children cope with grief, sadness, weakness, fear and anxiety that are part of mortality’s trials.
“Life can be overwhelming at times,” said President Nelson. “My wife Dantzel died suddenly when her heart stopped beating. All my knowledge as a heart surgeon could not save her. Cancer has claimed the lives of two of our daughters. I understand the heartbreak of separation from loved ones.
“But Jesus is the Light that shines in the dark.”
We are children of God
“Understanding who we are influences how we choose to live our lives,” said President Nelson. “What we choose to do here will determine the kind of life we have throughout all eternity. We are never living just for today.”
Satan teaches one can totally disregard the commandments of God without consequence. “The adversary would have us believe that we can sin, lie, take advantage of others, abuse our bodies and the bodies of others, ignore the commandments of God — and still be saved in the kingdom of God,” he said. “My dear brothers and sisters, this is simply not true.”
The Book of Mormon is the word of God
Daily immersion in the Book of Mormon “will fill your life with wisdom, power and guidance,” said President Nelson.
He spoke of visiting, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, the replica of the house where Joseph translated much of the Book of Mormon.
During a turbulent time in the Prophet Joseph’s life, he completed the work of translating the book in about 65 working days — which means he translated an average of nine pages per day. “Today, our most experienced translators can translate about one page of scripture a day, and that with all the help of modern technology,” said President Nelson.
He noted that Joseph Smith published the first draft of the printer’s manuscript. “This is an inconceivable feat. … There simply is no other explanation for the existence of the Book of Mormon than the one the Prophet Joseph gave. He translated it by the gift and power of God.”
The Book of Mormon is filled with truth, he said. “If you will feast on the words of Christ found throughout the Book of Mormon, I promise that you will have greater power to resist temptation, increased ability to receive revelation and greater capacity to deal with the challenges of life.”
The priesthood has been restored
“Our Heavenly Father is just as eager to give you revelation for your life as He is to give me revelation for the Church,” said President Nelson.
The privilege of receiving revelation, as well as other spiritual gifts, is available because the priesthood has been restored to the earth, he said.
“What difference does this make to you and to me?” he said. “It makes all the difference.”
The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the “keys of all the spiritual blessings of the Church” (Doctrine and Covenants 107: 18). “The restoration of the priesthood is what makes it possible for us to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, to receive revelation, to partake of ordinances, such as the sacrament, that fill our lives with power, to enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage that seals us to our family forever. It is what makes it possible to make covenants in the temple that endow both men and women with God’s power.”
The gathering of Israel
The gathering of Israel is well underway, said President Nelson.
“This is the most important work taking place on the earth today. It is one of the primary reasons the Church of Jesus Christ was restored.”
For scattered Israel to be gathered, there must be an organization filled with God’s power and authority to facilitate that gathering, he said, noting that the Savior’s Church must lead the gathering.
“Every person in this arena has a role to play in the gathering of Israel. Young and old, married and single, black and white, male and female — all are needed in the Lord’s battalion to gather Israel.”
As parents learn with their children in their home and help them feel the Spirit, that is gathering Israel, he said. As members do family history and serve in the temple, strengthen the testimonies of others, and repent, that is gathering Israel.
Joy comes from keeping the commandments
Satan is doing all within his power to make God’s children miserable, “So, don’t fall for his lies,” President Nelson said. “Wickedness never brings happiness” (Alma 41:10).
Breaking the commandments “always leads to heartache. Always! Far too often immorality is involved. Frequently there are violations of the Word of Wisdom that lead to addiction. Pornography rears its ugly, destructive head again and again.”
The Lord gives His children boundaries to protect them from influences that will destroy them, he said. “Blessings always come by obedience to the law upon which that blessing is predicated. … You can be sure that as you keep the commandments of God, you will reap the blessings that He has in store for you.”
Sister Nelson spoke of seeking and receiving revelation when she and President Nelson were dating and buying their first house. She also spoke about answered prayers as she and her sisters prayed for their aging and sick mother.
The Lord knows what will be best for his children, she said. “It is my testimony that the heavens will open when we pray.… And the heavens will continue to open as we follow through with every impression that comes to us.”
Elder Uchtdorf said as "a spiritual and practical anchor" of his message, “I’d like to speak of three invitations you can offer to others, so they can find out what the Church is all about. Each is a kind and loving call to action.
“The first is, ‘Come and see!’
“The second is, ‘Come and help!’
“And the third is, ‘Come and stay.’ ”
He gave the congregation a promise and a blessing, noting that as they accept the invitation to "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Mark 16:15), they will feel the comfort and assurance that comes from knowing Heavenly Father recognizes and blesses efforts and sacrifices. “He knows you. He loves you. He will be with you.”
Sister Uchtdorf said “wherever we meet with members around the globe, I feel at home.”
The restored gospel of Jesus Christ has a message of wonder and hope, she said, sharing the memory of her father’s death and her family’s conversion to the gospel when she was a child. “It is a message of the most sublime and exalting love we can possibly imagine. It is a message of love that will uphold us through trial, sadness and despair.
“It is the message of God’s love to you and me, His children, that will uphold us throughout the valleys and mountains of our lives and that will exalt us in the world to come.”
Safety, peace and joy
Elder Bowen said consistently heeding the counsel of God’s chosen servants will bring safety, peace and joy in a turbulent and ever-changing world.
“I pray that each of us will take the opportunity, each time a new leader is called to serve us in any capacity, to put in the spiritual work necessary and take that name to the Lord personally, receiving a personal confirmation through the same source who called that person,” he said. “You can know for yourself that your leaders — from the prophet to those in your ward — truly are called of God. You are entitled to that personal revelation. Seeking it will change the way you sustain them. …
“I testify that Russell M. Nelson is God’s prophet on the earth today.”
Sister Bowen said the fruits of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give evidence that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.
“I see before me today fruit of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You are the fruits of the work Joseph Smith began almost 200 years ago.”