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Russell M. Nelson
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Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

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Recently at the worldwide devotional for young adults, I invited you to consecrate a portion of your time each week to studying everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the scriptures.

This is a large assignment that will take devotion and discipline to complete, but I promise you that as you proceed to learn about Him, your love for Him will grow beyond what you can imagine.

For now, I would like to know, how has your study been going? What have you learned? What kinds of changes have you seen in your life? Please let me know in the comments below. I am eager to know.
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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.

Every day that you and I choose to live celestial laws, every day that we keep our covenants and help others to do the same, joy will be ours.

Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy. We feel it at Christmastime when we sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” And we can feel it all year round. For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy!

That is why our missionaries leave their homes to preach His gospel. Their goal is not to increase the number of Church members. Rather, our missionaries teach and baptize to bring joy to the people of the world!

My dear brethren, we have been given a sacred trust—the authority of God to bless others. May each one of us rise up as the man God foreordained us to be—ready to bear the priesthood of God bravely, eager to pay whatever price is required to increase his power in the priesthood. 

My hope with speaking at #LDSconf was to reach those of you who may feel devoid of joy in your life. I wish to encourage you that we can be happy under every circumstance. We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year!

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 and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives.

How, then, can we claim that joy? We can start by “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” “in every thought.” We can give thanks for Him in our prayers and by keeping covenants we’ve made with Him and our Heavenly Father. As our Savior becomes more and more real to us, and as we plead for His joy to be given to us, our joy will increase.

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!

And what was the joy that was set before Him? Surely it included the joy of cleansing, healing, and strengthening us; the joy of paying for the sins of all who would repent; the joy of making it possible for you and me to return home—clean and worthy—to live with our Heavenly Parents and families.

I testify that joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all 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.

I know how unnerving it can be to be asked to do something that seems far beyond your capacity. I had been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for only 19 months when President Spencer W. Kimball passed away. In the first meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles following President Ezra Taft Benson’s ordination, he gave specific assignments to the Twelve. His instructions to me included, “Elder Nelson, you are to open the countries of Eastern Europe for the preaching of the gospel.”

That was 1985. During those politically frigid years that we refer to as the Cold War, not only did a literal wall divide the city of Berlin, but all of Eastern Europe was under the oppressive yoke of communism. Churches were closed, and religious worship was strictly limited.

I had spent much of my professional life opening hearts to perform life-saving operations, but I had no experience that would lead me to believe I could open countries for the preaching of the gospel. And yet, a prophet had given me an assignment, so I set out to do what seemed utterly impossible.

From the outset, obstacles were placed in my way. I arrived in most countries not knowing where to go. Even when I was able to find the name of an appropriate government official, it was not unusual for a meeting to be canceled at the last minute or to be postponed. In one country, when an appointment was delayed for two days, a number of temptations were intentionally placed in my way to test me—including traps for black market money and other illicit activities. On another occasion, a meeting was opened with the demand that I depart immediately!

But the Lord is able to do His own work, 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.

Recognition of the Church was granted by some of those countries before the Berlin Wall came down. Others came later. In the year 1992, I was able to report to President Benson that the Church was now established in every country in Eastern Europe!

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.

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.

Are you willing to search the scriptures and feast on the words of Christ—to study earnestly in order to have more power? If you want to see your wife’s heart melt, let her find you on the Internet studying the doctrine of Christ or reading your scriptures!

Are you willing to worship in the temple regularly? The Lord loves to do His own teaching in His holy house. Imagine how pleased He would be if you asked Him to teach you about priesthood keys, authority, and power as you experience the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood in the holy temple. Imagine the increase in priesthood power that could be yours.

Are you willing to follow President Thomas S. Monson’s example of serving others? For decades he has taken the long way home, following promptings of the Spirit to arrive on someone’s doorstep and then hear words such as, “How did you know it was the anniversary of our daughter’s death?” or “How did you know it was my birthday?” And if you truly want more priesthood power, you will cherish and care for your wife, embracing both her and her counsel.

My dear brothers and sisters, you have as much access to the mind and will of the Lord for your own life as we Apostles do for His Church. 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. 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! The Holy Ghost will tell you “all things what ye should do.”

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.

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.

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We sustain 15 men who are ordained as prophets, seers, and revelators. When a thorny problem arises—and they only seem to get thornier each day—these 15 men wrestle with the issue, trying to see all the ramifications of various courses of action, and they diligently seek to hear the voice of the Lord. 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.

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel individually and collectively. And then we watch the Lord move upon the President of the Church to proclaim the Lord’s will.
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