President Russell M. 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 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
President Nelson began by stating, “The most profound truth is that God is our Father.” He explained that Heavenly Father’s deepest desire is that His children will choose to come back home to Him (Moses 1:39) and that “He will never violate our agency and force us to come home.”
President Nelson emphasized that 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 because 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.
He said, “Life can be overwhelming at times. 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
President Nelson explained: “Understanding who we are influences how we choose to live our lives. What we choose to do here will determine the kind of life we have throughout all eternity. We are never living just for today.”
He added, “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 stressed, “My dear brothers and sisters, this is simply not true.”
The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God
President Nelson taught that daily immersion in the Book of Mormon “will fill your life with wisdom, power, and guidance.”
He noted that 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. He added, “Today, our most experienced translators can translate about one page of scripture a day, and that with all the help of modern technology. … 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.”
He concluded, “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.
The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the “keys of all the spiritual blessings of the Church” (Doctrine and Covenants 107: 18).
He explained, “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
President Nelson emphasized that the gathering of Israel “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.”
He noted that the Savior’s Church must lead the gathering and that “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.”
Joy Comes from Keeping the Commandments
President Nelson warned, that Satan is doing all within his power to make God’s children miserable, “So, don’t fall for his lies. Wickedness never brings happiness” (Alma 41:10). … 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.”
He counselled that the Lord gives His children boundaries to protect them from influences that will destroy them: “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.”
Also at the devotional assembly, Elder Uchtdorf stated, “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 noted that Heavenly Father recognizes and blesses efforts and sacrifices, adding: “He knows you. He loves you. He will be with you.”