I know what you are thinking! Just one more
speaker and we will hear from President Nelson. [LAUGHTER] Hoping to keep you
alert for a few minutes as we await our
beloved prophet, I have selected a very appealing
topic: my subject is fruit. With the color, texture, and
sweetness of berries, bananas, watermelons, and mangoes,
or of more exotic fruit like kiwano or
pomegranate, fruit has long been a treasured delicacy. During His earthly ministry,
the Savior compared good fruit to things of eternal worth. He said, “Ye shall know
them by their fruits.” “Every good tree bringeth
forth good fruit.” He encouraged us to gather
“fruit unto life eternal.” In a vivid dream
that we all know well in the Book of Mormon,
the prophet Lehi finds himself in “a dark
and dreary wilderness.” There is filthy water, a mist
of darkness, strange roads and forbidden paths,
as well as a rod of iron along a straight
and narrow path leading to a beautiful tree with
“fruit [that makes] one happy.” Recounting the dream, Lehi says,
“I did partake of the fruit; … it was most sweet, above all
that I [had] ever … tasted. … [And] it filled my soul
with exceedingly great joy.” This fruit was “[more] desirable
[than any] other fruit.” What does this tree with its
most precious fruit symbolize? It represents “the love
of God” and proclaims our Heavenly Father’s
marvelous plan of redemption. “For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in
him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This precious fruit symbolizes
the wondrous blessings of the Savior’s
incomparable Atonement. Not only will we live again
following our mortality, but through our faith
in Jesus Christ, our repentance and
keeping the commandments, we can be forgiven of
our sins and one day stand clean and pure before
our Father and His Son. Partaking of the fruit of the
tree also symbolizes that we embrace the ordinances and
covenants of the restored gospel–being baptized,
receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and entering the house
of the Lord to be endowed with power from on high. Through the grace
of Jesus Christ and by honoring
our covenants, we receive the immeasurable
promise of living with our righteous family
throughout eternity. No wonder the angel described
the fruit as “the most joyous to the soul.” It truly is! As we have all learned,
even after savoring the precious fruit of
the restored gospel, staying true and faithful
to the Lord Jesus Christ is still not easily done. As has been said many
times in this conference, we continue to face distractions
and deceptions, confusion and commotion, enticements
and temptations that attempt to pull our hearts
away from the Savior and the joys and
beauties we have experienced in following Him. Because of this
adversity, Lehi’s dream also includes a warning! On the other side of the
river is a spacious building with people of all ages
pointing their fingers, mocking and scoffing
at the righteous followers of Jesus Christ. The people in the building
are ridiculing and laughing at those keeping
the commandments, hoping to discredit and deride
their faith in Jesus Christ and in His gospel. And because of the verbal
attacks of doubt and disdain launched at the
believers, some of those who have tasted
of the fruit begin to feel ashamed of the
gospel they once embraced. The false allures of
the world seduce them; they turn away from the
tree and from the fruit and, in the Lord’s words,
“[fall] away into forbidden paths and [are] lost.” In our world today, the
adversary’s construction crews are working overtime,
hastily inflating the large and spacious building. The expansion has spread
across the river, hoping to envelope our homes, while
the pointers and the scoffers wail day and night on
their internet megaphones. President Nelson
explained, “The adversary is quadrupling his efforts to
disrupt testimonies and impede the work of the Lord.” Let us remember Lehi’s
words: “We heeded them not.” Although we need not fear,
we are to be on guard. At times little things can
upend our spiritual balance. Please don’t allow
your questions, the insults of others,
faithless friends, or unfortunate mistakes
and disappointments to turn you away
from the sweet, pure, and soul-satisfying
blessings that come from the precious
fruit of the tree. Keep your eyes and your hearts
centered on the Savior Jesus Christ and the eternal joy
that comes only through Him. In June, my wife,
Kathy, and I attended the funeral of Jason Hall. At the time of his passing, he
was 48 years old and serving as an elders quorum president. Here are Jason’s words about
an event that changed his life: “[At age 15] I [was]
in a diving accident. … I [broke] my neck and was
paralyzed from the chest down. I lost complete
control of my legs and partial control of my arms. I could no longer walk,
stand, … or feed myself. I could barely
breathe or speak.” “‘Dear Father [in
Heaven],’ I begged, ‘if I could only have my
hands, I know I could make it. Please, Father, please … “… ‘Keep my legs, Father;
I just [pray for] the use of my hands.'” Jason never received
the use of his hands. Can you hear the voices
from the spacious building? “Jason Hall, God does
not hear your prayers! If God is a loving God, how
could He leave you like this? Why have faith in Christ?” Jason Hall heard their voices,
but he did not heed them. Instead, he feasted upon
the fruit of the tree. His faith in Jesus
Christ became immovable. He graduated from the university
and married Kolette Coleman in the temple, describing
her as the love of his life. After 16 years of
marriage, another miracle, their precious son,
Coleman, was born. How did they grow their faith? Kolette explained: “We
trusted in God’s plan. And it gave us hope. We knew that Jason would [in
a future day] be whole. … We knew that God provided
us a Savior, whose atoning sacrifice enables us
to keep looking forward when we want to give up.” Speaking at Jason’s
funeral, 10-year-old Coleman said his dad taught him
“Heavenly Father [has] a plan for us, earth life
would be awesome, and we could live in families. … But … we would have to go
through hard things and we would make mistakes.” COLEMAN CONTINUED: “Heavenly
Father sent His Son, Jesus to earth. His job was to be perfect. To heal people. To love them. And then to suffer for all of
our pain, sorrows, and sins. Then He died for us.” Then Coleman added,
“Because He did this, Jesus knows how I
feel right now.” HE CONTINUED: “Three days
after Jesus died, He … came alive again,
with His body perfect. This is important to me
because I know that … my [dad’s] body will be
perfect and we will be together as a family.” COLEMAN CONCLUDED: “Every
night since I was a baby, my dad said to me, ‘Dad loves
you, Heavenly Father loves you, and you’re a good boy.'” President Russell M. Nelson
described why the Hall family feels joy and hope. He said: “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. Joy comes from and
because of Him. He is the source of all joy. … “If we look to the world …,
we will never know joy. … [Joy] is the gift that
comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life,
as taught by Jesus Christ.” If you have been without
the fruit of the tree for some time, please know that
the Savior’s arms are always outstretched to you. He lovingly beckons,
“Repent and come unto me.” His fruit is plentiful
and always in season. It cannot be
purchased with money, and no one who honestly
desires it is denied. if you desire to
return to the tree and taste the fruit
once again, begin by praying to your
Heavenly Father. Believe in Jesus Christ and the
power of His atoning sacrifice. I promise you that as
you look to the Savior “in every thought,”
the fruit of the tree will be yours once again,
delicious to your taste, joyous to your
soul, “the greatest of all the gifts of God.” Three weeks ago today, I saw
the joy of the Savior’s fruit on full display as Kathy and
I attended the Lisbon Portugal Temple dedication. The truths of the
restored gospel opened to Portugal in
1975 as religious freedom became available. Many noble Saints who
first tasted the fruit when there were no
congregations, no chapels, and no temple closer
than 1,000 miles rejoiced with us that the
precious fruit of the tree is now in a house of the
Lord in Lisbon, Portugal. How I honor and revere
these Latter-day Saints who have kept their
hearts riveted on the Savior. The Savior said, “He
that abideth in me, and I in him, the same
bringeth forth much fruit: for without me
ye can do nothing.” Speaking this morning
to the members of the Church across the
world, President Nelson said, “My dear brothers
and sisters, you are living exemplars of the
fruits that come from following the teachings of Jesus Christ.” Then he added, “I thank you! I love you!” We love you, President Nelson. I am an eyewitness to
the power of revelation that rests upon
our dear President. He is the prophet of God. Like Lehi of old,
President Russell M. Nelson beckons to us and all of God’s
family to come and partake of the fruit of the tree. May we have the humility and
strength to follow his counsel. I humbly witness that Jesus
Christ is the Son of God. His love, His
power, and His grace bring all things
of lasting worth. I so testify in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen.