At Christmas Devotional, President Nelson Addresses Four Gifts from the Savior

Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News editor

  • 2 December 2018

President Russell M. Nelson waves to the congregation at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional December 2, 2018, in the Conference Center. He is accompanied by his two counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks, and President Henry B. Eyring.

Article Highlights

  • First, Jesus Christ gives the unlimited capacity to love.
  • Second, the Savior offers the ability to forgive.
  • Third, the Savior gives the gift of repentance.
  • Fourth, is the promise of life everlasting.

“We choose to live and progress on the Lord’s covenant path and to stay on it. It is not a complicated way. It is the way to true joy in this life and eternal life beyond.” —Presidency Russell M. Nelson

President Russell M. Nelson recently met in his office with a 12-year-old girl named Lydia Terry of Bountiful, Utah, who is suffering from a rare, aggressive form of brain cancer.

“As we talked about her life and what lies ahead, she was calm and at peace. When I asked if she had any questions, she quickly replied, ‘What is heaven like?’”

This question, President Nelson said, led to a heart-to-heart discussion about the purpose of life and the blessings that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have offered to those who honor and follow Them.

“I was deeply moved by the faith of Lydia and her family,” he said. “Though facing a monumental challenge as far as this earth life is concerned, Lydia is filled with faith. She has an eternal perspective. She knows that the Lord loves her and will care for her. Her devoted family is filled with the same peace and composure that only faith in the Lord can bring.”

True followers of Jesus Christ have the privilege of experiencing unspeakable joy forever, explained President Nelson Sunday evening, December 2.

Speaking to a capacity congregation in the Conference Center during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional—including Lydia and her family, President Nelson addressed “Four Gifts That Jesus Christ Offers to You.”

During his address, President Nelson said Lydia’s deepest desire is to be with her family forever in the celestial realm. That includes her desire always to be with Heavenly Father and Jesus, too.

“Indeed, our desires influence each of us in profound ways, not just here and now but beyond,” he said.

Desire is important in this season of gift giving, when we are particularly mindful of the desires of those whom we love, added President Nelson, inviting Latter-day Saints to also consider their own desires this Christmas season.

“What are your deepest desires? What do you really want to experience and accomplish in this life? Do you really want to become more and more like Jesus Christ? Do you really want to live with Heavenly Father and with your family forever and live as He lives?

“If you do, you will want to accept many gifts offered by the Lord to help you and me during our time of mortal probation.”

President Nelson then emphasized four of the gifts Jesus Christ gave to all who are willing to receive them:

First, Jesus Christ gives the unlimited capacity to love. “That includes the capacity to love the unlovable and those who not only do not love you but presently persecute and despitefully use you,” said President Nelson. “With the Savior’s help, we can learn to love as He loved. It may require a change of heart —most certainly a softening of our hearts—as we are tutored by the Savior how to really take care of each other.

“My dear brothers and sisters, we can truly minister in the Lord’s way as we accept His gift of love.”

Second, the Savior offers the ability to forgive. “Through His infinite Atonement, you can forgive those who have hurt you and who may never accept responsibility for their cruelty to you,” said President Nelson. “It is usually easy to forgive one who sincerely and humbly seeks your forgiveness. But the Savior will grant you the ability to forgive anyone who has mistreated you in any way. Then their hurtful acts can no longer canker your soul.”

President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional, Sunday, December 2, 2018.

President Nelson had Lydia Terry, who is suffering from a rare aggressive form of brain cancer, stand during his talk. “She is poised beyond her years. … She has an angelic face,” he said.

Third, the Savior gives the gift of repentance. “This gift is not always well understood,” he said, noting that the word repent comes from the Greek prefix meaning change. “Can we begin to see the breadth and depth of what the Lord is giving to us when He offers the gift to repent? He invites us to change our minds, our knowledge, our spirit, even our breathing.”

For example, “When we repent, we breathe with gratitude to God, who lends us breath from day today,” said President Nelson. “And we desire to use that breath in serving Him and His children. Repentance is a resplendent gift.”

It is a process never to be feared, he added. “It is a gift for us to receive with joy and to use—even embrace—day after day as we seek to become more like our Savior.”

Fourth, is the promise of life everlasting. Eternal life is so much more than a designation of time, he explained. “Eternal life is the kind and quality of life that Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son live. When the Father offers us everlasting life, He is saying in essence, ‘If you choose to follow My Son—if your desire is really to become more like Him—then in time you may live as We live, and preside over worlds and kingdoms as We do.’”

President Nelson said the four unique gifts will bring Latter-day Saints more and more joy as they accept them. “They were made possible,” he said, “because Jehovah condescended to come to earth as the baby Jesus. He was born of an immortal Father and a mortal mother. He was born in Bethlehem under the most humble of circumstances. His was the holy birth foreseen by prophets since the days of Adam. Jesus Christ is God’s transcendent gift—the gift of the Father to all of His children. That birth we joyfully celebrate each Christmas season.

“With our thoughts and feelings so focused on the Savior of the world, what, then, do we need to do to receive these gifts offered to us so willingly by Jesus Christ? What is the key to loving as He loves, forgiving as He forgives, repenting to become more like Him and ultimately living with Him and our Heavenly Father?”

The key is to make and keep sacred covenants, said President Nelson. “We choose to live and progress on the Lord’s covenant path and to stay on it. It is not a complicated way. It is the way to true joy in this life and eternal life beyond.

“My dear brothers and sisters, my deepest desires are for all of Heavenly Father’s children to have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and to heed His teachings and for Israel to be gathered as promised in these latter days. I pray that we will believe and receive the love the Savior has for each of us.”

Latter-day Saints gather in the Conference Center in snowy downtown Salt Lake City for the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional, Sunday, December 2, 2018.

President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional, Sunday, December 2, 2018.

People walk on Temple Square December 2, 2018.

President Russell M. Nelson and President Dallin H. Oaks greet Sister Sharon Eubank of the Relief Society General Presidency, Elder Terence M. Vinson of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who all spoke during the Christmas devotional December 2 in the Conference Center December 2, 2018.

President Russell M. Nelson and President Dallin H. Oaks greet Elder Terence M. Vinson of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who both spoke during the Christmas devotional December 2 in the Conference Center.

The Salt Lake Temple on December 2, 2018.

The First Presidency at the Christmas Devotional on December 2, 2018.

President Dallin H. Oaks conducted the First Presidency Christmas Devotional on December 2, 2018.

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform at the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional December 2, 2018.