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Let the Affections of Thy Heart Be Placed Upon the Lord Forever

My dear brothers and sisters, I am happy to be with you on this very happy day in your lives and the lives of all of those who have loved you and supported you.

I love to come to this beautiful, sacred, set apart place. Especially in February. It's true actually! This place is beautiful, and I can feel here the warmth of the sun. In fact, I want to talk with you for a few minutes about the warmth we feel and the beauty we experience in this place. Warmth is easy to take for granted if you have it every day of the year. If everything is always beautiful it is almost natural to take it for granted. When we take something for granted, we don’t appreciate its value to us. When we take another person for granted, for example, we expect them to be there, to care for us, to serve us, to love us without thanking them, or expressing our love and appreciation for them. We get caught up in the pressures of daily life so much, so distracted by the cares of the world, that we take for granted things and people that are important to us. That includes our loved ones, and sometimes, even the blessings of the Lord.

When we take for granted the blessings of the Lord, we feel entitled to those blessings, that they are ours by right. That is an attitude fraught with great spiritual danger. When the “…cares and riches and pleasures…”1 of the world creep into our hearts, they begin to crowd out love for, and devotion to, the Lord. We become casual in our worship and our obedience. Our prayers become routine, and we neglect the scriptures, the temple, and our callings. Before we are aware of what is happening, complacency and apathy set in.

Now, I hope you are saying to yourselves right now, “I am never going to let that happen to me.” I hope you have that commitment, and I hope that commitment is rooted in conversion unto the Lord. Now speaking from my own experience, I know it is very easy to get distracted, and to get caught up in the things of the world. If you are not very careful, if you are not converted to the Lord, the world will get into your heart, and you will begin to take the Lord and His blessings for granted. Nephi saw our day and described how Satan lures us into that awful state: "And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell."2

Brothers and sisters, I invite you to take to heart the counsel Alma gave to his son Helaman: "Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."3

If you really want to take that counsel to heart, make this passage a standard for your life. Memorize these verses. They are in Alma 37:36 & 37. Memorize them and reflect on them every day. Ask yourselves: does this passage describe my life? Do I cry unto God for all my support? Am I obedient unto the Lord in every way? Do I look to the Lord Jesus Christ in every thought? Are the affections of my heart placed on Him? Do I pray to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ with faith in Them, and with real intent? Do I hear and act on the voice of the Lord in my life? Is my heart full of gratitude for the Father’s plan, for the Atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, for the restoration of the gospel and for all the many blessings which our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, bestow upon me?

This is a very high standard, but it comes with the promise of divine love and divine power. And so I say to you, go forward, unafraid, and seek to meet this standard with the love and power of Jesus Christ in your life.

Brothers and sisters, He yearns for you to come to Him, to repent and be converted, that He may heal you, bless you, and lift you up, now and forever.

I so testify and I leave my love with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1. Luke 8:14
2. 2 Nephi 28:21
3. Alma 37:36-37