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When the focus of our lives is on Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy-Frankie Hughes

Happy Sunday, brothers and sisters. I'm very excited to be with you this morning. Emma is amazing. We met on our mission. I was her zone leader and I didn't know at the time that she was going to be my wife when I met her. But when she came home and I was at BYU and all those memories came back of her giving those powerful messages on our mission and she sings, if you think that was amazing, you should see how well she sings. I was smitten, I was swept off my feet and there was there was no question that she was the one for me. We are approaching our third year anniversary and we are 149 days away from having a baby. But who's counting, right? I'm just so excited and it seems so far away. I'm gonna be dad in 149 days, and that could not come soon enough. We're excited for this little time that we have to be living in, Orange County and to be with you guys. We're not sure how much longer it's going to be, but for the time that we're here, we love it and we're thankful.

One of the most inspiring stories for me, is in the beginning of the Book of Mormon. We love the beginning of the Book of Mormon, because that's where we read it most often, right? When we valiantly restart the Book of Mormon and set our goals to to read all the way through, it's always the beginning that we go back to. I love the beginning because it kind of sets the stage for the rest of what's to come in The Book of Mormon. You have an amazing man, very prestigious in his community Lehi, father of a lot of family and he has a nice house, lots of possessions you know he's got it together in his in his area of Jerusalem. And because of what he did that was right and preached about the second coming and destruction of Jerusalem he was cast out of the city and he was commanded by God to go somewhere else. And the traveling back, then was probably, you know, very different from what we have today. The famous scripture shortest in the Book of Mormon, and Lehi dwelt in a tent, you know, hunting your own food, the bow breaks, he's super upset, you know, trials and tribulations, day after day for their entire time in the wilderness, and then on their ships, coming across the sea to the Americas. And in the Book of Mormon, he says, very boldly, very strongly, without hesitation, "Men are that they might have joy." Now, if I were to ask Lehi what made him happy, it would probably be a lot different of a list than if you were to ask me what made me happy, you know, like Frankie what makes you happy. I love going to the beach, I love sleeping in, I love yummy dinners, especially when it's Rico's barbecue. I love the Christensen's avocado tree. I love, you know, it's simple things that make you really happy. Where Lehi, if you ask him, it's probably we were able to catch an animal this week. You know, Layman & Lemuel, they're a little bit off the path, but they came around for scripture study tonight. Or Nephi and Sam, they got a strong testimony. The boat didn't tip over today, I don't know, you know, but the happiness list would be very different. But yet he proclaimed, "Men are that they might have joy." So, I think the better question is what was making Lehi happy is what made him a happy person.

President Nelson, gives us that that invitation. I love it. He says, "The joy we feel in this life 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 Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy, regardless of what is happening or not happening in our lives, which is a powerful invitation from our prophet. No matter what is going on in our life, even in the darkest of times, we can somehow find joy If the focus of our lives is on Jesus Christ.

So for me in preparing this talk, I was trying to grasp how we can better focus our lives on Jesus Christ, how we can love him. So that even in the hardest of times, even in the most anxiety-driven moments, that we can feel joy, that we can be calm and be still, and we can focus on Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul was accused of sedition. He was accused of trying to overthrow the government in the time which which wasn't true, but he still had to go to a court and face judgment. And the person viewing the judgment his name was king Agrippa. And he in that moment was able to call Paul to the courtroom and Paul was able to give him an amazing testimony and tell him that he wasn't trying to overthrow the government. He was just saying, Christ is the king of all in the world's to come and in the eternities, not just in this moment, but always. And after listening to the powerful testimony of Paul, this is what it says in Acts 26:28, "Then King Agrippa said unto Paul, almost thou persuades me to be a Christian." I think there's a really good moment in that scripture and that keyword is almost. I think step one, If we are to believe in Jesus Christ and in what is to come and in the plan of salvation, if we're to turn our focus to him, that we can't almost be persuaded to be a Christian. We can't be halfway. We have to be fully invested. Can you imagine being the guy known in the New Testament as almost being persuaded? Right. And then not getting there and then forever in the hundreds and thousands of years to come in the Bible, when they're reading it, that he almost, almost was convinced by Paul's testimony.

We had the opportunity last Wednesday, some of my siblings were down to go to Jump Rock. We saw members of the Mile Square Park Mutual. For those that have been down to Corona del Mar and have done the walk to jump rock, you gotta be committed to go. Because you go around the beaches and around the sides and you have to swim out to the rock and you have to let the wave throw you onto the back of it and you never leave without an injury and it's fully, fully in right? And I was going out there with my brother and sister and we got to the top of the rock and then when you're standing and you're looking at it, it doesn't even matter everything you just did to get there, you're like, oh now that's a big jump, right? Was it worth everything that I just did? And my brother just went for it. He just ran and jumped, you know? He was like, "We came all the way out here, I'm not gonna stop now." And I was thinking about that as I was preparing this talk, he was fully committed. There wasn't a moment that he was like, you know what, after all that, I'm not gonna jump. He fully went for it and I think we can use that in our own lives. It's kind of like that moment where you're jumping off into water, right? Where you're fully committed, there's no moment where you can turn back and go back up, right? You're in it.

So, I think step one to turning our focus to Jesus Christ and loving him is to be fully committed. Step two, Joseph Smith said, "No being can enjoy his glory without possessing his perfections and holiness." I believe that in order for us to truly love Jesus Christ and have him as the focus of our lives we must love doing holy things. We must love what He has commanded us to do. In hymn 131, More holiness Give me, we go through a long list of virtues, that is essentially a prayer asking for Heavenly Father to bestow those virtues on us so that we can better love Jesus Christ. And they fall into several groups. The first group is personal goals. When we sing the hymn, it says, more holiness give me, more strivings within, more faith, gratitude and purity, more fit for the kingdom; more purpose and prayer and more trust in the Lord. The next group would be centered on the adversary. They include patience and suffering, meekness and trial, praise for relief, strength to overcome, freedom from earth stains and longing for home. And then the third group would be anchored on our Savior. More sense of his care, more pride in his glory, more hope in his word, more joy in his service, more tears for his sorrows, more pain at his grief, more blessed and holy, (that is my favorite one) and more Savior like thee.

Jesus Christ himself described what it means, More Savior Like Thee in 3rd Nephi chapter 12 verse 48. It says, "I would that ye should be perfect, even as I or your father who is in heaven is perfect." Perfection, that's a big invitation, right? How can we even comprehend? How to be perfect in this life? Elder Holland explains it best. He says, that we don't need to worry about being perfect. We can perfect and be perfect in certain aspects of our life, If we can strive to perfect loving holy things. And if we can strive to perfect being committed to him, he's the focus of our lives, we will feel joy in every circumstance that we're in. But it takes practice, and that is step three. On Alma's end of his life, his deathbed, he's giving advice to all of his sons. And he calls his son Helaman in and he says, right before his passing, his his last words of advice, "take this and go, Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass, and small means in many instances doth, confound the wise, Alma 37:6. This is a prophet saying, now you might think this is foolish of me but it's the small and simple things that will add up to the great things. I love that right? Things like reading the scriptures, going to the temple, keeping the Sabbath day holy. When the Ten Commandments were given to Moses and he was, you know, transcribing them into the scriptures of the order of how the Ten Commandments go. If you read those scriptures, it's I love it because for each commandment has one verse right? Thou shalt not kill, right? That's not very hard. We understand that you get it. Okay, Thou shout not kill. I'll follow that for the rest of my life. The only commandment that Moses receives that has multiple verses is the Sabbath day. I think Heavenly Father understood that, that was going to be the hardest for us to grasp, right? Thou shalt not kill. Easy, Great. Thou shalt honor thy father and mother. Okay, we can do that, but the Sabbath day has four verses. It's the only one to have that many. I think because we need the extra help, right? Keep the Sabbath Day holy, read the scriptures, go to the temple. If we can do those small and simple things, those primary answers. That is the foundation of our testimony. Then we can love holy things and we can be truly focused on the Lord.

During my mission Elder Renlund came and he shared a scripture and it's turned out to be for me, one of my favorite scriptures. And we can kind of summarize. We do this one thing, everything else can fall into it. And it's Doctrine & Covenants, 84:77. And he says, And again I say unto you, my friends, for from henceforth I shall call you friends, it is expedient that I give unto you this commandment, that ye become even as my friends in days when I was with them, traveling to preach the gospel in my power. We are commanded to be friends with Jesus Christ. I think in the world we live in today, he has hundreds and thousands of followers from many different churches. From all around the world, millions, right? Of people who are striving to be like him in their own way and maybe they are not a part of the restored gospel, and, you know, have everything that we are blessed to have in this church, but they're striving to be like him. And I think that is what can separate us is that we have the keys and the ability to be able to be true friends of Jesus Christ. And I think if we make that our goal, because think about what you do for your friends and how you love your friends and you want to be around your friends, your true friends and you want to to listen to them and you want to help them and you want them to be a part of your everyday life. If that can be Christ for us, that would be the ultimate focus of our life. That would be the ultimate way to have joy.

John 15:12 through 15, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, If you do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Brothers and sisters, I testify that as we commit ourselves fully to the Lord and turn Him to be our focus that we can feel joy in all things. If we love holy things, if we stand in holy places, we can feel joy in all moments, and in all times. If we do the small and simple things, if we're reading the scriptures, if we're going to the temple, if we're keeping the Sabbath Day holy, we can feel joy in all things. I testify that God is our loving Heavenly Father and our purpose in this life is to feel joy, is to love one another. It is to be friends with each other and be friends with our Savior Jesus Christ. I testify that our sacred,Jesus Christ lives and that he is our Savior, and our Redeemer, And I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.



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