· The Lord has always called His people a covenant making people.
· Since the beginning of time with Adam, until now, we have all made sacred covenants with the Lord.
· So what is a covenant and why is it so important?
· A covenant is an agreement, or a two way promise between God and man. We promise to do what He asks and He, in turn, promises us blessings based on our obedience.
· The Lord has said, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10)
· My Grandparents have always made this known for our family. Since before I can remember, my Grandma has had a sign in her house that says, “If you almost keep the commandments, you almost receive the blessings.” Complete obedience to our covenants is required. Is it worth it to risk the promised blessings from the Lord by not keeping our covenants?
· Covenants and ordinances go hand in hand. An ordinance is a sacred ceremony or rite that shows that we have entered into a covenant with God. When we receive each ordinance, we show that we have made certain agreements, or covenants, with Heavenly Father.
· There are 5 saving ordinances.
1. Baptism by emersion
3. Priesthood (for the men)
· Some ordinances, like these saving ordinances, are meant for making sacred covenants with the Lord. Others, like the sacrament, are meant for renewing or remembering those covenants made earlier.
· All the saving ordinances of the Priesthood are accompanied by covenants. For example, we covenant with the Lord at baptism and renew those covenants by partaking of the sacrament weekly.
· Before baptism we show our willingness to enter a covenant to keep all the commandments the rest of our lives. After baptism, we show our faith by keeping our covenants.
· The first covenants we make are at baptism. Jesus taught by example that we all must be baptized for the remission of sins. We covenant at baptism to keep the commandments, always remember Him, and take His name upon us. He, in turn, promises us the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, a remission of sins, and a spiritual rebirth.
· Mosiah 18 makes this point very clear. Alma, after the death of Abinadi, flees and preaches in private. In verses 8-10, he invites all who are desirous to come into the fold of God to be baptized. He says, “Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—Now I say unto you, if this be the desires of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” Alma first asks who is willing and desirous to covenant with the Lord to serve him, before telling the people the blessings the Lord has promised.
· In verse 13, Helam, acting in complete faith, steps forward and Alma gives him this blessing at baptism, “Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world.” At baptism, we covenant to serve the Lord until death. The Lord, in return, promises us His Spirit poured upon us, as well as, eternal life. He promised with Helam, and promises with us, guidance through our earthly lives and a bright future with Heavenly Father if we but live up to our covenants. But we are responsible to remember the promises we make with the Lord. What better promise is there? Is it worth it to risk our promised blessings from the Lord by not keeping our covenants?
· Jesus taught “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Now, that is a very important thing to know. No one goes back without His help. But then He said something else, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) So, we love Him by keeping His commandments. And He loves us by helping us return to His presence.
· “When we went forth into the waters of baptism and covenanted with our Father in Heaven to serve Him and keep His commandments, He bound Himself also by covenant to us that He would never desert us, never leave us to ourselves, never forget us, that in the midst of trials and hardships, when everything was arrayed against us, He would be near unto us and would sustain us. That was His covenant and we can tie that to the promises He has make.” (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, vol.1)
· This life is a hard life. One of our purposes here is to have trials and grow stronger. But “God, because of his love for us, condescended to make covenants with us, in order that we may be spared from failure, from sorrow, from regret, and that we may rise to the full heights of glory that are promised to those who are faithful and endure to the end.” (ElRay L. Christiansen, Conference, Oct. 1972)
· I went to a really great fireside on Friday. Al Fox, if you don’t know her, she is a very popular church speaker right now. She tells her conversion story and how she got to where she is right now. She told us something that really hit hime. She said, “Really what it comes down to in every decision is to choose God, or to choose something else.” If God is bound to his word, if He has promised to spare us from failure, from sorrow, from regret, than why would we ever choose anything else? It really doesn’t make any sense. Follow the commandments, keep your covenants. Let Christ guide you through the dark.
· Joseph Smith taught in the 45th section of the Doctrine and Covenants that the Lord sent us covenants to be a light, to be a standard, and to prepare the way for us. (D&C 45:9)
· This is why covenants and ordinances are so important. Without baptism, we couldn’t have that sacred bond with God to push us to be good people so that His promise to walk with us would be ours. This is why these are the saving ordinances. They are literally the stepping stones on our path to return to heaven with honor. Without these ordinances, we are lost.
· Commandments aren’t here to hinder, but to help.This story of a little boy who went to the park with his father to fly a kite reminds us of this.
The boy was very young. It was his first experience with kite flying. His father helped him, and after several attempts the kite was in the air. The boy ran and let out more string, and soon the kite was flying high. The little boy was so excited; the kite was beautiful. Eventually there was no more string left to allow the kite to go higher. The boy said to his father, “Daddy, let’s cut the string and let the kite go; I want to see it go higher and higher.”
His father said, “Son, the kite won’t go higher if we cut the string.”
“Yes, it will,” responded the little boy. “The string is holding the kite down; I can feel it.” The father handed a pocketknife to his son. The boy cut the string. In a matter of seconds the kite was out of control. It darted here and there and finally landed in a broken heap. That was difficult for the boy to understand. He felt certain the string was holding the kite down.
The commandments and laws of God are like the kite string. They lead us and guide us upward. Obedience to these laws gives us peace, hope, and direction. (PATRICIA P. PINEGAR, General Conference, Oct. 1999)
· Every covenant and every ordinance of the gospel is for our good. After baptism, at the temple, we make more sacred covenants with the Lord. We make more covenants and the Lord promises us more blessings. The way we keep our covenants and receive our ordinances influences our lives forever. For example, we are blessed with the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. This knowledge is great, but it isn’t enough to get us to the celestial kingdom, back to live with our Father in Heaven. The Lord requires action on our part. He requires these ordinances. Only then can we return.
· Heavenly Father knows the covenants we make. There may be times when we will feel that we are standing alone in trying to keep our covenants. But the Lord is always aware of us and will be near us in our struggles to remain faithful.
· After the covenant, or agreement, is made, and after the ordinance is performed, there is yet a third, vital element. You must live up to the agreement. This third element is also very sacred. Because the other two now depend entirely on your performance.
· Nephi said, “And now my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this straight and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.” (2 Nephi 31:19) We are never done. We constantly need to remember and keep our covenants to one day be able to return to God.
· I was reading my mission call just yesterday, for some much needed comfort. I found something interesting I would like to share. “Sister Spackman: You have been recommended as one worthy to represent the Lord as a minister of the restored gospel. You will be an official representative of the Church. As such, you will be expected to maintain the highest standards of conduct and appearances by keeping the commandments, living mission rules, and following the counsel of your mission president. As you devote your time and attention to serving the Lord, leaving behind all other personal affairs, the Lord will bless you with increased knowledge and testimony of the Restoration and of the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ… As you serve with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, the Lord will lead you to those who are prepared to be baptized.”
· As with every covenant we make, we need to trust in the Lord and in His promises. For full time missionaries as official representatives of the Church, or as member missionaries, which we are all striving to be I hope, if we are on the Lord’s errand, he will offer His help. The Lord has promised it, and He is bound to his word. I have come to the realization recently that my mission is not going to be easy. It will be the hardest 18 months of my life, of that I am sure. But the Lord has promised his help, so I have promised my time. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. But for all of you, and especially for me, wishing will not make it so. The Lord requires action. Joseph Smith has said; “Our greatest duty is to preach the Gospel.” I am going to do just that, and I encourage all of you here today to as well. Every member a missionary.
· My purpose as a missionary is to “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.” (Preach My Gospel) Missionary work is simple. Help others come unto the one thing that makes sense about this world. The one thing that brings hope, joy, love, understanding, and peace. And how do we get there? Through sacred ordinances and keeping covenants.
I love this Gospel and the light it has brought into my life. I am so excited to serve my Lord for the next 18 months in Chicago. It will be hard to leave. Looking out in the audience, I see countless faces of ward members, teachers, leaders, friends, family who I love dearly. I am so grateful for them and their examples to me. They are who made me become the woman I am today. I love this gospel. I love this gospel. I can't wait to serve.