Covenants – A Protection to the Family

Portland Oregon Temple

Brothers and sisters, unless you have been living in a cave, you are well aware of current events that not only reflect, but magnify the consistent attack upon the family.  These national, and unfortunately, local events underscore the prophecies that speak of “wars and the perplexities of the cnations…And [that] all things shall be in acommotion; and surely, men’s bhearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people”[1] Clearly we are in the “last days”.

Never has the document, “The Family, A Proclamation to the World” been more important or timely.  Within it, we are taught eternal truths and if we look closely, little secrets that will enable us to protect our own families.

The Proclamation says,

The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally. [2]

My responsibility today is to spend some time speaking of the blessings that come to our families because of the covenants we make in the temple.

We could spend the entire meeting speaking of such blessings.  In fact, many testimonies have been born from the very pulpit describing the blessings received as a result of temple service.  However, one of biggest blessing of temple covenants and temple worship is the protection and power it gives to our families and children.

As a review, a covenant is an agreement between two people or groups of people.  Both agree do provide something for one another.  In sacred covenants, we covenant with Heavenly Father and His Son.

Do we really grasp what it means to be in a covenant relationship with God?  Do we get it?  What is our part and what will He do when we actually do our part?

To illustrate, let’s pretend we are all in our first year of college or high school.  It’s our first big test in our beginning courses of physics or math or piano or even golf. (A course I obviously flunked).  We know a little about our subject but haven’t studied enough.  So we are very concerned.

The day of the test arrives and we find that, through some sort of miracle, we can pick any one person dead or alive to help us with the test.  Who would we pick, someone with less experience and knowledge than us? Or would we find the most knowledgeable person in all of history to help us?

For physics we might pick Sir Isaac Newton.  For math we might pick Stephen Hawking.  For the piano we could pick Beethoven or Bach.  For golf we would pair up with Tiger Woods. These partners would assure us success on our tests.

So the test begins. We have our chosen the best partners we can have but we refuse their help. They try to help, even make some suggestions but we ignore them because we can handle it.  Or maybe we decided the test is just too hard, even for our knowledgeable partners. How ridicules and foolish what that be?

The same scenario applies to our families.  We are in the midst of the hardest test that eternal families have every faced.  Who would we pick to help us out?  The answer is obvious.  But are we willing to do what it takes to be worthy of and get His help?

Are we willing to enter into that partnership through eternal covenants?  Or are we so proud or naïve to think we can do this alone?

President Benson said:

Yes, there is a power associated with the ordinances of heaven-even the power of godliness-which can and will thwart the forces of evil if we will be worthy of those sacred blessings.  This community will be protected, our families will be protected, our children will be safeguarded as we live the gospel, visit the temple, and live close to the Lord.[3]

Do we get it Brothers and Sisters?  Do we understand the energy He will put into our families and children IF we make and keep these covenants?

As you know, we have been focusing on how “just doing the basics” will bless our lives and the lives or our families.  We should add “making and keeping covenants” and “temple worship” to that list of “basics.”  Can you imagine the feeling of safety and security that would come with consistent scripture study, praying, serving, covenant making and keeping and temple worship?  Truly, there would not be a happier people on the face of the Earth[4], well at least in Molalla.

In bishopric we enjoy time studying the gospel – it may be one of the things I like to do most.  For some time Brother Kerr’s thoughts in bishopric focused around the teachings of the temple that are found in the Book of Mormon.

Some have claimed there are no references to the temple in the Book of Mormon.  However, a close, spirit filled reading will unveil

Olive Tree Orchard

many wonderful temple truths. One of those scriptures is Jacob’s account of the prophecy of the Prophet Zenos.  We could spend days in Jacob 5 and the allegory of the Olive Tree.  It is rich in eternal truth.

For the most part, the allegory is a prophecy of the “covenant people” or Israel, their apostasy and their recovery and gathering.  But it, like most allegorical scripture, is like an Oger as explained by Sherk.  Ogers have layers like an onion.  Peal one layer away only to reveal yet another layer.  So it is with Jacob 5.

What I found, in this most recent reading (and I find it extremely comforting and full of hope) is the effort and the energy shown by the “Lord of the vineyard” to save His people.

Time and time again, He with the help of His servant, work and sweat to help the olive trees bare good fruit.  They dig, they prune, they burn, they fertilize and even shed tears “to bring to pass the cimmortality and deternal elife of man”[5]

In His efforts, especially when things go bad, the Lord of the Vineyard is very careful to preserve the “roots” of the tree.

Reading from Jacob 5:11

And the Lord of the vineyard caused that it [the Olive tree] should be digged about, and pruned, and nourished, saying unto his servant: It grieveth me that I should lose this tree; wherefore, that perhaps I might preserve the roots thereof that they perish not, that I might preserve them unto myself, I have done this thing.[6]

Just like the covenants we make in the temple, these roots give strength and nourishment to grafted in branches – or those who have made and keep sacred covenants.

Nov in verse 18.

And he said unto the servant: Behold, the branches of the wild tree have taken hold of the moisture of the root thereof, that the root thereof hath brought forth much strength; and because of the much strength of the root thereof the wild branches have brought forth tame fruit. Now, if we had not grafted in these branches, the tree thereof would have perished.[7]

Every effort is made by the “Lord of the Vineyard” and his servants to preserve the roots or covenants and help his people become “grafted in” or covenant making and keeping people.  Once this done, once we are grafted in or have made those covenants He and His Servant become our partners in rearing a family.  He will stop at nothing to assure success as long as we stick to the roots.

Do we get it?  Do we understand?

Our Heavenly Father’s plan is to do what ever He can to protect and recover his convent people.  What assurance, comfort and faith that should bring to our hearts.

There isn’t many scripture that express more profoundly the love that Heavenly Father has for us than in Jacob 5:41.

And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept, and said unto the servant: aWhat could I have done more for my vineyard?[8]

What do we have to do to have Him as our partner or divine consultant?  To have him expend every effort, even an “infinite effort” on behalf of our families and children? We must be grafted into the root – we must make and keep sacred covenants.

Oh, how important it is to become and remain worthy to enter the temple and participate in temple covenants.  They bring a power that we don’t understand.  President Hinckley has said that we will not experience all the blessing that Father has to offer without going to the temple and making those covenants.

If we are perplexed because of the commotion of the World, if we are worried about our children and how they will be affected by the world, here is the secret: go to the temple often.

Joseph Smith said,  “that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, [will] save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold.”[9]

Brigham Young further explained in his straight forward manner: “Let the father and mother, who are members of this Church and Kingdom, take a righteous course, and strive with all their might never to do a wrong, but to do good all their lives; if they have one child or one hundred children, if they conduct themselves towards them as they should, binding them to the Lord by their faith and prayers, I care not where those children go, they are bound up to their parents by an everlasting tie, and no power of earth or hell can separate them from their parents in eternity; they will return again to the fountain from whence they sprang.” [10]

The Family

Do we get it brothers and sisters?  If we make and keep temple covenants, HE WILL NEVER FAIL US AND OUR CHILDREN WILL NOT BE LOST!

What an incredible promise and it should give every parent a profound feeling of comfort.  No matter our family make up – single mom, single dad, both mom and dad – the promise is there.  We make temple covenants, do our part, He will do His.

In the secular gravity of this fallen world, we will have a hard time keeping up our end of the covenant; we will sin and make mistakes.  In fact it is impossible for us to keep our side of the deal, UNLESS we gain access to the Atonement.

Yes, Jesus Christ is the great servant of the vineyard.  He has paid the price that we may be able to legitimately say we have kept up our part of the agreement.  And then it is through this covenant relationship that we gain access to these great blessing from God.

Therefore, the act of making and keeping temple covenants is a great safety net in this circus of life. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the hand that lefts us from the net and firmly places us back upon the “straight and narrow” high wire.

So, what do we need to do to protect or families and children?

1. We make and keep temple covenants

No matter what it takes, we must make ourselves worthy to enter the Temple and become grafted into the root.

2. We return often to the Temple to work in the vineyard.

We can help dig, cultivate, nourish and even graft in others to the gospel through the vicarious work done in the temple.

3. We return often to the Temple to be reminded of the promises, the specifics of the covenants we have made.

If we have made such important covenants we should understand what they are and our part of the deal.  If we don’t go often, we have made the agreement – signed on the bottom line – without knowing what is required or what is expected.

4. We partake of the sacrament weekly.

Remember that as Brigham Young, Spencer W. Kimball and others taught, when we partake of the sacrament, we are renewing ALL of the covenants we have made, including those of the temple.  Partaking of the sacrament weekly is so important!

I am convinced that our children won’t make it without God as our parenting consultant.  He will do His part as we make covenants, gain access to the atonement and do what he asks.

As we do these things we will be able to fulfill the prayer that Joseph Smith asked in the inspired dedication of the Kirtland Temple:

“And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy aname may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine bangels have charge over them.”[11]

1- D&C 88:79, 91
2-The Family, A Proclamation to the World
3- Ezra Taft Benson, Atlanta Georgia Temple Cornerstone Laying, 1 June 1983
4- 4 Nephi 1:16
5- Moses 1:39
6- Jacob 5:11
7- Jacob 5:18
8- Jacob 5:41
9- Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, p. 110.
10- Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., 2:90-91
11- D&C 109:22

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7 Responses to Covenants – A Protection to the Family

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Covenants – A Protection to the Family « "The Things of My Soul" -- Topsy.com

  2. Megan Schow says:

    Troy, my dear friend,

    Thank you so very much for this profound and seemingly inspired topic. Throughout the past year I have struggled so much with many things pertaining to the gospel. I even considered leaving all that I’ve been taught and not returning to the church, wondering if it was all “worth it”. You will be happy to know that about 2 1/2 months ago I decided, through much prayer and contemplation, that I would rather be part of the gospel than not. I have continued to struggle with knowing of my Heavenly Father’s love for me personally and not knowing how 3 of my children were being raised. One of my concerns was also not knowing how those children would remain with me in the hereafter when they had no gospel influence in their lives. Thank you again for your words of comfort to this wayward mother. This was exactly what I needed. Usually I don’t read a lot of my friends blogs or links… the spirit obviously screamed to read this one.

    Your eternal friend,
    Megan

    • Troy says:

      Wow Megan. Thanks for the kind words. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that God’s ability to love us is far stronger than our ability to goof up.

  3. Eva says:

    Great thoughts and testimony Troy! Thanks for sharing. So true, that we probably often forget to seek help from the very One that can help us most. And, sorry you failed golf so miserably-haha! Tell Jill hello for me.

  4. Pingback: How far will He go to Redeem? « "The Things of My Soul"

  5. Grace says:

    Obrigado por tão lindas palavras, neste momento estava precisando ouvi-las.

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