The book of Helaman is a remarkable insight into the few decades before Christ's birth. It draws parallels to our time. Truth embraced by Lamanites brought peace and trade between them and Nephites. A time of happiness and prosperity ensued but as years passed they loved riches more than the One who blessed them. Men and women worked harder at obtaining more than teaching their children. Secrecy, deceit, plunder and pride plagued society. 'Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land...but behold, I am consigned that these are my days, and that my soul shall be filled with sorrow because of this the wickedness of my brethren.' Helaman 7:7-9
In times when money substitutes love and the blind lead, remarkable intuitive individuals emerge. Discerning in their bones something missing, they look, pursue and reach for a better way. Humbly, when they find it they recognise and willingly change what they can. Following happy generations revere their faith and courage. I count my own parents among these great pioneers. My favourite video on Spiritual Messages and Music is about my mum.
Mum found the true covenants of the Lord. These hold power to build heaven on earth; individuals, homes and communities prepared to receive the Saviour. She has taught these to her family with unwearied diligence, like Nephi. 'Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments. And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever' Helaman 10:4-5
The covenants of the Lord help us. They identify the source of blessings and protect. History, science and 24 hour news broadcasting remind us with stark clarity we need help. Be it climate change, conflict, economics or pandemics, the future looks bumpy. Knowing this perfectly, Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ have prepared by covenant a highway through this tumult. A solution. Everyone is invited. 'Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth...And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west...Sing O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.' Isaiah 49:8-13 emphasis added
True covenants are found in the hands of prophets ordained with power connecting heaven to earth. 'Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.' Helaman 10:7 Nephi received this power. He and his brother Lehi 'did preach unto the Lamanites with such great power and authority, for they had power and authority given unto them that they might speak...to the convincing them, insomuch that there were eight thousand of the Lamanites...baptized unto repentance, and were convinced of the wickedness of the traditions of their fathers' Helaman 5:18-19 Twenty-five years later a child of this covenant, Samuel the Lamanite, climbed the city wall and boldly declared the signs and coming of Christ (Helaman 13-16).
Last Christmas a dear and thoughtful friend received me in our work secret Santa draw. Knowing me well, she looked online for gifts relating to my faith. Surprised, she saw a t-shirt with my name on it, 'Samuel the Lamanite: Dodgeball Champion'. It is by far the best secret Santa gift I have been given. 'But as many as there were who did not believe in the words of Samuel were angry with him; and they cast stones at him upon the wall; but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows' Helaman 16:2
I love wearing this t-shirt. It reminds me of the great protection available to those who make and keep covenants with heaven. They receive His Spirit. I count myself incredibly lucky to have been raised as a child of this covenant. The heavenly blessings of these covenants have protected me through my upbringing. They are worth more to me than anything else in the world. 'My soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord which he hath made to our fathers; yea, my soul delighteth in his grace, and in his justice, and power, and mercy in the great and eternal plan of deliverance' 2 Nephi 11:5
On 3 April 1836 in the Kirtland Temple through the personal appearance of Jesus Christ, Moses, Elias and Elijah, Joseph Smith received power by which covenants between heaven and earth are made, shared across the world and offered to those who have died. Passed on through successive prophets, Russell M Nelson now holds these same keys connecting earth and heaven. Under his direction temples are built as holy edifices where sacred covenants can be made. Temples stand as tangible vestibules of heaven on earth and evidence of Christ's hand among us.
'The hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have been endowed in this house.' Doctrine and Covenants 110:9
Entering a covenant with God is submitting our will to His. This may appear like relinquishing freedom but the opposite is true because of whom we are covenanting with. Our loving Father grants according to our desire, so in a sense He submits to us as we submit to Him.
'Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things...Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.' Matthew 6:32-33 'He granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.' Alma 29:4
It is like being on the best sports team in the world, winning everything. United with our Maker, our greatest champion, we live a life of purpose. All things, even trials, work together for our good because He cannot break His promises. 'Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted' Doctrine and Covenants 90:24
When considering whether you could make a covenant with Father in heaven, consider the wider implications. For those solely looking for their own peace and safety, ironically these covenants might not work! If instead your heart thinks of your spouse, children, family and community, a realisation dawns that covenants with heaven bless the most cherished aspects of our life. In my own motivation to make and keep covenants with heaven, a blessing I yearn for repeats in my mind frequently. 'All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.' Isaiah 54:13 A recipient of this wonderful peace in my own upbringing, I yearn to pass it on to my children and others.
The children of our covenants will be like Samuel the Lamanite, protected and ready to receive Christ when He comes again. Covenant families and communities will bring peace to the world. Without these the earth would be wasted at His coming. 'Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.' Doctrine and Covenants 2:1
I hope the messages and music of my videos and blog stir your soul to receive these covenants for you and your family, or to invite others. Go to ComeUntoChrist.org. Receive His covenants. Now is a great time. These are your days. If you willingly give them to Him the exchange rate is miraculous. 'I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life' 3 Nephi 15:9