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Sacred Covenants

Sister Kanekoa:

Brothers and sisters, Aloha.

At the sunrise of my life, I was raised as a faithful Catholic girl. I always knew of a certainty that there was a God, who loved me and that he was always with me, wherever I was. Then, in my senior year of high school, I met a young man, who on our first date asked me “what church do you belong to?” I thought that was a strange question, wasn’t everyone who was serious about church a Catholic?  His reaction surprised me, when I told him that I was a Catholic. Then I asked him, “What church do you belong to?” He said that he is a Mormon. I have never heard of a Mormon or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints, at least he knew what a Catholic was! No matter, he would become a Catholic before we got married, and so will the two young men that he sent to my house to teach me. Well, he is sitting right there and here I am.

So how does one go from the sunrise to the sunset of their life with joy and assurance in their heart? It is very simple, brothers and sisters. It is through the principal of obedience, which is the first law of heaven, that we can and will obtain the sweet assurance in our hearts. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “we are blessed, as we show our faith in God, by being obedient to His will.” D&C 130:21 – “And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

The scriptures teach us that Lehi was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him in 1 Nephi 2:3. But how about Nephi’s obedience when he told his father Lehi, who asked that he return to Jerusalem with his brothers for the brass plates, after failing the first time? This was not an easy task, because Nephi’s brothers were very unhappy with him, to put it mildly. But said Nephi to his father, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” That is in 1 Nephi 3:7, which is my favorite scripture.

I bare witness to you; the Lord truly does prepare a way for each of us. My sweet grandmother put it another way. When I saw difficulties within the family, I would ask her “grandma, what’s going to happen? What are we to do?” Her response was always, “Elizabeth, the Lord will provide.” I testify that she was absolutely right. The Lord always did provide for our needs.

In the book entitled  Power to Become by Elder Bednar, he teaches us that the first law of heaven is obedience, the aligning of our individual will with God’s will. Obedience operates at a number of different levels, and is not simply a passive, steady states. Rather, obedience grows, develops, deepens and increases and expands. Our experience with an understanding of the principal of obedience should change as we develop spiritually and as we gain additional light and knowledge, line upon line, precept upon precept. Also, our spiritual expectations should increase and intensify as we continue to faithfully obey God’s commandments.

Closely associated with obeying with a willing heart is reaching a point where we no longer are driven or directed by rules. Instead, we learnt to govern our lives by principals. To be sure, we keep the rules but we also begin to ask ourselves what is the principal involved here? Such a person becomes less dependent upon external scaffolding and structure and more dependent upon quiet and on going divine directions. As our Prophet Joseph explained, I teach them correct principals and they govern themselves. As life continues to swiftly passes by, it reminds me of a song that I love from “Fiddler on the Roof “ as the parents of the bride to be wed sing about how quickly life has passed them by. Tevye looks at his daughter and asks, “is that the little girl I carried?” And then mom reflects, “I don’t remember getting older. When did they?” And then the chorus, “Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset. Swiftly fly the years. One season following another, laden with happiness and tears.”

Most of you here are young, and have many things to accomplish in this life, that passes us so swiftly. I strongly urge and encourage you to remember these two principles, obedience and faith. If you are obedient, you will be honest in all of your dealings. When you are honest in all of your dealings, I know that you will have sweet peace in your life. When you look in the mirror, you will love that person looking back at you. Then, here is the bonus, as you build upon your obedience, you will be blessed with a strong foundation of faith. With obedience comes faith; faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true, as we are told in Hebrews 11:1, and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. To have faith, is to have confidence in something or someone. Yes, I have faith and confidence that God and His Son have always loved me and that they will always be with me. Even back then at the sunrise of my life, and now the in the sunset of my mortal life. I know that they are still with me, everyday of my life.

Brothers and sisters, I testify to you that if you can obtain the sweet peace that obedience and faith will give to you in your life, I know of a surety that you will find the peace that you seek in this life. And I leave you this testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 


President Kanekoa:

Dear Brothers and Sisters Aloha,

Sister Kanekoa and I are honored to be here as our term as your Temple President and Matron draws to a close. We have learned many things and have had the guidance and direction of our Heavenly Father. We want to thank each of you for your love and support. Many of you serve in the temple and we see so many attending the temple. Thank you for being temple worthy.

We have been told throughout our lives that we are a covenant making people. From the beginning in Genesis 6:18 “But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.”   Then in Acts 3:25 “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers….”   In Mosiah 18:13—“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....’ In Doctrine and Covenants 1:22 we are told  “That mine everlasting covenant might be established;” 

What is a covenant?  A covenant is an agreement between God and His children. It is not a contract! We do not act as equals in this agreement. God gives the conditions for the covenant and we agree to do what He asks us to do. God then promises us certain blessings for our obedience. When we make covenants we promise to obey them!

Many of us, especially those who are born and raised in the gospel do not realize that the first covenant that we make as a member of the church is our Baptismal covenant.  When we are baptized we promise that we will follow Him and obey His commandments.  Another covenant that we should keep is in D&C 20:77 “…always remember Him…; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them.”

 I will give an example that we may be able to relate to more easily. One day you look at your very busy schedule – seminary, sports, school, church, band, debate team, dance and the list goes on. You tell your parents, I really could do better and have more time if I could have a car. They say yes but here are the conditions. You must clean your room, mow the yard, and be good to your little Brother and Sister and so on. 

You did not set the conditions to getting a car but you agreed to the conditions your parents set. You did not sign a contract. As time goes by you stop cleaning your room, mowing the yard and keeping the conditions of your agreement.  One day you cannot find the keys to your car. Guess who has your keys?  The privilege you had for the use of the car you were promised (blessing) were taken away. You did not fulfill your part of the agreement.

Heavenly Father loves each of us. Keep your covenants and you will be safe and happy. Break the covenants and you will have no promise. It is a mistake to assume that anything not specifically prohibited in the “letter of the law” is somehow approved by the Lord. “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.” (D&C 58:26.)

“And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off…”  (2 Nephi 2:5)  

We are given enough to know what is right and to keep our covenants. Don’t get caught up in rationalizations.  Be guided by the Holy Spirit and you will always keep the covenants that you make with Heavenly Father. In Alma 41:10—the Prophet Alma simply states “…Behold I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.” 

Heavenly Father told the Nephites, “…ye are the children of the covenant” (3 Nephi 20:26).  And he described the restored gospel as the “new and . . . everlasting covenant.” (D&C 22:1). 

President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “I do not care what office you hold in the Church, you may be an apostle, you may be a patriarch, a high priest, or anything else, and you cannot receive the fullness of the priesthood unless you go into the temple of the Lord and receive those ordinances of which the prophet speaks. No man can get the fullness of the priesthood outside of the temple of the Lord.” 

He then said, “…you cannot get these blessings on the mountaintops, you will have to go into the house of the Lord, and you cannot get the fullness of the priesthood unless you go there. Do not think that because anybody has a higher office in the church than you have, that you are barred from blessings, because you can go into the temple of the Lord and get all the blessings there are that have been revealed, if you are faithful, have them sealed upon you as an elder in this Church, and then you have all that any man can get.”

The temple is the only way back to our Heavenly Father. The ordinances and covenants received in the House of the Lord ultimately enable us, if we are faithful and endure to the end, to enter His presence. 

“And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;   Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.”  (D&C 97:15-16)

In the temple we make 5 major covenants. Those 5 covenants along with the sacramental covenant are the most sacred of all covenants.  President Gordon B. Hinckley said of these covenants – “If our people could only learn to live by these covenants, everything else would take care of itself. We would not have to worry about sacrament meeting attendance. We would not have to worry about willingness to serve missions. We would not have to worry about divorce and the many requests for cancellation of temple sealings.”

Please recognize and keep the 5 covenants that we make in the temple and don’t take lightly our sacramental covenant that we renew each week. We are not only a covenant making people but we are a blessed people. President Spencer W. Kimball has said that the most often sin we [unknowingly] commit as a member of the church is that of ingratitude. 

May we take time to recognize and appreciate our many blessings. We have been given everything. We are blessed with promises and knowledge that we have been given on earth; we have the keys and knowledge of eternal life and residing with Heavenly Father not only in the Celestial Kingdom  but in the  highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. In addition we will have joy and happiness as we dwell in this earthly state and keep the sacred covenants.

In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.”  (D&C 131:1-4)