Sunday, June 28, 2009

More temple stuff

Kami and I decided that we could post about whatever we wanted on this blog. So, more about temples from me. I taught the RS lesson today from Elder Christofferson's talk, "The Power of Covenants." Since I don't get to teach Elder Bednar's talk, "Honorably Hold a Name and Standing," or "Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples," by Elder Stevenson, I freely stole from those talks for my lesson as well. Also, I used Mormon Doctrine despite it not being an authoritative text because I wanted to. Don't worry, I told the sisters where I was getting the information so they could choose to take it or leave it.

Basically, I learned a ton while preparing for this lesson. Much of what I read I knew without really knowing it. If that makes sense. First, Elder C started off by talking about what covenants are and I tried to think of all the covenants I have made and what I've promised. I didn't know what all I'd promised. Then I asked Timothy--neither did he. I went to Mormon Doctrine and Elder McConkie really clarified some things for me.

First, he classifies covenants and talks about making a progression of covenants, each one leading you closer to fully taking upon yourself the name of Christ and being sanctified. The first level of covenant is the covenants of salvation which we hear about as the new and everlasting covenant, or law of the gospel, or the article of faith: first principles and ordinances of the gospel are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost. Those are the primer covenants, so to speak.

Then, you run into the "covenants of conformity." Meaning, you conform (obey) specific commandments and receive specific blessings. Many commandments don't have specific blessings attached, like only having one piercing in your ear, so you reap unspecified blessings for your obedience. However, some commandments have specific blessings. Elder M mentioned the word of wisdom, tithing, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and the United Order (consecration). As you conform to those commandments, God is bound to give you the specific blessings promised, thereby making it a covenant.

Then you reach the covenants of exaltation, which are the covenants for those ready to receive more blessings by being obedient to more covenants. These are, obviously, the temple covenants. Elder M also said that receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood is a covenant of exaltation. I hadn't thought of that one. These covenants allow you to become gods and goddessess and receive all that the Father has.

Elder C stated, "In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact. . . . Our covenant commitment to Him permits our Heavenly Father to let His divine influence, 'the power of godliness' flow into our lives." I thought of it as a spigot--we're in charge of how many blessings we receive by how "exact" our obedience is.

Elder C talked about the types of blessings we get through our obedience to our covenants including: "a continual flow of blessings," "the resources we need to act rather than simply be acted upon" (which I read as increased self-discipline), "greater control over our lives," "greater capacity to . . . work and create," "a steady supply of gifts and help," "the faith necessary to perservere," our "faith expands," "bestowal of divine power," "endowed with power from on high," companionship of the Holy Ghost, and others that didn't stick out at me quite as much. See 1 Nephi 17:3 and D&C 97:8.

Elder Bednar also talked about the blessings of temple ordinances and covenants. He quoted Alma 26: 6: "Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penentrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them." Also D&C 109:22: " . . . that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with ty power, and that thy name may be upon them." Also, "Thus, in the ordinances of the holy temple we more completely and fully take upon us the name of Jesus Christ."

Elder Bednar really drove home the point of the importance of the protection afforded by temple covenants when he quoted D&C 109:24-28:

That no weapon formed against them shall prosper; that he who diggeth a pit for them shall fall into the same himself;
That no combination of wickedness shall have power to rise up and prevail over thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house;
And if any people shall rise against this people, that thine anger be kindled against them;
And if they shall smite this people thou wilt smite them; thou wilt fight for thy people as thou didst in the day of battle, that they may be delivered from the hands of all thier enemies.

The part that really struck me, though, was when Elder B said, "I invite you to study repeatedly and ponder prayerfully the implications of these scriptures in your life and for your family."

As we know, our homes are supposed to be sacred like the temples. If we keep our covenants we can claim this protection for our homes. Elder Stevenson said, "Not only can we turn the doors of our homes to the temple, or the house of the Lord; we can make our homes a 'house of the Lord.'" I think sometimes we fail to receive blessings because we don't understand them, or ask for them. In this case the blessings are so clear. We should be praying for this level of protection in our home. Essentially, if we are keeping our covenants, we can prevent Satan from having influence in our home. "That no weapon formed against them shall prosper." All of Satan's temptations are weapons, but in our homes, if we keep our covenants, Satan's weapons will not prosper--and therefore Satan's power will be neutralized in our homes. That's some serious protection promised to us. Elder B said, "The devil despises the purity in and the power of the Lord's house. And the protection available to each of us in and through temple ordinances and covenants stands as a great obstacle to the evil designs of Lucifer."

Elder C also said, "The temple will provide direction for you and your family in a world filled with chaos." He then told us to go on a mental tour of our home (I know you all remember this) and evaluate how closely our homes resemble a temple. Things that stuck out for me include: "Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? . . . do you see uplifting images? . . .. Is the conversation uplifting and without contention? . . . We may be well-advised to consider together, in family council, standards for our homes to keep them sacred and to allow them to be a 'house of the Lord.'"

When I evaluate those three articles together I am struck by how many blessings are promised to us if we keep our covenants, and how our homes can and need to be similar to a temple.

I was also struck by Elder B's call to repentance: "There is a difference between church-attending, tithe-paying members who occasionally rush into the temple to go through a session and those members who faithfully and consistently worship in the temple."

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