Monday, July 29, 2013

My Farewell Talk!

When I was 8 years old, I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. At that time, I made a covenant with God. Covenants, simply defined, are promises between us and Heavenly Father- and are essential for us to progress. The covenant I made at baptism was to stand as a witness of God at all times, in all things, and in all places, and to love others as Christ would love them. There is a power that comes from making and keeping covenants with our Heavenly Father. It gives us a power to love that I personally did not even know that I had in me. Everyone is in need of comfort at some point in their life, and I have no doubt in my mind that the strength that is needed in these times comes from our loving Heavenly Father. He has had a plan for us from the beginning and He always has. This plan allows Him to guide us and bless us here on earth in this test of our faith, until we can return to Him one day.
Covenants aren’t just made at baptism. Before I leave as a missionary, I had the opportunity to go through the Newport Beach Temple. It was the most beautiful experience. The temple is the House of the Lord, and I know with all my heart that it is. The love and peace that I felt there was unlike anything that I had ever felt before. In the temple, I also made covenants with God- to be faithful and make sacrifices and consecrate all that I have including time and talents. This goes hand in hand with my baptismal covenant to love others as Christ would love them. The result of keeping these covenants is an unbelievable peace that overwhelms my life. It is a blessing of lasting happiness that I know can only come from God.
Another covenant that is made in the temple is the covenant of marriage. A lot stems from this covenant. Getting married in the temple means that you get to live with your family for eternity. Not just until we die, but forever. After going to the temple, I have realized the importance of the promises made there- I get to live with MY family forever. That means nothing can rip us apart, and we can live together eternally with perfect love. And when I get married in the temple, this same promise holds true to me. If this is the end result of staying true to my Heavenly Father on earth, I will not stop serving until I can live with them forever. I love them so much and I sometimes don’t understand why I am so blessed that I have the opportunity to make these covenants on earth for such an eternal blessing. It is the greatest gift that God could offer me- to return to the loving arms of my Creator and live with my family forever.
In Hebrews, chapter 8, it says,
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
This scripture is in Hebrews, which shows that covenants have always been around —covenants are timeless. God has always made covenants with his people, and this is why it is so important that we still keep them today.
In the scriptures God is defined as the literal father of the human family; as a being who is concerned for the welfare of mankind, and a Personage who hears and answers prayers. He sent his Son to REMIND us what we have forgotten after we left God’s presence. In turn for all of these things, we are simply asked to keep his commandments and honor our covenants with Him. Many look for signs to see that there really is a God. But we forget that there is RECORD of His son coming to earth to share his everlasting gospel. He performed miracles and was resurrected three days after he was killed.  Brothers and sisters, WHAT MORE DO WE NEED? We have been given these records and because Christ came to earth and Joseph Smith restored his ministry, we have the fullness of His gospel. Not part of it, but all of it. One of the things that makes it full is we have the opportunity to make and keep sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father in these latter days. Through living covenants made at the time of baptism and entering the temple, my life has been blessed with MIRACLES.
            A lot of times the world skews our view of how it is going to be after this life when we are put before our Heavenly Father. “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done,” taught Elder Dallin H. Oaks. “It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.”
                  I love that it is not even a question of what our Heavenly Father wants us to become. He sent us an example- Jesus Christ who was perfect. It seems sometimes as if it would be impossible to become perfect as he, but that is what amazes me about this gospel. It shows us that it is not impossible. As Elder Holland said, "We see ourselves in terms of our past and present selves. He sees us in terms of forever. He sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming." God can see us in terms of what we can become- he can see us as our best selves. I can’t even imagine my best self. The amazing part of this whole plan is, we do our best to become as Jesus Christ, and because of his atonement, he fills in the rest that we cannot do here on earth. We will return to the arms of our Creator and feel of His perfect love for eternity, knowing that we tried our hardest to keep our covenants here on earth. The key is just making and keeping those promises.
After making those promises, the next layer is to renew those promises with our Heavenly Father every Sunday through the Sacrament- in remembrance of Christ and the happiness that can be brought into our lives because of the Atonement. Promises to your Heavenly Father sustain such a peace in your life that allows you to have faith and confidence in Christ and in everything you do.
Our faith has to be fully exercised in order to see something come from it. We are told to find the truth for ourselves. Finding out the truth and living by covenants with exactness will bring you more blessings than you can ever imagine. Imagine always being happy, and never feeling alone. THAT is what this Gospel offers us. Our Heavenly Father is up there WAITING to bless us. He loves us more than we can even fathom, and it is up to us to go to Him. In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord says, “I am bound when ye do what I say, but if ye do not what I say, ye have no promise. It could not be any clearer. He is BOUND when we do what he says.” It is not just a maybe, but God-our literal father in heaven- is bound. He loves us so much. He sent us down here and just wants us to know that He is here for us. Keeping covenants keeps you safe. You don’t have to worry. It gives you something to rely on, because God is always reliable. Covenants give us a side of a promise that we need to hold true to. This also means that Heavenly Father has a side of the promise. He promises us great blessings in return.
One blessing that comes from keeping our covenants is that He will answer our prayers. Fasting is one of the best examples of this. Fasting is when we give up a couple of meals while covenanting with our Heavenly Father to care for others and to stand as a witness of God in all times, in all things, and in all places. It is one of the most unique experiences that I have ever had. Without eating, it reminds us to be humble so that the Spirit can more easily be with us and when we pray, we can feel of Christ’s love because of the Holy Ghost. When I fast for someone that I love, throughout the whole day I am so thankful for the feelings of gratitude that I have in my heart. It is such a testament of truth that is so strongly brought to me through such a simple act of sacrifice. In Isaiah 58:6, 9, 11 it says, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought…” Now pay attention to the awesome promises! “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer and he shall say Here I am.” Fasting looses the bands of wickedness and undoes the heavy burdens! Those have to be the best promises you have ever heard. I KNOW with all of my heart that if you fast looking for an answer or help from God, you will without a doubt receive what you need. It comes in unexpected ways. You have to fast with an open mind. I did not expect any of the outcomes or answers that I received multiple times. But there is a reason I have a testimony of this. I have found that as I strive to keep my covenants and promises with my Heavenly Father, I am blessed with more happiness and peace than I ever thought possible. As with everything with this gospel, you HAVE to find these answers and feel these amazing blessings come into your own life. I am so amazed by everything offered by this gospel. It makes me so happy I want to share the blessings with everyone that I know and love.
Our Heavenly Father loves us so much but sometimes the only way we can feel it is if we exercise our faith and talk to him. We are promised so many things if we just put ourselves to the test and believe. We need to find the answer that makes sense to us. Something that gives us a full answer, and brothers and sisters, I KNOW that this is the fullness of Jesus Christ’s gospel. We are promised to know truth by the fruits that come from it, and the miracles that I’ve seen are a testimony alone that this church produces the most amazing things and testifies of truth. I am so humbled that Heavenly Father would want me as his missionary to teach His children His truth and love. He wants all of His children to come back to him, and WE are the people that are here to invite others to come unto Christ in the way that He would if He were here. We need to share with them the love that he and his son Jesus Christ have for each person on this earth. Love is the single most important thing because without it, the Spirit would not be able to witness to these people the truthfulness of the Gospel. And that, brothers and sisters, is the calling of a missionary. I cannot wait to serve the people of Denver. I wish I could serve every single person in this world and share with them this amazing message that changes lives. It introduces happiness like you have never felt before. I can’t wait to share this happiness with the people I come in contact with. As I covenant with the Lord to share His love and invite people to come unto Christ, I know that it will bring more happiness that I have ever experienced, as I humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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