COVENANT DAUGHTERS OF GOD
Young Women Lesson for July 2016
Sister Jean A. Stevens said, in October 2014 General Conference, “My mother lived a rich life, full of happiness, joy, love, and service. Her love of the Savior was reflected in the way she lived her life. She had a remarkable connection to heaven and a gift and capacity to love and bless everyone around her.”
Isn’t that the kind of life we would all like to live: “Full of happiness, joy, love, and service?” That sounds like an easy life! And isn’t that the kind of woman we would all like to be: Having “a remarkable connection to heaven and a gift and capacity to love and bless everyone around her?”
How did this woman become this way? She must have had a fairytale life, with a wonderful wedding, and all the things in life to make it comfortable and enjoyable, right?
(Have girls read aloud the story from paragraphs 9-12, 15-16, and then read this quote: “In all the seasons of her life, Mother was strengthened and blessed by her love of the Lord and by the covenants she faithfully made and kept.”
Was her life perfect? Did everything work out just as she had planned? And yet, did she live happily ever after? Then covenants must be awfully powerful, if they can bring happiness, joy and love into our lives despite heartbreak, war and loneliness.
THE COVENANT PATH
President Eyring told us, “You were tutored by [Heavenly Father] before you came into this life. He helped you understand and accept that you would have trials, tests, and opportunities perfectly chosen just for you. You learned that our Father had a plan of happiness to get you safely through those trials and that you would help bring others safely through theirs. This plan is marked by covenants with God.” (April 2014 Conference)
So the plan of happiness follows a pathway of covenants.
Let’s draw a picture of happiness. This is our real-life fairytale.
[Draw a stick figure princess in the lower center of the chalkboard. Have each girl copy what you draw onto her own piece of paper for a do-it-yourself handout that will keep them engaged and help them learn kinesthetically.]
This is the princess. That would be you. We all live in a dark world with evil and sorrow, but there are stars to guide us, points of light from the heavens. And we each carry a light, the light of Christ, to light our path.
[Draw a scepter in her hand with a star on the end.]
[Draw a path from the stick figure to the lower center of the picture.]
This is the strait and narrow path. It is strait (not “straight”) which means it is restricted. We don’t get to choose your own path or how to walk it; we follow exactly as it is designed. This path is the Gospel Path, and our part to play in the gospel is basically the 4th Article of Faith. We exercise faith, repent, get baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. We are allowed to enter into the kingdom of God on the earth (the church). We take upon ourselves Christ’s name and become members of his family, with the possibility of inheriting what he has. We act in his name, in other words we do what he would do if he were here. We promise to keep the commandments, to bear each other’s burdens, and to stand as witnesses of God. (Mosiah 18:8-11)
[Write BAPTISMAL COVENANT on the path.]
So where does this path lead? Well, a kingdom has to have a castle, right?
[Draw a temple outline.]
In fact, it is the House of God. By entering into the temple and making covenants in which we are initiated, endowed with power, and sealed together as families, we join the covenant that God made with Abraham and become members of the House of Israel. Abraham is now our ancestor and we belong to his family (Read Bible Dictionary, Abraham, Covenant of, paragraphs 2-3.) The terrestrial world is symbolized by the moon, and we enjoy the greater light that the moon has as it reflects the light of the sun into the dark world.
[Draw a moon by the temple.]
Keeping our temple covenants helps us become a terrestrial society: good people trying to help each other become better. As children of Abraham, we are obligated to “bless all nations of the earth” through the Priesthood (the power of that runs His church), and “gather Israel,” or seek, teach and invite others to join the House of Israel in this life and vicariously through family history and temple work.
[Write HOUSE OF ISRAEL (ABRAHAM) on the temple.]
Before Abraham’s time, Heavenly Father made a covenant with his ancestor and the symbol of that covenant is the rainbow.
[Draw a rainbow over the temple.]
I know you are thinking that the rainbow covenant was made with Noah after the flood when promised God wouldn’t flood the earth again, but that was just a renewal. The original covenant is found in the Joseph Smith Translation appendix and not many people look there so not many are aware of it. It is also mentioned in D&C 76. Enoch led an city entrenched in wickedness, and he taught them through Priesthood power so well over a long period of time, that they became too holy for this earth and the City of Enoch was taken up to heaven. Let’s read the covenant made with Enoch. (JST Gen. 9:21-25.)
When the people on earth have created a Zion society by “embracing the truth” (which we do when we are baptized) and by looking upward, the City of Enoch will come down from heaven and join Zion on earth. We look upward when we keep our temple covenants. All the symbolism in the structure and the interior of the temple pulls our eyes upward, just as the ceremony pulls our perspective heavenward, and the covenants will fit us for a Zion society, where everyone is equal and there are no rich or poor.
Article of Faith 10 relates to both Enoch’s and Abraham’s covenants: “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the ten tribes, that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be established upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally on the earth; and that the earth will be renewed and receive it’s paradisiacal glory.” In fact, the temple connects heaven and earth even before the final days. Angels minister to us, miracles happen, prayers are answered every day as we keep the covenants we have made. The heaven we create on earth, Zion, will eventually be joined by the City of Enoch and become the real Heaven.
[Write ZION COVENANT (ENOCH) on it. Under it, write “Create Zion.”]
The first covenant of all was made with Adam and Eve when they left the Garden of Eden.
[Draw a sun above the rainbow.]
We came to this earth by “falling” from heaven. We were separated from God, and we were no longer pure and holy because this world is full of sin and error. But this was necessary to gain the knowledge and experience needed to become like God so He allowed the Fall to happen, and then provided a Savior for us. Jesus Christ would “fit us for heaven” as the Christmas carol says, through His Atonement, which would free us from our sins through repentance, and the sins of others against us through forgiveness, and make us holier and better than we could be on our own, so that we could become Celestial beings and enjoy Eternal Life, or God’s Life, ourselves. (Read 3 Nephi 27:13-14.)
All of these covenants are only possible because of Christ’s atonement, His part in the Gospel covenant. Article of Faith 3 says, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.”
[Write GOSPEL COVENANT—ATONEMENT (ADAM) by the sun.]
Each of these covenants is part of the New & Everlasting Covenant of the Gospel (Elder Marcus B. Nash, December 2015 Ensign), and the whole thing operates by love: God’s love for us, and our love for him and for our brothers and sisters on earth.
[Draw a heart around the entire picture. Write NEW & EVERLASTING COVENANT above the heart.]
God’s love: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoso believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Our love: The statement that love is the sum of all the commandments is found in every book of scripture. (Deut. 6:5; Mark 12:30-31; D&C 59:5-6; Moro. 10:32) I like the way it is stated in Romans 13:8-9 “…He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law…if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Keeping the New and Everlasting Covenant does not just bring us happiness in the next life; it makes us happy here, because the most joyful experience in the world is to feel and share God’s love.
As Elder Nash said, “For all who abide the terms of the new and everlasting covenant, the reward is joy and peace in this world and eternal life in the next.”
Paul wrote to the Romans, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Read Romans 8:35-39) As long as we have the love of Christ, we will have happiness, despite times of trial.
Everything that happens outside our power will be a blessing to us, even things we might term as “bad.” As Paul taught, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
So the great news of the gospel is that a life of happiness does not depend on everything working out the way we plan, and no bad things happening, and being able to follow all our dreams and hopes, and having enough money to buy what we want, and getting the exact number of children we want, and never having a crime committed against us, and having perfect health and beauty, and any other things that we don’t have control over. It does not depend on WHAT HAPPENS TO US. It depends on something we have total control over: THE KEEPING OF OUR COVENANTS to love God and our fellow human beings!
Now we can see how Sister Stevens’ mother lived a life filled with “happiness, joy, love and service,” despite missing out on some of her fondest dreams and enduring great periods of loneliness and trial at what should have been the most pleasant time of her life. There is no permanent disappointment or sorrow on the covenant path.
It is the love of God and for God and others that brings us the greatest joy, the greatest happiness and the greatest peace in this life.
[Share a personal experience about any of these covenants that will help you testify that the keeping of covenants brings joy.]