The Daily Covenant Path – Given on 22 Aug 2021
Brothers and Sisters, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you today. I am grateful for the wonderful family that we have here in this ward! Sarah and I are so thankful for all that you do to bless our family, to serve each other, to teach your families, and to serve in the church. As I share the message that I have prepared and as we listen to President Williams, I invite you to pay attention to the whisperings of the spirit. Write down what he tells you, and then act! I know that if you listen, he will teach you today.
Near the end of his ministry, the Apostle Paul wrote an epistle to Timothy who had been his companion in his travels and who had served faithfully in the church. As Paul reflected on his life and the hardships and trials he had experienced, he looked forward and saw our day. He told Timothy that “in the last days perilous times shall come.” Four-hundred and fifty years later, the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni also knew our doing. He saw a time when “there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands. And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in diverse places. A day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations.” We see these prophecies fulfilled every day!
During these perilous times, the prophets have taught that we are to find joy! Does that surprise you? It certainly isn’t what the world would teach! So, the question for us is how do we not only survive but thrive and even find joy in the midst of hardship, trials, and wickedness all around us?
In primary we learn that we are supposed to be like the wise man and build our house on the rock. We we can find joy during perilous times when we “build upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the son of God…That when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon [us], it shall have no power over [us] to drag [us]u down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which [we] are built, … a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
We build our lives upon the rock of our Redeemer by getting on and then staying on the covenant path. The covenant path has some major mile-markers along it: Baptism, Confirmation, Priesthood Ordination, The Temple Endowment and Sealing. These saving ordinances order and direct our lives by putting us into a covenant relationship with God. We should actively prepare to receive these ordinances and enter into these covenants. Because “the power of godliness is manifest” in these ordinances, receiving them for ourselves can be a defining spiritual experience – it is often an unforgettable one. When I look back on my experiences receiving these ordinances, I find strength in my daily striving.
Receiving the ordinances of the priesthood is one of the most important things we can do in this life. But, the ordinances themselves are short! Often, they last only minutes. So, how do we stay on the covenant path for the rest of our lives? The answer is simple. The principles that led us to enter the path in the first place are the same principles that sustain us as we continue to walk in it every day. These are the first principles of the gospel: faith in Jesus Christ and repentance. As we exercise faith in Christ and repent every day, we can be confident that we are striving to stay on the covenant path.
Everyone here in this meeting today has exercised faith! You got up this morning and decided to participate in partaking of the sacrament. You did that because you believe that Christ is real. Even if that belief feels weak, it is there inside you! President Nelson taught that we show our faith every day in the choices we make.
Do not minimize the faith you already have. It takes faith to join the Church and remain faithful. It takes faith to follow prophets rather than pundits and popular opinion. It takes faith to serve a mission during a pandemic. It takes faith to live a chaste life when the world shouts that God’s law of chastity is now outmoded. It takes faith to teach the gospel to children in a secular world. It takes faith to plead for the life of a loved one and even more faith to accept a disappointing answer.
The mountains in our lives do not always move how or when we would like. But our faith will always propel us forward. Faith always increases our access to godly power.
It is not always easy to have faith. It is not even always obvious that we even have faith! However, as long as we are doing anything to try to follow the Savior, we can know that we do have faith.
Every time we exercise our faith, we are choosing to repent! Over the last few years as I have studied repentance, I have come to understand that repentance is anything we do to change our lives in any way to become more like Jesus Christ. And there are a lot of ways to do that!
I love what President Nelson taught about repentance.
Does everyone need to repent?” The answer is yes.
Too many people consider repentance as punishment—something to be avoided except in the most serious circumstances. But this feeling of being penalized is engendered by Satan. He tries to block us from looking to Jesus Christ, who stands with open arms, hoping and willing to heal, forgive, cleanse, strengthen, purify, and sanctify us.
The word for repentance in the Greek New Testament is metanoeo. The prefix meta- means “change.” The suffix -noeo is related to Greek words that mean “mind,” “knowledge,” “spirit,” and “breath.”
Thus, when Jesus asks you and me to “repent,” He is inviting us to change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit—even the way we breathe. He is asking us to change the way we love, think, serve, spend our time, treat our wives, teach our children, and even care for our bodies.
Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
In the perilous times that we live in, it is critically important that we have Faith in Jesus Christ and continually repent. What are some ways that you and I could repent today? Perhaps we can be more focused during our scripture study or teach our child in a new way. Maybe family prayer could use some improvement or we need to reach out to a friend or neighbor. Maybe we need to pray a bit more sincerely or index a batch of records for family history. Whatever it is that you have personally been prompted to do, act! Don’t wait! Act in faith and repent a little bit today.
I know that Christ lives. I know that He guides this church. I know that Russell M. Nelson talks to God and then tells us what God wants us to know. I know that Christ has the power to change us. That change doesn’t come all at once. It comes little by little – line upon line – as we daily exercise faith and repent. If we do this, we will find joy in this life even during perilous times.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.