“Sharing Time: Keeping My Promise,” Friend, Aug. 1998, 12
What do you know about covenants? A covenant is a promise or a solemn agreement. When we covenant with another person, we make promises to each other. When we make a covenant with the Lord, we know that He will keep His promises. It is very important that we also keep our promises, or our part of the covenant, with the Lord.
There are many stories in the scriptures about people who made covenants with the Lord. Do you remember the story of Noah? When Noah lived on the earth, the people were so wicked that the Lord commanded Noah to build an ark to save at least two of every kind of animal as well as his own righteous family. It rained for forty days and forty nights, and the earth was washed clean by a great flood. The Lord made a covenant, promising that the earth would never again be destroyed by a flood. As a sign of that covenant, God sent a rainbow. Today when we see a rainbow, we should remember the promise God made. (See Gen. 9:9–17.)
The people of Ammon (the Anti-Nephi-Lehies) also made covenants with the Lord. They were Lamanites who were converted when Ammon and his brothers taught them the gospel. These people were so grateful to be forgiven of their wicked ways that they made a covenant to never take up the sword, or kill, again. As a sign of their covenant, they buried their swords so that they would not be tempted to fight. They kept their promise even when their lives were in danger, and the Lord blessed them. (See Alma 23–24.)
We make a covenant with Heavenly Father when we are baptized. We promise to take upon us the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to always remember Him and to keep His commandments. When we keep our part of the covenant, we are promised that we will have His Spirit to be with us always—to guide us, to protect us, to comfort us. What wonderful blessings come to us when we keep our promise, our covenant, with God!
Instructions: Look up each scripture reference on this page, read it, draw a line from the reference to the picture that relates to it, then color the picture. We can make important covenants with the Lord too. Circle the pictures that represent covenants that apply to your life.
(Note: CS = Children’s Songbook)
This month you might sing from the CS, “Book of Mormon Stories,” pp. 118–119, and “Follow the Prophet,” pp. 110–111.
1. To help the children memorize Mosiah 18:10, print the scripture on a piece of paper, cut out the words, and place them in an envelope. Prepare enough scripture envelopes for five teams. Have each team put the scripture together. Also prepare and post large wordstrips: “Ye have entered into a covenant with him, / that ye will serve him / and keep his commandments, / that he may pour out his Spirit / more abundantly upon you.” As each team finishes assembling the scripture correctly, give them a wordstrip to memorize. When all have finished, have each group stand (in order) at the front of the room and recite its wordstrip. Have everyone repeat all the phrases a few times. To conclude, talk with the children about the importance of keeping the promises or covenants we make with the Lord.
2. Tell the story of the people of Ammon (see Alma 23–24; 26:23–33; 27). Display pictures of the story from the meetinghouse library. Invite an adult to take the role of the king. Then have children interview him, using a pretend microphone. Help them understand how seriously the people of Ammon took their covenants. Some even died rather than risk losing the forgiveness they had received. Tell how they buried their weapons so that they wouldn’t be tempted to fight. Give older children a drawing of a sword, have them color it, cut it out, and, if circumstances allow, take the sword home and bury it.
3. Tell and/or read the story of Hannah, Eli, and Samuel (see 1 Sam. 1; 3:1–21), then have three of the younger children silently act out the story as you tell it again. You might provide simple costumes such as a sash or a head scarf. In conclusion, emphasize that the Lord can speak to young children, and they can hear and obey Him. Sing “Seek the Lord Early” (CS, p. 108).
4. Tell the children about Joshua, the great prophet who led the Children of Israel into the Promised Land (see Primary 6 manual, Lesson 23, pp. 101–105). When Joshua was old, he called the people together and reminded them of all the wonderful things the Lord had done for them. Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel together and asked the people to choose whom they would serve (see Josh. 24). To emphasize Joshua 24:15 [Josh. 24:15], assemble the following wordstrip-picture signs: “Choose you [attach several written situations requiring a choice. For example: Some of your friends have started swearing when they play sports—what can you do? You notice that the new child in your class has no one to eat lunch with—what can you do? You have a new computer game, and your friend wants to copy it—what do you do?] / this day [include a picture of a large sun] / whom ye will serve; … / as for me (________) and my house, [include a picture of a house and family] / we will serve the Lord” [include a picture of the Savior]. Ask four children to hold the signs. Repeat the scripture to the children. Stress the value of deciding “this day” to choose the right, to choose to follow the Lord. Ask the child who is holding the sign “as for me (________) and my house” to pick one of the situations from the “Choose you” sign and give the answer he/she would give if he/she had chosen today to serve the Lord. Then have the child read the sign saying his/her name in the blank. Ask other children to “choose” and say their names in the blank. Sing “Choose the Right” (Hymns, no. 239).
5. Draw a large rainbow, color it, then cut out each color band. In advance, place the color bands around the room. Tell the children to look for them and bring them to you. Ask each child with a band to tell something about the story of Noah, then post his/her piece to make a rainbow. For the younger children, review the story briefly (see Gen. 6–9), then ask simple questions as each brings his/her band forward. Remind the children that God saved the lives of those who believed in Him. He established His covenant with Noah and his family (see Gen. 9:9). The rainbow is the sign of that covenant that God will never again destroy the earth with a flood. Sing “When I Am Baptized” (CS, p. 103). Ask the younger children what they can do to “be the best I can.” Write each answer on a card and let that child post it on the rainbow. Ask the older children to silently read Mosiah 18:8–11 (Alma at the waters of Mormon). Pass out these wordstrips (prepared in advance): “Bear one another’s burdens” / “Mourn with those that mourn” / “Comfort those that stand in need of comfort” / “Stand as witnesses of God at all times.” Ask the children with wordstrips to tell how they could do what it suggests in their own lives or to give an example from the life of someone they admire, then post the wordstrips on the rainbow. Conclude by bearing your witness that God will keep His promises and that we must keep ours.
6. With the approval of the bishop, ask four priest- or teacher-age boys or recent missionaries to study the story of the Stripling Warriors (see Alma 53:10–23; Alma 56–58). Assign each a part of the story to tell in Primary: (1) How and why the Stripling Warriors had made covenants (see Alma 53:10–15). (2) How the Stripling Warriors decided to take up arms to fight for liberty, what kind of boys they were, and how they asked Helaman to be their leader (see Alma 53:16–23). (3) Tell the story of decoying the Lamanite army away from their city and then returning to assist the army of Antipus (see Alma 56:30–54). (4) Tell about the sons receiving great courage from their mothers’ promise (see Alma 56:47–48) and how they were protected by the Lord because of their trust in Him (see Alma 56:55–57; Alma 57:25–27). Also ask one or more of the young men to share an experience where he has learned that it is important to trust the Lord and keep His commandments. Thank the young men and have the children sing to them the first verse of “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” (CS, pp. 172–173).
7. For additional resources on promises and covenants, see the following from the Friend: “Always Remember Him,” May 1996, IFC; “Baptism, My First Covenant,” May 1997, pp. 12–13; “Rainbow Reminder,” May 1997, pp. 28–29. Some of the commandments and covenants that are appropriate for children to focus on are contained in “My Gospel Standards” (see “My Gospel Standards,” the Friend, Feb. 97, pp. 8–10).