Day: Wed, 18 Dec2013

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem – The Special Gift That Was Given

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Star of BethlehemThe tiny babe who in Bethlehem manger lay was no ordinary child. Some people called Him the son of David. Others called Him the son of Joseph. The scriptures call Him the son of David, the son of Mary, the son of man, the Son of God. He whose name is Immanuel, meaning God is with us, was born to be the King of kings and the Lord of lords. This child was the promised Messiah – even Jesus the Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God the Eternal Father. For hundreds of years prophecies had foretold the birth of a Messiah, and on that starry night in the City of David, the One who would fulfill those prophecies was born in a humble stable with a manger as His cradle.

In the Book of Mormon, in 3 Nephi 1: 13, we read,

Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.

Whether by His own voice or by the mouth of His holy prophets, God always fulfills His promises. In the Grand Council in Heaven, our Heavenly Father promised to send a Savior who would atone for our sins so that we could live with Him again. The Apostle John testifies of this and tells us in his words as recorded in John 3:16-17,

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

How did Heavenly Father send His Son to the earth? He sent Him as a newborn baby and He allowed Him to learn and grow, just as we learn and grow. We learn in Luke 2:40 that “the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” Throughout His mortal life He did all things according to the will of His Father who had sent Him. And because of His great love for us, He would willingly give His life as a ransom for us by becoming sin’s final sacrifice. But, the Good News is that the story does not end there. Three days later He triumphantly arose from the grave and lives forever more seated at the right hand of God the Father. And because of His glorious resurrection, death has been forever conquered, and we too shall be resurrected and live again. What a wondrous blessing Jesus Christ is to mankind. Heavenly Father had promised to send a Savior, and He kept His promise.

Before His humble birth in Bethlehem, prophets of old taught about the Messiah who was soon to come, and did indeed come. Let us take a brief look at some of the things that they taught.

More than 700 years prior to the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah, as recorded in Isaiah 7:14-15 prophesied that the Messiah was to be born of a virgin. We read,

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

The prophet Micah, as recorded in Micah 5:2, prophesied that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. We read,

But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Among the ancient prophecies we also learn of the lineage of Jesus Christ. We learn that the Messiah was to be a descendant of Abraham. In Genesis 12:3 we read, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” The fulfillment of that prophecy is found in the genealogical family tree recorded in Matthew 1:1, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

Following the line of Abraham, the Messiah was also to be a descendent of David. We read in Isaiah 9:7,

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

We find the fulfillment of that prophecy in Luke 1:31-33:

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

We also learn of the purpose of Jesus’ birth. Recorded in the words of Isaiah the prophet, in Isaiah 61:1-3, we read these words:

1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

And in the New Testament, in the Gospel of Luke, in the fourth chapter and verses 16-21, we read about the Savior in Nazareth:

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

For some people, Christmas day is nothing more than another day to have another celebration. It is a time to celebrate, however, we should be rejoicing in the fact that two thousand years ago our loving Heavenly Father gave to the world the greatest Christmas gift ever known to humanity. It was a very special gift, wrapped in the Divine love of the Father Himself. That gift was His Only Begotten Son – He who was born King – the Messiah – the Savior of the world – the Redeemer and Lover of our souls – the Hope of Israel – the Lord Jesus Christ. When asked, “What is the true meaning of Christmas?” those are the things that we should be willing to share with family, friends, and all those we come in contact with this season.

Sadly, there are those who doubt Him and say they don’t need Him. There are even those who will argue that He was just a man. Yes, He was a man, but not just an ordinary man. He was both God and man. He lived and walked among men, yet the life that He lived was not an ordinary life. His life had a major impact on the entire world. No other life can begin to compare to this One Solitary Life.

Down through the ages He has been ridiculed, despised, and rejected and yet wise men still seek Him today. Regardless of what men say about Him, it does not change the fact that He has always been and always will be the Eternal Son of the Living God. One day, as the Scriptures clearly teach us, at His name “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). He is the One about whom the universe revolves; in whom the hopes and fears of all the years have found their joyous fulfillment. Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord.

I leave these thoughts with you humbly, in the name of Him whose name is indeed Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace – He who is the Light and the Life of the world, even the Lord Jesus the Christ. Amen.

What Shall We Give? – Mormon Tabernacle Choir

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As you watch this video, ask yourself, “What does Christmas mean to me?” I believe that the greatest blessings of Christmas are experienced in the giving, not the getting. Christmas is not about the brightly colored lights, the lit Christmas trees, or even the packages under the tree. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of the Savior and Redeemer of the world – the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of being overly concerned about whether we will receive that special gift that we have hoped for, let us turn our focus heavenward, and give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the greatest gift ever given to humanity – the precious gift of His Only Begotten Son. There is no gift that can compare to this unspeakable gift. Merry Christmas!