Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Birth of Christ

                    I love the story of the birth of Jesus Christ because it illustrates so well how much God loves His children.  "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" (John 3:16).  Jesus Christ is God's gift to the world, the first gift of Christmas; his birth represents the love of God for the world.

                    Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He has a plan for us to return to His presence after we complete our "schooling" on earth.  He is so all-knowing that He knew the exact conditions that we would need to have in order to learn all that we need to know.  He planned the creation of this earth.  In anticipation for the Fall of Adam and Eve, He planned for a Savior to make it possible for all the rest of His children to return to His presence.  This Savior is Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father.

                    Our Father in Heaven is mindful of each of His children.  He knew Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph well enough to call them by name and to guide them through their individual missions.  He sent angels to the shepherds in order to give them the opportunity to become witnesses of the birth of Jesus Christ.  God placed a new star in the sky, which not only led the wise men to the house where Joseph took his family.  The wise men brought financial assistance to Joseph as well as becoming additional witnesses of Christ's birth.  God also warned the wise men and Joseph that Herod would try to kill the young child.  The new star in the sky not only led the wise men to the Child, but it also announced the birth of Christ to the ancient inhabitants of the American continents.

                    The story of the birth of Jesus Christ in the scriptures is both simple and wonderful.  In Luke, Chapter 2, we read that Caesar Augustus had issued a decree that "all the world" or at least all his subjects should return to his own city to be taxed.  "And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
"To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child."  While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem paying their taxes, the time came for the birth of her child.  Joseph could not find room in any inn and took Mary into a stable:  "And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; …"

Meanwhile, an angel of the Lord appeared to some shepherds who were "keeping watch over their flock by night."  The angel said to them, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
"And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
The shepherds went with haste into Bethlehem "and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
"And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child."  The shepherds returned to their flocks "glorifying and praising God" for the wonderful tidings they had both seen and heard. 

About  the same time, wise men in the east saw the new star in the sky and followed the star into Jerusalem where they visited with King Herod.  They asked Herod, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?  For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him" (Matthew 2:1-2).

King Herod had no knowledge of the new King and questioned his chief priests and scribes who told him of the prophecies that the Messiah should be born in Bethlehem.  Herod returned to the wise men, asked them when the star appeared, and sent them out to find the Christ Child.  The star "went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:  and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
"And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
"And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
"When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
"And was there until the death of Herod:…..
"But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
"Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.
"And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel….
Joseph was still concerned because Archelaus reigned in place of his father Herod:  "notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
"And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth:  that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene" (Matthew, chapter 2).

The birth of Jesus Christ demonstrates the great love that our Heavenly Father has for the world.  The first gift of Christmas is the love of God embodied in His Son, Jesus Christ.

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