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.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Nativity

                Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but His birth is more than just a symbol or a holiday.  Heavenly Father gave His Son to be our Savior and Redeemer, the King of kings, and the Prince of Peace.  The Babe born in Bethlehem is the first gift of Christmas, and He is our joy and our salvation.  Our Christmas celebration will have greater meaning as we learn more about Jesus Christ and seek to live His teachings and follow His example.

                The birth of Jesus Christ was prophesized for hundreds of years before He was born.  The prophet Isaiah said, “Therefore, the Lord himself shall give you a sign – Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

                In ancient America more than one hundred years before the birth of Christ, a righteous King Benjamin taught his people: “For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay….
                “And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 3:5, 8).

                The familiar story of the Nativity [video can be seen here comes from the New Testament.  “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
                “To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
                “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee:  blessed art thou among women.  And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary:  for thou hast found favour with God.
                “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 forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
                “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
                “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:  therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
                “And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age:  and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
                “For with God nothing shall be impossible.
                “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.  And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:26-38).

                Luke continued his story:  “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed….
                “And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
                “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, 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.
                “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
                “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
                “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
                “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
                “And the angel said unto 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.
                “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
                “And they came with haste, 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.
                “And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
                “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
                “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (Luke 2:1-20; emphasis added).

                Matthew is the only source for the visit of the wise men, and he does not mention how many wise men came.  He also tells us that some time had passed since the Babe was born.  “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
                “Saying, 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.
                “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
                “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born
                “And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea:  for thus it is written by the prophet,
                “And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda:  for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
                “Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
                “And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, God and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
                “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, 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 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” (Matthew 1-12); emphasis added).

                Prophets today testify the Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer.  “With the birth of the Babe in Bethlehem, there emerged a great endowment – a power stronger than weapons, a wealth more lasting than the coins of Caesar.  This child was to become the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the promised Messiah – Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  

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