For many in our modern world, the word hope comes with a hint of uncertainty, hoping for something, that we may already believe is unlikely to happen. However, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ hope is described as “…firm hope…” (Alma 34:41) and a “…lively hope…” (1 Peter 1:3). Hope is unwavering and sure.
Hope comes through faith, for “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
The Prophet Moroni taught “… whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” (Ether 12:4)
Hope comes to us by living a life of faith in God.
One can hope for a better world, a better life, peace from a disaster or joy in times of sorrow. However, the first step in finding this peace and joy is by having faith in Jesus Christ. We must rely completely on Him, trusting in His infinite power, intelligence and love.
Following Him, means: Believing and following His teachings, which also means keeping His commandments. Believing that even though we do not understand all things, He does. For “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5).
As a follower of Jesus Christ, we become one of His disciples, it is no coincidence that disciple is so similar to the word discipline. Following anything, requires discipline.
Discipline by definition is “control gained by enforcing obedience…” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Obedience requires self-control, it requires dedication and a lot of work. The scriptures teach us that “… faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:17-18)
Work requires Action.
Our Belief and Faith can be expressed through our Actions – by the way in which we live.
The Savior promised that “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.” (Moroni 7:33) Living our lives by faith will motivate us to follow Jesus Christ and His teachings. In fact, Jesus Himself taught that; “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do…” (John 14:12).
As a Disciple of Jesus Christ, not only are we to follow His example, but He encourages us to strive to do even more! Faith in Jesus Christ and in His Gospel helps us to receive physical, spiritual, mental and emotional healing through His Atonement.
He knew that life would not always be easy. He taught us that “…in the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
We too can overcome the world.
Speaking to the Romans, the Apostle Paul taught;
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; … because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly… God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Romans 5:1-11)
The Apostle Paul knew that we should glory in the difficult times, for these challenges work our patience and give us experience. This experience gives us strength and through Jesus Christ and His Atonement or sacrifice, we too can overcome the world.
Remember, Hope comes through Faith.
Hope can sustain us through everyday challenges.
Hope can provide us with joy in this life, for “Happy is [them]… whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146: 5).
We must strengthen our faith through our discipleship, and “…press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Chris, and endure to the end, behold… Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Nephi 31:20)
(I have included a 3 part video: ‘Joy to the World’ to accompany the story of CHRISTmas) Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!
Tis the season for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells and of course; Santa Claus! It is the season of bad traffic, great store sales and angry shoppers fighting over some “must have” electronic or gadget. During this HoliDAZE, we often forget the true meaning of Christmas, that is Jesus Christ, our Lord and the Savior of the World.
Since the beginning of time, Prophets have foretold of the coming of a Messiah, a Christ King who would be born in Bethlehem and suffer the sins of the world. The story of the Birth of our Savior begins when the Angel Gabriel visits Mary, and tells her of the coming of her son, Jesus Christ…
“…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… when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying… And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God… 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…” (Luke 1:26-31)
“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… that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34-35)
Mary was engaged to Joseph, and being a virgin she was confused as to how she could become pregnant and have a son. Angel Gabriel comforts her and tells her that the Son of God shall be born, and that she had been chosen, being highly favored of God to bring forth Jesus into this world. “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)
The Story of the Birth of Jesus Christ continues in the Bible;
“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 out to be taxed, everyone 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… To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child [pregnant]… And so it was, that… 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.” (Luke 2:1, 3-7)
It was part of the law in those days for every man to go to his village to pay taxes; Joseph went to Galilee, because that is where he needed to pay his taxes. Because of the great number of people there, they were unable to find a proper place to sleep, and were forced to deliver the baby in a manger. The Son of God was Born, His name; Jesus Christ!
During this time, a star was seen in the east, and shepherds abiding in their fields saw that Jesus Christ had been born…
“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… 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… And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-16)
The Shepherds had surely heard the words of the Prophets of old, and their prophecy of the coming of the Son of God, upon seeing the Multitude of Heavenly Hosts, sing “Glory to God in the highest” they knew that the Lord had been born and immediately went to see their King. The Star in the East could be seen, round about the world…
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem Judaea… 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 he sent them [the wise men] to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word… that I may come and worship him also… they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced…And when they were come…they saw the young child with Mary…and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gift; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:1-3; 8-11)
The Wise Men, in most accounts are referred to ask the “Three Wise Men”, most likely because of the three gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) that are given to Jesus. However the scriptures never tell us how man wise men there were. Nevertheless, the wise men are warned in a dream to depart and not to return unto Herod, for he had other plans…
“And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country…when they 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… for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:12-13)
“…Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and inall the coasts thereof, from two years and under…” (Matthew 2:16)
Herod, fearing that the Son of God had been born, attempts a cowardly action of killing all children age 2 and below. However, God the Father had other plans and protected His Only Begotten Son, so that He might go among the world and die for everyone and their sins, to enable us to return again one day to Our Heavenly Father…
“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 not the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
God knew of the divine plan of His Son, and allowed Him to grow strong in the spirit. For God was with Him; “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40)
The Bible teaches clearly that Jesus is the Christ and that through Him we might be saved, and given the opportunity to return to live with God. However, it is important to note that the Star in the East was seen throughout the World! The Ancient Inhabitants of the Americas saw the Star too, and their account is written in the Book of Mormon, which also testifies of Christ and His divine mission. A Book of Mormon Prophet named Alma, testified of Jesus Christ…
“…I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgression of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it. For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish… yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made. For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.” (Alma 34:8-10, The Book of Mormon)
What Does the Book of Mormon Say?
Shortly before the Birth of Jesus Christ, people lived in Ancient Americas, where God also called Prophets to guide His children. One of these Prophets was named Samuel, and Samuel testified of Christ and His coming into this world. However, there was a great division of believers and non-believers. Those who did not believe, decided that that time of preaching Christ’s coming was to come to an end…
“…it came to pass that… the prophecies of the prophets began to be fulfilled more fully; for there were greater signs and greater miracles wrought among the people. But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken of by Samuel, the Lamanite. And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled therefore your joy and your faith concerning this things hath been vain… and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful…But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if it were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been in vain.” (3 Nephi 1:4-8, Book of Mormon)
Samuel the Lamanite (A Prophet in Ancient America) had told his believers that the sign of Christ’s birth would come when the sun would go down, but no darkness would come. The unbelievers grew impatient and set a date to which the sign must be accomplished for them to “believe”…
“…it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet… when Nephi… saw this wickedness… he went out and bowed himself down upon the earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people… and behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying: 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 this world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouths of the prophets. Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfill all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world … and this night shall the sign be given.” (3 Nephi 1:9-14, The Book of Mormon)
Nephi, seeing the wickedness and disbelief of the people bowed humbly in prayer before his maker, and was heard! The Lord told him to be of good cheer, for he would soon come into the world, to fulfill all that was prophesied by prophets of old…
“And it came to pass that the words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled… at the going down of the sun there was no darkness; and the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came. And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth… for they knew… they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear… and it came to pass that there was no darkness in all the night… the son did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given…. A new star did appear…” (3 Nephi 1:15-21, The Book of Mormon)
When the evening came, and then the night, the sun did not go down. This made many who believed and disbelieved to fall to the earth in fear. However, the sign had been given, fulfilled and a new star did appear. The announcement of the coming of Jesus Christ did not just come unto the people of the old world, in the Middle East. Rather, God the Father made the announcement to ALL His Children, in ALL parts of the world. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ teaches of His divine mission, and anyone who thoughtfully and prayerfully reads it will come closer to Him.
This Christmas, remember CHRISTmas, for Jesus Christ came unto the world, to be rejected and die for all the sins of mankind so that we might be given the gift of Salvation and Eternal Life.