The Story of CHRISTmas

 The Story of CHRISTmas

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(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.

Amos 7-9

Amos 7-9

Scripture Thought (What I Learned):

Today, we see wars and hear of rumors of wars just as the Bible predicted. However we see so many people turn away from the scriptures and turn to other methods of finding truth, wisdom and knowledge. I have spoken to many people throughout my life in school, work, strangers in the store, etc. A majority of the people I have spoken to, regarding religious or spiritual matters are looking for the truth, but have expressed to me that they know not where to find the truth.

I can’t count the times that I have heard something to the effect as; “I just hate religions, because they all fight. I just believe in God and that is all that is needed”. God never intended for people to fight over His gospel, I am sure He knew it would happen, but it is NOT His desire for it to happen. With the dozens, maybe even hundreds of religions out there it is no wonder people wander “… to and fro…” (Amos 8:12) There is a spiritual famine today, which was caused by an Apostasy, where people turned away from the Lord.

The Lord, however, has promised to RESTORE His church and His people. This Restoration occurred in 1820, when young Joseph Smith was praying about which church to join, God and His son Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him, that none of the churches were correct. He was guided through the Lord to restore GOD’s Church on the earth. From then on, we have had modern day prophets who lead and guide the Lord’s church in Modern days. The fruit and evidence of this Restoration is the Book of Mormon, which would come forth at a time of great ‘Spiritual Famine’.

Let me be clear that the Book of Mormon, does NOT discredit or disregard the Bible in anyway, instead it acts as a companion to the Bible. We have the Old and New Testaments written in the ‘Old World’ (Middle East) and we now have Another Testament of Jesus Christ (The Book of Mormon) which was written in ancient times in the ‘New World’ (the Americas).

The Book of Mormon explains and builds upon what we already know of the Bible and goes into more detail about;

• The purpose of mortal life and death (See 2 Ne. 2:212 Ne. 33:9Alma 12:24Alma 34:32Alma 42:4)

• The certainty of life after death (See 2 Ne. 9:3–7Mosiah 16:83 Ne. 11)

• What happens when the spirit leaves the body (See Alma 34:34Alma 40:11–14, 21)

• The description of the Resurrection (See 2 Ne. 9:12Alma 40:23Alma 41:23 Ne. 11:1–16)

• How to receive and retain a remission of your sins (See Mosiah 4:1–3, 12, 26Alma 4:14)

• What hold justice or mercy may have on you, (See Alma 34:15–16Alma 41:14Alma 42:15–16, 22–25)

• What to pray for (See 2 Ne. 4:352 Ne. 32:8–9Enos 1:9Alma 13:28Alma 34:17–27Alma 37:36–373 Ne. 18:19–21Moro. 7:26)

• Priesthood (See 2 Ne. 6:2Mosiah 18:18Alma 6:1Alma 133 Ne. 11:213 Ne. 18:37Moro. 2:2Moro. 3:4)

• Covenants and ordinances (See 2 Ne. 11:5Mosiah 5:5Mosiah 18:13Alma 13:8, 16)

• The office and ministry of angels (See 2 Ne. 32:2–3Omni 1:25Moro. 7:25, 37)

• The still, small voice of personal revelation (See 1 Ne. 16:91 Ne. 17:44–45Enos 1:10Alma 32:23Hel. 5:303 Ne. 11:3)

• The mission of Jesus Christ (See 1 Ne. 11:13–332 Ne. 2:6–10Mosiah 3:5–12Alma 7:7–133 Ne. 27:13–16)

The Book of Mormon quenches the spiritual hunger and thirst that was described by Amos of old. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints…

“We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26)

Chapter 7: Amos, a prophet of God

In this chapter we learn about how Amos became a prophet of God. Amos explains that he saw a vision of locusts, and a vision of fire; in both instances, the Lord is deaf to Amos’ petitions that Jacob may be spared. There is a further vision of a plumb line (to see if Israel is ‘straight’ or rather ‘righteous’ on the Lord’s path). Amaziah, a priest of Bethel, speaks against Amos. Amos replies;

“…I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but was an herman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.” (Amos 7:14-15).

Here we learn something VERY important. Prophets are not born of a special family bloodline, nor are they educated in a formal setting to become a prophet. The Lord choses His prophets by his own means, including finding un-educated herders, farmers, etc. and then slowly teaching them throughout their lives to become a prophet. They are not paid, nor do they work their way to the top. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is the same. Prophets are selected by the Lord, not by man. They are sculpted throughout their lives, while living their lives and working in their respective careers.

The Lord decrees Amaziah’s punishment – his wife shall be a harlot, your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword, you shall die in a defiled land.

Chapter 8: A time of famine: The Great Apostasy

Amos has a vision of summer fruit; which signifies the end has come on Israel. Dishonesty and cheating the poor is disapproved of. In that day of Apostasy (a falling away from the Lord’s teachings), when the world will no longer turn to God “… the sun shall go down at noon…” (Amos 8:9), which will cause the sky to be darkened.

Amos also speaks of a famine; this famine will afflict the entire earth. However, this famine is not a famine of food and water, but of the word of GOD! “Behold the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11-12)

                This ‘spiritual’ famine will occur on the earth, just as it has in the past. People want to know the truth, the desire and rather long for the opportunity of knowledge and wisdom. Some of the most basic desires of the human experience are to know; where we came from, and why we are here on the earth. What purpose do we have? Amos described a time when people would go to the ends of the earth to find this truth, to find anything to fill that spiritual void in their lives, but sadly, they would not find it during that time of Apostasy.

Chapter 9: The Restoration

Amos has a vision of the Lord at the temple, seeing the work of destruction. The Lord will sift the house of Israel, as grain is sifted in a sieve. Those who think they will be unaffected by the calamity will die by the sword. With all this destruction the Lord promises to raise the tabernacle of David.

“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.” (Amos 9:11). Israel shall be restored, and fruit and wine shall be abundant. Israel will be planted in the land, and no longer pulled up.