On the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, I humbly share with you The Living Christ:
On the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, I humbly share with you The Living Christ:
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
“(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
“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 Judæa, 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)
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa 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….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 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.” (Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11)
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Christmas is about Christ, He is the gift!
Today I share with you my personal thoughts and feelings about Christmas and Christ.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year. I love it because of the joy it brings to my heart. When I see, hear, and feel the many joyous things that this beloved season brings with it, I am reminded of the true meaning, the true spirit of Christmas.
The true spirit of Christmas is Jesus Christ. Christmas gives us the opportunity to stop and think about Christ, about what He means to us, what He means to the world. Without Christ there would be no Christmas. It is His birth into mortality that we celebrate at this time of year.
Christ was the central part, the key piece, of our Father in Heaven’s Plan of Happiness for His children – us. Before birth we lived with God. We are His spirit children, He is literally our Father. When we progressed as far as we could there with Him, He planned for a place where we could learn and grow even more.
He planned a new home where we could receive a physical body (like putting gloves on your hands). We would experience new things with the senses our bodies have, we would be able to use the agency He gave us to make good decisions and choices, to help others and improve ourselves.
Heavenly Father knew that we would make mistakes and even commit sin. Therefore He planned a Savior who would be able to atone for our sins when we repent so we would have the opportunity to return to live with Him again. Our Savior also overcame the bands of death. Thus, while death is the separation of body and spirit, Christ’s resurrection – or the reuniting of body and spirit – would provide the resurrection as a free gift to all.
Christ gave us commandments, rules to help us live happy and fulfilling lives. He organized His church to give us the structure to support each other, and to allow us to know and perform the principles and ordinances that we need in order to return to God and live together with Him and with our families for time and all eternity.
Heavenly Father knows you. He loves you. He is aware of you and of your situations in life. He sent His beloved Son, His only begotten in the flesh, to lead and guide us through life, and to show us the way back Home.
Let things things work within your heart. God is real. He is not dependent on our belief in Him. He exists. And He is close by. He has given us the opportunity, in fact the commandment, to keep Him uppermost in our thoughts, to talk with Him in prayer as one person talks with another. Through the Holy Spirit we can feel the Father’s presence.
Through Christ, the 3rd member of the Godhead, God has given us numerous helps and blessings to improve our lives, help us find true happiness, and guide us back into His presence. Christ organized His church in these latter days through the prophet, Joseph Smith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by Christ himself. He gave us His priesthood, the authority to act in the name of God, and all the power, authority, principles, and ordinances we would need to tie, or seal, our families together and return to live forever with Heavenly Father in His kingdom.
This is the glorious message of Christmas, the precious gift of Christ. He is the gift.
A beautiful talk given by Richard G. Scott, a modern-day apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ, regarding forgiveness and many of the things we have talked about in our 25 Days of Christ. Enjoy the Spirit of Christ as you read:
“Recently, while traveling on an unfamiliar road, I encountered a large temporary sign declaring Rough Road Ahead, and indeed it was. Had I not been warned, that experience would have been disastrous. Life is like that. It’s full of rough spots. Some are tests to make us stronger. Others result from our own disobedience. Helpful warnings in our personal life can also save us from disaster. A damaged road presents the same obstacles to every traveler until others repair it. The highway of life is different. Each one of us encounters unique challenges meant for growth. Also, our own bad choices can put more barriers in the path. Yet we have the capacity to smooth out the way, to fill in the depressions, and to beautify our course. The process is called repentance; the destination is forgiveness.
“If you have ignored warnings and your life has been damaged or disabled by a rough road, there is help available. Through that help you can renew and rebuild your damaged life. You can start over again and change your course from a downward, twisting, disappointing path to a superhighway to peace and happiness.
“I want to help you find that relief. To do that it is necessary to give you some background information that will make the remedy more logical and the steps to healing more meaningful.
“Every incorrect choice we make, every sin we commit is a violation of eternal law. That violation brings negative results we generally soon recognize….They can have a tremendous effect on the quality of our life here and most certainly will powerfully affect it hereafter. We can do nothing of ourselves to satisfy the demands of justice for a broken eternal law. Yet, unless the demands of justice are paid, each of us will suffer endless negative consequences.
“Only the life, teachings, and particularly the atonement of Jesus Christ can release us from this otherwise impossible predicament. Each of us has made mistakes, large or small, which if unresolved will keep us from the presence of God. For this reason, the atonement of Jesus Christ is the single most significant event that ever has or ever will occur. This selfless act of infinite consequence, performed by a single glorified personage, has eternal impact in the life of every son and daughter of our Father in Heaven—without exception. (see Mosiah 5:10-13) It shatters the bonds of death. It justifies our finally being judged by the Master. (see 2 Nephi 2:10) It can prevent an eternity under the control of the devil. (see 2 Nephi 9:7-9) It opens the gates to exaltation and eternal life for all who qualify for forgiveness through repentance and obedience. (see 2 Nephi 2:5-8)
“The Redeemer can settle your individual account with justice and grant forgiveness through the merciful path of repentance. (see Alma 42:15) Full repentance is absolutely essential for the Atonement to work its complete miracle in your life. By understanding the Atonement, you will see that God is not a jealous being who delights in persecuting those who misstep. He is an absolutely perfect, compassionate, understanding, patient, and forgiving Father. He is willing to entreat, counsel, strengthen, lift, and fortify. He so loves each of us that He was willing to have His perfect, sinless, absolutely obedient, totally righteous Son experience indescribable agony and pain and give Himself in sacrifice for all. (see Helaman 5:9) Through that atonement we can live in a world where absolute justice reigns in its sphere so the world will have order. But that justice is tempered through mercy attainable by obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
“Which of us is not in need of the miracle of repentance?…Our goal surely must be forgiveness. The only possible path to that goal is repentance, for it is written: ‘There is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. …’
“…Obedience and faith in the Savior give you power to resist temptation. Helaman taught: ‘It is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, … when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to … endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, … whereon if men build they cannot fall.’ (see Helaman 5:12)
“…What is repentance? How is it accomplished? What are its consequences? These may seem to be simple questions, but it is clear that many do not know how to repent.
“In The Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball gives a superb guide to forgiveness through repentance. It has helped many find their way back. He identifies five essential elements of repentance.
“Sorrow for sin….That will bring healing sorrow and remorse. It will also bring a sincere desire for change and a willingness to submit to every requirement for forgiveness….
“Abandonment of sin. This is an unyielding, permanent resolve to not repeat the transgression. By keeping this commitment, the bitter aftertaste of that sin need not be experienced again….
“Confession of sin. You always need to confess your sins to the Lord. If they are serious transgressions, such as immorality, they need to be confessed to a bishop or stake president….Essential to forgiveness is a willingness to fully disclose to the Lord and, where necessary, His priesthood judge all that you have done. Remember, ‘He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.’ (see Proverbs 28:13)
“Restitution for sin. You must restore as far as possible all that which is stolen, damaged, or defiled. Willing restitution is concrete evidence to the Lord that you are committed to do all you can to repent.
“Obedience to all the commandments. Full obedience brings the complete power of the gospel into your life with strength to focus on the abandonment of specific sins. It includes things you might not initially consider part of repentance, such as attending [church] meetings, paying tithing, giving service, and forgiving others. The Lord said: ‘He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.’ (see Doctrine and Covenants 1:32)
“I would add a sixth step: Recognition of the Savior. Of all the necessary steps to repentance, I testify that the most critically important is for you to have a conviction that forgiveness comes because of the Redeemer. It is essential to know that only on His terms can you be forgiven. Witness Alma’s declaration: ‘I was … in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But … I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul.’ (see Alma 38:8) You will be helped as you exercise faith in Jesus Christ. That means you trust Him and you trust His teachings. Satan would have you believe that serious transgression cannot be entirely overcome. The Savior gave His life so that the effects of all transgression can be put behind us, save the shedding of innocent blood and the denial of the Holy Ghost.
“The fruit of true repentance is forgiveness, which opens the door to receive all of the covenants and ordinances provided on this earth and to enjoy the resulting blessings. When a repentant soul is baptized, all former sins are forgiven and need not be remembered. When repentance is full and one has been cleansed, there comes a new vision of life and its glorious possibilities. How marvelous the promise of the Lord: ‘Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.’ (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42) The Lord is and ever will be faithful to His words.
“Do not take comfort in the fact that your transgressions are not known by others. That is like an ostrich with his head buried in the sand. He sees only darkness and feels comfortably hidden. In reality he is ridiculously conspicuous. Likewise our every act is seen by our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son. They know everything about us.
“Adultery, fornication, committing homosexual acts, and other deviations approaching these in gravity are not acceptable alternate lifestyles. They are serious sins. Committing physical and sexual abuse are major sins. Such grave sins require deep repentance to be forgiven. President Kimball taught: ‘To every forgiveness there is a condition. The plaster must be as wide as the sore. The fasting, the prayers, the humility must be equal to or greater than the sin.’
“…Sometimes the steps of repentance are initially difficult and painful, like the cleansing of a soiled garment. Yet, they produce purity, peace of mind, self-respect, hope, and finally, a new person with a renewed life and abundance of opportunity.
“This scripture will help you know what to do: ‘Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, … because of their yielding their hearts unto God.’ (Helaman 3:35)
“For your peace now and for everlasting happiness, please repent. Open your heart to the Lord and ask Him to help you. You will earn the blessing of forgiveness, peace, and the knowledge you have been purified and made whole. Find the courage to ask the Lord for strength to repent, now. I solemnly witness that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer. I know that He lives. I testify that He loves you personally and will help you.
“Obtain His forgiveness by repenting, now. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
“And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should heal the nations after they had been bitten by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved.
“Wherefore, for this cause hath the Lord God promised unto me that these things which I write shall be kept and preserved, and handed down unto my seed, from generation to generation, that the promise may be fulfilled unto Joseph, that his seed should never perish as long as the earth should stand.
“Wherefore, these things shall go from generation to generation as long as the earth shall stand; and they shall go according to the will and pleasure of God; and the nations who shall possess them shall be judged of them according to the words which are written.
“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
“And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.
“For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.
“And 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.
“Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.
“And now behold, my people, ye are a stiffnecked people; wherefore, I have spoken plainly unto you, that ye cannot misunderstand. And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way; for the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law.
“And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.” 2 Nephi 25:20-29.
To find true meaning in life, true happiness and wisdom, learn of and follow Christ.
He is the gift of Christmas.
“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated— And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21.
There it is. A simple but profound statement of fact. It is an eternal law. God’s law.
How do you feel as you contemplate this scripture? Does it open up new possibilities for you? Do you find yourself wondering if it is really true, as you quickly evaluate in your own mind the various blessings you can think of and why you received, or did not receive, them?
What are the blessings you seek?
These are a few examples of reaping the blessings by living the laws. What are some others you can think of? How has Christ blessed you for your obedience to His righteousness?
Does the Christmas season get you down? Is it hard to feel the spirit of Christmas?
In the story, The Timepiece by Richard Paul Evans, Mary and David Parkin lose their young daughter in a fire started by an angry young man as retaliation against David. Of course Mary and David are heartbroken, and depressed.
At Christmas time several months later, they are still grieving terribly, especially David who has long since thrown himself entirely into his work, barely stopping even long enough to eat or sleep.
One day their minister stops by to see how they are doing. He tells Mary of a child who will have no Christmas and invites her to go with him to bring the child a present. Mary goes with him. They are greeted at the small home by a young mother. Her little girl is peeking around her to see who is there. Mary gives her a doll and the child’s eyes light up! She hasn’t had a present in a long time.
As they leave, the minister tells Mary that this is the family of the young man who started the fire and is now in prison. Mary’s heart goes out to the mother and child.
When her husband finally gets home that night, Mary is brimming over with the joy she felt when giving the gift to the little girl. David sees her love and happiness with the experience, and agrees to help provide Christmas to the family. They deliver food and presents to the doorstep of this family who have almost nothing, and watch from afar as they excitedly gather the gifts and take them inside.
Despite their great loss, Mary and David have found the true spirit of Christmas through selflessly giving to those in greater need.
“Then shall the King [Christ] say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
“Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:34-40.