Friday, December 13, 2013

Post 47s: With Christmas Coming So Very Soon, I Have Chosen to Feature an Article From the December 2013 Issue of the Ensign Magazine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: The PROMISE of CHRISTMAS! In So Doing I am Deviating from My Usual Practice of Featuring a General Conference Talk. I Did so Because I Desire You be Assisted in Your Preparing Your Hearts for this Very Special Holiday: CHRISTMAS! The Article You will able to Listen to and Read in the Blog Post is by Elder Robert D. Hales of the the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

The Following Blog Description Explains Why My Blog is named: "Four Books of Scripture Testify of Jesus Christ!

Jesus the Christ -by Del Parson

WELCOME, NEW  AND PREVIOUS VIEWERS OF THIS BLOG: In this and in every additional post of this blog you will be led on a carefully and prayerfully planned exciting and inspiring journey as you prepare by means of a guided study of the four sacred books of scripture I am shown holding above; which will assist you in becoming more righteously happy now and more fully prepared for eventual After-Mortality Eternal Endeavors on your part, along with your loved ones and countless other mortals who are seeking to qualify as our Heavenly Father's worthy children. 

Those enabling Books of Scripture were brought about through the love of the Heavenly Father of our immortal spirits which now inhabit our mortal bodies; and were a key part of the Restoration of the Gospel, and of the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through the Prophet Joseph Smith early in the Nineteenth Century. Leading out in all of this, was of course, Our Heavenly Father's Only Begotten Son who is our Lord, Savior, and Redeemer, Jesus Christ (who initially was our eldest spirit brother and is the only one of us our Heavenly Father will have ever sired into mortality). 

Jesus accomplished His Infinite Atonement, the Ultimate Mortal Sacrifice, along with His infallibly witnessed Resurrection. He is our Redeemer and Savior and has opened the way for each of us to learn with certainty through those four books of scripture, and through the inspired teachings of His prophets, seers and revelators of our day and those authorized by them; that some time after our mortal deaths, because of His atonement and resurrection, and depending on the level of individual righteousness we each attain to, through His grace, we can eventually experience Eternal Life in our own resurrected bodies, which in the case of those who fully heeded all of His scriptural guidance and the guidance of His authorized living servants, there will be full possession of Godly capabilities! J. Neil Birch

To Access This Blog's Index, Please Scroll Down To the Fifth Paragraph From the End of This Post! For Those of You Who May Be In a Hurry to Access it, Here it is now: Neil Birch's Blog Index.



I, J. Neil Birch, Author of this Post as you have been informed in my Introduction have chosen this week to feature an article entitled: "The Promise of Christmas" found in the December 2013 Ensign Magazine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  instead of a general conference talk.  The General Authority message I am featuring this week is that of Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
First I give you the opportunity of listening to a reading of Elder Hale's article. (The reader is not Elder Hales.)

Elder Robert DHales

Elder Robert DHales was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 2, 1994.

Here is the recording of Elder Hale's Christmas Message:

Next, I give you the opportunity of reading Elder Hale's article in which I have inserted illustrative professional paintings of things that Elder Hales mentions in his message!

The Promise of Christmas

"May we take time this Christmas season to renew our covenants to follow the Savior and 
to do His will, just as He did the will of our Heavenly Father.

We can't fully understand the meaning of Christmas unless we understand the meaning of the Savior's life, Atonement , and Resurrection. I cannot think about the birth of the Savior without thinking of His words to Pilate: "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice" (John 18:37);

As we begin the Christmas season, may we consider the scriptural prophecies about the Savior. They are not just odd statements of coincidence; rather, they are profound statements of purpose and promise about His life and mission and what He means for each of us.

Prophecies of His Coming

   Christ's coming was foretold for thousands of years. About 2,000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Abraham taught about His role in the plan of salvation.  About 1,400 years before His birth, Moses taught the same wonderful truths.  About 700 years before His birth Isaiah revealed the circumstances of His birth, life, and death: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold , a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).

The Birth of Jesus, by Carl Heinrich Bloch
"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, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

The Prophet Isaiah Foretells Christ's Birth -by Harry Anderson

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. . . . "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities...and with his stripes we are healed. . .

"...He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 

"He was taken from prison and from judgement....

"And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth" (Isaiah 53:3-5, 7-9).

Jesus, the Savior of the World  -by Del Parson

Not long after Isaiah's prophecy, the prophet Lehi had a profound dream and taught his family what he had learned. Nephi recorded: "Six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews--even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world" (1Nephi 10:4).

Lehi also spoke about the great number of prophets who had testified concerning the coming of the Redeemer of the world (see 1 Nephi 10:5).

The Promise of Christmas  

The Gospel of Luke records that before the Savior's birth, His mother traveled with haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  

"And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

And she spake out with a loud voice and said,
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" Luke 1:41-42).

As the Holy Ghost bore record to Elisabeth, He bears record to us that the words of the prophets have been fulfilled.  The Savior has come and performed the work His Father sent Him to do.

Of the Savior, Nephi recorded: "And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. "And the angel said unto me:  
The Birth of Jesus -by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! (1Nephi 11:20-21). 

When the Savior was 12, He taught in the temple. He later explained to His anxious mother and step-father when they had found him teaching in the temple, that He was about His Father's business (see Luke 2:42-49).

Luke 2:42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.

43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.

 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.

 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.

 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
Christ in the Temple -by Heinrich Hofmann

 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

That business was accomplished as He went forward fulfilling His earthly mission. The Savior describes the culmination of that mission in these stirring words:

"I came unto my own, and my own received me not.  And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled. 

"And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons (and daughters) of God,; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of mercy fulfilled" (3 Nephi 9:16-17

His promise that we can become His sons and daughters will be realized s we believe in Him and exercise faith in Him unto obedience.  Then we will be prepared to receive the gift of eternal life.

He said: "Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ ...In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters" (Ether 3:14).

The Meaning of Christmas

Christmas is a time to share our gifts, strengthen others, and do our part in the kingdom of God. Christmas is also a time to express our love to others and to bear our testimony  of the Savior.

The Birth of Jesus, By Carl Heinrich Bloch 

One way we can share our testimony is to have a Nativity in our home so we can spark conversations about the Lord's birth.  Another way is to relate stories like that of John Weightman in The Mansion.

John Weightman was a successful man whose charities brought him attention and renown.  One evening, after perusing a pile of newspaper clippings praising him for his generosity, he picked up his Bible.  Soon he fell asleep after reading the Savior's words: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal" (Matthew 6:19)

As he slept, John found himself in "the heavenly city," traveling with others as they received their mansions.  When the Keeper of the Gate stopped in front of a tiny hut build of cast-off materials, he said to John, "This is your mansion."

John protested, listing his many public contributions.

"Were not all these carefully recorded on earth where they would add to your credit?" asked the Keeper of the Gate.  "You have had your reward for them.  Would you be paid twice?"

During this Christmas season, I hope each of us has the opportunity to give anonymously.

Obtaining the Promise

Each week as we participate in the ordinance of the sacrament, we renew the promise of the Savior's birth in our own lives.  We take His name upon us, and we renew our covenant of obedience and our promise that we will always remember Him.

The gospel, as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, is this:  "That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; 

"That through him all might be saved" (Doctrine and Covenants 76:41-42).

King Benjamin Preaches to the Nephites -by Gary Kapp
May we take time this Christmas season to renew our covenants to follow the Savior and to do His will, just as He did the will of our Heavenly Father.  As we do so, the words of King Benjamin's people, recorded 125 years before the Savior's birth, will be fulfilled for us today:  "O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things, who shall come down among the children of men." (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 4:2).

 I testify that the Savior came down in the meridian to time and that He will come again.  I bear witness that His Church, restored in this last dispensation before His Second Coming, is the marvelous work and a wonder" (2Nephi 25:17) in which we as Latter-day Saints are engaged. 

1. Henry Van Dyke, "The Mansion," in Inspirational  Classics for Latter-day Saints, comp.Jack M. Lyon (2000), 54-57, 62-63. (That reference was not available to me but I urge you to consider searching for it!)

As is usual for me in each of the Blog Posts I produce, I present in this blog post, two Christmas Hymns for you and those who may be with you, to sing right now! I invite you to gather your loved ones or associates together as soon as that is possible and have them sing with you these two well-known Christmas Hymns. You may want to assign each of those singing with you, and yourself  too, one of the four vocal parts: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Base! The music is provided as you click on the Link to the Hymn.

Silent Night, p. 204

Joy to the World, p. 201

DISCLAIMER This website is not owned by or affiliated with the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon or LDS Church). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of the Church.

TO ACCESS NEIL BIRCH'S BLOG INDEX To Either Read the Full Index Item Which Refers To This Blog Post, (Or An Item Which Refers To Any Other Blog Post You May Desire To Access)After Reading All of This Paragraph Please Click on the Post Title Shown at the End of this following paragraph:  When You See a Portrayal of Our Savior Jesus Christ Sitting Next To a Little Boy, Please, Scroll Down To our Target: The Promise of Christmas based on a December 2013 Ensign Magazine article by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. -Post 47s

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I deeply appreciate your readership and hope you found very beneficial, that which was presented to you in this blog post.

If you have any questions about what you have read or viewed in this post or in any previous posts of mine, or if you even have a curiosity about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and or its teachings, please e-mail me. I'm Neil and my e-mail address is: If you contact me I'll get back to you just as soon as possible.

Neil Birch