Sunday, December 16, 2007

What The Birth of the Savior Means to Me

I thought that it was rather funny, because I was asked to speak on the Birth of the Savior the same day that I had updated my blog with a new Christmas header. When I was designing the header I wanted to focus more on the Savior and so I started with a picture of the baby Jesus in the manager. As I thought about that scene, my mind was taken to contemplate his life and what it means to me. I then wanted to express in my header what came from this child who was born in such humble beginnings. So I merged with the baby Jesus a picture of the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane with his crucifixion, his resurrection, and his ascension into Heaven. I posted it on my blog with the words, "May we never forget the true meaning of Christmas." Then only a few hours later I was asked to speak on The Birth of the Savior and what it means to me.

It is hard to put in words my feelings of the Birth of the Savior and what it means to me, but with the limited time I have, I will try.

I feel to rejoice and to burst with joy when I think about Samuel the Lamanite. The Nephites were known for their righteousness and the Lamanites for their wickedness, and yet the Nephites became very wicked. Samuel taught by the Spirit and went where the Spirit directed him.

Heleman 13:3
"But behold, the avoice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his bheart."

So, he was sent to preach unto the Nephites and to teach them that doctrine which was rightfully theirs but through wickedness most had become darkened and had rejected the truth. It is not only what he preached and how he preached that brings me to my knees in absolute gratitude. After the Savior appeared to the Nephites, he had their records brought to him. He wanted to know where were the preaching and the prophesying of Samuel the Lamanite.

Truly, That is such an amazing thing. Samuel had preached, nothing short of the words that the Lord wanted him to teach, for he prophesied of him in such simplicity. But, his preachings were not recorded and yet the Savior and Lord of all, asked for his words to be written. To me that gives greater importance to the words that he prophesied than anything else. My heart aches to thank my God and my Savior for caring for all those whom he guides by the Spirit. I think that we all can feel by this that our very lives are not and will not go unnoticed and that he who is mighty to save will set all things in order.

I do not think lightly upon the birth of the Savior because every step leading up to that point were absolute miracles. The very son of God was born into this world, and one may think of the circumstances that would normally be fit for a king to be born, and yet the King of all and Lord of all was born in a manager of straw because there was no room for him in the Inn.

What an amazing child, how must Mary of felt knowing that she was chosen above all women to be the mother of such a child, even the Son of God. I have often pondered on what His brothers and sisters must of felt knowing that their brother was the Savior of the world? I have also thought on many occasions of what great opportunity we have as his brothers and sisters because we have the privilege of seeing all his deeds and studying his life and words. My question to myself and to you is; do we carry that great opportunity and responsibility lightly, do we take the time to build our relationship with Him. Simply knowing of the stories of Jesus is not sufficient, we must personally get to know Him. I know that I need to improve my relationship with Him. I can vividly remember the moment when the Spirit bore testimony to me, like never before, that all that is written of the Savior and His life is true, as true as I am here before you. I have always known, but now I truly know without any doubt and not of myself only but because the Spirit bore testimony to me. I now have a great responsibility to testify of Him, for now I know. All those that have that testimony of the Savior have the same responsibility to share our testimony.

I also love how Ammon and Aaron taught King Lamoni and his father about God and his Christ and the plan of salvation. Did not King Lamoni and his father say that they would give up all their sins to know him and to know how they could obtain eternal life. Here are the words of the father of King Lamoni:

Alma 22:15-18
15 And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: aWhat shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be bborn of God, having this wicked spirit crooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up dall that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.
16 But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt abow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the bhope which thou desirest.
17 And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did abow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried bmightily, saying:
18 O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck aas if he were dead.

What great faith, he was even willing to forsake his kingdom. Alma the younger and Nephi gave up the Judgment seat which is similar to giving up a kingdom and for what purpose? The rich man that came to the Savior was asked to sell his riches and give to the poor and he could not. Why is it that some will give all and even die to know God and others can not let go of the things of the world?

What are we willing to give up to know our Savior and build a relationship with him? The Savior has told us repeatedly "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will blose his life for my sake shall cfind it (Matt 16:25)." I desire that I may be able to grasp hold of even a fraction of the spirit and love of righteousness that these great men had. We all know the great scripture about Moroni,

Alma 48:17
Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto aMoroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the bdevil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

Now, let me share with you the very next verse,

18 Behold, he was a man like unto aAmmon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God.

When we desire to give up all that we have to know the Savior we will find greater power to resist the temptations of the adversary and we too can be like unto Moroni and these other great men. And there is no doubt in my mind that the women that stood next to these great men were truly great women.

All along the way the Savior said that "there is none agood but one, that is, God (Matt 19:17)". He never took the credit. I desire to be more like him. What does the birth of the Savior mean to me? My reply is everything for with this noble birth came nothing short of salvation for all who will believe in his name and follow in his footsteps.

2 Nephi 31:12
And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father agive the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, bfollow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

One of those footsteps that we must follow put the Savior into the river of Jordon to be baptised. He who needed no baptism, stepped into the waters and was baptised.

2 Nephi 31:13
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall afollow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no bhypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real cintent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are dwilling to take upon you the ename of Christ, by fbaptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the gbaptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the htongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.

We must follow him into baptism. Another footstep was that of service, he taught that "whosoever of you will be the achiefest, shall be servant of all (Mark 10:44). We must serve others with a Christlike attitude. Another footstep was into repentance. The Savior needed no repentance but he went below all things and he suffered for every sin, sickness, infirmity, and more. In the words of the Savior himself,

D&C 19:18
Which asuffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might bnot drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
We must repent in order to have such a gift as the atonement work in our lives if not we will have to suffer as he did. There are many other footsteps that he took, that we too must follow if we desire to be like him and go where he is. He has promised us:

2 Nephi 31:17-21
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and abaptism by water; and then cometh a bremission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
18 And then are ye in this astrait and narrow bpath which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which cwitnesses of the dFather and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow apath, I would ask if all is bdone? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken cfaith in him, drelying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to esave.
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a asteadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a clove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and dendure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life.
21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the away; and there is bnone other way nor cname given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the ddoctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the eFather, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is fone God, without end. Amen.

It is truly hard to express my feelings for the Savior and what his birth gave to me. I will forever reverence his great name and every time I see him in the manger I will take a moment to reflect on its meaning to me. I love my Savior more that words can tell, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Kiera's Talk on the Birth of the Savior

I just wanted to take a minute to introduce me and my family. I am Kiera Conover and a few minutes you will be able to hear from my wonderful husband Craig Conover and if you listen real well you will probably be able to hear from a few of our girls, too. We have been in the ward for just about 2 months. We have 4 little girls Lacie who is 5, Alexa is 3, Ashlyn who will be 2 in January and Kembri who is 2 months old. We are from AZ. And we are really excited to be here.

I want to begin today by reading a few verses out of Luke 2. Verses 11-14 It reads:

11 For unto you is aborn this day in the city of David a bSaviour, which is Christ the cLord.

12 And this shall be a asign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 aGlory to God in the highest, and on earth bpeace, good will toward men.

Pres. Ezra Taft Benson said, “The most important event in the history of the world was the birth of Jesus Christ. From the days of Adam to John the Baptist—some four millennia—righteous men and women looked to the day of His heralded birth. Prophets foretold the event, and sacrifices, symbolism, and signs portended His birth.

Many prophets in the scriptures prophesied of the birth of the Savior. The Nephites waited years for the sign of His birth. Righteous men and women looked toward the birth of Christ for thousands of years. And even now millions of people every year take the time to celebrate his birth. There are so many reasons his birth is so important. He taught us by example the importance of Baptism, of Service, of Charity, He taught of Christ like love, He atoned for the sins of all mankind in the Garden of Gethsemane and because of him we too can be resurrected someday.

I am so grateful for our Heavenly Father for sending down his son, I am so grateful to Mary for being worthy to be the mother of the Son of God. And I am so thankful to our dear elder brother Jesus Christ to have so much love for us that he would come down and teach us and suffer so much for each and ever one of us. I love the hymn I Stand all Amazed, it describes my feelings so well:

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

Jesus Christ loves each and every one of us so much. He knows us. He cares for us probably more than we can even really comprehend. I love so much at this time of year, even in a world that Satan is trying so hard to get us to forget about our Savior and our Heavenly Father, people still take the time to stop and reflect on and not only reflect celebrate the Birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Many call it the Spirit of Christmas but what it is the Spirit of Christ. When we take the time to think about what is really important and to try to be more Christ like, we become more charitable, we become more loving.

In the 9 days approaching is the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I would like you to think how you would have felt to have been alive a little over 2000 years ago and to know that in 9 days the Messiah would come into the world and the prophecies fulfilled. Now think about today, We have been given prophesies foretelling the glorious return of our Savior. As we watch we are seeing these prophesies being fulfilled. We don’t know when the Savior will come again. But just as the prophets of old looked toward his birth, we can look toward him coming again.

President Benson Said,

“Because Jesus Christ is God—even the Son of God—He will come again as He promised. He will come in a day of wickedness—a time when men and women will be “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” He will come at a time of great upheaval and tribulation when “the whole earth shall be in commotion.” He will come as a thief in the night, when the world least expects Him to come: “But of that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only.”

I know Jesus lives. I know He was born unto the Virgin Mary. I know he is the Son of God. And I know he will return again.

In Isaiah 9:6 it reads,

“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).

During this Christmas season I challenge you to take the time to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ even more then you have in previous years. I challenge you to try even harder to follow in the example he has given unto to us, spread his love that he has for each and every one of us and I know as we do that we will find more peace and more Happiness.

I want to bear my testimony that I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that he is at the head of this church and he is leading it. I know that Gordon B. Hinckley is a true prophet of God, just as in the days of old we have a prophet guiding us today. I know that because the gospel was restored I am able to be sealed to my family for time and all eternity. I love my Savior and I am so thankful for all that he has done for us.