Musical Advent 2017 – Day 1

Track 1: Noel – Chris Tomlin Ft Lauren Daigle

Christmas Sermons By Sterling W. Sill

One of the interesting characteristics of our lives is the wide variety of experiences of which they are made up. We have different kinds of work; the contrasts in our thoughts cover an extended area; and different occasions have different significance to us. Even the days of our week are different and are used for a different purpose. It has been said that our civilization itself would never have survived for half a century if it had not been for this one day in seven that we call Sunday.

This is the day that serves as our Sabbath. This is the day when we try to reach a pinnacle in our performance, This is the day when we pay particular attention to the cleanliness of our bodies and minds. This is the day when we put on our best clothes and think our best thoughts and read our best books. This is the day when we associate with the people that we love the most. This is the day for which we usually reserve the best meal of the week.

And then after we have laid aside the cares that usually concern us during the other six days, we go to the house of prayer and let our minds reach up and try to understand the purposes for which this day was set apart. We set aside one day to use for that important idea of thanksgiving; on one day we celebrate the Fourth of July; on one day we commemorate Easter; and one day we set apart as a day of memories, which we call Memorial Day. We set apart the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day and the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day, in which we keep that great command, “Honour thy father and thy mother.”

Then, in his great wisdom, God himself has set apart one seventh of all the days as Sabbath days. This is a kind of Heavenly Father’s day when we try to honour God by living at our best. We may let down our guard a little bit between Monday and Saturday, but by the time the Sabbath comes again, we try to get back up on the highest level where we can see the issues of life most clearly.

Then, once each year, we do something a little different. To give emphasis to this idea, we set aside a whole season as Christmas. This is a kind of Sabbath for the entire year. This is a whole season when we try to maintain ourselves at our highest level. This is also a time when we make an appraisal of the past and try to get ourselves ready for a brand new year. This is when we make our new year’s resolutions, set our goals, and at our best we make some determinations of what our eternal lives should be like.

This recalls the idea that we also have different kinds of communications and instructions. Between ourselves, with each other, and with God, our speech itself has a different purpose. We have a type of conversation that is primarily intended as a means of killing time. Speech is also used to give instructions in geography or history. We sometimes tell each other how to be more effective in our occupations and our recreations. Even for our Sunday experiences or our Christmas communications, we have several kinds of verbal interchange. Our righteous prayers are carried to the throne of God.

One of our most important kinds of communication with each other is what we call the sermon. Sermons carry with them a little more serious tone than do mere conversations or stories of life’s ordinary experiences. The dictionary says that a sermon is a serious address. It is made up of religious instruction. It may have to do more intimately with our conduct or our understanding or our duty or our sacred life’s opportunities. A sermon is language dressed up in its best clothes. A sermon is usually grounded on some passage of scripture or based on some other sacred text or experience. Shakespeare mentions that there are sermons in stones, tongues in trees, books in running brooks, and good in everything. God preaches great sermons to us through the wonders of his universe, the wisdom of his all-important natural laws, and by means of godliness, which he has put into the lives of his offspring.

Of course, some of the greatest sermons in the world are those recorded in the Holy Scripture. They were inspired by the Lord and primarily they tell us about God’s own ideas and activities. They also project the most advantageous program for our benefit. Once each year we unpack our boxes of tinsel and Christmas decorations to make our Christmas trees and our homes more beautiful. At this season of the year we also use special Christmas salutations and printed messages of peace and good will to each other. We have our Christmas feasts and enjoy our sparkling Christmas festivities. And then, in addition, we ought to unpack some great ideas so that with ourselves and our children we can read and hear and think and speak some Christmas sermons.

It is hoped that what follows may help us to dress up our spirits in their finest ambitions so that we may live at our best throughout the new year.

Advertisements

A Spiritual & Musical Thought for today: That we may See Him

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3.)

[Image: O Jerusalem by Greg Olsen]

“The Musical Thought I have had for today has been inspired as I was reading from ‘Jesus The Christ’ it is called ‘O Jerusalem’ by Jenny Phillips from the Cd ‘Miracles. I actually Stumbled upon this article searching for a scripture and thought it was a wonderful uplifting article that helps us to know Christ a little better. So you get 2 for 1 today!”[Sis Boardman]

The Miracle - Through the Eyes of the Apostle Peter, Jenny Phillips

[available on iTunes] or to listen on letsloop.com click on link below:
http://www.letsloop.com/artist/jenny-phillips/song/o-jerusalem
For Music Video See Link below:
https://youtu.be/zrYgr0wi8HU
For  the Article See The Link or Read below:
https://www.lds.org/ensign/1978/10/sir-we-would-see-jesus?lang=eng

“Sir, We Would See Jesus”


One anonymous New Testament man still speaks for us today.

 

Certain Greeks approached Philip one day in Jerusalem. Presumably they had heard about the Saviour from others, and, impressed by what they had heard about him, they now desired to spend some time with him. They wanted to get to know him personally. “Sir,” they requested, “we would see Jesus.” (John 12:21.)

Sooner or later, every person who has ever lived on earth will be given a knowledge about the divinity of Jesus Christ. The scriptures tell us that when he comes the second time, the signs of his divinity will be so overwhelming that “every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess” that Jesus is the Christ. (D&C 88:104.)

But knowledge about him is not enough. The knowledge that saves comes from our personal efforts to develop a close companionship with the Lord through prayer and meditation.

The Saviour declared: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3.) Notice the wording. We gain eternal life by knowing God and Jesus Christ, not by knowing some things about them. It seems to me that there is a great difference between these two types of knowledge. This difference is exemplified in the testimony of Paul to the “learned” Greek philosophers worshipping at an altar to their “unknown God.” Paul declared: “Ye men of Athens, whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” (Acts 17:23.) While the God of these men was unknown to them personally, Paul bore a powerful and convincing testimony of the existence of his God based on his personal, first-hand knowledge.

Clearly, we should seek to emulate Paul’s intimate relationship with his God.

“The greatest and most important of all requirements of our Father in heaven and of his Son Jesus Christ,” said Brigham Young, “is … to believe in Jesus Christ, confess him, seek to him, cling to him, make friends with him. Take a course to open and keep open a communication with … our Savior.” (Journal of Discourses, 8:339.)

I find that I am interested in getting to know someone personally if what I have been told about him or observed in him indicates that our relationship will be a rewarding one. Four attributes of Jesus—inferred from his dealings with others—have indicated to me the Lord is someone whose close friendship I should earnestly cultivate.

The first attribute is the Saviour’s intimate knowledge of each one of us. Because he knew the desires of people’s hearts and their inner, spiritual qualities in his own day, he frequently befriended the outcast who was scorned by his fellowmen. In selecting those who would comprise the first Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Jesus did not go to the homes of royalty or to the imposing chambers of the Sanhedrin, but rather to simple fishing boats by the seashore and to the desk of a despised tax collector.

One of my favourite examples of the Saviour’s intimate knowledge of a person, and his kindness toward him, is the story of Zacchaeus. As Jesus entered the town of Jericho in the course of one of his journeys, a little man by the name of Zacchaeus desired to see him, and possibly deep in his heart he longed to spend some time with Jesus. Because he was so short, he decided to climb a sycamore tree overlooking the road for a better view. As Jesus came down the path, probably exchanging greetings with people on either side, he suddenly stopped, and looking up into the tree where the little fellow was perched, he called out, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” (Luke 19:5.) What a special honor for this man who was wealthy, chief among the publicans, and who consequently had undoubtedly received much scorn and abuse in his community. (See Luke 19:7.)

“But,” you might think, “that was when Jesus was on the earth. Does he really know us that well today from his distant position in the heavens?”

Listen to the Lord’s words to a congregation just 150 years ago, in 1831, as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants:

“Behold and hearken, O ye elders of my church, who have assembled yourselves together, whose prayers I have heard, and whose hearts I know, and whose desires have come up before me.

“Behold and lo, mine eyes are upon you.” (D&C 67:1–2.)

Note also that in section 5 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord refers to “my servant Martin Harris.” (D&C 5:1.) He knew his name! He also knew the names of John Whitmer, as recorded in section 15, and Frederick G. Williams in section 93. Indeed, the Lord gave specific instructions to more than sixty-five individuals in revelations recorded in that book of scripture.

I am personally convinced that the Lord is aware of each of us. I have felt his sustaining influence on many occasions during trials in my life. Whether experiencing fear after a painful knee injury in the mission field, loneliness during a traumatic separation from my family to serve in Vietnam, or an awful hollow numbness following the death of a beloved companion, I have found no balm so soothing as the sweet, peaceful, comforting assurance that comes from divine whisperings, “Be still,” “Be calm,” “I am here,” “I know.”

A second and related characteristic of the Saviour is his ability, because of his own experiences, to empathize with all of our difficulties and trials. The Saviour knows what it is like to be tempted, distraught, afraid, ridiculed, and abused; and consequently he has great compassion for others.

We know that he experienced what some have referred to as the most intense form of human suffering—loneliness. I am touched by this statement from the Saviour near the end of his life: “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” (John 16:32.)

Certainly his loneliness, in terms of companionship with other mortals, was most intense during his ordeal in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Savior invited his three chief apostles to accompany him, to be part of the most wonderful, the most incredible event ever to transpire in the history of mankind. He invited them to come with him, to “tarry … and watch” with him in the time of his greatest need. (Matt. 26:38.) In short, he desired the companionship of three of his closest associates—but what happened? When he needed them most, he found them asleep, not once, but three times. How lonely he must have felt! Yet, as he said, he did not feel completely alone because his closest personal companion, his Father in Heaven, was with him.

We know that the Saviour experienced not only rejection and loneliness, but also temptation. Paul writes that the Saviour “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15.) How does this affect our relationship with the Saviour? Paul answers, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Heb. 2:18.)

Jesus’ life prepared him to have compassion for others. We have many examples of the compassion shown by the Saviour. On one occasion he was traveling with his disciples in a ship on the Sea of Galilee, and a mighty wind came up, threatening their safety. The disciples expressed their fears, crying out, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Showing great compassion for their human frailties, the Saviour calmed the storm. (Mark 4:35–41.)

The Saviour showed compassion not only for his closest associates, but also for the thousands of nameless faces who gathered to hear his teachings. On one occasion, after preaching a long sermon he said to his disciples, “I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way” (Matt. 15:32), and he proceeded to feed miraculously 4,000 people with seven loaves “and a few little fishes,” demonstrating his concern for their physical as well as their spiritual needs.

Note the incomparable sensitivity of this man, as well as his great desire to relieve suffering and sorrow. One of the tenderest expressions of the Saviour’s compassion is recorded in Luke 13:34: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how oft would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!”

His great compassion for us can be a source of comfort when we are tempted and wonder if we are worthy of his great love and trust. I am reassured by his words to some early Church members.

“Behold, and hearken, O ye elders of my church, … [I know] the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted.

“For verily I say unto you, I will have compassion upon you.

“There are those among you who have sinned; but verily I say, I will be merciful unto you.” (D&C 62:1; D&C 64:2–4.)

The late Elder Hugh B. Brown, of the Council of the Twelve, said: “Very frequently I have felt I could reach up and take hold of God’s hand. He has been so close, so gracious, so willing to respond to my request and to help me over the rough places.” (Church News, 6 Dec. 1975, p. 3.) To Elder Brown’s testimony I add my own that, in the words of Isaiah’s great prophecy, a child was born who has become “wonderful” and “counselor.” (Isa. 9:6.)

A third characteristic that should motivate us to draw closer to the Saviour is his deep, abiding, perfect love for us. The greatest evidence of his love was his willingness to die for us. Realizing the significance of one man’s volunteering to suffer great pain in order that his brothers and sisters would not have to suffer similar pain, Paul exclaimed,

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38–39.)

What a powerful testimony of Christ’s willingness to pay any price to aid us in our quest for eternal happiness! Indeed, the essence of godhood is the willingness to sacrifice for the good of others. Clearly this was exemplified in the life and teachings of the Saviour. Frequently he taught his disciples that to love only those who loved and appreciated them was not particularly praiseworthy. True charity, or godlike love, he said, involves loving those who fail to appreciate, or even despise, your good works for them. Certainly this is the acid test of one’s willingness to sacrifice for others. How often I have heard a person seeking help for a troubled marriage concede, “All right, I will do my part, but only if he/she does his/hers.” How fortunate we are that in a world governed by the norm of “an eye for an eye” Christ was willing to be crucified for us regardless of our personal appreciation for his sacrifice.

A fourth characteristic is one which separates him from all others: his divine power. Christ not only is deeply interested in our personal development, but also has the power to do something about it—he has the power to change lives. Undoubtedly, we have all read stories of how the Lord has literally transformed people almost overnight, like Paul and Alma. But often the small, unheralded, everyday examples of the miracle of conversion are easier to relate to.

One of my most memorable missionary experiences took place in a cold, damp basement apartment of a non-member in Edmonton, Canada. My companion and I were trying to help a lifelong chain smoker live the Word of Wisdom, and he had called us to his humble residence one night to admit defeat. He said, “I have made every effort humanly possible, and I just can’t quit smoking. I know the gospel is true and I want to be baptized, but I’ll never be able to overcome this habit.”

Our reply to this defeated man was, “Don’t give up. You can quit smoking because there is a superhuman power that can give you the strength and courage you need.”

We asked him to read these comforting and reassuring words from Paul: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13.)

Then we knelt with him and asked the Lord to give him the courage and the determination necessary to place his life in order so that he and his family could be baptized. What a testimony-building experience it was for a nineteen-year-old boy to witness the changes in this man’s life as the Spirit of the Lord magnified his strength, helping him resist temptation and live God’s commandments!

What a powerful friend—this man of Galilee! Who else knows us so intimately, has done so much to prove his love for us, has demonstrated his capacity for compassion and understanding, and also has the divine power to help us change our lives? Who, therefore, should be more sought after as our intimate companion and true friend?

Let us, like the Greeks who approached Philip, be sufficiently motivated by what we have heard about Christ that we desire to develop a personal, intimate relationship with him. As we spend time with him through mighty prayer and thoughtful meditation, we will gain a personal knowledge of the God we worship and realize that he is indeed our dearest friend.

As we do, we will begin to appreciate the insight of Paul, truly one of Christ’s friends, who declared: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things … that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings!” (Philip. 3:8, 10.)