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Devotionals

Brett Miller

Brett Miller
Brett Miller
Brett Miller has been a religious educator in the Church Educational System for 27 years, and has taught in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Minnesota and Utah. He will celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary with his wife, Alice, in January. They have six children and 12 grandchildren. Brett served a full-time mission in Rome, Italy. He has taught here at Ensign College for 3.5 years and loves this campus and those associated with it.

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Reflect His Light

I am grateful to be with you for a Christmas Devotional. Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, a time that we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In our celebrations we often include the exchange of gifts, symbolic of the gift of God’s only Begotten Son to the world. I remember one Christmas, growing up, when my brother and I gave each other the very same gift: a toy submarine that would propel itself in water. Another Christmas my brother and I got up early and sorted through all the gifts under the tree and put ours in our own piles, so when everyone else got up we had quick access to all our presents. You can imagine how my parents felt about that!

In September our Come, Follow Me study included Samuel the Lamanite preaching to the Nephites. In his message was a prophecy about the birth of Jesus Christ. He said: “Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name. And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; … there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto many as if it was day. Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; … and it shall be the night before he is born. And behold there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you” (Helaman 14:2–5).

Isaiah was another prophet who prophecied of the birth of Jesus Christ. He said: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). “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 scriptural account of the birth of Jesus Christ starts with the angel Gabriel being sent from God to visit Mary. “And the angel … said, Hail, thou virgin who art highly favored of the Lord. The Lord is with thee, for thou art chosen and blessed among women. … Fear not Mary, for … thou shalt conceive, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, …” Mary answered: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (see JST Luke 1:26–38).

This same angel also came to Joseph. “When … Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child … Then Joseph, … being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him … saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:18–21).

At the time of His birth, Joseph and Mary had to make the trip to Bethlehem for the Roman census and taxation. “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 inns” (Luke 2:6–7). “And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word” (3 Nephi 1:21).

The scripture account now goes to the shepherds. “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: … 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” (Luke 2:9–12).

Lastly, we have the wise men who followed the light of the new star. “… 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” (Matthew 2:9–10). I love the idea that surrounding Jesus’ advent into the world, light is associated with His coming.

In His New Testament ministry, Jesus taught about His connection with light. He said: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth” (John 12:35). John the Beloved wrote: “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:4–5). And “He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light” (John 5:35). Paul said: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Peter wrote: “But ye are a chosen generation, … that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

In the Old Testament, the Psalmist wrote: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1); and “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Isaiah said: “come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5). Speaking of the premortal Jesus, King David said: “And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds” (2 Samuel 23:4).

In the Book of Mormon, Abinadi taught: “[Jesus] is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened” (Mosiah 16:9). When Jesus came to the Americas He told the Nephites: “I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (3 Nephi 9:18).

From the Doctrine & Covenants, we read His own words: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto mine own, and mine own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not” (D&C 6:21). And, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who created the heavens and the earth, a light which cannot be hid in darkness” (D&C 14:9).

In 1836, Jesus came to accept the Kirtland Temple. Describing that visit Joseph Smith said: “his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun” (D&C 110:3). And of course, at the First Vision, Joseph described the Father and the Son as coming in and being surrounded by intense light “above the brightness of the sun” (see JS–H 1:16–17).

The Christmas season is one filled with light. We have decorative lights inside and out; on homes, businesses, streets, and of course Temple Square. The lights on the Christmas tree are symbolic of the new star that shone the night Jesus was born. Light itself is also symbolic. It is said that “light is one of the most universal and fundamental symbols. It is the spiritual and the divine, it is illumination and intelligence. Light is the source of goodness and … knowledge” (http://umich.edu/~umfandsf/symbolismproject/symbolism.html/L/light.html ).

We know that without light, our earth would not be able to sustain life. The warmth and light from the sun are necessary. In the creation story, the first thing was to provide light. “… in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth … And the earth was without form, and void; … And I, God, said: Let there be light; and there was light. And I, God, saw the light; and that light was good” (Moses 2:1–4). “And … (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light … from the darkness” (Abraham 4:4).

Gods can comprehend light, devils cannot. Gods dwell in light, evil does not. John the Beloved wrote: “…light [meaning Jesus Christ] is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Jesus added: “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46). To Nicodemus, Jesus said: “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 the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16–17).

Just as the earth needs the warmth and light from the sun to sustain life, so we all need the love and light that comes from Jesus Christ to thrive spiritually. We need the warmth and light that only the Son of God can provide. And though Jesus is the source of light, He wants us to help reflect that light. He wants us to shine as beacons so others can also be drawn to His light. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14–16).

Through the Prophet Isaiah, Jesus said: “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). To the Nephites He said: “Ye are my disciples; and ye are a light unto this people” (3 Nephi 15:12). “Behold, I am the light; I have set an example for you. … Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do” (3 Nephi 18:16, 24).

So how do we be this light to others? Nephi described it as good as anyone when he shared his vision of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. Nephi wrote: “And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father? … And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: … follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do” (2 Nephi 31:10, 12).

Doing the things that Jesus would do is how we choose the right, give service to those around us, and reflect the light of the Savior for others to behold. It is the way we do it, the way Jesus would do it, that is the recognizable light. Jesus did all things because of His love of the Father and His love for all of us. Nephi said: “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men” (2 Nephi 31:20). To serve like Jesus, we must also learn to love as He does.

In the last April General Conference, Sister Cordon said: “The Lord’s invitation to let our light so shine is not just about randomly waving a beam of light and making the world generally brighter. It is about focusing our light so others may see the way to Christ” (Gen Conf, April 2020). Sister Cordon gave an example of how Jesus did this as recorded in the fourth chapter of John. She said: “The woman at the well was a Samaritan who did not know Jesus Christ and was viewed by many as an outcast in her own society. Jesus met her and initiated a conversation. He spoke to her of water. He then led her to increased light as He declared Himself to be the ‘living water.’” We see the compassion of Jesus as He lovingly leads the Samaritan woman in the conversation to a point where He can testify of Himself.

One way to do as Jesus does is to find opportunities in our conversations with others and lead them to a greater knowledge and understanding of the living Christ. This can be done in person, in writing, or on our social media. However we do it, telling others about Jesus Christ is a way of bringing more light into their lives which helps them see more clearly. When Christ’s light is present, people can better discern what is true and step out of the darkness of the world. This is how sharing our testimonies with others leads them to Jesus Christ.

These don’t have to be big, elaborately planned-out discussions. They can be very casual conversations where we remember to say things that come from the heart. Others may not always accept what we say, but when it comes from the heart, they will know of our sincerity; they will feel the love we have for them through the way we speak. It will be a warmth like what we feel from light.

When I was in 8th grade I had a friend named Chris. His family did not go to any church. We were talking once about prayer, and I encouraged him to try. He came back the next day and said that prayer doesn’t work. I asked him what he meant. He said: “I prayed for a motorcycle, but didn’t get it.” Now remember, we were only about 13-years-old. I told him that prayer doesn’t work that way. But he did something he had never done before; he tried to communicate with Heavenly Father, and that brings one closer to the light.

There are so many ways we can be a beacon of light for others. Think of all the ways Jesus did things for others. And at Christmastime, it isn’t very hard to bring Christ into a conversation. At this season of the year we can become like the Savior and help bring others out of darkness by the light from Jesus Christ we reflect into their lives. Jesus wants us to be a light and a beacon of hope to others, that they may find the light and hope that is in Him. It will be our gift to those around us.

Speaking about Himself, Jesus said: “The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men” (D&C 93:9). I pray we can reflect His light into the lives of those around us, as He wants us to do. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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