THE SEED Author Unknown

In the Far East the emperor was growing old and knew it was time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants or his children, he decided to do something different. He called young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you."

The children were shocked, but the emperor continued. "I am going to give each one of you a seed today - one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next emperor."

One boy, named Ling, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his mother the story. She helped him get a pot and planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it, carefully. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown..

After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Ling didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by -- still nothing in Ling's pot.

He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn't say anything to his friends, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow. A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But his mother asked him to be honest about what happened.

Ling felt sick at his stomach, but he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace. When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other youths. They were beautiful -- in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other children laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him and just said, "Hey, nice try."

When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown," said the emperor. "Today one of you will be appointed the next emperor!"

All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. He thought, "The emperor knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!"

When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. "My name is Ling," he replied. All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, "Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!"

Ling couldn't believe it. Ling couldn't even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?

Then the emperor said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds that would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he Is the one who will be the new emperor!"

If you plant honesty, you will reap trust. If you plant goodness, you will reap friends. If you plant humility, you will reap greatness. If you plant perseverance, you will reap victory. If you plant consideration, you will reap harmony. If you plant hard work, you will reap success. If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation. If you plant faith, you will reap miracles.

So be careful what you plant, now; it will determine what you will reap tomorrow. The seeds you now scatter will make life worse or better for you or for the ones who will come after you. Someday you will enjoy the fruits or you will pay for the choices you make.

Two thousand years ago someone else told the same story with fewer words, "What you sow, so shall you reap". If you know who said this, nothing else needs to be said.

WHO IS JESUS? by Daphne Harrington

Jesus' birth day (the day we celebrate His coming to earth in human form) is celebrated all over the world and his fame has not diminished in 2,000 years. But sometimes the way in which his birthday is "celebrated" is anything but what it should be. Much of the time it is with disrespect. His name is used to sell merchandise. This is the only time of the year when the stores play Christian music and we hear the name of the Lord in the public square. At other times there would
probably be lawsuits over mentioning Christ in these places.

The name of Jesus has been so maligned these past 2,000 years yet, according to the Bible, His name is above all names. Among other things, He is the Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor, The Holy One, The Lamb of God, the Prince of Life, The Word of Life, Author and Finisher of Our Faith, our Advocate. He is The Way, the only Begotten Son of God, the Messiah, The Truth, Savior, Lord of All, The Righteous Judge, The Light of the World, The Resurrection and Life, our Horn of Salvation. He is The Alpha and The Omega, The Beginning and The End. These names describe His essence, His character, and His provision for us.

He is not just another prophet. In the Old Testament as well as in the new, there are lists of "begats." These are long lists of family lines, as in Genesis5:3 where it says, "And Adam ... begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth." In the New Testament we are told that Jesus is the only BEGOTTEN Son of God. (Therefore, God begat Jesus - a Sonin His own likeness.) "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring fortha son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" Matthew 1:23. Jesus is God in the flesh and He was sent to "save His people from their sins" Matthew 1:22.

We, as sinful men cannot come to God, the Holy Father, by ourselves. We must have a mediator and God provided that in His Son. We read in 1 John 2:23, "The man who will not recognize the Son cannot possibly know the Father, yet the man who believes in the Son knows the Father as well"(Phillips Translation) . This thought continues in 1 John 5:11-12.

"...God has given men eternal life and this real life is to be found only in His Son. It follows naturally that any man who has Christ has this life; and if he has not,then he does not possess this life at all."

So Jesus is God's love gift to us. He says, "...the greatest demonstration of God's love for us has been His sending His only Son into the world to give us life through Him. We see real love, not in the fact that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to make personal atonement for our sins" 1John 4:9-10 (Phillips Translation).

Simply put, without Jesus we perish eternally. But by faith in Him, we are forgiven our sins and united with God both now and forever. This Christmas,let' s celebrate Jesus for who He really is.

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