Meridian Magazine--Come Follow Me Latter-day Saint Podcast
By Scot Facer Proctor
Each week Meridian Magazine’s founders, Scot and Maurine Proctor, will be giving a 30-minute podcast on the “Come, Follow Me” curriculum for the week. This is so you can listen with your scriptures in hand, or while you are about life’s many other duties. If you want some thoughts about teaching your family or in Church lessons, this can be a place to turn. If you live alone, let us study with you.
Many years ago, I read Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo: the unabridged version which is 1,463 pages long. Next to the scriptures, it was the greatest reading experience of any book I have ever had. I became so close to the characters, Jean Valjean, Monsieur Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel—the Bishop of Digne (‘deen’), Fantine, Cosette, Gavroche, Marius, Javert and many others that I wept for a long time after I finished the book because I was so sad, I would not be able to meet them in the Spirit World! Maurine reminded me they were fictional characters. I was completely transported into their hearts, their world, their times, their pain, their burdens. Maurine and I even went to Victor Hugo’s home in Guernsey Island off the coast of Normandy in the English Channel to get a sense of where he wrote this classic novel. Do you want to know my very favorite moment from the entire 1,463 pages? It has to do with this episode.
Why is it that a sign from the Lord does not necessarily convince people to join the Church? In fact, could it be true that a sign may not even bolster faith that much? Could it actually be, instead, that a faith based on signs alone may be a weak one? We’ll explore this apparent contradiction in this episode.
May 31-June 6
Sometimes we project our modern-day experiences on those early days in the Church and we can’t figure out why somebody did something the way they did it, or why didn’t so-and-so talk to the Prophet Joseph about this or that. We really cannot do this. In our studies this week we will be talking about some of those early elders who had traveled a thousand miles to get to Western Missouri, had fulfilled a small mission, held a special conference, had dedicated the land of Zion and a temple site in Independence, Missouri, had buried the first person to die in Zion and now, they were turning around and making their way back the thousand miles to Kirtland. You can learn a lot in 2,000 miles of walking and traversing in a wilderness land, which we will see over and over again in the early history of the Church.
Can you imagine living in a world where people did not hurt each other or become angry or divided ? Can you imagine families with total harmony and marriages with no contention? Can you imagine a world where everyone watched out for each other and people were there to help you when you needed it? Can you imagine a place so pure that God could be there? It may sound too good to imagine, but that is the Zion that the Lord envisions for us and that’s what we hope to build.
In these sections we’ve read this week, it’s clear that the Lord entrusts individuals with specific stewardships and it’s not always just land. It can be a mission to perform, books to write, places to go, people to teach, an assignment to fulfill—but these are all sacred stewardships, given by the Lord with the expectation that we will fulfill them faithfully and wholeheartedly.
When you read Doctrine and Covenants Sections 49 and 50, it helps to have the rest of the story. Why should you care about Leman Copley or the Shakers and what’s this talk about false spirits? We will have some fun and give you the context in this episode.
“We must remember that to every man [or woman] is given a gift by the Spirit of God. It is our right and responsibility to accept our gifts and to share them. God’s gifts and powers are available to all of us.” (Ashton, Marvin J., There are Many Gifts, General Conference, October 1987)
Each of us has at least one spiritual gift. Some people have many, but the Prophet Joseph Smith had them all. We will learn about them in this episode.
The Second Coming is a topic of endless interest to us, especially in light of the worldwide pandemic we are still battling and the social unrest that is truly troubling. You probably feel as I do, that you have never seen a time like this in your life. The prophet has spoken often of preparing for the Second Coming of the Lord, so let’s turn to Section 45 to learn about this transcendent event and the harrowing events that precede it.
We live in a time when the Church of Jesus Christ has been well established and we are used to talking in terms of large numbers, general conferences translated into scores of languages simultaneously, missionaries serving in diverse countries all over the world and the Kingdom of God on the earth organized unlike any worldly entity. We are used to thinking in terms of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Church Headquarters, the Conference Center, Temple Square—but in the era we are talking about today, the early part of 1831, none of these things were yet a reality. When Joseph and Emma arrived in Kirtland, Ohio in February, 1831, the successful missionary efforts of Parley P. Pratt and his companions had just doubled the entire membership of the Church to about 250 people!
Robert Matthews said, “Many have supposed that the translation of the Bible [what we call the JST] was only a sideline, a matter of personal, but passing interest to the Prophet Joseph.”
We agree that too many misunderstand the importance of this work. How many in the Church understand what the JST is or use it regularly?
But, as Matthews said, to neglect or ignore that is mistaken. “Joseph Smith was commanded of the Lord to do this great work; that it was central to the Restoration, to the establishment of the dispensation of the fulness of times; and that to neglect or ignore the role of the JST is to miss a major dimension of the work of God in this dispensation”.
Parley Parker Pratt was 16 months younger than the Prophet Joseph and he was born about 140 miles east of Palmyra, New York. Parley was born curious about religion. He said to his father one day when he was 18 years old and they were laboring together in the forest:
"Father, how is it there is so manifest a difference between the ancient and modern disciples of Jesus Christ and their doctrines? If, for instance, I had lived in the days of the Apostles, and believed in Jesus Christ, and had manifested a wish to become his disciple, Peter or his brethren would have said to me, 'Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for REMISSION OF SINS, and you SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.' I should then have known definitely and precisely what to do to be saved.
"Now, father…I believe in Jesus; I wish to serve him and keep his commandments… How…can I observe the ordinances of God and keep his commandments?"
“To these inquiries my father could give no satisfactory answer…I still continued to ponder upon these things, and to search the Scriptures to learn how to be saved.” (Pratt, Parley P. Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Revised and Enhanced Edition, edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, 2000, pp 10-11.)
Parley would not rest until he could discover the right path to the Lord Jesus Christ.
March 29-April 4
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “That first Easter sequence of Atonement and Resurrection constitutes the most consequential moment, the most generous gift, the most excruciating pain, and the most majestic manifestation of pure love ever to be demonstrated in the history of this world. Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, suffered, died, and rose from death in order that He could, like lightning in a summer storm, grasp us as we fall, hold us with His might, and through our obedience to His commandments, lift us to eternal life.
“So today we celebrate the gift of victory over every fall we have ever experienced, every sorrow we have ever known, every discouragement we have ever had, every fear we have ever faced—to say nothing of our resurrection from death and forgiveness for our sins.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Where Justice Love and Mercy Meet)
By the time Section 29 of the Doctrine and Covenants was given, the fledgling Church was just over five months old. Rumors and false claims were circulating faster than convert numbers. What a strategic time for the adversary of all righteousness to attack the young flock and scatter them as fast as he could—to try to stop this little flock from growing. The Church only had less than 100 members. But, as we have said in the past, out of small things proceedeth that which is great. The Lord knows how to work with small numbers!
In August of 1830, Newel Knight and his wife Sally visited Joseph and Emma in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Since neither woman had yet been confirmed, they agreed to perform the ordinance and have the sacrament together. Joseph set out to buy some wine for the occasion, when after he had traveled only a short distance, he was met by a heavenly messenger with a new instruction. The Church was rolling forth with understanding coming line upon line.
After the sacred gathering of nearly four dozen Saints in the Whitmer Home in Fayette, New York on Tuesday, April 6, 1830, this little, no, tiny band was given the commission to take the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world. What an overwhelming task! How could so few bless so many? And yet, the Lord knew who He was calling and what various converts would do. One eager young man, twenty-two-year-old Samuel Harrison Smith, younger brother of the Prophet Joseph, stepped forward and volunteered to start the work. And within 100 days, a remarkable woman was called to give her gifts and talents to the kingdom—Emma Hale Smith.
When that group of 40 or more gathered in the 20 by 30-foot Whitmer cabin that April 6, 1830 to organize the “only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30), they could not have entirely foreseen what lay ahead for this church that would, as the prophet Daniel said, “roll forth to fill the whole earth” (See Daniel 2: 31-45), but they did know they were about a great work inspired by God Himself. Let’s take you to that scene today.
The Doctrine and Covenants is a book full of affirmations that individuals count—that each of us is important in the sight of God. Message after message is to individuals, some we have heard of like Oliver Cowdery or Hyrum Smith, and some to less familiar people like Leman Copley or Northrop Sweet, but then the Lord often adds this note: What I say unto one, I say unto all (see for example D&C 1:2; D&C 11:27; D&C 25:16; D&C 61:18). But if that is not enough to let us know WE count; He gives us these 12 words in our lesson this week—and I memorized this scripture 45 years ago: “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” (D&C 18:10)
How do we know about the reality of things we cannot see? How do we know about God whose face we can’t remember? How do we develop faith in spiritual things that are real, but invisible to our eye? We begin to learn these things because of the witness of others. Today we are going to talk about the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon, and tell you things you may not know about how firmly they stood in their testimonies against the toughest opposition. These are amazing stories.
The more carefully you study the translation and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the more you are amazed at the gift and power of God that was given to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery as they translated the record. These are two very young men: Joseph is 23 and Oliver is 22 years old!
As you read the Doctrine and Covenants, section 10 seems out of place chronologically. Since it talks about Martin Harris and the translation of the 116 pages, shouldn’t it come after Section 3? What happened? We’ll tell you today.
Just a few months after the 116 manuscript pages of the Book of Lehi were lost, a young man arrived in Manchester, New York. He was five feet five inches tall, with dark brown eyes, a slight build, a prominent lower jaw, high forehead and, as one described, a roman nose. He was hired to be a teacher in New York’s Joint District 11. The small frame schoolhouse was located just about a mile south of the Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith Farm on Stafford Road. In this first teaching job, he had 107 little “scholars.” Little did he know he would become a teacher for millions yet unborn. His name…was Oliver Cowdery.
Joseph does not shy away from humbly including Section 3 in the Doctrine and Covenants, where he is severely chastened by the Lord for a failing. He could have hid it or polished it up to preserve his image, but because he is so honest, we not only get to see firsthand, the spiritual development of a prophet, but he also gives us all a deep teaching: “You should not have feared man more than God” (Doctrine and Covenants 3:7).
Do we know every scripture that Moroni told Joseph Smith on his September 21 visit in 1823? Our first answer is, “They are listed right here in Joseph Smith’s history.” Yet Oliver Cowdery told us there are many more. And here’s another surprise—all but two are from the Old Testament.
In every dispensation of the world a witness is called to testify to the people of that day and age that he has seen God and has talked with Him and has received instructions and guidance from Him. That witness is called to testify in his day that God lives, that He is real, that He cares about His children, that He hears and answers our prayers and that He has a work for us to do. Faith comes and is increased by listening to and heeding the testimony of that witness. In our day, in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times, that witness is Joseph Smith.
December 28-January 3
Hasn’t this been a glorious year in carefully studying the Book of Mormon as individuals and families? Did you notice time and time again that the lesson for that week was just the answer you needed for yourself, your family or for the current situation in the world? Have you found that you have drawn closer to Christ in this past year of study? It’s hard to leave our intense Book of Mormon studies behind, but we are now given the immense privilege of studying the Doctrine and Covenants and the early history of the Church and the Restoration of God’s Kingdom here upon the earth in our day. What could be more exciting?
This year we have an event in the skies that hasn’t happened since March 4, 1226, nearly 800 years ago. People have been calling it the “Christmas Star” or the “Star of Bethlehem. We’ll tell you what it in this episode.
Photo Credit NASA/ Bill Ingalls
I think it’s fascinating that Moroni starts out chapter 10 by saying that he’d like to send these words to his brethren, the Lamanites. That is a fascinating view of Moroni’s heart. He has seen the Lamanites completely destroy his nation. Because of the Lamanites, he remains alone. Because of the Lamanites, his father has been killed and all of his kinfolk and family are dead. Now, despite all this, he writes this most important message to his brethren, the Lamanites. How can any human be so full of the love of Christ?
Moroni Chapter 7 is a powerful sermon on faith, hope, and charity given by Mormon, but when? You can't help but wonder. He was born in AD 310, was made a general at the age of 16 and knew war most of his life until he had seen his whole nation decimated. Was this sermon given at the time when he gave up leading the army? Isn't it fascinating that there were still enough faithful followers of Christ that he could preach in a synagogue? Who were these people and did they become wicked too, even with this powerful preaching? It is so hard to know, but what we do know is Moroni was wise to give us this significant teaching from his father.
November 30-December 6
Moroni did not know when he would die, attacked by Lamanites or some other deadly surprise, in his 36-year wandering. He tells his latter-day readers goodbye more than once on the plates. Yet even living with that insecurity, not knowing his own mortal future, Moroni trudges on with absolute faith.
We go to a scene of spirits in the premortal world, anticipating. with perhaps some concern, their descent to a darkened world. We knew we would be taking a journey and must have wondered how we could make it across the wilderness where so much would be insecure.
Moroni told us in Mormon 8, “Behold, I would write…if I had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none”, so there is an untold story between these verses and the book of Ether. Somehow Moroni was able to get more ore and create plates because he gave us the marvelous book of Ether that introduces us to a whole new world.
As we start our studies today on Mormon 7-9, Moroni has taken over the record from his father and is in a tragic position. He has seen his culture decimated and he is the last survivor of what was once a thriving world . Could anything be sadder than this?
October 26-November 1
Every time I read the Book of Mormon and get to these chapters, I always hope that the Nephites will repent and that their civilization and people will be spared—and then it happens every time! They are destroyed. And then another entire civilization, the Jaredites, are destroyed for the same reasons. We can’t change their outcomes, but how about ours? Is there a message in here for us, right now, in our day?
When President Russell M. Nelson taught us that we needed to use the true name of the Church going forward, he was teaching us something deeper than we might have understood at the time. Something, in fact that can open up whole new realms of gospel understanding. Let’s explore that today.
If you knew that the Lord Jesus Christ would spend the day with you and all who would come to the occasion from your home stake, what do you think He would teach you? What do you think He would do? What would be the most important truths He could communicate with you? What would YOU want to know from Him? Let’s explore these thoughts and explore the record of actual witnesses to such a day.
September 28-October 11
Can you imagine the joy that would fill your souls if you were witnesses to the visitation of the Lord Jesus Christ? How could you possibly describe your feelings? How could you even handle the happiness that would overwhelm your whole being? The faithful who had gathered at the ancient temple in Bountiful had spent a number of hours with the Lord Jesus Christ and now it was time for Him to go. Carefully searching the record, we have some sense of how the people felt, but even more importantly we have an amazing view of the Savior’s joy, His compassion and His love for His people.
If you were to do a survey to determine the most influential talk or sermon in history, surely the results would point to the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. Here are contained the eternal “beatitudes;” here is contained the Lord’s Prayer spoken each week by untold millions of Christ’s followers throughout the world; here we have “the golden rule.” The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most densely packed three chapters in all of holy writ. As an added bonus, when the Lord visited His other sheep in the ancient Americas, one of the first things He did was gave the same Sermon on the Mount text with some additional insights. When the Lord purposely repeats something, I think He really wants our attention!
How can you not be just thrilled with this week’s readings? The entire Book of Mormon has been centered on one Person—Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer—and His coming to the earth and the promised visit to this righteous branch of the tribe of Joseph in the Americas. Lehi testified He would come. Nephi saw Him in vision that He would come. Jacob gave bold witness of His mission and His coming. King Benjamin, Alma the Elder, Alma the Younger, Ammon, Aaron, Omner, Himni, Helaman—and many more—they all testified that HE, the Lord Jesus Christ, would come—and in this week’s exciting readings—HE CAME!
I was just pondering very early this morning as I looked out the window: “What if at 4:00 in the morning on a fall day I looked out the window and it was as bright as day? Would my heart take a leap and would I think: What is going on?!” It was pitch dark when I peered out my window and yet, we have record of an event in this week’s reading, where untold thousands of people could not help but see this incredible, unforgettable sign of a day, a night and a day wherein there was no darkness. The righteous rejoiced and the wicked were struck with fear. We’re going to look at a lot of contrasts together in this week’s lesson.
August 31-September 6
In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites always think of themselves as the good guys. In a movie, they’d ride in wearing the white hat or the gold star, signifying their goodness. Yet, the Book of Mormon demonstrates that often the Nephites are relentlessly blind to their own wickedness and it is the Lamanites who are the most faithful and true. Enter the scene into the wicked Nephite city of Zarahemla: Samuel the Lamanite. The point is clear.
As Helaman chapter 7 opens, we see a prophet pleading with God for his people in great agony and heaviness of Spirit. The Gadianton robbers had usurped legitimate authority and taken over much of the government, the people have become corrupted and Nephi is deeply grieved for the wickedness which abounds. In a video for General Conference a little girl asked President Russell M. Nelson, “Is it hard to be a prophet? Are you, like, really busy?” He said, “Of course it’s hard.”
In Helaman chapters 1-6, the Lamanites become the righteous and the Nephites the wicked. How does this switch come about? And the new enemy are the Gadianton robbers, who capture the allegiance of many of the Nephites. Things happen fast in the Book of Mormon, a roller coaster of righteousness and wickedness. I used to think it was hard to imagine such reversals and drama in such a short period of time, until we all entered these tumultuous times in our own nation.
The ten chapters that we look at today are about both the low and high points of the Nephite nation. This is a time of continual war, brought on in large part by the “contentions, and dissensions, and all manner of iniquity of the people of Nephi” (Alma 62:40) At the same time, just as the light shines more clearly in a darkened world, we see the power of goodness in Helaman’s 2060 stripling warriors. The image of these young men carrying the banner of freedom and faith with such unflinching goodness is one that shines right into our hearts today.
You may get to the so-called war chapters in the Book of Mormon and wonder why Mormon bothered to include so many of them. Yet, he was a prophet who’d seen our day and if ever there were chapters as fresh and relevant as today’s news headlines, here they are. They are filled with the best heroes, like Moroni, who hoist the title of liberty, the darkest villains, like Amalickiah who prosper by deceit and betrayal, and underscoring it all is an existential question: what is the price of freedom?
July 27-August 2
With only 239 chapters in the Book of Mormon and only 531 pages, would you take four of those chapters and 8 pages just to talk about one wayward missionary’s story who committed a grievous sexual sin? Why would the Prophet Mormon think it was so important to include this story for our day? Let’s explore this together.
We see many conversations in the Book of Mormon where fathers teach their sons and their impact changes not only their son’s life, but the generations that follow. The lessons are profound. The impact overwhelming. If there was ever scripture that calls out for fathers to step into their parenting role with power, the Book of Mormon is it.
Alma has a hidden message in this week’s readings. You all are familiar with the concept he teaches of having a particle of faith and planting a seed and nurturing it that it may grow. But what is that seed to grow into? What is the metaphor he wants us to understand? As we read and study this week’s material you might think Alma the Younger is one of Lehi’s students—he takes a chapter right out of the vision of the tree of life—and if you miss that part of the lesson, you miss one of the greatest teachings in the scriptures. Let’s explore further.
It is surprising that an idea can at once be so popular, attracting people to give it passionate devotion, and at the same time be completely false. Why are people so often crazy enough to jump on a trend that is destructive or just plain foolish against their own best interests? Again and again, the Book of Mormon presents us smooth talking, powerful, intellectuals whose words corrupt the nation. Every one of them grabbed power and the hearts of many people, reminding us that there is nothing more dangerous than a lie preached with power.
June 29-July 5
It’s intriguing to me to ponder about why the great abridger of the ancient records, the Prophet Mormon, included some stories and not others in the text. No one in ancient times had the Book of Mormon. This book was written for us—for our day—for our time. So, why did Mormon include the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis? What possible application does this have for our time? What are we to learn from this almost unbelievable group of people who turned their whole souls to the Lord Jesus Christ and never waived thereafter? Let’s explore this further.
Can you imagine if today you opened a mission call and it was for a 14-year mission to a violent people whose aim was to destroy you? You might think twice about that kind of call. Yet, the sons of Mosiah, Nephite princes who could have had a very different life, chose to go to preach to the Lamanites, a people described as “wild and a hardened and a ferocious people; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites” (Alma 17:14). No wonder Mosiah was concerned about the safety of his sons, and sought counsel from the Lord, who gave him a promise.
“Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life; and I will adeliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites’ (Mosiah 28:7). They would need it.
Have you ever thought about Alma and Amulek watching the believers in Ammonihah burn? It is not just the pain that these are their tender converts. Could it be that Amulek’s own family was among that group because he is in particular anguish after the event?
Here’s an irony. In our day, when someone wants to change everything that is wrong with the world, they run for president. In the Book of Mormon, Alma hoping to pull down the pride and craftiness and contentions among his people, saw no way to reclaim them except to give up his office.
I’ve always loved Alma chapter 5. It could be taken as the most introspective chapter in all of holy writ. Alma asks more than 40 questions of his listeners and really wants them to probe their spirituality in a deep way. But Alma wasn’t just talking to the people in Zarahemla—he is talking to us! So, to put it in our language and context today: If you have received a witness of this great work, if you have felt those wonderful feelings of the Spirit in your life, if you came to know something was true at some point in your life; can you feel so now? Let’s explore Alma’s teachings together.
Hugh Nibley calls Mosiah 29 one of the most important treatises on political power ever written. In fact, the Book of Mormon has plenty to say about good and bad political leaders. Why does a spiritual book have so much to say about politics? We’ll find out in this episode.
When I was growing up and first learning about the story of Alma the Younger’s conversion in the Book of Mormon, I always pictured him as a rebellious teenager who hung out with the four sons of Mosiah and together, the five of them wreaked havoc on the Church. If you look closely at the record and put the facts together, you come to know something altogether different.
I have often wondered what was on Abinadi’s mind as the fire that would engulf and kill him burned hotter and hotter. Did he wonder if he’d been a good missionary, because after all, there wasn’t a rush of converts from King Noah’s court.
There are many times in our lives when we just have to stand up for the truth and, sometimes we stand alone. Has that ever happened in your life? Has it happened in the lives of your ancestors or the lives of your children? President Nelson said recently: “Why do we need such resilient faith? Because difficult days are ahead. Rarely in the future will it be easy or popular to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. Each of us will be tested.” This week’s material is a great lesson on boldness, standing up for the truth and being faithful when it is not too popular.
April 27-May 3
Elder Richard G. Scott said, “Help from the Lord always follows eternal law. The better you understand that law, the easier it is to receive His help.” The chapters that we are studying in this podcast demonstrate just that.
Over our years of studies of the first 6 chapters of Mosiah we have all come to love King Benjamin and his marvelous teachings. We have the whole thing in our minds, don’t we? The aged King Benjamin; the anointing of his son Mosiah to be the new king; the innumerable hosts of tents surrounding the temple and families in breathless attention to their servant King. We have the setting down pat, but what about the setting in our hearts—if King Benjamin were to send a text message to all of us, desiring to know if WE believed the words which he has spoken to US, what would be our answer? And what would be our proof?
Elder Neal A. Maxwell called the chapters we are studying in this episode the “Manual of Discipleship”. Since Mormon could include only the hundredth part of the records he had available to him, this may be the reason he zeroed right in on King Benjamin’s address and gave us so much of it. He knew we in the latter days would want to learn discipleship too.
March 30-April 12
I love the season of spring. I love the newness of life. I love the crocus, daffodils and tulips just popping through the winter-hardened earth. I love the buds that magically appear on all the trees. I especially love the redbuds and the dogwoods that were the first to show in my home-state of Missouri on our forested farm. Most of all, though, I love the fact that “all things are created and made to bear record of [Jesus Christ]…things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of [Him].” (See Moses 6:63) What an exciting thing to talk about this week: the newness of life that comes and the celebration of Easter—the atoning sacrifice, death and resurrection of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
This has been an unprecedented time in the history of our nation, our world and the Church. With news of the Corona Virus dominating the headlines and our mind space, we wanted to take a few minutes just to just relax with you, our amazing and loving listeners, and talk about faith, peace, calm and listening to the promptings and whisperings of the Spirit. You might be listening to this on the Sabbath—or it might be some other day of the week—either way, let’s just sit down together and talk.
I remember, following Enos’s example, of going to the woods to pray in my life, in fact, more than once. Then, I recently was talking about Enos with a friend, and he said he, too, had gone to the woods to pray. I know, Scot, that you took Enos’s example, but went to a mountain. I don’t think the location matters because it can be right in our own bedroom, but there is something magnificent to learn about prayer from Enos in his book.
One of my favorite olive trees in the entire world is inside the walls of the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies in Jerusalem. I remember Truman Madsen telling us all about how it was long-lined from a helicopter all the way from the Galilee to the center. They were concerned about the shock of its journey, but they promptly planted it. And then it died…at least they thought it did. We’ll tell you all about it.
When Jacob speaks at the temple in the book named after him, it is with both anxiety and boldness, setting an example for all us who have to teach the people we love in this difficult world. It is not a time to shy away from the truth.
Any returned missionary will recognize the chapters we are studying this week. We used many of these verses when it came time to challenge a serious investigator to make the commitment to be baptized. In all our readings and studies of 2 Nephi 31-33, have we possibly missed some critical teachings for our own spiritual progress? Let’s study together and see what we can find out.
February 24-March 2
Nephi, of course is heartbroken because he has seen in revelation the destruction of his people. He says, “O the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people” (2 Nephi 26:7). He says it consumes him. But he is given a promise of comfort. What is it? We’ll talk about it in this episode.
There was a story told of a man in war and in the heat of the battle he was shot in the chest. By a miracle he was spared being killed. As he was taken back to the safety of the nearby camp, he was examined and he had a small copy of the Book of Mormon he had been carrying in his uniform. They opened the book and the bullet had penetrated only into about the middle of 2 Nephi—right in the heart of the Isaiah chapters. It was said that even a speeding bullet couldn’t get through Isaiah—well, let’s try to prove that wrong today. Let’s have some fun studying these seemingly difficult chapters together!
Do you know how many times the word “plan” shows up in the Book of Mormon? 66 times! How about in the Old Testament—only three times, and none of these is talking about the plan of salvation. The New Testament has no mention of “plan” at all.
How can Lehi who has suffered so much in the wilderness journey, including the murderous rejection of his own sons, Laman and Lemuel, possibly write that man is that he might have joy? Does he know something that we sometimes forget? We’ll find out as we study together.
January 27-February 2
A theme is so prevalent throughout scripture, and especially in the Book of Mormon, that you would think we would never miss it, and yet we do. What is that elusive theme? We’ll tell you in this episode.
After Lehi had his dream of the tree of life, his sons had some choices, and, based on those, in the next few hours had radically different experiences. Laman and Lemuel went to their tent and fought about the meaning of the dream, and Nephi was swept up to a mountain and given a vision. What Laman and Lemuel missed out on in insisting on their war of words!
I remember once being so tired as we made our way out of a remote area of the Sinai Desert in Egypt. It was night and we wanted to drive all the way back to Cairo but we were just too exhausted from having hiked Mt. Sinai at 2:00 o’clock that morning. We pulled over to rest. We got off the main road and pulled up onto a small hill. We watched from our perch, as an occasional car would go by. And then it happened. We watched as a dark mist or fog rolled in like a slow-motion wave of the sea. We were both wide awake now—the mist completely obscured our view of the road below us—we could no longer see headlights or anything. It was almost an inky black. This was the mist of darkness Lehi had talked about!
We all know the 1st book of Nephi so well, you may wonder if there is still more to learn. Welcome to the inexhaustible Book of Mormon that always surprises us with its spiritual richness and historical authenticity. You may know these stories, but we are about to enter a treasure room.
December 30-January 5
I was reading a very short notice this past week in a local newspaper that was just over 300 words long. This is not a well-known national periodical, in fact, it’s quite obscure—but the notice I read is probably the most important thing ever published in the news. The paper was The Wayne Sentinel and the date was Friday, March 26, 1830. This was the first announcement that The Book of Mormon was now available to the world.
Here’s the latest breaking news: The major war that was going on in the pre-mortal world between the forces of Lucifer and the forces of Michael has continued—but it has changed locations. All of Lucifer’s forces have been moved to this earth and continue to wage war against the Saints and the followers of Christ and His Gospel.
There is often a certain dread that comes over us as we approach a thorough study of John’s Book of Revelation. “How will I ever understand this book? How can I figure out all the symbols and mysterious beasts? Is there application in this book for me personally?” In this week’s podcast and in one more lesson on Revelation to follow, we will give you some tools and some thoughts that will help you unlock this great book.
John is described as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, and it may be no surprise that he gives us a deeper look into what it means to love and how it is done. Of all the things I want and hope for in this world, it is to learn how to be a person filled with love, but self creeps in at every turn. Let’s turn to John for help.
November 25-December 1
We know so much about the apostle Peter. He is a hero to many of us. He is the one who stepped so quickly forward to action. He is the one who boldly testified that Jesus is the Christ. He is the one who healed the sick and the lame and raised the dead. But how much do we know about the two epistles that he wrote before his martyrdom? Let’s do some exploring and see what we can learn together.
When I was in college, my great desire was to develop an unshakeable faith, and so I tried many things. I went up the canyon hoping to be alone with God and pray for an hour, but I ran out of things to say in ten minutes. Then, a speaker came to my college ward who struck me as a woman with wonderful faith, and so I asked if I could go visit with her at her home and if she could teach me what she knew. But things began to open up for me when I read what Paul wrote in the magnificent Hebrews 11 about faith. Let’s explore today.
October 28 - November 3
What would you say to your beloved friends and followers if you knew this was the last time you would ever speak to them? Such is the case with 2 Timothy as Paul has his last words penned by a scribe from a dungeon in Rome. Paul’s words to Timothy, and of course from his other letters, would change the entire world.
We have many sicknesses today in our tumultuous world, but Paul aptly labels one of the most pervasive and contagious. We’ll call it the “shaken in mind” syndrome. Being “shaken in mind” is as deadly as it sounds, like something that would make you really sick. It is where stillness and stability and a sure foundation have fled.
Paul’s letters, or the Pauline epistles, are arranged in the New Testament in descending order of their length—with the exception of The Book of Hebrews. These 14 letters comprise 173 pages, just about 43% of the entire New Testament. This week we will be looking at the small epistle of Paul to the Philippians—those converts living in Philippi in the region of Macedonia, Greece and another even smaller epistle to the Colossians—those living in Colossae, a celebrated city of Phrygia just 100 miles east of Ephesus in modern day Turkey. And we will be looking at one particular very wonderful thing Paul taught: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
September 30–October 13
What does it mean to be a “stranger in the world”? That’s a lonely idea, right up there with one of the saddest words in our language—homeless. Paul tells the Gentile converts, “Now, therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the Saints” (Ephesians 2:19). Being a stranger in the world is what it means to be without Christ in our journey. A stranger in the world is exiled from Him and from home. That would be lonely, indeed.
The Book of Galatians is little known among us. It’s only 6 chapters, in 149 verses and a total of 3,084 words. Can we glean some eternal lessons from this brief letter of the Apostle Paul? We certainly can! In today’s podcast we will draw out some of Paul’s teachings that we think will bless all of our lives.
In this book of 2 Corinthians we come nearest to the inner feelings of Paul than in any other of his writings. As one writer said, here Paul reveals his “joy and depression, anxiety and hope, trust and resentment, anger and love.” We see his human qualities. Some writers have suggested that one of the best words to describe 2 Corinthians is that it is a defense. What would Paul have to defend? We'll discuss that this week.
This mortal experience was never meant to be easy—it was meant to be a school—but a school full of joy and wonderful learning. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: We are troubled on every side (have you ever felt that way?), yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (See 2 Corinthians 4: 8-9) Paul sounds like he is talking to us in our day—not to the people living in Corinth in the 1st Century A.D. Or was he talking to both? Let’s explore this together.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul is addressing early converts to the Church who brought with them baggage and false ideas from their previous beliefs. To make matters even more difficult, they were far away from any central administration of the Church and so old ideas, firmly entrenched in their minds could clash with the gospel. Among these new converts were polytheistic Gentiles who had once worshipped idols, Jews who held to the Mosaic law, and all of the ideas influenced by the philosophies of Greece. How did Paul handle this whirlwind of opinions?
August 26-September 1
This week’s readings include some of the most important teachings in all the scriptures. You’re familiar with them: Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I AM NOTHING. We’re excited to explore this most coveted gift from the heavens.
Corinth was the powerful, bustling, and wicked trade center of the Roman province of Achaia. When Paul wrote what we call 1 Corinthians, to the members there, it wasn’t his first letter to them. That one is lost to us in time, but this second letter, that we call first, was motivated in part, by the concerns of a woman named Chloe and her household, who had written him. We’ll tell you why.
The book of Romans has some scriptures that are so familiar to us like “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ”, and at the same time, we may sometimes find it hard to understand what Paul is saying beyond those scriptures we know well. Let’s dive in and see if we can unwind some of the mystery.
Preaching the gospel had been restricted during Christ ministry, with few exceptions, to the House and children of Israel. In a series of days on the beautiful coast of the Mediterranean Sea—all that would change. It reminds us of a very special day in June of 1978—a day never to be forgotten.
What is this surprise in the nature of Paul that he can go from “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Christ” one day and be a submissive disciple of Christ the next? Of course he had this stupendous vision on the road to Damascus, but is there something more we can learn about the life of Paul, itself, that can give us clues to his energy and passion?
For many people, one of the most enigmatic and mysterious parts of the life of Christ, comes after His resurrection when He spent forty days teaching the Apostles. What was the instruction that He gave them and is there some way to learn more? Do any sources give us a window into that teaching?
We’ve all been studying the life and mortal mission of Jesus Christ for the past six months. Don’t you agree that you feel closer to the Savior now than you did at the beginning of your studies? This week’s lesson has some surprises and is the culmination of the Savior’s perfect ministry. How would you have felt if you had come to the tomb early that Sunday morning after your own pain and sorrow at the loss of Jesus—and you looked in only to find it empty?
After his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, another kind of agony was about to begin for Jesus who was already exhausted with the weight He had borne. Before the night was finished, He would be betrayed, falsely charged, scourged, spit upon and maligned in a trial that was utterly illegal. Why illegal? And who is the only mortal on record that Jesus refused to speak to? We will tell you in this week's podcast.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “That first Easter sequence of Atonement and Resurrection constitutes the most consequential moment, the most generous gift, the most excruciating pain, and the most majestic manifestation of pure love ever to be demonstrated in the history of this world. Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, suffered, died, and rose from death in order that He could, like lightning in a summer storm, grasp us as we fall, hold us with His might, and through our obedience to His commandments, lift us to eternal life.”
Did you know that the preparation for the Last Supper began with a miracle? It’s subtle, and most readers of the account will not see it—but when you understand the culture and the setting of the time, it’s obvious and it’s amazing.
May 27-June 2
We have two questions for you: 1) Which chapter in the New Testament did Joseph Smith make the most changes to? It’s Matthew 24 where Christ during his last week on earth told his apostles just what to expect before He would return. Here’s the next question: 2) Do we have any precedent in the Gospel or in history where a people were preparing for the coming of the Lord; they knew He was coming; they knew where He was coming; they even prepared a place for Him to come—and then He came? Of course we see this in the Book of Mormon—but is the same pattern happening in our time? We’re going to explore this question in this podcast.
Jesus once told Mary at Cana that “Mine hour hath not yet come,” but now as we start this lesson that has changed as we take you to the beginning of the last week of His mortal life. Now he will say, “Mine hour hath come,” a statement that will break His followers hearts and have implications for every one of us.
Many questions were posed to the Savior during His mortal ministry. If you had the chance to ask Him one question, in person, what would that question be? In this week’s lesson we have a very powerful question asked of the Lord face to face in his ministry and it’s worth all of us pondering about this specific question.
Have you ever given a party, invited many people, and no one came? In this week’s chapters, we’ll explore a parable about a great feast and how, when invited, many people found shoddy excuses not to attend. As we hear this story, it seems so strange that anyone would find any reason to miss a marvelous feast put on by the Lord, but he is talking to us. Are we, knowingly or unknowingly, rejecting wonderful invitations that the Lord offers?
April 29-May 5
Have you ever wondered why John the Beloved included the story of the woman taken in adultery in his record? Surely he had hundreds of stories he could have chosen to complete his testimony—why this particular story? We’re going to explore at least three things about this tender encounter that you
The Lord often requires us to do things that we think sound impossible. Forgive seventy times seven? This does not mean 490 times, but boundless forgiveness, that we travel with forgiveness for those who have wronged us. Forgiveness is not always easy, especially when we have been deeply hurt or wronged or if we live in a situation where we are poorly treated continually, but the Lord’s command to forgive is one that can free and heal our hearts and cultivate boundless love for our neighbors.
We love Easter as the most important celebration of the year because it is Jesus Christ’s atonement and resurrection that answers every uncertainty, loosens every bond and supplies every hope for our mortal experience. More people saw the resurrected Jesus than we sometimes realize, including John Murdock, an early convert to The Church of Jesus Christ in Kirtland. He described what Jesus looked like in detail and then said this, “It left on my mind the impression of love, for months, that I never felt before to that degree.”
In Jesus’s teachings, the land of Israel itself becomes his visual aid. That is nowhere more evident than in the teachings he gives in Caesarea Philippi about the rock on which His Church will be built. Learn about that this week as well as the profound answer the Pharisees got who were seeking a sign.
Not all of the moments and sayings in the life of Jesus can we read as a sequence of events. We have stories and sayings that we can’t always connect. But in today’s study we can see things in sequence, which adds meaning to the story. This includes the feeding of the 5,000, the rescue of the apostles while they are struggling against great winds on the Sea of Galilee, and the Bread of Life speech which motivated many of Jesus’s followers to desert Him.
Jesus taught in parables both to reveal and conceal truths. There is more in even apparently simple statements than immediately meets the eye in what Jesus taught. What for instance does it mean, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father”?
This episode of the Come Follow Me podcast relates many stories that you probably haven’t heard into the calling of an apostle and what today’s apostles say about their own special witness of Jesus Christ. You will also come to know, by tradition, how each of the Twelve that Christ called eventually died.
As mortals we are on a journey to move from being broken to healed, and it is the Lord who is our attending physician. The stories in the New Testament are not only about the halt, the blind, and the person afflicted with leprosy. They are about us, and our universal need for his healing touch.
How can we become better at praying? It is a question that most of us ask ourselves as serious disciples of Jesus Christ. In these chapters from the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Himself teaches us how to pray. If the Lord says this is how we should pray, then, there is something deep to learn.
The Sermon on the Mount was called by President Joseph Fielding Smith, “The greatest sermon that was ever preached, so far as we know,” and President Harold B. Lee called it “the constitution for a perfect life”. It tells us not just what to do but gives us the much more exacting standard and describes how we should be.
John’s gospel is so beautifully structured to reveal eternal truths to his audience who are Church members. One story reinforces and points back or forward to the next. For instance, both the wedding at Cana and the visit to Nicodemus at night are teaching the same thing—an idea the casual reader might miss.
Jesus goes into the wilderness, fasting for 40 days, to commune with his Father, and then when he is famished, Satan comes upon him with temptation. As the arch liar who has eons of practice, he uses types of temptations on the Savior, which he also uses on all of us. What these are and how the Savior resists him is a profound teaching for us all.
There is a stir in the Judean wilderness, a voice of authority and vibrancy that hasn’t been heard amongst the Jews for at least four hundred years. John the Baptist is preaching his hopeful and important message. He is a voice in the wilderness, which has come to mean in our English language, someone who is expressing an idea that is not popular. Yet, it is the message that Israel has anticipated for its entire history, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” The Messiah is here.
Joseph Smith calls this book The Testimony of John. Think of this as his testimony to us as an eyewitness of the life of the Savior. The scenes from Jesus’ life that [John] describes are carefully selected and arranged with this object in view...He clearly affirms that Jesus is the Son of God, attested to by miracles, by witnesses, by the prophets, and by Christ’s own voice. John the Baptist is a voice crying in the wilderness. Come and listen!
The chapters in this week’s podcast are familiar to us because we have recited them so many times at Christmas. The surprise is that there are hidden gems and ideas in these chapters we might not have seen before. The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) also adds new dimensions to the old story we love so well. Come and join us again this week.
This is the second week's lesson in the new Come Follow Me curriculum. We are Scot & Maurine Proctor, publishers and editors of Meridian Magazine. The podcast gives you 25-30 minutes of lively discussion on the week's lesson. The topic this week is: "Be It unto Me according to Thy Word" where we focus on Matthew Chapter 1 and Luke Chapter 1. Come and study with us as we give you insights and ideas about this week's lesson.
Beginning today, December 28, 2018, each week Meridian Magazine’s founders, Scot and Maurine Proctor, will be giving a 30-minute podcast on the “Come, Follow Me” curriculum for the week. This is so you can listen with your scriptures in hand, or while you are about life’s many other duties. If you want some thoughts about teaching your family or in Church lessons, this can be a place to turn. If you live alone, let us study with you. This week's lesson: "We are responsible for our own learning."