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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.

You can also find it on any of these platforms by searching for Meridian Magazine-Come Follow Me.

Maurine and Scot Proctor have spent extensive time in the Holy Land, researching the life of Christ. They have taught the New Testament in the Institute program for many years and have written books and numerous articles on the life of the Savior.

Join our study group and let’s delve into the scriptures in a way that is inspiring, expanding and joyful.

Scot

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.

Maurine
                                                                                                                        

Welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me Podcast.  We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and we are delighted to be with you again this week.  Thanks to our friend Paul Cardall who shares his music so generously to open and close this Podcast.  And thanks to all of our listeners who have pre-ordered the First Vision Bicentennial Calendar.  We’re thrilled to think of this going into so many homes across the nation to remind us this coming year of the 200th anniversary of The First Vision.  Remember:  You can pre-order these calendars at:  latterdaysaintmag.com/calendar.  This is the last Podcast we will offer this to you exclusively—then we will go out to the general Meridian and Latter-day Saint audience.

Oh, and will you please continue to share this Podcast with friends and family members?  Just send them to:  latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast  Thank you!

This week’s lesson is entitled:  “Be Ye Reconciled to God” and it covers 2 Corinthians chapters 1-7.

My Trials Can Be a Blessing

Scot

You know, my friends, there’s something you may not know about Maurine’s background—she was one of the writers of the Spoken Word for the Tabernacle Choir for 15 years.  There was a team of four writers, which meant that her turn would come up a little more than once a month—13 times a year.  I remember one particular season, Maurine, when Spence Kinard gave you some feedback.  Can you tell us about that?


Maurine

As you know, Scot, a lot of those Spoken Words were quite autobiographical.  So, during one particular season of my own personal trials and challenges, I hadn’t realized that each time I was about to write another Spoken Word, what came to me was something about trials and challenges in my own life.  So, I would write another one on that particular topic.  Spence came to me one day and said, “Maurine, Are you having a hard time? Has this hard time lasted about a year?—It seems like all you ever write about is trials and tribulation. I think you need to pick another topic.”  I hadn’t even realized I was doing this—but it was good counsel and I changed my topic.

Scot

But, it’s true that we all do face diverse trials and challenges—it’s just a part of this mortal sojourn.  And sometimes they come right out of the blue.  My best friend from my growing up years in Missouri, Mike Talbert, was just out jogging in his sleepy little town a few weeks ago and was hit from behind by a drowsy driver—he was blessed not to be killed.  The accident broke his neck, his back, and he had five breaks in his wrist.  We visited him right after the accident in the ICU.  He couldn’t move but he just looked up at us and was full of gratitude for life, for the Lord, for his family and for our visit—and he had only positive and affirming things to say.  We were so lifted by our visit.  Maurine, his children even reported that a couple of weeks ago Mike had graduated to being able to have ice chips.  He liked them so much, he asked the nurse for the recipe.  That’s a lot of courage, bravery and good humor in such a grave situation.  I’ve been so impressed by Mike and his wife Lisa’s great faith and hope.

Maurine

In the very first part of our reading this week, in 2nd Corinthians, chapter 1, we read that Paul faced many trials and concerns in his own life–like we all do. Paul recorded:

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; (Oh!  I truly love that description of God—The God of all Comfort!)

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

So, God gives us comfort in all that we face, and part of that is to teach us how to bring that same comfort to others—we, too, become Saviors on Mt. Zion, emulating the very attributes He is teaching us by His blessings upon us.  Mike Talbert was certainly offering us comfort in the midst of his severe trial and is setting such an example for us.

I have drawn closest to the Lord when I have relied on his comfort when I couldn’t find it anywhere else.

Scot

Paul continues:

And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

I think it’s so interesting that Paul says that afflictions and sufferings are for our consolation and salvation.  We are afflicted and tried for our refinement.

I remember being in the Souq—the marketplace or bazar—in Salalah, Oman some years ago.  We stopped and talked to the silversmith for a few minutes.  He was making some beautiful jewelry and he had a blowtorch that he was putting extreme heat on some raw silver.  I asked him, “How do you know when the silver is ready to be worked?”  He said, “Watch and you will see.”  The heat kept going on this kind of dirty, dross-filled silver and then all-of-the-sudden, the small bits of dross and dirt-like particles just went shooting out to the sides, the silver became very beautiful and the smith or refiner could see his image in the mirror-like surface of the silver.  It was ready.  We are refined when the Creator can see His image in us. I’ve never forgotten that moment in the Salalah Souq! In that refiner’s fire, we become like the refiner.

Maurine

Elder Richard G. Scott taught us so masterfully on this particular topic of trials:

“No one wants adversity.

“Trials, disappointments, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources. Those who transgress the laws of God will always have those challenges. The other reason for adversity is to accomplish the Lord’s own purposes in our life that we may receive the refinement that comes from testing. It is vitally important for each of us to identify from which of these two sources come our trials and challenges, for the corrective action is very different…

“May I share some suggestions with you who face the second source of adversity, the testing that a wise Heavenly Father determines is needed even when you are living a worthy, righteous life and are obedient to His commandments.

“Just when all seems to be going right,” Elder Scott taught, “challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.” (Trust in the Lord, Richard G. Scott, October 1995, emphasis added)

Scot

That particular teaching, Maurine, the “multiple doses applied simultaneously,” has certainly been true in our own lives.  Trials sometimes seem like being caught in a wave and slammed against the sandy shore, and then just as you are coming up for breath, you are hit again, water filling your mouth. We’ve seen that a lot and it just seems to me that the Lord wants us to grow a lot—or perhaps He is reminding us that we have a long way to go.  I think both.

I remember oh so well the challenges we faced just trying to launch Meridian Magazine.  We had designed what we knew best:  A print magazine that would come out 4-6 times a year.  But, it seemed like no matter how hard we tried, things just weren’t coming together and we were very frustrated by that.  We had our financing for Meridian put together five different times and it fell apart exactly five different times as well.  This went on for many years.

Maurine

I remember that the more we pushed and tried, the more we seemed to be tried by a fire so very hot.  When we got to the time where we just could not go any further, right at what we might have considered the breaking point, one of our dear friends and mentors took us aside after one particularly hard meeting, and said, “Why don’t we help you get started on the Internet first instead of doing the print magazine.” 

Oh, we did not want to do that!  “The Internet!” we said, “That Internet is nothing.  We want something you can snuggle up with, something you can hold in your hand and read by the fireplace.”  This was the end of 1998 and Scot, you and I didn’t even have an email address and we really knew very little about this new technology.

Scot

We finally agreed with the new strategy to launch on the Internet first and on February 12, 1999 at 5:35 PM we went live with what would soon become a daily-updated, online magazine—not a 4-6 times-a-year print magazine.  Within a couple of weeks, we could see the power of the Internet and we were convinced that this was a great blessing that had been extended to us.  Yes, just as Elder Scott said, the Lord felt that we were prepared to grow more—and grow we did!

Maurine

Of course, we all have our own challenge and trial stories, don’t we?  I’m sure that all of you listening have times in your life that are almost unbearable.  Sometimes it is from sickness or long-term disease.  Sometimes it can be from the loss of a job or a particular career opportunity or path.  Sometimes our fondest dreams of marriage or a particular relationship are dashed against the rocks.  Sometimes we face betrayal or disloyalty of a best friend.  It could be the loss of our precious spouse.  It is often the case that we are blind-sided by trials we never supposed would come into our lives.  In all of these cases, the Lord will be with us—as we are faithful and true to Him.

Scot

In fact, I love Paul’s teachings in 2 Corinthians chapter 4, beginning in verse 6:

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.

When I was studying that verse these past few weeks, it really hit me as a real answer in this arena of trials, pain, tribulation, stress, depression and anxiety.

Let’s stop for a second and study that verse more carefully.  Just those first words:  God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness—this is a direct reference to the creation of the world.  It is a call to have faith in Him whose word alone caused light to shine forth from the void in creation and fill the world and fill the universe with His light.  But then Paul says, “hath shined in our hearts the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 

In other words—Paul is teaching us that God can cause the light to chase the darkness from our own souls, from the deepest pit of darkness in our souls to shine forth through our knowledge of the atonement of Jesus Christ.  That is powerful doctrine and can help anyone on this planet in need—ANYONE.

Maurine

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught:

“In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember that we are living—and chose to live—in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of godliness will be tested and tried again and again. Of greatest assurance in God’s plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came. It is only an appreciation of this divine love that will make our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive…

“Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Like a Broken Vessel, October 2013)

Scot

Now, with all these things we’ve just talked about in mind, let’s read Paul’s words:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

In other words, the mighty change that is wrought in our hearts is from God, not from ourselves alone.  He is the One who shows forth His power in us.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Can we be renewed in our faith as we study Paul’s words?  It certainly strengthens me!

Maurine

He goes on:

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4: 7-9; 17-18)

Scot

Now, lest we get a call from Spencer Kinard that we’ve spent too much time on trials and tribulation, let’s move on to another wonderful topic from this week’s reading:  The topic of forgiveness.

Paul refers briefly to a man we really know nothing about in 2 Corinthians 2, verses 5-11, who had caused some great offense in their community.  Paul asked the Saints to forgive him.  We really don’t know about the nature of the man’s offense or the severity of the pain that was caused by his sin or transgression—but, does it really matter?  The teaching is the same:  We are to forgive in all circumstances.

Maurine

In Doctrine and Covenants, Section 64, verses 9-11 we read this powerful directive from the Lord Himself: 

Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.

How can this be?  The one who has been hurt by another’s transgression, if she withholds her forgiveness, there remains in her the greater sin?  The Lord goes on in His direction:

10 I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.

11 And ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.

Scot

Now, let’s add Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians in chapter 2 on this so we can understand the answer to this withholding of our own forgiveness:

9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

10 To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

And then listen carefully to this in verse 11:

11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

What an insight from Paul!  If we withhold our forgiveness from anyone—then Satan can get an advantage on us.

Maurine

And how does he do that?  If we carry any added burdens in our hearts like resentment, jealousy, injustice, hatred or unfairness—Satan truly has an advantage on us.  He can work those things into his own mission, which is to fight against and spurn the Savior Jesus Christ and His mission and atoning sacrifice.  Satan will cause our focus to change from growth and wholeness to stagnation and fractured thinking.  He will take us from light and joy to darkness and misery.  He will carefully lead us from fulfilling relationships to division, strife and contention with those we should love.  And all this because we have withheld our forgiveness! 

Small tiffs and little offenses are part of life. We are like those Dodge’em rides at amusement parks—cars that careen a bit and occasionally bump into each other. How can I offend thee? Let me count the ways.

Scot

Hardly anyone gives us as much deferential treatment as we wish they did. Often our best efforts go unnoticed. People misread our motives. They think we are mad when we are only depressed. People leave us out of conversations and lunch gatherings. Some people are proud and they want to make us feel small. We don’t like the way people think or the way they do things.

Maurine

If this is true with friends and strangers, how much more does it happen in this tight, little laboratory of life called a family? With the constant buffeting against each other through the winds of life, offenses come—large and small. We can be irritated with our place in the family, irritated about who makes decisions and what they are, irritated by the tone someone takes toward us.

Scot

Ironically, we can find ourselves offended because someone else is always so easily offended. Oh, how uncomfortable it is to be constantly walking on eggshells around each other, worried that someone will take offense.

Isn’t it so difficult to be constantly weighing your words, wondering what might offend someone else? To be continually self-conscious in case you stumble into a land mine?

Maurine

The challenge in a family is that we fall into patterns with each other and we find we are not dealing with one offense, but who we see as repeat offenders whose tendencies seem particularly designed to bother us.

Yet here is a fundamental truth. Offenses grow and shrink in our minds depending on how much air time we give them. They are like poison ivy. Give it enough food, sunshine and water, and it can grow up to be quite a healthy toxin.

Scot

Because some things sting us, it is easy to replay them in our minds. They seem to have their own emotional power that needs to be played out. Again and again an offense can roll around and we can find we develop quite a healthy case against the offender. Somehow, emotionally, it just seems like we have to play it out until that sting goes away.

Often, that stung emotion, too, seems like it will be salved if we tell the story to someone else or if we explode at the offender himself. Ah, now I feel better. That building pressure inside of me has been relieved.

Maurine

And that pressure is worse if somehow the offense seems unjust. We didn’t deserve the treatment we got. We should have had better. That other person is just small, uncaring, and neglectful of our feelings and needs.

Of course, the problem with these strident, inner and outer dialogues is that instead of relieving our feelings, they are fueled. The more we replay our narrative about how badly we have been treated, the more it grows.

Scot

Well and here’s the danger. We have given the offense a power it should not have had or ever deserved. We have let it live instead of relegated it to the vast library of long-term storage in our heads where it can die a deserved death.

And all this because we withhold our forgiveness and do not allow the Lord to create in us a new heart!  Let us not play into Satan’s tactics and, as Paul says so clearly, let us truly not be ignorant of his devices!

Maurine

The Atonement of Jesus Christ and Reconciliation

Let’s talk about one more major topic today:  The doctrine of reconciliation.  Most do not use this word—most do not know what it means.  Let us explore this a bit.

Paul is the perfect person to teach us about this.

First of all, there is an eternal law that “no unclean thing can enter the kingdom of God” (see 3 Nephi 27:19).  As we come into mortality, we will, by the very nature of this mortal sphere, become unclean.  We are all sinners and have “come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).  That means that worlds without end, we can never ever return to the presence of the Father if we are unclean.

Scot

But our beloved Heavenly Father’s plan was to provide for us a Savior, one who would pay the price for our sins, our uncleanness, that by and through Him who did no sin (see D&C 45:3-5) we could, as we followed Him and His commandments, come back to live in the presence of the Man of Holiness—our Heavenly Father. 

Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 5, verses 17 and 18:

17 Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.

Maurine

Let’s study that word Reconciliation for a moment.

In the year 1525 William Tyndale, in his translation of the New Testament from the Greek text, attempted to discover an English word that would express the true meaning of the Greek katallage as well as the Latin reconciliation. Unable to find the word, he coined one. The word he coined was atonement (at-one-ment), and he used it in Romans 5:11. The King James Version committee followed Tyndale and used atonement as well.

The classical meaning of the related verb form katallasso is “to bring together again people who have been estranged.” We observe the verb katallasso in 1 Corinthians 7:1 stating that a wife who is estranged from her husband is either not to marry or is to “be reconciled to her husband.”

Scot

One Biblical scholar adds that katallasso “means primarily to exchange, and hence to change the relation of hostile parties into a relation of peace; to reconcile.” Another writesthat “The simple verb katallassō, means “to reconcile those that are at variance.” God and the sinner are at variance because of sin. In salvation the believing sinner is brought into a state in which he is yielded and obedient to God, willingly, of his own free will and accord.”

In all four uses of katallage, God is portrayed as the Reconciler and sinners as the ones reconciled. Men are the ones who broke the relationship with God as recorded plainly in Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God (or as one translation says “have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”

Maurine

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland teaches:

“Surely each of us could cite an endless array of old scars and sorrows and painful memories that this very moment still corrode the peace in someone’s heart or family or neighborhood. Whether we have caused that pain or been the recipient of the pain, those wounds need to be healed so that life can be as rewarding as God intended it to be. Like the food in your refrigerator that your grandchildren carefully check in your behalf, those old grievances have long since exceeded their expiration date. Please don’t give precious space in your soul to them any longer. As Prospero said to the regretful Alonso in The Tempest, “Let us not burden our remembrance with a heaviness that’s gone.”

“’Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven,’ Christ taught in New Testament times. And in our day: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” It is, however, important for some of you living in real anguish to note what He did not say. He did not say, ‘You are not allowed to feel true pain or real sorrow from the shattering experiences you have had at the hand of another.’ Nor did He say, ‘In order to forgive fully, you have to reenter a toxic relationship or return to an abusive, destructive circumstance.’ But notwithstanding even the most terrible offenses that might come to us, we can rise above our pain only when we put our feet onto the path of true healing. That path is the forgiving one walked by Jesus of Nazareth, who calls out to each of us, ‘Come, follow me.’

Scot

Elder Holland continues:

“In such an invitation to be His disciple and to try to do as He did, Jesus is asking us to be instruments of His grace—to be “ambassadors for Christ” in “the ministry of reconciliation,” as Paul described it to the Corinthians.  The Healer of every wound, He who rights every wrong, asks us to labor with Him in the daunting task of peacemaking in a world that won’t find it any other way.

“So, as Phillips Brooks wrote: ‘You who are letting miserable misunderstandings run on from year to year, meaning to clear them up some day; you who are keeping wretched quarrels alive because you cannot quite make up your mind that now is the day to sacrifice your pride and [settle] them; you who are passing men sullenly upon the street, not speaking to them out of some silly spite … ; you who are letting … [someone’s] heart ache for a word of appreciation or sympathy, which you mean to give … some day, … go instantly and do the thing which you might never have another chance to do.’

“My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify that forgiving and forsaking offenses, old or new, is central to the grandeur of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I testify that ultimately such spiritual repair can come only from our divine Redeemer, He who rushes to our aid ‘with healing in his wings.’ We thank Him, and our Heavenly Father who sent Him, that renewal and rebirth, a future free from old sorrows and past mistakes, are not only possible, but they have already been purchased, paid for, at an excruciating cost symbolized by the blood of the Lamb who shed it.

Maurine

Elder Holland concludes:

“With the apostolic authority granted me by the Savior of the world, I testify of the tranquility to the soul that reconciliation with God and each other will bring if we are meek and courageous enough to pursue it. “Cease to contend one with another,” the Savior pled.  If you know of an old injury, repair it. Care for one another in love.

“My beloved friends, in our shared ministry of reconciliation, I ask us to be peacemakers—to love peace, to seek peace, to create peace, to cherish peace. I make that appeal in the name of the Prince of Peace, who knows everything about being ‘wounded in the house of [His] friends’ but who still found the strength to forgive and forget—and to heal—and be happy.” End quote.

These teachings of Paul the Apostle and his brother Apostle, Jeffrey R. Holland, are offering healing to the hearts of millions. If we who are wounded, we who are hurting, we who are carrying burdens, will turn our whole souls to the Savior and Redeemer of the world, even Jesus Christ, and He will carry the weight we simply cannot carry anymore.

Scot

Thank you so much for joining us this week.  We’ve loved spending this time with you.  May your studies at home be enhanced by the thoughts we have shared with you. 

Remember:  This is the last week we are giving you the exclusive pre-order offer for the First Vision Bicentennial Calendars.  This is a perfect and affordable Christmas gift for those you love, those you serve and those who serve you.  You can see them and pre-order them at:  latterdaysaintmag.com/calendar

Next week’s lesson is:  “God Loveth a Cheerful Giver” and includes 2 Corinthians, chapters 8-13.  Have a wonderful week!