This is a scripture reading program for the twelve days leading up to Christmas. We wrote it for our Relief Society sisters to use in their homes. It includes short summaries about some of the prophets from the Book of Mormon who looked forward to the coming of Christ. We also included the prophet Isaiah and Joseph Smith as well as our prophet and apostles today. On the last day, we watched the movie The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd.
We designed this experience so that people could adapt it to their own needs. Some may want to read only a few lines. Others may want to read everything, including the scripture references.
“LOOKING FORWARD TO CHRIST”
Twelve Day Christmas Experience
Day 1: Testimony of Isaiah—
The Prophet Isaiah lived over 700 years before Christ was born. He foretold and testified of the Savior’s divine mission and birth. He prophesied that even though our Savior would be perfect, He would be “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah bore testimony of the power of Christ’s atonement, saying “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes [or scars] we are healed.”
Isaiah also bore testimony of Christ’s power and priesthood. He wrote that “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
[Read Isaiah’s testimony in Isaiah 7:14-15, Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 53 (compare Mosiah 14). Listen to “For Unto Us a Child is Born” from Handel’s Messiah.]
Day 2: Testimony of Nephi—
“but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah” (1 Ne 19:23).
Nephi, the first prophet who wrote in the Book of Mormon, prophesied of Christ to people in America. He said, "...we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ... that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. ...there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ... whereby man can be saved.” (2 Ne 25:26). Nephi saw in vision the Savior’s birth and ministry before and after the Lord’s Crucifixion.
Many of Nephi's people believed his words. They trusted in the promise that Christ would come to visit their descendants. Their hearts were filled with gratitude for this loving Savior who would redeem them from their lost and fallen state, and they rejoiced as they came to rely on the goodness and merits of "him who is mighty to save.”.
[Read Nephi’s testimony in 1 Nephi 11:9-13; 1 Nephi 12:4-8.]
Day 3: Testimony of Abinadi—
Abinadi was a prophet during a time of great wickedness in the Book of Mormon. He bravely testified before King Noah and his wicked priests of the Savior who would come to redeem them from their sins. Abinadi testified that “after working mighty miracles among the children of men, [Christ would] be led . . . as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he . . . shall be led, crucified and slain” (Mosiah 15: 6-7.) He explained to the wicked Nephites how they could be redeemed: “I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets . . .I say unto you that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of sins . . . they are the heirs of the kingdom of God” (Mosiah 15: 11.)
Because he refused to deny that “God himself should come down among the children of men,” Abinadi suffered death by fire (Mosiah 17:8-13.)
[Read Abinadi’s testimony in Mosiah 17:8-13]
Day 4: Testimony of King Benjamin—
King Benjamin, a righteous Nephite king and prophet, taught his people to love the Savior through his example and through his words. He exemplified that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17.) Before his death, he gathered his people together at the temple and taught them that the only way to salvation is through Christ. He said that “whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them” (Mosiah 3: 13.)
“And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Saviour shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” (Mosiah 3: 20).
The faith of King Benjamin’s people was so great that everyone who heard his words, except the little children, promised to keep the commandments and took “upon themselves the name of Christ” (Mosiah 6: 2.)
[Read King Benjamin’s testimony in Mosiah 3: 1-13.]
Alma learned the power of the atonement through his miraculous conversion. As a youth, he fought against the church. One day, an angel appeared and told Alma to repent. For many days, Alma was overcome with grief for his sins. Then, he “remembered also to have heard [his] father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.” (Alma 36:17.) Once he called out in repentance, he “could remember his pain no more . . . [and his] soul was filled with joy” (v. 20.)
After his conversion, Alma spent all his efforts in persuading others to believe in Christ. He taught that Christ “will go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11-12.)
[Read Alma’s testimony in Alma 7:7-13. Sing “I Know that My Redeemer Lives, Hymn #136]
Samuel was a faithful Lamanite, whom the Lord called to preach to the wicked Nephites. After preaching many days, the people cast him out of the city and would not let him back inside the walls. Samuel’s testimony was so strong that he climbed up on the walls of the city to testify once more to the people.
He promised that Christ would be born in just five more years. The sign of Christ’s birth would be a night without darkness. Samuel also spoke of the necessity of the Savior’s death. “For behold, he surely must die that salvation may come . . . to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord” (Hel. 14:15.) Samuel prophesied that the sign of Christ’s death would be three days without light. At the end of the three days, he said that “many graves shall be opened, and shall yield up many of their dead; and many saints shall appear unto many” (v. 25.)
Many of the Nephites who heard Samuel shot arrows and threw stones at him. Samuel stayed on the wall. When the Nephites saw that the stones and arrows could not hit him, many of them believed that he really was a prophet and repented.
[Read Samuel’s testimony in Helaman 14. Sing “Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus” Children’s Songbook, p. 36]
Day 7: Testimony of Nephi (grandson of Helaman)
After Samuel the Lamanite preached to the Nephites, wickedness increased. Those who did not believe the prophets persecuted those who did. Finally, the unbelievers set a date, saying “that all those who believed in [Samuel’s prophesies] should be put to death except the sign should be given” (3 Nephi 1:9.)
When Nephi, a prophet named after Nephi of old, saw this great wickedness, his heart was grieved. He kneeled down and prayed for the faithful who were about to be destroyed.
And as he prayed, the Lord spoke to him, saying, "Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand... ...on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world..." Surely the faithful rejoiced at the news of their deliverance, and eagerly watched the skies. And the word of the Lord to Nephi was fulfilled. As the sun sank in the west, no darkness overtook them; no cloak of shadow enshrouded the world. The skies remained as bright as midday throughout all the accustomed hours of night.
[Read about Nephi in 3 Nephi 1:9-22. Sing “The Lord is My Light” Hymn #89.]
Mary received a visit from a heavenly messenger who declared that she had “found favor with God” and would [bear the son of God.] The angel also said that her cousin Elizabeth, although she was old and until now childless, would have a son. (Luke 1:30–31, 36.)
Mary hurried to the home of Elizabeth in the city of Juda. Upon hearing her [greeting], Elizabeth knew, through a witness of the Spirit, that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah. We are allowed to share some of the glory of that meeting as these two women, who would fill such important roles in the history of mankind, talked of their faith and of the nature of God’s dealings with his children on the earth . . .
For the next three months, Mary remained with Elizabeth. From Mary, in her youth and with a special mission few others could comprehend, there was surely understanding and support. And from Elizabeth, there surely came wisdom shared from the experiences of a long life. Women the world over appreciate the closeness Mary and Elizabeth felt and the strength they each gained together. (quoted from Barbara B. Smith “The Bond of Sisterhood” Ensign March 1983)
Mary’s first words are an utterance of praise to God for his awesome blessings to her "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” She is blessed for being a believer.
[Read about Mary’s and Elisabeth’s experiences before Christ’s birth in Luke 1. Sing “Away in a Manger” Hymn #206 or listen to “Peace is Born on Earth”]
Mormon, the second to last prophet in the Book of Mormon, lived in a time of great violence and sorrow. While witnessing the almost entire destruction of his people, he faithfully taught the gospel and abridged the plates which would become the Book of Mormon. His words to his son Moroni sum up his testimony of Christ, “My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee . . . but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death . . . and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever” (Moroni 9:25.)
Despite being surrounded by hatred, Mormon taught the importance of developing charity, the pure love of Christ. He urged his brethren, “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure” (Moroni 7:48.)
Mormon said, “as many things as have been prophesied concerning us down to this day have been fulfilled, and as many as go beyond this day must surely come to pass” (Words of Mormon vs. 4).
His final testimony gives us what we can do today for destructive conditions: —come unto Jesus Christ and have faith in Him, repent of our sins, be baptized, and be filled with the Holy Ghost… (3 Nephi 30.)
[Read Mormon’s testimony in 3 Nephi 5:12-13, Book of Mormon 7, 3 Nephi 30. Have a testimony meeting.]
Joseph Smith gave his all to restore the Savior’s church upon the earth. As a prophet, he was privileged to see the Son of God and receive His instructions. Though Joseph suffered much, he willingly sacrificed so that we could know the Savior as he knew Him.“To prepare the way for the Second Coming, the Restoration took place—through Joseph Smith—of every necessary doctrine and sacred ordinance given by God to the prophets of past dispensations, including the Christ-focused temple ordinances.
We have, in original form, everything that has ever been brought to earth that is part of the great Plan of Salvation—nothing altered, nothing modified. We believe in the same priesthood authority held by the ancients; the same organization as the primitive Church, headed by Apostles and prophets; the same spiritual gifts; the same ancient scriptures as well as new latter-day scriptures—the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price.” (Robert E. Wells, “Our Message to the World,” Ensign, Nov 1995, 65)
Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3-4).
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father— “ (D&C 76: 22,23).
[Read the Prophet Joseph Smith’s testimony of the Savior in D&C 76:19-24, 40-42. Sing “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer, Hymn # 26.]
Day 11: Testimony of the Living Prophets
Day 11: Testimony of the Living Prophets
Excerpts from “The Living Christ,” Friend, Feb 2010, 24–25 We offer our testimony of the reality of [Jesus Christ’s] matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. … His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth. …
We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world. …
We declare … that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth. …
We testify that He will someday return to earth. … He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. …
We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.
Elder David A. Bednar, “Receive the Holy Ghost,” October 2010 Conference--I bear witness of the living reality of the Father and the Son. I testify the Holy Ghost is a revelator, a comforter, and the ultimate teacher from whom we should learn. And I witness that the blessings and gifts of the Spirit operate in the restored, in the true, and in the living Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days. I so testify in the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Be Thou an Example,” October 2010 Conference--Each exemplary follower of Jesus Christ can become an effective member missionary. Members and full-time missionaries may walk arm in arm in bringing the blessings of the gospel to cherished friends and neighbors. Many of them are of Israel, now being gathered as promised. This is all part of the preparation for the Second Coming of the Lord. He wants each of us truly to be an example of the believers.
I know that God lives. Jesus is the Christ. This is His Church. The Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith is its translator and the prophet of this last dispensation. President Thomas S. Monson is God’s prophet today. I so testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Of Things That Matter Most,” October 2010 Conference—Brothers and sisters, diligently doing the things that matter most will lead us to the Savior of the world. That is why “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, . . . that [we] may know to what source [we] may look for a remission of [our] sins.” In the complexity, confusion, and rush of modern living, this is the “more excellent way.”
Brothers and sisters, let us be wise. Let us turn to the pure doctrinal waters of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us joyfully partake of them in their simplicity and plainness. The heavens are open again. The gospel of Jesus Christ is on earth once more, and its simple truths are a plentiful source of joy!
Brothers and sisters, indeed we have great reason to rejoice. If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most. Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light. It comes from placing our attention and efforts on the basics of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It comes from paying attention to the divine things that matter most.
Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian discipleship—the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace. For this I pray, as I leave you my blessing, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
President Thomas S. Monson, “The Divine Gift of Gratitude,” October 2010 Conference--My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.
As I close this morning, it is my prayer that in addition to all else for which we are grateful, we may ever reflect our gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His glorious gospel provides answers to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do our spirits go when we die? That gospel brings to those who live in darkness the light of divine truth.
He taught us how to pray. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to die. His life is a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved.
Ultimately, He stood alone. Some Apostles doubted; one betrayed Him. The Roman soldiers pierced His side. The angry mob took His life. There yet rings from Golgotha’s hill His compassionate words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Who was this “man of sorrows, . . . acquainted with grief”? “Who is this King of glory,” this Lord of lords? He is our Master. He is our Savior. He is the Son of God. He is the Author of Our Salvation. He beckons, “Follow me.” He instructs, “Go, and do thou likewise.” He pleads, “Keep my commandments.”
Let us follow Him. Let us emulate His example. Let us obey His words. By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude.
My sincere, heartfelt prayer is that we may in our individual lives reflect that marvelous virtue of gratitude. May it permeate our very souls, now and evermore. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, amen.
[Sing “I Wonder When He Comes Again” Children’s Songbook, #82.]
“The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.”
All men are invited to read the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. “Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these latter days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon.)
[ Watch “The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd.” This film depicts events from the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. The story culminates with a portrayal of the resurrected Savior's visit to the ancient Americas as seen through the eyes of a fictional family. ]
May we have a firm testimony of Jesus Christ and be looking forward to Him coming again!