Scripture Study

To-Do List (Mormon 7)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 01 April 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 169

To-Do List (Mormon 7)

Mormon 7 contains the final words of Mormon before he is killed in battle. Perhaps knowing that this will be his last opportunity to share words of wisdom with future descendants of Lehi who will read his book, he gives them a "To-Do List" to consider. He instructs them to know that they are part of the House of Israel and to do the following:

  • Lay down weapons of war
  • Believe in Jesus Christ
  • Repent of sins
  • Be baptized in the name of Jesus
  • Receive the Holy Ghost
  • Stand up for the gospel of Jesus Christ

This same To-Do List applies to all of us today, whether or not we are part of the House of Israel.

As I am writing this, many of us are more or less confined to our homes as part of the effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Clearly, this is extremely inconvenient for most of us. Many people are unable to work or operate their businesses; supplies for our homes are in short supply, etc.

Miriam: A Symbol of Hope

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Tuesday, 31 March 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 173

Miriam: A Symbol of Hope

Today's article is another installment in Sister Alena X. Ricci's series on Women of the Bible.

Miriam is an interesting woman, and we get to see a lot of her life play out. We see her watch her mother’s act of faith as her brother is sent down the river in a basket. We see her follow her siblings out of Egypt. We see her punished, and we see her restored.

I mean, if you ask me, it sounds a lot like each one of our testimonies. We see something that we want, and we follow it; we sin, but we are restored

In my opinion, Miriam’s greatest moment is the fact that — through all of this, of literally being cast out of her nation — she still played an integral role in being part of Israel’s journey and the deliverance of God’s people.

Miriam’s own sins and mistakes don’t change God’s plan; they don’t affect His work.

And that’s something that we each need to understand.

The Righteous Need Not Fear (Mormon 6)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 25 March 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 219

The Righteous Need Not Fear (Mormon 6)

In Mormon 6, the Nephites face what they know will be the final destruction of their people at the hands of the Lamanites. Knowing the end is near and that God has commanded that the Nephite records not fall into the hands of the Lamanites, Mormon buries all but a few of the records in the Hill Cumorah. He then describes the attitude of the people as the Lamanite armies approach:

"And it came to pass that my people…did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them." (Mormon 6:7)

How different the above would read if the Nephite people were serving the Lord at this time. First of all, they might not be facing death at all but, even if they were, they would know that they would soon be on their way to paradise, so either way they would have no need to fear.

As I am writing this, there is a disease known as the coronavirus that is making its way through the world, causing considerable fear for many people. After all, nobody likes to be sick, and this particular disease is highly contagious. You can be a carrier for up to 14 days without even showing symptoms, and some number of people are dying from it.

However, even as we take certain prescribed precautions to limit the spread of the disease, we should keep in mind that God is ultimately in control of the situation. So, if you believe in God and you are serving God righteously, you have no need to fear.

We've Been Spared the Gruesome Details (Mormon 5)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 18 March 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 562

We've Been Spared the Gruesome Details (Mormon 5)

In Mormon 5, Mormon resumes command of the Nephite army, but he makes it clear that he is without hope, knowing that it's not going to end well for the Nephites due to their refusal to repent of their iniquities. And, they are in fact massacred so badly that Mormon decides to spare us the gruesome details:

"I, Mormon, do not desire to harrow up the souls of men in casting before them such an awful scene of blood and carnage as was laid before mine eyes…therefore I write a small abridgement, daring not to give a full account of the things which I have seen…that ye might not have too great sorrow because of the wickedness of this people" (Mormon 5:8-9)

It's enough to know that the Nephites were slain in battle — we don't necessarily need a graphic description of how body parts were damaged or how much blood was spilled. It might add shock value to a contemporary movie, but it wouldn't really add any value to this account.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers (Mormon 4)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 11 March 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 310

Blessed Are the Peacemakers (Mormon 4)

In Mormon 4, Mormon describes the continuing battle between the godless Nephites and the godless Lamanites, commenting that "there never had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel…as was among this people" (verse 12).

Mormon observes that, although the judgments of God are being carried out against this people, it is actually "by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed" (verse 5).

It's an interesting observation that wicked people can get others stirred up to do wicked things. Think of riots or brawls where it starts with just a few people and then many others jump in. Slogans like "We don't have to take this anymore!" can easily get people going — even those who have no idea what it is they don't have to take anymore.

The New Testament gospels tell us of people being stirred up to shout, "Release Barabbas!" Maybe the people thought they were joining in on a just cause, showing mercy to a prisoner. Instead, they were being duped into helping to bring about the crucifixion of the Son of God.

We all deal with people who are, well, something other than peacemakers. For example:

Schlemiel or Schlimazel? (Mormon 3)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 04 March 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 285

Schlemiel or Schlimazel? (Mormon 3)

If you're in my age bracket, you may remember a popular television show whose theme song began with the words "Schlemiel, Schlimazel." In case you were ever wondering what these words mean, "Schlemiel" is a Yiddish word that is typically used to describe a clumsy person who often spills soup on someone else. And "Schlimazel"? Well, he's the poor guy who the soup gets spilled on.

The question for today is: Who do you want to be — the schlemiel or the schlimazel? Now, if we were really talking about spilling soup, perhaps many of us would be kind enough to prefer the soup in our own laps rather than spilling it on someone else.

However, suppose we're talking about something else in our "bowl." Let's picture a bowl filled with our beliefs, our values, what we have been taught by the Lord, what we stand for, etc. Now, if the choice is to "spill" these beliefs and values onto others — influence them to be more like us — or have others influence us with their beliefs and values, which would we choose? It may seem like a no-brainer that we would choose the first option (the schlemiel path) but how often do we actually allow others to influence us rather than the other way around?

The Body of Christ (Mormon 2)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 26 February 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 272

The Body of Christ (Mormon 2)

"Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." (1 Corinthians 12:27)

As part of the discussion of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul brings out the concept that we as individual members of the Lord's church form "the body of Christ." The metaphor is developed by relating the members of the church to the parts of a physical body — any of us could correspond to the head or the hand or the foot or the eyes or the ears, etc.

The main point to be understood is that we shouldn't focus on exactly which part of the body we are but rather appreciate that it takes all of us to make up the full body of Christ. Some of the logical questions asked in that chapter to make this point are:

Something to Take Seriously (Mormon 1)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 19 February 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 282

Something to Take Seriously (Mormon 1)

We've met him already. His name appears on the cover of the book. He inserted a note (after the Book of Omni) to explain why he was choosing specific plates as input for the book. He commented briefly in 3 Nephi and 4 Nephi on what was happening in the part of the story he was relating at that time. He is, of course, Mormon, the Nephite historian who organized, abridged, and edited approximately 1,000 years of Nephite history such that it could be presented in a single book, which is entitled The Book of Mormon.

Part of the history that was published includes the events that occurred during Mormon's lifetime — in essence, Mormon's own personal story. This segment is also called The Book of Mormon. OK, maybe it's a little confusing to have The Book of Mormon in The Book of Mormon, but this happens to be the only book title that is actually mentioned in the text, so it was not really an option to call it anything else:

"And now I, Mormon, make a record of the things which I have both seen and heard, and call it the Book of Mormon." (Mormon 1:1)

Things Can Change Quickly and Dramatically (4 Nephi)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 12 February 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 275

Things Can Change Quickly and Dramatically (4 Nephi)

On the plates of Mormon, there is one short book with the title of "The Book of Nephi who is the son of Nephi — one of the disciples of Jesus Christ." Imagine trying to reference any verses using that book name (or even remember it). In the 1830 edition of The Book of Mormon, the title of this short book is abbreviated to "The Book of Nephi," but it must have been somewhat confusing since there were three other books with the same abbreviation. So, in subsequent editions, a number was added to each Book of Nephi such that the book we're talking about is referred to as Fourth Nephi — it's not the fourth book written by a single man named Nephi but rather the fourth book that would have been abbreviated The Book of Nephi (in case you were wondering).

4 Nephi has the distinction of covering the largest time period of any of the 15 books that comprise The Book of Mormon — a total of 286 years. Even though this is a long period of time, it's still somewhat remarkable to see how dramatically the situation changes among the Nephite people between the beginning and the end of the single chapter that comprises this short book.

For the first half of the chapter, the Nephites — fresh off the visit of the resurrected Christ — live in a Zion-like condition for 166 years:

This Chapter Is Just Two Verses Long (3 Nephi 30)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 05 February 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 322

This Chapter Is Just Two Verses Long (3 Nephi 30)

If you routinely read this blog series each week, you know that I go chapter by chapter in the Book of Mormon, reading through the chapter and selecting a theme or topic to write about for that week. This week, as I open to the final chapter of 3 Nephi, I see somewhat of a challenge. This chapter is just two verses long!

In the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi had only 14 chapters. In a subsequent edition of the book, the text of chapters 1-13 was broken up differently such that it comprised 29 chapters. The final chapter however (all 12 lines of it) was brought over intact to be chapter 30 — and so we have a chapter that is just two verses long.

Now, I happen to appreciate when someone makes an effort to say something meaningful or important in as few words as possible (verbosity is not a gift in my humble opinion). There are, in fact, several occasions in the scriptures where concepts that carry very significant meaning are stated in just a few words — perhaps just a verse or two. Just for fun, going along with the title of this article, let's form a few two-verse "chapters" from the scriptures that say something meaningful.

Naomi: God Is Working

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Friday, 31 January 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 399

Naomi: God Is Working

Today's article is another installment in Sister Alena X. Ricci's series on the women of the Bible. It's also the companion article to the story on Ruth that appeared in the January issue of The Gospel News. If you haven't read it yet, go check it out!

Naomi’s story is a unique one, but one that is achingly familiar. Her husband passes, and then so do both of her sons, leaving her a widow along with her daughters-in-law.

When she decides to return to her home, Ruth stays with her, and they travel back to Bethlehem, for she heard that it was blessed once more after a period of famine and that God had given His people food.

She enters Bethlehem and declares herself Mara, because God had “testified against her” and because she was now empty. Her life was depressing and she had nothing.

Naomi enters a new life already expecting it to be awful.

One Good Spurn Doesn't Deserve Another (3 Nephi 29)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 29 January 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 271

One Good Spurn Doesn't Deserve Another (3 Nephi 29)

Spurn: Reject with disdain or contempt

The word "spurn" is typically associated with being rejected by a member of the opposite sex after you express romantic interest in them. Try to imagine the feeling — or perhaps you've sadly had it happen to you — when a person who you find attractive treats you with disdain or contempt. "How could you think I would ever be interested in someone like you? You've got to be kidding!" Obviously, it's not a good feeling.

Now, picture it from God's perspective. God loves His children and desires a close relationship with them. Some of them — such as you and I — have consented to this relationship and are enjoying the blessing of being part of the family of God. Others have rejected the invitation, some with disdain and contempt. This surely can't cause a good feeling for God either.

On Special Assignment (3 Nephi 28)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 22 January 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 309

On Special Assignment (3 Nephi 28)

When someone is placed "on special assignment," it means that they've been taken away from their regular duties and given something else to do — presumably, a task or project of great importance that requires the person to give it their full attention and focus.

In 3 Nephi 28, Jesus places three of His 12 disciples on special assignment. It all begins when He gives each of the 12 disciples in America the opportunity to make a special request of Him. Nine of them choose to live to the age of 72 and then to leave this life and go immediately to be with Jesus in His kingdom. The other three have an unusual request — they so strongly desire to bring souls to Christ that they want to remain on earth and continue doing this until the time that Jesus comes again.

These three are hesitant to actually make this request — not knowing that the opportunity for such a special assignment even exists — but Jesus discerns their thoughts and grants them this desire. Once the desire is expressed, there is no turning back; their bodies are transfigured or converted into a different form. Their new bodies will never die, and they are now free to focus on their special assignment of bringing souls to Christ.

The Widow of Zarephath: Serious Faith

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Friday, 17 January 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 360

The Widow of Zarephath: Serious Faith

Today's article is another installment in Sister Alena X. Ricci's series on the women of the Bible.

The widow of Zarephath is probably a familiar figure to many of you. She is the woman who gave everything she had to make Elijah a meal. 

She’s a common example of serious faith, a faith and a mind open to anything.

Her life reflects God’s goodness.

Her story is a “simple” one. Elijah comes to her and requests food, and she tells him that she is about to make her last meal for herself and her son before they die of starvation. But she gives Elijah food anyway, and then her little supply of flour and oil never runs dry.

More Than Just a Name (3 Nephi 27)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 15 January 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 522

More Than Just a Name (3 Nephi 27)

3 Nephi 27 is a chapter that's remembered because it's the one where Jesus tells His disciples what to name the church. His logic is impeccable:

  • Whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name (verse 7)
  • If [the church] be called in the name of a man, then it be the church of a man (verse 8)
  • If it be called in my name, then it is my church (verse 8)

Based on the above, it's a no-brainer why our church is called The Church of Jesus Christ. However, it surely has to be more than just a name that defines the Lord's Church. And there is more — Jesus adds the following caveat to the above: "It is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel" (verse 8).

What does it mean to be built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ? Let's go through the characteristics that Jesus lists in this chapter that define what is meant by His gospel:

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