Scripture Study

The Widow of Zarephath: Serious Faith

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Friday, 17 January 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 44

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 186

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:

Rachel: God Remembers and Listens

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Friday, 10 January 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 259

Rachel: God Remembers and Listens

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

Rachel is the beautiful, coveted sister. She is the one who you expect much of. But in her story, she experiences heartbreak. She wants children, and it is a long and difficult time before she gets them.

I’m going to focus on one verse in her story, Genesis 30:22. It is one of those verses that makes you stumble in your reading and pause, realizing how powerful this moment was for this woman.

Here was a woman who only wanted children, and she didn’t have them.

But verse 22 says that God remembered her.

A Loose Tongue (3 Nephi 26)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 08 January 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 170

A Loose Tongue (3 Nephi 26)

Typically, a loose tongue is an undesirable characteristic. It usually means you tend to gossip or can't keep a secret. "Loose tongues sink ships" is a saying meant to depict what happens when people say things that they should keep to themselves. (OK, I know the saying is really "Loose lips sink ships," but "tongues" is more accurate; it just doesn't rhyme with "ships" — work with me here.)

Anyway, as Jesus demonstrates in 3 Nephi 26, a loose tongue can actually be a good thing when it means that the person is enabled to speak words from God:

"And it came to pass that he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken, and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people, and he loosed their tongues that they could utter." (3 Nephi 26:14)

Dorcas: Blessed in Good Deeds

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Friday, 03 January 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 268

Dorcas: Blessed in Good Deeds

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

For such an amazing story, Dorcas doesn’t have a lot of “screen time” in Scripture. You can read her story in Acts 9, but, basically, she is an early Christian and is active in her new faith and church, and she dies. Peter is called, and she is brought back to life.

That’s a pretty amazing miracle for only eight verses.

The lesson here for me is the first verse of her story. In Acts 9:36, it says, “This woman was full of good deeds.”

That’s passable, right?

We read it and we’re like, “OK, cool, she did a lot of stuff. Great.”

But hang on, that is a big deal.

God's Recycling Program (3 Nephi 25)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 01 January 2020. Posted in Scripture Study, Holidays Hits 208

God's Recycling Program (3 Nephi 25)

Most of us are familiar with the concept of recycling. In general, recycling is a process by which materials we no longer need can be submitted for eventual reuse by someone else, sometime in the future. Participating in this type of program helps ensure that resources will be available for future generations.

What types of resources does God provide to people as His servants? The scriptures outline the various spiritual gifts that are given to the servants of God. Some may receive one gift while others may receive many gifts. Some are blessed with great power from God to do great things in His name.

So, what happens to these gifts and power when someone passes from this life? Do they die too? Do they go in the landfill of the spirit realm to rot away? Or does God grant the same gifts and power to other people for the benefit of each generation?

Open the Windows of Heaven (3 Nephi 24)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 18 December 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 233

Open the Windows of Heaven (3 Nephi 24)

In 3 Nephi 24, Jesus shares some of the words of the prophet Malachi and instructs the Nephites to include them in their records. He begins with the contents of Malachi 3, which includes the following statement from God:

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (3 Nephi 24:10)

Perhaps you've heard part of the above quoted from time to time in prayers in which the Lord is asked to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing that we cannot contain. As you can see from reading the full text though, this verse offers the opportunity to open the windows of heaven specifically when tithes are brought into the storehouse of the Lord.

At first glance, it may sound like this verse is saying we have to buy our blessings — as if God is saying, "IF you give me money, THEN I'll open the windows of heaven to bless you." But that doesn't really make sense. After all, does God need money? Obviously not. (Who would He buy things from?) And, even if He did need money, He could just create it Himself (see Matthew 17:27).

Used by God for Great Things (3 Nephi 23)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 11 December 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 279

Used by God for Great Things (3 Nephi 23)

In 3 Nephi 23, Jesus encourages the Nephites to pay special attention to the writings of Isaiah, such as the verses he related to them in the previous chapter. He goes as far as to say, "Great are the words of Isaiah" (verse 1), stating that these writings apply not only to the House of Israel but to the Gentiles as well.

It may seem unusual for Jesus to specifically recognize an individual prophet, but He's not saying that the man is great; He's saying that the words (which actually come from God) are great.

Isaiah was actually a humble man who referred to himself as "a man of unclean lips." God sent an angel with a live coal with which to touch the lips of Isaiah, cleansing him from his sins and preparing him to be used to speak the words of the Lord (see Isaiah 6:5-8). After that, Isaiah was used by God for great things, including bringing forth many prophecies of the coming of Christ and also prophecies of the coming of Zion.

Anna: Experiencing Jesus Firsthand

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Tuesday, 10 December 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 294

Anna: Experiencing Jesus Firsthand

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

Not a lot is said about Anna except that she is older, she loves God, and she spends all day and night at the temple. She is a prophetess from the tribe of Asher.

But more importantly, she literally experiences the presence of God. 

Mary and Joseph had come with Jesus, and she runs into them, recognizing Him for who He is. Can you imagine the sheer excitement she felt in that moment? That feeling of perfection and rejuvenation?

Heritage of Servants of the Lord (3 Nephi 22)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 04 December 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 198

Heritage of Servants of the Lord (3 Nephi 22)

"Heritage" generally refers to practices or characteristics that are passed down through the years from one generation to the next.

For example, our family's recipe for making sauce for pasta (or gravy for macaroni, depending on who in the family you talk to) is part of our Italian heritage. For me personally, the lovely dark tan I get in the summer comes from that same heritage.

Speech mannerisms in different parts of the country — the way yinz or y'all pronounce certain words — are part of the heritage of those geographic areas. Historical landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Bell, are part of the American heritage — these items are not owned by any individual but are collectively owned by the American people and are passed down from one generation to the next.

City Building (3 Nephi 21)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 27 November 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 225

City Building (3 Nephi 21)

For about the past 30 years, there has been a genre of computer games known as "city building" games. These games allow the participants to build virtual (pretend) cities on their computer, designing the individual buildings, laying out the streets, etc. The grandfather of all city-building games was called "SimCity," which is considered rather basic today but paved the way (ha ha) for many other games to be created over the years.

The top-of-the-line city-building game available today is one known as "Cities: Skylines." If you invest enough time in this game, you can build a sprawling metropolis for which you will determine how to run power lines and water pipes, which businesses should be established, how taxes will be collected, what type of transit system to create, etc. By the time you're done, you will have put in enough effort to have built a real city.

In 3 Nephi 21, Jesus describes to the Nephites a city-building opportunity that will be presented to their descendants as well as others of the House of Israel:

How to Have Beautiful Feet (3 Nephi 20)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 20 November 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 311

How to Have Beautiful Feet (3 Nephi 20)

Welcome to today's beauty tips column. Here are a few tips for maintaining your feet that come from actual websites on this subject:

  • Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes.
  • Perform regular self-examination; deal with problem areas immediately.
  • Moisturize the skin; remove dead skin.
  • Exercise on a regular basis — walking, etc.

In 3 Nephi 20, Jesus describes to the Nephites the covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants, specifically the House of Israel. He mentions how the House of Israel has been scattered but will eventually be gathered together again in a place referred to as Zion. He then quotes Isaiah 52:7, which makes reference to those who will assist in bringing about Zion:

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings unto them, that publisheth peace;…that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion: Thy God reigneth!" (3 Nephi 20:40)

The above verse contains four actions that workers for Zion will undertake with the House of Israel to help bring them to a knowledge of Christ. These same activities can be undertaken by any of us as part of our Christian walk in the hopes that people we come in contact with can be brought to a knowledge of Christ. Let's see how we can make our feet beautiful upon the mountains in the way this verse describes.

Why Do You Travel So Far for Church? (3 Nephi 19)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 13 November 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 287

Why Do You Travel So Far for Church? (3 Nephi 19)

For quite a few years, my family lived in the town of Thorndale, Pennsylvania, and we attended church services in the town of Levittown, Pennsylvania. If you look on a map, you will see that these two towns are both located in eastern Pennsylvania, but they are in fact 60 miles apart! Yes, every Sunday, my parents and my sister and I dutifully piled into the car by 8:45 a.m. to make the hour-plus trip to Levittown for Sunday school and the worship service and then traveled the same distance to return home, arriving home sometime in the mid-afternoon.

Every so often, one of us would be in a conversation with someone about the church, and when we mentioned where the church was, the same questions would be asked. Why do you travel so far for church? Isn't there a church in this area that you can attend?

Woman with the Issue of Blood: She Chose to Live

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Thursday, 07 November 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 491

Woman with the Issue of Blood: She Chose to Live

I know that I’ve written about this woman before, as she is one of my favorite stories in Scripture. In my very humble opinion, this story has a million different layers and viewpoints, and that’s what makes it so compelling. For someone there that day, it was a day of business and activity, but for this woman, it was the day that she was healed completely.

That being said, there are a lot of different ways that this blog could go, but I’m going to talk about a concept that I think is really important. There’s a really popular phrase that Christians say: “God never gives us more than we can handle.”

The woman with the issue of blood is the antithesis of that statement.

God had given her a lot more than she could handle.

Worthy to Partake (3 Nephi 18)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 06 November 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 439

Worthy to Partake (3 Nephi 18)

In 3 Nephi 18, Jesus instructs His twelve disciples to obtain bread and wine and then instructs them to distribute it to the multitude in remembrance of His body and His blood. This, of course, corresponds to what we do today, which we refer to as communion, sacrament, or "The Lord's Supper".

When the above is complete, Jesus further instructs His disciples to continue to do the same thing on an ongoing basis, distributing bread and wine to "those who repent and are baptized in my name" (verse 11). Jesus emphasizes the importance of not giving the bread and wine to those who have not repented and been baptized — He refers to them as being "unworthy" to partake of His flesh and blood and that "whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul" (verse 29).

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