Scripture Study

Elizabeth: More Than Just a Positive Attitude

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Thursday, 19 September 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 174

Elizabeth: More Than Just a Positive Attitude

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

Elizabeth is a familiar figure in scripture. I think that, as women, we are told to look to her as an example. Here was a woman who was faithful, never-changing, and consistent in her service to God. She was walking in all the commandments before God. She did everything she could to be a righteous, faithful example.

But she was barren. (As I went through this story, I was reminded of how familiar this is both in Scripture and in our own lives today.)

She was well respected, and when her husband went to the temple and came back mute, sharing the news that she was to have a child, I like to imagine that she laughed.

But unlike Sarah, she didn’t laugh at the power of God, but instead at her husband for having an angel actually tell him what was going to happen and still voice disbelief. (How many times does God show us something directly and we still doubt?)

How to Perform a Baptism (3 Nephi 11)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 18 September 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 184

How to Perform a Baptism (3 Nephi 11)

In 3 Nephi 11, the resurrected Jesus Christ appears to the Nephite people in spectacular fashion, descending out of heaven before their eyes. After the people have time to react to the appearance of their Savior, including touching His nail prints and the place where the sword pierced His side, Jesus begins to teach them things that are important for them to know.

Jesus begins with teaching them how to baptize. For those of us who are called to perform baptisms, this knowledge is invaluable. For any member of The Church — and anybody considering becoming a member of The Church — it's great to know that the instructions of the Lord are followed exactly when a baptism is performed.

OK, someone has expressed a desire to repent of their sins and be baptized. We're gathered at the water's edge. What happens next?

Compared to Who? (3 Nephi 10)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 11 September 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 241

Compared to Who? (3 Nephi 10)

Perhaps you're familiar with the book, "Gulliver’s Travels." If I asked you whether Gulliver was a tall man or a short man, a reasonable response would be, "Compared to who?" In Part 1 of the story, Gulliver travels to a land called Lilliput where all of the people are 6 inches tall. In that land, Gulliver is a giant. However, in the second part of the story, he travels to a land called Brobdingnag where all of the people are over 70 feet tall. In that land, he is tiny.

There are many ways we can describe ourselves that take on different meanings depending on who we compare ourselves to. For example, if I (as a 60-year-old) compare my athletic abilities to a group of 90-year-olds, I can make myself sound like I'm ready for the Olympics. I'd be the fastest, strongest, and able to jump the highest of everyone in the group. On the other hand, if I make the same comparisons to a group of 21-year-olds, I'll feel like I'm ready for an old age home.

A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit (3 Nephi 9)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 04 September 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 248

A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit (3 Nephi 9)

In 3 Nephi 9, the Nephites deal with the aftermath of the great destruction that occurred at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As they sit in total darkness, the voice of Christ is heard across the land by all of the people. Jesus points out that all of the destruction is the result of the sins of the people — He then tells them how they need to proceed at this point in order to be forgiven of their sins. Now that Jesus has served as the final sacrifice, the Law of Moses has been fulfilled and sacrifices will no longer be necessary. Instead, the people are now instructed to make a different type of sacrifice:

"And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost" (3 Nephi 9:20)

What are a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and what do they have to do with serving God?

When the Lights Go Out (3 Nephi 8)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 28 August 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 222

When the Lights Go Out (3 Nephi 8)

Today, we're going to go over some steps you need to take in the event of a power failure in your home. What do you do when the lights go out?

Step 1: Determine whether there has been a power failure.

Look around you. What do you see? If nothing, then you can be reasonably certain there has been a power failure.

Step 2: Seek an alternative source of light.

If you have candles or flashlights in your home, now is the time to use them. If you don't have any of these — well, think about the parable of the five wise virgins and the five foolish virgins (Matthew 25) and decide which of those you're identifying with right now.

Raising the Dead (3 Nephi 7)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 21 August 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 204

Raising the Dead (3 Nephi 7)

In 3 Nephi 7, the government that has been in effect since the time of Mosiah shuts down, as the chief judge is murdered once again and the Nephite people split up into various separate communities (or tribes), each with its own laws. Each tribe considers itself an entity unto itself — all other tribes are enemies — and nobody is willing to take direction from anyone else.

Nephi, perhaps assisted by his brother Timothy, goes among the people to preach repentance and faith in Christ to them. Miracles are performed so the people can witness the power of Christ. Yet, they are unmoved and, in fact, become very angry. They even take Timothy and stone him to death! Nephi responds by raising his brother from the dead!!

Now, it would be a nice ending to say that the people were converted after witnessing such an obvious display of the power of God — someone being raised from the dead. However, that's not what happens. Other than a few who are converted, the people continue down the evil path that leads to their eventual destruction in the next chapter. Sad to see people so enslaved by the enemy that even witnessing the raising of the dead can't free them.

Getting Away With Murder (3 Nephi 6)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 14 August 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 496

Getting Away With Murder (3 Nephi 6)

In 3 Nephi 6, with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ drawing nearer, efforts intensify to reach out to the sinful people of the Nephite community:

"There began to be men inspired from heaven and sent forth … preaching and testifying boldly of the sins and iniquities of the people, and testifying unto them concerning the redemption which the Lord would make for his people." (3 Nephi 6:20)

Not surprisingly, the sinful people do not receive this message well, becoming "exceeding angry because of those who testified of these things" (verse 21). It turns out that some number of these people are associated with the legal profession — lawyers and judges — and they actually use their positions to arrest many of those who are preaching God's message and then arrange for them to illegally be put to death.

A Disciple of Jesus Christ (3 Nephi 5)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 07 August 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 256

A Disciple of Jesus Christ (3 Nephi 5)

In 3 Nephi 5, the narrative continues with the imprisonment of the defeated Gadianton robbers. In a merciful move, the Nephites preach the word of God to the prisoners — all who repent of their crimes and enter into a covenant to serve God are freed and become part of the society; those who refuse to repent are punished for their crimes.

After sharing the above story with us, the editor of the narrative notes that so many things happened during the first 25 years after the birth of Jesus Christ that not even one percent of them can be recorded in this book. He then introduces himself to us:

"Behold, I am called Mormon…I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life" (3 Nephi 5:12-13)

Esther: True to Herself in the Lord

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Monday, 05 August 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 256

Esther: True to Herself in the Lord

Today, we're continuing Sister Alena's series on women of the Bible in lieu of our regularly scheduled Miracle Monday, which we will resume in August.

Queen Esther has always been a favorite of mine, an easy example of a courageous woman who stood up for what she believed in — a woman who did all of this and got a happy ending, no less.

A lot could be said of Esther, a lot of people have talked about how brave she was or how cunning or trusting. But I want to highlight something I think gets overlooked sometimes, and that is her sense of self.

Esther was not only true to her people, but to herself.

There’s a key difference.

Being true to her people meant that she saved them; she made a stand for them.

But the way she did it? That was her own personality; that was her person coming through for God’s plan. 

Feed Me! (3 Nephi 4)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 31 July 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 244

Feed Me! (3 Nephi 4)

Some years ago, I went to see a stage play that was later made into a movie. It was a silly story about a nerdy florist who has a Venus flytrap in his shop that eats people. The more it eats, the bigger it gets. It also develops a voice and starts demanding that the florist bring more victims, forcing the florist to take appropriate action. The most memorable part of the show is hearing the plant shouting, “Feed me! FEED ME!!”

In 3 Nephi 4, the Gadianton robbers come into the Nephite land to do battle. The Nephites have followed the plan that God revealed in the previous chapter, so they have gathered together in one location with all of their armies and all of their supplies. When the robbers arrive, they are horrified to find that most of the Nephite lands are completely deserted, including all flocks and herds and anything that could have been used for food.

Jochebed: The Faith of a Whole Mustard Garden

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Monday, 29 July 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 250

Jochebed: The Faith of a Whole Mustard Garden

Today, we're continuing Sister Alena's series on women of the Bible in lieu of our regularly scheduled Miracle Monday, which we will resume in August.

Moses’ mother, Jochebed, is not one of the women that I’ve ever really noticed before. She sends Moses down the river in a basket, praying for his safe deliverance away from Pharoah’s infanticide, and instead, God delivered him into the heart of it.

In Exodus, the Bible just says that she put him in a basket after hiding him for three months. This is a woman of immense faith.

This is a woman of action.

God Is Not a Rubber Stamp (3 Nephi 3)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 24 July 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 701

God Is Not a Rubber Stamp (3 Nephi 3)

The use of a rubber stamp as a business tool dates back to the late 1800s. Such stamps had raised rubber letters that spelled out words and could be pressed onto an inkpad and then pressed on a piece of paper such that the words would then appear on the paper. One typical use would be to have a rubber stamp with the word "Approved," which could then be used to indicate approval of a written request.

The process was simple — stamp on inkpad, stamp on paper, next request, stamp on inkpad, stamp on paper, etc. Using this method, many requests could be quickly approved and sent on their way. As you can imagine, the ease of the process made it tempting to just approve a bunch of requests without even reading them — stamp on inkpad, stamp on paper, next request, etc.

This must have happened fairly frequently since the process gave birth to an idiom that still exists today — a person is referred to as a "rubber stamp" if he is responsible for approving requests and just does so automatically without paying much attention to what is actually being requested.

Leah: Chosen, Not Rejected

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Monday, 22 July 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 739

Leah: Chosen, Not Rejected

For the remainder of the month of July, we are going to pause Miracle Monday and continue with Sister Alena's series on women of the Bible. In August, we will resume our regularly scheduled Miracle Mondays, where we share testimonies and experiences from our readers.

Leah’s story has always been an interesting one to me. Here was a woman who built Israel and yet still felt unloved. I am reminded of a scene in a popular TV show where one character says that he must be the *only* rich and famous person to still be alone and missing something.

You can read Leah’s story in Genesis chapters 29 to 35, but essentially, she does everything she can to be the love of her husband Jacob’s life — and still she is not.

She is overlooked, reduced to a seemingly desperate wife. But she is so much more.

Selective Memory (3 Nephi 2)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 17 July 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 325

Selective Memory (3 Nephi 2)

It happens in our homes when someone is able to recall — perhaps in great detail — things that happened a year ago but can't remember that you asked him yesterday to take out the trash.

It happens in politics when people enthusiastically cheer their favorite politician's position on a certain issue, somehow forgetting that the same politician espoused the exact opposite view on that same issue just a few years ago.

It can even happen in our own recall of certain events in our lives, as we remember our own role in a much more favorable light than what actually occurred.

It's called "selective memory," which is defined as the ability to remember some facts while apparently forgetting others, especially those that are somehow inconvenient at the current time.

How Immovable Are You? (3 Nephi 1)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 03 July 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 278

How Immovable Are You? (3 Nephi 1)

A congregation of Christian believers was holding a worship service in a country where Christianity is illegal. They kept the location of their meeting secret due to the risk involved. Suddenly, the door swung open and four men with rifles entered the room. The leader of the men announced to the room, "We are prepared to execute every Christian believer in the room. If you don't want to be shot to death right here, you need to denounce your belief in Christ by leaving this room right now. All who remain will be killed."

Immediately, several people in the room got up and left the room. When the last of these had departed, the leader looked at those who were left and said, "Last chance. Anybody else want to leave and save their lives?" Nobody else moved — they each prepared themselves to die for their faith. The leader nodded his head, and the four men put down their rifles. He then announced, "OK, now we know who the true believers are. Let's continue with our worship of the Lord."

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