Scripture Study

Building on the Rock

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 18 November 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 242

Building on the Rock

This article is part of Brother Jerry Valenti's series on the original 12 Apostles of Christ.

The Apostle Peter is the most well-known of all of the original Apostles of Jesus. His name is mentioned many times in the four gospels, and he seems to be in the middle of the action most of the time, usually due to his outspokenness and impulsive behavior.

This Apostle's actual name is Simon, but Jesus gives him a nickname (surname) of Peter (Mark 3:16, Luke 6:14) which means "rock" in Greek. John's gospel mentions the Aramaic version of the nickname, Cephas, along with a note as to the meaning: "Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone" (John 1:42).

The use of this nickname in a famous conversation between Jesus and His disciples has caused confusion for some Bible readers through the years.

Seeking Increased Understanding

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 11 November 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 336

Seeking Increased Understanding

This article is part of Brother Jerry Valenti's series on the original 12 Apostles of Christ.

The Apostle who is the subject of this blog is Judas, the brother of James (Luke 6:16). He should not be confused with Judas Iscariot, even though he has the same name. In fact, it appears that the other gospel writers made sure there would be no confusion by referring to the same man as "Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus" (Matthew 10:3) or simply Thaddaeus (Mark 3:18).

Some people believe that this Judas was one of the brothers of Jesus since two of the Lord's half-brothers were named Judas and James (see Matthew 13:55). However, most believe that this was a different Judas since it would be somewhat odd for Luke to refer to the brother of Jesus as the brother of James.

Others believe that this Judas is the author of the Epistle of Jude. This could be true since Jude is a shortened form of Judas and that epistle begins, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James…" It would also fit in well with other epistles written by Apostles of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

Recognizing Jesus and Following Him

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 04 November 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 336

Recognizing Jesus and Following Him

This article is part of Brother Jerry Valenti's series on the original 12 Apostles of Christ.

Sometimes, I kind of feel bad for the Brother of Jared. The poor guy doesn't even get his name mentioned in the scriptures — he's known totally by his relationship to someone else. If you've ever experienced being referred to as this one's wife or that one's son, then you know what it feels like. You know that you have your own identity — you just wish that others would realize it too.

The Apostle who is the subject of this blog is a man who had a similar challenge. He is introduced as "Andrew, Simon Peter's brother" (John 1:40). In describing the day when Jesus called the two brothers to be "fishers of men," Matthew and Mark refer to them as "Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother" (Matthew 4:18, Mark 1:16) while Luke omits Andrew's name altogether. Clearly, this is someone living in his brother's shadow.

Yet, Andrew distinguishes himself in a specific way. He is among the first — if not the first — of the twelve men who would eventually become Apostles to recognize Jesus and know that He is the one to follow. How does he recognize Him? What makes him decide to follow Jesus?

Be a Zealot for Jesus

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 28 October 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 311

Be a Zealot for Jesus

Today begins a series of 12 blog articles on the original 12 Apostles of Jesus. Similar to the Book of Mormon articles, each of these articles will include a little bit of information about one of the Apostles and then some type of application for our own service to God today.

One of the most unheralded Apostles of Jesus is a man named Simon. This particular Simon is distinguished from Simon Peter by being referred to as either Simon the Canaanite (Matthew 10:4, Mark 3:18) or Simon Zelotes (Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13). In this particular case, the title of Canaanite doesn't mean he was from Canaan (which would have made him a Gentile) but it's actually a translation of the word "Kananite" which comes from the Hebrew word "qanai" which means "zealous." The name "Zelotes" also means "zealot," so this Simon can best be referred to as Simon the Zealot.

Based on this title, it can be inferred that Simon's background would include being involved as a zealot for various political causes of the day. You can picture him giving fiery speeches, trying to enlist as many people as possible for his causes, perhaps even leading riots against those who opposed his causes.

Joanna: First to Tell

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Tuesday, 27 October 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 279

Joanna: First to Tell

This article is part of Sister Alena X. Ricci's series on the Women of the Bible.

In studying Joanna for this blog, she has quickly become one of my favorites. Vastly overlooked, hers is an incredible story, and I hope that you go and read it for yourself (in Luke). It’s not long, but it is so amazing to me.

Joanna was a wealthy and well-connected woman in Herod’s court, with a life of more power and luxury than most other women mentioned in Scripture. At some point, Jesus had healed her, and she began following Him in His ministry, providing for anything He needed out of her own pocket.

The Bible never mentions if her faith hurt her life, but guess what?

That doesn’t really change her story, because whether or not it did doesn't affect or change the fact that even with the escalating risks of faith, she faced them unflinchingly.

She didn’t care; she was going to follow Jesus no matter what.

Trusting in God (Moroni 10)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 14 October 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 608

Trusting in God (Moroni 10)

The Book of Mormon ends with a challenge to the reader to trust in God. We will end this blog series with the same challenge to our readers.

What does it mean to trust in God? Does it mean that we give God assignments and trust (expect) that He will make things work out the way we want them to? If you've ever tried doing this, you know that it doesn't really work that way. Those who think it does work that way often wind up losing their faith when they conclude that God is not trustworthy when He doesn't give them what they ask for.

Trusting in God is really about trusting Him for the outcome in a given situation. It means that we put something in His hands and trust that He will work things out in the proper way, whatever that is. When we pray, we usually request specific outcomes to our situations and, when the outcome is what we requested, we rejoice and praise God. However, when the outcome is not what we wanted, if we truly trust in God, we will seek to understand why it worked out the way it did and ultimately trust that God allowed things to happen the way they did for some good reason, perhaps known only to Him.

Why Trials Happen

Written by Sister Erin Light on Thursday, 08 October 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 635

Why Trials Happen

Today's article is submitted by Sister Erin Light. It's based on a class prepared by her mother, Sister Carolyn Light, on James 1:1-12. The theme is "Reasons for Trials," and the article reads a bit like a lesson outline. It uses this passage in James to shed light on one of the toughest questions in Christianity: "Why does God let bad things happen to His people?"

One of the best tests of spiritual growth and maturity is trouble. When believers go through personal trials, they discover the kind of faith they really possess. Trials not only reveal our faith, but they also develop our character.

The book of James tells us, "The trying of your faith worketh patience." Patience is enduring faith, faith with staying power, faith that overcomes. Verses 1 to 12 speak about trials and tests that come into our lives from outside circumstances. God is trying to produce in each of His servants "faith that overcomes," that endures, that has staying power. Far too many who start out following Christ fall by the wayside when temptations and trials come. God is trying to produce an inward change by allowing and even ordaining outward trials to build in us an overcoming faith.

God wants us to understand that trials in life are not uncommon (Mt. 5:10-12; 1 Pe. 4:12). If you are going through trials right now, realize that God is not picking on you (1 Cor. 10:13). He has a purpose!

The Power of Positive Thinking (Moroni 9)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 07 October 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 413

The Power of Positive Thinking (Moroni 9)

Found on a popular medical website:

"Positive thinking is the practice of focusing on the good in any given situation. It can have a big impact on your physical and mental health. It doesn't mean that you ignore reality or make light of problems. It simply means that you approach the good and the bad in life with the expectation that things will go well.

Some physical benefits of positive thinking may include longer life span, lower blood pressure, lower chance of having a heart attack, greater resistance to illness, better stress management and better pain tolerance. Mental benefits may include more creativity, clearer thinking, greater problem-solving skill, better mood, better coping skills and less depression."

One man in the scriptures who was a master at positive thinking was Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Israel.

In Genesis 39, Joseph finds himself sold into slavery by his own brothers. It would have been easy for him to bemoan his fate and stoke his anger over how unfairly life was treating him and how his own family members had betrayed him. Instead, he focuses on being the best slave he can be and winds up being put in charge of the entire household.

He's Got the Little Tiny Baby in His Hands (Moroni 8)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 30 September 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 385

He's Got the Little Tiny Baby in His Hands (Moroni 8)

A gross error. Solemn mockery before God. Awful wickedness.

What terrible sin is being described by all of these strongly worded terms? Believe it or not, these terms are used in Moroni 8 to describe the practice of baptizing little children.

Wow, is it really that bad to do this? After all, isn't baptism the way that people become members of the church? What's wrong with getting the children started early? Is there really any harm in this?

Well, let's first make sure that we understand the purpose for baptism. It's not just to become a member of the church. Rather, it's what people do when they are ready to repent of all of their sins and turn their lives over to Christ. Little children cannot do this. As the Lord states in this chapter, "Little children…are not capable of committing sin" and "I came into the world not to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick" (verse 8).

To Judge or Not to Judge (Moroni 7)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 23 September 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 574

To Judge or Not to Judge (Moroni 7)

"Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1)

 

"My brethren, it is given unto you to judge" (Moroni 7:15)

How do we reconcile the two scriptural statements above? One appears to directly contradict the other.

It's possible that you've heard the above verse from Matthew quoted in various situations. It usually goes something like this:

Follower of Christ: "This type of behavior goes against the Word of God."

Person engaging in said behavior: "The Bible also says, 'Judge not, that ye be not judged'!"

Peter’s Mother-in-law: Healed Right Where She Was

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Thursday, 17 September 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 359

Peter’s Mother-in-law: Healed Right Where She Was

This article is part of Sister Alena X. Ricci's series "Women in the Bible."

As Jesus was making His travels around, He went to Simon Peter’s house, where his mother-in-law was sick with fever.

Luke 4:38 says that “they besought Him for her.”

So Jesus stands over her, rebukes the fever, it leaves, and she gets up to serve them.

This woman gets healed and stands up to work.

With no fuss, no big deal.

She just simply is healed and goes back to work for those in her home.

Now I’m over here like, “Where’s the spectacle? Where’s the crowd? Where’s the big celebration of her healing?”

But that’s the best part of this story and the lesson I found hiding in plain sight: that Jesus’ miracles are wrought daily in our lives.

Let God Out of the Box (Moroni 6)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 16 September 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 326

Let God Out of the Box (Moroni 6)

Moroni 6 provides some instruction on church operation, including baptism, fasting and prayer, communion, and requiring repentance when sin is committed. The chapter concludes with a description of how the Nephites conducted their church meetings. We encourage our church meetings to be conducted in a similar manner today:

"And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done" (Moroni 6:9)

In other words, when we get together for a church meeting, it's not a requirement that we follow an exact script. Perhaps the Spirit may inspire a certain message to be preached on a given day. On a different day, perhaps more of a focus on prayer would be appropriate. On yet another day, singing praises to the Lord could be emphasized.

Are We Able to Drink of the Cup? (Moroni 5)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 09 September 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 275

Are We Able to Drink of the Cup? (Moroni 5)

"Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" (Matthew 20:22)

This was the question that Jesus asked His disciples when two of them were trying to arrange to have seats of honor right next to Him in the kingdom of heaven. The question had nothing to do with drinking an actual beverage from a cup. In this case, Jesus drinking from this "cup" meant that He would be giving His life for the cause. Jesus wanted to know if His disciples were willing to do the same.

The disciples answered, "We are able!" It didn't get them the seats of honor in heaven, but Jesus was glad to hear that His disciples were that committed to the cause — many of them did in fact eventually give their lives for the cause of Christ.

Some time later, during the last supper that Jesus shared with His disciples, the disciples literally were able to drink out of a cup that represented the blood that Jesus would spill as He gave His life for the cause. On that occasion, Jesus took His cup of wine and "gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:27-28).

What Is It? It's the Bread of Life (Moroni 4)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 02 September 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 940

What Is It? It's the Bread of Life (Moroni 4)

After being led out of Egypt by Moses, the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and then found themselves in a wilderness with no source of food for such a large group. However, God provided for them by sending down a kind of bread from heaven. It began appearing one morning in the form of small round things on the ground.

"And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat." (Exodus 16:15)

The word "manna" is said to derive from the Aramaic phrase "man hu" which means, "What is it?" When you fit that back into the verse above, it becomes clear that the Israelites referred to this mysterious substance as "What is it?" since they didn't know what it was. However, Moses does let them know that this was the bread that God had provided for them.

Sarah: God's Good Work Will Prevail

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Tuesday, 01 September 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 208

Sarah: God's Good Work Will Prevail

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

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. *sigh*

Now here is a woman I understand.

She is a completely imperfect person.

She is very human. Very normal. And her reactions are disturbingly close to what I could see myself doing.

But more importantly, she is an example that God can use literally anyone for anything.

In studying Sarah, I broke her story into three major points, and they all converge on one major theme.

That God’s promise and His good work will prevail in our lives no matter what.

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