Scripture Study

Don't Let the Enemy Enter In

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 13 January 2021. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 157

Don't Let the Enemy Enter In

This article is the last installment of Brother Jerry Valenti's series on the original 12 Apostles of Christ. Check below for links to all the articles in this series!

Judas Iscariot is the most infamous of all the Apostles. He is described as "the traitor," the one who betrayed Christ. After spending three years with Jesus and His other Apostles, how could Judas have done this, assisting the local authorities to arrest Jesus and eventually put Him to death?

It's possible that Judas did it for the money. He was greedy enough to take advantage of his position as the Apostle Treasurer to steal money from their fund (John 12:6), which is noted after Judas complains about Jesus allowing costly ointment to be "wasted" on Him, rather than selling it to generate more money for their fund (which Judas would have taken a share of). It's even possible that missing out on this additional money that would have come from selling the ointment may have pushed Judas to follow through on the betrayal, as these are the very next verses (in Matthew 26):

"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him." (Matthew 26:14-16)

How Much Are We Like James?

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 06 January 2021. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 307

How Much Are We Like James?

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

The Apostle for this blog is James, the son of Zebedee. Described below are four attributes (some good, some not so good) that James exhibits in the scriptural accounts that describe him. As you read these, I encourage you to compare these attributes to your own character and consider what you would do in similar circumstances.

Prosperous

James was a fisherman by trade. But he didn't just fish alone. He saw the value from a business perspective of partnering with others. He worked with his brother, John, and his father, Zebedee, (Matthew 4:21) and they also partnered with Simon Peter and Andrew (Luke 5:10). It can be assumed that their business was doing well. Yet, when Jesus said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men," James (along with the others) was willing to leave it all behind to follow Jesus.

What If It Rains?

Written by Brother Doug Obradovich on Tuesday, 05 January 2021. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 293

What If It Rains?

Today's article originally appeared in the November 2020 issue of The Gospel News in the Word Up column.

"He sendeth rain on the just and the unjust." (Matthew 5:45)

As often happens in tropical regions, an ominous rainstorm rolled in unannounced. Still 15 minutes from home, her broken passenger-side window created serious concern. Moments later she saw the swirling rain just a block or so ahead of her and immediately knew the duct-taped cardboard was no match for the storm. She prayed desperately. And God stayed the storm until my mother arrived home.

Fifty years later, when dark clouds appear while driving, I immediately recount Mom's testimony. I grew up expecting God to quiet every storm as He did for her. Sometimes innocence and faith coexist within a young heart. Early in my walk with the Lord, I carried myself with a certain naïveté, which protectively guarded my heart; but spiritual maturity brings a different level of faith.

Working Even When Others Don't See It

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 30 December 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 447

Working Even When Others Don't See It

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

The Apostle for this blog is named James. No, not James the son of Zebedee — this is the other one, the one you don't hear much about. Here's what we know about this James:

  • His father is named Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3). This may make him the brother of the Apostle Matthew, whose father is also named Alphaeus (Mark 2:14). On the other hand, there may be two men named Alphaeus. It's not clear from what we can see in the Bible.
  • His mother may be named Mary (Mark 15:40) although this leads to a possible contradiction since the same Mary is later said to be the wife of Cleophas (John 19:25). Perhaps Alphaeus and Cleophas are the same person. Perhaps Cleophas is Mary's second husband. Who knows?

So, what do we actually know about this James? Not a whole lot. We do know that he was called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we know that he went on a mission trip with the other Apostles (Matthew 10), he was at the Last Supper and had his feet washed by Jesus (John 13), and he was present when Jesus appeared after His resurrection (John 20).

It's Christmas Here Too, You Know

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 23 December 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 481

It's Christmas Here Too, You Know

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

The photo that accompanies this blog is from the classic movie, "The Muppet Christmas Carol." In this particular scene, The Ghost of Christmas Present brings Ebenezer Scrooge to the poor part of town where Bob Cratchit lives. Scrooge asks, "Why have we come to this part of town?" The ghost replies, "It's Christmas here too, you know."

The point of the above scene is to illustrate that people like Scrooge, who live in a good place, may find it easy to forget that Christmas is for everyone, regardless of their status in life. If you've seen any of the hundreds of adaptations of "A Christmas Carol," then you know that Scrooge eventually discovers that sharing what he has with others — including those he previously would not even associate with — brings greater joy than just keeping it all to himself.

We who are followers of Jesus Christ would do well to remember that not only Christmas, but also Christ Himself is for everyone, regardless of their status in life. Our tendency might be to gravitate toward people who are like us or who we enjoy being around. If we really want to do the work of the Lord, we can't limit ourselves in that way.

If Only He Hadn't Missed the Meeting

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 16 December 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 554

If Only He Hadn't Missed the Meeting

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

If things had just worked out a little differently, this Apostle could have been remembered as "Courageous Thomas." In John 11, when Jesus indicated He was going to ignore the advice of His disciples to "Be safe" and was instead going to travel to a place where His life would be threatened, "Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him" (John 11:16).

Or, if not Courageous Thomas, he could have been remembered as "Thomas the Twin" (Didymus means Twin).

But instead, he's remembered as "Doubting Thomas." And it's all because he missed the meeting…

Come and See

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 09 December 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 496

Come and See

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

1 Nephi 8 describes Lehi's dream of the Tree of Life. A key moment in the dream occurs right after Lehi tastes the fruit of the tree (which we later learn represents the Love of God and Jesus Christ). Rather than keeping it to himself, Lehi immediately has a desire to share what he has found with his family, so he begins to seek them out to share it with them (verses 12-18). I've always felt that this is a great example for each of us, that we should all have a desire to share the gospel with others.

The Apostle Philip follows this example after meeting Jesus. He immediately goes and finds his friend Nathanael and says, "We have found him! The one who Moses and the prophets wrote about — Jesus of Nazareth!" As has happened to many of us when trying to share the gospel, Nathanael is not immediately receptive, saying "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Realizing that words will not be enough to convince him, Philip finally just says, "Come and see," and Nathanael is then introduced to Jesus. (See John 1:45-51.)

The Daughter of Abraham: Healed in God's House

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Thursday, 03 December 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 457

The Daughter of Abraham: Healed in God's House

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

This one caught me totally by surprise. I’ve been working through the miracles of Jesus and have been rereading and seeing new things in the Scriptures I grew up with. But this story, these small verses, really caught me off guard.

In the thirteenth chapter of Luke, the writer tells the story of Jesus in a synagogue on the Sabbath.

Jesus is teaching, and there’s a woman there who had a “spirit of infirmity” for 18 years, and she was physically unable to sit straight by herself. (The Scripture makes a very clear point to say that she could not do this herself.)

I went hunting into the internet for what that actually meant, and many people credit this as a disability of some sort.

I'm the One Who Jesus Loves

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 02 December 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 411

I'm the One Who Jesus Loves

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

Does the title of this blog make it sound like I think I'm special? Who would put this kind of statement in writing? Well, the Apostle John did it — several times!

  • "Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved." (John 13:23)
  • "Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved." (John 20:2)
  • "Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord." (John 21:7)

In fact, John never refers to himself by name in his entire gospel! Why did he do it this way? Was he so humble that he didn't want to mention his own name? Maybe. Was he so egotistical that he thought he was the one who Jesus loved the most? Not likely. What John is trying to do is to get us to understand that each of us is the one who Jesus loves.

Would you feel uncomfortable saying, "I'm the one who Jesus loves"? You may not even believe that He loves you at all. If your personal definition of the Lord loving you consists of Him giving you this or that or making this particular situation work out the way you want it to, then it's possible you could conclude He doesn't love you when your own predefined conditions aren't met.

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 25 November 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 382

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

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

Nathanael is an Apostle who is primarily mentioned in the Gospel of John. His father was a man named Tolmai so Nathanael is referred to in the other three gospels as Bar-Tolmai (actually spelled Bartholomew). In John 1, Nathanael is introduced to Jesus by Philip, and their two names are then paired (as Philip and Bartholomew) in the lists of Apostles in the other three gospels.

When Jesus meets Nathanael, he greets him by saying, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" (John 1:47) Nathanael is surprised that Jesus knows who he is, and when Jesus says He recognized him as the man standing under the fig tree with Philip, Nathanael immediately acknowledges that Jesus must be the Son of God. We can envision Jesus perhaps smiling at this man's simple, innocent faith and then replying:

"Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these…Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." (John 1:50-51)

Building on the Rock

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 18 November 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 416

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 471

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 475

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 497

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 398

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.

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