Scripture Study

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 178

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 188

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 181

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 774

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 151

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.

Stir Up the Gift of God Within You (Moroni 3)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 26 August 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 200

Stir Up the Gift of God Within You (Moroni 3)

How would you respond if you were asked what it means for someone to be ordained?

Perhaps you would say it means that someone is becoming a minister. That's partly right, although people can also be ordained into other positions such as Teacher, Deacon, or Deaconess, so it's not just about being a minister.

You might try to describe it as some type of promotion. But that can't be it — it makes it sound like some members are higher up than other members, and that's not consistent with the teachings of Christ. In fact, Jesus said, "whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (Matthew 20:27).

You might think of it as someone being honored, but that's not exactly it either. That would mean that we're being recognized for our accomplishments whereas the scriptures say that God ordains us "not according to our works, but according to his own purpose" (2 Timothy 1:9).

Although it's not about being personally honored, it is in fact an honor to be given the opportunity to serve God in an ordained office. The scriptures do describe it this way, adding that "no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God" (Hebrews 5:4). Hmm, being "called of God" — there's a definition we can work with.

Bestowal of the Holy Ghost (Moroni 2)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 19 August 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 510

Bestowal of the Holy Ghost (Moroni 2)

When you give your life to the Lord at the waters of baptism, you answer two questions. First, you affirm that you repent of all the sins you've committed up to that point. Second, you promise to serve God for the remainder of your life.

The repentance process consists of experiencing a deep sorrow for the sins you've committed in the past as well as a true desire to do better in the future. Assuming you are truly repentant — and you shouldn't be getting baptized if you're not — the first of the two questions is the easier one, as it's simply an affirmation of what's already occurred. Yes, I repent. Done, check it off.

The second question? Well, since that deals with the future, I can't really check that one off until I take my last breath on earth. And, as much as I may be sincere today with that promise, the reality is that things in my life will change over time, and I will face significant challenges to live up to my promise. Sounds like I'm going to need some help with this one.

The good news is that God recognizes that we need help to live up to this promise, so He provides it in the form of the Holy Ghost — our own personal portion of God that resides within us. The Holy Ghost teaches us what we need to know to be successful in serving God and prompts us to do the right thing (or not do the wrong thing) in various situations that we face in life. It is an indispensable tool in serving God.

Thank You, Mormon and Moroni (Moroni 1)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 12 August 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 192

Thank You, Mormon and Moroni (Moroni 1)

As we begin the final part of The Book of Mormon, I want to express thanks to two of the men who made it all possible. Mormon, for whom the book is named, spent a good part of his life going through thousands of pages of Nephite history to produce a readable history for us (from 1 Nephi through Mormon chapter 7). After his death, his son, Moroni, picked up the project and completed the Nephite history (Mormon chapters 8 and 9) and then abridged the Jaredite history (Book of Ether). Moroni may have thought this was the end of the project, but the Lord had other plans:

"Now I, Moroni, after having made an end of abridging the account of the people of Jared, I had supposed not to have written more, but I have not as yet perished…[so] I write a few more things, that perhaps they may be of worth unto my brethren, the Lamanites, in some future day, according to the will of the Lord." (Moroni 1:1,4)

The Book of Moroni is the compilation of the "few more things" that Moroni writes with the additional time that is granted to him. While it would be easy to be consumed by his own problems (the Lamanites are trying to find him to kill him), Moroni chooses to use the time that remains in his earthly life to work for the Lord. It's a great example for any of us to follow.

Eve: Don't Listen to the Serpent

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Thursday, 06 August 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 547

Eve: Don't Listen to the Serpent

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

Oh, Eve. I have started and stopped writing this blog so many times over the past couple of months. Every time I think that I’ve found something worth writing when it comes to Eve, I get to the end and realize that it’s not worth mentioning. I realize that I think God has something better for me.

And spoiler alert: He does. He always does. Not just in writing blogs, but in everything. But specifically about Eve, I feel like I have looked at this story every way that I can. I
have viewed it from Eve, from Adam, from everyone — and nothing stuck.

It wasn’t until I realized that I am Eve that the story clicked. I have read and heard Eve’s great failure so many times, and I have never related. I never would’ve taken the fruit, right?

I never would have disobeyed God so blatantly.

Keep Doing What You're Doing (Ether 15)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 05 August 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 191

Keep Doing What You're Doing (Ether 15)

There is a quote that is often used in motivational speaking that says, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." The point of this quote is to recognize that the way things work out in various areas of our lives are often a direct result of what we do in those areas. If we keep doing something the same exact way, the results will probably be pretty much the same. If we want the results to change, then we need to change what we do.

Perhaps the Jaredite civilization would have survived if they had only known this definition of insanity.

In Ether 15, the last of the Jaredites are divided into two groups with everyone — men, women, and children — included as part of one army or the other. The two sides go to war and, after a fierce day of fighting, each side suffers many deaths. In each camp, the night is filled with "a howling and a lamentation for the loss of the slain of their people; and so great were their cries, their howlings and lamentations, that they did rend the air exceedingly" (verse 16).

After this horrific night, the people go out the next day and…do the exact same thing. Again, many people are killed on each side, and another night of howling and lamentation is spent. The cycle is repeated the next day and the next, over and over again, until eventually everyone is dead and the Jaredite civilization is no more.

Lost and Found (Ether 14)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 29 July 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 683

Lost and Found (Ether 14)

Recently, we've seen several testimonies on the Gospel Blog that have described occasions when certain items were lost and then God intervened to allow the items to be found. Any time you find something that has been lost, it's a great feeling. Not only is the item restored to you but you are also relieved of whatever negative feelings or consequences accompanied the loss of the item. And to think that God actually intervened on your behalf? That makes it a great blessing!

I've experienced several "lost and found" blessings in my own lifetime. Here's a recent one:

Following a Sunday meeting at Levittown a few months ago, a few of us were standing around, talking in the parking lot for a while. As I was about to leave, I got a phone call from my wife who had already arrived at home. She couldn't find her phone, so she was thinking she may have left it in church.

I went back into the empty church building and looked on and under the pew where she always sits, but it wasn't there. I checked the table in the back of the room, and it wasn't there. Looked in all the bathrooms — not there.

A City of Peace Provided by God (Ether 13)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 22 July 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 1243

A City of Peace Provided by God (Ether 13)

In Genesis 22, Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son as God has requested. However, at the last instant, an angel stops him and a ram is provided to use as the sacrifice instead. Abraham memorializes the place by calling it Jehovahjireh (Genesis 22:14) which means "God provides." The same area already had the name of Shalem (or Salem as it's referenced in the Bible), meaning "city of peace." As time passed, the two names were combined such that the city was referred to as Jireh-Shalem or, as the scriptures spell it, Jerusalem. The meaning of the name can be intuited to be "city of peace provided by God."

Ether 13 describes a city that can be referred to as a city of peace provided by God. The city will be called New Jerusalem, and it will be the principal city in a place called Zion at a period of time referred to as the peaceful reign.

Let's not confuse this New Jerusalem with other cities that go by the same or a similar name.

The Widow With Two Coins: Courageous

Written by Sister Alena X. Ricci on Thursday, 16 July 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 274

The Widow With Two Coins: Courageous

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

According to Google, there are 23,145 verses in the Bible alone. Out of these 23,145 verses, exactly eight of them are dedicated to this woman. And all eight of them are pointed and impactful.

I want to compare the widow's story with the familiar story of Peter walking on water. I think a lot of the rhetoric and dialogue around his story is one of courage and doubt. But a lot of times, when we point to courage, we point to Peter taking that initial step on the water. And that was absolutely courageous, I have serious doubts I would have put my leg out of the boat.

We associate this action with courage because it is visible and it is obvious. But most of the time, courage is more about those small acts that few notice (or no one notices) that make some sort of serious impact.

And that’s this woman.

Believing Is Seeing (Ether 12)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 15 July 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 283

Believing Is Seeing (Ether 12)

In Ether 12, the man named Ether finally appears. In addition to being the writer of the Jaredite record, Ether is a prophet of the Lord who "could not be restrained because of the Spirit of the Lord which was in him" (verse 2). Ether exhorts the people to have faith in God. He prophesies "great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe because they saw them not" (verse 5). People who feel this way today — that they won't believe in something they can't see — might express this feeling by saying, "seeing is believing."

As Moroni, the son of Mormon, is adding Ether's record to the plates that contain the manuscript of the full Book of Mormon, he comments on this philosophy of "seeing is believing," pointing out (similar to Hebrews 11:1) that "faith is things which are hoped for and not seen" (verse 6). In other words, "seeing is believing" is the exact opposite of faith. Moroni then lists several examples of faith from the Book of Mormon, showing how the people first had to believe, and then they saw God move in a visible way:

Don't Shoot the Messenger (Ether 11)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 01 July 2020. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 608

Don't Shoot the Messenger (Ether 11)

If you've ever delivered a message on behalf of someone else, then you're probably familiar with what can happen if the message is upsetting to the person who receives it. It's entirely possible that the person may direct their anger about the message toward you, even though it didn't really come from you. It's at times like this that the appropriate thing for you to say is, "Don't shoot the messenger."

In Ether 11, God sends a message to the Jaredite people who have fallen further and further into iniquity. His message is that "they should repent, and turn unto the Lord, and forsake their murders and wickedness" (verse 1). The people He uses to deliver the message are referred to as prophets (by definition, a prophet is a messenger of God).

Not surprisingly, the people who hear this message don't receive it well. Not only do they reject the message, but they literally kill the messengers. One wicked king "caused that all the prophets who prophesied of the destruction of the people should be put to death" (verse 5).

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