Scripture Study

What Our Children Remember (Enos)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 29 March 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 439

What Our Children Remember (Enos)

At the end of his life, Jacob, the brother of Nephi, turns over the Nephite records to his son, Enos. Enos would only add one chapter of information to the record, but that one chapter does contain the account of his conversion. While in the forest, Enos prayed mightily and heard the voice of the Lord say, “Thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed” (verse 4). At that point, any guilt he felt was swept away, and he was fully converted to a faith in Christ.

But let’s back up a little bit in the story. Prior to praying mightily, what was Enos thinking about? According to verse 3, he was thinking back on the words that he had often heard his father speak concerning eternal life and the joy of the saints, and these words sunk deep into his heart. This caused his soul to hunger for the same blessings in his life, and he went on to establish his own relationship with God.

They Can’t Both Be Right (Jacob 7)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 22 March 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 453

They Can’t Both Be Right (Jacob 7)

One of my favorite movies from years ago is “Fiddler on the Roof,” a story about Tevye, the milkman, struggling to hang onto old traditions in the face of a changing world. In a memorable scene, a young rebel (who would eventually marry one of Tevye’s daughters) tries to convince the circle of traditional older men to take notice of what is happening in the world outside of their little village. The dialogue goes like this:

Man 1: Why should I care about what’s going on in the outside world? Let the outside world take care of itself.

Tevye: He’s right.

Young Rebel: Nonsense! You can’t close your eyes to what’s happening in the world!

Tevye: He’s right.

Man 2 (addressing Tevye): He’s right and he’s right? They can’t both be right.

Tevye: You know, you are also right!

The Hard-Hearted Person (Jacob 6)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 15 March 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 513

The Hard-Hearted Person (Jacob 6)

In Jacob 6, after providing some brief explanation of the parable presented in the previous chapter, Jacob encourages the people in three consecutive verses to not “harden their hearts.” He points out that those who do harden their hearts will be unable to hear the voice of God and will therefore be unable to take advantage of His mercy and will therefore be unable to be saved in the kingdom of God.

What does it mean to have a hard heart? Physically speaking, nobody’s heart can truly be hard, as it would be unable to function as a pump for the blood and the person would die. However, to the extent that the heart represents our true inner self and the place where love resides, it makes sense that we can choose to erect a barrier such that the words or love of another individual (or of God) cannot penetrate and get to us.

Understanding Parables (Jacob 5)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 08 March 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 473

Understanding Parables (Jacob 5)

The New Testament records many parables related by Jesus. The Lord stated that He used this method — in which people or objects in a story represent other things — to communicate various spiritual truths such that only someone who was looking for the spiritual meaning would understand what He was saying. So, whereas one person might hear a story about seeking a pearl of great price as the pursuit of wealth, the spiritual person would understand that this story illustrates that the gospel of Jesus Christ is worth more to us than anything we have on earth.

The key to understanding a parable is to identify what each element of the story represents and what the interactions indicate. For example, in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15), a man gives half his wealth to his son who then goes out and wastes it all on “riotous living;” when the money is all gone, the son returns home and his father throws his arms around him and takes him back! Rather than thinking of the father as an enabler and the son as a deadbeat, we understand that the father represents God and the son represents you or me or anyone who has gone astray in life. When we put ourselves in the story like this, we gain a clearer understanding of God’s unconditional love for us.

Being a Commander (Jacob 4)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 01 March 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 414

Being a Commander (Jacob 4)

If asked to name great military commanders in history, you might think of names in American history such as George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant or George Patton. Perhaps you might think of names in world history like Alexander the Great or Napoleon Bonaparte. Hopefully, you'd also think of names in the scriptures such as Joshua, David, Moroni, and Mormon.

All of these commanders led large armies. In order to lead effectively, they had to be able to tell their soldiers what to do (command them). A great commander definitely influences the outcome of a battle, but the strength of the army is a huge factor as well. Commanding an army with little strength is not likely to lead to victory.

Blessed are the Pure in Heart (Jacob 3)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 22 February 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 461

Blessed are the Pure in Heart (Jacob 3)

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8)

These words were spoken by Jesus Christ as part of His famous Sermon on the Mount. The statement is one of a series of statements in which Jesus pronounces different blessings on various types of people (pure in heart, poor in spirit, merciful, peacemakers, etc.).

Something that is pure is something that consists completely of the same material with nothing else mixed in. If the material is something of value, then the more pure the object is, the more valuable it is. For example, a gold bar that is pure gold is worth a lot of money; however, if there are other materials mixed in, the bar is worth less — even if it looks the same on the outside.

Doing Battle Against Spiritual Starvation

Written by Sister Michelle Watson on Thursday, 16 February 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 572

Doing Battle Against Spiritual Starvation

Have you ever gone so long without reading scripture, praying, fasting, attending church, or [insert your own] that you just "got used to it" after a while? At first, you felt like something was missing — maybe you even felt guilty for not doing whatever it was — but then it became normal? After enough time passed, you didn't even miss it.

I think we've all experienced this. We think, "I can't remember the last time I read scripture (or other spiritual thing)."

Redefining Marriage (Jacob 2)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 15 February 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 569

Redefining Marriage (Jacob 2)

Polygamy — the practice of being married to more than one person at the same time — is something that was practiced and even encouraged by a particular church in the 1800s. Since this teaching is not found in the Bible, many people assume that the Book of Mormon, which is also used by that particular church, must be the book that teaches that polygamy is acceptable. Since The Church of Jesus Christ also uses the Book of Mormon, we want to make sure to set the record straight on this matter.

In reality, Jacob 2 is the only chapter in the Book of Mormon that discusses this subject, and the instruction is clearly opposed to this practice: “Hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife” (Jacob 2:27).

If You Accept a Job, Do the Job (Jacob 1)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 08 February 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 551

If You Accept a Job, Do the Job (Jacob 1)

With the death of Nephi, Jacob (Nephi’s brother) takes over the responsibility of maintaining the history of the Nephite people. In the first chapter of Jacob’s writing, he describes this new responsibility and also mentions his calling into the priesthood, having been ordained by his brother Nephi. Regarding this calling, Jacob writes that he and his brother Joseph “magnified their office,” taking their responsibilities so seriously that they considered “the sins of the people [to be] upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence” (Jacob 1:19).

When I was a young man, one thing that my father taught me that has stuck with me is “If you accept a job, do the job.” Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Yet, how often do we find ourselves accepting a job (or title) in the church and then, for some reason, not doing the work associated with that job?

Because It Needs to Be Done (2 Nephi 33)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 490

Because It Needs to Be Done (2 Nephi 33)

In the final chapter of Nephi’s writing, 2 Nephi 33, Nephi points out that writing is actually not his best skill. (He was more of a speaker than a writer.) Considering how much he wrote, one could ask, “Why did he do it?” Didn’t he have enough other things to do? Shouldn’t he have left the writing for someone else?

The simple answer to the question of why he did it is because it needed to be done. The history and prophecies needed to be recorded. Writing may not have been his gift. It may not have been his favorite thing to do, but he was able to do it, and it needed to be done. So he did it. Seeing Nephi’s dedication to doing what had to be done, God blessed his work. As Nephi puts it, “the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong” (2 Nephi 33:4).

The Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 32)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 18 January 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 499

The Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 32)

After encouraging the people to consider baptism in chapter 31, Nephi begins 2 Nephi 32 by asking them to consider what comes next after baptism. If you’re a member of The Church of Jesus Christ, then you know that the very next step after baptism is to receive the Holy Ghost. Whereas the words of Nephi make it sound like the reception of the Holy Ghost may have been a decision to be considered separately at that time, the church today bestows it on you automatically shortly after you are baptized.

Although the Holy Ghost is not considered to be a separate “personage” (such as God the Father and God the Son), it is a portion of the entity known as “God.” Baptisms are performed “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” so clearly the Holy Ghost is a part of God. Unlike the personages of the Father and the Son, the Holy Ghost is our own personal portion of God that resides within us and influences us to be servants of God.

Why Should I Be Baptized? (2 Nephi 31)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 11 January 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 496

Why Should I Be Baptized? (2 Nephi 31)

In 2 Nephi 31, Nephi makes a strong case for baptism. If you find yourself in a discussion with someone who is considering baptism — or if you’re contemplating it for yourself — here are some discussion points based on Nephi's words in this chapter:

God Is No Respecter of Persons (2 Nephi 30)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 04 January 2017. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 528

God Is No Respecter of Persons (2 Nephi 30)

Since the House of Israel was given the first opportunity to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, there were many Israelites in those early days who thought it was only for them or that they were somehow special to God or even privileged because of the family they belonged to. After all, they were the “covenant people”! Nephi sought to squash this notion in 2 Nephi 30, describing who the real covenant people are:

"For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel." (2 Nephi 30:2)

This had to be quite an eye opener, that the only factor that mattered was belief on the Lord Jesus Christ and that those who believed — regardless of heritage — would be part of the family of God and those who did not believe — again, regardless of heritage — would be on the outside.

Why Must God Be “One and Done”? (2 Nephi 29)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 28 December 2016. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 542

Why Must God Be “One and Done”? (2 Nephi 29)

What do the following books have in common?

  • “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” by Agatha Christie
  • “A Time to Kill” by John Grisham
  • “Carrie” by Stephen King
  • “Alex Cross” by James Patterson

All Is Well in Zion (2 Nephi 28)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 21 December 2016. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 631

All Is Well in Zion (2 Nephi 28)

Here’s a little quiz for you — do you know what the phrase “All is Well in Zion” means? The phrase isn’t used in the church as often as it was years ago, so if you’re a younger member, you can perhaps be excused for not being familiar with the phrase. If you guessed that it’s some type of prophecy regarding the future gathering of Israel, that's actually incorrect. The mention of Zion is just an indirect reference; the phrase actually has meaning for us in this day and time.

In 2 Nephi 28, Nephi describes a spiritual battle that was taking place, one that is still going on today: “For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance” (2 Nephi 28:19). To help us be better equipped for this battle, Nephi then goes on to warn us about three different strategies that the enemy is using.

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