Scripture Study

A Righteous Man's Reward (Helaman 13)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 05 June 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 390

A Righteous Man's Reward (Helaman 13)

In Matthew 10, Jesus gives His twelve apostles instructions regarding going out into the various cities to share His gospel. He tells them to preach, heal the sick, cast out devils, etc. He also tells them to stay in the homes of whichever families would be willing to receive them, commenting that such hospitable families would receive "a righteous man's reward" (Matthew 10:41).

What is a righteous man's reward? And why should people who may or may not be righteous receive it? As used here, a righteous man's reward would consist of any God-given benefit realized by others — righteous or not — as a result of being in close proximity to the servant of God.

For example, in the scripture above, suppose a natural disaster would have hit one of the cities and God allowed it to miss the house where His disciple was staying. The entire household would then benefit from this intervention intended to preserve the righteous man — they would all have received the righteous man's reward.

The Voice (Helaman 12)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 29 May 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 409

The Voice (Helaman 12)

Perhaps you are familiar with a TV show called "The Voice" in which vocalists from across the country engage in a singing competition. Each competition begins with singers trying to enter the contest by auditioning for voice coaches who work for the show. Each coach then decides which of the contestants they want to work with to try to help them win the competition. This audition phase is actually called "Blind Auditions" because the coaches don't get to see the contestants; they have to make their decisions not on appearances but purely based on "The Voice."

There is a voice that speaks to us as servants of God. This is THE VOICE — the voice of God. Similar to the scenario described above, we don't get to see the source of the voice. We have to "listen" — whether with our ears, our mind, or our heart — and then make our decisions based on having faith that we have heard the voice of God.

Is God Trying to Get My Attention? (Helaman 11)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 22 May 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 397

Is God Trying to Get My Attention? (Helaman 11)

In Helaman 11, Nephi invokes the power of attorney privilege that he was granted in the previous chapter. With war raging among the Nephite people and many dying due to their wickedness, Nephi presents this request to the Lord:

"O Lord, do not suffer that this people should be destroyed by the sword; but O Lord, rather let there be a famine in the land, to stir them up in remembrance of the Lord their God, and perhaps they will repent and turn unto thee." (Helaman 11:4)

As promised, God grants Nephi's request. For the next three years, there is no rain, so the crops don't grow, and there is a great famine throughout the land. Finally, "the people saw that they were about to perish by famine, and they began to remember the Lord their God" (verse 7). When Nephi sees that the people are humbling themselves and turning back to God, he prays for the famine to end. Then, the rain returns and the crops grow, and "the people of Nephi began to prosper again in the land" (verse 20).

Power of Attorney (Helaman 10)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 15 May 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 409

Power of Attorney (Helaman 10)

Power of Attorney: An authorization to represent or act on another's behalf in any matter. The individual authorizing the other to act is the grantor (of the power). The one authorized to act is the agent.

As defined above, power of attorney is an instrument used to allow someone else to speak or do something on your behalf. There can be various reasons for creating such an arrangement. Perhaps you anticipate that you may be incapacitated for a period of time such that you will be unable to make your own decisions. Whatever the reason, this is an arrangement that you enter into when you find it advantageous to have someone else acting on your behalf.

If you decided to create such an arrangement, what factors would be important to you in selecting an agent? You would probably seek someone with the following qualifications:

Who Did It? (Helaman 9)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 08 May 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 443

Who Did It? (Helaman 9)

In Helaman 9, five men race to the judgment seat to see if the chief judge has, in fact, been murdered — as Nephi had revealed by inspiration at the end of the previous chapter. The five men find the chief judge's body just as Nephi had described, and they faint in astonishment. When they are later discovered at the scene of the crime, they are arrested for the murder! While in prison, they relate how Nephi had described the crime scene, so then Nephi falls under suspicion. Yes, he had an alibi for the time of the murder, but perhaps he paid someone else to do it?

So, who did it?

Our Actions Illustrate Our Beliefs (Helaman 8)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 01 May 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 434

Our Actions Illustrate Our Beliefs (Helaman 8)

A crowd has gathered near Niagara Falls where a man has strung a rope across the falls and is standing on the edge of the falls with a wheelbarrow. He tells the crowd he is prepared to push the wheelbarrow along the rope and walk across Niagara Falls. In order to get the crowd stirred up, the man asks, "Who here believes I can cross the falls, pushing this wheelbarrow across this rope?" Some of the people raise their hands.

The man says, "Well, if you don't really believe I can do it, there's no point in continuing." More hands go up, and some of the people shout, "Yes, we believe you can do it!" The man says, "Are you sure you believe it? After all, I'm risking my life here." The people shout their encouragement even louder, and one man near the front jumps up and down, shouting, "I believe! I believe!"

The man addresses this enthusiastic believer: "Really, you believe I can do this?" The other man replies, "Yes, yes, I believe!" The first man nods his head and says, "OK, then get in the wheelbarrow."

Now Is Our Time (Helaman 7)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 24 April 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 796

Now Is Our Time (Helaman 7)

In Helaman 7, Nephi returns from a missionary trip and is very discouraged. The messages he has preached during the trip were completely rejected. The Nephite people he preached to remain in a state of great iniquity. As he reflects on how the people are "condemning the righteous because of their righteousness [and] letting the guilty and wicked go unpunished" (verse 5), Nephi actually wishes he could have lived during a different period of time:

"Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity, and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord." (Helaman 7:7)

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (Helaman 6)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 17 April 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 477

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (Helaman 6)

We probably all experience occasions in our lives when negative consequences result from actions we take that may later seem rather questionable. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, someone may even ask us — or we may even ask ourselves — "Why would you do such a thing?" Sometimes, the only answer we can give — as lame as it may be — is, "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time."

Sometimes, the consequences of doing something that seemed like a good idea at the time are minimal and can be laughed at later. To see a few short videos depicting this, click here.

However, when the actions taken are sinful in nature, the consequences may be such that we won't be laughing when we look back and wonder why we did it. Helaman 6 recalls a few such examples from the scriptures, adding that the devil is the source of these "good ideas":

Saved by Fire (Helaman 5)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 10 April 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 448

Saved by Fire (Helaman 5)

In Helaman 5, Nephi and Lehi, the sons of Helaman, enter Lamanite territory to preach the gospel. They have much success as 8,000 are baptized, but some of the Lamanites become angry and cast Nephi and Lehi into prison. The Lamanite guards later enter the prison to kill them, but they encounter an unusual sight: "Nephi and Lehi were encircled about as if by fire, even insomuch that they durst not lay their hands upon them for fear lest they should be burned" (verse 23).

After a series of events in which the walls of the prison tremble and a voice from heaven urges all to repent, Nephi and Lehi are again encircled by a pillar of fire:

"Yea, they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire, yet it did harm them not…and they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory. And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words." (Helaman 5:44-45)

Our Own Strength (Helaman 4)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 03 April 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 551

Our Own Strength (Helaman 4)

In Helaman 4, the Nephites lose a series of battles that cost them many lives and many cities. According to the record, this great loss was avoidable:

"Now this great loss of the Nephites, and the great slaughter which was among them, would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness and their abomination which was among them; yea, and it was among those also who professed to belong to the church of God." (Helaman 4:11)

A sinful way of life among the Nephite people, including those who were members of the church, appears to have been the root cause of this tragedy. So, does that mean this was a punishment from God? Not exactly. Due to the wicked conditions, God just withdrew, leaving the people without His blessing and protection — "they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten" (verse 13).

It's Astonishing What the Lord Can Do (Helaman 3)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 27 March 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 488

It's Astonishing What the Lord Can Do (Helaman 3)

Helaman 3 describes a period of great prosperity in the church. Thousands repent of their sins and are baptized. Untold blessings are experienced by all.

"And so great was the prosperity of the church, and so many the blessings which were poured out upon the people, that even the high priests and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure." (Helaman 3:25)

Even the church leaders were astonished as they witnessed firsthand what the Lord could do!

Many of us have also been firsthand witnesses of what the Lord can do. It's summarized nicely in the chorus of one of the Songs of Zion:

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (Helaman 2)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 20 March 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 599

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (Helaman 2)

In Helaman 2, the position of chief judge still stands vacant after the murder of the previous two chief judges in the previous chapter. Helaman is elected to fill the position, but a plot is immediately fashioned to murder him — the hit man, Kishkumen, is again hired to do the job.

However, as the planning proceeds, one of Helaman's servants somehow infiltrates the mob in disguise and learns the details of the plot. This servant offers to escort Kishkumen to the judgment seat to perform the murder but instead he kills Kishkumen en route and foils the plot.

In the above story, the assassination team is fooled by someone who dressed like them, spoke like them, and learned how to appear to be one of them. Of course, it was for a good cause in this case, but it nonetheless shows how someone pretending to be part of the team can derail an effort.

I Strenuously Object (Helaman 1)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 13 March 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 601

I Strenuously Object (Helaman 1)

OK, we're going back to the movies today. Here's some dialogue from a popular movie from some years back. The scene takes place during a trial in a courtroom.

Lawyer 1: "Your Honor, we renew our objection to this testimony, and ask that it be stricken from the record."

Judge: "The objection's overruled, counsel."

Lawyer 1: "Sir, the defense strenuously objects and requests a meeting in chambers so that his honor might have an opportunity to hear discussion before ruling on the objection."

Judge (getting annoyed): "Noted. The witness is an expert and the court will hear his opinion!"

Lawyer 2 (taunting Lawyer 1 when the court recesses): "I strenuously object? Is that how it works? Objection. Overruled. No, no, no, I strenuously object. Oh, well if you strenuously object, let me take a moment to reconsider."

In Helaman 1, chief judge Pahoran has died, and there is an election to appoint his successor. The candidates are three of the sons of the deceased chief judge — Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni. When the votes are counted, Pahoran is the winner and becomes the new chief judge.

Enlarge My Coast (Alma 63)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 06 March 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 1050

Enlarge My Coast (Alma 63)

Some years ago, there was a popular book called "The Prayer of Jabez" that focused on the short prayer recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10:

"And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested."

The book explores each of the four basic requests contained in the prayer:

  • "Bless me indeed"
  • "Enlarge my coast"
  • "Be with me"
  • "Keep me from evil"

You can probably see how a nice lesson can easily be built around at least three of the four requests, but it might not be as obvious what is meant by "enlarge my coast."

Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean? (Alma 62)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 27 February 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 881

Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean? (Alma 62)

In Alma 62, Moroni and Pahoran take back the city of Zarahemla. The united Nephites then defeat the Lamanites in a war. At the end of the war, the writer reflects on how different people were affected in different ways by the war:

"Many had become hardened, because of the exceeding great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility" (Alma 62:41)

Seeing how some people became hardened because of the war while others became softened by the same war reminds me of a story that I heard years ago. Here's a version of that story:

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