James 5

James 5: Anointing the Sick

                James explains that we should not focus on riches of the world, but rather riches of the gospel and of things not of this world. He urges us to learn patience, even as Job learned patience; knowing that the “…Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:11)

Are you afflicted? If so pray. Are you merry? Sing a song. “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up…” (James 5:14-16) We learn that we can receive priesthood blessings when we are sick, with the anointing of sacred oil.

James also encourages us to convert others unto the Lord. If we do this, we can also be forgiven for many of our own sins. “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20)

1 Thessalonians 2

1 Thessalonians 2: Purpose of Missionaries to Converts

                Chapter two of 1 Thessalonians is one of my favorite chapters. As a Missionary serving in Honduras I found this chapter to ring true. I have included the entire chapter below with my commentary.

 “For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2: 1-4)

As a young Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I found that we would speak to all sorts of different people. Our message was simple; Jesus Christ lives! He Restored His Gospel and His Church on the earth. Today we have modern prophets that act as His mouthpiece. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can all be saved and one day return to live with our Heavenly Father. I found that although our message was simple, many people liked to speak harsh words and contend with us. But one thing was for sure is that we did not come to please the ears of men, but rather God. Our message was taught through the Holy Ghost and not through our words. Our words were just that, words. No one was ever converted by our words, but rather how they felt about our words.

                “ For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. “1 Thessalonians 2: 5-9)

                As a Missionary, never did I want to trick someone into believing something. Either you believed or you did not, either way I loved everyone I came into contact with. Those who converted and found Jesus Christ, I rejoiced with them. Because as Paul puts it, they were dear unto us.

“ Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judæa are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.” (1 Thessalonians 2:10-16)

As representatives of Jesus Christ and His Church, were acted holy, just and unblameably before those who believed on Him. When the people listened to us, they heard God speak, not men. As a Missionary we are instruments in God’s hands and as such those who heard our words, heard them as the truth.

“ But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.” (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20)

                I understand Paul greatly when he is saddened at not being able to be with those converts he so loved! When I left Honduras I was sad, and I desire to return and spend time with second family in Honduras. As a Missionary or Servant of the Lord, the greatest joy you can have is in those people you brought unto the presence of God!

Acts 22

Acts 22: Conversion of Paul

                Paul delivers an address in Jerusalem after he was bound and ready to be sent to Prison. This carries over from Acts 21. Paul gives an autobiography,  telling of his persecution of Christians and his later conversion;

“And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.” (Acts 22:6-15)

The crowd riots in response to Paul’s message. The commander orders that Paul be interrogated under scourging, but revokes the order when Paul reveals his Roman citizenship. The Roman commander arranges a hearing of the charges against Paul before the Sanhedrin.

Acts 9

Acts 9: Saul is converted

                Saul went to the High Priest to seek letters in the synagogues to find men or women with whom he could bound and bring back to Jerusalem to persecute. While on his journey, Saul passes near Damascus when “…suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: …saying Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutes… And he trembling and stonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” (Acts 9:3-6)

Those who were with Saul at this time, stood speechless; “…hearing a voice, but seeing no man.” (Acts 9:7) When Saul arose from the ground, he was blinded and could not see any man, so they had to guide him by his hand into the city. Upon arriving in the city, Saul spent three days without sight and did not eat or drink.

In Damascus there was a man named Ananias, who was a disciple of the Lord, the Lord came to him in a vision and told him to “…Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold her prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.” (Acts 9:11-12) Ananias must have been confused as to why the Lord would want him to help heal a man who had been terrorizing and persecuting those who followed Him. Ananias asks; “…Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priest to bind all that call on his name.” (Acts 9:13-14) Besides being confused, Ananias was most likely terrified to go and ask to see a man who had persecuted so many of the members of the Church. Nevertheless, the Lord said unto him; “…Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)

                Ananias did as he was commanded and went to the house were Saul was, and upon entering, he put his hands on him and blessed him that he would receive his sight. Immediately Saul’s sight returned and he was baptized and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Saul also ate and received strength, to begin his calling. Once his strength had returned, Saul went throughout the Synagogues preaching of Christ, after many days of preaching the Jews sought council “…to kill him.” (Acts 9:23)

                In order to avoid being killed, Saul hides in a basket and is transported over the walls of Damascus to meet with the Apostles in Jerusalem. Upon arriving in Jerusalem, the Christians who meet him are at first weary of him, because of his past. Very few believed that he had actually been converted. However, Barnabas took him to meet the Apostles. Saul goes and preaches among the Grecians, but they too seek to destroy his life. So, Saul continues his journey into Caesarea and Tarsus where the churches in Judea, Galilee and Samaria prosper!

Meanwhile, Peter is in Lydda, where he heals a bedridden man named Eneas, who had been sick for eight years with Palsy. Because of this miracle, all in Lydda believe on the Lord. Because of this great miracle people came from nearby Joppa to find Peter and have him come and heal a woman, who turns out to be dead. Peter raises the woman [Dorcas] from the dead and the news spreads throughout Joppa and many believe on the Lord. Peter finds rest in the house of Simon, who was a Tanner [someone who worked with dead Animals], this was actually against the Jewish Law, to spend time with someone who worked routinely with dead animals.