Romans 6

Romans 6: Baptism unto Death, Resurrection

                Paul speaks out about baptism and sin…

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized unto his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should wake in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4)

                Here, Paul makes an interesting point. We are baptized in a symbolic manner, to represent the death of the sinner and the resurrection of a new life. Just like Jesus Christ died for our sins, and was then raised from the dead. We too leave behind our sinful life in the waters of baptism by making a covenant with God to follow Him and to obey (to the best of our abilities) the laws and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This symbolism can only be achieved through full immersion. Just as Jesus Christ was baptized (see: Matthew 3:16) It is also important to note that baptism must be done by someone who has the authority to baptize. Note that Jesus Christ sought John the Baptist to be baptized (see: Matthew 3:13-17) and that if someone is baptized without the Authority, a proper baptism must occur (see:  Acts 19:2-6)

Paul continues his address by advocating against sinning; “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” (Romans 6:12) Paul explains that just because we have grace in Jesus Christ, does not give us permission to sin, because “…to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey…” (Romans 6:16) Essentially Paul is saying that if you choose to obey the lusts of the world and sin, you will become a slave to them. If, however we choose to be obedient to God and His commandments, we can become a servant to Him. Paul warns that; “…the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) If we chose to not sin, we will be happier and will obtain Eternal Life. This shows that grace, the free gift from God does not entitle us to Eternal Life. For if we chose to sin, we cannot obtain Eternal Life.

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Acts 12

Acts 12: Peter Flees from Prison

                King Herod [Nephew of Antipas] persecuted the church, killing the Apostle James with a sword. During the Passover, Peter is arrested. However the Christians throughout the land pray fervently to God for the release of Peter. God sends an angel who breaks into the Prison and causes Peter’s chains to fall from his hands. The Angel helps him get out of the Prison and into the city, and then he departs his own way. From here, Peter goes to the house of Mary, mother of John. A girl named Rhoda tells the apostles Peter has come, but she wasn’t believed until they see Peter for themselves. Finally the Apostles open the door and are astonished to see Peter, but Peter tells them to keep it quiet and to tell James… he then departs.

When Herod finds that Peter has escaped, he orders that the prison guards are put to death. Herod makes an oration to the people of Tyre and Sidon, and is praised by them as a god rather than a man. Because he was being praised as a god and not a man, an angel strikes him dead.

Ezekiel 5-6

Ezekiel 5-6

Chapter 5: Judgment of Jerusalem

Ezekiel is commanded to shave his head and beard. Once he has the hair, he is commanded to evenly divide the hair into thirds.

  • He must burn a third
  • Smite a third with his knife
  • Scatter a third to the wind

He is commanded to do this to indicate the judgment that will be executed on the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The chapter goes on further to explain more judgments; including famine and wild beasts. The result of this judgment leads fathers to “…eat the sons… and the sons shall eat their fathers…” (Ezekiel 5:10) The pangs of hunger cause these wicked people to resort to cannibalism.

Chapter 6: Israel shall be destroyed

Ezekiel sets his face towards the mountains and prophesies against Israel: He is told to tell its people that the high places will be made desolate, those who are close to the city will die by the sword and those far off shall die from famine. After all this desolation, the people will know that God exists.

Ecclesiastes 11-12

Ecclesiastes 11-12

Chapter 11: We Know Not the Works of God

“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

I find it interesting how fast people can denounce God and say He does not exist! Some people believe that we know everything and that God never has, and never will exist. We as humans do understand a lot about the world, but there is so much that we are still learning… the reason? Because God knows all and we know very little.

Because life has no guarantees, we should seize available opportunities and not play it safe. Even though life is uncertain, it doesn’t mean that you should let it pass you by. Don’t wait for conditions that many never exist. We should enjoy every day but remember that the afterlife is eternal.

“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9)

I find it very interesting how we are supposed to follow our heart and do what we want… after all we get one life on earth to live, right? So we need to make it the best one we can! But God warns us that we are still to be held accountable for what we do, so YES we do have agency and we are encouraged to explore the world and learn, but we must know that our desires and our passions are within the bounds… the LORD sets!

Chapter 12: After Death and the Plan

                “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

                Everyone will return to God as a spirit and the body will be turned into dust, until of course the resurrection.

                “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether or be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12-14)

Solomon concludes the book by giving his antidotes for the two main ailments that he talked about. People who lack purpose and direction in life should fear God and keep his commandments first. The people who think that life is unfair should remember that God will go back and look and everyone’s lives and make his judgment.

It is interesting that it says there is not end to many books… this means that the Bible is NOT the ONLY word of God! The Book of Mormon, if read diligently and prayed about earnestly can be manifest as truly Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Ecclesiastes 7-8

Ecclesiastes 7-8

Chapter 7: Wisdom Goeth Life

In short… enjoy what you have while you can, but realize that adversity and hard times can strike at any moment. Because of this, life is short. Death is inevitable. We shouldn’t ignore it because it makes sense to plan ahead to experience God’s mercy rather than his justice. People who are too righteous and too wise are blind to their own faults. There will always be things that we don’t understand. Thinking that you have attained enough wisdom is a sure sign that you haven’t.

“Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” (Ecclesiastes 7:3)

                Sorrow can also bring some of the best knowledge, because by experience we learn.

                “For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12)

                You can have defence with money, but only with knowledge and wisdom can you have lasting defence from your enemies.

                “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

                We all sin. Simple as that, don’t think you are better than others. It is like the phrase; ‘everyone sins differently’ so don’t go judging people.

                “I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness.” (Ecclesiastes 7:25)

                We need to ACTIVELY search to know the truth, don’t think you know everything. Always be open to learn. A wise man of 70 years old can still learn from a toddler, if that man wants to learn.

Chapter 8: None Have Power over Death

True wisdom comes from knowing and trusting God, not merely the way to find him. Knowing God will lead to understanding and then to sharing that knowledge with others. Even in a man could have all of the world’s wisdom, he would still know very little. No one can fully comprehend God.

“There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death; and there is no discharge in that war…” (Ecclesiastes 8:8)

If you ever think you are invincible or special, realize that we are nothing to God. We have no power over death; if it is our time… we will die.

“When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:) Then I beheld the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; thou a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.” (Ecclesiastes 8:16-17)

                God is always working, day and night! Those who seek to know God’s work will never be able to fully understand His work, and those who claim to know His work are fools.

Job 13-14

Job 13-14

Chapter 13: I will trust the Lord

Job complains against his friends who claim to have superior knowledge, to his friends and more especially Zophar, the situation seemed so simple; therefore Job must be somewhat ignorant to see what they believed was so easy to see.

Job did not understand any of his situations and felt that God was against him, not for him (as in Job 9:28 and 10:16-17). At the same time, he could still exclaim: yet I will trust Him. Job goes on to ask God to tell him if sin is indeed the cause of his suffering.

Chapter 14: Shall man live again?

                “If a man die, shall he live again? (Job 14:14) 

Job didn’t know much about the condition of man after death, but he supposed – perhaps hoped – that it was better than his current misery. Job testified of the short and fraility of life, the certainty of death and of a resurrection that would occur later… Yet Job’s general uncertainty is reflected in his question, “If a man die, shall he live again?”

I can’t think of a better place, then the Book of Mormon to answer Jobs and everyone’s questions… what happens after death?

“Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.

And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.

And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.

Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.” (Alma 40:11-14, The Book of Mormon)          

 

2 Kings 3-4

2 Kings 3-4

Chapter 3: The Moabites are Defeated

Jehoram the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria. Jehoram did wickedness in the sight of the Lord, but not like his parents… because Jehoram put away Baal and did not worship him. Instead Jehoram held onto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat which made Israel sin.

Mesha the king of Moab was a sheepmaster and gave the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams with the wool. But after the death of Ahab, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. Jehoram the now king of Israel goes to the king of Judah (Jehoshaphat) and ask his help in battling against Moab. Jehoshaphat agrees and takes him army with Jehoram through the forest of Edom. As they journey they run out of water and ask for a priest among them. They find Elisha and ask him to help. He tells the kings (Israel and Judah) that they must dig trenches and the water will appear, but not by way of wind or rain… they will just appear. The water appears and from the Moab’s point of view the water appears blood red. The Moab king makes the assumption that Israel and Judah must have killed each other and that they could now collect on the spoils. But in reality, Israel and Judah were waiting for them at their camp… they smite the Moab’s and drive them into their own country where they destroy everything and cause the king of Moab to flee with 700 swordsmen.

Chapter 4: Elisha Raises a Boy from Death

A woman in the crowd calls out to Elisha and tells him that her husband has died and that he left behind debt that the creditors would now be coming for her children. Elisha asks the woman what she has that she could use to pay the debt. She tells Elisha that all she has was a small vessel of oil. So he tells her to borrow vessels from all of her neighbors… go into her house and start pouring the oil out from the vessel she had into the new ones. It was a miracle! She managed to fill all of the vessels and have more to come out of her original vessel. But once all the borrowed containers were full her oil ceased. Elisha then told her to take the oil and sell it to satisfy the debt.

Elisha and his servant kept passing by a “notable woman” who begged for them to come and eat at her house. So every time they passed by her house they would stop and eat. She enjoyed them coming and asked her husband to create a small area in their house, where Elisha and his servant could rest and sleep. So they make a bed for them both. After a while Elisha tells the woman that she has spent a lot of time caring for them and asked her what they could do for her. Elisha tells the lady that she will conceive and have a son and she does have a son! This child grew.  When the child grew he died from what appears to be a blow to the head. He dies on the lap of his mother. Elisha however brings the child back to life through the power of the priesthood. The child turned from cold to warm and then sneezed 7 times before opening his eyes. Elisha returns to Gilgal, where there is a famine in the land. The sons of the prophets then ask for food and they gather herbs and gourds to create a stew. Which after creating the stew, realize that someone had put a plant that was poisonous, so they end up making something with flour in it, instead. Next in the chapter, Elisha does something very similar to what Jesus did with the loaves of bread and fishes. He manages to feed a lot of people with very little food.