1 Nephi 2

1 Nephi 2: Lehi Leaves Jerusalem

 

The Lord God speaks to Lehi in a drew and commands him that he should depart from Jerusalem and take his family into the wilderness.

“…it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him… he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.” (1 Nephi 1:3-4)

After three days of traveling Lehi and his family (Sariah – his wife, Laman, Lemuel and Sam – his sons) pitched tents near a river river, near the border of the Red Sea. Lehi calls the river ‘Laman’ and speaks to Laman saying; “…O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness! And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!” (1 Nephi 1:9-10)

Lehi spoke to his two sons Laman and Lemuel because of their stiffneckedness, for their murmurings [complaining] because they did not want to leave Jerusalem, which was the land of their inheritance. They also did not want to leave behind worldly possessions such as gold and silver. Laman and Lemuel believed that their father was a foolish man who follows the foolish imaginations of his heart. They complained to their father; “…because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them. Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets. And they were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem, who sought to take away the life of my father.” (1 Nephi 1:12-13)

Lehi, being overcome with the Spirit of the Lord did confound them that they did not wish to murmur against their father again. Nephi explains that he believed his father, but that he had some doubt and prayed to the Lord to help him understand and remove any doubt he had about his father. Nephi explains;

“…I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.” (1 Nephi 1:16)

Nephi speaks to his younger brother Sam and tells him everything that he had seen, and he did believe on the words of Nephi. Laman and Lemuel however did not believe the words of Nephi. Nevertheless, Nephi prays to God that they might come to the same knowledge that he had obtained and believe on the words of his father Lehi. The Lord responds to Nephi’s prayer; “…Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart… inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.” (1 Nephi 1:19-20)

The Lord promises Nephi that if he continues to have faith and keep the commandments of God that he would be led to the Promised Land. The Lord also promises that Nephi would be delivered from his brothers if they tried to hurt him.

Revelation 2

Revelation 2: Overcome the World = Eternal Life

                John writes a specific letter to each one of the seven churches throughout Asia, in verse 2 he covers 4 of the church and he starts each one off with; “Unto the angel of the church of ______” (Revelation 2:1;8;;12;18) It is interesting to note that in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible “angel” is changed to “servant”, which is probably more accurate considering John was writing to the leaders of each one of the branches of the churches throughout Asia.

This is the counsel that is given to these churches by John;

“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:” (Revelation 2:2) John explains that sometimes leaders will fall away or will lie completely to say they are leaders. However only those authorized by God to teach, shall teach.

                “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7) Those who overcome the temptations of the world will obtain the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

                “Fear none of these things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried ; and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life…. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (Revelation 2:10-11) Often times we will be tried, but if we overcome we will receive the crown of Life and be able to return to live with our Heavenly Father and we will not be hurt by the second death (the spiritual death)

                “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first” (Revelation 2:19) God knows us all, therefore it is important that we do good in the sight of others as well as when we are in private… for God knows.

2 Peter 1

2 Peter 1: Prophecy comes by the Power of the Holy Ghost

                Peter writes a general letter to the members of the Church of Christ, he reminds them of why they were baptized and why they are followers of Jesus Christ. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, he explains, we; “…are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust… giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance [abstinence/restraint]; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity…” (2 Peter 1:4-7)

Peter is telling every follower of Jesus Christ that the purpose for following Him is to partake in the divine nature of God Himself. We are His offspring, and by accepting His promise we were sent to earth to prove ourselves and to overcome the lusts of the world to eventually be perfected and return to live with Him. For if we overcome the world we will be given knowledge, faith, patience and the ability to love with the ultimate goal of becoming like unto our Father in Heaven. We are literally partakers in this Great Plan of Salvation! When our trial on this earth is over we will; “…be ministered unto… the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:11) For this purpose, Peter explains that he will not be negligent in stirring up those who have forgotten unto remembrance of their duty in this life. Remember, we are saved only after all we can do. For example, the gift of salvation has been given to everyone, however if we chose to do evil in this world we cannot return to our Heavenly Father. Therefore Salvation requires us to put forth an effort to follow Jesus Christ in all that He would do.

Peter goes on to explain that as followers of Jesus Christ (especially those who heard the voice of God on the holy mount) have a knowledge that; “…no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) In other words, we can interpret the scriptures as much as we want, but without Holy Men of God, that is, Apostles and Prophets we cannot know the true meaning and interpretation of all things. However, God as He did in old times, still calls AUTHORIZED Apostles and Prophets to serve as His mount piece, even in these modern days.

The message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that exact message; God Lives! Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, and Savior. Because of the Love that God and His Son have for us, we have been given a mouth piece in these latter days. The Prophecies and Revelations of the Bible exist today, with Revelations that pertain specifically to the changing times.

James 2

James 2: Salvation Gained by Keeping the WHOLE Law

James explains that those who treat the rich man better than the poor man; “…have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” (James 2:1) James explains that we are not in a position to judge others for God created all men equal and does not view them in measure of their worldly possessions but rather their wealth of faith. James urges people to treat the rich and poor equally; “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:” (James 1:8)

James goes on to explain that we must follow all the laws of God, for; “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; whatdoth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:14-18)

Essentially James explains that we need to not only have faith and preach good, but also do good. If we are to believe that God exists, we should understand His power, for even the devils; “…also believe, and tremble.” (James 1:19) No one is perfect, but if we work hard to do what we preach we will be filled with faith, justified by good works.

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 1:26)

James 1

James 1: Ask God!

                James, as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ writes a letter of wisdom. While the letter is not addressed to any specific people or person, it serves as New Testament literature and as a letter written to all.

James explains that we should be filled with joy when we fall into temptation, knowing; “…that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:3) In other words, when we are tempted and overcome those temptations we will be made stronger for having been through the temptation.

Paul urges us all to ask God when we are in doubt; “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:5-6) In this life we will pass through trials and tribulations, we may have doubts and we may not understand everything in this world. But we can ask God, and those who ask God with faith will be given the answers to their righteous desires.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God: The Restoration of the Gospel

firstvision

                This very same scripture is what led Joseph Smith to ask God the question; “Which of all the sects was right?”

Joseph Smith was a young farm boy who lived in the east coast of the United States in the early 1800’s, he explains in his own words;

“I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five (1805)… in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, State of Vermont… My father, Joseph Smith, Senior, left the state of Vermon, and moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) county, in the state of New York, when I was in my tenth year… In about four years… he [Joseph Smith Senior] moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario… Some time in the second year of our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country… which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist…. Priest contending against priest, and convert against convert… During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness… though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was… to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong…. In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself : What is to be done? Who of all these parties is right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?” (Joseph Smith History 1:3;5-6;7;8)

                Joseph Smith, like many today may ask themselves, which of all the sects is the correct one? Why would there be different beliefs, if there be one God? Joseph Smith was confused and unsure of which religion was right. So he consulted the Bible, God’s word! He read in James 1:5-6; which says that anyone who lacks wisdom will be given it. So, who better to ask which religion was right… then GOD HIMSELF!?!

Joseph Smith decided to take this advice from James and retired to a grove of trees near his home;

“ After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description,standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My BelovedSon. Hear Him!

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith History 1:15-19)

Joseph Smith followed the advice given by James and asked God; which of all the sects was right. Joseph Smith was answered and told that none of the sects were right. This single question from a young, 14 year old boy would lead to God restoring His Church on the Earth, using Joseph Smith as an instrument in His hands.

James goes on in the first chapter to explain that those who endure temptation shall receive a just reward; “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” (James 1:13) James explains that God does not tempt anyone, but rather we choose to sin on our own accord; “…every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust…” (James 1:14)

James explains that anything GOOD is from GOD, and anything BAD or EVIL is from the DEVIL; “Every good gift any every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17)

James encourages people to be DOERS and not just HEARERS; “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass.” (James 1:23) James explains that anyone who seems to be religious but does not follow his religion; “…deceiveth his own heart… this man’s religion is in vain.” (James 1:26) James goes on to explain that pure religion is; “…undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27) While many may claim to be religious, anyone who fails to take care of those around them and stay clean and worthy are not following the will of God.

Hebrews 12

Hebrews 12: God is our Heavenly Father

                Paul writes to the Hebrews and explains that we should; “…lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Paul uses ‘weights’ to describe sin, and then tells us to be patient in the race of life. But one must consider how much easier that race could be ran, and finished with less to weigh us down!

Paul urges us to look; “…unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Paul explains that Jesus is our FAITH, and He put aside His life for US! We should look unto Him during our good times and our bad times, for He truly knows how we feel when we are sad, but also knows how we feel when we are happy. He can be there through the good and the bad, if we are also there with Him through the good and the bad.

Paul likens God our Eternal Father with our earthly fathers; “…we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?” (Hebrews 12:9) Paul lays out our divine lineage; we are SONS and DAUGHTERS of God the Father! If we respect and love our earthly fathers, should we not love and respect even more the Father of our Spirit? Paul explains that in life we will go through trials and often times we feel like God is punishing us, either for our sins or to make us stronger; “…no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous… nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness…” (Hebrews 12:11) In other words, being punished (or feeling like we are being punished) in the present is not fun. But God knows all, and He has a plan for us all! Therefore after we are punished we can grow and then receive the fruit righteousness, a heavenly peace.

Paul goes on to explain that in the days of Moses, there were consequences for rebelling against the word of God. Paul tells us that we have “…come unto mount Sion [zion], and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:22-23) Essentially Paul is saying that we will be brought to judgment, God being the Judge of all, but presiding over a group of judges of men who were made perfect.

Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11: Faith

                                Paul explains that “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) He goes on to explain that by FAITH and not BY EVIDENCE; “…we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God [word of God=Jesus Christ]…” (Hebrews 11:3)

Often times people think they need facts and evidences; however we do things by FAITH and FAITH alone; for by faith…

“…Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain…” (Hebrews 11:4)

                “…Enoch was translated that he should not see death…” (Hebrews 11:5)

                “…Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark…” (Hebrews 11:7)

                “…Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…”  (Hebrews 11:17)

Paul continues with many other “by faith…” stories, however he explains that “…out of weaknesses were made strong…” (Hebrews 11:34) With Faith, anything is possible.