Mark 9

Mark 9: Transfigured on the Mount

                Jesus and the Apostles stand at the top of a mountain, with Peter, James and John. Jesus “…was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.” (Mark 9:2-4) Shortly after, they saw a cloud come over them and a voice saying; “…This is my beloved Son: hear him.” (Mark 9:7)

                Suddenly, the Apostles found them alone with Jesus again as if nothing had happened. On their journey down from the Mountain, Jesus tells them that they must not speak of the things they saw until after He has risen from the dead. The Apostles then asked Jesus “…Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?  And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things…” (Mark 9:11-12)

                Jesus arrives, where a group is gathered for Him. A man in the crowd yells out to Jesus; “…Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.” (Mark 9:17-18) Jesus, at this point, was a little upset because His own Apostles could not remove the evil spirit. So Jesus turns to the Apostles and says;  “…O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.” (Mark 9:19-20)

                Jesus, moved with compassion, asks the father how long this evil Spirit had resided in the child. The father tells Him from birth. Jesus tells the father, who was in disbelief as casting this devil out; “…If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:23-24) Jesus then cast the evil spirit out and commanded it to no more enter or molest the child. As Jesus and His Apostles were leaving the area, the Apostles ask Jesus privately; “…Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:28-29)

                Jesus and the Apostles then depart through Galilee and while on their journey the Apostles had questions about who was greatest among the Apostles and what it meant that Jesus would die and come back three days later, but every one of them was too afraid to ask. Jesus of course knew their questions and called the twelve to sit and listen; “… If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) Jesus then continues by speaking about children and their importance in the Gospel “…whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)

Matthew 6

Matthew 6:

The Sermon on the Mount: Part 2 

                Jesus opens this chapter by addressing his disciples on the importance of keeping your alms [righteous acts] out of the viewpoints of others. Jesus tells them to not do as “…the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have the glory of men…” (Matthew 6:2) Jesus explains that they righteous acts should be done in private or secret, so as to not desire praise of men, but rather of God.

Jesus continues by stating that prayer should be done in secret as well, you should not draw attention to yourself when you are praying; “…thou shalt not be as the hypocrite are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets… when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:5-6)

Jesus expounds on prayer and tells us that we should not use “…vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking…” (Matthew 6:7)

In the end, Jesus reminds us that “…your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” (Matthew 6:8) So with prayer, we should not make it a public thing, at least not to gain praise of man. We need to keep prayer as sacred as possible, avoiding repetitions. Why do we do this? Because prayer is not about reciting, and it is not about memorization. Prayer is about COMMUNICATION! We pray to our Heavenly Father to have a CONVERSATION with him. Therefore we need to speak to Him just as we would with an earthly parent. Tell Him how your day went, tell Him about your struggles, and tell Him about your desires and wishes. Then listen, ponder, and study the scriptures to receive your answer.

Jesus speaks much about prayer in this chapter of Matthew, but HOW SHOULD WE PRAY?

Jesus gives us some instruction on how to pray, here are the steps that He has given us:

1.       Start your prayer by addressing our Heavenly Father. “…Our Father which art in haven, Hallowed by thy name.” (Matthew 6:9)

*Remember God does not like vain repetitions, therefore do not memorize the prayer Jesus gave, but use it as a guide for a prayer in your own words.

2.       Thank Him for everything; “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

3.        Ask Him for the things that you need; “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

4.       Ask Him for the ability to forgive others that they might forgive you also; “…forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

5.       Ask Him for help to avoid temptation and sin; “…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” (Matthew 6:13)

6.        End your prayer in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ “…Amen.” (Matthew 6:13)

                         *Note that because Jesus was saying the prayer, to His Father, Jesus did not end in His own name. However, because Jesus died for our sins we need to end the prayer in Jesus’s name.

Besides prayer, Jesus also gives us some commandments when it comes to Fasting. Fasting is a period where your body abstains from water and food for a period of time. This helps your soul to have control over your earthly tabernacle, your body. This helps to control spirit over mind, and giving the spirit control over earthy desires of the flesh. Jesus warns us to not be “…as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast…” (Matthew 6:16) Again, fasting and prayer should not be done to gain recognition from men.

Jesus speaks out about earthly and heavenly treasures. We should not focus on material things, but rather the things that we can take back with us into heaven. Greed and the desire for fame can change people and cause them to lose focus on what matters most. Jesus exclaims; “No man can serve to masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other….” (Matthew 6:24), essentially if we love money and material things, then we cannot serve God or love His gospel.

                “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

Jesus ends this chapter by yet again reminding us to first seek “…the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Isaiah 57-58

Isaiah 57-58

Chapter 57: No peace for the wicked

The righteous are persecuted. God’s people have committed spiritual adultery. He who puts his trust in the Lord shall possess the land and inherit His holy mountain – in contrast to those who trust in idols. The stumbling block shall be removed. The Lord will restore, but there is no rest for the wicked.

Chapter 58: The Law of the Fast

God’s people ask why their prayers go unanswered. In fact, their ritual observance was shallow and did not proceed from the heart. God is more pleased to see people help the oppressed and poor.

“Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thous seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.“ (Isaiah 58:3) When we fast, we need to fast for a cause. While we fast we donate money/food that we would have consumed during the fast… this will then go to help the needy and in turn give blessings to both parties. The light of the true worshipper shall break forth like the morning; he shall be as a watered garden. Those who keep the Sabbath will ride on the high hills of the earth.

2 Chronicles 19-20

2 Chronicles 19-20

Chapter 19: Jehoshaphat Rebuked

Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem. Jehu, the son of Hanani the seer went up to meet him and told Jehoshaphat if he should help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord, because the wrath of the Lord was going to be on him. But reassured him that because he had done some good that he could be saved from the wrath of the Lord. Jehoshaphat dwelt in Jerusalem and brought the people back to the Lord.

Jehoshaphat set judges throughout the land and all the fortified cities of Judah. He instructs the judges to judge for the Lord and not for man. They cannot take bribes and must act as an instrument of the Lord in the judging of his people.

Chapter 20: Jehoshaphat Prays and Fasts

Shortly after, the people of Moab and the people of Ammon came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Because of this Jehoshaphat becomes fearful and turns to the Lord and proclaims a fast throughout all of Judah. Judah gathered together to ask for the Lord’s helped.
Jehoshaphat stood amongst all of Judah and Jerusalem and spake unto them; “…O Lord God or our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee… If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.” (2 Chronicles 20:6 & 9)

Jehoshaphat began his great prayer by recognizing the power of the Lord, he also prayed recognizing God’s great works in the past on behalf of his people. Essentially say, God has done great things in the past, so He can also do great things now.

God responds to Jehoshaphats prayer by telling him and all of his people to “…Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15)

This is something that we must always remember when we are put in situations where we feel overwhelmed or outnumbered, like we can’t do anything. We must turn to God and let him fight our battles for us. This however doesn’t mean that we can completely sit back and do nothing. We must still do all that we can, but whatever we cannot physically accomplish, we can accomplish with the help of God.

God instructs them to go down against the armies in the morning, he tells them to go and stand before them and watch the salvation of the Lord, and they wouldn’t even have to fight! Jehoshaphat and all of his people bowed to the ground and worshiped God, singing his name with voices on high. So the people wake up the next morning and head out to the Wilderness of Tekoa, where the Lord had told them to go. Jehoshaphat turns to Judah and gives them some advice; “…O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2 Chronicles 20:20)

This is some very good advice, if you believe in God you will be established with his word. But if you truly want to prosper with that word, you must have a prophet. A prophet is called of God as His one and only authorized representative on the face of the whole world. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the authorized church on this earth, with and authorized servant of the Lord, his prophet, who acts as an instrument and a mouth piece to speak to and teach his people. As Judah began to sing praises unto the Lord, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab on Mount Seir, who had come against Judah. They were completely defeated and Jehoshaphat and his people found all of the dead bodies, and on the dead bodies they found lots of valuables and precious jewelry. The spoil was so much that it took them 3 days to carry it all back, and on the 4th day they praised the Lord for his mercy and blessings!

Jehoshaphat was 35 years old when he became king and he reigned for 25 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. And he walked in the way of his father Asa, and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for as yet the people had not directed their hearts to the God of their fathers. The rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel. After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted very wickedly. And he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion Geber. But Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works.” Then the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish.