John 17

John 17: The Great Intercessory Prayer

Jesus offers the Great Intercessory Prayer;

“Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou has given him power of all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:1-3) Jesus was sent on a divine mission from His Father to save all of God’s children, and that during this life we might learn and know of our Father in Heaven, this is what life is all about!

Jesus goes on; “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:4-5) In this address to Father, Jesus Christ explained that He was with God the Father before the world was, and that He had been given a task before that creation of the world, to be the savior of that world. Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father and He did complete the work the Father gave to Him.

Jesus continues; “…I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” (John 17:9-11) Jesus prays for those who are following Him, but will not be able to leave the world as He is about to. We learn that everything the Father has, is shared with the Son. We are one as followers in Christ, as Jesus and His Father are one. Meaning, ONE in Purpose.

Jesus asks the Father to look out for those who are not of the world, for those who have given themselves over to following the Lord. Jesus continues to address the Father; “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of this world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14-16) Jesus knows that those who have followed His word, are not of the world. Jesus asks the Father to make living in the world easier, by removing the evil from them, but He specifically says not to remove them from the world. This means that even when the hardships of the world come forth, we must lift our head up and overcome the world, just as Jesus overcame the world.

The Bible: God’s Only Word?

                Jesus then says; “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) This is a famous scripture, and is used often to claim that there can only be the Bible and no more of God’s word. So the question is, does all the truth of God come from His words, and His words only? If we read further in the New Testament we read; “For the kingdom of God is not in the world, but in power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20) Does this devalue the word of God? Absolutely not, the word of God is that, it comes from God! But without the proper power and authority from God, nothing besides knowledge can come from those words. In order to participate in all of God’s life saving ordinances, we must have the Power and Authority given to us. The word of God is also not in the confines of the Old and New Testament. If this were true, I can only imagine those of old, who only had the Old Testament and then found out that there was a New Testament. Well, we already know that outcome… the Scribes and Pharisees believed only in the Old Testament, and when a new Prophet came forth (who happened to be Jesus Christ) they did not believe on Him and instead murdered Him. Any Christian would say that of course the Old and New Testaments are the word of God. So the question is, can God call a new prophet and given them Another Testament? Yes, and it happened. The Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Having more than the Bible does not devalue it. In fact, having the Bible and the Book of Mormon only makes ones heart grow fonder of both.

Jesus continues His prayer and confirms once again that Jesus and His Father are one in purpose and not one in flesh or spirit; “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20-21) We are one in purpose, just as the Son and Father are one in purpose. With that, we are all ONE in purpose, all of God’s children, Jesus Christ and the Father.

Mark 12

Mark 12: Taxes, Celestial Marriage, Two Great Commandments

Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees and the Scribes, tells them of the Parable of the Husbandmen;

“…A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to the husbandmen, and went into a far country.” (Mark 12:1)

Jesus explains that God built the world; the ‘vineyard’ and left people to tend it.

“And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed and many others; beating some, and killing some.” (Mark 12:2-5)

Jesus explains that God Prophets to the world; the ‘servants’ to receive the fruit of the ‘vineyard’. However, every time that God sent someone to the people of His world, they rejected them. Some of the prophets were wounded, beaten or killed.

Finally God sends His ONLY BEGOTTEN, His Son. “…he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.” (Mark 12:6-9)

God, after having sent all His servants, sent His Son, Jesus Christ to the world. However, the people rejected Jesus as well. Therefore when God returns to His vineyard, He will destroy those who do wickedly.

After hearing this; the Scribes and Pharisees knew that Jesus spoke of them in that Parable, and they feared the reaction of the people. Instead they decided they would try and catch Jesus in His words. They come to Jesus to tempt Him; “…Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” (Mark 12:14)

                Jesus, being frustrated, asks them why they tempt Him and commands them to bring Him a penny. After they brought Him the coin, He asked them; “…Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s…” (Mark 12:16-17) They were astonished by His teaching.

The Sadducees then came to Jesus to ask Him about Resurrection; “Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.” (Mark 12:19) They go on to explain that the wife ends up marrying all 7 brothers, never raising any children. They ask him, when the wife finally dies, whose wife will she be? After all she had been married to all of them, right? Jesus responds to them; “…Do ye therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” (Mark 12:24) Jesus goes on to explain that marriage will not be given in the next life, because God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

One of the scribes, perceiving that Jesus had answered very well, desired to know which of all the commandments was the greatest? Jesus responds; “… thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and will all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

                While Jesus sat and discussed these doctrines, a poor woman came into the treasury of the temple and cast two mites, which made a farthing into the treasury. Jesus stood up and said; “…Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did was cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” (Mark 12:43-44) We too should give more than just our ‘abundance’, but be generous in helping others and giving beyond what we are expected.

Proverbs 7-8

Proverbs 7-8

Chapter 7: “La Diabla”: Her house is the way to hell

Again, Proverbs 7 carries on a similar message from Proverbs 5. A “strange woman” will lead you to hell. Sex outside of the bonds of marriage is sinful.

                “…keep thee from thy strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.” (Proverbs 7:5) The author goes on to say that they witnessed from their window “…a young man void of understanding, Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house.” (Proverbs 7:8)

The author then describes the characteristics of the ‘strange woman’.

“…the attire of a harlot… loud and stubborn… lieth in wait at every corner…” (Proverbs 7:10-12)

The author then tells us that this ‘strange woman’ “…she caught him and kissed him…[and tells the young man] …I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come let us take our fill of love until the morning… For the goodman is not at home, he is gone on a long journey… with flattering of lips she forced him.” (Proverbs 7:13-21)

                Essentially this could very well have been a story of something that actually was seen through the eyes of the author. But we can also assume that this could just very well be a metaphor for sexual sin. Notice how she deceives him like the devil would. She sweet talks him and flatters him with her clothing, her smell, her sweet lips and assures the man that he won’t get caught because the ‘good man’ is gone on a long journey. This good man could be her husband or could be God. If the devil deceives someone, he will tell them that what they are doing is ok, and that God or anyone else that might look down on them or get them in trouble will never know.

“Let not thine hear decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7:25-27)

I think it is safe to assume that “her” or the “strange woman” is a metaphor for sexual sin and the devil. OR while I was serving in Spanish Speaking Honduras I liked to call this chapter “La Diabla” meaning the devil, but more specifically the “female devil”. Because after all the devil can take on many forms of influence. We need to refrain from the lustful desires that the devil will place before us. This author has warned that if we participate or even loiter near her house we will be on the path to hell. Notice how it says that she has slain even the strongest of men? I don’t believe that it was talking about physical strength. I believe it was talking about how even the strongest willed man, can fall into the trap of sexual desires and lust. But going back to the last few chapters, if we marry we can avoid those lustful desires, because we will have the sexual satisfaction from our spouse and he or she will keep us from sin.

Chapter 8: The Truth: The Great Missionary

I absolutely love this Proverb! It expresses that wisdom is to be greatly desired and that we possessed this wisdom in the pre-mortal life.

“O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward [difficult] or perverse [unreasonable] in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward [difficult] mouth, do I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.” (Proverbs 8:5-14)

                This is the GREAT MISSIONARY, a missionary who has a simple yet easy to understand message. Those who have a desire to know the truth will hear that message. The message is more valuable than gold, silver, rubies or diamonds. The Lord does not like to deal with evil, he hates pride and arrogancy. Those missionaries, who have been called to serve, must remember that they have the knowledge and the strength to complete their mission.

This proverb helps us to understand the great purpose of our eternal life. The Lord has had a plan from the beginning and we were there with him before the world was. (Proverbs 8:23)We were there with the Lord before the heavens! (Proverbs 8:27) We were with the Lord from the beginning (Proverbs 8:30)

 

Psalms 126-127

Psalms 126-127

Chapter 126: The Lord is great

A Song of degrees

                The Lord has done great things for the children of Israel. The children of Israel were glad because of this.

Chapter 127: Children of God

A Song of degrees of Solomon

                “…children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalms 127:3)

The children are very important and from the minute blood enter into a fetus; there is no doubt that we have HUMAN LIFE. Abortion is not an option.

The Church came out with an official statement regarding Abortion:

“The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion except in the rare cases where, in the opinion of competent medical counsel, the life or good health of the mother is seriously endangered or where pregnancy was caused by rape and produces serious emotional trauma in the mother. Even then it should be done only after counseling with the local presiding priesthood authority and after receiving divine confirmation through prayer.”

Psalms 99-100

Psalms 99-100

Chapter 99: The Lord: Great in Zion

“The Lord reigneth; let the people tremble…” (Psalms 99:1) The Lord will be great as He reigns in Zion. We need to worship him and no one else.

The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and the priests through “…the cloudy pillar…” (Psalms 99:7) and these priests kept their testimonies. The Lord is great in Zion.

Chapter 100: The Psalm of Thanksgiving

A Psalm of Praise

                The title of the Psalm gives us a good summary. We need to serve the Lord and praise him with gladness, be thankful and bless his name.

Job 32-33

Job 32-33

Chapter 32: Great Men are Not Always Wise

At the end of Job’s persuasive arguments in Job 28-30, his friends had nothing more to say. They still thought that Job was completely wrong, but they felt he was so grounded in his own opinions that it was useless to keep talking with him.

Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram (who is only mentioned briefly in the book of Job critizes Job and tells him; “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.” (Job 32:8-9). Although this was an unjust attack on Job, Elihu brought up a good point, great men, even men of great age and experience do not always have the most wisdom. Wisdom is hard to attain, but those who have it and those who are willing to share that wisdom, should be listened to carefully!

Chapter 33: God Speak to Men in Dreams

Elihu continues to challenge Job’s defense. Elihu claims to be a spokesperson for God, while telling Job to listen to all of his words.

“…God is greater than man.” (Job 33:12) Elihu is telling Job, that he needs to be more humble, because God is truly greater than man. Even though Elihu was missing the point that Job was actually a good, humble guy… we can still learn from this. We are not on the same level as God, we need to remember that.

For a man who claims to have so much wisdom, he doesn’t walk the walk, but surely talks the talk.

“For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man percieveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night…” (Job 33:14-15)

Again, we can ignore the words to Job, as I am sure he also ignored them. But take away from the scriptures that God is always trying to communicate with us, so we need to listen. Elihu insists that God has indeed answered Job.

Elihu had just suggested that God spoke to Job in a dream; now he suggests that perhaps God spoke to him through his physical suffering. In the view of Elihu, if Job would only receive and respond to God’s messenger, if he would only admit to God’s uprightness, then he would be restored to God’s favor.

 

Job 25-27

Job 25-27

Chapter 25: The Lowly State of Man

We read about Bildad’s final speech. In his final words he classifies man as a “worm” in the presence of the Lord. “How then can man be justified with God? … Behold even to the moon, and… the stars are not pure in his sight.” (Job 25:4-5)

Chapter 26: God and His Power are great

Job challenges his friends, and asks them; “How hast thou helped him that is without power? How savest thou the arm that hath no strength?” (Job 26:2) OR in other words, how are they helping him or anyone else by berating him?

“How has thou counseled him that hath no wisdom?” (Job 26:3). Job made these statements broad enough to include not only himself, but also anyone else that Bildad and his friends failed to help. Often times we are too easy to jump to conclusions or judgment, when we should lend an ear and not just hear… but LISTEN to those that are afflicted. I kind of like the phrase;

“Don’t judge someone because they sin differently than you do.”

We all sin in one way or another… yes some sins are worse than others… but no one is perfect, so don’t judge! Instead we can help by listening and counseling, rather than scorning and berating!

Chapter 27: Terrors of Death

Job asserts his righteousness and tells his friends that “God forbid that I should justify you: till I did I will not remove mine integrity from me.” (Job 27:5). What do we have to prove to others? Nothing. God forbid that we waste our time or remove our own integrity to suit others.

“For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him? Will he delight himself in the Almighty? Will he always call upon God? (Job 27:8-10) Essentially Job is asking his friends; “What hope do the godless have, when their life is taken by God?” They have nothing! What purpose is there in this life to build up material things, or berate others, when you are a hypocrite?

I am pretty sure that in this chapter, Job secretly wishes that his friends could endure the same trials that he was going through.  Then his friends would understand him a little better.

 

1 Samuel 11-12

1 Samuel 11-12

Chapter 11: Saul Comes to the Rescue

The chapter opens up with the Ammonites trying to attacking the Israelite city of Jabesh Gilead. They start to really do a number on the city, when the Israelites agree to be subject to the Ammonite ruler Nahash if they are spared. Nahash agrees, but adds that he must take out the right eye of every person in the city to bring disgrace to Israel.

The Israelites of course are not happy to accept an agreement where their eyes are torn out. So they ask for seven days to ponder his offer. Nahash agrees and the Israelites send out messengers to ask Israel what they should do.

The messengers arrive at Gibeah, where Saul lives. Upon telling the story the people of Gibeah burst into tears, but when Saul hears what happens he is filled with anger. So he takes 2 oxen and cuts them into pieces, sending them to all of Israel with a message that if someone refuses to help they too will be cut up into pieces. So the Israelites (for fear of being cut into pieces, and the fear of the Lord) gather 300,000 men to fight + 30,000 from Judah.

The messengers bring word back to Jabesh Gilead that they will be saved tomorrow. The Israelites living there are super happy and in the morning Saul and his men arrive and essentially slaughter Nahash and his men, so that the ones who do survive are so scattered that not more than 2 are left together. Saul is confirmed a king of Israel.

Chapter 12: Look What God Has Done for You!

Now that Israel has officially called Saul to be their king, they no longer need the leadership of Samuel. But before completely handing over the reign to Saul he addresses the people;

Samuel explains that he has been a righteous leader, and the people agree. He then explains how God calls people to leadership positions to help out his people and relates a few stories about how the Lord has always helped his people, including stories of Jacob after he entered Egypt and how the Israelites have always betrayed their God and then came back to him. Always on a roller coaster like timeline of good and evil.

The people shout out to him that they have indeed sinned. He warns the people that if they have chosen a king then they must follow the commandments and in live in righteousness of the hand of the Lord will be against them.

The people than get really nervous about their sinning and this are where I REALLY learned a lot…

Samuel ends his address:

“…Fear not; ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; and turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great names sake; because it pleaseth the Lord to make you his people… I will teach you the good and the right way… consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.” (1 Samuel 12:20-25)

Here we learn something very important, we all sin. It is a fact. No one is perfect, but we should be constantly striving to better ourselves, so that one day we might become perfect! We can learn that when we sin, we need to pray even more and have God closer to us. When we sin, we need him even more. That is something that most of us probably don’t understand. I know when I have been doing things I shouldn’t have been doing, I feel like God is so ashamed of me that he doesn’t want to talk with me or hear me. But that is Satan tricking us into believing this.

The truth is that God loves us always! He will not forsake us, even if we have sinned. It can only be us forsaking him!