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Showing posts from 2014

Of Virgins, Talents, and Caring for the Poor, Matthew 25

Matthew 25

I find myself contemplating this final chapter of the Savior's public ministry as recorded in the book of Matthew, the first of the four Gospels. As final remarks, I find it both moving and appropriate that the Savior here is recorded teaching in parables three very important concepts in relation to our final preparations for his Second Coming.

In the previous chapter, the Savior had vividly detailed events leading up to His Second Coming, and now as as a parting sermon, He teaches 1) of being prepared personally and spiritually for His return, 2) of make good use of the individual blessings, gifts, talents, and abilities that each covenant member of the Kingdom of God would be given, and then finally 3) of caring for the poor and the needy.

"By What Authority Doest Thou These Things?" Matthew 21:23-32

Matthew 21:23-32

In other studies, I found myself studying this passage of scripture yesterday. Then this video, depicting the same verses, was released later in the afternoon. I now go back and revisit the same passage to add some personal insights.

There is a tendency to discount and condemn the actions of the chief priests and elders as did the Lord, yet when I do it, it is without understanding or even consideration of why they were really being condemned. What is also interesting here, is that these chief priests and elders were probably those whose responsibility it was to oversee in the affairs of the temple. The father of John the Baptist was also a priest in the same temple, the only temple in all of Israel. Christ was brought and presented in this same temple as an infant of only 8 days old. So for the cheif priests and the elders of the people to come to Christ in the temple and to question his authority, perhaps was a justifiable action in their minds.

The parable of …

"Likened Unto Ten Virgins," Matthew 25:1-13

Matthew 25:1-13

There are a couple of notes that I wanted to make on these verses as I reviewed them this morning. When the five foolish virgins solicit oil from the others, they are told instead to go and buy their oil, to which they in turn do.

Confidence in their ability to buy whatever they needed was part of their false sense of secuirty, and indeed is a devil's trap to prevent real spiritual preparations. Man's ability to buy... what more shall I say about it?

When the five foolish virgins return from their shopping, they plead at the door for their Lord to open. He doesn't turn them away for the oil that they purchased, but rather this stinging indictment: I know you not.

The position that I am in right now has caused me to consider these verses very personally. Am I taking too much confidence in my own ability to buy at the very last moment the things which cannot be bought at all? Will I be worthy to wear the marriage garment, will my Lord know me?

"That Ye May Be the Children of Your Father Which Is in Heaven," Matthew 5:43-48

Matthew 5:43-48

In these verses, the Savior clearly outlines the commandment to love our enemies. And then he gives the reason for it: "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."

Christ is calling us to consider the perfect equity of a merciful God and then is exhorting us to be like Him, who's children we are, and within whom exists the potential to become like God. (Christ is teaching this in the Sermon on the Mount, and then why do many Christians take issue with the truth that we are to be like our Father in Heaven.)

Christ, through His atonement, makes an investment in each one of us. That investment is the redemption of a soul, so that we can be cleansed of our sins, and work out the refinement of our souls. So it is in the refinement of our souls after the purging of our sins that is of great interest to our Savior and our Father, for wh…

"All Things Are Delivered unto Me of my Father," Matthew 11

Matthew 11

There is and has been since the time in which I first saw this video and seriously considered the scriptures found herein, a remarkably strong spirit about this particular set of teachings. The Savior's testimony of John the Baptist is illustrative of this one point: that "wisdom is justified of her children," (vs. 19) whether they be rich or poor in the eyes of man's limited judgement. In other words, superficial appearances do not dictate man's true capacity to serve God.

When John's disciples inquire of the Savior as to proofs of his ministry, he lists the miracles (perhaps from least to greatest):
The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.  (vs. 5) There are some very important perspectives in this passage of scripture on Christ's teachings concerning judgment. At one point in this passage, the Savior pronounces woes up…

"Seek Ye the Kingdom of God," Luke 12:13-34

Luke 12:13-34

This particular line of doctrine flies so much in the face of Babylon, but has particular significance for me, in establishing my life's mission. I had a particular obsession with money and the obtainment of it when I was a child. I remember at one point in my adolescence reading in the Sermon on the Mount:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt 6:33, read also vs. 24-34) This passage of scripture here in Luke expounds in greater detail the passage found in the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew.

The Purpose of Life The Savior does not spell it out here, but in verse 15 of Luke 12, he does say what is not the purpose of life: "for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (emphasis added).

The message of the Savior in these verses is that we should not put our focus and emphasis on the acquisition of wealth, but rather on the building and establishm…

"They Found Him in the Temple," Luke 2:40-52

Luke 2:40-52

The video depiction of Christ in the temple as a young man has left me seriously considering the prophetic nature of this particular excerpt. That it was chosen to have the young Jesus quote from the end of Malachi (Malachi 4:5-6) illustrates the importance of temples and the work that is designated to take place there in.

What caught me off guard was the important connection between youth and the work that happens in the temples. Malachi prophesied of it. Jesus illustrated the example to follow in the fulfillment of this prophecy. Today the youth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy as they enter into the temples to perform baptisms for the dead, extending the most basic covenants of the Church of Christ to their ancestors that had died and gone before.

The other part of this scripture that is remarkable about this account of the Savior's youth is that the scriptures say: "And he went down with them, …

The Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30

Matthew 25:14-30

This is not a story about exchanging money and the proper way in which to invest money that has been entrusted to our care (though I suppose that on the surface we could extract that lesson), but rather this is a story of being teachable and acting on the teachings that one has received. A footnote on a similar verse found in Matthew 13:12 reveals the essence of this parable:
"For whosoever receiveth, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever continueth not to receive, from him shall be taken away even that he hath." (Joseph Smith Translation - Matthew 13:10-11) Or in other words, he that receives the Word of God and acts upon it, he will be blessed to receive more of the word of God, which is also God's enabling power to do more good. But if we will not receive the words of Christ when he would give them to us, we shall loose even that which we have received.

There is a Spirit that is familiar to me as I read these passages …

The Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew 13:18-52

Matthew 13:18-52
The video below only focuses on the latter part of these verses, but the spirit associated with all these verses is the same, so I've felt to include the full section of parables on the kingdom of Heaven in this study. These verses are truth, and though they are spoken in parables, this is the reality of the world in which we live and the kingdom of which we may all hope to be a part of.

"...As This Little Child," Matthew 18:1-11, Mark 9:33-50

Matthew 18:1-11, Mark 9:33-50 I don't know where to begin, but because the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, I feel I should make record of it. So strong is the witness of what the Savior spoke in regards to our becoming like little children, that I need not to deny it. I've always found it interesting the pattern in which life is set out before us, that we are to end where we begin, and that the love, purity, innocence, hope, faith, friendship, happiness, and every other child-like quality are to be in our possession for us to find entrance into the Christ's kingdom. This is no easy task for an adult to accomplish. And there is great genius (divine inspiration) involved in the programs of the Church that afford us opportunities to work with the children and the youth. I also am brought to realize that I cannot force anyone to accept this way of life, and I can only teach it, point to it by example, and leave it in the hands of the individual to choose for one's self…

The Birth of Jesus Christ, Matthew 1 & 2, Luke 1 & 2

Matthew 1 & 2, Luke 1 & 2

These chapters entail the various accounts and testimonies of individuals who had direct interactions with the Savior during the season of his birth. I think what I find almost surprising about these accounts is the sheer number of witnesses: angels from heaven, Mary and Joseph themselves, Elizabeth and Zacharias, shepherds and wise men, and at the temple, Simeon and Anna. Each (except for Joseph) has a testimony recorded of the significance of the Savior's birth.

Joseph's testimony is in his actions: he takes Mary (pregnant out of wedlock) to wife, he brings Mary with him to Bethlehem, he flees with Mary and the young child into Egypt, he returns to Nazareth with Mary and the child Jesus. Notably, all these actions came as direct result of angelic message. A seldom considered fact would have been Joseph's own personal integrity and worthiness to qualify for such communication. Clearly, the significance of the communication was primarily t…