Saturday, May 30, 2009

Matthew 23 and 24

Chapter 23

The Savior is definitely upset with the scribes and pharisees.  Interesting that he does not include the Sadducees.  There are eight woes or condemnations he pronounces on them:

1.  He condemns them for hindering people from being qualified for the kingdom of heaven.

2.  They hide their greed and and meanness under the guise of being righteous.

3.  They get converts to Judaism who they cause to be like themselves.

4.  They make promises, bonds as a bait for their own trickery.

5.  They show excessive zeal in acts and matters that amount to nothing.  They show exactness in keeping the ordinances and teaching the doctrines that proved Jesus was the Christ while at the same time denouncing him and killing him.

6 and 7.  The Savior denounces them for being clean in appearance and practice but inwardly they are unclean.  They appear white (pure) on the outside, but inside they are like tombs of decaying bodies.  This imagery is great because the rabbis taught that even the slightest contact with a corpse or anything to do with it caused personal defilement.  So the rabbis are the most defiled of anything.

8.  They teach their love of the dead prophets, but kill the ones God sends to them.

Chapter 24  This is given to the 12 apostles.

Joseph Smith revised this chapter probably more than any other in the Bible.  Jesus points to the buildings of the temples and tells the apostles that even though the people are confident in their safety and righteousness, because of their wickedness, everything the apostles see will be destroyed including most of the people.  In fact, when the Romans came through, they say blood flowed in the streets and no one was spared, even children and babies.  That's why he says woe to them that are with child.  What he says relates both to the coming destruction of Jerusalem and it's parallels to his second coming.  The important part of the message is "Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing." The Lord knows and controls the course of everything, and those who endure and stay faithful will be saved at his second coming.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Matthew 21 and 22

Chapter 21

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on the colt, the people treated him in the way that only kings were treated.  The fig tree is symbolic of the religion and its leaders.  It is essentially dead and not bringing forth any fruit and will be destroyed.  It must have really disturbed the Pharisees that Jesus, who by their account had not been trained as a rabbi or anything else, had no authority and yet he did all of these miracles and taught doctrine they couldn't refute.  And yet they were supposed to have the authority, but could work no miracles by the power of their priesthood and saw their doctrine poked with holes time and again by the Savior.  He was making them look like fools in front of the people and they were powerless to do anything about it.

Chapter 22

According to Elder McConkie, if the Pharisees, Sanhedrin, and Sadusees had understood the Savior's parable of the wedding feast, the would have understood that (1) Jesus was declaring he was the Son of God, the Messiah, (2) that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed, (3) the Jews would be rejected as the people of the covenant, (4) the gospel would be taken from them and given to the gentiles, and (5) only the righteous will be saved.  All of those things happened.  With verse 21, where the Savior says to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's, I like what Elder McConkie says, Caesar should be given the coins that bear his image.  And God should be given the people who bear is image in their souls.

I forgot one last thing in Chapter 22.  One of the pharisees or sadducees who was a lawyer asked the Savior what the greatest commandment was, and the Savior said in 37-39 that it was to Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  And the second was like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

The Jews wore a little container on their arms called a phalactery and in this was a little scroll of paper that had these two commandments, which the Savior had given to Moses 1400 years ago.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Matthew 19 and 20

Chapter 19

I think verses 1-6 are a great message on marriage being between a man and women.  It has been God's purpose and our purpose from the beginning for marriage and family to be built around a man and a woman.  I think gays can have legal unions and do whatever they like, but the foundation of society has always been and will always be a strong traditional family.  We ignore history which time again has shown that when a society collapses, it is for two reasons, morals and family.  It was true of the Romans, the Greeks, and countless others.  In every case, there is a rise in immorality and homosexuality before the collapses.   And here we are on the same road again.  And to think we'll be different is very naive.

I also think with verse 21, the Lord isn't saying that to be perfect we have to give everything to the Lord and to the church, but we should have a heart that would be willing to give all if asked of us.  The rich young man was essentially saying, "I will keep all of the commandments and worship you, but don't ask me to give anything like time or money"

Chapter 20

This is the Tuesday before the crucifixion on Friday.  Verse 20 - the sons of Zebedee are James and John.  The Savior is saying, if you are wiling to go through what I'm going to go through, and be baptized, you possibly can.  But it is the Father's decision.  The 12 at this point seem to be a little conscious of who is more important.  That will change soon.

When the blind men called out to the Savior saying thou son of David, they were showing that they recognized that he was the Messiah.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Matthew 17 and 18

Chapter 18

On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James and John received the priesthood keys from Elijah and Moses.  The Savior told them they should tell no man concerning what transpired there.  Joseph Smith said that this is because they received their endowment.  The three already had received the Mel. Priesthood.  This is similar to the restoration of the gospel.  Joseph and Oliver received the Mel. Priesthood and then later, in the Kirtland Temple, Moses and Elijah bestowed the priesthood keys on them.  Symbolically, I need to find my own mount, (the temple) and work towards being transfigured (changed) so I can better hear the voice of the Lord in my own life.  I know that going to the temple does change me for better each time I go.  It increases my faith and my understanding of my relationship with God.  I definitely need to be going more.

Chapter 19

I found three important lessons in this chapter.  1. Joseph Smith says that the hand or foot that offends and should be cut off is his friend, and the eye is members of his family and household, telling us we should be careful who we associate with.   2.  We need to always be sure we are loving children and leading them to be righteous because they are free from sin and the need to repent.   3.  We need to always be forgiving of others since the Savior is always forgiving us.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Matthew 15 and 16

These chapters have so much in them.  I hope I don't go on too much for you.  I think I will spend more time on 16 than 15.

Chapter 15

15: 8. I need to ask myself continually, where is my heart?  I may say and do right things, but is my heart in the right place?  Am I doing the things I do and say for the right reasons?  The Pharisees did everything "right" but were only interested in the traditions and doctrines they had set up because these increased their control over the people.  They purpose was to control their hearts and minds of the people.  So the Lord tells the 12 to beware of their doctrines in 16:12.  I think for us, we need to beware of the doctrines of the world that would desensitize us from feeling the Spirit, doing what is right, take us further from the Lord rather than closer.

16:13 and 15  President Faust said that this is the key questions for all us.  We should do all that we can to be able to answer like Peter does in verse 16.  Like Peter, the more time we spend with him, the more we come to know him and the promise is our Father in Heaven will reveal him unto us like just like he did to Peter.

16:18  Rock seems to be referring to two things, the Savior because he is the rock or stone of Israel, and revelation.  It's like he is saying, "Your name is Peter, or Petra in Greek, which means bedrock, but on 'this' rock ( the Savior himself) the church will be built.  Or you can say he is referring back to 17 and talking about the church being built on revelation.  This goes along with all the previous verses of following the commandments of God rather than the traditions of man.

16:24-28  Here is the challenge of the gospel and be sure and read the footnote of verse 24.  That's where happiness and fulfillment really lie.  If we are seeking to do that, we will keep things in perspective and the things of the world will not cloud our ability to see what's really important and what really matters.  In section 46 of the D&C, he blesses "those who love him and keep all of my commandments", AND those "that seeketh so to do."   So for me, it comes back to the question, "Where is my heart?"

Monday, May 25, 2009

Matthew 13 and 14

Halfway through Matthew already!

Chapter 13

I've always wondered why some people just seem to naturally gravitate toward the gospel or the church.  And others just don't have a clue and don't have any interest, why some sense the importance of it and others don't see it.  The Lord here says it's a condition of the heart and mind.  And yet if they would just open their hearts and minds, he would heal them.

Here is the topic of each parable and what they can mean:

Sower #1 - missionary work - who accepts or rejects the gospel and why

Sower #2 - missionary work and how the Lord allows evil in the midst of good until his coming, tares are noxious weeds that look just like wheat.

Mustard Seed - The greatest things can come from the smallest elements. Joseph Smith said we can compare the mustard seed to the church.  It started so small, but will fill the world.  He also said you could compare it to the Bookof Mormon.

Leaven - Elder McConkie says this applies to the growth of faith and testimony in the hearts of men.  Joseph Smith the church has taken it's rise from a little leaven that was put into the three witnesses.

Hidden Treasure and Pearl - Almost by accident, someone finds the gospel and is willing to give up all else because of its value.  Nothing in the world can compare to it.

Gospel Net - Missionary work brings all types of people into the church, but not all will reach the celestial kingdom

Chapter 14

John was beheaded because he told how Herod's marriage to Herodias wasn't legal so Herodias wanted John killed.  The moral is, don't criticize a woman!  Just kidding.

I think the feeding of the multitude is a lesson in how the Lord can make great things out of the small.  Look at the humble beginnings of our latter day prophets and they became.  He can do the same with each of us.

And as you probably know, the key to the story of the Lord walking on with Peter is in verse 29.  Peter walked on the water.  It tells us what kind of man he was.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Matthew 11 and 12

I'm finding this is a great way to start my day.  I have always loved the New Testament.  Maybe because it's the story of Christ and those stories was what I was raised on in the Methodist Church.

Ch. 11

I like to combine verses 11 and 28-30.  One way I look at these is that the Savior is saying "John may be the greatest prophet ever born of women, or the greatest person ever born, but the least important of God's children is more important in my eyes.  And anyone who feels sad, is in sin, or is burdened in any way can come to me and I will comfort them.

Starting in verse 20, he condemns a lot of the cities that ring the Sea of Galilee.  The Sea of Galilee used to be ringed with cities.  Now only a few exist.  Most all of them disappeared some time after the death of Christ.

Ch. 12

The Savior created and gave the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy.  Hmmm,  Maybe not a great idea to tell him what he can or can't do on the Sabbath.  I like the fact that he only asks us to keep it holy.  He doesn't tell us what we can or can't do.  He let's us make that judgement.

The Pharisees must have unbelievably wicked.  He heals people right before their eyes and all thing can think about is how to destroy him before he causes them to lose their power.

Verses 31-32.  The church used to teach that denying the Holy Ghost and murder were the two unforgivable sins.  Now they stick to the scriptures and and denying the Holy Ghost is the only unforgivable sin.  How many times in the Book of Mormon do Lamanites who murdered convert to the church including King Lamoni?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Matthew 9 and 10

Here's what I was thinking about as I read these chapters.

Chapter 9

In Chapter 7, the Lord teaches that we should use righteous judgement.  Now in Chapter 9, he is judged as blasphemous, or  having a devil because of the miracles he performs.  But is most interesting to me is when he sits down to dinner with publicans and sinners, the Pharisees condemn him for being for it.  There's some irony here because they call him a sinner, but condemn for being among them.  Worse, the very ministers who should have been merciful to these types of people, and helping them, shun them, while the the false minister Christ, goes among them to heal them.

Chapter 10

One of the things I learn from this is that when you accept the gospel, it separates you from other people.  It is meant to do that.  We have to be prepared for the fact that others (including some in the church even) will look down upon us, think we are strange, naive, or whatever.  Those who look down upon disciples of Christ will one day look up with reverence and awe.  Right now, they don't understand and that's okay.  What's important is for us to remain firm in our discipleship.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Matthew 7 and 8

Chapter 7

I like the way Ch. 7 is organized.  First we're taught how to treat others (verses 1-5).  Then we're taught to pray, to not be afraid to ask, and we can ask knowing that our Father in Heaven will hear answer AND grant out petitions (verses 7-11).  And then in verse 12 he gives us the golden rule (to unto others), and tells us that the answer to our prayers will depend on how we are keeping that rule.  That's why the word "therefore" is used.  It's like he is saying, "Your Heavenly Father will give you all good things, so make sure you treat others the same way.

Also verses 13-14 and 21-22 are key verses.  Being a nice person isn't enough.  We have to act (enter the strait or narrow gate) on what we know the Father's will to be.  If we do that, when opposition comes (verses 24-25), we'll be able to stand firm in our testimonies.

Chapter 8

I'm impressed with how anxious the Lord is to heal.  He doesn't ask for qualifications, only faith and belief.  One is a leper, an outcast because of disease.  The next is a non-Jew, a Roman.  The third is Peter's mother, and then it tells us all kinds of people came to be healed and he healed all of them.

In this chapter, the Savior demonstrates is power over all elements of his creation, whether it be things related to life like  sickness or death, or the physical elements like calming the sea.  He is a God and he has power to control all things related to our existence.  Isn't it interesting in verses 29-34 that the devils know exactly who he is, but the people do not and ask him to leave their lands.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Matthew 5 and 6

When I ready the beatitudes, I used to get a little overwhelmed because I thought I had to be all of those things, meaning I had to be perfect.  Now I look at it and realize that what the Lord is saying is how anxious he is to bless us.  I think the Lord is also telling us to live righteously, but unless we are treating other people with kindness, our righteousness is of little value.  I also like the Greek translation of verse 48.  He's not telling us to be perfect, he's telling us to be fully developed spiritually, complete.  It's good to remember Romans 3:23-25 when you read this verse: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  Therefore being justified only by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ..."  None of us is or will be perfect in this life, but we will still be accepted and approved because the Savior's redemption will make up the difference between where we are and perfection.

 I like to cross reference verse 6 and in chapter 6 with Romans 8:26: "Likewise the Spirit helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."  When we pray, sometimes the words don't come or don't express what we really feel, but the Spirit expresses them for us.  With verses 22-34, I am more and more convinced that when everything is said and done, none of the "things" in this life, our possessions, positions,  will have any importance.  What will matter will be our relationships with each other and with the Lord.

Matthew Chapters 3 and 4

It took me seven minutes to read the two chapters this morning.  If you're reading something else great, if not, I hope you'll read the gospels.  I love the gospels because you get the stories of the Savior.  For the most part, it is very easy to understand and you can picture so much of it in your mind.

I love how when the Pharisees and Sadducees come to John the Baptist he calls them snakes because they poison the minds of the people.  They claim they are the rightful leaders of the Jews because they descended from Abraham when John is by ancestry and ordination the true ruler.  He's the last legal administrator of the Law of Moses.  Joseph Smith said that in 3:16 that the "he" who saw the heavens open and the Spirit of God descend upon the Savior is John.  Those that believe in the trinity still can't explain how there are three separate members of the Godhead here, the Savior, the Holy Ghost descending like a dove, and the voice of the Father from heaven.

The Savior gave a great example in how he resisted the temptations of Satan.  He didn't give Satan an ear but rebuked him each time and then had nothing to do with him.  Great lesson for the kids.  And when he had resisted Satan, angels came and ministered to him just as the Spirit will to us if when we resist.  The three temptations are interesting too.  The first represents our physical appetites we need to control, the second is pride and position, and the third is riches and power.  I'm glad coke isn't mentioned specifically!

One last thought.  When the Savior tells Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him, Jesus wasn't a stranger to them.  Those four men already knew him and his teachings.  Now they're accepting the call to become leaders.  I wonder what the swimming diseases are mentioned in 4:24.  JK

Four Gospels Matthew

I hope all of you are reading your two chapters a day of the four gospels!  Here's a couple of thoughts on Matthew chapters 1 and 2.  Matthew is writing specifically to the Jews so he starts with a genealogy to show how Christ descended from Abraham and David.  The Messiah was prophesied to come through that line so he had to prove the Savior was a descendent of those two prophets.

It says that Joseph didn't want to make Mary a public example.  There were two steps in a Jewish marriage, espousal (engagement) and marriage.  To be caught in adultery in either was punishable by death.  Since Mary was pregnant, Joseph could have not believed and made her pregnancy known and then Mary would have been stoned to death.  But Joseph decided he would just quietly become unengaged to her.  But the angel appeared and told him what was up so he went ahead and married her and called the child his own.

When he wise men came to Jerusalem they went to Herod, not to Bethlehem.  Herod then looked for the Savior in Bethlehem because of the prophecy that he would be born there.  But he didn't find him because he was already gone.   After they leave Herod, they follow the star to "the house" of Mary and Joseph.  So they went to Nazareth and saw the Savior there.   Jesus was not a new born by this time, but not more than two years old because Herod is going to slay all of the children who are two and younger.  Verse 23 of chapter 2 is a good example of lost scripture because we don't have this.