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Archive for February, 2012

Naaman was a captain of the king of Syria’s army. Naaman had leprosy, a terrible disease, according to 2 Kings 5.

The maid of Naaman’s wife said unto her mistress, “Would God my lord were with the prophet (Elisha) that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.”

The king of Syria then sent Naaman to the king of Israel, but the king of Israel was displeased.

Naaman next went to Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.

But Naaman was angry, and went away, and said, “Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.” He further complained “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean?”

Naaman’s servant then pleaded, “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?”

Naaman then went down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to Elisha’s instructions. His flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

* * *

This story provides many lessons. Naaman needed faith, humility and obedience in order to be healed.

Naaman was not healed after dipping himself the first time. Nor was he healed the second time. He was still a leper even after the sixth time,

What if Naaman had become discouraged or impatient and left the river after the sixth time?

But Naaman persisted. Finally, he was healed after the seventh time.

We should all consider ourselves as if we were Naaman. We must be persistent in obeying the Lord and patient while we await promised blessings.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

May the Lord bless you,
Tom Irvine

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* * *

The Greek philosopher Socrates said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

There are far too many people in the world who are careless and who do not accept responsibility for their actions. And there are many who say “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” as the Apostle Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 15:32.

But those of us who are trying to be disciples of Jesus Christ sometimes face a different problem. We may focus too much on our own faults to the point that we become discouraged. Our discouragement then becomes a wedge that separates us from Christ.

Even the prophets and apostles had weaknesses.

Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Adam then blamed Eve who blamed the serpent. (Genesis 3)

Noah became drunk after he left the ark and had planted a vineyard. (Genesis 9)

Abraham lied twice about his wife Sarah, each time claiming that Sarah was merely his sister. (Genesis 12 & 20)

Lot had an incestuous relationship with his two daughters. (Genesis 19)

Jacob played a trick on Isaac in order to get the birthright blessing. (Genesis 27)

Aaron built a golden calf for idol worship. (Exodus 32)

Miriam had a bout of leprosy as punishment for gossiping about Moses’ wife. (Numbers 12)

Moses was not allowed to cross into the Promised Land because he was disrespectful to the Lord when he drew water from the rock at Meribah. (Numbers 20:8-12)

Gideon made an “ephod” out of the gold won in battle, which caused the whole of Israel again to turn away from God. (Judges 8:26-27)

Jonah at first refused to go to Ninevah. So he was swallowed by a whale. (Jonah 1)

David sinned with Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 11)

Solomon worshiped the gods of his wives. (1 Kings 11)

Elijah was depressed and asked God to let him die. (1 Kings 19)

Job cursed his own birth. (Job 3)

King Hezekiah showed his treasures to the ambassadors from Babylon. Isaiah then prophesied: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 39)

Zacharias was struck dumb because he doubted the angel Gabriel’s message that he, Zacharias, would be the father of John the Baptist. (Luke 1)

Mary Magdalene was possessed by seven demons before Jesus cleansed her. (Luke 8:2)

Martha complained to Jesus that her sister Mary was unhelpful with housework. (Luke 10:38-42)

Peter denied knowing Christ three times. (Mark 14)

Nathaniel questioned: Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46)

Thomas doubted that Jesus had been resurrected. (John 20)

Paul (Saul) held the coats of the men who stoned Stephen. (Acts 6)

John Mark left Paul and the other missionaries who were traveling to Asia Minor, and he returned to Jerusalem. This caused a break between Paul and Barnabas some time later. (Acts 13 & 15)

Paul confessed:

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
(Romans 7:15,19)

* * *

Rabbi Saadiah Gaon, in his Book of Beliefs and Opinions, explains that God deliberately chooses human prophets whose mortal nature is apparent, so that
people will not ascribe the miracles they perform to themselves, but rather to
God.

* * *

We all have things in our lives that we must change. I need to be more forgiving and let go of memories of past adverse experiences.

But we must always remember that Jesus Christ loves us, and he is merciful unto us as we turn our hearts toward him.

Let us come before God and humbly acknowledge our weaknesses before him. He will then give us grace and lift us up. (James 4:6 & 10).

May the Lord bless you,
Tom

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* * *

The New Testament contains a short book called Philemon.

Here is a summary:

The Apostle Paul introduces himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Paul was under house arrest in Rome at this time.

Paul and Timothy greet Philemon as a dearly beloved fellow-laborer.

Philemon lived in Colossae.

Onesimus had been Philemon’s slave. Onesimus had run away and may have stolen some money from his master.

He then met Paul. Paul taught the gospel to Onesimus, who then became a Christian as well as a servant to Paul.

Paul regards Onesimus as his son (verse 10).

Paul asks Philemon in a letter to forgive Onesimus and to accept him as a fellow Christian and as a beloved brother (verses 15-16)

Paul then sent Onesimus back to Philemon. Paul offered to pay Philemon for any debts that Onesimus owed to Philemon. (verses 18-19).

Paul expresses his desire to visit Philemon after his imprisonment (verse 22).

Paul closes

[25] The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen

* * *

There are several important lessons in this epistle.

Onesimus represents each of us in this story. This story symbolizes the great atoning sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us.

We are all rather unprofitable servants as was Onesimus. We are slaves of sin when we do wrong (John 8:34). We may also be slaves to fear.

We may all at one time run away from the Lord as Onesimus fled from Philemon. But we can still repent and turn our hearts to Jesus Christ even when we are far away from him.

Paul regarded Onesimus as his son. We become sons and daughters of Jesus Christ when we are spiritually reborn.

Paul offered to pay for the debts of Onesimus. Jesus Christ has paid for our eternal debts through his great atoning sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross at Calvary.

The story also teaches us the importance of brotherhood in Christ and forgiveness.

* * *

Here is a poem by Rosamond E. Herklots.

“Forgive our sins as we forgive,”
You taught us, Lord, to pray;
But You alone can grant us grace
To live the words we say.

How can Your pardon reach and bless
The unforgiving heart
That broods on wrongs and will not let
Old bitterness depart?

In blazing light your cross reveals
The truth we dimly knew:
How trifling others’ debts to us;
How great our debt to You!

Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls
And bid resentment cease;
Then, by your mercy reconciled,
Our lives will spread your peace.

* * *

May the Lord bless you,
Tom Irvine

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I have several weaknesses of my own. I often have fatigue. And I have a borderline case of Asperger syndrome.

But the purpose of this message is not to dwell on my own condition. Rather it is to present scriptural insights.

* * *

The Apostle Paul taught:

2 Corinthians 12

[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
[8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
[9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
[10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

* * *

Even the prophets and apostles had weaknesses.

Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.

Noah became drunk after he left the ark and had planted a vineyard.

Abraham lied twice about his wife Sarah, each time claiming that Sarah was his sister.

Jacob played a trick on Isaac in order to get the birthright blessing.

Jonah at first refused to go to Ninevah. So he was swallowed by a whale.

David sinned with Bathsheba.

Peter denied knowing Christ three times.

Thomas doubted that Jesus had been resurrected.

* * *

President Thomas S. Monson tells the following story:

Many years ago, while attending a church conference, I noticed that a counselor was blind. He functioned beautifully, performing his duties as though he had sight. It was a stormy night as we met in the office situated on the second floor of the building. Suddenly there was a loud clap of thunder. The lights in the building almost immediately went out. Instinctively I reached out for our sightless leader, and I said, “Here, take my arm and I will help you down the stairway.”

I’m certain he must have had a smile on his face as he responded, “No, Brother Monson, give me your arm, that I might help you.” And he added, “You are now in my territory.”

The storm abated, the lights returned, but I shall never forget the trek down those stairs, guided by the man who was sightless yet filled with light.

* * *

John 9

[1] And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
[2] And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
[3] Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

* * *

Jesus Christ taught:

Ether 12

[27] And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

* * *

Isaiah 40

[29] He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

[30] Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

[31] But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

* * *

May the Lord bless you,
Tom Irvine

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* * *

As Christians, we have a particular challenge. There is a saying, “Be ye in the world, but not of the world.” This quote does not actually appear in scripture, but it represents the teachings of Jesus and of the prophets and apostles.

Jesus taught in Matthew 5,

[14] Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
[15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
[16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

* * *

Jesus also taught in The Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 18,

[16] And as I have prayed among you even so shall ye pray in my church, among my people who do repent and are baptized in my name. Behold I am the light; I have set an example for you.

[24] Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up — that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.

* * *

We have a responsibility to bring the light of Christ to our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We can do this by our words and actions. Simple acts of service may be very effective in this way.

Listening to another person is a good example of service. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them.”

We also have a responsibility to take our place in the world of business, education, government and other worthwhile efforts.

President Hinckley taught “We have an obligation to train our hands and minds to excel in the work of the world for the blessing of all mankind.”

But we must also learn to be careful to avoid worldliness.

The apostle Paul taught “for the fashion of this world passeth away.” (Excerpt from 1 Corinthians 7:31)

Paul also taught “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

Furthermore, James taught that we must keep ourselves “unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)

* * *

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:3)

* * *

May the Lord Jesus bless you as you follow these teachings.

Tom Irvine

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Here are some more thoughts on enduring trials and tribulation . . . .

Suffering is universal; how we react to suffering is individual. Suffering can take us one of two ways. It can be a strengthening and purifying experience combined with faith, or it can be a destructive force in our lives if we do not have the faith in the Lord’s atoning sacrifice. The purpose of suffering, however, is to build and strengthen us.

-Elder Robert D. Hales

* * *

President Thomas S. Monson wrote:

“Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.”

My friend Raphael wrote, “Even though tough moments abound, our focus is on the crown that awaits all those who will endure.”

“And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who calls you to share His eternal glory in union with Christ, will Himself perfect you and give firmness, strength, and a sure foundation.” (I Peter 5:10)

There is more to life than facing hardships, however. There is much joy available even in this troubled world.

The very first verse in the Bible is:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1).

President Monson also wrote:

“God left the world unfinished; the pictures unpainted,
the songs unsung, and the problems unsolved,
that man might know the joys of creation.”

May you find joy in the creative exercise of your talents, especially as you serve your fellow man.

And may the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be upon you,

Tom Irvine

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I have been studying Biblical Hebrew…

The Hebrew name for Jesus is: Yeshua, which means “He who saves.”

Matthew 1

[19] Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
[20] But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
[21] And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

* * * * *

Yeshua HaMashiach – means “Jesus, the Messiah.”

* * * * *

Hosanna – means “please save” or “save now.”

* * * * *

Beth – means House
Lehem – means bread

Bethlehem is the “House of Bread.”

John 6

[32] Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
[33] For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
[34] Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
[35] And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

* * * * *

Hallelujah, Halleluyah, or Alleluia

Halleluyah is a Hebrew word meaning “praise the Lord.” A more literal meaning is “Let us praise the Lord.”

It appears in the Bible mainly in the Psalms but also in Revelations 19.

Halleluyah is composed of two root words.

Hallelu is praise.

Yah is the the Lord. It is actually an abbreviation of YHWH which is the Hebrew name of God. The English equivalent of YHWH is Yahweh or Jehovah.

* * * * *

May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be upon you,
Tom Irvine

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