Thursday, November 25, 2010

daily text 11/25

Thursday, November 25th, 2010
"The love the Christ has compels us"
(2 Corinthians 5:14)

How did Jesus show love for others? His willingness to surrender his soul in mankind's behalf was the ultimate expression of his love. (John 15:13) However, during his ministry, Jesus also showed love in other ways. For instance, he had fellow feeling for those who were suffering. When he saw Mary and those with her weeping over the death of Lazarus, he was greatly touched by their sorrow. Although he was about to resurrect Lazarus, Jesus was so moved that he "gave way to tears." (John 11:32-35) Early in Jesus' ministry, a leper approached Jesus and said: "If you just want to, you can make me clean." Under the Mosaic Law, lepers were unclean, and Jesus could certainly have healed the man without physical contact. Yet, as Jesus healed the leper, he allowed him to feel the touch of another human, perhaps for the first time in years. What a tender act of compassion!—Mark 1:40-42.
(Watchtower issue: 1/15/09, 1:15-17)

extra reference material:
Empathy--Key to Kindness and Compassion
(a really good article about learning how to cultivate empathy and compassion for others)

Have Consideration For the Feelings of Others
(previous post about how Jesus' demonstrated compassion for the leper he healed)

A Sure Hope For the Dead
(excerpt from an article about how Jesus felt prior to resurrecting Lazarus at John 11:32-38):

'God Will Have a Yearning'
"Jesus' heartfelt compassion is indicated by three expressions: "groaned," "became troubled," and "gave way to tears." The original-language words used in recording this touching scene indicate that Jesus was so deeply moved by the death of his dear friend Lazarus and the sight of Lazarus' sister weeping that His eyes brimmed over with tears...Restoring humans to life, then, is not a mere procedure for Jesus. His tender and deep feelings as manifested on this occasion clearly indicate his intense desire to undo the ravages of death.
Since Jesus is 'the exact representation of Jehovah God's very being,' we rightly expect no less of our heavenly Father..."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

daily text 11/24

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
"All hearts Jehovah is searching" (1 Chronicles 28:9)

Imagine Jehovah God searching the billions of hearts of mankind today. How often does he find someone keeping Christian integrity? It is relatively rare indeed! However, we should not assume that we are too flawed to maintain integrity. On the contrary, we have good reason to trust, as did David and Job, that Jehovah will find us maintaining integrity, imperfect though we may be. Because integrity is at the core of Jehovah's judgement of us, it is essential to our hope for the future. David knew this to be true. (Psalm 41:12) He cherished the hope of receiving God's favorable attention forever. Like true Christians today, David hoped to live forever, continuing to draw ever closer to Jehovah God while serving him. David saw the role that his maintaining integrity would play if he was to see the fulfillment of that hope. Similarly, Jehovah upholds us, teaches us, guides us, and blesses us as we keep our integrity.
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 1:14, 15)

Here's an additional scripture that ties in well, because it shows that Jehovah is actually searching for individuals with upright hearts, in order to demonstrate his power and strength in their behalf, by helping them to succeed in maintaining their integrity to Him:

(2 Chronicles 16:9)
"For, as regards Jehovah, his eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him..."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

daily text 11/23

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
"When praying, do not say the same things over and over again, just as the people of the nations do, for they imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words" (Matthew 6:7)

Jesus did not mean that we should never repeat heartfelt pleas and expressions of thanksgiving in prayer. In the garden of Gethsemane on the night before he died, Jesus repeatedly used "the same word" in prayer. (Mark 14:32-39) It would be wrong for us to mimic the repetitious prayers of "people of the nations." "Over and over again," they repeat memorized phrases that include many unnecessary words. It did worshippers of Baal no good to call upon the name of that false god "from morning till noon, saying: "O Baal, answer us!'" (1 Kings 18:26) Millions today offer wordy, repetitious prayers, thinking in vain that they "will get a hearing." But Jesus helps us to realize that the "use of many words" in long and repetitious prayers is of no value from Jehovah's standpoint.
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 3:8, 9)

Monday, November 22, 2010

daily text 11/22

Monday, November 22nd, 2010
"You had no hope" (Ephesians 2:12)

Jehovah's Witnesses accept medical help and various forms of treatment. Our journal Awake! often contains articles on health matters. And although we do not endorse any particular treatment, we appreciate the help and cooperation of health-care professionals. Of course, we are aware that perfect health is not yet attainable. Therefore, we know that it is wise to avoid letting our health become an obsession or a constant concern. Our attitude should differ from that of those who have "no hope," who think that this life is all there is and who will resort to any therapy in an attempt to cure their ailments. We are determined not to forfeit Jehovah's approval in an effort to save our present life, for we are convinced that if we remain faithful to God, we will "get a firm hold on the real life," everlasting life in his promised new system of things.—1 Timothy 6:12, 19; 2 Peter 3:13.
(Watchtower 11/15/08, 3:6)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

daily text 11/21

Sunday, November 21st, 2010
"Go therefore and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19)

Conducting Bible studies is the foremost way to make disciples. Some publishers, though, have not yet had the pleasure of conducting a Bible study. Others may not have conducted one in recent years. Then there are those faithful publishers who, although they were at one time very active in the disciple-making work, are now hampered by ill health or the limitations of old age. Some even impose limitations upon themselves. For example, do you feel unqualified to conduct a Bible study? You may feel as Moses did when Jehovah commissioned him to talk to Pharaoh. Moses said: "Excuse me, Jehovah, but I am not a fluent speaker, neither since yesterday nor since before that." (Exodus 4:10) Closely related to feelings of inadequacy is a fear of failure. We might worry that a person will not become a disciple because we are not the perfect teacher. Rather than risking that outcome, we might forgo the opportunity to conduct a study.
(Watchtower issue: 1/15/09, 2:3, 6)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

PopQuiz Bible Trivia: Who Was the 12th Apostle? Paul or Matthias?

While I was looking for this previous entry:
Apostle Paul's Missionary Travels
(containing additional reference material in relation to today's text discussion), I was reminded of a thought-provoking question that a new Bible student quizzed me on regarding Paul's "apostleship"...wanting further clarification on the subject.
(Which led to some very interesting research since I hadn't even thought of this until I was inquired about it).

So,...now it's time to test your "advanced" Bible knowledge, with the same trivia question:

Q:Who did Jesus choose to replace Judas Iscariot as the 12th Apostle?
-Paul or Matthias?

(some facts to ponder):
-In the account at (Acts 1:15-26), Peter addresses the other apostles & disciples among the newly established Christian congregation on the matter, in order to come to a decision regarding who would replace the apostleship of Judas Iscariot. So they "cast lots" between 2 disciples, Justus and Matthias, and the lot fell to Matthias.

-However, at (Romans 1:1), Paul refers to himself as being called by holy spirit and Christ to be an "apostle to the nations," and at (Acts 9:15), Jesus declares that Saul is his "chosen vessel" to bear witness to the nations.

So, was Matthias really Jesus' choice to replace Judas as the 12th apostle?...or did the other apostles & disciples "jump the gun" and appoint the wrong person? Was Matthias just a temporary replacement to fill the vacancy until Paul came on the scene?
~or~
Was Matthias the permanent choice to be the 12 apostle, while Paul's apostleship was additional and distinct from the other 12 apostles?

*Good question eh? I'll give the answer in an upcoming post*

daily text 11/20

Saturday, November 20th, 2010
"I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20:20)

In our time, some people have claimed that Paul was here refering merely to making shepherding calls on believers. But, no. The description 'teaching publicly and from house to house' mainly applied to evangelizing among unbelievers. That is plain from his next words. Paul said that he had been witnessing "both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus." Clearly, Paul had been bearing witness to unbelievers, who needed to repent and put faith in Jesus. (Acts 20:21) Paul did not want the Ephesian elders to forget how he had borne witness and with what result. Luke reported: "All those inhabiting the district of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks."—Acts 19:10.
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 4:5, 6)

Friday, November 19, 2010

daily text 11/19

Friday, November 19th, 2010
"Of what benefit is it for a man to gain the whole world and to forfeit his soul? What, really, would a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36, 37)

We know that Jesus did not come to earth to give us health, wealth, and a long life in this world. He came to open up the opportunity of living forever in the new world, and the prospect of that life is what we value highly. (John 3:16) A Christian would understand Jesus' first question to mean, "Of what benefit is it for a man to gain the whole world and to forfeit his hope of everlasting life?" The answer is, Of no benefit at all. (1 John 2:15-17) To help us answer Jesus' second question, we might well ask ourselves, 'How much am I willing to sacrifice now to make my hope of life in the new world sure?' Our answer to that question, as seen in our life course, reveals the strength of that hope in our hearts.—Compare John 12:25.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 5:3, 4)

A sister in my congregation made a really good comment in this regard, about how much time, energy, and money some people will expend pursuing endeavors that are actually futile or "fruitless" in the long run.

She said, "How many people are willing to rearrange their circumstances in life, even uprooting themselves and their families by moving to another state or country, in order to work with "an expert" in their particular field? But we have the opportunity to be "fellow workers" with Jehovah, the greatest expert and teacher."

What she said was so true...the world is filled with all kinds of "experts" in the field of medicine and economics, who are highly sought-after by individuals all the time, wanting to improve their health, careers, or financial situation.
So if people are willing to go to such lengths to seek out "human" wisdom & advice for improving their life, health, and future financial prospects, (which is temporary & short-term, at best), how much more should we be putting forth the effort to continue training & progressing spiritually, by making whatever adjustments are necessary in order to secure our "spiritual prospects" for the future?...(which is a far more valuable, long-term investment for life).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Life Story: Francesco Abbatemarco

This experience is an excellent example of why we don't need to feel overly anxious about our circumstances in life,...even if we become "trapped" in a hopeless situation, (like Jeremiah was, mentioned in today's text). No matter what health or economic hardships come our way, God will always make sure we get what we need, both physically and spiritually, if we rely on him.
This brother is a *living example* of how Jehovah can sustain us through difficult circumstances in life, and help us to reach our spiritual goals with the support of our brothers & sisters in the congregation.



Life Story of Francesco Abbatemarco
(pgs 20-22 of the 8/06 Awake!)


“Why did God let this happen? Why me?” How many times I asked those questions! I couldn’t bear the idea of spending my life in a wheelchair, unable to use my arms and legs.

In 1962, in a small town in the region of Basilicata, Italy, my life almost ended the day it began. My mother had a difficult delivery, and the doctor injected medications that had serious side effects. Three days later, convulsions shook my tiny body. My arms and legs were paralyzed, and my vocal cords damaged.
As I grew to adulthood, frustration with my physical condition overwhelmed me. I became irritable and often lashed out at the people around me. I felt excluded from the whole world, and nothing gave my life meaning. By the time I was 25, I was an emotional wreck. Not understanding why God allowed me to suffer so much, I came to a conclusion that seemed plausible—that there is no God.

A Different Outlook
One morning late in 1987, while I was sitting in my wheelchair outside, two well-dressed young men approached me. I assumed that they wanted to speak to my brother and told them, with much difficulty, that my brother was not at home. “But we want to speak with you,” they replied. That was a surprise because few people were interested in speaking with me.
“Do you believe in God?” they asked. I answered brusquely, “In my condition, how can I?” We started a conversation, and I found out that they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. They offered me a book entitled Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? which I accepted with reluctance. They said that they would return. I hoped that they would not.

The two Witnesses returned as they had promised, and we resumed our conversation. I remember the Bible verses they read to me, Isaiah 35:5, 6: “At that time the eyes of the blind ones will be opened, and the very ears of the deaf ones will be unstopped. At that time the lame one will climb up just as a stag does, and the tongue of the speechless one will cry out in gladness.” Those words were beautiful but so different from the reality of my life. I couldn’t even stand up, let alone climb up like a stag. In any event, I agreed to study the Bible with them, but I did not believe that the Bible would help me with my problems now. As far as being free of my infirmities one day, that hope seemed unrealistic.


After a while, the Witnesses invited me to a meeting at their local Kingdom Hall. I do not remember what the Bible talk was about, but I will never forget the warmth and love that the Witnesses showed me. Instead of drenching me with pity, they made me feel truly welcome. That Sunday I knew that my place was at the Kingdom Hall, and I started to attend meetings regularly.

A Mountain to Climb
The study of God’s Word had an amazing effect on my heart. It was as if sap had started flowing again through a withered tree. I experienced feelings that I had thought were dead and buried. How wonderful to feel alive again! I felt the desire to tell others about the marvelous hope I was making my own. (Matthew 24:14) How, though, could I begin preaching? I made this desire a matter of intense prayer, asking Jehovah to show me a way.

In September 1991, a pioneer (a full-time evangelizer) was assigned to the congregation. One day at his house, I confided to him my desire to preach. I could not speak well, so we discussed my using a typewriter to write letters. My paralyzed arms were an obstacle. With the pioneer’s help, I tried many methods. I tried holding a pencil with my teeth and hitting the keys with it. Then, I tried using a helmet with a stick attached and moved my head to strike the keys. Nothing seemed to work.


Later, as we were discussing the problem, that same pioneer jokingly said: “You have a very nice nose.” I immediately tried hitting the keys with my nose and found that it worked. Finally, I was able to write. Imagine the effort it took to correct spelling errors with my nose! Soon we realized that using a computer would be much easier. But how could I get the money to buy one? I waited for the right moment and then spoke to my parents. Shortly thereafter, I was using a computer to write letters.


(Francesco, preparing for a congregation meeting by using his nose to type)

My Desire Fulfilled
I first wrote to friends and relatives, then to people who lived in my town and in surrounding towns. Soon I was corresponding with people all over Italy. It is difficult to describe the joy I felt every time I received a reply to a letter. In December 1991, I was approved as an unbaptized publisher of the good news. I also enrolled in the Theocratic Ministry School, a school held weekly in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I received an assignment to give a talk, I carefully prepared it at home using my computer. At the meeting, a friend would go to the platform and read what I had prepared.

Ever grateful for the love that Jehovah was showing me, I knew my next steps of spiritual progress would be to dedicate my life to God and get baptized. I mustered up courage and spoke to my parents about my decision. They were not happy, but my desire to get baptized was stronger than my fear. With the support of Jehovah and my fellow Witnesses, I was baptized in August 1992. How happy I was to have my brother and my sister-in-law attend my baptism!

Changes in My Thinking
As the principles contained in God’s Word gradually became clearer to me, I saw a need to change negative personality traits. I realized that as a result of my physical condition, I had become possessive and selfish. I had to struggle to get rid of those flaws. I needed to be humbler and to fight my constant frustration over having to depend on others.

I also worked to stop feeling sorry for myself and considering myself a victim. I began enjoying the funny side of certain situations. One day as I was preaching from house to house, a little girl opened the door. One of the Witnesses with me asked her if her parents were at home. The little girl shouted, “Mommy, there are two men and a sick man at the door.” On seeing me, the mother was so embarrassed that she didn’t know what to say. One of my friends said: “Actually, we are two sick men and a healthy one.” We all smiled, and a good conversation ensued.



The Desire to Serve More Fully
After my baptism I served as an auxiliary pioneer for nine months, spending 60 hours monthly in the preaching work. Yet, I wanted to do more. Soon I began service as a regular pioneer, dedicating even more time to the preaching work. The first few months of pioneer service were hard. Many people thought I was at their door asking for money, and this embarrassed me and the Witnesses who accompanied me.
In addition, many in the congregation had difficulty understanding my speech and were not sure how best to help me. But with Jehovah’s help and the unselfish assistance of my spiritual brothers and sisters, in time the situation improved. People now think of me not just as a man in a wheelchair but as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who tries to help others learn of God’s purposes.

In July 1994, I was able to attend a special two-week training course for pioneer ministers. There, we studied the Scriptural principles that guide the preaching and disciple-making work. We also received practical training in the ministry. I had to overcome obstacles in order to attend, since the school was held about 40 miles [60 km] away from where I live. It was impossible for me to spend the night away from home, so the Witnesses took turns taking me to the school in the morning and home in the evening. At lunchtime one of them carried me up to the second floor, where we all ate together.

A Big Responsibility
In March 2003, I was appointed as a congregation elder. That assignment has required that I work hard in behalf of others. Now I more fully understand what Jesus meant when he said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) I work along with a marvelous body of elders, and they have helped me settle into my role. I feel appreciated by the whole congregation—especially the young ones—and they include me in their activities. They see how I have overcome obstacles to serve Jehovah, and many ask me for help in facing their own problems.


I have learned that a person’s physical condition is not the crucial factor in happiness. Rather, what matters is having Jehovah’s approval and doing his will. I am particularly grateful to him for the wonderful hope of soon being rid of my wheelchair. Yes, I look forward to ‘climbing up just as a stag does’ and to serving the true God for all eternity.—Isaiah 35:5, 6.

daily text 11/18

Thursday, November 18th, 2010
"The eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their supplication" (1 Peter 3:12)

During the latter part of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, Jeremiah was imprisoned in the Courtyard of the Guard. How would he obtain food? He was totally dependent on those around him, most of whom hated him! Still, Jeremiah trusted not in men but in God, who promised to care for him. Did Jehovah live up to his word? Absolutely! He saw to it that Jeremiah daily received “a round loaf of bread . . . until all the bread was exhausted from the city.” (Jeremiah 37:21) Jeremiah, as well as Baruch, Ebed-melech, and others, survived that time of famine, disease, and death. (Jeremiah 38:2; 39:15-18) Do you feel safe and secure in knowing that Jehovah's eyes are upon you for your good? Then, continue walking with God—no matter what the future may hold. We can be sure that Jehovah will always keep a close, fatherly eye upon all his loyal ones.—Psalm 32:8; Isaiah 41:13.
(Watchtower 10/15/08, 2:18, 19)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

daily text 11/17

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
"Practice giving, and people will give to you. They will pour into your laps a fine measure" (Luke 6:38)

'Pouring into the lap' refers to a custom of some vendors to fill the fold of a purchaser's wide upper garment, which was bound with a girdle and made into a pouch for carrying items. Our own spontaneous generosity may result in our receiving a fine measure in return, perhaps when we are in need. (Ecclesiastes 11:2) Jehovah loves and rewards those who give cheerfully. He himself set the prime example, giving his only-begotten Son "in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Paul wrote: "He that sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:6, 7) Giving of our time, energy, and material resources to promote true worship is sure to bring us joy and rich rewards.—Proverbs 19:17; Luke 16:9.
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 2:16, 17)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

daily text 11/16

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
"Time and unforeseen occurence befall them all" (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

The three faithful Hebrews who refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar's image of gold did not presume that Jehovah would miraculously protect them from physical harm. (Daniel 3:17, 18) As matters turned out, Jehovah did deliver them from the flames of the fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:21-27) Even in Bible times, however, miraculous deliverance was the exception rather than the rule. Many faithful servants of Jehovah died at the hands of opposers. (Hebrews 11:35-37) Can we definitely say whether Jehovah did or did not intervene in specific cases today? No. Still, an individual who has escaped a dangerous situation may feel that Jehovah intervened. It would be presumptuous for others to take issue with his feeling. At the same time, we must realistically acknowledge that many faithful Christians have died as a result of persecution or other tragic circumstances.
(Watchtower issue: 9/15/08, 2:8, 9)

Monday, November 15, 2010

daily text 11/15

Monday, November 15th, 2010
"Keep your eyes open and guard against every sort of covetousness, because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15)

Our employer may offer us a promotion with better pay and other benefits. Or perhaps we realize that we can obtain greater financial rewards if we move to another country or region to find employment. At first, such opportunities might seem to be a blessing from Jehovah. But before we act on them, should we not examine our motives? Our primary concern should be, "How will my decision affect my relationship with Jehovah?" Satan's system relentlessly promotes materialism. (1 John 2:15, 16) The Devil's objective is to corrupt our hearts. Therefore, we need to be vigilant to identify and root out materialistic desires in our heart. (Revelation 3:15-17) Loyalty will help us to rely on Jehovah instead of ourselves.
(Watchtower issue: 8/15/08, 2:6, 7)

This can be tricky. Sometimes people want to believe that God has answered their prayer regarding employment even when it's pretty obvious that the type of employment they've been offered would interfere with spiritual pursuits and doesn't fit the pattern of what God has actually promised to provide in this regard.
An obvious *red flag* is when the job offers a high-paying salary & benefits which are much larger than what's actually needed for them and their family, and has alot of strings attached...such as frequent, *mandatory* business travel and overtime.

Jehovah doesn't work against Himself and His own interests. He wouldn't answer a prayer by providing employment that increases "material riches" at the expense of spiritual activity, or He would actually be robbing Himself! If God's purpose is to have the "good news" preached world-wide like never before, than a person is only deceiving themselves if they believe they are being favored with abundant material riches & possessions & vacations that crowd out time spent in the preaching work or other spiritual activities.
The ministry is a Christian's MAIN vocation, while secular employment should be our "secondary" job used to support the ministry. Too many people have it backwards.

Friday, November 12, 2010

daily text 11/12

Friday, November 12th, 2010
"Look! My own servants will cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart, but you yourselves will make outcries because of the pain of heart" (Isaiah 65:14)

Are you a youth in Jehovah's organization? If so, you may be a special target of Satan's attempts to undermine Jehovah's authority. "The desires incidental to youth" coupled with pressure from your peers may incline you to conclude that God's laws are burdensome. (2 Timothy 2:22) Do not let that happen. Strive to see the wisdom of God's standards. For example, the Bible tells you to "flee from fornication." (1 Corinthians 6:18) Ask yourself: 'Why is that command wise? How will obedience in this matter benefit me?' You may know some who ignored God's counsel and then paid a heavy price for that error. Are they really happy now? Do they have a better life than the one they enjoyed in association with Jehovah's organization? Have they really found some secret to happiness that the rest of God's servants have missed?
(Watchtower issue: 6/15/08, 3:11)

I've finally lived long enough to have actually seen for myself the truth of this Scripture. Every person I've ever known throughout my life whose left Jehovah has gone downhill and regressed in many ways. (even if "on the surface" they appear to be successful or having fun). Because it always seems like a facade...like they're not happy unless they're continually surrounded by some sort of external stimuli or pleasure pursuit. They seem to have a void they can't fill, so they start becoming more and more unbalanced and self-absorbed when it comes to recreation, entertainment, alcohol, material possessions, their relationships, their careers, etc. On the other hand, those who've left the congregation and come back are *noticeably* happier and seem to have alot more joy & inner peace. (even when they don't have "ideal" circumstances in their life).