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, 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?
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 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).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

daily text 11/11

Thursday, November 11th, 2010
"Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God" (Matthew 5:8)

If we are "pure in heart," purity will be evident in our affections, desires, and motives. We will display "love out of a clean heart." (1 Timothy 1:5) Being inwardly clean, we will "see God." This does not necessarily mean seeing Jehovah literally, for "no man may see [God] and yet live." (Exodus 33:20) Since he perfectly reflected God's personality, however, Jesus could say: "He that has seen me has seen the Father also." (John 14:7-9) As Jehovah's worshippers on earth, we can "see God" by observing him act in our behalf. (Job 42:5) Because a pure heart is morally and spiritually clean, it does not dwell on things that are unclean in Jehovah's eyes. (1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 52:11) If we are pure in heart, what we say and do will have the mark of purity, and there will be nothing hypocritical about our service to Jehovah.
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 1:16, 17)

when you first read this verse it almost sounds like being "pure in heart" is something a person is either born with, or they're not,..but fortunately that's not the case.
According to (Psalm 51:10), it can be cultivated in us:

"Create in me even a pure heart, O God,
And put within me a new spirit, a steadfast one."

and this cross-reference verse at (Isaiah 33:15), gives a more detailed description of what God considers being "pure in heart" (which includes the moral content of a person's speech, and what they allow themselves to listen to and look at):

"There is one who is walking in continual righteousness and speaking what is upright, who is rejecting the unjust gain from frauds, who is shaking his hands clear from taking hold on a bribe, who is stopping up his ear from listening to bloodshed, and who is closing his eyes so as not to see what is bad."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

daily text 11/10

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12)

Of course, this does not refer to forgiving financial debts. Luke's Gospel shows that the "debts" Jesus had in mind are sins, for it says: "Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone that is in debt to us." (Luke 11:4) We need to imitate God, who freely forgives repentant sinners. People can receive God's forgiveness only if they have already forgiven those who have sinned against them. (Mark 11:25) Stressing this point, Jesus added: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14, 15) Yes, God grants forgiveness only to those who freely forgive others. And one way to keep on doing good is to comply with Paul's counsel: "Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also."—Colossians 3:13.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 2:9-11)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

daily text 11/3

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010
"Those who [marry] will have tribulation in their flesh" (1 Corinthians 7:28)

The "tribulation" may involve health problems for the couple, their children, or their aging parents. It may also involve difficulties and heartaches connected with the rearing of their children. The Bible foretold that "the last days" would bring "critical times hard to deal with." Among the things hard to deal with would be children who are "disobedient to parents." (2 Timothy 3:1-3) Rearing children is a serious challenge for Christian parents. We are not shielded from the adverse effects of the current "critical times." Hence, Christian parents have to wage an ongoing fight against the pernicious influence that "the system of things of this world" can have on their children. (Ephesians 2:2, 3) And the battle is not always won! In case a son or a daughter of a Christian family stops serving Jehovah, it is, indeed, "tribulation" for parents who have tried to raise him or her in God's truth.—Proverbs 17:25.
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 4:14, 15)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

daily text 11/2

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010
"Before gray hair you should rise up [in respect], and you must show consideration for the person of an old man" (Leviticus 19:32)

In some parts of the world, it is the custom for young children to honor adults by kneeling respectfully when in their company. In this way, they do not stand taller than those who are older. In these communities, it is also viewed as an act of disrespect for a child to turn his or her back to an adult. Although respect is shown in different ways in various cultures, such displays of respect remind us of the Mosaic Law and the command stated in today's text. Sadly, in many places it is no longer common to show honor to others. In fact, disrespect is the order of the day. God's Word puts a high value on showing honor. It tells us to honor Jehovah and Jesus. (John 5:23) We are also commanded to show honor to family members and fellow believers as well as to some outside the congregation.—Romans 12:10; Ephesians 6:1, 2; 1 Peter 2:17.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 4:1, 2)

Monday, November 1, 2010

daily text 11/1

Monday, November 1st, 2010
"By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves" (John 13:35)

When Bible students attend meetings, they are often impressed with the loving atmosphere of our gatherings. One Bible student wrote: "I do so enjoy attending the meetings. The people are so welcoming!" Jesus said that those who become his followers may be opposed by their literal family. (Matthew 10:35-37) However, he promised that in the congregation, they would gain numerous spiritual "brothers and sisters and mothers and children." (Mark 10:30) Our elderly brothers and sisters especially play a vital role in helping Bible students to progress. In what way? Their upbuilding comments at congregation meetings strengthen the faith of all who hear them. Their record of walking "in the way of righteousness" adds beauty to the congregation and attracts honesthearted people to God's organization.—Proverbs 16:31.
(Watchtower issue: 1/15/09, 2:15, 16)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

daily text 10/21

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
"Oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you"
(James 4:7)

Jesus assured his followers of the availability of God's spirit by saying: "If you, although being [imperfect and thus comparatively] wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!" (Luke 11:13) Let us continue praying to Jehovah for his holy spirit. With this most powerful force backing us up in our determination to oppose the Devil, we will be able to come off victorious. Also, we need to put on the complete suit of spiritual armor from God. (Ephesians 6:11-18, ftn.) Something else helped Jesus to oppose the Devil, and it can help us too. The Bible states: "For the joy that was set before [Jesus] he endured a torture stake." (Hebrews 12:2) We can have similar joy by upholding Jehovah's sovereignty, honoring his holy name, and keeping the reward of everlasting life before us.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 4:16, 17)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

daily text 10/20

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
"Speak consolingly to the depressed souls, support the weak" (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

Many brothers spend hours each month preparing meeting parts. Their insightful words motivate all in the congregation to endure. (1 Timothy 5:17) Numerous brothers and sisters are known for their warmth and compassion toward fellow believers. (Romans 12:15) Some regularly visit those who are depressed and pray with them. Others thoughtfully write some heartfelt words of enouragement to fellow Christians who are coping with a trial. Still others kindly help those with physical limitations to attend the congregation meetings. Thousands of Witnesses share in relief work, helping fellow believers rebuild homes that have been struck by disasters. The tender affection and practical assistance rendered by such caring brothers and sisters are all manifestations of "God's undeserved kindness expressed in various ways."—1 Peter 4:10, 11.
(Watchtower issue: 1/15/09, 3:9)

I haven't seen all the notes from the annual meeting yet, but from what I have read, there were a few important points, (related to today's text), that stood out to me. What some of the Governing Body members expressed is exactly how I've been feeling lately, just from watching the news and seeing whats going on in the world. This definitely isn't the time to be complacent or 'doing our own thing' because there's alot of work to be done. And there's going to be alot more work ahead...especially in view of the fact that earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters aren't going away, but increasing. Chronic health problems and depression also seems to be increasing. So if we're not keeping up with Jehovah's organization, than we're not going to be prepared, and in a position to provide assistance & support to others in a practical and efficient manner.

Points from the 2010 Annual Meeting:
-They mentioned that the brothers and sisters in Haiti are being cared for, and that other relief organizations were amazed at how organized JW's were in caring for the needs of our brothers, while they were still trying to figure out how to get things done.

-Br Splane talked about "entering into God's rest." He explained that Israel as a nation was interested in doing their own works, which prevented them from entering into God's rest. So likewise, today, we need to do God's will and works if we want to enter into his "rest."

FYI- The passages at Hebrews 4:1-10 and Isaiah 58:6-14 are really good references on this point, if you have extra time to read them. Here's some excerpts:

(Hebrews 4:10) "For the man that has entered into [God’s] rest has also himself rested from his own works, just as God did from his own."

(Isaiah 58:13, 14) “If in view of the sabbath you will turn back your foot as regards doing your own delights...rather than doing your own ways, rather than finding what delights will in that case find your exquisite delight in Jehovah, and I will make you ride upon the high places of the earth."

-Br Morris talked on the subject "What Are We Waiting For?"...He talked about not getting caught up in trying to figure out when the end will come, or speculating and reading too much into current world events. He said we need to "close ranks" and avoid all "gaps" with our brothers. We especially need to draw close to the Governing Body and carefully follow its instructions.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

daily text 10/19

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
"The man is good who is gracious and is lending. He sustains his affairs with justice" (Psalm 112:5)

You have no doubt observed that people who give help to others are not always gracious. Some give in a patronizing or begrudging way. It is not pleasant to receive help from one who makes you feel inferior or who makes you feel that you are a nuisance or a burden. By contrast, how refreshing it is to receive help from someone who is gracious. Jehovah is the outstanding example of a gracious, happy Giver. (1 Timothy 1:11; James 1:5, 17) Jesus Christ perfectly reflected his Father's gracious example. (Mark 1:40-42) Thus, to be viewed by God as righteous, we give cheerfully and graciously, especially in field service when offering spiritual help to our neighbors. Additionally, to please God justice is required of all Christians in their dealings with one another and with unbelievers, including in business matters.—Micah 6:8, 11
(Watchtower issue: 3/15/09, 4:13, 14)

I was looking at the definitions of "graciousness" and it's interesting that the word "gracious" used to be synonymous with the word "godly"...showing how closely related that quality is associated with God. But here are some of the current definitions:

Gracious: kind, courteous, polite, merciful, compassionate, accomodating, amiable, pleasing
Graciousness: Courteous, kind, and pleasant, especially toward someone of lower social status

Monday, October 18, 2010

daily text 10/18

Monday, October 18th, 2010
"He that is covering over his transgressions will not succeed, but he that is confessing and leaving them will be shown mercy" (Proverbs 28:13)

Even as occurred when the apostles were still present, some fall into a practice of serious sin. If that happened with you, is the situation hopeless? Not necessarily. What can be done? Let us first consider what not to do. The human tendency is to conceal a wrong from the view of parents, fellow Christians, or elders. Those who seek to cover over sins make a tragic mistake, for there can be no concealing of anything from God. (Hebrews 4:13) Some even try to lead a double life, pretending to serve Jehovah while carrying on a course of sin. Such a life is devoid of integrity—it is, in fact, the very opposite of integrity. Jehovah is not pleased with acts of worship carried out by individuals who are concealing serious sins. On the contrary, such hypocrisy angers him.—Proverbs 21:27; Isaiah 1:11-16.
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 2:16)

There's also an additional aspect to this...
Covering up serious sin isn't just a *personal* matter, (even though some people like to think it's no ones business but their own), because when a person refuses to repent or admit to their sin by covering it up, they're putting themselves on trial against the value of Jesus' ransom itself, and they would actually "outrage" God's holy spirit, by treating Jesus' sacrifice with contempt.

(Hebrews 10:26-31)
"For if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left,...Any man that has disregarded the law of Moses dies without compassion, upon the testimony of two or three. Of how much more severe a punishment, do YOU think, will the man be counted worthy who has trampled upon the Son of God and who has esteemed as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt? For we know him that said: “Vengeance is mine; I will recompense”; and again: “Jehovah will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of [the] living God."

(1 John 1:8-10)
"If we make the statement: “We have no sin,” we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we make the statement: “We have not sinned,” we are making him a liar, and his word is not in us."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Shining As Illuminators in the City of Light

The following info and photos from (pgs 9-13 of the 8/15/01 Watchtower), are about our brothers & sisters in Paris, including some of their experiences as spiritual "light bearers," preaching to the local people.

Fluctuat nec mergitur, or “She is buffeted by the waves but she does not sink,” is the motto of the city of Paris.

Like a ship, over the past 2,000 years, Paris has braved countless foreign storms and internal mutinies to stay afloat. Now one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Paris is loved for its grandiose architecture, leafy boulevards, and world-famous museums. Some think of it as the haunt of poets, painters, and philosophers. Others savor its gastronomic delights and admire its haute couture.

Historically, Paris has been a bastion of Catholicism. Two hundred years ago, because of its crucial role in a European intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment, Paris came to be called the City of Light. Today, knowingly or not, most Parisians are more influenced by philosophy dating back to that period than by religion.
Man’s wisdom, however, has not illuminated people’s lives as expected. Many today are seeking enlightenment from a different source. For some 90 years now, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been “shining as illuminators” in Paris. (Philippians 2:15) Like deft mariners, they have had to adjust constantly to changing currents or events in order to take aboard “the desirable things of all the nations.”—Haggai 2:7.

(City Hall, Opera Garnier, and the Louvre)

A Challenging City
Back in 1850, Paris was a city of 600,000 inhabitants. The present-day population, including the suburbs, is well over nine million. Such growth has resulted in Paris becoming France’s most diversified city. It is a world center of higher education, has one of the world’s oldest universities, and is home to some 250,000 students. Some Parisian suburbs, having many high-rise housing blocks marked by delinquency and unemployment, represent Paris’ darker side. Undoubtedly, it takes skill and adaptability for Jehovah’s Witnesses to present the good news in an appealing manner to all sorts of people.—1 Timothy 4:10.

Over 20 million tourists visit Paris each year. They may excitedly go up the Eiffel Tower, stroll along the river Seine, or linger in sidewalk cafés and bistros, absorbing the ambience. Yet, the daily pace of life for Parisians can be quite hectic. “People are always rushing,” explains Christian, a full-time minister. “When they get back from work, they’re exhausted.” Talking to these busy people is not easy.

One of the biggest problems faced by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Paris, though, is contacting people in their homes. Some buildings are equipped with an intercom. With crime rising, however, apartment buildings often have coded entrances, and access is impossible. This no doubt contributes to the fact that in some areas, there is a ratio of only 1 Witness to 1,400 persons. Telephone witnessing and informal witnessing, therefore, are increasingly used. Have Jehovah’s Witnesses been able to let their “light shine” in other ways?—Matthew 5:16.

Opportunities and places for informal witnessing are abundant. Martine saw a woman who seemed distressed standing at a bus stop. The woman had just lost her only daughter. Martine gave her a brochure containing the Bible’s comforting resurrection hope. Then she had no contact with her for a few months. When Martine saw the lady again, she was able to start a Bible study with her. Despite opposition from her husband, the woman became a Witness.

Fruitful Informal Witnessing
Paris’ public transport system is one of the most efficient in the world. The celebrated Metro carries 5,000,000 passengers daily. Paris’ central underground station, Châtelet-Les-Halles, is said to be the world’s largest and busiest. Opportunities for meeting people there are numerous. Alexandra takes the Metro to work daily. One day she chatted with a young man who was terminally ill with leukemia. Alexandra gave him a tract about the Paradise hope. A Bible discussion was held at the same time and place each day for six weeks. Then one day the man stopped coming. Shortly thereafter, his wife telephoned Alexandra and told her to come to the hospital, as her husband was in a critical state. Sadly, Alexandra arrived too late. Following his death, the man’s wife moved to Bordeaux, in southwest France, where she was visited by local Witnesses. What wonderful news it was for Alexandra to hear one year later that the widow had become a baptized Christian Witness of Jehovah, with the hope of seeing her husband resurrected!—John 5:28, 29.

An elderly Christian woman spoke to Renata on a train traveling from Paris to Limoges, in the center of France. In her native Poland, Renata had studied theology, Hebrew, and Greek for five years, but she had lost faith. Three months before, she had prayed to God. Although not really interested in what the elderly sister had to say and not thinking she would hear from her again, Renata gave her her telephone number. The sister, however, was persistent and made sure that shortly afterward Renata received a visit. When a Witness couple came to see her, Renata thought, ‘What are they going to teach me?’ Despite her seminary training, Renata was humbly drawn by Bible truth. “I understood it was the truth straightaway,” she explains. Now she is happy to share the Bible’s message with others.

Michèle was taking driving lessons. Other students in her driving theory class started talking about sex before marriage. Michèle voiced her disapproval. One week later, the driving instructor, Sylvie, asked her: “Are you one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?” Sylvie was impressed by Michèle’s Bible-based viewpoint. A Bible study was started, and one year later Sylvie was baptized.

The numerous parks and gardens in Paris provide a beautiful backdrop for conversing with people. Taking advantage of a break, Josette went to the park, where an elderly lady, Aline, was taking a walk. Josette explained the marvelous promises to be found in the Bible. A Bible study was arranged, and Aline soon progressed to the point of baptism. Now, at the age of 74, Aline is a very productive regular pioneer minister, happy to share Christian truth with others.

Light for All the Nations
Witnesses in Paris do not need to sail to far-off lands to enjoy rich cultural diversity. Almost 20 percent of the population are foreign. There are Christian congregations and groups in some 25 different languages.
Flair and imagination often contribute to good results in this special evangelizing assignment. One Filipino Witness created her own special territory. While shopping, she has been able to start numerous Bible studies by striking up conversations with other Filipinos in stores.

It pays to take the initiative in preaching. In December 1996, upon learning that a world-famous circus was coming to town, Witnesses in one foreign-language congregation decided to try to contact the performers. One evening after the show, they were able to speak to the artists who were returning to their hotel. This initiative resulted in the placing of 28 Bibles, 59 Christian books, 131 brochures, and 290 magazines. At the end of the three-week stay, one of the acrobats asked: “How can I become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?” Another declared: “I’ll preach in my country!”

Hidden Treasures to Be Found
Wherever they look, visitors to Paris discover delightful architectural treasures from bygone eras. More precious things, however, are still waiting to be found. Aniza came to France along with her uncle, who is a diplomat. She regularly read the Bible at home. One day as she was leaving the house hurriedly, a pioneer gave her the tract Why You Can Trust the Bible. An appointment was made for the following week, and a Bible study was started. Aniza received a lot of family opposition. She progressed in her study to the point of baptism. How does she view the privilege she has to share the truth with others? “At first the preaching work was hard because I’m shy. Still, when I read the Bible, it galvanizes me. I can’t rest, doing nothing.” That attitude characterizes many Witnesses in Paris, who have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 15:58.

Bible truth also shines into the housing projects on Paris’ outskirts, revealing other “gems.” With a view to borrowing some recordings, Bruce went to visit his friend, who had just become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Finding his friend discussing the Bible with some of Bruce’s acquaintances, Bruce listened to the conversation. He accepted the offer of a Bible study but had some problems. “I was very well-known in the area. My oldest brother was always fighting, and I organized loud dance parties. How would others accept the fact that I was becoming a Witness?” Despite persistent requests to organize parties, Bruce stopped that activity. One month later he started preaching: “Everyone in the area wanted to know why I had become a Witness.” Soon afterward he got baptized. In time, he had the privilege of attending the Ministerial Training School.

Searching for treasures can take great effort. What joy, though, when the work pays off! Jacky, Bruno, and Damien were bakers in Paris. “It was impossible to contact us because we worked all the time and were never in,” explains Jacky. Patrick, a regular pioneer, saw that there were some small rooms at the top of a building, and he figured that at least one was occupied. His persistent efforts to reach the occupants reaped dividends when one afternoon he finally contacted Jacky, who was staying there temporarily. The result? The three friends became Witnesses and were able to find other work that allowed them to have a fuller share in theocratic activity.

Calming the Storm
Recently, some of the media in France have portrayed Jehovah’s Witnesses as a dangerous religious cult. In 1996, Witnesses wholeheartedly shared in the distribution of more than nine million copies of a special information tract entitled Jehovah’s Witnesses—What You Need to Know. Results were most positive.

A special effort was made to reach everyone. Many officials expressed their appreciation for the Witnesses. One municipal counselor wrote: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have done well to distribute this tract. It sets the record straight.” A doctor commented: “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time!” One man from the Paris area wrote: “I read Jehovah’s Witnesses—What You Need to Know by chance. I’d like to know more and take advantage of the offer of a free home Bible study.” Another wrote: “Thank you for your honesty.” One Catholic lady told the Witnesses: “Ah! You’ve finally responded to these lies!”

A special joy for many young Witnesses in the Paris area was the preaching campaign organized for the Catholic World Youth Days in 1997. Although the temperature was over 95 degrees Fahrenheit [35° C], about 2,500 Witnesses took part. In the space of just a few days, they left 18,000 copies of the brochure A Book for All People with youngsters from all parts of the globe. In addition to giving a fine witness to Jehovah’s name and sowing seeds of truth, the campaign galvanized the young Witnesses. One young sister, who cut short her vacation so as to have a full share in this special effort, wrote: “Jehovah has a happy people on earth who use their strength to praise his name. These two days, so full and rich, were truly worth all the vacations of a lifetime! (Psalm 84:10)”

February 28, 1998, marked the 65th anniversary of a decree issued by Hitler that resulted in the banning of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany. Witnesses in France used that date for public presentations in rented halls of the video Jehovah’s Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault, which details the persecution Jehovah’s people suffered. Over seven million invitations were distributed. Historians and former camp inmates gave moving testimonies. In the Paris area, almost 5,000 attended, including a significant number of non-Witnesses.

Many in Paris greatly appreciate spiritual light, and they are glad that Kingdom publishers are shining brightly as illuminators. It is as Jesus declared: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37) The determined spirit of Jehovah’s Witnesses in overcoming the challenges of preaching in the city has made Paris a City of Light in a special sense, to Jehovah’s praise.

daily text 10/17

Sunday, October 17th, 2010
"I shall . . . give you . . . as a light of the nations" (Isaiah 42:6)

During his earthly ministry, Jesus brought spiritual light primarily to the Jews. (Matthew 15:24; Acts 3:26) But Jesus stated: "I am the light of the world." (John 8:12) He became a light both to the Jews and to the nations not only by bringing spiritual enlightenment but also by offering his perfect human life as a ransom for all mankind. (Matthew 20:28) After his resurrection, he commissioned his disciples to be witnesses of him "to the most distant part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) During their ministry, Paul and Barnabas quoted the expression "light of the nations" and applied it to the preaching work they were accomplishing among non-Jews. (Acts 13:46-48; compare Isaiah 49:6) That work is still being pursued as Jesus' anointed brothers on earth and their companions spread spiritual light and help people to put faith in Jesus, the "light of the nations."
(Watchtower issue: 1/15/09, 4:11)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

daily text 10/16

Saturday, October 16th, 2010
"Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth" (Matthew 6:10)

In connection with this request in the model prayer, we should remember that the "kingdom" is the heavenly Messianic government in the hands of Christ and the resurrected "holy ones" associated with him. (Daniel 7:13, 14, 18; Isaiah 9:6, 7) Praying for it to "come" is a request that God's Kingdom come against all earthly opposers of divine rulership. That will soon occur, paving the way for a global paradise of righteousness, peace, and prosperity. (Psalm 72:1-15; Daniel 2:44; 2 Peter 3:13) Jehovah's will is being done in heaven, and asking that it take place on earth is a plea that God carry out his purposes toward our planet, including the removal of his opposers today as he did in ancient times.—Psalm 83:1, 2, 13-18.
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 3:13)

Martin Luther King Jr. made a profound statement related to nationalism and God's Messianic Kingdom, which is very different from what most religious leaders teach, and shows he understood what a terrible folly it is for men to believe that God favors one nation above another, or approves of men *taking it upon themselves* to dictate political policy or wage warfare against other nations in His name. He said:

"Don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as His divine, Messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgement, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America: 'You're too arrogant. If you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power'..."

Friday, October 15, 2010

daily text 10/15

Friday, October 15th, 2010
"See life with the wife whom you love all the days of your . . . life" (Ecclesiastes 9:9)

Marriage partners need to have realistic expectations. One mate might note certain idiosyncrasies in the other and think, 'I can change him (or her).' With love and patience, you may be able to help your mate to make gradual improvement. Do not forget, though, that Jesus likened one who picks at another's minor failings to someone who sees a "straw" in his brother's eye but fails to notice a "rafter" in his own eye. Jesus urged us: "Stop judging that you may not be judged." (Matthew 7:1-5) This does not mean that serious flaws should be ignored. Robert, married nearly 40 years, said: "Being open and frank with each other and then being willing to accept valid observations may require marriage partners to make changes in their life." So, rather than fretting over the attributes you would like to see in your mate, learn to appreciate and enjoy the positive qualities that he or she has now.
(Watchtower issue: 9/15/08, 3:16)

FYI - the latest study edition of the Watchtower (which was just uploaded to the website), has a good article on this topic: "Respect Marriage As a Gift From God" ...
I was pretty shocked to hear a comment on CNN awhile back, that said Facebook alone has contributed to about 1-in-5 marriages ending! (as a result of people having extra-marital affairs with someone they met online, or leaving their current marriage mate to be with someone they dated in the past). And that's just ONE social network!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

daily text 10/14

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
"God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering" (Hebrews 6:10)

In some parts of the world, numerous couples have decided to remain childless. Some do so for economic reasons; others do it because they want to be free to pursue a lucrative career. Among Christians, there are also couples who refrain from having children. However, they often do so to be freer to serve Jehovah. That does not mean that such couples do not enjoy a normal married life. They do. Still, they are willing to place Kingdom interests above some of the privileges that go with marriage. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5) Some of those couples serve Jehovah and their brothers in the circuit and district work or at Bethel. Others serve as pioneers or as missionaries. Jehovah will not forget their work and the love they show for his name.
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 4:13)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From Catholic to Black Panther to Black Muslim: Life Story of Virgil Dugué

This experience gives a first-hand account of a man who was told to "hate" his enemies, based on race and religion, but later learned to "love" ALL men without discrimination, after learning the truth about God and applying Jesus' words mentioned in today's text.

I Tried to Change the World
Life Story of Virgil Dugué

(pgs 21-24, of the 3/22/90 Awake!)

I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in June 1954. I was the 5th child of 11. My parents were devout Catholics and as such sent us to parochial school. I was an altar boy in church, got up early many mornings to go to Mass, and from a very early age aspired to become a Catholic priest and to serve God and man. So when I graduated from the eighth grade, I entered St. Augustine’s Divine Word Seminary in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Once there, I discovered that the priests were not as holy as I had thought. I saw lying, profanity, and drunkenness. One priest had homosexual interests. Another was visited frequently by the niece of another priest, and she later became pregnant with his baby. The solution to that was his transfer to another religious institution. Disillusionment set in, and my ambition to become a priest died, but my desire to serve God survived.

I lived in the seminary and worshiped there, but I attended a predominantly white high school. There I experienced racism. Not that I hadn’t been victimized before by discrimination in its many guises, especially those ever-present reminders of my “inferior status,” the signs by water fountains and rest rooms saying “White Only” and “Colored Only” and the racial slurs scrawled on buildings, such as “No niggers allowed.”

But in high school, it was on a more personal level. The derogatory name-calling, the endless stream of racial jokes, the favoritism shown white students, the discrimination against blacks—it left me bitter. Some of the outnumbered black students felt it necessary to carry knives or razors, just in case. I became involved in activist issues, such as leading boycotts.

‘How Can People Do This to People?’
In my 11th year in high school, I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I became totally absorbed in that book. At night, after lights were to be turned off, I took the book to bed and with a flashlight read it under the blankets. I also read books about the African slave trade. I had books with diagrams describing the slave ships, showing how blacks were packed in like sardines; when one of them would die, he would just be thrown overboard to be eaten by the sharks that followed those ships. Such things were burned into my memory. Asleep at night, I’d see those things happening to people and wonder, ‘How can people do this to people?’ I built up a hatred for white people.

By the time I was in college and the Black Panthers came on campus, I was ripe for them. They believed that power came from the barrel of a gun and that there had to be bloodshed in America between the races. I shared their view. They wanted me to join their ranks, but I didn’t. I sold their Black Panther newspaper, I did drugs with them, but I could not share their atheism. I still believed in God, though disillusioned with Catholicism because of the immorality and hypocrisy of the priests in the seminary. It was at this time that I seriously considered committing suicide by jumping off the Mississippi River bridge.

Shortly after that, a Black Muslim came on campus, selling the newspaper Muhammad Speaks. We talked about the plight of the black man, and I began going to Black Muslim meetings. They hated white people—they were the ones that introduced me to the idea that the white man was the Devil. No, not that he is just devilish, or diabolic, but that he is, in fact, the Devil—which explained why the whites committed such atrocities against the black people. What did they do to the American Indian and to blacks in the slave trade? Killed millions, that’s what!

Surely Not All Could Be Devils
So I became a Black Muslim. I renounced my last name, Dugué being French, and I substituted an X. I became Virgil X. As a Black Muslim, I was very zealous in selling their newspaper and in other activities. I felt that this was the right way to serve God. But after a period of time with the Black Muslims, I started to question some of their teachings, some of their practices—even the idea that the white man was the Devil.

True, I had had bad experiences with whites in my life, but were all of them categorically devils? I thought about the white basketball coach who was sympathetic toward blacks. Then there was a young white lawyer who represented me in a discrimination case against the New Orleans School Board. There were other decent whites I had known in my lifetime—surely not all could be devils.

Also, I reflected on the resurrection. The Black Muslims taught that when you die, you’re finished—that was it! But I reasoned, ‘If God could create man from dust, surely he can resurrect him from the grave.’ Then there is the financial aspect of the Black Muslims. I was selling 300 Muhammad Speaks newspapers a week, 1,200 a month, bringing the money to them. The dues we had to pay. So much of the preaching revolved around money. I was getting about four hours of sleep a night. I was devoting my entire life to the Black Muslims. And now doubts were growing in my mind about some of their teachings. All of that was going around in my head, was weighing on my mind.

One day in December 1974 at my secular job at a community center, all these thoughts began racing back and forth through my mind. It was a feeling I’d never had before. I thought I was going out of my mind. I had to get out fast before something bad happened. I had to have some breathing room, some time to reflect on where my life was taking me. I told those at the center that I had to leave for the day. I gave them no explanation.

I Begged God to Show Me the Truth
I left work and hurried home. I got down on my knees and prayed to God. I prayed for the truth. For the first time, I begged God to show me the truth, show me the organization that had it. Previously I had prayed for a way to help black people, for the right racist organization that hated whites. But now I just prayed for the truth, whatever it was, wherever it was. “If you are Allah, help me. If you are not Allah, whoever you are, please help me. Help me find the truth.”

By this time I was again using my proper name, Virgil Dugué. I was still living with my mother and father in New Orleans. When I awakened the next day after my fervently praying to God, I found a Watchtower magazine in the house. I don’t know how it got there. It was unusual because I had never seen any literature from Jehovah’s Witnesses in the house before. I asked if any in the family knew where it came from. Nobody did. It must have been slipped under the door.

It was the December 15, 1974, issue. On the cover there was a picture of Mary and Joseph and of Jesus in the manger—white people! And the question: “Is This the Way to Honor Jesus Christ?” I thought, ‘They are going to answer yes and say you should worship Jesus.’ If it had been any other issue of the magazine, I would probably have tossed it aside. But I opened it up and scanned the first article and realized that they were saying that Jesus is not God and that you should not worship Jesus. To me that was a revelation! I had thought that all the sects of Christendom worshiped Jesus and that all of them thought that Jesus was God.

But I knew from being a Black Muslim that Jesus was not God. They read many scriptures showing that Jesus was not God, including the one at John 14:28: “The Father is greater than I am.” They taught that Jesus was a prophet, and Elijah Muhammad, a leader of the Black Muslims, was supposed to be the last prophet. So I knew Jesus was not God, and when I read that in this article, it was as if I had thrown off weights. By the time I got to the end of the article, I sat there speechless. I did not know what to think. I wasn’t convinced that this was the truth. But for the first time, I realized that not all so-called Christian religions celebrated Christmas or other pagan holidays. And since I had prayed for the truth, I thought, ‘Could this be it? Is this the answer to my prayer?’

In the phone book, I looked up all the so-called Christian churches. I called them and simply asked, “Do you celebrate Christmas?” They would say yes, and I would hang up. Finally I was left with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Could this be an answer to my prayer? I had never listened to them. Perhaps it was time I did. I telephoned their Kingdom Hall. It was a white man who answered. He wanted to come to my home to study the Bible with me. But I was cautious. I said no. He was white; he could still be the devil.

I Asked Questions, I Got Answers
So we talked over the telephone. For the first time in my life, I felt satisfied. I called him daily, asked more questions, got more answers. He gave me proof. He backed up what he said with scriptures from the Bible. I was impressed. It was the first time anyone had used the Bible to answer my questions. A ray of hope began to dawn inside me. I got a New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures that had a small concordance in the back. I pored over it and learned many more truths.

A month later, I moved to Dallas, Texas. After I got settled, I called the local Kingdom Hall. The one who answered picked me up and took me to a meeting at the hall. There I was introduced to a Witness who agreed to study with me. I went to his home for the study. I felt spiritually starved, so we studied three times a week, several hours each study. His name was Curtis. I would be waiting on his doorstep when he came home from work. He was so patient with me. I did not realize that the home Bible studies were usually conducted once a week and for only one hour, and Curtis never told me. He started studying with me in January or February of 1975; we finished The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life book in May of that year.

Soon after, I returned to New Orleans, associated with the Witnesses at the Kingdom Hall, and began going from house to house, publishing the good news of the Kingdom. I felt that since I had been so zealous as a Black Muslim, spending 100 or 150 hours a month selling Muhammad Speaks newspapers and getting only four hours sleep, I had to be zealous as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. So besides my studying, I preached and conducted many Bible studies in the homes of others. In fact, I recall that on one Service Meeting program, the chairman asked me:

“How much time did you put in field service last month?”
“About a hundred hours.”
“How many Bible studies are you conducting?”
There were whispers throughout the audience at these high figures, but I wondered, ‘Did I say something wrong? Am I not doing enough?’

My Aspirations Fulfilled
I progressed to the point of dedication and got baptized on December 21, 1975. The following year Jehovah blessed me with a wonderful wife, Brenda. In fact, I first met Brenda the day I got baptized. She was a full-time publisher of the Kingdom then and continued to be one after we were married. Two years later, in 1978, I started full-time publishing with her. Two years after that, in 1980, Brenda and I were invited to become members of the Bethel Family in Brooklyn, New York, the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We are still serving Jehovah there.

When I look back on my life, I think of my young years when I aspired to be a Catholic priest and serve God and man. I reflect on my search for purpose, first with the Black Panthers and then with the Black Muslims, and I remember the days of disillusionment with these movements, just as disillusionment had come earlier with the priesthood. But through it all, my faith in God never faltered. I thank Jehovah that he rescued me from false religious and political starts and put me on the road to truth and life.

Finally, my youthful aspirations to serve God and man have been fulfilled!—As told by Virgil Dugué.

daily text 10/13

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
"Continue to love your enemies, to do good to those hating you, to bless those cursing you, to pray for those who are insulting you" (Luke 6:27, 28)

The common Jewish greeting included the word "peace." (Judges 19:20; John 20:19) This was an implied wish for the health, welfare, and prosperity of the person greeted. It would not be an "extraordinary thing" if we were to greet only those whom we consider to be our "brothers." As Jesus pointed out, something similar was done by "people of the nations." (Matthew 5:46, 47) Inherited sin made it impossible for Christ's disciples to be flawless, perfect. (Romans 5:12) Yet, Jesus said: "You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) He was thereby encouraging his listeners to imitate their "heavenly Father," Jehovah, by perfecting their love—making it complete by loving their enemies. The same thing is expected of us.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 2:4, 7, 8)

Trapped Miners in Chile Getting Rescued After 69 Days...

Here's the latest info on the Chile mine rescue efforts, which started last night, and is currently still in progress...
CNN: Chile Mine Rescue

One of the miners, Samuel Avalos, is a Witness, and thanked Jehovah for being alive in a letter written to his family at the beginning of the ordeal. Here's a blog entry with a photo of him, posted by another JW back in August.
Trapped Chilean Miner Grateful To Jehovah

On CNN they gave a collective quote in behalf of the 33 miners, who said, that there were really 34 people down in the mine, (not 33), because they felt God never left them. And now that I know more about the religious backrounds of the men trapped for 69 days together, I bet there were some very *lively* discussions that took place! One of the miners actually requested to have crucifixes and statues of Mary & other saints sent down so he could make a shrine!
(I hate to burst his spiritual bubble, but when you're praying for God to rescue you out of a life or death situation, that's definitely not the best time to be violating his clear prohibition on idolatry!) lol.

Speaking of other religions...apparently a few different religious groups or leaders, are *angling* for the media spotlight already, and claiming credit for the miraculous rescue:
Chilean Miners: Rival Churches Claim Credit for the Miracle

Did anyone else have a "deja-vu" moment while watching the rescue efforts, after reading the new Jeremiah book? (which was just released at our last district convention). I wonder if the brother trapped in the mine had gotten the opportunity to read it,...because I bet he can *really* relate to what Jeremiah went through when he was trapped in the miry cistern, and about to die, but was saved by Ebed-melech and his 'rescue team' just in the nick of time.

Look at this illustration from pg 63 of the new book...even the size of the cistern that Jeremiah is being rescued out of looks like the size of the opening in the ground that the miners are being rescued out of. They should have named the rescue capsules "Ebed-melech" or "Jeremiah" instead of "Phoenix"! =) lol

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

daily text 10/12

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
"I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow" (1 Corinthians 9:27)

In order to preserve his life, a person is likely to be willing to have a limb surgically amputated. The figurative 'throwing away' of the eye and the hand is vital for us to avoid immoral thinking and actions that can cost us our spiritual life. (Matthew 5:29, 30) Keeping mentally, morally, and spiritually clean is the only way to escape the everlasting destruction symbolized by Gehenna. Because of inherited sin and imperfection, maintaining moral cleanness requires effort. Let us therefore be determined to apply Jesus' counsel on morality, never allowing ourselves to act in ways that show a lack of gratitude for his ransom sacrifice.—Matthew 20:28; Hebrews 6:4-6.
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 2:13, 14)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Joyous & Thankful Despite Heartbreaking Loss: Life Story of Nancy E. Porter

Joyous and Thankful Despite Heartbreaking Loss
Life Story of Nancy E. Porter

(pgs 23-27 of the 6/1/01 WA)

It was June 5, 1947, a warm evening in the Bahamas, islands off the southeast coast of the United States. An immigration officer paid me and my husband, George, an unexpected visit. He handed us a letter that said that our presence in the islands was no longer welcome and that we were “to leave the colony forthwith!”

George and I were the first missionaries of Jehovah’s Witnesses to come to Nassau, the largest city in the Bahamas. Upon graduating from the eighth class of Gilead, a missionary school in upstate New York, we were assigned here. What had we done to bring about such a strong reaction after only a three-month stay? And how is it that well over 50 years later, I am still here?

Training for the Ministry
My father, Harry Kilner, was a strong influence on the way my life has turned out. He set an excellent example for me, making many sacrifices to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Though his health was not the best, he went preaching nearly every weekend, zealously putting Kingdom interests first. (Matthew 6:33) We were very limited financially, but his shoe shop was a center of spiritual activity in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, in the 1930’s. My earliest memories are of full-time ministers of Jehovah’s Witnesses, called pioneers, visiting our home and sharing experiences.

(Nancy in street work, in Victoria, B.C., 1944)

In 1943, I began my pioneer service near Fort Macleod and Claresholm, Alberta. By then our preaching work was banned in Canada as a result of misrepresentation by opposers during World War II. Our territory stretched 30 miles [50 km] in opposite directions, but being young and energetic, we thought nothing of riding bicycles or walking to reach the small communities and farms in the area. During this time, I had the opportunity to visit with some graduates of Gilead, and their experiences stirred within me the desire to become a missionary.

In 1945, I married George Porter, who was from Saskatchewan, Canada. His parents had been zealous Witnesses since 1916, and he too had chosen the full-time ministry as his career. Our first assignment was beautiful Lynn Valley in North Vancouver, Canada. Not long afterward we were invited to Gilead.

I have spoken with graduates of various theological seminaries over the years and have seen how their theological training eroded their faith in God and in his Word, the Bible. In contrast, what we learned at Gilead sharpened our ability to think and above all strengthened our faith in Jehovah God and his Word. Our classmates were assigned to China, Singapore, India, countries in Africa, South America, and elsewhere. I can still remember the excitement when we learned that our assignment was the tropical islands of the Bahamas.

How We Were Able to Stay
Compared with trips taken by fellow classmates, our journey to the Bahamas was short. Before long we were enjoying the warm weather, the blue skies, the turquoise water, the pastel buildings, and the countless bicycles. My deepest early impressions, however, are of the small band of five Witnesses who awaited us when our boat arrived. We soon learned that the culture here was vastly different from what we were used to. My husband, for example, was asked to desist from calling me sweetheart in public, since that expression is usually reserved for an extramarital relationship.

Shortly the clergy, apparently feeling threatened by our moving freely among the people, falsely accused us of being Communists. As a result, we received the order to leave the country. But the Witnesses—there were fewer than 20 in the islands in those days—immediately obtained thousands of signatures on a petition that we be permitted to stay. Thus, the expulsion order was overturned.

To a New Territory
Bible truth sprouted rapidly in hearts that loved God, so more Gilead missionaries were sent to the Bahamas. Then, in 1950, a branch office was established. Ten years later, Milton Henschel, a member of the headquarters staff in Brooklyn, New York, visited the Bahamas and asked the missionaries if anyone was willing to go and open up the preaching work on another island of the Bahamas. George and I volunteered, and thus began what turned out to be an 11-year stay on Long Island.

This island, one of the many that make up the Bahamas, is 90 miles [140 km] long and 4 miles [6 km] wide, and back then, it had no real towns. The capital, Clarence Town, had about 50 homes. Life was quite primitive—no electricity, running water, or indoor cooking or plumbing. So we had to adjust to so-called out-island life. Here people’s health was a favorite topic of conversation. We learned not to include in our greeting the question, “How are you doing today?” since the answer would often be a lengthy account of a person’s complete medical history.

Most of our witnessing was done from kitchen to kitchen because people could usually be found in their outdoor kitchen with its thatched roof and wood-burning hearth. The communities were mainly made up of poor but very kind farmers or fishermen. Most of them were not only religious but also very superstitious. Unusual occurrences were commonly interpreted as signs.

The clergy thought nothing of walking into people’s homes uninvited and tearing up the Bible literature that we had left there. They would thus frighten timid ones, but not everyone cowered before them. For example, a spunky 70-year-old woman refused to be bullied. She wanted to understand the Bible for herself, and eventually she became a Witness along with a number of others. As we found more interest among the people, George had to drive 200 miles [300 km] some Sundays, helping such ones to attend our meetings.

During the early months when there were no other Witnesses, George and I maintained our spirituality by holding all the regular Christian meetings. In addition, we followed a diligent program every Monday night of studying the lesson in the Watchtower magazine and doing our Bible reading. We also read all issues of The Watchtower and Awake! as soon as we received them.

My father died while we were on Long Island. The following summer, 1963, we arranged for Mother to come and live adjacent to us. Though she was advanced in years, she adjusted reasonably well and lived on Long Island until her death in 1971. Today, Long Island has a congregation with a brand-new Kingdom Hall.

A Heartbreaking Challenge
In 1980, George discerned that his health was beginning to deteriorate. Thus began one of the most painful experiences of my life—watching my beloved husband, coworker, and companion succumb to Alzheimer’s disease. His whole personality changed. The final and most devastating part lasted for about four years prior to his death in 1987. He accompanied me in the ministry and to the meetings as long as he could, although many days the effort left me in tears. The outpouring of love from our Christian brothers has been genuinely comforting, but I still miss him very much.

One of the most precious aspects of my marriage to George was our frequent and pleasant communication. Now that George is gone, I am more grateful than ever that Jehovah invites his servants to “pray incessantly,” to “persevere in prayer,” and to make use of “every form of prayer.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18) It is so comforting to know that Jehovah is concerned about our welfare. I truly feel like the psalmist who sang: “Blessed be Jehovah, who daily carries the load for us.” (Psalm 68:19) Taking one day at a time, accepting my limitations, and being thankful for the blessings each day brings, just as Jesus advised, is indeed the best way to live.—Matthew 6:34.

Joyous Rewards of the Ministry
Keeping busy in the Christian ministry has helped me not to dwell excessively on the past. Thus I am able to overcome the kind of emotions that can lead to depression. Teaching others Bible truth has been a special source of joy. It provides an orderly spiritual routine that has given structure and stability to my life.—Philippians 3:16.

Once, I received a call from a lady with whom I shared the Kingdom message some 47 years earlier. She was the daughter of one of the first Bible students we had when we arrived in the Bahamas in 1947. Her mother, father, and all of her brothers and sisters became Jehovah’s Witnesses as did most of their children and grandchildren. In fact, more than 60 members of this woman’s family are Witnesses. But she never accepted Bible truth herself. Now, though, she was finally ready to become a servant of Jehovah God. What a joy it has been to observe the handful of Witnesses who were in the Bahamas when George and I arrived increasing to over 1,400!

Sometimes people ask me if I miss not having had children of my own. Of course, having children can be a blessing. Yet, the love that is constantly shown to me by my spiritual children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren is something probably not experienced by all biological parents. Truly, those who “work at good” and are “rich in fine works” are the happiest people. (1 Timothy 6:18) That is why I keep as busy in the ministry as my health permits.

One day at the dentist’s office, a young woman approached me and said, “You don’t know me, but I know you, and I just want to let you know that I love you.” She then went on to relate how she had come to know the truth from the Bible and how grateful she was that we missionaries had come to the Bahamas.

On another occasion when I returned from vacation, I found a single rose in the door where I now live at the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nassau. It had a note, “It’s good to have you home.” My heart overflows with thankfulness, and it makes me love Jehovah so much when I see the kind of people his Word, organization, and spirit have produced! Truly, Jehovah’s sustaining hand is often expressed through those around us.

Overflowing With Thankfulness
My life has not always been easy, nor are aspects of it easy now. But I have so much for which to be thankful—the joys of the ministry, the love and affection of so many Christian brothers and sisters, the loving care of Jehovah’s organization, the beautiful truths from the Bible, the hope of being with loved ones when they are resurrected, and the memories of 42 years of marriage to a faithful servant of Jehovah. Before we were married, I had prayed that I might always be a help to my husband to remain in the full-time ministry, which he loved so much. Jehovah graciously answered that prayer. So I want to express my thankfulness to Jehovah by always being faithful to him.

The Bahamas are a popular destination for tourists, who spend thousands of dollars to come and enjoy the tropical delights. Having made the choice to serve Jehovah wherever his organization directs, I have had the joyful experience of traveling from one end of these islands to the other, proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom. But more important, I have come to know and to treasure the love of the finest of the friendly Bahamians.

I am so thankful to those who brought the truth to my parents, who in turn implanted in my young mind and heart a keen desire to seek first God’s Kingdom. Young servants of Jehovah today can likewise receive many blessings if they enter the “large door” that leads to grand opportunities of an expanded ministry. (1 Corinthians 16:9) You too will overflow with thankfulness if you use your life to honor “the God of gods,” Jehovah.—Deuteronomy 10:17; Daniel 2:47.