Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Memorial Bible Reading (Events on Nisan 14)

The following illustrations, of events on Nisan 14, are from: (chapters 123 & 127 of The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, and pg 67 of Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life)

Memorial Bible reading:
(Events on Nisan 14)

John 19:1-42
At that time, therefore, Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him with a purple outer garment; and they began coming up to him and saying: “Good day, you King of the Jews!” Also, they would give him slaps in the face. And Pilate went outside again and said to them: “See! I bring him outside to YOU in order for YOU to know I find no fault in him.” Accordingly Jesus came outside, wearing the thorny crown and the purple outer garment. And he said to them: “Look! The man!” However, when the chief priests and the officers saw him, they shouted, saying: “Impale [him]! Impale [him]!” Pilate said to them: “Take him yourselves and impale him, for I do not find any fault in him.” The Jews answered him: “We have a law, and according to the law he ought to die, because he made himself God’s son.”

When, therefore, Pilate heard this saying, he became more fearful; and he entered into the governor’s palace again and said to Jesus: “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Hence Pilate said to him: “Are you not speaking to me? Do you not know I have authority to release you and I have authority to impale you?” Jesus answered him: “You would have no authority at all against me unless it had been granted to you from above. This is why the man that handed me over to you has greater sin.”

For this reason Pilate kept on seeking how to release him. But the Jews shouted, saying: “If you release this [man], you are not a friend of Caesar. Every man making himself a king speaks against Caesar.” Therefore Pilate, after hearing these words, brought Jesus outside, and he sat down on a judgment seat in a place called The Stone Pavement, but, in Hebrew, Gab′ba·tha. Now it was preparation of the passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews: “See! YOUR king!” However, they shouted: “Take [him] away! Take [him] away! Impale him!” Pilate said to them: “Shall I impale YOUR king?” The chief priests answered: “We have no king but Caesar.” At that time, therefore, he handed him over to them to be impaled.

...Then they took charge of Jesus. And, bearing the torture stake for himself, he went out to the so-called Skull Place, which is called Gol′go·tha in Hebrew; and there they impaled him, and two other [men] with him, one on this side and one on that, but Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote a title also and put it on the torture stake. It was written: “Jesus the Naz·a·rene′ the King of the Jews.” Therefore many of the Jews read this title, because the place where Jesus was impaled was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, in Greek. However, the chief priests of the Jews began to say to Pilate: “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered: “What I have written I have written.”

Now when the soldiers had impaled Jesus, they took his outer garments and made four parts, for each soldier a part, and the inner garment. But the inner garment was without a seam, being woven from the top throughout its length. Therefore they said to one another: “Let us not tear it, but let us determine by lots over it whose it will be.” This was that the scripture might be fulfilled: “They apportioned my outer garments among themselves, and upon my apparel they cast lots.” And so the soldiers really did these things.

By the torture stake of Jesus, however, there were standing his mother and the sister of his mother; Mary the wife of Clo′pas, and Mary Mag′da·lene. Therefore Jesus, seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing by, said to his mother: “Woman, see! Your son!” Next he said to the disciple: “See! Your mother!” And from that hour on the disciple took her to his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that by now all things had been accomplished, in order that the scripture might be accomplished he said: “I am thirsty.” A vessel was sitting there full of sour wine. Therefore they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a hyssop [stalk] and brought it to his mouth. When, now, he had received the sour wine, Jesus said: “It has been accomplished!” and, bowing his head, he delivered up [his] spirit.

Then the Jews, since it was Preparation, in order that the bodies might not remain upon the torture stakes on the Sabbath, (for the day of that Sabbath was a great one,) requested Pilate to have their legs broken and the [bodies] taken away. The soldiers came, therefore, and broke the legs of the first [man] and those of the other [man] that had been impaled with him. But on coming to Jesus, as they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Yet one of the soldiers jabbed his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he that has seen [it] has borne witness, and his witness is true, and that man knows he tells true things, in order that YOU also may believe. In fact, these things took place in order for the scripture to be fulfilled: “Not a bone of his will be crushed.” And, again, a different scripture says: “They will look to the One whom they pierced.”

Now after these things Joseph from Ar·i·ma·the′a, who was a disciple of Jesus but a secret one out of [his] fear of the Jews, requested Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. Therefore he came and took his body away. Nic·o·de′mus also, the man that came to him in the night the first time, came bringing a roll of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds [of it]. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it up with bandages with the spices, just the way the Jews have the custom of preparing for burial. Incidentally, at the place where he was impaled there was a garden, and in the garden a new memorial tomb, in which no one had ever yet been laid. There, then, on account of the preparation of the Jews, they laid Jesus, because the memorial tomb was nearby.

daily text 3/31

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010
"You are the light of the world." (Matthew 5:14)

Jesus told his disciples that they were “the light of the world” and urged them to let their light shine so that people might see their “fine works,” or good deeds to others. This would result in spiritual illumination “before men,” or for the benefit of mankind. (Matthew 5:16) Today, we let our light shine by doing good to our neighbors and by sharing in the work of preaching the good news “in all the world,” that is, “in all the nations.” (Matthew 26:13; Mark 13:10) What a privilege we enjoy! Jesus did not want his disciples to hide their spiritual light under a figurative measuring basket. (Matthew 5:15) So we must let our light shine, never permitting opposition or persecution to make us hide Scriptural truth or keep it to ourselves.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 1:12, 14)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Memorial Bible Reading (Events on Nisan 13 & 14)

The following illustrations, of events on Nisan 13 & 14, are from: (chapters 112, 113, 114, and 116 of The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived)
FYI - Our congregation has the earlier Memorial at 6:30 tonight, so I'll post the concluding events of Nisan 14 afterward.

Memorial Bible reading:
(Events on Nisan 13 and 14)
Matthew 26:17-19;
Mark 14:12-16;
Luke 22:7-13;
John 13:1-5; 14:1-3

Matthew 26:17-19
On the first day of the unfermented cakes the disciples came up to Jesus, saying: “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the passover?” He said: “Go into the city to So-and-so and say to him, The Teacher says, ‘My appointed time is near; I will celebrate the passover with my disciples at your home.’” And the disciples did as Jesus ordered them, and they got things ready for the passover.

Mark 14:12-16
Now on the first day of unfermented cakes, when they customarily sacrificed the passover [victim], his disciples said to him: “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the passover?” With that he sent forth two of his disciples and said to them: “Go into the city, and a man carrying an earthenware vessel of water will encounter YOU. Follow him, and wherever he goes inside say to the householder, ‘The Teacher says: “Where is the guest room for me where I may eat the passover with my disciples?”’ And he will show YOU a large upper room, furnished in preparation; and there prepare for us.” So the disciples went out, and they entered the city and found it just as he said to them; and they prepared for the passover.

Luke 22:7-13
The day of the unfermented cakes now arrived, on which the passover [victim] must be sacrificed; and he dispatched Peter and John, saying: “Go and get the passover ready for us to eat.” They said to him: “Where do you want us to get [it] ready?” He said to them: “Look! When YOU enter into the city a man carrying an earthenware vessel of water will meet YOU. Follow him into the house into which he enters. And YOU must say to the landlord of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you: “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the passover with my disciples?”’ And that [man] will show YOU a large upper room furnished. Get [it] ready there.” So they departed and found it just as he had said to them, and they got the passover ready.

John 13:1-5
Now, because he knew before the festival of the passover that his hour had come for him to move out of this world to the Father, Jesus, having loved his own that were in the world, loved them to the end. So, while the evening meal was going on, the Devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Is·car′i·ot, the son of Simon, to betray him, he, knowing that the Father had given all things into [his] hands and that he came forth from God and was going to God, got up from the evening meal and laid aside his outer garments. And, taking a towel, he girded himself. After that he put water into a basin and started to wash the feet of the disciples and to dry them off with the towel with which he was girded.

John 14:1-3
“Do not let YOUR hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me. In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told YOU, because I am going my way to prepare a place for YOU. Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for YOU, I am coming again and will receive YOU home to myself, that where I am YOU also may be.

daily text 3/30

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
*Memorial Date* (After Sundown)
"Continue to love your enemies." (Matthew 5:44)

Why show love for our enemies? “That you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens,” said Jesus. (Matthew 5:45) If we heed that counsel, we become “sons” of God in that we imitate Jehovah, who “makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.” Stressing how important it was for his disciples to ‘continue loving their enemies,’ Jesus said: “If you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing? And if you greet your brothers only, what extraordinary thing are you doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the same thing?” (Matthew 5:46, 47) If we were to limit our love to those who reciprocate, this would not merit any “reward,” or favor, from God.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 2:4-6)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Memorial Bible Reading (Events on Nisan 12)

the following illustration, of events on Nisan 12, are from: (chapter 112 of The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived)

(Judas Iscariot conspires to betray Jesus to the religious leaders)

Memorial Bible Reading:
(Events on Nisan 12)
Matthew 26:1-5, 14-16;
Luke 22:1-6

Matthew 26:1-5, 14-16
Now when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples: “YOU know that two days from now the passover occurs, and the Son of man is to be delivered up to be impaled.” Then the chief priests and the older men of the people gathered together in the courtyard of the high priest who was called Ca′ia·phas, and took counsel together to seize Jesus by crafty device and kill him. However, they kept saying: “Not at the festival, in order that no uproar may arise among the people.” ...
Then one of the twelve, the one called Judas Is·car′i·ot, went to the chief priests and said: “What will YOU give me to betray him to YOU?” They stipulated to him thirty silver pieces. So from then on he kept seeking a good opportunity to betray him.

Luke 22:1-6
Now the festival of the unfermented cakes, the so-called Passover, was getting near. Also, the chief priests and the scribes were seeking the effective way for them to get rid of him, for they were in fear of the people. But Satan entered into Judas, the one called Is·car′i·ot, who was numbered among the twelve; and he went off and talked with the chief priests and [temple] captains about the effective way to betray him to them. Well, they rejoiced and agreed to give him silver money. So he consented, and he began to seek a good opportunity to betray him to them without a crowd around.

*extra info*
from chapter 112 of the 'Greatest Man' book:

Jesus apparently spends the following day, Wednesday, Nisan 12, in quiet retirement with his apostles. On the day before, he had rebuked the religious leaders publicly, and he realizes that they are seeking to kill him. So on Wednesday he does not openly show himself, since he does not want anything to interfere with his celebrating the Passover with his apostles the following evening.
In the meantime, the chief priests and the older men of the people have gathered in the courtyard of the high priest, Caiaphas. Smarting from Jesus’ attack the previous day, they are making plans to seize him by crafty device and have him put to death. Yet they keep saying: “Not at the festival, in order that no uproar may arise among the people.” They are in fear of the people, whose favor Jesus enjoys.
While the religious leaders are wickedly conspiring to kill Jesus, they receive a visitor. To their surprise, it is one of Jesus’ own apostles, Judas Iscariot, the one into whom Satan has implanted the base idea of betraying his Master! How pleased they are when Judas inquires: “What will you give me to betray him to you?” They gladly agree to pay him 30 silver pieces, the price of a slave according to the Mosaic Law covenant. From then on, Judas seeks a good opportunity to betray Jesus to them without a crowd around.

daily text 3/29

Monday, March 29th, 2010
"I request you . . . to watch over them because of the wicked one." (John 17:15)

When Jesus gave his disciples the assignment to preach the good news worldwide, he knew that he was sending them into a hazardous environment, one dominated by Satan and the spirit of the world. (Matthew 10:16; 1 John 5:19) So concerned was Jesus about his disciples that on the night before he died, he prayed to his Father saying the words above. Jesus warned his followers about the danger of what could amount to a death-dealing spiritual sleep. He urged his disciples: “Keep awake . . . that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:34-36) Happily, though, Jesus also promised that his Father would provide holy spirit to refresh their memories and to help them stay awake and be strong.—John 14:26.
(Watchtower issue: 9/15/08, 4:2, 3)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Memorial Bible Reading (Events on Nisan 11)

I'm a whole Nisan day behind! (sorry) The following illustrations are from (chapters 110 & 111 of The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived)

(Jesus foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem, and advising his disciples to "keep on the watch" for the sign of his presence, and of the "Last Days")

(Jesus pointing out to his disciples the needy widow at the temple who gave all she had)

Memorial Bible reading:
(Events on Nisan 11)

Luke 21:1-36
Now as he looked up he saw the rich dropping their gifts into the treasury chests. Then he saw a certain needy widow drop two small coins of very little value there, and he said: “I tell YOU truthfully, This widow, although poor, dropped in more than they all did. For all these dropped in gifts out of their surplus, but this [woman] out of her want dropped in all the means of living she had.”

Later, as certain ones were speaking concerning the temple, how it was adorned with fine stones and dedicated things, he said: “As for these things that YOU are beholding, the days will come in which not a stone upon a stone will be left here and not be thrown down.” Then they questioned him, saying: “Teacher, when will these things actually be, and what will be the sign when these things are destined to occur?” He said: “Look out that YOU are not misled; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The due time has approached.’ Do not go after them. Furthermore, when YOU hear of wars and disorders, do not be terrified. For these things must occur first, but the end does not [occur] immediately.”

Then he went on to say to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages; and there will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs. “But before all these things people will lay their hands upon YOU and persecute YOU, delivering YOU up to the synagogues and prisons, YOU being haled before kings and governors for the sake of my name. It will turn out to YOU for a witness. Therefore settle it in YOUR hearts not to rehearse beforehand how to make YOUR defense, for I will give YOU a mouth and wisdom, which all YOUR opposers together will not be able to resist or dispute. Moreover, YOU will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of YOU to death; and YOU will be objects of hatred by all people because of my name. And yet not a hair of YOUR heads will by any means perish. By endurance on YOUR part YOU will acquire YOUR souls.

“Furthermore, when YOU see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Ju·de′a begin fleeing to the mountains, and let those in the midst of her withdraw, and let those in the country places not enter into her; because these are days for meting out justice, that all the things written may be fulfilled. Woe to the pregnant women and the ones suckling a baby in those days! For there will be great necessity upon the land and wrath on this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.

“Also, there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and [its] agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But as these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift YOUR heads up, because YOUR deliverance is getting near.”

With that he spoke an illustration to them: “Note the fig tree and all the other trees: When they are already in the bud, by observing it YOU know for yourselves that now the summer is near. In this way YOU also, when YOU see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to YOU, This generation will by no means pass away until all things occur. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.
“But pay attention to yourselves that YOUR hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon YOU as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that YOU may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”

*extra info*
Chapter 111 of the 'Greatest Man' book:
Although Jesus’ prophecy has a limited fulfillment prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the major fulfillment of it takes place during his presence and the conclusion of the system of things. A careful review of world events since 1914 reveals that Jesus’ momentous prophecy has been undergoing its major fulfillment since that year.
Another part of the sign that Jesus gives is the appearance of “the disgusting thing that causes desolation.” In 66 C.E. this disgusting thing appears in the form of the “encamped armies” of Rome that surround Jerusalem and undermine the temple wall. “The disgusting thing” is standing where it ought not. In the major fulfillment of the sign, the disgusting thing is the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations. This organization for world peace is viewed by Christendom as a substitute for God’s Kingdom. How disgusting! In time, therefore, the political powers associated with the UN will turn on Christendom (antitypical Jerusalem) and will desolate her...

(it's interesting to note that almost all of the 'major' religions today, (not just Christian ones), have given their support to the United Nations, declaring it to be the last hope for mankind to achieve "peace and security" ... here's a related excerpt from: chapter 34 of Revelation - It's Grand Climax At Hand!:

In an effort to bolster the hopes of mankind, the United Nations proclaimed 1986 to be an “International Year of Peace,” with the theme “To Safeguard Peace and the Future of Humanity.” Warring nations were called upon to lay down their weapons, at least for one year. What was their response? According to a report by the International Peace Research Institute, as many as five million people were killed as a result of wars during 1986 alone! Though some special coins and commemorative stamps were issued, most of the nations did little about pursuing the ideal of peace in that year. Nevertheless, the world’s religions—always anxious for a fine rapport with the UN—set about publicizing the year in various ways.
On January 1, 1986, Pope John Paul II praised the work of the UN and dedicated the new year to peace. And on October 27, he assembled the leaders of many of the world’s religions at Assisi, Italy, to pray for peace...Many of the participants worshipped Christendom’s Trinity. Buddhists, Hindus, and others chanted prayers to gods without number. In all, 12 “religious families” assembled, being represented by such notables as the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Buddhism’s Dalai Lama, a Russian Orthodox metropolitan, the president of Tokyo’s Shinto Shrine Association, African animists, and two American Indians decked out in plumed headdresses.

back to the Greatest Man book...

As Tuesday, Nisan 11, draws to a close, Jesus continues the discussion with his apostles regarding the sign of his presence in Kingdom power and of the end of the system of things. He warns them about chasing after false Christs. Attempts will be made, he says, “to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones.” But, like farsighted eagles, these chosen ones will gather to where the true spiritual food is to be found, namely, with the true Christ at his invisible presence. They will not be misled and be gathered together to a false Christ.

False Christs can make only a visible appearance. In contrast, Jesus’ presence will be invisible. It will occur during a frightful time in human history, as Jesus says: “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.” Yes, this will be the blackest period of mankind’s existence. It will be as if the sun were darkened during the daytime, and as if the moon did not give its light by night. “The powers of the heavens will be shaken,” Jesus continues. He thus indicates that the physical heavens will take on a foreboding appearance. The heavens will not simply be the domain of birds, but they will be filled with warplanes, rockets, and space probes. The fear and violence will exceed anything experienced in previous human history...

So that his disciples who would be living during the last days could determine the nearness of the end, Jesus gives this illustration: “Note the fig tree and all the other trees: When they are already in the bud, by observing it you know for yourselves that now the summer is near. In this way you also, when you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, This generation will by no means pass away until all things occur.”
Thus, when his disciples see the many different features of the sign being fulfilled, they should realize that the end of the system of things is near and that God’s Kingdom will soon wipe out all wickedness. In fact, the end will occur within the lifetime of the people who see the fulfillment of all the things Jesus foretells!

daily text 3/28

Sunday, March 28th, 2010
"He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved." (Matthew 10:22)

Pursuing the goal of everlasting life requires endurance. Jesus showed how his disciples could get the needed strength to endure. In one illustration, he likened rocky soil to individuals who “receive [God’s] word with joy” but fall away when faced with tests of faith. However, he likened his faithful followers to fine soil in that they “retain” the word of God and “bear fruit with endurance.” (Luke 8:13, 15) Did you notice the secret to endurance? We must “retain” God’s word, keeping it alive in our hearts and minds. Our meditating on a portion of God’s Word every day will help us to find the needed strength to keep on bearing fruit “with endurance.”—Psalm 1:1, 2.
(Watchtower issue: 6/15/08, 2:14-16)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Memorial Bible Reading (Events on Nisan 10)

the following illustrations, of events on Nisan 10, are in: (chapters 103 & 104 of The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived)

(this event isn't covered in the Memorial Bible reading, so here's an excerpt from chapter 103 of the 'Greatest Man' book)

...Jesus and his disciples soon reach Jerusalem. He goes to the temple, which he had inspected the previous afternoon. Today, however, he takes action, just as he did three years earlier when he came to the Passover in 30 C.E. Jesus throws out those selling and buying in the temple and overturns the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. He does not even allow anyone to carry a utensil through the temple.
Condemning those who are changing money and selling animals in the temple, he says: “Is it not written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a cave of robbers.” They are robbers because they demand exorbitant prices from those who have little alternative but to buy from them the animals needed for sacrifice. So Jesus views these business dealings as a form of extortion or robbery.
When the chief priests, scribes, and principal ones of the people hear what Jesus has done, they again seek a way to have him killed. They thereby prove that they are irreformable. Yet, they do not know how to destroy Jesus, since all the people keep hanging on to him to hear him.

(God's voice is heard a third time in response to Jesus, in the midst of a crowd at the temple)

Memorial Bible reading:
(Events on Nisan 10)

John 12:20-50
Now there were some Greeks among those that came up to worship at the festival. These, therefore, approached Philip who was from Beth·sa′i·da of Gal′i·lee, and they began to request him, saying: “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus.
But Jesus answered them, saying: “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Most truly I say to YOU, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains just one [grain]; but if it dies, it then bears much fruit. He that is fond of his soul destroys it, but he that hates his soul in this world will safeguard it for everlasting life. If anyone would minister to me, let him follow me, and where I am there my minister will be also. If anyone would minister to me, the Father will honor him. Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me out of this hour. Nevertheless, this is why I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Therefore a voice came out of heaven: “I both glorified [it] and will glorify [it] again.”

Hence the crowd that stood about and heard it began to say that it had thundered. Others began to say: “An angel has spoken to him.” In answer Jesus said: “This voice has occurred, not for my sake, but for YOUR sakes. Now there is a judging of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And yet I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw men of all sorts to me.” This he was really saying to signify what sort of death he was about to die. Therefore the crowd answered him: “We heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever; and how is it you say that the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?” Jesus therefore said to them: “The light will be among YOU a little while longer. Walk while YOU have the light, so that darkness does not overpower YOU; and he that walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While YOU have the light, exercise faith in the light, in order to become sons of light.”

Jesus spoke these things and went off and hid from them. But although he had performed so many signs before them, they were not putting faith in him, so that the word of Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled which he said: “Jehovah, who has put faith in the thing heard by us? And as for the arm of Jehovah, to whom has it been revealed?” The reason why they were not able to believe is that again Isaiah said: “He has blinded their eyes and he has made their hearts hard, that they should not see with their eyes and get the thought with their hearts and turn around and I should heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory, and he spoke about him. All the same, many even of the rulers actually put faith in him, but because of the Pharisees they would not confess [him], in order not to be expelled from the synagogue; for they loved the glory of men more than even the glory of God. However, Jesus cried out and said: “He that puts faith in me puts faith, not in me [only], but in him [also] that sent me; and he that beholds me beholds [also] him that sent me. I have come as a light into the world, in order that everyone putting faith in me may not remain in the darkness. But if anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I came, not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that disregards me and does not receive my sayings has one to judge him. The word that I have spoken is what will judge him in the last day; because I have not spoken out of my own impulse, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a commandment as to what to tell and what to speak. Also, I know that his commandment means everlasting life. Therefore the things I speak, just as the Father has told me [them], so I speak [them].”

*extra reference* regarding Jesus' words above,
(chapter 103 in the 'Greatest Man' book):

Jesus knows he has only a few days of life left, so he nicely illustrates his situation: “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Most truly I say to you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains just one grain; but if it dies, it then bears much fruit.”
One grain of wheat has little value. Yet, what if it is put into the soil and “dies,” ending its life as a seed? It then germinates and in time grows into a stalk that produces many, many grains of wheat. Similarly, Jesus is just one perfect man. But if he dies faithful to God, he becomes the means of imparting everlasting life to faithful ones who have the same spirit of self-sacrifice that he has. Thus, Jesus says: “He that is fond of his soul destroys it, but he that hates his soul in this world will safeguard it for everlasting life.”
Jesus obviously is not thinking only of himself, for he next explains: “If anyone would minister to me, let him follow me, and where I am there my minister will be also. If anyone would minister to me, the Father will honor him.” What a marvelous reward for following Jesus and ministering to him! It is the reward of being honored by the Father to associate with Christ in the Kingdom.

daily text 3/27

Saturday, March 27th, 2010
"Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness." (Matthew 6:33)

Jesus assures us that if we do this, the things we really need will be added to us. How can we show that we believe this promise? One way is to abide by God’s standard of what is right as regards financial matters. For instance, we refuse to falsify our tax returns or to tell even “little” lies in our business dealings. We do all within our power to honor our financial commitments, letting our “Yes mean Yes” when it comes to paying off debts. (Matthew 5:37; Psalm 37:21) Such honesty may not make a person rich, but it brings God’s approval, produces a clean conscience, and greatly reduces anxiety. Seeking first the Kingdom involves having our priorities in order, so that possessions and pleasure are not our masters, but are tools that help us worship Jehovah. And the more active we are in work that supports God’s Kingdom, the less likely we are to be overcome by the spirit of the world.
(Watchtower issue: 9/15/08, 4:17, 18)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Memorial Bible Reading - (Events on Nisan 9)

Tonight begins the Memorial Bible reading covering the events of Jesus' last days on earth...

(illustration on pg 27 of Come Be My Follower)

Here's also 2 links from the website:
Reliving Jesus' Last Days On Earth
Diagram - Events on Nisan 7 - 16

Memorial Bible reading:
(events on Nisan 9)
John 12:12-19; Mark 11:1-11

John 12:12-19
The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival, on hearing that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of palm trees and went out to meet him. And they began to shout: “Save, we pray you! Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name, even the king of Israel!” But when Jesus had found a young ass, he sat on it, just as it is written: “Have no fear, daughter of Zion. Look! Your king is coming, seated upon an ass’s colt.” These things his disciples took no note of at first, but when Jesus became glorified, then they called to mind that these things were written respecting him and that they did these things to him.
Accordingly the crowd that was with him when he called Laz′a·rus out of the memorial tomb and raised him up from the dead kept bearing witness. On this account the crowd, because they heard he had performed this sign, also met him. Therefore the Pharisees said among themselves: “YOU observe YOU are getting absolutely nowhere. See! The world has gone after him.

Mark 11:1-11
Now when they were getting near to Jerusalem, to Beth′pha·ge and Beth′a·ny at the Mount of Olives, he dispatched two of his disciples and told them: “Go into the village that is within sight of YOU, and as soon as YOU pass into it YOU will find a colt tied, on which none of mankind has yet sat; loose it and bring it. And if anyone says to YOU, ‘Why are YOU doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it, and will at once send it off back here.’” So they went away and found the colt tied at the door, outside on the side street, and they loosed it. But some of those standing there began to say to them: “What are YOU doing loosing the colt?” They said to these just as Jesus had said; and they let them go.
And they brought the colt to Jesus, and they put their outer garments upon it, and he sat on it. Also, many spread their outer garments on the road, but others cut down foliage from the fields. And those going in front and those coming behind kept crying out: “Save, we pray! Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Save, we pray, in the heights above!” And he entered into Jerusalem, into the temple; and he looked around upon all things, and, as the hour was already late, he went out to Beth′a·ny with the twelve.

daily text 3/26

Friday, March 26th, 2010
"Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life." (John 6:68)

In accepting Jehovah’s authority, we need to guard against an independent spirit. A haughty attitude can cause us to feel that we do not need guidance from anyone. Accepting Jehovah’s authority also involves responding to counsel based on his Word. We must “stay awake and keep our senses.” (1 Thessalonians 5:6) Such counsel is very appropriate during these last days in which many are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money.” (2 Timothy 3:1, 2) Could we be affected by such prevailing attitudes? Yes. Nonspiritual goals could lull us into spiritual sleep, or we might adopt a materialistic attitude. (Luke 12:16-21) Hence, how wise it is to accept the Bible’s counsel and avoid the self-serving lifestyle that is so prevalent in Satan’s world!—1 John 2:16.
(Watchtower issue: 6/15/08, 3:13, 14)

*alot of people seem to think that only really *big* or *serious* sins matter in God's eyes, but they forget that the very first sin was the direct result of a rebellious and independent attitude. If you think about it, ALL other sins are the result of an independent spirit and rebelliousness. Which is why disobedience, (even in relatively minor areas of life), isn't minor at all, as mentioned in the following verse:

"The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much." (Luke 16:10)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

daily text 3/25

Thursday, March 25th, 2010
"The very haughtiness of earthling man will humble him, but he that is humble in spirit will take hold of glory." (Proverbs 29:23)

The example of Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant, demonstrates the role of humility in following Jehovah’s guidance. When Sarah continued childless, she gave Hagar to Abraham, and Hagar became pregnant with Abraham’s child. Then, Hagar became arrogant toward her barren mistress. As a result, Sarah “began to humiliate her,” and Hagar ran away. An angel of Jehovah met Hagar and told her: “Return to your mistress and humble yourself under her hand.” (Genesis 16:2, 6, 8, 9) Perhaps Hagar would have preferred some other guidance. To act according to the angel’s direction, she would have to abandon her arrogant attitude. Nevertheless, Hagar humbly did as the angel said, and her son, Ishmael, was born in the security of his father’s encampment. Following Jehovah’s guidance might mean that we too have to humble ourselves.
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 2:14, 15)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

daily text 3/24

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
"Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy." (Matthew 5:7)

“The merciful” have tender compassion and show kind consideration, even pity, for the disadvantaged. Jesus miraculously relieved suffering because he “felt pity,” or was “moved with pity.” (Matthew 14:14; 20:34) Pity and consideration should therefore prompt us to be merciful. (James 2:13) When a crowd met Jesus on his way to get some rest, “he was moved with pity for them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd.” Consequently, “he started to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34) What joy we experience as we similarly share the Kingdom message with others and tell them about God’s great mercy! When we treat people mercifully, they usually respond in a similar way. (Luke 6:38) Moreover, Jesus said: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14) Only the merciful know the happiness that results from forgiveness of sins and divine approval.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 1:6-8)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

daily text 3/23

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
"What God has yoked together let no man put apart." (Matthew 19:6)

Nowadays, divorce has become easy and widespread, and the divorce rate in many countries is climbing. However, we should keep clearly in mind that Jehovah God expects those who are married to remain faithful to their marriage vow. When he united the first man and woman in marriage, Jehovah stated that “a man . . . must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.” Jesus Christ later repeated that statement and added: “Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery.” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:9) Hence, Jehovah and Jesus view marriage as a lifelong bond that ends only when one partner dies. (1 Corinthians 7:39) Since marriage is a sacred arrangement, divorce is not to be taken lightly. In fact, God’s Word states that Jehovah hates a divorce that has no Scriptural basis.—Malachi 2:13-16; 3:6.
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 4:2, 3)

There was a good quote on this topic from the 7/06 Awake! issue:
“In a society which is used to disposability, people are likely to have that same attitude towards relationships.”—Sandra Davis, Family Law Expert

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Forsaken Orphan Finds a Loving Father

This brother's life story (on pgs 20-24 of the 4/1/05 WA) reminded me of King David's words regarding his lifelong relationship with God:
"In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, Even Jehovah himself would take me up." (Psalm 27:10)

“Go ahead, pick up that weapon and shoot,” snarled the officer, thrusting a rifle in front of me. I calmly refused. To the horror of the onlooking soldiers, bullets from the officer’s gun began to whiz over my shoulder. Death seemed imminent. Happily, I survived. But this was not the first time my life was in danger.

My family belonged to an ethnic minority living near Kayseri, in Cappadocia, Turkey. Some individuals from this area apparently embraced Christianity in the first century C.E. (Acts 2:9) By the beginning of the 20th century, however, things had changed drastically.

From Refugee to Orphan
A few months after I was born in 1922, ethnic conflict caused my family to flee to Greece as refugees. My panic-stricken parents left with nothing but their months-old baby, me. After suffering untold hardships, they arrived in a wretched condition in the village of Kiria, near Drama, in northern Greece.
When I was four years old and after my younger brother was born, my father died. He was only 27 years of age, but the misery of those harrowing times had worn him down. Mother suffered terrible deprivations, and soon she too died. My brother and I were left completely destitute. We were sent from orphanage to orphanage, and at the age of 12, I ended up in one in Thessalonica, where I served an apprenticeship as a mechanic.

As I was growing up inside the cold and inhospitable walls of orphanages, I wondered why certain people experience so much suffering and injustice. I asked myself why God allows such sad conditions to exist. In our religious education classes, we were taught that God is omnipotent, but no reasonable explanation was given about the existence and prevalence of evil. A popular mantra said that the Greek Orthodox Church is the best religion. When I asked, “If Orthodoxy is the best religion, why isn’t everybody Orthodox?” I received no satisfactory answer.

Our teacher, nevertheless, had deep respect for the Bible, and he impressed on us that it is a sacred book. The director of the orphanage displayed the same attitude, but he inexplicably refrained from participating in religious services. When I inquired about this, I was told that he had once studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religion unknown to me.
When my education at the Thessalonica orphanage was completed, I was 17 years old. World War II had begun, and Greece was under Nazi occupation. People were dying in the streets from hunger. In order to survive, I fled to the countryside to work for meager wages as a field hand.

The Bible Provides Answers
When I returned to Thessalonica in April 1945, I received a visit from the sister of one of my childhood friends with whom I had lived in a number of orphanages. Paschalia told me that her brother had disappeared and asked me if I knew anything of his whereabouts. During the conversation, she said that she was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and mentioned God’s interest in humans.
Bitterly, I raised many objections. Why had I been suffering since early childhood? Why had I been left an orphan? Where is God when we need him the most? She replied, “Are you sure that God is to blame for these conditions?” Using her Bible, she showed me that God does not make people suffer. I was helped to see that the Creator loves humans and will shortly improve things. Using such scriptures as Isaiah 35:5-7 and Revelation 21:3, 4, she showed me that soon war, strife, sickness, and death will be removed, and faithful people will live forever on earth.

Finding a Supportive Family
I learned that Paschalia’s brother had been killed in a skirmish of the guerrilla forces. I visited her family to comfort them, but instead they provided Scriptural comfort to me. I went back for more consoling thoughts from the Bible, and soon I became part of a small group of Jehovah’s Witnesses who met secretly to study and worship. Despite the ostracism brought upon the Witnesses, I was determined to continue associating with them.

In that group of humble Christians, I found the warm, loving family atmosphere that I missed. They provided the spiritual support and assistance that I desperately needed. In them, I found selfless and concerned friends, who were ready and willing to help and comfort me. (2 Corinthians 7:5-7) More important, I was helped to draw closer to Jehovah, whom I now thought of as my loving heavenly Father. His qualities of love, compassion, and deep concern were very appealing. (Psalm 23:1-6) At last I had found a spiritual family and a loving Father! My heart was touched. Soon I was moved to dedicate myself to Jehovah, and I was baptized in September 1945.

Attending Christian meetings not only increased my knowledge but also deepened my faith. Since there was no other means of transportation, a number of us often walked the three miles between our village and the meeting place, engaging in unforgettable spiritual discussions. In late 1945, when I learned of the opportunity to participate in the full-time evangelizing work, I started pioneering. A strong relationship with Jehovah was vital, as my faith and integrity would soon be tested to the limit.

(working as a cook in the Drama prison)

Opposition Backfires
The police often raided our meeting place at gunpoint. The country was under martial law, since civil war was raging in Greece. Opposing groups turned on one another with savage hatred. Taking advantage of the situation, the clergy led the authorities to believe that we were Communists and to persecute us viciously.

During a two-year period, we were arrested numerous times, and six times we received sentences of up to four months. However, the prisons were already full of political prisoners, so we were set free. We used our unexpected freedom to continue preaching, but after a while we were again arrested—three times in the same week. We knew that many of our brothers had been exiled to barren islands. Would my faith be strong enough for me to face such a test?
Conditions became extremely difficult when I was put on police probation. In order to keep an eye on me, the authorities sent me to Evosmos, near Thessalonica, where there was a police station. I rented a room nearby, and to support myself, I started working as an itinerant craftsman, polishing copper pots and pans. While I pioneered in the surrounding villages, this trade enabled me to get easy access to homes without arousing the suspicion of the police. As a result, several people heard the good news and responded favorably. More than ten of them eventually became dedicated worshipers of Jehovah.

Ten Years, Eight Prisons
I remained under police surveillance until the end of 1949, and then I returned to Thessalonica, eager to continue in the full-time ministry. Just when I thought that my travails were over, in 1950, I was unexpectedly ordered to join the army. Because of my Christian neutrality, I was determined not to “learn war.” (Isaiah 2:4) Thus started a long, tormenting journey that would take me to some of the most infamous prisons in Greece.

It all started in the city of Drama. During the first weeks of my incarceration there, the newly conscripted soldiers began their target practice. One day, I was taken to the shooting range. One of the officers thrust a rifle in front of me and ordered me to shoot. When I refused, he started shooting at me. When other officers saw that I would not compromise, they began to punch me savagely. They lit cigarettes and stubbed them out in the palms of my hands. Afterward, they threw me into solitary confinement. This went on for three days. The pain from the cigarette burns was excruciating, and for many years I bore the scars on my hands.

Before I was court-martialed, I was transferred to a military camp at Iráklion, Crete. There, in an effort to break my integrity, they beat me severely. Afraid that I might give in, I prayed fervently, asking my heavenly Father to strengthen me. The words of Jeremiah 1:19 came to mind: “They will be certain to fight against you, but they will not prevail against you, for ‘I am with you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘to deliver you.’” The soothing “peace of God” brought calmness and tranquillity. I understood the wisdom of putting implicit trust in Jehovah.—Philippians 4:6, 7; Proverbs 3:5.

At the trial that followed, I was sentenced to life imprisonment. Jehovah’s Witnesses were considered the worst “enemies of the State.” The life term began at the Itsedin criminal prison, outside Canea, where I was put in solitary confinement. Itsedin was an old fort, and my cell was full of rats. I used to wrap a ragged, old blanket around me from head to toe so that the rats would not have direct contact with my body when they crawled all over me. I fell very sick with pneumonia. The doctor said that I had to sit in the sunshine, and thus I was able to have discussions with many of the prisoners in the courtyard. However, my condition worsened, and after a massive pulmonary hemorrhage, I was transferred to the Iráklion hospital.

Again, my spiritual family of fellow Christians were there when I needed them. (Colossians 4:11) The brothers in Iráklion visited me regularly, providing comfort and encouragement. I told them that I needed literature in order to witness to interested ones. They brought me a suitcase with a double bottom in which I could safely hide the literature. How happy I was that during my stay in those prisons, at least six fellow inmates were helped to become true Christians!
In the meantime the civil war had ended, and my sentence was commuted to ten years in prison. I served the remainder of my sentence in prisons in Rethimno, Genti Koule, and Cassandra. After spending almost ten years in eight prisons, I was discharged, and I returned to Thessalonica, where I was warmly received into the arms of my beloved Christian brothers.

(Dimitris & Katina's wedding day, 1959)

Thriving in the Christian Brotherhood
By now the Witnesses in Greece could worship in relative freedom. I immediately seized the opportunity to continue in the full-time ministry. Soon another blessing was added, as I got to know a faithful Christian sister, Katina, who loved Jehovah and was very active in the preaching work. We were married in October 1959. The birth of our daughter, Agape, and having my own Christian family further healed the wounds of my orphanhood. Above all, our family was content to serve under the protective care of our loving heavenly Father, Jehovah.—Psalm 5:11.

Because of circumstances beyond my control, I was forced to stop pioneering, but I supported my wife as she continued in the full-time service. A real milestone in my Christian life came in 1969 when an international convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses was held in Nuremberg, Germany. As I prepared to travel there, I applied for a passport. When my wife went to the police station to ask why more than two months had passed without my getting the passport, an officer pulled a thick file out of his drawer and said: “Are you asking for a passport for this person so that he can proselytize people in Germany? No way! He is dangerous.”

With Jehovah’s help and the assistance of some brothers, I was included in a group passport and was thus able to attend that wonderful convention. The attendance reached a peak of over 150,000, and I could clearly see Jehovah’s spirit directing and unifying this international spiritual family. Later in life, I would appreciate even more the value of the Christian brotherhood.

(An assembly in a forest near Thessalonica, late 1960’s)

In 1977 my beloved wife and faithful companion passed away. I tried my best to raise my daughter according to Bible principles, but I was not left alone. Again, my spiritual family came to the rescue. I will always be grateful for the support of the brothers during that difficult time. Some of them even moved into our home for a while to look after my daughter. I will never forget their self-sacrificing love.—John 13:34, 35.

Agape grew up and married a brother, Elias. They have four sons, all in the truth. In recent years, I have had a number of strokes and my health has deteriorated. My daughter and her family take good care of me. Despite poor health, I still have many reasons to rejoice. I remember the time when there were only about one hundred brothers in all of Thessalonica, meeting secretly in private homes. Now there are about five thousand zealous Witnesses in that area. (Isaiah 60:22) At conventions, young brothers approach me, asking: “Do you remember when you used to bring the magazines to our home?” Although the parents might not have been reading those magazines, their children did, and they progressed spiritually!

As I observe the growth of Jehovah’s organization, I feel that it was worth all the trials I endured. I always tell my grandchildren and other young ones to remember their heavenly Father in their youth, and he will never abandon them. (Ecclesiastes 12:1) Jehovah proved true to his word, becoming for me “a father of fatherless boys.” (Psalm 68:5) Although I was a forsaken orphan early in life, eventually I found a caring Father!

daily text 3/22

Monday, March 22nd, 2010
"Taste and see that Jehovah is good." (Psalm 34:8)

When King David of ancient Israel was a shepherd boy, Jehovah saved him from the attacks of wild animals. God supported him in his fight with Goliath and rescued him from many other calamities. (1 Samuel 17:32-51; Psalm 18, superscription) David was moved to write: “Many things you yourself have done, O Jehovah my God, even your wonderful works and your thoughts toward us; there is none to be compared to you.” (Psalm 40:5) David came to love Jehovah deeply and wanted to praise Him with his whole heart and mind. (Psalm 40:8-10) As the years passed, David never regretted spending his life worshipping the true God. Living with godly devotion was his greatest treasure—a source of happiness without equal. In old age, David said: “You are my hope, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, my confidence from my youth.” (Psalm 71:5) David’s trust in Jehovah and friendship with Him became stronger, even though his physical strength had waned.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 4:18, 19)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

daily text 3/21

Sunday, March 21st, 2010
"Now when Jesus finished these sayings, the effect was that the crowds were astounded at his way of teaching; for he was teaching them as a person having authority, and not as their scribes." (Matthew 7:28, 29)

Jesus Christ unquestionably proved to be the foretold “Wonderful Counselor.” (Isaiah 9:6) The Sermon on the Mount is a prime example of Jesus’ knowledge of his heavenly Father’s way of viewing things. That discourse has much to say about genuine happiness, how to avoid immorality, the way to practice righteousness, what we must do to enjoy a secure and joyous future, and many other matters. Why not read Matthew chapters 5 through 7 once again carefully and prayerfully? Meditate on Jesus’ wonderful counsel recorded there. Apply in your life what Christ said in his Sermon on the Mount. Then you will be better able to please Jehovah, treat others properly, and keep on doing good.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 2:20, 21)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A "Religious Hitchhiker" Comes To Malawi

This experience taken from (pgs 148-152 of the 1999 Yearbook) is interesting in relation to today's text discussion, because it shows the importance of why we need to keep our worship untainted by false religious practices, and what can happen when people who claim to be JW's, have failed to do so in the past.

First, here's a little intro about Malawi:

Welcome to the warm heart of Africa! With its lovely climate and friendly people, Malawi is indeed a warm country with plenty of appeal. Especially appealing to many is the heartwarming message of Bible truth being preached by more than 40,000 Witnesses of Jehovah God. (apprx 75,000 Witnesses as of 2009) There was a time, however, not too long ago, when these humble servants of God faced much tribulation. Instead of their being shown warm friendship by their neighbors, they were subjected to the fierce heat of persecution, horrors reminiscent of the pogroms against the Jews and the Inquisition of the Middle Ages. The record of what they experienced and how they endured is a remarkable example of integrity under adversity. Before we tell their story, though, take a look at the country itself.

A Look at Malawi
Although it is a very small country, Malawi boasts a beautiful variety of mountains, rivers, and lakes. Mount Mulanje, in the south of the country, is particularly breathtaking. From the low surroundings of the verdant tea estates below, it rises majestically to a height of 9,849 feet [3,002 m] above sea level, making it the highest mountain in this part of Africa. Probably the best-known attraction, however, is 360-mile-long [580 km] Lake Malawi. The famous explorer David Livingstone called it “the lake of stars” because of the way the sun glistens on its surface. In it are found hundreds of species of fish—more, it has been said, than in any other freshwater lake in the world.

The friendliness of Malawi’s 11 million inhabitants (apprx 13 million, as of 2009) is welcoming. They flash broad, warm smiles and manifest an eagerness to help. Love for God’s Word is also evident. The Bible has been available for about a hundred years in Chichewa, Yao, and Tumbuka, major languages spoken in Malawi. Almost every household owns at least one copy, and many people read it regularly. Most Malawians are poor in a material way, but by accepting the help offered by Jehovah’s Witnesses, some have found great spiritual wealth within the pages of their Bibles.
The activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi stretches back to the early part of this century. It was introduced to the people here in quite a dramatic way.

‘Like Wildfire Catching the Grass’
Our story begins with Joseph Booth, a colorful but controversial character. Fired with enthusiasm after reading some publications of the Watch Tower Society, he met C. T. Russell in 1906. He convinced Brother Russell of the need for a representative of the Watch Tower Society in southern Africa. Since Joseph Booth had previously worked in Malawi, or Nyasaland as it was then called, it appeared that he might render valuable service. Unknown to Brother Russell, though, was the bad reputation that this man had in this part of the world. He had become known as what a writer later described as a “religious hitchhiker,” using one denomination of Christendom after another in order to pursue his own aims. As a result of this, Booth was very unpopular with the local authorities and was no longer even welcome in Malawi. Once again, though, this experienced “hitchhiker” had successfully thumbed a ride!

Knowing that he could not go directly to Malawi, Booth first established a base in South Africa. There he met up with Elliott Kamwana, an old acquaintance from Malawi. Before long, Booth instructed this young man to return home. On his arrival, in 1908, Elliott Kamwana began a campaign of public preaching, loosely basing his message on some of the Watch Tower Society’s publications. McCoffie Nguluh, who died as a faithful elder a few years ago, had his first contact with the truth back then. He described Kamwana’s preaching as being like “wildfire catching the grass.” The effects of Kamwana’s preaching, with his dramatic open-air baptisms, did indeed spread rapidly, like a bushfire, through Malawi. Thousands responded, and many “congregations” were soon established.

However, neither Booth nor Kamwana had ever left “Babylon the Great.” (Revelation 17:5; 18:4) Their aims were really politically motivated. It was not long before the dubious preaching methods of Elliott Kamwana were attracting the unfavorable attention of government authorities in Malawi. He was soon deported to the Seychelles. By 1910, Joseph Booth had also moved on and was finished as far as the Watch Tower Society was concerned. Sadly, these two men had done more harm than good, but there was one redeeming feature: Many publications containing Bible truth had been distributed throughout the country. During the next few years, honesthearted ones, such as McCoffie Nguluh, would respond favorably to what they read.

“Watch Tower Movements” Cause Confusion
Following this unsatisfactory start in Malawi, the Society sent William Johnston, a well-qualified brother from Glasgow, Scotland, to investigate the situation. He found that many so-called congregations had been established but that their grasp of Bible truth was poor. However, there were some genuine truth-seekers. From among these Brother Johnston trained a few local men to take the lead before he moved to South Africa. Then a long time passed before further attention was given to the work in Malawi. Terrible confusion developed. This caused adversity for the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known, and tested their integrity.

In imitation of the charismatic style of Elliott Kamwana, many movements sprang up that mixed some Bible truth with false doctrines and unscriptural practices. Because such movements used Watch Tower publications to some degree, they often included Watch Tower in their name. This caused problems for our few genuine brothers in the country. Without their having proper oversight and needed spiritual food, it is remarkable that the activity of these genuine brothers did not fade out altogether. Yet, they continued to meet together and to witness to others, and they endeavored to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.—1 Peter 2:21.

Taking advantage of the situation, the local religious leaders slandered the Bible Students by falsely identifying them with the movements that had dishonestly adopted the name Watch Tower. In time, however, the difference between these local sects and our brothers became clearly evident. Prompted by disturbing reports from members of Christendom’s clergy, the chief commissioner of police made an investigation in the early 1920’s. In disguise, he personally attended several meetings of the Bible Students. His reaction? Disgust at the wicked lies being circulated about them. Nevertheless, the confusion caused by these false “Watch Tower movements” continued for many years.

daily text 3/20

Saturday, March 20th, 2010
"From among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves." (Acts 20:30)

While Jesus’ apostles were living, they acted as “a restraint” against such apostasy, but after they died, many false Christian sects developed. Today, there are hundreds of conflicting religions in the realm of Christendom. The Bible pointed to the rise of Christendom’s clergy, describing them collectively as “the man of lawlessness” and “the son of destruction . . . whom the Lord Jesus will do away with . . . and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 6-8) Christendom’s clergy are lawless in that they have misled millions by promoting teachings, holidays, and behavior contrary to the Bible. Like the religious leaders whom Jesus condemned, the modern-day worshippers who are part of “the son of destruction” face destruction with no hope of a resurrection.—2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.
(Watchtower issue: 6/15/08, 1:6, 7)

Friday, March 19, 2010

"One Man Out of a Thousand"

FYI -I backdated this entry because I meant to post it yesterday (sorry), since it's an interesting "Question From Readers" which relates to the topic discussed in the text about Solomon.

(following info and illustration on pg 31 of the 1/15/07 Watchtower)

Questions From Readers:

In what sense did the congregator find only “one man out of a thousand” but not “a woman among all these”? —(Ecclesiastes 7:28)

To understand these inspired words correctly, we must first appreciate how God views women. The Bible refers to the widow Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth as “an excellent woman.” (Ruth 3:11) According to Proverbs 31:10, a good wife “is worth far more than corals.” (An American Translation) What, then, did King Solomon of ancient Israel mean when he said: “I have found . . . one true man in a thousand, but never a true woman”?—Moffatt.

The context shows that low moral standards must have prevailed among women in Solomon’s day. (Ecclesiastes 7:26) This may have been largely a result of the influence of foreign women who practiced Baal worship. Even King Solomon succumbed to pressure from his many foreign wives. “He came to have seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines,” says the Bible, “and his wives gradually inclined his heart” to worship false gods. (1 Kings 11:1-4) The moral standards of men too were not good—one righteous man in a thousand was a rarity, almost negligible. “This only I have found,” concludes Solomon, “that the true God made mankind upright, but they themselves have sought out many plans.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29) This is a conclusion about mankind—man as the human race, not man as compared with woman. Hence, the words found at Ecclesiastes 7:28 should be viewed as a comment on the general moral condition of the people of Solomon’s day.

However, there is another possible meaning to this verse. It may also be prophetic, for never has a woman given Jehovah perfect obedience. But there has been one such man—Jesus Christ.—Romans 5:15-17.

daily text 3/19

Friday, March 19th, 2010
"If you [Solomon] will . . . keep all my commandments by walking in them, . . . I shall not leave my people Israel." (1 Kings 6:12, 13)

In his old age, Solomon became unfaithful to Jehovah and began to engage in false worship. (1 Kings 11:4-6) Gradually, Solomon ceased to obey Jehovah’s laws and became increasingly oppressive. This happened to such an extent that after his death, people complained about him to his son and successor, Rehoboam, and requested relief. (1 Kings 12:4) How did Jehovah respond when Solomon became unfaithful? The Bible tells us: “Jehovah came to be incensed at Solomon, because his heart had inclined away from . . . the God of Israel, the one appearing to him twice.” Jehovah told Solomon: “For the reason that . . . you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I laid in command upon you, I shall without fail rip the kingdom away from off you, and I shall certainly give it to your servant.”—1 Kings 11:9-11.
(Watchtower issue: 8/15/08, 1:4-6)

Solomon is probably the all-time biggest warning example for a servant of God in modern times, since there has never been another era in human history when so many people have had such easy access to the vast amount of material luxuries, recreation, pleasure, and instant gratification that's available to us today. (which in the past, was only enjoyed by royalty for the most part).
It always irritates me so much that Solomon could have been blessed with such a remarkable spiritual heritage, noble lineage, unprecedented wisdom, and a privileged relationship with Jehovah, (on top of all his material prosperity and fame), yet he threw it all away for something so cheap and commonplace as false religion and pagan women who had no love for Jehovah.
But Solomon's example shows that no matter how much intelligence, prominence, wealth, and power a person has acquired in life, it means *absolutely nothing* in the end, if they allow themselves to drift away from God, and fail to live up to his requirements.
What a terrible waste.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

daily text 3/18

Thursday, March 18th, 2010
"Pursue . . . love." (2 Timothy 2:22)

Our godly devotion must include obedience to Jesus’ new commandment to “love one another” as he loved us. (John 13:34) The apostle John pointed out: “Whoever has this world’s means for supporting life and beholds his brother having need and yet shuts the door of his tender compassions upon him, in what way does the love of God remain in him?” (1 John 3:17) Can you think of occasions when you have displayed love in a practical way? Another way in which we pursue love is by being forgiving, not nursing grudges against our brothers. (1 John 4:20) We want to follow the inspired counsel: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also.” (Colossians 3:13) Is there someone in the congregation toward whom you could apply this counsel? Will you forgive him or her?
(Watchtower issue: 6/15/08, 2:4, 12, 13)

Since this scripture uses the *active* term "pursue" in connection with love, here are some dictionary definitions of that word, which clearly shows that this is something that requires continued effort on our part:

(transitive verb)
to follow in order to overtake, capture; chase
to proceed along, follow, or continue with (a specified course, action, plan, etc.)
to try to find, get, win, etc.; strive for; seek after.

(intransitive verb)
to chase
to go on; continue

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Have Consideration For the Feelings of Others

the following info and illustrations on (pgs 151-155 of Come Be My Follower) really ties in nicely with the theme of today's text discussion

“Moved With Pity”

[footnote] -The Greek word rendered “moved with pity” has been called one of the strongest words in Greek for the feeling of compassion. One reference work notes that this word indicates “not only a pained feeling at [the] sight of suffering, but in addition a strong desire to relieve and to remove the suffering.” The Greek adjective rendered “fellow feeling” literally means “suffering with.”

Two blind men are sitting beside the road, just outside Jericho. They come there each day, find a place where crowds are likely to pass, and publicly ask for charity. This day, however, they are about to experience something that will dramatically change their life.
Suddenly, the beggars hear a commotion. Unable to see what is going on, one of them asks what the excitement is about, and he is told: “Jesus the Nazarene is passing by!” Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the last time. But he is not alone; large crowds are following him. Upon hearing who is passing by, the beggars cause something of an uproar by shouting: “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” Annoyed, the crowds tell the beggars to be quiet, but the men are desperate. They will not be silenced.

Jesus hears their shouting above the din of the crowd. What will he do? There is much weighing on his mind and heart. He is about to enter the final week of his earthly life. He knows that suffering and a cruel death await him at Jerusalem. Still, he does not ignore the insistent cries. He stops and asks that the ones doing the shouting be brought to him. “Lord, let our eyes be opened,” they plead. “Moved with pity,” Jesus touches their eyes, and they recover sight. Without delay, they begin to follow Jesus.—Luke 18:35-43; Matthew 20:29-34.

This was no isolated case. On many occasions and under many different circumstances, Jesus was deeply moved to show compassion. Bible prophecy foretold that he would “feel sorry for the lowly one.” (Psalm 72:13) True to those words, Jesus was sensitive to the feelings of others. He took the initiative to help people. His compassion was a motivating force in his preaching. Let us see how the Gospels reveal the tender compassion behind Jesus’ words and actions and consider how we can show similar compassion.

Consideration for the Feelings of Others
Jesus was a man of deep empathy. He identified with and shared in the feelings of those who were suffering. Even though he did not share all their circumstances, he truly felt their pain in his heart. (Hebrews 4:15) When healing a woman who had suffered from a flow of blood for 12 years, he described her ailment as a “grievous sickness,” thus acknowledging that it had caused her great distress and suffering. (Mark 5:25-34) When he saw Mary and those with her weeping over the death of Lazarus, he was so deeply touched by their sorrow that he became inwardly agitated. Although he knew that he was about to resurrect Lazarus, Jesus was so moved that his eyes brimmed with tears.—John 11:33, 35.

On another occasion, a leper approached Jesus and pleaded: “If you just want to, you can make me clean.” How did Jesus, a perfect man who had never been sick, respond? His heart went out to the leper. Indeed, “he was moved with pity.” (Mark 1:40-42) He then did something extraordinary. He well knew that lepers were unclean under the Law and were not to mingle with others. (Leviticus 13:45, 46) Jesus was certainly capable of healing this man without any physical contact. (Matthew 8:5-13) Yet, he chose to reach out and touch the leper, saying: “I want to. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy vanished. What tender empathy Jesus expressed!

As Christians, we are called on to imitate Jesus in showing empathy. The Bible urges us to show “fellow feeling.” (1 Peter 3:8) It may not be easy to grasp the feelings of those suffering from chronic illness or depression—especially if we have not gone through such pain ourselves. Remember, though, that empathy does not depend on shared circumstances. Jesus empathized with the sick even though he himself had never been sick. How, then, can we cultivate empathy? By patiently listening as suffering ones open up their hearts and share their feelings. We might ask ourselves, ‘If I were in their situation, how would I feel?’ (1 Corinthians 12:26) If we sharpen our sensitivity to the feelings of others, we will be better able to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) At times, empathy may be expressed not only with words but also with tears. “Weep with people who weep,” says Romans 12:15.
Jesus was considerate of others, and he acted in ways that spared their feelings. Recall the time when a man who was deaf and hardly able to speak was brought to Jesus. Evidently sensing some uneasiness in this man, Jesus did something that he did not ordinarily do when healing others: “He took [the man] away from the crowd.” In private and free from the stares of the crowd, he healed the man.—Mark 7:31-35.

Jesus acted with similar consideration when people brought him a blind man and asked that he be healed. Jesus “took the blind man by the hand” and “brought him outside the village.” He then healed the man in stages. This perhaps allowed the man’s brain and eyes to adjust gradually to the dazzling sights and complexities of the sunlit world around him. (Mark 8:22-26) What consideration Jesus showed!

Being followers of Jesus calls on us to show consideration for the feelings of others. We are thus mindful of our speech, remembering that thoughtless use of the tongue can hurt the feelings of others. (Proverbs 12:18; 18:21) Harsh words, disparaging remarks, and biting sarcasm have no place among Christians, who are sensitive to the feelings of other people. (Ephesians 4:31) Elders, how can you show consideration for the feelings of others? When giving counsel, cushion your words with kindness, allowing the listener to keep his dignity. (Galatians 6:1) Parents, how can you be considerate of your children’s feelings? When administering discipline, endeavor to do so in ways that spare your children needless embarrassment.—Colossians 3:21.

daily text 3/17

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
"There . . . came to him a leper, entreating him even on bended knee." (Mark 1:40)

The leper came to Jesus and pleaded to be cured. (Mark 1:41, 42) Instead of sending the leper away, Jesus dealt with the shunned man in a compassionate and dignified manner. What Jesus saw was a pitiful human with a need for relief. With heart stirred, Jesus turned his feelings of compassion into prompt action. He reached out, touched the leper, and healed him. As Jesus’ followers, how can we imitate the manner in which Jesus reflected the dignity of his Father? One way is by appreciating that all humans—regardless of status, health, or age—deserve due honor and respect. (1 Peter 2:17) Especially do those in positions of oversight, such as husbands, parents, and Christian elders, need to dignify those in their care and help them to preserve their self-respect. The Bible states: “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another. In showing honor to one another take the lead.”—Romans 12:10.
(Watchtower issue: 8/15/08, 3:15, 16)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tsunami Damage After the Earthquake in Chile

Here's a photo slideshow with before and after photos showing the damage caused by the tsunami to Robinson Crusoe Island, after the recent earthquake in Chile. Looking at these pictures just really impresses on you the folly of building your entire life around material things that can be taken away in an instant.

An Isolated Sheep Is Found

This story is amazing when you consider that after WWII, Communist authorities abolished all religion and declared Albania as the world's first Atheist country. How this sister managed to maintain her integrity all that time by herself is incredible and shows God's ability to sustain his people in times of harsh oppression.

(experience of Areti Pina, on pgs 175, 178, & 179 of the 2010 Yearbook)

"Are there any Witnesses in Vlorë?" the brothers asked when discussing the advancement of the preaching work in Albania. Some knew only of an old woman who was reportedly senile. Then a woman came to the office saying that she and her family were ungjillorë [evangelizers] and that someone named Areti had taught them the truth in Vlorë. So brothers from Tiranë made a trip to Vlorë to find Areti.
Areti Pina, a short elderly lady, invited the visitors into her home, but she seemed somewhat reserved. When they explained that they were her spiritual brothers, it produced absolutely no reaction.
"Can I ask you some questions?" Areti suddenly said after a few minutes. Then she started firing questions at them: "Do you believe in the Trinity? What is God's name? Do you believe in hellfire? What happens when we die? What about the earth? How many will go to heaven?"
The brothers answered each of the questions.
"Do you preach?" Areti then asked.
"Yes," said one brother, "we preach."
"But," she responded, "how do you preach?"
"We preach from house to house," replied the brother.
Areti burst into tears, leaped to her feet, and embraced the brother.
"Now I know that you are my brothers!" she exclaimed. "Only Jehovah's people preach from house to house!"

Protestant groups in Vlorë had heard that Areti was a religious person and had asked her to join them. "But I did not want anything to do with Babylon the Great!" she explained to the brothers. "So I needed to make sure that you were my real spiritual family!"
Areti was baptized back in 1928 at the age of 18. She traveled up and down mountains on foot, preaching with Bible in hand. Although Areti had lost contact with the brothers for years, she kept preaching faithfully on her own.
"Jehovah is wonderful," said Areti through her tears. "He never forgot me!"
People thought Areti was crazy for keeping faith in God under Albania's ironclad totalitarian rule. Yet, Areti was anything but senile. Her mind was as clear as ever!

What makes this story so amazing (just like all the other experiences of brothers and sisters who've been isolated or imprisoned, and have had no contact with other members of the congregation for years) is how Jehovah spiritually sustains them,...because they are still 'on the same page' as the rest of their brothers and sisters around the world when it comes to the most important matters about the Bible.
And that fact, in-and-of-itself, just completely destroys the argument that ex-JW/apostates like to make about Jehovah's Witnesses being a 'cult' that controls their members. Because these types of experiences show how ridiculous and impossible such a claim is. These are people who initially had only limited contact with JW's, and were left entirely on their own when the countries they lived in came under the control of harsh and restrictive political regimes. These isolated Witnesses had only their Bibles and a small amount of out-of-date Watchtower Bible literature, (and in many instances, not even that much), yet they still didn't deviate in their beliefs or compromise their faith ... because what they had originally learned was the truth about the Bible, and Jehovah kept them sustained during all those long years they were by themselves.

They obviously weren't under any kind of mind control or coersion by other JW's (because they were isolated from other JW's), but rather, they were under constant pressure to conform to atheism or orthodox religious beliefs of the state (depending on which type of government was in power at the time), yet they still maintained their integrity to Jehovah and to the truth all that time.

And if you know anything about Stockholm syndrome (where people are brainwashed to believe the ideology of their kidnappers or cult members, by forming an emotional bond to them) you'll learn that it eventually wears off after they've been taken away from their captors and reintegrated into society. Which did not happen in the case of this elderly sister, or in any of the other cases where brothers and sisters endured similar experiences and isolation. In fact, just the opposite occured. So there goes another apostate *theory* up in smoke. =)