Friday, April 30, 2010

daily text 4/30

Friday, April 30th, 2010
Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called "sons of God." (Matthew 5:9)

The Greek word here rendered "peaceable" literally means "peacemakers." If we are peacemakers, we will not condone or participate in anything, such as slanderous talk, that could 'separate those familiar with one another.' (Proverbs 16:28) By word and deed, we will pursue peace with people inside and outside the Christian congregation. (Hebrews 12:14) Especially will we do our utmost to be found at peace with Jehovah God. (1 Peter 3:10-12) Jesus said that "the peaceable" are happy, "since they will be called 'sons of God.' " Because of exercising faith in Jesus as the Messiah, anointed Christians receive "authority to become God's children." (John 1:12; 1 Peter 2:24) What about Jesus' peaceable "other sheep"? They will have him as their "Eternal Father" during his Thousand Year Reign with his heavenly joint heirs. —John 10:14, 16; Isaiah 9:6; Revelation 20:6.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 1:9, 10)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

daily text 4/29

Thursday, April 29th, 2010
"Jehovah is my crag and my stronghold and the Provider of escape for me." (Psalm 18:2)

When the women of Israel began praising David for his military prowess, King Saul became so consumed with jealousy that on two occasions he hurled his spear at David. (1 Samuel 18:6-9) Both times David escaped the sharp tip of the spear. Was this simply because of David's skill and agility as an experienced warrior? No. The Bible record explains that "Jehovah was with him." (1 Samuel 18:11-14) Later, when Saul's scheme to have David killed by the Philistines failed, "Saul got to see and know that Jehovah was with David." (1 Samuel 18:17-28) To whom did David give credit for his deliverance? The superscription to Psalm 18 says that David "spoke to Jehovah the words of this song in the day that Jehovah had delivered him . . . out of the hand of Saul." Is it not faith-strengthening to know that Jehovah is capable of delivering his people?—Psalm 35:10.
(Watchtower issue: 9/15/08, 1:8, 9)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pop Quiz 'Bible Trivia' Question...

well here's a topic that relates to the subject of marriage mentioned in today's text (in a symbolic sense, that is):

Q: Who is represented by the 2 symbolic women, referred to as: "Heavenly Jerusalem" and "New Jerusalem"?

I did some extra research on the topic of Christ's "bride" (in order to answer a question for someone who was confused about it). And I came across some interesting details in regards to my 'trivia question' above...So I'll do a post about it later, including the answer, along with some extra info I learned while I was researching it.

daily text 4/28

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
"A threefold cord cannot quickly be torn in two." (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

"Threefold cord" is a figurative expression. When this illustration is applied to marriage, it includes the husband and wife, the first two strands, who are intertwined with the central strand, Jehovah God. Being united with God gives a couple the spiritual strength to cope with problems, and it is the key to acheiving the greatest happiness in marriage. But what can a married couple do to ensure that their marriage is like such a threefold cord? The psalmist David sang: "To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts." (Psalm 40:8) Our love for God likewise moves us to serve him with a complete heart. Thus, both mates should cultivate a warm personal relationship with Jehovah and find delight in doing his will. Marriage mates should also strive to strengthen their partner's love for God.—Proverbs 27:17.
(Watchtower issue: 9/15/08, 3:5, 6)

This topic is so important...especially right now, since there seems to be an *enormous* problem in our society lately when it comes to marriage problems.
I happened to be watching Dr. Phil last night, on the topic: "Why Men Cheat" and it featured 'experts' (in the field of medical science and psychology/sociology) who gave their opinions about marital issues related to infidelity and lack of commitment to a relationship.
-Now although they provided interesting & enlightening details regarding the possible neurological and inherited genetic traits, which may contribute to a variety of negative behaviors that can damage a relationship (such as aggression, addiction, and impulse control problems)...they placed almost exclusive emphasis on the medical, psychological, and environmental factors, (which they believe places a person at higher "risk" of infidelity and disloyalty), while saying virtually nothing about the social, moral, and spiritual factors involved. -Which are at *the root* of the problem, and the source of the solution.

I felt like it left married couples with an overwhelming uneasiness about human nature, and a lack of confidence in the entire institution of marriage. Because they presented cheating as an almost "natural" behavior for men (based on scientific opinion that stems from the theory of evolution), which ignores the true nature of the issue...a lack of spiritual understanding of the fact that cheating is actually an "unnatural" behavior (due to inherited sin and imperfection) and is something that couples can effectively 'counteract' by having a strong spiritual foundation in their marriage...which would include making time to have a regular spiritual/study routine together, and avoiding explicit, pornographic material or anything that tends to minimize unfaithfulness to a spouse as 'acceptable' or 'normal' behavior.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

daily text 4/27

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
"[Jehovah's] eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him." (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Jehovah is the perfect Father. He knows us so well that he is aware even of the "inclination of [our] thoughts." (1 Chronicles 28:9) However, he does not examine us merely in order to find fault. (Psalm 11:4; 130:3) Rather, he lovingly wants to protect us from anything that might damage our relationship with him or harm our prospects for gaining everlasting life. (Psalm 25:8-10, 12, 13) Jehovah is matchless in power and sees all. For that reason, he can come to the aid of his loyal ones whenever they call on him, and he can support them during their trials. Note that Jehovah uses his strength in behalf of those who serve him with a complete heart, a heart that is pure and sincere in motive. He shows no such concern for those who are deceitful or hypocritical.—Joshua 7:1, 20, 21, 25; Proverbs 1:23-33.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 2:1, 2)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Maintaining Integrity...Despite Family Opposition

The following experiences (on pgs 233-237 of the 2010 Yearbook) are about 3 siblings in Belize, who faced repeated threats and opposition from their father when they decided to study the Bible and become one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

(photo of Jorge, Nicolas & Priscilian, pg 235)

"In these villages,...the women in particular are very shy, and by tradition they are submissive to their fathers and husbands. It is not their custom to talk to strangers. It was very difficult for them, therefore, to participate in the door-to-door ministry." (comment by missionary, Frank Cardoza, describing the challenge faced by Maya Bible students in San Antonio, Belize)

"His Threats Could Not Stop Me"
Priscilian Sho, who was 20 years old at the time, was an unbaptized publisher who really wanted to preach to her neighbors in the area. On one occasion, Priscilian was making some return visits with a sister-in-law, Amalia Sho, when they suddenly faced a crisis.
Priscilian remembers: "I hadn't told my father I was going out to preach publicly because he had forbidden me to do it and I was afraid of him. That Sunday morning when we were out preaching, we suddenly saw my father in front of the Baptist church he attended. At first, we crouched in the grass because we didn't want him to see us. But then I said, 'You know, Amalia, Jehovah is watching us. It's not right for us to be afraid of my father. It is Jehovah we must fear.'"
Priscilian's father was furious, but an even bigger issue lay ahead because he was violently opposed to her becoming one of Jehovah's Witnesses. After praying about the matter until the day before the assembly where she was to be baptized, Priscilian finally mustered up the courage to tell her father.

"Tomorrow," she said to her father, "I'm going to Belize City."
"What are you going to do?" he inquired.
"I'm going to be baptized," replied Priscilian. "I'm going to do what Jehovah wants me to do, I love you, but I have to love Jehovah too."
"Are you really going to do that?" he responded angrily.
"Yes," said Priscilian. "Acts 5:29 says I must obey God rather than man."
Priscilian's father stormed off in a rage. "I didn't feel safe until I was in the truck, ready to leave for the assembly," she recalls. "I didn't know what he would do when I came home after the assembly. But I knew that by then I would be baptized, so even if he killed me, I would have done what was right."
Although Priscilian's father did not harm her when she got home, he later threatened to kill her. "But he saw that his threats could not stop me," she says, "and since then he has softened toward me."

(photo of Frank Cardoza and Jorge Sho, pg 236)

When Nicolas and Jorge came to know and love Jehovah, their father adamantly opposed their Christian activities.
"I explained to my father that I was learning beneficial things," says Nicolas, "but he was a member of the Baptist Church, and he didn't share my enthusiasm. I quit my Bible study a few times because I didn't want to hurt his feelings. But I also knew that by getting drunk with my father, I was not setting a good example for my children. My wife and children were so unhappy that they never smiled.
"Once I began studying the Bible and attending Christian meetings regularly, the truth helped me to break free from bad conduct. I worked hard for my family, and they got the full benefit of my income. Now, as a family, we are busy in Jehovah's service, and there is happiness and laughter in our house."

Jorge's situation was much the same. His drunkenness and bad language caused problems for his family, and he was never at home on the weekends. But his study of the Bible resulted in a marked improvement in his conduct.
"As I progressed," Jorge relates, "my father became more opposed. He called us false prophets. More than once he threatened us with his machete. Brother Cardoza, with whom I was studying the Bible, had tried to prepare us much earlier. 'Suppose your father tells you to leave the family property?' he asked us. 'My father loves me,' I explained, 'and he won't do that.' But, sadly, that is exactly what he did.
"Nevertheless," continues Jorge, "I loved what I was learning, and my life was improving. My family was benefiting from my new Christian personality. We respected one another and were happy togther. Today, the preaching work brings me much joy, and thanks to Jehovah, I am a regular pioneer."

daily text 4/26

Monday, April 26th, 2010
"Judge me, O Jehovah, . . . according to my integrity." (Psalm 7:8)

Picture three scenarios: A boy is facing some of his schoolmates. They are trying to provoke him into losing his temper, perhaps to curse or to fight. Will he retaliate, or will he restrain himself and walk away? A husband at home alone is doing some research on the Internet. A box appears on his computer screen, advertising a lewd Web site. Will he be tempted and go to that site, or will he make sure that he avoids it? A Christian woman is conversing with a small group when the talk turns negative, becoming hurtful gossip about a sister in the congregation. Will she share in that, or will she try to change the subject? Varied though those situations are, they have something in common. They all involve the struggle to keep integrity as a Christian. Do you have your own integrity in mind as you face your concerns, needs, and goals in life?
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 1:1, 2)

One more scenario to add to that list, when pressure to compromise integrity comes from unbelieving family members who are opposed. That situation could be even more challenging to deal with (especially for a Christian living in the same household), because they might face repeated "tests of faith" on an ongoing basis, while trying to maintain peaceful family relations at the same time.
(I'll post a couple of good yearbook experiences later, of siblings who maintained their integrity to Jehovah, even while being threatened and opposed by their father)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

daily text 4/25

Sunday, April 25th, 2010
"Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them." (1 Timothy 4:15)

The foremost source of divine guidance is the Bible. God's inspired Word. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) To make the most of that Word, we are wise not to wait for a challenging situation to arise before seeking helpful words in the Scriptures. Rather, we will make Bible reading a daily habit. (Psalm 1:1-3) In that way, the inspired words become familiar. God's thoughts become our thoughts, and we are ready to face even unexpected problems. In addition, it is important to meditate on what we read in the Scriptures and pray in connection with it. When we ponder on Bible verses, we consider how they might apply in specific situations. When we face serious problems, we pray to Jehovah, asking for help to find the guidance we need. Jehovah's spirit will help us to recall helpful Scriptural principles that we have read in the Bible itself or in Bible-based publications.— Psalm 25:4, 5.
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 2:16, 17)

This is so true...sometimes even in an almost imperceptible way. The more familiar you are with God's Word, the more it blends into your own thinking process and actually becomes a part of you. It really is "alive" and "exerts power" (Hebrews 4:12)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

LA Times: "JW's in Lebanon Congregate In Secret"

How cool is this?
LA Times Article

LEBANON: In Muslim Middle East, Jehovah's Witnesses congregate in secret

An elegantly dressed Lebanese woman in a black and white Chanel suit stood up and offered her seat to a Philippine domestic worker, "Please sit, I'll go look for more chairs." The unusual scene in Lebanon, where wealthy locals more often than not abuse and exploit migrant workers from Asia, was at an undercover Jehovah's Witnesses congregation just outside of Beirut. Recently, more than 200 Jehovah's Witnesses gathered in the basement of a posh building north of the capital. They divided up into two rooms, one for the English-speaking and one for the Sinhalese-translated session for Sri Lankans.

Unlike other parts of the Arab world, Lebanon is known for its tolerance of multiple religious confessions. But even that has a limit, especially for faiths like Jehovah's Witnesses that are not registered or officially recognized by the government. It is estimated that there are over 15 "Kingdom Halls," or prayer gatherings, in Lebanon, which for now appear to be tolerated despite fears that participants could be harassed or deported. "My employer is Greek Orthodox, but she likes that I am a Witness," a young Philippine woman explained. "She knows that she can trust me. She lets me come to the meetings."

Unlike in the West, however, she does not go door-to-door preaching. Proselytizing to Muslims is a punishable offense in most Arab countries. Though the Lebanese constitution guarantees freedom of religion, the government relies on a confessional system in which each state-sanctioned religious community holds an independent civil court to adjudicate personal status matters, namely marriage, divorce and child custody. Jehovah's Witnesses say they feel like an oppressed and silenced minority. They say that the Maronite community in particular vilifies them. "They spread lies about us, claiming that we are Jews," said an Armenian convert.
Jehovah's Witnesses is a relatively young faith. In the late 19th century, an American named Charles Taze Russell led a Bible study group after the publication of his "Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society." The group dubbed itself Jehovah's Witnesses in 1931.

Followers believe that the End of Days began in 1914 with Armageddon approaching. They observe only one holiday: The Last Supper of Jesus, or the Memorial Service as they call it. An estimated 18 million adherents regularly attend Kingdom Halls or proselytize worldwide, including in the Arab world. The Council of Elders, based in Brooklyn, oversees the activities of the group, publishes religious materials and disseminates doctrinal interpretations.
The Beirut service began with a warm welcome from one of the "brothers," who then summoned another member to deliver the sermon. He discussed their beliefs, reading from the New Testament and arguing that, after Armageddon, only 144,000 true believers will accompany Jesus as he rules from heaven.

The witnesses listened solemnly, rising and praying when called to do so. Finally, the preacher concluded, offering to dispatch learned members to the homes of newcomers. Two Lebanese and two African members walked to the front of the hall to collect a plate of unleavened bread and a glass of red wine. Once the memorial concluded, they rose from their seats and chatted quietly with one another. The Ghanaian and Philippine couple rushed their daughter home "to finish homework." A Lebanese man carried his young son on his shoulders; the Lebanese women giggled with their Philippine sisters and most of them gave a smile and a handshake to all new faces. "I hope to see you Thursday so we can talk next time," a young Liberian man said kindly to an American newcomer. "You are always welcome here."
-- Becky Lee Katz in Beirut
Photo: The front cover of an Arabic-language Jehovah's Witnesses pamphlet. Credit: Los Angeles Times

UN Judge Wants Pope Prosecuted at the ICC

Article Link : UN Judge Says Pope Should be Prosecuted at International Criminal Court for "crimes against humanity"

Vatican Condemned at UN for Child Abuse
(News article & Video link) ..."the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) accused the Vatican of violating its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)."

Now read this 'Watching the World' excerpt, from the new May issue of the Awake!, and tell me that's not some serious irony...

An encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI states: "There is a strongly felt need . . . for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth." -L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO; italics theirs.

So they wanna give the UN "real teeth" eh?
Apparently the church still hasn't "gotton the memo" yet, (although they've had ample time, considering that JW's have been openly preaching that this was coming...for decades now)

daily text 4/24

Saturday, April 24th, 2010
"They hauled [the dragnet full of fish] up onto the beach and, sitting down, they collected the fine ones into vessels, but the unsuitable they threw away." (Matthew 13:48)

As with the unsuitable fish, many who once studied the Bible with Jehovah's people have stopped studying. Some born to Christian parents have never really wanted to become footstep followers of Jesus. They have been unwilling to make the decision to serve Jehovah or after serving him for a while have ceased doing so. (Ezekiel 33:32, 33) It is imperative, though, that all honesthearted ones allow themselves to be gathered into the vessellike congregations before the final day of judgement and to remain in a place of safety. How encouraging, though, it is to see so many suitable ones being drawn by Jehovah! (John 6:44) This has resulted in spectacular increases in country after country. All glory for this growth goes to Jehovah God.
(Watchtower issue: 7/15/08, 4:15, 16, 19, 21)

It totally surprises me that anyone who was raised as a Witness could leave right now, or not make a concerted effort to get back on track ASAP... especially at this particular juncture in time, in light of recent world events. Because pretty much every single thing that we've been learning about, all these years at congregation meetings & assemblies, -has been happening.
I know I've been 'a slacker' myself, in the past, and didn't always pay attention to world events, but a person would have to be in complete denial not to recognize what's going on right now.


Yay! I finally got 'approved' for the medication I need, which costs an arm and a leg without insurance! Sorry but I'm all excited because I feel like I've been waiting FOREVER! =)

Jehovah really does "sustain us upon a divan of illness." (Psalm 41:3) ...We've just gotta 'hang in there' in the meantime.

Friday, April 23, 2010

daily text 4/23

Friday, April 23rd, 2010
"In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin." (Daniel 2:44)

When that happens, both satanic rule and rule by imperfect humans will disappear. There is no doubt that Jehovah's organization will be preserved and will prosper spiritually. (Psalm 125:1, 2) How about us? The Bible tells us that we can succeed in opposing the Devil, even as Jesus did. Indeed, the prophecy that Christ gave through the apostle John shows that despite satanic opposition, "a great crowd" of those having an earthly hope will survive this system's end. According to the Scriptures, they cry out "Salvation we owe to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb [Jesus Christ]." (Revelation 7:9-14) Anointed ones are spoken of as conquering Satan, and their companions, the "other sheep," also successfully oppose him. (John 10:16; Revelation 12:10, 11) But this requires diligent effort and earnest prayer for 'deliverance from the wicked one.' —Matthew 6:13.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 4:6, 7)

Things seem to really be picking up the pace lately...did everyone see the article about the United Nations judge who wants to prosecute the Pope for "crimes against humanity"... now that all these abuse cases are coming out? That's gotta be a 'first' in history.
I'll post the article later.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

daily text 4/22

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
"My son, if your heart has become wise, my heart will rejoice, even mine." (Proverbs 23:15)

Contemplating Jehovah's creative works and reflecting on his wonderful and completely reliable promises should move you not only to make a dedication to Jehovah but also to symbolize that dedication by water immersion. Baptism is a vital step to be taken by those wanting to serve God. By taking this step, you enter a long-distance foot-race in which the rewards are everlasting life and the joy that comes now from doing God's will. (Hebrews 12:2, 3) You will also bring joy to your family members who are already in the race and to your friends in the Christian congregation. Most important of all, you will make Jehovah's heart rejoice. True, others may not understand why you have chosen to worship Jehovah, and they may question your decision. They may even oppose you. But you can successfully meet these challenges.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 4:7, 9)

There's quite a few scriptural accounts that demonstrate why it's so important to "get off the fence" and make a public dedication to *identify ourselves* as one of Jehovah's people...(such as the Passover account at Exodus 12:7 - where the Israelites were told to splash blood on the doorposts as a *visible* sign).
But there's another account (which we don't read as often), that also stood out to me in this regard. It was when Jehu was anointed king and he set out on a campaign to rid false worship out of the land. He arranged for a big celebration and assembly for all the Baal worshippers and *pretended* that he was going to worship Baal along with them. He even made them put on garments that publically/physically*identified* them as Baal worshippers (2 Kings 10:18-22)
Jehu then said:
“...Search carefully and see that there may be here with YOU none of the worshipers of Jehovah, but only the worshipers of Ba′al. (2 Kings 10:23)

But it was a trick. Because after making sure that no servant of Jehovah was on the premises, he had his men kill all the Baal worshippers and burn down the house of Baal and all the altars. -So that's another instance where being *publically identified* as one of Jehovah's people, saved their lives.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

daily text 4/21

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
"Those who [marry] will have tribulation in their flesh." (1 Corinthians 7:28)

The ungodly world in which we live is obsessed with sex. Every day, waves of sensual images are directed at us. We cannot ignore the effect they can have on us. How should young Christians react to this unwholesome influence, which can arouse sexual desire even against their will? Some have tried to deal with it by marrying at a very early age. In that way, they hope to avoid getting involved in sexual immorality. Before long, though, a number have regretted that decision. Why? Once the novelty of being married has worn off, they have realized that they and their partner have little in common when it comes to everyday matters. Such couples are then faced with a serious challenge. Still, no matter how challenging the situation is, true Christians know that an unscriptural divorce is not an acceptable solution to problems associated with an unhappy union.
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 4:4, 5)

Some related articles from the website:

Maintaining Commitment In Your Marriage

Are You Thinking About Marriage?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

399 Language Translations Available Online

On a good note...they've added 7 more language translations to the main website, so now there are:
399 Languages Available
...of course, I have no clue which ones they are =)

Thousands Imprisoned For Their Faith in Eritrea

latest news release on the JW-Media site:

For Immediate Release
April 19, 2010

Minority faiths in Eritrea have few choices...
Thousands imprisoned, some still not charged with any crime

ASMARA, Eritrea—International human rights organizations tally the members of religious minorities imprisoned in Eritrea at over 3,000. Among them are 58 Christian men, women and children who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. More than nine months ago, on June 28, 2009, police arrested 23 Witnesses, including women and children as young as two years old, who were meeting peacefully in a private home. The husbands and fathers were already in prison, having been collected up long before. The eldest of the women and some of the children were later released, but two of the children—now three and four years old—are still imprisoned along with their mothers.

At least two entire families are in prison. Most of those who were arrested from July 2008 to January 2009 were initially held at the 2nd and 5th police stations in Asmara and have since been transferred to the Meitir prison camp, about 200 kilometers, some 125 miles, north of the city. They were arrested either at home or at their places of work, but despite the time since their imprisonment, they have not been charged with a crime nor been given a trial, which is similar to the situation of three other Witnesses who have been in prison for more than 15 years without being charged or given a trial.

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Eritrea are law-abiding citizens who pay their taxes and support the efforts of the government under which they live. In 2002, the Eritrean government banned all minority religious groups. Members of these groups continue to suffer harassment, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment at the hands of the state. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been subjected to especially harsh treatment. In 1994, they were stripped of basic citizenship rights for refusing to bear arms or perform military service.

daily text 4/20

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
They have said: "Come and let us efface them from being a nation." (Psalm 83:4)

In Psalm 83, the psalmist begs Jehovah to take action so as to uphold His sovereignty and make His name known. The psalm must have been composed some time after Solomon's death. Why? Because during the reigns of David and Solomon, Tyre's king was friendly toward Israel. By the time Psalm 83 was composed, the inhabitants of Tyre had turned against Israel and had sided with its enemies. It is evident that Jehovah God inspired the writing of this prayerful song at a time when his nation was in danger. The psalm also provides encouragement for God's servants today, who throughout their history have faced one attack after another by enemies determined to destroy them. And it will surely strengthen us in the near future when Gog of Magog marshals his forces in one final attempt to destroy all who worship God in spirit and truth. —Ezekiel 38:2, 8, 9, 16.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 3:3, 5, 8)

It's important to keep this in mind, (especially living in America or a country where we're used to having religious freedom), so that we aren't overly surprised or worried when people turn on us, since events within the past century, (as well as recent history), have shown that governments and political rulers, who were once friendly or tolerant of Jehovah's Witnesses at one time, have quickly changed their stand to one of intolerance and persecution.
-Which tends to happen during time periods when feelings of patriotism and nationalism are running high...such as wartime, or when a country is experiencing alot of inner turmoil and political reform.

Monday, April 19, 2010

daily text 4/19

*FYI -check back later, because I'm gonna backdate a post which has a good map showing Paul's missionary travels, which helps to get a better visual idea of the info and locations that were mentioned in yesterday's text discussion.

Monday, April 19th, 2010
"I shall without fail rip the kingdom away from off you, and I shall certainly give it to your servant."
(1 Kings 11:11)

When Solomon became unfaithful to Jehovah and turned to oppressing God's people, Jehovah sent the prophet Ahijah to anoint a deliverer. That deliverer was Jeroboam, a capable man who worked in Solomon's government. Although Jehovah remained loyal to the Kingdom covenant made with David, He approved a governmental division among the 12 tribes. Ten tribes would be given to Jeroboam; two would remain with the family line of David, now represented by King Rehoboam. (1 Kings 11:29-37; 12:16, 17, 21) Jehovah told Jeroboam: "It must occur that, if you obey all that I shall command you, . . . just as David my servant did, I will also prove to be with you, and I will build you a lasting house, . . . and I will give you Israel." (1 Kings 11:38) Jehovah acted in behalf of his people and provided a way of bringing them relief from oppression.
(Watchtower issue: 8/15/08, 1:6, 7)

It's interesting how many people have a mistaken notion that God's laws are oppressive and restrictive, when just the opposite is true. Whenever kings and political rulers stop applying God's requirements and start substituting their own, the people end up suffering in one way or another...either feeling oppressed by rulers that are overly restrictive & harsh (like Solomon and Rehoboam became), -or- they and their children end up suffering down the road, from the long-term consequences that result when rulers are too lenient and relaxed when it comes to upholding God's moral & judicial standards (which is what Jeroboam later made the huge mistake of doing, all for the sake of maintaining his political career).
The exact same thing is true today...which explains why this world is in such political turmoil, and governments have continually failed to bring about lasting peace and security, as mentioned in yesterday's special talk.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Apostle Paul's Missionary Travels

The following info, map, and photos are from the article: (Christianity Penetrates Asia Minor on pgs 8-11 of the 8/15/07 WA)

Christianity Penetrates Asia Minor
In the first century C.E., many Christian congregations blossomed in Asia Minor (mainly modern-day Turkey). Jews and Gentiles in great numbers responded to the Christian message. One Bible dictionary states: “Apart from Syria-Palestine, it was here in Asia Minor that the Christian movement made its earliest and most extensive advance.”

We can get a fuller picture of the spread of Christianity in this region by piecing together information from different sources. Let us see how we can benefit from considering the available information.

In the Christian Greek Scriptures and in this article, “Asia” refers to the Roman province that occupied the western part of Asia Minor, not to the continent of Asia.

The First Christians in Asia Minor
The first significant event in the spread of Christianity in Asia Minor dates back to Pentecost 33 C.E. when a multilingual crowd that included Diaspora Jews (Jews who lived outside Palestine) and Jewish proselytes assembled in Jerusalem. Jesus’ apostles preached the good news to these visitors. The historical record says that various ones came from Cappadocia, Pontus, the district of Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia—areas that made up a large part of Asia Minor. About 3,000 listeners accepted the Christian message and were baptized. On their return home, they took their new faith with them.—Acts 2:5-11, 41.

We find the next piece of information in the Bible record of the apostle Paul’s missionary journeys in Asia Minor. During his first trip, dated to about 47/48 C.E., Paul sailed with his companions from Cyprus to Asia Minor, landing at Perga in Pamphylia. In the inland city of Antioch in Pisidia, their success in preaching provoked jealousy and opposition from the Jews. When Paul moved southeastward to Iconium, other Jews plotted to treat the missionaries insolently. Excitable local people in nearby Lystra at first proclaimed Paul to be a god. But after opposing Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived, the local crowd proceeded to stone Paul and leave him for dead! After that experience, Paul and Barnabas extended their tour to Derbe in the Roman political province of Galatia, an area where people spoke the Lycaonian language. Congregations were organized, and elders appointed. You can thus see that about 15 years after Pentecost 33 C.E., Christianity was well-established in Asia Minor.—Acts 13:13–14:26.

During his second journey, dated to about 49 to 52 C.E., Paul’s group first traveled overland to Lystra, likely passing his home territory of Tarsus in Cilicia. After revisiting the brothers in Lystra and moving north, Paul attempted to “speak the word” in the provinces of Bithynia and Asia. However, holy spirit forbade that. Those areas would be evangelized later. Instead, God guided Paul through northwestern parts of Asia Minor to Troas on the coast. Then Paul was directed in a vision to declare the good news in Europe.—Acts 16:1-12; 22:3.

During Paul’s third missionary tour, dated to about 52 to 56 C.E., he again moved through Asia Minor, reaching Ephesus, an important port city of Asia. He had already stopped there when he returned from his second journey. A group of Christians were active in that city, and Paul and his companions joined them for some three years. That interval was punctuated by a number of difficulties and dangers, not least of which was the uproar created by Ephesian silversmiths in defense of their lucrative religious commerce.—Acts 18:19-26; 19:1, 8-41; 20:31.

The Ephesus-based missionary work evidently had far-reaching effects. Acts 19:10 states: “All those inhabiting the district of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.”

Developments in Asia Minor
Near the end of his stay in Ephesus, Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “The congregations of Asia send you their greetings.” (1 Corinthians 16:19) What congregations did Paul have in mind? He probably included those in Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. (Colossians 4:12-16) The book Paul—His Story observes: “It seems logical to attribute the creation of communities at Smyrna, Pergamum, Sardis and Philadelphia to the missionary initiative of Ephesus. . . . All were within a 120-mile (192-km) radius of Ephesus and linked by excellent roads.”
So about 20 years after Pentecost 33 C.E., a number of Christian congregations existed in the south and west of Asia Minor. What about other parts of the region?

Recipients of Peter’s Letters
The apostle Peter wrote his first inspired letter some years later, about 62 to 64 C.E. He addressed it to Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Peter’s letter indicates that there likely were Christian congregations in these areas, their elders being exhorted to “shepherd the flock.” When were these congregations founded?—1 Peter 1:1; 5:1-3.

Some of the areas in which the recipients of Peter’s letters lived, such as Asia and Galatia, had been evangelized by Paul. He had not, however, penetrated Cappadocia or Bithynia. The Bible does not tell us how Christianity spread to these regions, but it could have been through Jews or proselytes who were present in Jerusalem at Pentecost 33 C.E. and who later returned home. In any case, about 30 years after Pentecost when Peter wrote his letters, it would appear that there were congregations “dotted all over Asia Minor,” as one scholar puts it.

(Base of the altar of Zeus, in Pergamum)

The Seven Congregations of Revelation
The Jewish revolt against the Romans provoked the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. It may be that some Judean Christians wound up in Asia Minor.
Toward the end of the first century C.E., Jesus Christ directed letters to seven congregations in Asia Minor by means of the apostle John. These letters, to congregations in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, reveal that Christians in this part of Asia Minor were then facing various dangers, such as immorality, sectarianism, and apostasy.—Revelation 1:9, 11; 2:14, 15, 20.

Modest, Whole-Souled Service
The spread of first-century Christianity clearly included more than what we read of in Acts of Apostles. The well-known apostles Peter and Paul were engaged in events described in Acts, but an unknown number of others were preaching elsewhere. Developments in Asia Minor confirm that early Christians took to heart Jesus’ command: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations.”—Matthew 28:19, 20.

The historian Eusebius (260-340 C.E.) states that some time before 66 C.E., the “apostles, in constant danger from murderous plots, were driven out of Judea. But to teach their message they travelled into every land in the power of Christ.”

(extra reference box on pg 11):

The combined province of Bithynia and Pontus lay on the Black Sea Coast of Asia Minor. Much is known about daily life in this province from what Pliny the Younger, one of its officials, wrote to the Roman Emperor Trajan.
Some 50 years after Peter’s letters circulated among the congregations in this area, Pliny asked Trajan for advice on how to deal with Christians. “I have never been present at an examination of Christians. Consequently, I do not know the nature of the extent of the punishments usually meted out to them,” wrote Pliny. “A great many individuals of every age and class, both men and women, are being brought to trial, and this is likely to continue. It is not only the towns, but villages and rural districts too which are infected through contact with this wretched cult.”

daily text 4/18

Sunday, April 18th, 2010
"A large door that leads to activity has been opened to me." (1 Corinthians 16:9)

Paul's ministry in Ephesus resulted in the spread of the good news. Consider Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis, three cities inland from Ephesus. Paul never visited them, but the good news reached them. Epaphras was from that area. (Colossians 2:1; 4:12, 13) Did Epaphras hear Paul witness in Ephesus and become a Christian? The Bible does not specify. But in spreading the truth in his home area, Epaphras may have represented Paul. (Colossians 1:7) The Christian message may also have reached such cities as Philadelphia, Sardis, and Thyatira during the years Paul was bearing witness in Ephesus. Consequently, the Ephesian elders had ample reason to accept Paul's comment: "I do not make my soul of any account as dear to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received of the Lord Jesus, to bear thorough witness to the good news of the undeserved kindness of God."—Acts 20:24.
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 4:8, 9)

Even though I'm not a missionary, I completely relate to what Paul said in that last verse. Arrgh! I wish I didn't have so many health problems!...because I've been feeling a terrible urge to want to pioneer someplace where the need is greater...especially when I watch documentaries about Iraq and Afghanistan and can see how bad those people need to learn the truth about God, and have a hope for the future, (especially the children there).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

daily text 4/17

Saturday, April 17th, 2010
"Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost." (Luke 15:6)

Jesus Christ is called "the great shepherd of the sheep." (Hebrews 13:20) The Scriptures foretold his coming and showed that he was a unique Shepherd who sought to find the "lost sheep" of Israel. (Matthew 2:1-6; 15:24) Moreover, as a literal shepherd might give his life in order to protect his sheep, Jesus died as a ransom sacrifice for sheeplike ones who would avail themselves of his sacrifice. (John 10:11, 15; 1 John 2:1, 2) Sadly, some who made a dedication to God no longer associate with the Christian congregation. Discouragement, health problems, or other factors may have weakened their zeal and caused them to become inactive. However, only as part of God's flock can they enjoy the serenity and happiness that David spoke of in the 23rd Psalm. Those in the flock of God lack nothing in a spiritual way, but that is not the happy lot of sheep who have strayed.—Psalm 23:1.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 1:1, 2)

The Prodigal Son Returns
(Previous post I did on this topic)
Audio Drama: The Parable of the Prodigal Son
(Audio link to the 2009 Drama we had on this topic)

(Isaiah 53:6) "Like sheep we have all of us wandered about; it was each one to his own way that we have turned; and Jehovah himself has caused the error of us all to meet up with that one."

(1 Peter 2:25) "For YOU were like sheep, going astray; but now YOU have returned to the shepherd and overseer of YOUR souls."

Aren't those 2 scriptures interesting in regards to prophetic significance of Jesus' role as "The Shepherd" of God's flock? Allowing ourselves to be led by a shepherd, and remaining part of God's flock is vital for our salvation ... we can't be rogue sheep =)

Friday, April 16, 2010

*Special Talk Reminder*

Just a reminder that our annual, worldwide *special* talk, is this coming Sunday, the 18th...
"Real Peace and Security -When?"
Ok I know we shouldn't speculate, but does anyone else find the timing and theme of this year's special talk very interesting? Especially in light of the international nuclear summit and recent agreement between Russia and the U.S., in regards to stepping up the pressure to deter the threat of nuclear weapons for the sake of world security?

NPR - Nuclear Summit Takes An Urgent Tone
(excerpt from the article)
"Although the U.S. and Russia have been trying to secure dangerous nuclear materials for more than a decade, there has never before been an international summit this large and at such a high level focused on nuclear security . . . This summit is designed to rally the world to take action urgently."

daily text 4/16

*FYI* I didn't get to post the yearbook experience I mentioned yesterday, so I'm backdating it...but make sure to read it since it also ties in with today's text, (about continuing to serve God in spite of any stumbling blocks or disappointments that come our way)...Because I highly doubt any of us can complain that we've had to face what loyal brothers like that have faced, in order to keep on serving Jehovah...and he wasn't even baptized or in a congregation at the time!

Friday, April 16th, 2010
"Is the Judge of all the earth not going to do what is right?" (Genesis 18:25)

Because humans are imperfect, personality clashes occur, and this may stumble an individual. Some have been stumbled when a respected person in the congregation acted in an ungodly manner. Jehovah, however, does not cause anyone to stumble. So why should anyone sever his or her relationship with God and His people? Instead, should one not keep on serving God, confident that "the Judge of all the earth" knows what took place and will handle matters in the right way? (Colossians 3:23-25) With the passing of time, some find that what stumbled them no longer seems very important. If a person is stumbled because he has received discipline, prayerful meditation may cause him to conclude that he himself was at least partially in the wrong and should not have allowed the discipline to stumble him.—Psalm 119:165; Hebrews 12:5-13.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 2:8, 9)

I was thinking that this applies not only to the people we've known for a long time and have grown up with, but also to new people that move into the congregation. Because the more diversified that the congregations become, the more likely we'll be to encounter brothers and sisters with personality types and cultural backrounds that are alot different from our own. (which is actually the best thing...since that's how people learn to relate better to one another), but I'm sure it can also lead to misunderstandings and stronger differences of opinion, like it did with some Christians in the 1st century.

But no matter what other members of the congregation may do, or not do, we should always remember that it's Jehovah who we've made a dedication to,...not other people. And unfortunately, there may be brothers and sisters who fail to live up to their personal responsibility to Jehovah. But their mistakes or failures don't have any bearing on our dedication to serve God and support the rest of the congregation. So even if we feel stumbled, or unanticipated disappointments arise (which is going to happen, since nobody is perfect), we shouldn't let ourselves be spiritually thrown off track by it. Plus, we can never be certain of the final outcome one way or the other. Even negative situations involving the actions of others, can end up turning around later on.

"Hence do not judge anything before the due time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring the secret things of darkness to light and make the counsels of the hearts manifest, and then each one will have his praise come to him from God." (1 Corinthians 4:5)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Maintaining Integrity Despite Persecution

The following experience and photos from: (pgs 144-147 of the 2010 Yearbook), is about Brother Sotir Ceqi during the 1940's in Communist-ruled Albania.

(Sotir Ceqi)

"I Will Keep Preaching"
Sotir Ceqi was a devout Orthodox who lived in Tiranë. As a child he had tuberculosis of the bone and suffered excruciating pain in his legs. When he was 17 years old, he became so depressed that he decided to kill himself by jumping in front of a train. Shortly before he was about to do so, Leonidha Pope, a relative, visited him. Not knowing what Sotir was planning, Leonidha told him that Jesus cured the sick and that the earth would be a paradise. He also gave Sotir a copy of the Greek Scriptures, which Sotir immediately began to read.
"It was like water poured into me," said Sotir. "I had found the truth!"
Within a few days and without further contact with Leonidha, Sotir reasoned: 'The Bible says that Jesus preached. The apostles and disciples all preached. Obviously, that is what I must do.'

(Sotir's relative, Leonidha Pope)

So, Sotir set out to preach. With the Greek Scriptures in one hand and his crutch in the other, he courageously went from door to door. During those years the Sigurimi, or Directorate of State Security, was responsible for protecting the nation's security. Ever alert to any apparent threat to Communism, they could hardly fail to notice Sotir's bold preaching. They arrested him, held him for hours, beat him, and ordered him not to preach.
When Sotir was released, he contacted Leonidha, who took him to Spiro Karajani, a doctor who had learned the truth some years earlier. Besides medical attention, Spiro helped Sotir get a better understanding of the truth.

"If you are arrested again," Spiro advised Sotir, "before you sign anything, count every word and every line. Draw a line after their words. Don't leave a space. Read everything carefully. Be sure that what you sign is what you said."

Just two days later, the police caught Sotir preaching again. At the police station, the officers ordered him to sign a statement. As he was about to sign, he remembered Spiro's advice. Despite pressure from the police to sign quickly, Sotir took the time to read every word.

"I am sorry," he said, "I cannot sign this. I did not say these words. If I signed this document, it would be a lie, and I cannot lie."

The police responded by making a whip out of a rope, which they used to beat Sotir for several hours. When he still would not cooperate, they forced him to hold two wires and repeatedly gave him excruciating electric shocks.

"When I could hardly stand the pain," Sotir later recalled, "I prayed with tears. Suddenly, the door swung open. There stood the chief officer. He glanced over and quickly turned his head away. 'Stop!' he ordered. 'You're not supposed to do that!' " They were all fully aware that torture was against the law. The police stopped the torture, but they did not stop putting pressure on Sotir to sign the document. Still, he refused.

"You win!" they eventually said. Reluctantly, they wrote down the statement that Sotir himself had made in which he gave a fine witness. They handed him the document. Despite hours of beatings and shock treatment, Sotir read every word carefully. When a sentence ended halfway across the page, he drew a line at the end of the sentence.

"Where in the world did you learn that?" asked the amazed officers.

"Jehovah taught me not to sign what I did not say," replied Sotir.

"Ok, so who gave you this?" asked an officer, handing Sotir a piece of bread and a piece of cheese. By then it was 9:00 p.m., and Sotir was ravenous, not having eaten all day. "Was it Jehovah? No. We did."

"Jehovah has many ways of providing," Sotir replied. "He just softened your hearts."

"We'll let you go," said the frustrated officers, "but if you preach again, you know what will happen."

"Then do not let me go, because I will keep preaching."

"You'd better not tell anyone what happened here!" commanded the officer.

"Just get out of here!" barked the police.

Sotir was one of many who were tortured that way.
It was only after this faith-testing incident that Sotir was baptized. For years, mail was censored and only sketchy reports trickled out of Albania. As travel and meeting attendance became increasingly risky, brothers around the country started to lose contact with one another. With no central organization, it was difficult to get a clear picture of what was happening. Nevertheless, the number of those who embraced the truth continued to grow. In 1940 there were 50 brothers and sisters in Albania, and in 1949 there were 71.

Isn't it incredible, that with such a small amount of Witnesses, (not even the size of one full congregation), that brothers like Sotir, were willing to take up the preaching work all by themselves when necessary, and maintained their integrity for so many years under such harsh political repression?

daily text 4/15

Thursday, April 15th, 2010
"For those walking in integrity [Jehovah] is a shield." (Proverbs 2:7)

Jehovah dignifies us with the privilege of deciding whether we will be people of integrity. Happily, though, he does not simply leave us on our own in the matter. He teaches us how to build this precious quality, and he gives us generously of his holy spirit, which helps us apply his teachings. (Luke 11:13) He even provides spiritual protection for those who endeavor to walk in integrity. How has Jehovah taught us to be integrity keepers? Above all, by sending his Son, Jesus, to the earth. Jesus lived a course of perfect obedience. He "became obedient as far as death." (Philippians 2:8) In everything that he did, Jesus obeyed his heavenly Father, even when it was extremely difficult. "Let, not my will, but yours take place," he said to Jehovah. (Luke 22:42) Each of us does well to ask himself, 'Do I have a similarly obedient spirit?' By pursuing a course of obedience with the right motive, we will be integrity keepers.
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 2:3, 4)

Sometimes I'm so amazed when I read accounts about the extremely difficult circumstances that other Witnesses have faced over the years, while continuing to persevere in the ministry and maintain a joyful outlook at the same time. And when I think about the physical torture, beatings, and imprisonment that so many have been forced to endure (such as the yearbook experience that I'm going to post today), I wonder how anyone can maintain their integrity for so long while suffering so terribly.

But I learned an important point (which was brought out by a circuit overseer at the District Convention a few years back), that really helped clarify this for me. He emphasized the fact, that maintaining spiritual integrity is not dependent on personal willpower or our own physical strength and endurance, since God's servants aren't *superhuman* or perfect, like Jesus was. But rather, it's entirely dependent on Jehovah's spirit, which gives us the needed help to maintain our matter what situation presents itself.
He said:"Our integrity does not have a breaking point."
The only person who can break our integrity to God, is US. It's a personal choice. And that's a *guarantee* we can be confident of, based on Jehovah's promise to us:

"...God is faithful, and he will not let YOU be tempted beyond what YOU can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for YOU to be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

God promises to give us the needed strength and ability to endure whatever obstacle or trial presents itself. So if any situation arises that seems too difficult (from a human standpoint), and we feel we are at our "breaking point" and can't physically, mentally, or emotionally take anymore, God has given us the assurance that he will step in at that point to "make the way out" in order for us to endure it and maintain our integrity to him. The reason many people have failed in this regard, (where others have succeeded), is due to the fact that alot of times people tend to give up on themselves and throw in the towel too soon, without truly relying on God's strength to pull them through it. But the many successful examples of "integrity keepers" (from Biblical times down to the present day), gives us firm evidence that success is possible, if we fully rely on Jehovah to help us, and don't give up.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

daily text 4/14

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
"Anything that my eyes asked for I did not keep away from them." (Ecclesiastes 2:10)

Solomon was one of the richest men on earth when he wrote Ecclesiastes. (2 Chronicles 9:22) He had the means to acquire anything he wanted. Nevertheless, he discovered that possessions do not in themselves bring satisfaction. "A mere lover of silver will not be satisfied with silver, neither any lover of wealth with income," he concluded. (Ecclesiastes 5:10) Researchers have noted that an emphasis on materialism is, in fact, a hindrance to happiness and satisfaction. A long time ago, Solomon had already reached that same conclusion. He wrote: "I accumulated also silver and gold for myself, and property peculiar to kings . . . And, look! everything was vanity and a striving after wind." (Ecclesiastes 2:8, 11) In contrast, if we use our life to serve Jehovah wholeheartedly and thus receive his blessing, we will obtain true riches.—Proverbs 10:22.
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 5:9, 10)

Too bad the rest of the world hasn't "got the memo" on this. =)
Actually, what I hadn't realized for a long time was that the enormous wealth and material prosperity which King Solomon had, was *unique* among the kings of Israel. And the reason for that was prophetic...foreshadowing the rich blessings in store for everyone under the Messianic Kingdom.
But as a general rule, the other kings of Israel were given guidelines which set a balanced *limit* on the amount of material goods they should accumulate. -In order to keep both the rulers, and the people, from developing a greedy, materialistic frame of mind, and way of life (like the surrounding nations promoted), but even more importantly, to keep them from developing an unhealthy dependence on their physical assets for protection & security, rather than relying on Jehovah to provide for them.

(Deuteronomy 17:16, 17)
"Only he should not increase horses for himself,...He should also not multiply wives for himself, that his heart may not turn aside; nor should he increase silver and gold for himself very much."

(The part about not increasing horses applied especially when the Israelites won a victory in battle against their enemies and had the option of plundering lots of trained horses and war chariots. So that guideline was given in order for the people, and the kings, to remember that success in battle was dependent on Jehovah,...not the size of their military.)

So it's pretty clear that regardless of the type of material assets, (whether its money, women, or horses),...God doesn't like hoarding. =) And it's not too hard to understand why, when you've got huge sectors of society living in terrible poverty, (over a billion people trying to survive on less than a dollar a day) and children dying from starvation and preventable diseases, while the rulers of society are jet-setting around the globe, attending gala parties, and living in posh decadence.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

daily text 4/13

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
"In brotherly love have tender affection for one another." (Romans 12:10)

All who wish to progress spiritually must manifest a humble spirit as Paul did. He exhorted fellow Christians to do "nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior to you." (Philippians 2:3) How can we follow that counsel? One way is by cooperating with the elders in our congregation, following their direction and upholding judicial decisions made by them. (Hebrews 13:17) Another way is by highly esteeming all our brothers and sisters in the faith. The congregations of Jehovah's people are often composed of individuals of diverse national, cultural, racial, and ethnic backrounds. Should we, though, not learn to treat all with impartiality and affection, as Paul did? (Acts 17:26) We are encouraged to "welcome one another just as the Christ also welcomed us, with glory to God in view." —Romans 15:7.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 5:19)

At the end of chapter 3 in the Come Be My Follower book, it makes a very pointed statement in regards to haughtiness, (which is the very opposite of humility).

" a quality that can render the most gifted human useless to God. Humility, on the other hand, can make even the least one very useful to Jehovah."

Monday, April 12, 2010

daily text 4/12

Monday, April 12th, 2010
"Let him go up to Jerusalem . . . and rebuild the house of Jehovah." (Ezra 1:3)

The prophet Jeremiah foretold the destruction of Jerusalem that occured in 607 B.C.E. He said that God's people would be carried into captivity but would be restored to their homeland after "seventy years." (Jeremiah 29:4, 10) For Jews captive in Babylon, Jeremiah had an important message; they were to stay uncontaminated by the false religion that was practiced in Babylon. Thus they would be ready to return to Jerusalem and restore pure worship when the set time arrived. This happened soon after the Medes and the Persians conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.E. Persian King Cyrus II issued a decree for the Jews to return and rebuild Jehovah's temple in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:1-4) Thousands of Jews seized this opportunity and returned. (Ezra 2:64-67) In doing so, they fulfilled Jeremiah's prophetic command that in their case involved actual flight from the city of Babylon.—Jeremiah 51:6, 45, 50.
(Watchtower issue: 6/15/08, 1:8, 9)

It's interesting that only some of the Israelites were *ready* when the time came to restore Jerusalem. Despite knowing the prophecy regarding their temporary exile ahead of time, the others must have gotton so caught up with their lives in Babylon, that they lost sight of the fact that their exile was only temporary...and was meant to be a punishment for failing to live up to God's law covenant for so long. Any of the Israelites who allowed themselves to forget that, and who began to grow accustomed to the lifestyle of the Babylonians and a fondness for the people and their customs, would have had a very difficult time making the journey back to Jerusalem, since they wouldn't have wanted to leave.

Which is so similar to the situation in our day,...because we also need to stay separate from false religion and many of the customs & standards which we are surrounded by, while at the same time, continuing to live our lives *right now* in expectation of the new system of things. If we grow too fond of the things of this world (that are in opposition to Jehovah's laws), than we will find it much more difficult to conform to God's requirements in the future. There's no point in allowing ourselves to develop a desire for things which aren't going to exist in the new world.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

daily text 4/11

Sunday, April 11th, 2010
"[Jehovah's] beaming eyes examine the sons of men." (Psalm 11:4)

How do you feel about people who take a genuine interest in you? (Psalm 141:5; Galatians 6:1) Are you not drawn to such people? Well, Jehovah and his Son are just like that. In fact, their interest in you exceeds that of any human, and their motive is entirely unselfish; they want to help you to "get a firm hold on the real life." (1 Timothy 6:19; Revelation 3:19) The psalmist David expressed the depth of Jehovah's interest in us when he said the words of today's text. Yes, God does not simply look at us; he examines us. David also wrote: "You have examined my heart, you have made inspection by night . . . You will discover that I have not schemed." (Psalm 17:3) Clearly, David was aware of the depth of Jehovah's interest in him. He knew that he would hurt Jehovah and merit His displeasure if he nurtured sinful thoughts or developed a scheming heart. Is Jehovah as real to you as he was to David?
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08; 1:1, 2)

Here are some extra cross reference scriptures (related to the topic of today's text) demonstrating the depth of Jehovah's interest in us:

(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."

(Job 36:7) "He will not take away his eyes from anyone righteous..."

(Psalm 14:2) "As for Jehovah, he has looked down from heaven itself upon the sons of men, To see whether there exists anyone having insight, anyone seeking Jehovah."

(Psalm 34:15) "The eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, And his ears are toward their cry for help."

(Malachi 3:16) "At that time those in fear of Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name."

(Psalm 33:18) "Look! The eye of Jehovah is toward those fearing him, To those waiting for his loving-kindness."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

daily text 4/10

Saturday, April 10th, 2010
"The sower went out to sow." (Mark 4:3)

As recorded at Mark 4:1-9, Jesus describes a sower who casts, or scatters, seed. In this illustration, the sower does not deliberately sow the seed on different types of soil. Rather, the scattered seed lands in various locations. Notice that Jesus does not say that different types of seed are being used. Instead, he speaks of one type of seed that lands on different types of soil, each of which produces a different result. The first type of soil is hard, or packed down; the second is shallow; the third is overgrown with thorns; and the fourth is fine, or good, soil that produces well. (Luke 8:8) What is the seed? It is the Kingdom message found in God's Word. (Matthew 13:19) What do the different types of soil represent? People with differing heart conditions.—Luke 8:12, 15.
(Watchtower issue: 7/15/08, 3:4, 5, 7)

I noticed somewhat of a similarity between this illustration, and an account I was reading the other day about the situation with the Israelites in the wilderness....since they also received the same spiritual *message* (like the seed represented in the parable), yet they also demonstrated differing heart conditions by how they responded to it:

(1 Corinthians 10:1-5, 11)
"Now I do not want YOU to be ignorant, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea and all got baptized into Moses by means of the cloud and of the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they used to drink from the spiritual rock-mass that followed them, and that rock-mass meant the Christ. Nevertheless, on most of them God did not express his approval, for they were laid low in the wilderness . . . Now these things went on befalling them as examples, and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived."

-That last verse is interesting, because it shows how what occured back then, relates to us in modern times. Did you notice how it said that the "spiritual rock-mass" from which they all used to drink "meant the Christ"? Yet the majority of those Israelites (just like the majority of people today) didn't put true faith in what they saw and heard. -So even though they were 'on their way' to the Promised Land, most of them never made it in.
Which shows us that the majority of them must have had a heart condition similar to what's described by the first 3 types of soil, rather than the "good" or "fine soil" in the illustration.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Latest Damage in Russia...

Arson attack on house of worship in Russia
(click on the main jw-media page after reading the article, for more photos showing damage to the Kingdom Hall)

Russia -lawful or unlawful?
(results of expert studies reveal significant discrepancy on view of Christian literature)

daily text 4/9

Friday, April 9th, 2010
"With glory and splendor you . . . crowned him." (Psalm 8:5)

Jehovah has especially conferred a measure of dignity upon those who render sacred service to him. God dignified Abel by accepting his sacrifice, rejecting the one offered by his brother Cain. (Genesis 4:4, 5) Moses was instructed to 'put some of his dignity' upon Joshua, the man who was to succeed him as leader of the Israelites. (Numbers 27:20) Concerning David's son Solomon, the Bible says: "Jehovah continued to make Solomon surpassingly great before the eyes of all Israel and to put upon him such royal dignity as had not come to be upon any king before him over Israel." (1 Chronicles 29:25) God will confer exceptional dignity upon resurrected anointed Christians, who have faithfully declared "the glory of the splendor of his kingship." (Psalm 145:11-13) In thus extolling Jehovah, increasing throngs of Jesus' "other sheep" also have a blessed and dignified role. —John 10:16.
(Watchtower issue: 8/15/08, 3:3, 4)

This is one of my favorite qualities about Jehovah, which is so lacking in society. Jehovah has a pattern of giving commendation and approval to individuals based on their positive inner qualities & actions, and noble characteristics. Whereas the world and the media industry has always focused on and glorified the superficial aspects of people, such as: power, fame, wealth, academic prestige, and secular achievement, (as if materialism, prominence, and aggressive ambition, should be applauded and looked up to as 'a good thing')...especially when the injustice, corruption, and negligent complacency in this world, are the direct result of those very things.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

3:00 AM Bible Study

This somewhat *unconventional* experience (on pgs 45-46 of the 2010 Yearbook) is a great example, demonstrating the kind of dedication we should all have when it comes to making time for 'spiritual' priorities, (as mentioned in today's text).

With the rapid spread of cell phones throughout Africa, it is said that a "communications revolution" is under way. As an incentive to subscribers, many companies provide free call time at certain hours of the night. A sister named Grace made use of this provision. She found it difficult to study with Monica, her Bible student, because Monica was always busy with other matters. Grace did all she could to continue the study, even arranging to go to Monica's house at 5:00 a.m. But Monica's schedule changed, and even this time was not practical. Then Grace thought of making use of the free night-call arrangement. Monica agreed, and they arranged to study over the phone at 4:00 a.m. They were disappointed to find that so many were already using the network at that time that it was almost impossible to get a connection. Thus, they arranged to get up even earlier so they could study at 3:00 a.m., although this was a challenge for these two working mothers. Grace says: "I prayed to Jehovah and asked him for the strength and desire to continue in order to sustain the interest of my student. I set my phone alarm and disciplined myself to get up at that time. Even though I was very tired, I did not allow that to discourage me." How happy she was that she had made the effort, as she was present to see Monica baptized at the 2008 "Guided By God's Spirit" District Convention! Recently, Grace has used the same free night-call method to study with a woman who has now begun attending meetings.

It's so encouraging to read experiences like this, since it shows how there are still people out there who have a deep appreciation for learning about Jehovah and the Bible, well as dedicated Witnesses who willingly adjust their own schedules in order to accomodate the individual needs and circumstances of their Bible students. I love that.

daily text 4/8

Thursday, April 8th, 2010
"His delight is in the law of Jehovah" (Psalm 1:2)

When we first learned the truths contained in God's Word and then dedicated our lives to Jehovah, we probably read the Bible eagerly. We likely prayed fervently and often. And we delighted to attend congregation meetings, viewing each one as a source of spiritual refreshment, like an oasis for a thirsty man. That course helped us to break free of and keep free of the world's spirit. Do we still try to read the Bible each day? Are our prayers frequent and heartfelt? Do we love congregation meetings, attending all of them each week? (Psalm 84:10) Or have we lost some of these good habits? Of course, we may have many demands upon our time and energy, and it can be challenging to maintain a healthy spiritual routine. But if some of our good habits have suffered over time, could it be that we are succumbing to the spirit of the world? Will we now make a strong effort to revive the good habits we once had?
(Watchtower issue: 9/15/08, 4:10, 11)

A brother gave a good illustration about this, when it comes to enjoying our 'spiritual' feeding program. Jesus said that ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.’ (Matthew 4:4) So God knows that we need to maintain a regular spiritual feeding program to be balanced & healthy and to feel our best, (the same way we need to eat physical food everyday and get regular exercise to be healthy and feel our best). But there's a big difference between enjoying a variety of well prepared meals that taste good -versus- eating the exact same thing, like flavorless oatmeal all the time, or having someone throw down a slab of raw meat, and mushy, unappetizing vegetables and tell you to eat them.

In a situation like that, a person would easily be tempted to start skipping meals at home, and 'eating out' all the time! =) So he said that if we just 'rush through' our prayers and personal Bible study just to 'get it done' -without taking the time to really prepare for the meetings and the ministry by researching and meditating on what we're studying,...we can start to lose our appreciation for spiritual food, and develop an unhealthy appetite for the 'junk food' of this world.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

1914 - "Quaking" in the Lord's Day

“Everything would get better and better. This was the world I was born in. . . . Suddenly, unexpectedly, one morning in 1914 the whole thing came to an end.” (statesman Harold Macmillan, reflecting on the peaceful start of the 20th century)

“The terrific war outbreak in Europe has fulfilled an extraordinary prophecy. For a quarter of a century past, through preachers and through press, the ‘International Bible Students’ [as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known] . . . have been proclaiming to the world that the Day of Wrath prophesied in the Bible would dawn in 1914.” (New York newspaper The World of August 30, 1914)

click on the box to read the captions (pg 105 of Revelation-Its Grand Climax At Hand!)

The *signs* which indicate that we're living in the "Lord's day" or "presence" which began in 1914, are accompanied by both literal and figurative "quaking" ... so I thought I'd do a post on this topic since there was *another* big earthquake Sunday, (which I actually felt here in AZ, by the way)...I was in my room and heard the window glass rumbling and felt my bed start swaying from side to side slightly, but I didn't realize what it was. Until my mom told me that there had been an earthquake (in Mexico/southern CA),...she was out to eat with some sisters after the meeting and they all noticed that the tables and hanging light fixtures in the restuarant started shaking.

So anyway, I wanted to address this topic, but from a different angle,...since I think most people would be surprised to learn that other major Christian religious denominations have agreed that the climactic world events which began with WWI in 1914, pointed to the beginning of the "Lord's day" or "presence" and the end of the Gentile Times, however, they didn't announce this or make it known to the people...

Convention of the Bible Students in London, England, May 25-31, 1926 - (photo and following info on pgs 147 & 148 of: Revelation-Its Grand Climax At Hand!)

At this convention,...a new book entitled Deliverance...included a Scriptural discussion of the sign proving that the ‘man child’ government, Christ’s heavenly Kingdom, had been born in 1914. (Matthew 24:3-14; Revelation 12:1-10) Thereafter, it quoted the manifesto published in London in 1917 and signed by eight clergymen, who were described as being “among the world’s greatest preachers.” They represented the leading Protestant denominations—Baptist, Congregational, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Methodist. This manifesto proclaimed that “the present crisis points toward the close of the times of the Gentiles” and that “the revelation of the Lord may be expected at any moment.” Yes, those clergymen had recognized the sign of Jesus’ presence! But did they want to do anything about it? The book Deliverance informs us: “The most remarkable part of the affair is that the very men who signed the manifesto subsequently repudiated it and rejected the evidence which proves that we are at the end of the world and in the day of the Lord’s second presence.”

...This [convention] featured a resolution, “A Testimony to the Rulers of the World,” and a public talk at the Royal Albert Hall on “Why World Powers Are Tottering—The Remedy,” the complete text of both of these being printed in a leading London newspaper the following day. (50 million copies of that resolution were later distributed worldwide)—a torment indeed to the clergy! Years later, people in England still spoke of this stinging exposé.

(pg 216 of What Does the Bible Really Teach?)

This is a good visual diagram or timeline that shows how the "seven times" or "appointed times of the nations" were calculated in advance by the Bible Students, almost 40 years prior to 1914. And here's a more indepth explanation from: (pgs 215-218 of the Bible Teach book), showing how those calculations were arrived at.

1914—A Significant Year in Bible Prophecy

As recorded at Luke 21:24, Jesus said: “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations [“the times of the Gentiles,” King James Version] are fulfilled.” Jerusalem had been the capital city of the Jewish nation—the seat of rulership of the line of kings from the house of King David. (Psalm 48:1, 2) However, these kings were unique among national leaders. They sat on “Jehovah’s throne” as representatives of God himself. (1 Chronicles 29:23) Jerusalem was thus a symbol of Jehovah’s rulership. How and when, though, did God’s rulership begin to be “trampled on by the nations”?

This happened in 607 B.C.E. when Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians. “Jehovah’s throne” became vacant, and the line of kings who descended from David was interrupted. (2 Kings 25:1-26) Would this ‘trampling’ go on forever? No, for the prophecy of Ezekiel said regarding Jerusalem’s last king, Zedekiah: “Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. . . . It will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.” (Ezekiel 21:26, 27) The one who has “the legal right” to the Davidic crown is Christ Jesus. (Luke 1:32, 33) So the ‘trampling’ would end when Jesus became King. When would that grand event occur? Jesus showed that the Gentiles would rule for a fixed period of time. The account in Daniel chapter 4 holds the key to knowing how long that period would last. It relates a prophetic dream experienced by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He saw an immense tree that was chopped down. Its stump could not grow because it was banded with iron and copper. An angel declared: “Let seven times pass over it.”—Daniel 4:10-16.

In the Bible, trees are sometimes used to represent rulership. (Ezekiel 17:22-24; 31:2-5) So the chopping down of the symbolic tree represents how God’s rulership, as expressed through the kings at Jerusalem, would be interrupted. However, the vision served notice that this ‘trampling of Jerusalem’ would be temporary—a period of “seven times.” How long a period is that? Revelation 12:6, 14 indicates that three and a half times equal “a thousand two hundred and sixty days.” “Seven times” would therefore last twice as long, or 2,520 days. But the Gentile nations did not stop ‘trampling’ on God’s rulership a mere 2,520 days after Jerusalem’s fall. Evidently, then, this prophecy covers a much longer period of time.

On the basis of Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6, which speak of “a day for a year,” the “seven times” would cover 2,520 years. The 2,520 years began in October 607 B.C.E., when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and the Davidic king was taken off his throne. The period ended in October 1914. At that time, “the appointed times of the nations” ended, and Jesus Christ was installed as God’s heavenly King.—Psalm 2:1-6; Daniel 7:13, 14.

Just as Jesus predicted, his “presence” as heavenly King has been marked by dramatic world developments—war, famine, earthquakes, pestilences. (Matthew 24:3-8; Luke 21:11) Such developments bear powerful testimony to the fact that 1914 indeed marked the birth of God’s heavenly Kingdom and the beginning of “the last days” of this present wicked system of things.—2 Timothy 3:1-5.

From October 607 B.C.E. to October 1 B.C.E. is 606 years. Since there is no zero year, from October 1 B.C.E. to October 1914 C.E. is 1,914 years. By adding 606 years and 1,914 years, we get 2,520 years. For information on Jerusalem’s fall in 607 B.C.E., see the article “Chronology” in Insight on the Scriptures, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Here's a previous post that relates to the Gentile Times or "appointed times of the nations":
World Powers of Daniel's Prophecy

daily text 4/7

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
"You have blocked approach to yourself." (Lamentations 3:44)

When faced with a health problem, each adult Christian must "carry his own load" of responsibility in choosing treatment. (Galatians 6:5) But we should remember that our choice of therapy matters to Jehovah. Just as respect for Bible principles moves us to "abstain . . . from blood," so our deep regard for God's Word should impel us to avoid resorting to therapies that could harm us spiritually or affect our relationship with Jehovah. (Acts 15:20) Some diagnostic and therapeutic procedures border on the use of the uncanny. Jehovah disapproved of apostate Israelites who resorted to "uncanny power," or spiritistic practices. He declared: "Stop bringing in any more valueless grain offerings . . . I cannot put up with the use of uncanny power along with the solemn assembly." (Isaiah 1:13) A period of illness surely is no time to do something that might hinder our prayers and jeopardize our relationship with God.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 3:10)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

daily text 4/6

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
"Those knowing your name will trust in you, for you will certainly not leave those looking for you, O Jehovah." (Psalm 9:10)

If we truly know Jehovah and look to his name with respect for what it stands for, we will trust in him. Note how God's Word makes a connection between trusting in Jehovah and respecting him. When ancient Israel failed to trust in Him, Jehovah asked Moses: "How long will this people treat me without respect, and how long will they not put faith in me for all the signs that I performed in among them?" (Numbers 14:11) By trusting in Jehovah to protect and sustain us even during trials, we show that we respect him. Jesus indicated that respect for Jehovah must come from the inner person. Speaking to those whose worship was not sincere, Jesus quoted Jehovah as saying: "This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me." (Matthew 15:8) Sincere respect for Jehovah springs from heartfelt love for him. —1 John 5:3.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 4:5, 6)