In 2012 there was a lot of hype regarding a Mayan prophecy saying the world would end on December 21st. In the past, there have been other similar predictions. But how did people react? It didn't look like the majority were preparing for a global cataclysm. Really, most people didn't take them seriously. Although the interpretation on the Mayan prediction failed because it was not inspired by God, it showed that even if God would have decided to reveal in advance the date of his great day of vengeance, most likely people would not take any action, and it would not give a boost to our message. Thus we should not put undue emphasis on the date of the end.
The pregnant woman rushes to the hospital as the contraction pain announce the coming of the baby. False alarm, she goes back home. This false expectation of a pregnant mother on delivering the baby, will it make her stop believing the baby is coming? No, it is certain the baby will come, just at a time she doesn't know. Our Organization has had some false expectations, but that doesn't mean the end will not come.
Why can’t we know when?
Imagine you are rich. Would you like your spouse to love you only for your money? No! We like to be appreciated genuinely by who we are, not by what we have. In the same vein, if Jehovah announces the date of Armageddon many will serve him out of selfish interest and not because they genuinely love Him. They’ll just want to save their skin and obtain selfish profit. But by not disclosing the date He gives us the chance to demonstrate our sincere love for Him.
Resurrected ones remarrying
Some find it hard to accept the idea that death dissolves marriage forever. As a matter of fact, according to the latest explanation, we need to wait and see what will transpire in the new world in this regard. (w14 8/15 pp. 29-30) What if ultimately the resurrected ones cannot remarry? We can illustrate the right perspective this way: if you were to tell a five-year-old kid that one day he will leave his mother and go live with another woman, he would be horrified and say he would never do it. But in the years to come, he will mature and transform his mind. By the time he is in his 20s or even younger, he will be fine with the idea. Our point of view changes as we grow. In paradise, we will grow to perfection, like Jesus. He was the one that mentioned the words that the resurrected ones “neither marry nor are given in marriage.” (Luke 20:34-36) By the time we develop perfect thinking like him, we will be able to accept whatever truth his words entail.
A comma, a pause
For us, death is only like a comma in a sentence, not a period. It's like a pause in the remote control, not like the 'Off' or 'Eject' buttons.
The Bible contains a powerful illustration regarding debt. It simply says: the borrower is a slave to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7) Debt is like slavery, especially when the borrower burdens with debt he cannot payback. We need to exercise good judgment in this regard.
The Trojan horse
The Trojan horse in Greek times is an excellent example of deception. We may wonder, why will someone ever accept a gift from the enemy? The answer is: deception. If we face a frontal attack, we tend to defend ourselves. But if we encounter a subtle temptation, a shiny gift wrapped in layers of illusion, we may fall for it. What do we need? If the Trojans would have had X-rays to scan the gift they would have discovered the trap. In a sense, we need spiritual X-rays, sort of speak, by means of wisdom to see through Satan's deception.
The armchair deception
The story is told of an old lady who rented a country house for the summer. With the cabin was also a dog. The old woman liked a very comfortable armchair better than any other in the house. She always headed for it the first thing. But, she nearly always found the chair occupied by the dog. Being afraid of the dog, she never dared bid it harshly to get out of the chair, but instead, she would go to the window and call 'Cats!' Then the dog would rush to the window and bark, and the old woman would slip quietly into the vacant chair. One day the dog entered the room and found the old lady in possession of the chair. He strolled over to the window, and looking out, appeared very much excited and set up a tremendous barking. The old woman arose and hastened to the window to see what the matter was, and the dog quietly climbed into the chair. What's the moral? Deceits practiced on others will sooner or later be repaid against ourselves. 'Bread gained by deceit tastes good to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.' (Pro 20:17).
The bitterness of not taking into consideration God’s word, one’s conscience, and one’s dedication to God remains long after the sweetness of poor decisions is forgotten.
Have you seen a picture of yourself from ten years ago? What about 20 years ago? If you would ask a baby boomer to show you a picture of them in the 70's, what do you think you will see? Probably a bunch of friends with thick Afros and some very colorful bell bottoms in a Disco party. Back then it was awesome stuff, but current styles are very different. Perhaps many baby boomers would prefer to keep those pictures out of sight! This illustrates the evanescence of fads and fashion. What is cool today tomorrow will be outmoded, old-fashion. If we make decisions based on fleeting fads and trends, we will regret it in the future. As Christians, we need to rely on God's unwavering thinking. (Mal. 3:6)
Adam Smith’s quote
This quote has been attributed to Economist Adam Smith: If one approaches all situations as matter of life and death, you will die many times. (http://www.proverbia.net)
When someone suffers from a serious sickness, like gangrene or cancer, drastic measures are needed to preserve life, like an amputation or an organ transplant. When someone learns the Truth, he often needs to make drastic changes in his course of life. At times, it can be a painful undertaking, but to make some drastic decisions is better than losing our prospects of life. For example, some may need to quit a bad habit cold turkey; others may need to break off a relationship. Nevertheless, those sacrifices show the depth of our faith and our love for God.
God blessed us with many abilities, like the ability to walk and the ability to make decisions. Letting others make decisions for us is like letting others walk for us. We can become a couch potato asking others to push us around. But it looks bad and is not healthy. If our brain becomes like a couch potato and refuses to make decisions, it will be unhealthy, spiritually speaking.
Small decision can have huge implications
It's being said that one has to take about 20 decisions every mile driven in the U.S., things like should I put the blinkers, should I slow down or speed up, etc. Those are small decisions, but they will set a clear pattern defining you as either a reckless or safe driver. It happens the same with our conduct. After baptism, every small decision will define us as spiritual or fleshly. Just like something as simple as putting the blinkers can save us from a huge disaster, some small decisions in life can also be life-changing for better or worse. (https://www.allaboutvision.com/over40/night-driving.htm)
The fine print
We may hear about a good deal in a TV program or on the Internet and may be tempted to sign a contract to pay for a fancy item in installments. Many times, though, we forget to read the fine print, which is often full of surprises. What sounded like an affordable good deal can turn into a big disappointment. In other areas of life the same principle applies. When the world offers us a good deal seemly inoffensive, just requiring a little tiny bit of spiritual compromising, we need to anticipate the fine print, the hidden snares the enemy has set to test us spiritually.
The disowned taxi
Imagine you own an old classic Camaro, restored to original. You really look after it, only driving it in fine weather, and keeping it garaged the rest of the time. Then the day comes when you need a lot of cash urgently, and you regretfully decide to sell your car. A man comes and looks it over, says it'll do fine, and buys it. About a week later, to your horror you see your new owner driving the car... he turned it into a taxi! Bolted onto the roof and the trunk are a sign and luggage rack. Great stickers are attached to the doors advertising the taxi company. Every day, you watch your car (oh, that's right, it's not yours anymore, but you still feel it is yours) quite rapidly wear out because of the stream of people hopping in and out day and night. Can you go up to new owner and demand that he stop abusing your former pride-and-joy, telling him that you didn't spend the best years of your life on it just so that he could use it for a taxi? No! You don't own it anymore. You don't have the authority to tell the new owner how to use what he bought. You sacrificed that right when you received payment for it. What's the lesson? Prior to our coming into the truth, we didn’t live for God. But when we dedicated our lives to Jehovah, we learned what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24. We can't center our lives around ourselves anymore. Now everything that we are belongs to Jehovah, and we do as he commands. We can't stay in the garage every time it rains. We go out rain or shine, like a taxi, which will sometimes go from house to house and at other times pick people up from a taxi rank, or even by a wave in the street. We encounter streams of people as we spend as much time as possible in the witnessing work. (Mr 1:38; Joh 4:6-30). As a result, while we may feel a little worn out at times, we are assured that we are glorifying our Creator and our new Owner, Jehovah God.
Do good, nothing else is required
Some people say: Just live a good life, don't harm your neighbor, no religion needed, that is enough. But, if you hired a painter to paint your house and he helped the neighbor, helped an old woman across the street, and did things around your house that you did not ask to have done, but he never painted your house, would you pay him?
Have you left the ground yet?
There is no such thing as partial commitment. When the pilot of a giant airliner is speeding down the runway, there is a certain point where he cannot decide to remain on the ground. When he crosses that line, he is committed to the air, or the plane crashes disastrously. That pilot cannot change his mind when the plane is two-thirds of the way down the runway. Unfortunately, the congregations are filled with members who 'have never left the ground.' They have been sitting there for years and years gunning their engines. If that's your case, what are you waiting for to take off?
Taking action today
If the firemen and Police come hurriedly warning that in your building there is a bomb and you need to evacuate quickly because it can explode any moment, will you say: 'well, they really don't know when exactly is going to explode, and I feel good here. Maybe tomorrow I'll leave but not today'. That will be stupid! Some may say Jehovah has the truth and that they know it, but they can't serve him today, in the future, maybe six months from now, they will, but not today. Well, would that be wise? It's better to take action today.
Jehovah promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.
Educated or dedicated?
What is the difference between someone dedicated and educated? If a doctor has several specializations and knows all the latest techniques, but only works if he can make good money, one can say he is educated, but can we say he is dedicated? When a doctor is willing to help others, regardless of the pay or if he needs to call on them at home, then he is not only educated but dedicated as well. In like manner, we need to help people in the territory not only because we want to count two hours Saturday morning, and not only because we want to save our skin and enter into the new world. We do it because we are dedicated to this ministry because we feel a genuine desire to help them.
Jesus was a dynamic man. He used to wake up early in the morning, he fasted for 40 days, he cured people, he walked long distances, once he prayed the whole night. Still, he was reasonable. He knew his disciples didn't have perfect fitness as he did. So, he also stopped, rested, and paused whenever necessary. He never demanded things too difficult for them, even when he was able to do them. Elder should not be demanding with the flock, but considerate. Not only elders, but all Christians, whether dealing with our brothers and sisters in the congregation or at our secular work, especially if we are in an administrative or managing position, we want to imitate Jesus' example in this regard. (Mt. 26:41)
Researchers in the spirit realm
Researchers have been able to unravel many mysteries of human behavior by studying and observing other people in long-term scientific studies. Similarly, Satan and the demons observe and study our behavior. Imagine how much they have learned about human thinking patterns and behavior just by observing humanity for six thousand years! The demons cannot read our hearts as Jehovah can, but they can practically see through it by the things we do when nobody is looking, the way we react, our body language, gestures, and preferences. If they catch us off guard, they can exploit our flaws and weaknesses and make us fall.
Isolated but foundA man in a populous country in Asia was interested in the truth. He lived in a remote area two-days distance from Hong Kong. After the two days, they walked eight hours to reach the ancient village. Once there, the publishers needed to call out loud and wait for the man to come out from the woods. The brothers did that trip all the way there six times to study the Bible with him. There was no running water and no electricity in this place.By the sixth time, the man learned enough to dedicate himself to Jehovah so he wanted to get baptized. Another brother made the trip yet another time. When he got there, he didn't find a proper place to baptize the man. There was no body of water to do the baptism because the area was dry. So they pray to Jehovah about it. Next day it poured. A little hole in the ground got flooded and there the man got baptized.Lesson? If there is someone that deserves the message, no matter how far and remote he may be, Jehovah will find him.
Humble, Honest and Hungry
How to know if we found a person deserving the truth? (Matthew 10:11) Experienced pioneers have discovered a method called the three Hs: Humble, Honest and Hungry. Jehovah can guide us to find these deserving ones.
The burning thornbush
Exodus 3:1, 2: “Then Jehovah’s angel appeared to him in a flame of fire in the midst of a thornbush. As he kept looking, why, here the thornbush was burning with the fire and yet the thornbush was not consumed.” This text illustrates an interesting point. If Jehovah can make a physical fire to burn without consuming, wouldn't be reasonable to believe he can do the same with the fire of emotions? We all have desires and passions —getting married, company, acknowledgment— that are natural to us. But if we rely on God, we don't need to be consumed by them!
Riddle about death
Can you guess this riddle: Who is death's grandmother? Answer: James 1:15 reveals it is desire.
The Tortoise and the Eagle
A Tortoise, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly. An Eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation and demanded what reward she would give him if he would take her aloft and float her in the air. 'I will give you all the riches of the Red Sea. I will teach you to fly then', said the Eagle; and taking her up in his talons he carried her almost to the clouds suddenly he let her go, and she fell on a lofty mountain, dashing her shell to pieces. The Tortoise exclaimed in the moment of death: 'I have deserved my present fate; for what had I to do with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the earth?' What's the moral of this fable? If men had all they wished, they would often be ruined. Foolish curiosity and vanity often lead to misfortune. (http://fablesofaesop.com)
One cold winter's day, a group of hedgehogs crowded together for warmth so as not to freeze to death. However, the pain from the mass of spines soon caused them to separate again, until the cold forced them back together, and thus they continued, moving from one source of discomfort to another, until they found the right balance between closeness and distance that allowed them to live enjoying the benefits of the full warmth of community but without pricking and piercing each other. So it is with the differences in personalities in the congregation. If a brother’s 'spines' prick us, we cannot just evade them and leave the congregation. Outside the congregation is cold. True, we don’t need to be best friends with every single brother and sister. But, we have to find ways to show love and warm up to all in the congregation. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creative-synthesis/201201/social-media-and-the-hedgehogs-dilemma)
Discernment when preaching
A homeless woman used to come every day to get magazines from certain public witnessing table. It seemed like she was interested but the brothers found out that she was using the paper to wrap tobacco to smoke! In a situation like that, would you had been curious to know why she kept coming every day to take publications from the stand? Would that pattern raise a bit of suspicion? The same principle applies to other forms of ministry. We don't want to become mistrustful of people in the ministry, but we need to be discerning in our preaching work. (Mat. 10:16)
Balance between love and discipline
A child shares his cake with his dog. Then he drops it on the floor, picks it up and with much love, shares it with his mother. Nobody would question his good intentions and love for his mother, and especially for his dog...but certainly, he has to learn some basic hygiene principles. Similarly, we can certainly love God, but that does not mean he will deprive us of learning the right way of worshipping him. It is for our own benefit.
How God dealt with Jonah
Jonah refused to obey Jehovah's direction in his assignment to go Nineveh. Amos was his contemporary. God could have sent Amos to Nineveh so as not to bother Jonah since he didn't want to go. Instead, Jehovah taught Jonah discipline. He allowed the fish to swallow Jonah for three days. After that, the prophet changed course and went to Nineveh. Maybe his motive was not to take another ride in the fish. We really don't know. But that's how he learned obedience. Parents need to teach discipline to their children, even when they don't want to do certain things. Learning discipline is a valuable lesson that can help children to develop an obedient heart toward Jehovah.
Imagine the scene: a first responder is trying to revive a friend of yours suffering a cardiac arrest using a defibrillator. He shouts 'clear' before applying the high energy shock. Nobody should touch the patient while it's being shocked; otherwise, others will get shocked too or perhaps the responder cannot proceed and precious time will be wasted. It is not the time to hold the patient's hand, hug him, or kiss him. It is time to stay away. Likewise, when our Great Spiritual Doctor Jehovah tells us to 'clear' and not associate with a spiritual patient that needs to be 'shocked' in order to survive spiritually, even if it's a loved one, do we listen so that person can get the needed spiritual care?
Defeating the purpose of discipline
If a father disciplines his son by prohibiting him from playing video games, but a friend of the boy inconspicuously comes in and gives him a portable video console so that he can play it in secret, don't you agree that this friend is ruining the discipline of the father? Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of the discipline? What the boy will learn is that there is always a way of getting away with it. The same happens with those that have been disciplined in the congregation. If we try to secretly sabotage the discipline given by the elders, it will defeat the purpose. It won't allow Jehovah's discipline to carry out its fruitage.
Disfellowshipping is like putting someone with a contagious ailment in quarantine. Those spiritually ill need to decide whether they want to recover or if they want to stay outside. Sick individuals in quarantine are by no means hopeless. When it comes to quarantined patients, the doctors hope for the best, even if their condition doesn't allow them to be in close contact with others. The same with those that have decided to leave the congregation unrepented. As a matter of fact, many of them have gotten out of the quarantine and are back in the congregation stronger than ever.
He is waiting…
Isaiah 30:18 - Jehovah is waiting patiently to show favor and mercy. He is a God of justice. Those that have left Him should take these words to heart. Jehovah is waiting for them to come back home.
I can’t hear you!
A man went into a telephone booth to call a friend. When the connection was made, the friend kept saying, 'I can't hear you; speak louder; I can't hear you.' All he could hear was the roar of traffic in the background. 'Shut the door, so I can hear,' he said to the caller. Similarly, to hear God's voice speaking to you, you've got to shut the door to the outside world so that its enticements won't distract you. Doing this could change your whole life. Then when you go back into the crowd, you'll not only be able to listen to what the world has to say, but you'll have something to say to the world that you've heard from Jehovah.
Distractions slow us down
In big cities, traffic jam can happen very easily. One vehicle with a flat tire in the emergency lane would be enough for some drivers to get distracted and slow the pace. In a matter of minutes, the distraction of a few will turn into a big traffic jam. Likewise, Satan only needs us to put our attention on some of the alluring temptations he has set as traps, and if some in the congregation keep looking they will slow down and, without even realizing it, they will affect others too.
Racing in the snow
The snow covered the ground, and three young boys were playing in it. A man said to them, 'Would you like to try to race, with the promise of a prize for the winner?' The boys agreed, and the man told them that his race was to be different. 'I will go to the other side of the field, and when I give you the signal, you will start to run. The one whose footsteps are the straightest in the snow will be the winner.' As the race commenced, the first boy began looking at his feet to see if his steps were straight. The second kid kept looking at his companions to see what they were doing, but the third boy just ran on with his eyes fixed on the man on the other side of the field. The third boy was the winner, for his footsteps were straight in the snow. He had kept his eyes on the goal ahead of him. A long time ago, another man using similar words taught the same principle. It was Paul who said, 'Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus' (Phi 3:13-14).
A woman stopped going to church for four months. The Pastors visited her to follow up. She expressed that in all the years she was in the church, they never taught her the name of God. On the other hand, Jehovah’s Witnesses taught her that simple truth the first day she met them. The Pastors replied that God's name is not important, and besides, she owed four months of tithing. She asked how much did she owe, wrote a check, and gave it to them. The Pastors said that she missed something important, her signature! She then replied 'so my name on the check is important but God’s name in the Bible is not?'. She kindly requested them not to come again. Eventually, she became one of Jehovah's Witness. The moral of the experience is clear: God’s personal name is of utmost importance in our worship.
The expanded understanding of the meaning of God's name implies that He can use anything in his creation to accomplish his will. Accounts that illustrate this point are, for instance, when the donkey talked to Balaam or when Jesus said that rocks could talk to praise God. Yes, God can use anything, animate or inanimate, to accomplish his purpose. If Jehovah can use a donkey or rocks to carry on his will, He can indeed use us! Do you allow Him to use you to accomplish his purpose?
Inside our mind
Our mind is like a private room. Only Jehovah and you have the keys to go in. When God opens the door and comes in, what does he see?
The Chameleon has the ability to change color. This impressive skill in chameleons has functions in camouflage, but most commonly in social signaling and reactions to temperature and other conditions. Just like the Chameleon, some Christians resort to camouflage, sort of speak, to live a double life. They react to social conditions differently, turning into a 'worldly' color when with worldly friends, and into a 'Christian' color when in the congregation. Those who carry on that pattern should remember that the God of heaven can see their true colors and he 'is not to be mocked.' (Gal. 6:5) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chameleon
Blue and Gray
During the American Civil War, the two sides were often referred to by the color of their official uniforms, blue for the Union, gray for the Confederates. Legend tells of a certain soldier, figuring to play it safe, dressed in blue coat and gray pants and tiptoed out onto the field of battle. He got shot from both directions! The Bible is full of examples of individuals who compromised in one form or another and their ensuing losses. For instance, Lot, who separated from Abram and moved as far as Sodom (Genesis 13:12-13; 19:1-29); Samson who compromised with Delilah (Judges 16:1-2); and Solomon who loved many foreign women (1 Kings 11:1-4). These are but a few examples. What about us? What if we are tempted to compromise our faith or beliefs? Will we stay strong or try and wear the blue and gray? (http://www.historynet.com/civil-war-uniforms)
Traitors in our heart
Doubts are traitors in our heart that make us lose what we shouldn’t if we didn’t fear to try it.
Don't put a question mark where Jehovah puts a period.
A yo-yo is a toy consisting of an axle connected to two disks, and a length of string looped around the axle. Although there are many tricks you can play with this toy, the yo-yo basically just gets thrown downwards and then winds up until you grab it back, and it goes back and forth, back and forth.
Dress and grooming
Coco Chanel’s quote
Coco Chanel once said: 'If a woman is poorly dressed, you notice the clothes. If she is impeccably dressed, you notice the woman.' Application: our dress and grooming can determine whether people will see the person we truly are. (http://www.azquotes.com)
Many judicial courts around the world have a dressing code, usually requiring formal attire. If human authorities require respect and solemnity by means of clothing, how much more so the Supreme Judge of the universe, who can set some standards regarding proper attire, especially when it comes to places of worship. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Court_dress
Why the high standard in dressing and grooming for Assemblies and Conventions' participants? Because hundreds or even thousands of consciences will be watching, and we don't want to stumble any of them. Thus that enhanced modesty we see at the Assemblies sets a good example for us.
The pilot smell
You are boarding a plane. The pilot crosses before you and enters into his cabin. You noticed his eyes looked sleepy and red, and he left a trail of alcohol smell after him. That would be quite concerning. He may or may not be drunk, yet it raises serious questions regarding his judgment and the safety of the flight. Similarly, although cultures vary in this regard, if a Christian is under the influence of alcohol before a theocratic activity, it can raise questions about his good judgment and appreciation for sacred things.