If we read a letter not addressed to us or from a stranger, we won’t find it particularly interesting. But if the letter comes from a beloved friend, we will feel it's special; every word will take on special significance to us. The Bible describes itself as being ‘inspired of God.' (2 Tim. 3:16) If we have a good relationship with Him and we love Him, not even the genealogies will seem uninteresting to us because our friend wrote it and we will want to know what’s their meaning and purpose.
Have we shrunk?
Some coffee shops used to sell a much bigger cup of coffee that has gotten smaller in time. The same happened with shampoos, sodas, even water bottles... not only have they gotten more expensive, but they have also shrunk! Jehovah gave his beloved son for us. Have we shrunk our service and love for Jehovah as time goes by? Are we giving less than before?
Right or left
Give Jehovah what's right, not what's left!
In proportion to the blessing
Deuteronomy 16:17: 'The gift that each one brings should be in proportion to the blessing that Jehovah your God has given you.' This scripture illustrates a good point. Are we blessed by Jehovah? Surely we all have Jehovah's blessing. So if we have a measure of Jehovah's blessing, we have the responsibility of giving to others.
Norman MacEwen’s quote
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. (http://www.azquotes.com/quote/524351; http://www.winstonchurchill.org/resources/quotations/135-quotes-falsely-attributed)
Are we giving our best?
If we are never absent at work, but we miss many meetings; if we are never late for school or work, but we are often late for the meetings; if we are very friendly and social with our unbelieving relatives, but not with the friends in the congregation; if we go shopping with a headache, but not to the ministry; if we are an amazing salesman but we are timid preachers; if we are the center of attention at work but I'm sitting in a corner in the kingdom hall, are we really giving our best to Jehovah?
The farmer and his friend
A man went to his farmer friend and asked him: If you had ten cows would you give me five? The farmer replied: Certainly! If I had ten cows, I would give you five! The man then asked: If you had six pigs would you give me three? The farmer replied: Without a doubt, if I had six pigs I would give you three! The man then asked: “If you had two chickens would you give me one? The farmer then replied: “Now that’s unfair! Because you know I have two chickens! What's the lesson? Are we truly cheerful givers? (2 Cor. 9:7)
The word for glory in Greek derives from the word 'heavy.' (Insight Volume 1, page 963) The heavier the planet, the more objects will gravitate around it. Those that seek glory for themselves derive pleasure from seeing other people gravitating around them. They enjoy having authority and they vigorously pursue more privileges. True Christians should not manifest such desires. Reaching out should not be driven by a desire of obtaining glory for oneself, but by a desire to glorify God. If we give glory to Jehovah, he will be the center of our lives, and we will gravitate around his will.
Having goals is a need
Since we have Satan's opposition, it's impossible to cruise-control to paradise. As Christians, our goal should not be to reach a plateau where we need to do nothing to receive eternal blessings. In such a static position the enemy can take us down easily. We need to keep moving ahead one goal at a time. Thus, having spiritual goals is a need.
What's the difference between a goal and a dream? An important one is that goals have a deadline, dreams don't. It would be wise to ask ourselves: Do I have spiritual goals or just spiritual dreams? That spiritual goal that I eagerly desire, have I taken steps towards it? What is the deadline for each one of those small steps?
Just as a motorcycle can only turn right or left if it’s turned on and actually in motion, Jehovah can lead us to accomplish our goals only after we have 'turned on' spiritually by being active in the congregation, and after having taken concrete steps, setting in motion our progress. Then we will know to which direction we should turn.
A Governing Body member once said 'If you aim to nothing, you are bound to hit nothing.' The lesson? If we want to hit something spiritually, we need to aim to reach out for spiritual goals.
Destination clear in mind
Think of a traveler walking along a difficult mountain path. He becomes weary and discouraged. Each step is an effort, and the path seems endless. Then he comes to the top of a rise and sees in the distance the town he is heading for. Suddenly the going seems a little easier. A clear view of his destination helps him to forget his tiredness. A Christian will similarly find it easier to keep walking in the truth if he keeps his destination clearly in mind.
Did God have a beginning? Some people cannot grasp the idea that He didn’t. Why? Because they think in terms of the three dimensions we are confined in. And of course, we all do. But if for a moment we think outside the box and factor in what scientists call space-time. Without going too much into details, space-time is basically an infinite 'fabric' that binds time, space and our 3-dimensional reality altogether, and is supported by Einstein’s theory of relativity. If we think of God as being the creator of space-time, and how it makes perfect sense that an eternal Creator can create eternal or infinite realities like space-time... then is not hard to humbly accept the eternity of God. And it won’t be hard to believe that he can give us eternal life.
What really matters
Exodus 33.18-23; 34.5-7 - When God's physical manifestation of his glory went passing before Moses, he perceived his qualities, not his shape. This illustrates a valuable lesson. We want to focus on Jehovah's perfect qualities, not on the fact that we cannot see his spiritual body.
God protects us
A woman said she was woken up by a very strange noise of pecking. When she went to the window, she saw a butterfly flying inside the window pane in great fright; outside a sparrow was pecking at the glass and trying to reach the butterfly. The butterfly did not see the glass pane and expected every minute to be caught; the sparrow did not see the glass and expected every minute to catch the butterfly. All the while the butterfly was safe because the glass was between it and the sparrow. So it is with God's servants who are relying on Jehovah. God's spirit will protect our spirituality even in ways we cannot see.
The atheist barber
A man and an atheist barber were once walking through the city slums. The atheist barber tells the man: 'This is why I cannot believe in a God of love. If God were as kind as you say, He would not permit all this poverty, disease, and squalor. He would not allow these poor bums to be addicted to dope and other character-destroying habits. No, I cannot believe in a God who permits these things.' The man was silent until they met a person who was especially unkempt and filthy. His hair was hanging down his neck and he had a half-inch of stubble on his face. The customer said to the barber: 'You cannot be a very good barber or you would not permit a man like that to continue living in this neighborhood without a haircut or a shave.' Indignantly the barber answered: 'Why blame me for that man's condition? I cannot help it that he is like that. He has never come in my shop; I could fix him up and make him look like a gentleman!' Giving the barber a penetrating look, the man said: 'Then do not blame God for allowing these people to continue in their evil ways when He is constantly inviting them to come to him.'
His personal name
Once there was a little boy who wanted to get the attention of his father, but his father had a number of friends over that weekend. Dad! The little boy called.... dad! , but still no answer from the father. So the little boy sat back and watched what the other people were doing. Suddenly the little boy said: Mr. P-------? That worked right away. You see, most of the people visiting his father were fathers as well. By using his personal name, the little boy was able to identify to whom he wanted to speak. It is the same with our prayers today. The Bible shows us that there are many gods. (1 Cor. 8:5) How do we get the attention of the true God? It is by using his personal name, Jehovah.
Will God restore paradise?
If you got out all the ingredients to make a cake and then got interrupted, perhaps by a knock at the door; when you got back from tending to the interruption, would you then throw everything in the garbage and start over? What would you do? Of course, you would continue from where you left off. Jehovah's purpose was interrupted temporarily, but it is reasonable that he will carry on with his original intention.
Would you mind the lifeguard on his high tower watching over everybody on the beach? No! His presence means protection to you. Likewise, God can see everything with his infinite eyes. His oversight is for our protection, not a violation of our privacy.
Our lives show if we believe in Him
Many who claim to believe in God will do what he hates if they have a chance. To confirm this, back in the 70’s some researchers left a car in a middle-class New York City neighborhood and made it appear abandoned. The results of the experiment are quite surprising. Time magazine reports: “Within ten minutes, their vehicle received its first visitors. The researchers’ log reads, in chilling ellipsis: ‘Family of three drive by, stop. All leave car. Well-dressed mother with Saks Fifth Avenue shopping bag stands by car on sidewalk keeping watch. Boy, about eight years old, stays by father throughout, observing and helping. Father, dressed in neat sport shirt, slacks and windbreaker, inspects car, opens trunk, rummages through; opens own car trunk full of tools, removes hacksaw, cuts for one minute. Lifts battery out and puts it in his trunk. Lifts entire radiator out, places it on back floor of his car. Family drives off.’ . . . The whole operation took only seven minutes.”—February 28, 1969, page 65. These individuals lived in a society that claims to be Christian, and yet their conduct shows they live like there is no God looking. We need to give evidence of God’s existence by living and behaving like he really exists.
Righteous vs Good
The righteous one: he gives transportation to a fellow brother but drops him off at the corner of a nearby street, avoiding going out of his way. The good one: he goes out of his way to accommodate his brother, dropping him off at the door of his house. Those showing goodness look for the interest of their brothers first whenever possible. They are willing to sacrifice themselves and go out of their way to help others. That’s why people are more likely to die for a good person than a righteous one. So being righteous is good, but being good is better! (Rom. 5:7)
Kindness vs Goodness
One significant difference between kindness and goodness is that there is mistaken kindness, but goodness is always good. To illustrate it, if we show kindness to a drug addict and give him money to keep buying drugs it would be mistaken kindness. Some kids are spoiled rotten because of mistaken kindness from their parents. Conversely, goodness is moral excellence. Doing good to a drug addict would entail helping him to break off his bad habit. Doing good to our children would imply teaching them to become capable and self-sufficient. In any situation, we can all show goodness.
An old Jewish tale well illustrates the consequences of spreading hurtful gossip. The following is one of the many versions out there:
A woman went about gossiping about a neighbor. Within a few days, everyone in the community knew the story. The person she talked about heard what had been said about her and she was very sad. Later, the woman who had spread the story learned that it was not true. She was very sorry and went to a wise rabbi and asked what she could do to repair the damage. After giving this some thought, the gossiper was told to go and take a feather pillow and cut it open, scattering the feathers to the wind.
Lesson? It doesn’t take much to spread a rumor, and once you do, you can never completely repair the damage. Words cannot be retrieved, and it may be impossible to undo the hurt they have caused. Congregations with gossip problems have a constant pillow fight, so to speak, producing a thick cloud of feathers covering the members of the congregation.
Remove the spider
If you remove a cobweb you are doing pretty good, but the cobweb will return unless you get the spider. The same with good-intentioned politicians. They may try to remove the cobweb, some problems, and some may actually accomplish it to a certain degree, but they won't solve anything permanently unless they remove, not a spider, but the dragon. Only God's kingdom can do away with the dragon.
Cats and dogs
The food is served on the table. Without you noticing, your dog climbs up on the table and starts eating. Right after, the cat jumps on it and wants to eat too, so both pets start fighting for the food. Does the food belong to the dog or the cat? Neither, the food is yours. It’s just that the dog and the cat overstepped their boundary. Political parties cannot claim ownership on the earth; this planet has always belonged to Jehovah. Only He can solve the problems in this world. (Psalm 24:1)
Wait for the bigger hand
It was a rough neighborhood. Even the kids stole candies at the convenience store. But little Joe was very honest and didn't steal. One day the owner of the convenience store wanted to reward little Joe for his honesty. He told Joe that he could take all the candies he wants from the candy container in front of him. Little Joe was hesitant about the offer. The owner insisted, so he just grabbed all the candy he could with his big hands and filled Joe's small hands plus all his pockets. Little Joe was so happy! Later when his father asked him why was he hesitant, Little Joe said that he was waiting for the man to grab the candies with his bigger hands instead of him using his tiny hands. What a clever boy! Likewise, if we aim to fill our tiny hands with wealth and riches in this system of things, we may or may not succeeded, but even if we do, it will pale compared to the eternal riches God can give us if we wait for what He has in store for us. After all, he has a much bigger hand. (Ps 145:16)
The Kingdom of the Lion
The Beasts of the field and forest had a Lion as their king. He was neither wrathful, cruel, nor tyrannical, but just and gentle as a king could be. During his reign he made a royal proclamation for a general assembly of all the birds and beasts, and drew up conditions for a universal league, in which the Wolf and the Lamb, the Panther and the Kid, the Tiger and the Stag, the Dog and the Hare, should live together in perfect peace and amity. The Hare said, 'Oh, how I have longed to see this day, in which the weak shall take their place with impunity by the side of the strong.' And after the Hare said this, he ran for his life. Moral? It doesn't matter whether the world's rulers are full of good intentions, they don't have the power to solve humanity's most basic problems, like poverty, hunger, death... their imperfect nature will always come out. We should only trust our perfect King and ruler in Heaven, Jesus. (http://fablesofaesop.com)
The Fox and the Monkey
A Monkey once danced in an assembly of the Beasts, and so pleased them all by his performance that they elected him their King. A Fox, envying him the honor, discovered a piece of meat lying in a trap, and leading the Monkey to the place where it was, said that she had found a store, but had not used it and had kept it for him as treasure trove of his kingdom, and counseled him to lay hold of it. The Monkey approached carelessly and was caught in the trap; and on his accusing the Fox of purposely leading him into the snare, she replied, 'O Monkey, and are you, with such a mind as yours, going to be King over the Beasts?' Moral? This fable illustrates well the criteria people have when it comes to picking a ruler. Rule by man leaves much to be desired. (http://fablesofaesop.com)
Give some back
A friend gives you $168 every week since you were born. One day he asks you $10 back. Will you refuse? No! Probably you'll wish to know if he needs more than $10. In a similar way, God has given us 168 hours every week since we were born. Now that we are dedicated to him, he wishes we are kind enough to give some of those back. Ten hours a week between the ministry and meetings will be quite generous. Perhaps we desire to give even more than that out of gratitude for his love. Our friend in heaven will definitely be pleased if we show gratitude.
Great Crowd and Other Sheep
All bread is food, but not all food is bread. Similarly, all those in the great crowd are other sheep, but not all other sheep are part of the great crowd. More info: Watchtower 1995 4/15, page 31
Preview of the great tribulation
We should not be surprised about what the Bible prophesies concerning the future of religion. It can be said that the French Revolution was a preview of the great tribulation. Inspired by the philosophical and political ideas of the Enlightenment, in 1793 the revolution in France was aiming to eradicate Christianity. Churches were destroyed. Those who didn’t comply were arrested and executed. Many died in this revolution by means of the guillotine. It was indeed a local, mini great tribulation. This episode of history shows what can happen when the governments turn against organized religion. Religions don't stand a chance, and their followers don’t stand up to defend it. This gives us a heads-up of the things to come.—Revelation 17:16; 18:1-24. (http://www.history.com/topics/french-revolution; g89 12/22 page 28)
The worst tribulation ever
Millions of people died during the two World Wars in the 20th century. The tribulation in the first century was a life-changing event for the Jews, ending the world as they knew it. Their temple was destroyed, countless lives were lost, many were captured and then enslaved… in short, their whole way of life changed abruptly and drastically. But here is the big question: Do we realize that the great tribulation of our days will be even worse than all the previous ones? (Mat. 24:21) It will actually be the worst ever. We need to be ready.
From 1 Timothy 4:8 we learn that we can prepare for the great tribulation by exercising godly devotion. We don't need to train physically, build a bunker, or have a survival kit. We are not doomsday preppers. Jehovah is the one who will furnish our salvation and finish our training. (1 Peter 5:10)
Normal desire vs Greed
How does normal desire compare with greed? Normal desires are like normal fire to cook; greed is like an out-of-control firestorm. Some of those desires may be natural, but if we let them turn into greed, it will be like a destructive “natural” forest fire. The fact that those desires are natural in our imperfect state doesn’t make them benign. We should not let this fire to get out of control. That's the difference between natural desire and greed: control.
Native hunters in Africa found a clever way of trapping monkeys. They slice a coconut in two, hollow it out, and in one half of the shell cut a hole just big enough for a monkey's hand to pass through. They place an orange in the hollowed coconut. They secure the coconut to a tree with a rope, retreat into the jungle, and wait. Soon an unsuspecting monkey swings by, smells the delicious orange, and discovers it inside the coconut. The monkey slips his hand through the small hole, grasps the orange and tries to pull it out the hole. Of course, the orange won't come out; it's too big for the hole. The persistent monkey continues to pull and pull, never realizing the danger he is in. While the monkey struggles with the orange, the hunters simply stroll in and capture the monkey by throwing a net over him. As long as the monkey keeps his fist around the orange, the monkey is trapped. The monkey could save its own life if it would only let go of the orange. It rarely occurs to a monkey, however, that it can't have both the orange and its freedom. That alluring orange becomes a deadly trap. Greed is one of Satan's favorite traps. If we are not careful and are not willing to let go, we may also fall for it. (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/14/how-to-avoid-monkey-trap-oliver-burkeman)
Guidance is a necessity
If all the commercial aircraft pilots ignored the directions given at airports and landed their airplanes at any time or location they pleased, how safe would air travel be? Or if a group of construction workers threw away the blueprints and each decided to do just as he fancied with his part of the construction, what type of building would result? We all need guidance.
Select the best guidance
If you were in a dark place, what would you use to light up your path? A Firefly? A candle that is easily extinguished? Or a good lamp, like the one in your cell phone? Likewise, in this dark and gloomy world, we must choose the lamp that God provides, his Word the Bible, to guide us by means of its abundant spiritual light. Human counselors can provide some light, but they are limited in scope and of short duration. (Psalm 119:105) It's wiser to rely on Jehovah.