Paradise

You would never be bored in paradise. Here is a calculation that will help you appreciate that: one billion seconds is approximately equal to 32 years. Therefore, if you could travel instantaneously to every star in the galaxy one by one, one star per second, then you would visit one billion stars in 32 years. Now, there are 100 billion stars in our galaxy, so to visit every star in our galaxy (one per second) would take 3,200 years. But there are an estimated 100 billion galaxies of 100 billion stars each. Visiting every star in the universe would take 3,200 years per galaxy X 100 billion galaxies, so the time taken to visit each star in the universe at one per second would take you 320 trillion years | 320,000,000,000,000 years!!! That is just in case you had nothing else to do. And if you paused even for one additional second at each star, then the time would double: 640 trillion (640,000,000,000,000) years. Here is one more: There are about 7.3 billion people on Earth today (2017). Let's work with just that figure. If you consider that you could get to know ten people per year really well, say working with them 8 hours a day, socializing with them 3-4 hrs a day, going on vacation with them, etc., then it would take you 730,000,000 years to get to really know 7,300,000,000 people. Moreover, even if you get to know 60 people per year, you still must take over 100 million years to get to know that many people. For sure, there will be plenty of new things to do in 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 just continue from where you left off. Jehovah's purpose was interrupted for a while, but it is reasonable that he will carry on with his original intention.

Punctuation can completely change the meaning of a sentence. As the story goes, a professor told his class to correctly punctuate the sentence. The males in the classroom wrote, “A woman, without her man, is nothing.” The women in the class wrote, “A woman: without her, man is nothing.” With just a simple change in punctuation, the entire meaning of the sentence was changed in an instant. The same occurs in Luke 23:43, when Jesus spoke about paradise.

Luke 23:43: Nothing like an honest eyewitness to know the truth. Jesus saw the original paradise in Eden. When he said the earth will become a paradise, he knew what he was saying.




Parents

Past

If the devil reminds you of your past to distress you, remind him of his future (Rev. 20:10)

Just like a good driver quickly turns his head to look back or swiftly glances —but doesn't focus— into his rearview mirror to avoid accidents, we need to look at the past but not focus on it; learn from it, but not dwell on it.




Patience

What good will it do the farmer to be angry at the plants because they are late in yielding fruit? It won't affect the plants. It is not in his power to ripen fruits at his pleasure. Therefore, as the farmer exercises patience waiting for the earth to yield her fruit, so should we cultivate a waiting attitude.

We can illustrate it this way: Imagine a man carrying a heavy load. Endurance is the ability to keep carrying the load for as long as is necessary to accomplish the task at hand. Patience is when he keeps carrying the load without grumbling or complaining.




Peace

Philippians 4:6: the peace of God doesn't get affected by external factors. It's like if there's a storm, you can hear the thunder and lighting, but inside your house there is peace. You are enjoying the day watching a good movie and having a big cup of hot coffee. In that peaceful haven, the storm cannot ruin your peace nor affect your composure. Likewise, the peace of God doesn't get disturbed easily by the storms of this system. If we ask God for peace, our inner self will remain calm and in control.




Perfection

How can we understand the concept of perfection as described in the Bible? It doesn't mean absolute flawlessness in every sense. Only Jehovah is perfect in an absolute sense. Perfection is relative to the purpose for which the object was designed or created. A good Bible example is the Mosaic Law. It’s described as perfect in the Scriptures. Although the principles it is based upon are perfect and immutable, its stipulations were perfect particularly for the nation of Israel, not to all nations. Jehovah didn’t require Spiritual Israel to follow this Law since it is not perfect in an absolute sense.




Persecution

Many times, subtle persecution is more effective than a direct attack. An example of this is the great persecution that Diocletian lead against Christians from 303-311 CE. The congregations endured this attack faithfully. But then, a few years later, they fell for the enticing offer that Constantine presented. Soon they became part of the world embracing a worldly and idolatrous lifestyle. Lesson? We need to be aware of the subtle temptations the enemy uses to lure us. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diocletian#Great_Persecution)




Persistence

Just like the Colorado River has cut and carved the Colorado canyon over thousands of years, we can also cut through rock-like hearts if we are persistent. We don't really need thousands of years, just the tenacity to persist.

A Hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise, who replied, laughing: 'Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race.' The Hare, believing her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal. On the day appointed for the race the two started together. The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue. Slow but steady wins the race.(http://fablesofaesop.com)




Personal study

To assess your study habits, think of this illustration: If we compare the depth of the Bible with the depth of the ocean, which one of these three examples best resembles you:

  • Are you like a diver? Do you submerge into the depths of the Scriptures? Do you use the WT library, Insight volumes, Proclaimers book, meditating in what you studied?
  • Do you prefer to do snorkeling when studying the Bible? You study the publications superficially, underlining the paragraphs, nothing else.
  • Are you like the ones that stand before the ocean, and get so intimidated by its vastness, that you barely get your feet wet... you actually have no personal study at all?
If you do an honest self-examination, you may realize you are yet to put on the oxygen tank and dive into the Scriptures. Just like the scuba diver that loves the ocean, if we love the Bible, we won't fear its depth

A truck tanker can carry over 10 thousand gallons of fuel in their huge tanks distributing gasoline to different gas stations. However, there is no mechanism allowing the truck to use some of the fuel in the big tank to fill its own smaller tank. Now imagine a truck carrying thousands of gallons of fuel for others, but then runs out of gas in its own tank! Wouldn't that be ironic? If its own small tank is empty, it can't go anywhere. Likewise, we have so much to distribute and to teach to others. Yet, we need to fill our own tanks. We need to have our own personal study regularly so as to be energized to carry on sharing the good news with others.

When doing personal study, try to apply the cubit thinking approach. It entails meditating on the Scriptures in three dimensions: past, present, and future.

A siege occurs when an attacker encounters a city or fortress that cannot be easily taken by direct assault. Sieges involve surrounding the target and blocking the reinforcement or escape of troops or provision of supplies. Sieges can often be decided by starvation, thirst, or disease. It can take many months or even years, depending upon the size of the stores of food the fortified position holds. This happened to Jerusalem in Bible times. In a similar way, Satan tries to cut our spiritual provisions of supplies, sometimes by means of bans or restrictions on the preaching work. Other times, though, he can accomplish the same result by inciting an attitude that results in disinterests in our publications or in a spirit of independence that can make us drift away from the congregation. Early signs of this spiritual siege could be: to start thinking our publications are boring and redundant; thinking the Bible is outdated; start to feel uncomfortable in the meetings, believing we have a better time in the company of non-witnesses than in the congregation. Once the siege starts, it can last some time. Having no personal study and no spiritual nourishment, Satan just needs to sit back and wait until we starve spiritually. At that point, we will be sitting ducks. Never may this happen to us!(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege)

The Bible has frozen holy spirit. Unless we study and work hard to warm it up, the waters of the truth will not flow freely in our lives.

Some people seem to expect the Bible to hit them like a jolt of adrenaline each time they read or study it. True, the 'jolt' may hit us periodically. However, the benefits of Jehovah's Word act more like vitamins. When we take vitamins, we rarely feel a jolt of adrenaline or some amazing strength rushing through our bodies. But vitamins supplements do provide long-term benefits, having a beneficial effect on our general well-being. Similarly, when we read the Bible, it can energize us immediately providing a jolt of power in our lives. But more often, is the cumulative effects of its practical wisdom and spiritual value that can, in the long-haul, change our lives for good.

There was a teenage boy, who was deeply interested in scientific subjects, especially astronomy. Therefore, his father bought him a very expensive telescope. Since the young fellow had studied the principles of optics, he found the instrument to be most intriguing. He took it apart, examined the lenses, and made detailed calculations on the distance of its point of focus. The youth became so absorbed in gaining a technical knowledge of the telescope itself that he never got around to looking at the stars. He knew a lot about that fine instrument, but he missed seeing the wonders of the heavens. As Christians, to know all the facts and figures contained in the Bible is not the end for which Jehovah has given us this Book. The purpose is that we might see the Truth through it and have a close personal relationship with Him.

A wood stove may feel very comfortable, but if we don't supply it with more wood, that fire will go out! Likewise, if personal study is not done on a regular basis, it may go out! We easily start to forget.




Perspective

During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, 'Hi, I'm John Kennedy. What are you doing?' 'Well, Mr. President,' the janitor responded, 'I'm helping put a man on the moon.' To most people, this janitor was just cleaning the building. But in the larger story unfolding around him, he was helping to make history. He perceived the big picture of his work and therefore put his heart in it. It makes us wonder: Do we see the larger picture unfolding around us in connection with the preaching work? Do we realize that through the preaching work we are furnishing evidence for the universal trial of the rightfulness of Jehovah's sovereignty? Do we perceive that we are contributing in establishing a precedent that will secure universal peace and prosperity for all eternity? Are we keeping in mind that our work is instrumental in saving people's lives? Yes, our work is of utmost importance! Let's go out and preach! (http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2014/12/what-a-nasa-janitor-can-teach-us.html)

To be positive in the ministry while facing challenges, like working on an unreceptive territory, we just need to use the zoom function, spiritually. Zoom out: can you see our brothers and sisters around the world? They are doing the same thing, so we are not alone; zoom out again: can you see the angels? They are supporting us in this work, we have their backing; zoom further out: there in heaven, we see Jehovah and Jesus directing the work and supplying the power; and when Jehovah zooms in to see us, he sees our endurance and love for him. Don't we have plenty reasons to be positive?

A GPS shows our location on a map and gives us an elevated and advantageous view of our surroundings. Just so, being guided by God —whose view and perspective of things is the highest of all— will give us an elevated and advantageous view to make good decisions in life.




Pets

Jesus did not advise to lavish excessive affection for animals. (Mt 12:11, Lu 9:58) Why? Because he knew people have far greater value. This illustrates the balance we need to have when it comes to having a pet. Of course, we love our pets. There is nothing wrong with raising a pet. At the same time, we should not allow the emotional attachment to interfere with our spiritual goals or even our spiritual routine.

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. (http://www.azquotes.com)




Pioneer service

Num. 9:10-11: Jehovah thought about unforeseen occurrences when arranging the Passover. He sets a great example pioneers can follow. Pioneers should consider unforeseen events when arranging their yearly service schedule.

The pioneers' quota of hours can be likened to paying a bill in monthly installments. If you don't pay your installments —70 hours a month— or you don't pay on time to avoid late fees —killing yourself in July and August to meet the requirement— you will either lose it for not paying or lose your joy due to the 'late fees.' When exceptional circumstances arise, sometimes a bank may allow to defer the payments or even waive some charges. The same can happen in a congregation if the service committee sees some temporary circumstances that allow for special consideration. However, if not meeting the hour requirement is the rule rather than the exception, especially due to lack of good planning, other adjustments may be necessary to continue pioneering.

A truck tanker can carry over 10 thousand gallons of fuel in their huge tanks distributing gasoline to different gas stations. However, there is no mechanism allowing the truck to use some of the fuel in the big tank to fill its own smaller tank. Now imagine a truck carrying thousands of gallons of fuel for others, but then runs out of gas in its own tank! Wouldn't that be ironic? If its own small tank is empty, it can't go anywhere. Likewise, we have so much to distribute and to teach to others. Yet, we need to fill our own tanks. We need to have our own personal study regularly so as to be energized to carry on sharing the good news with others.

Sometimes pioneers take on one or more of these solo roles: Fixed pioneers: when they come to the group, the always have arrangement with the same people. Very seldom there's room to support others. Phantom pioneers: they are invisible, nobody sees them in the groups. Submarine pioneers: they come to the surface only during the circuit overseer's visit. Secret agent pioneers: nobody knows when they preach. The elders ask them about their service but they give evasive answers. It's secret service! But, how can a pioneer teach others to join the congregation when he himself is working independently of it? May we never let our service decay into these solo type of services.

Some friends work hard in the congregation and put numbers similar to pioneers, but don't dare to apply to become one. Spiritually, they work like giants but feed like a mouse! They are not able to enjoy special spiritual banquets like the meeting of the circuit overseer with the pioneers, the annual meeting with the elders, the annual pioneer seminar in connection with the circuit assembly, the pioneer service school every five years or so, nor the pioneer school book, just to mention some items in the menu. Really, if we like to work like a pioneer, why not just become one?




Pleasures

A number of Flies were attracted to a jar of honey which had been overturned in a housekeeper's room, and placing their feet in it, ate greedily. Their feet, however, became so smeared with the honey that they could not use their wings, nor release themselves, and were suffocated. Just as they were expiring, they exclaimed, 'O foolish creatures that we are, for the sake of a little pleasure we have destroyed ourselves.' Pleasure bought with pains, hurts. (http://fablesofaesop.com)




Point of view

If you were to tell a five-year-old that one day he will leave his mother and go live with another woman, he would be horrified and say he would never do that. But soon he will get into adolescence and then adulthood. This natural process of growth will change his mindset dramatically and make him develop a deeper understanding of how life works. Lesson? Our point of view changes as we grow, even spiritually.

Would you like to dress like George Washington? Or perhaps have a stylish look like Elvis? What about getting some shiny 70s outfits like the BeeGees? Well, the problem is that all those are a little bit outdated now. But back in their day, they were considered super awesome, and that kind of style was a model to follow. Ever-changing human points of view are not a reliable source of wisdom.

If you look through a funnel you'll find two points of view: a wide view and a narrow view, depending on the side you pick to look. When it comes to our Christian living, is your point of view broad and reasonable or narrow-minded?




Positivism

To be positive in the ministry while facing challenges, like working on an unreceptive territory, we just need to use the zoom function, spiritually. Zoom out: can you see our brothers and sisters around the world? They are doing the same thing, so we are not alone; zoom out again: can you see the angels? They are supporting us in this work, we have their backing; zoom further out: there in heaven, we see Jehovah and Jesus directing the work and supplying the power; and when Jehovah zooms in to see us, he sees our endurance and love for him. Don't we have plenty of reasons to be positive?

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty

One reason why we may lack courage is overthinking and imagining all the negative scenarios that can occur while approaching people. For example, we may imagine: the householder is not interested; he’s going to slam the door on me; he is going to yell at us; he is going to hide behind the door and upload the video of us knocking to youtube, etc. If we use our imagination in that pessimistic way, of course we don’t want to preach! The antidote to this is to conscientiously make a serious effort to imagine all the positive scenarios that can unfold if we approach people informally or knock on their doors. For instance: they could be interested; they could be praying asking God’s help at the moment we knock on the door; they could progress and become Witnesses; maybe that one person we found brings the rest of the family into the truth; they could become our spiritual children and be our friends for eternity! Now, if we think like that, courage will just be the natural result of our positive thoughts.

Ask yourself the following: if for every positive comment you say you'll get $1 but for every negative one you'll lose $1, at the end of the year, will you be rich or bankrupt?

For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use to be anything else (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes)

Is the glass half empty or half full?

It all depends on our perception, if we tend to be positive or negative. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is_the_glass_half_empty_or_half_full%3F; https://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2012/09/19/see-the-glass-half-empty-or-full-7-keys-for-optimism-in-tough-times/#3855dd1b767f)




Potential

Real estate agents can see the potential in a deteriorated house. They can visualize how it’s going to look after renovation and how much more it will worth. Likewise, rather than focusing on the faults of our fellow brothers and sisters, can we have a real estate agent’s vision and try to see beyond our biases to perceive their potential?

A Sequoia tree can grow 300 feet tall and 36 feet in diameter. You could build around 50 houses only with one of those giant trees. However, its seed is only the size of a flake of oatmeal. This can illustrate the untapped potential in each one of us counting on the help of the holy spirit. Some that have been able to develop their spiritual potential are now serving as missionaries, circuit overseers, bethelites, etc. We all have the potential of growing like a giant Sequoia spiritually if we trust in Jehovah. (http://www.instructables.com/id/Grow-Your-Own-Giant-Sequoia-Tree/)




Power

The crocodile's jaws have been reported to be more sensitive than the human fingertips. This can enable them to both carry their offspring in their mouths with great gentleness and to snap at prey in a split second, researchers report. This illustrates Jehovah's power. He is pure energy and his power is unlimited, yet it can be controlled. It can either be used gently to protect his weak servants, but also in a destructive way to bring punishment upon the wicked. (https://www.livescience.com/24621-crocodile-jaws-sensitive-fingertip.html)

Just like power tools can help us carry on a construction job, Jehovah's power and his inspired power tool, the Bible, can help us carry on the job of 'building' a new disciple. Having a hammer and knowing how to use it are two different things. Likewise, we may have a Bible but we need to learn how to unleash its power. We don't want to swing the hammer but keep missing the nail.

Just like solar panels can provide power to a big house, Jehovah can also be our Sun in the sense of allowing Him to keep our spirituality fully charged through his Word.




Prayer

It's almost impossible to sin and pray at the same time. So when in temptation, pray!

The account in Luke 18:10-14 presents two men that acted according to how they saw themselves. What they believed determined their prayer, one was acceptable, the other detestable. Although the Pharisee was dedicated to God and was praying with knowledge of him, his prayer was totally off. This illustrates the fact that, even if we are dedicated to God and have knowledge of the truth, what we believe in our heart about ourselves can potentially make our prayers unacceptable.

A little girl asks her father to give her a rose as a gift. The father agreed to it. He knows that she really loves roses, so he decides to plant a rose garden in his backyard. Next day he starts working on it. He prepares the soil, plants the seeds, and waters them. Every day he checks on the garden to make sure that is blooming well. The little girl is oblivious of the garden. She wonders when will her father give her the rose. So she asked her dad: Daddy, where is the rose you promised me? The dad reassures her, saying: It's coming, even better than you can imagine! It took the dad eight weeks to see the first rose bloom. At last, he gave the gift to his little daughter, not one rose, but a dozen beautiful homegrown roses. And now she will enjoy having the garden of roses permanently. Indeed, the gift was better than what she had imagined. The question is: when did the father decide to grant the girl's petition? When he gave her the gift, or when he started to plant the garden? He granted the petition the very next day when he started planting the garden. It happens the same with our prayers to Jehovah. Maybe we are asking for something that takes time to develop. Maybe Jehovah right now is working on your prayer, maneuvering a series of events that will eventually lead to your petition. What we need is to be patient and wait for Jehovah's time. And, as we have surely experienced in the past, when Jehovah grants a petition, we get something even better than what we have imagined.

Genesis 19:29- Even though Lot was a righteous man, God saved him in part because he kept Abraham's petition about Lot in mind. This illustrates the power our prayers can have on our brothers’ lives. God can do things for others because he keeps our prayers on their behalf in mind.

A Chinese man was studying the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses. He was very interested in what he was learning. The Memorial of the death of Christ was approaching, so he wanted to make arrangements to attend. The brother studying with him suggested that he can talk with his boss in advance to take the day off. He worked in a restaurant, so it was not going to be easy. The brother said to him: 'Don't worry, let's just pray and trust in Jehovah.' So they both prayed about it. The Chinese man approached his boss and asked him about taking the day off. The answer was an outright 'No.' He kept praying and insisted a little bit. Due to his insistence, the boss said: 'if we don't have many customers that night maybe you can leave early and attend your meeting.' So he told his Bible teacher what the boss said. His teacher replied: 'let's keep praying about it.' Memorial day arrived. The Chinese man called his Bible teacher and said: 'a cruise ship arrived full of tourists, the restaurant is jam-packed, I don't think I can leave early to attend.” The Bible teacher said to him: 'Do what you can. Leave it in Jehovah's hands. But keep praying'. Before Memorial talk started, the Chinese man called his teacher again. He said: 'can you believe what happened? We had so many people here that we ran out of food! My boss had no option but to close the restaurant early! Do you think I can still go to the meeting?' So in the end, the Chinese man was able to attend the Memorial talk. Yes, when Jehovah answers our persistent prayers, he does it with style. (Related by a bethel speaker)

A 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, an 8 hours' walk was needed 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 was 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.

A young Bethelite visiting home was interviewed from his seat, having some experiences to relate. After a few opening comments, he said that he had heard a good illustration related about prayer that he would like to share with the audience. He paused and looked down. Continued to pause. He looked up at the brother on the stage, looked distraught, looked at the audience, almost with tears in his eyes. He looked down, again; he cleared his throat, looked at the ceiling. This went on for an excruciatingly long time, really getting to the audience.... He then broke into a big smile and said: 'What went through your mind? Did you ask: 'What's wrong? What's happening? What's going on?' Or did you say: 'Please, just say something! Anything!' Well, did you ever think that when we do not talk to Jehovah for a while, he is wondering what's wrong? That he wants us to say something, anything!'

Are my prayers like the brief postal card that I would send to a stranger as a courtesy, or like the long and sincere letter I would send to a close friend?

Abraham waited 24 years for an answer to his prayer about having a son from which the seed will come. In the meantime he had Ishmael. However, eventually he realized he was not the son of the promise. Can we emulate the patience of Abraham? While we are waiting for Jehovah's answer to our prayers, can we distinguish when is Jehovah's answer and when is not?

Touching experience from Ecuador: Jose came into the truth in 1968, despite severe opposition from his family. His wife and six children were bitterly opposed to him. They burned his books, refused to attend meetings, and generally gave him much grief for his stand. In spite of this, he was a faithful brother. Early on he realized there was one way he could impart spiritual truths to his family and that was through prayers before family meals. This was a practice that predated his coming into the truth, and he insisted on continuing. So for 20 years, all the family would gather for every meal, and he would say a meaningful prayer and include in a request for his family to take Bible truths to heart. This continued for 20 years until in 1988, Jose died. Not one of his family had accepted the truth, and in fact had continued to oppose him. However, since he arranged in advance for his funeral to be held in the Kingdom Hall, all 20 members of his immediate family, now including grandchildren, attended. After the service, they returned home where they gathered for a private family meal. Before the meal began, Jose's young grandson Diego said 'Now that grandfather is gone, who will pray for us?' The entire family broke down crying. After some moments, the oldest son Carlos rose and said: 'I will try,' so he began to pray this way. 'Dear Jehovah, we beg your forgiveness that we have not accepted the truth. As for me, from this day forward, I will serve you'. As of 2009, some 20 years later, 19 of those 20 family members are in the truth. Carlos was serving at the Ecuador Branch. Imagine now how Jose will feel upon waking in the new world and seeing his entire family there to greet him. Yes, Jehovah answers our prayers! (Related by a bethel speaker in an International Convention)

The boss is expecting an important message by fax from a customer. The fax arrives, and he picks it up from the fax machine. Moments later, he receives exactly the same message. The boss thinks it may have been a mistake. Five minutes later, the same message arrives again. Every 30 minutes the fax keeps receiving the same message. The boss concludes 'there is something wrong with this guy sending the same message.' Consequently, he decides to block that customer. Comparably, it can happen the same with our prayers. Is it not true that if our prayers are repetitive rather than sincere, Jehovah may conclude 'there's something wrong with him' and may even decide to 'block' our prayers? May our prayers of appreciation sound fresh and sincere in the ears of the Almighty. (Matthew 6.7)

Imagine a child tells all his friends his problems but that doesn't trust his own father enough to tell him. How would his father feel? Jehovah feels the same way when we don't tell him how we feel, but we have no problem sharing them with imperfect humans.

If we pay a visit to the doctor we need to be very specific about our pain because if not he will not be able to provide the needed assistance. It's the same with prayers. Jehovah wants us to be specific with our petitions.

A boy wanted a dog. So he asks his father, 'can I have a dog, Dad?' His dad looks at him, smiles, pats his head, and says, let me think about it. A few days later, the boy again asks, 'Dad, can I have a dog?' I will feed it and take care of it... His dad starts to think, 'Maybe he's serious. I'll have to think more about this.' The little boy persists in his request over the next few weeks. One day the man hears a lot of noise coming from the basement. So he goes down to see what is going on. He finds his son busily pounding nails into some boards. 'What are you doing?' he asks. 'I am making a house for my new dog', the boy replies. Moved by the boys’ persistence and expectant attitude, the man bought his son a dog. It is similar with our prayers to God today. We may not get the things we ask for at the time that we ask for them. If we persist in prayer, and 'keep on asking', we can be sure that our Best Friend, Jehovah, will hear our prayer, provided that it is in harmony with his righteous ways and principles.

Two children were afraid they would be late for school. One said, 'Let's kneel down and pray to God so that He may help us not to be late.' The other child offered a more practical solution: 'No, let's run and pray at the same time.' Lesson? Rather than making prayer a ritual, let's make it a course of action!

All the rivers flow into the sea, but the sea does not overflow. This illustrates the fact that God can hear all the prayers of those who please him. Those prayers might be as abundant as water in the ocean, but would never be too numerous to overflow God. The Almighty can listen and attend to all of them personally.

When praying, don't give Jehovah instructions —just report for duty!

The privilege of prayer is usually something private between God and us. But some prayers are so precious that Jehovah has preserved them and make them public in the Bible, like those of Hannah and Jesus. It makes us wonder, how precious and profound are our prayers to God?

A Herdsman tending his flock in a forest lost a Bull-calf from the fold. After a long and fruitless search, he made a vow that, if he could only discover the thief who had stolen the Calf, he would offer a lamb in sacrifice to his gods. Not long afterward, as he ascended a small hillock, he saw at its foot a Lion feeding on the Calf. Terrified at the sight, he lifted his eyes and his hands to heaven, and said: 'Just now I vowed to offer a lamb to my gods if I could only find out who had robbed me; but now that I have discovered the thief, I would willingly add a full-grown Bull to the Calf I have lost, if I may only secure my own escape from him in safety.' Moral? Unlike this fable, God will not concede things that will harm us. Nevertheless, we need to pray wisely. (http://fablesofaesop.com)




Preaching

A carpenter was about to retire. He was asked to build one last house for the company he worked for. His heart was not in it, though, so he did it in a hurry and with low-quality materials. Eventually, the work was not as good as his usual projects. When he finished the work, one of his colleagues dropped the bomb, saying: 'Take the keys, the house is for you. It’s a gift from the company for your many years of work.' Needless to say, the carpenter was full of regret. If only he would have known that he was building for himself, his plan would have been quite different. Similarly, in our ministry, we sometimes focus too much on results. If the response is often not good, we may start neglecting our teaching skills. ‘No one will listen anyway,' we may think. But when it comes to preaching, we must be cognizant that we are working for our own life, regardless of the people’s reaction. (1 Tim 4:16) If we keep in mind that we are constructing our future prospects of life, we will do our best in the ministry.

Have you ever been pressured to sing in a karaoke? Some love to be at a party and see others sing, but when it comes to them singing they shy away. But let’s face it, if we would have the gift of singing like Adele, we would just take over the party with that magnificent voice! Some don’t even sing that great, they just have lots of self-confidence, and so they love karaokes. The point is, we love to do things we know how to do well; or at least we dare to do things we are confident we can do relatively well. Otherwise, we shrink back and evade them. If there’s no other way, we'll do it, but reluctantly and with little skill. The same applies to our ministry. Some really don't know how to preach confidently. Even if they go out from house to house, inside they hope not to find people to talk with. They prefer empty houses than interested ones! But because it's a duty that has to be done, they do it reluctantly, and not very skillfully. If that's how we really feel, it may be a clear indication of lack confidence in our preaching skills. Since we all have to do it anyway, though, wouldn't it be better to learn how to do it well and develop some confidence? Wouldn't that be more pleasing to Jehovah?

You got a great bargain in a shopping mall supermarket. As you go out of the mall, a friend of yours see you carrying all the bags. He wants to take advantage of the deal too, so he asks you where's the bargain. Naturally, you share the news and tell him everything about the bargain! Do you need to pray about it or even rehearse what you will tell your friend? No, it comes out naturally! Now, if it happens that you are very poor and can only afford to go to a dumpy market and buy only vegetables and fruits that are about to rot, those that you need peel all the parts that are dark and rotten and then you end up with a third of the fruit. Now, your friend sees you with all the bags of fruits that are about to rot. He is coming to ask you about it. What will be your reaction? Maybe you'll try to hide because you don't want him to see you with the rotten fruit! Spiritually, it happens something similar. How do you feel about the truth? Do you feel like we have found something really good, so good that naturally comes bubbling out of your mouth? Or is it more like a rotten message that you feel ashamed of? Do we peel away most of the message and just keep the subjects that we prefer, like family and future but nothing on kingdom or prophecies? The way we feel about the truth will be reflected on the way we preach.

How is it that seawater dehydrates our bodies? The scientific reason is that human kidneys can only make urine that is less salty than salt water. Therefore, to get rid of all the excess salt taken in by drinking seawater, you have to urinate more water than you drank. Eventually, you die of dehydration even as you become thirstier. So drinking seawater doesn't quench the thirst, but it increases thirst. Spiritually speaking, there are still individuals out there that are thirsty, looking for the waters of the truth in different churches. However, the waters of false religion are like seawater. Many have felt it doesn't really quench their spiritual thirst. Some get very disappointed after joining a religious organization whose hidden but real motive is making money, not to teach about God. Only the spiritual waters that come from Jehovah can refresh people spiritually. Let's share it with them by means of preaching! (http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/drinksw.html)

During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, 'Hi, I'm John Kennedy. What are you doing?' 'Well, Mr. President,' the janitor responded, 'I'm helping put a man on the moon.' To most people, this janitor was just cleaning the building. But in the larger story unfolding around him, he was helping to make history. He perceived the big picture of his work and therefore put his heart in it. It makes us wonder: Do we see the larger picture unfolding around us in connection with the preaching work? Do we realize that through the preaching work we are furnishing evidence for the universal trial of the rightfulness of Jehovah's sovereignty? Do we perceive that we are contributing in establishing a precedent that will secure universal peace and prosperity for all eternity? Are we keeping in mind that our work is instrumental in saving people's lives? Yes, our work is of utmost importance! Let's go out and preach! (http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2014/12/what-a-nasa-janitor-can-teach-us.html)

Some people prefer to hear nice words than to learn clear Bible truths that can help them improve their spirituality. It can be illustrated this way: You're going to the doctor, and he says nice things to you, but he doesn't give you the information and diagnosis you need. He knows you have a dangerous illness, but he doesn't tell you because he wants to be nice. Surely that doctor doesn't deserve our confidence. What's the lesson? God's servants need to be tactful without watering down the truth.

If you are following the line of the sun moving across the earth, we can compare it to a wave at a football game. As that line moves, brothers and sisters are getting up and starting to preach, while others at a different location are just going to bed. Every time this wave passes around the earth, there are hundreds of lives saved. So catch the wave!! At the end of the day, it is so encouraging to think we have a few hundred more brothers today.

There is a lost child, and a frantic mother calls the police. A hunt is organized and about 500 or 600 people turn up to search for this missing youngster. After a few hours, the child is found by one or two of the search party. Does this mean that the other members of the search party wasted their time and effort because they were not the ones to find the child? No, every one of them was needed to make the search effective and no one gave up the search feeling they were wasting their time. Application? Even if we are not the ones to find honest hearted ones, we should never feel we are wasting our time, and give up on the search. Everyone is needed to make the search effective.

Why do we use tools in the preaching work? Because we work different types of soil. We need the right tool for the right soil (Mat 13:18-23)

Once there was a seven-year-old boy who went to Disneyland with his parents, but with all the excitement of going on all the rides, he was separated from them. He was having such a wonderful time that it was quite a while before he realized the predicament he was in. At first, he thought he could find his way back to his parents. But, after a time, it finally hit him. He had no idea where he was going or how to get there. He was lost, really lost. The same is true of people who have not found their heavenly Father. They may not know it yet, because they may still be having a wonderful time, but they are lost all the same. Sooner or later it's going to hit them that they don't know where they are going or how to get there. Two things were necessary for the boy to be reunited with his family. First, he had to recognize his condition. Second, someone had to show him where he could find his family. The same is true with our preaching. Jehovah's 'draws' those whose heart condition is right. And as Jehovah's Witnesses, we are commissioned to show them the Truth.

There was a very long line of people waiting for their turn on the ride at an amusement park, this ride was the newest and best. A little boy was waiting in line patiently but excitedly anticipating the joy he was going to have. The line was very long and it took an hour before he eventually reached the top of the ride ready to enter. All the way you could see the excitement building in this little boy as he watched the other people whizzing down the great big waterslide and screaming with joy. Just as he was about to enter the water to hop onto the slide, the attendant said to him 'Sorry son, you are too small to go on this slide, the slide for little guys like you is over there.' The little boy did not reach the height requirement for the Giant slide. He was devastated and try as everybody did, he was inconsolable. Sadly he sat on the stairway and cried and cried. What's the lesson? People we meet in our ministry, just like that little boy, have expectations that are not based on the facts regarding heavenly life, immortality, etc. When we help them to come to an accurate knowledge of the truth, we must try to be tactful in our explanation. Help them to see that Jehovah has set things in place that will benefit all mankind to their hearts' content.

A witness in a legal case decides not to talk and stays quiet while on the court. Should he get any compensation for being a witness? Can he even be called a 'witness'? Likewise, if we want to be a Witness of Jehovah testifying in his favor in the universal trial of his sovereignty, we need to speak up and actively give a witness.

Once upon a time, there was a village where the townspeople wanted to take care of those who were less fortunate than they. Each agreed to contribute a sack of grain for those in the neighborhood who were elderly, ill or poor. A large container was put in the village square where the sacks were to be emptied. The day appointed for the opening of the container arrived. The villagers assembled, a trumpet blew, the cover was lifted with great ceremony, and . . . the container was empty. Each villager, thinking, my little bit of grain will not be missed, had failed to respond. Like the villagers we have a commitment to Jehovah, as evidenced by our baptism, to assist others by preaching and teaching them. Are we doing our share? How about the work in the congregation? Are we leaving this work up to others, or do we have an active share in it?




Preparation

Imagine there's a congregation gathering. Certain sister claims she makes an exquisite stuffed turkey, so she is asked to bring some. When the sister arrives, a strange noise is heard, like the flapping wings of a bird. The turkey is alive! She argues she did not have time to cook it. What would you think about that excuse? In a similar way, Jehovah expects us to have the habit of preparing for the meetings and to participate in them. (Ps. 22:22) Especially if we have to give a talk or conduct a Bible study, being unprepared is equal to bringing a 'raw turkey.' Improvising unprepared can be embarrassing for ourselves and will not make Jehovah happy. Conversely, our good preparation will show our appreciation for spiritual things.—Heb. 12:16




Pressure

A diver plunges into the deep sea. As the depth increases, so does the pressure. How can he compensate for that increase? Should he lift up his mask and allow a little water to leak in? No! He has to equalize by increasing the pressure from within. For example, when divers breathe from a scuba tank, they breathe air at the same pressure as the surrounding water. This means that, although the water presses in on them, the air they breathe presses back out with the same force. What's the lesson for us? As humans, we are subjected to intense pressure in this system. What should be our first reaction? Should we miss meetings or service to relieve the pressure? This would be as unpractical as the diver lifting up his mask to relieve the pressure. Rather, if we feel the pressure of this system, we should press back out with the same force. We need to increase our personal study, preaching, and prayers because all those activities expose us to the influence of the holy spirit, which is the best spiritual scuba diver tank. In that way, we can equalize the pressure from within. (http://physics.itsbaxter.com/pressure.html)

Crowd pressures have unconsciously conditioned our minds and feet to move to the rhythmic drumbeat of the status quo. Many voices and forces urge us to choose the path of least resistance, and bid us never to fight for an unpopular cause and never to be found in a minority of two or three. (http://www.quoteswise.com/martin-luther-king-jr-quotes-5.html)




Pride

We want to think of ourselves as a nobody. If we think we are nobody we won't hurt anybody. But if we think we are somebody we will hurt everybody.

A balloon filled with air can get very large. But is the balloon itself really that big? No. The balloon is tiny, as we can see when is empty. It looks big because of the air that inflates it. Similarly, arrogant people can be puffed up with pride believing they are superior to others. But are they really superior? No. It’s only air inflating them. They are as small as everybody else. Lesson? We must avoid an arrogant spirit, otherwise sooner or later someone will come and pop our self-esteem with pointy words of truth showing us how small we are.

Dynamite can be used in mining to extract precious gems and metals, but it can also be used as an explosive to kill people. In a similar way, pride can be good if it helps us to respect ourselves to a proper extent. But unduly pride can be ‘explosive.' It can be the source of prejudice, hatred, bigotry, and many other negative traits. We need to keep our pride in check by cultivating humility.

Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth (https://www.brainyquote.com)

Two game cocks were fiercely fighting for the mastery of the farmyard. One at last put the other to flight. The vanquished Cock skulked away and hid himself in a quiet corner, while the conqueror, flying up to a high wall, flapped his wings and crowed exultingly with all his might. An Eagle sailing through the air pounced upon him and carried him off in his talons. The vanquished Cock immediately came out of his corner, and ruled henceforth with undisputed mastery. Moral? Pride goes before destruction. (http://fablesofaesop.com)




Principles

If you go hiking and there is a sign that says, 'DANGER CLIFF EDGE.' How close to the edge should you get? Will it be enough to stand just a few inches behind the edge?

Not if we understand the principle behind the rule. The principle is that we can lose our lives if we fall down the cliff. Why is it important to understand the underlying principle? Well, think about it, what if it's a windy day? What if the edge is slippery? What if we get dizzy or have vertigo? What if the ground near the edge caves in? On the other hand, principles can help us to avoid the other extreme, thinking we need to stay many meters away from the edge, or even leave the mountain altogether to avoid all danger. Yes, discerning the underlying principles of rules is a source of wisdom and can teach us to be balanced.

Principles have been likened to a good credit card: they can be used in any country regardless of the culture, it can save you time, and it will give you points with Jehovah.

Living by rules or laws can be illustrated in the context of taking the bus. You get in, and somebody else drives. Whatever happens on the road is not your fault, but the drivers'. After you get to your destination, we don't know anything about you. We don't know if you respect life, traffic lights, or know how to drive. Living by principle, though, can be likened to taking your own car and drive to your destination. It will reveal more about what you know, like, do you respect traffic laws, do you show manners letting others go first, are you patient with bad drivers on the road, etc. Similarly, living by principles can speak volumes about your maturity and personality, whether you know how to make decisions, the depth of your love for God, the motives that drive you, etc. You don't depend on others telling you what to do; you don't need hard-and-fast rules... instead, you know how to apply godly principles. That's what we want to do as mature Christians because, in the end, adults take their car and drive, but we make the kids take the bus. 




Priorities

Place some rocks in a jar and then add rice until it reaches the top, then put the lid on. Picture the rocks as the spiritual activities we must engage on, like meeting attendance, personal study, meditation, and preaching. Picture the rice as all the tiny parts of your everyday life and things you like to do, like hobbies, workout, etc. If you reverse the order, put the rice in first, the rocks will not fit properly and you will not be able to close the jar no matter how hard you try. The following is an image from k12edubuzz.com/big-rocks/.

Putting the Kingdom first and letting the other things fit around it is the only way of having proper Christian balance in our lives.

A cook wants to make a dish a bit saltier. Would it make sense for him to add more sugar? Spiritually speaking, in the face of adversity some have the tendency of adding what should be cut, but cutting what should be added. For instance, who has ever gotten a headache or stiff neck from reading the Bible? Who has ever gotten stomach acidity for conducting a Bible study? Why then would anyone facing stress or anxiety attacks cut from the spiritual things? We might be cutting what we should add, and adding what we should cut.




Privileges

The flowing waters of a stream plunge onto the river pebbles. In slow motion, a crystal-like water droplet springs high above all others. Just for a split second, a ray of sunlight lances through the droplet illuminating it, which in turn, reflects the colors of the spectrum like a rainbow, sparkling beautifully above the flowing river. The drop quickly falls down and rejoins the water stream in the river. It’s time for another beautiful droplet to rise up and shine before the Sun. Privileges are just like that. A brother may have a privilege, like delivering a talk at an assembly. Really, he is just one of many droplets in the flowing waters of the audience. But for a few minutes, Jehovah’s spiritual light lances through him, and while he delivers his talk he is shining with God's light. Then he goes back to the audience, and he enjoys seeing the next droplet shine. Just like the water droplet shines only because of the Sun, those having privileges can shine only because they reflect God’s light. Happily, we all have access to the same spiritual light.

Imagine a jet flying at supersonic speeds, but shooting cannon shells that are subsonic. What will happen next? The fighter will run into the shells it had fired seconds before as it is flying faster than the shells. Basically, the jet will shoot itself down. Similarly, sometimes our desire to have more privileges can travel way too fast. However, this desire to reach out for more privileges should not travel faster than our actual progress. If it does, we could end up in a bitter head-on collision with feelings of disappointment and failure. Some have even shot themselves down spiritually in frustration; year after year, in spite of their desire, they have to face the reality of not being qualified for privileges. How can a brother avoid this? He needs to take action to go back to the basics: daily Bible reading, deep personal study, praying constantly. He then needs to humbly ask the elders and circuit overseer for direction. He may not like what he will hear. But this next step is crucial: he needs to swallow his pride and apply the counsel. If he masters those basics, then privileges will come and overtake him, even at supersonic speed. (Deu. 28:2)

A ministerial servant that had waited a long time to be appointed elder said the day he was appointed: 'Now the shark has teeth.' How did he treat the flock afterward? Like a shark. He did not last one year as an elder. Lesson? Those newly appointed should not see their new privilege as a mean to gain power or as a license to kill. It doesn't work like that. It is actually the opposite. Being an elder only means more work and sacrifices in order to serve others.

Flight security drills always remind us that in the case of an emergency we should put the oxygen mask first on us, and then help others, even the children. This is not selfish at all. Why? If we were to pass out in the process of trying to help the child, both would lose. By the same token, we need to be exemplary to qualified for privileges of service, otherwise, we won't have the oxygen we need, at it were, to assist others with freeness of speech.

Moses was trying to start a rebellion to free his people from Egypt. He wanted to be the deliverer. (Acts 7:23-30) From where did he get the idea? The Bible doesn't indicate whether at that particular time Jehovah told him to do that. Maybe he reached that conclusion trying to make sense of the story of his miraculous rescue from the Nile river. Either way, God thought he needed to be trained for 40 more years. At Jehovah's time, Moses became the leader of his people. This account serves to illustrate an important lesson. If we are reaching out for a privilege and we are not getting it as fast as we would like, it may be that Jehovah is training us for it. If we are humble, we will recognize that the reward comes, not at our time, but at Jehovah's time.

Like a battery or charger that can get overcharged and snap, we could get overwhelmed with privileges. We can only handle greater privileges if our spiritual foundation is solid and strong.

At times, some body of elders don't recommend new elders supposedly because 'there is no need in the congregation at the moment.' However, having many elders in a congregation is not a factor pertaining to the qualifications for elders. As a matter of fact, when the headquarter was in Brooklyn, certain congregation there had over 50 elders! Thus, that kind of thinking can be reckoned as human thinking, not theocratic. An elder doesn’t get appointed to serve exclusively in one congregation. Brothers get appointed to serve in the Christian congregation as a whole, which means that any qualified elder can potentially serve in any congregation in the world regardless of the number of elders serving. Having Jehovah's thinking can help us follow theocratic procedures.




Problems

I'm an old man with many troubles, many of them never happened. - attributed to Mark Twain (http://www.azquotes.com)

A string or cable can get so entangled that it can be tough to untie. One may not know where to start untying. If one is to untie all the knots, he most put forth effort and spend time working on it and be patient. In a similar way, the life of some people has turned into a massive ball of entangled strings full of knots due to many different reasons, like the system of things, mistakes, the wickedness of others, unforeseen event, etc. Their lives have gotten so complicated with so many problems that they don't even know where to start 'unknotting.' It may seem insurmountable to have a fresh start in life. But if we are to change our lives, we need to look for Jehovah's help. He has helped many others to untie their knots. But we also need to put forth effort and be patient. The latter is very important, because some knots may need to wait until the new system to be disentangled.

When we stand next to one of those big Supertankers tied up to a wharf, it is huge... gigantic! But then if we take an airplane trip and observe that same Supertanker from 30,000 feet, it is very small and insignificant. Our problems and trials sometimes appear insurmountable, gigantic, because we are so close to them. But if we try to see our problems and trials from a distance, from Jehovah's perspective, our mountain-like problems will pale into insignificance. In time we will start getting farther and farther from those problems. In the new system, we will be so far from them that they won't even come up into our hearts. (Isa. 65:17)




Progress

Not every plant bear fruit fast. Figs and vines can take years, and palm trees could take from 10-15 years. According to 'Insight' volume 2, page 572, 'The palm tree comes to full bearing after 10 to 15 years and continues to bear for nearly a hundred years'. In like manner, students have different pace of progress. Some will not bear fruit right away. But once they start, they will do it for a very long time, for an eternity. Hence it's worthwhile to be patient and help them progress.

When a skyscraper is under construction, for the project's first six months or so, all the workmen do is make a great hole in the ground. To build a tall building by starting below the surface level seems absurd, even crazy. But there is a good reason for the large hole. To build a mammoth building, it is first necessary to dig down until a strong foundation can be built, one that is capable of supporting the skyscraper. A doghouse needs no foundation, and an ordinary house can be built on little more than a concrete slab. But a skyscraper, that's different. It requires a deep and solid base. So it is in our Christian life. Our upward potential, our progress, rests on the foundation underneath it. Spiritual giants, like the skyscraper, need a huge spiritual foundation that can be built by reaching out and digging deeper into the Scriptures.

In some lands, there are thousands of acres that have been polluted by chemicals and landmines. Sadly, this kind of soil is wasted and not suitable to be put to good use as it cannot be cultivated and developed. In a similar way, fleshly personality traits that impede us from getting along with our brothers and sisters are like those chemicals and landmines. Unless we work hard to 'remove' them, our progress will be stunned by them. If we put on the new personality and make the fruitage of the spirit manifest, we will keep progressing spiritually. Then we will be ready to be 'put us to good use' and handle more responsibilities in the congregation.




Promises

If we trust this world's resources and promises of material comfort and happiness, we would be in effect asking Satan to take care of us. Will he? It is better to apply Matthew 6:33, and trust that Jehovah will take care of us.

Jehovah promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.




Prophesies

Bible prophecies are like an open window that allows us to see what's coming, things that are far and things that are near. Some prophecies are near, others a bit farther. But we will only see them if the window is open. We do it by opening the Bible and study the meaning of God's prophetic word. We will be ready for the ones that are near. And the ones far away will not catch us off guard.

Volcanos show clear signs before they erupt. Those can include very small earthquakes beneath the volcano, slight inflation, or swelling, of the volcano and increased emission of heat and gas. Similarly, Jehovah has given us the signs of the last days in his Word, the Bible. If we pay close attention, we will be ready for the great tribulation. (https://www.livescience.com/8809-scientists-volcano-erupt.html)




Publications

A common war strategy is to break the adversary's secret codes, and to sabotage and intercept the communication. Satan is always trying to sabotage and intercept our communication with God and the Organization. Every time we miss a meeting, every day we miss our daily Bible reading, every time there is a new publication but we don't read it, he succeeds. We need to find protection against our enemy in Jehovah's Organization, and we can do so by making an effort to get familiar with our publications.

Our publications are the working tools we need to take good care of the lovely garden of the Scriptures.

For those who said: 'I don't want to read your publications, as they are not of my religion': If you read a book on France, does that mean you have to become French?