Ransom

In certain town, the people were trying to save the poor from starvation. They asked the richest man in town for help. The wealthy man agreed to help them. He tours them around his house and shows them his art gallery. There he has Picassos, Rembrandts, and Velazquez pieces of art. The people wonder: 'Wow, any of these could be good enough to save all the poor in town.' But then the benefactor took them to his most precious vault. There he had the greatest piece of his collection: the real Mona Lisa. So he took the Mona Lisa and gave it to the people and said: take it to the auction and use the profit on behalf of the poor. The auction day arrived, but the people were poor, so they were not offering much. Then, a mysterious man bid so much money that was enough to save all the poor! He won the auction. Who was this man? It turned out to be the original owner, the rich man! He paid for it to himself, and gave the profit to the people. Why did he do that? Wouldn't it have been easier just to give the money to the people at the outset? Yes, but he just wanted to show how much he loves the people by giving away his most precious belonging. By removing the Mona Lisa from his secured vault, he risked losing it or ruining it. But he was willing to go that far to show his love. That is what Jehovah did on behalf of humanity when he gave his own son as a ransom. We always think of how hard it was for Jehovah to see his son suffering and dying. And indeed, it was hard. But really, that was not the worst thing that could have happened. When Jehovah took Jesus out of his secure vault in heaven and sent him to the earth, he risked losing Jesus forever. Jesus had freedom of choice, and he was going to be surrounded by corrosive influences. And Satan worked hard to make Jesus stumble...The risk of forever losing Jesus was latent, was real. But Jehovah took that risk because of his love for us. Since Jehovah has done so much for us, it makes us wonder: Do I really appreciate all that he has done for us? We will never be able to repay what God has done for us. But we can show our grateful heart through actions.

A shirt that was stained but then thoroughly washed does not have the stain anymore. No one can say it is still dirty. The same with Jesus' blood washing our sins.

A turntable bridge spanned a large river. One day, the switchman in charge of bridge controls was waiting for the last train to come. When he caught sight of the train lights, he stepped to the controls and locked the bridge into a securely into position, allowing the train full of passengers to cross. At that moment, he heard the voice of his 6-year-old son: 'Daddy, where are you?' The tiny boy was crossing the bridge to look for his father. The train was approaching full-throttled right behind him, but the kid didn't realize it. The Switchman had the lever of the lock before him. If he unlocks the bridge impeding the pass of the train his son will live, but all the passengers will die. Instead, in the few seconds he had to decide upon this frightful dilemma, he could not let all those people die. And so the train went on speedily and safely, and no one noticed the broken body of his son thrown dead into the river by the onrushing train. Nor were any of the passengers aware of the great sacrifice this humble Switchman did to preserve their lives. This illustration can help us understand just a tiny fraction of the pain our God Jehovah must have felt when he sacrificed His son to bridge the gap between eternal life and us. And how does He feel when we speed through life without a thought for what He has done for us sacrificing His own son?

Usually when we go shopping we look for a bargain. But Jehovah didn't get us with a bargain. He paid the highest price with his son. This should compel us to be appreciative.

A house is on fire and you hear a baby inside. You go in and save the baby, but in doing so, you lose your life. How would your mother feel if the baby's mother did not appreciate it and instead, said you were foolish for going into the fire? This illustration makes us wonder, how does Jehovah feel when people do not appreciate Jesus' sacrifice?




Reading

The following comment has been attributed to a Gilead instructor: 'The word of God is alive. Don't kill it with your reading'. Yes, a poor Bible reading could impede the extraordinary full power of the Bible.

If Jehovah asks us a penny each day, will we give it to him? Most of us will be happy to do that, except that when we do the math and convert the penny into a time unit some might realize that there is room to improve. For example: if we sleep 8 hours a day we will have 960 minutes a day (16 hours). Round it up to 1000 minutes a day, since many of don't have the chance of sleeping eight full hours a day. The math is: 10 minutes is 1 percent of 1000. So, if we read the Bible 10 minutes a day is like giving Jehovah 1 cent, a penny, out of $1.00. Can we do that?




Reasonable

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 himself was able to do them. Elders should not be demanding with the flock, but be considerate. (Mt 26.41)

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?




Regrets

Insightful illustration from the Watchtower 2013: It has been said that life can be understood by looking back but that it must be lived by looking ahead. So instead of worrying about the past, we should be concerned about the present and the future. What are we doing right now, or failing to do, that years from now we will wish we had not done or had done differently? Are we maintaining a course of faithfulness that will prevent any possible regrets at a future time? As the great tribulation nears, we do not want to be plagued with such anxious thoughts as these: ‘Could I have done more in God’s service? Why didn’t I pioneer when I had the opportunity? What prevented me from reaching out to serve as a ministerial servant? Did I make a real effort to put on the new personality? Am I the sort of person Jehovah wants in his new world?’ Instead of just worrying about such sobering questions, we want to use them to analyze ourselves and make sure that we are giving our best in Jehovah’s service. Otherwise, we could be continuing in a way of life that may result in even more regrets. —2 Tim. 2:15. (w13 1/15 pp. 25-26)




Reincarnation

What is the difference between reincarnation and resurrection? Would you like you son/daughter/husband/wife/father/mother to come back as him/herself, or as someone or something else?




Relationship with Jehovah

Jehovah is our Heavenly Father. This supersedes our relationship with Him as our creator or God. Jehovah is the creator of pigs and cows, but is He their heavenly father? Our relationship with Him as a Father implies trust, intimacy, and deep love. -- 1 Cor. 8:6. Matthew 23:9.

In 1987, a 500-year-old drawing, 'The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist,' by Leonardo da Vinci was damaged when a vandal fired a shotgun blast into it. The drawing was valued by several art experts in $35 million (USD) so, to many, it was precious. The following is an image from Wikipedia.

There were two options, one was to painstakingly glue back together the dozens of tiny fragments scattered all over after the shot, or to throw the damaged pieces of sketch away and let it be gone forever. What did they do? The experts decided to restore and repair the drawing because to them it was priceless. In 1989, the Leonardo returned to public display at the National Gallery in London. In a similar way, there is a vandal out there, Satan, trying to fire a shotgun blast at our most valuable possession: our relationship with God. He wants to tear a hole in our spirituality by means of temptations, stumbling blocks, anxiety, and doubts. We know it because with those kinds of shots he has blasted the spirituality of many. Some have drifted away, others are inactive, and some are even disfellowshipped. The question is, if Satan has hit your spirituality with his shotgun, what are you going to do about it? Would you just throw it away and let it be gone forever? If you believe your relationship with God is priceless, you will do whatever it takes to repair it. In fact, Jehovah is inviting you to set matters straight and return to him. —Isa. 1:18 (http://www.nytimes.com/1988/11/08/arts/restoring-a-leonardo-drawing-that-was-hit-by-a-shotgun-blast.html)

Plan on breaking into Fort Knox? Think again: it's got four surrounding fences —two of which are electric— and armed sentinels lining the perimeter. Don't forget about the video cameras. Its granite walls are four feet thick and held together by 750 tons of reinforcing steel.

What would you find inside? Armed guards, a maze of locked doors, and finally, the 22-ton vault door. This vault can be opened, but only if you find all the staff members who know a small slice of the combination —you’ll need all of them since nobody knows the whole thing. Inside the vault, there are smaller vaults tucked inside; then you can start taking the 5000 tons of gold bullion stored in there. On your way back, 30,000 soldiers from Fort Knox’s military camp will be anxiously awaiting you outside. Now that's security and protection at its best! No doubt, 5000 tons of gold bullion is a big deal, but what about your relationship with Jehovah? Do you consider it valuable enough to protect it from our enemy? Do you set granite walls, armed soldiers, and a maze of locked doors, so to speak, to protect it from apostate ideas, secular philosophy, fleshly desires, etc.? (Check this link for more examples of secure vaults: http://mentalfloss.com/article/31219/9-worlds-most-ridiculously-secure-safes-and-vaults)

The miniaturized trees called Bonsai are popular nowadays. They are quite adorable and relatively easy to grow inside the house. However, for all practical purposes, the Bonsai is mostly an adornment. It doesn't yield any wood, fruit, nor shade. We can draw a parallel between this and our relationship with God. Our relationship with God should not be like a Bonsai, just something cute we can say we have that makes us feel spiritual, but that in reality, it is not producing any fruitage. Our relationship with God needs to have a real effect in our lives.

A mail delivery might be all scratched and damaged on the outside. But when opened, the inside surprisingly is still intact. It was well-protected with bubble wrap, so the outer damage didn't affect the inside. If we safeguard our inside —our heart, our relationship with Jehovah, and our spirituality— no tribulation will be strong enough to harm us. (Prov. 4:23) Our inside will remain intact.




Religion

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)

For those who said: 'Just live a good life, don't harm your neighbor, no religion needed, that is enough'. -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 didn't ask to have done, but he never painted your house, would you pay him?

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. (http://www.azquotes.com)

For those who said: 'If my religion is not right then it is not my fault but that of my minister.' -If your lawyer does a poor job, who goes to jail?

If you have a cat, you might know that they sometimes have a rather unpleasant habit of bringing dead birds and mice as gifts for their owners. Even though the cat thinks it's a tasty morsel, and probably expects its owner to be pleased and grateful for the offering, more than likely you know what the response will be. For the cat, the 'present' is something attractive, delicious. For the owner, it is disgusting, even nauseating. We may like our religion, but we should examine it carefully to be sure our Owner, Jehovah, will find it to his liking!

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.

Ask a child to tell you which he prefers: a slice of cake or a dish of spinach. Most likely he will choose the cake. But will that choice be the most nutritious? Similarly, the fact that a religion appeals to your personal taste does not necessarily mean that it is the one that pleases God.

We have enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. (http://www.azquotes.com)

A man realized he had locked himself out of his apartment. He went to the manager and asked if he had a spare key. The manager said yes, but it was in a big bucket with hundreds of other keys, and the tenant would have to try the different keys until he found the right one. The tenant took the bucket of hundreds of unmarked keys to his front door. Key #1 did not work. Key #2 did not work. Key #3 worked! Did the tenant now have to try the hundreds of other keys? Of course not. He found the one that worked. The point: Finding the Truth is like unlocking a door. Once we have found it, is it necessary to investigate all the other religions for the purpose of seeing if another religion is possibly the truth? Of course not. That would be like throwing our key away.

For those who said: All religions are the same. -It's like a forest seen from a distance. All the trees look alike until you get close and examine them.

If you were learning a skill/sport/instrument, would you know who is doing it right by how they argue over the manual/textbooks or would you see who is right by how they do it? According to the Bible, true Christians are not primarily identified by their doctrine, but rather, by their actions.(John 13.34,35)




Render account

If we have a credit card and we don't pay it, the bank is going to come and charge us. We can say that it wasn't us spending the money, but the bank will reply it is under our name, so we are accountable. We all are accountable to Jehovah. (Rom. 14:12) We can't blame other for our faults.




Repentance

If a doctor wants to see if one of his patients is really determined to follow his treatment, he will examine how he feels and whether he has taken his medicine lately. Is he following the prescription? Are his symptoms getting better, same, or worse? Is he willing to see the doctor for follow-ups? Is he willing to avoid bad habits that may have caused or worsen the illness? In a similar way, Jehovah examines our hearts to see whether or not we are truly repented. Our repentance can be shown through our actions.

Determining true repentance is like identifying a real diamond. It is a well-known fact that a genuine diamond doesn’t break easily under pressure. The same with genuine repentance. Even under the pressure of having committed a serious sin, those with diamond-like spirituality do not easily break their determination to serve Jehovah and live for him.




Reputation

A dog used to run up quietly to the heels of everyone he met and bite them without notice. His master suspended a bell about his neck so that the dog might give notice of his presence wherever he went. Thinking it a mark of distinction, the dog grew proud of his bell and went tinkling it all over the marketplace. One day an old hound said to him, 'Why do you make such an exhibition of yourself? That bell that you carry is not any order of merit, but on the contrary a mark of disgrace, a public notice to all men to avoid you as an ill-mannered dog.' What's the lesson? Are we realistically aware of the reputation we have in the congregation? For instance, if we are well-known for habits or traits sort of questionable that bother our brothers and sisters, like a loud personality, extravagant clothing, bad manners, lavish lifestyle, big appetite, fondness for alcoholic drinks, merciless bluntness, etc... do we feel proud of that or are we aware that those are areas that as Christians we can and should do better? (https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Mischievous_Dog)




Respect

Respect is like money. You can ask for it but it's better to earn it. And sometimes, we are due to pay it (like to spouse, parents, God, etc.).




Responsibility

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us!

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?




Results

Numbers 20:7-12: Moses got results but not Jehovah’s blessing. This illustrates the need of not pursuing results only. We should be careful not to equate being used by God with having divine favor.

A bus driver gets his work assignment and route from his boss. Whether there are many people or few taking the bus, doesn't matter. His joy doesn't come from the number of people taking the bus, but from having work to do. Our preaching work is similar in that our joy should not come from finding many interested ones in the territory, but from the fact that we have work to do, and that we are working for God.

The disciples came to Jesus reporting the joy of being able to expel demons. But Jesus replied that they should not be happy only with results. After all, not every day would they go out and have a great time in service. In the future, their ministry was going to be far from easy —as shown in the book of Acts— so their joy needed to depend on something more profound. They needed to be happy if their names get to be written in the book of Jehovah. (Luke 10:17-20) This account illustrates an important lesson: our joy should not depend on results only. Granted, there is nothing wrong in rejoicing for having good results in the ministry. However, the ultimate goal is to please Jehovah, be faithful, and enjoy the precious reward of eternal life.

Luke 19:41, 42- Jerusalem was such a hard territory, that even Jesus wept because of lack of results in the ministry. This illustrates that Jehovah and Jesus perfectly understand the frustration we face when working in a hard territory. Yet, the want us to keep trying.




Resurrection

Hebrews 2:15: We have been emancipated from slavery and fear of death. People in the world do many things showing their fear of aging and death. For instance, some people get hopelessly shattered when someone close to them dies. Some are extreme when it comes to diet, exercise, health, and medicine thinking somehow they can cheat death. Others put their trust —and lots of money— in having plastic surgeries. Yes, the fear of death enslaves them. Although we treasure life and naturally we don't want to die, we are not slaves of those things, and we are not in fear of dying because we have the hope of the resurrection.

Jehovah creates a new person out of nothing with no previous record. It happens every day when a baby is born. How much more so can he create a person already with a record, recorded in his memory, by resurrecting him.

Being part of the great crowd that survives Armageddon and never get to taste death is a wonderful prospect but is not really a promise to all faithful ones. What Jehovah promises is the hope of the resurrection. If we think about it, all those brothers and sisters in the 1930's and 40's preached a message of judgment and hoped to see the end. In reality, though, the hope of the resurrection is the one that applied in their case as most of them, if not all, already passed away. In fact, this is the case of most faithful servants of God in the past; even the anointed ones need to be resurrected. This illustrates the importance of making the hope of the resurrection strong and real in our minds. (1 Cor 15:14-19)

The hope of resurrection shows how well Jehovah knows each one of us. For Jehovah to be able to raise exactly the same person with the same memories and the same characteristics, he needs to know absolutely everything about that person. He needs to store all our memories and experiences into his own memory. That’s how well he knows you. (Mat. 10:30)




Return visits

A man and a woman have good chemistry between them. The woman sends some clear signals of her romantic interest, and now the man has her phone number in his power. Sadly, the boy freaks out. He doesn't do anything to look for her again and doesn't call her back, not even a short text. Do you think that spark of interest will ever lead to something? In real life, there are many wimpy men like that, and sadly, in the congregation, some publishers also shrink back when it comes to making return visits. They totally freak out and never follow up. But how can we help anyone to know Jehovah if we don't return?

You see a baby lying on the street abandoned and crying. Would you just give him a pacifier and left him there to his own devices? No! You'll probably be moved to call the authorities, give him some food, try to calm him down in order to help because you know the baby cannot survive by himself. In a similar way, when we find someone interested in the Bible's message, is like finding a spiritual baby. Do we just give them a magazine (pacifier) and never come back? No! These individuals may not survive on their own spiritually, so we need to help them, we need to follow up and return to give them more food and try to calm down their sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are happening in this world. (Eze. 9:4) If we don't return and follow up, the enemy will. (Luke 8:11, 12).




Riches

Rules

A ruler made of wood can be broken easily if bent and twisted because it's stiff and rigid. However, a ruler made of metal is more flexible; even if bent, it immediately reverts to its original shape. We can say that rulers illustrate rules. Although it's much better to live our lives based on principles, sometimes it is necessary to set a few rules. But if we enforce rules in a rigid and inflexible way, they will break apart every time we deal with exceptional circumstances. On the other hand, if we think of rules as flexible then we will be able to see how they fit in when dealing with exceptional circumstances. How to know when to bend a rule? When they go against the principles of love and mercy.