Do The Right Thing

Monday, 25-Jan-2015New World Translation Ezr 10:3 Now let us make a covenant with our God to send away all the wives and those born from them, in harmony with the direction of Jehovah and of those who have reverence for the commandment of our God. Let us act according to the Law.

w06 1/15 p. 20 par. 2 Highlights From the Book of Ezra 10:3, 44—Why were the children put away along with the wives? If the children had stayed behind, the likelihood that the dismissed wives would return on account of them would have increased. Moreover, little children generally require the care of their mother.

I thought this was interesting, as I find it relates to an issue that assists at times with our bible students who, while living an immoral life, have a child or children, or perhaps are me merely pregnant, and are of the belief that they need to ‘do the right thing’ and, for example, marry this man, or this woman, instead of moving out away from this person they’re living with or with whom they fathered a child with.

In the world there is a belief that when a boy (and that’s what they are as they’re still living at home under their parents roof), gets a girl pregnant, this boy must do the ‘right and proper thing and marry this girl and become a father to this child. Love doesn’t play a role as it’s assumed that love is what lead to the child, illustrating how little love is understood by people in the world. It is unusual for this boy and girl to have been dating and instead of teaching both girl and boy about the purpose of dating, they are encouraged not to do anything stupid – translation: don’t get pregnant. Yet in time, as the boy and girl are allowed to spend time alone, they have sex. And if nothing ‘bad’ happens they’ll have sex again, and again, until something ‘stupid’ happens. The girl naturally leans of this first and is faced with the enormous pressure of what to do and how to handle this situation. Due to the lack of experience she, and the boy, have, the pressure is enormous and what often happens is she turns to her girlfriends (in part the media – books, magazines, TV and movies – promote this idea of turning to and relying on the advise of your peers). The young pregnant girl is struggling with an array of emotions coupled with the knowledge that what has happened isn’t really what should have happened. She has feelings of guilt because even though her parents failed to prevent her from engaging in premarital sex, she probably would have anyway, since she ‘d never received any real guidelines other then to be ‘a good girl’ – which can be taken in a number of ways and is somewhat subjective and relative. She’s told to have an abortion by one or two of her friends. She’s asked if she’s told the boy, who she has been ignoring of late. Her parents may or may not have noticed a change in their daughter, who has become more emotional and secretive, or wondered by the boy hasn’t been around. “Have you two broken up?” They may ask, which brings a response that indicates that yes, the boy is out of the picture. And yet, wait a minute, that’s not it is it?

Meanwhile the boy is one ring whats happened as they were inseparable and now she isn’t even returning his calls. Depending on his level of maturity he may be deeply hurt, jealous, insecure or angry and he too becomes a ticking time bomb – how will he react?

What’s interesting is the difference these two young people act as opposed to an older couple who have waited until after marriage to have sex and have discussed their goals in life and so on. While a pregnancy may not have been planned, they have established a patterned of discussing matters together and trust one another and are determined to make things work. The difference isn’t really a matter of age but of maturity, being emotionally ready for life as an adult, not just physically.

In any event, at some point very body finds out, and everybody has an opinion. The world would say that it’s the girls choice whether or not to have the child, while there are some that would insist that the boy who fathered the child has a say in the matter. ‘Do the right thing’ is thrown about, implying that the right thing is what that person tells you to do – have the child; have an abortion; marry this boy. But everything is based on people’s personal view, their individual perspective. Although some may cite the churches stand, even quoting (misquoting) scripture, where were these insightful suggestions when the girl and boy we’re seeing one another?

A major concern is the baby and who will take care of the baby, although it is almost always assumed that the girl decides. The boy has little say in the matter but is pressured by his peers and parents, although not all the time, to do the right thing and marry the girl. He has now seen other sides of this girl and it isn’t uncommon for him to now have no interest in the girl. But with the development of his child there is a vested interest. What will he do?

Generally by the time we come into contact with such ones, they are two or three or more children down the road. The girl is living with her third or forth boyfriend, and they aren’t married. She’s become a bit cynical and the thought of raising these kids alone I would imagine is a bit overwhelming, although this may not be the case. As for the man she’s living with – I’ve never interviewed one so I have little or no idea what their story is, though I can use my imagination.

If you’re studying with one, or the other, or both, at some point you’ll be asked what they should do about their living together situation. To begin with we shouldn’t offer our viewpoint but everything we share should come from God’s word. While we’d want to share with them God’s view of marriage and might explain what Jehovah finds displeasing about their situation, we’d want to be careful about giving the impression that we are standing in judgement, or judging them. That I’d not why we’re there nor what we do. Our purpose is to reveal bible truths so that they can make an informed decision, whether or not to serve God. We would never say that they ‘need to do the right thing’ as ‘the right thing’ is relative, depending on whose point of view one shares. What their parents, their peers and friends and others say is the ‘right thing’ will not coincide with what Jehovah says is the ‘right thing’. And it isn’t our place to tell them what to do but rather to show them what God’s word says on the matter and allow them to make up their own mind. When we tell someone what to do, and in any way they feel obligated to follow our advice or suggestion, we force that person to follow us, instead of God.

Taking another look at the scripture for today, I thought of the man who must send his wife or wives away. The scripture added that they were to send their children away as well. Does this apply today?

In reviewing this scripture and the WT comments, it would appear that this pertained to the very unique situation that existed at that time. The terrible spiritual condition of the nation was a result, in part, of their disobedience and aligning themselves with pagan wives.

But think for a moment of Naomi, who accompanied her husband to a foreign land and witnessed her two sone marry pagan women, of whom Ruth was one. While this went counter to God’s law, no mention is made of God’s displeasure and there were no recorded side effects from this. They were fortunate that Ruth came to love Jehovah, but had she bore Naomi children would she and the child have been sent away had her husband lived and wanted to return to Jerusalem with his family and mother in tow? What we know is that the sad condition of the nation of Israel was, in part, a result of their taking pagan wives and Jehovah acted accordingly.

So what is the ‘right thing’ today? Would it be ‘right’ for a man who is studying the bible and wants to please God, upon learning that the woman he’d been sleeping with is pregnant, to force her to 1) keep the child, 2) marry him since he is the father of this child, 3) expect her to convert and become a witness? Or if he’s married and had been having an affair, should he divorce his wife to marry the pregnant mistress? Or should he demand the pregnant woman get a pregnancy test done to determine whose child it is? Should he kick her out of his home, if they’re living together without being married, or should he move out and leave the house to her and the kids? Seriously, where do the questions start and end?

Jehovah want us to serve him with a sound mind, in accordance with his righteous principals and in a reasonable manner. This means that we can’t be rash in our decisions, nor procrastinate. But instead Jehovah expects us to research the matter, make it a matter of prayer, along with deep reflective thought, and come to a conclusion based on what we’ve read and considered playfully. This means that while there may be multiple choices, there are choices that are in accordance with righteous principles and choices that aren’t. It also implies that there may be choices that might effect the consciences of others and we’d need to take that into consideration.
I’m of the thought that when a person says ‘do the right thing’ what they actually mean is do what feels right, follow your heart or go with your gut instinct. If this is the case, it displays a very fleshly view, especially since the scriptures make it plain that humans have neither the ability nor the right to make their own decisions. This fact, in of itself is thought provoking for it implies that every single decision we make in life must we weighed with what Jehovah tells us. Does this mean that when I’m offered a choice, say what would I like to eat or what clothes will I wear, I must first consult Jehovah in prayer? Well no, although there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that. However, even these simple choices, which ultimately are matters of personal preference, still fall within the realm of bible principles. For example, in selecting my wardrobe I must consider if what I wear might offend someone in addition to what I like or feel comfortable wearing, and what’s appropriate for the occasion. True, there’s always the possibility that you will wear something that someone will take issue with, but 1) do we take measures to keep this to the minimum and 2) the person offended – are they being reasonable. This isn’t for us to determine but it’s worth noting. If we are continually offending others with our dress or grooming, what steps have we taken to address and correct the matter? Or do we feel we have a right to dress and groom ourselves however we like? The same goes for the example of selecting what we’ll eat. While we have been given permission from Jehovah to eat whatever we want, with the exception of blood, do we show respect for life by eating a healthy diet? Or do we fill ourselves with foods that we know will cause problems down the road?  

In both these cases we face a decision that on our own we are unable to make without taking into consideration scriptural principles. But just think about more serious decisions, choices we face that can have a lasting and profound effect on our lives and the lives of others. How vital that we consider Jehovah in every decision we face.

Doing the right thing should mean doing what would please Jehovah. The question: what would Jesus do would apply.

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Wednesday 3-Feb-2015

The text for today discussed the quality of humility and in the comments stated this: If we are truly humble before God we will refrain from estimating ourselves above other humans.

This thought of estimating caught my attention and I immediately thought of those professionals who are used to assess something and provide an assessment or an estimation of the value, or lack there of, in something. From my experience not just anyone can preform a proper assessment and it isn’t uncommon for an assessment to have been done that is in error. The purpose is to understand the reality of something.
For example, in regards to a car that has been involved in an accident, the insurance company will assign a repair shop that is proficient in carefully examining a vehicle and assessing the actual amount of damage done and what exactly is required to repair it to a condition as closely as possible as it was in prior to the accident. At times the assessment reveals that the vehicle is a total loss and not worth the expense and labor of repairs. Other times the assessment show that the amount of repairs required are far less then they appear to the untrained eye. In both cases the assessment is only as good as the one making the assessment.

Because we are imperfect we are inclined to think and behave in a fleshly way and a characteristic of this is in making comparisons between us and others – I’m better then him or I could never be as good as her, and so on. It is this type of comparison or assessment that can get us into trouble. Depending on our perspective, our assessment can make us feel good about ourselves, at the cost of looking down on someone else, or make us feel bad since we’re viewing someone else as so far better than us. However The text and WT comments were emphasising the need to: Do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with humility consider others superior to you.

This is interesting because in considering others superior to you, we have the tendency to ‘compare’ the other with ourselves and than struggle to view either them or ourselves in the correct way. But what did the scripture say to do? Are we told to compare? No, but instead to consider or think of. While a child might be encouraged to think about the position he hold in the family with regards the parent, would it be beneficial to compare his place with his parent? Not really, What he needs to consider or think about is his place and how he can maintain the correct assessment or estimation of him self so that he doesn’t view himself as an equal to his parent. He is commanded to be obedient to his father, yet if the child has the wrong assessment of himself and his father, the child will struggle with this, wondering why do I need to listen, let alone obey this ‘guy’, and the aspect of respect is lost.

This can be extremely challenging, especially when we look at someone who is younger or far les experienced or less knowledgeable or less whatever is important to us. We can look at a person, or even a group or class of people and kid ourselves into thinking that they are the exception – while I view everyone else as superior, this person or this group of people are the exception as they as so undeserving or redneck or stupid or whatever. Jehovah didn’t place any conditions on this, he merely said to ‘consider others superior to you. In doing this, though, we need to remember the purpose for this… To help us achieve an accurate assessment of no one else but ourselves in connection with our God. To help us reflect the quality of humility.

So stop comparing, stop it! View others as superior with the goal of maintaining and displaying the quality of humility, a quality Jehovah loves.

How well do you know yourself?

I find this question interesting because it challenges our perception of ourselves and reminds us that we can surprise ourselves. It’s all too easy to ‘take yourself for granted’ and believe that you know yourself. Yet, I we took the time to examine ourselves in various ‘test settings’ we might find ourselves in a state of disbelief.

For example: If you asked Bill* if he was a patient person and whether or not he suffered from any anxieties, Bill would answer YES to both questions – Yes, he is very patient and Yes he has a phobia with regards to snakes. Now, with this knowledge to take Bill and transport him to an unfamiliar culture filled with unusual smells and sounds that aren’t particularly pleasing and ask Bill to wait in line at customs, Bill might see an entirely different person then the one Bill thought himself to be.

Granted, this is an example, a hypothetical. But what is the reality? How well do you really know yourself?

It’s relatively easy for a person to proclaim as absolute that if their mate heated on them, well that would be the end, finito, over. Yet I suspect that if a study were done, we would see that a surprising number of people who couldn’t imagine themselves forgiving their wayward spouse actually tried to make things work. Admittedly, in such a case study there would be a variety of factors that would contribute one way or the other, but it’s interesting to think about.

Consider foods or music. A person can say definitively that they hate a certain type of food or music, or that they love a certain type of food or music. But isn’t it true that we could find exceptions. Robin loves pasta, but fixed with marinara sauce, with the aroma of fish in the air, an odour unfamiliar to Robin, she can’t stomach a singlE bite. Then there is Hank who thinks he hates classical music only to discover that he actually really enjoys and appreciates classical music.

The crux lies in what we THINK. We THINK we know ourselves, end of story. But the truth is that we are in a state of change, evolution, growing and adapting, learning and adjusting our views and taste and like s and dislikes. What we hated when we were young we now thoroughly enjoy, and certain things we treasured are now forgotten and lost in time. How is this possible? Did we not KNOW ourselves as well as we thought? I don’t think it’s as simple as that, but it does have to deal with the fact that at the time we are asked that question we are convinced that we know what we need to know about ourselves when the truth is we haven’t stopped growing and so our perception of ourselves is skewed or distorted because the image we have is incomplete.

I wonder if there is a better answer, a more correct answer we could give when asked how well do you know yourself. I’m a work in progress…I learn something new about myself everyday…I haven’t stopped growing…

How would YOU answer?

Wednesday, 27-Jan-2016 Text

The text for today discussed what we have been awaiting all our lives. – Armageddon. It outlined the chain of events leading up to and including the destruction of this system of things, with the abyssing of Satan. What I found interesting were these comments made. Speaking of the ‘great tribulation’ it said:

 This unparalleled tribulation will start when Jehovah brings destruction on “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, by using the political powers. What will come next? After false religion is destroyed, Satan and various elements of his world will attack Jehovah’s servants. Because Jehovah’s Witnesses have no armed forces and are the most peaceful people on earth, they will appear to be easy targets. But what a mistake attacking them will prove to be!

What struck me was the fact that it all begins with the destruction of false religion, and this is done by Jehovah, using the political elements, just as he has in the past, to accomplish his will. Then, with the worlds religious elements gone, the comments highlight that ‘Satan and various elements of the world will attack Jehovah’s servants’. We have no way knowing when this will occur other than after false religion has been eliminated. Will it happen immediately after or will a period of time pass? What we do know is that it will be Satan and various elements of the world, no doubt including the political system but additional elements as well, who will actually trigger or start this final act of God as he will step in to both protect and save his people as well as accomplish his purpose.

Should Satan chose NOT to attack Jehovah’s servant what then? While this may provide an interesting hypothetical, the reality is that he won’t be able NOT to attack. As prophesied he will attack and we can have the utmost confidence that he will, not because he doesn’t have free will and can change his mind, or that Jehovah has predetermined what Satan will do no matter what. But rather Satan can’t help himself as he sees before him the totally defenceless possession of his enemy, Jehovah. Unlike an animal whose instinct tells him to attack and kill, Satan can chose to leave God’s servants alone, but his record throughout mankind so history shows that he he stop at nothing to prevent Jehovah from accomplishing his purpose, even attacking those who make up the ‘bride of Christ’ and even playing a role in the death of Christ Jesus. His record supports bible prophesy and gives us confidence that Satan will act exactly as described in scripture.

The question though is will we maintain our integrity to God. Looking around after witnessing the elimination of false religion should bolster our faith. But could it actually cause some to become afraid, wondering if what happened to them will happen to us? Possibly. What examples can you think of where individuals personally witnessed divine acts, miracles, and yet proves faithless? But isn’t that the point – faith. Our faith will be tested and then won’t be the time to strengthen it; then it will be too late. Rather we need to take advantage of the time we have right now to draw as close to Jehovah as possible and make him our true refuge and source of strength.

 

What has happened to James Bond?

The world recently witnessed the release of the latest entry in a 50 year long series of motion pictures featuring the one and only 007. Entitled SPECTRE, it came on the heels of what the world has hailed as a bonafide blockbuster – SKYFALL, but was met with mixed reviews.
Personally I found, on the initial viewing, a beautiful film to watch, especially the opening scene. But while the film was visually stunning in my view, I left the theatre feeling empty and really let down. I could attempt to analyses the film, citing, the last half as an example of rushed and sloppy (lazy) writing and go on about the waste of an opportunity to do more than merely introduce a major villain in the franchise and explain how he got his scar, but I won’t go there. Instead, I want to discuss what I think has happened to this beloved icon and offer some thoughts on how I think it can be saved. Unfortunately some of what I’m going to say won’t sit well with certain readers, and I admit that what I share are just my personal ideas.

To be perfectly honest, the Bond films have never been Academy Award winning movies. I feel this is worth noting because I believe people have elevated 007 to the realm generally reserved for myth and legends, so anything less than stupendous is thought to be a disappointment, and that’s unfortunate. In going back over the movies made with Daniel Craig, beginning with Casino Royale, one must admit that none of these movies are worthy of a Best Picture nomination. This doesn’t mean that the reboot didn’t work. It worked aces by breathing life into a worn out franchise. The tragedy lies in the failure to create something beyond fresh and new and exciting.

For example: while a certain number of the performances have been outstanding, such as Daniel Craig, the vast majority of the characters are still portrayed as stock, one dimensional cardboard figures that don’t allow even the most talented of actors and actresses to portray with any meaningful level of depth. This was the case with Blofeld who should have been one of the chilling, mysterious and powerful figures to date.

While introducing the arch villain of the Bond series, the film SPECTRE induced the element of mystery to this pivotal character by hinting at his existence in the burned photograph recovered from Bond’s Skyfall estate. Next, the film reveals a bit more of this sinister villain by showing him from behind, without any view of his face, while at the funeral or memorial service. The camera focuses on the back of his head, taking in Monica in the background. We see him from this vantage point a couple of times before he walks away, along with a group of other men who I suppose are his associates and security/bodyguards.

As we follow the story we watch as Bond attends a private meeting in Rome and here, casting him in the shadows while sitting at the head of an enormous table, surrounded by god knows who any of these people are, we see him again. (By the way, how Bond gained access to this secret meeting in itself I found to be something of a joke and took away a measure of dignity this character requires.) Then, while this shadowed person whispers instructions to an assistant standing beside him he stops and addresses James by name while turning to allow the light to reveal Christopher Waltz. Now here is an actor who has proven that he can ooze villainy in a way that can get under your skin. He can be creepy, funny, charming, intelligent and scary but I’ve never seen him as idiotic or stupid. What I saw in SPECTRE was an insecure man who somehow sits in the chair of an organization that, from what I saw, isn’t very sinister, evil or deadly.

From the moment he spoke his first words aloud through to the end of the film, I was left wondering what the hell is going on. What had they done to what was supposed to be an overlord, mastermind criminal and super evil genius? Had Dr Evil from the Austin Powers taken some of the stuffing out of this character? Had the creators (I realize Ian Fleming is gone but his legacy in the hands of others), the writers and producers and director lost their way? Here they have an opportunity to re-invent the most awesome antagonist to date, starting from square one, as they had with Bond, and mold a presence that would resonate with audiences from around the world. But instead I felt I was watching a screen test with no direction and Christopher Waltz wondering how exactly he was expected to play this role. While there are moments (well, maybe just two moments) when he appears to striving to reach some semblance of what could have been someone’s idea of a criminal mastermind, what screams throughout his entire performance is “I am a jealous, insecure brat!!! I hate you James because you stole my daddy!!! And I’m going to get you!!!!” What’s interesting is that while this may be at the core of what drives Blofeld, shouldn’t it have been restrained and the elements that reveal his enormous amount of power and influence and wickedness should have been more in focused and capitalized on? I’m of the belief that the creating staff behind this film were afraid of it becoming a parody of itself, or worse yet, an Austin Powers movie.

Having said that, let me talk about the henchman Hinx. W O W…O M G…where do I begin…For me, this was one of the most frightening henchmen in the entire franchise, perhaps second only to Donald ‘Red’ Grant in ‘From Russia With Love’ or Oddjob in ‘Goldfinger.’ Dave Bautista has a threatening presence and a ruthlessness that permeates his performance. If I were to choose two words to describe him I’d use: Unstoppable Menace. When you watch him you know that he’s capable of doing exactly what he’s appears to be doing. In addition to the obvious physical threat he presents in the imposing figure of an unstoppable force, his eyes convey an intelligence that suggest that he is more than your average mindless thug. But again the powers behind the camera failed to truly capitalize on what they had and threw away the chance to have a reoccurring star in his own right, literally, by having him pulled off of the train by what appeared to be sheer luck than anything else. (I honestly thought I was watching the solution to get rid of Hinx as written by an author of young adult fiction).

Having said that, I must comment on another spoiled effort in neglecting to invest a measure of real earnest thought to the actress Monica Bellucci. Seriously, if you are going to hire REAL stars with REAL talent, why would you use them like a disposable Kleenex? She was one of the reasons I was looking forward to seeing SPECTRE. Not because she is gorgeous but because she has the ability to portray a vulnerable woman with real depth of character who can connect with audiences, while presenting an exotic and mature image. She’s not a silly little girl but a real fleshed out woman who has experienced life and seen what the world is really about. Now, with this actress in your corner, why would you have her play the same female character that has appeared in every other James Bond film?

Why can’t they do something different and original and powerfully great in its own right? What is forcing the writers and producers and the decision makers of the modern Bond to remain confined to a follow the dot, formatted play book where every single film is basically the same as every other film? I’m not kidding! I’m deadly serious!!

To illustrate: Imaging a Bond who has reached the age that disqualifies him from active duty? Having suffered from PTSD and having a body that had been used and abused, what would he be doing with his life? He doesn’t have friends, as the recent SPECTRE would have us think, nor is he one to get depressed. So, how would he handle something totally unexpected like the death of someone causing him to suffer from depression? I don’t know but here’s why I say this. One of the best stories, not movies but stories, is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In this tale Bond meets and marries Traci while chasing Blofeld (of all people). Besides Vesper Lynd, Traci is the love of Bonds life and her death at the end of the story provide Bond with the quest for revenge and justice he seems to be waiting for. Fantastic concept. But, if they were to make this film today, we would see featured the following: the car, the gadget, the one liner, the girl to sleep with who dies, the girl who requires being saved, the villain, the muscle beside the villain, exotic locale and unbelievable action. Bond’s life will be in peril but naturally he somehow manages to escape (depending on how much thought they gave to this), M, Moneypenny and Q. Naturally Bond will go rogue and we’ll be left behind trying to figure out how he figured out that he needed to go to ‘exotic locale’ and whatever gadget he is given will be exactly what is required to get out of the unique dilemma he’s faced with.

It’s funny that the film that caused the Bond franchise to stop in their tracks and rethink 007, decide to make him more physical, and cast Daniel Craig was none other than BOURNE, Jason Bourne. But how did they fail to see that Bourne didn’t follow a formula (at least not yet. We’ll have to wait and see if the new film is as fresh and original as its predecessors, or if it’s just a rehash of what we’ve seen and where we’ve been before)? In the very first film, and subsequent movies, we’ve yet to see Bourne be issued a gadget or have a throw away girl as part of the story. The bad guy has been the CIA and their BlackOps agents who appear to be trained and organized. And Bourne time and time again shows that he is a THINKING assassin. He’s in shape but generally speaking a bit shorter, older and ill equipment to handle what comes his way. All he has is his training and his mind (and his heart some might add). He won’t give up or quit but he is constantly assessing everything, whereas Bond is one lucky son of a bitch.

I get it. Bond is the creation of Ian Fleming, and the mold he cast is set permanently in stone. That is why only slight variations are allowed in the telling of the Bond sage. That’s why people threw a fit when it was announced that Bond would be blond. That’s why we have these reoccurring figures who fail to evolve but remain true to form. And this is why the Bond films have become and will remain conventional, over rated and past their due date.

The enjoyment of friendship with Jehovah

‘The enjoyment of friendship with Jehovah’. What does that mean? I suspect that depends on who you ask, but what an interesting question to raise when in the company of spiritually mature ones because there you will receive various answers based on their individual experiences and what they have come to appreciate on a personal level. But what answer would a little one give, one who has made Jehovah there friend and confidant, or a newly baptized individual? How about someone who is in full time service or reaching out with a pure motive? Regardless of who we are or what we’ve gone through, Jehovah truly loves us. And while he doesn’t force himself on us he does make himself available to us at all times; he is never too busy to hear our prayer regardless of what that prayer may be about.

But what is ‘the enjoyment of his friendship’? It is a pleasurable feeling that comforts us and assures us that we have Jehovah’s blessing. It’s similar to the feeling one has when they know they have their parents approval and support, as well as a clean conscience, And while one may struggle with negative emotions, this friendship with Jehovah is enjoyable because it serves to remind this one that Jehovah loves him, cares about him and will take care of him.

A key component of this friendship, as is the case with all friendships, is prayer – communicating, talking to Jehovah. And unlike anyone else, Jehovah is always interested in what we have to say. In fact the only prayers Jehovah doesn’t accept are from ones who are acting as hypocrites. But if we are hypocrites, we can make that a matter of prayer and Jehovah will both hear and answer such prayers.

This aspect of enjoyment, though, is worth consideration. What friendships do you have that you can say you really enjoy, and if so why? What is it about certain friendships that make them enjoyable? Is friendship with Jehovah similar to these other friendships, or different and if different, in what way?

TREASURES FROM GOD’S WORD | EZRA 6-10 – 7:38-7:48

Jehovah Wants WILLING Servants

Regardless of our age, circumstances, family responsibilities or health concerns, there are things we’re all expected to do – they make up our Spiritual Routine.

  • Preparing for and participating at Congregation Meetings
  • Regularly conducting a Family Study
  • Having a weekly share in the Field Ministry
  • Daily reading and meditating on God’s WORD

BUT – How WILLING are you?

When you examine your service to God, do you find yourself doing so willingly?

 It’s a question worth consideration because it’s common for people to do things out of duty, or guilt, or peer pressure – because it’s expected.

But our service to Jehovah…well, according to the prophetic Psalm, recorded at Ps 110: 3 (cite) 

WILLINGLY – That’s the key

For our service to Jehovah to mean something / real lasting value it must stem from a willing spirit, a heart that is motivated out of LOVE.

But, isn’t it true that sometimes, what’s expected of us isn’t easy…

There are aspects of our worship that, as individuals,  we may find challenging and frankly we can easily find ourselves merely going thru the motions, or neglecting all togetherholding ourselves back from doing ‘all we can’ for Jehovah.

What can help us to preform our acts of service with a willing spirit, and truly give Jehovah our very best?

Perhaps examining the example of Ezra may help.

As was mentioned last week, Ezra was born in Babylon, city filled with false gods and demon worship, yet he maintained his godly devotion.

HOW?

The answer can be surmised as we examine – Ezra 7:10 (Look up and Cite)

10 Ezʹra had prepared his heart to consult the Law of Jehovah and to practice it, and to teach its regulations and judgments in Israel.

Just like a farmer prepares the soil before sowing seed, Ezra prayerfully prepared his heart, the inner person—his thoughts, attitudes, desires, and motivations  – all had to be aligned and in synch, FOCUSED on what?   …to “consult the law of Jehovah with the purpose of Practise it  –  DOING IT.”

What did that mean for Ezra?

The answer can be found in the letter Ezra was given by the Persian King, who granted Ezra’s request…-  Ezra 7: 14

For you are sent by the king and his seven advisers to investigate whether the Law of your God, which is with you, is being applied in Judah and Jerusalem

But what’s fascinating is that WITHOUT BEING TOLD OR ASKED, Ezra saw a need and WILLINGLY made himself available, actually VOLUNTEERING to spearhead this theocratic assignment  –  It was EZRA who initiated the formal request from the King.

Would Ezra have done this if he were merely going thru the motions in surviving Jehovah in the hope to make his parents or the brothers happy?

NO

How can we say this?

Well, consider what this assignment involved. – Looking at our WORKBOOK  __________

  1. The trip would all be overland and take 4 months
  1. A journey of almost 1,600 km through dangerous territory
    1. Marauding bands –  thieves and murderers…
    2. Desert terrain –  Sun, heat, lack of water, sanitary conditions…
    3. Dangerous Wildlife –  scorpions, serpents, wild animals…
  1. The Persian King had granted Ezra ‘Everything he requested for Jehovah’s house’, Chapter 7 itemizes all that Ezra was responsible for including wheat, wine, oil, and salt, not to mention the gold and silver which alone weighed in excess the equivalent of 3 full grown, male, African elephants.

The total worth was valued at OVER 1 Million at today’s value – had to be inventoried, protected and preserved, so that it would ALL reach the intended destination of Jerusalem.

But notice the attitude of Ezra  –  Ezra 8:22, 23 (READ)

22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemies along the way, because we had said to the king: “The good hand of our God is over all those seeking him, but his strength and his anger are against all those abandoning him.” 23 So we fasted and made request of our God concerning this, and he listened to our entreaty.

Where was Ezra’s reliance?

Ezra 7: 28 b (READ)

So I took courage because the hand of Jehovah my God was upon me, and I gathered out of Israel leading men to go up with me.

What gave Ezra such courage?

Clearly his FAITH / RELIANCE / CONFIDENCE / REFUGE was in Jehovah

And, in addition to his Invisible Active Force / Holy Spirit, Jehovah provided something else…

 7: 28 Men and women of strong faith and courage and zeal for true worship.

Ezra couldn’t handle this assignment alone, and Jehovah provided everything he needed to shoulder this Theocratic Assignment…

Now, just Imagine if you had been alive then, you and your family.

Would you have volunteered to go with Ezra?

 Would you have been willing?

That answer lies in your Spiritual Routine

and as you analyse your routine, and the spiritual routine of your family, you feel good don’t you, because you KNOW that THIS is what would have motivated you to act then, just as it moves you to act now, doing whatever you can to support and promote true worship.