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.

 

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.

Impostor Syndrome

While I hadn’t heard of ‘Impostor Syndrome’ before, I’ve experienced its symptoms personally which has resulted in an internal struggle with whether or not others will accept that I am a writer and ultimately if I accept that I am a writer. Why I allow others to have such control or influence over me is another topic altogether, but the points you made, especially the aspect that if one writes they are a writer, are absolute. I suspect that this is true of all the arts – drawing or painting, writing or playing music, acting or dancing, and so on. An artist (which I believe a writer is) has the tendency to be insecure, or to question their abilities, comparing themselves with others – which by the way I suspect you refrain from doing, contributing to your confidence and success. When I examine myself I find that while I write at least 500 words a day, four or five days a week, I can’t help but compare my writing with others whose work I admire and frankly I find this discouraging and counterproductive. Yet, if I don’t read I tend to lack the fuel that ignites my imagination. So, for me anyway, there’s this weird cycle that I struggle with, wanting to write and loving it as I’m writing, but lacking the confidence to really put it out there. Of course the fact that I’m in my 50’s plays a part as well , feeling that I wasted so many years before sitting down and writing.

 

BTW – Thank you for your comments and no, I didn’t feel you were bragging. I admire your confidence and, based on what you described, I feel like I better understand where it comes from. I know you’ll keep at it and that alone serves as inspiration for me to continue.

What will it be like…?

Imagine not understanding what it means to live in fear because every day since you were born has been forced to face your fears just to survive.

What must life be like should you ever be rescued?

This is the prospect we each face.

We have no idea what will happen between tomorrow and that time, but just imagine waking up in the new world. What does your mind envision?

Now consider this: As you look around, right now, what do you see? Everything your eye sees is in one way or another effected or influenced or designed on purpose by the devil. Recall that after Adams sinned the relationship between God and man was disrupted and being in an unclean and disapproved state required Jehovah to sever ties with humankind. However, because of his love for both man and his purpose, Jehovah immediate made provisions to restore humankind and accomplish his purpose. Unfortunately this wouldn’t take place immediately but over time, allowing the issue of universal rulership to be addressed and settled. But this required Jehovah to step back and allow mankind to govern or rule himself, under the influence of the devil. What this means is that for thousands of years humankind has been under the influence of Satan. It also should remind us that for thousands of years the devil has been in a position to study mankind and ascertain his weaknesses and tendencies better than any tactician, psychologist/psychiatrist, or human behavior expert. Satan is the master in understanding how men think and has centuries of experience influencing mankind into the belief that there is no god and if there is then he doesn’t care about you. He has devised a system in which justice is a fallacy and whoever has the power, influence, money, etc…has dominion on others. Inequality and injustice, violence and abuse are rampant and humankind’s view of love, what is fair and right, and how to treat others are completely distorted and twisted from what God intended. With these facts in mind, try to imagine a world without the influence of Satan, a world completely opposite to what we see around us and think is normal.