Jonah, chapters 1-4

“And I said, ‘I have been driven away from your sight!
How will I gaze again upon your holy temple?’”

~Jonah 2:4

As Jonah sank to the depths of the ocean within the belly of the fish, his main concern was not the loss of his own life, his reputation nor material things.
He was not overcome by anxiety to the point of losing his mind or his priorities.
Jonah was deeply grieved because he would no longer be able to gaze upon Jehovah’s temple, the center for true worship.
When we are under great emotional stress, do we value our spiritual privileges above all else? (Ps. 84:10)
We may wonder if our presence before God makes any difference in the vast sea of humanity, but Jonah’s story demonstrates God cares about every one of us at the individual level. (Jon. 4:11)
No one can take any other person’s place before God to render another’s worship. (Matt. 22:37)
In that sense, we are each valuable and irreplaceable. (Jon. 2:9)

Obadiah

“You should not gloat over your brother’s day on the day of his misfortune,
You should not rejoice over the people of Judah on the day of their perishing,
And you should not speak so arrogantly on the day of their distress.”

~Obadiah 12

Many Bible prophecies are directed toward the nation of Edom because they were distant relatives of the nations of Israel and Judah.
Edomites descended from Esau, the twin brother of Jacob (Israel). (Ge. 36:1; De. 2:4-6)
As such, God expected mutual respect between the Edomites and his people.
But this did not end up being the case; there was often war between both nations. (1 Sam. 14:47; 2 Sam. 8:13; 2 Ki. 14:7; Amos 1:11)
In this particular prophecy, Jehovah God warns the Edomites that when judgment came upon Jerusalem, they should not rejoice.
Nowadays, God’s servants do not war against others, but try to bring people a message of peace and hope. (Matt. 24:14)
Sometimes we are in situations where people who used to be friendly/receptive to God’s message are suddenly and inexplicably rude to us.
We should not rush to judge those people, saying they deserve whatever judgment may be coming their way, nor rejoice in the idea of their future calamity.

Amos, chapters 1-9

“Even if you offer me whole burnt offerings and gift offerings,
I will find no pleasure in them; […]
Let justice flow down like waters,
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
~Amos 5:22, 24

We should not let our sacred service to God fall into a mechanical routine, as if we are doing him a favor through the sacrifices we offer him.
What God really looks for in us is heartfelt obedience. (Ps. 50:14)
False religion allows believers to continue on paths of cruelty and corruption, “absolving” sins through rites and rituals without ever addressing the root of problems. (Amos 2:6,7; 5:12)
Acceptable service to God is motivated by love of what is good.
We should try to reflect his sense of justice. (Amos 5:14,15)

Joel, chapters 1-3

“Also, what do you have against me, […]
Are you repaying me for something?
If you are repaying me,
I will swiftly, speedily bring your repayment on your heads.”
~Joel 3:4

It would be a mistake to try to judge God by our own imperfect standards when he is the ultimate judge of what is and is not righteous. (Is. 55:9)
Even when we do not understand why God lets us tolerate a painful situation, the wise course is to demonstrate patience and faith that God still does care for us and will eventually make all right. (1 Pet. 5:7; Rev. 21:5)
It would be shortsighted of us to draw away from God to follow a selfish course of sin, perhaps without ever repenting and eventually incurring his wrath.
On the other hand, if we remember he is not responsible for our suffering, we can rely on his strength to help us endure. (Job 34:10; Ps. 55:22)

Hosea, chapters 8-14

“[He] will send down his roots like the trees of Lebanon.
[…] I will be like a thriving juniper tree.
From me your fruit will be found.”
Hosea 14:5,8

Sometimes God’s Word likens humans to trees. (Ps. 1:1-3)
Someone who starts studying the Bible can experience rapid spiritual growth.
Over time, the spiritual vitality of the person will depend on how deep his or her roots have dug into accurate Bible knowledge. (2 Pet. 3:18)
The rate at which someone learns may eventually slow down, but the depth of the knowledge becomes greater.
In the aforementioned verse, God also compares himself to a tree.
Juniper berries have been used all over the world for their many healing properties, including antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
Juniper oil also has a positive effect on one’s mood, alleviating anxiety.
God’s Word draws another comparison between what we choose to say and fruit. (Heb. 13:15)
When he says, “From me your fruit will be found,” one way to interpret it is that he teaches us what to say at the right time.
If we dig deeper into God’s wisdom and imitate his use of words, we can also bring a sort of healing to others.

Hosea, chapters 1-7

“Their dealings do not permit them to return to their God […].
The pride of Israel has testified against him […].”

~Hosea 5:4,5
It would be a misstep to think we can temporarily stray from God to practice sin and then just repent and return to him whenever we feel like it.
The Bible account teaches us that a person may become so proud, he or she never repents.
That way of thinking is a dangerous course to embark on and not worth the risk of losing God’s grace.

Daniel, chapters 10-12

“[…} Many of those asleep in the dust of the earth will wake up, some to everlasting life and others to reproach and to everlasting contempt. […]
But as for you, go on to the end. You will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.”
~Daniel 12:2,13

What a beautiful hope God has given us in the promise of a resurrection for those who have died.
Centuries after Daniel lived, with the resurrection of Jesus Christ in spirit form, a new type of resurrection hope was eventually introduced to humanity. (Luke 12:32; 22:28-30; John 10:14-16; 1 Pet. 1:3-5)
Still, the resurrection most of us look forward to is the original one promised to take place here on a paradise earth. (Job 14:14,15; Ps. 37:29; Is. 26:19; John 11:24; Acts 24:15; Rev. 21:3-5)
Five years ago on this date, we unexpectedly lost a very kind-hearted friend who always gave everyone of his time.
Many of us looked up to him and asked him for advice, and he always followed up on it.
I knew him as a young girl, but in adulthood he became my husband’s friend.
Although I have lost friends and family to death, the date of his parting sticks with me because it was my first day at a new job.
I drove by his place of death later that morning, noticing an accident, unaware of what had happened.
Then I drove by the same spot everyday for the next four years, and every single morning I wished I could go back in time and warn him to take things easier and not overwork himself.
But he gave his all to God, and even if I could warn him, he would still work as diligently as he did to help others.
What is more, if it is impossible for us imperfect humans to forget our loved ones whom we’ve lost, how could God in his perfect love ever forget them? (Heb. 6:10)
Like Daniel, many faithful servants of God await in rest until God calls their name and blesses them with everlasting life.
Who do you want to see again?