John, chapters 15-17

“[…] But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”
~John 16:32

Jesus knew his closest friends were about to run away as he would be taken into custody, but he relied on his relationship with Jehovah to get him through that dark period of his life. (Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31)
He had warned his disciples that one day they would face similar trials, but like him, they too could prevail. (John 16:2, 33)
No matter what this crazy world throws at us, when we take comfort in the peace that Jehovah gives us, nothing can ruin our faith. (Rom. 8:35-39; Php. 4:6,7)

John, chapters 13 & 14

“Now because he knew before the festival of the Passover that his hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father, Jesus, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end.”
~John 13:1

Few times in the history of literature has there been such a comparably beautiful phrase that encompasses so much meaning.
The Apostle John knew Jesus quite possibly his entire life, being a younger relative of his and then becoming one of his closer disciples. (John 13:23-25)
But Jesus’ disciples still resisted the idea that he was about to die. (John 13:36,37; 14:5)
I wonder what it was like, sixty-five years later, for the elderly John to reflect on Christ’s love during the last day of his life on earth, as he began to relate this part of his story.
The phrase reflects a great depth of tenderness, courage, unity and gratitude.
It is an example of man at his ultimate best: loyal, kind, spiritual, up building and self-sacrificing.
The love Jehovah and Jesus showed us long before we were even born is the closest thing there is to unconditional love. (Rom. 5:8)
We can glorify God by trying to follow Christ’s sublime example of love towards the congregation. (1 John 3:16)

John, chapters 11 & 12

“Let us also go, so that we may die with him.”
~John 11:16

While most Christians do not die as martyrs on account of their faith, the Apostle Thomas set a good example of willingness to follow Jesus’ example of self-sacrifice.
Two attempts against Jesus’ life had already been made in Judea. (John 8:59; 10:31)
Still, Jesus courageously returned to the area with the intention of resurrecting his friend, Lazarus. (John 11:11,14,15)
Jesus later emphasized the need to be self-sacrificing when he returned to Jerusalem a week before his death.
He prayed, “Father, save me out of this hour. Nevertheless, this is why I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:27,28)
Jesus knew he was about to endure a great deal of pain, but he put his Father’s plan before his own comfort.
He trusted his followers would be willing to do the same, and Jehovah blesses them for that. (John 12:25,26)

Luke, chapters 23 & 24

“[…] There was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, who was a good and righteous man. (This man had not voted in support of their scheme and action.) He was from Arimathea, […] and was waiting for the Kingdom of God.”
~Luke 23:50,51

Joseph had previously put faith in Jesus but had kept it private because he was a member of the Jewish high court. (John 9:22; 12:42)
He did not vote in favor of Jesus’ execution.
Upon witnessing it, he was moved to openly promote his faith by facing the Roman governor and requesting responsibility for Jesus’ body. (Mark 15:43,44)
Many of Jesus’ disciples had expected Jesus to own his kingship and overthrow Roman imperialism. (John 12:13)
This false hope became a stumbling block to some of those who did not understand why he had to die.
But in the above passage, even after Jesus’ death, Joseph “was waiting for the kingdom of God.”
Opposite of stumbling, Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice served to solidify Joseph’s faith in God’s son.
Furthermore, by preparing Jesus’ body for burial, he risked becoming ceremonially unclean during the Passover celebrations. (Num. 19:11; John 19:38-40)
By ‘taking courage’ and overcoming his fear of man, Joseph not only provided a burial place for the Christ, but the site of the greatest miracle recorded in the Bible. (Luke 24:1-7)

Psalms 135-141

“If I say: ‘Surely darkness will conceal me!’ Then the night around me would become light.”
~Psalm 139:11

When we feel overwhelmed, we can rely on God’s strength to pull us through difficulties.
“On the day I called, you answered me; You made me bold and strong,” (Ps. 138:3).
Key spiritual activities that should never be cast aside include heartfelt prayer, Bible reading and public praising of God.
We should also set aside some time to kindly demonstrate personal interest toward others (Heb. 10:22-25,35,36).
As long as we have the cardinal points of spirituality guiding our day to day lives, we will not be overcome by darkness.
Jehovah can even transform that darkness into our brightest moment.

Joshua, chapters 1-5

“Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and strong. Do not be struck with terror or fear, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.”
~Joshua 1:9

These words were being repeated to Joshua, Israel’s new leader, since little before Moses died and up until Joshua commanded the men in some of the tribes to be ready for battle (De. 31:7; Jos. 1:6,18).

I have read these words countless times, seeking strength during times of high anxiety.

This time, I cannot help but wonder at how repetitive they are.

Was Joshua visibly reluctant or nervous?

He had already proved himself to be a fearless warrior, zealous guard, and loyal spy (Ex. 17:10; 33:11; Nu. 14:6-10).

Perhaps he had grown accustomed to his role of serving as minister to Moses.

Perhaps invading and conquering a foreign land as well as directing an entire nation suddenly seemed more daunting than it ever had before Moses’ death .

Or perhaps Joshua did have his worries under control and he was simply being reminded to remain calm no matter what.

Whatever the case, Joshua did not step back from the plate.

Chapter Two describes him sweeping into action, ordering spies into a city he is but days away from overtaking (Jos. 2:1).

This passage makes me ask myself: how do I react when I am given a new assignment in the congregation to carry out on my own?

It is normal to feel scared or nervous, but to reject a task simply because it is beyond my comfort zone would reflect a selfish, immature attitude lacking in faith.

Joshua was not born a leader. God trained him and gave him the resources he needed.

All Joshua had to do was stay optimistic, trusting in God, using his common sense.

He made mistakes. We all make mistakes. But his courage kept moving him and his people forward, and so God remained by his side.