1 Thessalonians, chapters 1-5

“[…] Just as you are in fact walking, we request you and appeal to you by the Lord Jesus to keep doing it more fully.”
1 Thessalonians 4:1

The members of the Christian congregation in Thessalonica were not perfect.
They had moral standards and love, but could improve on both counts. (1 Thess. 4:3,4,9,10)
That is why Paul commended them while tactfully encouraging them to “pursue what is good toward one another.” (1 Thess. 5:15)
Regardless of how long it has been since we became Christians, ‘making sure of all things’ and ‘holding fast to what is fine’ is something we have to remember to do every day. (1 Thess. 5:4,6,8,21)
We cannot afford to take our faith for granted, and as long as we are imperfect, there will be things we can improve on.

Colossians, chapters 1-4

“Although those things have an appearance of wisdom in a self-imposed form of worship and a false humility, a harsh treatment of the body, they are of no value in combating the satisfying of the flesh.”
~Colossians 2:23

Is it wrong to fast?
Paul asked the Christian congregation at Colossae why they continued subjecting themselves to the man-made decrees: “Do not handle, nor taste, nor touch.” (Col. 2:20-22)
Although it is true that Paul himself fasted on occasion while praying, Jehovah expects his servants to serve him cheerfully and enjoy food.
(Eccl. 3:12,13; Acts 13:1-3; Acts 14:23; 1 Tim 1:11)
Furthermore, fasting itself does not help us combat other carnal desires.
And the Bible makes it clear that we cannot make up for our shortcomings through fasting. (Is. 58:3-7)
Whether a Christian chooses to fast or not is an entirely personal, private matter. (Matt. 6:16-18)

Galatians, chapters 1-3

“All of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. […] You are all one in union with Christ Jesus.”
~Galatians 3:27,28

We are all equally valuable within the congregation, regardless of our gender, ethnicity, social class, or whatever we identified as before becoming Christians.
Jesus gave his life for us each as individuals.
That is why we strive to give up our old divisive attitudes and humbly learn to see all our brothers and sisters with honor and appreciation (Rom. 12:10; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:24)

2 Corinthians, chapters 11-13

“Since you are so ‘reasonable,’ you gladly put up with the unreasonable ones.”
~2 Corinthians 11:19

Was the Apostle Paul being sarcastic when he made this statement?
The context shows that the “unreasonable ones” refers to apostate Christians who were criticizing him in his absence. (2 Cor. 11:3-6,12-15).
Paul put up with a lot to carry out his ministry, including physical persecution and health problems. (2 Cor. 11:24-27;12:7).
But he was especially sensitive to the negative attitudes the Christians in Corinth had towards him.
It hurt him to have to defend his own reputation before his brothers. (2 Cor. 12:11,16)
Today we may come across negative, one-sided information about other Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It would be unwise to “put up” with apostate material that tries to weaken our faith in God’s congregation.

1 Corinthians, chapter 13 & 14

“[…] In a congregation I would rather speak five words with my mind, that I might also instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”
~1 Corinthians 14:19

What was the purpose of Christians speaking in tongues and how do we know God discontinued the use of this miracle in his service?
Fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection, 120 of his Jewish disciples gathered together in Jerusalem to observe the Pentecost. (Acts 2:1-4)
They received through holy spirit the ability to communicate with Jews visiting from foreign countries.
Thus, many converted to Christianity. (Acts 2:5-11; 41-43)
This was one of nine gifts of the spirit early Christians relied on to help others learn the truth about Christ.(1 Cor. 12:7-11; Heb. 2:3,4)
But Bible prophecy states those gifts would cease. (1 Cor. 13:8)
When?
After Pentecost, Christians who continued to receive the gift of speaking in tongues were notably in the company of an apostle. (Acts 8:18; 10:44-46; 19:6)
It is to be understood then that after the last apostle’s death, these miraculous gifts would cease and the only way to identify God’s true congregation would be through its love. (John 13:35; 1 Cor. 13:13)
While modern Christians do not speak in tongues, we can still use our speech to build each other up. (1 Cor. 14:12)

(Last week there was no assigned Congregation reading corresponding to my personal study so I respectfully remind JW blog readers not to use these notes to prepare comments for this week’s meeting. Thank you.)

1 Corinthians, chapters 10-12

“Whoever eats the loaf or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty respecting the body and the blood of the Lord. […] But if we would discern what we ourselves are, we would not be judged.”
~1 Corinthians 11:27,31

The night of Friday, April 19, 2019 corresponds to the start of Nisan 14 on the Jewish calendar.
Jehovah’s Witnesses and friends will be gathering at meeting places around the world to commemorate what Jehovah and Jesus did for us on that day.
The night before his death, Jesus took unleavened bread and a cup of wine to establish a covenant between himself and those he was buying from the earth to become co-rulers with him in Heaven. (Matt. 26:26-29; Rev. 14:3-5)
God’s purpose for humankind has always been that we live forever in a paradise earth. (Gen. 1:28; Ps. 37:29)
But he has lovingly provided an arrangement wherein humans will be judged by peers who have proven faithful to righteous standards. (Rev. 20:6)
Jesus officially founded that arrangement when he shared his last evening meal with his faithful apostles.
How does a Christian know if they are entitled to share in the bread and wine emblems?
God’s spirit manifests itself to loyal individuals who know they are called to rule with Christ in heaven. (Rom. 8:15,16; 1 Thess. 2:12; 1 Pet. 1:3,4)
An anointed Christian experiences great inner change which leads him or her to be certain of his or her own future rather than to wonder about it. (John 3:5-8)
Because most of us are unfamiliar with how it feels to be born in the spirit, we do not judge our brothers who partake in the bread and wine.

Romans, chapters 1-3

“[…] ‘The righteous one will live by reason of faith.'”
~Romans 1:17

In his letter to the congregation in Rome, Paul explains that even those who suppress God’s Word ought to have a sense of right and wrong based on observing nature. (Rom. 1:18-20)
Does this mean that God judges us based on our own individual criteria, and we do not need to be held to absolute universal standards?
How do we know what it means to have good enough faith or to be righteous?
Paul says God’s righteousness is revealed in the good news. (Rom. 1:16,17)
When he speaks of faith, he is not speaking of an impersonal higher power who saves everyone regardless of their actions. (Rom. 1:21,29-32)
Yet, it takes more than knowledge of God to have faith. (Rom. 2:17,18,21)
If we listen to our own conscience, we can be at peace if we “work what is good.”
However, we cannot save ourselves.
We rely on God’s mercy. (Rom. 3:24; 4:5,25)
But if we are also to “live by reason of faith,” we do well to strengthen that faith by deepening our understanding of God’s good news and of his creation. (Rom. 2:10,13,15,16)
God’s Word tells us he judges us based on the sincere motives behind our actions and not merely on what we think or do. (Rom. 2:29)
The higher standard we’re being judged against is whether or not we do things out of love. (Matt. 22:37-40)