Acts, chapters 27 & 28

“After [Paul] said this, he took bread, gave thanks to God before them all, broke it, and started eating.”
~Acts 27:35

Paul was in Caesarea, on the northwest coast of modern day Israel, when he appealed his case to be heard before Caesar.
He was escorted to Rome under the care of army officer Julius, who treated him fairly. (Acts 25:11; 27:1,3,42,43)
Despite his suggestion that the ship and all aboard stay in Fair Havens for the winter, the journey continued.
Fair Havens was located on the south coast of the island of Crete, and they were trying to reach the nearby port city of Phoenix, about seventy-five kilometers (47 mi) northwest of there.
But shortly after departing, a violent wind drove them southwest past the tiny island of Cauda. (Acts 27:14-16)
They managed not to capsize for around the next 1000 km (620 mi) until they neared the island of Malta.
The crew had started to lighten the load on the second day of the journey, and on the fourteenth day, Paul said: “Today is the 14th day you have been waiting anxiously, and you have gone without taking any food at all.” (Acts 27:18,33)
Paul could have become bitter and self-centered in those circumstances.
He could have focused on the unfairness of his situation.
The account says the storm was battering them and their hope had started to fade. (Acts 27:20)
Still, Paul encouraged others to eat and even thanked God for the provision of bread. (Acts 27:34,35)
How much more productive it is to approach life’s afflictions with faith and a gracious spirit. (Prov. 15:13,15; Eph. 5:20)

Luke, chapters 2 & 3

“Jesus went on progressing in wisdom […].”
~Luke 2:52

At the young age of twelve, Jesus appears to have had a clear idea of the direction his life was heading in. (Luke 2:49)
But for most children, the proverb that states their heart is full of foolishness holds true. (Prov. 22:15)
How can parents, Bible teachers, or mentors help their kids progress in wisdom?
Past suggestions from Watchtower articles include:

  • Take the time to teach him/her how to distinguish right from wrong
  • Teach them the value of will power
  • Be consistent
  • Teach them to manage money
  • Teach them how to act appropriately/respectfully toward different people
  • Do not withhold discipline
  • Give reasons for rules
  • Give reasons for the way you do certain things
  • Be kind, warm and understanding
  • Try to make chores fun for them
  • Gradually help them take on responsibilities outside of home
  • Encourage them every chance you get
  • Only rebuke when absolutely necessary, but include something positive
  • Listen to him/her patiently

If there is an important child in your life, would he/she say you need to work on any of these things?

Though neither we nor the children we teach are perfect, Jehovah’s counsel is.

(Deut. 6:4-9; Prov. 17:10; 22:6; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim 2:24,25)

Matthew, chapter 26

“From now on you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
~Matthew 26:64

Jesus knew he was about to be executed, but he never lost sight of the greater picture. (Matt. 26:55,56)
He understood his role in God’s purpose and was positive he would fulfill it. (Da. 7:13,14)
He had resolved to obey his father, even at great personal cost. (Matt. 26:39,42,44)
He became the “Perfecter of our faith,” the model whom we can follow when we start to lose hope. (Heb. 12:2,3)

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)

Ezekiel, chapters 35-38

“Like the flock of holy ones, like the flock of Jerusalem during her festivals, the cities that were in ruins will become full of flocks of people; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”
~Ezekiel 36:38

God prophesied that in the last days, the knowledge of his truth would become abundant. (Dan. 12:4)
Although the observation of holidays as mandated by Mosaic Law was ended with the institution of the Christian congregation, Christians still gather together in large cities to praise and learn about God, following a similar pattern to that in ancient Israel. (Gal. 3:24,25)
If you have not done so already, I invite you to attend one of the remaining free regional conventions programmed for this year nearest to where you live. The talks, videos and interviews given encourage us to never give up.

Proverbs, chapters 27-31

“[…] Those who seek Jehovah can understand everything.”
~Proverbs 28:5

Some of the problems we face, such as accidents, poor health, crimes, betrayal or unemployment, may lead us to ask, Why me?
Other times, we face problems that adversely affect a general portion of the population, such as natural disasters, war or a corrupt government.
When we are in stressful, unfair situations, it is important to remind ourselves of where we stand in relation to God’s purpose.
Another proverb reads:
“Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice,
So that I can make a reply to him who taunts me.”
(Prov. 27:11)
Who taunts God?
The Bible explains: “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19)
God’s enemies try to distract us spiritually by blaming our problems on God or suggesting that he does not care about us, or saying that his promise of a paradise earth is just a dream. (2 Pet. 3:3,4; Rev. 21:1-5)
Still, it is God’s will that these people repent, and he is giving them time to do so. (2 Pet. 3:9)
If we do not lose sight of what is at stake every time we are tempted to give up, we are able to see things from Jehovah’s point of view and endure trials with a joyful attitude. (Matt. 24:13; Jas. 1:2,3)

Job, chapters 16-20

“My adversary pierces me with his eyes.”
~Job 16:9

In his struggle to keep faithful, Job erroneously reasoned that Jehovah was the one testing his faith, and that God had made him a living target (Job 16:12).
The Bible clearly states, however, that “the eyes of Jehovah are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him,” (2 Chron. 16:9).
So if we ever feel like God is ‘piercing us with His eyes’ because of a bitter situation we are living through, let us remember that God actually looks at us through the eyes of love (Rom. 5:8).
Amidst all his anguish, Job continued to put all his faith in his heavenly Father:

Even now, my witness is in the heavens; The one who can testify for me is in the heights, (Job 16:19).

Whatever trial we may be undergoing, let us face it with the confidence that ‘God is not unrighteous so as to forget our work and the love we show for his name,’ (Heb. 6:10; Gal. 6:9).