Matthew, chapters 20 & 21

“He said to them: ‘You will indeed drink my cup […].'”
~Matthew 20:23

When James and John asked their mother to ask Jesus if they could sit on either side of him in his kingdom, Jesus replied, “You do not know what you are asking for. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” (Matt. 20:22)
To this, they resolutely replied, “We can.”
Jesus’ companions had already left behind a successful fishing business to follow him, and he trusted them. (Mark 1:19,20)
He affectionately called them “the Sons of Thunder” perhaps because of their impetuous zeal. (Mark 3:17)
About eleven years later, James proved he could “drink the cup” of martyrdom when Herod Agrippa executed him. (Acts 12:1,2)
Despite outliving the other apostles, John also followed Jesus’ example of self-sacrifice when he was exiled to the island of Patmos for bearing witness. (Re. 1:9)
Jesus trusted they would remain loyal, and they did not disappoint.
They learned to slave for their brothers instead of seeking prominence. (Matt. 20:25-27)
Like Jesus, we should trust our brothers in the congregation will remain loyal despite their imperfections as we strive to do the same.

Matthew, chapters 10 & 11

“[…] My yoke is kindly, and my load is light.”
~Matthew 11:30

Is there such a thing as a refreshing burden?
God’s Word promises “his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
Jesus invites his followers to submit to his direction under his “yoke.” (Matt. 11:28,29)
The idea of carrying a yoke or letting someone else decide our way of life may not attract us.
But if we follow Christ’s footsteps, we will find spiritual and emotional healing. (1 Pet. 2:21, 24)
In that sense, committing to a Christian lifestyle is refreshing instead of burdensome.
The more we learn about God’s love, the more we enjoy a life of service to him.

Matthew, chapters 6 & 7

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
~Matthew 6:21

What do you value most in life? What consumes the greater part of your time and effort?
Although Jesus did not have wealth or a prominent career, he was obviously successful in carrying out his life’s work.
Doing his father’s will was in his heart, and he found happiness in teaching others God’s kingdom message. (Acts 20:35)
If we were to focus our resources on selfish pursuits, we would probably eventually find them to be vain and unsatisfying. (Eccl. 2:11)
But if we guard our hearts from selfish desires and follow Christ’s example of selflessness, we will discover the happiness that only God can give, while successfully securing our future. (1 Ti. 6:18,19)

Malachi, chapters 1-4

“[…] Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance was written before him for those fearing Jehovah and for those meditating on his name.”
~Malachi 3:16

We should not fear that God is so busy or we are so insignificant that he does not notice our day-to-day trials.
Jehovah wants us to know he does care.
He compassionately searches the earth for those who love righteousness, and if one dies, that person is safe in God’s memory until the resurrection. (Job 34:21; Ps. 56:8; Mal. 3:17; Acts 24:15)

Haggai, chapters 1 & 2

“[…] That is how all the work of their hands is; whatever they present there is unclean.”
~Haggai 2:14

God doesn’t care so much about the sacrifice we are giving him as he does about what motivates us to give it. (Hag. 1:5)
We should not undermine our privilege of knowing and serving the true God by letting our worship become mechanical and superficial in nature.
Those who try to serve God hypocritically lose his blessing and his friendship.
On the other hand, if we ‘set our heart in our ways’ by trying to find joy in his service, we can experience more blessings than we could have imagined. (Hag. 2:7; Mal. 3:10)

Micah, chapters 1-7

“[…] Although I have fallen, I will rise up; Although I dwell in the darkness, Jehovah will be my light.”
~Micah 7:8

When we sin against God, we can recover spiritually not by our own merits, but by God’s own undeserved mercy.
We should not take a spiritual fall in such a way that we believe it is impossible to recover.
Certainly, if our spiritual standing depended solely on ourselves, then in our imperfection, we might never be faithful. (Ro. 3:23)
But because God reaches out to those repentant in order to draw them back close to him, we can trust that full spiritual recovery is possible. (Mic. 7:18,19)
To benefit from his help, we must show humility and patience. (Mic. 7:9)

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)