Revelation, chapters 13-16

“Happy are the dead who die in union with the Lord from this time onward. Yes, says the spirit, let them rest from their labors, for the things they did go right with them.”
~Revelation 14:13

Amidst so many judgments relative to the imminent destruction of the wicked, there is this passage of hope reminding us that Jehovah never forgets what we do for him. (Heb. 6:10) While here it is speaking specifically of the “holy ones” who will reign with Christ in heaven, we can be sure that anyone making sincere sacrifices in God’s name does not go unappreciated. (Mal. 3:16; Rev. 13:10; 14:12)

Revelation, chapters 1-3

“[…] I hold this against you, that you have left the love you had at first.”
~Revelation 2:4

If we feel our love for true worship waning, what can we do to revive it?
We can try to remember what drew us to Jehovah in the first place and what convinced us that we had found the truth.
Those reasons are probably still valid. (Ps. 119:151,152; Mal. 3:6; Jas. 1:17)
We can also meditate on what Jehovah has done for us over the years since we dedicated our lives to him.
What trials has he helped us to endure? (1 Cor. 10:13)
What blessings have we personally received as a result of obeying him? (Ps. 34:8)
We may find that the time we have available for spiritual matters has lessened due to changes in personal circumstances.
If that is the case, we can remember the struggle the Ephesians had to keep a balanced life.
Ephesus was a very wealthy city, having a long street paved in marble.
There was a temple for the Greek goddess of fertility and a stadium featuring live violent entertainment.
It was also known for its dark magical arts.
Every year, it hosted hundreds of thousands of visitors. (Ephesus; Ephesians, Letter)
The Christians who lived there towards the end of the first century were enduring despite the pressures, but what Jesus asked of them was wholehearted resolve to grow in zeal. (Rev. 2:3,5)

2 Peter, chapters 1-3

“[…] Jehovah knows how to rescue people of godly devotion out of trial […].”
~2 Peter 2:9

Peter knew he would die the death of a martyr, but this did not weaken his faith in Jehovah. (John 21:18; 2 Pet. 1:13-15)
He put his trust in God’s undeserved kindness and the transcendence of divine justice. (2 Pet. 1:2; 3:13,18)
We may end up in a painful life situation where we know we are to endure a strenuous trial in the near future.
This might be due to health issues or other unfair circumstances.
If we are convinced of Jehovah’s love for us, we can face our trials with courage, and we will never lose hope in God’s promises. (Rom. 8:35-39; 2 Pet. 1:10,11)

Hebrews, chapter 11

“[…] God is not ashamed of them, to be called on as their God […].”
~Hebrews 11:16

This verse leads me to wonder if I sometimes conduct myself in a way that would embarrass God because I carry his name.
Psalm 15 lists some qualities expected of friends of God: showing integrity, being honest, honoring those who deserve it, rejecting gossip, keeping our word, kindly sharing material things, and rejecting corruption.
God’s Word tells us the importance of believing in him to the point that we do not doubt his individual love for us. (Heb. 11:6)
Other qualities include being willing to make an honest living, and to not entertain ourselves with violence or other activities he hates. (Is. 33:15,16)
And while we may feel unworthy of being called God’s friend, we need humility to keep trying to meet his standards. (Ps. 16:7)

Romans, chapters 7 & 8

“[…] We are coming off completely victorious through the one who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
~Rom. 8:37-39

This was my favorite Scripture as a teenager. I am happy to say it still rings true.
When the Apostle Paul was introducing this verse, he quoted Psalm 44, written by the three loyal sons of the rebellious Korah when they were evidently undergoing tremendous stress.
Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph did not join their father’s rebellion against Moses in the desert, and instead retained the privilege of continuing to serve Jehovah as priests. (Num. 26:10,11; 1 Chro. 26:19; 2 Chro. 20:18,19)
Sometimes life’s trials, either major or minor, may have us doubting whether we deserve God’s love or if eternal life is all it’s cut out to be.
In order to endure joyfully we need this conviction that is the foundation of our faith.
We need to be convinced that if we adopt a Christian attitude, we can battle our demons and ‘conquer the world.’ (John 16:33)
God promises that no creation- not even ourselves- can separate us from his love.

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 3 & 4

“God did not send his Son into the world for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him. Whoever exercises faith in him is not to be judged. Whoever does not exercise faith has been judged already […].”
~John 3:17,18

Does the Bible teach faith-based salvation?
While faith is a key component of our salvation, it is not the sole requirement.
God’s Word later explains that faith without works is useless. (Jas. 2:24,26)
What kind of works satisfy God’s standards?
To exercise true faith, we must follow in Jesus’ footsteps, sharing the message of God’s kingdom motivated by love. (Matt. 10:7,8; Jas. 2:8)
Still, we need to understand that faith and salvation are gifts from Jehovah God that are only possible through his own arrangement. (Eph. 2:8)
One Watchtower likens it to how we pray for our daily bread, and yet we understand we still have to go out and work for it.
Likewise, we have faith and work towards salvation, but left entirely on our own we could never attain it.

Luke, chapters 10 & 11

“[…] Give as gifts of mercy the things that are from within, and look! everything about you will be clean.”
~Luke 11:41

What are the things “from within?”
Jesus has been asked to dine with the Pharisees and has reprimanded them for outwardly appearing to be spiritual while hiding greediness and wickedness within. (Luke 11:39)
“The one who made the outside made also the inside, did he not?”
Jesus explains God’s justice and love, which we are capable of imitating, should be our main focus.
Then he further denounces their religious hypocrisy. (Luke 11:40,42,44)
So when Jesus says to give gifts from within, he appears to be alluding to sharing generously from a pure heart, with selfless motives.
The attitude with which we give stems, of course, from the way we choose to think. (Jer. 4:14)
At the end of the day, God is looking at whether or not our love is sincere. (1 Pet. 4:8,9)

Matthew, chapters 12 & 13

“[…] If you had understood what this means, ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless ones.”
~Matthew 12:7

Often we think of mercy as an accessory to justice. But really, justice is a means for God to express his mercy toward us.
Because of his mercy, Jehovah God sent his only-begotten son to earth to die for our sins. (Ro. 5:8-11)
Jesus thereby satisfied God’s law of ‘a life for a life,’ replacing Adam as our first father, and opened the way for us to reconcile with God. (De. 19:21; 1 Cor. 15:45)
God’s law was founded on mercy, so Jesus highlighted mercy as the underlying principle in the application of his law.
If we are motivated by a sincere desire to aid those who are at a spiritual or material disadvantage, our heavenly Father takes notice. (Prov. 19:17; 2 Cor. 4:1,2)

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.