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)

John, chapters 18 & 19

“My Kingdom is no part of this world. If my Kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be handed over […].”
~John 18:36

Throughout history and throughout the world, true Christians have followed Christ’s courageous example of maintaining political neutrality at the cost of their freedom or even their lives.
Like Jesus, we trust that God’s solution to mankind’s problems will be brought about through his own means. (Dan. 2:44)
Prior to the messiah’s coming, servants of Jehovah sometimes held high government rankings, such as King David or the governor Zerubbabel.
But the priests who killed Jesus were hungry for more political power. (John 11:48)
Jesus made it clear that his followers were not to get involved in the political controversies of his time, and the same applies to us. (Mark 8:15; John 17:16)
We can instead participate in the sharing of the kingdom good news- the same “truth” Jesus said he came to bear witness to. (Matt. 6:33; John 18:37)

John, chapters 5 & 6

“[…] The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”
~John 5:28,29

Was Jesus referring to a future judgment in heaven or on earth?
The Hebrew Scriptures describe the resurrection hope as taking place on earth:
“He will swallow up death forever, And the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will wipe away the tears from all faces. The reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth […].” (Is. 25:8)
Who are those “in the memorial tombs?”
The term used here is derived from the Greek verb meaning to remember (mimneskomai), implying that the person who has died is remembered by God, regardless of where their body winds up physically.
Jesus used the verb when he offered hope of living in paradise to the felon being executed alongside him on a stake. (Luke 23:40-43)
Jesus made a covenant for a heavenly resurrection with those who stuck out his trials with him. (Luke 22:28-30)
But for most of us, faith in being in Jehovah’s memory and the promise of an earthly resurrection is our most viable longterm hope.
In the restored paradise, we will have a clean slate to chose eternal life or destruction by the choices we make then. (Ro. 6:7; Rev. 20:12,15)

Luke, chapters 21 & 22

“From now on the Son of man will be seated at the powerful right hand of God.”
~Luke 22:69

Jesus kept a positive outlook throughout his trials, even knowing he was about to be executed.
He could have focused on the immediate pain and humiliation, the recent betrayal of his friends, or the impending agony he was about to endure on account of the sins of others.
Instead of doubting his father’s will, he proudly announced his solid hope of being reunited with his father before the ungodly violent audience of men who held his immediate fate in their hands.
More evidence of Jesus’ optimism comes from the words he told Peter even while knowing Peter would deny knowing him:
“[…] And you, once you have returned, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32)
Jesus never doubted the good in Peter’s heart and openly assured him of it.
This leads me to ask myself if I am as open to seeing the good in others and offering reassurance.
Do I focus on the moment so much that I lose sight of what really matters, like my standing before God?
A hopeful attitude can turn a painful situation into a blessing.

Mark, chapters 5 & 6

“The woman, frightened and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.”
~Mark 5:33

The woman referred to in this passage had suffered an embarrassing ailment for twelve years without finding a medical solution.
She did not wonder if Jesus could help her.
She had faith that she would be healed as soon as she could discreetly touch his clothes. (Mark 5:28)
In doing so, she was breaking Mosaic Law. (Lev. 15:25-27)
When Jesus discovered her, she confronted him with the truth.
In her place, I would have likely ran away as fast as I could.
I admire her boldness.
She not only had faith that Jesus would heal her, but also had faith that he would compassionately understand.
When approaching Jesus’ father, Jehovah, in prayer, I will try to imitate this woman’s faith in divine mercy, expressing myself from the heart. (Heb. 4:16)

Mark, chapters 3 & 4

“Why are you so afraid? Do you not yet have any faith?”
~Mark 4:40

Jesus did not expect his disciples to shut down a storm at sea on command, the way he had.
But he did expect them to remain calm.
Some problems life throws at us can make us feel powerless and we can become so anxious that we become ungrounded from our faith and spiritual routine.
We should have faith that Jehovah and Jesus look out for us regardless of what happens.
When we pray, God gives us the power and soundness of mind to face our obstacles. (2 Co. 4:7)
And we trust that nothing can permanently harm those who are in God’s love. (Ro. 8:38,39)

Matthew, chapters 22 & 23

“Regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, who said: ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.”
~Matthew 22:31,32

In the gospel of Luke, the account adds: “For they are all living to him.” (Luke 20:38)
On being asked about the plausibility of a resurrection, Jesus quoted Jehovah’s words to Moses.(Ex. 3:6; Matt. 22:23)
When God referred to himself as the God of Abraham, Abraham had been dead for hundreds of years.
Though the prophets are literally dead, the promise of the resurrection is so sure to be realized that to God, it is as if they are living. (Eccl. 9:5,10; Ro.4:16,17)
Likewise, a person who is physically alive may as well be dead to God if that person commits themselves to an immoral lifestyle. (Ge. 2:17; 1 Tim. 5:6)
When we try to see life and time from Jehovah’s point of view, we can find true comfort in the resurrection hope.