2 Timothy, chapters 1-4

“In my first defense no one came to my side, but they all forsook me—may they not be held accountable.”
~2 Timothy 4:16

Is it normal to feel alone serving God Jehovah?
After all, our worldwide brotherhood and local congregations are supposed to be a haven of love and kindness amidst this wicked world. (Heb. 10:24,25; 1 John 5:19)
But it is unrealistic to assume others will never fail us.
David, who had an army of supporters at different times in his life, wrote:
“Reproach has broken my heart, and the wound is incurable.
“I was hoping for sympathy, but there was none,
“And for comforters, but I found none.” (Ps. 31:12; 69:20; 142:4)
Job’s closest friends also abandoned him during the hardest time of his life. (Job 19:14)
Jesus’ own friends fled from him when he faced death. (Matt. 26:56)
So we should not be too discouraged nor surprised if our support group does not react the way we need them to.
We are all Christians trying to fight the good fight, and part of that is learning to forgive each other. (Col. 3:13)
Such circumstances also teach us to rely on Jehovah’s unfailing love regardless of what happens. (2 Tim. 4:17,18)

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 13 & 14

“Now because he knew before the festival of the Passover that his hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father, Jesus, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end.”
~John 13:1

Few times in the history of literature has there been such a comparably beautiful phrase that encompasses so much meaning.
The Apostle John knew Jesus quite possibly his entire life, being a younger relative of his and then becoming one of his closer disciples. (John 13:23-25)
But Jesus’ disciples still resisted the idea that he was about to die. (John 13:36,37; 14:5)
I wonder what it was like, sixty-five years later, for the elderly John to reflect on Christ’s love during the last day of his life on earth, as he began to relate this part of his story.
The phrase reflects a great depth of tenderness, courage, unity and gratitude.
It is an example of man at his ultimate best: loyal, kind, spiritual, up building and self-sacrificing.
The love Jehovah and Jesus showed us long before we were even born is the closest thing there is to unconditional love. (Rom. 5:8)
We can glorify God by trying to follow Christ’s sublime example of love towards the congregation. (1 John 3:16)

John, chapters 7 & 8

“Stop judging by the outward appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
~John 7:24

Jews sought to kill Jesus because he miraculously cured a man on the sabbath. (John 5:8,9,15,16)
Their worship was based on a strict literal interpretation of Mosaic Law and rabbinic traditions.
It neglected the Law’s foundations: justice, mercy and faithfulness.(Prov. 21:3; Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:8; Matt. 23:23)
Judging with “righteous judgment” implies not believing everything we see or hear, and treating others fairly, regardless of their social status. (Is. 11:3,4)
If we are so concerned with proving we are right that we act recklessly toward others, we could become ritualistic in our form of worship, forgetting that the gist of God’s law is to love. (Matt. 22:37-40)

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)

Zephaniah, chapters 1-3

“Jehovah has removed the judgments against you.
He has turned away your enemy.
The King of Israel, Jehovah, is in your midst.
You will fear calamity no more.”
~Zepheniah 3:15

Even if we have made mistakes in the past which offended God, we can trust that if we sincerely repent, God will not remain angry at us forever. (Ps. 86:5)

Jehovah disciplined his people in ancient times to the point that it was fair and just, and he will do the same to us today if we fall into sinful practices. (2 Tim. 3:16)

So we should never fear that we are inevitably separated from God.
If he has forgiven us, we in turn have to forgive ourselves.

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)