Acts, chapters 6-8

“Jehovah’s spirit quickly led Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him anymore, but he went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, found himself in Ashdod, and he went through the territory and kept on declaring the good news to all the cities until he got to Caesarea.”
~Acts 8:39,40

After Philip taught and baptized the Ethiopian traveler, he appears to have been suddenly swept away to the town of Ashdod.
He then proceeded to travel north 80 km (50 mi), presumably by foot, to Caesarea.
He “kept on declaring the good news” zealously, despite having had no say in his choice of territory.
Perhaps he had left unfinished business or personal belongings in Jerusalem, but he listened to the Holy Spirit’s direction and preached along the Mediterranean coastline.
Sometimes we have the privilege of studying the Bible with someone who values what they learn to the point of becoming a baptized Jehovah’s Witness.
While they rejoice with their new hope, we have to keep moving forward, bringing the kingdom message to as many people as possible.
I vividly recall meeting a student under similar circumstances as Philip and the eunuch’s, in the sense that she was reading a Watchtower magazine when we arrived at her business.
I asked her if she understood what she was reading.
She said, in sign language, “How? If no one explains it to me?”
She took the steps to get baptized six months later, despite having two serious disabilities.
We seldom meet people so eager to learn in our ministry, but when we do, their memory continues to motivate us for the rest of our lives, regardless of which territory we end up in.

John, chapters 1 & 2

“[…] I have seen it, and I have given witness that this one is the Son of God.”
~John 1:34

Before Jesus converted water to wine, healed the sick, tamed storms or resurrected the dead, John the Baptist already had faith that he was the Son of God.
John literally “cried out” about Jesus’ pre-human existence. (John 1:15)
He prophesied about Jesus’ sacrificial death. (John 1:29)
He even encouraged his own disciples to leave him for Jesus. (John 1:35-37)
This makes me wonder about my own zeal in the witnessing work.
Do I show the same enthusiasm and conviction John showed when it comes to announcing the good news of God’s kingdom?
After all, Jesus already fulfilled all the prophecies which proved he was God’s son.
Now it is our turn to imitate John and help others realize what God’s kingdom will bring. (Ps. 72:16; Is. 33:24; John 5:28,29; Rev. 21:4)

Proverbs, chapters 12-16

“[…] ​A faithful envoy brings healing,”
~Proverbs 13:17

Christians have been commissioned to declare the good news of God’s kingdom (Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 13:10).
We should cherish the privilege of sharing hope with others through dispersing knowledge of God’s Word (1 Tim. 2:3-6).
It is exciting to take part in a living prophecy (Dan. 12:4; Matt. 24:14).
Still, we are not immune to apathy, opposition, negative responses or the daily pressures of life.
It is important to meditate on the benefits God’s message brings and to not undermine what it accomplishes.
While most will respond unfavorably, the meek will truly experience healing upon learning of God’s will for them (Isa. 52:7).

Psalms 11-18

“You wrongdoers try to frustrate the plans of the lowly one,
But Jehovah is his refuge.”

~Psalm 14:6

Should we find that we will not be able to reach the goals we have set for ourselves in God’s service, we should not become discouraged.
Circumstances change and no one has full control over their own situation.
Not only are we susceptible to our own sinful inclinations, but we may find ourselves to be victims of the wrongdoings of others (Rom. 3:23).
While these factors may have a negative impact in our service to God, they do not impede our being loyal to Him.
Therefore we should continue serving God zealously alongside His congregation to our fullest capacity, because He will continue being our Protector, giving us all we need to be happy (Ps. 37:28; Ps. 145:16; Heb. 6:10-12).

Esther, chapters 6-10

“The couriers riding the post-horses used in the royal service went out urgently and speedily at the king’s order.”
~Esther 8:14

Once King Ahasuerus authorized Mordecai to create laws that enabled the Jews to defend themselves from attackers, the law was promulgated urgently throughout the kingdom.
This happened late in the Jewish month of Sivan (mid-June).
Haman, who was now dead, had superstitiously scheduled their genocide for the month of Adar in the next year (early March) (Es. 7:10; 8:11,12).
This means the Jews had 8 and a half months to prepare themselves for the attack.
They did not slack in getting the word out, but did so with urgency, knowing that the more time people had to prepare themselves, the more likely they were to survive.
This reminds me of the life-saving preaching work we carry out, letting our neighbors know God’s day is near (1 Tim. 4:16).
Although we do not know the exact date, if we preach with a sense of urgency during these last days, we will give people more time to prepare themselves and be saved (Matt. 25:13; 2 Tim. 3:1-5, 4:2).

2 Samuel, chapters 19-21

Chapter twenty relates to us how Joab ambitiously regained the position of chief military commander and incurred God’s wrath.

After Joab disobeyed King David by killing his son, David fired Joab and gave his job to Amasa (2 Sam. 18:12-14; 19:13).

Amasa had previously served as the commander in the insurgent army (2 Sam. 17:25).

When the two men met to chase down a new insurgent, Joab tricked Amasa and ran his sword through him.

“Joab said to Amasa: ‘Are you all right, my brother?’ Then with his right hand, Joab took hold of Amasa’s beard as if to kiss him. Amasa was not on guard against the sword that was in Joab’s hand, and Joab stabbed him with it in the abdomen […]” (2 Sam. 20:9,10).

Thus, by the end of the story, we are told that “Joab was in charge of all the army of Israel,” (2 Sam. 20:23).

Joab allowed his zeal for his job as David’s right-hand man to turn into self-centered ambition.

This disproportionate ambition led him to commit at least two murders and participate in at least one other (2 Sam. 3:27; 11:16,17).

Eventually, Joab was held accountable for his evil deeds (1 Kings 2:31-33).

What we learn from this story is that while zeal for attaining greater privileges in God’s service is commendable, one should not allow that zeal to turn into selfish ambition.

An overly ambitious attitude could lead us to give priority to a personal agenda rather than to obeying God’s theocratic arrangements.

When we ignore God’s instructions handed to us through the congregation in order to protect our self-interests, we wind up hurting others and displeasing Jehovah (Heb. 13:17).

2 Samuel, chapters 9-12

Uriah replied to David: “The Ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. So should I go into my own house to eat and drink and lie down with my wife? As surely as you live and are alive, I will not do this thing!”

~2 Samuel 11:11

Uriah was a Hittite, a descendant of Canaan (2 Sam. 23:39).

Canaanites were the pagan inhabitants of the Promised Land that the Israelites were supposed to have exterminated (De. 20:16-18).

Still, Uriah’s house was close to King David’s (2 Sam. 11:2,3).

He was classified as a “mighty warrior,” (1 Chron. 11:26,41).

These facts, along with his conduct, indicate that he was also a Proselyte- a pagan converted to true worship.

The most outstanding thing we know of him is the zeal he had for fulfilling God’s law.

He went into war with the rest of his army, minus their commander-in-chief, King David.

Where was their leader?

Sleeping with Uriah’s wife (2 Sam. 11:4).

(I am leaving out a few details because the story is widely known.)

When Uriah’s wife became pregnant with David’s child, King David asked Uriah to come back home with the intention of making it appear as if the child were his (2 Sam. 11:5-10).

Uriah respected God’s law and considered his war mission to be holy.

To sleep with his wife while the rest of his army was in battle was unthinkable.

Furthermore, that would have prevented him from immediately joining them, because having a semen emission under God’s law made him “unclean,” (De. 23:9-11).

King David’s plan failed, and he sentenced Uriah to be killed in battle, sending the letter by Uriah’s own hand (2 Sam. 11:12-15).

Uriah had such a level of zeal for God’s law that it cost him his life, but the important thing is that he died faithful (2 Sam. 11:24).

David did not have to die for his own sin, but his son died as a consequence of it, and David did not know another day’s peace for the rest of his life (2 Sam. 12:9-14).

Uriah’s story leaves us with a thirst for justice that is not fully quenched and it helps us see that in this world, sometimes it does not matter how good or innocent we are, we are still subject to injustices.

There may at times be brothers in the congregation in important roles with many privileges who step all over one of the sheep they are supposed to care for (Acts 20:29).

The important thing for us sheep is to not judge or leave the congregation, but to continue serving God faithfully and leave justice in his hands (Rom. 12:19).