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Examining the Scriptures Daily - 2013


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Saturday, March 16

Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin.—Rom. 5:12.

As descendants of Adam, all of us are subject to the law of sin and of death. Our sinful flesh constantly urges us to do things that are displeasing to God, with only death in view. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul called such acts and traits “the works of the flesh.” Then he added: “Those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.” (Gal. 5:19-21) People of this kind are the same as those who walk in accord with the flesh. (Rom. 8:4) Their inward principle of action and their standard for life are totally fleshly. But are those who commit fornication, engage in idolatry, practice spiritism, or get involved in other gross sins the only ones who walk in accord with the flesh? No, for the works of the flesh also include what some might consider mere personality flaws, such as jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, and envies. Who can say that he has totally freed himself from walking in accord with the flesh? w11 11/15 2:9, 10

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Sunday, March 17 Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.—Heb. 12:1.

Paul was making reference to features of athletic games or races. He not only called attention to the reason for engaging in the race but also pointed out what one must do to win. The first-century Christians, especially those living in Jerusalem and Judea, were facing many trials and hardships. They were under great pressure from the Jewish religious leaders, who still wielded powerful influence over the people. Earlier, these leaders had succeeded in having Jesus Christ condemned as a seditionist and killed as a criminal. And they were not about to stop their opposition. In the book of Acts, we read one account after another of their threats and attacks against Christians, starting almost immediately after the miraculous events at Pentecost 33 C.E. This certainly made life difficult for the faithful ones.—Acts 4:1-3; 5:17, 18; 6:8-12; 7:59; 8:1, 3. w11 9/15 3:5, 6

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Monday, March 18

Esau went running to meet him, and he began to embrace him and fall upon his neck and kiss him.—Gen. 33:4.

Jacob had already taken the most important measure he could take to soften the heart of his brother. He had prayed to Jehovah for deliverance from Esau’s hand. Did Jehovah answer this prayer? Yes. (Gen. 32:11-20; 33:1-3) The account of Jacob and Esau shows that we should make earnest and practical efforts to settle matters when problems arise that may threaten the peace we enjoy within the Christian congregation. Jacob sought to make peace with Esau, but not because Jacob had erred against his brother and owed him an apology. No, Esau had despised his birthright and had sold it to Jacob for a bowl of stew. (Gen. 25:31-34; Heb. 12:16) However, the way Jacob approached Esau illustrates the extent to which we should be willing to go to preserve the peace with our Christian brothers. It also shows that the true God blesses our prayerful efforts to make peace. w11 8/15 3:2, 3

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Tuesday, March 19

The judgment resulted from one trespass in condemnation, but the gift resulted from many trespasses in a declaration of righteousness.—Rom. 5:16.

Think what a gift it is for the Almighty to forgive the sin a person inherited as well as the wrongs he committed! The apostles and others receiving this loving gift (being declared righteous) would have to continue to worship the true God in faith. With what future reward? “Those who receive the abundance of the undeserved kindness and of the free gift of righteousness [will] rule as kings in life through the one person, Jesus Christ.” The gift has life as its outcome. (Rom. 5:17; Luke 22:28-30) Those receiving that gift, being declared righteous, become God’s spiritual sons. As joint heirs with Christ, they have the prospect of being resurrected to heaven as actual spirit sons to “rule as kings” with Jesus Christ.—Rom. 8:15-17, 23. w11 6/15 2:14, 15

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Wednesday, March 20

Have regard for those who are working hard among you and presiding over you in the Lord and admonishing you.—1 Thess. 5:12.

In order to preside well over the flock, the elders discuss among themselves how to address the needs of the congregation. It might be more efficient if one elder made all the decisions. Yet, following the example of the first-century governing body, modern-day bodies of elders discuss matters freely, seeking guidance from the Scriptures. Their goal is to apply Scriptural principles to the needs of the local congregation. This is most effective when each elder prepares for the elders’ meetings, considering the Scriptures and the guidelines from the faithful and discreet slave class. Of course, this takes time. When there is a difference of opinion, as occurred when the first-century governing body considered the matter of circumcision, extra time and research might be needed to reach a consensus based on the Scriptures.—Acts 15:2, 6, 7, 12-14, 28. w11 6/15 4:11, 13

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Thursday, March 21

A fire came out from before Jehovah and consumed them.—Lev. 10:2.

Today, Jehovah does not immediately execute those who violate his laws. He lovingly gives them an opportunity to repent from their unrighteous works. How would Jehovah feel, though, if the parents of an unrepentant wrongdoer kept putting Him to the test by having unnecessary association with their disfellowshipped son or daughter? Many who were once disfellowshipped now freely admit that the firm stand taken by their friends and family members helped them come to their senses. One young woman who cleaned up her life said that her fleshly brother’s “faithful adherence to Scriptural guidelines” helped her to want to return. What conclusion should we draw? That we need to fight against the tendency of our imperfect hearts to rebel against Scriptural counsel. We must be absolutely convinced that God’s way of dealing with our problems is always best. w11 7/15 4:16-19

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Friday, March 22

God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.—John 3:16.

By accepting God’s love and by exercising faith in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can be freed from the condemnation resulting from our inherited sin. We may, therefore, be inclined to exclaim, as did Paul: “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25) Though exercising faith in the ransom can free us from the law of sin and of death, we are still imperfect and sinful. More is involved in attaining good spiritual health and enjoying God’s favor and blessing. Yet, how happy we can be that Jehovah has made it possible for us to overcome the law of sin and of death! w11 11/15 2:11, 12

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Saturday, March 23

By means of [Jesus] we have the release by ransom through the blood of that one.—Eph. 1:7.

The most outstanding example of a peacemaker is Jehovah—“the God who gives peace.” (Rom. 15:33) Out of his great love, Jehovah arranged for our salvation by sending his beloved Son from heaven to be born as a perfect human. And the Son willingly complied. He allowed himself to be put to death by God’s enemies. (John 10:17, 18) How does the provision of the ransom sacrifice of God’s Son affect the damaged relationship between God and sinful mankind? “The chastisement meant for our peace was upon him,” states Isaiah 53:5, “and because of his wounds there has been a healing for us.” Instead of being viewed as God’s enemies, obedient humans can now enjoy a peaceful relationship with him. w11 8/15 3:4, 5

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Sunday, March 24

As you go, preach.—Matt. 10:7.

After zealously engaging in his ministry for about two years, Jesus expanded the preaching activity by sending out his 12 apostles to preach. First, though, he gave them instructions. (Matt. 10:5-14) When about to feed a crowd of thousands miraculously, Jesus told his disciples how he wanted them to organize the people and distribute the food. (Luke 9:12-17) Clearly, then, Jesus trained his disciples by giving them clear and specific direction. This pattern of training, coupled with the powerful influence of holy spirit, later equipped the apostles to organize the extensive preaching work that took place in 33 C.E. and thereafter. w11 11/15 5:9

Memorial Bible reading: (Daytime events: Nisan 11) Luke 20:1-47

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Monday, March 25

Jesus . . . loved them to the end.—John 13:1.

Jesus trained his disciples by providing personal counsel tailored to their needs. For example, he rebuked James and John for wanting to call down fire from heaven on some Samaritans who had not received him. (Luke 9:52-55) When the mother of James and John approached Jesus on their behalf to ask that they be granted favored positions in the Kingdom, Jesus addressed the brothers directly, saying: “This sitting down at my right hand and at my left is not mine to give, but it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” (Matt. 20:20-23) At all times, Jesus gave counsel that was clear, practical, and solidly based on godly principles. He taught his disciples to reason on such principles. (Matt. 17:24-27) Jesus also recognized the limitations of his followers and did not expect perfection from them. His counsel was motivated by genuine love. w11 11/15 5:12

Memorial Bible reading: (Daytime events: Nisan 12) Luke 22:1-6; Mark 14:1, 2, 10, 11

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Tuesday, March 26 My back I gave to the strikers . . . My face I did not conceal from humiliating things and sit.—Isa. 50:6.

As shown above, Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be smitten. Micah foretold: “With the rod they will strike upon the cheek the judge of Israel.” (Mic. 5:1) Confirming the fulfillment of these prophecies, the Gospel writer Mark said: “Some started to spit on [Jesus] and to cover his whole face and hit him with their fists and say to him: ‘Prophesy!’ And, slapping him in the face, the court attendants took him.” Mark states that soldiers “would hit him on the head with a reed and spit upon him and, bending their knees [in mockery], they would do obeisance to him.” (Mark 14:65; 15:19) Of course, Jesus did nothing to provoke such abuse. w11 8/15 2:11 Memorial Bible reading: (Daytime events: Nisan 13) Luke 22:7-13; Mark 14:12-16 (Events after sunset: Nisan 14) Luke 22:14-65

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Among all the things that Jesus accomplished during his short but dynamic ministry was the locating, training, and organizing of men who would take the lead after his earthly sojourn. When he returned to heaven in 33 C.E., Jesus left behind the foundation of a remarkable congregation that would quickly number into the thousands. (Acts 2:41, 42; 4:4; 6:7) Today, there continues to be a need for men to take the lead in spiritual matters. Those who reach out for this privilege of service are to be commended, for they are "desirous of a fine work." (1 Tim. 3:1) To serve properly in such a capacity, a man must qualify spiritually. More than abilities or accomplishments, he must have spiritual qualities. w 11 11/15 5:1-3

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Jesus kept his life simple so he could freely minister to others. (Luke 9:58) He was modest and always based his teachings on the scriptures. (John 5:19; 17:14, 17) He was approachable and kind. Love was the motivation for everything he did. (Matt. 19:13-15; John 15:12) Jesus' example had a positive influence on his apostles. For instance, James did not cower in the face of death but until he was executed, loyally served God. (Acts 12:1, 2) John faithfully followed in Jesus' footsteps for more than 60 years. (Rev. 1:1, 2, 9) Elders who are self-sacrificing, humble, and loving provide the kind of example that younger men need. -1 Peter 5:2, 3. w 11 11/15 5:7, 8

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The concept of humans becoming spirit creatures and ruling in a heavenly Kingdom was foreign to Jesus' disciples prior to Pentecost. (Acts 1:6) Once they were baptized by holy spirit and given the heavenly hope, they could grasp the meaning of what Jesus meant. Insight previously unattainable to Jesus' disciples became available after the outpouring of holy spirit. By inspiration, the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures set out - for our benefit - amazing facets of Jehovah's purpose. (Eph. 3:8-11, 18) Today, both spirit-anointed ones and those of the "other sheep" feed together spiritually, assimilating these same truths. (John 10:16) Do you cherish the knowledge and understanding of God's Word that holy spirit thus makes available to you? w11 12/15 4:7, 8

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Saturday, March 30 Keep these things without prejudgment, doing nothing according to a biased leaning.—1 Tim. 5:21.

Three Biblical examples underscore the danger of acting hastily after hearing only one side of a controversy. Potiphar believed his wife’s story that Joseph had tried to rape her. With unjustified anger, Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison. (Gen. 39:19, 20) King David believed Ziba, who said that his master, Mephibosheth, had sided with David’s enemies. “Look! Yours is everything that belongs to Mephibosheth” was David’s hasty response. (2 Sam. 16:4; 19:25-27) King Artaxerxes was told that the Jews were rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls and were about to rebel against the Persian Empire. The king believed the false report and ordered that all rebuilding in Jerusalem cease. As a result, the Jews stopped work on God’s temple. (Ezra 4:11-13, 23, 24) Christian elders wisely follow Paul’s counsel to Timothy to avoid making premature judgments. w11 8/15 4:12

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Sunday, March 31 There we saw the Nephilim.—Num. 13:33

Joshua and Caleb were part of a group of 12 men who went into the Promised Land to spy it out. Upon their return, ten of those men gave a very negative and discouraging report. They even claimed that some of the land’s inhabitants were giants descended from the Nephilim, the offspring of rebel angels and women. (Gen. 6:4) Now, that claim was absurd. Those wicked hybrids had been wiped out in the Deluge many centuries earlier. But even the most baseless ideas can exert power over those weak in faith. The negative reports from those ten spies quickly spread fear and panic among the people. Before long, most were sure that it would be a mistake to enter the Promised Land as Jehovah had directed. In that volatile situation, what did Joshua and Caleb do? (Num. 13:25-32) Although the crowd hated to hear it, those two men told the truth and stuck to it—even when threatened with death by stoning!—Num. 14:10. w11 7/15 1:4, 5

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Monday, April 1

Abhor what is wicked, cling to what is good.—Rom. 12:9.

In this wicked world, much entertainment is characterized by activities that flagrantly violate Bible principles or break God’s laws. (1 John 5:19) True Christians say a resolute no to all such entertainment. This includes entertainment that features sadism, demonism, homosexuality, pornography, or violence or that glorifies other vile, immoral practices. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Rev. 21:8) No matter where we may be, we prove to Jehovah that we “abhor what is wicked” by refusing to get close to such entertainment. (1 John 1:5, 6) Not all forms of entertainment center on practices that are expressly condemned in God’s Word. In such cases, before choosing the entertainment, we should carefully compare the activity with Jehovah’s view of what is wholesome, as expressed in Bible principles. (Prov. 4:10, 11) Then we need to make a personal decision that leaves us with a good conscience.—Gal. 6:5; 1 Tim. 1:19. w11 10/15 1:6, 7

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Tuesday, April 2 - I surrender my soul in behalf of the sheep.—John 10:15.

Husbands should imitate Jesus in showing affection for those under their care. Rather than harshly dominating his wife, a husband who desires God’s approval continues loving her “just as the Christ also loved the congregation.” (Eph. 5:25) His words should be kind and considerate, for she is worthy of honor. (1 Pet. 3:7) In training young ones, the family head should firmly uphold godly principles. However, he must not fail to show affection for his children. Needed discipline should be administered lovingly. Some young ones may take longer than others to get the sense of what is expected of them. In that case, a father should show them greater patience. When men consistently follow the example of Jesus, they create a home environment that is safe and secure. Their families enjoy the type of spiritual security that the psalmist sang about.—Ps. 23:1-6. w11 5/15 1:4, 7, 8

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Wednesday, April 3 - You had no hope and were without God in the world.—Eph. 2:12.

Today, many do not believe in the concept of being sinners. Why not? Even if they go to church on occasion, they consider the Bible account of Adam and Eve to be merely a fable or a myth. Others grow up in an anti-God climate. They doubt that God exists and therefore do not understand that a Supreme Being set moral standards for humans and that failure to uphold those standards amounts to sin. In the letter to the Romans, Paul presented a reason why such a background cannot be an excuse—not then, not today. It is that creation itself bears witness to the existence of a Creator. (Rom. 1:19, 20) This accords with an observation Paul made when writing from Rome to the Hebrews: “Every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God.” (Heb. 3:4) That line of reasoning points to there being a Creator who constructed, or brought into existence, the entire universe. w11 6/15 1:12, 13

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Thursday, April 4

You must not follow after the crowd for evil ends.—Ex. 23:2.

When you choose entertainment and recreation for yourself or your family, do you allow the lax consciences of others to influence your decisions and to mold your conscience? Would that not, in effect, amount to following after the crowd? Jehovah has given us a precious gift to help us make decisions—our “perceptive powers.” However, these powers need to be trained “through use.” (Heb. 5:14) Following the crowd would not train our perceptive powers; nor, on the other hand, would a host of rigid rules in matters of conscience. That is why, for example, Jehovah’s people are not given a list of films, books, and Internet sites to avoid. Because this world changes so fast, such a list would be outdated soon after it was made. (1 Cor. 7:31) Worse, it would deprive us of the vital work of weighing Bible principles carefully and prayerfully and then making decisions on the basis of those principles.—Eph. 5:10. w11 7/15 1:3, 6, 7

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Friday, April 5

You, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, . . . from you there will come out to me the one who is to become ruler in Israel.—Mic. 5:2.

The Messiah was to be born in the Judean town of Bethlehem, evidently once named Ephrathah. Although Jesus’ mother, Mary, and his adoptive father, Joseph, lived in Nazareth, a Roman registration decree had taken them to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born in 2 B.C.E. (Matt. 2:1, 5, 6) Another prophecy fulfilled in Jesus foretold that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. (Isa. 7:14) Under inspiration, Matthew used the Greek word for “virgin” (par·the′nos) when showing that Isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled in connection with the birth of Jesus. The Gospel writers Matthew and Luke state that Mary was a virgin who became pregnant through the operation of God’s spirit. (Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35) What a remarkable fulfillment of prophecy! w11 8/15 1:7, 8

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Saturday, April 6

Jehovah’s spirit enveloped Gideon.—Judg. 6:34.

The book of Judges is replete with accounts of humans who “from a weak state were made powerful.” (Heb. 11:34) By means of holy spirit, God impelled Gideon to fight in behalf of His people. The army Gideon assembled, however, was outnumbered by the Midianite menace 4 to 1. Yet, Jehovah twice decreed that Gideon scale back the army until the enemy outnumbered Israelite fighters 450 to 1. (Judg. 7:2-8; 8:10) If a stunning victory was to take place, who could brag that it was wrought by human effort or wisdom? Jehovah’s power to save is infinite. He can deliver his people from any predicament, even doing so by using those who appear weak or helpless. Sometimes we may feel outnumbered or in desperate straits. However, we can draw abundant guidance and reassurance from God’s Word and through his spirit-directed congregation. (Rom. 8:31, 32) Jehovah’s loving promises fortify our faith and convince us that he really is our Helper! w11 12/15 3:12, 14

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Sunday, April 7

Go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.—Eph. 5:17.

Before eating a new dish, we would first want to find out what its main ingredients are. Similarly, before engaging in a form of recreation, we need to investigate what its main features are. For instance, sports can be fun and exciting. What, though, if you are attracted to certain sports because of their aggressive competitiveness, excessive risk taking, high rates of injury, riotous celebrations, nationalistic fervor, or similar “ingredients”? After examining what is involved, you would likely decide that it would be hard to harmonize your thinking with Jehovah’s way of thinking and with the message of peace and love that we preach to others. (Isa. 61:1; Gal. 5:19-21) On the other hand, if a certain leisure activity is made up of “ingredients” that are wholesome in Jehovah’s eyes, then such recreation may well be beneficial and refreshing to you.—Gal. 5:22, 23; Phil. 4:8. w11 10/15 1:7, 8

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Monday, April 8

I exhort you as aliens and temporary residents to keep abstaining from fleshly desires.—1 Pet. 2:11.

The Israelites were told that if they obeyed Jehovah, they would become his “special property out of all other peoples.” (Ex. 19:5) When faithful, Israel differed from all other nations in worship and way of life. Similarly today, Jehovah has separated for himself a people who are markedly different from Satan’s world. We are told: “Repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires and . . . live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion . . . while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of the Savior of us, Christ Jesus, who gave himself for us that he might deliver us from every sort of lawlessness and cleanse for himself a people peculiarly his own, zealous for fine works.” (Titus 2:11-14) This “people” is made up of anointed Christians and millions of Jesus’ “other sheep,” who aid and support them.—John 10:16. w11 11/15 3:15, 16

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Tuesday, April 9

Keep on . . . seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.—Matt. 6:33.

Whether we have the heavenly hope or an earthly one, we must ‘disown ourselves and pick up our torture stake and continually follow Christ.’ (Matt. 16:24) Millions who look forward to life in Paradise on earth are worshipping God and following Christ in that way. They are not content to do just a little when they sense that they can do more. Many have been impelled to simplify their life and have become pioneers. Others manage to pioneer some months each year. Still others, while unable to pioneer, exert themselves in the ministry. Such ones are like devoted Mary, who poured perfumed oil on Jesus. He said: “She did a fine deed toward me. . . . She did what she could.” (Mark 14:6-8) Our doing all we can may not be easy, for we live in a world dominated by Satan. Yet, we exert ourselves vigorously and put our trust in Jehovah. w11 9/15 2:5

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