In the Bible, individuals, rulers, and kingdoms are at times represented by trees  Photo Credit: Flickr


Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?—Acts 1:6

BEFORE  Jesus ascended to heaven, his apostles asked the above. When would God’s Kingdom start ruling? But Jesus’ answer showed clearly that that was not the time for him to come as heavenly King to rule in heaven. When would that time thus be?

First, there was an important task for his disciples to accomplish at present: they have to focus on the witnessing work that they needed to do. (Acts 1:7,8) But Jesus taught his disciples also to look forward to the coming of the above mentioned Kingdom.

Is this teaching regarding the coming of Jesus Yes. Christians since then prayed for it to come. When that time drawed close, Jesus’ Father, Jehovah, helped his modern day disciples to understand the timing of events. In 1876, Charles Taze Russell, one of the founders of the then so called ‘Bible Students’, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses were then called, published in the magazine Bible Examiner an article (“Gentile Times: When Do They End?“) that pointed to 1914 as a significant year. It bound the ‘seven times’ of Daniel’s prophecy with ‘the appointed times of the nations’ mentioned by Jesus.—Dan. 4:16; Luke 21:24

The appointed times
of the nations



Can Our Sins Be Forgiven?


ACCORDING to the Bible, all humans are sinners. We inherited the tendency to sin from the first man, Adam. Thus, we sometimes do bad things and may later regret what we did.

Jesus Christ, God’s Son, paid for our sins by dying for us. This made forgiveness possible.—Romans 3:23, 24.

The Word of God says that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. (1John 1:7) This will happen if we have a proper, repentant attitude.—Isaiah 1:18.

What must we do to be forgiven?

We need to learn about Jehovah God—to understand his ways, advice and requirements. (John 17:3; Acts 3:19) Is this too difficult for us? No, Jehovah understands our weaknesses. He is merciful and kind. His qualities want us to learn more about how to please him. (Psalm 103:13, 14)


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Does Jehovah Really Care About You?


“Feelings of worthlessness are probably the biggest roadblock that I am trying to overcome.”

CAN you identify with these feelings? If so, you may wonder, ‘Does Jehovah really care about his worshippers as individuals?’ The answer is yes! We find proof of Jehovah’s personal care in the words of Jesus.—John 6:44.

What did Jesus, who knows the personality and will of Jehovah better than anyone else, say? (Luke 10:22) Jesus explained: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” So, we cannot become a follower of Christ—and a worshipper of our heavenly Father, Jehovah—unless Jehovah personally draws us. (2Thessalonians 2:13)

What does it mean that Jehovah draws us? Does Jehovah drag us against our will, forcing us to serve him? No. Jehovah gave us free will, so he does not force our heart open. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) One scholar puts it this way: “There is no handle on the outside of the door of the human heart. It must be opened from within.” Jehovah searches through the billions of hearts in this world, looking for individuals who are inclined toward him. (1Chronicles 28:9)

Jehovah gently attracts, or tugs at, the heart of an individual who is “rightly disposed.” (Acts 13:48) He does so in two ways—through the Bible’s message of good news, which reaches us as individuals, and through his holy spirit that help the individual to grasp and apply Bible truth in his life. (1Corinthians 2:11,12)

“Being a servant of Jehovah is the highest privilege anyone could have”, says a woman. And when Jehovah chose us to be servants of his, then we must be precious to him.


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Will You Trust God?

Image IMAGINE that you have a friend whom you admire greatly, but he does something that you cannot understand. Others criticize his action and judge his motives, saying that your friend is cruel. Would you be quick to agree with them, or would you wait to hear your friend’s side of the story? If he was not there to explain himself, would you be patient, giving him the benefit of the doubt?

You might want to know more before answering. You might ask, ‘How well do I really know this friend, and what basis do I have for admiring him?’ Fair enough. But consider: Can we not apply the same principles to this question of whether God is cruel?

For example, you may find it hard to understand some of what God has done, or you might be puzzled by what he has allowed to happen. There are plenty of people who will tell you that God is cruel. Will you judge his motives with haste as they do? Or will you extend him the benefit of the doubt until you know more? The answer may depend on how well you know God. Ask yourself, ‘What kind of a friend has God been to me?’

The Bible says: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) Who is “the wicked one”? The Bible identifies him as Satan. (Matthew 13:19; Mark 4:15) Is that farfetched? Think of this: If Satan has power over the world, then he influences humans to be as selfish, greedy, and shortsighted as he is. Would that not help to explain why man so badly mismanages his own environment on the earth? Many experts warn that mismanagement of the environment may play a role in natural disasters, whether by causing them, worsening them, or making human society more vulnerable to them.

Why does God allow Satan to have so much influence? The answer goes back to the dawn of human history, when our first parents rebelled against God as Ruler. Most of mankind has followed the same course ever since. That choice—the rejection of the rule of God—has placed the world of mankind in the hands of God’s enemy, Satan. Jesus thus called Satan “the ruler of the world.” (John 14:30) But Satan will not rule forever.

Consider, if your life has been difficult, you might be tempted to say that God has not been a friend at all. But has God been responsible for the hardships in your life—or for the blessings? As we have seen, Satan is “the ruler of this world,” not Jehovah. (John 12:31) It is thus Satan who is behind much of the misery and injustice of this world. And our own imperfections and unpredictable circumstances cause many of our problems. Would you not agree?

God is “the Maker of heaven and earth”; his works include our physical bodies, which are “wonderfully made” and Jehovah is “the God in whose hand your breath is.” (Psalm 124:8; 139:14; Daniel 5:23) Yes, we owe our every breath, our very existence, to our Creator. (Acts 17:28) It means that the gift of life, the beauty of the world around us, the pleasures of love and friendship, the joys of taste, touch, sound, and smell—all of these are gifts from God. (James 1:17) Would you not agree that those blessings make him a Friend who is worthy of our esteem and trust?


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A Meaningful Life is Possible

Image “The lenght of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow.”—Psalm 90:10*, New International Version.

LIFE in this world is so often glutted with “trouble and sorrow.” Is it even possible to have a truly meaningful life now?

Your work may be repetitive, tiring, and tedious. Your efforts or work may not be recognized. Even if you do have a measure of success, you may feel insecure regarding your future. At times, you may also feel lonely or depressed. Your family life may be marked by conflict and strife. You may have lost a loved one in death.

No matter what trouble we may face, there is something we desperately need to know: is a meaningful life really possible? We can find the answer in the life of a man who walked the earth some 2,000 years ago—Jesus Christ. In spite of all the obstacles that confronted him, Jesus truly had a meaningful life. So can we if we follow his example.

Jesus—The Key to a Meaningful Life

Did Jesus really have a meaningful life? He evidently was brought up in humble surroundings, and throughout his life he had few of this world’s goods. He actually had “nowhere to lay down his head.” (Luke 9:57, 58) In addition, he was hated slandered, and finally put to death by his enemies.

You may reason, ‘Such a life is not what I think of as meaningful!’ But there is more to Jesus’ life that we do well to consider. Let us examine four aspects of his life.


“My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me.”John 4:34.

By his words and actions, Jesus sought to fulfill the will of his heavenly Father, Jehovah. Jesus found great joy in doing God’s will. He actually compared doing so to food, as is shown in the scripture just quoted.


“I love the Father.”John 14:31.

Jesus had an extremely close relationship with his Father in heaven. Jesus’ deep love for God impelled him to make known his Father—His name, purposes, and qualities. Through his words, actions, and attitudes, Jesus perfectly reflected his Father—to the point that we see in Jesus a living portrait of his Father. —John 14:8, 9.


“No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends.”John 15:13.

The Bible explains: “Through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12

Thankfully, Jehovah lovingly provided a solution to mankind’s situation. He allowed his perfect and sinless Son, who became known as Jesus, to suffer and die in order to provide the ransom needed to deliver mankind from slavery to sin and death. Jesus, moved by love for his Father and for humans, willingly complied and gave his perfect human life in our behalf. (Romans 5:6-8) Such unselfish love gave meaning to his life. To learn more about the ransoming value of Jesus’ death, see chapter 5 of the bookWhat Does the Bible Really Teach?, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.


“This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.”Matthew 3:17.

Jehovah spoke those words from heaven at the time of Jesus’ baptism. Jehovah by doing so, openly expressed affection for and approval of his Son, Jesus. (John 10:17) Knowing that he had his Father’s love and approval, Jesus faced opposition and criticism with confidence. He even maintained balance and emotional stability in the face of death. (John 10:18) His own Father’s love and approval gave even greater meaning to his life.

Clearly, we can learn much from Jesus about how we can lead a life that has real meaning.

A Meaningful Life—Jesus Shows the Way

“Walk just as Jesus walked.”1 John 2:6NET Bible.

If we want to fill our life with meaning, we do well to imitate his example and listen to his advice. Walking as Jesus walked involves patterning our entire way of life after his example and teachings. Doing so will help us to gain God’s approval and have a meaningful life.

Jesus’ teaching included principles that can help us to walk just as he walked. We find a number of these principles in his famous Sermon of the Mount.

PRINCIPLE: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.”—Matthew 5:3.

Can God’s Word really help us to satisfy our spiritual need? Jesus indicated that humans have an innate spiritual need. We long to know the answers to such questions as these: Why are we here? Why is there so much suffering on this earth? Does God really care about us? Is there life after death? We need to know the answers to such questions in order to have a meaningful life. Jesus knew that there is only one reliable source that can answer those questions—God’s Word. In prayer to his Father, Jesus said: “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

PRINCIPLE: “Happy are the merciful.”—Matthew 5:7.

Mercy involves showing compassion to others, being kind and considerate toward them. Jesus showed mercy to those in need. Moved by deep compassion, he took the initiative to relieve the suffering of others. (Matthew 14:14; 20:30-34) When we imitate Jesus in being merciful, we add meaning to our lives. (Acts 20:35) And are happy as a result.

PRINCIPLE: “Happy are the peaceable.”—Matthew 5:9.

To be “peaceable” literally means to be a “peacemaker”. How does being a peacemaker make life more meaningful? For one thing, we enjoy better relationships with those around us. We do well to heed the Bible’s advise: “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.” (Romans 12:18) Yes if we follow Jesus’ wise advice, we will find happiness and contentment in life.


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The Resurrection of Jesus—Did It Really Happen?

ImageToday, the expression “Eat, drink, and be merry” has become a cliché. If life ends at death, why not live it up? Why aspire to lofty values? If death ends it all, living for the present makes perfect sense. The apostle Paul said as much. He described the attitude of people who do not believe in the resurrection, saying: “If the dead are not to be raised up, ‘let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.'”— 1Corinthians 15:32.

PAUL himself did not believe that death meant an eternity of oblivion. He was convinced that the dead could live again, with the prospect of never dying at all. That conviction was founded on an event of immense importance, the truthfulness of which he considered to be unassailable—the resurrection * of Christ Jesus. That resurrection, in fact, was the greatest single event that strengthened the faith of the early disciples.


Some Christians in ancient Corinth were confused about the matter, and others did not believe in the literal resurrection at all. The apostle listed the consequences if the resurrection were not a reality. He wrote: “If, indeed, there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised up. But if Christ has not been raised up, our preaching is certainly in vain, and our faith is in vain. Moreover, we are also found false witnesses of God . . . Your faith is useless; you are yet in your sins. . . . Also, those who fell asleep in death in union with Christ perished.”1Corinthians 15:13-18.

If the dead are not to be raised, then Christ, who died, could not have been rased to life. Then, preaching the good news would be in vain, a colossal hoax. After all, the resurrection of Christ was a key element of the Christian faith, being inseparably linked to some of the Bible’s most basic teachings about God’s sovereignty, his name, his Kingdom, and our salvation.

If Christ had not been raised from the dead, Christian faith would be in vain, empty, based on a lie. Further, Paul and the others would have spoken falsely not only about the resurrection of Jesus but also about the one whom they said resurrected him, Jehovah God. What is more, the assertion that Christ had “died for our sins” would also be untrue—for if the Savior himself had not been saved from death, he could not save others. (1Corinthians 15:3) That would mean that Christians who had died, in some cases as martyrs, had perished with a false hope that they would be resurrected. (1Corinthians 15:19)


Paul did not believe any of those negative consequences to be true. He knew that Jesus had been raised from the dead. (1Corinthians 15:3-8) What made Paul so sure of that? One reason was the testimony of many eyewitnesses. The resurrected Jesus appeared to individuals (including Paul himself), to smal groups, and even to a crowd of 500, many of whom had no doubt been skeptical when they heard the news that Jesus had been resurrected! (Luke 24:1-11) Most of the eyewitnesses were still alive in Paul’s day and could be consulted to confirm those appearances. (1Corinthians 15:6) One or two witnesses might be easy to dismiss, but not the testimony of 500 of more eyewitnesses.

Notice, too, that Paul mentioned twice that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus were “according to the Scriptures.” Those events confirmed that prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures about the Messiah had come true, thus proving that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.


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The Son of Man Glorified! — John 17:5

dp1768255Following his arrest, Jesus is accused by false witnesses, convicted by biased judges, sentenced by Pontius Pilate, derided by priests and mobs, and mocked and tortured by soldiers. (Mark 14:53-65; 15:1, 15; John 19:1-3)

BY FRIDAY noon, Jesus is nailed to a torture stake and suffers excruciating pain as the weight of his body tears at the nail wounds in his hands and feet. (John 19:17, 18)

At about three in the afternoon, Jesus cries out: “It has been accomplished!” Yes, he has completed all that he came to earth to do. Entrusting his spirit to God, he bows his head and dies. (John 19:28, 30; Matthew 27:45, 46; Luke 23:46)

On the third day thereafter, Jehovah resurrects his Son. (Mark 16:1-6)

Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus ascends to the heavens and is glorified.—John 17:5; Acts 1:3, 9-12; Philippians 2:8-11.

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