One of the things that I used to read regularly was the Daily Text. That’s what most Witnesses call it in everyday speech, but it’s formally titled, “Examining the Scriptures Daily”. It used to be read before field service meetings, however that is no longer done. When I was little I remember it used to be bound into the back of the Yearbook. At any rate, I read “The Text” nearly every day, and often looked up the Watchtower article the theme scripture was taken from, and researched the verse in other translations and read the context also. This was something my mother inculcated into me at an early age and it seemed like a good thing when I was an active adult member to do. It was a way to daily feed on the Word of God and I used it for that purpose. When I was a Bethelite the family even received it in a “tear-off block”, sort of like a daily calendar that’s gummed on the back, so they could grab the individual sheet without having to tear it out of a booklet and ruin it.
Now as a Witness I had always thought that we basically invented everything that was good about serving Jehovah. I really did, and of course the Daily Text is such a valuable commodity among Jehovah’s Witnesses I always took it for granted that there was no other thing like it anywhere outside of the organization .
Having only been raised with the religious background of being a JW, (my father was spiritual but not a church-goer) and never ever going to another church, never hearing a sermon from another Christian minister, how else could I or would I know any different? When a person is immersed in the JW culture and experience it from their infancy on, we have no other frame of reference.
It wasn’t until the last few years that I started using the excellent Bible study program E-Sword that I saw they had a category for downloading and then viewing, “daily devotionals”. What‘s that? I wondered when I first saw it. I had heard the word “devotional” and knew it to be some kind of term Christendom used, but up until that time that was all I knew.
Well lo and behold it turns out that I had been taught to use a “daily devotional” my whole life, and that myself and all the other Witnesses have used one every day called “Examining the Scriptures Daily” for their entire lives! In fact, the early Bible Students used a book called Daily Heavenly Manna for the Household of Faith in a similar way. So the custom of Christians reading a daily devotional has been around for hundreds of years apparently. Charles Spurgeon wrote a daily devotional more than 100 years ago and preached to over 10,000,000 people in his ministry and authored dozens of Christian publications that witness about God and Christ, so this is more evidence that it is not a Watchtower invention.
A few months ago I came across a little booklet that had several months of daily devotionals in it and is called “Our Daily Bread”. I did some research and found out that it has been published continuously since 1956 and can be read in over 40 languages, as well as listened to via the internet and on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices as well. Here was another devotional, complete with a theme-scripture and a corresponding message that accompanies it. Was there really that much difference? Well both encourage their readers to study and read God’s Word. Both contain scripture passages as well as comments from a variety of authors…
So to change the subject just a little, I have been following (as many of us Strugglers have) the so-called “new light” given at the Annual Meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses just this last month of October, 2012. Briefly put, the Governing Body now declare that they alone are the “faithful slave” of Matthew 24:45-47. They further postulate that this group of which they are the exclusive members of has only existed since 1919 and not since the first century as had been taught for the past 100+ years by the Watchtower Magazine and its leadership. They recently announced it online at JW.org so it is now official WT teaching and must be followed and believed by all Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It turns out Watchtower’s Governing Body was wrong about who it was the spokesman for! That’s right. Though one would think it impossible not to know who you’re a spokesman for, it turned out not to be so impossible for the Watchtower organization to get this fundamental matter of fact just plain-old dead-flat wrong. As of now, Watchtower’s Governing Body realizes the whole time it has been no more than a spokesman for itself. Yet, until now this leadership was apparently confused about who it was listening to and speaking for. The whole time Watchtower’s top leadership has only been listening to and speaking for itself! And, we have this confession right from the source itself.
Well now we loop back to a devotional in the Daily Bread I read recently that seemed so appropriate. Please read it with this massive policy change of the Watchtower leadership in mind: (You can click on the link here to listen to it, or simply read it below.)
“No More; No Less”
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. —2 Timothy 2:15
Recently I was reading about how easy it is to mishandle the message of the Bible. We may try to make it support what we already believe is true instead of allowing it to speak to us with God’s intended message. Some people use the Bible to defend one side of an issue, while others use the Bible to attack that same issue. Both quote Scripture to support their views, but both can’t be right.
It is important as we use God’s Word that we are committed to saying no more and no less than the Scriptures actually say. If we mishandle the Word, we misrepresent it, which ultimately misrepresents God’s character. This is why Paul challenged Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). A key priority for unashamed, approved workers for Christ is to accurately interpret (“rightly divide”) God’s Word. As we study, we can depend on the Spirit, who inspired it, to give us understanding and wisdom.
Through our words and actions, we have opportunity to represent God’s Word in ways that genuinely reflect God’s heart. That is one of the greatest privileges of the Christian life.
Father, thank You for giving us Your Word to guide
our lives. May we give it the serious care and
handling it so richly deserves, and may we live it
out daily through our actions and attitudes. Amen.
God’s Word— handle with care.
So now we turn our thoughts back to the “new light” from the eight men of the Watchtower Governing Body in upstate New York. With our minds armed with the scripture in 2 Timothy 2:15 as well as the reasoning contained in the Our Daily Bread article above, we can see that any small group claiming to be the exclusive, singular, “faithful slave” of Matthew 24 is presumptuous at best, egomaniacal at worst. Something is seriously wrong with the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Daily Text gives Witnesses a daily dose of WT indoctrination. To many of us, this latest large doctrinal shift highlights yet another crack in the foundation stones of the Watchtower religion. And it teaches us that daily devotionals CAN be a good thing…
—————— NOTES ———————
RBC Ministries publishes Our Daily Bread, along with other Christian literature and is a wonderful, completely free resource that we can tap into. Their main website is Rbc.org, and the site ODB.org is the site exclusively setup for Our Daily Bread. You can subscribe to it here: http://odb.org/subscriptions/
Below is some more information about this ministry taken directly from their website:
Help spread the word by sharing Our Daily Bread with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or by email. Since it was first published in 1956, Our Daily Bread has become the resource for which RBC Ministries is best known. The daily devotional thoughts published in Our Daily Bread help readers spend time each day in God’s Word.
Our Daily Bread is published and distributed worldwide in more than 40 languages by RBC Ministries offices around the globe. RBC Ministries also produces a variety of other Bible resources, which are available for the asking. RBC Ministries is not funded or endowed by any group or denomination, many people, making even the smallest of donations, enable RBC Ministries to reach others with the life-changing wisdom of the Bible.
Our Daily Bread radio is a daily audio program that features insights from the pages of Our Daily Bread. Each daily thought is designed to draw the listener into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and to evoke responses of worship, love, trust and obedience.
Their Mission and Vision:
Our mission is to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all.
Our vision is to see people of all nations experiencing a personal relationship with Christ, growing to be more like Him, and serving in a local body of His family.
As another example, only in the last few years did I realize that all the primary scriptures that we learn and use at the Kingdom Hall (See article on What’s Your Favorite Scripture?)
are the same ones that nearly all of the Christian denominations use as well. Ones like Hebrews 10:24-25, John 4:24, 1 Peter 5:9, Philippians 2:5-9, Matthew 24:3, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Luke 22:19, 2 Timothy 3:16- 17, Galatians 5:19-22, Psalms 55:22, etc., etc., etc.