God’s will is that you come to know him as a Person, draw close to him, and then love and serve him with your whole heart. (Matthew 22:37, 38; James 4:8) You can learn how to do God’s will from the life and teachings of Jesus. (John 7:16, 17) Jesus didn’t just talk about the will of God—he lived it. In fact, Jesus said that his purpose in life was “to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.”—John 6:38.
Do I need a special sign, vision, or calling to know what the will of God is for me?
No, because the Bible contains God’s message to mankind. It has what you need to be “completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) God wants you to use the Bible along with your “power of reason” to learn his will for you.—Romans 12:1, 2; Ephesians 5:17.
Can I really do God’s will?
Yes, you can, for the Bible says: “God’s commands are not too hard for us.” (1 John 5:3, Easy-to-Read Version) That’s not to say that obeying God’s commands is always easy. But the benefits you will gain far outweigh the effort you must put forth. Jesus himself said: “How happy are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”—Luke 11:28, Good News Translation.
The Bible does not give the date of Jesus’ birth, nor does it say that we should celebrate his birthday. As McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia states: “The observance of Christmas is not of divine appointment, nor is it of NT [New Testament] origin.”
Instead, an examination of the history of Christmas exposes its roots in pagan religious rites. The Bible shows that we offend God if we try to worship him in a way that he does not approve of.—Exodus 32:5-7.
History of Christmas customs
Celebrating Jesus’ birthday: “The early Christians did not celebrate [Jesus’] birth because they considered the celebration of anyone’s birth to be a pagan custom.”—The World Book Encyclopedia.
December 25: There is no proof that Jesus was born on that date. Church leaders likely chose this date to coincide with pagan festivals held on or around the winter solstice.
Gift-giving, feasting, partying: The Encyclopedia Americana says: “Saturnalia, a Roman feast celebrated in mid-December, provided the model for many of the merry-making customs of Christmas. From this celebration, for example, were derived the elaborate feasting, the giving of gifts, and the burning of candles.” The Encyclopædia Britannica notes that “all work and business were suspended” during Saturnalia.
Christmas lights: According to The Encyclopedia of Religion, Europeans decorated their homes “with lights and evergreens of all kinds” to celebrate the winter solstice and to combat evil spirits.
Mistletoe, holly: “The Druids ascribed magical properties to the mistletoe in particular. The evergreen holly was worshiped as a promise of the sun’s return.”—The Encyclopedia Americana.
Christmas tree: “Tree worship, common among the pagan Europeans, survived after their conversion to Christianity.” One of the ways in which tree worship survived is in the custom of “placing a Yule tree at an entrance or inside the house in the midwinter holidays.”—Encyclopædia Britannica.
In view of the increase in both the frequency and the destructiveness of natural disasters, what can a person do to cope? Let us take a look at several practical steps that can be taken
Keep out of the path of calamity.
“Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself, but the inexperienced have passed along and must suffer the penalty,” says the Bible. (Proverbs 22:3) This is wise counsel that can apply to disasters. If a warning is given about an impending volcanic eruption, probable flooding, or an approaching hurricane or typhoon, wisdom dictates that those in the affected area evacuate and get to safer ground. Life is more valuable than a house or other material things.
For some, it might be possible to choose not to live in an area of high risk. One authority says: “Disaster risk is geographically highly concentrated. A very small portion of the Earth’s surface contains most of the risk and most future large-scale disasters will occur in these areas.” This may be true, for example, in low-lying coastal regions or in areas near fault lines in the earth. If you can avoid living in such high-risk areas or can move to a safer location, you may greatly reduce your risk of suffering from disasters.
Have a plan of action.
In spite of all precautions taken, you may still find yourself a victim of an unexpected tragedy. Coping with it will be much easier if you have planned in advance. This is also in harmony with the advice at Proverbs 22:3, quoted earlier. Do you have an emergency kit prepared and ready to go? The publication 1-2-3 of Disaster Education recommends including the following items: First-aid supplies, bottled water, nonperishable food, and important documents. It would also be wise to review with your family the types of disasters that could take place and what could be done in each case.
Maintain a close relationship with God.
This can help in any circumstance. The Bible speaks of God as “the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation.” Another verse describes him as the God “who comforts those laid low.”—2 Corinthians 1:3, 4; 7:6.
Yes, God is keenly aware of the circumstances coming upon those who put faith in him. He is a God of love and provides uplifting encouragement in various ways. (1 John 4:8) Prayers, not for miracles but for God’s powerful holy spirit, can provide help in any situation. The holy spirit can bring to mind Bible passages that can be comforting and soothing to those experiencing adversities. Truly, God’s faithful servants can feel as did David, a king of ancient Israel, who said: “Even though I walk in the valley of deep shadow, I fear nothing bad, for you are with me; your rod and your staff are the things that comfort me.”—Psalm 23:4.
Prayer, not for miracles but for powerful holy spirit, can provide help in any situation
Fellow Christians help one another.
In the first century, a Christian prophet named Agabus indicated that “a great famine was about to come upon the entire inhabited earth; which, for that matter, did take place in the time of Claudius.” The famine severely affected many of Jesus’ disciples in Judea. What did the disciples elsewhere do when they heard of their fellow Christians’ plight? The account states: “Those of the disciples determined, each of them according as anyone could afford it, to send a relief ministration to the brothers dwelling in Judea.” (Acts 11:28, 29) They lovingly responded by providing relief supplies.
When severe calamities occur today, God’s servants respond similarly. Jehovah’s Witnesses are well-known for helping fellow believers. For example, when a strong earthquake struck Chile on February 27, 2010, Jehovah’s Witnesses quickly responded to help those affected. Karla, whose home was swept away by a tsunami, related: “It was comforting and encouraging to see that the very next day [fellow Witnesses] arrived from other areas to help us. Without a doubt, Jehovah comforted us through the goodness of those volunteers. I felt loved and protected.” Her grandfather, who is not a Witness, observed the help being given. He said: “This is completely different from what I have seen for years in my church.” What he saw moved him to ask Jehovah’s Witnesses to study the Bible with him.
Fellow Christians help one another to deal with the effects of disasters
Being in association with those who love God can be a great aid during times of adversity. Even so, will there ever be a time when the earth will be rid of the curse of disasters? Let us see what the Bible has to say on this subject.
God has just one personal name. It is written יהוה in Hebrew and is usually rendered “Jehovah” in English.* Through his prophet Isaiah, God stated: “I am Jehovah. That is my name.” (Isaiah 42:8) This name appears about 7,000 times in ancient Bible manuscripts—far more frequently than any other term for God or, indeed, anyone else’s personal name.*
Are there other names for God?
Although the Bible refers to God by only one personal name, it uses many titles and descriptions for him. The following list of some of those titles and descriptions shows how each one reveals an aspect of Jehovah’s nature or his personality.
Derived from Arabic, the word “Allah” is not a personal name but a title meaning “God.” Bible translations in Arabic and other languages use “Allah” as an equivalent for “God.”
“The first and the last,” or “the beginning and the end,” meaning that there was no Almighty God before Jehovah and there will be none after him. (Isaiah 43:10) Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.
Becomes whatever is needed to fulfill his purpose. This phrase has also been translated “I Will Become whatsoever I please” or “I Will Become What I Choose to Become.” (The Emphasised Bible, by J. B. Rotherham; New World Translation) This description helps to explain the personal name, Jehovah, given in the next verse.—Exodus 3:15.
God must feel that his personal name, Jehovah, is important, because he included it thousands of times in the Bible.—Malachi 1:11.
God’s Son, Jesus, repeatedly stressed the importance of God’s name. For instance, he prayed to Jehovah: “Let your name be sanctified.”—Matthew 6:9; John 17:6.
Those who come to know and use God’s name take the first steps in building a friendship with Jehovah. (Psalm 9:10; Malachi 3:16) Such a relationship enables them to benefit from God’s promise: “Because he has affection for me, I will rescue him. I will protect him because he knows my name.”—Psalm 91:14.
The Bible acknowledges: “There are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords.’” (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6) Yet it clearly identifies the one true God by his name, Jehovah.—Psalm 83:18.