They asked him to display to them a sign from heaven.—Matt. 16:1.
Some in Jesus’ day were not satisfied with his amazing teachings. They wanted more. But when he refused to give them the sign they were seeking, they were stumbled. (Matt. 16:4) What do the Scriptures say? Of the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah wrote: “He will not cry out or raise his voice, and he will not make his voice heard in the street.” (Isa. 42:1, 2) Jesus went about his ministry in a quiet and modest way. He did not build impressive temples, and he did not wear distinctive religious garments or demand to be addressed by pretentious religious titles. When he was on trial for his life, Jesus refused to try to impress King Herod by performing a sign for him. (Luke 23:8-11) Jesus did perform some miracles, but his main focus was on preaching the good news. “This is why I have come,” he told his disciples.—Mark 1:38. w21.05 4 ¶9-10
This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.—John 17:3.
We are looking for those who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life.” (Acts 13:48) To assist those individuals in becoming disciples, we must help them to (1) understand, (2) accept, and (3) put into practice the things they learn from the Bible. (Col. 2:6, 7; 1 Thess. 2:13) All in the congregation can help Bible students by setting an example in showing these new ones love and in making them feel welcome when they attend meetings. (John 13:35) The one conducting the study may also have to spend much time and energy helping a student overturn “strongly entrenched” beliefs or practices. (2 Cor. 10:4, 5) It may take many months to guide an individual through these steps so that he eventually reaches the goal of baptism. But it is well worth the effort. w21.07 3 ¶6
Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine.—1 Thess. 5:21.
Are we strongly convinced in our own mind that what we are teaching is the truth and that the pattern of worship that Jehovah’s Witnesses are following today is the one that is acceptable to Jehovah? The apostle Paul was strongly convinced of the truth. (1 Thess. 1:5) That conviction was not based on emotion. Paul was a diligent student of God’s Word. He believed that “all Scripture is inspired of God.” (2 Tim. 3:16) What did his studies reveal? In the Scriptures, Paul found undeniable proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah—evidence that the Jewish religious leaders chose to ignore. Those religious hypocrites claimed to represent God but denied him by their works. (Titus 1:16) Unlike them, Paul did not pick and choose which parts of God’s Word he would believe. He was ready to teach and apply “all the counsel of God.”—Acts 20:27. w21.10 18 ¶1-2
No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.—John 6:44.
As we plant and water, we must recognize the role that God plays. (1 Cor. 3:6, 7) Jehovah views all human life as precious. He gives us the privilege of working along with his Son in gathering people from all nations before the end of this system comes. (Hag. 2:7) Our preaching work could be likened to a rescue mission. And we are like members of a rescue team sent to free people trapped in a mine. Although only a few miners may be found alive, the work done by all the rescuers is valuable. The same is true of the work we do in our ministry. We do not know how many people will yet be rescued from Satan’s system. But Jehovah can use any one of us to help them. Andreas, who lives in Bolivia, says, “I see each person who learns Bible truths and gets baptized as the result of a group effort.” May we maintain a similar positive attitude toward our ministry. If we do, Jehovah will bless us, and our ministry will be a real source of joy. w21.05 19 ¶19-20
Escape from the snare of the Devil.—2 Tim. 2:26.
A hunter has but one goal—that of capturing or killing his prey. He may use a variety of snares or traps, even as noted by one of Job’s false comforters. (Job 18:8-10) How might a hunter lure an animal into his snare? He studies the animal. Where does it go? What is it interested in? What will catch it by surprise? Satan is like that hunter. He studies us. He notices where we go and what we are interested in. Then he sets a snare that he hopes will catch us unawares. Still, the Bible assures us that if we are caught, we may be able to escape. It also teaches us how to avoid those snares altogether. Two of Satan’s most effective snares are pride and greed. For thousands of years, Satan has successfully used these undesirable traits. He is like a birdcatcher who lures his prey into a trap or who ensnares it in a net. (Ps. 91:3) But we do not have to be caught by Satan. Why not? Because Jehovah has revealed to us the tactics that Satan uses.—2 Cor. 2:11. w21.06 14 ¶1-2
Gray hair is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness.—Prov. 16:31.
Faithful older ones are precious treasures. God’s Word likens the gray hair of such ones to a crown. (Prov. 20:29) These treasures, though, can easily be overlooked. Younger ones who recognize the value of older ones can gain something more beneficial than literal riches. Faithful older ones are precious to Jehovah God. He sees them for who they really are on the inside, and he knows and values their wonderful qualities. He appreciates it when older ones pass on to younger ones the wisdom they have gained during a lifetime of faithful service. (Job 12:12; Prov. 1:1-4) Jehovah also treasures their endurance. (Mal. 3:16) Their lives have not been trouble free; yet, their faith in Jehovah has never wavered. Their hope for the future is brighter than it was when they first learned the truth. And Jehovah loves them because they continue to declare his name “even in old age.”—Ps. 92:12-15. w21.09 2 ¶2-3
Let each one examine his own actions, and then he will have cause for rejoicing in regard to himself alone.—Gal. 6:4.
From time to time, it is a good idea to examine our motives. We might ask ourselves: ‘Do I measure my worth by comparing myself with others? Am I motivated by a desire to view myself as the best at whatever I do or at least to see myself as better than a particular brother or sister? Or do I simply want to give my very best to Jehovah?’ The Bible urges us to avoid comparing ourselves with others. Why? On the one hand, if we think we are doing better than our brother, we may become prideful. On the other hand, if we compare ourselves unfavorably with others, we will likely get discouraged. (Rom. 12:3) We must remember that Jehovah drew us to him, not because we are beautiful, articulate, or popular, but because we are willing to love him and to listen to his Son.—John 6:44; 1 Cor. 1:26-31. w21.07 14-15 ¶3-4
You should continue to be made new in your dominant mental attitude.—Eph. 4:23.
To make our mind over, of course, we need to pray, study God’s Word, and meditate. Apply yourself to these things, and look to Jehovah for strength. His holy spirit will help you to overcome any tendency to compare yourself with others. Jehovah will also help you to recognize and quickly root out envy or undue pride if these undesirable feelings spring up in your heart. (2 Chron. 6:29, 30) Jehovah knows our heart. He also knows our struggles—our fight against the spirit of the world and against our own imperfections. As Jehovah sees how hard we are fighting against such negative influences, his love for us grows. To illustrate how he feels about us, Jehovah uses the bond between a mother and her baby. (Isa. 49:15) How comforting it is to know that Jehovah feels that type of deep love for us when he sees us fighting to serve him whole-souled! w21.07 24-25 ¶17-19
Rejoice with those who rejoice.—Rom. 12:15.
We can increase our joy by becoming absorbed in whatever we are given to do in Jehovah’s service. Be “intensely occupied” in the preaching work, and be fully involved in congregation activities. (Acts 18:5; Heb. 10:24, 25) Go to the meetings prepared to give upbuilding comments on the material that is being studied. Take seriously any student assignments you have on the midweek meeting. If you are asked to help out with a certain task in the congregation, be punctual and reliable. Do not treat any assignment you are given as if it were unworthy of your time. Strive to improve your skills. (Prov. 22:29) The more absorbed you are in your spiritual activities and assignments, the quicker you will progress and the greater your joy will be. (Gal. 6:4) You will also find it easier to rejoice with others when they receive a privilege that you would have liked to receive.—Gal. 5:26. w21.08 22 ¶11
The wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, not hypocritical.—Jas. 3:17.
We must avoid pride and remain teachable. Just as disease can harden the arteries of a literal heart and restrict its ability to beat, pride can harden our figurative heart and prevent us from responding to Jehovah’s direction. The Pharisees allowed their heart to become so hard that they refused to recognize the clear evidence being presented to them by God’s spirit. (John 12:37-40) That was a dangerous course because it affected their everlasting future. (Matt. 23:13, 33) How important it is that we continue to allow God’s Word and spirit to mold our personality and influence our thinking and our decisions! Because James was humble, he allowed himself to be taught by Jehovah. And it was because of his humility that he became a skillful teacher. w22.01 10 ¶7
Keep on asking.—Matt. 7:7.
When we “persevere in prayer,” we can be confident that our heavenly Father hears us. (Col. 4:2) Although an answer may seem to be delayed, Jehovah promises to answer our prayer “at the right time.” (Heb. 4:16) That is why we must never blame Jehovah if something does not happen as quickly as we think it should. For example, many have been praying for years to see God’s Kingdom bring an end to this system of things. Jesus even said that we should pray for this. (Matt. 6:10) But how foolish it would be if someone allowed his faith in God to weaken because the end did not come when humans expected it! (Hab. 2:3; Matt. 24:44) We are wise to keep waiting on Jehovah and praying to him in faith. The end will come at exactly the right time, for Jehovah has already chosen the “day and hour” for it to arrive. And that day will prove to be the best time for all.—Matt. 24:36; 2 Pet. 3:15. w21.08 10 ¶10-11
With humility consider others superior to you.—Phil. 2:3.
Humble older ones recognize that as they age, they cannot do as much as they once did. Consider, for example, our circuit overseers. When they reach 70 years of age, they are invited to take up a different assignment. That may be a challenge. They cherished the privilege of serving their brothers. But they understand that younger hands are needed to care for the work. They thus show an attitude similar to that of the Levites in ancient Israel who, at the age of 50, were required to discontinue their service at the tabernacle. The joy of those older Levites was not tied to a particular privilege. They took full advantage of the privileges that were available to them, doing all they could to assist the younger ones. (Num. 8:25, 26) Today, former circuit overseers, although no longer serving a number of congregations, are proving to be a real blessing to their congregations. w21.09 8-9 ¶3-4
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy of being called your son.—Luke 15:21.
Jesus told a heartwarming story about a wayward son, recorded at Luke 15:11-32. A young man rebelled against his father, left home, and traveled “to a distant country.” There he led an immoral, debauched life. When hard times struck, though, he did some serious thinking. He realized how much better off he had been while in his father’s house. As Jesus put it, the young man “came to his senses.” He resolved to go back home and seek his father’s forgiveness. The moment when the son realized how far he had fallen was important. He had to take action! The lost son demonstrated sincere repentance for what he had done. This parable is not just a heartwarming story. The principles it teaches can help congregation elders to discern whether a fellow believer has repented of his serious wrongdoing. w21.10 5 ¶14-15
I will shake the heavens and the earth.—Hag. 2:6.
What will not be shaken, or removed? The apostle Paul wrote: “Seeing that we are to receive a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us continue to . . . offer God sacred service with godly fear and awe.” (Heb. 12:28) Yes, when the dust settles after this final great shaking, only God’s Kingdom will remain unshaken. (Ps. 110:5, 6; Dan. 2:44) There is no time to waste! People must choose: Will they continue to support the way of life promoted by this world, leading to destruction, or will they work to bring their life into harmony with God’s will, leading to everlasting life? (Heb. 12:25) By our preaching work, we can help people decide what position they will take on this important issue. And may we keep in mind the words of our Lord Jesus: “This good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”—Matt. 24:14. w21.09 19 ¶18-20
I will never leave you, and I will never abandon you.—Heb. 13:5.
Elders, you have a special responsibility to console fellow worshippers whose loved ones have left Jehovah. (1 Thess. 5:14) Take the initiative to encourage them before and after Christian meetings. Visit them and pray for them. Work with them in the ministry, or at times invite them to join you for family worship. Spiritual shepherds need to show Jehovah’s grieving sheep the compassion, love, and attention they need. (1 Thess. 2:7, 8) Jehovah “does not desire anyone to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) Although a person may commit a serious sin, his life is still precious to God. Think of the high price Jehovah has paid—the ransom sacrifice of his own beloved Son—for the lives of sinners. Jehovah compassionately reaches out to help such ones return to him. He hopes they will choose to do so, as we can see from Jesus’ illustration of the lost son.—Luke 15:11-32. w21.09 30-31 ¶17-19
You have entered into the benefit of their labor.—John 4:38.
What if your share in preaching and teaching the good news is limited by your failing health? You can still find joy in your role in the harvest. Consider the experience of King David when he and his men rescued their families and belongings from marauding Amalekites. Two hundred of the men were too exhausted to fight, so they stayed behind to guard the baggage. After the battle was won, David ordered that the spoil be shared equally by all of them. (1 Sam. 30:21-25) It is similar with our worldwide disciple-making work. Everyone who does his best can share equally in the joy over each new one who is helped to start on the road to life. Jehovah notices our diligence and good motives, and he rewards us. He also teaches us how to find joy in the part we play in the great harvest. (John 14:12) We can be assured of God’s approval as long as we do not give up! w21.10 28 ¶15-17
The glory of young men is their strength.—Prov. 20:29.
As we grow older, we may be afraid that we are not going to be as useful to Jehovah as we once were. While it may be true that we have less energy than before, we can use the wisdom and experience we have acquired to help younger ones reach their full potential and take on new responsibilities. Older ones must be humble if they want to help younger ones. A humble person views others as being superior to him. (Phil. 2:3, 4) Older ones who show this quality realize that in many cases there is more than one Scriptural and effective way to carry out an assignment. Thus, they have a realistic view of the way they did things in the past. (Eccl. 7:10) While they have much valuable experience to share with the younger generation, they realize that “the scene of this world is changing” and that it may be necessary for them to adapt to new circumstances.—1 Cor. 7:31. w21.09 8 ¶1, 3
Who among the gods is like you, O Jehovah? Who is like you, showing yourself mighty in holiness?—Ex. 15:11.
Jehovah would never require his worshippers to do anything that would degrade them. He is the essence of holiness. This was made clear by the inscription found on a gold plate on the turban of the high priest. Engraved on this plate was the statement: “Holiness belongs to Jehovah.” (Ex. 28:36-38) The message on that plate would assure anyone seeing it that Jehovah is truly holy. What, though, of an Israelite who was not able to see the plate because he could not approach the high priest? Would he miss this vital message? No! Every Israelite heard that message as the Law was read before men, women, and children. (Deut. 31:9-12) If you had been present, you would have heard these statements: “I am Jehovah your God, and you must . . . be holy, because I am holy.” “You must be holy to me, because I, Jehovah, am holy.”—Lev. 11:44, 45; 20:7, 26. w21.12 3 ¶6-7
Stop being in anxious suspense.—Luke 12:29.
Some may be anxious about their material needs. They may live in a country with poor economic conditions. It may be difficult for them to earn enough money to care for their family. Or the breadwinner in the family may have died, leaving the rest of the family without financial support. We will benefit from replacing anxiety with confidence. Remember that Jehovah guarantees that he will care for our material needs if we put spiritual things first. (Matt. 6:32, 33) He has a perfect record of fulfilling that promise. (Deut. 8:4, 15, 16; Ps. 37:25) If Jehovah provides for the birds and the flowers, surely we do not have to be anxious about what we will eat or wear! (Matt. 6:26-30; Phil. 4:6, 7) Just as love impels caring parents to provide materially for their children, love motivates our heavenly Father to care for the material needs of his people. w21.12 17 ¶4-5; 18 ¶8
Jehovah continued with Joseph and kept showing loyal love to him.—Gen. 39:21.
Have you ever been severely wronged by someone, even by a fellow worshipper? Note the example of Joseph who suffered injustice at the hands of his own brothers. He remained focused on his service to Jehovah, who richly rewarded him for his patient endurance. Over time, Joseph was able to look past the hurt he had experienced and see how Jehovah had blessed him. (Gen. 45:5) Like Joseph, we are comforted when we draw close to Jehovah and leave justice in his hands. (Ps. 7:17; 73:28) If you are enduring an injustice or some other cause for hurt, remember that Jehovah draws close to “the brokenhearted.” (Ps. 34:18) He loves you for your patience and for throwing your burden on him. (Ps. 55:22) He is the Judge of all the earth. Nothing escapes his notice. (1 Pet. 3:12) When you are undergoing difficulties that you cannot resolve, are you willing to wait on him? w21.08 11 ¶14; 12 ¶16
Keep perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.—Eph. 5:17.
It would be wise on our part to use our life in a way that will endear us to Jehovah. We must set proper priorities. Sometimes, making the best use of our time involves choosing between two activities that are not wrong in themselves. The well-known account about Jesus’ visit to the home of Mary and Martha illustrates the point. No doubt thrilled to receive Jesus as her guest, hospitable Martha set about preparing an elaborate meal. Meanwhile, her sister, Mary, took advantage of the visit to sit close to her Lord and listen to his teaching. While Martha was certainly motivated by the best of intentions, Mary “chose the best portion.” (Luke 10:38-42, ftn.) In time, Mary may have forgotten what food was served on that occasion, but we can be sure that she never forgot what she learned from Jesus. Just as Mary cherished that limited time with Jesus, we cherish our time with Jehovah. w22.01 27 ¶5-6
Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself on my account?—1 Ki. 21:29.
Although Ahab humbled himself before Jehovah, his later conduct showed that he was not truly repentant. He did not try to remove Baal worship from his kingdom. And he did not promote the worship of Jehovah. After Ahab died, Jehovah revealed how he viewed that man. God’s prophet Jehu said he was “wicked.” (2 Chron. 19:1, 2) Now consider: If Ahab’s repentance had been genuine, surely the prophet would not have described him as a wicked man who hated Jehovah. Clearly, although Ahab had shown a degree of regret, he never fully repented. What can we learn from Ahab’s example? When he heard Elijah’s message of calamity against his family line, Ahab initially humbled himself. That was a good start. But his later actions showed that he was not repentant at heart. Repentance, then, must involve more than temporarily expressing sorrow. w21.10 3 ¶4-5, 7-8
This good news of the Kingdom will be preached.—Matt. 24:14.
Isaiah was a prophet, and it may well be that his wife had her own prophetic assignments, since she is called “the prophetess.” (Isa. 8:1-4) As a couple, Isaiah and his wife were evidently focused on their worship of Jehovah. Married couples today can also build their life around serving Jehovah by doing all they can in his service. They can reinforce their trust in Jehovah by studying Bible prophecy together and seeing how it always comes true. (Titus 1:2) They can reflect on the share they can have in the fulfillment of certain Bible prophecies. For example, they can have a part in fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy that the good news will be preached in all the earth before the end comes. The more a couple are certain that Bible prophecy is coming true, the greater will be their determination to do as much as possible for Jehovah. w21.11 16 ¶9-10
He said to the disciple: “See! Your mother!”—John 19:27.
Jesus was concerned about his mother, who was likely a widow. Moved by love and concern for Mary, Jesus entrusted her care to John, knowing that he would care for her spiritual welfare. From that day on, John became like a son to Mary and cared for her as if she were his mother. What love Jesus showed to the precious woman who had tenderly cared for him at his birth and was standing near him at his death! What can we learn from Jesus’ words? Our bond with our Christian brothers and sisters can be stronger than our ties to immediate family members. Our relatives may oppose us or even abandon us, but as Jesus promised, by sticking to Jehovah and His organization, we will “get 100 times more” than we have lost. Many will become to us like a loving son, daughter, mother, or father. (Mark 10:29, 30) How do you feel about being part of a spiritual family who are united by faith and love—love for Jehovah and for one another?—Col. 3:14; 1 Pet. 2:17. w21.04 9-11 ¶7-8
Do not forget to do good and to share what you have with others.—Heb. 13:16.
Loyal love goes beyond what is expected. Today, as in the past, many of our brothers and sisters have chosen to show loyal love for fellow believers, even to those whom they do not know personally. For example, when they learn that a natural disaster has occurred, they immediately want to know how they can help. When someone in the congregation falls on hard times, they do not hesitate to reach out to that person and help in practical ways. Like the first-century Macedonians, they do more than what is expected. They make personal sacrifices, giving “even beyond their means” in order to help their less fortunate brothers. (2 Cor. 8:3) Observant elders today gratefully acknowledge the help that loving brothers and sisters provide. Timely and warm commendation will give the brothers and sisters the strength they need to carry on.—Isa. 32:1, 2. w21.11 11 ¶14; 12 ¶21
Incline your ear and listen to the words of the wise.—Prov. 22:17.
All of us need counsel from time to time. In some cases, we may take the initiative to ask someone we respect for advice. In other cases, a concerned brother may approach us and point out that we are about to take “a false step”—one that we will regret. (Gal. 6:1) Finally, counsel may come to us in the form of correction after we have made a serious mistake. Whatever form it takes, we should listen to counsel. Doing so is good for us and could save our life! (Prov. 6:23) Our day’s text encourages us to “listen to the words of the wise.” No human knows everything; there is always someone who has greater knowledge or experience than we do. (Prov. 12:15) So listening to counsel is a sign of humility. It indicates that we are aware of our limitations; we realize that we need help to reach our goals. Wise King Solomon wrote: “There is accomplishment through many advisers [or “counselors,” ftn.].”—Prov. 15:22. w22.02 8 ¶1-2
The one covering over his transgressions will not succeed, but whoever confesses and abandons them will be shown mercy.—Prov. 28:13.
True repentance involves more than saying we are sorry that we have pursued a sinful course. It also involves a genuine change of mind and heart. This includes abandoning a wrong course and turning around to walk in Jehovah’s ways again. (Ezek. 33:14-16) A sinner’s primary concern should be to repair his damaged relationship with Jehovah. What should we do if we learn that a close friend of ours has committed a serious sin? We would only harm our friend by trying to cover up his sin. Such efforts never succeed anyway because Jehovah is watching. (Prov. 5:21, 22) You can help your friend by reminding him that the elders want to help. If your friend refuses to confess to the elders, you should inform the elders about the matter, thereby showing that you truly want to help him. w21.10 7 ¶19-21
Look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.—Phil. 2:4.
All of us can learn to imitate Jesus’ self-sacrificing spirit. The Bible says that he “took a slave’s form.” (Phil. 2:7) A valued slave, or servant, would look for opportunities to please his master. As a slave of Jehovah and a servant to your brothers, no doubt you desire to become even more useful to Jehovah and to your fellow believers. Ask yourself: ‘How willing am I to make personal sacrifices to help others? Am I quick to offer my help when there is a need for volunteers to clean a convention site or to maintain the Kingdom Hall?’ Suppose you discern that you need to improve in some aspect, but you lack the motivation to make the necessary changes. In that case, turn to Jehovah in earnest prayer. Tell Jehovah how you feel, and ask him to give you “both the desire and the power to act.”—Phil. 2:13. w22.02 22-23 ¶9-11
I will refresh you.—Matt. 11:28.
Jesus showed kindness by being gentle and yielding, even under difficult circumstances. (Matt. 11:29, 30) For instance, when a Phoenician woman begged him to heal her child, he declined her request at first, but when she showed great faith, he kindly healed her child. (Matt. 15:22-28) Although he was kind, Jesus was not overly sentimental. Sometimes he showed kindness by being firm with those he loved. For instance, when Peter tried to discourage Jesus from doing Jehovah’s will, Jesus rebuked him in front of the other disciples. (Mark 8:32, 33) He did this, not to humiliate Peter, but to train him and to warn the other disciples not to be presumptuous. No doubt Peter felt some embarrassment, but he benefited from the discipline. To be genuinely kind to those you love, at times you may have to speak frankly to them. When you do so, imitate Jesus by basing your counsel on principles found in God’s Word. w22.03 11 ¶12-13
Let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that make public declaration to his name.—Heb. 13:15.
We worship Jehovah when we praise him. (Ps. 34:1) We praise Jehovah by speaking appreciatively of his marvelous qualities and his works. Praise springs from a grateful heart. By taking the time to meditate on Jehovah’s goodness—on all the things he has done for us—we will never run out of reasons to praise him. The preaching work gives us an especially fine opportunity to “offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips.” Just as we should give careful thought to what we are going to say before approaching Jehovah in prayer, we do well to think carefully about what we will say to those we come in contact with in our ministry. We want our “sacrifice of praise” to be our very best. We speak from our heart when we share the truth with others. w22.03 21 ¶8