“Among the Congregated Throngs I Shall Bless Jehovah”
1. (a) Who are the congregated throngs among whom David said, “I shall bless Jehovah,” and why could he say this? (b) What should be our heartfelt desire?
DAVID was expressing his heartfelt desire when he said: “Among the congregated throngs I shall bless Jehovah.” (Ps. 26:12) David clearly identified the congregated throngs as worshipers of Jehovah God, for he said: “For I have not sat with men of untruth; and with those who hide what they are I do not come in. I have hated the congregation of evildoers, and with the wicked ones I do not sit.” (Ps. 26:4, 5) Is our heartfelt desire the same as David’s? If so, then among the congregated throngs we will bless Jehovah, which means faithfully sharing in the congregational meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses each week at the Kingdom Hall as well as attending the circuit and district, national or international assemblies each year.
2. What are some of the reasons why we should regularly assemble with Jehovah’s people?
2 But why should we assemble with Jehovah’s people? What benefits do we get? How many strong Scriptural reasons can we think of for our being in attendance at every congregational meeting each week, whether in a private home or at the Kingdom Hall? Well, let us consider some of these reasons so we can appreciate the importance of our assembling together. Our meeting together is part of our worship, it is commanded in the Scriptures, and we are trained at meetings to offer an acceptable sacrifice of praise. Also, we prove that we are Christ’s disciples, and Jehovah’s spirit is present at the meetings. We are upbuilt by our Christian associates and we, in turn, upbuild them. Congregational meetings are a source of rich spiritual food and also a haven of peace.
3, 4. (a) What Scriptural basis do we have for meeting together, and with what purpose in mind? (b) Why is it more essential now that we assemble together than ever before?
3 Assembling together as a congregation is an essential part of our worship. This is not new. It has always been this way with Christians. The book of Acts reveals how togetherness was an important part of worship for the early Christians. We are told: “And day after day they were in constant attendance at the temple with one accord . . . praising God and finding favor with all the people.” (Acts 2:46, 47) Following the pattern of the early Christians, then, we must also gather together to praise God.
4 Also, blessing Jehovah among fellow Christians is not just a thought that originated with men, but it is commanded in the Scriptures. We find that command clearly stated by Paul: “And let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24, 25) That day has drawn near! We behold it! And so we are commanded to assemble together, blessing Jehovah and building one another up.
5. In what way is our public ministry affected by our meeting with Jehovah’s people?
5 Then there is the matter of praise. Each meeting we attend trains us to offer a more acceptable sacrifice of praise to Jehovah. Each time we assemble, we are given practical training in making the fruit of our lips, our public ministry, even more pleasurable to Jehovah. Each meeting deepens our desire to bless Jehovah through such ministry.—1 Pet. 3:15.
6. Whose example do we have for encouraging us to associate with the congregated throngs, and what do we prove by doing so?
6 Would you think of not attending a meeting when you knew Christ Jesus was going to be there? Christ Jesus gave us a strong reason why we should associate with the congregated throngs when he said: “For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.” (Matt. 18:20) Yes, Christ Jesus never misses attending meetings with his congregated disciples on earth as he attends all five congregational meetings held by Jehovah’s Christian witnesses each week through his spiritual presence. Should we not therefore attend? This is an essential way to prove that we are his disciples. Where Jehovah’s people are gathered, there His spirit is. Knowing this moves us to want to be with Jehovah’s people. There is where we feel Jehovah’s spirit, just like a powerful searchlight, beaming out to a certain spot, giving light and direction to those gathered there.
7. What fine reason do we have for gathering together? Give an example.
7 Amidst the congregated throngs we are upbuilt by the good association of our brothers, and, in turn, we upbuild others. Each meeting affords an interchange of encouragement, and an opportunity to demonstrate our love for the whole association of fellow Christians and to feel their love for us. What a fine reason this is for gathering together! One blind and deaf witness of Jehovah who never missed an opportunity to assemble with his fellow Christians said: “I always look forward to congregational meetings with my brothers because it makes me feel better, and to have the brothers just shake my hand or touch me gives me a tremendous lift.” If a person who is deaf and blind, not able to hear and see what is happening on the platform, receives such upbuilding, how much more will we, who can see and hear, receive when we are among Jehovah’s praisers.—Rom. 1:12.
8, 9. The Scriptural invitation to partake of the water of truth is from whom and for whom, and what immediate benefit do we receive from being among the congregated throngs?
8 The meetings are also a source of rich spiritual food for us, and so are vital to our spiritual growth. Jehovah is our Host at each of these spiritual meals. He is the One who has spread out the table for us, and through his spirit he keeps inviting us to come and drink of the water of truth. It is just as written by John: “The spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.”—Rev. 22:17.
9 Finally, Jehovah blesses his congregated people with peace. The congregational meetings are a quiet zone in a war-torn world. There we mingle with Christian brothers and sisters who have the peace of God that excels all thought. If we love peace and want it, we will be found among the congregated throngs.—Phil. 4:7.
WHOLE-SOULED GIVING IN THE CONGREGATED THRONGS
10. What question can we ask ourselves about our associating with our fellow Christians, and which Scriptural principle would apply?
10 Up to this time we have been considering why we should bless Jehovah in the congregated throngs. Now we come to another aspect of this matter, and this is: Whole-souled giving in the congregated throngs. In other words, what can I give personally toward the blessing and praising of Jehovah while associating with my brothers? The principle, “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving,” certainly applies here. If we give in a whole-souled manner, we will receive a rich blessing in return.—Acts 20:35.
11. (a) What suggestions can be followed to get the most from congregational meetings, and whose example is a good one to follow in this regard? (b) Why is advance preparation necessary? Illustrate.
11 The first way of giving is by thoroughly preparing for all five meetings. What does this mean? It means setting aside a specific time in advance to read over the assigned material for the coming meeting. We can do this as an individual or as a family, perhaps underlining the key thoughts for the Watchtower study or book study, or perhaps by reviewing the material for the Theocratic Ministry School or Service Meeting so that we can take along a mental outline of the material that is going to be considered. The Bethel families throughout the world are good examples of having a schedule for advance preparation for the meetings. Every Monday evening is set aside for their family study of the Watchtower magazine and to consider the material for the Theocratic Ministry School. We might illustrate the importance of advance preparation this way: You husbands really enjoy coming home after a long, hard day of work to a good hot meal prepared by your wife. But let’s say one evening you come home with a big appetite and walk into the kitchen to find on your plate an unpeeled, uncooked potato with raw steak beside it. It is very doubtful that you would eat it, although, properly prepared, this is good, wholesome, nourishing food. All of us like to have our food improved by being well prepared, properly cooked. In fact, our bodies digest some foods better when they have been cooked. Our minds work in much the same way. If we do not take time in advance to prepare the spiritual food that will be served to us at the meetings, if we do not “warm it up” in our minds in advance, we will find it much more difficult for our minds fully to digest the thoughts presented at the meetings. But if we read over in advance the information to be presented, then our minds will more easily receive and absorb the good spiritual food being served.
12. In what other way can we prepare, and why is it good for younger publishers also to have and use their own study aids at the Christian meetings?
12 Another way we prepare is by all in the family having their study materials in order and ready to take to the meetings. Have you ever been at a meeting and found that you had failed to bring along your Kingdom Ministry, or your songbook, or your Bible? Yes, this has happened to most of us. Some publishers avoid this by having two book bags, one that they use for the field ministry and the other for meetings which contains the needed publications. A quick check of the book bag before leaving for the meetings can assure one of being properly prepared. It is recommended that our younger publishers have their own publications for the meetings and be trained by their parents to be responsible for bringing them along and using them during the program.
13. How can fathers, mothers and children co-operate so the family can get to the meetings on time, and what is missed if we arrive late?
13 Good family cooperation in preparing is essential in getting to the meetings on time. This means that wives need to see that meals are properly scheduled, allowing sufficient time for the family to get ready and travel to the meetings. This means that fathers should set a certain time to leave, taking into consideration the distance that has to be traveled to the Kingdom Hall at a safe driving speed. This means that children should cooperate with their fathers and mothers by dressing quickly when it is time to get ready for the meetings. Each one in the family has a responsibility toward getting to the meetings on time. If we miss the song or prayer or the opening portion of the meeting, that spiritual food is lost to us, and we can also interfere with our brothers’ enjoyment of the program by our arriving late.
14. So, then, what is needed if we are going to bless Jehovah effectively in the congregated throngs?
14 So just as it was necessary for thorough preparation to be made before the sacrifices of praise and blessing were offered to Jehovah in ancient Israel, so individual advance preparation needs to be made if we are going to bless Jehovah in the congregated throngs with our whole soul.—Lev. chaps. 1, 2.
BY WELCOMING OUR BROTHERS AND VISITORS
15. How can we greet newer ones, visitors and our own Christian brothers when assembling together, and why is this necessary?
15 A second way we can all give at the meetings is by warmly welcoming our Christian brothers, newer ones, and visitors to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses. Some of us who are on the quiet side by nature might feel this is a little difficult to do. Do you ever find yourself asking another publisher: “Who is that person? I wonder if he is a Witness.” Well, would it not be best to go right up to the individual and find out? It is not difficult if we remember that the main thing is to be interested in others. Introduce yourself and then ask the newcomer a few friendly questions: Where does he live? Has he ever been to the Kingdom Hall before? How did he come to attend today? Then, if we let the new one talk, he will soon feel welcome and feel our genuine interest in him. Take a tour of the Kingdom Hall. There are so many things to show a visitor and to explain to him. Think back on how we felt when we first came to the Kingdom Hall and what we found interesting. Then show some of these to the new one. We can explain the purpose of the different meetings and how they are conducted, show him the Kingdom Hall library, the literature counter; explain how the Bible literature is made, and how our individual ministry is carried on. If we find that we are talking to a Witness, we have so many things in common to share. We can ask him about his congregation, how many publishers are in it, what kind of territory he has to work in; encourage him to relate some of his experiences, and we can also acquaint him with our congregation. Yes, let us all do our part in warmly welcoming everyone to the meetings, including our fellow Christians whom we have served with for many years. This is another way of giving in the congregated throngs.
BY LISTENING ATTENTIVELY
16. What can we do to concentrate fully and get the most from the presentation of the speaker?
16 A third way is to listen attentively to the program as it is presented. The average speaker speaks much slower than the average listener thinks. What will we do with all that extra thinking time? If we are not careful we will find ourselves taking mental trips away from what the speaker is saying. We can use this extra thinking time we all have to the fullest benefit in this way: As the speaker moves forward in his talk, we want not only to move forward with him, but also to orbit around his thoughts as we progress with him. As we hear each new thought, we can ask ourselves: Why did he say that? How does this relate to the points he has already made? How does it fit with what I already know? In this way we listen wholeheartedly and keep our minds active and centered on the speaker’s thoughts at all times.
17. (a) We need to have what for the spiritual food being presented? (b) What can we learn from the example of a Japanese Witness who learned the truth while in prison?
17 To listen in this way we need to have genuine interest and deep appreciation for the spiritual food being presented. We need to feel toward the meeting like a Japanese Witness did. He learned the truth while in a Japanese prison waiting for his execution. At the age of eighteen he had killed two men, was sentenced to death, and had waited eight years for his own execution to come at any time. In his ninth year of prison, he learned the truth and became very zealous in preaching to fellow inmates and to all that he could outside the prison by letter. He was a great encouragement to the Japanese Witnesses because of his joyful appreciation for the truth. This Witness said that he would give anything in the world to attend just one meeting with the congregation, but this was not allowed him. He died without ever attending a meeting. Five times each week, we as Christians have the very thing for which this person longed. If we appreciate being at each meeting, we will be listening with a whole heart, obeying the command of Jehovah to “listen intently to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul find its exquisite delight in fatness itself.”—Isa. 55:2.
18. What do we gain from commenting at the meetings, and what should move us to make such expressions?
18 A fourth way we can give in the congregated throngs is by commenting and participating in the meetings. Is it not true that even when we have a small share in the meeting, perhaps giving just a brief comment, we get greater satisfaction and enjoyment from the meeting? Yes, real enjoyment comes when a person expresses his own faith in Jehovah among his Christian brothers. It is not a matter of feeling obligated to give a comment and then relaxing and leaving the rest of the meeting to others. No, it is our love for Jehovah that fills us and overflows so that we want to bless Jehovah and to make expression of our love for him. In this way we offer up to Jehovah the fruit of our lips while gathered with his people in united worship.—Heb. 13:15.
19. Though we may be unpolished in our singing, how should we view our songs of praise to Jehovah?
19 Singing the Kingdom songs with our heart and mind, as well as with our lips, is a fifth way we give in a wholehearted manner. We want to think upon the meaning of the words as we sing them with the congregation. We should guard against letting our mind wander while singing familiar words. Also, we want to sing with deep feeling, letting the beautiful melody stir our emotions and heart to bless Jehovah. True, some may have better voices for singing, but our unpolished singing is more beautiful and melodious to Jehovah and to our brothers than the finest singer or choir in all the churches of Babylon the Great. Our singing alone gives us, together with other congregated Christians, a number of opportunities each week to bless Jehovah.
BY UNITED PRAYER
20. (a) Why is it necessary for each one of us to concentrate on the prayers offered in the congregation? (b) How can we personally give in congregated prayer?
20 Finally, our attitude toward the congregational prayer should reflect a giving spirit even though we may not be the one called upon to represent the congregation in prayer. When prayer is offered at the opening and closing of the meeting, do we listen with rapt attention, concentrating on the thoughts of the prayer so that we can truly say “Amen” to what has been said? Or do we allow our minds to wander from the prayer to the things we have to do during or after the meeting such as putting our study material away, or seeing a certain brother, or problems at home? Jehovah, the most important personage in the whole universe, is listening to the prayer. Jehovah is paying attention to all that is being said in spite of the major issues that are of concern to him. If he shows that great concern for a prayer offered in our behalf, should not we pay strict attention so we can agree and say “Amen”? Jehovah will accept that prayer as though it came from each one of us if our heart and mind are with the prayer. This is how we individually give in congregated prayer so that it becomes a united prayer of blessing to Jehovah.
21. (a) Outline the various ways that we can bless Jehovah among the congregated throngs. (b) What should be our desire as David stated at Psalm 27:4?
21 So then, we have seen how many vital reasons there are for blessing Jehovah among the congregated throngs, and we have discussed how we can give whole-souled toward the united blessing of Jehovah as a congregation. We do so by thoroughly preparing, by welcoming all to the meetings, by listening attentively with our whole heart, by participating in commenting, and by joining in song and prayer with our heart and mind. By giving in all these ways we will experience and see the pleasantness of Jehovah among the congregated throngs. Then we will always feel as did David when he said: “One thing I have asked from Jehovah—it is what I shall look for, that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the pleasantness of Jehovah and to look with appreciation upon his temple.” (Ps. 27:4) Yes, let it always be our fervent desire to bless and praise Jehovah among the congregated throngs!
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To bless Jehovah in the congregated throng, we need to study the assigned material ahead of time
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A warm welcome to visitors, and one’s own brothers, at the Kingdom Hall may encourage them in their efforts to draw close to God
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Singing Kingdom songs with our heart and mind is one way to bless Jehovah
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When prayer is offered at a meeting, do you listen attentively, thus sharing in this expression of worship?