Be Filled With Joy
“The disciples continued to be filled with joy and holy spirit.”—Acts 13:52.
1. (a) Joy is what kind of fruit? (b) For what joyful provision is God to be glorified?
JOY! This Christian quality is listed second only to love in Paul’s description of the fruitage of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25) And what calls forth that joy? It is the good news that God’s angel announced to humble shepherds more than 1,900 years ago: “Look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city.” Then the angelic host appeared and joined the angel in joyfully praising God and saying: “Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of goodwill.”—Luke 2:10-14.
2, 3. (a) Why was it fitting that God send his firstborn Son to become mankind’s Redeemer? (b) In what other ways did Jesus serve God’s purposes while on earth?
2 Jehovah’s goodwill toward men is expressed in providing salvation through Christ the Lord. This firstborn Son of God is the personification of true wisdom and is described as saying of his Father at the time of creation: “Then became I beside him a firm and sure worker, then became I filled with delight day by day, exulting before him on every occasion; exulting in the fruitful land of his earth, yea my fulness of delight was with the sons of men.”—Proverbs 8:30, 31, Rotherham.
3 It was fitting, therefore, that Jehovah send this Son, who found such delight in the sons of men, to be mankind’s Redeemer. And how would this bring glory to God? It would open the way for him to accomplish his grand purpose of filling the earth with righteous and peace-loving humans. (Genesis 1:28) Moreover, while on earth, this Son, Jesus, would show under the severest test that a perfect man can loyally obey Jehovah as Sovereign Lord, thus fully vindicating his Father’s rightful rulership over His creation. (Hebrews 4:15; 5:8, 9) Jesus’ integrity-keeping course also left a model for all true Christians to follow his steps closely.—1 Peter 2:21.
4. Jesus’ endurance results in what great joy, and how should this encourage us?
4 Jesus found surpassing joy in thus doing his Father’s will, and that in anticipation of even greater joy, as the apostle Paul indicates at Hebrews 12:1, 2: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” What joy is this? It is the joy Jesus has, not only in sanctifying his Father’s name and ransoming mankind from death but also in ruling as King and High Priest as he restores obedient humans to endless life in a paradise earth.—Matthew 6:9; 20:28; Hebrews 7:23-26.
5. Who are Jesus’ “brothers,” and in what unique joy do they share?
5 Yes, God’s Son has always found joy in serving mankind. And it has been his joy to serve with his Father in selecting the group of integrity-keeping humans whom he calls his “brothers” and who at death are resurrected to heaven. These enter into a unique joy with Jesus. They are pronounced “happy and holy,” and they “will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.”—Hebrews 2:11; Revelation 14:1, 4; 20:6.
6. (a) What joyful invitation does the King extend to his “other sheep”? (b) What privileges do many of these sheep enjoy today?
6 Further, a great crowd of “other sheep,” whom the reigning King separates to his right hand of approval, receive his invitation: “Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.” (John 10:16; Matthew 25:34) What a joyful privilege! Of these who are to inherit the earthly realm of the Kingdom, many are even now accepting responsible assignments alongside anointed ones, just as Jehovah foretold: “Strangers will actually stand and shepherd the flocks of you people, and the foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. And as for you, the priests of Jehovah you will be called; the ministers of our God you will be said to be.” All of these join with God’s prophet in saying: “Without fail I shall exult in Jehovah. My soul will be joyful in my God. For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation.”—Isaiah 61:5, 6, 10.
7. Why is this “day” since 1914 very special?
7 We are living now in a very special day. Since 1914 it has been the day of Christ’s rule as heavenly King, described at Psalm 118:24, 25: “This is the day that Jehovah has made; we will be joyful and rejoice in it. Ah, now, Jehovah, do save, please! Ah, now, Jehovah, do grant success, please!” It is the day that will reach a climax when Jehovah executes Babylonish religion and unites Christ’s bride of 144,000 brothers with their heavenly King. All of God’s people will “rejoice and be overjoyed” at this. They will also rejoice as their Messianic King fights at Armageddon to save his loyal nation into his righteous new world. (Revelation 19:1-7, 11-16) Does Jehovah grant success as his people proclaim this joyful hope? The following report will explain.
8. (a) How is joy with holy spirit reflected in the report on pages 18 to 21 of this magazine? (b) What are some highlights of the report?
8 The modern-day Witnesses of Jehovah “abound in hope with power of holy spirit.” (Romans 15:13) This is reflected in the chart on pages 18 to 21 of this magazine, where the global report of Kingdom service for 1990 is set out in detail. How we rejoice to see a new peak of 4,017,213 active ministers in the field! This marks an increase of 77 percent during the past ten years, as the gathering of the sheep moves on apace in 212 lands around the world. After 15 years, baptisms again reached an all-time peak—301,518! There were some exceptionally high baptism figures at many conventions, particularly those attended by Witnesses from Eastern Europe. Among these were many young people, giving the lie to the socialistic claim that religion would die out with the old folk.
9. (a) Early parental training is bringing what joyful result? (b) What local or other experiences bear this out?
9 Multitudes of young people are answering the call at Psalm 32:11: “Rejoice in Jehovah and be joyful, you righteous ones; and cry out joyfully, all you who are upright in heart.” It seems that many parents are applying the counsel to train their little ones “from infancy.” (2 Timothy 3:15) Good use is being made of the literature and cassette tapes provided for those of tender years. As these youngsters enter school, they are soon giving a fine witness, as for example the eight-year-old Japanese girl who reported: “After summer vacation, I approached my teacher and asked her: ‘Did you visit your father’s grave during vacation?’ She replied: ‘Yes, my father was very tender, and I visit his grave every year.’ I said: ‘If you study the Bible and follow God’s teachings, you will be able to see your loving father in an earthly paradise.’ Then I gave her My Book of Bible Stories. Now our teacher reads one chapter of this book to the whole class at lunchtime each week.”
10. What good purpose has been served by the book Young People Ask, and what are some examples?
10 Young people in their teens have made good use of the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, both for private study and in witnessing to other youngsters. Parents too have appreciated this book. A sister in Switzerland, enrolled as an auxiliary pioneer, decided to visit the parents of her child’s schoolmates. This provided an opening for fine discussions with many parents, and 20 books (mostly Young People Ask) and 27 magazines were left with them. When a schoolgirl in Trinidad placed this book with her teacher at school, her mother followed through, distributing 25 copies among the staff of 36. She continued into the next month with special attention to parents whom she knew personally, distributing another 92 books and starting new home Bible studies. In Korea a middle-school teacher used the book Young People Ask in giving short sermons on such topics as “How Can I Improve My Grades?” and “How Can I Get Along With My Teacher” and then offered the book. After students had accepted 39 books, some parents began to complain. But the headmaster examined a copy, declared it “wonderful,” and ordered one for his own daughter.
The Finest Education
11, 12. What are some testimonials to the fact that publications of the Watch Tower Society provide the finest education?
11 The educational value of our magazines is also appreciated by many, as for example a U.S. school that ordered 1,200 copies of the July 22, 1990, Awake! (exposing crack addiction) for use in its classes. Moreover, the exemplary conduct in school of children of Jehovah’s Witnesses continues to make a fine impression. In a noisy classroom in Thailand, the teacher called 11-year-old Racha up before the class and commended him on his behavior, saying: “Why don’t all of you take him as an example? He is diligent in his studies and well behaved.” Then she added: “Well, I guess you would have to become Jehovah’s Witnesses like Racha to improve your conduct.”—Compare Proverbs 1:8; 23:22, 23.
12 A young sister in the Dominican Republic writes: “When just four years old, I was about to graduate from a religious preschool, where I had learned to read and write. As a gift, I gave the nun who was my teacher the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth with the message: ‘I am very grateful that you taught me to read and write. I wish that you would also understand my faith and come to have my hope of living forever on this earth when it is made a paradise.’ For this I was expelled from the school. Eight years later I again met this teacher. She related how, despite much opposition from the priest, she managed to read the book. She moved to the capital, where she was able to study the Bible with a Witness. She was being baptized at the ‘Pure Language’ District Convention along with me.” As prophesied, wisdom can even come from “the mouth of babes”!—Matthew 21:16; Psalm 8:1, 2.
13. How are many teenagers responding to Solomon’s counsel, and how is this reflected in the worldwide report?
13 Solomon gave the encouraging counsel: “Rejoice, young man, in your youth, and let your heart do you good in the days of your young manhood, and walk in the ways of your heart.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9) It is a delight today to see so many children of Jehovah’s Witnesses applying these words, using their teenage years to prepare for a life of full-time service to Jehovah and entering on this grandest of all careers as they graduate from school. The pioneer ranks continue to increase rapidly, with 821,108 reporting during the year. Along with the 11,092 brothers and sisters who served in Bethel, that represents 21 percent of the total publishers!
14. What contribution are our sisters making, and what commendation do they deserve?
14 It is of interest that in many lands, such as the United States, about 75 percent of all pioneer publishers are sisters, giving force to the words of Psalm 68:11: “Jehovah himself gives the saying; the women telling the good news are a large army.” Our sisters are to be commended in that they are doing the greater part of the field work. Their skillful teaching at home Bible studies is leading many to the truth, and married sisters who are loyally supportive of husbands with many congregation duties are also to be warmly praised.—Proverbs 31:10-12; Ephesians 5:21-25, 33.
Bible Education Flourishes
15. (a) How have some countries listed in the worldwide report excelled in home Bible study activity? (b) What experiences can you relate, showing how fruitful Bible studies can be?
15 The Bible educational work is flourishing, studies being conducted worldwide in an average of 3,624,091 places each month. Bible truth can change personalities, as a report from down under shows. Early in January 1987, a man was deported to New Zealand from Australia after serving a 25-month jail term for robbery and forgery. He had been addicted to drugs and had also peddled them for more than 17 years. The following year his wife began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and as her knowledge grew, he noted a remarkable change in her conduct. She became a better wife and mother. At his wife’s urgings, he attended a circuit assembly in June 1989. He now accepted a home Bible study, and big changes began to be seen in his appearance and life-style. All seven family members began to attend meetings. He was baptized in January 1990 as one who had followed Paul’s excellent counsel at Ephesians 4:17-24.
16. (a) How are the 1990 Memorial reports a source of joy? (b) What urgency is to be observed, and what effort should we make to help?
16 An outstanding feature of the year’s report is the record attendance of 9,950,058 at the celebration of the Memorial, held on Tuesday, April 10, 1990. More than 70 out of 212 countries reported attendances that were over three times their publisher peak! For example, despite restrictions, seven African countries with a combined peak of 62,712 publishers reported a Memorial attendance of 204,356. Strife-torn Liberia’s 1,914 publishers rejoiced to have 7,811 at the Memorial. Haiti, with a publisher peak of 6,427, reported 36,551. The 886 publishers in the scattered islands of Micronesia had 3,958. Sri Lanka’s 1,298 publishers reported 4,521, and Zambia, with 73,729 publishers, had 326,991 attending the Memorial, a ratio of one person to 25 of Zambia’s population. The global report reveals again that there are millions of sincere people waiting to be gathered into the sheepfold. But sincerity is not enough. Can we increase and improve the quality of our home Bible study work, helping more Memorial attenders to build strong faith? We want them to become our active companions, praising Jehovah. It means their very lives!—Psalm 148:12, 13; John 17:3; 1 John 2:15-17.
The Fullness of Joy
17. What first-century examples should help strengthen our determination to hold fast our joy?
17 Whatever the trials that confront us, let us be determined to hold fast to our joy. Probably we will not have to go through so hard an experience as that of Stephen, yet his example can strengthen us. Under accusation, he was able to maintain his joyful composure. His enemies “saw that his face was as an angel’s face.” God stood by him during his ordeal. He witnessed boldly, being “full of holy spirit” down to his martyr’s death. As Paul and Barnabas turned to the nations in their preaching, these too “began to rejoice and to glorify the word of Jehovah.” Persecution again arose. But it did not daunt those who believed. “The disciples continued to be filled with joy and holy spirit.” (Acts 6:15; 7:55; 13:48-52) Whatever our enemies do to us, whatever our daily trials in life, we must never let our joy of holy spirit be dampened. Paul counsels: “Rejoice in the hope. Endure under tribulation. Persevere in prayer.”—Romans 12:12.
18. (a) What is the New Jerusalem, and why should God’s people rejoice with her? (b) How will “new heavens and a new earth” bless mankind?
18 How marvelous that hope is! To all of his people, Jehovah declares: “Here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. But exult, you people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating.” Christ the Lord together with the “New Jerusalem” (now the capital city of God’s heavenly organization, “Jerusalem above”) and the new world society on earth will bring abounding joy to mankind. (Galatians 4:26) Resurrection of the human dead, the uplifting of all obedient ones to everlasting life in human perfection, an eternity of useful, vibrant living on a paradise earth—what a magnificent hope and cause for exultation this is! As Jehovah himself finds ‘joy in Jerusalem and exults in his people,’ so his prophet issues the further call to God’s people: “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be joyful with her, all you lovers of her. Exult greatly with her.” (Isaiah 65:17-19; 66:10; Revelation 14:1; 20:12, 13; 21:2-4) May we ever be filled with joy and holy spirit as we heed the apostle Paul’s admonition: “Always rejoice in the Lord. Once more I will say, Rejoice!”—Philippians 4:4.
Summarizing Our Joy:
□ What model of joyful endurance has Jesus left us?
□ Two dedicated groups have what reasons to rejoice?
□ How are young and old today exulting in the truth?
□ Reviewing the 1990 report, what answer is being given now to the prayer, “Jehovah, do grant success, please”?
□ When and how will the fullness of joy be attained?
[Chart on page 18-21]
1990 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)
[Picture on page 16]
Jehovah’s angel announced the birth of Christ the Lord as “good news of a great joy”