Messengers of Godly Peace Assemble
“WE HAVE been built up by every district convention we’ve attended,” says a Christian elder from the United States. “However, this year was just indescribable. We left each day wondering how the next day would exceed our expectations, and we were not disappointed!”
If you attended one of the “Messengers of Godly Peace” District Conventions, you no doubt would agree with this enthusiastic delegate. Each day of the convention focused on a different aspect of the commission that Jehovah’s Witnesses carry out as God’s messengers. Let us review the three-day program.
“How Comely . . . the One Publishing Peace”
This was the theme of the convention’s first day. It was based on Isaiah 52:7. In these difficult times, many are serving Jehovah under challenging circumstances. The talk “Hearing From Zealous Proclaimers of Peace” included interviews with some of these faithful ones. Hearing their personal expressions was indeed encouraging, and conventioners were thus assured that Jehovah can strengthen them too, even supplying “power beyond what is normal” to help them to endure.—2 Corinthians 4:7.
Jehovah’s requirements are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3) This was made clear in the last talk of the morning program, climaxing with the release of a 32-page brochure entitled What Does God Require of Us? This beautifully illustrated new study aid will no doubt play a significant role in helping many more to learn about God’s purposes. Comments on the use of this new publication are found in the last study article in this magazine and on pages 16 and 17.
The talk “Enduring in Work That Is Good” emphasized that Jehovah is well aware of our trials. To endure means that we stand our ground and do not lose hope. Jehovah has given us his Word, his spirit, and his organization to assist us. It takes endurance to preach, yet preaching helps us to endure, for it keeps our faith alive. So close to the finish line, we should not let our problems dampen our zeal, for only those who endure to the end will be saved.—Matthew 24:13.
The keynote address, “Our Role as Messengers of Godly Peace,” called attention to the release of Jewish exiles from Babylon and the restoration of pure worship in Jerusalem in 537 B.C.E. This event, the speaker explained, was just a foregleam of what God’s Kingdom will soon accomplish on a worldwide scale. (Psalm 72:7; Isaiah 9:7) Our present assignment is to preach the good news about this Kingdom and to live in harmony with that message. Love for God and neighbor should impel us to continue in this work without letup.—Acts 5:42.
A highlight of Friday’s program was the symposium “Watch Out for the Hidden Snares of Entertainment.” Today’s music, movies, videos, television shows, video games, books, magazines, and comics often reflect demonic thinking. Therefore, we need to “abhor what is wicked” and “cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9) Yes, we must regard corrupt entertainment as repugnant and shrink away from it, while we dwell on things that are chaste, virtuous, and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8) The publications and research tools provided by Jehovah’s organization stimulate our minds with upbuilding thoughts and train us to distinguish right from wrong. (Hebrews 5:14) We should cling to these provisions as we would to a raft in a turbulent sea.
Next came the talk “Oppose the Devil—Tolerate No Rivalry.” Shortly before they were to enter the Promised Land, thousands of Israelites were ensnared by immorality. Phinehas tolerated no rivalry toward true worship. He took decisive action against wrongdoers, and his exclusive devotion pleased Jehovah. (Numbers 25:1-13) Satan’s goal is to render each one of us unfit to enter into God’s new world. Like Phinehas, we must therefore oppose the Devil’s efforts to defile us. Whether married or single, we must “flee from fornication.”—1 Corinthians 6:18.
“Loyally Upholding the Integrity of God’s Word” was the concluding talk of the convention’s first day. Many translators alter or omit portions of the Scriptures. For instance, to placate advocates of women’s rights, the translators of The New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version refer to God, not as the Father, but as the Father-Mother and to Jesus as “the Human One” rather than the “Son of man.” In contrast, the New World Translation adheres so faithfully to the original-language text that it has served to clarify our thinking on a number of Scriptural matters. For example, the speaker said: “It was the accurate renderings in the New World Translation that provided the basis for our reorganizing the congregations by appointing the bodies of elders, in closer conformity to the pattern set in the first-century Christian congregation.” We demonstrate our loyalty to God’s Word by reading it daily and by applying its counsel. The speaker also said: “We show that we are loyal advocates of God’s Word by zealously preaching it to others and by using it carefully as we teach others, never trying to make it fit our ideas by twisting or stretching what it says.”
‘The Peace of God Excels All Thought’
This theme, based on Philippians 4:7, set the tone for day two of the convention. Much of the information presented dealt with the proper view of one’s ministry, family, dedication, and other aspects of daily life.
After a discussion of the day’s text, a symposium was presented entitled “Messengers Bringing Good News of Peace.” Our message is one of peace, and it should be delivered in a peaceful manner. (Ephesians 6:15) Our objective is to win hearts, not arguments. The training and publications that we receive from Jehovah’s organization help us to do just that. We should not let indifference or apathy discourage us. Rather, we should continue to ‘do our utmost,’ having a healthy routine of personal study, meeting attendance, and participation in the preaching work. (2 Timothy 2:15) Not to be overlooked is the doing of good to others, especially to those related to us in the faith. (Galatians 6:10) Of course, doing our utmost does not mean working ourselves into exhaustion. What each one is able to do according to his own ability and circumstances is acceptable to Jehovah.
God’s people give of their time, energy, and resources to advance Kingdom interests. The talk “Cheerful Giving Within Jehovah’s Organization” brought out that as more sheeplike ones respond to the Kingdom message, there is a need for additional equipment, meeting places, and branch facilities. Our contributions enable the organization to have at its disposal whatever is needed to accomplish the worldwide preaching work. Generous giving also honors Jehovah and brings joy to the giver. Therefore, as Christians, we must not neglect this important aspect of our worship.—2 Corinthians 8:1-7.
Closing the morning session was the baptism talk—always a highlight at large gatherings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. What a joy to see newly dedicated ones follow in Jesus’ footsteps by submitting to water baptism! (Matthew 3:13-17) All who take this step have been educated in the source of the greatest wisdom—the Bible. Moreover, they have found real purpose in life, and they are blessed with the peace that comes from knowing that they are doing what is right.—Ecclesiastes 12:13.
Pointed counsel was given in the talk “Let Discernment Safeguard You.” Discernment is very important with regard to business dealings. We should not carry on personal business activities in the Kingdom Hall, nor should we exploit fellow Christians for financial gain. (Compare John 2:15, 16.) Discernment is also needed when investing in a business or when borrowing or lending money. “The failure of business ventures among Christians has led to disappointment and even to loss of spirituality on the part of some who hastily entered into risky moneymaking schemes,” noted the speaker. Though it is not wrong for Christians to do business with one another, caution is certainly wise. And when a business agreement is made between two parties, the terms should always be set forth in writing.
God’s standard for men and women was discussed in the talk “Male and Female He Created Them.” The roles of the sexes have been distorted throughout history. “Many mistakenly equate masculinity with harsh domination, toughness, or machismo,” said the speaker. “In certain cultures it would be rare, even shameful, for a man to weep in public or even in private. Yet, John 11:35 relates that while in the crowd outside Lazarus’ tomb, ‘Jesus gave way to tears.’” What about women? Femininity is often equated with physical attractiveness. But the speaker asked: “If a woman is pretty but lacks sensibleness and is argumentative, sarcastic, or arrogant, can she really be pretty in the true sense of the word, truly feminine?” (Compare Proverbs 11:22; 31:26.) In their speech, conduct, and grooming, Christian men and women strive to follow Bible standards. Said the speaker: “A man who displays the fruitage of the spirit is easy to respect, and a woman who does so is easy to love.”—Galatians 5:22, 23.
Next came the symposium “The God of Peace Cares for You.” Many Christians have financial anxieties. Nevertheless, Jehovah promises: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Despite economic hardships, some have shown confidence in this promise by entering the auxiliary or the regular pioneer service. Others who cannot now pioneer put Kingdom interests first by seizing every opportunity to witness. (Matthew 6:33) All such efforts are to be commended! Jehovah’s organization has provided numerous publications to assist us with our ministry and to help us cope with our problems. If we show appreciation for Jehovah’s spiritual provisions, he will bless us with peace in these economically turbulent times.—Psalm 29:11.
At the close of the day’s final talk, “Pursue Godly Peace in Family Life,” conventioners were delighted to receive the new book, The Secret of Family Happiness. “Diligently study this book personally and as family groups,” urged the speaker. “Earnestly endeavor to apply its Bible-based counsel, and you are sure to increase the peace and happiness of your family.”
“Observe the Oneness . . . in the Uniting Bond of Peace”
Based on Ephesians 4:3, this was a fitting theme for the final day of the convention. Jehovah’s Witnesses, drawn from all nations of the world, have been taught by God. Therefore, they love peace. They follow Jesus’ example and endeavor “to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.”
The peace that permeates God’s organization was highlighted in the symposium “Identifying the Right Kind of Messengers.” False prophets existed in ancient Israel. However, God’s true messengers—such prophets as Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah—accurately foretold the downfall of Jerusalem, the period of exile, and the eventual liberation of God’s people. A similar situation exists today. False messengers abound in the realms of politics and false religion. Yet, Jehovah has raised up his Witnesses to proclaim his purpose with regard to this system of things. Particularly since 1919, Jehovah’s servants have been used to proclaim God’s message. How different they are from the false messengers of Christendom! May we diligently play our part in this work until Jehovah says that it is done.
The talk “Listen to and Obey God’s Word” emphasized that the Scriptures are the greatest source of guidance, comfort, and hope. (Isaiah 30:20, 21; Romans 15:4) Today’s world is increasingly permissive. More than ever, we therefore need to listen to the counsel that comes from God’s Word and organization. Jehovah knows our weaknesses, and in his Word he has clearly marked out the course that will benefit us. Knowing that Jehovah is backing us up gives us confidence to move ahead with anything that he asks of us.
This set the tone for the full-costume drama that followed. It was entitled “Why Respect Theocratic Arrangements?” Using the Bible account of Gideon as a basis, this presentation drove home a powerful lesson—we must follow God’s instructions and not substitute our own thinking or try to sidestep theocratic counsel.
The public discourse was on the subject “True Peace At Last!—From What Source?” The peace that God promises goes beyond anything this world can imagine. “True peace means peace every day,” said the speaker. “God’s peace means a world without sickness, pain, sorrow, and death.” The Bible tells us that Jehovah “is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth.” (Psalm 46:9) How will he do this? By removing the fomenter of war, Satan the Devil. (Revelation 20:1-3) This will open the way for meek ones to ‘possess the earth and find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.’—Psalm 37:11.
Following a summary of the Watchtower study article for the week, the final talk for the convention was presented. Entitled “Moving Forward as Messengers of Godly Peace,” this stirring discourse stressed that our preaching work is both unique and urgent. Now is not a time to relax, loiter, or turn back to erroneous ideas. We are equipped with what we need—God’s message, his holy spirit, and numerous provisions that come from his loving theocratic organization. As Jehovah’s servants, may we therefore keep moving forward as messengers of godly peace!
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A Loving Provision for Families
Those in attendance on the second day of the “Messengers of Godly Peace” District Convention were thrilled to receive the new publication entitled The Secret of Family Happiness. This book contains Scriptural information that will benefit all families that love God.
An elder from Connecticut, U.S.A., comments: “On June 15, we received our Family Happiness book. By June 16, I was halfway through reading it. On the 17th, we had our first family study in it, and we were so encouraged! On that same day, I completed reading the book. This fine publication shall no doubt prove to be dear to all who avail themselves of it. The book’s candor and up-to-date information offer further proof that ‘the faithful and discreet slave’ is giving ‘food at the proper time’ and is very much aware of our needs in these trying times.”—Matthew 24:45-47.
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Young and old alike want to know what God requires