“Search for Jehovah and His Strength”
“As regards Jehovah, his eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.”—2 CHRONICLES 16:9.
1. What is power, and how have humans handled it?
POWER can mean a number of things, such as the possession of control, authority, or influence over others; the ability to act or to produce an effect; physical might (strength); or mental or moral efficacy. Humans do not have a good record when it comes to wielding power. Lord Acton, a historian, speaking of power in the hands of politicians, said: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Modern history abounds with examples showing the general truth of Lord Acton’s words. During the 20th century, “man has dominated man to his injury” as never before. (Ecclesiastes 8:9) Corrupt dictators have grossly abused their power and have snuffed out the lives of millions. Power unrestrained by love, wisdom, and justice is dangerous.
2. Explain how other divine qualities affect the way that Jehovah uses his power.
2 Unlike many humans, God always uses his power for good. “As regards Jehovah, his eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) Jehovah directs his power in a controlled way. Patience holds back God’s execution of the wicked to give them the opportunity to repent. Love moves him to make the sun shine upon all kinds of men—righteous and unrighteous. Justice will move him finally to use his unlimited power to bring to nothing the one having the means to cause death, Satan the Devil.—Matthew 5:44, 45; Hebrews 2:14; 2 Peter 3:9.
3. Why is God’s almighty power a reason for trusting him?
3 The awesome power of our heavenly Father is a reason for trust and confidence—both in his promises and in his protection. A small child feels safe among strangers when he clutches the hand of his father, since he knows that his father will not let any harm come to him. Likewise, our heavenly Father, the one “abounding in power to save,” will protect us from any permanent harm if we walk with him. (Isaiah 63:1; Micah 6:8) And as a good Father, Jehovah always fulfills his promises. His unlimited power guarantees that his ‘word will have certain success in that for which he has sent it.’—Isaiah 55:11; Titus 1:2.
4, 5. (a) What resulted when King Asa trusted implicitly in Jehovah? (b) What may happen if we rely on human solutions to our problems?
4 Why is it so important that we be determined not to lose sight of the protection of our heavenly Father? Because it is possible to be overwhelmed by circumstances and forget where our real security lies. This is seen in the example of King Asa, a man who generally trusted in Jehovah. During Asa’s reign, a million-strong army of Ethiopians attacked Judah. Realizing that the military advantage was on the side of his enemies, Asa prayed: “O Jehovah, as to helping, it does not matter with you whether there are many or those with no power. Help us, O Jehovah our God, for upon you we do lean, and in your name we have come against this crowd. O Jehovah, you are our God. Do not let mortal man retain strength against you.” (2 Chronicles 14:11) Jehovah granted Asa’s request and gave him a decisive victory.
5 After many years of faithful service, however, Asa’s confidence in Jehovah’s saving power faltered. To avert a military threat from the northern kingdom of Israel, he turned to Syria for help. (2 Chronicles 16:1-3) Although his bribe to the Syrian King Ben-hadad did result in removing the threat Israel posed to Judah, Asa’s covenant with Syria showed a lack of confidence in Jehovah. Hanani the prophet pointedly asked him: “Did not the Ethiopians and the Libyans themselves happen to be a very great military force in multitude, in chariots and in horsemen; and because of your leaning upon Jehovah did he not give them into your hand?” (2 Chronicles 16:7, 8) Nevertheless, Asa rejected this reproof. (2 Chronicles 16:9-12) When faced with problems, let us not rely on human solutions. Instead, let us display confidence in God, for trusting in the power of men will inevitably lead to disappointment.—Psalm 146:3-5.
Seek the Power That Jehovah Gives
6. Why should we “search for Jehovah and his strength”?
6 Jehovah can empower his servants as well as protect them. The Bible urges us to “search for Jehovah and his strength.” (Psalm 105:4) Why? Because when we do things in God’s strength, our power will be used for the benefit, rather than the harm, of others. Nowhere do we find a better example of this than in Jesus Christ, who performed many miracles in “Jehovah’s power.” (Luke 5:17) Jesus could have dedicated himself to becoming rich, famous, or even an all-powerful king. (Luke 4:5-7) Instead, he used the power God gave him to train and to teach, to help and to heal. (Mark 7:37; John 7:46) What a fine example for us!
7. What vital quality do we cultivate when we do things in God’s strength rather than our own?
7 Furthermore, when we do things in “the strength that God supplies,” this will help us to keep humble. (1 Peter 4:11) Men who seek power for themselves become presumptuous. A case in point is Assyrian King Esar-haddon, who boastfully declared: “I am powerful, I am all powerful, I am a hero, I am gigantic, I am colossal.” In contrast, Jehovah “chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame.” Thus, if a true Christian boasts, he boasts in Jehovah, for he knows that what he has done has not been accomplished in his own strength. ‘Humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God’ will bring true exaltation.—1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 1 Peter 5:6.
8. What should we do first to receive of Jehovah’s power?
8 How do we draw on God’s strength? First of all, we have to ask for it in prayer. Jesus assured his disciples that his Father would give holy spirit to those requesting it. (Luke 11:10-13) Consider how this imbued Christ’s disciples with power when they chose to obey God rather than the religious leaders who had ordered them to stop witnessing about Jesus. When they prayed for Jehovah’s help, their sincere prayer was answered, and holy spirit empowered them to continue preaching the good news with boldness.—Acts 4:19, 20, 29-31, 33.
9. Name a second source of spiritual strength, and cite a Scriptural example to show its efficacy.
9 Second, we can draw spiritual strength from the Bible. (Hebrews 4:12) The power of God’s word was evident during the days of King Josiah. Although this Judean king had already removed pagan idols from the land, the unexpected discovery of the Law of Jehovah in the temple motivated him to intensify this cleansing program.a After Josiah had personally read the Law to the people, the whole nation made a covenant with Jehovah, and a second, more vigorous, campaign against idolatry was launched. The fine outcome of Josiah’s reform was that during “all his days they did not turn aside from following Jehovah.”—2 Chronicles 34:33.
10. What is a third way to draw strength from Jehovah, and why is it vital?
10 Third, we draw strength from Jehovah through Christian association. Paul encouraged Christians to attend meetings regularly in order to “incite to love and fine works” and to encourage one another. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) When Peter was miraculously released from prison, he wanted to be with his brothers, so he went straight to the house of the mother of John Mark, where “quite a few were gathered together and praying.” (Acts 12:12) Of course, they could all have stayed at home and prayed. But they chose to come together to pray and encourage one another during that difficult time. Near the end of Paul’s long and hazardous journey to Rome, he met up with some brothers in Puteoli and later with others who had traveled to meet him. His reaction? “Upon catching sight of them [the latter], Paul thanked God and took courage.” (Acts 28:13-15) He was strengthened by being with fellow Christians once again. We too draw strength from association with fellow Christians. As long as we are free and able to associate with one another, we must not try to walk alone along the cramped road leading off into life.—Proverbs 18:1; Matthew 7:14.
11. Mention some circumstances where “power beyond what is normal” is particularly needed.
11 Through regular prayer, study of God’s Word, and association with fellow believers, we “go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength.” (Ephesians 6:10) All of us undoubtedly need “power in the Lord.” Some suffer from debilitating illnesses, others from the ravages of old age or from the loss of a lifetime companion. (Psalm 41:3) Others endure the opposition of an unbelieving mate. Parents, especially single parents, may find that caring for a full-time job while bringing up a family is an exhausting responsibility. Young Christians need the strength to stand up to peer pressure and to say no to drugs and immorality. No one should hesitate to ask Jehovah for “power beyond what is normal” to cope with such challenges.—2 Corinthians 4:7.
“Giving to the Tired One Power”
12. How does Jehovah sustain us in the Christian ministry?
12 Further, Jehovah gives power to his servants when they carry out their ministry. We read in Isaiah’s prophecy: “He is giving to the tired one power; and to the one without dynamic energy he makes full might abound. . . . Those who are hoping in Jehovah will regain power. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not tire out.” (Isaiah 40:29-31) The apostle Paul personally received power to perform his ministry. As a result, his ministry was effective. To Christians in Thessalonica, he wrote: “The good news we preach did not turn up among you with speech alone but also with power and with holy spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5) His preaching and teaching had the power to work great changes in the lives of those who listened to him.
13. What strengthened Jeremiah to persevere despite opposition?
13 When confronted by an indifferent spirit in our territory—a territory in which we may have preached repeatedly for years with little response—we may become disheartened. Jeremiah similarly felt discouraged by the opposition, ridicule, and apathy he met up with. “I am not going to make mention of [God], and I shall speak no more in his name,” he told himself. But he could not keep quiet. His message “proved to be like a burning fire shut up in [his] bones.” (Jeremiah 20:9) What gave him renewed power in the face of so much adversity? “Jehovah was with me like a terrible mighty one,” Jeremiah said. (Jeremiah 20:11) Jeremiah’s appreciation of the vital importance of his message and of his God-given assignment made him responsive to Jehovah’s encouragement.
The Power to Hurt and the Power to Heal
14. (a) How powerful an instrument is the tongue? (b) Give examples to show the damage that the tongue can do.
14 Not all the power we possess comes directly from God. The tongue, for example, has the power to hurt as well as to heal. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” warns Solomon. (Proverbs 18:21) The results of Satan’s brief conversation with Eve show how much havoc can be wrought by words. (Genesis 3:1-5; James 3:5) We too can do much damage with the tongue. Disparaging remarks about a young girl’s weight could launch her on the road to anorexia. A thoughtless repetition of some slander might ruin a lifelong friendship. Yes, the tongue needs to be controlled.
15. How can we use our tongue to build up and to heal?
15 However, the tongue can build up as well as tear down. The Bible proverb says: “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) Wise Christians use the power of the tongue to comfort the depressed and the bereaved. Sympathetic words can encourage teenagers who are battling harmful peer pressure. A thoughtful tongue can reassure elderly brothers and sisters that they are still needed and loved. Kindly words can brighten the day of those who are sick. Above all, we can employ our tongue to share the powerful Kingdom message with all who will listen. Proclaiming the Word of God is within our power if our heart is in it. The Bible says: “Do not hold back good from those to whom it is owing, when it happens to be in the power of your hand to do it.”—Proverbs 3:27.
The Proper Use of Power
16, 17. When exercising their God-given authority, how can elders, parents, husbands, and wives imitate Jehovah?
16 Although he is almighty, Jehovah rules the congregation with love. (1 John 4:8) Imitating him, Christian overseers care for God’s flock lovingly—using, not abusing, their authority. True, overseers sometimes need to “reprove, reprimand, exhort,” but this is done “with all long-suffering and art of teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2) So elders constantly meditate on the words that the apostle Peter wrote to those with authority in the congregation: “Shepherd the flock of God in your care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly; neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock.”—1 Peter 5:2, 3; 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8.
17 Parents and husbands also have authority granted them by Jehovah, and this power should be used to help, nurture, and cherish. (Ephesians 5:22, 28-30; 6:4) Jesus’ example shows that authority can be effectively exercised in a loving way. If discipline is balanced and consistent, children do not become downhearted. (Colossians 3:21) Marriages are strengthened when Christian husbands lovingly exercise their headship and wives deeply respect their husbandly head rather than go beyond their God-assigned sphere of influence to dominate or get their way.—Ephesians 5:28, 33; 1 Peter 3:7.
18. (a) How should we imitate Jehovah’s example in controlling our anger? (b) What should those with authority try to instill in those under their care?
18 Those with authority in the family and in the congregation should be especially careful to control their anger, since anger instills fear rather than love. The prophet Nahum said: “Jehovah is slow to anger and great in power.” (Nahum 1:3; Colossians 3:19) Controlling our anger is a sign of strength, whereas giving vent to it is proof of weakness. (Proverbs 16:32) Both in the family and in the congregation, the goal is to instill love—love of Jehovah, love of one another, and love of right principles. Love is the strongest bond of union and the strongest motivation for doing what is right.—1 Corinthians 13:8, 13; Colossians 3:14.
19. What comforting assurance does Jehovah give, and how should we respond?
19 To know Jehovah is to recognize his power. Through Isaiah, Jehovah said: “Have you not come to know or have you not heard? Jehovah, the Creator of the extremities of the earth, is a God to time indefinite. He does not tire out or grow weary.” (Isaiah 40:28) Jehovah’s power is inexhaustible. If we rely on him and not on ourselves, he will not forsake us. He assures us: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not gaze about, for I am your God. I will fortify you. I will really help you. I will really keep fast hold of you with my right hand of righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10) How should we respond to his loving care? Like Jesus, let us always use whatever power Jehovah gives us to help and to build up. May we control our tongue so that it heals rather than harms. And may we always stay awake spiritually, stand firm in the faith, and grow mighty in the power of our Grand Creator, Jehovah God.—1 Corinthians 16:13.
a Apparently, the Jews discovered the original copy of the Law of Moses, which had been deposited in the temple centuries earlier.
Can You Explain?
• How does Jehovah use his power?
• In what ways can we draw on Jehovah’s power?
• How should the power of the tongue be employed?
• How can God-given authority be a blessing?
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Jesus used Jehovah’s strength to help others
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Proclaiming the Word of God is within our power if our heart is in it