Never Cease Growing in Your Appreciation
“How precious your thoughts are! O God, how much does the grand sum of them amount to!”—PSALM 139:17.
1, 2. Why should we appreciate God’s Word, and how did the psalmist voice his appreciation?
IT WAS a sensational find. While repairs were being made on Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem, High Priest Hilkiah found “the book of Jehovah’s law by the hand of Moses,” doubtless the original copy completed some 800 years earlier! Can you imagine how God-fearing King Josiah must have felt when that book was placed before him? Indeed, he prized it and immediately had Shaphan, the secretary, read it aloud.—2 Chronicles 34:14-18.
2 Today, God’s Word, in whole or in part, can be read by billions. But does that make the Scriptures less valuable, less important? Of course not! After all, they contain the very thoughts of the Almighty, recorded for our benefit. (2 Timothy 3:16) Expressing his feelings about God’s Word, the psalmist David wrote: “To me how precious your thoughts are! O God, how much does the grand sum of them amount to!”—Psalm 139:17.
3. What shows that David was a man of spiritual depth?
3 David’s appreciation for Jehovah, his Word, and his arrangement for true worship never faded. The many beautiful psalms David composed expressed how he felt. For example, at Psalm 27:4, he wrote: “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.” In the original Hebrew, the expression “to look with appreciation” means to linger in contemplation, to scrutinize, to see with pleasure, delight, admiration. Clearly, David was a man of spiritual depth who truly appreciated Jehovah’s spiritual provisions and relished every morsel of spiritual truth that God revealed. His example of appreciation is worthy of imitation.—Psalm 19:7-11.
Appreciate the Privilege of Knowing Bible Truth
4. What caused Jesus to become “overjoyed in the holy spirit”?
4 Gaining insight into God’s Word does not depend on intellect or worldly education, which tend to foster pride. Instead, it depends on Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, which he extends toward humble, honesthearted people who are conscious of their spiritual need. (Matthew 5:3; 1 John 5:20) When Jesus reflected on the fact that some imperfect humans were having their names inscribed in heaven, “he became overjoyed in the holy spirit and said: ‘I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have carefully hidden these things from wise and intellectual ones, and have revealed them to babes.’”—Luke 10:17-21.
5. Why were Jesus’ disciples not to take for granted the Kingdom truths revealed to them?
5 After uttering that heartfelt prayer, Jesus turned to his disciples and said: “Happy are the eyes that behold the things you are beholding. For I say to you, Many prophets and kings desired to see the things you are beholding but did not see them, and to hear the things you are hearing but did not hear them.” Yes, Jesus encouraged his faithful followers not to take for granted the precious Kingdom truths being revealed to them. These truths had not been revealed to earlier generations of God’s servants, and they were certainly not disclosed to the “wise and intellectual ones” of Jesus’ day!—Luke 10:23, 24.
6, 7. (a) What reasons do we have for being appreciative of divine truth? (b) What contrast is seen today between true religion and false?
6 In our day, we have even more reasons for being appreciative of divine truth, for Jehovah, by means of “the faithful and discreet slave,” has given his people still deeper insight into his Word. (Matthew 24:45; Daniel 12:10) Concerning the time of the end, the prophet Daniel wrote: “Many will rove about, and the true knowledge will become abundant.” (Daniel 12:4) Do you not agree that today the knowledge of God has “become abundant” and that Jehovah’s servants are well-fed spiritually?
7 What a contrast we see between the spiritual prosperity of God’s people and the religious confusion of Babylon the Great! As a result, many who are disillusioned or disgusted with false religion are turning to true worship. They are sheeplike ones who “do not want to share with [Babylon the Great] in her sins” or “receive part of her plagues.” Jehovah and his servants invite all such ones into the true Christian congregation.—Revelation 18:2-4; 22:17.
Appreciative Ones Flock to God
8, 9. How are the words of Haggai 2:7 being fulfilled today?
8 Concerning his spiritual house of worship, Jehovah foretold: “I will rock all the nations, and the desirable things of all the nations must come in; and I will fill this house with glory.” (Haggai 2:7) This amazing prophecy had a fulfillment in the time of Haggai when a restored remnant of God’s people rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. Today, Haggai’s words are having further fulfillment in regard to Jehovah’s great spiritual temple.
9 Millions have already flocked to the figurative temple in order to worship God “with spirit and truth,” and every year hundreds of thousands of “desirable things of all the nations” continue to stream in. (John 4:23, 24) For example, the worldwide report for the 2006 service year shows that 248,327 were baptized in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah. That represents an average of 680 new ones every day! Their love of the truth and their desire to serve Jehovah as Kingdom proclaimers give evidence that they truly were drawn by God.—John 6:44, 65.
10, 11. Relate an experience that shows how people have come to appreciate Bible truth.
10 Many of these honesthearted ones were attracted to the truth because they discerned “the distinction between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.” (Malachi 3:18) Consider the experience of Wayne and Virginia, a married couple who belonged to a Protestant church but who had many unanswered questions. They hated war and were confused and disturbed when they saw the clergy blessing soldiers and weapons. As the couple grew older, they felt ignored by others in the church, even though Virginia had taught Sunday school for a number of years. “No one called on us or expressed interest in our spiritual welfare,” they said. “All that the church wanted was our money. We felt lost.” They became even more disillusioned when their church adopted a permissive stance on homosexuality.
11 In the meantime, Wayne and Virginia’s granddaughter and then their daughter became Jehovah’s Witnesses. Though Wayne and Virginia were upset about this at first, they later changed their mind and accepted a Bible study. “In just three months,” said Wayne, “we learned more about the Bible than we had learned over the previous 70 years! We never knew that God’s name is Jehovah, and we knew nothing about the Kingdom and the Paradise earth.” Before long, this sincere couple began to attend Christian meetings and to share in the ministry. “We want to tell everyone about the truth,” said Virginia. Both in their 80’s, they were baptized in 2005. “We have found a true Christian home,” they said.
Appreciate Being “Equipped for Every Good Work”
12. What does Jehovah always provide for his servants, and what must we do to benefit?
12 Jehovah always helps his servants to do his will. Noah, for example, received clear, specific instructions on how to build the ark—a project that had to be just right the first time! And it was. Why? Because Noah “proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.” (Genesis 6:14-22) Today, too, Jehovah fully equips his servants to do his will. Of course, our primary work is to preach the good news of God’s established Kingdom and help deserving ones become disciples of Jesus Christ. And as was true of Noah, our success depends on obedience. We must obediently follow the direction Jehovah provides through his Word and his organization.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.
13. By what means does Jehovah provide us with training?
13 In order to accomplish that work, we must learn to ‘handle aright’ our main tool—God’s Word—which is “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16, 17) As in the first century, Jehovah gives us valuable training through the Christian congregation. Today, in the 99,770 congregations worldwide, the Theocratic Ministry School and Service Meeting are held weekly to help us in the ministry. Do you show your appreciation for these important meetings by regularly attending and by applying the things you learn?—Hebrews 10:24, 25.
14. How do Jehovah’s servants demonstrate their appreciation for the privilege of serving God? (Include comments on the chart on pages 27-30.)
14 Exerting themselves in the ministry, millions of God’s people around the world are demonstrating their appreciation for the training they receive. For example, during the 2006 service year, 6,741,444 Kingdom publishers spent a total of 1,333,966,199 hours in all facets of the work, which included the conducting of 6,286,618 home Bible studies. These are just some of the encouraging details listed in the worldwide report. We invite you to take a close look at this report and draw encouragement from it, just as our first-century brothers no doubt drew much encouragement from reports about the expansion of the preaching work in their time.—Acts 1:15; 2:5-11, 41, 47; 4:4; 6:7.
15. Why should no one feel discouraged about his whole-souled service to Jehovah?
15 The tremendous shout of praise that ascends to God each year reflects the deep appreciation that Jehovah’s servants have for the privilege of knowing Jehovah and bearing witness to him. (Isaiah 43:10) True, the sacrifice of praise that some of our aged, sick, or infirm brothers and sisters offer can be compared to the widow’s mite. But let us not forget that Jehovah and his Son truly appreciate all who serve God whole-souled, as they do all that they are able to do.—Luke 21:1-4; Galatians 6:4.
16. What teaching tools has God provided in recent times?
16 Besides training us for the ministry, Jehovah, through his organization, equips us with excellent teaching tools. In recent decades, these have included the books The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life and, currently, What Does the Bible Really Teach? Those who truly appreciate these provisions make good use of them in the ministry.
Make Good Use of the Bible Teach Book
17, 18. (a) Which parts of the Bible Teach book do you like to highlight in your ministry? (b) What did one circuit overseer observe about the Bible Teach book?
17 With its 19 chapters, in-depth appendix, and clear, simple language, the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? is proving to be a boon to the ministry. For example, chapter 12 discusses the subject “Living in a Way That Pleases God.” This material explains to the student how he can become a friend of God, something that many have never even considered or thought possible. (James 2:23) How is this Bible study aid being received?
18 A circuit overseer in Australia reports that the Bible Teach book has an “instant appeal that quickly draws householders into a conversation.” He adds that the book is so easy to use that it “has given many Kingdom publishers renewed confidence and joy in the ministry. No wonder some are calling the book the Gold Nugget!”
19-21. Relate some experiences that highlight the value of the Bible Teach book.
19 “God must have sent you,” said a woman in Guyana to the pioneer at her door. The woman’s partner had recently left her and their two small children. The pioneer opened the Bible Teach book to chapter 1 and read aloud paragraph 11, under the subhead “How Does God Feel About Injustices We Face?” “The points touched her deeply,” said the pioneer. “In fact, she had to get up, go to the back of her shop, and have a good cry.” This woman accepted the offer of a regular Bible study with a local sister and is continuing to make progress.
20 José, who lives in Spain, lost his wife in a traffic accident. He sought solace in drugs, and he also obtained professional help. However, the psychologists could not answer the question that disturbed José most: “Why did God allow my wife to die?” One day José met Francesc, who worked for the same company. Francesc suggested that they discuss chapter 11 of the Bible Teach book, entitled “Why Does God Allow Suffering?” The Scriptural explanation and the illustration of a teacher and a pupil deeply impressed José. He began to study in earnest, attended a circuit assembly, and now attends meetings at the local Kingdom Hall.
21 Roman, a 40-year-old businessman in Poland, has always had respect for the Word of God. But because he was very involved in his work, he progressed only to a certain point in his Bible study. Nevertheless, he attended a district convention and received a copy of the Bible Teach book. Thereafter, he made marked improvement. “With this book,” he says, “all the basic teachings of the Bible seem to come together to form a complete picture, like a jigsaw puzzle.” Roman now studies the Bible regularly and is making fine progress.
Continue to Grow in Appreciation
22, 23. How can we continue to show our appreciation for the hope that is set before us?
22 As explained at the thrilling “Deliverance at Hand!” District Conventions, true Christians yearn for the “everlasting deliverance” promised by God and made possible by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. There is no better way to show our heartfelt appreciation for this precious hope than by continuing to be cleansed “from dead works that we may render sacred service to the living God.”—Hebrews 9:12, 14.
23 Yes, that over six million Kingdom proclaimers faithfully endure in God’s service when the pressure to serve self is at an all-time high is truly a miracle. It is also proof that Jehovah’s servants deeply appreciate the honor of serving God, knowing that their “labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.” May that appreciation never cease to grow!—1 Corinthians 15:58; Psalm 110:3.
How Would You Answer?
• What does the psalmist teach us about appreciation for God and his spiritual provisions?
• How are the words at Haggai 2:7 being fulfilled today?
• How has Jehovah equipped his servants to serve him effectively?
• What can you do to show your appreciation for Jehovah’s goodness?
[Chart on page 27-30]
2006 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)
[Pictures on page 25]
Jehovah fully equips us to do his will