“I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself.”—ISAIAH 48:17.
1, 2. (a) How do Jehovah’s Witnesses feel about the Bible? (b) What is your favorite part of the Bible?
2 Most likely, all of us have our favorite parts of the Bible. Some like the Gospels because they show Jehovah’s beautiful personality through Jesus. (John 14:9) Others prefer prophetic books such as Revelation, which shows us “the things that must shortly take place.” (Revelation 1:1) Some are comforted when they read the Psalms, and others enjoy reading the helpful advice in the book of Proverbs. Clearly, then, the Bible is a book for everyone.
3, 4. (a) How do we feel about our publications? (b) What publications do we receive for specific groups of people?
3 Because we love the Bible, we also love our publications, which are based on God’s Word. All the books, brochures, magazines, and other literature we receive are provisions from Jehovah. They help us to stay close to him and to keep our faith strong.—Titus 2:2.
4 Many of our publications are written for Jehovah’s Witnesses in general. However, there are some publications that are written for specific groups, such as young ones or parents. Most of the articles and videos on our website are prepared specifically for people who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. Such a variety of material shows that Jehovah has kept his promise to provide plenty of instruction for all people.—Isaiah 25:6.
5. We can be sure that Jehovah appreciates what?
5 Most of us would like to have more time to read the Bible and our publications. So we may not always spend the same amount of time studying every publication we get. We can be sure that Jehovah is pleased with us when we use our time wisely to read and study the Bible and our publications. (Ephesians 5:15, 16) However, there is a danger that we must be careful to avoid. What is it?
6. What could cause us to miss out on the benefits of Jehovah’s provisions?
6 If we are not careful, we might think that certain parts of the Bible or certain publications do not apply to us. For example, what if a part of the Bible does not seem practical for our situation? Or what if we are not part of the main audience for a publication? Do we just read such information quickly or even avoid reading it at all? If so, we could miss out on valuable information that would benefit us. How can we avoid that danger? We should remember that all the information we get comes from Jehovah. In the Bible we read: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself.” (Isaiah 48:17) In this article, we will discuss three suggestions that will help us to benefit from all the provisions that Jehovah gives us.
SUGGESTIONS FOR BENEFICIAL BIBLE READING
7. Why do we need to read the Bible with an open mind?
7 Read with an open mind. It is true that some parts of the Bible were written for a specific person or group of people. However, the Bible clearly says that “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial.” (2 Timothy 3:16) That is why we need to have an open mind when we read the Bible. One brother tries to remember that he can learn several lessons from just one account. That helps him to see lessons that are not so obvious. So before we read the Bible, we should ask Jehovah to give us an open mind and the wisdom to understand the lessons that he wants us to learn.—Ezra 7:10; read James 1:5.
8, 9. (a) When reading the Bible, what questions might we ask ourselves? (b) What do the qualifications for Christian elders tell us about Jehovah?
8 Ask questions. When you read the Bible, stop and ask yourself the following questions: ‘What does this tell me about Jehovah? How can I use this information in my life? How can I use it to help others?’ When we meditate on these questions, we will benefit more from our Bible reading. Let us look at one example. The Bible describes certain qualifications for Christian elders. (Read 1 Timothy 3:2-7.) Yet most of us are not elders, so we may think that this information cannot help us in any way. However, let us use the three questions mentioned earlier to see how this list of qualifications can help all of us.
9 “What does this tell me about Jehovah?” Jehovah gave us the list of qualifications for elders. He has high standards for the men who care for the congregation. This shows that the congregation is precious to Jehovah. The Bible says that he bought it “with the blood of his own Son.” (Acts 20:28) So Jehovah expects elders to be good examples, and they are accountable to him for the way they treat members of the congregation. He wants us to feel safe under their care. (Isaiah 32:1, 2) When we read these qualifications, we learn how much Jehovah truly cares for us.
Jehovah expects each of us to be reasonable and to use good judgment
10, 11. (a) When reading the qualifications for elders, how can we apply the information in our own life? (b) How can we use this information to help others?
10 “How can I use this information in my life?” If you are already an elder, you should regularly review the list of qualifications and try to improve. If you are “reaching out to be an overseer,” you should try to meet these qualifications to the best of your ability. (1 Timothy 3:1) But all Christians can learn from these qualifications. For example, Jehovah expects each of us to be reasonable and to use good judgment. (Philippians 4:5; 1 Peter 4:7) When the elders are “examples to the flock,” we can learn from them and “imitate their faith.”—1 Peter 5:3; Hebrews 13:7.
11 “How can I use this information to help others?” We can use the list of qualifications for Christian elders to help Bible students and other interested ones to understand how the elders are different from the religious clergy. This list can also help us to remember the hard work that the elders do in our congregation. And this, in turn, will help us to respect these brothers. (1 Thessalonians 5:12) The more we respect them, the more joy they will have in their assignment.—Hebrews 13:17.
12, 13. (a) Using tools available to us, what kind of research might we do? (b) Give an example of how background information may reveal lessons that are not immediately obvious.
12 Do research. When we study the Bible, we can look for the answers to the following questions:
Who wrote this part of the Bible?
Where and when was it written?
What important events were happening when this book was written?
Such information may help us to see lessons that are not immediately obvious to us.
13 For example, Ezekiel 14:13, 14 says: “If a land sins against me by acting unfaithfully, I will stretch out my hand against it and destroy its food supply, and I will send famine upon it and cut off man and animal from it. ‘Even if these three men—Noah, Daniel, and Job—were within it, they would be able to save only themselves because of their righteousness,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” If we do some research, we learn that Ezekiel wrote those words about 612 years before Christ. Noah and Job had already been dead for hundreds of years, but Jehovah still remembered their faithfulness. Daniel, however, was still alive. Most likely, he was about 20 years old when Jehovah said that he was righteous just like Noah and Job. What do we learn? Jehovah sees and values all of his faithful servants, including young ones.—Psalm 148:12-14.
BENEFIT FROM A VARIETY OF PUBLICATIONS
14. How does the material published for young people help them, and how can it benefit others too? (See opening picture.)
14 Literature for young people. We have learned that we can benefit from all parts of the Bible. In a similar way, we can benefit from all our publications. Let us consider a few examples. In recent years, Jehovah has provided a lot of information for young people. (See endnote.) This information helps them to cope with pressures at school and the challenges of growing up. But how can all of us benefit from reading these articles and books? When we read this information, we learn about the problems young people have and are better able to help and encourage them.
Adult Christians should not be too proud to read information for young people
15. Why should adult Christians be interested in information for young people?
15 Adult Christians should not be too proud to read information for young people. Many of the problems discussed in the articles for them affect all Christians. For example, all of us need to defend our beliefs, control our emotions, reject peer pressure, and avoid bad association and entertainment. So even though these publications were written for young people, the information in them comes from the Bible, and all Christians can benefit.
16. What else do our publications help young people to do?
16 Publications written for young people can also help them to strengthen their friendship with Jehovah. (Read Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13.) And adults can benefit too. For example, the April 2009 issue of Awake! included the article “Young People Ask . . . How Can I Make Bible Reading Enjoyable?” That article had several helpful suggestions and included a box that could be cut out, kept, and used for study. Did adults benefit from the article? One wife and mother said that Bible reading has always been difficult for her. But she used the suggestions in the article and now looks forward to Bible reading. She says that she enjoys seeing how the books of the Bible are related and create a beautiful picture, adding, “I have never been this excited over Bible reading.”
17, 18. How can we benefit from reading material written for the public? Give an example.
17 Literature for the public. Since 2008 we have enjoyed the study edition of The Watchtower. This edition is written mostly for Jehovah’s Witnesses, but we also have magazines that are mainly for the public. How can we benefit from those as well? Let us use an example. When you invite a person to the Kingdom Hall and he comes, you are excited. While the speaker gives his talk, you think about your guest. You wonder how this person feels about the things he is hearing and how the information can change his life. As a result, your heart is touched and you are even more grateful for that subject.
18 Something similar may happen to us when we read literature written for the public. For example, the public edition of The Watchtower and articles on jw.org explain the Bible using words and expressions that are easy to understand. When we read this information, we deepen our understanding and love for Bible truths that we already know well. Also, we may learn new ways to explain our beliefs in the ministry. In a similar way, the Awake! magazine strengthens our belief that there is a Creator. It also helps us learn how to defend our beliefs.—Read 1 Peter 3:15.
19. How can we show our gratitude to Jehovah for his provisions?
19 Clearly, Jehovah has provided plenty of advice and instruction for our benefit. (Matthew 5:3) Let us continue to read and apply all the information he has given to us. If we do that, we will benefit and will show Jehovah that we are grateful for all of his provisions.—Isaiah 48:17.
^  (paragraph 14) Such information includes Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Volumes 1 and 2, as well as the series “Young People Ask,” which is now published exclusively online.