Find Refreshment in Spiritual Things
“Take my yoke upon you . . . , and you will find refreshment for your souls.”—MATT. 11:29.
1. What did God arrange for at Mount Sinai, and why?
WHEN the Law covenant was inaugurated at Mount Sinai, it included the weekly Sabbath arrangement. Through his spokesman Moses, Jehovah commanded the nation of Israel: “Six days you are to do your work; but on the seventh day you are to desist, in order that your bull and your ass may rest and the son of your slave girl and the alien resident may refresh themselves.” (Ex. 23:12) Yes, out of consideration for those under the Law, Jehovah lovingly arranged for a day of rest so that his people might “refresh themselves.”
2. How did Israel benefit from keeping the Sabbath?
2 Was the Sabbath just a day for relaxation? No, it was an integral part of the Israelites’ worship of Jehovah. Keeping the Sabbath allowed family heads time to teach their family to “keep Jehovah’s way to do righteousness.” (Gen. 18:19) It also provided an opportunity for family and friends to get together to reflect on Jehovah’s deeds and to have joyous association. (Isa. 58:13, 14) More important, the Sabbath prophetically pointed forward to a time when true refreshment would come through Christ’s Millennial Reign. (Rom. 8:21) But what about our day? Where and how can true Christians, who are interested in Jehovah’s ways, find such refreshment?
Find Refreshment Through Christian Association
3. In what way did first-century Christians support one another, and with what result?
3 The apostle Paul described the Christian congregation as “a pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15) Early Christians received much support by encouraging one another and building one another up in love. (Eph. 4:11, 12, 16) While in Ephesus, Paul received an encouraging visit from members of the congregation in Corinth. Notice the effect that it had: “I rejoice over the presence of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus,” said Paul, “for they have refreshed my spirit.” (1 Cor. 16:17, 18) Similarly, when Titus went to Corinth to minister to the brothers there, Paul wrote back to the congregation, saying: “His spirit has been refreshed by all of you.” (2 Cor. 7:13) Likewise today, Jehovah’s Witnesses find genuine refreshment through upbuilding Christian fellowship.
4. How do congregation meetings refresh us?
4 You know from experience that congregation meetings are a source of great joy. There we find an “interchange of encouragement . . . each one through the other’s faith.” (Rom. 1:12) Our Christian brothers and sisters are not mere passing acquaintances, superficial associates with whom we casually meet now and again. They are true friends, people we love and respect. We receive much joy and comfort by regularly assembling with them at our meetings.—Philem. 7.
5. How can we refresh one another at conventions and assemblies?
5 Another source of refreshment comes through our annual conventions and assemblies. In addition to supplying life-giving waters of truth from God’s Word, the Bible, these larger gatherings provide opportunity for us to “widen out” in our associations. (2 Cor. 6:12, 13) But what if we are shy and find it difficult to meet people? One way to get acquainted with our brothers and sisters is to give of ourselves at a convention. After helping to assist at an international convention, one sister remarked: “Except for my family and a handful of friends, I didn’t know many there. But when I helped with the cleaning, I met a lot of brothers and sisters! It was great fun!”
6. What is one way we can find refreshment while on vacation?
6 The Israelites used to travel to Jerusalem for worship at three festivals each year. (Ex. 34:23) That often meant leaving fields and shops behind and traveling for days on foot along dusty roads. Still, going up to the temple resulted in “great rejoicing” as those present were ‘offering praise to Jehovah.’ (2 Chron. 30:21) Many of Jehovah’s servants today likewise find that traveling with their family to visit Bethel, the nearby branch facilities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, results in great rejoicing. Could you include such a visit in your next family vacation?
7. (a) How can social gatherings be beneficial? (b) What can contribute to a memorable and upbuilding gathering?
7 Getting together with family and friends for social gatherings can also be encouraging. Wise King Solomon declared: “With a man there is nothing better than that he should eat and indeed drink and cause his soul to see good because of his hard work.” (Eccl. 2:24) Social gatherings not only refresh the soul but also strengthen our bond of love with fellow Christians as we get to know them better. To help contribute to a memorable and upbuilding occasion, it is best to keep social gatherings small and to make sure that they are properly supervised, especially if any alcohol is served.
The Ministry Brings Refreshment
8, 9. (a) Contrast Jesus’ message with that of the scribes and Pharisees. (b) How do we benefit by sharing Bible truths?
8 Jesus was zealous for the ministry, and he encouraged his disciples to be the same. This is evident in his words: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9:37, 38) The message that Jesus taught was truly refreshing; it was “good news.” (Matt. 4:23; 24:14) This was in stark contrast with the burdensome rules that the Pharisees imposed on the people.—Read Matthew 23:4, 23, 24.
9 When sharing the Kingdom message with others, we offer them spiritual refreshment and, at the same time, sound down precious Bible truths into our own minds and hearts. The psalmist aptly said: “Praise Jah, you people, for it is good to make melody to our God; for it is pleasant.” (Ps. 147:1) Could you increase the joy you find in praising Jehovah to your neighbors?
10. Does our success in the ministry depend upon receiving a positive response to our message? Explain.
10 Granted, in some territories people are more receptive to the good news than they are in others. (Read Acts 18:1, 5-8.) If you live in an area where there is limited response to the Kingdom message, try to focus on the good that you are accomplishing in the ministry. Remember that your continued effort to proclaim Jehovah’s name is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:58) Moreover, people’s response to the good news is not the measure of our success. We can rest assured that Jehovah will see to it that righthearted people will be given an opportunity to respond to the Kingdom message.—John 6:44.
Family Worship Refreshes
11. What responsibility has Jehovah given parents, and how can they fulfill it?
11 Godly parents are responsible for instructing their children about Jehovah and his ways. (Deut. 11:18, 19) If you are a parent, do you schedule time to teach your children about our loving heavenly Father? To help you fulfill this solemn responsibility and address your family’s needs, Jehovah has supplied an abundance of wholesome spiritual food through books, magazines, videos, and audio recordings.
12, 13. (a) How can families benefit from the Family Worship evening? (b) How can parents make sure that their family worship is a source of refreshment?
12 In addition, the faithful and discreet slave class has made arrangements for a Family Worship evening. This is an evening set aside each week for family Bible study. Many have found that this arrangement has drawn them closer together in love and has strengthened their relationship with Jehovah. But how can parents make sure that their family worship is a source of spiritual refreshment?
13 The Family Worship evening should not be a dry, somber occasion. After all, we worship “the happy God,” and he wants us to be joyful in our worship. (1 Tim. 1:11; Phil. 4:4) Having an extra evening to discuss spiritual gems from the Bible is a real blessing. Parents can be flexible in their teaching methods, using imagination and ingenuity. For example, one family allowed their ten-year-old son, Brandon, to present a report entitled “Why Did Jehovah Use a Snake to Represent Satan?” This issue had bothered Brandon because he loves snakes, and he was upset that they were associated with Satan. Some families have occasionally put on Bible dramas, with each member of the family playing a character, reading his part from the Bible, or acting out an event. Not only are these teaching methods fun but they can keep your children involved, so that Bible principles can touch their heart. *
Avoid What Might Weigh You Down
14, 15. (a) How have stress and insecurity increased in the last days? (b) What added stress may we face?
14 Stress and insecurity have increased in these last days of this wicked system of things. Unemployment and other economic hardships affect millions. Even those who have a job often feel that the money they earn is carried home in a pocket full of holes, resulting in little benefit to their family. (Compare Haggai 1:4-6.) Politicians and other leaders seem helpless as they struggle to cope with terrorism and other sources of evil. Many people are plagued by their own personal shortcomings.—Ps. 38:4.
15 True Christians are not immune to the problems and pressures exerted by Satan’s system of things. (1 John 5:19) In some instances, Christ’s disciples may face certain added stress as they strive to remain faithful to Jehovah. “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also,” said Jesus. (John 15:20) However, even when “we are persecuted,” we are “not left in the lurch.” (2 Cor. 4:9) Why is that so?
16. What can help us to maintain our joy?
16 Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you.” (Matt. 11:28) By having full faith in the ransom provision of Christ, we put ourselves in Jehovah’s hands, so to speak. In this way, we obtain “power beyond what is normal.” (2 Cor. 4:7) “The helper,” God’s holy spirit, bolsters our faith significantly so that we can not only endure the trials and tribulations we face but also remain joyful.—John 14:26; Jas. 1:2-4.
17, 18. (a) What spirit do we need to guard against? (b) What can result from putting emphasis on mundane pleasures?
17 Genuine Christians today need to guard against being unduly influenced by the pleasure-mad spirit of this world. (Read Ephesians 2:2-5.) Otherwise, we may be ensnared by “the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life.” (1 John 2:16) Or we may mistakenly believe that yielding to the desires of the flesh will bring refreshment. (Rom. 8:6) For example, some people have turned to drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, extreme sports, or various illicit activities in an effort to excite their senses. The “crafty acts” of Satan are intended to mislead by giving one a perverted sense of refreshment.—Eph. 6:11, ftn.
18 True, there is nothing wrong with eating, drinking, and engaging in wholesome forms of entertainment when done in moderation. Yet, we do not allow such things to become our primary focus in life. Balance and self-control are vital, especially in view of the times in which we live. Personal pursuits could weigh us down to the extent that we become “inactive or unfruitful regarding the accurate knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—2 Pet. 1:8.
19, 20. How can true refreshment be found?
19 When we are attuned to Jehovah’s regulations, we recognize that any pleasures offered by this world are momentary. Moses realized that, and so do we. (Heb. 11:25) The fact is that true refreshment, the kind that brings a deep, long-lasting sense of joy and satisfaction, comes from doing our heavenly Father’s will.—Matt. 5:6.
20 May we continue to find refreshment in spiritual things. By doing so, we “repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires . . . while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of the Savior of us, Christ Jesus.” (Titus 2:12, 13) So let us be determined to remain under Jesus’ yoke by submitting to his authority and direction. In doing so, we will find true happiness and refreshment!
^ par. 13 For additional information on how a family study can be made interesting and informative, see Our Kingdom Ministry of December 1990, pages 1-2.
How Would You Answer?
• How do Jehovah’s people find refreshment today?
• In what way does the ministry refresh us and those to whom we speak?
• What can family heads do to make sure that their family worship brings refreshment?
• What things weigh us down spiritually?
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By taking Jesus’ yoke upon us, we find many sources of refreshment