“They continued devoting themselves . . . to associating together.”
SONGS: 20, 119
1-3. (a) How have Christians shown that they are eager to meet together? (See opening picture.) (b) What will we discuss in this article?
WHEN Corinna was 17 years old, her mother was arrested and sent far away to a labor camp. Later, Corinna too was taken thousands of miles away from home to Siberia. There she worked on a farm and was treated like a slave. Sometimes she was forced to work outside in the freezing cold without enough clothes to keep her warm. Even so, Corinna and another sister decided that they would do everything they could to leave the farm and go to a congregation meeting.
2 Corinna said: “We left our work area in the evening and walked to a railway station 25 kilometers (15 miles) away. The train departed at two o’clock in the morning, and we rode for six hours before disembarking and walking ten kilometers (six miles) to the meeting place.” Corinna was so happy that she had made that journey. She said: “At the meeting, we studied The Watchtower and sang Kingdom songs. It was a very upbuilding and faith-strengthening experience for us.” The two sisters returned to the farm three days later, but the farmer had not even noticed that they were gone.
3 Jehovah’s people have always looked forward to being with one another. For example, the first Christians were eager to meet together to worship Jehovah and learn about him. (Acts 2:42) Of course, you too likely look forward to going to the meetings. But like all your brothers and sisters, you may find it difficult to be at the meetings regularly. Perhaps you need to work many hours or you have a lot to do or you always feel tired. So, what will help us to do everything we can to be at our meetings?  (See endnote.) How can we encourage our Bible students and others to be at our meetings regularly? This article will explain why attending meetings (1) is good for us, (2) helps others, and (3) pleases Jehovah. 
MEETINGS ARE GOOD FOR US
4. How does meeting together help us to learn about Jehovah?
4 Meetings educate us. Every meeting helps us to learn more about Jehovah. For example, most congregations recently studied the book Draw Close to Jehovah at the Congregation Bible Study. How did you feel when we discussed Jehovah’s qualities and when you heard how your brothers feel about him? Surely this made you love Jehovah even more. At the meetings, we also learn more about the Bible by paying attention to talks and demonstrations and by listening carefully when the Bible is read. (Nehemiah 8:8) And think of the many things we discover every week when we prepare for the Bible reading and then hear what others have learned from it.
5. How have meetings helped you to use what you learned from the Bible and to improve the way you preach?
5 Meetings teach us to use what we learn from the Bible in our lives. (1 Thessalonians 4:9, 10) For example, have you attended a Watchtower Study that made you want to do more in Jehovah’s service, to improve your prayers, or to forgive a brother or a sister? The meeting we have midweek can teach us how to preach the good news and how to help others understand the truth from the Bible.
6. How do our meetings encourage us and help us to keep strong?
6 Meetings encourage us. Satan’s world tries to weaken our faith and can make us feel stressed and discouraged. But our meetings encourage us and give us the strength to keep serving Jehovah. (Read Acts 15:30-32.) Often, we discuss how prophecies in the Bible have come true. This can help us feel even more sure that Jehovah’s promises for the future will come true. Our brothers and sisters encourage us not only when they give talks but also when they give comments and praise Jehovah by singing from the heart. (1 Corinthians 14:26) And when we speak to them before and after the meetings, we feel refreshed because we have many friends who really care for us.
Our meetings encourage us and give us the strength to keep serving Jehovah
7. Why is it so important to be at our meetings?
7 At the meetings, we receive the help of God’s holy spirit. Jesus uses this holy spirit to lead the congregations. In fact, he told us that we should “hear what the spirit says to the congregations.” (Revelation 2:7) Holy spirit can help us to resist temptation and to preach boldly. It can also help us to make good decisions. That is why we must do all we can to be at our meetings and receive the help of God’s holy spirit.
WE HELP OTHERS AT THE MEETINGS
8. When our brothers see us at the meetings and hear us comment and sing, how does this help them? (See also the box “He Always Leaves Feeling Better.”)
8 At the meetings, we have opportunities to show our brothers and sisters that we love them. Many in our congregation are enduring great difficulties. The apostle Paul wrote: “Let us be concerned about one another.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25; footnote) We can show we care about our brothers by meeting together to encourage one another. When we go to the meetings, we show our brothers that we want to be with them and talk with them and that we are interested in how they are feeling. We also encourage them when they hear us comment and sing from our heart.
9, 10. (a) Explain how Jesus’ words found at John 10:16 help us to understand why it is important to meet with our brothers. (b) If we are at the meetings regularly, how can we help someone who has been rejected by his family?
9 When we go to the meetings, we help the congregation to stay close together. (Read John 10:16.) Jesus compared himself to a shepherd and his followers to a flock of sheep. Think about this: If two sheep are on a hill, two other sheep are in a valley, and one sheep is somewhere else, are those five sheep a flock? No, because a flock of sheep stays together and follows the shepherd. In a similar way, we should not stay away from our brothers by not coming to the meetings. We need to meet together to become part of “one flock” and to follow “one shepherd.”
10 Our meetings help us to be united as a loving family. (Psalm 133:1) Some in the congregation have been rejected by their close family members, such as their parents or their brothers or sisters. But Jesus promised to give them a family who would love them and look after them. (Mark 10:29, 30) If you attend meetings regularly, you could become like a father, mother, brother, or sister to someone in the congregation. When we think of that, we want to do our best to be at all the meetings.
WE WILL PLEASE JEHOVAH
11. How does attending meetings help us to give Jehovah what he deserves?
11 At the meetings, we give Jehovah what he deserves. Since he is our Creator, we should thank him, honor him, and praise him. (Read Revelation 7:12.) We can do this at the meetings when we pray to Jehovah, sing to him, and speak about him. What a wonderful opportunity we have every week to worship Jehovah!
Jehovah notices that we really want to be at the meetings and values all the effort we make to be there
12. How does Jehovah feel when we obey his command to attend meetings?
12 Jehovah created us, and we should obey him. He commanded us to keep meeting together, especially as we get closer to the end. So when we obey that command, Jehovah is pleased. (1 John 3:22) He notices that we really want to be at the meetings and values all the effort we make to be there.
13, 14. How do we draw close to Jehovah and Jesus at meetings?
13 When we go to the meetings, we show Jehovah that we want to draw closer to him and his Son. At the meetings, we study the Bible and learn from Jehovah what we should do and how we should live. (Isaiah 30:20, 21) Even when some who do not serve Jehovah come to the meetings, they realize that God is guiding us. (1 Corinthians 14:23-25) Jehovah is directing our meetings with his holy spirit, and what we learn there comes from him. So when we go to the meetings, we listen to what Jehovah says, feel how much he loves us, and draw closer to him.
14 Jesus, the Head of the congregation, said: “Where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20) The Bible also says that Jesus “walks among” the congregations. (Revelation 1:20–2:1) Clearly, Jehovah and Jesus are with us and are strengthening us at our meetings. How do you think Jehovah feels when he sees that you are doing all you can to draw close to him and his Son?
15. How does going to meetings show God that we want to obey him?
15 When we go to the meetings, we show Jehovah that we want to obey him. Jehovah does not force us to do as he says. (Isaiah 43:23) So when we choose to obey his command to attend meetings, we show him that we love him and that we believe he has the right to tell us what to do. (Romans 6:17) For example, what will we do if our employer expects us to work so much that we cannot be at our meetings regularly? Or maybe the government says that if anyone meets to worship Jehovah, he will have to pay a fine, go to prison, or be punished with something even worse. Or at times we may simply prefer to do something else instead of going to the meetings. In each of these situations, we must decide what we will do. (Acts 5:29) But each time we choose to obey Jehovah, we make him happy.
KEEP MEETING WITH YOUR BROTHERS
16, 17. (a) How do we know that meetings were very important to Christians in the first century? (b) How did Brother George Gangas feel about Christian meetings?
16 After meeting together on Pentecost of the year 33, Christians met regularly to worship Jehovah. They “continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles, to associating together.” (Acts 2:42) And they did not stop meeting together even when they were persecuted by the Roman government and the Jewish religious leaders. Although it was not easy, they did all they could to continue meeting together.
17 Today, too, Jehovah’s servants feel very grateful for the meetings and enjoy being there. George Gangas, who was a member of the Governing Body for over 22 years, said: “To me, meeting with the brothers is one of life’s greatest pleasures and a source of encouragement. I love to be at the Kingdom Hall among the first, and leave among the last, if possible. I feel an inward joy when talking with God’s people. When I am among them I feel at home with my family, in a spiritual paradise.” He added: “My innermost thought and desire is to attend the meetings.”
18. How do you feel about our meetings, and what are you determined to do?
18 Do you also feel that way about worshipping Jehovah? If so, keep doing all you can to be with your brothers at the meetings, even when it is difficult. Show Jehovah that you truly feel like King David, who said: “Jehovah, I love the house where you dwell.”
^  (paragraph 3) Some of our brothers and sisters cannot go to the meetings regularly because of circumstances that they cannot control. For example, they may be very sick. They can be sure that Jehovah understands their situation and deeply appreciates everything they do to worship him. Elders can help these ones to listen to the meetings, perhaps by helping them set up a connection over the telephone or by recording the meetings for them.