Congregation Bible Study | Study information for the book: Draw Close to Jehovah
cl chap. 31 ¶1-12 (30 min.)
“Draw Close to God, and He Will Draw Close to You”
1-3. (a) What may we learn about human nature by observing the interaction between parents and their baby? (b) What process naturally unfolds when someone shows us love, and what important question can we ask ourselves?
PARENTS love to see their newborn baby smile. They often put their faces close to that of the infant, cooing and smiling expressively. They are eager to see a response. And before long, it comes—the baby’s cheeks dimple, the lips curl, and a delightful smile appears. In its own small way, that smile seems to express affection, the dawning love of the baby in response to the love of the parents.
2 The baby’s smile reminds us of something important about human nature. Our natural response to love is love. That is simply the way we are made. (Psalm 22:9) As we grow, we mature in our ability to respond to love. Perhaps you can recall from your own childhood how your parents, relatives, or friends expressed love for you. In your heart a warm feeling took root, grew, and blossomed into action. You showed your love in return. Is a similar process unfolding in your relationship with Jehovah God?
Psalm 22:9 9 You were the One who brought me out of the womb,The One who made me feel secure on my mother’s breasts.
3 The Bible says: “As for us, we love, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) In Sections 1 through 3 of this book, you were reminded that Jehovah God has exercised his power, his justice, and his wisdom in loving ways to your benefit. And in Section 4, you saw that he has directly expressed his love for mankind—and for you personally—in remarkable ways. Now comes a question. In a way, it is the most important question you can ask yourself: ‘How will I respond to Jehovah’s love?’
1 John 4:19 We love, because he first loved us.
What It Means to Love God
4. In what way are people confused about what it means to love God?
4 Jehovah, the Originator of love, well knows that love has immense power to bring out the best in others. So despite the persistent rebelliousness of unfaithful mankind, he has remained confident that some humans would respond to his love. And, indeed, millions have. Sadly, though, the religions of this corrupt world have left people confused about what it means to love God. Countless people say that they love God, but they seem to think that such love is merely a feeling to be expressed in words. Love for God may begin that way, just as a baby’s love for his parents may first show itself in a smile. In mature people, however, love involves more.
5. How does the Bible define love of God, and why should that definition appeal to us?
5 Jehovah defines what it means to love him. His Word says: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.” Love of God, then, needs to be expressed in action. Granted, many do not find the thought of obedience appealing. But the same verse kindly adds: “And yet [God’s] commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) Jehovah’s laws and principles are designed to benefit us, not to oppress us. (Isaiah 48:17, 18) God’s Word is full of principles that help us draw closer to him. How so? Let us review three aspects of our relationship with God. These involve communication, worship, and imitation.
1 John 5:3 For this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome,
Isaiah 48:17, 18 This is what Jehovah says, your Repurchaser, the Holy One of Israel: “I, Jehovah, am your God,The One teaching you to benefit yourself,The One guiding you in the way you should walk. 18 If only you would pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a riverAnd your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Communicating With Jehovah
6-8. (a) By what means can we listen to Jehovah? (b) How can we make the Scriptures live when we read them?
6 Chapter 1 opened with the question, “Can you imagine having a conversation with God?” We saw that this was not a fanciful concept. Moses, in effect, had such a conversation. What about us? Now is not Jehovah’s time to send his angels to converse with humans. But Jehovah has excellent means of communicating with us today. How can we listen to Jehovah?
7 Because “all Scripture is inspired of God,” we listen to Jehovah by reading his Word, the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16) The psalmist thus urged servants of Jehovah to do such reading “day and night.” (Psalm 1:1, 2) Doing so requires considerable effort on our part. But all efforts of that kind are well spent. As we saw in Chapter 18, the Bible is like a precious letter to us from our heavenly Father. So reading it should not be a chore. We must make the Scriptures live when we read them. How can we do that?
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness,
Psalm 1:1, 2 Happy is the man who does not walk according to the advice of the wickedAnd does not stand on the path of sinnersAnd does not sit in the seat of scoffers. 2 But his delight is in the law of Jehovah,And he reads His law in an undertone day and night.
8 Visualize the Bible accounts as you read. Try to see the Bible characters as real people. Seek to grasp their background, circumstances, and motives. Then, think deeply about what you read, asking yourself such questions as: ‘What does this account teach me about Jehovah? Which of his qualities do I see? What principle does Jehovah want me to learn, and how can I put it to work in my life?’ Read, meditate, and apply—as you do, God’s Word will come alive for you.—Psalm 77:12; James 1:23-25.
Psalm 77:12 And I will meditate on all your activityAnd ponder over your dealings.
James 1:23-25 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, this one is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, and he goes away and immediately forgets what sort of person he is. 25 But the one who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and continues in it has become, not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work; and he will be happy in what he does.
9. Who is “the faithful and discreet slave,” and why is it important that we listen attentively to that “slave”?
9 Jehovah also speaks to us by means of “the faithful and discreet slave.” As Jesus foretold, a small group of anointed Christian men has been appointed to provide spiritual “food at the proper time” during these troublesome last days. (Matthew 24:45-47) When we read literature prepared to help us acquire accurate knowledge of the Bible and when we attend Christian meetings and conventions, we are being fed spiritually by that slave. Because it is Christ’s slave, we wisely apply Jesus’ words: “Pay attention to how you listen.” (Luke 8:18) We listen attentively because we recognize the faithful slave as one of Jehovah’s means of communicating with us.
Matthew 24:45-47 “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Happy is that slave if his master on coming finds him doing so! 47 Truly I say to you, he will appoint him over all his belongings.
Luke 8:18 Therefore, pay attention to how you listen, for whoever has will be given more, but whoever does not have, even what he imagines he has will be taken away from him.”
10-12. (a) Why is prayer a wonderful gift from Jehovah? (b) How can we pray in a manner pleasing to Jehovah, and why may we be confident that he values our prayers?
10 But what about communicating with God? Can we speak to Jehovah? It is an awe-inspiring thought. If you were to try to approach the most powerful ruler in your land in order to talk about some personal concern of yours, what would be your chances of success? In some cases, the very attempt might prove dangerous! In the days of Esther and Mordecai, a person could be put to death for approaching the Persian monarch without a royal invitation to do so. (Esther 4:10, 11) Now imagine coming before the Sovereign Lord of the universe, compared to whom even the most powerful of humans “are as grasshoppers.” (Isaiah 40:22) Should we feel too intimidated to approach him? By no means!
Esther 4:10, 11 Esther replied to Haʹthach with instructions to tell Morʹde•cai: 11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces are aware that if any man or woman goes into the king’s inner courtyard without being summoned, there is only one law that applies: He is to be put to death; he may live only if the king holds out to him the golden scepter. And I have not been summoned to the king now for 30 days.”
Isaiah 40:22 There is One who dwells above the circle of the earth,And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He is stretching out the heavens like a fine gauze,And he spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
11 Jehovah has provided an open, yet simple, means of approach to him—prayer. Even a very young child can pray to Jehovah in faith, doing so in the name of Jesus. (John 14:6; Hebrews 11:6) Yet, prayer also enables us to transmit our most complex, intimate thoughts and feelings—even the painful ones that we find difficult to put into words. (Romans 8:26) It does no good to try to impress Jehovah with eloquent, flowery speech or with lengthy, wordy prayers. (Matthew 6:7, 8) On the other hand, Jehovah puts no limits on how long we may speak to him or how often. His Word even invites us to “pray incessantly.”—1 Thessalonians 5:17.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Hebrews 11:6 Moreover, without faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.
Romans 8:26 In like manner, the spirit also joins in with help for our weakness; for the problem is that we do not know what we should pray for as we need to, but the spirit itself pleads for us with unuttered groanings.
Matthew 6:7, 8 When praying, do not say the same things over and over again as the people of the nations do, for they imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words. 8 So do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need even before you ask him.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray constantly.
12 Remember that Jehovah alone is called the “Hearer of prayer,” and he listens with genuine empathy. (Psalm 65:2) Does he merely tolerate the prayers of his faithful servants? No, he actually finds pleasure in them. His Word compares such prayers to incense, the burning of which sends sweet-smelling, restful smoke upward. (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; 8:4) Is it not comforting to think that our sincere prayers likewise ascend and please the Sovereign Lord? So if you want to draw close to Jehovah, humbly pray to him often, every day. Pour out your heart to him; hold nothing back. (Psalm 62:8) Share your concerns, your joys, your thanks, and your praise with your heavenly Father. As a result, the bond between you and him will grow ever stronger.
Psalm 65:2 2 O Hearer of prayer, to you people of all sorts will come.
Psalm 141:2 2 May my prayer be as incense prepared before you,My uplifted hands like the evening grain offering.
Revelation 5:8 When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb, and each one had a harp and golden bowls that were full of incense. (The incense means the prayers of the holy ones.)
Revelation 8:4 The smoke of the incense from the hand of the angel ascended with the prayers of the holy ones before God.
Psalm 62:8 8 Trust in him at all times, O people. Pour out your hearts before him. God is a refuge for us. (Selah)
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