THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 1-9-11
LESSON TITLE: “LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE: COOPERATION”
“Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” Just who do you focus on and rejoice in on this wondrous Lord’s Day morning? I hope your joy is in God and that you are fully committed to His precious will and service.
Thanks for joining us this day for God’s Living Word. Let me remind us again of just how blessed we are to have opportunities like this to praise our God and to do those things which are according to His will. Are you willing to do your part this morning to make this time successful in the service of God?
Now, as we begin our offering to God, will you bow with me in prayer!
What better way to worship God than in song. So at this time let’s join together in our first hymn of the day, its name, “Just Over In The Glory Land.”
(SONG # 1)
As we continue our thoughts this day on “rejoicing in the Lord,” we might consider one specific thing which we can rejoice in, as we live in this life. Think for a moment about the avenue of prayer which God has given us. Prayer is our way of approaching God’s Almighty throne, so that we may speak to our Creator directly. This is the very avenue which our God has provided that we might speak to him directly! Think about what a privilege this is as we can come before Him whenever we want and for whatever reason. Certainly prayer is an important part of the life of a Christian.
I might also ask us to consider the fact that prayer is a serious matter and it should not be handled in a care free or flippant manner! Read with me from Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” In this verse we are again reminded of the great outcome of prayer when it is done according to the will of God. However, we are also reminded of the seriousness of the situation, because we are coming before the very throne of God! Think about that for a moment! When we bow our heads and call on the name of the Lord, we are actually coming before His awesome throne! Now that puts things into perspective!
Finally, let me encourage us to consider just who we are to pray for! In 1 Timothy 2:1, we read, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.” We learn here that we are to pray for all men on this earth, whether faithful to God or not. Everyone needs the help of God to be able to know Him and to come to a full understanding and acceptance of His Word!
So consider this day the great opportunity and privilege we have to approach the wondrous throne of God in prayer. How blessed we are to have a God who cared enough for us to provide us a clear way to speak to Him whenever we need to. Furthermore, will we always remember that prayer is not only about our needs and wants, but about those who are around us as well?
Today we will be continuing our discussion from our series entitled, “Let Your Light So Shine.” The specific title of our talk will be, “Cooperation!” So please stay with us this morning, and after our next song together, I will lead us in our main thoughts of the day. But for now let’s join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, “Leaning on The Everlasting Arms.”
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
Thank you so much for continuing with us today as we now go to God’s Word and consider yet another important idea from its text in relationship to our light shining in this world. Certainly everything that we say in this life must be that which edifies, encourages and leads some towards Christ or at least helps them to know that we are of Christ, but on the other hand, everything we do, so all of our actions, our attitudes and even our characteristics must be becoming of a Christian and be that which is imitating the Spirit of Jesus Christ Himself.
So last week we began to talk about the concept of wisdom and our focus in trying to not only know what God wants but to apply it in the right way. Then this day we want to continue by looking at another precious thought that will help us to be better workers together in the kingdom of God.
In the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 4 and verse 9 the phrase and statement began such as this, “Two are better than one.” You know I want you to think about that just for a moment. “Two are better than one.” Some people believe that they can go it alone and they don’t need anyone else. Some societies and countries believe that they can be completely on their own and they really don’t need those who are outside. And we think about life in and of itself, many times people are led into believing somehow that they are alone and really need no one and nothing else in this life.
I was driving down the road the other day and I saw these two big ole Clydesdale horses pulling a wagon together, and those horses were working together in unison to take it in the proper direction. Of course there was a man steering it, but they were following directly what he asked them to do and through the reigns, and leading them down a certain path no matter which direction you might go. We don’t see that a whole lot anymore in our day and time, but you still can see such things. Many of us can think back even to earlier days and years, and some of you yourselves might even at some point used even in the garden or in the farm situation maybe horses or mules, maybe even donkeys or oxen that would be put together and yoked and attached to some type of farm equipment, maybe a plow, so that you would be able to accomplish a work in a much faster way because these animals have great power, certainly much more power than a single man himself trying to dig the ground.
With that in mind then, what is necessary in having those two oxen or those two mules? That they cooperate with one another, that they work together. Now knowing that, certainly there are some bullheaded people and there are certainly some bullheaded animals and you find that sometimes there is a mule or a donkey that you just can’t put in a yoke with another animal because it just won’t cooperate, and it just won’t work together with another animal and it just won’t listen to the commands.
Well what is it that we need to learn in this life? Well the Bible teaches us a lot about cooperation, about being a people who learn to work with others and to accomplish tasks together. What does that word mean “cooperation?” It is actually “the work of jointly accomplishing something together to accomplish the same end, a mutual or a common endeavor.”
An easy idea of that might be that I am needing to move a piece of furniture from point A to point B and certainly the couch is too big for me to do it so I might call my son or call someone else and say, “Hey, help me move this couch.” We have to cooperate. Now if we pick it up and he starts going one direction and I go the other direction, and we both say, “No, we’re going my direction,” we will never get anywhere. But if we cooperate then very quickly we can accomplish the task. Well you see sometimes why now in the world or maybe in the church why there is sometimes such a difficulty in accomplishing things because you’ve got one individual here and then you’ve got another one there and instead of working together for God and accomplishing His tasks, they are going different directions. They are fighting against each other and one person is pulling this way and one is pulling the other way and we just do not and are not cooperating as God commands us through His Word.
I want you to think about this statement that was made by one of the Roman emperors. His name is Marcus Aralias. He said, “We are made for cooperation like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of our upper and lower teeth.” Now that sounds a bit maybe basic or fundamental but it is true! Think about our teeth. If I am going to eat something, imagine if you take out your bottom teeth and I know folks that can do that, and then you are trying to chew with only your top teeth in. Well you see it just doesn’t work. They’ve got to cooperate to break the food up. What about our hands? If I want to pick something up it is difficult to use just one arm or hand, but if I can grab that basketball on both sides it is much easier to grip and to hold on to. And what about even our fingers? When we write or take that pen into our hand, if we just use one finger how easy is it going to be to write? Very difficult! But if we cooperate and we use them in unison and have them work together then we can write very nicely on a piece of paper. What about if my feet went in different directions? One wants to go straight and the other wants to go backwards? How would that work? Well it wouldn’t work at all.
And so cooperation, our very bodies, our very lives that have been created by God and our mode of usage of these bodies that God has given us show us of the need to cooperate. But then we look to our fellow man and we look to our brethren and we just often do not and certainly what we want to learn today is that is not at all what God expects.
So now let’s go back to Ecclesiastes chapter 4 and verse 9. He says, “Two are better than one.” Why? “Because they have a good reward for their labor.” The first thing we learn here from this wisest man that ever lived is the fact that when two work together they can accomplish more and thus receive the reward. Now that is one important thing because if we work together you are encouraging me and I am encouraging you and we have that motivation to get out and do it. It’s kind of like when we start that new exercise program or we start that new diet, and we do it by ourselves and how long does it last? Sometimes not even 24 hours, sometimes not even a week. But if you say to somebody, “I am going to meet you at a certain gym,” or “We’re going to start doing this and we’re going to call each other every day and we’re going to write down our calories.” What happens then? Well we cooperate. We’re supporting one another. Two are better than one!
There verse 10 goes on to say, “Also if they fail one will lift up his companion, but woe to him who is alone when he fails.” Not only are you able to accomplish more together, moving in the right direction and staying focused, but when you mess up or when you fall guess what. When you are there for one another, when you cooperate you have someone to catch you, someone to help.
We also find this concept over in the New Testament. The New Testament deals a lot with problems that took place in the church. We even find at times there were division among the members. Well I want you to look with me over in the book of1 Corinthians chapter 1 and verse 10 talks there about this very issue. He actually says there that, “We are to be those who are not divided, that there be no divisions among you.” Now how do I accomplish that? He says that, “We speak the same thing, that we be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Now what is that going to take? Well it is first of all going to take as we learned last week the need to look into God’s Word and do it His way, but then it is going to take cooperation that we do it together, that we understand that God has given us a task and if we will put our minds to it and if we will do it together we will do so much more. We can accomplish so much more. There is strength, my brethren, in numbers. There is strength, friends, when we have those to turn to. Now you and I know that. What about when the trials of life hit you and I tell you nowadays it is not hardly a week that goes by that one of our loved ones or someone in the church is not affected with either cancer or some great sickness or a trial or a problem and the only thing that helps us sometimes is the great knowledge that God is there and our brethren are there.
Recently, my wife has been diagnosed with a health problem and we have had so much outpouring of love from the brethren. They have shown so much care and concern, and call after call, and card after card, and it is just unbelievable how much they have shown that they love. You see cooperation. Being there for one another! Showing that love, showing that care, showing that we are never alone because of God and the blessed family that He has given us to count on.
This same thought is given to us by Paul himself in the same book of 1 Corinthians but over in chapter 3. You might recall there that he actually makes this statement in verse 6. He says, “I have planted, Apollus watered and God gave the increase.” Here we find that collective working again, that accomplishing a task together that we might do something for Him and do more. Paul says, “I was able to go along and plant that seed, and then Apollus came along and he watered it by teaching them more and more and more, but it was God and the power of God and His Word that actually saved those individuals.” But you see it took cooperation. It took the ability that they had to communicate and work together and to do all they needed to do to see that the Will of the Father was done.
We see again the same thought later in the book, there in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 where we begin to have the idea of a one body of Christ, but as it talks about the one body, he specifically mentions that as there is one body (verse 12) there are still many members. Now if you’ve got one body, what did we say earlier? What did that Roman emperor say? That we’ve got to deal and work together. If I have got five brothers that are all different fingers, how do those fingers accomplish something? By working together, by accomplishing the task together. They all have as this verse goes on to say the ability to focus on special talents. They all have different parts to play, but yet if one part is lacking, what happens? Well we fail! We don’t accomplish the end result.
The same thing is found over in Romans chapter 12 where we find this same reality that we’ve got to cooperate, we’ve got to work together, we’ve got to be together as one in the family of God.
You know as you think about this idea of cooperation, hopefully you’re beginning to see more and more how the Bible really insists that we must be those who do work together , who strive to again accomplish everything to God’s glory realizing that when we are doing it hand in hand how much stronger we can be.
Don’t you find in interesting that even Jesus didn’t choose one apostle, but how many did He choose? He chose twelve. He didn’t just choose one and then left that one all by himself. He left some that they might cooperate. Later we see the cooperation of these not only apostles but also churches. We find throughout the New Testament times when churches would come together and cooperate when there were special needs maybe in Jerusalem because they were starving and didn’t have the money that they needed because of maybe a famine or because of lack of the capability to buy the things that they had need of. Well what happened? They cooperated. They worked together. Alone they might have been able to do something, but together thing of how much they were able to do.
I think about in some of the recent years about how there have been issues with our brethren in Africa and there has been a cry for a great need for maybe money to buy food because of famines that have taken place in different regions. I am always amazed of all the love that is shown and how that thousands upon thousands of dollars will be given to do what? To help those brethren and to see that they have their daily necessities. What does that show us? Cooperation! By myself, I could never help them all, but with others, with my brethren we can do great and mighty things.
So brethren, we need to have cooperation in the physical realm and in the spiritual realm.
Now as we look at the things of Christianity and we look at the lifestyle of Christianity I would like to suggest now that if we know that God wants us to cooperate in our everyday lives, then certainly we know that we are to do that at work, at play, whether we are maybe involved in our hobbies or whatever it might be… In other words, what we are talking about is it is not just something we do at church. It’s not just something we do when we assemble together. It is not just something that we do when we are around brethren. It is a way of life. All of these things that we will discuss over the next several weeks, they are those things that are a part of us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So that means when I go to work, I don’t maybe slough off and I don’t let other people bear a burden and I don’t maybe lie and don’t tell the truth. I cooperate! I try to see that everyone has what they need and then I do my part to make sure that the Will continues to turn properly. That would be true of school or any other aspect. The Bible says that, “We are to do good to all men especially Christians, those of the household of faith, but we are to do good to all men as the church.” That’s what the Galatians were told anyway in Galatians chapter 6 and verse 10.
So the question might be: Are we those who are doing good? Are we those who are unified as God wants us to be? Then we might even ask that question: What about cooperation and unity? Are they the same? Well actually they are different. We need to cooperate in all things. We need to be peaceable because even those men like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob went to a land that was a strange land and lived with foreigners and guess what they strived for. Peace! But at the end of the day what we find here about the concept of unity is it is the next step. It is where we are in agreement. Yes, we need to cooperate. But that cooperation as Christians leads to unity, fellowship, a bond that we share in and through Jesus Christ. No wonder Ephesians chapter 4 says that we are to be those who endeavor to keep what? Unity! How Through the Spirit of God, that bond of peace is found in being one and cooperating, and agreeing in heart, mind, soul and body, proving in every facet of our lives that we are not only going to give God what He has asked but give Him our best.
So today, this is what I would challenge us to do, to be those who are more cooperative in our lives, to learn to bite our tongues and not say things that cause division, to learn to do things we don’t want to do in order to cooperate and help those and show that Spirit of Christ. Don’t you think that there were things God did for us that He would have rather not have done? Jesus really didn’t want to go to the cross, but He knew He had to. He was willing to accomplish His task and the task set by the Father for you and me. Why can’t we then learn to give more of ourselves, to be better servants and to cooperate so that we might receive the blessings of God in this life knowing that when we cooperate others will see that in us and want to do the same, but ultimately how wonderful it will be to someday have Heaven together knowing that we will not only cooperate today but forevermore. Praise be to God for this Truth found in His Word!
(SONG # 3 - “Let The Lower Lights Be Burning!”)
What a blessing it has been to join together in the things of God this morning. Thank you for doing your part in making all these things to be according to His Will. As always, we invite you back every Lord’s Day morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God!
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May we learn to be more cooperative in this life, that we might show forth the spirit of a true Christian. Are you striving for peace among your fellow man?