Grandstanding Not Required
You don't have to be thanked for your contribution to the dinner or whatever it is -- All you have to do is be a fellow laborer.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright? Oh, I trust so, bless your heart. This is your good friend, Bob Cook. I’m glad to be back with you. I look forward to these times when I can share from the Word of God, and believe me, He gives me some things that sometimes jar me and sometimes bless me and sometimes all of the above. I trust that this broadcast will be used of God to put a handle on the Word of God for you, so you can get hold of it for yourself.
We’re looking at 1 Thessalonians 3. Paul said, “When we could no longer forbear… ” Paul got anxious just like the rest of us, but the answer to anxiety is, number one, don’t incubate it; number two, pray about it; number three, take a step of faith, a positive step, a constructive step in obedience to God, whatever He asks you to do. That’s the way to approach anything that worries you. Number one, pray about it. Number two… Well, number one, don’t incubate it and stew and fret; and number two, pray about it; and number three, as God whispers to your heart there’s always a step of faith and obedience you can take after you’ve prayed about a thing you’re worrying over, alright?
So he said, “When we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone.” I’m gonna stop here long enough to say cultivate the ability to be alone without panic. Now, I know some of you, dear friends, live absolutely alone. You’re the only person in the house and your house may be a large one. And especially when you’re alone in a house, I’ve discovered that when you’re alone in a house, it makes more noises and talks to you more. It groans and creaks and shutters flap in the wind and more noises that could be upsetting when you’re absolutely alone. Have you noticed that? [chuckle] I know. Well, a number of you have that experience all the time, bless your heart. And there isn’t anybody there that you can talk to, and there isn’t any friendly hand that you can reach out to. God knows it and I do too, but don’t be afraid of being alone. You know why? Jesus said, “For I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” And some of the most precious times that I’ve ever had, I assure you, have been times when I was utterly alone and speaking with my Heavenly Father and found His presence so precious and so real in those moments. You don’t have to be panicked if you and Jesus are walking the hours together.
Some of you don’t sleep very well. You’ve written me about that. You’re awake through the night hours and you turn on the radio and get a Christian radio program, hopefully, to pass the time. And sometimes it gets weary and you say, “Oh, I wish I could sleep,” and you feel bad about it. The harder you try to sleep, the less you can sleep, have you noticed that? [chuckle] You don’t sleep very well. Have you stopped to think that in those sleepless hours you can have some very precious fellowship with your Lord? You have your choice, beloved, of fretting and worrying and saying, “Oh, I can’t sleep,” and tossing and fuming, or else quietly communing with your Lord, Jesus Christ, during the moments when you’re wakeful in the night hours. As well, remember that God, by His Holy Spirit, may remind you of someone for whom you should pray earnestly right that moment.
I was speaking in a church in Michigan when the pastor took me aside and pointed to a rather elderly lady on the other side of the room and told me about her, said she’s a great prayer warrior. He said she just prays and God answers her prayer. And then he said that he had been on the mission field actually during the Mau Mau rebellion, very, very dangerous circumstances. His life was in danger, and he was brought victoriously and safely through those experiences. Well, he came home, and he began to serve as, I guess it was interim pastor, whatever it was of this church, and he said the lady asked him, “Where were you at such and such a time of night our time, in Michigan, at such and such a date?” And they compared notes and compensated for the time difference and found that exactly at that time he was in the midst of a terrifying experience where his life was absolutely in danger and he was praying, “Oh, God, see me through this.” She said that she was awakened out of a sound sleep with the profound feeling that she ought to pray for that young man, and so she got out of bed, got on her knees, and prayed earnestly for him for some period of time until finally peace came to her own heart and she felt as though she could go back to bed, which she did. Now, they compared notes, and they found out that God, the Holy Spirit, had wakened His saint to have her pray for a missionary half a world away who was in danger of being hacked to death by somebody’s knives.
Don’t be afraid of sleeplessness. If you can’t sleep, talk to Jesus and let Him talk to you, and God may indeed use you as an intercessor through the power of prayer to reach half a world away to bless or to protect or to deliver someone who just needs that help just then. Something to think about, isn’t it?
Left at Athens alone, and all of this grew out of that little word, alone. As a matter of fact, you ought to schedule some time every day when you’re by yourself, you and God. Any of the success books that you read, and the market, of course, is full of them, any of the success books that you read, will have somewhere in it the admonition to plan some solitude for yourself. Generally, they use the word ‘structure.’ It’s a noun. They use it as a verb. Structure yourself some solitude. Plan to be alone from time to time. Why? Because it helps you think, it helps you get things in perspective, and for us who are Christians, it helps you pray. Alone, get alone with God, it makes a difference.
Well, he said, “We sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and fellow laborer. We sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and fellow laborer.” The word minister is our word, deacon, diakonon, and fellow laborer in the gospel. Now, this is the recommendation for somebody who’s going to be of help. First, he’s a brother, brother or a sister, a member, in other words, of God’s heavenly family. It’s pretty hard to bless others unless you belong to the family of God. And so Timothy was listed as a brother, then minister of God. And as I said, that’s related to our word, deacon, a person who serves. Minister of God means a person who serves and provides the word and the power of God at the point of people’s needs. The original deacons served food to folk who were being neglected. They went on then to pray and to preach. One of them became a martyr, another an evangelist, and so there were many outreaches of their lives, but all of it was predicated on the idea of serving. Minister means serve. You wanna stop for a moment ask yourself this question, “How many people have I really served in Jesus’ name and for the glory of God?” A lot of what we do is devoid of the service element, I’m afraid. The element of service is not there, in a lot of what we do.
People criticize the ministry. Generally, we get our share of criticism and we deserve a lot of it, I’m sure. But some of the criticism that comes our way is that a lot of what is done seems to be merely a performance. And I think we have to… We have to take our raps for that. Our knuckles can be rapped for that because oftentimes it just seems to be a performance, doesn’t it? For you and for me who are in the ministry, pastor, evangelist, missionary, Sunday school teacher, Christian worker, let’s stop now and then and ask this question, “Am I serving? Or am I performing?”
Paul said to the elders from Ephesus when he called them to come down to Miletus, have a little coffee with him before he left for Jerusalem. He said, “You know, after what manner I’ve been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord.” He used a strong verb there, means serving like a slave, doulour, serving like a slave. See, the thing that makes you valuable is service, not performance. Service is what makes you valuable. So, you wanna evaluate your life on that basis now and then? I think it’d be helpful to all of us to do that.
A minister of God, now, to minister God means to share God with people. How do you do that? Number one, you have the fullness of the Spirit of God so that what you say is actually an extension, what you do is actually an extension of God’s presence and power. That’s the first thing. Make sure your life is full of the Holy Spirit of God. Second, how do you share God with people? You stick to the truths of the Word of God. Anything that’s just your opinion is apt to be wide of the mark. Stick to the truth of the Word of God if you want to share God with people. Number three, lead people to the point of personal commitment in prayer. You will never be any closer to God than when you kneel with a brother or a sister in earnest prayer. Sharing God with people means pray with them. And then finally, sharing God with people means helping to meet whatever need they have through the enablement that Jesus gives you.
Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I Thee: In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” He took him by the right hand, lifted him up. Immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength and he, leaping up, went with them into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God. I used to chuckle over Dr. Pettengill, but he would always add, “The testimony of his leaps was better than the testimony of his lips.” Well, sharing God means manifesting the blessing and power of the Lord Jesus at the point of their need.
Grandstanding has no place in Christian work. I wish we could learn that, all of us, don’t you? Grandstanding has no part in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, our fellow laborer in the Gospel of Christ. Make a habit of looking around you to see who needs help and offering help. Don’t be a ‘buttinsky,’ as we say, don’t make a federal case of it, don’t be a human bulldozer going roughshod over people’s sensibilities, but just very quietly see where people need help and work with them. You don’t have to be chairman of the committee, you don’t have to lead the parade, you don’t have to sing the solo, you don’t have to be thanked for your contribution to the dinner or whatever it is. You don’t have to get any credit, even. All you have to do is be a fellow laborer. Norm Townsend, who is now with the Lord a good many years, used to go from one Christian education convention to another, because he was a specialist in Christian Ed. And whenever they gave name tags that would have the person’s name and activity on it, he would write his name, Norman Townsend, and then underneath it he would write, helper. Let’s you and I specialize in being fellow laborers, helpers, alright? Now, we’ll get back to this the next time we get together.
Dear Father, today, make us helpers, make us fellow laborers, make us people who serve, and may our lives be characterized with the shine of the Holy Spirit of God. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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