The Highest Purpose

Whatever your job may be – there's a divine purpose that underlies it.

Scripture: John 1:30-31


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright? You know, one of the nicest things that happens to me is that occasionally riding on an airplane or traveling somewhere I’ll be engaged in casual conversation and someone will look at me and say, “Are you Dr. Cook?” [chuckle] This happened just the other day. And I sat down in a crowded airplane and there wasn’t any room for my suitcase, I have finally wedged it tightly underneath the seat in front of me and was sitting there with my feet tucked up, feeling sorry for myself actually. And I just didn’t do anything but sort of dozed for a few minutes. Finally, they came along with the beverage cart and that sort of woke me up and I asked for some tomato juice and was sitting there. I thought, “Well, why don’t I say hello to this man next to me?” So I turned to him and asked him some question or other about his work and found out what he did.

And so we were chatting a bit and he said, “Well, what have you been doing?” “Oh,” I said, “I’ve been in a committee meeting for the religious broadcasters.” I said, “I used to be president of it and now I’m on the executive committee. So I’ve been working with them the last few days.” He turned around and he seat faced me and he said, “What’s your name?” [chuckle] I said, “My name is Robert Cook.” He said, “Are you Dr. Cook?” [chuckle] I said, “Yeah.” “Why,” he said, “I listen to you every morning.” [chuckle] Oh, boy, that’s nice. Nice to have friends, and I suppose the particular buzzsaw quality in my voice betrays me. That’s kind of a trademark, isn’t it? [chuckle]

I sat down at the Howard Johnson’s over in Jersey somewhere one day. I ways on my way to a meeting and was coffee thirsty, as they say among the Norwegians. So I want a cup of coffee and I sat at the counter, I said, “Give me a cup of coffee, will you? I just need a cup of coffee.” And the waitress looked at me and she said, “You’re Dr. Cook.” [chuckle] Well, thank God, people do know you. Just be sure that what they know about you honors the Lord. That’s what counts. You’re gonna be identified somehow, why not be identified with him? Right?

Which brings me then to John 1 and John the Baptist. John saw Jesus coming to him, it says in verse 29 of John 1 and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said after me cometh a man which was preferred before me for he was.” Before me; John knew that the Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. And then he goes on to say, “And I knew him not.” There was no collusion evidently between John the Baptist and Jesus. They hadn’t gotten together and said, “Now you start and then I’ll come along.” It didn’t work that way. He said, ” I knew him not but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.”

Preachers, by the way, treat yourself to some rich preaching material by looking up the different purpose clauses. Here’s one, ‘that he should be made manifest to Israel.’ There are so many in the New Testament generally preceded by the little Greek word ‘hina’ which means in order that. Look up the purpose clauses, you’ll find that it’s rich preaching material. Here you have the little word occurring but in order that, hina, “that he should be made manifest.” And it’s the verb ‘phaneroo’ which means to show it in a package of a person. “to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.” You’ll find that’s a rich study, or those of you who have your big concordance, you can look it up for yourself. Good stuff.

The purpose of God, it’s greater than any of us can comprehend obviously. When we get to heaven, we’ll know a little more about it but all eternity will not suffice to teach us how great God’s purposes are and have been. What’s the purpose then, I wanna ask of your life under God? Why are you doing what you’re doing? It has to be admitted that for most of us, life breaks down into a pretty routine business, doesn’t it? Get up, get dressed, if you’re the homemaker make the breakfast, pack the lunches, help Junior locate his sweat socks, help hubby locate a clean shirt, and get everybody off to school and to work, sit down maybe for a second cup of coffee before you tackle the task of cleaning up the house which looks like a cyclone after the family leaves it. And then you go on through the day doing the 3,943,000 things that every homemaker has to do without ever getting thanks for it and so on, through the day. You do the shopping, pick up Junior, take him to the Cub Scout meeting, take sister to her music lesson, get supper and serve it, and finally collapse, take two aspirins, go to bed. That’s about it, isn’t it for some of you? Pretty routine day. Not easy, but predictable.

And in the process, you tend to settle in to a kind of comfortable mediocrity that says, “Well, this is how it is. I suppose that’s part of growing up. You stop fighting against the inevitable. You know what things can be changed and what things can’t be changed and you learn to live with the situation.” I suppose that’s how it is. Underlying all of it, however, there needs to be a divine purpose and that’s why I asked you a moment ago, “What is the purpose of your life under God?” Now, don’t be content with some feeble generalization like say, “Well, I want to glorify the Lord.” Well, of course you do. But John knew why he was doing what he was doing, and I think everyone of us has a right to that kind of awareness. That doesn’t mean that all of us are going to the ministry full time. If we did, who would support you? [chuckle] Somebody.

I remember one of the Baughman boys, I think it was Clayton who said to his brother who was heading for the ministry and later became an outstanding minister located now, I think, out in San Diego. But Clayton said, “Well, somebody has to support you, ministers. I’ll be a businessman.” [chuckle] As it turned out, they’re both in full-time service and doing a magnificent job. But no, I don’t think that what is involved here is that everyone of us needs to stop whatever we’re doing and go full time into Christian work. That isn’t the point I’m making. There is a divine purpose for you if you’re vice-president of a corporation. There’s a divine purpose for you if you’re a physician. If you’re a nurse, if you’re a psychologist, or a psychiatrist, or a professor in a school, or chairman of the board of some corporation, or foreman in charge of production.

I think one of the jobs I would never volunteer for is expediter in the production department, the person who has to keep breathing down everybody’s neck to be sure that the job is done on time. That is a thankless task, isn’t it? When I worked at Scripture Press we had two or three expediters that worked for Bill Hall. And I used to look at them and pity them and admire them at the same time because the job of trying to get things done in a corporation sometimes is a heartbreaking, back-breaking task.

Well, anyway, whatever your job may be, there’s a divine purpose that underlies it and you better find that out. John knew what he was doing and why he was doing it. I’ll tell you the most delightful thing in the world is to wake up any given day and say, “God, I’m gonna live this day for you and I know what you want me to do.” I woke up this morning realizing that the very first thing I ought to do is to complete another couple of broadcasts so I could have them on tape and send them over to the college where they can be duplicated and sent out. That was the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning and I prayed, “Oh, God, get my mind going and help me with this work.”

To know that you’re in the purpose of God is the most wonderful thing in the world. Find that out for yourself. You say, “How can I?” Wait on God. Wait on God. The psalmist said, “This was too wonderful to me, I couldn’t understand it until I went into the sanctuary.” The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him and He will show them His covenant. Get alone with your Lord in the sanctuary of prayer. Wait before Him, not just a little speech to God, “Lord, bless me and do this and do that.” That’s what most of us do when we pray, I know. But this involves spending time with your Lord: Reading His Word, letting it speak to you, letting the Holy Spirit apply those truths to you, and waiting before Him, and praying. A conversation, if you will, between you and God. And out of that will grow an awareness of what He wants you to do.

Back in 1948, it was quite apparent that I was moving closer to a position of responsibility in Youth for Christ and away from the full-time pastorate. I had moved up from LaSalle, Illinois with the family, and was living in Chicago, and was listed as associate pastor with my brother-in-law, Tory Johnson, at Midwest Bible Church. And I enjoyed it so very, very much. That was in 1944. Immediately in the spring of ’44 we started Youth for Christ and had our weekly Saturday night rallies in Orchestra Hall on Michigan Avenue, just across from the Art Institute. I remember, we designed the first brochure with a silhouette of the lions out in front of the Art Institute as being the location mark for us. And my job was then, for several years, to do the publicity, write the news articles, make sure they got in the paper, write the copy for the advertising brochures, and all of that as well as to preach in Midwest Bible Church approximately half the time, and just keep all those different balls juggling up in the air. And I loved it.

But as the time went on, I got into 1948. It looked suspiciously as though I was going to be taking on more responsibility in Youth for Christ and then inevitably would be doing less at the local church level. And it bothered me because I had 18 years full time of pastoring and it was part of my very life. And I remember praying as I was on the road with Merrill Dunlop and Gregorio Tingson, we were in a series of one-night-stands all across the Midwest preaching, trying to raise money for a trip that we were gonna take out to The Orient in the summer or spring, I should say, of 1948. And I remember praying, “Oh, God, I have to know what you have in mind. I got to know that I can’t just drift into this.” And I waited on God and prayed, and then one night at Medina, Ohio after the meeting was over and I went to my room, we were staying in what was known as a tourist home. This was before the days of motels in some of those places and this was a tourist home and I had a little room with a single cot, just room enough to kneel beside it and my feet touched the opposite wall, it was a narrow room but it was alright and I got down beside that cot and I began to pray again and look into the word of God.

And the Bible was open at John chapter 4 and this verse caught my eye, “I sent you to reap that where on you bestowed no labor: Other men have labored, and ye are entered into their labors.” And those words, “I sent you to reap” leaped out to me from the page and I said, “Thank you, Lord. That’s what you want me to do.” And that became the basis then of my entire approach to Youth for Christ in those years, it’s a reaping ministry based upon the faithful work of so many others that went before. Now, we’ll talk about the rest of this when we get together again.

Father God, today, let us know the purpose for what we’re doing in thy sight. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio. Walk with the King today, and be a blessing.

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