Revive Our Hearts Podcast

You, Me, and God

Leslie Basham: If a relationship between you and someone else isn't going well, you may need to add a third party. Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss to explain.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You won't have the resources you need to be the wife God wants you to be or the mother or the friend or in any other human relationship until you have focused on your relationship with God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

You've heard that "two's company, three's a crowd," but if you want to have truly meaningful relationships, three people need to be involved: you, your friend, and God. Let's find out more as Nancy continues a series called "The Power of Relationships."

Nancy: We've been considering what our relationships are like and the pain and the problems of human relationships as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, "under the sun."

If we live our lives without God, apart from taking God into consideration, apart from thinking and responding His way, apart from a relationship with Him, then we're going to have what we've been studying in the first part of Ecclesiastes chapter 4, and that is the pain of injustice and the problem of isolation.

We're going to either have broken, painful, sinful, unhealthy relationships, or no relationship at all. We're going to struggle in the relational area as long as we're trying to make our relationships work without God.

Now I know that sounds like, duh. I mean, of course. If you're a child of God, maybe that doesn't sound very profound, but it's amazing to me how much we try to make our relationships work without God, how much we try to fix and repair and change our relationships without bringing God into the equation.

So now we’ve come to a part of Ecclesiastes chapter 4, beginning in verse 9, where we have God’s prescription for damaged relationships or broken relationships or situations where there is no relationship at all, people who are living in isolation or aloneness.

And we started in the last session by looking at the first phrase of verse 9, "two are better than one." This is God's call to intimacy. The power of intimacy is what deals with the pain of injustice and the problem of isolation in relationships.

I want us to realize before we start talking about our human relationships, our relationships on the horizontal level, that first we have to deal with our relationship with God, our relationship on the vertical level.

Not until we deal with God, not until we are right with God, do we have the resources we need to be right with others, to be engaged in intimate relationships and healthy relationships with those around us.

This is true in every relationship that you have. Think about your marriage and there isn't any marriage, no matter how good you may think that marriage looks on the outside, there isn't any marriage that if you live inside the four walls of that home, you would realize that every marriage has its issues.

The best husband and wife, the most godly couple, your pastor and his wife, whoever you think of as an ideal marriage, they have communication issues. They have stresses and strains and problems in their relationship that they have to deal with. So don't think you're the only one who has those kinds of issues in your marriage or in your home.

But when you go to deal with those issues, say in your marriage, the starting place is not to deal with your husband, the starting place is to deal with God. Not until your relationship with God is in order can your marriage be in order. You won't have the resources you need to be the wife God wants you to be or the mother or the friend or in any other human relationship until you have focused on your relationship with God.

That's what we read about in 1 John chapter 1 where the apostle John says, "We proclaim [Christ to you] that which we have seen and heard, so that you too may have fellowship with us" (v. 3). And our fellowship is with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Verse 7, "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light [if we're right with God, if there are no barriers in our relationship with God], then we have fellowship with one another." What's the one another?

Well, first it's fellowship with God, but then it's fellowship with each other. And the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all those sins that break up our relationships.

So let's look at these verses in Ecclesiastes 4, verses 9–12, from the standpoint of our relationship with God, and then we'll come back in subsequent sessions and see how these verses apply to our relationships with each other. How does God fill our need for relationship? Let's look at these four verses.

Verse 9, "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work." One of the characteristics of healthy relationships, of intimacy is that your labor is more fruitful. There's increased productivity.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work" (v. 9). I think of Philippians 2 that tells us, "It’s God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (v. 13 KJV). You can’t live the Christian life alone. You can’t serve God by yourself. You need God. I need God. It’s God who is at work within us, giving us the desire and the power to please Him. "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work."

The apostle Paul recognized this and he refers to it repeatedly in his epistles. First Corinthians chapter 15:10, "By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all [than all the other apostles], yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (NKJV).

"Yes, I labored. Yes, I served, but," he says, "it wasn't really me doing the work, it was the grace of God in me." Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work.

Paul says, "We are laborers together with God," 1 Corinthians chapter 3:9. "We are God's fellow workers," one translation says. Two are better than one. Now make no mistake about it, God doesn't need you or me to do His work.

But I think the point here is that we can't do God's work without God. We can’t do it without Him. We can try. We can do religion, but we can't do the work of God without abiding in Christ, without being united with Him in intimate fellowship.

And then verse 10, here's another benefit or blessing of an intimate relationship. "If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"

So intimate relationships provide help in time of adversity, time of difficulty, or time of failure. One falls down, someone helps him up. His friend helps him up. I think of Psalm 145 that says, "The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down" (v. 14 ESV). He is that Friend who lifts me up when I fall, who lifts you up when you fall.

Jude chapter 1, verse 24, "To him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy." When I get to heaven, the fact that my heart has been purified and has been sanctified and is ready for heaven is not going to be my doing. It's going to be the doing of my friend, my relationship with God, with the Lord Jesus Christ that has kept me from falling and has made me able to face God with joy.

Romans 14, "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand" (v. 4 ESV).

I love that verse. I take heart. I take courage and hope from that verse because the Lord is able to make me stand upright. He's able to keep me from falling. I can't do it without Him. Apart from Him, I would fall, and so would you. Two are better than one.

"If one falls down, his friend can help him up. Pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" (Ecc. 4:10). And when I do fall, by the way, it’s the grace of God that lifts me up. It’s the grace of God that forgives and cleanses and restores and renews me and reconciles me to fellowship with God.

And then verse 11, here's a third benefit or a blessing of an intimate relationship with God. "If two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?" Intimate relationships provide comfort and companionship in time of need. And who better does that for us than God Himself?

Second Corinthians chapter 13, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (v. 14 ESV).

Think about having that when you're feeling lonely: the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. That's what is with me as a child of God. That's what keeps me warm. That's what keeps me from perishing with loneliness. Ultimately, it's my relationship with God. I remember I'm not alone. I have a comforter, the Holy Spirit.

Jesus has said, "I'm with you always" (Matt. 28:20).

And God the Father has said, "I will never, ever forsake you" (see Heb. 13:5).

And then number 4 in verse 12, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

A good friend, a healthy relationship provides protection in time of danger and strength in time of attack—reinforcements. "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves." And who's our Defender—with a capital D—if it's not God Himself?

Ephesians chapter 6, verse 10, "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might." Who strengthens us for battle? Who keeps us from being overpowered by our three-fold enemy of our sinful flesh and the world and the devil? It’s God who lives within us. He’s the one who strengthens us for battle. So finally, "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might."

Two are better than one. By ourselves:

  • We could not make it.
  • We could not stand upright.
  • We can’t do battle.
  • We can’t stay warm.
  • We can’t produce.
  • We can’t be productive in our work.

But in union and communion with God Himself, as we abide in Christ, all those benefits and blessings of intimate relationship are ours.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with the second half of today’s Revive Our Hearts.

I want to highlight something Nancy said on yesterday’s program. She gave us one cure for loneliness. She said, “We need to be working for others, for the glory of God, for the benefit and the blessing of others.”

I want to introduce you to someone who has committed to working for others in a unique way.

Elena Thomas: My name is Elena Thomas, and I’m from Norman, Oklahoma.

Leslie: Elena describes what the early years of her marriage were like.

Elena: I didn’t let my husband lead. I questioned his decisions. I tried to control everything from the parking space to decisions we were making about purchases and things like that.

Leslie: And what effect did that have?

Elena: I think it was very emasculating for him. I think it caused a lot of frustrations. I think it caused him to draw back from leadership rather than to step into leadership. I think it hindered him from being able to lead our family.

Leslie: So this couple wasn’t fully reflecting the relationship between Christ and the church. But this changed when Elena visited the True Woman '10 conference, hosted by Revive Our Hearts.

Elena: I definitely experienced the Holy Spirit. It was a time of a lot of conviction for the way I had been responding to my husband in many different ways.

Leslie: Ever since then, Elena wanted to invest in other women, so they could learn from her experience.

Elena: I felt a passion in my heart to share that with other women, and to share with them how God had showed me how I was controlling my husband—I wasn't allowing him to lead.

Leslie: So when she came back to True Woman '14, an announcement about the True Woman Ambassador program caught her attention.

Elena: I was excited first of all to hear that there was an Ambassador program. Definitely the Holy Spirit was prompting me to go to it.

Leslie: She signed up to pass on a message of biblical womanhood there in Norman. She’s connecting with churches, small groups and with women one on one. She’s able to connect with women’s individual stories in a powerful way. She is accelerating a movement right there in her community.

Elena: The message Revive Our Hearts shares has been so powerful in my life. I want other women to have that freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness that God has brought into my life. The message of biblical womanhood is so powerful. It's the power that through the Holy Spirit can transform marriages and transform families.

Leslie: Nancy, it’s exciting to see the power of relationships working itself out in this new outreach.

Nancy: Yes, Leslie. The Ambassador program is in its early stages. But already, there are far more women saying, “I want to be an Ambassador” than we have capacity to process at the moment. I believe that this is an area of huge potential.

Just imagine if hundreds and thousands of influential women leaders were trained and equipped to go into every community with this message. Imagine the affect this would have on women for generations to come.

We see God stirring up a True Woman Movement around the world, and this Ambassador program is one huge way of accelerating that movement.

But we need your help to see that happen. As I've been sharing recently, the month of May is the end of our fiscal year, when we wrap up the accounting books. It comes right before the summer months when donations are usually decline a bit.

So in order to maintain our current levels of ministry—the radio broadcast, the online audio and video, conferences, grassroots efforts, we need to see strong support in May. I don't want to see us have to cut back on any of these outreaches, because it is so thrilling to see the way the Lord is using them. Instead of scaling back, we want to continue accelerating the movement of what God is doing.

So in order to do that, we’re asking the Lord to provide at least $450,00 during the month of May. If you appreciate the ministry of Revive Our Hearts—it's been a blessing to you, an encouragement, a help to you or someone you know, and you believe in what you see happening through it, would you prayerfully consider helping us this month?

Leslie: Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make your donation, or call 1–800–569–5959. Now, back to “The Power of Relationships.”

Nancy: We've talked about the pain of sinful, damaged relationships, injustice, and oppression. We've talked about the problem of isolation where we have no relationships. And now, we are looking at the paragraph in Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 that talks about God's prescription for these broken relationships.

And that is the power of intimacy—how God wants us to have godly and healthy relationships. I want us to see in these verses, starting today, four benefits or blessings that we will experience as we live in fellowship, in relationship, first with God, as we saw in the last session and then with others.

The first benefit or blessing, we see in verse 9, "Two are better than one." Why? Because they have a good return for their work. One of the benefits and blessings of relationship in the Body of Christ (relationship with others) is increased productivity. You can get more done. Your labor is more fruitful. You can be more productive. There is more profit.

If you’re married, you need your mate. Together you can be more productive, you can be more fruitful in serving the Lord in the raising of a godly family than either of you could be on your own.

Now I realize some are not married. I realize there are single parents and there are situations where there isn't the presence of another mate. But we are saying in God's ideal, two are better than one because they have a good return for their work.

You see in the Scriptures, that even Jesus Himself, who was God, did not do His work here on earth alone. Over and over again He said, "I'm doing this with My Father. We are working together. I don't do anything without My Father. I never go out on My own." He always worked in concert with His heavenly Father.

Jesus sent out His disciples by two's to do ministry. He knew that they would face adversity, persecution in the world, and that they would be able to lift each other up, to help each other, that they would be more productive, more fruitful together than if they were alone.

The apostle Paul, a powerful man of God, but he was very conscious of his need for others in doing the work of the ministry. Over and over again through his epistles, just read the times that he references other individuals who helped him in the work.

Romans chapter 16, the last chapter of Romans, lists several of those people by name. "They have helped me in the work" (see verses 1–16). Now they aren’t the famous people. Paul the apostle is the famous one, but he recognized "two are better than one because they have a good return for their work."

I am so conscious of this in my own life, in ministry. I think about the staff and the team, the people God has raised up to be a part of the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, people in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Little Rock, Arkansas, and Niles, Michigan, and different individual members of those teams who have different gifts, different abilities.

Now there's a second benefit and blessing of living in relationship, in intimate relationships with others. We find it in Ecclesiastes 4:10, "If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"

What do good friends do? They provide help in time of adversity, help in time of difficulty and help in time of failure. That's when we need each other. Let me tell you this, in case you didn't know it already, we all fall down. We all do. It's inevitable. It's not really a matter of if we fall. It's a matter of when we fall. Who will be there to help us up? We have times of failure, times of weariness, times of weakness, times of discouragement, and let me just tell you, in case you’re not sure of it already that, that includes me.

I was meditating on this passage over the last couple of days and thinking about times when I have fallen down, just from tiredness or weakness or sin, and how I need the people of God, the Body of Christ when I fall. It happens. We need each other. "Two are better than one." We can't get up ourselves, and we need someone to come alongside to extend the helping, healing hand of Jesus to us and to help lift us up out of that pit or whatever it is that we’ve fallen into. It takes a friend to help us up at those times.

Let me say, I believe it's important that we cultivate that relationship before we get into the pit, before the time of adversity. If you have not been in the habit of developing godly relationships, healthy relationships before you are in the pit, you may look around when you find yourself in the pit, when you have fallen down and realize, There is no one here.

Now, in Christ we have the supreme Friend, the supreme Helper. He's the one who has said, "I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear'" (Heb. 13:5–6 NKJV). There's no help like His. There is no one—there is no husband, no friend, no pastor, no counselor who can be to you or to me the helper that God Himself can be and wants to be. But God, our Helper, reaches out to us through His people. He uses His people. He uses one another to help us up when we fall.

As we become helpers of those who have fallen, we become extensions of the heart and the hands of the Lord Jesus into the lives of others. He has ordained that the family of God, the Body of Christ should be there—not in place of God, but representing the heart of God—to lift each other up, to help each other up.

So that's why we read in Hebrews chapter 12, "Strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees" (v. 12 NKJV). Look out for each other, look for the one who is weak, look for the one who is falling, look for the one who's failing and see what you can do in the name of Jesus to lift up that person.

James 5:16, "Confess your faults [your sins, your weaknesses] to one another, so you can pray for one another so you can be healed" (NKJV). I think of times in my life when I have been struggling with sin issues, and I’ve needed . . . It’s not that I couldn’t go directly to God and ask God for His forgiveness and ask God for His help. I’ve done that, but I’ve also found that God has directed me at times to go to members of the Body and say, "I need prayer. I need help knowing how to deal with this issue in my life. I need counsel from God’s Word to show me how to face this situation or this relationship, confessing my faults, my sins, my needs, my weaknesses, so that we can pray for each other so that we can be healed.

I think of times in my own walk with God when I have fallen, not always because of sin, sometimes just because of weakness.

We just were not made to do it by ourselves. We need those times when we realize we can't make it on our own. That's one of the good things that come out of falling down. You realize, I wasn't made to live this Christian life independent of God or others. But there have been times when I felt that I just could not go on.

I think of Holly Elliff. Some of you have heard her on Revive Our Hearts. She’s been a guest a number of times. God has used that woman, along with many other women over the years, but I think of a particular time in a very low point of my life when I felt like I could not get up, and God brought Holly at just a key moment to give me a short word about the grace of God. I still think back on that time with such gratitude of how God used a friend. "Two are better than one, when one falls down, the other helps him up."

I thank the Lord for the spiritual leaders and the shepherds, the men, the elders, the pastors that God has used, who shepherd the flock of God, who have preached the Word and spoken grace and truth into my life.

I need those people; you do as well. Let me just say, "It's dangerous for any one of us to be in a position or situation where we don't have someone who can lift us up."

But don't wait for that someone to come around. I don't know how often over the years I have called a couple or a woman and said, "Would you pray for me. I need prayer." Now, I don't like to feel helpless. I don't like to feel dependent. But you know what? I am helpless. I am dependent. I am helpless without the Lord. I need Him and He ministers His grace.

He administers His grace to us often through His people. We can't do it alone. So look around you and ask the Lord, "Who is there around me who needs to be lifted up? Who has fallen?" Look around, see the person, and then reach out. Be the kind of friend to a fallen person today that you will want someone to be to you when the day comes that you have fallen and you need someone to lift you up.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She’s been explaining why we’re so dependent on one another in the Body of Christ. That message is part of a series called "The Power of Relationship."

Tomorrow Nancy explains why sometimes you need another person to come along and warm you up. Please join us again for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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