Cooperation, Week 1
Building the Tabernacle
Exodus 28:1,3; 31:1-11; 35:21,25,34; 39:42-43
God wants us to work together.
After hundreds of years of living as slaves in Egypt, God’s people, the Israelites, were finally free. Instead of putting all their energy into scraping together bricks for the Egyptians, now they could to do whatever they pleased . . . like staying alive.
Life in the wilderness was difficult, even though God provided fresh water and food. He knew that His people needed rules and guidelines for how to use their new freedom.
So God spoke to their leader, Moses. “Come up to me on the mountain.”
A cloud descended on the top of Mount Sinai, and God spoke to Moses. “Tell the people to obey me completely. If you do, then out of all the nations you will be my special treasure . . . You will be my holy nation.”
The Israelites camped below the mountain for many days. During that time, God gave Moses special laws that would keep the people safe and help them love God and love others. He gave Moses instructions for a special project too: “Have them make a sacred tent for me. I will live among them. Make the holy tent and everything that belongs to it. Make them exactly like the pattern I will show you.”
God gave detailed instructions for the intricate Tabernacle and everything that would go inside—not to mention the elaborate robes the priests would wear.
“Okay, linen apron out of thin gold wire; blue, purple, and red yarn; finely twisted linen,” repeated Moses. “Whew!”
“Speak to all the skilled workers,” God said. “I have given them the skill to do this kind of work.”
Moses was relieved to hear that he wasn’t expected to do all the work himself! When he finally came down from the mountain, he called the people together. They crowded in close to hear what God had told him.
“We’re going to have a Tabernacle,” said Moses. “A beautiful tent where we can worship God.”
The people cheered.
“God is going to live there, among us!” added Moses. The people cheered even more loudly.
“It’s the most complicated do-it-yourself project ever!” Moses finished.
The cheering quickly died down.
“Okay, let me rephrase this,” said Moses. “It’s not do-it-yourself. It’s do-it- ourselves. God is going to help us! And He’s given some of you special gifts, too.” Moses looked out across the crowd. “Can I get Bezalel up here? Where’s Bezalel?”
A lanky young man with callused hands made his way to the front. “Right here!” he said.
“God says: ‘I have chosen Bezalel.’” Moses told the young man. “‘I have filled him with the Spirit of God. I have filled Bezalel with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skill. He can make beautiful patterns in gold, silver and bronze. He can cut and set stones. He can work with wood. In fact, he can work in all kinds of crafts.’”
“Wow!” exclaimed Bezalel.
“So you can do all those things?” asked Moses.
“Sure can,” said Bezalel. “But . . . I’m just one person. Making the Tabernacle could take the rest of my life!”
“You won’t be working alone,” Moses assured him. He called out into the crowd for another man. “Oholiab? Come up here?”
A stocky man with thick arms raised his hand. “Right here!”
“God’s appointed you to help Bezalel,” explained Moses. “And He’s given you both the skill to teach others. In fact, God has given special abilities to a whole group of workers you can lead.”
Moses addressed the crowd again. “If God’s given you skills and you want to join us, come on up!” Volunteers began to respond and quickly joined in.
“Welcome to the crew!” exclaimed Oholiab. But Bezalel pointed out they were just getting started. “It’s great there’s lots of help, but we can’t make this Tabernacle out of thin air and . . . sand.”
“That’s right,” agreed Moses. “Here’s what the Lord says,” he told the people.“Those who want to can bring an offering to the Lord . . . gold, silver and bronze, blue, purple and bright red yarn and fine linen . . . leather and acacia wood . . . [oil and jewels]. Who’s in?”
Everyone had something to offer: ram skins, jewelry, hand-spun yarn. The gifts kept coming. People gave so much for making the Tabernacle that Moses finally had to tell them to stop!
“We’ve got more than enough to make God’s Tabernacle!” declared Bezalel. “Let’s roll!” said Oholiab.
Together, Bezalel and Oholiab guided the skilled workers to sew and carve and build the sacred tent, just as God had instructed Moses. With the offerings from the people, they had all the materials and supplies they needed.
When the whole project was finished, the two men stepped back, along with Moses, to survey their work. The Tabernacle rose tall and beautiful among the sea of small, drab tents.
“You’ve done it just as the Lord commanded,” said Moses. “Every bit!”
Moses gave the workers his blessing. Together, with God’s help, they had completed a seemingly impossible task—creating a beautiful home for God to live among His people.
Every day, you see big things that need to be done.
Things that are wrong—like children going hungry. Things that need to be built—like a new home for a family who doesn’t have one. When you see something that big, it can feel overwhelming. In fact, it’s easy to just ignore it, because it seems too big to handle alone! That’s where cooperation comes in. Yeah, you can’t build a house all by yourself . . . but if you work together with a bunch of other people, you can! You may not be able to make meals for all the hungry kids in a village somewhere in Africa . . . but working together with your friends to raise money, you might just be able to do it!
Each of you share about a big job or problem you’ve seen recently, whether it’s close to home or far away. Then pray for each other, that God will help you find a way to work with others to do something about it. Consider that God might want you to work together as a family!
Cooperation, Week 2
Joshua Wins the Battle Over the Amalekites
Work together to help someone succeed.
The Israelites had been through enough drama in a short time to last a lifetime. They started off as slaves in Egypt. But then God brought them out of slavery, led them through the heart of a sea, and washed away the Egyptian army behind them.
They were free in the desert! But it turned out to be no walk in the park. They complained of hunger, so God gave them manna—bread from heaven— every morning, and quail every evening. They whined about their terrible thirst, so God instructed Moses to hit a rock with his staff—and water gushed from the stone!
But the Israelites’ troubles in the wilderness were far from over. One evening while they were camped at Rephidim, a messenger raced up to Moses with terrible news.
“Amalekites . . . attacking . . . from the rear . . .” he panted.
The Amalekites were a tribe of nomads living in the desert. They had chosen to attack the Israelites from behind, likely where many of the women and children were camped.
“We must stop them!” Moses cried.
Moses knew God had different work for him than leading an army, so he asked a young man named Joshua to do the job. “Pick some of the best men from among us,” Moses instructed. “It’s getting dark now, but as soon as it’s morning, go to battle against the Amalekites.”
“I’m on it!” confirmed Joshua. “What will you be doing?”
“See that hill?” said Moses, pointing to a steep slope across the rocky plain. “I’ll climb up to the top where you can see me and raise up this walking stick. It’s the one God gave me.”
The next morning as the sun began to rise, Joshua marched out with the best Israelite fighters. Moses, along with his brother Aaron and friend Hur, scrambled up the hill, racing the sun.
“Almost there . . .” Moses encouraged them. But then his foot landed on a patch of gravel and slid. Aaron and Hur both lunged forward. Each caught one of Moses’ arms to keep him from slipping.
“Thank you, friends!” gasped Moses.
“That’s what we’re here for, my man,” said Hur, thumping him on the back.
As the sun leapt up in the sky, the three men reached the crest of the hill.
Below them spread a landscape of low hills and ravines—a difficult place to fight.
Trumpets sounded in the clear morning light. Aaron pointed to a distance group of figures. “There’s Joshua and our people, charging up out of that dip—”
“Dude. They’re about meet the Amalekites head on!” cried Hur.
“The Lord will fight with us!” shouted Moses. He raised his staff high with both hands as a sign of God’s presence with the people.
Immediately, they could hear triumphant shouts and cries from the Israelites far below.
“We’re winning. We’re definitely winning,” exulted Aaron.
As time wore on, Moses’ arms grew tired. Moment by moment, his hands holding the walking stick slipped lower . . . and lower . . .
Below, the scene changed. Now the Israelites appeared to be trapped in a ravine, the Amalekites closing in, ready to strike.
Moses blinked as he realized he’d lowered his staff nearly to his side. “My staff!” he exclaimed. “We’re only winning the battle when I keep my hands raised to God!”
Moses quickly raised his hands high again. Once again, the Israelites surged forward against the Amalekites, pushing them back.
But now Moses’ arms shook. He clenched his hands on the rod, desperately trying to hold it high. As it slowly lowered again, the Israelites below began to falter and lose ground. Frantic cries floated up to the hilltop.
“No!” shouted Moses.
“What’s wrong, Mo?” asked Hur.
“When my hands are raised up toward God, we win!” explained Moses. “But whenIlowerthem,welose.AndIjust…can’t…keepthemup…”
Aaron and Hur rushed to his side. “Moses! Let us help,” pleaded Aaron.
“We got this, Mo, my bro,” assured Hur.
Quickly, the two men rolled a large boulder to the place where Moses stood. As Moses took a seat, his brother and his friend each grabbed one of Moses’ arms and held up his hands with the staff.
In moments, shouts of triumph rang out from the plain as Joshua and the Israelites renewed their attack on the Amalekites. For the rest of the day, all the way until sunset, Hur and Aaron stood beside Moses, holding up his hands and the staff God had given him.
“Joshua did it!” cried Aaron. “We’ve won!”
“Just look at those Amalekites high-tail it outta there,” crowed Hur.
At last, Moses lowered his weary arms and stood up, stretching. “God be praised! He kept us safe.”
“You did it, brother,” Aaron told him.
“We all did it,” Moses said. “With God’s help.”
In the gathering dusk, the three men made their way down the hill, grateful that God had brought them together to save God’s people.
When was the last time you succeeded at something?
Maybe you got a great grade on a test, or you put on a play for your friends or you baked brownies all by yourself. Share with each other. How did it feel to win like that? Now here’s the cool thing: You’ve got the power to help someone else experience a win too! You can work with friends or family to help someone practice for soccer tryouts, or learn to love reading, or even to start their own dog-walking business. As a family, brainstorm ideas of someone you could all help together. Then as a family, pray for that person and ask God to help give you creative ways to follow through.
Cooperation, Week 3
Jesus Heals the Paralytic
Work together to help someone in need.
When Jesus began to travel in Galilee, preaching and healing, news got out fast. Crowds gathered quickly. Some were farmers and fisherman and townspeople. But many Jewish leaders and teachers of the law had journeyed to hear Jesus too.
The crowd crammed tightly into the main room of the home where Jesus was staying. There were so many people that they overflowed outside into the hot sun! They packed a dozen deep around the doors and windows, all straining to hear the words of Jesus and hoping to witness something miraculous.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now,” said Jesus. “You will be satisfied . . .”
It was at this point that a paralyzed man—let’s call him Seth—arrived. Now you may wonder how Seth showed up if he couldn’t walk. You see, Seth had four good friends. Let’s call them Matt, Marcos, Luke, and Jack. They believed that Jesus could heal their friend. They believed it so much they dropped everything they were doing and carried Seth on a mat to see Jesus.
Seth could see the crowd as they neared the house. “Uh, guys?” he wondered.
“Where’s Jesus?” asked Matt.
“There are so many folks, I can’t even see the house!” said Marcos.
“How will we get inside?” Luke asked.
“Dude, we gotta think outside the box,” declared Jack.
So they did. Instead of trying to elbow their way through the crowd, they carried Seth up the stairs along the side of the house and onto the broad, flat roof.
Matt threw himself down flat on the roof tiles and listened. “Jesus is right below us.”
“We’ll go through the roof!” said Jack. “Let’s move it.”
So the four friends started pulling off the roof tiles!
Seth watched, a bit nervous. “Uh, guys? I’m really glad you’re doing all this for me,but…”
“We’ll fix it later,” assured Marcos.
Soon, Seth’s friends had created a gap in the roof large enough for Seth. Commotion erupted below, and one of the Pharisees sneezed. “All this dust!
Stop it at once!” he commanded.
“Sorry!” Luke called down. “Almost done.”
“Hey, Jesus?” asked Marcos. “Our friend can’t walk.”
The friends whipped off their belts and knotted them on the corners of the mat. Then they lowered Seth down through the hole in the roof!
“Look out below!” called Jack.
The crowd scuffled and shoved to get out of the way and moments later, Seth landed on his mat in the only empty spot in the whole room: right in front of Jesus.
The entire room fell silent as everyone watched to see what Jesus would do.
Jesus glanced up at the four determined faces staring through the hole in the roof. And then He smiled down at Seth, His eyes filled with compassion.
“Friend,” He said, “your sins are forgiven.”
The room erupted with gasps and murmurs. The Pharisee whispered loudly,
“Who is this fellow who says such an evil thing? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
In forgiving sin, Jesus had just claimed to be God Himself! It was outrageous—unless He actually is God.
“Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?” Jesus asked. “Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’? Or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?”
The teachers of the law and religious leaders narrowed their eyes and nodded. On the roof above, Seth’s friends held their breaths, waiting . . .
“Jesus will heal him. I know it,” whispered Matt.
Then Jesus spoke. “I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” He smiled down at Seth again. “Get up. Take your mat and go home.”
Seth’s eyes popped open wide. He reached down to touch his legs. “Jesus,I…I…”
Slowly, Seth sat up. Bracing himself, he struggled to his feet.
“I can stand!”
People in the crowd gaped in amazement. Seth took a short step, and then a hop.
“I can walk.”
He sprang straight into the air.
“I can leap! Thank You, Jesus. Thank You!”
Seth waved to his four friends above. “Guys! Thanks!”
“Show us some moves, man!” called Jack.
Seth grabbed his mat and danced right out of the house, the crowd parting to make a path.
“Remarkable!” people cried out. “Praise God!”
On the roof, the four friends high-fived and began replacing the roof tiles. They knew that together, with God’s help, they had forever changed their friend’s life.
Think about the needs you see.
It might be in your family, at school, your neighborhood, your city, or even something you’ve heard about on the other side of the world. Share with each other several of those needs. Does one of them stand out for you? Is there one that makes you sad and moves you to do something? Together, talk about things your family could do together to meet that need. It might be anything from making a card to raising money to taking a Saturday to clean someone’s house. Together, pray for that person and then choose a time for your family to work together to help meet that person’s need.
Cooperation, Week 4
One Body but Many Parts
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
Work together to point others to Jesus.
Indigo Brown lived in the attic of a huge Victorian mansion. The stately old home had been divided into four apartments. Ben Ross, a retired carpenter, lived in the basement, while Joss and June, who ran an art shop, lived in the front of the house. Rachel Grant and her two kids occupied the back unit, along with King Henry, the Siamese cat.
Indigo had just lugged her fresh-cut Christmas tree up three flights of stairs into her neatly organized apartment when she heard rapid knocking on her door. She opened it to discover Rachel standing there, breathless, her jacket halfway on.
“Hey!” said Indigo.
“Could you feed King Henry for the next few days?” Rachel asked.
“Sure, how long?” responded Indigo.
“I don’t really know,” said Rachel. “I just found out my dad had a heart attack—”
“That’s awful. I’m so sorry!” Rachel told her.
“Pretty sure he’s gonna be okay,” said Rachel, “but I’m taking the boys to Chicago and I haven’t even had time to pack properly or . . . anything.”
“You’re only wearing one shoe,” Indigo pointed out. Rachel glanced down. “Oh. Right.”
“Just go,” said Indigo. “Don’t worry a bit about King Henry. I’ll bring him up here.”
After lunch, Indigo went down to Rachel’s apartment, using the spare key to let herself in. King Henry twined himself around her legs, and Indigo glanced up to see the apartment was already empty.
Well, empty somewhat. Rachel’s family was gone, but the space was a disaster! School books, jackets, and junk mail collided with an explosion of toys. Dirty dishes filled the sink, and breakfast still sat out on the table. Rachel clearly hadn’t had a chance to do anything but quickly leave.
Indigo picked up King Henry. “Now where’s your bed?” she wondered and tried to open the door to Rachel’s bedroom. The doorknob came off in her hand.
“Oops!” said Indigo.
Now that she looked, Indigo could see other things that needed work. One of the light fixtures was broken. And when she turned on the kitchen faucet to rinse King Henry’s food dish, water sprayed everywhere from a leak.
“Yikes!” she cried.
Indigo glanced up to see June from across the hall in the doorway. She carried a strand of tangled Christmas lights.
“Rachel and the kids had to leave fast,” Indigo explained. “Family emergency.”
“Oh dear,” said June. And then added, “Her place kind of looks like an emergency, too.”
“Yeah, this faucet is the worst,” said Indigo. “There’s a bunch of stuff that needs work, but I’m not really handy.”
“Ben is,” said June.
“Basement Ben?” asked Indigo.
“Yeah, he helped us rewire the smoke alarm when it kept going off at 3 a.m.”
“I wonder if he could fix some of this stuff while Rachel’s gone?” wondered Indigo.
“I can ask,” said June. She glanced down at the lights in her hand and added, “Joss and I were just finishing up our decorations. We could decorate Rachel’s place too. So it’s fun for the kids when they get back.”
Indigo glanced around. “But you can’t decorate with all this mess. I can straighten up first. And clean!”
Thirty minutes later, everyone was hard at work in Rachel’s apartment. Ben wrestled the old door knob. “This doesn’t deserve to go back in the door,” he announced. “I’ve got a new one downstairs we can use.”
Joss and June unpacked their extra bins of lights and ornaments. “The kids are gonna love this nativity,” said Joss as he set out manger scene characters. “It’s even got a zebra!”
“That’s from your niece’s jungle animal set,” pointed out June.
Joss grinned. “She must be the one who put a diaper on baby Jesus.”
Indigo swept through the apartment, putting things away and wiping every surface. “It’s so satisfying to clean something that really needs it and—ouch!” Indigo looked to see what she’d tripped over and picked up a bizarre Mr. Potato.
“Huh. He’s got . . . five eyes?”
Ben laughed and said, “If the whole body were an eye, how could it smell?”
“What?” asked Indigo.
“From the Bible,” said Ben. “First Corinthians. Talks about how God made everyone with different gifts to play a different part. Like a body where everything works together.”
“Like how we’re each doing what we’re good at right now?” wondered June. “Sure enough,” said Ben.
After the crew was finished, Indigo took King Henry back to her apartment. It was a week later when she heard knocking on her door again. She opened it to find Rachel, tears in her eyes.
“Is everything okay?” Indigo asked quickly. “Your dad?”
Rachel scooped up King Henry and nodded. “Dad’s fine. Really good. They say he’s going to make a full recovery.”
Rachel smiled. “These are happy tears. I was dreading walking back into a big fat mess. But . . . you have NO IDEA. Finding everything clean. And fixed. And decorated!”
“It was all of us in the house,” said Indigo. “Everyone.”
“Thank you. Thank you!” exclaimed Rachel.
“God’s given us a lot,” said Indigo. “We just wanted to give a little back.”
“Want to come down for some tea?” asked Rachel. “Since I don’t have to spend all night cleaning up a wreck.”
“Sure thing,” said Indigo.
Together Indigo and Rachel made their way down the creaky stairs. Indigo and her friends had discovered the truth of God’s words in First Corinthians 12:
There is one body, but it has many parts. . . . It is the same with Christ. We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body.
The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”. . . . God has put together all the parts of the body. . . . All of them will take care of one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.”
You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.
God could have made us all exactly the same.
But instead, He made us all with different ideas and gifts and talents. And when we choose to use those things together, we show the world a picture of who God is—just like all the parts of a body working in unison. Together, brainstorm a list of your family and friends and say something special or different about each one—like that they’re super funny, or really good at listening, or an awesome runner. Make sure to point out something unique about each other, too. Pray for each other, that you won’t envy others’ talents, but that God will help you see opportunities to use your gifts together with them.