Casting Bread

cast“ Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.”  (Ecclesiastes 11:1)

The Abingdon Bible Commentary refers to Ecclesiastes 11:1 as “an enigmatical word of counsel, teaching benevolence.”  Matthew Henry and others also echo this sentiment. The added advice of verse 2 confirms this interpretation – “Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.”  The Message translation provides a great insight: “Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around. Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.” In this passage, Solomon presses rich people to give liberally to those less fortunate.

Several Biblical principles emerge as we consider the wisdom in these verses.  First, whatever we cast upon the water is what we receive in return:  “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days .” The principle here occurs often in Scripture and is illustrated in Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”  What we cast upon the water is what we will receive in return. If we cast trash, then trash we will receive. If we cast selfishness, then we will receive the same back from others. However, if we cast bread, then bread we shall receive.

What does God expect of those of us who have been blessed with much bread in this life? Isaiah 58:7 provides an answer: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring into your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?”

Secondly, the reward of this Biblical principle may not be seen immediately. The verse advises that the return comes ‘after many days’. Once again let me refer to Galatians 6. This time note verses 9 & 10: “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  The NCT translates Eccelsiastes 11:1 this way: “Invest what you have because after a while you will get a return.

Another benefit of following Solomon’s advice is that more comes back than is initially cast. What a beautiful picture of this benefit may found in Isaiah 58:10-11:  “If you extend your soul to the hungry, And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a well watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.”  

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).  Again in John 6:48, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.”  Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ need to be casting two kinds of bread upon the water:  the first obligation is to share our faith in Jesus, The Bread of Life, with others; we are also admonished to share the physical bread with which we have been blessed among those who hunger.

~ Brother Roy

Grace – Is There Another Side of the Coin?

Spinning-quarterSometime ago, I was preaching a camp meeting. After several messages, a lady commented to me that I seemed to be rather ‘negative’ in my approach. The response I offer here is not so much a defense as it is a reflection on what was considered a negative gospel.

When God made the covenant with the Hebrews, He delivered it through the Ten Commandments. You might sense a negative air. A careful look may help illustrate this position. In reviewing Exodus 20:1-17, you cannot help but be aware of the negative tone.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me

Thou shalt not make thee any graven image

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain

Thou shalt not kill

Thou shalt not commit adultery

Thou shalt not steal

Thou shalt not bear false witness

Thou shalt not covet

In it (the sabbath) thou shalt not do any work

 If we are tempted to lift the phrase “I don’t live under the law but under grace”, let us consider the words of Jesus, the embodiment of grace.  In Matt. 7:17, Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”  Jesus appears to set an even more intense standard than Old Testament Law. Jesus taught in Matthew 5,  “(21) Ye have heard that it was said of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment (22) But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” …(27) Ye have heard it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:(28) But I say unto you That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery in his heart.” 

A review of the teachings of Jesus will certainly reflect a strong stand against anything that causes a person to ignore God’s law. To the chagrin of many, there are negative consequences to those who willingly violate the Lord’s standards for living. Knowledgeable disobedience can negate the covenants we make with the Lord.

The gospel is positively clear on the fact that there are a multitude of “thou shalt nots” in the teachings of both the Old and New Testament. There are times when the most positive thing that can be said to someone is ‘no, you can’t do that and be in a right relationship with the Lord’. We must not use grace as an excuse to ignore the law, but rather, by faith in Christ, seek to live above reproach, fulfilling the spirit of the law.

Heb. 10: 26-29 speaks to those who “sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth.” There is a stern warning of fiery indignation against those who “insult the Spirit of grace.”   This is the other side of the coin of grace.

~ Brother Roy

Freedom

chainsAmerica is immortalized in our National Anthem as “The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave”.  But we are living in an era when it seems that our freedoms are under assault not only from outside forces, but also from our own government. Politicians are demonstrating a careless disregard for our freedoms. The Constitution is under attack, and its erosion is leading directly to diminishing personal freedom.

In light of the developments noted above, how should we live in times like these?  We can, as always, find right instruction in Scripture. Peter’s instruction to first-century Christians gives directions that are still applicable to this day. Peter tells believers, many who were slaves, to “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do evil (1 Pet. 2:16).”  How could slaves live as free people? The answer is to understand the meaning of real freedom.

Real freedom is not political, social, or physical freedom. Those who are able to exercise power over us can, unfortunately, take that kind of freedom away. True freedom is spiritual freedom:

  1. This freedom is marked by freedom from sin. Where once our lives had been controlled by sin, now we experience “having been set free from sin (Rom.6:18).” Jesus said, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you are free indeed (John 8:36).”
  2. This freedom brings freedom from guilt. Psychiatrists tell us problems with mental illness can often be traced to feelings of guilt. Guilt often drives tormented souls toward tragic consequences. “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear (Psalm 38:4 NIV).”  The answer to guilt is given in Psalm 32:5, “I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ – and you (He) forgave the guilt of my sin.”
  3. This freedom gives freedom from anxiety. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6&7).”

Let me share words of wisdom found in Gal. 5:12, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made you free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” 

LET US LIVE AS FREE PEOPLE