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Cast Your Bread Upon The Waters

Thursday, September 20, 2018

“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.”

(Ecc. 11:1-2)

 

In the above verses, the Preacher tells us to take every opportunity to do good to our neighbor (Gal. 6:10) because the time may come when we will be the ones standing in need. The ancient farmer would sometimes cast his seed onto flooded areas during seasons of too much rainfall hoping that once the waters eventually recede the seed would take root and his crop would sprout up. The wisdom of the farmer is seen in his taking a seemingly hopeless situation and turning it into a profitable one.

 

The preacher is instructing us not to be discouraged from doing good just because, on the surface, the situation looks bad (Gal. 6:9). Just continue sowing that seed because eventually the waters of difficulty will recede. And it may take some time for the seed to produce a crop but it will eventually come (1 Cor. 15:58).

 

“He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap… In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.”

(Ecc. 11:4,6)

 

In these verses, the Preacher tells us that we shouldn’t wait for ideal conditions to get to work. If the farmer was to wait for the absolute perfect weather to sow his seed he would never reap a crop. We will never complete the Lord’s work if we wait for ideal conditions. We should make the best use of the present for the future is unpredictable (Jas. 4:13-17). Jesus once said, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (Jn. 9:4). Or in Paul’s words, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).

 

Are you waiting for the perfect conditions to begin God’s work?

  1. Have you been meaning to share the gospel with your neighbor, friend, co-worker or family member but you have been waiting for the right time? Cast your bread upon the waters!
  2. Have you been meaning to send that encouraging message to your brother you know is struggling but haven’t found the right moment? Cast your bread upon the waters!
  3. Have you been meaning to study and pray more to develop your relationship and understanding of God but feel like you have to tie up loose ends elsewhere? Cast your bread upon the waters!
  4. Have you been meaning to be more hospitable and have people over your house more but are waiting for a more convenient time? Cast your bread upon the waters!

Don’t expect to reap a crop of righteousness in the future if you fail to sow the seed of the kingdom in the present (Gal. 6:9-10; Lk. 8:4-15). Follow the wisdom of the Preacher and cast your bread upon the waters. Even if things don’t look favorable right now, much fruit may come later!

Finding My Place

Thursday, September 20, 2018

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

(Romans 12:6-8)

 

Paul taught that every Christian has an integral part to play in the strength and growth of the local church (Eph. 4:16; 1 Cor. 12). Have you ever wondered what your role is at Danville? You have unique abilities that God has given you and He expects you to “use them” (Mt. 25:14ff).

 

Starting in September we will study passages like Romans 12:6-8 in a sermon series designed to help you find your place. No member is unimportant, no task is trivial and no action is meaningless. You will be asked to follow along in the lessons with a pencil and check sheet in hand as we study these various gifts. By the end, you will better understand your strengths and be better equipped to serve the Lord (Eph. 4:11ff).

Should Parents Be Friends With Their Children?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Consider the following passages and judge for yourself:

 

A friend sticks close by (Prov. 18:24) “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
A friend gives sound advice (Prov. 27:9-10a) “…Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel…”
A friend loves at all times (Prov. 17:17) “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
A friend helps when you're down (Ecc. 4:9-10) “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow…
A friend provides physically & emotionally (Ecc. 4:11) “Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?”
A friend fights to protect (Ecc. 4:12) “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
A friend lays down his life (Jn. 15:13, cf. v.15) “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
A friend is tough sometimes (Prov. 27:6) “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
A friend is gentle sometimes (Job 6:14) “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”
A friend earns trust (1 Sam. 20; cf. Acts 9:26-27)
A friend promotes growth (Prov. 27:17) “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
A friend speaks plainly (Ex. 33:11a) “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend…”
 

“…“Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.”

(James 2:23)

Theory vs. Practice

Thursday, September 20, 2018

There once was a group of people who called themselves “the fishermen.” They lived near many streams, ponds, lakes and other bodies of water that were teeming with fish. The fishermen met three times a week, twice on Sundays and once on Wednesdays, to discuss fishing. They talked about their special calling to fish. They had classes designed to help them be better fishermen. They listed statistics of the abundance of the fish around them. They encouraged others to fish. They zealously defended their right to fish. But they never actually tried to fish.

 

But boy they were excited!

 

And all that excitement caused others to be interested. The fishermen’s numbers grew. They had to expand so they built a large beautiful building to house their regular meetings. In addition to these meetings they sent out some of their members to places where there were many fish. These men were very eager to spread the message: Everyone should become a fisherman! Everyone should fish! They held week long fishermen meetings to promote fishing, define fishing and defend fishing. But the men who spoke at the meetings never actually fished.

 

Strangely, they continued their campaign offering courses on the needs of the fish, what kinds of things the fish liked, the nature of fish, the best methods to catch fish and the psychological effects of fishing. The men who taught had doctorates in Fishology. But the teachers themselves never actually fished. They were too busy teaching others to fish.

 

One evening two men stumbled into a fishermen meeting quite by accident. These men were not schooled in the ways of the fishermen but after a stirring sermon entitled “The Necessity of Fishing” they decided to do something so amazing, so brave, so out-of-the-box: they went to a local pond and actually tried fishing. Much to their surprise and delight, after only minimal effort, one of the men caught a fish!

 

He proudly brought his catch to the next meeting. This man was honored for his actions and was interviewed and fawned over by the fishermen. He was soon scheduled to hold meetings to talk about “The Time I Went Fishing and Actually Caught A Fish”. So he quit fishing and went on tour to share his experience by giving motivational speeches. He had his fish mounted on a shining gold plate with the words “The Fish I Caught That One Time” engraved at the bottom.

 

Things weren’t all roses for the fishermen though. Oh no! They had to endure many sacrifices. Like going to all those meetings. And reading all those books. And living in communities surrounded by so many fish they had to put up with that fishy smell all the time. And, if you would believe it, there were even some people who had the gall to criticize their methods! They ridiculed them for calling themselves “fishermen” while never trying to fish. The nerve of some people!

 

*Brethren, I hope you understand my sarcasm. How can we call ourselves followers of the Master who said, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mt. 4:19), when we never go fishing? I hope you would agree that would be disingenuous. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Mt. 28:19) Will practice your faith and go fishing or will you be content to simply theorize about fishing?

Echoes of Sermons

Monday, August 20, 2018

“We’ve created a series to answer your most asked questions” said the advertisement that came in the mail from a new church in Avon called Echo Church. Their website reveals that Echo is a typical “social oriented” church. “Dads are the best! So, we're celebrating them in lots of ways this Sunday. Oh, did we mention... We'll have DONUTS!!! Hot coffee, donuts, and a special message to dads from our pastor…”

 

The site also advertises, “This Sunday we are closing out our current message series #Struggles with a special message to help you have your best summer.” 

 

The notice listed four of these “important” questions to be dealt with at Echo. “What’s the answer for all my stress?” “How can I deal with difficult people?” “What can I do to be a better parent?” and, “How can I forgive people that have hurt me?”

 

I couldn’t help but compare these questions with those Jesus was asked? And when I did, it confirmed in my mind how far so-called religious people have drifted from the meaning and heart of the gospel.

But, wasn’t Jesus asked about forgiveness? Yes, but not the way Echo is asking. “Then Peter came to Him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). The Lord didn’t address how, instead He said: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (v22). This is because God will NOT forgive those who refuse to forgive (v35).

 

This is because divine forgiveness is linked to our heart of forgiveness. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15).

 

Jesus spoke this way about forgiveness because He came into the world for one purpose: “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10). That is, to bring forgiveness by His atoning death. And, any church or any preacher not focusing on His mission and His purpose have corrupted the gospel and blasphemed the sacrificial blood of Jesus.

 

That being said, consider some questions Jesus was asked. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36). “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” (Mark 14:61). “Are You the King of the Jews?” (Mark 15:2). “Pilate said to Him, what is truth?” (John 18:38).

 

Also, reflect on some questions asked of evangelists in the first century. “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36). “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).

 

The greatest need of mankind is salvation in Christ. Men and women are lost because of sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23), and salvation is the message the world needs! This is why God demands of preachers: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

 

The greatest need of mankind is salvation in Christ. Men and women are lost because of sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23), and salvation is the message the world needs! This is why God demands of preachers: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

But, with the same stroke of the pen Paul warned, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (vv3-4).

 

This is what we’re seeing and hearing today. Frankly, I am not surprised when denominational churches such as Echo, Kingsway and Connection Pointe emphasize the social gospel. But, it is utterly repulsive for gospel preachers to do the same.

 

It seems some “among us” are ashamed because the church isn’t engaging in all the “ministries” that the denominations are. The denominations “minister” to the divorced, the lonely, the pregnant, the addict, the alcoholic, the homeless, the jobless, the hungry, the depressed, the “struggling,” et al. And, all we’re doing is preaching, having gospel meetings and “worship as usual.”

 

Some among us decide that to “reach out” to the divorced, the transgender, the stressed we need to become communal instead of focusing on conversion. So, to catch-up some design sermons, classes, social activities to address these issues. And in the meantime, we neglect their greatest need—salvation from sin.

 

Perhaps we need fewer sermons about stress and more about salvation. We could also use fewer sermons dealing with difficult people and more about deliverance from sin. Less about recovery and more about redemption.

 

I still believe the answer to all our woes (social, family, sexual, racial, etc.) is found within the pages of God’s eternal, unchanging word. And, what this “struggling” world needs, is the saving message of the life changing gospel. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17).

 

-J.R. Bronger

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