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“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”
Bread here is probably used, figuratively, for the grain from which it is made. In Egypt, seed was sown on flooded areas. As the waters receded, the crop came forth. But it did not happen immediately. The harvest came “after many days.”

Today we live in an “instant” society, and we want instant results. We have instant mashed potatoes, instant tea, coffee and cocoa, instant soup and instant oatmeal. Also, we have instant credit at the bank and instant replays on TV.

But it is not like that in Christian life and service. Our kindnesses are not rewarded immediately. Our prayers are not always answered right away. And our service does not usually produce immediate results.

The Bible repeatedly uses the agricultural cycle to illustrate spiritual service. “A sower went forth to sow…” “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” “First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” It is a gradual process, over an extended period of time. The squash grows more quickly than an oak tree, but it still takes time.

Therefore, to expect instant results from our uncalculating deeds of kindness is unrealistic. To expect immediate answers to prayer is immature. To press for a decision the first time a person hears the Gospel is unwise. Certainly the normal experience is to give, pray and serve untiringly over a protracted period of time. You do so with the confidence that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. After a while, you see results, not enough to inflate you with pride, but enough to encourage you to press on. The full results will not be known till we reach heaven—which is—after all, the best and safest place to see the fruit of our labors.

“Owe no man anything, but to love one another.”
We need not take this verse as a prohibition against any and every kind of debt. In our society we cannot escape telephone bills, gas and light bills, and water bills. Also under certain circumstances, it may be better discipleship to buy a house on a mortgage, thus building up equity, than to pay out the same monthly amount in rent. And it is impossible to run a business today without contracting some debts.

But the verse certainly does forbid other practices. It forbids going into debt when there is slim chance to repay. It forbids borrowing to purchase a product that depreciates in value. It forbids getting into arrears. It forbids going into debt for nonessentials. It forbids plunging into debt over our heads, the temptation to overspend on impulse because we have credit cards. It forbids wasting the Lord’s money by paying exorbitant interest charges on the unpaid balance.

The verse is designed to save us from dunning creditors, from marital problems caused by overspending, and from bankruptcy court, all of which are devastating to the Christian testimony.

In general, we should practice financial responsibility by living modestly and within our means, always remembering that the borrower is slave to the lender (see).

The one debt that is always in order for the Christian is the obligation to love one another. We are obligated to love the unconverted and to share the Gospel with them. We are obligated to love the brethren and to lay down our lives for them. This kind of indebtedness will never get us in trouble with the law. Rather, as Paul says, it is the fulfilling of the law.

“…neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem.”
For the Samaritans, the center of worship was on Mt. Gerizim. For the Jews, Jerusalem was the place on earth where God had placed His Name. But Jesus announced a new order to the woman of Samaria, “…the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”

There is no longer a single place on earth which is designated for worship. In our dispensation, a Holy Person has taken the place of a holy site. The Lord Jesus Christ is now the gathering center of His people. Jacob’s words have found their fulfillment, “…unto him shall the gathering of the people be”.

We gather to Him. We are not drawn together by a consecrated building with stained glass windows and organ music. We do not gather to a man, no matter how gifted or eloquent. The Lord Jesus is the divine magnet.

The place on earth is not important; we may meet in a chapel, a home, a field or a cave. In true worship, we enter by faith into the heavenly sanctuary. God the Father is there. The Lord Jesus is there. The angels are there in festal array. The saints of the Old Testament period are there. And the saints of the Church age who have died are there. And in such august company we are privileged to pour out our hearts in worship to God through the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. So while our bodies are still on earth, in spirit we pass “far, far above the restless world that wars below.”

Does this contradict the Savior’s words, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” ? No, this is also true. He is present in a special way when His people meet together in His Name. He takes our prayers and praises and presents them to the Father. What a privilege to have the Lord Jesus in our midst.

“…the division of soul and spirit.”
When the Bible speaks of man in his tripartite being, the order is always spirit, soul and body. When men use these terms together, the order almost invariably is body, soul and spirit. Sin has turned God’s order upside down. Now man puts the body first, then the soul, and the spirit last of all.

The two non-material parts of man’s being are his spirit and his soul. The spirit enables him to have fellowship with God. The soul has to do with his emotions and passions. Although it is not possible for us to distinguish the spirit and soul in minute detail, we can and should learn to distinguish between what is spiritual and soulish.

What then is spiritual? Preaching that exalts Christ is. Prayer to God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit is. Service that is motivated by love to the Lord and empowered by the Spirit is. Worship that is in spirit and truth is.

And what is soulish? Preaching that draws attention to man, to his oratory, commanding presence or wit. Mechanical prayers with no real heart involvement but designed to make an impression on others. Service that is self-appointed, carried on for monetary reward, or employing carnal methods. Worship that revolves around visible, material aids rather than the unseen spiritual realities.

What does the Church of God have to do with consecrated buildings, stained glass windows, ecclesiastical vestments, honorific titles, candles, incense and all such trappings? Or, coming closer to home, what does the Church have to do with Madison Avenue promotional efforts, with fund raising for hire, with evangelistic gimmickry, with personality cults, with musical extravaganzas?

The advertising in the average Christian magazine is enough to show how soulish we have become.

Paul draws a distinction between service that is gold, silver, precious stones and that which is wood, hay and stubble. Everything that is spiritual will resist the fire of God’s discerning judgment. All that is soulish will go up in flames.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit…”
Exactly what is involved in walking in the Spirit? Actually it is not as complicated and impractical as some tend to think. Here is what a day’s walk in the Spirit would be like!

First, you start the day in prayer. You confess all known sin in your life; this makes you a clean vessel and therefore usable by God. You spend time in praise and worship; this gets your soul in tune. You turn over control of your life to Him; this makes you available for the Lord to live His life through you. In this act of rededication, you “cease from needless scheming and leave the ruling of your life to Him.”

Next, you spend time feeding on the Word of God. Here you get a general outline of God’s will for your life. And you may also receive some specific indication of His will for you in your present circumstances.

After your quiet time, you do the things that your hands find to do. Ordinarily they will be the prosaic, routine, mundane duties of life. This is where a lot of people have wrong ideas. They think that walking in the Spirit is foreign to the world of aprons and overalls. Actually it is mostly composed of faithfulness and diligence in one’s daily work.

Throughout the day you confess and forsake sin as soon as you are aware of it. You praise the Lord as His blessings come to mind. You obey every impulse to do good, and refuse every temptation to evil.

Then you take what comes to you during the day as being His will for you. Interruptions become opportunities to minister. Disappointments become His appointments. Phone calls, letters, visitors are seen as part of His plan.

Harold Wildish quoted the following summary in one of his books:

“As you leave the whole burden of your sin, and rest upon the finished work of Christ, so leave the whole burden of your life and service, and rest upon the present inworking of the Holy Spirit.”

“Give yourself up, morning by morning, to be led by the Holy Spirit and go forth praising and at rest, leaving Him to manage you and your day. Cultivate the habit all through the day, of joyfully depending upon and obeying Him, expecting Him to guide, to enlighten, to reprove, to teach, to use, and to do in and with you what He wills. Count upon His working as a fact, altogether apart from sight or feeling. Only let us believe in and obey the Holy Spirit as the Ruler of our lives, and cease from the burden of trying to manage ourselves; then shall the fruit of the Spirit appear in us, as He wills, to the glory of God.”