VN520413 9-13-2015 Cast Your Bread Upon The Water
Ecclesiastes 11:1-7. Okay, Job, Psalm, Proverbs, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes. Next to the last chapter. I am going to read 1-8. “Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days. Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies. He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things. Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good. The light is pleasant, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun. Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything that is to come will be futility.”
Shall we pray over this? Father, in the name of Jesus give us some wisdom. I know this was written by Solomon so give us some wisdom as we look at this and try to come to grips about what this guy is actually saying. Father, lead, guide and direct in everything. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen. Okay, this guy writes to me it sounds like he kind of writes in circles and I’m like what’s this guy talking about? But actually what this is, is an exhortation to be openhanded. That’s why it says, “Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.” This has puzzled me. It’s like throwing bread and watching it sink and go down. What’s the point that they’re talking about? Now, like I said, the Jewish people will go out and throw bread upon the water today after sunset or tomorrow. They’ll throw bread upon the water. The idea actually is, it will come back to you after many days.
You throw your bread upon the water, and actually the word there is a body of water, a sea, something that is great and vast. Throw your bread upon the water. Be openhanded about it. Now it’s not just to say throw it out there and watch it sink, but the idea actually is a play on words and the idea of the sea means many people. You can find this in the Book of Revelation. And there I beheld and there was the sea, and the sea is a representation of all these different people. So, he says be free. Cast your bread upon the waters. Cast it, and even though it looks like you’re throwing it away and it looks like it’s completely lost, just because it looks that way, God is the one who is in control. Cast it to many people. Don’t just cast it to one person. Spread it out. Spread it out to other people. Show forth the goodness of God by giving.
Now, this isn’t just giving money. This is giving blessings, giving what is good to you. There are enough purses to go around, and by the way, if you hold money and you hoard it to yourself and you get a big pile of it and keep holding it, did you know that more often than not, that big pile of money you have ends up becoming a curse to your family? You will make out alright with it because you’re the one working to make it, hoarding it, hoarding it, hoarding it. Your kids will probably handle it alright because they remember how hard you worked trying to make this accumulation of wealth and they will work with it also, but those grandkids didn’t see the grandparents suffer, they didn’t see the “do it” time to bring this together. They didn’t see all that. All they know is when their parents died they were left a pile of money and they will blow it.
On average, the third generation will blow everything that the grandparents and the parents make, and I mean blow it. It will all be gone because they have no concept of the work and the effort it took. So, he’s saying don’t just hoard this up. Give it to people. Invest in the future and even though it looks like it’s a lost cause sometimes, be generous. Throw it out there and don’t ever think I’ve given and I’ve given and that’s enough. Throwing the bread upon the water is like a sop. Do you guys know what a sop is? It’s the best part of any meal as far as I’m concerned. You have your meat and it could be any kind, and then you have the gravy, and then you’ve got the bread and after you get done eating, I read this from a First Lady of the White House who said the best part is the sop. That’s where you take the bread or the biscuit and you sop up all that good stuff and you eat it. The au jus sauce. The chicken gravy, the sawmill gravy, whatever kind, you can sop it up, and you use your bread to do that. Everybody was just horrified. She said that’s the best part of the meal. If you come to my house you can sop up all the gravy you want. And throwing your bread out there on the sea, he’s saying, you can’t throw enough bread out there on a literal sea to sop it all up. There’s always need out there. There’s always somebody that has a need.
Now, Dwayne was talking about that this morning about how in the Book of Acts when the church started, a bunch of them actually got together and sold their houses and sold their property and gave it to the Apostles to distribute to the people so the church could keep functioning. This worked real well. A lot of people say we want to be a New Testament church and we want to revert back to the first practices. Eh, but they don’t want to pick that part of it up. Am I saying we should pick that part of it up? Oh no, because if you will read and study remember when Paul shows up later they say we lay nothing upon the gentiles except to don’t eat things that are strangled, don’t eat blood, and to remember the poor. Most people don’t know. We think remember the poor, you know, be generous to the poor, but the term the poor is also an illusion to give to the people in Jerusalem because all these people gave everything they have. There was no wealth left and so the Christians actually became the poorer set of Jerusalem.
At one time someone had money but they sold it all. I’m just saying this. It takes money to make money. You have to have money in order to invest and make money. So, there is nothing wrong with having money. Don’t think you have to get yourself absolutely poor, that’s not what I’m saying, but it’s like in verse 3 where it says “If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth.” All it’s saying is like God says, He causes it to rain upon the just and the unjust and when a cloud is full of water it will pour down part of its overflow and it will become a blessing and sometimes it blesses the good fields, and sometimes it moves in places that are very, very dry but it blesses that also and that’s what he’s saying. Be more like God. Be willing to put out a blessing out there to the people. In verse 2 it says, “Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth.” One thing it’s saying is have a budget. You don’t know what’s coming. Don’t blow everything. Somebody walked in the store yesterday and we were talking about the local economy and North Dakota’s economy. We talked about everything at the store.
Concerning North Dakota’s economy, did you know that they’re predicting that crude oil will possibly drop down to $20.00 a barrel in the near future? They are shutting down oil rigs all over America. Living in this area, we understand what that’s like, and the first thing this person said was, “I hope these people didn’t make all that money in the drilling and in the oil and just blow it thinking oil money is going to continually flow.” How many people do we know that had oil, struck oil, made loads of money, blew loads of money, and then when the oil crash hit and the oil dropped down they were in debt. They thought it was going to go on forever. These people have learned since the 1920s in this area that oil prices never stay up forever. Wealth never stays up forever. Budget yourself. Seven into eight. You don’t know what’s going to come so make sure you budget yourself, but into eight. That’s the new beginning.
Have something so that you can invest in a new way. Number eight. A little bit extra so that you can invest and get through hard times and still have a little bit extra left over. Also part of the understanding is this; when people gave big parties back in the day, they would throw these lavish parties, and invite all their friends. You know what the tips were back then? They would leave a little bit on the plate so the servants who were working the dinner, the butlers and the group that was bussing tables, could have the food that was left on the plates to eat, and then they would take whatever leftovers that remained and the host would say, “Take this out.” He didn’t say to store it, as they didn’t have refrigerators back then. He would say, “Take this food out and distribute it to the poor outside my walls”. So, they would give it away to people, and this is the idea. Be openhanded with the things that God has given you. When you’re a cloud and you’re full and everything is great be willing to share some of that blessing. But, what in the world is about this tree falling down in verse 3? You know, we’ve talked about the clouds and then it goes whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls there it lies, and my first response is always dah. It’s not that question if the tree falls and nobody hears it does it make a noise? The idea actually is kind of a Proverb thing going on here. He’s saying when the tree falls whether it’s north or south it lays there, it’s over with, and if a person dies whether they go to unchangeable places of joy and happiness or whether they go to an unchangeable place of suffering. It’s decided when the tree is falling and the idea is make sure that you’ve got everything together because when you fall, when you pass away from this life into the next, your station in the future is decided.
Some churches and some religions teach that you can pray somebody out of hell, you can pay their way out of hell, there are other things you can do to accomplish the passing away of someone, or they get recycled and they come back time and time and time again so things are improving. According to the Judeo Christian version of things, once we check out we are in the presence of God and He is going to make decisions about us. When that tree falls it’s over with. The idea is be generous because now is the time to make things right with God. Now is the time to square things up. Now is the time to be generous. Remember, the rich man looked up and said oh, just send somebody over here with just one drop of water to put on my tongue. This was a wealthy man. He had all this wealth and all he ever needs for eternity is just one drop of water. That’s all I want.
I don’t want my wealth, I don’t want my silver, I don’t want gold. Just one drop of water is all he needs, and he had the opportunity to treat Lazarus, the poor man, better than what he did and yet he didn’t. That tree fell and the guy’s decisions and the guy’s way of life and his choice and getting square with God was over with. Verse 4-6, “He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things. Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.”
It’s just saying get out there and don’t hesitate. You don’t wait for ideal conditions. Somebody came into me the other day at the store. A lot of stuff, like I said, gets discussed and I said hmm, I know how old you are. Are you going to retire? They said getting close, but I was discussing it with the spouse and the spouse said can we really afford to retire, and in the wisdom of the moment the wife says retiring is like having kids. If you want until you can afford it you’ll never have kids, and if we wait until we can afford to retire we’ll never retire and we’ll miss all this. So, do it when the iron is hot. If you’ve got it, retire. Enjoy. Don’t always be working, but be a blessing to people constantly sowing that which you’ve got. It’s not saying you have to throw out thousands of dollars. Just be a blessing to somebody.
I guess if I was going to conclude this right now, which I’m not, it would say folks, go out and be awesome, and it doesn’t always take a lot. Just an encouragement to people. Just sharing something nice with people, and it will come back to you. You don’t know when. Like Chris said it looks sometimes like the ideal conditions aren’t there, but he says you don’t understand how God works. Go out there and sow that seed even though it doesn’t look like it’s ideal. It will come back to you. There was a rabbi who lived in Caesarea back in the day when the Romans were running around. He was walking down a beach. Now this is just a story rabbis tell. True or not I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I am old, but I’m not that old. So, there he was walking down the beach and he sees a boat sink. He sees this man swimming toward the shore. The rabbi can’t swim so he’s standing there callng, “Come on, come on, you can do it.” The guy swims all the way up and finally gets to the shore. The rabbi runs out, helps the guy out of the water, pulls him up, takes him home, dries him off, gives him clothes, gives him food, gives him a place to rest, nurses him back so everything is good. He gives him some money and blesses him and sends him on his way. It was a gentile. Time goes by. This rabbi and his people get into some trouble in this city because Romans, you know, and we’ve had the big revolt go on, the Kokhba revolt which you guys don’t know about and don’t need to know about, but this revolt happened and they got in a bind and so they get this rabbi and they said you need to go talk to the governor and see if you can get us off the hook or some relief because people are being really, really nasty to us.
So he says okay, and actually he gathers a whole bunch of gold together, goes up to the Roman governor’s palace in the next city, knocks on the door and says I have something important to tell. Cha-chang, cha-chang, showing the gold. I want to share something with the governor. So, they say okay. They waltz the guy in, open the doors, announce him and he walks in and the rabbi realizes that that is the guy that he pulled from the water. The governor looks at the rabbi and he’s like this is the guy that pulled me from the water and he says what are you wanting? He says, “We’re in trouble and here, I brought you a gift”, and all this kind of stuff and the guy said, “Listen, you keep this money and you take it back and you distribute it to your people. You gave me, it wasn’t a lot of money but you gave me what you had, what you could afford, and it was a lifesaver to me and because of your generosity to a stranger I’m going to be generous to you and to your people. Tell them it’s going to be alright.” Pay off. The guy threw his bread upon the water, money. He helped this guy out, he was a gentile, and it turns around that this gentile becomes a person of power and blesses the man. This is a story that goes on and it’s told among the Jewish people on days like this, casting your bread up on the water to encourage them to be openhanded.
Once again, I’m going to read 7 through 8. “The light is pleasant, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun. Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything that is to come will be futility.” Now all he is saying is this. Focus on the good days. Focus on your good days. Magnify the goodness that the Lord has done for you. Magnify the goodness of the Lord. Don’t dwell on those dark days. Then as you get older and you’ve rejoiced and rejoiced as much as possible over all the good stuff and you minimize the small stuff he says but don’t forget times were not perfect and like that everything is futile. The good days is futility. Yeah, believe it or not. The bad days is futility.
He’s saying make the most of those good days and when you’ve got it, share it. Share your good times. Share your good fortune. Share it with people and minimize those bad days because they too will pass. Good times are going to pass. Enjoy them while they’re here. Bad times, minimize them. They too will pass. Don’t dwell on those. I know people who get all ate up over the minutest details and I’m just sitting there going you’re kidding? You’re upset over that, that somebody has splashed some mud on the tire of your car? Who cares? It’s not that big of a deal, but there it is. I’m just saying we need to magnify the good things in life. We need to share those good things in life and shut up about all the grumbling and complaining that goes on. I get tired of hearing it.
No offense but all you shoppers, you can come back and tell me all you want to, but I mean there are people that you just see them walk through the door and you’re going oh no, not that person again. Oh, they have told me about everything that is wrong with that vehicle for eight years and every time that vehicle, I’ll tell you what. The timing is off and the computers can’t fix it and I’m going to trade it off next week. Three months. That vehicle, same thing. I’m taken it to… and I’m just like I don’t want to hear it. My cousin says she’s tired of listening to everybody’s ills and pills. You know, everybody has got problems, everybody has got some health issues. I realize there are things that happen that are major, but there are people who complain about oh, I’ve got a hangnail. Oh, I’ve got a hangnail. I don’t care if you’ve had open heart surgery, I’ve got a hangnail. Look at that.
Stub your toe. Who said that? Amen. Stub your toe, but you can come in and tell me. This nice lady brought me some plum jelly. She can tell me about her toe anytime she wants. I’m just saying we need to be focusing on the positive. Always share the good and share the good times because you don’t know when you will be the one that’s just down enough and somebody is sharing some good with you, or sharing some good time with you, or reminiscing, or blessing you will lift you up. Nothing is permanent, neither the good nor the bad. Make the most of the good. Make the most of the good, and here’s something for the younger people in this crowd. You’re not going to believe it, but look at all of us people my age. Look at this hair. It’s white. I was your age once. Believe it or not I was your age once and now I’m standing here at 60+ years old, and I hear this all the time from older people that come in the store, if I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.
Kids, odds are you’re going to live longer than me. Start taking better care of yourself. Don’t do stupid things. Just don’t expose yourself to injuries and you think I’ll get over that real easy. Yeah, you will, and it will come back in 40 years and you’ll remember oh yeah, I remember when that happened. I didn’t think it was important, but it was. Everything we do has consequences. Take care of yourself. Share and encourage other people because you’re good times will pass, their good times will pass, bad times will pass, but always be out there sharing and sharing and sharing, and you might as well get rid of enough of it so that your wealth does not become a curse to the third generation. Share and let people know and teach your children to share so when that third generation will get there they’ll say God takes care of our family and I can be openhanded and not miserly.
Shall we pray? Father, in the name of Jesus help us to be generous toward people and not always judge them and say well, that’s going to be a waste of money right there. Father, whatever money we do throw out there upon these waters, upon these people, we ask that You would bless them through Your generosity toward us. Father, all glory and honor to You because You have been good to us in good times and bad times and I don’t deserve it, but yet You have been good to me. Help me to always be open and sharing with other people. Father, bless this church. Continue to bless this church. Give us strength, give us wisdom, and give us insight so that we can glorify Your Son. If anybody is here that hasn’t accepted Christ let him start with that first blessing by accepting Christ, and all they have to do is just say forgive me of my sins and I trust You, Jesus, with my life, and mean it. That’s it. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
If anybody has prayed that prayer speak to somebody that is older that is a member of the church, me, deacons, elders, somebody with gray hair or whatever, and just tell us about it and we’ll try to help you to grow up in Jesus Christ so that your life will be an absolutely blessed and wonderful life.