Mark 16:15

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature"

How Many Loaves Have Ye?

This is the question Jesus asked His disciples when He had compassion on the hungry multitude that had been with him three days without anything to eat (Matt. 15:32-39). Jesus did not ask for information, for He knew. He also did not ask because He could not feed the multitude without their “loaves.” He wanted them (and disciples for all ages) to know that He could bless others through them, and that they must be willing to use what they have, or give it into His hands, or else others may go unfed. They were later to feed the bread of life to men, and were to use their strength, tongues, hearts, and means to carry out the great commission, thus serving as “earthen vessels” (Matt. 28:18-20; II Cor. 4:7). Let’s look at some practical lessons from this great event.
(1) Jesus knew the needs of people without information from them (Matt. 6:7-8).
(2) He had compassion (Heb. 4:14-15).
(3) He demands decency and order. He did not feed them until they were seated in an orderly way. One cannot be fed spiritually today amid a lot of noise and confusion (I Cor. 14:40).
(4) The disciples did not have enough for themselves, but when they surrendered what they had to Jesus, it increased sufficiently to feed themselves and the multitude with more left over than they had at first! Read Luke 6:38 and II Corinthians 9:6-7 and see if we are not promised the same thing today.
(5) This was a test of faith of the disciples. They might have reasoned that their supply was too meager to give. Remember the widow and her mites (Matt. 12:41-44)? But instead, they did like Peter on the sea when he said, “nevertheless at thy word” (Luke 5:5). It is not how much bread, money, or talents, but how much faith, and what Jesus can do with things we surrender to Him that count.
As space permits let us look at other scriptural teaching along this line. To Moses God said, “What is that in thine hand? (Exod. 4:2). God then showed him that he could use it to bring Pharaoh down. Moses later used that same rod to make a path through the sea, and to smite the rock to bring them water.
Another example to consider is what Elijah did for the widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17:8-16). There was a famine and she was down to her last handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a jar. But given to the Lord’s cause, the meager amount lasted till the famine ended.
Solomon had many loaves. God required more of him. He built the Temple. Paul had a lot of loaves, a great mind, education, heart, tongue, and pen. Christ sent him to the Gentiles to bring them to Christ (Acts. 9:15). The one-talent man was cursed for failing to use what he had.
Application: how many loaves do
you have? Don’t say, “not enough to do any good.” Your loaves, few or many, become more powerful in the Lord’s hand. If you have a good understanding of the truth, then teach! If you have a ready tongue, preach the Word. Use your voice to sing praises to God and teach your fellowman. If you have money or property, distribute it to be used to preach the gospel, and carry on the work of the church. God loves a cheerful giver! How many loaves have you? Enough when committed to Christ to save yourself and others. Put it to use today!

Paul M. Wilmoth

If

The word serving as the title of this article is a small word having only two letters. However, its importance cannot be overstated. This little word “if” appears literally hundreds and hundreds of times in both the Old and New Testaments.
Most of us will recognize that this little word is generally expressing a condition. The New Oxford American Dictionary gives the following definition of this word: “conjunction: introducing a conditional clause; on the condition or supposition that; in the event that.”
A lot of false doctrine would be eliminated if folks would just observe the use of this little word in various statements of Scripture. For instance, in Ephesians chapter one, Paul is discussing the peace that Christ brought about “through the blood of His cross” (v. 20). Because of this peace made possible through the blood of Christ, Paul mentions that “You, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death” (v. 21-22a). He then adds His purpose and desire for them as being “to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight” (v. 22). All sounds great so far. Christ died and shed His blood on the cross for the purpose of bringing about peace for those who previously had by wicked works made themselves enemies of truth. He intends to present these same folks unto God as holy (sanctified) people. But wait! He isn't finished. There is more and it starts with that little word “if.” “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel...” (v. 23). By definition, the word introduces a conditional clause. There are conditions in verse 23 attached to the promises and blessings of verses 21 & 22. “If” the conditions are met, the promises and blessings will be freely given; the “presenting” will take place. “If” the conditions are
not met, then neither will the promises and blessing be received. They will not be “presented unto God holy and unblameable and unreproveable.” There are conditions that must be met before the promises can be kept. If this is not true then the word “if” makes no sense at all.
Let's look at another passage with the word “if” playing a major role in what is said. We hear a lot of folks talking about the preservation of the saints. The idea is usually expressed something like this. If you have been saved by God, then God will never allow you to sin to the point of falling from God's grace. Now let’s look at a passage that indicates just the opposite. The passage is II Peter 1:10. It reads, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” Here Peter discusses the possibility of our never falling. However that promise is preceded by the little “if” which introduces a conditional statement. “If” the things mentioned here are followed, one will never fall; but what “if” the things mentioned by Peter are not done? Just the opposite will occur. One will most certainly fall.
Before we become Christians, we have to make a choice to do so. After we become Christians, we must make a decision to do what God teaches in His word in order that we might be able to have that crown. Paul said “henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (II Tim. 4:8). The word “henceforth” is like the word “if.” It is showing a condition; henceforth (because I have “fought a good fight, kept the faith, and finished my course”) the crown awaits me. But “if” he had not done so, there would certainly have been no crown.
Are you observing carefully the conditions that are given for being a faithful child of God in order that you might have the crown, the inheritance reserved for you in heaven? Don't overlook the importance of the clauses introduced by this little word “if.”

Paul M. Wilmoth

Pandemic

Until recently, for most of us, the word pandemic was probably not in our daily vocabulary. But for the past four months we have heard the word in discussions almost constantly. The New Oxford American Dictionary gives the following for the word pandemic: “(of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world” and it also lists the following: “noun: an outbreak of a pandemic disease.” The present virus (COVID-19) is truly a pandemic. It has disrupted our lives, caused Americans to give up many of our constitutional guaranteed rights, and has interrupted our worship services and Bible Study classes. Should we be concerned? Of course we are concerned when our health is threatened. But I believe there has been an overreaction when it comes to our God-ordained worship services. As concerned as we are because of this disease, I want to mention two other pandemics that I believe should occupy our thoughts and prayers.
First there is the pandemic of abortion. According to the abortion counters listed on the
numberofabortions.com website, so far this year there have been 300,655 abortions in the United States and 14,112,900 abortions worldwide. I can’t verify this number but if it were only one abortion, it would still be an atrocity that we should be ashamed of and concerned about. I could not find any reliable information on the COVID-19 death count so far, but I know it doesn’t even begin to compare with the number of babies who have been murdered under sanction of law, and we don’t see updates by our mayors, governors, and president on a daily basis. Wonder why we don’t find this being discussed very much? It seems that this reveals a lot about our country and our world. I know God is not happy about it because Solomon lists “hands that shed innocent blood” among the things the Lord hates (Prov. 6:16-19).
Another pandemic that we are facing in this country and worldwide is the pandemic of sin. The world we live in can be described as immoral and sin-filled. The sin that caused Sodom and Gomorrah to be destroyed with fire from heaven is extremely present in our land. The TV shows promote it constantly; the newscasts promote it; Hollywood promotes it, and it is cast in our faces constantly. Instead of being sickened by it, it is presented as glamorous, and those who oppose it on scriptural reasons are bullied, threatened, and ridiculed constantly.
The question has been asked often “Is God trying to tell us something?” He just may be doing that. He has acted in that way before. Do we want our world to be better? Is there anything we can do to help? I believe God gave Solomon the answer in II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” God gives us the answer for healing our land. As God’s people, let us lead in doing what we can to turn this nation back toward God.

Paul M. Wilmoth

Blessings of Wisdom (3)

In this final installment under this subject, we are looking at brother Dehoff’s third division of the third chapter of Proverbs: the confidence and security of those who walk with God (Prov. 3:21-35). Note: See bulletin articles for the previous two weeks for other parts of this discussion.
Solomon has been discussing wisdom and understanding (v. 13). In this final segment, he continues by saying, “My son, let not them depart from thine eyes.” The main thrust here is the security that wisdom gives. The word “them” (plural) refers to both wisdom and discretion. Notice also the stern warning that wisdom and discretion may be lost, escape, slip away or depart before our eyes. This means that a constant watch or guard must be in place at all times to prevent this and to retain the blessings he lists next. He then adds this sage remark, “keep sound wisdom and discretion” (v. 1).
He follows this with a list of numerous blessings that will be ours if we follow these instructions. They include: (1) they will be life to your soul and grace (adornment, ESV) to your neck” (v. 22). (2) “Then shalt thou walk in thy way securely, And thy foot shall not stumble” (v. 23). Here it is clearly indicated that wisdom means walking with God. And that means doing his will, keeping his commandments, and doing so continually. (3) “When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: Yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet” (v. 24).
And while speaking of fear, Solomon adds, “Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh: For the Lord will be thy confidence and will keep thy foot from being taken” (vs. 25-26).
Some have seen little connection to the preceding verses when we come to verses 28-35, but it seems to me that G. Campbell Morgan stated it right: “The value of the book of Proverbs is its revelation of the application of wisdom to all sorts and conditions of people, and to the ordinary affairs of human life” (
The Unfolding Message of the Bible, 1961, p. 226). He gives instructions on proper dealings with our neighbor (vs. 27-29), instructions relative to strife without cause, and instructions for us to “Do not envy the oppressor, and choose none of his ways” (v. 31). Please notice the choice to enjoy all of these blessings of wisdom is ours!
Let me conclude this review of this marvelous chapter by exhorting one and all to seek wisdom, understanding, and discretion. I close with Solomon’s final words in this section: “The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesses the habitation of the just. Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.”
With these thoughts fresh on your mind, go back and read this entire chapter and rejoice in the blessings it promises to those who seek wisdom.

Paul M. Wilmoth

Blessings of Wisdom (2)

Last week we began looking at the third chapter of Proverbs using George W. Dehoff’s outline of the chapter. Today we are looking at his second division: the happiness and blessing of those who trust in God (Prov. 3:11-20).
In this paragraph Solomon listed a number of the marvelous blessings of trusting in the Lord. These blessings are far greater and superior to any physical or material prosperity we may accumulate. They include happiness, peace, pleasantness, honor, and length of life. These blessings are far superior to silver and gold or any worldly possessions.
“Despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction” (v. 11). The chastisement and suffering by children of God has long been questioned. When Job was going through his tremendous load of sufferings, his friends Eliphaz and Elihu proposed a solution as to the benefits of suffering and misfortune borne by the righteous: “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty” (Job 5:17). This is quoted by the Hebrews writer in Hebrews 12:5-6. Job’s friends made the wrong application in the case of Job, but the statement is true nevertheless as to the reason why we often pass through such afflictions. “God’s people, like Jonah, may fall into sin and fall asleep in the storm; but for those whom God loves, he will send some terrible tempest to awaken them. The true Christian is thankful for the very afflictions that some despise, because he is able to use them as the occasion for his complete return to duty” (George Lawson’s Commentary on Romans, 1980, p. 42).
“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding” (Prov. 3:13). Why is this true? Notice the things listed by Solomon. The things gained from wisdom and understanding are far greater than the merchandise and gain of silver and gold; Wisdom is more precious than rubies, “and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her” (vv. 14-15). Notice that here, as often in Proverbs, wisdom is personified.
Another blessing that is acquired from wisdom is length of days which Solomon says is “in her right hand.” He adds to this, “in her left hand riches and honour” (v. 16). He then adds another blessing, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (v. 17). All of us desire peace and peace promotes pleasantness. Solomon adds that, “She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her” (v. 18). This seems to summarize all the blessings he has mentioned.
In his concluding words, he demonstrates the truth of what he has said as it relates to God: “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up, And clouds drop down the dew” (v. 20-22).
With all of the blessings available, are you and I seeking this wisdom and understanding that Solomon writes about?

Paul M. Wilmoth