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You Give Them

You Give Them

Jeffrey Bush

“He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?” Mark 6:37

“And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.” Mark 6:41

 

We know this passage as the feeding of the 5,000. There were likely over 20,000 in total since the Bible says there were 5,000 men, but either way, what a miracle! Jesus took the loaves and fishes, multiplied them and performed an unforgettable miracle that day. Yet amongst this great miracle, for some reason Jesus tells His disciples to give the multitude the food. Christ could’ve provided food for everyone, He didn’t need anyone’s help. Do you really think that God needed a couple of fishes and pieces of bread to feed the people when it was He who made all the animals and food? Do you really think that God needed the disciples to figure out the situation or to pass out the food when He was the one who put the universe into existence? God could’ve done it by Himself, without any human assistance, but He chose to use man’s assistance. God did not lack the power, intelligence or strength. God can do it without any help, but God does not choose to work that way. Here are a few lessons we can learn from why God told the disciples to give out the food: 

 

  1. They needed to see for themselves that God was the One at work. 

It is God who does the work, but sometimes we need a little reminder. I’m sure when the disciples were told to give food to the multitude the first time, they panicked, thinking it was impossible to feed so many. Once the Lord performed the miracle of multiplication with the food, I believe the disciples had big smiles as they passed out the food thinking, “Look what my Savior just did.” There was no doubt who did the miracle. It was fully accomplished by Jesus without anyone’s help. And to this day our Lord allows us to have part of His great work so that we may know all that is accomplished is because He is a great God. 

 

  1. God chooses to use man to do His work.

Christ multiplied the food without man’s help and He could’ve passed it out without man’s help. He could’ve use the birds of the sky to carry the food to each individual, yet he chose to use man to do His work. First we must realize that it is His work, just like it is His church (Matthew 16:18). But we should also realize that He’ll allow us to be a part of His great work just as He did with the disciples that day. It is God who saves a soul, but He uses us to give out the Good News. It is God that sends a missionary to the field, but He uses us to raise them as children and support them with the money He has provided us. It is God who gives us influence, but He lets us use that influence to take people to church, disciple Christians to maturity and love them into serving God. You see, it’s all God, but He uses what He has given us for His great glory. We would be utterly foolish to receive from God and not use it for His Kingdom and His purpose. 

 

So the conclusion is two folded: Do you want to be used of God? Are you using what God has given you for His purpose? The first step is the desire, then you take action. Take inventory of what God has given you (influence, abilities, finances or opportunities) and the conclusion is that everything is for His glory. So the next time God shows you the need and gives you the opportunity, remember that you (like the disciples) can be the one who can give to those in need (like the hungry multitude) and God receives the glory.  

Don’t Withhold

Don’t Withhold

by Jeffrey Bush

 

There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it. (Proverbs 11:24)

 

These verses are packed with both practical and gospel advice. We can withhold what we have, attempting to save up more, or we can give it away and watch God replenish. As the bottomless oil pot when the widow continued pouring into other pots, so is the person that continues giving… God just keeps the vessel full. You can’t out-give God! 

As a young child, I remember a missionary visiting our small church. As soon as church finished, my dad loaded us in the family van and we headed towards the house. We walked in the house and my dad began to open our cabinets and place groceries in a box and brown paper bags. My mom had recently been grocery shopping, so the majority of our groceries were brand new. Dad pulled out my favorite sour-cream-and-onion chips, snacks and bread. He then loaded us back into the family van and we drove to a spot where we met the missionary. I was very young and do not remember what was said or many details, but looking over the van seat I saw my dad open the trunk,  pick up the groceries and hand them over to the missionary. There were a few nods, handshakes, smiles and then my family was off again to the house. Years have passed by and I don’t know who that missionary was or what my dad said, but that moment greatly impacted me. We didn’t have much money, but I can tell you that we never ran out of food. God gave back what my dad generously gave away. You can never out-give God! 

According to this verse, the liberal soul (generous giver) will be blessed and prospered. He won’t go hungry or run out. He has watered and now will be watered. He has been a blessing and now will receive a blessing. But the person that withholds the goods (specifically corn in this verse) will be cursed, while the one who makes it available will be blessed. The conclusion seems to be that when you stop thinking of yourself and start thinking of others, blessings begin to pour out on you. So, learn to generously scatter instead of stingily withholding. 

 

A Fall-back Plan

A Fall-back Plan

by Jeffrey Bush

 

It seems to be a normal and popular idea in our day to have a “fall-back plan” before going into ministry. Some of the top fall-back plans are learning medicine, carpentry or other skills. The idea seems pretty legit – learn something so you can use it in case full-time ministry does not work out. It might not be said in those exact words, but this is the real meat of the matter. Parents, family members and friends are asking young people to set aside a few years to learn a specific trade before going into ministry. They want them to be prepared to use their fall-back plan if ever needed. The idea is even spiritualized by saying that the apostle Paul was a tent maker. The problem is that we only find Paul’s tent-making trade mentioned two or three times in the Bible, and later Paul even asked forgiveness because he made them an inferior church by not accepting their funds. If we run to Scripture, we find that the Lord was not a “fall-back plan” promoter. So let’s do a small search on God’s thoughts concerning a fall-back plan:

  1. Let the dead bury their dead (Luke 9:60)

In this passage, there was a man who wanted to follow Jesus, but he asked if he could first go bury his father and then follow Jesus. Jesus responded by saying, “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” Let’s be honest – this seems pretty harsh! The guy just wanted to take care of his dad (most believe his dad wasn’t dead yet), yet Christ was telling him that his duty to follow Him was more important than his relationships. There are no good excuses for not following Jesus, not even family. 

The verse immediately after tells of another guy who wanted to follow Jesus but wanted to run home first to say good-bye (vs.61). Our Lord told him that he was unfit for the kingdom if he was going to look back (vs.62). The attitude of Jesus was that nothing else in this world should parallel to serving God; just drop every plan and go serve Him. 

  1. Hate your father, mother, and your own life (Luke 14:26)

In this passage we see that there were great multitudes following Jesus.  He didn’t beat around the bush when He tells them they cannot be His disciples if they are going to love anything or anyone more than they love Him (vs.26). But isn’t family important? Shouldn’t you love your family and help them or honor their wishes? According to Jesus, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or says, absolutely no one should be loved more or heeded to more than Him. It might seem right to honor the parent’s wishes, the wise counsel from loved ones or continuing the family business, but if it stands between you serving God, it should not even be considered. 

  1. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and then all these things will be added onto you (Matthew 6:33)

Isn’t it only right to plan? After all, I need to know about my future, where the money is going to come from and how I’m going to live. But according to Jesus, what you wear, eat or drink is not to be your concern (vs.31), in fact, that’s what the lost people are concerned about and consumed with (vs.32). As a Christian, you are to only seek God and His Kingdom, and He’ll take care of the secondary issues (vs.33). “Now don’t get all spiritual on me,” many parents would say, but God may want your son or daughter to sell all out and serve Him. God wants and deserves all of our trust. Our faith is in an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-seeing God. He can take care of you. He has enough money and knows our future. Our part is to trust Him completely, placing all of our faith in the One who never fails. 

  1. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6) 

If we are not careful, we plan out our lives and leave no margin for God to work. James warned of making all your plans and not realizing God is the holder of life and plans (5:13-15).  Do you really think that God would let you starve for trusting Him or stepping out on faith? Do you fear God would allow you to fail miserably if you follow Him? What really is behind the “fall-back plan”? Is it money, failure, protection, status, embarrassment or fear? God didn’t give Abraham directions or details when He told him to go to a land He would show him (Genesis 12:1), yet Abraham obeyed. Abraham could’ve been “smarter” when God told him to offer his only son, but he obeyed. David should’ve thought it through when he jumped in front of Goliath. Daniel should’ve prayed in private so he wouldn’t have been thrown in the lion’s den. The three Hebrew children should’ve faked a bow so the king wouldn’t have gotten mad and thrown them in the fiery furnace. Paul should’ve just avoided going to the cities that didn’t want to hear the Gospel. Logical? Absolutely none of these were all that smart, but they all had one thing in common: they believed that God was real and would take care of them.  Will you quit figuring out all the steps and details before you will serve Christ?  Do you really need a “fall-back plan”?  No, all we need is a faith that believes that the God who calls is big enough to sustain.  

A Plea to Singles for Missions

A Plea to Singles for Missions

by Jeffrey Bush

Some time ago I wrote about the dangers of being a single (unmarried) missionary. It was not meant to be a doctrinal or exegetical study, just practical thoughts about true dangers that exist for unmarried missionaries. There are legitimate limits, concerns and temptations that come along with being a single missionary, but now I would like to give another angle for you to consider.

Although this article is geared towards thoughts about any unmarried person in missions, a large majority of single missionaries (historically, as well as today) tend to be women. It seems to be somewhat of a divided topic for pastors and churches as they pray about supporting or sending out single missionary ladies. Is it right? Is it wrong? Is it wise? Should I be for it? Should I be against it? Allow me to give you a few thoughts to chew on as you form your opinion on whether or not to support a single person, especially a lady, as a missionary.

 

  1. There are misunderstandings about her ministry. 

Biblically, a woman cannot be a pastor or preacher (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:5-6), but we must remember that ministry is not only done behind a pulpit. A single lady missionary can help with children’s ministries, ladies ministries, music, organization, secretarial, orphanages, discipleship, preparing materials, evangelism, and assisting the missionary couple and their children. The time, flexibility and help a single lady missionary can give is invaluable. 

One of the best examples I have seen personally is Beth Quinn (formerly Beth Johnson). She served with a missionary family in Tunisia and helped in the education of missionary children, served in many ladies ministries, kids ministries and was invaluable to my missionary friends in Tunisia. God has now given her a husband, Sam, and they are blessed with two children as they serve in the UK. 

We personally require that a single lady missionary works under an established missionary family. Her protection and possibilities seem much better working under another missionary. I have seen many good, single lady missionaries that are a blessing and help to the missionary family they serve with as well as to the many people they minister to on the field. They might not be able to be the pastor, but their talents, time and efforts are incomparable. 

 

  1. God has used many single lady missionaries! 

I love reading missionary biographies, men and women of the past that God has used to spread the Gospel around the world. As a result of missionary biographies, my faith has grown, dreams have expanded and my heart has been stirred. We may be very familiar with William Carey, Hudson Taylor, and CT Studd, but let me assure you that there have been single lady missionaries that have impacted the world and caused growth to God’s Kingdom because of their lives, service and witness. A few of these single lady missionaries are: Amy Carmichael, Mary Slessor, Ida Scudder, Elizabeth Elliott, Gladys Aylward, Corrie Ten Boom, Rachel Saint, Betty Greene, Isobel Kuhn, and Lillian Trasher. I am positive there are more, but those are a few that I have personally read. I am almost positive that if you read them, your respect towards single lady missionaries will be much stronger than it is currently. 

 

  1. A single person may actually be capable of doing more for the Lord than a married person.

1 Corinthians 7:32-34 teaches that a married person is busy taking care of their marriage and family, but an unmarried person is free to care for the things of the Lord. A married lady may have to get home to the kids, tend to the house, assist her husband, or take care of meals for the family, but a single person’s responsibilities are less complicated. As a result, a single person can stay later to visit, disciple, prepare and serve in ministry. The flexibility of an unmarried missionary makes them almost unparalleled. As the apostle Paul said, “Brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none.” (1 Corinthians 7:29). Knowing the Lord is soon returning, Paul urged the Christians to live, work and serve as if they were single — their only love and responsibility being God and God’s work! 

Hudson Taylor’s Plea

Hudson Taylor’s Plea

This is basically Hudson Taylor’s furlough presentation that he used to raise laborers for the China Inland Mission:

 

I was suddenly startled by a splash and a cry. I sprang out of the cabin, and looked around— everyone was at his post but poor Peter. The tide was rapidly running out, but a strong wind was carrying us over it. The low, shrubless shore afforded no landmark that we could notice to indicate the exact spot where he fell into the water. I instantly let down the sail and leapt overboard, trying to find him. Unsuccessful, I looked around in agonizing suspense and saw close to me a fishing-boat with a peculiar drag-net furnished with hooks, which I knew would bring him up.

“Come!” I cried, as hope sprang up in my heart, “Come, and drag over this spot directly, for a man is drowning here.”

“Veh bin”—it’s not convenient—was the cold and unfeeling reply.

“Don’t talk of convenience,” I cried in an agony, “a man is drowning!”

“We are busy fishing and cannot come,” was the reply.

“Never mind your fishing,” I cried, “I will give you more money than many a day’s fishing will bring you, if you will come at once.”

“How much money will you give us?”

“Don’t stand talking now; do come, or you will be too late. I’ll give you five dollars.”

“We won’t come for that; we’ll drag for twenty dollars.”

“I have not got so much; do come quickly, and I’ll give you all the money I have.”

“How much is that?”

“I don’t know exactly; about fourteen dollars.”

At last, they came, and in less than one minute brought up the body of poor Peter. They were most indignant and clamorous because the payment of their exorbitant demand was delayed while attempts were being made at resuscitation. But all was in vain—life was extinct.

My reader, would you not say that these men were verily guilty of this poor Chinaman’s death, in that they had the means of saving him at hand, but would not use them? Surely they were! And yet, pause ere you give your judgment against them, lest a greater than Nathan say, “Thou art the man.” Is it so hard-hearted, so wicked a thing to neglect to save the body? Of how much sorer punishment is he worthy who leaves the soul to perish, and Cain-like says, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord Jesus commands, commands you, my brother, and you, my sister. “Go,” says He, “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Will you say to Him, “No, it is not convenient?” Will you tell Him that you are busy fishing and cannot go? That you have bought a piece of ground and cannot go? That you have purchased five yoke of oxen, or have married a wife, or are engaged in other and more interesting pursuits, and cannot go? Ere long “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in the body.” Remember, oh! Remember, pray for, labour for, the unevangelized Chinese; or you will sin against your own soul. Consider Who it is that has said, “If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? and shall not He render to every man according to his works?

 

Taylor, Hudson. China’s Spiritual Need and Claims

The Final Step: Obedience

The Final Step: Obedience

The following exert is from the book What Makes a Missionary by David M. Howard

 

The bottom line of this account is simple, straightforward obedience. That must be the bottom line in your life and my life as the Lord Jesus tries to speak to us.

Jim Elliott, my brother-in-law, was killed in Ecuador in 1956 by the Auca Indians. In the aftermath I went there to be with my sister Elisabeth and to help her get reoriented and reestablished in her home without her husband. During that time they were newspaper reporters and press men who had come in to cover the dramatic story, which received worldwide press coverage.

Among those journalist was one of the top photographers of Life magazine. His name was Cornell Copa. Cornell had come to prepare a major feature article for Life. It was published a week or two later, 12 four pages. I remember Cornell, just before he left Ecuador to return to New York, calling the five widows together.

We were sitting in Marge Saint’s home in Shell Mera, and he said, “Ladies, I’m going back to New York tomorrow to prepare my article for Life magazine. I have all the pictures that I need. You ladies have been gracious in allowing me to read your husbands’ diaries and letters, and you’ve answered my questions completely. I have all that I need – except one thing. Unless I can understand this one thing, I can’t write my story. It will make no sense.”

One said, “What is it you need, Cornell?”

“For the life of me, I cannot understand why those men went there in the first place. It doesn’t make any sense.“

One of the widows turned to him and said, “Cornell, we can answer that in one word: obedience. Our husbands went in obedience to the last command of Jesus Christ. Just before He went back to heaven, Jesus Christ said to His disciples, ‘You are to go to all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’ The Aucas are part of God’s creation. The gospel has never been preached to them. Our husbands went in obedience to what Jesus Christ said. Yes, they died in the process, but that is not the important point. The important point is that they obeyed what Jesus Christ told them to do.”

Since that time until blessings have come because of the obedience of five men who are willing to lay down their lives in response to what Jesus Christ told them to do.

I don’t know what Jesus Christ may ask you to do. He may break into your life and turn it upside down and make you something different than you’ve ever thought of being. He may want to give you the privilege of sharing the gospel with some who have never heard it. If He does, will you respond as Peter did and say, “Yes, Lord, I’ll leave everything and follow You?”

Not “why?” but “why not?”

Not “why?” but “why not?”

From the book The creation of a student movement to evangelize the world by Timothy C Wallstrom 

 

“Suppose then that the individual Christian does have an obligation to tell others of Christ,” a student might respond, “why must he go overseas to do so? Is there not ample need at home?” The volunteers answered this objection in two ways. First, because the missionary effort is so patently an enterprise of faith, its maintenance will indeed exercise and strengthen the spiritual vitality of the home church, much as the use of the bodily extremities will exercise and strengthen the heart which supplies them with blood. Missions do not sap the vigor of the home base; they fortify it.

The individual obligation to minister overseas was in fact a simply corollary of this greater need; no special call was considered necessary. Robert Wilder, one of the Movement’s originators, found “nothing in the Bible to indicate that a man needs more of a call to take him to Africa than to Dakota.” The whole of a Christian’s existence was held to be consecrated to the service of his Master, and the sole remaining question involved the means through which that service could be most effectively rendered. In the presence of a specific command and an urgent need to minister abroad, volunteers believed the duty rested with the individual to show that his life might be used more effectively in other ways. It was not God’s responsibility to push him in the direction to which He had already pointed. Volunteers believed the Christian attitude to the missionary call should not be “why?” but “why not?”

Obedient & Wise

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30)

There are several references to being wise in the book of Proverbs (controlling your tongue {10:19}, listening to counsel {12:15}, working instead of being lazy {6:6-11} and not being deceived by alcohol {20:1} to name a few). Here in Proverbs 11, a person is called wise if he “wins souls.” The soul is more than just the body, so to what is the passage referring? Here are a few connections to understand better this passage:

  • Jesus told His disciples in Luke 5:10, “from henceforth thou shalt catch men.”
  • James 5:20 talks about converting “the sinner from the error of his ways shall save a soul from death.”
  • Five times Paul told the Corinthian Christians that he made himself a servant in many ways to “gain them” and concluded by saying that “that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)
  • Later Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 10:33, “I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”

When a person enters into this world, he is dead in his trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1), and is a child of the devil (John 8:44). All mankind is a creature of God, but he does not become a child of God until his faith is placed in Jesus Christ.

The Bible teaches us that a child of God is an ambassador, a witness, and salt and light to this Christ-less world. Every child of God has been given the command and authority by God to go un-blind those that have been blinded by the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4). We, as the church, have been given the keys to the Kingdom (Matthew 16:19) and as we open our mouths to share the Gospel, the Holy Spirit can do the work and someone can become a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). When a sinner repents, there is great joy in Heaven (Luke 15:7,10) and when a child of God proclaims that news, he is fulfilling the command given by God. So, we conclude that when a child of God decides to “win souls,” he is not only doing his responsibility, he is also wise! May we be obedient and wise as we fulfill God’s command!

 

Here to Serve, 

Jeffrey Bush