Bread on the Waters: Cast thy bread upon the waters

Written by Pastor John Hayward

Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.
Psalm 90:16-17

This Psalm opens up by informing the reader that Moses was the author of this song, and then describes him as 'the man of God.' The above verses are the climax to his song, and they reveal the way we come into true spiritual service. Remember that King David said, 'He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel' (Psalm 103:7). The children of Israel indeed saw the acts of God, but the LORD revealed His ways to Moses. Therefore, we can learn something of the way of effective service through the revelation we find in this portion of God's Word.

First of all, notice that Moses prays concerning the work of the Lord. He doesn't say, 'Lord I'm going to work for You.' He prays to the LORD, 'Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants.' This shows us that true service is born out of prayer and intimacy with the LORD. Moses was a man who sought the LORD. Here he is, praying, calling on the LORD. The quality of our service is dependent on the quality of our fellowship with Christ. Sometimes in Christian life we can throw ourselves into the work of the LORD, but accomplish little, because the service has not come out of seeking the LORD, and so there is little quality.

Consider for a moment the illustration we have in Mary and her sister Martha.  Luke records in his gospel that Martha received Jesus into her house. Both Martha and Mary would sit at the feet of Jesus. However, on this occasion, Martha was cumbered about with service. She was distracted. One alternative rendering describes her as being, 'drawn different ways.' The moment your service draws you away from the Lord, it is not going to be effective. Martha gets stirred up over her load, and questions the Lord, asking Him whether He cares about the fact that Mary has not moved to help her, but remained at the feet of her Master. Jesus quiets Martha by saying, 'Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.' (Luke 10:38-41). Martha's service did not come out of her sitting. We cannot be fruitful in service unless we are firstly learning to dwell and listen to the One who knows what we need to hear. True service comes out of union with God in the Messiah.

The second thing I want us to notice concerning the prayer of Moses is that he is calling on the LORD to cause His work to appear to His servants. The word appear here means, 'to see.' True service comes out of seeing. It comes out of the LORD unveiling His purpose. So often we use the word vision as meaning a brilliant idea. We say, 'what is your vision for our Church?' Dear friends, Moses sought the LORD for HIS purpose. All our service needs to come out of seeing. We need eye salve in these days. The way we become relevant to man is by becoming relevant to God! Moses was not going to do his own thing, or carry his own vision. He looked to the LORD to bring His work to appear to His servants. When Jesus was on the earth, He lived the same way.

In John 5:19 Jesus says, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.' Even the Lord Jesus Himself, while He was on the Earth did nothing out from Himself. All His service came out of Him seeing what the Father was doing. If Jesus broke bread and fed thousands, it was because He was seeing the Father was doing it. When Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons or drove out the money changers in the Temple, He only did so because He saw His Father so working. Jesus never acted independently of the Father. This shows us that true service always begins in heaven! Just as Jesus could do nothing of Himself apart from the Father, neither can we apart from Him. Jesus says this in John 15. Our fruitfulness in service is dependant on our abiding in the vine, and as we look to Him, He will show us His work. So the second lesson we see in service is that it must come out of seeing; out of seeing what the Lord is doing. Let us keep our eyes on Him.

Moses goes onto say, 'And Thy glory unto their children.' The work of the LORD is linked to His glory. If we see the work of the LORD unfurled in our meetings, our children will see His glory. Dear reader, this is something we need to call on the LORD for in our day. We need to plead with the LORD that our children will see His glory! I believe in apologetics and equipping our children with how to answer difficult questions, this is only wise and right. Yet there is a higher level of influence that is even more sure, and that is when the LORD visits His people in power and our children see His Majesty in our meetings and behold His power. If the Lord so visited us, just a glimpse of Him would be enough to mark out our young for staying the course of the race of faith for life.

Moses then prays, 'And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us.' The word 'beauty' here means 'grace' in this context. If we are going to serve the LORD effectively, we need His grace. The grace of the LORD speaks of His enabling and strength. There is no true service unless we have Divine grace. Spiritual service can never be accomplished by the flesh. God's grace is there for His work, but He will not pour His Spirit upon anything that did not initiate with Him.

Finally Moses prays, 'And establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; Yea the work of our hands establish Thou it.' We cannot pray this prayer before we have prayed, 'Let Thy works appear unto Thy servants.' The LORD will not establish that which does not begin with Him. Psalm 127 says, 'Except the LORD build the house, They labour in vain that build it.' This does not mean there is no labour, it simply means all our service must begin with the LORD if it is to be real and fruitful.

Dear brethren, may the LORD grant us His work and eye salve to see it! If we function according to His leading we need never burn out or lose heart. Praise the Lord His grace is enough, and He will not call us to any service that He will not furnish us for. Praise His Name!