Feeding the Poor…
And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place.
But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. And they did so, and made them all sit down.
Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets. (Luke 9:12-17)
ALL OF THIS FIVE THOUSAND WERE NOT DIRT-POOR, not destitute in that the disciples suggested to Jesus that He send them away to get (buy) food. The disciples were assuming they could buy food if they could find food. Most, if not all of the “lodging places” would have been in the open, on the ground. But in the surrounding towns and country around the towns, it would have been much safer from robbers and wild animals to sleep on the ground there. They all would not have gone to one town but “towns.” It would have been a challenge for even several towns to have fed five thousand people had they done what the disciples were suggesting.
THE DISCIPLES WERE NOT SPIRITUAL MEN, AT THIS TIME, but they were indeed mature men of the world who knew how things worked and what a practical solution would be to feed and bed-down five thousand people. We notice also, that the disciples, at this point in time, were not well-acquainted with their chosen leader and their imagination was not big enough to think that Jesus could do anything about the on-coming problem of night-fall and five thousand people hungry people stranded in the dark.
LET'S GIVE THEM CREDIT FOR GOING TO THE LIMIT OF THEIR IMAGINATION on what could and should be done. Then, we notice the patience of Jesus in letting them empty themselves of thought. That’s a good thing to remember today when minds are making an effort to come together. How often does God let us ramble on in our prayers while we say almost nothing and advise God on how to meet our needs. Jesus is patient with us as He was patient with the disciples, in over their heads.
IN THIS STORY, WE SEE THAT JESUS WAS SENSITIVE TO HUNGRY PEOPLE AND CHOSE to feed these hungry people, even though some of them might have been able to buy it for themselves. But we may not assume that ALL of them had enough money with them to buy food. As in any crowd of 5,000 people today, some of them would have had no money to buy food. God made us to hunger and that motivates us to work to meet that need. What if some are not able to work enough to earn money for food?
JESUS' HALF-BROTHER, JAMES WROTE THESE WORDS: If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (James 2:15-16)
I HAVE PULLED THIS OUT OF CONTEXT. Nevertheless, the point James makes is easy to see, that talking about feeding and clothing someone does not get the job done. Talk is cheap. “God bless you brother, God understands that you are hungry and naked,” as though that will fix the problem. Proverbs is much older than the book of James and the writer understood the problem. Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee. (Proverbs 3:27-28)
JESUS NOTED THAT...the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. (John 12:8) This story is also included in Matthew and Mark and is on the occasion when Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with expensive ointment.
WIERSBE NOTES THAT: “The account of Mary’s anointing of her Lord is found also in Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9. But it must not be confused with the account given in Luke 7:36-50, where a former harlot anointed Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee. Mary was a virtuous woman, and she anointed Jesus in the house of Simon the (former) leper (Mark 14:3). The Luke 7:1-50 event took place in Galilee, while the account we are now considering occurred in Judea.
CHRISTIANS HAVE BEEN AND WILL ALWAYS BE FACED WITH THE FACT that if we look around, we will find people too poor to eat well, regularly. It’s more acute on holidays when some are feasting, and others are not. We should be mindful of those who do not have enough to eat, especially children and widows. Part of the war stories are always about hungry children, especially. American G.I.s are known for sharing their K-Rations with hungry children. And at times, when possible, supplying truck loads of food to the civilians in the areas they have just overrun. I’ve been hearing these stories ever since the beginning of World War2.
ON APRIL 27, 2011, SAND MOUNTAIN, ALABAMA was hit hard with four separate tornadoes. At least two of them went all the way into the edge of Chattanooga. This link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2Poa83oJwQ shows some of the damage but only some. Forty-six people died that day in our immediate area of 7 or 8 miles. Altogether, on that day in North-East Alabama, 62 (sixty-two) tornadoes were recorded by the weather bureau.
IN OUR PART OF THE TRAGEDY ON SAND MOUNTAIN, the stunned people came together to weep, to bury their dead, to pray for injured survivors (a baby was found in the top of a tree, still alive, wrapped in a blanket) and to wonder where their next meal was coming from since there was no power and frozen food could not be eaten for long and there was no way for most people to cook anything.
THE HIGH-VOLTAGE TOWERS THAT CARRIED ELECTRIC POWER from Widows Creek Steam Plant in Stevenson, Alabama were on the ground, twisted, demolished. Did you ever hear live power lines on the ground bellowing like a bull? It takes several weeks to restore towers and power lines. We were not home. When we arrived home in a few days, our house was ok but the food in the freezer was a stinking mess. A few miles from here, a short-handle shovel was driven through a tree about 10’ above ground. It’s still in the tree. I saw it not long ago, seven years after the storm. Sand Mountain is a magnet for tornadoes and the weather scientists are trying to figure it out.
A FEEDING STATION WAS SET UP IN FLAT ROCK and hundreds of people ate there as 2-3 big vans with generators and cooking equipment came and operated at the Flat Rock Rotary Club Building. Nobody was fussing. It was quiet. People were subdued. But, there also arose out of that tragedy a community spirit that has continued to this day.
THE METHODIST CHURCH GAVE A PIECE OF LAND TO THE YOUNG COMMUNITY CENTER. Concrete was poured, and a metal building was erected. Individuals gave money and labor. Churches contributed. We have a walk-in freezer and will soon have a walk-in refrigerator for produce. That will be a blessing because sometimes produce becomes available free or at a low price and it helps feed hungry families. Only about four churches help with people and money.
IT BECAME EVIDENT THAT THERE ARE AT LEAST 230 FAMILIES around Flat Rock that need help to meet the challenge of the fourth week in the month. That need has nothing to do with a tornado. Sand Mountain is like many communities in America today where grandparents are on minimal Social Security and are raising grandchildren. There’s a garden variety of reasons for this: drugs, prisons, divorce, sickness, highway accidents. And in the middle of this, there are a few who sponge off the system. That’s their problem, between them and God.
WE SEE CHILDREN AND WIDOWS AND OLD PEOPLE AND DISABLED PEOPLE who depend on the Community Center for the 4th week of every month. On Tuesday before Thursday food day, two people take the big box truck to a food bank and and pick up 3-4 tons of canned, boxed, frozen and bagged food. I believe God is pleased with this project and has sustained it with helpers and money for these seven-plus years now.
TODAY IS FOOD DAY. The picture below shows a group of teenagers filling food tubs in the Community Center as the tubs move along on rollers. Each tub holds three brown grocery bags of food. The tubs will turn right and go out the door where another crew will empty the tubs into the waiting vehicles driving through the carport. Each person that receives food has previously registered and proven their need.
MANY OF THEM HAVE NO VEHICLE OF THEIR OWN and neighbors are helping them. Today, a frozen turkey or ham is scheduled to be included in each food tub. It’s a week before Thanksgiving and this gives the families some time to plan their Thanksgiving meal. In December the food is given out a week before Christmas. It takes twenty people to run the food line.
ALL YEAR-LONG, PEOPLE DROP OFF USED CLOTHING AND SMALL ITEMS that are resaleable and a volunteer crew of ladies work every Tuesday, to go through the big bags of clothing and shoes, hanging up the clothes on racks in the store in the front of the building. It reminds me of a mini-Goody’s store. Then, volunteers take turns running the store on Thursday-Saturday. Clothing, shoes, books, decorative pieces, etc. are sold at a very low price.
THE MONEY FROM THAT IS USED TO BUY FOOD TO GIVE OUT ON FOOD DAY. All of it is volunteer. Several things must work right for the food to be there to go out the door on food day. We are thankful to have had a part in this effort for several years.
WE MUST KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS KIND OF EFFORT IN FEEDING THE POOR goes on all over the United States. There are hundreds and hundreds of similar operations going on all over America. We can sing joyfully: “God Bless America,” and “My Country Tis of Thee I Sing.”
AND SOME PEOPLE WOULD LIKE TO DESTROY AMERICA BECAUSE THEY ARE JEALOUS, critical and mean-spirited. It is a dangerous time now when many of the young people who know so little, think we should embrace socialism. It has never worked in any country. Eventually the country that goes into socialism ends up like Venezuela where everyone is poor and hungry. Instead of sharing wealth, they share poverty and desperation.
SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL, PRIME MINISTER OF ENGLAND, SAID: “If you’re not a socialist when you are young, something is wrong with your heart. If you’re still a socialist when you are fifty, there’s something wrong with your head.” Margaret Thatcher, later Prime Minister of England said: “The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.” God bless America, land that we love: the hardest working and most generous nation in the world. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
NOVEMBER 15, 2018 - THURSDAY
A.M Ezekiel 10-12 P.M Hebrews 11:1-19
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Verse to Memorize:
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Song for Today:
The Stranger by the Blue Galilee (1:39) (Roloff)
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Brother Roloff is in good voice this morning. I played for him several times in Bible conferences in Florida; always a split-second behind him. He made up his own time as he went through the song. It was not necessary to play exactly the notes he was singing; just don’t clash with him and that was easy enough. I still miss him. The wing of his plane was ripped off at 20,000 feet in a violent storm. When they found him, he was lying face-down, clutching his King-James Bible. (He would want me to say that.) Girls from the home (3-4) were also killed.