Empty Your Basket

They had journeyed up a mountain near the Sea of Galilee and there Jesus decided to sit and teach the people. Thousands had gathered on the slopes to, not only hear this Great Teacher, but to witness His miraculous touch. After three incredible days of miracles, signs and wonders Jesus decided he needed to feed the people before he sent them away. After all it had been three days and he didn’t want them to pass out heading home.

The disciples reminded their Master that they were in the wilderness and there wasn’t much food to be found; just five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus took the food, blessed it and then broke it. Then he did something amazing…He gave the food to the disciples.

It was the disciple’s choice to either keep the food or give it to the hungry people.

I read a book entitled Crazy Love by Franchis Chan a few years ago and this passage has always stuck with me:

If one hundred people represented the World’s population, fifty-three of those would live on $2 a day. Do you realise that if you or your parents make roughly $4,000 a month you automatically are ONE HUNDRED times wealthier than the average person on this planet? Simply by purchasing this book you spent what a majority of people will make in a week’s time.

Which is more messed up; that we have so much compared to everyone else, or that we don’t think we’re rich? We are rich. Filthy rich.

How true is this? Now I understand that the cost of living in the Western world is much steeper than in third world countries, especially Sydney which was recently listed as one the World’s most expensive cities to live in, but that does not negate the fact that we are rich. Filthy rich.

Listen to what Paul tells Timothy is the responsiblity of the rich:

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. (1 Timothy 6:17-18)

I think we need to start looking at the world around us and realise our responsibility. Too often we become so captive to our present reality that we forget how blessed we truly are. Our problems, or the things that we do not have, overshadow all that we do have. Today, I pray that this helps alter your perspective.

Do you remember the story of Jonah? If you only know the Sunday School version of his story than I assure you that you are missing out on an incredible lesson. Here’s the whole story.

Jonah was called by God to preach to the city of Nineveh, calling them to repent. Jonah hated the people of Nineveh (because they were wicked) and knew that the God he served was a God of mercy so he refused to go. Instead, he fled on a boat in the complete opposite direction. While on the boat a storm hit and Jonah told the seamen that the storm was his fault. They decided to throw him overboard and was swallowed by a big fish. Miraculously, he survived inside the belly of the fish and repented. The whale spit him out after 3 days and Jonah travelled to Nineveh.

He preached God’s judgement to the sinful city and just as he feared would happen, the entire city repented of their ways and God forgave them. Now this really made Jonah angry. He went to the East side of the city and built a shelter so he could watch what was going to happen. While he was there God allowed a plant to grow in order to shield Jonah from the harsh sun but the following day a worm destroyed the plant. Not only that, but as the day grew hot he was blasted by a scorching wind. Finally, Jonah gasped, “Death is certainly better than living like this!”

To which God replied, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”

“Yes,” Jonah shouted back, “even angry enough to die!”

Listen to how God responded: “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

Jonah was more concerned about a plant than he was for the 120,000 people living in Nineveh. Why? Because he was so focused on himself, on his problems, on his issues that the people around him no longer mattered.

How many times have we allowed ourselves to become frustrated over things that didn’t matter insomuch that we missed out on what God had for us? I just want to encourage you today to look beyond yourself to the world outside your front door. Don’t become so distracted by your current circumstance that you forget about your mission.

Just like Jesus gave the bread to the disciples to spread to the people, He has given us resources and He has given us the Gospel, not so that these things would stay with us, but that they would be spread to the needy, the broken and the downtrodden.

In my opinion, one of the coolest parts of the story of Jesus feeding the multitude happens at the end of the story in what seems like almost a throw away line. The Bible says, “And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.” One basket for each disciple! They took care of those in need so God took care of them.

They emptied their basket but Jesus made sure that they didn’t go home empty handed and He will do the same with you and I. Empty your basket so God can fill it.

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