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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lancaster County tomato harvest 8/12/13
After a day of hard work harvesting tomatoes

"The Blessing Of Leftover Fragments"

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"And when they had eaten their fill, He told His disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten” (John 6:12,13).

Colebrook Road Produce Stand in Lancaster County, PA
Late yesterday afternoon we took a long walk and ended up on Colebrook Road. We stopped by the produce wagon where our neighbors sell their home-grown vegetables throughout the summer. Our lead photo shows them unloading a truck of tomatoes freshly harvested from the fields. Harvesting is hard work and you can see how it can be a bit messy as well. Nevertheless we found the young girls and their older brother working with joy and they seemed pleased in our interest in their work. Even their dog, who looks alot like our Mollie, was in the middle of the action.

My Mom grew up during the Great Depression and like many in that generation was very resourceful and thrifty. It's a characteristic that I didn't always appreciate as a child but now see it as an outlook many in that generation had as a means of survival. My Mom insisted we eat all the food on our plates and then if there was any left on the serving platters we could expect to have them in another meal as "leftovers".

God has blessed me with a wife who is also very resourceful. She grew up in a large family in rural Oklahoma that worked hard just to get by including tending a full acre of garden. Through our thirty-seven years of marriage I have seen her resourcefulness demonstrated again and again. Once I was illustrating resourcefulness in a sermon and spoke of how she made delicious banana bread out of some ripe tomatoes that others would likely throw out.  When I misspeak I am often clueless till I see the restrained chuckles throughout the congregation.  Later people were asking Brooksyne for her banana bread recipe using ripe tomatoes! (Of course I meant to say "ripe bananas".)

Resourcefulness and thriftiness are virtues that are diminishing today. There are many homes where the leftover
food on serving platters is scraped into the garbage without a second thought.

Let us examine a detail today having to do with resourcefulness. It comes from a Bible portion many of us remember from childhood; our Lord's miracle of feeding the multitude. Jesus fed the multitude of five thousand men plus their wives and children with only five loaves of barley bread and two small fish generously donated by a young lad (presumably the proper amount of food a caring mother thought adequate for her child's lunch). 

Loaves and fish After a prayer of thanks by Jesus and distribution of the meal the people "had eaten their fill." The scene changed from a "What are we going to eat?" dilemma into a veritable "All you can eat" feast.  No skimpy portions here! That's just like our Lord. He truly satisfies! Psalm 107:9 says, "For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things."

Then Jesus does something each account of the miracle records. He instructed His disciples to go through the crowd and collect the leftover fragments. That's amazing to me. Why was He concerned with the leftover fragments, when He could do the same thing the next day and every day that follows?

Perhaps Jesus instructed the disciples to collect the leftovers to illustrate that more food was actually left over after the meal was served than they had in the beginning. Even after the people ate, there was an accounting and the pieces of the original five barley loaves filled twelve baskets!

That's pretty neat, but I don't think that's the main reason. We find that in Jesus' instruction when He said, "that nothing may be lost". Another version states, "Let nothing be wasted".   I just wonder if a number of excited folks took "doggie bags" home that day and had some mighty good bread later and an even better story to tell those who were not present at the miraculous luncheon! 
(Interesting detail: There is no mention of leftover fish collected. Perhaps because the fish would spoil rapidly whereas bread would be useful for several days.)

Resourcefulness is one more way we can live in obedience to God. Let us be careful to look for opportunities to be more resourceful and prove to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Remember, God can use the leftover fragments!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we marvel at the miracles Jesus performed, as recorded in the New Testament. Taking a young boy's small lunch and feeding 5,000 men along with their wives and families can only result from Your supernatural work. And then to have leftovers from such a setting is even more amazing. Just as the disciples and the crowd learned so much about Jesus through His feeding of the crowd, we too learn that nothing is impossible with You. We also learn from this story that You are a resourceful God when Jesus instructed that the leftovers be collected "so that nothing is wasted". Help us to be good stewards of all that You provide for us showing us how to be creative and generous toward others as well. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

In my younger years I observed and worked alongside hard-working farmers who tend to be very resourceful. I recall how many uses a farmer could find for baling wire. My father-in-law was such a proponent of baling wire that he had it wrapped around trees on his property in Arkansas in preparation for a future use. The problem is the trees grew and he was unable to get the wire off!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Just Ordinary People"  Video  Danniebelle Hall  A reminder that God uses the leftover fragments in our lives when we offer them to Him.

"Come and Dine The Master Calleth"  Video  The Happy Goodmans  We rarely hear this song anymore but when I began ministry in the seventies we gathered as ministers for a monthly fellowship time. Our leader was David Selleck, an older pastor who always sang this song before we had our lunch.

"Little Is Much"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band   As I located this song this morning I noticed an altogether inappropriate ad was used prior to the video. These are inserted by Vimeo not the artists!!!)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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