The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends. Proverbs 14:20
He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. Proverbs 14:21
He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor. Proverbs 14:31
Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished. Proverbs 17:5
As we begin the new year many will reflect upon some of their happiest, most joyful times. For some this could be the most recently ended holiday season. My friends, for a few minutes, let us think about what it is like for those who do not have a past to reflect upon because they are homeless.
Is there anything sadder than seeing the homeless. Often times I see them walking down the road with their backpacks, or I may see them sitting on a bench, or out trying to get money for a meal. Dirty, with a lost look on their face, their demeanor says it all. They look so unloved and forgotten by others.
There are many reasons for the homeless. Sometimes it is from drugs or alcohol. It may be a marriage gone sour. It could be someone who will just not work. And of course it could be from the loss of a job. There has been a rise in homelessness over the past 20-25 years because of a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty. There is a relationship between foreclosures and homelessness. With the millions of job losses, more and more the number of the homeless rises.
Poor people are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities. Often it is housing that must be dropped, because it absorbs a large portion of someone’s income. If one is poor, they are essentially an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets.
I read where sixteen percent of the homeless population have some form of mental health problems. Many mentally ill homeless people are unable to obtain access to supportive housing and/or other treatment services. The mental health support services most needed include case management, housing, and treatment.
The homeless are an unwanted people. Businesses do not want them loitering around their premises, and most do not want them hanging around their homes. And so the homeless often face violence and hostility by many.
We have all seen pictures of the homeless on benches, sleeping in a park or on some sidewalk. Some organizations provide soup kitchens, or cheap meals to help feed these unfortunate people. Churches often are involved with such compassion, but still they are not able to properly care for the increasing masses of homeless people. For me it is discouraging to see a man in such a situation, but we often see women in the same condition. I must be honest, it bothers me very much.
Another problem that contributes is the excessive waiting lists for public housing causing people to remain in shelters or inadequate housing arrangements longer. In a survey of 24 cities, people remain homeless an average of seven months, and 87% of cities reported that the length of time people are homeless has increased in recent years (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005). Longer stays in homeless shelters result in less shelter space available for other homeless people, who must find shelter elsewhere or live on the streets. In 2007, it was found that the average stay in a homeless shelter for households with children was 5.7 months. This number is only slightly smaller for singles and unaccompanied children at 4.7 months. (The U.S. Conference for Mayors, 2007).
However, I must admit I think that some people take advantage of people like myself who want to help. The same thing is true with the government welfare system. People taking advantage of others makes it difficult and disheartens people from helping many who are homeless.
I look at the homeless sometimes and I wonder, what are their feelings concerning the Lord. Are they looking to Him? Are they believers in the Lord? It troubles me to think that in a land of plenty there are those who have no place to sleep and no money to purchase food to eat. From time to time I am approached by someone at a fast food business and they ask if I would buy them something to eat or give them some money to buy food.
I quit giving out money, but I will buy food for someone who is homeless. Times like that remind me that I could be that person begging for food. Money has always been limited in my life, and I have never had a big paying job, but I have always had enough to pay my bills and give the Lord his tithe for many, many years. He has always given me enough to eat and a comfortable place to lay my head at night on my pillow. I am very thankful. Let me share with you what I have read and believed and it has always sustained me. Now to me this is more valuable than money in the bank. This is actually what Jesus said in his sermon on the mount.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:25-33
You know it has occurred to me that the Lord may be allowing these poor homeless people to be around to see how you and I will treat them. Do we have hearts of compassion? Do we care about people. If we recall what Cain said to the Lord when questioned as to where his brother Abel was, his brother he had murdered, we will see early on in the Bible about someone without compassion.
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? Genesis 4:8-9
Now, I believe in feeding and clothing people, but more important is the soul of men. We don’t need to miss the opportunity to share our wonderful savior with them. We do have a certain amount of responsibility for others.
It is tragic that in some countries when emergencies come from storms, earth quakes, floods or whatever, they want food, shelter and clothing, but nothing pertaining to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus told the Devil when he was tempted after having not eaten in forty days;
It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Too often the physical needs of the homeless are overlooked, but even more so their spiritual needs. As people we are all going to live forever somewhere after this life. What is going to really matter in the final analysis is what every person has done with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let it be understood, that feeding the poor and caring for their physical needs is important, but it is not going to get one to heaven. It is the soul of man that needs the new birth in order for one to go to heaven. Jesus himself said;
“Ye must be born again.” John 3:7
The purpose of the Jesus coming into the world was that he might die for the sins of the world. Our sin had offended Holy God, and Jesus came to rescue us from the His wrath. We were greatly loved, but our sins separated us from him. So the wisdom of Holy God was to send his only son to pay for our sins, and this required his dying.
The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23
To receive the benefit of his death each person must repent of their own sins and believe in Jesus as their own personal savior.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. ... For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:9-11
We do not know much about Jesus’ early life. But apparently he lived with his parents until he began his ministry at the age of thirty. For the next three and one half years of his ministry he did not have a certain place to stay. He said;
And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. Luke 9:58
Sometimes Jesus stayed with Peter at Caperrnaum located on the north west shore of the Sea of Gallilee and sometimes he probably stayed with Lazuras and his sisters Martha and Mary at Bethany. There were times when he slept out under the starry skies. No, he did not have a home, so in some ways he was homeless. Neither did he have any money during this time, except what some women who believed in him gave to him. When he died all he had was the clothes on his back and the Romans gambled for even them.
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
Isn’t that an awesome statement? He is the Lord of glory. He is the Creator of the universe and all things. Yet, he humbled himself to come into this world of sorrow and suffering to die so we could live. WOW!!!
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philipians 2:5-8
What a savior and he is mine because I believe in him! I trust that you do also. In being homeless Jesus had a purpose.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:1-6
It troubles me to see so many people who are not even concerned about their soul. They are living for the here and now thinking everything will work out alright. Then many others think their religion will get them a better life if there is an after life. I must say in all honesty, only those who repent of their sins and trust Jesus Christ as their personal savior will have a home in heaven. All others, though there may be myriads, will have a home in a place of eternal torment where there is no food, water, friends, hope, or love. OR A SAVIOR!
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Isaiah 55:6
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20
Father in heaven, I pray for the homeless here on this earth, and for those who seek to provide encouragement, food, clothing, shelter and love to them. I pray for the salvation of all men and women, whether rich or poor. May the church of Jesus Christ be concerned about the souls of all men and be faithful in carrying out the great commission. Amen, Preacher