Once there was a very strong bridge builder who told all the people of his town to be at the mighty gorge promptly at 5pm, because he was going to show them something they would not want to miss! They all were excited because they thought they would be seeing the new bridge almost completed, which they needed for emergencies since they had only one other way in and out of town. When everyone arrived however, they saw only the first line that he stretches across when beginning to build a new bridge.
The man asked everyone if they believed he could walk it to the otherside of the gorge and back safely? Everyone cheered, "Yes, we have confidence in you and in the strength of that line, so of course we do!" So, he walked across and back safely. Then he asked, "Now, do you think I can carry this very heavy log with me as I do the very same thing once more?" Then again, everyone cheered...but with even more gusto!!! So, he picked up the large log and did it. Then as he stepped off the end he asked, "Now, do you also have faith that I can carry a person over and back with me like I did the log?" Everyone cheered loudly!!!! Then, he asked, "Any volunteers??"
James 2:18 Another person might say, "You have faith, but I do good things." Show me your faith apart from the good things you do. I will show you my faith by the good things I do.
Every 'faith'...true faith....has an action that follows. It might not be something you or I can see...but God can.When Jesus told certain people to do certain things in order to gain eternal life, it was not the 'doing' that saved them. It was not the selling of the rich man's possessions that would have saved him. It would have been the attempt and the doing that would have made it evident the condition of his heart towards God...as he would have been willing to remove the one thing that was the most important thing in his life that he believed sustained and fulfilled him, and therefore his willingness to believe would have been very evident, and significant!
Matthew 19:16And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what
good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” 17And He
said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One
who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And
Jesus said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU
SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE
WITNESS; 19HONOR YOUR FATHER AND
MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS
young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?”
21Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete,
go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will
have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22But
when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one
who owned much property
So, if God asked you to give-up something, then your reaction to God uncovers and hi-lights the spot in your heart that has been taken-up by that thing you've been holding on to, and perhaps that thing that is hindering your very salvation. However, it may show your spiritual maturity and willingness to believe God when you will take the steps to allow God to take that thing and then replace it with something that is truly of God's Spirit.
Heb. 12:2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who
initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured
the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside
Romans 10:17 Therefore faith is from the hearing
ear, and the hearing ear is from the word of God.
As we closely abide in God and His written word we get to know Him and subsequently His voice because we have come to know what He would say and what He wouldn't, and what He would do and what He wouldn't...so when He calls we can recognize it. Then each time God speaks to us concerning something He wants us to do, our response shows confident faith in God (or the lack of it).
Why do you trust the people that you trust? Doesn't it all have to do with the kind of relationship you have with them? I'm not talking about the label...mother, father, brother, friend, teacher or....
I am talking about the kind of closeness you have that has allowed you to get to know them so well that you know how much you can trust them. This is the kind of relationship God wants you to have with Him. This is what creates and grows faith. The faith that says to God, "I volunteer!"
What brings true happiness?? Or maybe contentment is a better word. To be assured that you are in the right place in your life and you finally have security? Or does it have little to do with these things...because what's on the outside will always be changing...kids growing, society is upside-down, illnesses, business trips, breakups, job losses and gains, deaths and births --- but, then you think of when you and Jesus got together, and it was then that you got one thing that does not change! You finally have peace, a new heart and God is IN you! Awesome!! So, whatever you do or whatever happens to you, or wherever you go...you have something that is constant...a rock! This was a wonderful event! Yes, you think to yourself, I have been saved by grace, so now I don't have to do a thing -- this is the beginning of true peace and happiness! Yes!
So then, here's another question for you. Can you think of something that happened to you at one time or another that was so sweet, and made you so happy that all you could do was smile? You walked around with a grin on your face, or a lightness in your step? It was an occurrence that you wanted to share with everyone you met! This was such an amazing thing that you became kinder and more patient because it changed you inside...and because you were so grateful for it! People looked at you wondering what the grinning was all about?
The people around you couldn't help but inquire what had happened to you? You've been blessed and you can't keep it inside...so you look for ways to pass on some of that blessing to others! So as you are out and about that day you've noticed things you had never really noticed before...and then by the time you leave the grocery store that afternoon you've helped two people...one who dropped a can and you chased it for her as it rolled down the isle and the other to reach something.
Then you started two short discussions over fresh baked bread where you were able to share your occurrence with one of them...and you let the person behind you in line go ahead which made her smile but shake her head wondering why you did such a thing! Then when you get home you are so wonderfully exhausted that you decide to get to bed early....so you call your fiance and tell them what a happy day you've had because of the engagement! WHAT? Did you think this was about getting saved or something?!
However, wouldn't this be great if we did respond this way? That we valued the gift of grace so highly and having Jesus...that Rock...that constant...in our life so much that we wanted everyone else to have Him too! So even when we hardly spoke a word our lives were a witness to others of God's love and grace!? That we considered this true happiness? To where our lives are so salty that just being around us makes people thirsty? And our light is so bright that people are either drawn to us like a moth to a flame or convicted just by being around us because our steadiness and sincere love challenges them?
We are the ones that show the most love to others, because we are the ones that have the greatest love right inside of us?! And people are looking at us with either awe or hate....but never with disgust because of our hypocrisy!?
Or is Jesus worth all this fuss?
"I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy it's blessings."
The writers of scripture have used the image of yeast many times to explain a very important premise in scripture...
Leaven, or yeast as we call it, is actually a composition of tiny individual plants, each one so
small that it can only be seen through the eye of a very
Like all other plants they require food, and they find this in the dough they
are placed in. The dough is made up of various kinds of substances and the yeast takes one of them as food, and in doing so sets free another substance called carbonic
acid gas. This gas bubbles up and makes the heavy dough spongy and light. If it
were not for these tiny bubbles of gas your bread would be as heavy and dense as
a soft brick.
This is the reason why yeast is put into dough for making bread or
cake. One of the most remarkable things about this yeast is, that when it gets
into any substance that contains it's food, it begins to grow buds like most all plants do,
however within just moments yeast does this and breaks away. So rapid is this
increase, that if a single yeast-plant were to be put into a great mass of dough
it would very quickly leaven the whole mass.
After understanding what yeast does it really helps us understand better what God wants us to know...that no matter what it is that leaven is being used to describe, the result is quicker than we can imagine, as well as thorough!
Matthew 13:33 Jesus also used this illustration: "The Kingdom of Heaven
is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a
little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the
The above scripture tells us, especially after understanding what yeast does...is that the Kingdom of Heaven is made to permeate our whole lives. Not just our church life, or our plans, or how we treat those we love...but every single area including those areas we would rather be in charge of -- our words (tongue) for instance, or our carnal attitudes as listed in Galatians 5: 19.
This means that it will do what it was created to do unless we have not become a part of the Kingdom of God yet. Some might say that we can halt the process by our stubbornness, however, God's love toward us is even more stubborn and therefore He disciplines us until we give in. We have this life in mind when we are stubborn...but God has all of eternity in mind, therefore He loves us too much to leave us behind!
Usually however yeast or leaven is used to describe sin and the effects sin has...this is why God had literal laws about the use and disuse of yeast at certain times in the OT, as it gave them and us a perfect type of what kind of relationship we should have with sin. Understanding this helps us get much more out of scriptures such as the ones in the following url.
One thing I notice in this segment of scripture is that it helps us see how leaven is used in relation to those in the church that we are to judge...those who have allowed the leaven of sin to permeate their lives to the point where they need to be dealt with. Then in contrast, in many other parts of scripture it is obvious that we are to do the opposite, as we are being reminded in those instances to be patient with the faults of others and before we try to judge the speck in their eye, we are to deal with the log in our own. (although I believe this is what we are to do before any and all evaluating of others) So we are to make sure we understand that some people are growing and the sin in their lives is on it's way out...and then there are some people who's sin is becoming more entrenched in their lives.
In the following url is where we can find the heart of the story of when the Israelites left Egypt. You will notice one of the central themes is what to do and what not to do with leaven...to the point of not leavening the dough before the exodus because they would not have time to let the dough rise because they would be leaving so quickly. Therefore, one thing it communicates to us is that we enter our new life completely clean! No leaven at all. Not even a speck. Then there was something else that happened to them that sealed the beginning of this new life. This 'happening' is a type of Christ's work on the cross...can you find it?
I would highly encourage you to dig in to this story and relish in the 'types' it gives as another way of pointing to what Christ was destined to do...and well, has done!
Exodus 12: 9 For
seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything
with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an
alien or native-born.
Even the Jews of today that keep the law as closely as they can, keep busy in their endeavors to keep it
I had the opportunity to visit a family’s home such as this once. I had taken a Nanny job with a Jewish family a number of years ago for about 10 days. They were not Orthodox Jews, but their children went to an Orthodox school and went by their many rules. While I was caring for them, they were invited to another family’s home for a Jewish celebration. So, I was given very strict written instructions on when and how to drop them off on Friday, and then when and how to pick them up on Saturday eve. I was not to knock on the door before or after very specific times, and was warned about what I could and could not send with them to eat and etc.
It took a lot of preparation and work to make sure everything was adhered to. Their mother said that she came from a home like this…where (during Passover) they had to clean the whole house several times to make sure it was completely void of leaven. The dishes were put through the dish washer more then once…and then the dishes that were used for certain foods on a normal basis, could not be used for Passover.
It is plain to me that Jesus came to show us that the whole reason the law was given was so that we could have a good solid picture of what was to come ~ that more than wonderful act He did for us on the cross!!
Greek is the language the writers used to write all NT scripture. The above scripture in 1 Thess. is the only scripture about prayer that is interpreted as meaning to constantly be in a state of connection with God. If you think about what the writers were doing, they knew that God was using them to write down not only their experiences, but also what God was inspiring them to write, so they had to always be in a constant state of openness to God's Spirit...and then always be ready to write it down as well!
Therefore when they endeavored to write down what God was sharing with them about this unceasing kind of prayer, they used their own experiences...which was; never being able to take breaks without having paper with them! This in turn tells us that we are to always be in a communing and ready state with our Lord so when He wants to speak to us or use us in some way we will be ready. So! No paperless breaks for us!
Does this mean to be in a constant state of anxiety? Does this mean to be hyper-aware? No. Well, we'll probably start out this way...but this is because we're not sure how to do it yet. But it is supposed to become a natural thing...in fact it is what God wants for every spiritual practice - to become like second skin, like it was for Adam and Eve in the garden. (But of course at that time they didn't have to practice, they already had 'it' before their disobedience cut us off from it)
I would liken it to when you have a baby. At the beginning you are hyper-aware and even when she isn't crying you think she is. So every little noise you go running in there to check. Then as you practice, and as you continue to be open to her noises, you get to know what certain sounds mean and then you begin to relax and things become more natural. In fact every relationship is very similar. As you get to know each person you get more and more relaxed because you know how they sound and how they are unique in their own way...it is the very same with God. So, it takes some time and patience.
Learning this is a wonderful place to be in your life and walk, as it is what ushers in learning to hear God's still small voice much better, as well as being able to be in step with the Holy Spirit...which of course is what we all want so much! (Please view above picture...click on it...hope it helps!)
Subsequently I believe prayer means muchmore than is normally taught. Since I was young prayer meant to bow my head, close my eyes, fold my hands and pray aloud...but, as we know, folding hands and etc. are not biblical. However, since working with kids for so long, now I know where this started! Ha! You and I also know that God can hear us just fine even when we are not speaking the words aloud...even though there will be times one can do this, as in one's prayer closet.
Then as a young Christian I heard teachings that vehemently instructed that we had to incorporate daily devotions into our lives! The example that was given once was when the Israelites were provided with manna everyday they were instructed to not keep any extra for the next day because when the next day arrived the manna left over was wormy. So, it was used as a metaphor to say that the devotions of one day will not last till the next day!
However, when you and I learn more and more to allow our hearts to be open to God and have this kind of close relationship with Him...then because we are always in a peaceful, spirit of prayer, we don't have to worry about 'not missing prayer time!' So the prayer times you do have in your prayer closet, which may be at different times and needn't be planned, will be for those times when God wants you to be alone for studying His written word...praying about something specifically...worship...or whatever...but it will be what you and God wants it to be.