Matthew 13:33 (NLT)
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 dough.”
As our children have grown up and there are only two left at home, I have been able to enjoy cooking rather than just trying to get it out on the table. When you are feeding seven people sometimes more – it is a challenge. There were a lot of weekly grocery outings that entailed dragging along two carts instead of one. But now there are just four of us around the table most nights as the other have grown up and moved away. (Sigh) The last few years have been filled with many changes for our family and as we discover this new life that we have been given, I have found that cooking is more fun than I imagined. With the introduction of Pinterest, I have spent literally hours sitting with my son at the hospital “pinning” new recipes and meal ideas. With each new attempt, some things turn out great while others not so much. I have begun making banana bread out of old bananas using things out of the pantry rather than a box mix which is a profound change for me. The other night I needed some buttermilk for a recipe. This is not a staple in our home so I browsed the Internet to see if I could find a substitution. I did! One tablespoon of white vinegar in a cup of milk that is allowed to sit for five minutes will change into an excellent buttermilk substitute. It doesn’t look any different until you begin to pour it out. The acid causes a chemical reaction in the compounds and proteins of the milk. Crazy science just to get dinner on the table.
Jesus told the people many parables trying to relay the message of the Kingdom of God. What it is like? How it works? What you can do with it? What it can do in you? The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast. Yeast is a single-celled organism that needs nothing to reproduce itself. It is effective all by itself. It only needs to be placed in the right conditions. When yeast is added to dough – it begins to multiply and divide. Scientifically speaking the rapid reproduction of yeast that is the same reaction that causes dough to rise is caused by adverse conditions that produce a positive change. We use yeast to make bread. However, it is the exposure to “adverse” conditions that allow it multiply and divide raising the dough. That’s how our faith in God works in us. We have faith. It grows when testing through the trials and hardships of living making it multiply and grown. So much for our science lesson today, I was never really a fan of the subject. However, I want the chain-reaction of faith rising up in my life. When we decide to cultivate the Kingdom of God in our life. It is not a difficult planting or hard reaping. We simply sow seeds of faith and reap the reward if we faint not.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
God’s Grace and Sufficiency are evident in human weakness. I am powerless to produce God’s Plan in my life just like I cannot make a pile of dough rise without a little yeast. We try to do all the right things. We try to be good people. Without the Kingdom of God planted as seeds of faith, it is a futile effort. Our power and promises come from the Lord and He is the Kingdom of God. During our midweek teaching at church, the pastor made a very valid point. Christ lives in us. But until we decide to live in Christ, there really is no spiritual growth in our life. When we asked Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, it was a lot like the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. If Jack had not planted those seeds even carelessly, there would be no story. There are many Christians who do not understand that the giving of our life back to Christ is the process by which we prosper and grow deep roots attaching us by faith to His Kingdom. Imitating God is not necessarily doing every single thing that His Word delineates. Now before all the religious people get mad. If we could do everything the Law of God said, we would not need a Savior so simmer down. We strive to do the Word of God. Live His Way. Follow His Word. But do we imitate the Love of God which is our purpose in life. When we sacrifice our life, our will, our emotions, our attitudes, our coming and our going to live in Christ, the Christ in us reacts causing explicit growth and an endless harvest in our life. This will inevitably produce a “pleasing aroma to God.”
Psalm 54:4-6 (NLT)
But God is my helper. The Lord keeps me alive! May the evil plans of my enemies be turned against them. Do as you promised and put an end to them. I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.
If faith grows the most in adverse conditions, what do you think is going to happen in the life of most believers? You guessed it. As believers, we are going to go through some stuff. Maybe even a lot of stuff as we commit our body, mind and spirit to the process of renewal according to His Kingdom. God is my helper. He is your helper, too. There are a lot of things that are included in the title, “Helper!” God is my helper but will I allow Him to help me is the true question. Do you believe that His Promises are true and for you? See without faith it is impossible to please God. We cannot obtain faith unless we go through some things. Why? We will rely on our own strength rather than discovering God’s Power for our life. Faith is released in our ability to praise the Lord through the faith-cultivation process that we are all in. It sings of His Love, Goodness, Grace and Mercy even when we are having trouble seeing the Light. It calls from the Christ “in” us and connects with the Christ “around” us as we learn to live in Him. Christ in you changes you. If that would only satisfy us, but it doesn’t to step out of self and walk in love with Jesus changes the atmosphere around you. Suddenly, the unexpected does not deter you. Bad news does not stop you. People do not distract you. Praise welcomes the Lord from in you to live in your world and be your God. God loves you. He wants to help you.
Jonah 2:9-10 (NLT)
But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
You will never leave your comfort zone as long as it is comfortable. Jonah offered “sacrifices” of praise to God and made the commit to fulfill his vows in the belly of the whale. He identified the Lord as his sole source of life. What happened next? The whale spit Jonah out on a beach. I don’t think anyone is crying out to God from the belly of a whale today, but perhaps the circumstances of your life have left you just as powerless and hopeless in your situation. The pressure is making it difficult to breathe. When you lose what you think is your last breath and sacrifice it to the Lord as praise. The faith in that confession begins a Kingdom Process in your life. God opens the next door or window over our life so we can move closer in Him.
Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT)
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
The Lord has empowered us to rise above every situation that comes against us in this life. We are not residents of this world. It is only our temporary home. We have been promised the Kingdom of God. Jesus handed us the keys. We must live for the Kingdom of God as residents who are only visiting this place we are living. To rise above this world means to set our sights on the Kingdom. This is not a super spooky spiritual thing but rather a practical and intentional way of living. By taking the seed of faith that came with the Christ “in us”, we plant it in our life and allow it to produce a harvest that allows us to walk through this world “in Him”. I want the Lord to control every aspect of my life. I want my praise to usher Him into my life so He can change every detail for my good. Praise expresses my faith in God and gives Him a place to dwell. It lifts me out of my circumstances into His Presence and I can see clearly what was not so evident before. Bu doing this, we sacrifice praise to the Lord continually and in all seasons. We are pledging allegiance to His Name. Now His Power has complete authority in our life because we handed it right to Him. Now we can rise above. Not by might or by power but by His Spirit. He will lift us up! Let the Lord raise your standard of living today!
Ephesians 4:13-14 (NLT)
This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.