Galatians 5:5-9 (NIV)
For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”
My cooking skills were once obsolete. Over the years, advancing somewhat, I have been able to continually nourish a houseful of people. A few years back, a girlfriend began to share the secrets of cooking without shortcuts like condensed soup and meal packets. My confidence rose a little as I was able to make magic in the kitchen. I even forayed into some baking from scratch. The one thing I still find a bit intimidating is the whole process of bread making. The whole leavening process requires time and patience that I often do not have whether in reality or theory. I may even be willing to admit I find yeast a bit intimidating.
Yeast is the driving force that turns a hard lump of dough into warm, soft, delicious bread. Yeast is nothing more than a single cell organism. It is alive. It has a life all its own. Yeast makes dough rise. Yeast strengthens the bread dough by creating gluten which is an elastic mass of molecules. The fermentation process created by yeast generates flavor in the bread. Fermentation makes the dough become more acidic. Through this process, the loaf becomes more flavorful. Perhaps, it is the fact that this all seems so scientific that I am a bit intimidated by the process itself or maybe just maybe it turns my thoughts inward to myself.
What is the substance in my life that produces influence? What happens when I am forced to wait? Or when I am tested by the heat of trials? What is the change produced in me? What rises up? We must check the leaven in our life. Even if choosing to ignore that which drives and motivates us in life, the Lord loves us too much to not keep us constantly aware of what or who lives inside of us. Through the Spirit, we wait eagerly for the righteousness that we hope for. Jesus is not interested in our religious pursuits or daily endeavors. He is more interested in creating a lasting bond and relationship with us that allows his leaven that brings life to permeate us. It is in our communion with Christ that we are given a substance called faith. It is the substance that allows us to receive the hope He has offered. It is the thing in us that brings life to our hard heart allowing it to grow and expand until it overflows with love, joy and peace. He is the one who strengthens us to live this life until we meet Him face-to-face. The Lord adds flavor to our life that others will find attractive and appealing who will accept the invitation to “taste and see” that the Lord is good!
“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” It is in the waiting, the enduring, the standing, the testing, and the trying that the process of leavening occurs within us. As we wait on the Lord and watch for His Coming, something begins to stir in us. It begins to bubble and rise to the top. Why is this happening? We try to trust the Lord but the truth of the matter is that it will take our whole life from beginning to end to really discover the true meaning of everlasting life. The kind of life that perpetuates through God’s People that began before time stretching over our life and securing one’s future. See faith is not for now, but forever. Those who endure will be saved. Those who hold on until the end receive the prize. However, even with our best intentions and valiant efforts, we fall short time and time again. His Grace is always sufficient for me. Nevertheless, if I want to be full of Jesus and nothing else. It is in the difficult times of life that I begin to see who’s in charge and what really is driving me.
I Corinthians 5:6-8 (NIV)
Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
There are two kinds of leaven that influence our spiritual life and react with our soul. There is the leaven of sin or the leaven of life. We are naturally born influenced by sin. It is the generational and heredity component that drives us. Our selfish nature begins to consume us much like the active yeast in bread consumes the sugars to create fibers of growth that cause bread to rise up and be strengthened. However, sin has the opposite intention rather than strengthening and empowering us. The enemy uses sin to destroy and crush us. In the Old Testament, there was the Festival of Unleavened Bread which was a call to live a life of sincere faith and trust in the Truth.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God who is the Truth and came to be wrapped in flesh to be presented for all mankind. While we work to be unleavened by sin, Jesus offers to leaven us with life and life more abundantly. He seeks to bless and prosper us from the inside out. Louis Pasteur discovered yeast with the help of a new invention called the microscope. Although the use of yeast is dated back to the Egyptians, it was not until humanity had a tool for inspecting things on a deeper and more cellular level that the true nature of yeast was discovered.
When Jesus came to this world, it gave us the opportunity to move from fear to faith. Our Lord ended the famine in our life promising a feast in return. Before Jesus and His Sacrifice, though called to examine every heart and mind individually was advised few would go to the depths of internal inspection as the price of sacrifice seemed to be too much and never ending. But in the New Testament all that changed when Jesus offered life in exchange for death. By sacrificing our sin and inviting our Savior in, the process of transformation allowed for us to live again.
John 6:33-40 (NIV)
For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
I would have to say that my favorite person to cook for, other than my husband of course, is our son-in-law. Before he and our daughter moved to New Hampshire, they would come over and eat almost every Sunday evening. The boy loves home cooked food and is interested in cooking. He has shared recipes with me and asks how I prepare food. There is a mutual interest in the culinary world. When he takes a bite of food, his facial expresses are impressive. When he likes the food, his eyes roll in the back of his head and he groans in delight. Now tell me, what cook novice or professional does not feel accomplished in such a response. Shouldn’t we desire a similar response when people encounter us and more importantly the God in us.
Jesus informed the people in this passage that He is the Bread of Life. Those who come to Him will never go hungry. They will never thirst. They will be given full satisfaction in return for the consumption of their life by His Spirit. He promises to “raise (us) up” in the last day. Resurrection life is not only for forever, but begins now for those who choose to partake of the Bread of Life. Those who allow Jesus to rise, strengthen and ferment their life will become new creations. The old life with stale bread and hard dough is over as the Kingdom of Heaven becomes alive in us. God is changing us from the inside out. He is lifting us up. He is strengthening us. He is making our life fruitful and appealing to a lost and dying world by saturating us in His Love.
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
What is the substance of your life today? What motivates you? What is the driving force behind your attitude and actions? We must carefully inspect the contents of our life to influence the production in our life. If we seek to become a new creation, it is by faith alone. Any other substance especially sin will spoil the outcome of good intentions. It will cause us to be discouraged when the outcomes of our life are less than miraculous. If I attempt to make a new dish and for some reason it does not turn out as expected, I retrace the steps of the recipe to see where I may have missed a key ingredient or perhaps skipped a step. When the flavor of our life is ordinary rather than extraordinary, we must inspect the contents of our life and look for the leaven.
In a parable, Jesus shared that “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” (Matthew 16:33) What is working in your life today? To leaven means to pervade (or spread throughout) causing a gradual change with moderating or enlivening influence. Jesus Christ inside us should produce positive change around us. His Holy Spirit should influence the productivity of our life. The Fruit of His Spirit that comes forth from us is evidence that the leaven of life in us by faith is working out our salvation. It is when our life produces nothing or less than God’s Best that we know something in us is not working as it should. The passage in 2 Corinthians says, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation HAS come.” It does not say may come, or could come. No, it says, “has”.
The only way that we will ever know the life we are called to and the blessings therein is to reconcile our life to God through Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn’t facilitate change all around us but rather works His Way through us until nothing stands between us the Glory of God ready to explode from our life. Jesus wants to raise us up. He desires to strengthen us and make us complete. He longs to create an aroma that pours from us inviting others to want what we have and to taste and see that the Lord is good. We must check the leaven to discover what is influencing the productivity in our life. We must be sure that it is faith influenced only by the Love of God given to us in Jesus. We must wait. We must endure. We may even walk through fire. Why? The Lord is good and full of grace giving us time to inspect the contents so that we will not miss His Blessing.
Psalm 34:8-10 (NIV)
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.