Thursday, October 15, 2015

Yeast in the Flour

I'm writing today from Starkville. I'm here for the Small Towns Conference and super excited that I go home today. I've been away from home so much in the last three weeks that I'm desperate for my own bed. 

Last night, my sister and I were discussing my recent blogging techniques. "I like stories, but I really like the in-depth Bible study. Maybe you could do both, switch it up a little." Since I like the Bible studies, too, I intended to write about a passage in Luke 13 today. 

The next verse up is the one about the kingdom of God being like a mustard seed. I have some mustard seed from Israel at home (where I am not), so I'm jumping to the yeast verse. 

“And again He said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."”   Luke 13:20-21 NASB

I'm of two minds about these verses, but we're just exploring one " mind" today. 

In the previous verse, Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed. It was a very positive image. In these verses, He compares the kingdom of God to leaven in flour. The nature of leaven (yeast) is that it expands and grows by fermentation until it affects all the flour. It's how we make bread. The flour becomes more than it could be without the leaven. 

Matthew Henry suggests that the people expected the kingdom of God to arrive by external means such as a conquering king and his armies. Instead, the kingdom of God arrived by internal means, much like the work of yeast in flour.  

The kingdom of God, through the Holy Spirit, constantly, but slowly, works in our hearts until they are transformed, expanded. It changes us into more than we could be without God. It takes time. We don't become all God wants us to be overnight. 

Maturity as a disciple is a process that cannot be hurried. 

I wish discipleship could be speeded up. I hate the struggle of intending to always do right but finding myself doing or thinking wrong when I least expect it. As long as I've followed Christ, surely I could do better. 

Just yesterday, the impromptu group of which I was a part was assigned a brief project as part of a class. It wasn't rocket science, but it required that everyone participate. The group assigned me as facilitator. (Note-taker) One man in our group didn't want to do the assignment. He wanted to talk about all the wonderful things he'd done in his town. I'm always happy to hear what other towns have done, but not while we have an assignment to do. His self-absorption stopped our progress because no one else could speak, and we couldn't get our work done. 

I was frustrated. Efforts to get him on track failed miserably. I was not the only one who was aggravated with him, but my frustration was evident on my face. When the class was finally over, the woman across from me commented about it. "He was driving me crazy. I looked at your face and could see he was driving you crazy, too." What happened to my patience, kindness, self-control? They flew right out the window!

Maturity is a process. It takes time, and I clearly need more time than I've had to be like Christ. 

Sigh. I praise God He has liberated me from the power of sin in my life. Today, I hope to do a better job of appropriating that freedom. I intend to act more like Jesus today than I did yesterday.   

It's exactly what Jesus said. 

The leaven moves through the flour and changes it, but it doesn't happen in an instant.

Maybe you have a little trouble acting like Jesus sometimes, too. The leaven of the kingdom of God will transform if allowed to proceed. Invite Him to keep at it until all the "flour" in your life is transformed into what it was intended to be. 

If the kingdom of God is leaven, then just as we are light and salt, the leaven in us should spread to the world around us in such a way that our presence brings transformative change. 

We should carry Jesus as we go and leave a bit of Him with all we meet. 

Is that how we live? How we interact? When we look at the world, do we see the evidence of God's leavening at work in the loaf? 

Perhaps some introspection is in order. If you, like me, struggled to act like Jesus yesterday, let's start fresh. Today, invite the kingdom of God to do its work in you. Pray that the work will not stop until all is transformed. 

#leaven #transformativechange #disciple #JesusChrist #yeast

In case you missed any of this week's posts, here are the links: The Wonder Girls Close the Park, Soft drinks, snacks, and airplane takeoff
The most-read post of the past week: Death is Not the End