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What a loaf of bread can teach us

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. “
Romans 5:3-5, NIV

You’d never think a humble loaf of bread could teach us much about the Christian life, but look a little deeper and you’d be astonished. In the Bible study ‘Feasts of the Bible,’ I’m examining what bread offered as a sacrifice can mean. Jewish feasts required many different items God requested. Some of the foods were bitter to represent trials in life, other items were sweet to represent the hope of a Messiah. Normally bread offered up for sacrifice is unleavened, with a very notable exception.

One feast calls for two loaves of bread, with leaven, made with very fine flour. The leavening throughout the bread represents our sin, the flour the refining process, and two loaves portray Jews and Gentiles. To dig deeper, I decided to make my own bread as it would have been made thousands of years ago.

As soon as you start the process the lessons begin. Leaven is made by stirring together simple coarse flour and water and waiting, just as we start our life by being coarse and unrefined. Wild yeast present in the air infects the simple flour and water mixture just as sin infects our untested lives. The leaven is sour and takes over whatever is in your container once you feed it. Just like sin, it grows and destroys.

Then God starts changing things. God asks for refined flour. This flour has been crushed, stomped down, until it is light and pure. God will put us through the same refining process. Once we add this refined white flour to the leaven, the tang of bread becomes less sour. The dough mixture is kneaded and stretched, then left to wait and mature. Often God will knead and stretch us, leaving us to wait on Him. The dough is ready only when it’s been stretched so much that we can see the Light through it. It’s not difficult to draw the comparison there! God will refine us and keep stretching us until we reflect his light. Then we are ready to be put in the refiner’s fire to be an acceptable offering. As James points out, endurance and perseverance perfects us, a worthy and desirable goal. (James 1:2-4)

The beauty of this offering is that God asks us to come as we are. No matter what sin is in our life, so long as we ask his forgiveness He accepts us. His work doesn’t stop there, we are continually being refined, stretched, and left to wait, reflecting His glory throughout the entire process. If you’re struggling, left in a long season of waiting, or even being stretched, take heart. This is the process God uses to refine us! A little lesson from a humble loaf of bread.

In Him,

Amy

He is Risen! No Fooling!

…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

1 Corinthians 15:2-3 NASB
This is the first time I can ever recall Easter falling on April 1st – April Fool’s Day. That’s because the last time it happened was 1956 and I wasn’t even a year old. Oh, the great April Fool’s Day jokes we play to see if anyone will be crazy enough to fall for them!

As you celebrate Easter this year, please take time to read the moving accounts of Jesus’s cruel, yet sacrificial death, His humble burial, and His lifegiving resurrection in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  But for today’s dose, I want to point us to the gospel message proclaimed by the apostle Paul found in his first letter to the Corinthians. Many considered his message of the cross to be utter foolishness.  Let’s look at these verses found in 1 Corinthians 1 (NASB, emphasis mine):

Vs. 18 – For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Vs. 21 – For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

Vs. 23 – but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness.

Vs. 25 – Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men.

Vs. 27 – But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.

The Gospel – the Good News of Jesus Christ – looks like foolishness to the world. It appears as Nonsense. Useless. Unnecessary. Stupidity. That’s because the Easter message is about the greatest display of Love that can only be found and experienced in Jesus. He loved us enough – regardless of what we’ve done – to give His life so that we could live forever with Him. We deserve death, but He freely gives us LIFE. It is our choice to accept or refuse His gift.

Proverbs 19:3 states that “the foolishness of man ruins his way, and his heart rages against the Lord.” As Easter approaches, my prayer is that if you do not know the true message of Jesus Christ, you will find and receive it today! God asks that you humbly admit and turn from your wrongdoings, realize you can’t live without Him, and yield your heart and will to Him. Do not let what appears to be foolish keep you from experiencing the greatest gift ever – the gift of eternal life. It will be the wisest and best decision you ever make. No fooling!

[Digging deeper – Isaiah 53; John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 15:1-20; Ephesians 2: 4-10; 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18. Please feel free to email me if you have questions about the Good News of Jesus.]

Blessed Resurrection Day,

Beverly<><

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Photo by Beverly Lussi

GOD’S PERFECT PROVISION – GOD’S PERFECT PEACE

Go-Go-Go.

Stress-stress-stress.

Do-do-do.

Worry-worry-worry.

Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be stilland know that I am GodI will be exalted among the nations, 

I will be exalted in the earth.”

II Corinthians 9:10

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

One day, after long weeks of crowded time schedules, worry, pressures, people, and everything in general, I sat down to write a Daily Dose of Encouragement. God spoke above all the racket in my life and  simply said, “Be still and know that I am God.” So I sat and listened as he reminded me of a lesson I desperately needed to remember.

A yearling squirrel sat no more than 8 feet away as I sat on my front porch writing a Daily Dose of Encouragement.  Timidly he approached the corn feeder eyeballing me every step of the way. At first, he only got close enough to nibble on the scattered kernels around the outskirts of the pile. Fearful of his human benefactor he longingly eyed the plentiful pile of corn just beyond his reach.

I sat frozen in place, hoping he’d think I wasn’t even there. But nothing changed. Even in his hunger he continued to sit in doubt. Finally, he inched over to the pile. Slowly, as he saw he could trust my presence, he moved into the full bounty we had put before him. Every once in a while he’d stop, look my way as if to say, “Are you going to hurt me? Did you put this here for me? Can I trust you?”

The more comfortable he became, the more I moved around and let him see my hands at work. I made louder breathing noises, moved my feet, rocked in my chair, and pounded on this keyboard.  Finally, he stopped eating and turned his whole body straight toward me. He looked directly into my face and just sat there quietly. It was as if he was saying “thank you”.  He sat close for so long that my back began to hurt and my dangling feet fell asleep. As the computer flashed a low battery warning, I eased from my chair and slowly walked into the house. The little one scampered away – filled to the brim on the provision given him.

Sometimes in our well doing we forget to just “be”.  Be still and pray…be still and listen for God’s voice.  Realize Who He is. Follow what His still small voice whispers in our heart. He is our benefactor – our provider of all good things.

In my time of intense stress, he used a tiny squirrel to say “slow down” – refocus on what is most important. He reminded me Who He is, and not to be anxious, because He will bring peace to our hearts as we take all our burdens to Him in prayer.

Until next time,

Your Traveling Partner,

Brenda