A Little Leaven, A Lotta Heaven

“The kingdom of God is within you.” –Jesus, as quoted in Luke 17:21 NKJV

Friday night at our house is-pizza-and-a-movie night. It began when the youngest left for college, and my husband and I ate out at a local pizzeria. Eventually our date night morphed into dining on frozen pizza at home. After a while frozen pizza lost its appeal, and I rooted around in my recipe box and retrieved my old pizza dough recipe.

Years ago I learned the secret of making good pizza dough. It’s in the kneading. First I dissolve the yeast in warm water. Warm, not hot, because hot will kill the yeast. Then I add the sugar, salt, and oil, mixing it well so the yeast, sugar, and salt dissolve. Then I add about half the flour, mixing it with a wooden spoon until it’s just past the gooey stage.

Then I knead in the rest of the flour by one-half cupfuls—and I don’t pay attention to the recipe! I pay attention to the dough. I’m done adding flour when the dough is just past being sticky, soft like a baby’s behind, and springs back when I lightly indent it with my finger. I rarely use all the flour the recipe calls for.

Now, you’re asking, what does this have to do with the kingdom of heaven? Everything. You see, Jesus spent a lot of time teaching the people about the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God, using analogies of things they understood so they would grasp what He was trying to tell them.

“The kingdom of heaven,” He said once, “is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Matthew 13:33 GW). The kingdom of heaven is like yeast.

The older versions use the word “leaven.” Leaven, according to my trusty Webster’s, is “any influence spreading through something and working on it to bring a gradual change.” In bread dough, the leaven causes it to rise and gives it a delectable flavor. Ever eat bread that failed to rise? It’s useless, isn’t it? Fit only for the trashcan.

In this world, the leaven is the kingdom of heaven, or the rule of God over all who accept and submit to Him (see John 3:3,5). In each believer, the leaven is the words of the Master, found in Scripture, that gradually spread through our minds and hearts, transforming us, transforming our lives, ever so gradually.

First, though, the leaven must be added carefully then worked through the dough of our lives. Just like bread dough, the secret is in the kneading. Ever knead dough? It takes time and patience—and just the right touch—not too heavy and not too light.

God is the one who kneads His Word through our lives. If you’re dough being kneaded, though, it doesn’t feel too good to be twisted and turned and folded and pushed and pulled. But the Master knows what He’s doing. He’s not following a recipe because we are individual lumps, each needing a different touch, a different amount of flour to be added, and a different amount of kneading time. The Master works us until we’re pliable, soft, resilient—not too sticky or gooey and not too dry or tough. Then He sets us aside for a while for the leaven to do its work.

But we’re still not ready. Like bread dough, we must be punched down, worked again, shaped, and left alone, covered with a soft cloth, so that the leaven can finish its work. It’s a long process.

Child of God, are you being kneaded? Don’t despair. Just remember—a little bit of leaven, worked just right into the dough of your soul, means a whole a lot of heaven.

Dear God, thank You for kneading me in the way I need to be kneaded. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 13:33 and Luke 17:20–21.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Photo courtesy of ABSFreePic.com.

Things to Remember: Asssembling

Dear followers,

The following is the January 2020 newsletter from Rachel Himes, Director of the We Care Pregnancy Clinic in Punxsutawney. I was so moved by what she wrote that I asked, and received, permission to post it here. May you be blessed as I was by the words the Holy Spirit gave her.

“…Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another…” – Hebrews 10:25 KJV

Friends,

I want to touch on practical ways and reasons why we need to “remember our God.”

I have been a follower of Christ for more than twenty-five years of my adult life. I do not take His Word lightly. But I have seen more and more apathy towards the things of God in this past decade than ever in my lifetime. We officially live in a generation who draws a greater portion of their doctrine and understanding of God from modern culture more than from Scripture. I want to remind us why we should “not forsake the assembling …”

We are commanded to. Plain and simple. And quite frankly, that should be enough.

It sharpens us. I have had my understanding of Scripture challenged and grown more by conversations in a Sunday school classroom than any teaching I’ve studied. I’m more of an introvert by nature, but I don’t use it as an excuse to avoid community. In fact, the historical account of every great move of God recorded happened in an assembly.

It reminds us we are not alone. The testimony of those around us is powerful. In fact, Revelation says we will overcome by two things: The blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. They are both powerful and both necessary.

The slow fade: An ember removed from the fire gradually loses its burn. Returning it to the fire will reignite it. And all of the embers together burn the brightest.

Sunday morning service is a commitment for me. No excuses.

But the enemy gives us reasons why we should not. Maybe he’s thrown some your way:

I’ve outgrown the church. Really? When babies grow up, they become adults. And their God-given job is to help raise the next babies into adults. Try teaching or serving.

 Hypocrites. Yep. They exist. Did in Jesus’ day and now. Don’t be one.

 I am spiritually strong and don’t need community. Like the head doesn’t need a hand? Because Scripture is very plain about the church being a body and that it should work together.

Sunday is the only day I can sleep in. I get it. Change your schedule. Because whatever in your life is more important than obeying God has taken a place above Him.

What does this have to do with me? you may ask. Everything. Maybe you go to church. Maybe you are in a small group. If you are, wonderful. I commend you.

But if you have pulled away for any reason at all, know the enemy is already using that to hurt the body of Christ, both by what you lose and by what you have to give. And don’t just go there, show up. Give. Serve. Participate. Scripture says we will reap when we sow. If you sow nothing, don’t expect to get a return.

I have heard many people say the modern, American church isn’t what Jesus intended. OK … but? If you read the letters Paul had to write to the early churches, you’ll see they weren’t either. But he urged the believers to keep pressing in and pressing on. He cited the great works God was doing in their midst.

If you think a church has to be perfect for God to move there, you’ve forgotten how utterly dependent we are on His grace to begin with. And frankly, if you’ve left the church over offenses by pastors or congregation members, or because of disagreements, you have allowed the enemy to draw a dividing line at your feet.

We weren’t promised it would feel good. We weren’t promised it would be easy. We weren’t promised we’d like all the people in our “family.” But we were told to stay diligent, stay alert, and stay committed. And if you’re not getting anything at all from it, I urge you to check your heart condition. Because God is always in the midst of His people. His Word says so. But just as a radio wave is present at all times in the air, one must be tuned to the station to hear it.

Friends, tune in. Shake the dust from your feet. If you believe we are living in the last days, there is work to be done. Be alert.

–Rachel Himes, Director,We Care Pregnancy Clinic, Punxsutawney

EXCITING UPDATES:

We are more than half way through our training scans. Please pray with us that we can finish this course and open sonograms to the public this spring. (MTH note: Technicians are being trained to use the donated sonogram machine so that those who come to the clinic will be able to see a sonogram of their baby. Statistics show those who have seen sonograms of their unborn babies opt to give birth and not have an abortion.)

Our banquet is officially set for Friday, May 8 of this year, Mother’s Day weekend. Please mark your calendar now. It will be exciting.

© 2020 Rachel Himes. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

For more information about We Care Pregnancy Center, click here.