GOOD INSTRUCTIONS – BAD RESULTS

Recently we have not been purchasing bread from the grocery; rather, I have been making our bread at home, and I found that I love doing it.  There obviously are a multitude of reasons to make your own bread, if you have the time, including the lack of preservatives, the missing ingredients that we can’t name, and the wonderful smell the kitchen has with home baked bread cooling on the counter.

Today, I realized that we did not have any bread ready to eat, so first thing this morning, I got the flour out and proceeded to make a recipe that I have used many times before.  Rather than having the bread machine bake it, I let it mix the ingredients and then go through a rise cycle before I take it out and put it in a loaf pan for the second rising prior to baking.  This, too, is my normal routine.

When the time came to retrieve the bread from the machine, I opened the top and found something far less than an appealing loaf of bread. 

bad loaf

It was hard, lumpy, not even filling the bread machine, certainly not having risen any, if at all.  I was astonished.  This “loaf” was not worth baking, and it found out what the inside of the kitchen garbage can looked like!

I went back to the drawing board and followed the recipe for bread a second time.  This time, when it came to adding the butter, I had a chill run down my back, and it was not because the butter was cold.  I instantly realized what happened to the first loaf – I had omitted the oil.  A look at the stick of butter waiting in the butter dish confirmed my suspicion.  Rather than missing 2 tablespoons, a whole, untouched, stick of butter stared up at me from its dish.

All this to say, the butter was added to the second loaf and it is rising as it should.

good loaf rising

As I thought about what went wrong, I understood that I missed using one of the ingredients when I prepared the first loaf.  I had the recipe, and I looked at it, but I overlooked that one thing and the result was disastrous, at least it was for that loaf!

Our God provided His instruction book for us, and it is called the Holy Bible.  The Jews understand this as they have the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament, books that specifically identify the statutes and rules that God has laid out for His people to follow.  The New Testament establishes that the law of the Old Testament still contains God’s law, but now there is a new understanding and emphasis.

See what Jesus said:

“”Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Matthew 5:17

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.  So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Matthew 5:21-24

You see, Jesus understood the Law that governed the lives of the people.  And He understood that they were not keeping that Law.  He understood that they thought they were keeping the Law because they did not actually murder anyone, but there was hatred in their hearts, and malicious words coming from their mouths.  He took that Law and expanded it to include the status of the heart.  If there is anger, if there are insults, if there is an attitude of condemnation toward others then the Law is broken just as if a dagger had been placed in the chest of the victim.

Jesus further said:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Matthew 5:43-45

God is merciful toward the just and the unjust, toward the evil and the good.  So, we should not be unmerciful toward others, as we also are sinners and deserving of punishment.

In Matthew 15, Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, forcibly pointing out their hypocrisy:

For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’  But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, ‘What you would have gained from me is given to God’, he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.”

Matthew 15:4-6

Here Jesus is explicitly stating that the commandment pronounced by God in Exodus 20 is to be followed.  But instead, the Pharisees twisted the commandment and said that when a person gave God that which would have been used to care for their parents, there was no need to honor his parents.  Jesus specifically admonished that by their man-made rule, the Pharisees had made God’s word void.

Beloved, the instructions are there in the Book.  The fact that they may be difficult to follow does not nullify their import.  God’s word is true and it endures forever. 

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

When I did not put the butter in the bread, it did not mix well and I did not have a loaf that I could enjoy later in the day.  I didn’t follow the directions, and I paid the consequences.  Likewise, when we don’t follow God’s instructions, things do not go well.  There will be consequences, whether in this life or the next.

” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

John 6:35

Read God’s Word, ruminate on it, and digest its marvelous truths.  Feast on the Bread of Life, and follow the instructions given.  You will enjoy an abundant life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Father, I praise Your Name for Your Word that gives us the way to eternal life through our Savior, Jesus Christ.  I thank You too that Your Word provides everything that we need to live a life that is pleasing to You.  Forgive me when I have failed to do so, when I have failed to follow Your instructions.  Let Your Spirit enlighten my heart so that I will be sensitive to Your guidance and then give me the courage to follow Your direction. 

A LITTLE HELP, PLEASE!

On a vacation many years ago, our young grandson saw the teeter-totter after his older brother sat on the end at ground level.  Almost instinctively, he wanted to be sitting on the other end.  Of course, the problem is that when one is sitting on the lower side, the unoccupied end is up in the air.

see saw
Papa assisting young grandson on the teeter-totter.

He didn’t know the words “A little help, please!” but he knew that his Papa would lift him high onto the teeter-totter seat.  So far so good!

But, then, after settling on the high end, he realized there was more to a teeter-totter than just sitting on the seat!  There was the weight differential between siblings and gravity was not his friend!

Once seated, he wanted to do it himself.  This was, of course, an abject impossibility since he could not even hold himself steady, but he didn’t realize that.  His spirit of “I can do it-ism” (is that a word?) was running rampant.

So, Papa stood behind the young teeter-totter rider, holding the seat and guiding the ride so that the older sibling could go up and come back down without such a jolt that the little guy would be thrown into the air.  In other words, Papa helped even though the little one believed he was doing it all by himself.

There are times when we, as adults, find ourselves in situations which overwhelm us or which are so complex that we cannot unravel the situation.  It is at those times that we should say “A little help, please!”

When we come to the end of our rope, our Lord is standing there ready to catch us.  Whatever the need is, our Lord is more than able to handle it according to His will and for your benefit.

Our problem, however, is that we, often, are too prideful to ask for help.  We need it, we know we need it, but we cannot seem to say the words, even to those who love us and who are in our physical family as well as our church family of believers.

Scripture repeats over and over again the admonition that we are to help others.

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Acts 20:35 ESV.

Help the weak, both believers and non-believers. (For further reference, see 1 Thessalonians 5:14.)

“Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”

Philippians 4:3 ESV.

Helping here was to be extended to missionaries who labored with Paul, and may require giving funds or providing housing; providing clothes or preparing a meal.

“You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”

2 Corinthians 1:11 ESV.

Helping includes more than merely giving money; it includes praying for the ministry of others.

When Jesus was healing and teaching, a Canaanite woman came to Him seeking healing for her daughter who was severely oppressed by a demon.  He did not respond immediately, and the disciples told Him to send her away.  He said that He was sent to the house of Israel, distinguishing her since she was a Canaanite.  She then persisted in seeking relief for her daughter as follows:

“But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.”

Matthew 15:25-28 ESV

I find it easy to ask the Lord to help me – but it is far more difficult to ask for help from others.  This should not be so.  By refusing to tell others of our need, we are denying them the blessing of obeying the Lord’s command to supply the needs of others.

Christian, if you have what others need, open your hands and give.  Christ gave His life for you; we surely can assist others in their time of need. Follow the Holy Spirit’s leading as you seek to help others.

If you have a need, swallow your pride and tell others of the problem.  Find a care group, an individual, an Elder, Deacon or the Pastor at your church, anyone who you feel comfortable speaking with and share the need or concern.  Pray with them and then let the Lord lead them in assisting you toward resolution of the problem.

christ-of-the-ozarks-missouri-1968-3
Christ of the Ozarks, Missouri, USA (circa 1965)

The Lord is still in our world helping others as He did with the Canaanite woman; now He uses our hands and feet to do His work.  Allow us to do so by seeking help.  It is available through those He leads by His Spirit to work in this world.

Father, may I be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and may I respond joyfully to the needs that present themselves to me.  And, may I give to others so that Your Name may be glorified.