Many, many years ago, so long in fact that it seems like eons, I was asked, along with several other church members, to go up to the altar to pray for those who went forward for prayer. I agreed, but unfortunately, my heart was not in it. I kept on thinking, “Who am I to pray for the needs of others? I’m a nobody. I don’t deserve to be at the front of the church!”
My problem was that I had a completely erroneous belief system. To me, only those called by God to receive the gift of healing should be asked to go forward and pray, and just like Moses and Gideon, my reaction was, “Not me Lord!” What was really happening, however, is that I was missing out on opportunities to help others experience my Father fully.
That all changed one day. A man came forward and asked me to pray for his hurt knee. I did, and when I finished my prayer, he looked me in the eye and said: “You don’t know how much I appreciate you praying for me.”
I left the altar puzzled. I was able to bless someone by my prayers! I realized then that God had come through big time for me. Eventually I discovered that through Him I can do all things; not on my own merits, but on His! And eventually, this led me to pursuing His Holy Spirit fully.
My thoughts and my beliefs will determine how I interact with the Kingdom of my Heavenly Father. We will act according to our beliefs. Healing and miracles will occur when we stand by our Father, trusting Him fully. Jesus confirms this when He said: “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.” (Matt 13:33b, NIV2)
Whenever my wife adds yeast to dough, I am always mesmerized to see the bread rise in such amazing proportions. Not all breads react the same way, however. One day I wanted to surprise my wife by baking raisin bread for her. I did everything by what I had learned from observing my wife, but my bread never rose. I ended up with raisin bread cookies. I was so disillusioned!
My wife was excited that I had tried to surprise her, but her first question surprised me: “Did you put yeast in the bread?”
Without healthy yeast, no bread will ever rise.
But is all yeast good?
Not at all. According to Jesus, there are yeasts that will leave us wanting.
While on a boat, the disciples realized that they had forgotten to bring bread. They had but one loaf with them, not enough to sustain them when hungry. Suddenly Jesus declared: “Be careful . . . Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” (Mark 8:15, NIV2)
Immediately the disciples concluded: “It is because we have no bread.” (Mark 8:16b, NIV2)
That would have been my answer as well, back when I felt that I was a nobody in faith. I would deserve the same reprimand that Jesus gave them: “‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’ ‘Twelve,’ they replied. ‘And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’ They answered, ‘Seven.’ He said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?'” (Mark 8:17-21, NIV2)
The disciple had experienced these miracles first hand. They were the ones who had handed the bread to thousands of people who were hungry, and amazingly they never ran out of food. It had been a true miracle. Still, they missed the point completely. Their hearts were still quite hardened, just like me when I wondered why I had been chosen to pray for others.
In the Bible, Jesus actually refers to three kinds of leaven. The first one is real yeast that makes bread rise. The other two yeasts are Herod’s yeast and the yeast of the Pharisees, and these are the two yeasts that we have to be aware of, for these will destroy any inkling of faith. Their influence will rob us from the nutrients necessary to move mountains. It all comes down to what kind of yeast we use.
I, along with the disciples, had been influenced by the bad yeast. Our hearts had been hardened by these influences. Next time we will discover what is meant by each of these types of yeast. In the meantime, I would encourage anyone who read this to prayerfully consider what this truly means. You will be quite astonished, for God will lead you to victory. May our hearts be pure, and may we not be influenced by ineffective yeast. After all, we don’t want to end up as flat bread!
(To access the entire “Do we Truly Believe?” devotional series, please click here.)