Seeing only perishable food
Managing a blog is not an easy task especially for a newbie like me. In addition, I started a new work in a new field. I had a lot on my plate. But I was excited and determined to learn both in the shortest possible time. Soon I realized I was sacrificing quality and efficiency for either task. I had to choose which to prioritize.
I shared in the previous post how the Lord led me to tell my story for His glory through blogging. Though certain of His leading, I got derailed with what I thought was more important and urgent.
I considered work as a responsibility that shouldn’t be neglected, therefore should be prioritized. I decided based on practicality, reason, social expectations, and some advice from Christian friends. After all, this is just blogging; I can continue it once I’ve acquired the skills I needed to be more effective and efficient at work. Yet all the while my heart yearned to write and tell the whole world the glory of my God.
It was only when the Lord allowed me to draw the line by checking my motives, goals, social expectations, and intention of well-meaning friends that I distinguished which is from the Lord and what He wants me to prioritize as opposed to what I thought was the right and wise thing to do.
It’s written in Proverbs: listen to wise advice, listen to godly advice. I didn’t realize I misunderstood it as: listen to “Christian” advice. The modifier is not Christian but “godly and wise”. Godly advice often comes from godly Christians. Therefore, it doesn’t necessarily follow that every advice from believers is ultimately from the Lord because true wisdom comes only from God.
So how do we distinguish which message is from the Lord? Paul commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.” John commanded the same in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Bottom line: Test everything to see whether they are from God.
We are commanded to practice discernment not only to distinguish true from false, right from wrong, but also “the primary from the secondary, the essential from the indifferent, and the permanent from the transient. And, yes, it means distinguishing between the good and the better, and even between the better and the best.” – Ferguson, Sinclair. “What is Discernment?” Ligonier Ministries.
I asked God to affirm me from the Bible whether these realizations are from Him.
Perceiving also eternal food
At last, the Lord spoke, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?”
This verse is from Matthew 16:5-12.
When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?”
The purpose of my decision and the advice to me was to have “bread”. So the Lord asked me, “Why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?”
Jesus continued speaking:
“Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?”
Jesus reminded the disciples of His miracles:
- With only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, Jesus fed about 5,000 men plus women and children. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up 12 basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
- On another occasion, He broke 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish and fed 4,000 men plus women and children. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward, the disciples picked up 7 basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
In the same way, Jesus reminded me of the lessons He has taught me:
1. It’s not about my family’s capability to provide for us.
“God provides” was only a concept for me. I’ve seen and heard many times the perseverance and determination of my parents, aunts, and uncles which brought them from having nothing to eat during their childhood to providing us comfortable lives. This tells me we cannot and should not blame our circumstances. Instead, we need to work hard in order for the Lord to provide.
But when my sister and I lived independently from our family, that concept became a reality. My sister was in college and I provided for the both of us. There came a time when my income wasn’t sufficient to pay for my credit card balance and I didn’t want to pay for interest. It wasn’t a big deal, but the Lord showed His power even in that small detail. He provided month after month. This proves it is indeed the Lord who provides. His power is not dependent on man. I’ve seen His work and learned the last thing I should worry about is provision.
2. It’s not about my capability to provide for myself.
The Lord told me to wait. I waited for 8 months not knowing what I was waiting for. But since it was temporary and I was prepared, I wasn’t worried. I enjoyed my extended devotional time, long hours of study, ministry opportunities, lessons from equipping classes which are invaluable in my study of the Bible, and lessons the Lord taught me. In the end, I realized it was exactly what He wants me to learn — to wait on Him. He taught me to live one day at a time and to depend not on my capability to provide for myself but on Him.
These experiences taught me it’s not about man’s strength but God’s strength. Apart from God, we can do nothing. He has been teaching me to unlearn self-sufficiency and instead learn dependence on Him in everything.
“Don’t you remember these occasions? Don’t you remember how I provided for you and your family? Have you forgotten the lessons I taught you? Do you still not understand?” He asked.
“How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
The disciples understood only when Jesus clarified that He was not talking about yeast used in bread but the yeast — which meant influence — of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
“How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread that nourishes the physical body but the soul? Work for bread that gives life to the soul.” This is the work God was telling me to prioritize all along.
John MacArthur’s sermon on this passage “Dealing with Spiritual Blindness, Part 2” gave it more depth. Below are some important points I got from the sermon:
The disciples were concerned because they had forgotten to take bread. This’ll tell you what level they functioned on. The basic physical level. Here they are in the presence of God Himself. They have just seen massive miracles of reproduction of food. They get to the other side and they say, “Oh, we don’t have any bread.” Really on the physical level. Seeing only the physical need.
So the Lord just takes this opportunity with their preoccupation with not having bread as a point to teach them profound truth. Verse 6, “Jesus says to them, ‘Take heed,'” orahtayin the Greek meaning to see. “Open your eyes and beware.” That implies danger. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
“Don’t be concerned about bread bread. Be concerned about the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” In other words, “Get up on a spiritual level. I mean we are facing a tremendous crisis.” Christ now is months from the cross, and He wants them educated spiritually. One day without food isn’t a major problem. “Get off that mundane level of the physical.”
Yeast or leaven (in the same way that it affects a batch of dough) means to influence, something held over from the past applied to the present. That’s why, when Israel left Egypt, they weren’t allowed to have leavened bread. God was saying to them in simple form, “Don’t take anything you knew in Egypt out and put it into your new lifestyle. That’s in the past. Don’t bring any influence from that part of your life.”
Don’t let the world influence you.
Jesus was patient with them. He took them where they were and He taught them. He comes right back and repeats the same lesson. “I’m talking about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. I’m trying to get your focus on the spiritual dimension.”
But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of His approval. (John 6:27)
Before going to bed that day, I again reflected on God’s message. Then I said to Him, “Lord, I understand what You want me to prioritize but how do I go about my daily activities?”
I understand but was still thinking on the physical level. 😅 Thank you, Lord, for your patience. ❤
To be continued next week… 😊