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January 17 – Wildfires and Friendship Bread

Every year we see the news. Forest fires have broken out in various parts of the country. We see pictures of hellish infernos and horrific damage. Houses and wildlife are destroyed. Firefighters from all over the country fly in to help. Planes and helicopters are brought in to dump water on the fires. The news coverage often shows firefighters, exhausted from twenty straight hours fighting the fire, collapsing in a safe area, hoping to gain a couple hours of sleep before heading back to work. Once the fire is out, the investigation starts. Some fires start naturally when lightning strikes. All too often, though, the investigation reveals that the fire was started by a campfire that wasn’t fully put out or by a cigarette butt that had been tossed aside carelessly.

There is a practice among some who bake bread of baking “friendship bread.” To make friendship bread, you get a little pinch of dough from a friend and you use it as an ingredient to create your bread. The yeast from that lump begins working on your dough, and after a while, you are able to break off a few lumps of dough yourself to share with others and then bake the rest of the dough into some delicious bread. There are some examples of friendship bread that has been spread around for years, affecting numerous people. What both examples have in common is that small things have great impacts. For a fire, it was a cigarette butt. For the bread, it was a small pinch of dough. This is why Jesus used this idea when He talked about the Kingdom of God. “Again he asked, ‘What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.’” (Luke 13:20-21)

Yeast, or leaven, in the Bible is usually a bad thing. The Passover is also called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. When Jews prepare for the Passover celebration, they work hard on getting the leaven out of the house. Leaven, in truth, is often used as a metaphor for sin. So it’s surprising that Jesus uses leaven as an example of how the Kingdom of God spreads. But there is a lot of truth. Remember that the gospel spread beginning with one man – Jesus. He chose twelve disciples. Other men and women gathered around. The number of followers grew as they heard His words and saw the changed lives of the disciples. Then, Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead. After that, the Holy Spirit came upon the followers of Jesus and the Kingdom of God spread like…dare I say…wildfire. From that small beginning, the number of people who claim to follow Jesus Christ spread all over the world.

The amazing thing about this “leaven” of the Kingdom of God is that nothing can be done to stop it. As hard as governments try to repress it, the Kingdom grows as people see the lives and hear the words of Christians – sometimes as they are being executed. The Church grows in the midst of persecution and even though governments or groups like ISIS may temporarily ban it from the areas of their control, people still learn about and turn to Jesus as their Savior and follow Him. Most governments don’t like Christians because we realize our only true allegiance is to God. We love our country and support our government – but if there is a conflict between government regulations/law and our faith, we will put our lives on the line to be obedient to God. The call of Jesus to every Christian is to be leaven, sharing the good news of Jesus with others. The call to those who don’t know Jesus is to hear and accept the message of the Kingdom of God and live in the love of God.

Oh Lord, let me be leaven sharing the Kingdom of God through my daily life. Let Your love spread like a wildfire through a world that needs a message of hope and love. Use me to spread Your love.

Daily Devotion by Bob James


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