Summary: If we don't work together with other believers, we will be unfinished -- like bread made without yeast.
Tonight we are going to finish our series on baking bread with the final step -- actually combining the ingredients together and and using an oven to bake it into something delicious.
The simplest bread recipe only has three ingredients -- flour, water, and yeast. When you combine these ingredients together, you get warm, fluffy, delicious bread. All three of these ingredients must be modified in some way in order to be useful. We’ve already gone over the steps necessary for wheat to become flour. After harvest the wheat must be threshed, winnowed, and then ground into flour. If one or more of these steps are not performed correctly, the bread will fail.
Water must be purified -- if there are too many impurities in the water, the bread will have a bad taste and may not rise correctly. In ancient times, people were very careful to get their water from sources that run, like rivers, or wells to help ensure the water’s purity.
Yeast is an odd animal -- and yes, it is an animal. Yeast is a microscopic little critter that changes something chemically. It’s used to make alcohol, bread, ethanol for fuel, root beer, yogurt, and many other foods. We don’t really know where the first yeast came from, but historians think that the first batch of yeast may have come from natural impurities in the flour after being left in the sun too long. Bakers would then take small pieces of dough -- called leaven -- that has already risen and mix it into new dough to ensure it rises as well. In the Bible, when the Israelites are called to make unleavened bread, it means that they did not add this leaven to their dough, preventing the dough from rising.
Not to get off topic, but there is a sermon in that. The impurities from our past can still be used to make future Christians rise…
Anyway, all three of these ingredients, after being transformed, purified, and left in the presence of the sun, must be combined together in the proper way in order to become bread. We actually have some bread here for everyone thanks to the wonderful Mrs. Kim.
Just like bread can only be made if all ingredients are mixed together properly, we must also work together with other believers in order to become something better. Just like there are three main ingredients to make bread, there are also three types of people we must work with in order to become more mature as believers. Let’s take a look at the life of Paul to find out what these types of people look like.
Paul started out as Saul, a Pharisee dedicated to eradicating Christianity from the face of the earth. While travelling to Damascus, he had an amazing encounter with God that changed his life forever. After this encounter, though, the real fun begins. Saul is now a Christian, and began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues of Damascus. The change was so amazing -- the transformation so complete, that the people around him began wondering what was going on. Eventually, the Jews in Damascus got so suspicious of Saul that they began to plot to kill him!
When Saul heard about this, he decided to get while the gettin’ was good and escaped to Jerusalem. Things did not start much better for him there -- the disciples were afraid of him, thinking that he was trying to trick them. Finally, a man named Barnabas took Saul to the other apostles and told them his story. Saul was able to stay with them for a short time, until more threats by Greek Jews sent him away yet again. Eventually, Saul meets back up with Barnabas at Antioch, where they are sent on a missionary journey that covered eastern Greece and most of Turkey. Let’s pick up the story in Acts 13, starting with verse 4:
“4The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.”
Let’s skip ahead a bit to verse 44: “44On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. 46Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: ‘We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”’”