Breadcrumbs or Sawdust?

cut tree with sawdust

“What are you doing?”

“Feeding the ducks.”

“Hey, I thought ducks ate crumbled bread. That looks like sawdust.”

“It is! I figured it’s much cheaper and they don’t really know the difference.”

“But ducks don’t benefit from eating sawdust.”

“I know that, but they’re just a bunch of wild ducks, not pets. Look, some are eating it! I told you they wouldn’t know the difference.”

“Well, they still aren’t getting any nourishment from it.”

“As long as they’re fed and happy, it doesn’t matter what they eat. Besides, this is so much easier to obtain and distribute. It won’t get moldy or stale like real bread, and it lasts practically forever.”

“Except when it burns.”

“OK, but it still works for me. If they’re satisfied, that’s all that counts.”

“But they’re not satisfied. Look at the ones who ate the fresh whole wheat bread I tossed to them earlier. They look full. They’re grooming themselves and have no more interest in eating bread. Your group is still begging for more food. I don’t see any satisfaction yet.”

“That is because yours are just full prematurely. I’m sure they’ll be desperate for more shortly. I’ll just open another bag of sawdust and distribute it here and… Hey! Where are you going?”

“It’s been several hours since I left and you are still feeding those ducks?”

“They’re not just the same ones I fed earlier; a lot of new ones just arrived.”

“Well, it appears that the flock I fed is now on the other side of the lake asleep and contented. These don’t look contented.”

“True, but mine are with me and yours left. What kind of loyalty is that?”

“Um—does that include yours who are now looking kind of sickly?”

“What? Oh, I hadn’t even bothered to notice. They’ll be better later. They probably just ate too much too fast, that’s all.”

“No, I think it’s more of a case of eating too much of the wrong thing.”

“I know—I’ll just mix some breadcrumbs with the sawdust and give it to the rest. Maybe they won’t feel as bad as the others.”

“You know, this whole episode got me thinking while I was away earlier—about how many Christians are being fed like these ducks.”

“Stop right there! Did you just call me a duck?”

“No, I’m saying many are eating like your ducks. Here, give them the rest of my bread and come with me.”

“Wow! They really have to work on your bread, but they gulp mine down like it’s their last meal.”

“Exactly! When we feed on “ground-up wood pulp,” we think we’re getting lots to eat real quickly, yet we never feel satisfied and complete. Sure, we may feel ‘full,’ especially after we drink something and all that pulp swells up inside us. But it will either make us sick or long for more.”

“I’ve noticed the same thing almost every time I eat at a fast-food place. The food usually tastes great and I feel full briefly, but never fully satisfied. I end up eating more later—like ice cream or a milkshake.”

“When we feast on Christ through His Word, the Bible, it’s like that fresh whole wheat that you fed the ducks a few moments ago. They really had to work on it, but it made them full and satisfied.”

duck running towards food

“You’re right! Look at the ones who ate the bread you gave me. They cleaned up all of it and didn’t even touch the sawdust!”

“Jesus said in John 6:51, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” When we eat this Living Bread, we become satisfied and won’t grow hungry. Jesus confirmed this in John 6:35 when He said, “…I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” His Bread is not fast-food.”

“That explains why I feel empty inside a few days after my pastor’s message at church. I thought I did something wrong, or didn’t pay enough attention during the service.”

“Now you’re starting to see my point. You’re feeding on sawdust, not breadcrumbs, or bread itself. Sadly, many pastors and church leaders distribute sawdust—possibly because they’re feeding on it themselves as well.”

“But the pastor says things so well and makes many great points. He always makes me feel good after his message. How could he be feeding me sawdust?”

“The fact that you feel good about yourself afterwards is proof enough that you are feeding on sawdust. When we take in God’s Word, we should discover that we are nothing and Christ is everything. We should always see the need to grow and never be content with where we are spiritually. The Apostle Paul never minced words when he spoke or wrote to the churches. He always uplifted Jesus Christ, never himself or others. In First Corinthians 1:23-24 he wrote, “…we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” If what you’re hearing or reading doesn’t point to Jesus Christ, you might as well be feeding on sawdust.”

“That’s pretty strong. I have noticed that my pastor really likes to tell compelling stories, show videos, sing, and so on. In many services, he never reads from or even mentions the Bible. Come to think of it, quite a few people I talked to at church don’t really know much of what the Bible says or means. I’m beginning to sense that I’m receiving sawdust more and more even as I speak.”

“Sadly, so many enjoy sawdust instead of bread, since it’s so easy to eat. They enjoy and feast on the speaker’s words, not God’s Word. Yet they don’t realize that sawdust has no nutrition. The result is that they’re spiritually wasting away. Even though they drink fluids which make them feel full from the swelling wood, they are still dying from spiritual malnutrition.”

“So how can I get free from eating sawdust and increase my intake of bread?”

open bible

“The best way is to start reading the Bible for yourself, not just material about the Bible. Spend more time before God in prayer, and ask Him to reveal His Word to you as you read. The more time you spend with Him and His Word, the more you feed on the True Bread—not sawdust. Ask Him to show you how to get more of His Bread and be able to pass it on to others. If He shows you that the place where you’re meeting feeds you sawdust and not even breadcrumbs from the Bread of Life, then ask Him to lead you to one who proclaims words like these of Paul: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Most importantly, seek God for wisdom and discernment as to what is and what is not sawdust before you partake of any more.”

“That’s just what I’m going to do as soon as I get home. No wonder I feel weak and incomplete spiritually—I’ve been feasting on sawdust all this time! Hey, look at those ducks that ate the real bread you gave me. They’re as contented as the ones you fed earlier! But those other ducks I fed sawdust to look awful! I better get them some real bread, quick!”

“Now you’ve got it. That’s why we need to feast on the True Bread, not sawdust, for our own spiritual well-being.”

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Little is Much

 

 

kneeling at cross

 

 

“And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered…Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass…And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men” (Mark 6:35-44).

Jesus had been teaching the people in a solitary part of the region for much of the afternoon. They had come because they were hungry, not for physical food, but for the truth (spiritual food). The people sought Jesus because they knew He taught the truth. Even though Jesus was physically tired at this point, (since He had originally come with His disciples to this desert location for rest), He was strengthened by the people’s desire to hear and learn God’s Word.

Jesus’ disciples, however, grew more concerned with getting physical food for the people than about them hearing the truth.

As the evening drew near, the disciples urged Him to send the people away to find something to eat. The idea never occurred to them that perhaps Jesus could provide for their physical needs as well as their spiritual needs. Of course, Jesus was fully aware of their concerns. “When Jesus then lifted up [His] eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do” (John 6:5, 6). Surprised (and perhaps shocked) at His response, the disciples immediately looked to their own selves to provide food for this great assembly. (Some scholars believe that there could have been over 15,000 individuals present). They replied, “…Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth [several thousand of dollars worth] of bread, and give them to eat?” (Mark 6:37). They really believed that Jesus might be out of His mind at this point, because He was expecting them to meet all of these people’s needs. They had probably expected Jesus to respond, “You’re right, we really ought to send them back to the nearest villages and let them get fed there.”

Jesus wasn’t fazed by all of this though. Instead, He let them see for themselves just how little they had for such a great need. If they hadn’t known what they had begun with, then the full depth of the miracle that Jesus was about to perform wouldn’t have been realized. After they took the smattering of provisions (enough for only a few to eat) over to Him and had the people sit in an orderly manner on the grass, He blessed and broke the bread, then the fish, and gave them to the disciples to be distributed among the people. Notice that He never gave any of these provisions directly to the people Himself—it was always through His disciples. In the end, there was so much distributed from the hands of Jesus that everyone was able to eat and be filled. No lack was mentioned and a dozen basketfuls were still leftover.

How many times do we believers in Jesus Christ go to Him first for our needs, both great and small? When Jesus is trusted solely, a small amount yields an overabundance.

Trying to meet a great need by ourselves is the same kind of problem as the disciples trying to feed the whole multitude with the tiny provisions that were available. Jesus never told them to go and buy all of the food, or to take the loaves and fishes and give everyone just a crumb or two of bread. (We won’t even try to determine how much of a portion of those two fish they would have to give!). That is why Jesus told them “you give them something to eat.” He knew that in their hearts that they would say “We can’t; He will have to do something!”

God wants us, as His children, dependent upon Him for our needs. When we look to our self, we take our eyes off of Him, and meeting our need becomes more and more insurmountable to us. The need doesn’t have to be just for food. It can also be in other areas, physical or spiritual. “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

The problem comes when we limit God. The disciples tried to limit God, as in the example above of the five thousand being fed, by implying that the people needed to leave in order to be fed.

They felt that Jesus was so absorbed in teaching and healing the people that He had forgotten about the basic needs of the people and that He needed the disciples to remind Him of this. How often do we limit God, or put Him “in a box,” by saying that He can meet these particular needs, but He probably won’t be able to meet these other needs? How many times are we impatient with God meeting our needs and end up taking care of them ourselves? How many times do we hurt or insult God by not having complete faith in Him?

We must remember that God is always in control of the situation; we are the ones that lose control and become anxious. We are to place our needs and circumstances in the hands of Jesus and let go, not picking them up later when He doesn’t respond or do anything in our anticipated timeframe. If we take back the needs that we laid in His hands, we are effectively saying that we don’t fully trust Him in everything and that we will take care of it ourselves. Again we are back to limiting God. [Cast] all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Remember that the disciples never even asked Jesus to provide for the people’s needs. How much more will He respond when we really do ask and fully believe?

I Love Bread

baguette

I love bread—whether it is toasted or untoasted, broiled or grilled, or freshly baked (my favorite)—I’ll eat it! It could be white bread (but not the cheap, factory-baked kind), rye, pumpernickel, sourdough, focaccia, naan, boule, rice, or even potato bread. But I have never had a fondness for almost all kinds of whole wheat bread. Now, if you were to slather a big slab of butter on a slice, I just might be inclined to eat it! There are many flavored breads that I also enjoy, such as tomato and basil, three-cheese, and cinnamon and raisin (especially with a big smear of butter!).

I found myself thinking about the yeast used in bread recently. It is a key ingredient in many popular types of bread because it is essential to make them rise. Without yeast in bread of this kind, you would have a thick and rather tough lump of baked dough. Or, depending on the recipe used, and if the dough was spread out flat over a baking pan, you would end up with just a very large cracker!

sliced bread

I would help out around the house while my parents were working when I was young. One thing I helped with was baking bread. We would buy loaves of frozen bread dough from the store and bake our own bread at home. When baking bread that has yeast as its leavening source, you need to puncture the rising dough slightly to release the gas that has built up inside the dough, since the baking process hardens the exterior and the dough is unable to free the excess gas on its own. One time, I neglected to do any kind of puncturing of the rising loaf. As a result, I baked one of the largest loaves of bread we had ever seen! I was quite amazed myself, and rather proud of my achievement. But disappointment quickly surfaced when my Dad started to slice this mammoth loaf of bread and it suddenly collapsed—due to the fact that the upper part of the loaf contained only one huge hole. In other words, I had succeeded in baking a very large bread balloon!

When kept under control, yeast can be beneficial. But it can also be quite detrimental when left totally unattended. It is actually a living organism that likes to eat, and when it eats, it grows. The more it grows, the more it eats, until eventually the host that it is eating is destroyed. Yeast will feed on starchy foods, but the top item yeast prefers to feed on is sugar and other sweeteners. Give it something nice and sweet, and it will flourish abundantly. This is why most yeast breads require some type of sweetener for the yeast to eat and release carbon dioxide, which, in turn, will cause the loaf of bread to rise, as well as giving it a lighter texture. After baking, the yeast dies off and you end up with a nice loaf of fresh baked yeast bread.

There are also some types of yeast organisms in your body. When kept in the right balance, they are basically harmless. But when they get out of control, they leave you in a very crippled state and could eventually kill you. Just like the yeast in bread, these organisms love simple sugars, but when they are starved, they will resort to eating most anything with even a hint of sweetener. They will even eat the lining in your digestive system, which then allows them to enter your bloodstream and wreak havoc throughout your body, ultimately bringing on death if the yeast is not destroyed.

yeast form

Sin (disobedience to God’s Word) is a lot like this kind of yeast. The difference is that sin can never be simply controlled; it must be defeated and destroyed. Sin usually starts off as a simple, innocent act, and then continues, until it permeates the whole body—both the soul, where our conscience lives, and the physical body. The yeast organisms in bread are never satisfied with just a little bit of sugar, and sin is not content with just a little bit of you. It never is satisfied with just a one-time act; it wants the whole production.

When you willfully disobey God’s Word (the Bible), you are feeding sin and giving ground for it to grow in. Sin is never just accidental. It is always preconceived in some way. You don’t just go walking along and then suddenly begin sinning. It is something you plan for in advance, whether for a moment, or for months before the actual act occurs. When you stop allowing God to operate in your life, or have never allowed Him to work there in the first place, you are giving sin the means to grow in your heart. Essentially, when you run your life without God, or refuse to accept the sacrifice of His Son at the cross for your sins as applying to you, you are creating fertile ground for sin to grow in. As a result, sin becomes easier and more commonplace, since there is little to stop it.

candida yeast

When those yeast organisms begin to really multiply, they don’t just sit on the surface of your intestines. They begin to take root into the intestinal walls and won’t easily leave. It is the same way with sin. It doesn’t just sit there inside of you; it roots into your spirit or heart, and becomes increasingly difficult to manage. Like yeast organisms, it wants more and more of you, until it eventually destroys you.

Actually, sin is worse than yeast organisms, because it not only impacts your life, it also affects other lives around you, and you are not able to stop it or kill it on your own. It takes someone greater than you to defeat it. And that someone is Jesus Christ. He willfully came to the earth as a human being, just like us (only without any sin), to fulfill the requirements to defeat sin and death. This resulted in Him willfully sacrificing His own life on the cross for us. He paid all of the requirements for every man, woman and child, even though He did not owe anything Himself. There is no other way to overcome sin. Have faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for all of your sins as if it was your own sacrifice for your sins. You can’t overcome sin by going to a multi-step program. You can’t tie yourself up and cover your eyes and ears to keep from sinning or from allowing sin to enter. Only Jesus can successfully overcome sin for you.

Sin is a spiritual and moral problem that eventually manifests as a physical problem.

When harmful yeast organisms become fully active in your body, they can cause all kinds of external reactions (such as flu-like sicknesses, rashes, fungal outbreaks, etc.), many of which can’t easily be directly attributed to the organisms themselves. By comparison, when we allow something as simple as a few lies, or a lustful glance at a man or woman, to go unchecked within us, over a period time these simple acts of sin subtly grow and grow. Eventually we become desensitized to what is really the truth or a lie. We may have adulterous affairs and become unable to establish a normal relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Ultimately, we become so far removed from the originating sins, that we go on to commit totally unrelated sins. Because of sin, every living being on the whole planet (even those still in the womb) is in a degraded state.

The only solution to the sin problem is Jesus. You must accept Him into your heart and surrender full control of your life to Him. You need to ask Him to forgive you of your sins against Him and to repent of these sins. You need to develop a relationship with Him, no longer with the individuals or things that are causing or leading you to sin. This relationship with Him becomes possible when you go before God in sincere prayer, as well as when you read and meditate (think deeply and contemplate) on His Word, the Bible.

Don’t continue to try to control sin on your own. As with yeast, whether it is in a loaf of bread or given free rein in your body, if you continue to feed it and keep it concealed or masked, it will overtake you and eventually lead to death eternally in Hell. Your goal should be to give it all over to God while you still can. Sin may be pleasurable for the moment, but it will never give you real satisfaction; you will always thirst for more. Jesus gives you real satisfaction continually.

“…whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

To learn more on how to quench this continual desire for sin click here.

–James Pangburn