Galatians 5:9

Verse of the Day: Galatians 5:9

“A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.” – Galatians 5:9

Paul is writing to the Church in Galatia and in the above verse, he is telling them not to succumb to any so-called small sin, or any sin for that matter, for it will have an impact in their Christian walk.  Look at the two verses just before our daily verse.  Galatians 5:7-8, “You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?  This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you.”  Something they bought into was hindering their growth.  And it had nothing to do Christ.

This is very important for us to see.  Many times, we think we can get away with things that are wrong because we are strong in the faith.  It may be simply in our thought life, maybe it is in our desires.  Or maybe, it could be in our prideful attitude.  These things will have a negative effect on our relationship with Christ.  It is important that we stay in constant contact with God so we can hear what He wants us to do, but first so we can hear from Him where we are off.  A little sin accepted can destroy your walk, just as a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Mark 8:15.

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 8:15 

“And He was giving orders to them, saying, watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” – Mark 8:15 

Jesus, along with His disciples, gets into the boat after His quarrel with the Pharisees and goes to the other side of the lake. “And they had forgotten to take bread; and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them.” Mark 8:14. When they got into the boat they realized they had forgot to bring bread with them. And while in the boat, Jesus gives a warning to His disciples. “And He was giving orders to them, saying, Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” Mark 8:15. Now it appears that what Jesus said caused them to argue regarding their lack of bread. “And they began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread.” Mark 8:16. What Jesus had intended to be taken as a metaphor the disciples took literally.

Now when Jesus heard this, He asked them a series of questions, “And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?” Mark 8:17-18. Jesus asks them why they are worried about not having bread. Had they not been paying attention. “Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?” Jesus was accusing them of being somewhat like the Jews in their lack of understanding regarding who He was. We see a similar statement in Isaiah warning the prophet how things would go with Him regarding the leadership. “And He said, go, and tell this people: Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand. Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, lest they see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” Isaiah 6:9-10. There is much here to discuss, however in context with this verse of the day, they were sounding like the current Jews. They had seen so much regarding Jesus, His miracles, and His care for them. But when things did not go as they expected, they began to doubt. He says, “Do you not remember?”

Then He brings up two examples that they personally experienced and should have remembered. “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They said to Him, twelve. And when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up? And they said to Him, seven.” Mark 8:19-20. He had already shown them that shortage of food would never be an issue. But they argued about who forgot to bring the bread and thus leaving them hungry. Ultimately, He was asking them was, “Do you not yet understand?” Mark 8:21. And what He was speaking about was the phrase “And He was giving orders to them, saying, Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

The leaven of the Pharisees and Herod is essentially hypocrisy. We see this clarification in Luke’s gospel. “Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of the multitude had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Luke 12:1. Jesus was pointing out that the teachings of the Pharisees were pervasive and produced hypocrisy and unbelief. The leaven of the Pharisees was simply a subtle and pervasive influence the Pharisees had over people. Those who followed the Pharisees might demand signs, but they would gradually increase in unbelief until they had hardened hearts, just like the Pharisees. And this same idea was seen in the rule of Herod, also a Jew. The teachings of the Pharisees were as pervasive as yeast in a loaf of bread. Their corruption was hardly perceptible but extensive. Jesus denounced them on several occasions and their hypocrisy was a common theme. The Pharisees displayed an outward conformity to the law, but their hearts were full of unbelief and sinfulness. We see this earlier in Mark as an example. “And He said to them, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN. Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:6-8.

By warning the disciples against the hypocrisy/leaven of the Pharisees, Jesus sought to keep His followers from an insidious influence that would undermine faith and corrupt their walk with God. Believers today should heed the same warning from the Lord and guard against pharisaic attitudes and the temptation to take pride in man-made teachings and traditions. Once a bit of leaven is introduced into the church, it can quickly spread.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Matthew 13:33

Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 13:33 

“He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened.” – Matthew 13:33

Today we will look at the Parable of the Leaven.   It is one verse long, which we have as our focus verse, therefore we will not put it here again. He repeats the formula of verses 24 and 31 where He says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like”. This time He gives us a picture of a woman at work preparing food. Bread was commonly made at home and was not purchased from a store or bakery, and therefore Jesus uses this idea, describing a woman working at home to perform this task.

This parable of Jesus is similar to the Parable of the Mustard Seed, and in fact comes right after it.  There are some who look at leaven as always describing evil or sin, however, to use the phrase “The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven” discards this idea.  In this parable it refers to the unperceived power and efficacy of the gospel, pervading, transforming, and renewing the mind, heart, and life of people. In fact, Moses refers to it as used in sacramental bread. “‘With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving, he shall present his offering with cakes of leavened bread.” Leviticus 7:13. That in some contexts it may be used as a symbol for evil forces does not mean that in others it cannot stand for what is good.

Jesus speaks of the woman as putting her piece of leaven into three measures of flour until the whole was leavened. The leaven was but a small amount, but in time it changed the large quantity of flour by causing it to rise; just as the mustard seed, which is smaller than all other seeds, “when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.” Matthew 13:32b.  This parable, as does the parable of the mustard seed, brings out the contrast and the continuity between the small beginnings of the kingdom and its great consummation. The little group of disciples might be despised as preaching a kingdom too insignificant to be noticed, but as surely as a tiny piece of leaven had its effect on a large mass of dough, so surely would the kingdom have its effect throughout the world. The parable also makes the point that the power that effects the change comes from outside the dough; the mass of dough does not change itself.

What we can take from this parable is that the effect of God’s Kingdom will be complete, just as the leaven works until the dough has completely risen. The nature of leaven is to grow and to change whatever it contacts. When we accept Christ, We grow in the grace of God and our heart is changed from the inside out. As the gospel transforms lives, it exerts a pervasive influence in the world at large. As we reflect the Lord’s glory, we are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Luke 12:1

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Luke 12:1 

“Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” – Luke 12:1 

An important idea is found in our focus verse, in the last part, that being “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”  Luke 12:1b.  Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees were known to demand more from those who heard their teachings then from themselves who were the teachers.  There is an old saying that says, “Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say”. Another way this put it is, “We are to say what we do and do what we say.”  This is in essence what Jesus was saying.  Beware of those who say one thing yet do another. 

After this He gives them this warning.  “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.” Luke 12:2.  Do not do anything different from what you say, for when you do there is a good possibility it shall be found out and it shall be told to many.  And even if it is not discovered here in this life, it will be revealed in the next.  Many times the Jewish leaders would say it is wrong to do this or that, but then when they are by themselves they would practice the same things they declared as wrong.  No sin, be it ever so secret or privately done, is more covered than hypocrisy, but likely to be found out sooner or later; if not in this world, then in the world to come.  Jesus then continues.  “Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.” Luke 12:3.  Hypocrisy has a way of making itself known. 

A Pastor I know fell into this and it did not end well for him.  He was having an affair and somehow, and I do not know how, the word got out regarding what was happening.  He lost his pastorship, almost lost his wife, and many lost faith in him.  We must remember that the enemy wants to destroy our message, and what better way to do this then to make public the hypocrisy of Christians.  

We must also remember that as we judge we will be judged.  “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2.  How can we honestly judge others for what we ourselves are doing?  “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5.  If we tell someone that what they are doing is wrong and then go out and do it ourselves, possibly in a greater way than they do, how are we doing anything different than the Pharisees and Sadducees?  And if the other person finds out we are doing the same thing we denounced in them, we will be seen as a hypocrite and will probably lose the ability to speak into their lives.  And always remember that these things have a tendency to get talked about with others, which could destroy our impact and darken our light that should be shining bright in the world (Matthew 5:14-16).

It is important that, as Christians, we be real and genuine with people.  By doing so, people will be more inclined to listen and believe our testimony regarding the love of God and His desire to save them and develop a loving relation with them.  Many Jews lost confidence with the Pharisees because of their acts of hypocrisy.  Let us do nothing that will destroy our witness to a world that needs to hear it.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.