by Michael Barrett
In the past several weeks I have consistently been drawn back to a phrase that I heard many years ago. The word was, “poison in the bread.” We have all had experiences with a word from the Lord that stays with us. Without actively tending, nurturing or protecting the word, the word continues in our heart – like a special grace has been given that accompanies the word. This word is one of those. I rarely think about it, but it has become a part of me since the day I first heard it.
As I stated, this word comes up in my heart from time to time. However, when it came up several weeks ago, it resonated as a “word in season.” The word continues to reverberate every day and it hasn’t diminished. In fact it has gotten “louder” over the past week. So, I have concluded that the word, “poison in the bread”, is, in fact, a word in season. It is a now word and one that needs to be communicated to the body of Christ. And because of this, I believe I should make a record of what I believe the Spirit is saying about this word.
Fundamentally, we all know that every believer must have good spiritual nutrition. In the New Testament, it doesn’t take long, nor do we have to search far, to see that it is clear that, 1) we all need spiritual nutrition and 2) God has amply provided to each and all spiritual nutrition.
Sincere milk, milk, bread, meat and strong meat are found in scripture and are, in fact, part of the Lord’s provision for the believer. This is spiritual nutrition. These make up and embody the provision of spiritual nutrition.
So, clearly the scripture teaches both the need for and the provision of spiritual nutrition. Every one of us must have good spiritual nutrition if we are to grow spiritually – in a normal continuum.
Furthermore, in large part the way that this spiritual nutrition is delivered is through the agency of other believers. Of course, God is God. And as God, He can use anything (and will) to teach us – to get spiritual nutrition to us. With that said however, generally the Lord chooses other believers as His “delivery system.” This delivery can come in a one to one encounter, in gatherings when believers come together to be taught or encouraged, in written form, audio form or audio visual form. In any of these forms, there is always the influence of human agency in one way or another. The “bread” is delivered through and by some person usually.
Asking for bread
Jesus, in Luke 11:11 asks a question and sets an obvious precedent. “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?” Here is the precedent: it is quite normal, and, in fact, expected that anyone who is a son will commonly ask his father for bread. Let’s examine that more closely. In fact, let’s look at two important components of the precedent that the Lord put forth.
The first area I would like for us to consider is how exactly would a son “ask for bread.” There is, of course, the obvious and overt manner in which a son would come and straightforwardly ask for understanding, council, teaching and the like.
Then there is the second area (which certainly isn’t necessarily covert) but we could actually miss if we aren’t deliberately dialed into the moment. There is no wasted motion in the kingdom of God. God will use everything and every occasion to build His house by encouraging and teaching His people. Impartation is a powerful, yet most often invisible method by which the Holy Spirit dispenses spiritual nutrition – “delivers the bread.”
Some have thought that fellowship is a means to an end. In other words, we do this with a view to or in order to get somewhere. A means to an end. It has been stated that fellowship is not a means to an end, but an end within itself. When we are together, we aren’t going somewhere – we are somewhere!
So let’s not miss the power of impartation within the context of fellowship. When we are together, bread is being dispensed. I could go so far as to tie this reality into the twin truths of Jesus being the bread of life (John 6:35; 48) and you being the embodiment of Jesus on the earth – thus you being the bread of life now (1 John 4:17). I said, I “could” go so far as laying this out, but I won’t because I don’t want to make anyone nervousJ
To be clear, there is no substitute for time together. In the context of time spent together (and not to upset the religious mind, but the time doesn’t have to be fasting and prayer – it can be that, but it can also be fishing or time over a cup of coffee or tea) impartation happens. Questions get asked and answers given. Encouragement happens – even instruction or correction as it is needed is shared. The fact is, my life and yours friend, is the bread that the sons are asking for. In the context of living your life in community with others the “bread” is delivered. You are and you have bread for those that the Lord is sending to you and joining you with.
Poison in the bread
But here’s the warning. Here’s the clear question that the Lord has been pointing up to me and that I feel I am supposed to point up to you. Is there poison in the bread?
Several days ago I was having a meal with a brother and a sister. In the course of the discussion a person’s name came up and within a few comments, I made a statement about the person. As soon as I made the comment I knew that I had crossed the line. I knew that I hadn’t said what I heard the Father saying but said what I wanted to say. Well, that happened as the Lord was speaking to me about poison in the bread. After being with the folks above mentioned and going my own way, the Holy Spirit said to me, “Do you know who I am speaking to about poison in the bread? I am speaking to you. I am not just speaking to you about them (the ones you have thought of). I am speaking to you firstly about you.”
Ok. I’m coming out with my hands up! You are so right. I started praying and confessing. I really want to represent my Father. I want to represent Him well. It really is important to me to accurately and fully represent my Father as His son and His delegate. So this experience has my attention. Poison in the bread. What is it and how did it get there?
Well, for me, I’ve had a rough couple of years. I actually started to elaborate and immediately felt like I was supposed to hit the backspace key and erase the things I started writing about my rough couple of years. Why, because we all can point to circumstances, to events, to disappointments with people and on and on, ad nauseam. It’s not that all of that isn’t an important part of our experience with God – it is. But I am determined to keep my eyes on Jesus. I am further determined that none of those experiences will define me. The Lord chooses my inheritance for me! The Lord actually cares enough for me to put me in the conflict and give me the experience – even painful experience – for my training. “All things work together for our good” just rolls off of our tongue doesn’t it? And the “all things” we often are thinking about are not the “all things” that the Father brings into our lives.J The question isn’t have we been through stuff; it’s what has going through stuff done to us?
So there I was. Caught in the act. Poison in the bread. I am a father – and the sons are coming to me asking for bread. What will I give them? What do I have to give them? Will I offer them poisonous bread? Will I give them month old bread, moldy bread, bread that on the underneath side looks like a science experiment, crusty old dry bread? Or am I spending time in the presence of the Bread of Life? Am I devoting time with the one who is the Living Bread? Do I have and more than that, am I (is my life) bread from heaven to those who are coming to me?
I am sure that this message is not just for me. I am sure that many if not most who read this writing will be moved by the power of the Holy Spirit to repent and find a place of refreshing in the presence of the Lord. Paul admonishes us to “purge out the old leaven” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Get rid of the old leaven; get rid of malice and wickedness (1 Corinthians 5:8).
Anger, guile, insincerity, unyielding opinion, hypocrisy, tyrannical idealism, arrogance, chronic selfishness, rigid religious positions, pride, unchecked passion, a soul ruled by orphan thinking (and the list could easily go on) should have no place in our feasts (our fellowship and the exchange of life from one believer to another). To be an exact representation of our Father is the high calling of God in Christ.
Beloved, look at the manner of love the Father has bestowed upon you. He has called you into His family and by His name. You are a son and an heir of God! You are your Father’s delegate and an ambassador of His eternal kingdom. Let this word be a call to you to rise up! Come before the Lord in sincerity and let Him do the work in you to rid the bread of anything and everything that contaminates it and prevents the bread from being pure spiritual nutrition to the ones coming for bread!
You have so much to offer; so much to give. I can smell fresh bread right now. You are that bread from heaven. This word, I believe, will generate an awareness in you with regard to the quality of the bread that those coming both need and deserve.
May the God of all grace bless you as you continue to pursue Him. The promise of God is that we shall know Him as we follow on to know Him!! And we shall surely know Him because we are following on to know Him! God bless you in that journey!!