"Spiritual Cake Walk" (October 2011)
Recently I was invited to be one of the guest speakers at a Women’s Conference here in town. The theme was one that was unusual. It was called “Spiritual Cake Walk”. I was one of twelve other women ministers who brought the message that night. The hostess of the conference gave us each a scripture reference, told us what ingredient we were that is needed to bake a cake and the spiritual element that was involved in making a “spiritual cake”. It was very unique, and such a wonderful night. By the time the evening was over we had “baked” a “spiritual cake”-- it was delicious!
Every ingredient that was listed that night was necessary to baking a cake. You can’t leave one out if the cake is going to turn out properly and taste good. Recently, I baked a batch of oatmeal cookies- I had been craving them for a couple of days. I got out my recipe, my utensils and my ingredients and proceeded to make the cookie dough. I then dropped the cookies on the baking sheet and into the oven they went. When I took them out, I wondered why they didn’t look right. They did not rise at all. I tasted one and could tell something was definitely missing. No, the oatmeal was in there, but the flour wasn’t! When you bake anything, you have to make sure you use all the ingredients because it you don’t, it will certainly affect the way they turn out. The same is true when you are baking a “spiritual cake”. All the ingredients have to be in there.
In the baking of our spiritual cake that evening, the first ingredient was the bowl, which represented the church. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) (I wish I had the time and space to elaborate on what each lady said, but sadly, I don’t. It was so good.) The next ingredient that was listed was the spoon, which represented the ministers. “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.” (Acts 26:16) The third ingredient that was discussed was the sifter, which was symbolic of the message. “Then spake Haggai the Lord's messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord.” (Haggai 1:13) Another ingredient was two cups of sugar representing charity. “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) Next was three tablespoons of baking powder which was the ingredient faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) There was also two tablespoons of flavor that were added. That flavoring was hope. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15) The next ingredient that was talked about was three cups of flour. Flour symbolized truth. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) There was one cup of milk which was kindness. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3) Also a pinch of salt was added which represented strength. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1) Of course you need a pan to bake it in. The pan represents grace. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) Having all the ingredients and the proper utensils would still do you no good if you don’t have an oven to bake the cake in. The oven represented the Holy Spirit- the One who takes all these things that are being added to our lives and through a “fiery” process turns them into something that they weren’t before. “I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” (Mark 1:8) My husband’s favorite cake is a pound cake. I like them too, but to me it just seems like something is missing and the cake is not finished. So, if I have a choice I would much rather eat cake with rich gooey icing- it just makes it so much better. Our spiritual cake that we baked that night had icing too. It is eternal life. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:11-13)
It has been said that our goal as Christians is heaven. Actually, heaven is not our goal. Heaven is our home. It is where we will spend eternity with the Father in His house. “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2,3) Each country has some sort of role book where it lists all its citizens. When we received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, He wrote our names in the Book of Life- heaven’s role book listing all its citizens. That is why He said, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15) As a Christian I have a dual citizenship- here on earth and in heaven. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13,14,16) When I finish my work here on earth, I will go home to heaven. I am not striving to get to heaven. According to Ephesians 2:6 we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus already. “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
So, if heaven is not our goal, then what is? The goal is to be transformed into the image of Christ while we are here on earth so that others can taste and see through our lives that He is good and desire to have Him in their lives. This goal of transformation is a process and the end result is that we are a true representation of Jesus in the earth, that we reflect who He is and that His image is stamped in us to such a degree that others will say of us, “When I see you, I have seen the Father”- such as Jesus declared when He was asked to show the disciples the Father. The goal is accomplished when they look at us and “see” Him- see His love reflected through us; see His kindness in our attitude; see His power manifested through us; hear His grace in our speech. “Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” (John 14:8-10)
How is this goal accomplished? In much the same way as you would bake a cake. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, this “spiritual cake” is really the end result of the transformed Christian life and all the ingredients that were used are what the believer needs on his/her journey of transformation. When I bake a cake, I take all the ingredients that I want to use and blend them together in a certain order and with certain measurements. The end result once the cake is baked is that it doesn’t look at all like the bowl of batter that it started out to be. It looks like something that is appealing, palatable and that others would desire to partake of. Our Heavenly Father, the Master Baker, takes all the ingredients that He plans to use in the transformation process and combines them together in the right order and measurement, puts it in the oven and at just the right time takes it out, and when it is finished the end result is that we look like Jesus.
There is one notable difference that I should point out between baking a real cake and our transformation process. When I bake a cake, my ingredients don’t kick and scream, ask a bunch of questions or try to run away-- they just yield to whatever I plan to do with them. (Perhaps we could learn a lesson here?) “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” (Isaiah 45:9)
Did you notice that in our list of ingredients that one was missing? It is the ingredient that I was given to speak on that night. The ingredient was “butter” which symbolized prayer. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:6)
When you bake a cake, butter is not an option if you want a cake that is moist and does not fall all to pieces. “But thou, when thou prayest.” Did you notice that the verse said, “When you pray”, not “if you pray”. For the Christian prayer is a given. It is one of the three “R’s” of Christianity. It is not an option, period. And it is certainly not an option if there is going to be a transformation take place in us that will make us look more like Jesus. Jesus’ whole life centered around communion with His Father- which came through prayer. “And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23) “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12) Prayer is what keeps us moist- pliable, not hard hearted- so that we are yielded to the will of the Father. Anything that is hard or ridged does not easily bend. Prayer is what also holds us together and keeps us from “falling to pieces”. It does this by keeping us connected to the Father. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.“ (Philippians 4:6,7)
I learned some interesting things about the process of making butter that I want to share with you. Some of you have made butter before and could probably fill me in on a lot more. As a matter of fact, some of my precious sisters in the Lord who are well experienced in making butter “walked” me through the process.
1) The process of making butter takes time. If you try to rush the process you will ruin it. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door.” Enter in and shut the door behind you. When you go in somewhere and shut the door behind you, it is a pretty good indication that you plan on being there for a while. It lets you know that this is not going to be an “in and out” thing. We live in what I call a “microwave society”. We want everything now- or sooner. Everything around us speaks of being in a rush. We have fast food, instant potatoes, microwave popcorn, drive through pharmacies, one-hour photo processing, drive through banking, and the list goes on. If we aren’t careful we can easily allow this same mentality to influence our spiritual life- especially in the area of prayer. Jesus addressed this problem with His disciples when He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. “And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:40.41) Jesus wasn’t giving them a set time frame for prayer. He was warning them of the danger of taking prayer lightly and not praying until you have “prayed through”. We can’t rush prayer or hurry it up if it is going to be effective- there are times we have to tarry.
2) Butter has to be separated from the water, whey and other parts for it to be usable. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door.” Going into a closet and shutting the door also represents separating yourself (shutting yourself off) from others, from the outside world and from all distractions, so that you can focus on hearing from the Lord unhindered, as well as making your request known to God. We have to learn how to listen to what the Lord is saying. Removing the distractions will give us the ability to do that. Prayer is about listening to the Lord as much as it is about talking to Him. Prayer is a two way conversation, not a monologue. “Pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father will.”
3) Butter has to be beaten, churned, squeezed and worked in order to get it to stick together, or else you have just small flakes that you can’t truly enjoy. Prayer is often hard work. It takes effort. It takes discipline-- “could ye not watch with me one hour?” But if you stick with it, you will enjoy the abundance of your labor. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7) “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23,24)
4) In the process of making butter, butter comes from the cream that rises to the top of the container. The cream that rises is called “heavy cream”. That doesn’t mean that it weighs more than the milk, on the contrary it is lighter. It means that it is thicker with more substance to it. The “heavier” the cream, the richer the butter.
True prayer is not some “Santa Claus” list of your wants and desires. But shouldn’t we petition the Lord for the things we have need of? Of course. “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” (James 4:2b) But prayer isn’t about God being at your beck and call to give you everything your heart desires. What I call true prayer is when you pray the will of the Father by coming into agreement with what He desires. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) It is about God’s will not mine. Then my prayers have more “substance” to them. Those are the prayers that I know the Father hears and answers.
The cream/butter rises to the top and its thickness is what makes it float and sustains it there. True prayer is what causes us to rise up- rise above the circumstance, above the situation, above the confusion, above the doubt. “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) True prayer also sustains us (it keeps us afloat). “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16b) “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.” (1 John 5:14)
We already said that true prayer has substance to it and will hold us up and sustain us. Anything else may look “thick” but that doesn’t mean it has substance. You can aerate water until it has a nice thick layer of foam on the surface. It may look like it is solid, it may look like it has substance, it may look like it is thick enough to support your weight, but step out on it and you will sink right through it. It has no substance just the appearance of it. Praying in the will of God and praying in faith is what gives our prayers substance, everything else is just “lip service”. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
The cream is actually lighter even though it looks thick and heavy. Sometimes praying the will of God often looks heavy and thick- something you can’t see through. You don't understand it but you persevere anyway. And although it is work in the sense of discipline like we have already said, it is “lighter” than it appears. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) The will of God in prayer is not as “heavy” as it may seem because He gives us His light yoke for our heavy burden. Because He intercedes for us. Because He gives us His grace. Because the Holy Spirit prays for us when we don’t know how to pray. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25) “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)
The Hebrew word for heavy and glory is the same word. The heavy cream that rises to the top symbolizes the glory that will rise to the top when we pray. That glory is answered prayer. “Pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
Let’s go back to our cake. When you put butter into a cake, it is completely incorporated into the batter. The butter is in every spoonful and in every slice once it is baked- it is no longer a separate ingredient. You can’t pick the butter out once the cake is finished, but it is in there. In order for the transformation that we have been talking about within us to take place, prayer has to be incorporated into every area of our lives. Not just in certain areas but in all areas. “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:6) “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6) Prayer has to be blended into the mixture to help hold your life together- especially when it goes into the “oven”. You can’t see the prayer, but you can see the effects and the result of it being there. “Pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
All the ingredients that were listed are important, you can’t leave any out. It is just bread without the sugar. It needs flavoring to define it. It needs salt to strengthen the flavors and preserve it and so on. This is what is meant when the scripture says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) All the “ingredients” that the Lord uses in our lives work together to serve a purpose- transformation into the image of His Son. You have probably never thought about yourself as a “cake” before. But you and I are in the same kind of process that bakes a cake, and when the process is finished we will be something that will bring honor and glory to God when others taste Him through our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3:18)