Old wine-skins were hard, rigid, stiff, and unyielding. Does that sound like you or someone you know? On the other hand, new wine-skins are flexible and malleable…able to receive the newly pressed wine. They change as the fermentation process happens…they expand as the wine ferments…finally stopping when the wine is perfect inside. As Believers we must never stop growing until the God-given purpose inside us is perfected. At the wedding feast in Cana what did the Master of the Banquet tell the Bridegroom after tasting the water Jesus had turned into wine? “You have saved the best for last!” I originally wrote this back in 2008…but it still remains pertinent today. Just as you don’t pour new wine into old wine-skins, you don’t sew a new patch on an old garment, (Mark 2:21)…or both will be destroyed. The journey of a Christian is a pathway of newness…new covenant, new hearts, new minds, new selves…of the process of constantly putting off the old and putting on the new. For when we stop growing in the Lord, we become stagnant and unusable. The Lord is looking for new vessels to contain His new works. The question is, are you willing to be that new wine-skin?
This new life that Paul speaks of – is taking off the old and putting on our new self. But for many of us, this is a painful, almost impossible struggle. For when doubt and fear have our minds so conditioned, anything that’s new or requires us to be bold, will be met with resistance. We want to change, but fear has us so bound up – we can’t. And so we wrestle with God. But wrestling with God is a good thing. For God isn’t our opponent, it’s rather our old self and fear we’re battling against . And as long as we continue to grapple with God, we’re still engaged and interacting with Him…and hopefully listening along the way. In Genesis 32:28, after Jacob and the Lord had wrestled all night, God gave Jacob a new name. And God has a new name for you too, but it involves the renewing of your mind. It means taking on a new self-perception of who you are in Christ…and then accepting that daily restoration of your inner strength…so that you may be victorious over doubt and fear.
Paul was more than just encouraging his fellow Believers here…he was beseeching and imploring them to take that decisive and dedicated step called sanctification. Why? When we first become a Christian we tend to hold on to parts of us that are comfortable, easy, or allow us to cope. But as we journey along with the Lord, He starts to demand we separate ourselves from those things. This process can be painful, but necessary for us to fully become God’s. Holiness or sanctification is being totally His…with nothing withheld…and Paul recognized that this was not only God’s Will but the very least thing we could do in view of the Lord’s sacrifice for us. (I Corinthians 6:20)
What does it mean to you to be born again? Maybe it’s been a long time since you even thought about it, especially if you’ve been a Believer for years. When you said “Yes” to Jesus, you underwent spiritual rebirth. What was once corruptible became incorruptible, and passed from death unto life. When we are born again, all is made new…for by God’s great mercy and the sacrificial blood of Christ, we are saved from our sins. To be born again means we are truly a new person standing before God…righteous and blameless in His sight.
King Hezekiah became ill to the point of death when Isaiah went and said to him, “Put your house in order, you’re going to die.” But it then says that Hezekiah prayed and wept before the Lord and the Lord relented. The human mind would look at this as God yielding, changing His mind, or just being fickle. But to God, relenting is grounded in compassion not whimsy. Psalm 106:45 says, “…and out of His great love He relented.” Though it may appear to us that God was changing His plan… according to His divine perspective…nothing changed.
As we look at this verse, we’re reminded in Isaiah 40:14, “Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge or showed Him the path of understanding?” The short answer is no one! Only God Himself is the source of all truth. He is the origin of all reality as we know it…from Him alone is the beginning of all trustworthiness we can place our faith in. No one has ever instructed the Lord in how to run the universe, or make good decisions. He’s never asked for advice or counsel in a difficult situation. For from the beginning of time God has been the God of truth, exercising justice and rule over all.
If you get nothing else from this devotional today…please grasp this concept – nothing is too hard for the Lord. Job’s personal relationship with God helped him understand that nothing could hinder or stop God’s plan and purpose. Ephesians 1:11 says, “According to the plan of Him Who works everything in conformity with the purpose of His Will.” There is nothing that can prevent God’s Will from being fulfilled, for all power and might are in His hands. So if you’re facing impossible challenges today…take heart, nothing is too hard for the Lord.
I can still remember one of my Nursing Supervisors in college. She would stand outside the patient’s room with you asking a million questions about the procedure you were about to carry out. Did you have everything you needed and were you well versed in what you were about to do. But right before you both walked into the room she’d say, “I will only stop you if you are potentially going to hurt the patient.” It was always said in a quiet, soft voice, but boy did it pack a wallop! Luckily, she never said a word during any of my procedures, and I gained a wealth of knowledge from that uncompromising woman. The Lord is the same way, His discipline is to educate us, not hurt us. It’s only when we reject and turn away from His correction that we suffer.