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.
Make no bones about it – Satan would like you dead…and He’s out to kill you by any means he can. He’d love to get you entangled in an addiction that would take your life, or get you to compromise and make bad choices that would lead to your demise. You see, Satan doesn’t have an ounce of compassion or regard for you. He’d rather take your joy…ruin your life…and ravage your body than watch you grow strong in the Lord. But in Jesus Christ…you are stronger than any threat Satan can throw your way…you are more powerful than any addiction that holds you bound…and you are tougher than you could ever imagine yourself.
Baptism…just as during the time of John the Baptist, is a public action, for an internal, personal decision for Christ. It symbolizes the spiritual cleansing through the forgiveness of sins to those who repent and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Baptism is part of the Great Commission that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:18, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” As a new Christian, you don’t have to be perfect before you can be baptized…you don’t have to have it “all together” and cleaned up prior either. Baptism is a public “Just as I am” coming to Jesus moment.
Take a deep breath…inhale and exhale slowly. Without breath, you’re dead. Your life force is gone, your body shut down. This verse looks at the very fleeting nature of one’s existence. That life is but one breath away from dying…and that our life span is measured as a blink of the eye in the eternal scheme of things. Let us then determine that while we’re here on earth for such a short duration, our focus should be on what we can do to better the world, rather than just exist in it.
The act of water baptism is full of symbolism and meaning. For those watching, it’s a public declaration of the person’s inner decision. For the person being baptized, it’s a time of newness of soul and spirit. In Romans 6:4 it says, ” We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Therefore, within the action of water baptism, our old self dies, and our new self emerges out of the water.