I bet that if you ask someone who you admire for their strong Christian walk, you’ll find out that a quiet time with the Lord is a vital part of their day. I discovered it as a young Christian over 36 years ago and it still remains a necessary part of my routine. When the Lord said, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” He was speaking to all of us. In this noisy, chaotic world we live in today we need those moments of peace and quiet to be renewed, refreshed and revived as we read God’s Word, pray, and listen to the Holy Spirit for guidance. If you’re not already doing this, I’d urge you to start the practice of daily coming away with the Lord…it will change your life for the better.
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?
Whatever you’re going through today, and however hard it is to comprehend…there’s purpose for your pain…an aim to the affliction…and a role for the ruin. For sometimes God doesn’t change the situation we’re in…He’s more interested in changing us. Once I faced a circumstance so painful that I begged God daily to change it. And change did happen…but not in the way I thought it should. For over time, God made me over and how I viewed this problem. Instead of making the problem disappear, He transformed my character and mind-set…giving me the grace to accept it.
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.
I listened to a song the other day…its title a declaration that a lot of us might not say with any conviction…”I am ready for the Storm.” Now I realize that it’s not if but when trials will come into my life…but to proclaim that I’m ready for them gives me pause. So how can I prepare? The Psalmist here shows us that it’s the daily renewing of our heart and mind that will enable us to do this. Our faith is renewed and given new life daily…ever-deepening, ever-increasing, as we put more and more of our trust in the Lord. This divine restoration is spoken of in Isaiah 40:31, ” But those who put their hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” So I may not like it, but I can now say with certainty… Yes Lord, with Your help, I’m ready for the storm.
Everyday your character is being shaped… by the world or by God. We allow generational chains of bondage to influence how we think…molding us into people we don’t want to become. We allow the world’s dominance to sway how we behave around others…even when it’s contrary to how we really feel inside. Spiritual renewal of your mind is a determined process you must undertake yourself. It’s an evaluation of God’s Will – His good and well-pleasing Will for your life – as you allow your character to undergo a metamorphosis, a regeneration of how you think. Don’t be squeezed into the world’s mold for you. Decide today what’s going to be shaping your mind…the world or God.