I’m in the middle of a 21-day journal focused on “Renewal in the Body of Christ”. Each day only has a short thought and scripture, but I always find it challenging. One, in particular, stuck with me this week. I’ve thought about it repeatedly over the past couple of days, pushing myself to really explore it’s message.
Below is what it said. I hope you find it challenging and thought-provoking as well…
Matthew 9:17 (NLT) “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
An old wineskin is hardened and cracks easily when new wine is put into it; as the new wine ferments and expands, it runs out of room due to the old wineskin’s inability to be flexible. The Body of Christ must be willing to be flexible as he pressure of our changing world demands that we expand to include new ways of thinking and reaching those who are lost. In a rapidly changing global environment, our old ways are not going to be as effective as they once were. We must learn how to be Spirit-led and Spirit-formed so that we don’t camp out in any one way of doing ministry. Ask God to release a new wind of the Spirit upon the church to guide His Church in the right direction. Pray that the church has an open ear and willing heart to understand and take action on the Spirit’s direction.
PRAYING THROUGH SCRIPTURE:
1 Corinthians 2:10-16 (MSG) “Jesus, we know your Spirit isn’t content to flit around on the surface, but instead you dive into the depths of God and bring out His plans to us. Only you know what you’re thinking and planning – but you let us in on it, giving us a full report. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We don’t have to learn by reading books or going to school – instead we can learn person-to-person through you and pass it on in a personal, firsthand way. As your church, if we are spiritually alive, we can have access to everything you are doing. We don’t have to wonder ‘what you’re doing’ – you know and we have your spirit within us. Let us be open to each new direction and instruction, moving fluidly with you to be Spirit-led and Spirit-formed.”
At the end of each day’s page, it asks, “Going forward I’m committed to…”. My short answer was to become a new wineskin and to encourage others to do the same. Having grown up in the church and participating in a local congregation, I know I can be short-sighted sometimes. I get stuck in the way I like things. I forsake change for my own comfort. But in doing so, I can easily listen more to myself than the Spirit. After all, you start doing that and you are just asking for trouble! But I must remember that I’m not called to be comfortable. I’m called to be part of a larger story, one that doesn’t grant me center stage. (Whoa, hit to my ego.) But the greatest and best things I’ve done in my life were areas where I took risk and listened to the Spirit. I got in a little trouble. I got rid of the old wineskin.
So now I pray for you, Church, be new wineskins. Stretch. Grow. Look at new ways of doing ministry. Open your hearts and let the Spirit speak. And when He does, be prepared to move.
Oh, and how would you answer?