If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New wine

 For thousands of years men have been picking grapes and allowing them to ferment into wine. The first step in the process is picking the clusters and hauling them to a spot where they are crushed. The resulting “must” is then allowed to go through a violent fermentation process that can last from 14 to 21 days. At the end of this primary fermentation most of the sugar has been used up to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Now as fermentation process begins to slow down, the skins, seeds and yeast all settle out onto the bottom as “lees”. It’s at this point that the sediment-free, clear “new wine” is racked off the lees and stored in secondary fermentation vessels. The wine at this stage is the wine that Jesus was referring to in the gospel of Luke 5:36-39.

So in this analogy, Jesus, uses the “old wine skins” to represent Judaism and the law. The “new wine skins” represent the new covenant that Jesus graciously came to the earth to make. After thousands of years of trying to keep the law and endless animal sacrifices now Jesus comes and sets all sinners free! It must have been difficult for Jews, living under the shadow of the law, to listen to Jesus discuss God’s grace and mercy.
Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it perfectly. In fact, He paid the sin debt that the law demands, for every man, woman and child ever born and who will ever be born. The joy that this truth produces cannot be contained in our old wine skins. You see, in the times that Jesus lived, it was the practice to use animal skins for holding and storing wine and other liquids.

As wine is moved into the secondary fermentation vessel, the new container needs to be flexible and able to expand to compensate for the carbon dioxide that will be given off. Putting new wine into old wine skins was a bad idea and would end up in disaster with all the new wine spilled out onto the ground.

 Jesus actually begins developing this idea in Luke 5:12 where Jesus reaches out to touch a leper in order to heal him, which was forbidden by the law. Then in Luke 5:17 Jesus forgives a man his sin, in order to heal him, which was blasphemy and also against the law. The religious teachers of the law are now watching very closely as Jesus dines with sinners, which was something the religious upright would never consider doing.
It’s actually at this point in time that some of these religious leaders begin plotting on how to get rid of Jesus. He is bringing new wine but their old skins are just not able to contain the power of the Holy Spirit. The new wine of God’s grace and mercy is too wonderful; it’s too joyful to be shackled by law and what Judaism had made of it. 

In Luke 6:1-5 the religious leaders watch as Jesus and His disciples pick and eat grains of wheat on the Sabbath. They accuse them of breaking the Sabbath law by harvesting and winnowing wheat in the palms of their hands. However, they actually got this one wrong, as it was permitted and allowed for in the law listed in Deuteronomy 23:24-25.  Jesus doesn’t argue with them but reinforces His point “The Son of Man is also the Lord of the Sabbath.”

What’s so amazing to me is that these are the same men who prided themselves on knowing the law and  didn’t recognize the One standing in front of them was the very One who wrote it in the first place. They held the law higher than the sufferings of people. 

Jesus was proving to the world, by touching a leper, forgiving a man’s sin and eating with undesirables that the grace and mercy that He was giving to the world was a far better way to live then by the letter of the law.
The King of Glory left us with a gift, the Holy Spirit, who now lives inside of us, although, He can’t be contained in our old vessels. http://newwineoldwineskins.blogspot.com

Our strong foundation

Do you know what the single most important part of a house is? Some might say the roof is the most important part as it seals the structure from rain water that can intrude into the supporting framework causing dry-rot. Others will point out the value of using copper water pipes instead of iron or plastic pipe which can rust or deteriorate in the sun. Some believe using better house wrap along with thicker insulation in the attic, under the floor and in the walls helps to keep the inside temperature steady. To many women the most important part of a house is found in the cosmetic appearance of cabinets, countertops and lighting. However, to the men and women who design and build houses the single most important element of a building is its foundation. 

Any structural engineer or building designer will tell you that the integrity of a building rests solely on its foundation.  The foundation is what the building is anchored and bolted to. Making the decision to build on the wrong foundation is a recipe for disaster. Every year we watch as heavy winds, rain and flood waters rip incorrectly attached houses off their foundations depositing the debris along the storm path.

Today engineers calculate and design the right foundation before building commences. During the first step contractors excavate trenches, install steel rebar and pour concrete into them. The concrete covers and encases the strong steel skeleton forming a solid footing that is keyed into the earth. If the wrong concrete or steel is used in the wrong proportions then when the storms come the building will not be able to withstand nature’s forces and disaster results.

Jesus Christ is our foundation and everything we build here, that edifies God’s eternal kingdom, will remain standing on the solid rock footing which is Jesus Christ.

As Christians or followers of Jesus Christ we are to be imitators of Him. We are to obey our Master and live our lives in a way that pleases Him. In the passage above our salvation is assured as we abide in or stay fastened to our foundation which is Jesus Christ! If we remain attached, bolted and connected to the Lord through prayer, reading the bible and fellowship with other believers then we will be ready when the storms of life come raining down upon us.

We can’t lay another foundation which is built on our works, our goodness or our intellect, no we must stay fastened to the only foundation that God has provided in his only Son. God offers salvation to the whole world that they might choose to become part of His building.

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” 

Just as our homes’ foundation is constructed by encasing steel rebar and anchor bolts inside of concrete, our own bodies become filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives within every believer and He is a seal upon them; a guarantee of an inheritance to eternal glory with God. 

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-5.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

God's net

Many men and women are obsessed with fishing. It’s not just a shallow pastime for them but a much more spiritual endeavor that demands knowledge, the right tackle, and practice. Serious fishermen will always be looking to buy a better boat, browse the sporting goods isle in search of that one perfect lure and camp near mosquito infested lakes, streams and ponds just for the thrill of catching fish.

 I know what that feels like because I am also a fisherman of sorts. Fishermen have a desire so strong to catch fish that they will easily jump out of bed at 3:00 A.M. to be at their favorite fishing hole before sunrise. Now, while I have caught the occasional wayward fish by using the wrong bait in the wrong place haphazardly throwing out a hook, I admit there is much, much, more to being a bona fide fisherman than leaving it to chance.

The first men Jesus called to become disciples were ordinary fisherman. After being rejected, in his home town of Nazareth, Jesus walked down to the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, to a fishing town named Capernaum. Arriving there in the morning he singled out two fishing boats and four men who had been out all night together fishing. These men were making their living at it but unfortunately had been unable to locate any fish that night. These fishermen were cold, tired and not ready to listen to anyone speak even if it was the Lord.

As the sun was coming out, Jesus walked out into the shallow water and got into Peter’s boat. Once he was there he sat down and began teaching the multitudes who had gathered on the shore to listen to him speak. When Jesus had stopped teaching he turned to Peter and said “Launch out into the deep and let your nets down for a catch.” Luke 5:4.

Now Peter was tired from an exhaustive night of throwing out the nets and hauling them back in empty and was not ready to take orders from anyone. Eventually, Peter complied with the Lord and let down his nets as the Lord had instructed. The resulting catch was so heavy that it broke the net as it was being hauled in. 

Jesus told another similar fishing story, this one after his resurrection, where he instructs his disciples, after another long night of not catching fish, to let down the net one more time but on the right side of the boat. Once again the net was so full of fish that they could not get it into the boat and had to have the other disciples help them drag it into shore. “Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.” John 21:11. In this second story the net did not break!

Later on, during his ministry years, Jesus told a story about the kingdom of heaven being like a dragnet. In his story, God’s net caught fish of every kind and when it was pulled back to shore the good fish were gathered into vessels but the bad were thrown away. He goes on to explain that at the end of time the angels will come forth and separate the wicked from the just. There will be a great judgment as the just go into eternal life and the wicked are destroyed.

In the story of the dragnet, both the good and the bad fish were caught in the net. The net represents God’s judgment and all men are appointed to stand before their Creator. Some will be forgiven their sins and allowed to enter eternal life and the rest will choose to deny Jesus Christ and will be destroyed. 

Before Christ died, the net broke; the broken net represents the law and our inability to keep it. However, after Christ died, the net after his resurrection did not break because the “Way” of salvation was made complete, perfect in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

God’s net of salvation is sure and it will never break. However, every person has to make a decision before death arrives to accept Jesus as the Lord and receive God’s free gift of salvation. However, if a man rejects Christ, before death, then there is no net to catch him. 

Today, Jesus is calling all Christians to be “fishers of men”. It’s not a friendly suggestion or calling on a select few but a blanket statement for all Christians.  So do we have the knowledge, do we have the right tools and do we spend time in practice?  Jesus promised to make us “fishers of men” if we would only be obedient and follow him!