His Word in Principle, His Methods in Practice

(Since I’m posting more than once tonight, check out The INYPS post if you missed it.)

Selected Scripture:

“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’””

-Luke 5:37-39

Observation and Application:

In the past, I’ve struggled with this particular parable and very much related to the confusion of various characters in the New Testament who wished Jesus would just come out and say what He means, already. I feel sort of dumb about it, now, but then, I always thought those people were dumb, too. There you have it.

In this scripture, Jesus addresses the various (and sundry) Pharisees and teachers of The Law who are needling Him to death about the way Jesus conducts His ministry and social life. They criticize His willingness to spend time with the more unsavory characters that they themselves wouldn’t be caught with, citing The Law (capital T, capital L) as sufficient reason to shun said characters.

What they don’t realize is that they were talking to The Law and The Word Made Flesh and The Creator (whole lotta capitals in there). Not only was he in no need of their clarification of the scriptures, but He was intimately aware of The Spirit of The Law, and the fact that these so-called religious men had sullied His Father’s commandments by “clarifying” and “elaborating upon” the law that was intended to reveal His heart. The most important thing, these men claimed, was to avoid the contamination of their own characters by proximity to those they considered sinful and unclean. They didn’t know that God’s heart, first and foremost, was to draw the lost to Himself.

So, what does that have to do with wine skins?

I confess that I know little about the wine skins themselves. They were made of leather or animal stomachs, I think, and new wine was poured into a new skin. As the wine aged and fermented, it would expand, thereby stretching the material of the bag in the process. Pouring new wine into an old skin was something akin to pouring the wine straight into the gutter, since the old skin no longer possessed the capacity to stretch and accommodate the volume of the expanding wine.

Jesus is here comparing the Pharisees and their cronies to old skins. They’re incapable of growing to accept the full measure of The Spirit necessary to do The Father’s will, namely, shepherding lost souls to their salvation through the Gospel of Christ. They’re shackled by the rituals they perceive it is God’s will they maintain, and I feel it’s pretty safe to say that few came to know the love of God by their legalistic methods. They were unwilling to see Christ as the fulfillment of The Law, and so, as it moved from a series of guidelines to the physical expression and manifestation of God with us, they ruptured—rejecting the one true God.

Alternatively, as we yield to The Spirit, His power and efficacy in our lives grows, and we grow along with it.

Prayer:

Father, I long to live as the expression of The Spirit within me, to do Your will as He directs, and to live/work/minister according to The Spirit, not my own notions of how things are to be done. I want to live by Your word in principal, and by Your methods (whatever they are) in practice. Don’t let me get so set in my ways that I can’t be used by You.

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Israel’s consolation

So, I did read my assigned reading, but I don’t really have the time to do a traditional journal because it’s ridiculously late. I did learn something new and interesting, though, and I wanted to share it.

In Genesis 4, we learned that Adam and Eve had two sons: Cain and Abel. Cain murdered his brother and was subsequently banished, leaving Adam and Eve without any surviving children. The Lord blessed them with another son, though, and called him Seth. They considered him a gift from God because of the children they’d lost.

Then, when I was reading Luke three today, I learned that Joseph, the acting father of Jesus, was descended from Seth. I think it’s so interesting that Jesus’ heritage is that of God’s kindness and consolation to the fallen Adam and Eve, since Jesus is known as “Israel’s consolation.”

And the name Seth means, “appointed.” Jesus was appointed to be Israel’s consolation, and the one to remove our sin.

I love how God tells the end of the story at the beginning!

Trust in the Unfailing

I discovered a nifty little trick with BibleGateway, today. Wanna see?

That link, there, will take you to today’s LifeJournal reading. Not only so, but it’ll show you the day’s reading in three parallel translations: the English Standard Version, the New International Version, and the New American Standard. You can choose whatever translations you like to compare side by side, and it’s really pretty interesting. I tried out the Contemporary English Version, too. Interesting, but a little weird.

Anywhoo. Allons-y!

Trust in the Unfailing.

Selected Scripture:

“For no word from God will ever fail.”

-Luke 1:37

Observation:

Zechariah and Mary have similar, yet fundamentally different responses to the angel’s birth announcement. Upon hearing that his wife, Elizabeth, is to bear a son in her old age, Zechariah disbelievingly responds, “Why should I believe you?” He is so focused on his apparent reality that he is unable to see that God is bigger than circumstances or “common sense.” Mary, however, responds simply by saying, “How will God do what He promises?” From the angel’s positive response, we can infer that it wasn’t disbelief prompting Mary’s curiosity, but rather faithful acceptance and wonder. Gabriel explains some of God’s plan and reiterates what Mary already knows:

“…no word from God will ever fail.”

Application:

For the believer, for me, this verse is so loaded with implication. It implies that God is sovereign, that His plans are final, and that He is eternal in victory. It means, quite frankly, that God’s will is absolute and that my life is what He intends it to be in all my joy, my suffering, my wealth, and poverty. I don’t know this is what I’m meant to take from this lesson, but I do know that the angel is telling Mary—and all of us—that God is powerful enough to keep His promises whatever our circumstances. Can I be satisfied with that when I’m at my lowest? Can I believe in this aspect of God’s nature even when the Enemy uses my outward circumstances to suggest the Father has abandoned me?

Prayer:

You asked me once if I would love You…even if You never healed by body, never healed my family, never allowed me to finish school or do what I love for a living. With all my heart, God, I want my answer to be, “Yes,” always. Help me to trust in Your unfailing nature, to remember that You’ve promised to redeem my suffering, and that You are always good, whatever I experience.