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.”
As the winds of change blow through our family once again, it is with the onset of spring. The time change is just around the corner and not my shining moment. In fact, I hate it but love the impact that it has on our day. Who can argue with endless sunlight? The last few days have been a dark place for me as I try to wrap my head around what I clearly know is God’s doing but feels like my undoing yet again. The battle between our flesh and Spirit becomes quite clear in times of change as the flesh wants what is now but the Spirit reaches for forever. Ever since I heard the news, I have prayed for the peace of God to quite my panicked soul and quaking heart. As I brace for impact, worry, anxiety and fear have pursued me. In the early hours of darkness in the stillness just before morning, I woke up from a peaceful night sleep. Prayers are working. In that moment at full attention, I heard the Lord speaking to my heart. “Will this form new skin or an ugly scar?”
Skin is a sign of life. Skin is comprised of living cells in a constant state of renewal through reproduction. However, a scar is a sign of an old wound. It is intent on holding our skin together rather than growing and yielding new life. God is not only speaking to me today but every person who has ever gone through something, given up someone or endured a hardship in life. We decide by faith the outcome of each test and trial. The Lord promises new life but our flesh cries foul creating old scars. Reminders of what we have been through and a sign that we are still holding on. No one puts new wine in old wineskins. New wine is still fermenting and changing so to put it in an old dead wineskin would cause it to burst. But if new wine is put in a new skin it has room to change and grow without wrecking the wineskin. Both will be preserved. Change is once again coming to our family. It is a radical change that I am not at liberty to share just quite yet. The Lord is asking me today will this be a time of new growth or will it leave a nasty scar reminding me of the day I gave up.
Romans 4:16-18 (NLT)
So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!”
Faith offers elasticity to our soul. It allows us to grow and receive the Promise of God for our life. There are many promises as His Goodness abounds in an abundant life. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I was determined to see the Glory of God manifested in his life and share the Gospel with others. This would be the purpose and meaning found in such an awful time. I could do nothing to save our son or change his situation but I could stand on faith and proclaim hope. I vowed that cancer would not change me but that I would be changed by faith in God alone. God is faithful. He is true. He told me that because I trusted Him our son would live and not die. My son is very much alive. I will never be able to thank God enough for what faith discovered in the fight for his life. The Promise is always received by faith in God. Every blessing that God ordained for us and Jesus died for us to have is possible by faith alone. Faith is the source of new life that causes us to grow in and through adversity rather than become hard like a scar. Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to live and creates new things out of nothing. Are you that person today? No really. Do you believe that the Lord is faithful enough to do what He says even when the change causes a wounded soul and broken heart? Abraham had the ability to continue to hope when there was no reason to do so. Are you that guy or girl today? New life comes by faith in “the” God who brings back the dead. It believes in “the” God who can create something out of nothing and always gives us beauty for the ashes of unfilled expectation sacrificed for God’s Very Best. When we decide to accept His Plan and Purpose for our life it is in pursuit of His Promises. This will always require faith.
2 Kings 5:11-14 (NLT)
But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage. But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!
I have acted like Naaman many, many times. Most believers have found the same situation as this mighty warrior. Naaman had leprosy…a skin condition. How ironic? You can read his story in 2 Kings 5. When Naaman finally made it to the prophet’s door with heartfelt expectation, Elisha would not see him but instead a messenger gave him instructions on what he must do to be healed. Naaman’s pride almost cost him everything and he would have been scarred for life physically and spiritually. His companions encouraged him to go do what the prophet said and do it his way. Finally, Naaman did what he was instructed to do and was healed. His skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child. Rather than scars, the man got new skin and a brand new life. God’s Ways are not our ways. His Thoughts are so much higher than our own. Sometimes we must trust Him on His Word alone without explanation and even when it does not meet our expectations but by simple obedience the Lord will not just heal our body or hurts but give us new life as well. God doesn’t always do things our way. He doesn’t always fulfill human expectation. He is not on our time clock. God is faithful. God is good. God is always on time. He does not want to just heal the hurt or bind a wound but is always looking to give us life abundantly.
John 15:5-8 (NLT)
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”
As we walk in the newness of life as a believer, there will be a consistent cutting away of the flesh to gain closer proximity to Christ. We become engrafted to the Lord as we use these opportunities to seek His Face and step into His Presence so that He can heal us body, mind and spirit. His Word cuts like a two-edged sword to aid in this process of reproduction. I have an old scar from having skin cancer in my twenties (which was a very long time ago). It has long since healed and the scar has stretched and is quite enlarged. My doctor has offered to remove the scar for me. The process would entail literally cutting the scar off completely and allowing new skin to grow in its place as the skin is renewed. Those who remain in Christ undergo the scar removal process on an ongoing basis as the Lord removes those things that once hindered us to allow us to grow and flourish under His Careful Attention and Constant Care. Sometimes though as in the case of the scar on my arm, I choose not to remove it as a reminder of the dangers of the sun so that I will not be careless again. It reminds me to put on sunscreen. Sometimes small scars remain as reminders of where we have been to directly impact where we are going! His Grace is always sufficient for me. To bear fruit I must remain in His Love and sometimes…most of the time…there must be some pruning and cutting to bring forth new life.
Galatians 6:14-18 (NLT)
As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God. From now on, don’t let anyone trouble me with these things. For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus. Dear brothers and sisters, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
I am reminded this morning of the constant and ongoing change our family has endured over the last five years. It has seemed brutal especially when cancer came calling. However, the overriding and resounding theme has been God’s Faithfulness through it all. Everything has changed. Everything has changed for the better inside of me. Faith has become an essential part of my life. I want the Promises of God. My interest in this world and its ways wane in comparison to what God is doing in us and through us. I will not lie and tell you this has not been a painful process. The next change is already proving a difficult challenge. But God is bigger than the pain of this process. His Goodness is definitely worth trusting Him. We will see His Glory in our life as He moves through us cutting away those things that keep us from Him and pulling us closer each day. I must be a new creation. I must have new life. I choose whether the change we are going through will give me new life or leave an ugly scar. I want new life. God has promised that His Unfailing Love is pursing me. I must just wait for Him to capture me with His Great Love. Paul bore physical scars for his new found faith in Jesus Christ but day by day his heart renewed. I want that to be me today. Lord, I want new life. Remove the scars of the past and disappointment that things are not going the way I would like. Fill me with new faith and hope so I will continue to pursue new life.
Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.