“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins;
otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and
it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.
But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
Jesus teaching in Luke 5:37-38
If ever there was a more fitting depiction of discouraged spiritual wineskins than this picture of discarded and weathered wine barrels, I’d be hard pressed to find one.
It’s even worse when this look describes how you feel.
Personally, from the birthing days of Wellspring of Life to present, I have not run out of anything to express.
Instead, like grapes being pressed (expressed in vintner-speak), there is so much backlog – like wine in waiting – that it is hard to contain.
So when the recent battle with discouragement arrived unexpectedly on the scene about mid-December, I was surprised. It was out of character and yet it hit with a strength that threatened to take me down. My soul wanted to quit writing what I’ve been writing; pin a ‘closed’ notice at the top of my Wellspring blog; and cancel everything that was in the Shammah Ministries pipeline for the new year. Concurrently though, my heart ached at the thought.
It was while in this old, once-familiar state of mind and emotion that Holy Spirit began to speak. He has a wonderful memory and began to remind me of the life we’ve been living together for years now. However, the discouragement that had been hanging over me like a low fog didn’t lift. I soon understood why (which is a by-product of having stuck with Him in this lifelong journey …)
I had a choice to make.
If we as disciples and the becoming Bride of Christ ever think we reach a place of never needing to make a spiritual choice again, we sadly deceive ourselves. If we ever stop choosing to ‘run after Him’ (Songs 1:4), we’ll stall out and like weathered wineskins, find ourselves uncorked, emptied out and laid aside. To that my heart can only cry out, “God forbid!”
Faithful He brought back to mind the verse at the beginning of this post: “No one puts new wine into old wineskins…”
That’s when I understood that which is yet to come forth will be a new vintage. There must be new (Greek: fresh, regenerated) wineskins, including my own, to receive the new wine and effervesce with it.
It was for this I began to ask and in that instant, His effervescence took over once again. All that wine in waiting remains, to be released and to whom in His timing. But it won’t be received into old wineskins.
“And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new;
for he says, ‘The old (not recent, worn out) is good (easy) enough.‘
Never forget there is an Enemy who would love nothing more than to convince us that the old is ‘good enough’. Especially when our Bridegroom King is vying for our affection and a single ‘dove’s eye’ focused upon Him.
Everything, everything, becomes new wine when we eat and drink of Him. The more we do, the fuller our wineskin becomes. Paradoxically, over time and through living, our wineskin also becomes weathered. The stresses and strains of each season, designed for our continued growth and maturing, take their toll.
Then, in His commitment to our cultivation and His strong love that burns like flashes of fire (Songs 8:6), He will allow what is necessary in our next step of overcoming. He’ll even use discouragement, and that to His advantage and our benefit.
Overcoming leaves no room, however, for the becoming Bride to continue marinating in the self-appealing flesh as before.
If we are to be a part of the overcoming Bride (and that is what He has made possible for us through His death and victory over sin, as we invite Him – the life1 – to be replicated in ours), it will be through overcoming the enemies within and without that threaten to shut us down and lull us to sleep; create a false sense of contentment; cause us to remain lukewarm fence-sitters – neither hot nor cold; or leave (lay aside, let alone, send away like our Shulamite did) our first (chiefest) love – Him. (see the seven churches of The Revelation, chapters 2 and 3). To be friends with the world is to be enemies of God.2
His shared throne is granted to those who overcome, just as He overcame and sat down with His Father on His Father’s throne. (Revelation 3:21) The kingdom of heaven is forcibly entered by those who seize the Gospel for themselves (Matthew 11:12, Greek notations). Not so the Throne.
So what is a weathered, tired, discouraged, ready to quit wineskin to do? Ask of Him a new wineskin.
We don’t drum up a new one. It remains a part of the journey of a responsive and yielded heart. It doesn’t fall in the category of pursuing a new ministry, a new car, a new house, or a boatload of other blessings. It is first of the Spirit; after which (Acts 1:8) it finds its expression through this life we live in the flesh. (Galatians 2:20)
He alone provides the new wineskin to our spiritual heart, then begins to fill it with His new wine.
We do our part. He does His. It is to the becoming Bride’s benefit that she learn and embrace which is which. The beautiful promise that follows is worth the threshing, the learning, and the embracing –
The threshing floors will be full of grain,
and the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil.
About the time the Enemy thinks he has gotten the upper hand, even the least wise like me is reminded that new wine must be put into a new wineskin. Otherwise the old wineskin will burst, the wine will run out, and the wineskin itself will be ruined. Not unlike the pictured wine barrels, weathered and unusable.
Not so, my heart. And I pray not yours.
~ Gracefully Free
Scripture Refs: Psalm 39:3; Jeremiah 20:9; Ezekiel 3; Luke 24:32; Acts 4:20; 1John 1:4; 2James 4:4
Free image courtesy of morgueFile