"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
The Church of New Wineskin
Many of us are asking, “When this pandemic is over, what’s next?”
We all know that the Day of the Lord draws near and we will soon see the Lord’s return, however I also believe that this troubling time that we live in has another purpose.
I believe that God is not only disciplining His church, but showing and preparing all of us for what is to come in the next few years.
Mark 2:21-22 (KJV)
21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.
22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
My grandparents and even parents grew up in a time where kids got holes in their jeans, especially the knees. Their parents would sow patches to cover up those holes because back then it wasn’t cool to go to school with torn jeans. However, most people did not have the means to buy a new pair of jeans every time they ripped or were worn out. However, if the parent sowed in a piece of patch that was not pre-shrunk or flexible and then washed the jeans, many times it would create a new tear worse than the first. I have seen it happen to patches that go on uniforms and the like. You just can’t put a brand new piece of cloth on a broke-in or old piece of cloth and expect things to be alright.
The concept or thought process of an ancient wineskin/bottle is the same here. Jesus is saying you wouldn’t put new wine into an old wine’s bottle. The two would mix together when they weren’t meant to be together. It would not only distort the taste, but totally ruin the whole aging process. They just simply do not go together.
But what does this have to do with the Church today and this current crisis we are in?
God is simply allowing us to be purified, to go through the process of becoming new/purified/prepared!
The proof is in the pudding they say!
Has the church not been going through a recent stirring the last couple of years, especially the last few months? I have noticed myself a huge burden and stirring for reaching out to the lost and broken.
However, this burden has also magnified our impurities.
Why would God allow this new wine, this new generation/harvest He is about to bring in be brought into an impure church with old wineskins and old cloth. He won’t! He is actually renewing and purifying us as I write this today.
Along with some of the businesses that are seeing their business model not stand up and prepared for today’s circumstances watch their future wash away as fast as they were established, many churches who also find themselves clinging to a worldly business model are also seeing their last days.
Before you write me off as harsh, understand, I hurt just as many of you for many of these small companies who simply cannot weather a storm that has mostly been controlled by man-made government. However, in these troubling times, God has also warned us that He “sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
This current crisis not only impacts these companies. Remember that many churches have also now become business based around the cult of “prosperity.” Their whole existence is based upon the false gospel that God only wishes to prosper us financially and allow only positivity in our lives. They leave adherents with the attitude that the closer we get to God the more we are blessed with material things and finances. Perhaps many even teach indirectly that even negativity is something that God rejects and therefore does not allow His true believers to experience if we are truly believers.
We know if we read the Holy Bible that this is false because even Jesus dealt with negativity and rejection. We are talking about a faith based around a man (who was also God) that was rejected and ridiculed to the point where He was crucified. Of course His resurrection gives us life and victory today, but it does not mean we are to only experience positivity and financial prosperity in this life. God has given His greatest commandment as well as the Great Commission as standing orders in our life. Our mission should be His will whether or not you personally believe or agree with it.
These same organizations based on false teachings are also often built on business models that require vast amounts of revenue to keep their bills paid. Not having this revenue stream due to lack of attendance from these current circumstances may soon find themselves closing their doors. Many smaller organizations will also experience this and it is unfortunate, but there is an opportunity for them to join others in ministry. There will come a need for many local and small churches however and I will explain that in a bit.
A Period of Preparation, Rest, & Reflection
Prior to this crisis, many ministries and churches were experiencing a move of God unlike anything we have seen in many years. Many organizations had begun preparing outreach and ministry teams to go out and serve. Some may have been already been in this process many years before. Others had maybe thought or prayed about it, but did not have the support or push from the Lord that they though they may need in order to make such bold moves for ministry.
This current crisis has allowed us to stop, reset, and reset. A co-worker friend of mine said recently, “God has caused us to slow down and focus on the basics of this life.” Just as He renews the church, He renews us. Many of us were headed in different directions from His purpose and will for us in this life at the speed of light. Just as quickly, He turned it all upside down, casted it aside, and asked us “what now?”
Use this time to rest your bodies, minds, and souls. Make time to dive into the Word of the Lord, study, pray, and spend quality time with your family. Many of us were so busy; we hardly did any of these things before we were forced to spend our time indoors with nothing more to do. These items on our “to do” list should not simply be a dependent factor on which it depends on our left over time or energy. Rather, they should be the focus of our lives if our priorities are where we say they are (1.God, 2.Family, and 3.Church)!
Also, use this time to prepare or regroup as an organization. If your church was already in the process of outreach, media, or some other type of effective ministry, use this time to organize and prepare yourselves for what awaits us on the other side of sickness in our land. I will talk a little more about that in a second, but first I must touch on what this will require.
New Wineskins With New Methods
If you grew up watching some of the stuff like I did, cartoons were not an option 24 hours a day as they are now. Many of us watched some nature or outdoors shows every now and then.
What is interesting when it comes to watching someone fish is that the lures or methods of catching fish seem almost unlimited. Matter of fact, they are only limited by your imagination and resources.
Recently on Facebook, I saw that a couple of my old high school buddies had won a bass fishing tournament. I am sure if you asked (and they were willing to tell!), they would tell you they used a few different lures and maybe even changed them according to the color of the water, the season, temperature, etc.
Many factors are considered when determining what type of lure to use when fishing at that high of a level. When I watch this one show about individuals living off the land in Alaska, many times they switch up the nets when different seasons of fishing come up due to the size of the holes in the nets to catch the proper size of fish for that season.
Another video on Facebook I watched had a man fishing in what looked like a muddy marsh using soda and Mentos tablets. As he put the explosive mixture in the holes, the fish came rushing out right into his hands.
All of these fisherman have and will continue to adapt their methods to the season and opportunity that is presented to them.
How come even though fishing is used as one of the largest illustrations of the Bible when presenting the gospel, the church never adapts to opportunity and need as fisherman do?
For years and even generations now, our society has been changing all around us. Some ministries have been obedient to the true purpose God has given to us and adjusted, others not so much.
Don’t misinterpret this! This is not an attack against tradition, biblical standards, or righteous teaching, rather against the attitude of “same old, same old.” We must adjust our methods and process for how we “fish” in these different days.
If you always use the same color plastic worm every day at the lake are you likely to get the same results fishing as you did on a different day with different weather and water color? Most likely not!
Just as these fisherman switch their methods/lures, we must also adjust to the changing times. For decades now as we learned from our forefathers, we have sat on pews, allowed the pastor to preach, and waited for the fish to walk in the door. So what happens when the fish no longer come to us?
God says we must change our methods and “Go Fish”!
Many of your local ministries and organizations in the coming days will begin to change your methods and process of doing ministry as a result of this current crisis. This is perfectly fine so long as you follow the will and Word of our God.
The Coming Healing and Harvest
When our bodies get sick, they do one of two things. They either heal or die. Burned land is also very similar. What separates the two? Opportunity!
If God saw no opportunity for further repentance and revival in the land, resulting in more harvest for the Kingdom of God, He would return, bring His children home, and you know the rest of the story (or should).
The fact that He appears to have allowed us to not only live through this moment in time, but shake up the whole world in the process shows us that He has a future purpose for us here and requires us to learn from this experience to achieve this purpose.
To achieve the purpose, He has provided many of us already called into His ministry a new vision. He will also raise many others, followed by the future generations. The reasons are many.
First, He needs those who have fallen by the wayside to be replaced. Secondly, He needs those He has equipped with a new skill set now needed in today’s ministry field to bring in new methods. Third, He needs the established churches and ministries with their resources and stability to help lead and guide the coming harvest.
What about this harvest I speak of?
Well, if you were paying attention at the beginning when I mentioned the burden many ministers and their congregants have been dealing with as of late, it is there because God has place it there. There is a burden because there is a need.
Many have heard the old quote, “luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” If you understand that saying, you understand that luck is eliminated because without the preparation, the opportunity would pass us by. However, there is a third element to the equation. This third element is surely “action.” Without works (action), this opportunity for harvest in our coming season will not be realized and our period of suffering (reflection) will be our loss.
I know you can feel it if you are a child of God. I can feel it every day as I go through the streets of cities where people are losing their jobs, walking down the aisle of the local store, or even browsing the news feeds of social media. The need for our “action”/ministry is surely here in these perilous times. The harvest is ripe, as it is surely an opportune time to take advantage.
Would we allow this opportunity to pass us by, relying on the old methods of sitting and waiting on the few fish to come to us, or will we be children of God who are prepared for a harvest that is overflowing?
The Hour of the Sober Saints
1 Peter 1:13 (KJV)
13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
1 Thessalonians 5:6 (KJV)
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
Ephesians 5:18 (KJV)
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit
God instructs us to be Sober, to be aware, to be vigilant. This does not necessarily always mean sober from substances or alcohol, but sober from all distractions. Nothing offers more distractions, nor have there ever been more distractions than there are in today’s society that we live in.
God even tells us why in a timeless answer saying:
1 Peter 5:8 (KJV)
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
However, you may ask yourself, “why does God care about our attention, our sobriety, our alertness in a world that is not our home and that is beyond our control?”
The answer is that when you are drunken, you may stumble. When you are not aware of what is going on around you, what the enemy has placed in your path, we become easy to be stopped. Asking why a Christian needs to be sober in this world is like asking why you would need to be sober from alcohol in a calculus class. The answer is obvious.
The Types of Drunkenness:
Substances: Alcohol, Drugs, Medication
Today we have more intoxicating substances than ever before at our disposal because we are the leading drug consuming nation in the world. Both legal and illegal substances equal in the billions of dollars profit each in our nation, yet we are also considered to be the leading Christian nation in the world.
Although we lead the world in the financial support of non-profits and ministry as the most generous and prosperous nation, we also lead the world in money spent on drugs and other substances. According to the CDC, excessive drinking is draining the U.S. economy. Alcohol is responsible for 2.8 million premature deaths each year world wide. Do you think all of those individuals though before they consumed their drug of choice were ready to meet their maker face to face? Not likely! Like many they probably thought they had time to “get their life straight and get old”!
Complacency: Convenience, Laziness, Selfishness
Along with the highest amount of drunkenness in our country the world has ever seen, we also have the highest amount of complacency I have ever witnessed. People everywhere are wrapped up in the complacency of convenience and laziness
We live in a microwave society. Here in America as in many Western World countries, we want things now with no waiting. God doesn’t move on our timing, He moves on His and many times we get inpatient. We want an answer now and God’s methods require faith. I can’t tell you how many times I have grown inpatient or weary, only for God to be perfect in His timing and come to the rescue. It has taught me some valuable lessons about waiting upon the Lord.
Selfishness is also a huge character flaw that I see largely in today’s society. As carnal human beings having a natural sin nature, we have always and will continue to have a tendency to be selfish as long as we are in our flesh bodies. The old saying is, “if I don’t take care of me, who will?” The truth is that God takes care of us and if he can feed the birds even though they do not produce their own food such as according to Matthew 6:26-34, why can’t He take care of our needs. This however requires us to be vigilant and stay alert. While the birds don’t necessarily produce, just by observing you can see that it is evident they are certainly not lazy! However, the type of selfishness I see today that our society is drunk off of is that of self-care, interest, hobbies, and so forth. While it is true that the best work for God comes out of the activities and living every day life, how much more could people see the Jesus in you if every now and then you reached out to serve someone in a bad situation, a church member in need, or that lost individual who needs a helping hand?
So, don’t get caught up in the drunkenness of complacency, the allure of convenience and the bad habit of laziness or selfishness.
Distraction: Media, Politics, Sports, Money, Interests & Entertainment
Going back to 1 Peter 1:13, we may ask what exactly is God saying here?
One version says it like this, “preparing your mind,” and another “think clearly and exercise self-control.”
Being that we were all once in sin even if we are now saved, therefore we are former drunkards, it takes the work of the Spirit as well as self-control to keep us away from drunkenness.
However, notice that the midnight hour is upon us!
Take a look at the Parable of the 10 Virgins and compare it to modern times.
Matthew 25:6 (KJV)
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Why would the enemy desire for us to be in this “drunkenness” and not ready for our groom’s return?
It’s clear my friends that the enemy desires above all that we not make this meeting in the air and eternal life. The enemy wishes for us to be distracted so like the virgins with unlit lamps, we also get left behind.
Don’t be the unprepared virgin, but be the bride who is prepared, ready, and on full display of her beauty at the arrival of her bridegroom.
How Do We Become Ready?:
1.) We Must Seek the Lord!
2.) We Must Remain Holy!
3.) Protect Our Minds and Hearts
4.) Spread The Gospel
As we saw in Matthew 25:6, we are certainly in the midnight hour, a time of awaiting the Lord's return. It draws near my friends, but many are still drunken and not sober. What is the most popular time to be drunken? I would say it is around midnight when people often begin to lose all sobriety and continually be under the influence of other things. If today is the midnight hour and mankind seeks to be drunken with worldly things, we should seek the opposite and run to God. If our focus is on Him and remaining focused on what is going on around us, we won't have time for drunken games, influence, and the stumbling blocks of the enemy. We will be ready for the return of our groom as the bride of Christ!