22 September, 2009

"Ditch It!"

Back when I was a kid, if we were doing something that we should not be doing, or were in a place we should not be at, and it looked like we would be caught, someone would yell out, “Ditch it!” When they did, we would drop what we were doing and act as if we had no idea of what it was doing there if someone asked us, or we would all run in different directions, separating from the activity that we were about to be busted doing. If anyone was caught, we denied having been a part of that activity.

Now this may seem to be a rather funny way of introducing a spiritual principle, but give me a little leeway for a moment. I want to talk just briefly of a time when God’s Word tells us to “ditch it!”

In the New Living Translation, Matthew 9:17 says “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins. That way both the wine and the wineskins are preserved.”

Back in the day, before the time of glass bottles, animal skins were cured and made into wine containers. A new container was soft and flexible, making it easy to work with, but over time they grew to be rigid and they lost their ability to expand. This is why Jesus said, “no one puts new wine into old wineskins.” This illustration was easily understood by the people of that time period, because they knew that if you put new wine into an old wineskin, the skins would burst and the wine would be lost. Everyone new full well that new wine had to be put into new wineskins. The image that Jesus was trying to get the people of his time, as well as us today is that you cannot put new ideas into people with a fossilized mindset. What he was (and is) saying is that we will never change our situation until we are ready to change our thinking.

Isaiah 43:18-19 says… “…forget all that--it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. I am about to do a brand-new thing.” In essence God is tell us that while we’ve seen him do some great and powerful things, to not look for a repeat of “yesterday” but to get ready for him to do something totally new and different! The problem is that so many are asking God to expand their lives, to enlarge their vision… but our mindset is limiting us. We must make room mentally for what God is wanting to do for us, in us and through us. God is saying, “Clear lots of ground… Make your tents large… Spread out and think big!” (Isaiah 54:2) We have to change the way we think! I recently heard someone say and I’ve repeated it over and over ever since, “If God can change your mind, he can change your future!”

Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you did not do, than by the things you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the wind. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Where ever you come from, no matter what your past has been, God can and will enable you to rise up from and put and end to that old mind-set of defeat. But before he can fill you with “new wine” of ideas and a future, you must “ditch” the old wineskins that held your past. For many of us, this means our “wineskins” of religion that have held us trapped in the past. God is ready to do a new thing. The question is, are you ready to receive it and be a part of it?

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