Something old or something new?

And no one pours new wine into old wine skins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wine skins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wine skins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, “The old is better.” Luke 5:37-39

I found the perfect pair of jeans online.  They were exactly what I wanted and they had my size. They were on sale to boot! They arrived in a few short days. I was so excited to try them on! I really like my old jeans though. They are so comfortable even though they are well-worn in places. What will happen if I put on the new pair and slip the old ones on top? Unless I bought two sizes up they aren’t going to fit. If I do get them buttoned, it will only be a matter of time before I pop off the button or open a seam on the side. Not only would they burst, the new would be concealed by the old. Why would I even buy something new if I were just going to cover it up with the old ones? It doesn’t work. I can’t put the new into the old. Doesn’t this sound like a lot of us? We are so comfortable in the familiar that we won’t embrace something new. Something new involves faith and risk. It will cost you something. But the result is beautiful.

I think God doing a new work in my life views me the same way. He can’t pour in the new beginning into my current state. He has taken me through a refinement period. Refining is defined as bringing to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities. He will remove those impurities to bring in the new. The refinement period is tough. God will pull the wool back from your eyes so you can see what God sees. The you that the enemy has convinced you that you are. But the great news is God won’t leave you there.  With a new heart of flesh and not of stone he can pour the new work into the new heart. Oh what joy it is though to be exactly where God wants you to be even if it is temporarily uncomfortable. It is the safest place on earth.

If He allowed the new work into your life without the refinement period, it would overwhelm you. You wouldn’t be prepared for the task. Where God sends, He equips. He lovingly chips away at the impurities that will hinder your growth and success. He wants you to thrive and shine. It makes me think about a diamond and the refinement process that it endures. When the process is complete, there is no other stone like it on earth! It sparkles and brings joy to the owner. It is visible to all who encounter it. It has great significance to the owner. And friend you are incredibly important to God.

I recently passed on my favorite jeans to someone else. I am completely satisfied with the new pair. Since the old pair is gone now, I no longer can look to them and wish I was wearing them instead. But the jeans are still being used. They are now a treasure to someone else. What about you? Are you holding onto that ministry that you no longer feel led to be a part of simply because it is comfortable? Maybe God is calling someone new to step into your role so you can move onto His unique plan tailored just for you. Perhaps this isn’t for you but it was placed in front of you so you can minister to someone else who is struggling to move forward. God is with you and for you today and always! He won’t call you out and abandon you. He will lead you every step of the way.

How are you running?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip of every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

I ran for many years. Last year however, I lost my Dad and had a bout with breast cancer. I tried numerous times to run but walking seemed all I could do. Recently I started running again. It was slow to begin with and quite painful. I had extra weight that I was carrying that made it very cumbersome. Everything within me said, “This is just too much. It hurts and it isn’t worth it.” I pressed on, pushing myself every single step of the way. When I didn’t think I could take another step, I made myself reach one more telephone pole before I started walking. It was only a few weeks before I was back at 5.5 miles. That may not be very much to some of you but for me it was a great accomplishment after being off of the road for well over a year.

This morning I thought about the hills that I have to climb. When I started back I would have to walk up them. I noticed this morning that if I stop in the middle to tie my shoe, it is gruesome to resume and pull myself to the top. I thought about this verse. If we are running our race of faith, in the beginning, we walk up the hills. As time progresses and faith grows we can run to the top with ease. But woe to us that stop in the middle distracted by the weight of sin or weary from climb. This is where a lot of people quit and give up because it’s just too hard to start back on the hill. Faith is like a muscle. It is given by God and exercised by us. The more we use it the stronger it gets. If we leave it dormant for a period of time it gets weak.

Just like those muscles pulling and straining to get me to the top, the indwelling Holy Spirit is giving me the strength that I need to run my race of faith with endurance. Perhaps it was so long ago when you quit your faith race that you have to start over. Slowly meeting one goal at a time. But this time as you approach the hill, walk it to begin with. As time progresses and your “faith muscle” grows you can run a quarter of the way up, then half, then three quarters and before you know it, you will have made it to the top. I normally dread one of the hills that I climb. I noticed the other day that I had ran completely past it and didn’t even realize that I did!  Our verse says we have to run with endurance. That word means: The ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress or other adverse conditions. We cannot be inattentive to our goals no matter how steep the hill is or how adverse the conditions may be. Don’t stop in the middle! Don’t quit, keep going!

This verse comes after the Chapter 11 Hall of Faith. It is so inspiring, I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it in a while. It says that we are surrounded by witnesses of faith. I imagine them cheering us on! It’s going to be such a glorious day when I get to meet them! I can’t wait!

This is not about what you haven’t done or the race you may have abandoned. This is about what lies ahead! His mercies are new every morning! I imagine all of Heaven cheering you on to get started and run with endurance! Whatever you are facing today know that God is for you. He wants you to succeed! If God is for you, who can be against? I love that verse! The One True God that hung the stars and moon into place is on my side! I mean really, are we going to let a little hill stand in our way?

Your Enemy

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Some time ago, I was behind a tractor trailer. It approached a traffic light. I could not see the light so I followed the truck. When I was under the light I noticed that it was red! I couldn’t help but think that God warns me of impending danger. He puts out his caution light trying to get my attention. Then He sends the red light letting me know that I need to stop and not proceed. The problem is, what is blocking my view of His warnings? It is normally sin. It can come in many shapes and sizes. The enemy knows exactly where you are weak and where to hit you. He won’t come through the front door and announce himself. He will slither through the crack in the wall that you didn’t even know was there.

To be sober means to not be intoxicated or drunk. It also means marked by seriousness, gravity, solemnity as of demeanor or speech. By either definition I presume that this battle is serious. I cannot walk around with my head intoxicated with thoughts of doubt and fear. It makes me weak against an attack. When I take my eyes off of the cross, I like Peter begin to sink in fear of the wind and waves. If my mind is fixed, steadfast and determined, I am more apt to know the enemy when he comes calling. I can say, “That is not my thought. That does not line up with God’s promises on my life.” I have to stay alert, vigilant and ready to do battle.

Our verse says he is looking for someone to devour. He can devour me before I even know what happened. A tale-tale sign for me is when I start justifying things to God. “Well God I had to do this because he did that.” He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. He has to flee at the name of Jesus. It’s up to me to call him out and send him off. I have the POWER of the Holy Spirit living in me! If I am focused and ready the enemy has nothing on me. All of the lies, accusations and temptations are ineffective against the Holy Spirit.

It is never wise to surround yourself with people who try to seduce you to do things contrary to God’s Word. I hear someone saying, “I work with those people 8 hours per day. I cannot escape them.” To that I say, “Congratulations you champion of faith! God chose to submerge you into their darkness to be a light.” It’s one thing if God placed you there. If He did, He will definitely empower you to stay focused and alert. It is another matter entirely to choose to hang out with people who aren’t like minded. I’ve always told my kids that if you are the only Christian in your group of friends who do you think is more likely to get swayed? You or them? I am by no means saying that you should not be a witness. I am saying that you don’t have to do what they do and go where they go.

I am excited for everyone reading this week to be alert! Let’s not let him devour one more moment of our lives. Our verse says he’s like a roaring lion. The Bible also says, “You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!” (Psalms 91:13) So, take that satan!!!

 

Let Manna Be Enough

“You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?” Numbers 11:20

“And the Lord said to Moses, “Has the Lord’s arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not.” Numbers 11:23

The Israelites have been brought out of slavery into the wilderness by God. He is providing manna from Heaven each morning for their food. That in and of itself is another miracle! How wonderful would it be to wake up every morning and run outside to God’s grocery store? Not so for them though. They were not thankful for their deliverance and gave into their temptations and cravings for meat. They wept and remembered the food that they had in Egypt (despite being a slave and mistreated everyday).

The Lord was very angry over their groaning. Moses was displeased as well. Moses fires a battery of questions at God. He is in essence saying, “These people are not my kids! There are 600,000 men soldiers, how am I going to get enough meat to feed them? This burden is too heavy for me to bear! I would rather die than to continue on with them.” It doesn’t say that God was angry at Moses for His questions. God simply provided the solution. He would take a portion of the Spirit that rested on Moses and give it to seventy of the elders so they could help Moses with the burden.

Moses was so bold as to question what God was going to do about the meat. He told Him that even if they slaughtered all of the herds and flocks and gathered all of the fish of the sea together, Moses wasn’t sure it would be enough for them. God responds in the second key verse today. He asks Moses (paraphrased) if he doesn’t think that He can take care of them. He tells Moses just to watch and see whether or not He can do what He said He would. I am Moses. I often try to shoulder the problem myself. I feel Him in my heart saying today, “Kim, has My arm been shortened?” To that I say, “No Lord, you are El Shaddai. There is none above you. There is nothing that you can’t do.”

God provided the solution for the lack of meat in their diet. Did he ever provide! I need to be so careful of what I am whining to God about. He may just give me what I am asking for to show me it was not what I needed. They were going to eat meat alright. A lot of it! God said there would be so much that it would come out of their nostrils. That is not a good visual. Has that ever happened to you? God provided what He thought was best for you but you continued to moan about what you didn’t have and He socked it to you? After reading this passage this morning, I have a feeling I have much quail coming my way.

How quickly I forget how God takes care of us and provides for us. He seemingly performs a miracle in our lives and days later I am full of fear and anxiety about the new trial that has come. What is the root of that fear? Is it faithlessness? Is it selfishness (never having enough)? Is it having a heart that is not thankful for all I have been blessed with? Maybe it is all of them. I heard someone say recently, “What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?” That brought me to a screeching halt. I pray every morning but I wasn’t thanking God for everything in my life. I think I should be specific and not just say “thank you for everything.” When I am specific, it brings into perspective just what all I do have and it diminishes my desire for “meat.”

This was for me today. I thought I would share it with you. I hope you have your thankful heart in check and this doesn’t apply. But maybe it does and you need to address it. God wanted me to see it so maybe He wants to weed your heart as well. If not maybe you can share with someone who needs it. Blessings and peace to you this week!