He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Oth-erwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wine-skins.”
When we start something new, it is normal for us to sit down and take stock of our lives. God delights in doing new things with us and for us. Even in our twilight years, God is doing something new. Think of Abraham starting on a new journey in his seventies. It’s never too late for a new beginning with God!
During new beginnings, people review their priorities and activities. Some things suddenly don’t seem so important while other things become a priority. Some good things come out too. New beginnings also make us stop and think. During times of change, we are remind-ed that the only certainty in life is that life is uncertain. Changes and new beginnings pro-vide a time for reflection, a time to review our activities and priorities, and a time to set new goals.
Luke 5:36-38 does not say that the “new” is better or “old” is better. A new start is some-thing we should welcome. It’s an ideal opportunity to ask questions. For instance, are we doing things because they have always been done that way? Has a good thing come to an end? Sometimes we need to recognize when it is time for closure. Where is God leading us to? We should not rush into things, instead we should look to His guidance. We should not be doing things just for the sake of doing them.
Jesus did and said things in a new way, and it often upset people! His whole life is an ex-ample of a way of doing things that had never been done before. Yet He fulfilled God’s plans.
New things are unfamiliar. They offer challenges and we need to take risks. We often like the familiar because it is comfortable. It fits well like an “old pair of shoes.” My prayer for us is that, in this new beginning, God will stretch us like new wineskins. Maybe we can take a risk or two to do something we know God wants us to, but we have put them off because we like our comfortable routines. Often times, the God things will stretch us, will make us uncomfortable, and will challenge us.
We sometimes can resist the new. Barbara Johnson told how she bought new pillows, but halfway through the night, she was fishing the old ones from the rubbish bin, because she could not get to sleep on her nice new pillows. They were far too uncomfortable! Aren’t we the same sometimes? How we love our comfy old slippers and well-worn clothes, be-cause they are familiar! But God wants to change and challenge us.
Isaiah 43:18-19 says that God is a God who does new things. Our God is not stuck in a rut! The Scriptures tell us that He has a track record of new beginnings. If we desire to walk with God, we are never going to be on safe, comfortable territory. He delights in doing new things in us, through us, and for us. We need to wait, watch, and pray for the new things God wants to do with us, as individuals and as a church. After all, that is the Gospel: we are new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17)
My prayer is that we won’t miss out on the new things God has for us. God is on the move, and He invites us to move with Him. Let us build on the firm foundation of our Lord Jesus Christ. His mercies are new every morning, and I invite you to get ready for the new things He wants to do in us, through us, and for us.
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, … then you will find your joy in the Lord.…………” Isaiah 58:13-14
What does it mean to keep the Sabbath holy in today’s culture? We know that this creation ordinance is the 4th of the Ten Commandments. Throughout the ages, God’s people have seen the wisdom in devoting one full day to rest and praise. Keeping the Sabbath holy is what God desires and it honors our Creator who also rested on the seventh day. (Genesis 2:3) This day refreshes us both spiritually and physically and helps us set our priorities.
In the old days, honoring the Sabbath was easier. It is more difficult in today’s culture. Our society places much emphasis on busyness and productivity; so, observing the Sabbath is countercultural. Isaiah 58:13-14 tells us that… “if you honor the Sabbath by not going your own way and not doing as you please, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and He will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” That is God’s promise for the Sabbath.
The key to Sabbath isn't merely rest. Rather, in our rest, we are to turn our attention to God, whose rest our Sabbath mirrors. Brothers and Sisters, can we set apart one day a week truly given over to rest and worship? We should not involve ourselves in doing what we normally do during the week. This is the day to be about God's ways! We rest from doing our ways and devote this time to God's business of eternal life. The Sabbath gives you extra time to study and meditate about God's Word and His principles. We should refrain from engaging in our own pleasures which includes our time-consuming hobbies, leisure time, and extra-curricular activities. Instead, we are to engage in God’s pleasure on the Sabbath. But, what is God’s pleasure? It is His creation — planning, working, and building for the future of eternity! Rev. 4:11 says, “... for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created"
So, dear brothers and sisters, let us “be free to enjoy God on the Sabbath” (Isaiah 58:14a MSG) and find a true sense of Shabbat shalom, Sabbath peace. Let us gather together as a worshiping community of faith and enter into glad gratitude remembering all the gifts of God, reminding each other of God’s redeeming presence in each of our lives. Rest and worship – one day a week anchor a way of life that makes a difference every day and helps maintain a balance crucial to an abundant life. “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) Recognize that the Sabbath is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind –a gift for rest, peace, knowledge, and true delight. Remember to keep it holy!