Walking in the Spirit/spirit Part 3

A brief breakdown of spirit, soul and body is helpful as we continue our study. Our body is obvious as we see, touch and interact with it. I understand our soul as our mind, will and emotions. We think, reflect, exercise choice and feel emotions. Our spirit has three functions as well – conscience, communion and intuition. My point is not to create fine distinctions as much as to identify processes. At the end of the day the Lord designed us to function as an integrated whole. With our spirit we encounter Him, we feel joy at His presence and open our lips and raise our hands in worship. A wholistic response to encountering His presence.

In looking at our spirit we grow fruit in it (Galatians 5:22-23), we commune with Jesus with it (Romans 8:14-16) and our conscience and discernment develops as our spirit is nourished by a daily diet of His word (1 Peter 2:2, Hebrews 5:13-14). Thus, if we are walking in the Spirit, we will experience the growth and maturing of the fruit of Jesus character in our lives, a deeper sense of His presence leading and guiding us and a clearer sense of the decisions He would have us make.

In my own life I remember a few years into my walk with Him I was going to do something, the what is not important and frankly I don’t remember exactly what it was I had planned. However, I had been feeding my spirit on His word. In the course of making a decision I very clearly heard inside of my spirit the following verse.

This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. Galatians 5:8 (NKJV)

I didn’t do whatever it was I was going to do. This demonstrated to me the very obvious fruit of being in His word. I wasn’t sitting reading scripture when this happened, I was walking around somewhere but He used my time in His word to guide my decision making.

At other times I have had the sense to do or not do something but not from a scripture verse. It is more of an internal sense or leading. It may be an inner prompting to call someone or to pray for someone. Many of us have probably had the experience of thinking about someone and they call us or vice versa, we call them and they say, “I was just thinking about you.” He is very practical in how He leads us and as we pay attention to these inner promptings our relationship with Him deepens.

I have had dramatic examples of His leading over my 35 years of walking with Him. Yet most of the time it has been the simple promptings, a scripture or person coming to mind. I am committed to being in His word and find that out of that I grow in my knowing of His presence and purpose. I have things I am still seeking direction on, some that I have been holding before Him for many years. In cases like this I seek to trust that His direction will be revealed in His timing. It doesn’t mean I never question of wonder; it means that when I pause and reflect, I come to a place of rest in His faithfulness.

So, let us pay attention to His leading and promptings, let us nourish our spirits on His word and let us desire what Paul gave expression to, our whole being given over to His purpose.

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV)

Unite My Heart

In this post I am continuing to focus on our heart focus. To that end here is something significant that David wrote.

Psalm 86:11 (NKJV)

11   Teach me Your way, O Lord;

I will walk in Your truth;

Unite my heart to fear Your name.

The note in my bible says the alternate translation of the phrase ‘unite my heart’ is ‘give me singleness of heart.’ In essence David was praying for his heart to have a singular focus on the ways of Yahweh so that he could walk in truth. If we study David’s life it is obvious that he had a few failures on this journey. I am confident we have all had failures. Yet if we want to walk in Yahweh’s ways, which are truth, we need only look to David’s approach and emulate it.

In addition to the above verse David is also recorded as the author of the following two verses.

Psalm 103:7 (NKJV)

7     He made known His ways to Moses,

His acts to the children of Israel.

Psalm 27:4 (NKJV)

4     One thing I have desired of the Lord,

That will I seek:

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord

All the days of my life,

To behold the beauty of the Lord,

And to inquire in His temple.

We don’t know the order in which David wrote Psalms 27, 103 and 86. However, what is evident is his possession of a singular desire to pursue God with all his heart, a recognition of the need to go beyond His acts to His ways, and an awareness that he needed God’s help to succeed. If we examine David’s life both the failures and successes are evident. While David only receives a passing mention in the hall of faith chapter in Hebrews 11:32, scripture testifies about two commendations that David was given that no one else in scripture ever received.

David is referred to as a man after God’s own heart in 1 Samuel 13:14 by Samuel and in Acts 13:22 by Paul. David is the only one in scripture described in this way. The description was given before David was anointed and called to be king because God knew his heart, both the coming failures and the continual pursuit of God’s heart. The other commendation is that Jesus is seated on the throne of David even though Saul was Israel’s first king. The throne was seen by God as being truly established by David and was prepared for Jesus (Luke 1:32).

In relation to our hearts the message of David’s life is twofold. First, it isn’t about whether we fail, we all will to some extent, it is about the desire of our heart before and after we fail. Secondly, it is about the reality that God’s final analysis of our lives is based not on our failures but on our pursuit of His heart. David had some major failures but each time his eventual response was one of repentance and a renewed seeking of God’s heart. Should we choose to do likewise we too can look forward to a commendation from the Lord on that great day. 

Let’s ask Him to help us to be people after His heart.

Draw Me

The first line in Song of Songs 1:4 is very powerful.

Draw me away! (Song of Songs 1:4 NKJV)

Sit with that heart cry – Draw me away.

When Jesus trod the dusty streets and hills of Israel He didn’t walk around with a sign that said “I am the Messiah!” So what drew people to Him and what drew Him to certain people? I think these are important questions to consider because I think they can teach us a good deal about what will deepen our walk with Him today. We can assume it was His miraculous ministry but if we start at the beginning we find it isn’t the case. In John we read the following.

35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”

They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”

39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).

40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone). John 1:35–42 (NKJV)

We can infer from the passage the Andrew and the other disciple of John the Baptist possessed a hunger for more because they were already following John the Baptist when Jesus came on the scene. When Jesus asked what they wanted there answer clearly pointed to their desire to be wherever Jesus was. At this point the only major thing that had happened were the events at Jesus baptism. Yet they saw something in Jesus and He saw something in them.

When we consider this we know that Jesus lived on earth but that He also lived in and from another realm. He simultaneously dwelt in the presence of people and before His Father in communion with Him. For the spiritually hungry this was what drew them, they sensed the fragrance of that realm. Here is how Jesus put it.

6     Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

For they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)

I believe it is our hunger for reality that draws Him to our hearts. I have known people who regularly saw and smelled things in the spirit realm, both good and bad. I know in my own life I have had a couple of experiences of smelling a wonderful fragrance during worship. On another occasion while a few of us were worshipping in a sanctuary there was a beautiful singing accompanying us from high up in the corner of ceiling in the sanctuary. I think at those times the veil between the natural and spiritual realms was simply lifted a bit and what was really real, the spiritual realm, broke through.

As we enter into a new year it seems wise to ask Him to draw our heart away, to increase our hunger for Him and to deepen our awareness of the heavenly realm we are called to, to pull back the veil so that we might function more fully in the two realms the born again are called to walk in.

More to come.

Words of Wisdom

Proverbs contains many examples of how we are to weigh our words.

32  The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked what is perverse. Proverbs 10:32 (NKJV)

Implicit in the word ‘acceptable’ is the idea of knowing what to say when. We are likely all familiar with saying something that didn’t come across as intended. I know I tend to use humour a lot and have used it many times to lighten the mood in difficult or tense situations. While generally effective it didn’t always work. At the same time I wasn’t always tuned into Jesus presence when I spoke. Many years ago a pastor shared an experience with me. While he was doing his theological training he was working as an aide on an adult psychiatric unit. One of the patients was out of control and they had to physically lock him in another room. He felt the need for wisdom so prayed an asked the Lord what to do. He got the distinct impression he was to offer the man a cigarette. He said he responded, “But Lord, You don’t smoke.” The impression wouldn’t leave and he offered the man a cigarette. He immediately calmed down and the situation was resolved. In this case what was ‘acceptable’ didn’t make natural sense but was very effective.   

Conversely the opposite can happen. I remember going to church one morning. I was struggling with something and feeling discouraged. I have no memory of what it was about as this was over 20 years ago. What I do remember was meeting a fellow I knew just outside the door. He asked how I was doing, I told him. He cheerfully responded, “Aren’t you glad we win in the end!” He didn’t know what was acceptable at that moment. It was clear he wasn’t interested in how I was doing and I don’t recall ever sharing anything meaningful with him after that. As stated, while I don’t remember what I was discouraged about all these years later I clearly remember his non helpful response.

If we take this principle of using words that are acceptable it doesn’t mean always being positive and upbeat. It does mean we have our heart tuned to His and know what to say. As it says elsewhere in Proverbs.

13  He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him. Proverbs 18:13 (NKJV)

We are called to hear hearts and then respond. If we move to the New Testament Paul said we are to speak the truth in love and he outlined what is to accompany our words.

15  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– Ephesians 4:15 (NKJV)

29  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)

6  Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6 (NKJV) We are to speak truth in love, speak words that build others up and carry grace and our words are to be salty, they are to have a purifying and preserving effect. This requires a dependence upon Him so if we are not already doing it let’s learn to lean into His heart as we interact with those around us. Particularly in this difficult season.

Heart Seasons

Physically where I live we are in winter – a cooler quieter time where even the trees seem to hibernate. Their roots are frozen in the ground and the deciduous trees appear to be dead. Sap, the source of vitality for the tree, is not running. This season prepares us for the glorious beauty of spring. However, we still need to go through winter to arrive at spring.

In reflecting, I appreciate a number of things about winter. I enjoy the sun shining off the snow, the sparkle on the trees and getting out and walking and cross country skiing in trees. At the same time as we near the end of November I start thinking that we only have to get through December, January and February, plus the days start to get longer at Christmas and that it usually doesn’t get really cold in March!

When we have a winter that is usually around five months long it feels like we don’t really have four seasons. One of the standard jokes is that we have two seasons, winter and construction! I think that those orange signs that crop up every spring are protest signs, you know the ones when you near the end of one of the seemly endless road construction projects, ‘End Construction.’

In a similar vein let’s reflect on our hearts. I know for many we have dealt with a seemingly endless season of Covid restrictions, limited social contact, disrupted worship, loss of ‘normalcy’ and other related impacts. It has become very wearying and we are in a place where many of our hearts are crying out in protest, ‘End Covid.’

Yet while we pray and wait it seems wise to consider what He is seeking to accomplish in our hearts in this season. This heart season has created an opportunity for reflection. An opportunity to rest in Him as we wait or the beauty of spring. We can be assured that change will come. The issue is how we will have changed through this process. I know I have a deeper appreciation for the privilege of gathering with others to worship, pray for one another and draw from His word and presence. My goal is not to get back to normal, it is to draw closer to Him and learn to better carry His presence in this season and out from this season. Prepared for His purpose.  

Below are some encouraging verses to strengthen us in this season.

23  Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)

8  When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.” Psalm 27:8 (NKJV)

14  Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27:14 (NKJV)

6  My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26 (NKJV)

Sowing in any Season

Scripture tells us the following.

12  Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him. Genesis 26:12 (NKJV)

The latter part of the verse, ‘and the LORD blessed him’ is one of those ‘no kidding’ statements. To sow seed in a time of famine and reap an abundant harvest requires the Lord’s blessing. Some context is helpful. As the region entered into famine Isaac received a specific word from the Lord.

2  Then the LORD appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. 3  Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. 4  And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; 5  because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Genesis 26:2-5 (NKJV)

Isaac was being blessed because of the obedience of his father, Abraham. His later natural harvest was a prophetic picture of the spiritual promise, ‘in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.’ We know this was fulfilled when through Jesus salvation was made available to the nations. Applying it to our lives, Jesus our elder brother sowed His life on the cross and reaped the lives of all believers – past, present and future, as a harvest.

Jesus may call us to sow no matter our season. Decades ago I heard a missionary share how the Lord sent him into Cambodia in the late 1970’s when the Khmer Rouge were slaughtering everyone and all the Westerners were fleeing the country (the Khmer Rouge killed 1.5 – 2 million people, roughly a quarter of Cambodia’s population from 1975-78). He saw a great harvest of souls from sowing the gospel in the country against all natural odds.

Jesus calls us to sow seeds and stated the following regarding sowing His own life in the crucifixion.

23  But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24  Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:23-25 (NKJV)

As we hear Jesus heart and make a decision to lay down our own lives and agendas let us seek His wisdom for where we are to sow. As we seek where to sow we can reflect on the incredible capacity that lies with seeds. In the image below we see the ongoing fruit of a small seed being sown in a difficult place.

The Place of Perspective

In this season we have need of perspective. In 1 Samuel 17 we have laid out for us a key to victory in the battles we face. In this encounter the Philistines gathered to battle Israel and Goliath was coming out every day and challenging someone to come out and fight him as the representative of Israel.

As a nation, from King Saul on down everyone was hoping someone would take on Goliath, and win. They, like Goliath, seemed to view themselves as the armies of Israel. Part of Goliath’s ongoing taunt was as follows.

10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” 1 Samuel 17:10 (NKJV)

In essence Goliath said we have our army and you have yours. Goliath saw the armies as representing two different nations or people groups.

David had a different perspective.

26  Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26 (NKJV)

David referred to Goliath as ‘this uncircumcised Philistine (circumcision was the sign of the covenant) and he referred to the army of Israel as, ‘the armies of the living God.’ Israel had a covenant and God was their defender. This perspective gave David great confidence.

So in view of what is happening in our culture there is clearly a need to shift our perspective. The result of David coming and bringing a different perspective was that a nation was shifted into action and they routed their enemies. This type of experience is not unique to David, it is a pattern in scripture. We can also look to John the Baptist. He came to a nation that was awaiting their Messiah but it was all future based. John came with a different perspective.

1  In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2  and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Matthew 3:1-2 (NKJV)

While everyone else was waiting for the kingdom to come John showed up and said, ‘It is here!’ It was right at hand, people just needed eyes to see. John did no miracles but there was such an anointing on his message that the nation came out to the wilderness to hear him.

4  And John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5  Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6  and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. Matthew 3:4-6 (NKJV)

Again, one man with a different perspective impacted a nation. A commonality with David and John was that they had a different perspective and an anointing to shift a nation. However, more importantly they had a hidden life in God that was the source of their different perspective. They modeled what Jesus taught.

6  But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:6 (NKJV)

We need a perspective that will shift our cities and our nation but we need to get this perspective not from a renewed vision but from a hidden life encountering God in the secret place.

Waiting with Wisdom

In our frenetic high pressure culture let us take a look at verse in Isaiah that provides a much needed perspective.

16  Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.” Isaiah 28:16 (NKJV)

This verse, in particular the phrase, “Whoever believes will not act hastily.” impacted me about 30 years ago when I was listening to a teaching series on discernment. The speaker’s point was that when we are paying attention to His voice we don’t rush into things – we make wise decisions. As someone who has many times placed unnecessary pressure on myself from taking on too many things I speak from the place of experience. Yet while knowing this in my head frequently a gap appeared between my knowing and doing. Over time I have come to a deeper appreciation of what Isaiah wrote and have learned to walk more fully in what the verse is about. Following His leading rather than my own wisdom.  

The idea of not acting hastily doesn’t’ mean we never need to make quick decisions or react quickly in a crisis. It instead focuses on the bigger picture. In context Isaiah is pointing to the eternal reality of Christ as the cornerstone in contrast to the false gods the leaders in Jerusalem had made a covenant with. We need to look to Him for wisdom rather than relying on our own wisdom.

A great example in scripture of someone ignoring godly wisdom, acting hastily and it leading to disaster is King Saul. He knew the proper protocol from his first encounter with Samuel. Here is what was told to Saul before he first met Samuel.

13  “As soon as you come into the city, you will surely find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now therefore, go up, for about this time you will find him.” 1 Samuel 9:13 (NKJV).

Saul was told of the need to wait for Samuel’s blessing. That reality is reinforced here in what Samuel later said directly to Saul.

8  “You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.” 1 Samuel 10:8 (NKJV)

Later he lost everything because he ignored this protocol and failed to wait.

9  So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10  Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. 11  And Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, 12  then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” 13  And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14  But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” 1 Samuel 13:9-14 (NKJV)

There are some critical points here. Saul acted in haste and not wisdom because he ‘felt compelled.’ In verses 13-14 we find that the covenant God later made with David was available to Saul and lost because he refused to wait. Now clearly not every hasty decision carries this degree of consequence. However the principle is there.

In our era we are called not to wait for Samuel but to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. We need His leadership in our lives. This means learning what it is to wait upon Him and putting it into practice. Scripturally waiting is not a passive acquiescence to circumstances, it is a heart looking expectantly to Him and waiting for His inner prompting and guidance. We pray, lay things before Him and go about our lives. However we don’t make major spiritual decisions without a sense of His inner leading.  

In my own practice of seeking His wisdom I often turn to and pray two particular verses from Psalm 25.

4  Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. 5  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. Psalm 25:4-5 (NKJV)

I want to walk in His paths and truth, so I wait for Him and trust Him to lead me in His paths and to reveal His perspective on truth.  

New Wineskins Part 6

Let us close this off by looking at the wineskin of leadership as demonstrated by Jesus. Jesus walked in authority and confidence but an attribute that stands out for me is an important statement Jesus made.

27  For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. Luke 22:27 (NKJV)

‘I am among you as one who serves.’ The context was the disciples arguing about who was greatest and jockeying for positon. Think of where the image of ‘jockeying for position’ comes from. It is drawn from horse racing. Envision a group of horses tight together and each jockey trying to get his horse to the front to win the race. In the wineskin of an upside down kingdom Jesus said the way to win the real race is to help others in the race the world is in. Be a servant. Help the other jockeys.

Look at who Jesus served. If asked most of us would likely note that Jesus served people, which is clear from the verse above. However, Jesus primarily served His Father and He served people as an extension of that mission. It is evident in the gospels that Jesus came as a servant of His Father’s purpose.

38  For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. John 6:38 (NKJV).

Jesus larger purpose was going to the cross to redeem us to His Father. In walking that out Jesus demonstrated the new wineskin of servant leadership in all that He did. His authority was used in the service of the greater good. Leadership in the kingdom is about serving others and releasing them into their gifts and callings.

Paul caught what Jesus taught and modeled. Paul taught on and modeled servant leadership. He was willing to use the leadership authority he had been given for discipline but when we read his letters his heart was to use his leadership role to release people into their gifts and calling and build up the body.

 26  How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Corinthians 14:26 (NKJV)

This verse is a good example of how to function in a gathering of believers. The wineskin of servant leadership is also inherent in it. Paul says the purpose of functioning in this way to is to edify, to build up others. We build up one another by making room for and encouraging the exercise of their gifts. A key role of leadership embracing a new wineskin is being flexible enough to make room for the gifts of other to see all that Jesus desires released in any given gathering. Let’s follow Jesus.

New Wineskins Part 5

In the last post we looked at the parable of the sower in Mark 4 where Jesus explained that the seed is God’s word and the soil is our hearts. Part of forming a new wineskin, a new way of thinking, is paying attention to our hearts. While there are varied ideas around what the heart may be, in scripture we can see that Jesus viewed it as a treasure chest. That may not be the first idea that springs to mind but let the scriptures speak.

21  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)

It appears from Matthew 6:21 that our heart is our capacity to value or treasure things. Later in Matthews’s gospel Jesus is more explicit that our heart produces good or evil depending on what we treasure or value.

35  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. Matthew 12:35 (NKJV)

So part of developing a new wineskin means developing a right heart, valuing the right things. In connecting the idea of valuing right things consider how we structure our meetings as the body of Christ. Recently in reading an article I was reminded of the old architectural idea that ‘form follows function.’ That is, the design of a building should be to facilitate the purpose of the building. Considering that one of the metaphors for the body of Christ is that of a building or temple I want to consider what wineskin facilitates the effective use of the building.

We can think of natural or spiritual buildings but come back to the same idea – understanding the purpose. The purpose of the church is to display and release the life of Christ. I contend that doing that requires a flexible wineskin that remains new and fresh. A wineskin that can stretch to accommodate different expressions of His life at different times. Paul described what he saw as a typical church meeting in 1 Corinthians.

26  How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27  If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28  But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29  Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30  But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31  For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32  And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 1 Corinthians 14:26-32 (NKJV)  

The wineskin Paul was promoting was a flexible one. Different members of the body had different gifts and Paul thought that they should be expressed. Part of this wineskin inherent in these verses was the idea of mutual submission and respect. Elsewhere in his writings Paul is very clear about the place of leadership in the body and he is not denying that here.

My view, for decades now, has been that the role of leadership is to facilitate the development and release of His gifts in and to His body. In a future post I will develop more of the how. At present it is more of question of what we value. So here are some reflective questions to get us thinking about what wineskin we embrace.

Do our hearts value a wineskin that is flexible, looking for the gifts in our brothers and sisters and seeking to see others released in their gifts and callings? Is this how our building, our expression of His body functions? If not can we do things to see this expression realized?