New Wineskins Part 2

Here we are continuing with looking at how Jesus sought to reshape thinking to create a new wineskin. To do that we need to look at what He taught in the gospels. Below is one example.

23  Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” 24  But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25  The baptism of John – where was it from? From heaven or from men?” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26  But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” 27  So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.” And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” Matthew 21:23-27 (NKJV)

In the above passage on the surface it seems like Jesus was looking for a way to avoid answering their question by saying they had to answer His question first. In fact Jesus question was a challenge to get them to reflect on how they viewed Him and how they understood the source of spiritual authority. They demanded to know the source of His authority because they drew their authority from the tradition of Moses, which Jesus affirmed (Matt. 23:1-3) and Abraham, the father of faith (Jn. 8:37-39). Yet the answer to Jesus question was also the answer to their question.

If we look back at Jesus baptism by John we know from the scriptures that John the Baptist was the prophesied figure who came in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way of the Lord (Matt. 11:7-15). Jesus makes a very interesting statement about John.

13  “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14  And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15  He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 11:13-15 (NKJV)

Jesus was talking about a transition to a new era and John was the prophetic voice declaring and bringing it about. When we look at Jesus baptism by John we have another interesting statement by Jesus in the verses below.

13  Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14  And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15  But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. Matthew 3:13-15 (NKJV)

The fulfilling of all righteousness was Jesus submission to the prophetic authority on John to release a new era in the spirit. Jesus said John was the last of a long line of prophetic voices. In essence, had the religious leaders correctly responded to Jesus question about John’s baptism they could have gone through a shift in thinking and recognized that Jesus derived His authority from submitting to the authority that John carried, an authority given by the Father who called him. They could have seen that authority wasn’t merely derived from tradition. A new wineskin began to be formed when John emerged from the wilderness with a message.

For us, we can reflect on our understanding of the source of our spiritual authority, how well we are walking in what we have and if, like Jesus, we derive our authority from submitting to a higher authority.

NOTE – I edited and refocused my initial post in this series.

New Wineskins Part 1

Over the decades I have heard a great deal of talk about the need for new wineskins. Yet there has been little accompanying explanation of how they are made and the purpose they serve. I believe we are in a season where we need clear and sound explanations accompanied by spiritual strategies and right actions. 

Jesus introduced us to the concept of new wineskins when He said the following.

21  No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. 22  And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” Mark 2:21-22 (NKJV)

The difference between new and old wineskins is their flexibility. New wine expands and will burst hard inflexible wineskins. I’m not sure how many of us see that in the three and a half years that Jesus walked with His followers teaching about and demonstrating the kingdom of God He was forming a new wineskin to hold the wine that was to be poured out on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

A concept I have come across over the years is the idea of plausibility structures, presented here by professor and philosopher J. P. Moreland, a committed evangelical, “The lesson here is that culture, which has a set of background assumptions – or, a plausibility structure – set a framework for what people think, which affects how they are willing to listen, evaluate, feel, and behave. The framework shapes what people consider plausible or implausible.” I believe plausibility structures are akin to wineskins. They are a filter or way of viewing the world that determines what we accept or reject. We tend to think with rather than about our wineskins while they sit in the background influencing our thoughts and actions.

I see in Jesus life that He spent His ministry time here teaching, demonstrating and sharing parables that were designed to help people actually look at how they viewed the world and what they believed was or was not possible. Jesus demonstrated over and over that many things people thought implausible were in fact not only plausible, they could happen right in front of them – healings, the dead being raised, the religious leaders being silenced. Jesus released hope for something new and better, a kingdom that cared about and ministered to people. He publicly declared His kingdom charter when He began His ministry.

18  “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV)

This kingdom charter was a new wineskin that embodied freedom and hope because the kingdom of God had drawn near. In our lives let’s allow Jesus to help us take a look at the wineskins that are guiding our thinking, what we think is plausible or implausible. We can start by reflecting on whether we have a wineskin that is alive with hope, expectation and confidence in Jesus.

I leave you with those thoughts for now – more to come as we seek new wineskins and new wine.  


Recently lying in a tent in the back country listening to the rain I was reflecting on Proverbs 29:18. The old King James is likely familiar to people from the oft repeated quote, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” It is applied by business people and self help gurus alike. Yet the latter half of the verse receives short shrift. Here is the whole verse.

18  Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law. Proverbs 29:18 (NKJV)

To properly understand and apply the first half we need to embrace the second half. The first half tells us that the lack of something leads to a casting off of restraint, a loss. We find in the second half of the verse that the thing lost is an understanding of the law, in this case the Mosaic Law. The law was given to guide proper behaviour and as a restraint on wrong behaviour. The implication is that it isn’t about the need for vision or revelation in general. It is a need for a revelation of the role of the law in our lives.

The English Standard Version translates the first phrase as “Where there is no prophetic vision.” While the word ‘prophetic’ is added for clarity it is implied in the context. The role of the prophets in the Old Testament was primarily calling the people back to obedience to the law.  

So, given this let’s apply it to our lives. In our natural lives one of the roles of parents and other authority figures is to provide external controls in the lives of children. As they grow and mature children develop greater internal control and so need less external control. As believers we start out as spiritual children and are supposed to mature and grow (see 1 Jn. 2 for examples of the stages of spiritual growth). 

The implication from Proverbs 29:18 is that in our growth we need to learn to adhere to the principles of scripture by knowing His word and as we mature we develop a greater sensitivity to His internal leading and less reliance on knowing the ‘right’ thing to do in different situations. The learning of the principles is the fruit of disciplined time spent in His word and meaningful fellowship with more mature believers.

In the church at present we have many varied and conflicting beliefs. One movement gaining many adherents is ‘progressive’ Christianity, which when examined isn’t Christianity at all. Below are the first two of the eight points from, updated for 2020.

1. Believe that following the path of the teacher Jesus can lead to healing and wholeness, a mystical connection to “God,” as well as an awareness and experience of not only the Sacred, but the Oneness and Unity of all life;

2. Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience “God,” the Sacredness, Oneness and Unity of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom, including Earth, in our spiritual journey;

Notice that Jesus is just a good ‘teacher’ and one of many ways to God. This movement has made great inroads in the evangelical church because of our lack of knowledge of and understanding of scripture. There has been a casting off of restraint and a rejection the ‘law,’ the truths of scripture. So, if we are seeking vision or revelation let us seek that which calls and draws us to adherence to the timeless truths of scripture and anchors us in His word and presence.

Slowing Down

Recently while praying and reflecting a phrase came to me, “The virtue of slowing down.” In my experience there is great virtue in slowing down. As someone who has long had a tendency to be too ‘busy’ I appreciate this virtue. I have learned that I need to be internally reflective to hear His voice. I have had many experiences of Jesus presence and I have had words of knowledge for others hundreds of times, usually in the context of worship. Yet in my own walk with Jesus whether I get off somewhere quiet or internally tune my heart in the midst of busyness, it is in intentionally slowing down and looking to Him that I am more conscious of His presence and receive His direction.

An example in scripture is the encounter Jesus has with the Samaritan woman in John 4. Jesus slowed down. He sent His disciples off to get food and He sat by a well patiently waiting for the appointment He had with this woman – a meeting His father had arranged. In the end He described this encounter flowing from doing His Father’s will as spiritual food that nourished Him (Jn. 4:32-34).

We may be tempted to discount this as happening because it was Jesus. Yet He calls us to this same process. He wants us to meet with Him and that is a choice we regularly have before us. It is the testimony of scripture and history that hearing His voice and knowing His presence is generally rooted in an intentional pursuit of His presence. There are many examples in scripture of Jesus getting alone to be with His Father. The famous Brother Lawrence encountered Jesus in his day to day activities in the kitchen. Jeanne Guyon spoke and wrote of this as available to all believers. Some of the leaders her book, Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ great influenced include John Wesley, Watchmen Nee and John Wimber and the Vineyard movement. There are a multitude of others but these serve to illustrate the ‘Virtue of Slowing Down.’ While not using the phrase, this is what Guyon advocated – an intentional focus on Jesus and encountering His presence.  

The idea is well captured in some lines from a song by Jason Upton, “If the present is a place that my future will define I want to slow things down and take a little time. Can you help me do it Jesus?” So, if we want to experience the ‘Virtue of Slowing Down’ let’s ask Jesus to help us. He will.

6  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. Philippians 4:6-8 (NKJV)

3  You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

A Hammer and an Awkward Nail by Jason Upton

Out of the Heart

Our conduct, our words and actions, flow from what has taken root in our heart. This is why we have the well-known encouragement and warning in Proverbs.

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

Jesus also addressed the need to guard our hearts.  

33  “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34  Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 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. 36  But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 (NKJV)

Jesus focus on our words and their source but the application is broader as He contrasts good and evil ‘things’ coming out of our hearts. In the only Psalm we have by Moses we have a succinct summation of how we keep or guard our hearts.  

12  So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (NKJV)

The New American Standard Bible translates the latter phrase of this verse a bit differently.

12  So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (NASB)

Inherent in the common Hebrew verb bôʾ (gain/present) is the idea of both gaining and presenting. If we gain a heart of wisdom we can then present it to the Lord at the end of our days. The focus is on numbering our days to develop a wise heart. When we number our days we pay attention to how we invest our time and energy. Paul captured the concept in Ephesians 5:15-16 when he addressed the need to walk circumspectly and use our time wisely.

Given we do not know how many days we have on the earth we are wise if we number them. At my age I know I have many more days behind me then I do ahead of me and I want to be a good steward of my time. That doesn’t mean spending every waking moment praying or reading the scriptures. It does mean keeping at the forefront of my mind that I need to walk close to His heart throughout the day. It means allowing my heart to be drawn into intercession throughout the day. It means I need to be sensitive to His leading and calling and recognize that any relationship I engage in, however fleeting, I am an ambassador for Jesus, a representative of the King.

Now Moments

There are ‘now’ moments in each of our lives. I know there was a time in my life when I thought I needed now moments like the one Moses had at the burning bush.

3  Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” Exodus 3:3 (NKJV)  

I still pray for significant encounters with Him and have had some over the years. At the same time I have previously written on the danger of missing the spiritual while looking for the supernatural. I think that is true of now moments. While these moments of choice are sometimes dramatic and obvious, usually they are times of simply choosing to respond to His prompting to engage in a conversation, contact a person, and sit with Him and His word or something similar. Yet these now moments of being faithful shape our lives.

While the now moment for Moses was very obvious that is generally not what happens. In the gospels we read the stories of some who responded to their now opportunities to follow a dusty itinerant Rabbi (Matt. 4:18-22) and examples of others who gave Jesus reasons why ‘now’ was not a good time to respond and follow Him (Lk. 9:57-62). As we reflect on the now moments in our lives we can consider the factors that led to our conversion and moments that have shaped our walk. Like now moments in scripture some may have had dramatic encounters while others will have had seemingly mundane experiences that led to conversion and shaped a lifestyle. 

I know my own commitment to follow Jesus was not dramatic. I had a ‘now’ moment in a cancer diagnosis a few days before my wedding at age 23. This led to a reflection on my belief system and a decision to read the scriptures. Yet, while people were praying for me I never made a real commitment until age 25. There was nothing dramatic, no flashing lights. Simply a series of responses in various now moments.

Once I began to walk with Jesus there were many now moments of being at the right place at the right time. Meeting key people and in the moment making decisions to continue godly relationships, some of which have now lasted decades. A commonality in my experience was an inner nudge, a sense of the need to respond to something or someone. I believe sensitivity to these nudges comes from faithfully pursuing His presence and purpose.

I remember a key relationship in my life came from responding to a sense to call someone I had met and go and visit her. She later told me of the spiritual significance of what had happened and what she discerned in the spirit realm. I was aware of none of these things. I just knew obedience was important and so responded to His inner nudge to get to know this wise and godly older woman who became a friend and mentor.

I don’t know what ‘now’ is like for each of us. I do know that it is important to focus on His leading, seek to be found faithful and ask for His help in responding properly to the opportunities He provides. To deepen this feel free to join me in something I regularly pray, “Help me to discern and engage in the opportunities You provide.” Faithfully seeking and trusting Him advances His kingdom in the earth and prioritizes the spiritual over the supernatural.

A Rooster Crowed

I was hiking in the mountains and heard a rooster crow. Yes, I was close enough to civilization for someone to have chickens. I had been praying as I hiked, something I like to do. When the rooster began crowing my mind went back to living on an acreage and having chickens. Chickens, more particularly roosters, are very reliable. They begin crowing just before the day dawns. They announce the new day.

So what do chickens have to do with scripture and anything meaningful? The rooster got me thinking about Peter and his confident denial that he would never deny Jesus, leading to his denial and heartbreak in a few hours. Understanding the Jewish day helps. The Jewish day begins at sundown, so there is a wonderful idea that we begin our day with food and fellowship with our family, rest, then enter into the day’s work from a place of rest.

In essence when Jesus told Peter he would deny Him before the rooster crowed (Matt. 26:24, Lk. 22:34) He was saying, “Peter, you won’t even make it into the work of the day before you deny me.” Peter was speaking out of pride and self-confidence, Jesus was speaking out of knowledge and wisdom. Having learned from this experience Peter later wrote of the importance of humility in receiving the grace by which we stand.

5  Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 6  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7  casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7 (NKJV)

My point is not to disparage Peter. Peter was a bold witness for the gospel, the only one of the twelve to walk on water, the first to take the gospel to the Gentiles and loved Jesus deeply. His failure is recorded in scripture to encourage us. After His failure and denial of Jesus we know from scripture that he embraced Jesus forgiveness and had a healed heart. We see the fruit of it in one of his first recorded messages where he boldly confronted the people of Israel of over their denial of Jesus.

13  The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14  But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15  and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. Acts 3:13-15 (NKJV)  

So a major lesson from Peter is the need to reflect on whether our confidence lies in our ability to stand or His ability to keep us from falling. One is a recipe for failure and the other is the path to empowering grace and freedom. If we humbly seek His grace we can trust in His keeping power as Jude wrote.

24  Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25  To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25 (NKJV)

Walking in His Anointing

If we have been born again then we have also been anointed by the Holy Spirit (1 Jn. 2:20, 27). Given that we have been anointed let us look at how to we walk in what we carry. The best example of course is Jesus.

18  “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV)

Messiah means ‘Anointed One’ and Jesus was in Nazareth proclaiming His Messiahship in the synagogue by reading Isaiah 61:1-2 referring to the anointing upon Himself. The idea of an anointing was the ability to accomplish a task. We see Old Testament examples in the kings like Saul and David being anointed with oil by Samuel the prophet. They were given an ability to do something. In this case to lead a nation. Jesus was given the ability to usher in an eternal kingdom so let us focus on some of what the anointing accomplished through Jesus. 

We know from the gospels that multitudes were healed by Jesus and lives were transformed through His ministry when He walked the earth in human form. A closer look at this account from Nazareth draws out some interesting contrasts with how effective Jesus was in most places.

1  Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2  And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3  Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” And they were offended at Him. 4  But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 5  Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. Mark 6:1-5 (NKJV)

Mark does not include the reading from Isaiah that we have in Luke 4:18-19. He does however give us the reaction of the hearers to Jesus. The people of Nazareth recognized Jesus mighty works but took offense at His declaration because they had known Jesus all of His life. The result was that Jesus could do little for them. Even though others received a great deal from Jesus the offense the people of Nazareth took up limited the effectiveness of the anointing that was on Him to bring them the kingdom to their community.

So we can apply this lesson to our lives. If we are born again we have been anointed and we carry an ability to do something in and for His kingdom. For His anointing to be effective in our lives we need to believe and trust in what we carry. At the same time we cannot control how others respond to what we carry. We are called to walk in integrity, speak the truth in love and bathe what we do in prayer. The rest we are to leave in His hands.   

Wrapped in Revelation

Sometimes when reading something we are struck with a new insight. This happened recently as I was reading in the book of Numbers. Clearly some parts of the bible do not make for exciting reading. For me it takes discipline to get through some Old Testament (OT) sections. However, I know the Lord inspired His word and even seemingly mundane things are important to Him. He has provided a record that Paul said we are to learn from (1 Cor. 1:10-11) and Jesus our pattern often quoted from the OT.

So, what struck me? What I read wasn’t about numbers of people or things, it was about how the Ark and other sacred items were to be cared for prior to travelling.

5  When the camp prepares to journey, Aaron and his sons shall come, and they shall take down the covering veil and cover the ark of the Testimony with it. 6  Then they shall put on it a covering of badger skins, and spread over that a cloth entirely of blue; and they shall insert its poles. 7  On the table of showbread they shall spread a blue cloth, and put on it the dishes, the pans, the bowls, and the pitchers for pouring; and the showbread shall be on it. Numbers 4:5-7 (NKJV)

9  And they shall take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand of the light, with its lamps, its wick-trimmers, its trays, and all its oil vessels, with which they service it. Numbers 4:9 (NKJV)

11  Over the golden altar they shall spread a blue cloth, and cover it with a covering of badger skins; and they shall insert its poles. 12  Then they shall take all the utensils of service with which they minister in the sanctuary, put them in a blue cloth, cover them with a covering of badger skins, and put them on a carrying beam. Numbers 4:11-12 (NKJV)

What initially stood out in my reading was the Ark of the Covenant was to be covered in a blue cloth. The other key items in the Tabernacle were to be treated the same way. Blue speaks of revelation as the sky/heavens are blue and point to our need for revelation from heaven. Hence the post title, Wrapped in Revelation.

I believe Jesus desires to give us ongoing revelation regarding His word, our lives and the lives of those around us. We see this desire expressed in one of Paul’s prayers.

17  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, Ephesians 1:17 (NKJV)

To be clear, this is about a revelation of the Father and His purposes and one of His desires is that we know His work in every area of our lives. Elsewhere in this same letter Paul said,

10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

So, I believe that our lives are to be wrapped in revelation that comes from seeking His wisdom for each day. This is not some esoteric idea but the reality that Jesus lives in us and wants to be involved in every area of our lives. He wants to wrap us in a revelation of who He is, what He has accomplished in our salvation, who He is in us and how He desires to move through us in every aspect of our lives. So let us be wrapped up in who Jesus is that we might touch the lives of those around us with His presence and purpose.

Following His Leading

Recently I had to take my car in for some work and the dealership loaned me a new vehicle. It has the modern features, one of them being lane departure. I have driven vehicles in the past that warned me when I was drifting out of my lane. The difference with this vehicle (Subaru Ascent) is that it actively tries to pull the vehicle back into the correct lane. Turning on the signal light to turn or change lanes deactivates the system.

As I was sharing this with a friend it got me thinking about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When we start to drift out of our lane He warns us and seeks to pull us back and keep us on the right spiritual track. He doesn’t force us. He doesn’t control. Just like I can override the lane departure system in the vehicle I can override the warnings of the Holy Spirit.

Since the Garden of Eden He has given us the choice to obey or disobey. If my heart, is as it should be, to be obedient, then I will heed His warnings. While the warning system in the car is very obvious, He is usually more subtle.

The verse below provides a good example.   

13  I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia. 2 Corinthians 2:13 (NKJV)

Paul said he had no rest in his spirit. While this was not a ‘lane departure’ warning it does teach us something about one way He leads us. Paul had a sense of unease, an awareness that all was not as it should be with Titus and it motivated him to action. In our walk the Holy Spirit generally leads us through His word and in our spirit. In seeking to follow His leading we may have sense that something is not right, as Paul did, or a sense that what we are trying to accomplish may not work.

Even if we are endeavouring to do something that is good but lack His peace in our spirit (Col. 3:15) it may not be the best or it may be out of God’s timing. We are called to stay in our lane, seek to know His voice and leading (Rom. 8:14) and act accordingly. So, let us pay attention to our spirits (Mal. 2:15), heed His lane departure warnings, do as He leads seek to arrive safely at our eternal destination!