Friday, December 28, 2012

Cheers to the new wineskin

As we look forward to the coming year, “striving for a better marriage” is likely to appear on your resolution list. We must keep in mind that any resolution without revelation will result in delusion and frustration.  If we try to “do better” at anything in the flesh, we will fizzle out and fail.
The secret to achieving any goal that we desire is found in Luke 5:37-39:                        
37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says the old is better.”
Understanding the revelation of the new covenant- In Luke 5:33, the Pharisees had questioned Jesus about fasting. “Then they said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?” In verse 34, Jesus responded, “And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?
Jesus wanted to differentiate between the old and the new covenant. Instead of responding to this isolated thought, He addressed the source of their thinking. The Pharisees were still operating under the old covenant, observing the law for the sake of the law. His illustration invited them to experience a paradigm shift. If we seek the face of our bridegroom, the law will be overshadowed by the presence of love.  
We must not view our marriage as a “to do” or “not to do” list for we will fall into the snare of legalism. We will inevitably hurt each other through the magnification of our flaws and shortcomings. However, if we seek the heart of our spouse, we will naturally want to do the things that please him or her. Change your perspective to loving your spouse and the little things will automatically fall into place.
Embracing an attitude of change through humility- Luke 5:39 illuminates the source of strongholds: “And no one having drunk the old wine, immediately desires new; for he says the old is better.” In order for meaningful change to take place there has to be a recognition that the old way of thinking is no longer working. Examine your heart for areas of stubbornness, old habits, and stale routines. In doing so, you must be careful to not to criticize your spouse, but rather ask God to examine your own heart. Pray Psalms 23-24 over your soul, “23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”
Unfortunately, some of the happiest memories couples have are contained in the honeymoon period. Although on the surface, this does not appear enigmatic, but it actually reflects the truth of Luke 5:39.  If we believe that the happiest days are behind us, we believe the “old wine” is better. We must desire the “new wine” that God has for our marriage. The desire will come when we believe the truth of God’s promise. Isaiah 43:19 says, “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Ask God to “Catch the Foxes”- Song of Solomon 2:15 says, “Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes.” The enemy knows your areas of weakness and will try to ruin the fruit that is blossoming in your marriage. Ask the LORD to catch the foxes that are designed to nibble at the fruit of the Spirit that is growing in you—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. It is often the “little” things—worry, aggravation, and annoyances that try to eat away at our soul. Let God catch them for you this year.





Thursday, December 13, 2012

Marriage is Alive

In order for marriage to rise to the place which God has ordained, we must experience a dynamic paradigm shift in how we view marriage. Instead of approaching it as a sterile structure or an invisible institution, we must embrace its intrinsic value as a living organism. Marriage is alive. To recognize this is an important prerequisite because of the undeniable implications that follow:

1)      Marriage has inalienable rights- We must search for its pulse, and witness its right to exist. Marriage was not created by man, but established by God. Consequently, marriage cannot be redefined. Man simply does not have the power to redefine an absolute created by the Creator. The DNA of marriage is uniquely designed and cannot be altered.

2)      Marriage is filled with the Breath of God- God spoke marriage into existence. It does not merely consist of the breath of man joined to the breath of woman, but it is the very breath of God that sustains the life of a marriage. Just as a flute is nothing more than a hollow reed without the breath of the flutist, our marriage is devoid of meaning without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” Just as the flute produces a sound as the air stream travels down the piping, the interplay of two souls led by the Spirit will determine the unique sound your marriage makes. Each marriage has a creative expression. Throughout the song of your marriage, you will inevitably have major and minor keys, but when God is the Instrumentalist, you can expect a triumphant resolution.

3)       Marriage has a voice- The degree to which our marriage is open to the will of God determines the message conveyed to others. Isaiah 40:3 says. “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” When we submit to the divine order of marriage and fulfill our roles as God intended, we point others to God by representing Him in the earth.

4)      Marriage requires continual nourishment to survive- Just as our physical bodies require daily nutrients, we must be cognizant of the areas our marriage is lacking. Leg cramps can be brought on by potassium deficiencies. Too often, we try to treat the symptoms of pain in our marriage without tracing back to the source. Is there pain or distance in your marriage? What spiritual or emotional nutrients are you missing?

5)      Marriage has eyesight - Although each individual brings visions and dreams into the marriage, there must be an overarching vision that includes both. God is the one who gives visions and dreams and only He can see the whole picture. As we press into His vision for our lives, He restores our sight so we can have direction for the path ahead.  I have always been intrigued by the passage of Mark 8:22-25, “And He cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him. And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that He put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.” I was talking to my husband about this passage the other day, and he had an interesting interpretation. Although many interpret this passage as a progressive miracle where the blind man’s sight was partially restored with the first act and completely restored with the second, could there be another explanation? Adam mentioned perhaps instead of one miracle, there were two—where Jesus first restored the man’s spiritual sight and then restored his natural sight. Perhaps this man was seeing into the spirit realm—viewing men as God views them, as trees of righteousness. In marriage, our spiritual vision must first be restored. Jesus has to take us by the hand and lead us out of the town of our small thinking. He desires to heal us both spiritually and physically. We must see ourselves as God sees us to reclaim our identity. Once we know who we are, we will understand our purpose and our destiny.