So much is going on in my spiritual life right now that I find I can hardly contain myself. I’ve been asking, seeking, knocking for such a long time now that I’ve grown impatient and [forgive me, Lord] even angry. In my attempt at serving the Lord, I’ve blindly stepped out to put my hand to many things in an attempt to see which would bear fruit thus hoping to find out what God’s direction or path was/is for me. Yes, call me foolish!
While ultimately the problem was with me, I had some contributors to the problem. By my own choice, I’ve been listening to the teaching of several well-known ministers, mostly via the radio or TV. It seemed that the more I listened, the more confused I became. It was as if their instructions on how to ‘know the will of God’ were more like formulas that I had to adhere to or all would be for nothing. The problem was … everyone had a different method or theory. What was one to do?
So I mixed and mashed and muddled my way through attempted works which took me off the path I was to be on. Oh, I was walking ‘near’ it, but I wasn’t ‘on’ it. There I was, confused and feeling dejected but still had enough wits about me to pray. Key statement there … ‘PRAY’! I also sought Godly counsel. Albeit helpful, it didn’t render answers or clarity. It did render a grateful heart that there are loving brothers and sisters-in-the-Lord in my life always ready to give me a word or offer up a prayer or make a suggestion leading me back to God’s word. Thank you, Lord!
Then, by the grace of God, after much prayer and time in His word, I got my feet back on the right path. Want to know how? Oh, it’s all so simple that I feel foolish that I never gave it much thought before. Someone pointed me to a video of an itinerant preacher and missionary teaching at a conference. The words he spoke just removed the veil from my eyes and I finally GOT IT! Stuff! I was full of stuff. I was so busy trying to do ‘stuff’ for the Lord and waiting to see if it would bear fruit that I never stopped to think that I was so full of myself that there was only a tiny amount of room for the Holy Spirit. I needed to ‘get rid of the old wineskin. Matthew 9:17 says this; “Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” [NIV]
I’ve been pouring new wine [all the glory and fullness of God] into an old wineskin. The result? Leaking out and becoming ruined. All my sad attempts at giving God glory were nothing but leaking and ruined wine. I never discarded the old wineskin of ‘self’ and realized that I needed to be, not only new, BUT EMPTY! No self, in other words. One that would be filled with God! A new and empty wineskin that could be filled up with the Holy Spirit and thus showing my place of service to Him. In trusting that God needed to be in ALL of me, I first needed to rid myself of the old and take up the new. Honestly, this should be milk-teaching and not meat!
That’s what I’ve been busy with. Matthew 7:19 says this; “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” [NIV] I’ve been taking all those things [works] that I knew, but more importantly God knew, and have gotten rid of them. If something pops up that reminds me of self that goes, too. I have to be honest and say it’s been hard. I put a lot of time and effort into these ‘things’. The key word in that last sentence is ‘I’.
I do thank my Lord and Savior for putting it on someone’s heart to pass along that video. I also thank Him for that Puritan preacher who’s not afraid to speak the truth of the Gospel in a manner that you cannot deny the Holy Spirit is working through him. I thank my God for His patience with me till I got to the point that I could turn to Him and pray, “Now Lord! I am empty of all that rubbish and have thrown away the old wineskin. Thank you for filling the new wineskin with your presence!” If I may, let me end with a quote from one of the wisest preachers in history, Charles H. Spurgeon, ‘Anything is a blessing which makes us pray’.