New Opportunities - New Year
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine
will burst the skins and it will be spilled and the skins will be destroyed.
But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
— Luke 5:36-39, ESV
When Jesus spoke this parable, there were no water bottles, no Starbucks tumblers. Liquids were put into animal skins that were used like a canteen. When putting new wine into the old wineskins, the new wine would ferment and produce additional gasses—and the old wineskin would burst because it had become hardened and brittle.
New wine must be put into fresh wineskins. — Luke 5:38
The story reminds me of a reality that all of us face: New situations require new structures. With a new job, we need to learn new skills. New relationships require new ways of relating to people. To have a better attitude, we need to think differently and put our negative experiences, unhealthy emotions, mistakes, and failures behind us.
Are there wineskins that we’ve depended on for a long time . . . old ways of thinking, acting, talking, or listening? Responses that worked well before might not work today. Perhaps some “new wineskins” could be considered. All of us will certainly have new challenges, pressures, and opportunities in 2016.
New challenges require creative solutions.
An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
— Proverbs 18:15, ESV
Some excuses that are frequently used for having a closed mind include:
- We’ve tried that before.
- We’ve never done it that way before.
- We’ve always done it this way.
- It’s too much trouble to change.
- It costs too much.
- We don’t have enough time.
- It’s against company policy. (It’s not our policy.)
- That’s not our problem.
- You’re right, but . . .
- We’re not ready for that.
- It isn’t in the budget.
- You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
- Let’s form a committee.
- Let’s sleep on it.
- It’s impossible.
Most people spend more time and energy trying to get around problems than they do solving them. You might say, “I’m not creative.” Yes, you are! You were made by the Creator and have creative abilities that you haven’t yet tapped.
You were taught to be made new in your thinking. You were taught to
start living a new life. It is created to be truly good and holy, just as God is.
— Ephesians 4:23-24, NIRV
New pressures require that I stand for my convictions.
Conviction is a willingness to stand up for what you believe. All of us have pressures to bend the truth, compromise in our faith, and make ethical decisions that are questionable. Many yield to temptation, letting pressure from others persuade them into doing something that they know is wrong. Make the decision that no matter what the pressure is, you will not move from the convictions that the Holy Spirit has given you. Say: “I don’t care if everyone is doing it! It’s not right, and I’m not going to do it!”
Don’t let the world squeeze you in its mold, but let God remake you so your whole attitude of mind is changed. — Romans 12:2, Phillips translation
Pressures frequently help us have strong convictions and trust God. Paul the apostle wrote, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life . . . But this happened so we might not rely on ourselves but on God . . .” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
Paul said he had this incredible pressure (beyond his ability to handle) so that he would rely on God, not on his own strength. When we feel overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, we can decide that we’re going to trust God and continue to do what we know is right.
New possibilities require me to have courage.
This year, you are going to see wonderful new possibilities that God will bring to you. He desires to do wonderful things in your life—in your family, your personal growth, your education, your occupation, your walk with Him, and more. All of these areas will require “new wineskins.” You can do this, but in order to walk in courage, you will need to consider doing some things differently. If you don’t, you will not be any different a year from now. You will not have grown.
Plow new ground for yourselves, plant righteousness, and reap the blessings that your devotion to me will produce. It is time for you to turn to me, your Lord, and I will come and pour out blessings upon you. — Hosea 10:12, Good News Translation (bold mine)
Plowing new ground will take new courage. To change, to become better, to walk in new areas of faith, to overcome bad habits, to apologize, to obtain more education, and to trust our creative abilities will all take courage. Doing things in different ways can make us feel overwhelmed and fearful, but understand that you are a child of God (John 1:12) and He will give you wisdom for every decision you make.
You are a leader, uniquely gifted and intelligent, and you have the abilities to make decisions that will help you and those around you. Go for it!
I am always . . .
Your Friend and Servant In Christ,
Wayde Goodall, D.Min.
Dean, College of Ministry