Its 2013 And Jesus is Breaking Out The New Wine!

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Every creation of Jesus is better than His creation before.

Bruce Springsteen sings a song called “Glory Days.” In the song he talks about running into old friends and talking about glory days gone by, when they were much younger. I can relate. When I was young I loved to play basketball. However, about a year ago, after teaching an evangelism class at the nearby church school, I walked into the gym and saw a basketball. I picked it up and started shooting baskets. No, truth is, I tried shooting baskets. I could not make a basket to save my life. As I walked out of the gym I told myself, this must be why old men like me play golf. We just can’t do what we did when were young anymore.

This morning I picked up my Bible started reading the book of John, as I am reading through the New Testament. I read in chapter 2, where after Jesus turned the water into the wine, the host of the party accuses the servants of saving the best wine till last. I thought to myself, that is how it is with Jesus! God’s plan is not for us to grow old and talk about glory days gone by. The best is always yet to come! Jesus has created a new year, and like the new wine, every creation is better than before.

A couple weeks ago at a home game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a ceremony remembering their super bowl championship 10 years ago. Some friends of mine and I kind of laughed to ourselves, that you know things are pretty sad for the team when you have to go back ten years to find something to celebrate. This is not how God has designed life to be. In Psalms 23:6 David declares, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” David did not serve a God of glory days gone by.  He served a God ready to bless and prosper Him every day. After years of captivity, when Israel was tempted to long for their glory days gone by, Jeremiah reminded them that the best days were yet to come! “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV

As I enter 2013, I am not looking to make it like the good ole days. No, I am looking for it to be better than ever!  When the Israelites entered Canaan they were to take all of the land. However Judges 1 tells us, “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” Really? Those chariots of iron were just too much for God, huh? I don’t think so. That was no excuse, and God knew it.

Earlier in Joshua 17:18 God Commanded, “for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.” So what was the problem? Zephaniah wrote about the church, “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees.” Those who are settled on their lees, are riding on their past experience. I imagine this was true of the Israelites when they entered Canaan. They had crossed through the Red Sea and the Jordan River. God had seen them through a lot. Let’s stop now and just rest. Why go further? The iron chariots were just the excuse they used to stop where they were, content to rest. They became a bunch of has-beens, relying on past experiences.

When I was in my early 20s I drove out to a little town in Western Oklahoma to preach one Sabbath. I went downstairs into the basement where the drinking fountain was and I saw several nice large children’s Sabbath School rooms- all empty! During lunch after church, an old patriarch told me those rooms used to be filled with children, and I could tell by the way they looked, that he was telling me the truth. He explained how those children have all grown up and moved away and started families elsewhere. Logical explanation, and I am sure a lot of children had grown up and just moved away. Even so, even as a young Bible Worker at the time, I had enough experience to know that if you gave me a church directory from a few years ago, I could still find a lot of them right there in town. I will never forget the feeling I had, standing alone in that empty hallway on Sabbath morning, peering into all those empty classrooms, imagining what they looked like full, back in their day. Back in their day? That is a term God does not even know! He is the Great I AM! Not the Great has been!

Friends I can guarantee you, God never would have given us 2013 if He did not think it would be better than any year before! There are fresh victories to be gained. We may even have to change our ways and try something new. When I was a kid I tossed the basketball around and never thought about golf. Today I stand in tee boxes facing fairways I have never seen before, or even thought about when I was younger. I’m not a kid anymore. Life is moving on and my God is moving along with me, taking me to new challenges and victories. I remember when my late grandmother went into a nursing home for a while. Many would have seen that as the end, but my grandmother made new friends!

In 2013 we will meet new people, new opportunities and new victories! Let the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate their super bowl of ten years ago- while I celebrate new victories each and every day in 2013. By God’s grace, instead of looking at how vibrant my church was in days gone by, I will be looking at it in 2013 and think, wow! I have never seen such life before. Sorry Bruce. I can’t sing that song of glory days gone by with you. I am still experiencing God’s glory today!

It’s 2013 and I can see Jesus breaking out the new wine!

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

John 2; A Savior From Social Embarrassment

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

John 2:1       And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 

 2:2      And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 

 2:3      And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 

 2:4      Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 

 2:5      His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do [it]. 

 2:6      And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 

 2:7      Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 

 2:8      And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare [it]. 

 2:9      When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 

 2:10    And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: [but] thou hast kept the good wine until now. 

Not only was this Jesus’ first recorded miracle, but consider why He performed this miracle. It was to save the host social embarrassment. That tells us something about Jesus. It tells us that He was a very social person, and He was very sensitive to the feelings of others. Did the people really need wine? No. They could have survived with water. Jesus obviously wanted people to have fun at the party and did not want the host to be embarrassed. That right there tells me a lot about our God.

I like the simple words of Mary, “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.” It is as simple as that. I remember several years ago, while living in Texas, I went to a three church district in Oklahoma to preach one Sabbath. On most occasions, when I did this, each church that Sabbath would give a little offering to help with my gas expenses. It usually totaled around $200.00 give or take a few.

One Sabbath when I arrived at the first church where I spoke that Sabbath, I found out that one of the families in that district had just lost a young boy. The family was poor and did not have the money to bury him. The pastor said an offering would be taken to help the family. He assured me there would still be an offering for me.

As I sat on the platform getting ready to preach, I heard a testimony about the family who lost the little boy. The Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder (heart?) and told me to tell the pastor sitting on the platform with me, to not take up an offering for my expenses but to have it all given to the family. I thought about it for a second, and started doing the math, thinking about how much money I would be losing and how I could get by without it. As I was doing the math in my head, the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder again and said, “I already told you what to do. Why are still trying to figure things out?” I then leaned over and whispered in the pastor’s ear to not have an offering for my expenses, but to give all the money that Sabbath to the family. I never missed the money. More importantly I learned the simplicity of Mary’s words, “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.” It doesn’t have to be complicated. Don’t worry about the consequences. Simply do as He says, and see if Jesus does not bless your life the way He blessed that wedding party in Canaan.