Now We Wait

Preparations have been made, hearts are ready, let us celebrate the day of the Lord! Over the past month, we have fasted, feasted and set our hearts on a pilgrimage to seek the Lord. We have been looking forward to celebrating a glorious day. It is the greatest day in the history of mankind. On the third day, the breath of life returned back into the body of the Son of Man, raising Him from death to life, signifying the work of the cross and the work of the grave was finished. Mankind, now through Jesus has the right, the privilege, and the opportunity, once again to walk and abide in the presence of our Holy God. Praise His name! Every year tradition has us celebrating the day the world calls Easter, but we who believe know it as the day of the resurrection of our Lord. So today here we are, that festive day has come and past, the merriment, and activities have died down and I’m left asking this one question…What now?

If ever there was a whisper of the voice of a prophet in me, it most surely is now. Like the beating of a drum, these words echo with resolve out of the recesses of my spirit. The heavenly answer to my question “What now?” is:

“Now we wait!”

Now we wait? What does it mean to wait?

Waiting can be a demonstration of faith because even though you don’t know what will happen next, the very act of waiting expresses a desire that something, in fact, will come. Though expressed differently, waiting and hoping are -at the very least- first cousins. The Biblical definition of hope is joyful anticipation of good. So we wait because we expect something good. As well, the words trust and rest and expectation should also be holding hands in this circle of faith. This faith allows us to turn our head toward an ancient east wind blowing out of Jerusalem to listen to the voice of the disciples as they whisper these same words: “Now we wait!” The words of their Messiah rang true in spirit as they remembered what Jesus had told them,

‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.’

For forty days Jesus had appeared to His followers giving them many convincing proofs that He indeed was alive. Jesus had disappeared into the clouds and now the disciples were trudging inquisitively back to gather together in Jerusalem. Jesus had commanded them, “Wait for the promise.” They really didn’t know or understand what exactly they waited for. How could they? This new and glorious gift had never been seen or done before in this manner. Still, by faith, they waited. Faith created an expectancy and anticipation in their hearts. If the past three years had taught them anything, it was simply to trust in what Jesus says and don’t try to bring their own understanding into the equation. Experience had taught them no matter what they expected or whatever happened, it was going to be far greater than they could ever imagine. Love now commanded their heart. Experience had taught them to trust. Faith was the fuel for hope that burned fervently inside them. That hope produced a heartfelt expectation that good things were coming! With a resolve as certain as words etched into stone, each were waiting and proclaiming, “Yes…God is good!” And God was good. And God is good. And God will always be good!
As sure as the sunrise, the promise came like wind and fire with unexplainable power and glory, touching the hearts and souls of all who found faith in waiting.

The miracle of this moment turned a group of one hundred twenty who waited into a love struck army of three thousand. These Spirit-filled believers would begin a movement that even to this day would turn the world upside down. Two thousand years later, here we are, actively and expectantly waiting. Just like those extraordinary men and women of old, we really don’t know what is next. We are not sure what we are waiting for, but still, we wait. Our hearts are excited and full of joy. We wait with the excitement of young children on Christmas morning. Our eyes are open and dodging sleep. Our lamps are burning brightly and full to the brim with oil. If the Bridegroom knocks, we are awake and ready to fling open the door, fall on our face and kiss His beautiful feet.

So to answer the burning question in our hearts that is asking “what now?” is this:

“Now we wait!”
I pray you find much joy in the waiting!
“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” (Ps. 39:7)

“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes wait for the Lord.” (Ps. 27:14)

“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength.” (Isa. 40:31)

“But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” (Ro. 8:25)

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Don’t Forsake the Process

Needing a couple of days of rest from work and ministry, I along with Julie, Hugh and Monte made the trek through the Hill Country to Fredricksburg. This is a Central Texas town that hosts a variety of wineries and is just the sort of place you want to go to when you need a weekend to rest.

We sampled several wines. Some were made in Texas with locally grown grapes. Others were imported from wineries around the world. My favorite was a Mar-Red, imported from Israel. At one stop, we visited with a well-known winemaker who gave us an education for one hour about wine making. Par for the course, I had many off the wall questions and he was gracious to answer them all. I wanted to know about the entire process from start to finish -from seed to the glass. As always for me, the natural way of things tend to
point to a greater understanding of spiritual things. Here’s what I learned.

What happens when you pour water into a wineskin? You’re right…nothing! The water just sits there wet and still. But what happens when you pour water into an empty vessel that’s meant for sanctification? With Jesus, that water turns to wine. In the same way, to be born again is as drastic a change as dark to light or even water to wine. The old pattern of thinking has gone and the new transformation has come.

However, if you try to pour new wine into an old wineskin, being stiff and dry, the skin will break and all the wine is spilled out on the ground and lost. The old wineskin now becomes useless which leads me to believe an old wine skin is only good for holding old wine or perhaps even just hanging on the wall.  On the other hand, a new wineskin is moist and soft and pliable. As the fermenting process continues with the fresh wine, the new skin is able to move and expand and stretch with the effervescence of the wine. So too, the born again believer is able to stretch and grow with the effervescence of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God within.

Characteristics of a new wine skin are humility, thankfulness, childlike wonder, a repentant heart, a desire for change and a heart for others. The evidence of new wine is the outpour of love and mercy that can only come from a thankful, repentant heart. Suddenly, a shift from self and selfishness moves us to a new place of honestly loving and caring and stopping for those in need. The effervescence and percolating wine within bends and shapes us back to our original design. We become more outward focussed instead of inward focussed.

Worldly pride, as well as religious pride, will walk by the unclean every time, hissing, accusing and justifying. But new wine sees into the darkness without fear and willingly sacrifices time and money and self without limits or constraint. Quiet and powerfully, the new wine in us motivates us to seek out the lost and hidden treasure in people everywhere. Something in us like grapes to wine has definitely changed. Jesus painted the ultimate masterpiece of selflessness for us by willingly going to the cross, taking the punishment due us upon himself and offering His life as a sacrifice in place of ours.

Today, He offers us a drink of new wine. New wine is freedom. New wine is hope. New wine is purpose. New wine is significance. New wine is life. New wine is love. New wine is joy. New wine is peace. New wine is healing. New wine is salvation. The way is simple and without cost. The corkscrew to new wine is placing all your faith and trust in Jesus. He beckons us to come to Him as an empty vessel longing to be filled. Scriptures teach that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Please hear my desperate and loving shout, you must be born again. Faith is the key. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. New wine is just a prayer away. Where do you start? On your knees is a good place, saying Jesus, I want to be born of the Spirit. New wine is knowing and walking with Jesus. It’s good news and all are invited. All are welcome. Jesus has saved the best for last!

So together we raise our glass to honor, to remember and to give thanks to the only One, Jesus Christ who gives us eternal life.

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.