Saturday, April 30

Luke 5:39
And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

Did Jesus really just say in this verse that the “old” is better?  Fortunately, He did not say that.  He is saying that people prefer the old “wine” (i.e., the old methods).  Have you ever heard the phrase “we have always done it that way?”  Jesus is challenging that thought.  If you wonder if that last statement is true, just go back and read Luke 5, starting specifically at verse 27.  (However, look at almost anything that Jesus said and did.  When we examine all of Jesus’ life, I think we can safely say that he was inaugurating a new kingdom and a new way and not promoting that we continue to do what we have always done.)

Here is the challenging question for each of us as we finish our study this week:  have we ever said, “…we have always done it that way?”  And when we say that, is that line of thinking preventing us from moving from the good to the better – JESUS?

Friday, April 29

Luke 5:36-38
He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.  And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.’”

Earlier in the 5th chapter of Luke, Jesus had called Matthew the tax collector to be one of His disciples and Jesus had been seen eating with sinners, something the Jewish leaders didn’t approve of.  The Jewish leaders then complained that Jesus’ disciples were not fasting like they should, at least according to the laws that had been created.  Jesus answered His critics with answers that went against the customs of the time.  Jesus was clearly doing something new.

Then He tells the parable that is from today’s Bible passage.  To summarize, if you want something new, you can’t use the same old methods and structures.  You need new methods and structures to do something new.

We want to do something new in trying to reach people who don’t know Jesus.  The old methods of saying “build it and they will come” will not work for everybody in today’s culture that needs to meet Jesus.  We won’t give up the old but we definitely need to do some new things.

In the ministry that you lead or participate in, do you need a new “wineskin” in order to reach new people for Jesus and “make disciples” in this culture as Jesus calls us to do?

Thursday, April 28

Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

In this passage, we find that someone (Mary) is making the choice for the better option – Jesus.  However, someone else (Martha) is complaining because she is stuck doing the other tasks.  She wants Mary to give up the better option (listening and learning from Jesus) to help with the tasks.  Jesus was not very sympathetic.  Jesus says that really, only one thing is needed, one thing is important.  And that is Jesus.

As you are involved in ministries, ministries that are most likely good, most likely serve others, showing compassion to others, are you primarily focusing on the better – Jesus?

Wednesday, April 27

John 3:27-30
To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.  You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’  The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.  He must become greater; I must become less.”

John the Baptist had received a lot of attention in his ministry.  But he had said that he did not want the attention to be on him.  In fact the attention should NOT be on him.  He was merely pointing the way for someone else, Jesus, who had now officially started His ministry.

He compares the situation to a wedding with the following players:  Jesus is the bridegroom, the “church” (Jesus’ followers at the time) was considered the bride, and John the Baptist was simply the friend of the bridegroom, pointing to the bridegroom.  Now it is time for the bridegroom to take center stage.  John the Baptist says that it is time for him to become less as the real attention goes to Jesus.  In other words, people should now devote their attention to NOT the good (John the Baptist) but to the better (Jesus).

Think about your reflection from Monday:  has there been a time where you did (or needed to) point someone from you and your good works to Jesus who is the better?

Tuesday, April 26

John 3:22-26
After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.  Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized.  (This was before John was put in prison.)  An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing.  They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

Early in the gospel of John, before this passage, John the Baptist had been baptizing people, calling for them to repent and believe the good news.  John had been preparing the way for Jesus.  Jesus had just come on the scene and had already been with John the Baptist so both John the Baptist and his followers knew of Jesus.  Then his followers noticed that Jesus and His disciples were also baptizing people.  In fact, because of that (and presumably the other things Jesus was saying and doing), “everyone was going to him [Jesus].”

Do you detect a note of jealousy in verse 26 of this passage?  We all participate in ministries.  Sometimes there are ministries in the church that seem to compete for dollars and for people.  Has there ever been a time when you were jealous of another ministry because it seemed to be competing with a ministry that you were involved in?  Have you ever thought, “My ministry is better?”

Monday, April 25

John 1:6-9
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.  The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

In the beginning of the gospel of John, we hear about Jesus, who John calls “the Word” who was in the beginning, who was with God, who was in fact God, who was life, and who was light.

Then John tells us of a person named John the Baptist (different than the author of the gospel of John) who was to tell about the light so that “all might believe.”  Then John the author was clear, John the Baptist “was not the light,” he was only to testify about the true light.

Think about a time in your life where you have been called to pass along some good news or where you have been called to some good work.  Was the recipient of the good words or good deeds confused as to why you were doing what you did or to who you were pointing to?  In other words, were they thinking you were the one that was good and that was causing them to ignore that which is better – Jesus?

April 24-30

Not the Good but the Better!

John 1:6-9, John 3:22-30, Luke 10:38-42, Luke 5:36-39

You have to give up the good!

That may sound like a funny statement.  It might even sound dumb.

But what if I added to that statement that you are giving up the good so that you can get the better.  Sound better?  Make more sense?

We may not realize it but we do this all the time.  We all make decisions where we are giving up something that is good in order to get something that is better.  We need to do the same thing in ministry as we strive to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  We need to give up something that was “good” so that we can do something that is “better,” the better meaning that it points the way to Jesus and is a better way in today’s culture to be successful in making disciples that Jesus calls us to do.

As you read this week, keep your eyes and ears on Jesus.  Listen and see if He is calling you to give up something that is “good” so that you can get something that is “better.”