New wineskins

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”  Mark 2:22

I was listening to a Facebook Live video stream from a friend of mine this past Saturday—August, 10. 

She was talking about the number 222, and how the Holy Spirit kept highlighting that number to her a little over a year ago. One day, God told her to look up Mark 2:22: “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” 

She went on to explain how she was driving one day at the beginning of this year and thought to herself, “I wonder what the 222nd day of this year is?” 

It was August 10th. 

Hearing her tell this story on Saturday—the day of the new wineskins—made me stop and think of the changes going on in my life. It made me question whether or not I have been allowing myself to “prepare new wineskins” for God to pour new blessings, new ideas and new opportunities into…or whether or not I’d been hindering those blessings because of insecurities or fears. 

We cannot grow into a better version of ourselves if we’re not willing to change. What changes could God be asking you to make today, tomorrow or sometime this week? Let the expectation of new wine outweigh your doubts, and step into the “new” that God has been waiting for you to receive. 

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What fruit do you produce?

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

Have you taken the time to think about what you’re giving to the world? In other words, how are you using your talents, your gifts, and the provision God has given you? 

The Bible tells us that where our treasure is, there too is our heart. This just means that the state of our heart is reflected through the things we prioritize. For example, a prideful heart finds treasure in selfish ambition; whereas a compassionate heart finds treasure in serving others. 

As we find ourselves in the middle of summer, it’s a good time to take a “heart check,” and we can do this by looking at the fruit in our lives. 

What do you feel like your life is producing right now? What is your life giving to those around you? Is it peace, kindness, patience, joy and encouragement? Or Is it worry, doubt, anxiety, and criticism?

The fruit of our lives is an accurate gauge to use in determining what we are giving—what we are contributing. You may be in a season of your life where you don’t see the fruit yet. Hold on to God’s promise that “with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” No seed sown will return void…so start planting today! 

 

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Be glad

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15: 28-32 

When we read the story of the prodigal son, we often focus on the father’s unconditional love…but there’s also an interesting lesson on jealousy. 

In the verses above, we get a glimpse into the other son’s reaction to his brother’s homecoming. Even though he was already getting everything his father owned, the brother in the story was jealous of the way his father was treating his brother’s return. He allowed jealously to block his ability to “be glad.” His brother’s return wasn’t cutting him short of his inheritance, and it wasn’t stopping his father from loving him any less—it was merely stopping him from experiencing the joy of a mended relationship. 

At first glance we may not think this is a big deal…but take the time to stop and think if jealousy is stopping you from being glad in a particular area of your life. Being jealous of someone else doesn’t change your circumstances; it does however, change your ability to experience a life of love, gratitude and gladness. 

Maybe it’s time to step back and weigh the cost of holding on to jealousy today. Letting go just may be the key to letting joy in. 

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The key to kindness

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3:4-5

It’s common to hear that we were saved by God’s love, but have you ever stopped to think that we were saved by his kindness, too?

Kindness is an underestimated characteristic that appears to be seen less and less in today’s world. Defined as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate,” kindness may seem like a simple trait; but all it takes is one look at the news or social media to see that’s not quite the case.

Being kind means accepting others despite differences. Being kind means understanding that your way is not the only way, and that you are not the only person who matters in the world. Being kind means opening yourself to the fact that another’s reaction towards you may not be a personal attack against you, rather a release of a past or recent hurt.

I believe that this is what the Titus scripture means when it says that we were saved by His kindness…for I believe that kindness is the gateway to forgiveness. When we can accept others right where they are—and then choose to believe the best in them—we exhibit love and kindness. Kindness doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone…it simply means you’re open enough to offer a fair chance.

So give someone a special gift today. A kind word or a kind act. It might be just be what they need to point them to God’s saving grace!

 

[Photo by Mauricio Artieda from Pexels]

 

 

Have you heard?

Have you ever stopped to think of the power of your words? (And not just the words that come out of your mouth, but the words that you allow yourself to hear…)

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that “the power of life and death lies within the tongue.” That’s powerful imagery and something that I don’t think we take enough time to consider in our day-to-day lives. 

When reading the book of Genesis, we learn how God created the world. Genesis 1:3 reads, “And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.”  For the next six days of creation, “God said” what needed to be and then created it. He spoke the world and—human beings—into existence. 

If were created in the image of God, then we too have the power to create our realities through the words that we listen to and speak. This is why it’s so important to surround ourselves with positive and like-minded people. The words that we hear on a daily basis greatly affect what we believe about ourselves and others. 

Pay attention to the music you listen to and TV shows that you watch. What kinds of words and messages are you allowing to fill your mind? The words we hear not only influence our thoughts, but also our attitude. It’s really hard to be thinking unhappy thoughts and still be a happy person. What we hear and what we speak have great influence on who we are as people and on the effect we have on other people. 

Become aware of the words around you. If you don’t need to make any changes, be the change in someone else’s day by offering a word of encouragement. 

 

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Do your part

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” Galatians 6:4-5

Dr. Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist and University of Toronto professor, said
“…compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.” 

We are living in a society that is fueled by comparison. In our social media culture, we are given 24/7 access to everyone’s lives around us. It’s almost impossible not to compare our lives to those we see portrayed on our screens. 

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 12. It gives a perfect visual to help us realize that comparing ourselves to others is wasted time…

“And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Corinthians 12:16-18)

Each of us were created by God as individuals. We each have talents, gifts, personalities and qualities that only we posses. Even identical twins with the same exact DNA have differences in their personalities!

Our only job on this earth is to figure out what those gifts and talents are…and then share them with the world to the best of our ability. Just like the verses above explain, it’s useless to compare ourselves to anyone else. If we were made to be an eye, we cannot possibly do the job of the ear. If we were meant to be a hand, we cannot possibly do the job of the foot. 

When we compare ourselves to others, we set standards for ourselves that are impossible to attain…because we each can only do what we were individually created to do.

Try catching yourself in the moments you start comparing. Stop…and ask God, instead, to reveal to you who He has made you to be. Take pride in the person you are, because you’re the only one like you that there will ever be. 

 

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New Birth

At iCoachLife we’re always thinking about “birthing something new.” No matter what age or stage we find ourselves in life, we always have a chance to birth—to use the lessons we’ve learned to give something back to the world. 

One day a few months ago, I was in my house and heard birds chirping loudly. They were so loud, I almost thought they were in the house! When I walked around to our side door, I looked through the window and noticed a bird’s nest sitting atop our wreath. I watched as one egg appeared in the nest…then two…then three…until eventually, there were four baby birds. 

It’s been amazing to watch how the mother and father birds know instinctively what to do. They built the nest (which is amazing in itself…) and then they continuously return to feed their babies. Over and over and over again. They don’t need to be told what to do; they just do it because that’s the way they were made. 

Matthew 6:26 reads: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

If God has created the birds to know how to create and nurture “new life,” how much more have we—His children—been made to do so? 

New life doesn’t mean you have to give birth to an actual baby…it can mean giving life to a dream, a goal, or a desire in your heart. If God gives the birds what they need to live and create, how much more does he want to give you? Have you taken time today to think about what your life could “give birth to?” Have you taken time to ask God—and to thank Him—for giving you everything you need to do it? 

We are each made in the image of God—our creator. That means we are destined to create. Go outside and get inspired by creation today…you never know what’s about to be birthed.  

 

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