“ In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”
I remember grabbing some shopping one very warm summer’s day and stopping by a friend’s house on the way home. Typically, the ‘stopping by’ took rather longer than expected and, suddenly, the sound of an explosion halted our conversation. The source of the noise sadly turned out to be the inside of my car where a plastic bottle of pop had gone, well, POP! Apparently, heat causes the conversion of dissolved carbon dioxide into rapidly expanding gas bubbles which push the beverage contents out of the container, rather generously and impressively, leaving a mess and an eternally sticky car interior!
Jesus explained that His coming was the start of something new. He said, “Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out, and the wineskins will be ruined.” Matthew 9:17. The wineskins that Jesus referred to were typically made from the hide of a goat. As new wine ferments, gases are released which push against the goat skin. An old skin which was no longer elastic could not stretch so would suffer a similar fate to my bottle of pop. New skins would be needed to accommodate the new wine.
Jesus ushered in a new chapter for humanity. No longer would animal sacrifices be necessary for atonement, no longer would a priest have to enter the holy of holies on our behalf, and no longer would the Spirit of God rest only on certain people at certain times for certain purposes. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus changed everything. He would be the once-for-all sacrifice for sin. He made a way for each of us to have direct access to God and know him as Father and the Holy Spirit would be available to every believer.
On the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came on the disciples, Peter quoted the words of the prophet Joel which we read in today’s key verse. God’s promise was being fulfilled; the new wine was being poured out and anyone holding fast to laws, traditions, preconceptions or limited expectations would be like old wineskins, unable to be stretched to receive all God wanted to pour out and it’s the same for us today! God wants to pour out His Spirit to fulfil this promise in each of us - old, young, male, female - so that He can equip us to do even “greater things” than the disciples saw Jesus do. (John 14:12)
Are you ready to stretch? Are you ready to allow God’s Holy Spirit to fill you, change you, release new gifts in you and use you to advance His kingdom? Ask Him to fill you afresh today.
I was brought up in a Christian family and attended a traditional church. I knew and loved Jesus from a young age and committed my life to follow Him. At church, we were taught a lot about Jesus and God the Father but I never heard much about the Holy Spirit.
As a teenager, I visited a friend’s church where people were prophesying, speaking in tongues and asking to be filled by the Spirit. Looking back, I know I encountered the Holy Spirit that day. I remember crying and my legs becoming jelly-like as people prayed for me but at the time, I was resistant; I pushed the experience away and didn’t like the feeling of not being in control.
At university, I met more of these ‘Spirit-filled’ Christians and was drawn to their boldness in praying for miracles and healings but remained sceptical of ‘strange’ gifts like tongues and prophecy. I loved and followed Jesus, served in church, shared my faith regularly and felt this was enough. I realise now I was clinging to an old wineskin and was resistant to change.
Over the next few years, I started attending a more ‘lively’ church and became involved in the worship team. My life group did a study on the gifts of the Spirit and, slowly I let down my guard. As I opened up to the Spirit of God, I began to encounter God in different ways and even started to prophesy in song. For a long time, I was still resistant to the gift of tongues, but one night it just happened! My husband was praying for me and I was released in tongues. This has transformed my prayer life and deepened my intimacy with God.
For many years I knew Jesus but never realised God had so much more for me. I needed a new wineskin and I still do - every day - as God continues to stretch me and fill me with new wine.
What has God said to you through today’s promise?