TO CHEW ON: " 'Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved.' " Matthew 9:16,17
Do you ever hear people pining for the revivals of the old days as they recall a meeting where God met them? Perhaps it was in a Billy Graham Crusade, or in my case a Janz Crusade and Sutera Twins meetings. It seems that God often moves in waves of revival. If we were caught by such a wave and have had a taste, it's left us with a lingering appetite for more.
David Wilkerson was one of the men God used to propel revival in the 1960s and '70s. His book The Cross and the Switchblade, that tells of how God used him to work in the lives of New York's gang members and addicts, became a bestseller. Soon he was holding crusades in cities all around the U.S.
In his biography David Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade and the Man Who Believed his son Gary tells of the ups and downs of Wilkerson's ministry. For years, thousands found Jesus at the meetings he held. But then invitations to speak began to slow, went to a trickle, stopped altogether as crusades lost their appeal.
At such times it's natural to ask, what changed? The temptation is to try to copy what other popular ministries are doing or duplicate the conditions of fruitful times. Wilkerson's team questioned their boss's refusal to go on TV and lack of new books. We may think, if we sang the same songs, accompanied them with accordions instead of guitars and drums, put up a tent instead of using an auditorium, revival would return.
Though I believe Jesus was referring to the big notion of old and new wine here, i.e. the Old Testament Law era versus the new wine era of salvation by grace through faith, I think we can also apply this old and new wineskin principle to the ways God visits succeeding generations.
Let's keep our hearts and eyes open to the new ways God is growing His kingdom that don't look anything like the city-wide crusades, the week-long conferences, or the deeper life meetings of the past. Let's not allow our hankering after the old wineskins of revival delivery blind us to the new wineskin ways that may even now be poised to deliver a revival wave to our generation.
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to be alert to the moving of Your Spirit, from whatever wineskin it pours. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.