New Wineskins

new wineskins devotional diva ozella morris change new year 2015 christian blog[Guest post by Ozella Morris: Welcome back, Ozella! On Tuesday, we read Jennifer’s story of waiting instead of trying to force a change. But what if the Lord knows you need a change to be closer Him?]

Mark 2:22: And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.

Thank God for change! Even though it may not always fall in our favor, change is a blessing.

Change brings on new areas for meaningful progress to take place, for new bonds to be made, and for old wounds to be healed.

My own transformation has been one of plenty nights of tears and too many doubts of whether or not I was able to step up to the challenge. When I began to engage the Holy Spirit more, I could see things that I had to let go to let God’s Will go forward more abundantly in my life. Has it been easy? Of course not! However, I have never felt more secure in my life!

My two jobs never made me feel as financially secure as tithing has. My more intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit has soothed my cares more than any self-help book ever could. I stopped working myself to death and began to read my Bible and more inspiration-based materials to keep my spirit strengthened.

This deeper dependence on God has gradually broken my old self and is now stitching together a woman of Faith I never dreamed I could be.

This new ‘wine’ the Holy Spirit pours into us demolishes the old person we have come to accept as who we are.

There are no limits to who we can become through Christ Jesus! Our new ‘wineskins’ are ever changing, allowing us to be moldable in love. Life before you found Christ had no problem telling you that such versatility was impossible.

The world tries to trick us into believing that all we can be is what our circumstances have granted us.

2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

All of our good qualities become better as we continue our walks in Christ. Our glory is no longer defined by financial status, job status, or marital status; it is now determined by how willing we are to change.

However, it is smart to recognize that transformation will take place whether or not we want it to. Our old person doesn’t know what to do with this great amount of love and power the Holy Spirit has granted us. God requires our lives given up to Him, something that is hard to even consider outside of the Holy Spirit. We work hard to maintain lives of some kind of order; but now we have to turn that over to someone we can’t even see. That is a scary thing in itself.

On the other hand, it’s also very scary to think of an innocent man hanging on a cross between two confirmed thieves just for our lives to be reconciled with God. JUST FOR ME AND YOU! Let’s honor this sacrifice with our new ‘wineskins’, giving God the glory for these new phases that are happening in our lives, whether good or bad.Now that you know Him, God will continue to show you that He will love you through it all.

I have come to accept this life of continual transformation in Christ.

It is so much more exciting when you embrace all the infinite possibilities of love, service, and success that come with being followers of Christ. I pray that any reader is now encouraged to let go of the old person you thought you were destined to be and let God shape you to be even more beautiful than you have been before!

ozella morris on devotional divaI’m Ozella Morris, a 26 year old Certified Medical Assistant from Birmingham, Alabama. I’ve been encouraged by other women in Christ to be all that God has predestined me to be. With Christ in my life, I can laugh, love, and enjoy my portion, knowing that things are provided for those who trust in Him! Be blessed and be a blessing to others!

photo credit: quinn.anya via photopin cc

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The Unexpected Joy Found in Waiting

joy found in waiting on devotional diva[Guest post by Jennifer Kelly: Happy New Year! When Jennifer sent me this post, I just knew it had to be the first Devotional Diva post of 2015! She tells us of the joy found in waiting when this New Year is such a time of change.]

Wait on the Lord.

This is my season right now. My limbo. My song. My thing. My line. My joy and my pain. 

Why is it so hard to wait? What is it about waiting that tail-spins my impatient, stubborn self into a frenzied, spoiled three-year old brat? Honestly! I’m like THAT little girl you see in the store: arms furiously crossed, crazy-eyed, and spewing out a rather large sized temper tantrum of impatience, “But, I want it now daddy… RIGHT NOW”.

That might be a little dramatic, but I’m afraid not that far off.

Why does God require us to wait?

What good comes from being patient and still and hopefully expectant?

When is the last time (I can honestly say) that I waited upon the Lord for something?

For anything?

This year holds a lot of unanswered questions for my family, but specifically for me. Both of my girls will be in school full-time this year. I’ve been a stay at home mom. What will I do with my time? Will I work? Will I write? Will I finish school? Will I volunteer?

And I wonder as I write this, if this year marks changes for you as well?

Recently, I was challenged to give my thoughts, my desires, my questions and my worries over to God in prayer and WAIT for His response. 

Like a FOR-REAL kind of wait. No manipulating. No making big decisions. No self-initiations. Just me being faithful, right-where-I-am-at.

Oh boy.

The New Year is a time when we are pressured and bombarded to change everything about ourselves (our job, our diet, our money, our blah-blah-blah) I had no idea how hard waiting could be. Think about it. Have you ever heard anyone say, “My New Year resolution is to wait upon the Lord”? I don’t think so.

As I find myself quieting down, on my knees, praying, and waiting, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1.) When I wait – I pray.

I find it most interesting that I am praying more than ever before. Waiting ushers in prayer. It’s much like meditation. It’s long and quiet. Most days waiting comes with no acknowledgment or feeling of gratification. I can either grumble or complain about my situation or I can go to God in prayer and lay it at His feet.

2.) Waiting produces perseverance.

Waiting (CAN) produce perseverance, but only by choosing to patiently obey. Mostly because waiting automatically brings us to a crossroads: Either to endure the present, expectantly waiting on God (even though we do not see – and trust Him) OR to take the present choices, decisions and actions into our own accord (even though we STILL do not see – and trust ourselves). Either way – it’s a choice. Paul writes, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:25)

3.) Waiting reminds me of a much different perspective – an ETERNAL perspective.

As I reflect and pray, I find the things that I am anxious about, the hopes and desires for my family and church and myself, pales in comparison to what it means for a world in which Jesus is returning. The redemption and glory that will occur in the future is beyond exciting. Waiting reminds me that I am meant for another world! Again, Paul writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18)

When I look back on my time of waiting thus far, there have been mistakes and successes, but I am encouraged by the work that is being accomplished in my heart. When I wait for Jesus – my heart changes to be a little more like His. I become more available to be used by Him. I find the smallest of duties (where I am called to be a wife and mom) to be of great satisfaction right now. I understand Isaiah 64:4 much clearer, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him”

God knows the desires of my heart, much more than I do.

God knows my gifts, my talents, and my abilities. He knows my anticipations, my worries and my cares. Do I trust Him? With all of it? The whole-thing? Or am I going to rely on my own strengths, my own ideas, my own attempts to do what I think is best?

May God bless you and keep you in this New Year, but may we learn to sit at Jesus’ feet and patiently wait on His perfect timing, His perfect plan, His love and His power.

So that our source of waiting might become the joy of our soul found only in Christ Jesus!

 

jen kelley on devotional divaJennifer Kelly is a very messy wife and mom. She loves reading, writing, philosophy, music, art, theatre, and really anything that is created by an artist. Jennifer currently attends Christian Colorado University where she is studying Biblical Studies. Follow along with her at www.jenjkelly.com

 

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photo credit: Kaptain Koboldvia photopincc

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Finding Peace During Stress

How do you find peace during stress?

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34
 

I spoke last week quite a lot on who I was – but now it’s time for me to tell you a little bit about who I am now. I didn’t even know how to write this post (although I had it planned) until last Saturday when I went to founding editor Renee Fisher’s birthday party. The picture above is from that evening.

The truth is, I didn’t even really want to tell you who I was before Saturday.

My life is pretty great. If there were some checklist for a great life, mine would pass with flying colors. I don’t say this to sound like I’m bragging or ungrateful. I actually say this to let you know I am aware of how blessed I am. I have a wonderful marriage. I have a nice home to live in. I have a supportive family. I live in beautiful San Diego. I just became the editor of Devotional Diva. My husband mainly supports our family so that I can work on my writing. And that’s really good, because I still have ongoing health issues. But recently, in the midst of all this good stuff happening, the health issues have been worse. On top of being sick, the military healthcare system can be rather difficult.

And I have been so insanely stressed out.

I was lashing out at my husband because I got frustrated so easily. And then I would feel terrible about that, too. My anxiety was getting really bad. Any little thing that happened could throw me into brief hysterics. I kept comparing myself to other people.

“Nobody else gets so upset about a rude cashier.”

“Nobody else goes to the doctor so often.”

“Everybody else gets so much more accomplished than I do.”

I was beginning to hate myself. Friday night, I had a heart-to-heart with my husband about how stressed out I was feeling and how bad I felt about myself. Impulsively, I decided I would get a haircut the next day. After growing my bangs out for 6 months, I had them cut short again. I thought I might look better in bangs again, and I craved some change. Looking the mirror instantly became easier.

Small changes can help, but later on Saturday God brought me an even bigger one.

I was anxious about the party because the only person I was going to know beforehand was Renee, the birthday girl. When the party (at a local winery) got started and Renee introduced me as the woman who was now editing Devotional Diva, everyone gave me a warm and excited welcome. I found that conversing with everyone was pretty easy, and I was enjoying myself and the beautiful view. Towards the end of the evening, Renee offered to anoint me with oil from Israel and pray over me. I have been a Christian pretty much my whole life, but I had never experienced either of those things before. The anointing oil possessed the best scent I’ve ever smelled. As the women prayed over me, I never felt the presence of Christ more. The stress I had been bearing seemed to just melt away.

I felt peaceful.

It was almost as if I could see myself sitting in that beautiful sunset, these ladies’ hands over me in prayer. I could see the power of God at work. I went home feeling so blessed, and have retained that tranquil feeling ever since. I can still picture myself being prayed over in that gorgeous setting. My stress level is much lower now. I was praying in the several days before the party that God could heal me of my recent emotional turmoil. And did He! I don’t think that I could have gone on much longer the way I was.

The Lord is so awesome, isn’t He?

→M

 

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