The bright blue sky shimmered overhead as twigs and dirt crunched beneath our feet treading on the worn, ancient stones. Today we explored the wine press at Yad Hashemona (the messianic moshav nestled in the hills of Judea.)
I looked at all the different instruments and methods used in biblical times to crush and press grapes into delicious, fine wine. The whole process looked a little painful to me.
What a perfect picture of God taking the sharp, pressing pain of the past to make something beautiful and brand new.
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"Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17 ESV
kids playing in the olive press at Yad Hashemona
"We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair." ( 2 Corinthians 4:8)
I don't know about you but I was relieved when New Years rolled around. "Finally a fresh start, new beginnings, a clean slate!" Although the container of many valuable lessons, 2018 was in many ways a painful year full of pressure and problems. Often when we look back at our past we see our struggle to overcome a lot of heartache and hardship.
When we go through a trying time we have two options. We can become bitter and sour, running away from the pain of the past or we can allow those difficult times to shape us, mold us and make us into something more beautiful, mature, and useful for the work of God.
Just like the process of making new wine, God wants to draw new blessings out of us. Even though the troubles of the past may have pressed us down it was only preparation for the overflow of abundance God's going to bring into our life.
playing in the wine press at Yad Hashemona
"Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and
so both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17 ESV
When God is leading us into a new season and work in our lives we have to be careful not to bring the "old" with us. Old habits, old relationships, old mindsets, old behaviors, old beliefs etc
Ephesians 4:23 instructs us to "be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self..."
Of course not everything old is bad and should be tossed out, there are traditions and foundational aspects of our faith that have been passed down from generation to generation and are important to keep alive today.
However not everything that you've been holding onto up until now will fit into the new life that God's leading you into.
A perfect example of this can be found in last week's parashah (Torah portion) discussing Pharaoh's attempt to snatch the children of Israel back into captivity at the Red Sea after they had been granted their freedom.
"As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD." (Exodus 14:10)
Like the Israelites featured in the book of Exodus my family and I had our first taste of freedom! Stepping out on our journey to settle into the Promised Land. We were no longer bound to a place where we didn't belong.
When God brings you out of a place of bondage and you're on your way to possessing His Promises, the enemy will run after you and your past will try to chase you down.
Have you ever had a dream light up the depths of your soul and ignite a vision burning inside... only to be snuffed out by thoughts of fear? Whenever we attempt to move forward into our future the past will try to dig it's grip into our hearts and fill us with paralyzing panic.
Photo of: Red Sea, Eilat, Israel Taken by: 𝕴𝖘𝖆𝖎𝖆𝖍 𝕾𝖈𝖍𝖑𝖊𝖌𝖊𝖑 https://www.instagram.com/isaiahjames_s/?hl=en
The Israelites were facing that same anxiety when Pharaoh's army came roaring up from behind them. The dust from their chariots bellowing up into the air and the Red Sea standing as an immovable wall before them, waves crashing in defiance to their freedom.
"Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again." (Exodus 14:13)
The children of Israel were tempted to go back. Go back to the false sense of security and familiarity of their past as slaves. Even though where they came from was destructive, it was more comforting than the future filled with unknowns.
Moses encouraged the people in the same way God encourages us. "What had ahold of you in your past will no longer be a part of your future." Unfortunately most of the children of Israel were free physically but couldn't find freedom in their hearts and minds which kept them from entering the Promised Land.
This is why it's so important for us to separate our past from our present and pay attention to what God wants to do in our future. (See post 'Just Keep Swimming' ) Photo of: Red Sea, Eilat, Israel
Taken by: 𝕴𝖘𝖆𝖎𝖆𝖍 𝕾𝖈𝖍𝖑𝖊𝖌𝖊𝖑 https://www.instagram.com/isaiahjames_s/?hl=en
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!" (Isaiah 43:18)
The message I want to leave with you is this - the past may have been painful but it's time to surrender to God and allow Him to bring new wine out of you! Forget what lays behind and press on into the bright future God has in store for you.
Your old life is dead. Your new life is with God...that means killing off everything connected with that way of death."
I snapped this picture of one of my friend's little girl who was curiously peering into the ancient replica of a tomb near the wine press on the village.
What a striking picture of new life coming into contact with a life that once was and has now ceased to exist.
I'm reminded that God has a time and purpose for all things under heaven. While what once was holds precious significance in our lives such as experiences, relationships, & memories, there is a time to embrace and a time to let go.
God wants to bring new life out of the ashes of what was once dead and transform our world from mourning to dancing, from struggling to thriving.
E M B R A C E T H E N E W
Thank you that you want to bring new wine out of me! Help me to release, heal from and regain my joy from the pain of the past and step into this new season you have in store for me.
Give me the courage to embrace freedom and change, help me not to be broken down from the pressures and burdens of life but to be pressed and shaped into something beautiful for your kingdom.
Thank you that you're a good God and you want the best for me. As your child I put my future in your hands and trust that you will make a way for me to step into all of your promises.
P.S. Thank you so much to everyone who continues to partner with us in prayer and support as we return back to the Land.
I would love to hear from you!
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