Jun 27 2018
God named Ishmael ‘God hears’ before he was born. Years later, God heard Ishmael’s cry when he was perishing in the wilderness and opened his mother’s eyes to see a spring of water from which she gave him drink – and he lived!
Islam claims Ishmael as a spiritual forefather. Today’s
Muslims are in the wilderness perishing and crying out for living water. Let the Church pray to the Father to reveal the well of living water, Jesus, so they might live!
New wineskins for new wine
At the outset of His ministry, Jesus began preaching, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mt 4:17, Mk 1:15). He spent the rest of His ministry illustrating, demonstrating and teaching about the Kingdom of God. He had new wine, and was looking for new wineskins to pour it into.
When the people asked Jesus why the Pharisees’ and John’s disciples fasted but his did not, he explained that they were like wedding guests enjoying their fleeting time in the bridegroom’s presence and continued, “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” (Mt 9:17). Luke adds, “And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” (Lk 5:39).
The gospel is good news, new wine to increasing numbers of Muslims. Imagine delectable, intoxicating new wine being poured into these newly born believers, causing them to stretch and expand under the pressure exerted by all of the goodness of God! These babes are entering a wondrous realm of new thoughts, beliefs, experiences and learning in the midst of persecutions and many trials. They need fathers and mothers mature in following Christ who will accompany them on their walk, modeling the lifestyle of continually remaining new and flexible to receive more of the Lord, who ever exceeds all we know.
So many factors militate against these new believers being incorporated into the Body of Christ. I’ve written before about the lack of community in the Western church compared to the social cohesion in the home cultures of most Muslims. I’m increasingly aware of the breadth and depth of the cultural divide that prevents us from perceiving their needs and addressing them effectively. Has our church culture become an old wineskin that suits our needs but not theirs? For example,
- We may routinely offer discipleship classes. Perhaps they need to be invited to attend by people of influence who will invest their time and accompany them.
- Is our Bible teaching style propositional? They may learn better from an oral, storytelling approach.
- Do we give up on them because they miss a few meetings or are unavailable at the last minute? How can we continue to love when our expectations are disappointed?
New believers from Muslim backgrounds may also have trouble fitting into congregations of their own people group and find they’re considered second class to the “real” Christians. Arab (or substitute Pashtun, Pakistani, Somali, etc.) Christians from traditional or even evangelical backgrounds may have been persecuted by Muslims, often don’t trust former Muslims and find their historic animosities more compelling than their shared place of origin.
Lord, have mercy! Forgive us for exalting our traditions over Your command to go into all the world and reach the lost. Help us to remain flexible and willing to stretch so that we can continually receive Your new wine pour it out for others.
Lord, have mercy! Release Your sensitivity, understanding and creativity among Your people to meet the needs of these new believers.
Lord, thank You for virtual communities accessible to everyone – new wineskins to distribute Your good news to the new communities coming into the Kingdom. Rule and reign over the Internet (Rev 14:14-16)! Motivate and empower Christians to fill the Internet with the truth that You are the Way, the Truth and the Life, and to disciple new believers and teach them all You have commanded. Help new Muslim believers find good sites to learn more about You and Your ways. You are the Lord!
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