February 18

Exodus 29:37 (NIV) 37For seven days make atonement for the altar and consecrate it. Then the altar will be most holy, and whatever touches it will be holy.

There is a principle here that Jesus referred to in the New Testament. Some things were dedicated to God in such a way that they could not be defiled from without. If someone brought an offering and placed it on the altar, and they later found the offering was defiled, there was no need to purify the altar a second time. The altar made the gift holy.

We see that principle displayed in the life of Jesus. Whatever He touched or touched Him became whole. Normally, if a leper or person with a bleeding tumor touched someone, the person they touched would need to go through a cleansing ritual. Not so with Jesus. Instead of defiling Him, the one who touched him was healed. The Most Holy object purifies the defiled one.

Jesus is our altar. He is the One upon Whom we cast our lives. We place ourselves upon Him on the cross, but instead of defiling Him, we are raised with Him, whole, cleansed, and holy. The altar has sanctified the gift, for it is Most Holy. It doesn't matter how defiled you are, if you present your body a living sacrifice upon the altar of Jesus upon the cross, you will be made holy. His holiness is more powerful than any defilement or impurity because of His blood shed in your place. Have you placed yourself upon the Most Holy Altar?

Once you have, then you are to go out into the world transformed (Romans 12:1,2) to bring that transforming touch to all who come into your life. The holiness imparted to you should also transform, not be conformed to, the world around you. (Be sure and read the confirmation in the February 19th morning devotion)

Meditation: Nothing is too defiled for Jesus' transforming touch.

February 18

Matthew 9:15-17 (NIV) 15Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. 16"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.

John's disciples asked why they and the Pharisees fasted, but Jesus' disciples didn't. Jesus' reply used a wedding analogy. When there is a wedding, the guests are expected to join a feast. Jesus has come to take a bride, the church. He is calling out people from the world to be His own. While He is among them, they should be rejoicing. He predicts that He will be taken away, and then they will fast.

Then He jumps to another analogy. Jesus could use analogies to say things that He could not say directly. It caused the hearers to think more deeply and not be as readily offended. The analogy of wineskins is one that we have a hard time relating to. The new skin was soft and flexible. It expanded with the wine as it fermented. After the fermentation, it began to harden into the shape it had stretched into. If you tried to reuse it for new wine, it would burst and the wine and the skin would be wasted. The Pharisees and John's remaining disciples had conformed to the Old Covenant. The rules and structure of the Law had shaped their container. Jesus had come to establish the New Covenant. Had they tried to make the transition now, they would do damage to the truth and themselves.

Some of the Pharisees and John's disciples did make the transition. They were still flexible. Their ideology had not hardened yet. For some, it was too late. They no longer had a teachable spirit, an open mind. They thought they knew the fullness of truth and would not receive anything that did not fit the hard container of their limited understanding. Stay flexible! The one way to do that is to remember the many times you have been wrong. Jesus has many things to teach, doctrines to adjust, and attitudes to transform.

Consider: Humility is the best wineskin preservative.