One of the worship groups I listen to released their annual album a couple of months ago. It usually takes me a few listens through the list and each song before I hear all the words and get a taste of the message being conveyed.
Driving in the car one day, my wife and I were talking about worship and this album in particular as she considered bringing a new song to our worship team. As I was scrolling through the songs in her car, I saw the title of one having to do with new spiritual wine.
I blurted out, “You know the scripture about new wine has nothing to do with wine, and everything to do with the wineskins.” My comments at the time were not about the song specifically, but the concept of new wine in general. Jesus wasn’t placing the focus on new wine, but on being vessels ready to hold the new wine. Today’s post unpacks that thought, and at the end I’ll mention what I thought of the song when I really heard the words.
At this time of year, I always have trouble separating Easter and Good Friday. If Jesus didn’t offer His life as a sacrifice for sin, we wouldn’t have a resurrection to look forward to. Either in Easter, or for those who believe on the day when these mortal bodies are transformed into the immortal.
The sacrifice of Jesus was unique. Though it was symbolized for centuries through the sacrifice of lambs, bulls, and goats, it is only the precious sacrifice of Jesus which makes us truly right with God.
Christ entered the Most Holy Place only once—and for all time. He did not take with him the blood of goats and calves. His sacrifice was his own blood, and by it he set us free from sin forever. (Hebrews 9:12 NCV)
But what about us? Though Jesus “paid a debt I could not pay” according to the old hymn, is my life in Him without its own sacrifice? Or am I also called to lay put aside, consider dead, sacrifice something of me?
This morning I drank coffee that could have tasted better. A lot better. Though I drink this brand a lot and make it the exact same way each time, today I left a little something out: a spoonful of sugar. You might not think a spoonful sugar is a lot to leave out. To put it into perspective for you, I once posted to Facebook a picture of a pallet of giant sugar bags at a warehouse store with the caption, “Now I can drink my coffee.” Friends who have seen me make a cup of coffee couldn’t help but laugh.
Why cut back on the sugar? Like many people, I’m trying to eat better. I gained some winter weight that I could really do without. So one step is to gradually cut back the spoonfuls of sugar I put in my coffee. When I tasted my coffee this morning and it begged me to put in another scoop of sugar, I resisted.
While some folks can take a cup of coffee black and strong, most of us doctor it up a little. I make fun of my wife because of the amount of flavored cream she puts in hers. A ministry friend of mine once joked that people who use more than two teaspoons of sugar don’t like coffee, only the idea of coffee. I didn’t tell him what my regular sugar amount was.
Just like Mary Poppins told us, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” It helps with coffee, too. But when it comes to God and His Word, we have to be careful. We might be adding some of our own stuff to it to make it palatable. A lot of trouble can result from that.
Some people wonder why I do what I do. Those familiar with me and my ministry are aware of how I sometimes say or do things just to “mess with” people or challenge their preconceptions. It doesn’t always jive with the other person very well, but there are those times when gears start grinding that haven’t moved in a long time, if ever.
While I could stand on a stage and preach all the time, I really enjoy the interaction of small group discussion. I love seeing the light bulb come on in someone else. For them, there’s a new understanding or possibility to grapple with. And I offer my help in that journey.
One of our home group discussions recently resulted in a spiritual “light bulb moment” for me. This particular discussion was about Grace. It was the last night of an incredible video series I had chosen to accompanymy preaching series about The Narrow Road Paradox. The videos were by a pastor from a different denomination as our own, and his teaching from a different perspective helped us expand our view of God, and especially Grace. One of the last questions we talked about that night was this: Can you really take advantage of God’s Grace?
Part 1. Is your life full of all God has for it? Would you label your life as “very good” or “good enough”? Our world tells us there are barriers and boundaries to what our lives God. But God says there is more. He calls us to keep climbing and seek what is better, to reach beyond “good enough”.