Thursday, March 26th

Thursday, March 26th

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins.  New wine must be stored in new wineskins. But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. "The old is just fine," they say. Luke 5:37-39

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:35, 37

When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.” He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. Luke 22:14-20

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:19-25

So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.  Colossians 2:16-19

Picture yourself walking down the street with your sweetheart. You've got 50 bucks in your pocket and your looking for a reasonable priced place to eat. You come to an exclusive restaurant where you know you would have to spend $200 or more to eat. As you are about to move on, the maitre d comes out and invites you to come in and enjoy dinner for two, compliments of the restaurant. The normal, usual, expected way to have such a meal would be to pay for it. You might just move on because the whole thing sounds suspect. Having a free high class restaurant experience bestowed on you is unexpected and hard to wrap your head around. Instead of moving on you decide to proceed cautiously knowing you've got your 50 bucks to fall back on.

We are used to paying our way and are very suspicious of free gifts. This is the same struggle many have with God. Caught up in the syndrome of trying to pay our own way by following a religious system, we are suspicious when we hear about the gospel of grace. And even after we do go forward in good faith with God and the gospel of grace we have our 50 bucks to fall back on. Perhaps it is because our propensity to pay our own way runs so deep that Jesus uses the additional illustration above. Again, he drives home the point that the old and the new are incompatible. Whether we are outside the restaurant contemplating the offer of a free high dining experience or we are already in the middle of it, there is no place for our 50 bucks. The Romans passage above helps us to understand that our place at the table is secure. How silly of us to seek security in the paltry contents of our own wallets. We are at the table because the one who loves us invited us to be there, he paid the bill entirely, and nothing will ever remove us from the fabulous "table" of his presence.

Read again the words of the Luke and Hebrews passages above in this light. Let the assurance God's Spirit is waiting to bring to you sweep over your soul and be assured that the gospel of grace really is the gospel of grace alone with no strings attached. The Colossians passage tells us what to do with the voices of those who want to take away our assurance and security in Christ. Christ is our reality, not their religious system of rules and regulations, so we don't let their shadows of reality mess with the full reality of Christ and the gospel of grace.

Lord, thank you for making it possible for me to be at your table. Thank you for inviting me to it and seating me there. And thank you for the assurance that I am at the table of your presence forever. Guard my heart and mind from my own tendency to want to "mix" in "pay my own way" stuff with the gospel of grace. Please, guard me from the voices of others that beckon me back to finding security through rules and regulations. My trust is in you and you alone, Lord. Your gracious and loving presence are all I need.

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