Category: Romans (Page 1 of 23)

Slow to Anger

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger…” ~Exodus 34:6

Patience is tough. Boy, it is for me. I believe it is for all of us. Especially today. We don’t just have cars and TVs and microwave ovens, we’ve got cell phones and computers and AI and 5G, we’ve got drive-thrus for everything and online for everything else. And it’s making us a much less patient people.

Our God reveals his name to us in Exodus 34, he tells us exactly who he is. This is God’s nature, his character, his eternal will. Slow to anger. Long-suffering. Patient. Oh, my, is he patient.

God does not experience time the same way we do. He has a much different perspective on clocks and calendars. What seems like ages to us is just a blink to our Lord. If my computer doesn’t load my Google search in three seconds, I get impatient. I get upset in line at the grocery store. My garage door goes up too slowly. But God is patient. God is willing to let entire centuries go by, he lets whole millennia pass as he carefully works out his eternal purposes. He waits. He delays. He is patient.

Romans 2 says it’s this patience of God that leads to repentance. God’s patience is a big part of what saves us. 1 Timothy 2 tells us God wants everybody to be saved and that’s why he waits.

“Our Lord’s patience means salvation.” ~2 Peter 3:15

The world needs us to reflect God’s patience. To practice it. To demonstrate it consistently. We live in a harsh world. This world is not slow to anger, it is quick to anger. It is fast to judge. It is in a hurry to criticize and condemn. This world needs a shock absorber. We need to show our God’s patience to everyone we’re around because our God has been so incredibly patient with us.

Peace,

Allan

If Not You…

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God.” ~Hebrews 12:15
As children of God and disciples of Christ Jesus, we demonstrate his grace to the people around us. We make sure all the people we contact every day know the truth about our God because they experience it in us. They encounter his grace in us. They see it and feel it in you.

This is as practical and tangible and as real as the Christian life gets. Whatever you have received from the Lord, you generously pass it on to others.

“Forgive each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” ~Ephesians 4:32
Forgive the person in your life who doesn’t deserve it. Forgive the person who’s never apologized. We’ve got more than enough people out there accusing and condemning. Who’s going to forgive? Christians who, by God’s grace, have been forgiven.

“Accept one another just as Christ accepted you.” ~Romans 15:7
Invite somebody over to your house who is 30 years older or 30 years younger than you. Take somebody to lunch who’s a different race or speaks a different language. Have a conversation with somebody from a different culture than yours and learn something. We’ve got lots of people out there dividing us and categorizing us and drawing lines and excluding others. Who’s going to accept others? Christians who, by God’s grace, have been accepted.

“Love one another as I have loved you.” ~John 15:34
Take a Sonic drink to your grouchy next door neighbor. Say something kind and encouraging to the customer service agent. Compliment the cashier at the gas station. Give up your own rights and give in to the demands of someone else. There’s enough hate out there, there’s enough haters – more than enough. Who’s going to show love? Christians who, by God’s grace, have been eternally loved.

Peace,

Allan

Putting Away and Taking On

“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” ~Romans 13:14

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting and prayer that precedes Good Friday and Easter Sunday on the Church calendar. Going back to the early years of Church history, Lent has traditionally been a time for personal abstinence and self-discipline. In the Middle Ages, it became particularly associated with a fast from eating meat. It developed into a teaching tool for the Church and a reminder for all Christians: In your hunger, be reminded of all that Jesus suffered and sacrificed to win your salvation.

As you enter this season of Lent on your own or together with your family or community of faith, allow me to suggest that it’s not just about giving something up. It’s not only about sacrificing a certain type or amount of food or some other regular pleasure in order to participate in the sufferings of Christ or to remember his selfless preparation for the cross. At least as important is the idea and practice of taking something on, adding something new to your life in Christ.

Not only the surrender of material things, but the taking on of spiritual things, eternal things that draw us closer to Christ and, by the power of the Spirit, transform us more into his image is the best way to prepare for Easter. A new ministry. A new discipline. A new work for the benefit of others. A new prayer. A new friend. A new passage of Scripture. While you’re cleaning out your house over the next six weeks, pay attention to what you’re moving in to the empty spaces. Add something important. Commit to something Spirit-filled.

Our church at GCR is observing Ash Wednesday tonight with our brothers and sisters in Christ at First Presbyterian here in Midland. The joint worship service begins at 630pm. There will be corporate confession and repentance. There will be an imposition of ashes. For most of us Church of Christ’ers, it will be brand new, mildly uncomfortable, and sort of strange. And powerful and beautiful and holy.

Peace,

Allan

Seeing What Others Can’t

We took in our first Sod Poodles game of the new season yesterday, enjoying a 6-3 Amarillo win over Midland to secure a series split with the RockHounds. We sat in Dale Cooper’s seats, it was Buddy Reed bobblehead day, and I came up one ice cream helmet short of eating for the cycle. A wonderful day at the downtown ballpark.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We’ve started a new sermon series here at Central on the life of David. And it’s complicated. David is chosen by God to be Israel’s king, but he’s a mess. He commits public adultery and proxy murder. He joins the enemy army and he’s obsessed with revenge. He doesn’t get along with his wives, his children, or his troops. He is responsible for some of the most atrocious acts of cruelty and selfishness in the Bible. Yet, somehow, he is a described as “a man after God’s own heart.”

It’s complicated.

One of the questions we’re asking each week during this series is How does David reflect God’s heart? Yesterday we looked at the familiar story of David’s battle with Goliath. And we determined that one thing David and our God have in common is that they see what others can’t.

Romans 4 tells us that God gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. That’s how David is, too.

David sees the giant enemy of God as small and weak and insignificant. The very sight of Goliath paralyzed the Israelites. His size, his strength, his words – the Bible says Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. But David looks at Goliath and he sees him as nothing. He sees him as already dead. He thinks about the lions and bears he’s killed in the past and he tells Saul, “This uncircumcised Philistine will be just like one of them.” He says, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Yeah, Goliath is powerful; but God is much more powerful. Yes, Goliath is strong and mighty;  but compared to Almighty God, David sees Goliath as puny. He sees Goliath as already defeated. And that’s the way God looks at things.

2 Corinthians 10 says “You’re only looking at the surface of things.” Look deeper. Look bigger. When you see things the way God sees things, it empowers you to act with zeal, the kind of zeal and boldness and assurance that changes everything.

David makes things bigger. He sees more clearly. When everybody knows you can’t beat Goliath with a sword, David comes up with another way. When David can’t live in Israel because Saul is trying to kill him, he becomes a Philistine. When Jerusalem is just a hick-town with one red light, David sees a glorious and holy capital city. When the wandering Israelites are worshiping God in a tent, David draws up plans for a beautiful temple. David stays outside the box, seeing and creating new possibilities from the darkness and the void. Just like our God.

Samuel did not see David as a king, but God did. God sees possibilities we don’t always see. And he makes them happen.

Peace,

Allan

Closer Than You Think

You are familiar with the warning etched into the bottom of the passenger’s side-view mirror on your car: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear. This authoritative statement is located on the passenger’s side-view mirror, but not the driver’s side. Why?

Your driver’s side-view mirror is just a standard flat-surface mirror. Your eyes are less than 18-inches away from that mirror and there’s hardly any angle. You can see almost everything behind you on that side through that mirror. But a normal mirror doesn’t work on the passenger’s side. The driver’s eyes are at least six feet away from that mirror and the angle is extremely sharp. A flat mirror would only allow you to see a tiny sliver of what is behind you on that side. So those mirrors are convex in shape. To compensate for the increased distance between you and the mirror and the severe angle, the passenger’s side mirror bulges out in the middle and curves away toward the sides to give you a wider view. You can see much more with the wider angle, but it comes at a price. The wider focal point compresses the image so it makes the objects appear to be smaller and farther away than they really are. Hence, the warning: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

Every time you get behind the wheel, you are reminded that what you are seeing on that side is a lot bigger and a lot closer than you think. That’s what the warning is all about. This thing in the mirror is closer than it looks. It will impact you sooner than you think. You need to act on this, and your response is important. Time is short. The gap is small. It’s closer than it appears to be.

There is a similar warning for us  in the Bible. It should probably be heard or read as a comfort.

“The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.” ~Romans 13:11-12

It feels like night. It has for a while. We were told at the end of March that we only needed 15-days. If we shut everything down for 15-days, we can flatten the curve and avoid any real crisis. Fifteen days and we’ll be good.

That was nine months ago. And we’re not good. I’m not good. Are you? I feel like I’m in a fog. Sometimes I feel like I’m just going through the motions. I don’t know what to do. I’m not sure anybody really knows.

We have a vaccine now, praise the Lord. It seems like a miracle we’ve received the vaccines so quickly and we should be thanking God for this answer to our prayers. But most health officials are saying the darkest days of the pandemic are still ahead. And now a new strain? It feels like nobody knows what to do and nobody knows when it’s going to be over.

Our salvation seems like a smaller thing in the face of all the suffering and loss that surrounds us. The dawn of a new day feels a long way off in the suffocating darkness of the present.

We all have questions as we head into the new year. When will the coronavirus crisis end? How will the vaccines work? Is 2021 going to be better than 2020, or will it just be more of the same? Will handshakes and hugs ever be normalized again? What about my own peace of mind? My own sense of well-being? Lots of questions.

Romans 13 reminds us of what the Bible affirms for us over and over again: that we belong to a God who does his very best work in the dark and his deliverance is always closer than you think.

What we see right now can throw us off. You know, it is possible to focus too much on the coronavirus and develop a distorted view. We can pay too much attention to the experts. We can watch too much news and get sucked into a false narrative. We can scroll through too much Facebook, we can read too many emails and websites, we can easily lose sight. Our salvation can seem much smaller than it really is. And farther away. The presence and power of our God can appear to be smaller and farther away.

We need an authoritative statement on the fronts of all our phones and etched into the bottom of all our screens: God’s presence and power is closer than it appears! God’s rescue is closer than you think!

New life always begins in the dark. A seed in the ground. A baby in the womb. Jesus in the tomb. A church in a pandemic. A Christian in despair. We can believe the night is nearly over and the day is almost here. You can have faith in the middle of your fears. You can be calm and certain through your anxieties. You can experience true life even as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Because we know what the prophet Micah knows: “Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” And we know what our Lord has promised: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Which is closer than you think.

Peace,

Allan

Your Destiny is Redirected

“When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” ~Colossians 3:4

The reality is that you have already been glorified, it just hasn’t been fully revealed. Romans 8 says those he called, those he justified, he also glorified. On that last night around the table with his disciples, our Lord prayed, “I have given them the same glory you gave me.” It’s already a done deal. When you are raised with Christ, your destiny is redirected. You are already rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of God. You’ve been re-routed. It is the most certain, most positive, most definite guarantee from our God: When our Lord Jesus Christ appears in his glory on that last day, you are also going to appear right there with him!

Nothing can possibly stop that. Nothing is going to keep that from happening.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” ~John 10:28

You are going to live in Christ’s glory in the presence of God forever. It’s so certain, it’s so guaranteed, the Bible talks like it’s already occurred. And the call is to adapt yourself now to that coming reality. Don’t wait.

Peace,

Allan

« Older posts