Monthly Archives: July 2017

Invincible!

SufferingOnly those struggling need reminders of God’s love.

No one has ever made an appointment to visit me because life has treated them awesomely, to talk over a promotion or boast of new grandchild. No they call for an appointment when they have no where else to turn. They call me to visit them when in the hospital, especially the emergency room, when the future looks messy and hopeless.

For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
— Romans 8:36 or Psalm 44:22

All I can do in such circumstances is to remind them of God’s presence in all things, to remind people of how the Holy Spirit has bound us together into a community of faith, supporting one another, of how the Father’s gift of healing has become manifest through science and medicine, of how Christ’s gift of grace allows us to see past our own short comings to the power of having His spirit living within those who trust in. And sometimes that is enough.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:38-39

I will have more to say about Romans 8:26-39 on Sunday, July 30th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Groaning with Creation

We like to believe that we we are basically good. We might have our moments when we don’t measure up and have our issues, but I have yet to meet anyone who thinks that he or she deserves the suffering experienced in life. Thus one of the great theological questions is:

If God is good, why is there suffering in the world?

In a few sentences Paul throws this question aside. First, you are not the only person suffering, and second, not even only humanity that suffers.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning
as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. — Romans 8:22

But most importantly, looking at suffering is looking in the wrong direction. We should instead look at the grandeur and glory about to be revealed by God who calls us heirs.

I will have more to say about Romans 8:12-25 on Sunday, July 23rd at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Wow!

FireworksEaster, and each Sunday as a little Easter, should be celebrated with fireworks, brass bands, ticker-tape parades, loud cheering, combined choirs, and a celebratory dinner.

Independence Day merely celebrates our collective rights for self-government, an occasion worthy of celebration in the grandest of style. Yet the resurrection of Jesus Christ proves our release from our well deserved punishment under the law.

The Apostle Paul began his letter to the Church in Rome with a long list of sins demonstrating:

There is no one who is righteous,
not even one;

— Romans 3:10b

Paul himself also struggled with sin:

So then with my mind I am a slave to the law of God,
but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

— Romans 7:25b

Then he makes a most amazing statement:

There is therefore now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.

— Romans 8:1

Although the law was intended to guide us from sin, it is unable to do so. Yet God, in Christ Jesus does the impossible! This is worthy of celebration in the most grand style, not merely once a year but every Sunday. Ring all the bells! Pull out all of the stops!

I will have more to say about Romans 8:1-11 on Sunday, July 16th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

What Shall We Do?

I once loved “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum. The tune is catchy and the words are inspiring. At least until he gets to the line:

Never been a sinner. I never sinned.

I believe the Apostle Paul would have argued with him against that line as well.

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. — Romans 7:19 (NRSV)

Great comedy also makes use of this human propensity to think that we can do what is right, only to do what is wrong. When a character does something obviously wrong audiences will roar with laughter, relieved that someone else makes a foolish mistake as they may have once made.

The good news of Jesus Christ is that we need not remain stuck in our past failures, but may dare to go out into the world striving to do our best, confident that Christ has rescued us.

I will have more to say about Romans 7:14-25 on Sunday, July 9th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor