The Filling Station

Text: Romans, Chapter 15

The last two Sundays, Larry Grounds and I have gone to Palestine and preached in prison in prison and worshipped God with the congregation of the Lord’s people at the Powledge Unit. It has been a great two weeks.

The first Sunday we preached there—December 29th—Larry and I started back home, and I knew I was running low on gasoline and that we needed to stop at a station and fill up the tank.

Now from Powledge to Frankston—a distance of about 45 miles—there are NO places to get any gas. There was one little place outside of Palestine that has a sign saying “Discount Gas”. There were two little pumps outside a pitiful building that looks as though it was built out of cardboard boxes.

As I passed it by, I said, “No. I don’t need any bad gas for my little truck!”, even though the gas was probably just fine. I thought to myself, “I think I have enough gas to get to Frankston.” I thought that Larry was blissfully unaware of our gas shortage.

About the time I was thinking that, Larry piped up and said, “Doug, are we about to run out of gas?” To which I replied, “Larry, we’re running on fumes, but I think we can make it to Frankston.”

I knew Larry was probably thinking about having to walk on his bad leg joint, so I reassured him that if we didn’t make it, I would walk for gas and he could sit in the truck while I did.

Well, we made it—riding on fumes!

I got to thinking about the value of gas stations on the roadside and even got to thinking about the history of service stations.

When Henry Ford started to mass-produce cars, he changed our world. When he first built the car, we could finally go long distances in a relatively short time. So, next came the need for “real” roads for the cars to ride on.

Some of you are old enough to remember what roads were like at first—dirt wagon trails with plenty of holes, and plenty of obstacles—not at all like we have today. Anyway, we could go farther faster, but now we needed places to fill the cars up with gasoline or we would run out of energy. So gasoline service stations started to pop up all over the country.

There was another name for them though, before we started referring to them as “service stations” or “gas stations”. Again, the older folks remember and the younger people probably don’t know they were called “filling stations”. They were the place we went to “fill-up” with gasoline.

We called that “progress”. In a few years, we progressed from “filling stations” to “service stations”. That’s because they “serviced” the needs of the automobile. You would stop at a “service station” and a guy would come out. You would tell him to “fill it up”, and he would—plus, he would wash your windows, check your water and oil level, check your tires for air, and then take your money. Oh, one more thing he would do—he would say, “We appreciate your business! Come back again!”

Now I can hear the younger people say, “I don’t believe that!” However, it really did happen that way…long, long ago.

Then “progress” came along again. The service stations started a “special” line called “self service”, which sold you gas a little cheaper if you pumped it yourself—no windshield washing, no checking water, oil, or the air in your tires.

Oh, best of all, we’ve finally “progressed” so far that the price of gasoline is now about $1.25 more per gallon than it was when you actually got “SERVICE”. And forget about, “We appreciate your business and come back again!” Boy—that’s progress…

I think we might feel like the Native Americans. They hunted and fished all day until the white man came along with “civilization”. Now they work all day and night and only get to fish once every 2 months! Yep—that’s progress!

In the Book of Romans, the apostle Paul is telling us about the “TRUE” progress of mankind. Paul tells us about how we came from nothing TO something! He tells us how we came to a filling station—a place where we can fill up with all the energy we need for this life—and for eternity too!

Paul now comes to the end of his letter, which we call the Book of Romans. This is the next to last chapter in the book, and Paul will save the last chapter for a special purpose—a personal purpose of his own. We’ll talk about that next week.

But for now, let’s think back over the past few weeks—

· Think about how Paul has brought us to the knowledge of who we were—

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