Shallowford Free Will Baptist
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
For the Glory of Christ Alone
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                                                                                                                                                                                     December 5, 2017

 

Then Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, "Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you." And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, "On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel." Then the elders of Jabesh said to him, "Hold off for seven days, that we may send messengers to all the territory of Israel. And then, if there is no one to save us, we will come out to you." So the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the news in the hearing of the people. And all the people lifted up their voices and wept.

~1 Samuel 11:1-4

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                It has always amazed me how often I can read the Old Testament (or sometimes even the New Testament) and ridicule the characters because of the decisions they made with God. How many of us have ever said, “Oh Peter! You should have known better than to deny the Lord.” Or maybe we’ve chastised the disciples for doubting His power after the Transfiguration or the breaking of the fish and loaves. We read these stories as if they were simply someone else’s tale, and not warnings and insights about our own lives. And this passage from above is similar in its tone to these. I hope we can glean some important insights from this week’s passage as we try to learn as much as we can from the real examples the Lord gives us in His Word.

                Conflict sets the scene for our passage today. Israel is established in the land now with both a prophet and a king. Well, kind of a king. Our first real glimpse of Saul at his formal choosing in ch. 10 is to find him hiding among the equipment, bending his tall frame in all sorts of ways to avoid the eyes of the men of Israel. But still, Israel has everything they need to be successful in the Promised Land. Most importantly, they have the presence of the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with them. But their confidence and security has yet to be tested. Until now. Nahash the Ammonite comes up and encamps against Jabesh Gilead. The enemy is at their gates. They’ve stationed themselves in battle array with intentions of slaughter in the fields or starvation inside the city walls. And the men of Jabesh Gilead do not believe they are capable of fighting back against such a foe. And so they immediately try to figure a way out rather than to stand up and fight.

                Notice that it is the men of Jabesh Gilead that initiate the covenant with Nahash: “Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you.” They’re asking the enemy of God’s people to make an agreement of peace with them. Again, we might be tempted to think, “How could they do this?” But how often have you and I made deals with the devil and with sin? How often have we allowed the enemy to be a part of our lives when he holds no right and no power over us? How often have we lived as defeated while yet proclaiming our victory in Jesus? How many times have we warmed ourselves at the campfires of the enemy when Jesus is being beaten in the next room? We cannot compromise with the enemy; God does not and never will compromise with the enemy. The only perfect realization for the child of God is the total victory that God has given us through Jesus Christ.

                But it even goes further than simply compromising with the enemy – they offer to serve the enemy! God had released His people from bondage time and time again because He does not allow His people to be subservient to any but Himself. And yet here they are, willing to serve the enemy just to preserve their hides. Again, I must ask – how many times have we done the same? Perhaps it is an unethical dilemma at a job that pits our integrity against our desire to be liked or to be wealthy. Maybe it is a willingness to continue doing something wrong just to placate someone or something else. Regardless of who or what, our God is a jealous God, and He does not share His prized possessions with any. To serve another as these men did is to throw God’s deliverance back into His face and willingly take the yokes of oppression upon our hearts again.

                And still it gets worse. The conditions of the covenant aren’t set by Jabesh Gilead, but by Nahash. He tells Israel, “I will make a covenant with you only if I can put out your right eyes, and in doing that bring shame and reproach upon Israel (and her God).” And how do the elders respond? “Let us think about it for seven days…” (v. 3a). Really? What is there to think about here? A defeated enemy has no right to your soul; he cannot lay claims to your body that you aren’t willing to give to him. At any point I believe that the men of Jabesh Gilead could have called out to God and He would have delivered them. Instead they’re willing to be physically maimed just to have peace and security. But it has always been my impression that the devil is not willing just to take an eye (metaphorically speaking). He and his deceptions are always working to take the entirety of our lives, piece by piece, bit by bit. Nahash only did this as a way to mock God and His people. It wasn’t about any real sense of placation or even an offer of peace. I say it again in all caps – YOU CANNOT PLACATE THE DEVIL! He wants all of you, and only for the purpose of destruction, not salvation.

                What is there to consider in this story? The answer should have been “NO,” rather than a “let us think about it.” I’ve no doubt that their instinct and their conscience was screaming inside of them: “no, no, no!” Had they gone with their guts, perhaps this passage would have turned out with Nahash’s ultimate defeat before the Lord. And I cannot help but speculate as to why they decided to seek a compromise. The elders made this decision and offer of peace. Perhaps they simply saw it as a necessary means to maintain their privilege in the city. Got to give a little to get a little, right? Not with God. No man can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24). A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). Anybody who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is unfit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). And I could fill up the rest of this page with example after example of God’s exclusive claim upon our lives. If you seek to save your life in compromise, I can assure you that you will lose it. It is only in looking into the face of Satan and screaming “NO” at him that we can hope to make any advancement in God’s work and in our relationship with Him.

                And lastly, please don’t miss their mindsets in this conflict. They tell Nahash, “Give us seven days and let us see if something better comes along. If not, we will serve you.” They set themselves up for disappointment with that statement. They had the Lord God Almighty on their side – how does it get any better than that? And yet they were looking to men and some kind of deliverance or provision there as their saving grace. And how often are we looking for something better to come along ourselves? Maybe it’s a new preacher. Maybe it’s a new program. Perhaps it’s a move of God. But we wait and we wait and we wait on a mythical miracle when the greatest miracle has already been given to us in the gift of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What else can we hope for beyond that?

                The mindset of looking for the next best thing poisons us in our devotion to God. Again, there is nothing better if we have the Lord in our lives. There is nothing more to look forward to except the working out of His will in us. But looking for something else also diminishes the blessings that we already have. I’ve joked about it in the past – “I’ll be at church if I don’t have anything else going on.” Yet that is exactly the mindset so many of us have quite willingly fallen into. Church has become an empty obligation that takes away from the stuff that we really want to do. Our services are more about the temperature of the sanctuary, or who is sitting where, or what time the preacher will be done droning on. We will die upon the fields of “I don’t like this” or “I want this” rather than to simply lift our hands in praise to the Lord for His marvelous gift of love in Jesus Christ. Why? Because we’re always looking for the next best thing. We waiting for something better.

                Luckily for the men of Jabesh Gilead, God moved Saul to come and rescue them through warfare. Perhaps we might not be so lucky to look upon the supreme sacrifice of Jesus and work to compromise until something better presents itself. You see, this might have been 1000s of years ago, but it might as well have been written about my life too. I’ve done all of these things at one time or another, and most likely so have you. So rather than allow these stories to be subjects of our ridicule, let us seek to learn what we can from them and evaluate ourselves against the principles we draw from them. We dare not let these stories be emptied of the reasons for which God included them in His Word. We ought to be humble and dedicated enough to see ourselves inside the gates of Jabesh Gilead and making the same compromises. And in that awareness, may we be faithful enough to call out to God in our weakness and ask Him to deliver us from all of our enemies.

                It’s a journey, but it is one that we are blessed to walk. Good luck, and Godspeed!

 

 

~Bro. Benjamin

 

SCRIPTURE CHALLENGE

How many stones did David take with him to fight Goliath?

 

 

 

Previous Postings                                                                           This Week's Sermons
December 5
November 28                                                                                           December 4 (AM)
November 14                                                                                          "Be Still and Know"
November 7                                                                                                Psalm 46:1-11
October 31                                                                                            
October 24                                                                            
October 10                                                                             November 26 (AM) - Rev. David Amburgey
October 3                                                                                         "Impossible" - Luke 1:26-28
September 19                                                                         
September 5
                                                                          November 26 (PM) - Bro. Johnny Amburgey
August 29                                                                                 "A Great Race" - 1 Corinthians 9:25-27
August 22                                                                                             
August 15                                                                                              December 7 (WED)
August 8                                                                                                   
Acts 5:12-28
July 25                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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If you need a copy of any sermon from the past, email Bro. Benjamin with the date and title of the message listed below.
We will be happy to send you a CD of the sermon. Additionally sermons are available through the "Multimedia" Page
 

December 4 (AM) "Be Still and Know"--Psalm 46:1-11

November 26 (AM) "Impossible"--Luke 1:26-38 [Rev. David Amburgey]
November 26 (PM) "A Great Race"--1 Corinthians 9:25-27 [Bro. Johnny Amburgey]
November 19 (AM) "Great Reasons to Celebrate"--Psalm 100:1-5
November 12 (AM) "He Must Increase"--John 3:25-31
November 12 (PM) "What Paul Prays For, Part 1"--Ephesians 1:15-21
November 5 (AM) "Help Us to See More Clearly"--Mark 8:22-26
November 5 (PM) "The Best Thing"--Ephesians 1:13-14

October 29 (AM) "Help Us to See More Clearly, Introduction"--Mark 8:22-26
October 22 (AM) "Deal with the Planks"--Matthew 7:1-5
October 22 (PM) "More Good Stuff"--Ephesians 1:9-12
October 15 (AM) "The Most Important Victory"--Luke 10:17-20
October 15 (PM) "Who Did It?"--Matthew 21:28-32
October 8 (AM) "The Whole Armor of God, Part 2"--Ephesians 6:14-18
October 1 (AM) "The Whole Armor of God, Part 1"--Ephesians 6:14-18
October 1 (PM) "In Him"--Ephesians 1:7-8

September 24 (AM) "Uphold God's Man"--Exodus 17:8-13 [Rev. David Amburgey]
September 24 (PM) "The Call"--Mark 1:16-19 [Bro. Johnny Amburgey]
September 17 (AM) "Know Your Enemy"--Ephesians 6:10-13
September 17 (PM) "First Things First"--Ephesians 1:1-6
September 10 (AM) "An Army of One"--2 Samuel 23:11-12
September 10 (PM) "Refresh My Heart"--Philemon 20-25
September 3 (AM) "When Satan Touches You"--Job 1:6-12, Job 2:1-8, Luke 22:31-32, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

August 27 (AM) "He Really, Really Does Love Us"--1 John 4:9-11
August 27 (PM) "Put It on My Tab"--Philemon 17-19
August 13 (AM) "Godliness with Contentment"--1 Timothy 6:6-10
August 13 (PM) "A Brand New Man"--Philemon 12-16
August 6 (AM) "Calling All Sinners"--Matthew 9:9-13
August 6 (PM) "For Love's Sake"--Philemon 8-11

July 30 (AM) "Good Things Are Coming!"--Acts 3:17-21
July 30 (PM) "Accolades to Pursue"--Philemon 1-7
July 23 (AM) "Our 'Lot' in Life"--Genesis 19:1-29
July 16 (AM) "A Gospel You Can Trust"--2 Peter 1:16-21
July 16 (PM) "Take Heed"--Colossians 4:16-18
July 9 (AM) "Look Ahead"--Isaiah 43:18-19
July 2 (AM) "As Close As His Hands"--Isaiah 49:14-18

June 25 (AM) "Who is the REAL Lord of the Sabbath?"--Luke 6:1-5
June 25 (PM) "Paul's Supporting Cast"--Colossians 4:7-15
June 18 (AM) "Will the REAL Family of God Please Stand Up?"--Matthew 12:46-50
June 11 (AM) "When Opportunity Knocks"--Romans 12:17-21
June 11 (PM) "Watch Your Mouth!"--Colossians 4:2-6
June 4 (AM) "Walking in the Midst of Storms"--Matthew 14:22-33
June 4 (PM) "New Relationships for the New Man, Part #2"--Colossians 3:22-4:1

May 28 (AM) "Remember"--Luke 24:13-35
May 21 (AM) "The Effect Calvary Had"--John 19:16-20 [Bro. Larry Morelock]*
May 14 (AM) "Hope for the Future"--Genesis 3:20
May 7 (AM) "What We've Got, We Give"--Acts 3:1-10
May 7 (PM) "New Relationships for the New Man, Part #1"--Colossians 3:18-4:1

April 30 (AM) "God First"--Haggai 1:1-15
April 23 (AM) "Sheep Among Wolves"--Matthew 10:16-26
April 16 (AM) "Look Unto Jesus"--Hebrews 12:1-3
April 9 (AM) "But the Gift of God Is Eternal Life"--Romans 6:23
April 9 (PM) "Six Absolutes for the Christian's Life, Part 3"--Colossians 3:12-17
*April 2 (AM) "Forsaken"--Mark 15:33-34 [Bro. David Amburgey]
April 2 (PM) "Elements of Revival"--Ezekiel 37:1-10 [Bro. Louis Durbin]

March 26 (AM) "One Way or the Other"--Matthew 7:13-14
March 26 (PM) "Six Absolutes for the Christian's Life, Part 2"--Colossians 3:12-17
March 19 (AM) "The Only Cure for the Human Condition"--Luke 5:27-32
March 19 (PM) "Six Absolutes for the Christian's Life, Part 1"--Colossians 3:12-17
March 12 (AM) "He Really Does Care for You"--Matthew 10:29-31
March 12 (PM) "Put On the New Man"--Colossians 3:10-11
March 5 (AM) "The Keys to Salvation: Repentance & Faith, Part 2"--Mark 1:14-15; Galatians 3:5-9
March 5 (PM) "Put Off the Old You"--Colossians 3:8-9

February 26 (AM) "The Keys to Salvation: Repentance & Faith, Part 1"--Mark 1:14-15; Psalm 51:1-9
February 26 (PM) "Put Them Out of YOUR Misery"--Colossians 3:5-7
February 19 (AM) "Sufficient Grace"--2 Corinthians 12:1-10
February 19 (PM) "Look Up!"--Colossians 3:1-4
February 12 (AM) "We're ALL Part of Something Bigger"--1 Corinthians 12:12-27
February 5 (PM) "Free Really Does Mean Free"--Colossians 2:20-23

January 22 (AM) "Are You All In OR Not At All?"--John 6:60-71
January 22 (PM) "Christ: the True Substance of Our Life & Worship"--Colossians 2:16-19
January 15 (AM) "Practical Implications of Our Justification by Faith"--Romans 5:1-5
January 8 (AM) "Know Who You Are"--Philippians 2:12-18
January 1 (AM) "Just One"--John 1:40-51

*Recording Unavailable

 
Click here for a list of available sermons from 2016!
Click here for a list of available sermons from 2015!
Click here for a list of available sermons from 2014!

Click here for a list of available sermons from 2013!
Click here for a list of available sermons from 2012!
Click here for a list of available sermons from 2011! 

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About Our Pastor
 
 
Bro. Benjamin Miller began his ministry at Shallowford Free Will Baptist Church in August, 2011. Prior to pastoring our church, Bro. Benjamin pastored at New Home FWB in Colquitt, GA. He received his B.A. in History from Welch College (formerly Free Will Baptist Bible College) in Nashville, TN. He then received his M.A. in Biblical Studies from Lipscomb University, a Church of Christ graduate school in Nashville. Bro. Benjamin enjoys spending time with his family, reading, and fellowshipping with the people of the church. He is a HUGE Braves fan! Our pastor has dedicated himself to becoming a student of the Word and to preaching the Word with passion, integrity, and real-life applications.
 
Bro. Benjamin married Jara in June 2002. She is a special educator at Mount Bethel Elementary School here in Marietta. She is a tremendous part of his life and quite active in our church. 
 
They had their first son, Thomas, in June 2008. Thomas was born prematurely, and is a testimony to God's amazing grace and provision. He is now a 3rd grader, and does well in school. His greatest ability is to reach out to those in his class in concern and in love.
 
Bro. Benjamin and Sis. Jara welcomed Nathanael in March, 2014. His name means "given by God" and he is absolute reminder of God's ability to bless individuals beyond measure.
 
We hope you'll take the opportunity to get to know our pastoral family!