Shallowford Free Will Baptist
Friday, February 22, 2019
For the Glory of Christ Alone
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Pastor's Page

 
                                                                                                                                                                                  February 12, 2019

If you love Me, keep My commandments.

~John 14:15

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               Ah, the season love is upon us! All the haters can now make retching sounds in the privacy of their own homes. I suppose I shouldn’t say “hater” – that sounds bad to say that anyone hates love in any version. But I do recognize that many (and I count myself among them) are not big fans of Valentine’s Day. We ought not need an excuse to do on one day what we ought to be doing EVERY DAY. Valentine’s Day has become a commercialized, secular holiday that has as little to do with true love as I have to do with thermodynamics and nuclear physics! Am I to assume that we can beat our wives and treat them like garbage 364 days of the year as long as we give them a card with flowers on the remaining day? That doesn’t seem reasonable to me. However, Valentine’s Day does present us with an opportunity to make sure that we have calibrated our theology of love to fit what the Bible actually reveals about what true agapē love truly is.

               As I was reading over some of the proposed histories of Valentine’s Day (and there are multiple suppositions about its inception), I came across a story related to us of a “St. Valentine” that lived during the mid-200s Roman Empire. Valentine was a priest who served when Claudius II was Caesar in Rome. Claudius had determined that unmarried men made better soldiers than married men, so he issued a decree that outlawed marriage for ALL young men. Can you imagine how that would have been received? Valentine stood up against this edict believing in the sanctity and blessedness of marriage among the community and among the church. He performed secret marriages for these young lovers without the knowledge and without the approval of Rome. He was martyred by the Empire once his deeds were discovered. Other histories suggest that Valentine was actually imprisoned and executed for trying to help Christians escape the prisons in Rome. Legend claims that Valentine fell in love himself while he was incarcerated before his execution. The object of his affection was perhaps a jailor’s daughter that came to visit with him. He would communicate with her through letters that were signed “from your Valentine.” Whether either of these legends are true is up for debate, but both remind us of something far transcendent than what we sometimes call love today. Love, for Valentine and for the church, is not simply a word, but a powerful emotional that manifests its actions in the will. It is that which we want to turn our attention to this week. What are some conclusions we can draw about love?

               1. Love really does exist. In the verse above, Jesus recognizes the concept of love. What we know from Scripture is that love is the human exercise of a capacity that finds origin in God Himself. John says twice in 1 John 4 that “God is love” (vv. 8 & 16). True love (agapē in the original Greek) is a self-sacrificial, others-exalting type of love. True love examines the needs and desires of others and places those needs and desires above the self. But that is not a human concept. It is a concept that finds its origin in the divine person of our heavenly Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There has never been a time when love did not exist, and there never WILL be a time when love doesn’t exist. Only should God cease to exist would it even be possible for love to end. That’s why Paul in his great thesis on love declares that love is greater than both faith and hope. Faith will end in sight one day. There will be nothing else to hope for when we meet Jesus, and therefore no more reason to hope. But love will be operative throughout eternity. And because love existed in God and we are created in God’s image, love is a characteristic that each of us can manifest. Yes, love DOES exist.

               2. Love is a choice. If God’s love has been made possible in us by virtue of our design, it begs the question of how that love is activated in us. Jesus makes it very clear to us that loving and choosing to do are intimately connected with each other. And so we are to choose to love or to choose not to love. God commands love for Him and love for our neighbors, but He does not compel this love. Love in its purest state can never be compelled. It is only given as a free will choice. Let’s suppose that there was a man that loved a woman who refused to love him in return. In a fit of rage he grabbed a gun and held it to her head and marched her right up to the Justice of the Peace or a pastor to be married. (And, NO, that’s not how my wedding ceremony happened!!) The poor lady may express her love for him and say the vows, but she most likely would not truly love him. Her actions were compelled, but her love was withheld. Love is a choice that we make. When you and I choose to place another’s needs over our own desires, we are expressing love towards them. But we are making that choice. We are not compelled to do so. And that brings up a couple corollary points to this discussion.

               2a. Our choice to love is GREATLY influenced by the things we see around us. Hollywood would try and convince us that true love is so powerful that we couldn’t stand against its torrents even if we wanted to. As if somehow our free will is overpowered by the sheer electricity of love. And then they would have us to believe that love has as much to do with the physical as it does with the spiritual. The fact of the matter is that most of us are as influenced by what secularists say love is than what God says love is. And the way we talk about love and the way we engage in love often follow suit. Be careful that your choice to love is a choice based on truth and not a lie. Love exists because God exists, and the more we know about God the more we will learn about what love truly is.

               2b. Our choice to love only increases the amount of love in the world. I like this point! If I had $100 to give to some chosen people, the more people I chose, the less money there would be per person. If I chose 5 people, they would only get $20 apiece. If I chose 10 people, they would individually only get $10. And should an 11th person come forward, there would be no other opportunity for them to receive anything from me…even if I wanted to give it. So much in life is bound by a limited or diminishing supply. We only have a limited supply of time, and it is dwindling. There is limited supply of land. Our health is limited. Even our presence is limited to one person at a time. Everything around us is limited, but love is as infinite and expansive as God Himself is. If you love one person, that makes 2 people that experience love in the world. And it increases exponentially the more it is shared, given, and received. That is an astonishing thing to consider! We only increase the supply and potential for love when we choose to love and be loved. It can never end. It will never end. It will never run out. And it will transcend our finite lives here on this earth to be expressed and experienced throughout eternity. Wow!

               3. Love is shown in action. I remember back in my early Christian years a group called DC Talk. Our youth group were infatuated with hearing their unique style of music. I remember my buddy actually preaching to a group of elderly people in the church service one night about one of their songs – “Luv Is a Verb.” The purpose of the song was to remind us that love is not simply a noun to be spoken of, but it is a verb that is active in every way. And lest we think their theology is off, listen to Jesus’ words above. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Love for Christ is not expressed through our profession of faith; it is manifested through our performance of faith! We cannot claim to love God and forsake everything He has commanded of us. Those commands were given to us by God in love for our good. And those commandments when fulfilled bring a smile to God’s face. If our love is truly sacrificing our all for the good of someone else (even God), our love must be tangible and evident. People should be able to look at us and be able to give a reason for why they believe that we love them. That’s hard enough to do inside of a flawed church. But think about how necessary that love is for reaching those on the outside! We profess love for them…and yet we’re willing to let them die and go to Hell so as not to embarrass or inconvenience them or ourselves?? That doesn’t sound too loving to me. How will they know that we are disciples of Christ? Because we have love for one another (John 13:35). How will they know we love them? By displaying the same kind of love that Jesus Himself showed to us in His sacrifice on our behalves. Many dissertations and books have been written on love, and yet I would rather experience one act of displayed love than have the smartest mind try to tell me about love. And I bet you are the same.

               So let us consider these points as we go through the week of love. Let us be reminded that love really does exist, and that each one of us has been gifted that special capacity by virtue of our creation. Let us all make the choice to love even when loving is hard. Away with excuses about why you’re incapable of such love. God has given you everything you need to love one another. You just have to release the reins of your life to Him. Choose to love. You’ll never go wrong by trying to love too sincerely. And let not your love be in word alone. John says, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Do love! If the only love people experience from you comes when you say “I love you,” something is lacking. Show you love in real, significant, life-changing ways. And don’t just do that one day of the year. Each and every day God has afforded us the opportunity to experience a little bit of Himself in loving people around us the right way. Let us honor Him in how we love. Let us give the best we are to make others the best they can be. And I pray that our love will never be silenced or quenched by any force in this world. We may just change somebody’s life for the Lord yet!

               Have a great week! I love you all!

 

 ~Bro. Benjamin 

 

Previous Postings                                                                  This Week's Sermons
February 12
February 5
January 29                                                                                    February 10 (AM)
January 22                                                                                  "This Is Eternal Life"
January 15                                                                                        John 17:1-5
January 8                                                              
January 1                                                                                     
December 18                                                                     
December 11                                                                                         
December 4
                                                                    
November 27                                                                                February 13 (WED)
November 13                                                                                   Acts 24:1-21       
November 6                                                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
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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

February 24 (AM) "From Surviving to Thriving"--Revelation 2:1-7
February 24 (PM) "Final Thoughts"--Ephesians 6:21-24
February 17 (AM) "When Jesus Comes to Church"--Revelation 3:14-21 [Bro. David Amburgey]
February 17 (PM) "Fear Not" [Bro. Johnny Amburgey]
February 10 (AM) "This Is Eternal Life"--John 17:1-5
February 3 (AM) "To the Least of These: the Little Ol' Tax Collector"--Luke 19:1-10

February 3 (PM) "Pray...And Pray Some More"--Ephesians 6:18-20
 
January 27 (AM) "To the Least of These: the Thief on the Cross"--Luke 23:39-43
January 27 (PM) "The Whole Armor of God, Part 2"--Ephesians 6:13-18
January 20 (AM) "To the Least of These: the Murderous, Thieving Rebel"--Luke 23:13-25
January 20 (PM) "The Whole Armor of God, Part 1"--Ephesians 6:13-17
January 13 (AM) "To the Least of These: the Denying One"--Luke 22:31-34, 54-62
January 13 (PM) "Know Your Enemy"--Ephesians 6:10-13
January 6 (AM) "To the Least of These: the Blind Man"--Luke 18:35-43
January 6 (PM) "The New Man in the Workplace"--Ephesians 6:5-9
 
*No Recording Available
 
Click here for a list of available sermons from 2018!
Click here for a list of available sermons from 2017!
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 with real-life applications.
 
Bro. Benjamin married Jara in June 2002. She is a 5th grade teacher 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 5th 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. Nate started Pre-K this year, and is doing well learning his letters & numbers.
 
We hope you'll take the opportunity to get to know our pastoral family!