Shallowford Free Will Baptist
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
For the Glory of Christ Alone
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                                                                                                                                                                                  August 14, 2018

 

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

~2 Corinthians 9:6-8

+++++++++++++++ 

                You have my permission to express that inevitable groan – “Oh no, he’s talking about money.” Go ahead. I’ll wait for you. Better? Good! Now, what I have to tell you only is couched in the context of what are material holdings of the people of God, but that certainly isn’t the ONLY application of this passage that is important here. Our passage today will lean towards financial stewardship, but will focus in its scope on all aspects of our spiritual sacrifice. It’s not all about money…

                However, being the pastor of a church that has struggled with financial downturns and limitations, I am somewhat obligated as the pastor of that church to address the most immediate application of this passage. Paul is speaking in 2 Corinthians 9 about the financial gift that would be taken up by the church for the needs of the saints in Jerusalem (possibly brought on by a famine, Acts 11:28). The Macedonians had already risen to the occasion as Paul had extolled the faithfulness of the Corinthians in advance, and now he was encouraging the Corinthians by talking about the example the Macedonians had been. And now it seems that Paul is concerned that the Corinthians are going to let him down. And so he encourages them to give lovingly, faithfully, and cheerfully. They had promised to support the work of the Lord and now that promise needed to come to fruition.

                I understand those anxieties that Paul must have felt as a shepherd of God’s people. Our church is significantly short of the financial obligations that we agreed to in our budget last November. As of the end of July, we were nearly $8000 short of where we were supposed to be in our budgeted giving. That represents a budget shortfall of almost 14% for the year! I’ve looked at that budget that we’ve put together. We did everything that we could to cut non-essential expenses while continuing to be faithful stewards of what we are spending by faith. I cannot see where 14% can be cut out of our budget, with one exception. But here is the sad reality of things. The problem seems overwhelming to us right here and now, but that shortage didn’t come in the span of a week. The deficit could have been eaten up almost entirely if each of us could have given $5-6 more per week. For some of us, we wouldn’t even miss it. For others it would be a struggle. But that is the reality of what that shortage is. It isn’t a massive overspending. It isn’t even massive under-giving on any given Sunday. It is the product of many weeks and many decisions to give (or not to give). I’m not going to pretend that I’m not concerned. I’m concerned for my family and their wellbeing. I’m concerned for the work that we can do and the services we can offer. But like Paul, I understand that giving is ALWAYS related to a deeper spiritual reality. So much of our faith can be measured by the way we spend our finances (and other stuff as we’ll see later).

                And so Paul reminds the Corinthians, who I daresay are in danger of not meeting their financial obligations, that our faithfulness to God is ALWAYS grounded on the foundation of His faithfulness to us. “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”  There is an inverse correlation to what is given and what is retained. How is it inverse? Well, suppose you have 10 pieces of fruit and you give 2 away. You still hold onto a majority of your possessions. You’ve given away and you still have plenty. But what Paul says is that generosity yields more than reservation. If you sow bountifully with your sacrifices, you will not have less, but you will instead reap more bountifully. What accounts for this inverse relationship? The faithful provision of God alone can, for He gives good measure, pressed down, and running over into our bosoms. There are other factors in here to be sure (why you give, how you give, what you support, etc.), but in general God sees and honors the sacrifices made from a pure heart for Him and for His work.

                The second thing Paul tells us is that our motivations for why we give or why we don’t matter. He says first, “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart” (v. 7). That means there is prayerful planning and faithful execution on the part of the participant. There have been times when a sudden need has arisen and I have to make an immediate decision, but for the most part my giving is to the church on the first Sunday of the month. I know that money is not MY money, but it is spoken for as God’s holy tithe. Now I know that giving my tithes and offerings means that I am not going to have as much money as I would have had I held onto it (from an earthly perspective). So I’ve asked God what He expects by right (my tithes of 10%) and what He deserves from my gratitude (my offering). I have not planned to live as if that money will be in my checking account because it will not be there. (Incidentally, we have planned not to let Christmas surprise us in December – just a word to the wise.) But additionally, I wrote the check out and I gave it. You see, all the prayer and best intentions in the world are worth nothing if not executed in some type of activity. Faith without works is, after all, dead. So each of us is called to prayerful planning as we determine what the Lord would require from us as a spiritual sacrifice.

                But also in this we are not called to give from a place of obligation, but from a place of cheerful gratitude. Is it necessary to give to God? According to the Bible He has every right to demand anything of us He chooses, but that is not the way He always operates. Sometimes He will, but mostly it is left in the realm of free will choices to do for Him. You have every right to ignore Him in your decisions regarding your time and treasures. There will be consequences (you will reap sparingly), but you have that right. Instead what the Lord loves is for you and I to give of ourselves to Him just because we love Him and want to bless Him in some way. There is no purer gift, no more sense of joy that you and I can receive than when we give with a heart that wants to bless. I made a decision to spend the gift cards I’d received for my birthday on my family. I bought a couple little things, but most of what I got has gone to blessing them each a little bit. And you know what – it truly is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Don’t give of yourself as obligation. Don’t give because you want to shut somebody up. Don’t give and resent what you’ve given. Give because you love the Lord and want to show your love in a real way.

                The last main thought that Paul has regarding spiritual sacrifices is that God is able to make us sufficient in all things. And He does that through His grace:  “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you” (v. 8a). Let’s be honest about something. If it were not for grace and mercy, we’d all be dead and in torment since the day of our first sin. But God HAS bestowed grace on us in the past. And He’s doing it right now. How many of us deserve what we have? I’m convinced some of you will reason in your hearts that you do based on the level of your education or because of your work ethic. But those are human standards. How many of us deserve anything we have when we compare ourselves to GOD’S standards? None of us do, and yet He gives it freely as the greatest example of the cheerful Giver in the whole universe and scope of time! God loves to bless people even when they don’t deserve it. And I would daresay He absolutely loves to bless those who are willing to emulate the cheerful heart of the Giver of all things when we sacrifice for Him. It won’t be grace that is just enough. Paul said that this grace will ABOUND towards you. Does that mean if you give $1 you’ll get back $100? Sometimes, but I think God’s blessings are more precious and personal than that. Some of those gracious blessings will only be recognized when we get into heaven. I don’t know what they will be, but I can promise you that they will be there. God is truly able to make all grace abound to you.

                Why does He do it? So that we will have sufficiency first. That means He fully intends that your needs will be taken care of by His providence. That is His cheerful obligation and promise to you. You can rest secure in His faithfulness. And if we can’t rest secure in His earthly provision for your life, how can we truly say that we rest secure in His eternal provisions for us? But more than that, the Lord seems to grace people’s lives so that they might continue to do His good work in this world. He gives us personal sufficiency while adding to it an abundance for every good work! That is work done towards His values and goals. That means helping people. It means supporting noble causes. It means sacrificing for the better of someone or something else. You are His conduit of grace that can change this world one soul at a time. So faithfulness is not just about us and our security. It is also about the provision and ministry towards others, some we’ll never even meet this side of heaven. But each of those spiritual offerings are paving stones to the coming of Christ’s kingdom on this earth just as it is in heaven. That’s how the Lord set it up. He gave it all to you and He’s asking you to use it all for Him!

                God is not calling you to give 100% of everything you have to the church (at least I don’t think He is). Instead He is calling you to be faithful in what you sacrifice. He expects us to be prayerful too. God communes with our hearts to give us the ability to be joyful in these sacrifices, especially as we see how God uses the small and insignificant to His honor – just ask the widow and her mites! But more than anything, spiritual sacrifices are proof of the indwelling faith in our hearts. Do we believe in Him enough to trust Him? Do we believe in Him enough to allow Him to supply our needs? Do we believe that His grace in our sacrifices is magnified so much more in the lives of others? That is worth spending some time meditating on and considering. I think it’s important.

                So yeah…money is a big part of things. Yes all of these principles apply to our tithes and offerings. But I don’t want to end without making an even broader application to spiritual sacrifices. And I do hope that we can see them as spiritual sacrifices rather than boiling everything down to money. Reality is that there are many ways you and I contribute to the kingdom in our sacrifices. Time is a TREMENDOUS spiritual sacrifice, perhaps even more inclusive than money. How do you pay for things? With money! But how do you earn money? Through work. As I mentioned last Sunday, when you begin realizing that money earned is payment made on time you cannot get back it takes a whole different look. Your car wasn’t bought with $25,000 – it was bought with 1,250 hours of your life making $20 an hour. That is a little more than 52 days of your life that you spent doing nothing but working for that car. It might not seem like a lot, but time is a non-renewable resource. Until eternity, our time clocks are winding down, and we’re not going to miraculously find more. So any true discussion of stewardship must go beyond money to talk about our time too.

                How much time are you devoting to God and His work? Add up all of your time spent in prayer, in Bible reading, and in church activities. How much of the most significant commodity of your life are you spending for His work? I recently reactivated my Netflix account. I enjoy binge watching, but I shudder to think of the amount of time I spend involved in electronic stimuli when I’ve got 2 boys in the same house with me that are growing up every day! No, I want to reallocate my time to spend a little more with them. Who is worth sacrificing YOUR time for? Spouses? Children? God? I doubt any of us will lament TV shows we didn’t watch when life comes crashing down. But we will lament the time we didn’t spend in the things that mattered the most.

                What about talents? Those are gracious gifts that God has cheerfully blessed us with so that we could cheerfully bless others. Can you sing? Can you teach? Can you draw? Can you shepherd the hearts of children? Can you administrate? Can you serve? Can you preach? Can you weave baskets underwater? Then do it for God and for His work! Those spiritual sacrifices matter so much to His work. Who knows if your talent might be the one thing that God uses to draw a wandering soul to Himself.

                Perhaps our sacrifices are sacrifices of our pride and ego to offer grace to someone else. Maybe our sacrifice is a changed attitude about someone or something. Forgiveness is a gut-wrenching spiritual sacrifice, but it yields some peaceable fruits. Maybe it is submission to God. Maybe it is learning what it means to walk by faith again. Maybe it is material. I can’t answer those questions for you, but there resides in the heart of the child of God right now the very Spirit of God. He will instruct you in all righteousness. He will reveal to you those sacrifices that ought to be made. And as you say yes to Him, your heart will beat in sync with His in other areas of your life. I truly believe that there is no better, more grace-filled place to be than in the center of God’s holy will fulfilling all of His desires. Try Him in this and see. He can open the windows of heavens and prove that He is worthy to be your God.

                Just try faith and see…

 

 

~Bro. Benjamin

 

SCRIPTURE CHALLENGE

For we walk by                                  and not by                                         . 

 

 

Previous Postings                                                                  This Week's Sermons
August 14
August 7                                                                                         August 12 (AM)
July 31                                                                          "To the Least of These: the Centurion"
July 24                                                                                               Luke 7:1-10
July 17                                                                                              

July 3
                                                                                             
August 12 (PM)
June 12                                                                        
"What the New Man Looks Like, Part 1"
June 5                                                                                          Ephesians 4:25-32
May 22                                                                                         
May 15                                                                                      
May 8                      
                                                                      August 1 (WED)
May 1                                                                                             Acts 13:42-14:7
April 24                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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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


August 12 (AM) "To the Least of These: the Centurion"--Luke 7:1-10
August 12 (PM) "What the New Man Looks Like, Part 1"--Ephesians 4:25-32
August 5 (AM) "To the Least of These: a Man with a Withered Hand"--Luke 6:1-11
August 5 (PM) "...What Now Is"--Ephesians 4:20-24
 
July 29 (AM) "To the Least of These: a Paralytic"--Luke 5:17-26
July 29 (PM) "The Baha'i Religion"
July 22 (AM) "To the Least of These: a Leper"--Luke 5:12-16
July 22 (PM) "What Once Was..."--Ephesians 4:17-19
July 15 (AM) "To the Least of These: a Lowly Fisherman"--Luke 5:1-11
July 8 (AM) "To the Least of These: Peter's Mother-in-Law"--Luke 4:38-39
July 8 (PM) "No Longer Children"--Ephesians 4:14-15
July 1 (AM) "To the Least of These: the Demoniac"--Luke 4:31-37
July 1 (PM) "You Have a Place; You Have a Purpose"--Ephesians 4:11-16
 
June 24 (AM) "The Fruitless Tree"--Luke 13:6-9 - Rev. David Amburgey
June 24 (PM) "Becoming a Hero in the Faith"--Galatians 5:22-23 - Bro. Johnny Amburgey
June 17 (AM) "To the Least of These: Joseph"--Matthew 1:18-25
June 10 (AM) "To the Least of These: Mary"--Luke 1:26-38
June 10 (PM) "Leading Captivity Captive"--Ephesians 4:7-10
June 3 (AM) "With Us in the Fires"--Daniel 3:13-30
June 3 (PM) "One in Christ"--Ephesians 4:1-6
 
May 20 (AM) "New Testament Christians"--1 John 2:12-17 - Rev. Ronald Wallace
May 20 (AM) "More Than We Could Ever Imagine"--Ephesians 3:20-21
May 13 (AM) "Moms After God's Own Heart"--Hosea 11:1-11
May 6 (AM) "Great Grace for the Least of These"--Matthew 9:9-13
May 6 (PM) "Becoming the Church"--Ephesians 3:14-19

April 29 (AM) "When You're Tempted to Worry"--Psalm 37:1-9
April 22 (AM) "Can You See His Face?"--Luke 22:54-62
April 22 (PM) "Grace Is Worth It All!"--Ephesians 3:8-13
April 15 (AM) "What's It Really About?"--Mark 3:1-6
April 15 (PM) "The Way Is Open!"--Ephesians 3:1-7
April 8 (AM) "Is Salvation Fair?"--Matthew 20:1-16
April 8 (PM) "The Greatest in the Kingdom"--Matthew 20:20-28
April 1 (AM) "The Resurrection & the Life"--John 11:1-44
April 1 (PM) "Today in Paradise"--Luke 23:39-43
 
March 25 (AM) "It Is Finished"--John 19:29-30
March 18 (AM)
"Father, Forgive Them"--Luke 23:32-38
March 18 (PM) "I Thirst"--John 19:28-29
March 11 (AM)
"Forsaken for Us"--Mark 15:34
March 11 (PM)
"We Are the Church"--Ephesians 19-22
March 4 (AM) "If It Be Possible..."--Matthew 26:36-47
March 4 (PM) "The Peace of Christ"--Ephesians 2:14-18

February 25 (PM) "Remember Who You Were"--Ephesians 2:11-13
February 11 (AM) "Faith Is a Family Affair"--Deuteronomy 6:1-9
February 11 (PM) "There Are NO Inactive Church Members"--Ephesians 2:8-10
February 4 (AM) "The Glory of Christ"--Matthew 17:1-8
February 4 (PM) "Prepositional Christianity"--Ephesians 2:8-10
 
January 28 (AM) "Lord of All Creation"--Psalm 102:25-28
January 28 (PM) "Great Reasons to Be Thankful"--Ephesians 2:1-7
January 21 (AM) "I See the Lord"--Isaiah 6:1-6
January 21 (PM) "All in All"--Ephesians 1:22-23
January 14 (AM) "Let's Make 2018 All About Him"--Proverbs 3:5-6
January 14 (PM) "What Paul Prays For, Part 2"--Ephesians 1:15-21
January 7 (AM) "Time to Start Over"--2 Corinthians 5:14-21
January 7 (PM) "What Paul Prays For"--Ephesians 1:15-21
 
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 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!