Shallowford Free Will Baptist
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
For the Glory of Christ Alone
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                                                                                                                                                                                       May 23, 2017

 

Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, and praise Him in the company of the elders.

~Psalm 107:23-32

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                Our journey through Psalm 107 has taken us through the courses of life for different types of people. We’ve seen how the Lord finds those who are wandering in sin, fainting and near to death. He rescues them and feeds them and shepherds their lives to find the rest they’ve always sought. We’ve seen those who are rebellious be rescued by God from their bondage and from certain death. The Lord breaks their oppression and brings them out of darkness into His marvelous light. And last week we looked at foolish individuals who experience affliction because of their wicked ways. And yet despite their foolishness and rejection of His will, God reaches down and saves them, heals them, and delivers them from destruction.

                There are common themes that begin to emerge as we consider our journey so far. First, men are not perfect, but perfection is not a requisite for the Lord to act in lovingkindness and benevolence towards them. He still doesn’t require perfection in us as a condition of salvation. The Lord instead wishes to complete the work in us that is started in Christ Jesus (Philip. 1:6). Secondly, though perfection is not required for the Lord to act, all individuals are expected to cry out to the Lord from their circumstances. Those cries admit their frailties while expressing their need for God to do what only He can do. Thirdly, the Lord responds and rescues every time! So often people assume that God can’t or won’t help, but there are no examples in the Bible where humble cries from the penitent are ignored by God. The Lord loves His people enough to deliver them. And lastly, there is an assumed and expected response of gratitude, praise, and worship from those who have experienced God’s redemption. We would do well to consider these realities when WE are the ones facing adversity.

                But there is yet another commonality in the first three examples that needs to be mentioned. There is guilt presumed on behalf of each of the individuals in these three sections of Psalm 107. The first group of individuals is lost having wandered from the way of the Lord. The second group has rebelled against God. The third contains the foolish who sin against God. All three groups are guilty before the Lord. But perhaps some might say, “Well, I’m living a pretty good life, and I’m trying my best to follow the Lord the right way, but I’m still struggling.” Good news – God’s lovingkindness is ready to help you too. And with that in mind, let’s turn our attention to verses 23-32.

                This is a group of working-class individuals who find themselves at the mercy of greater forces than they. They are merchants, making their living by going out onto the waters to conduct their business. Nowhere in the Scripture is work condemned. In fact, work was a reality even before the Fall. If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to go back and read Genesis 2:15. Mankind was placed in the Garden to tend it for the Lord. These sea merchants are earning a living by engaging in commerce over the waters. And during that time, they’ve seen enough to know how small they really are. Notice verse 24: “They see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep.” It’s as if they have a front row seat to the majesty and greatness of creation. They’ve seen the shining reflections of the sun upon the constant waves. They’ve come across the great whales of the deep, seen them breaking the waters with their great spouts. The sailors have no doubt seen dolphins and sharks and many other sea creatures traveling together in groups. They have floated in the midst of the seas to contemplate their own smallness in a place where water surrounds them in every direction. In general, they’ve seen everything that they need to see to recognize God as God, and to give praise and glory to His holy name.

                But I wonder if the splendor of creation has somehow become commonplace to them. What gives me that impression, you ask. Well, for one there is no offer of praise from the lips of these merchants in spite of all that they see. There is a mention of the works and wonders of the Lord, but there is no general attitude of worship for His place in creation. It’s like I’m looking at a sampling of the greater lapse of all mankind – the general inability to stand in wonder of the God of all creation. There are so many areas of our lives that we “lose the fire” in. Marriage doesn’t mean what it used to. Our children aren’t seen to be the miracles that we once believed. Worship becomes routine and obligatory rather than a blessed privilege. If there is a fault in this group of people, surely it is that they’ve just gotten so caught up with life being “mundane” that they’ve forgotten how precious it truly is. And so they just get caught up in living life for the sake of living life. They’re not necessarily engaging in open rebellion against God, but they certainly seem to have forgotten Him. Until…

                I’m so glad that God is a God who continues to get our attention! Those blessed intrusions into our lives may be in just seeing for the first time in a long time the beauty and preciousness of a rainbow, or it might be some sickness that takes us unexpectedly. These interruptions of our apathy might be good or bad, but they always produce a good result if we’ll remember God. And so these merchants find their spiritual slumber shattered by the power of God. In verses 25-26, the Lord of storms brings a storm into their midst to end their stupor. Suddenly they find themselves fully aware of the greatness of creation around them. The winds begin to rise, rousing the waves to larger swells. The merchant ship is lifted up towards the heavens upon the crest of a wave only to be plunged to the depths on the troughs. Relentlessly, ceaselessly the waves toss the ship violently from side to side, up and down, over and over again. There is nowhere the crew can run for shelter for even shelter inside the ship is in jeopardy from this storm. Their souls begin to melt. The strength of their hands to control the rigging and sails and the rudders begins to wane. As much as the fool or the rebellious, they wait anxiously for the certain death that looms ominously in the storms. Which wave would be THE wave that would topple them, sending them to their watery grave? They stagger to and fro like drunk men upon the unsteady deck (v. 27). They’ve exhausted everything else that they know to do. They’re defeated…

                I’m not sure why it is that we think we have to exhaust every other option before we call out to the Lord, but I see that pattern in my own life so much that I dare not sit in judgment of these poor souls. There is no other hope for them than God. So they cry out to the Lord in their trouble. Notice, they don’t wait until they get to a safe harbor or until the storm breaks. They are like Peter seeing the winds and waves and beginning to sink: “Lord, save me” (Matt. 14:30)! And as quickly as they found themselves in the thick of the storm, God’s merciful hands reaches out to grab them. “He brings them out of their distresses” (v. 28). I like that! God brings us out of those storms that we consider so large. And He calms those storms so that the waves are still. There is great beauty in this process. God meets our apathy with storms, but He meets our repentance with peace and calm. And the Lord personally escorts them to their desired haven. And He still does that! In John 6, the disciples found themselves upon the Sea of Galilee during a ferocious storm. They fought the winds and the waves for hours, making it only about 3-4 miles on their journey towards Capernaum. And in the dark of that stormy night, they see Jesus walking to them upon those waves that threaten to capsize their own boats. He is not affected by the tumult; He is not tossed by the waves. Jesus’ mission is to reach His flailing children, and nothing will thwart His will. And entering into that boat, they find themselves immediately at the land of their desired haven. Folks, I cannot assume against God’s intervening in our storms just as He has throughout all of human history. Yes, those storms might be big and scary, but God is bigger and more powerful than any force the world can bring against us. Only how long will be continue our fruitless labors until we come to ourselves and call out to Him?

                The effects upon these sailors when the Lord intervenes are both immediate and profound. In verse 30, they are glad because the winds and waves are quiet. There isn’t a more deafening sound than that of silence after the storms. They are glad because the storms are gone. They are glad because the God of the storms has chosen to intervene to rescue them. They are glad because they are alive. Ought we not to be glad when God redeems us out of the storms of life? Secondly, they thank the Lord (v. 31). In the same pattern as those who are lost, sinful, and foolish, these fortunate sailors thank the Lord for His goodness and magnificent works.  I wonder if we realize how close to our finality we were before God rescued us in Christ Jesus. There can be but two appropriate responses. We ought to thank the Lord for saving us. And lastly, to exalt Him and praise Him before the assembly of believers. Think of the story these merchants had to tell their children and neighbors when they made it home. “We were going to die – not a doubt in my mind, son. But Jehovah saved us!” They didn’t have to have specific theological or doctrinal professions. They simply told their stories to God’s honor and glory.

                Have you been through things that you KNOW (not suspect, but absolutely know) that God intervened to rescue you? When’s the last time you’ve talked about it? You see, some might roll their eyes saying, “Here he goes again.” But there are far more who stand to benefit from hearing the stories of the faithfulness of God. Those faith-building experiences are supposed to effect change inside the body of believers. Exaltation and praise of God is contagious. We all need those precious reminders of how great and good God really is. What reason then do we give for not talking about it? I hope and pray that we can learn to incorporate praise and testimony into our worship experiences. In fact, I’m going to insist on it to some degree. These are your stories, precious in your memory and in the experience with God. There is no better place to start that process of evangelism than to speak simply and plainly about how God has worked in your life. And when you do, you redeem the storms for God. I wish I could promise you that you’ll never experience storms of physical, emotional, and financial uncertainty. That is not a promise that we can claim in this world. But this I can promise you – no matter the storm, God stands ready to go through it with you. And at the end of it all, you’ve got a story that can be a boon to so many other souls who are struggling. And that ultimately fulfills the purpose of this Psalm in helping us all to understand the steadfast love of God. Do you believe this??

                Praying you can rejoice even in the storms and proclaim the Good News of Christ even in your darkest days! Have a blessed week!

          

                ~Bro. Benjamin

 

 

 

Previous Postings                                                                           This Week's Sermons
May 23
May 16
May 9
April 30                                                                                                        May 14 (AM)
April 25                                                                                                 "Hope for the Future"
April 18                                                                                                        Genesis 3:20
April 11                                                                                              
March 28                                                                                                     
March 21                                                                                                   May 24 (WED)
March 14                                                                                "The Last Generation" - 2 Timothy 3:1-9 
March 7                                                                            
February 28      
                                                                                      
February 14                                                                         
February 7                                                                              

                                                                                                                                                             
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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.

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!