Shallowford Free Will Baptist
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
For the Glory of Christ Alone
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                                                                                                                                                                                  March 19, 2019

The craftsman stretches out his rule, he marks one out with chalk; he fashions it with a plane, he marks it out with the compass, and makes it like the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house. He cuts down cedars for himself, and takes the cypress and the oak; he secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it. Then it shall be for a man to burn, for he will take some of it and warm himself; yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; indeed he makes a god and worships it; he makes it a carved image, and falls down to it. He burns half of it in the fire; with this half he eats meat; he roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, "Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire." And the rest of it he makes into a god, his carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god!"

~Isaiah 44:13-17

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               There seems to have been a recurring theme in my devotional readings this morning. I saw it in the passage above, in Isaiah 41 & 46, and then again in Psalm 115. The topic of idolatry kept on coming up. I believe that God was trying to show me something, maybe trying to get it through my thick head that this is something that I need to hear…and maybe my readers do too. So our entry this week is going to be about idolatry. I know what you’re thinking – “We don’t have a problem with idolatry anymore!” We might not carry around little wooden and metal gods in our pockets to pray to, but I assure you that idolatry is just as much a problem today as it was in Isaiah’s day. If we can truly understand what idolatry is, perhaps we might be able to avoid the subtle temptations towards idolatry in our lives. That’s my hope and purpose today, because we ALL struggle with idolatry on some level.

               If you’re looking for a working definition of what an idol is, I would suggest to you that an idol is anything that you and I believe in, hope in, trust in, have confidence in, sell ourselves to, or worship in God’s stead. It stands to reason then that there are literally countless manifestations of what an idol can be. Idols can be material or they can be immaterial. They can be real or perceived. Regardless, they stand between us and God and receive the majority of our time and attention and worship. For that alone, they are dangerous and to be avoided at all costs. We ought to spend a reasonable amount of time considering where our faith and hope lies, and to redirect those spiritual energies back to God. Part of that battle is realizing the whats and whys about idols. And so let’s dig into our passage from above.

               The first thing we must see is that an idol is CREATED by men and therefore INFERIOR to men. By that principle an idol must of necessity be lesser than man. So think about the silliness of trusting in an idol. Here’s an example to illustrate. Let’s suppose that I need to pick up something that weighs 150 pounds. I can reasonable lift 50 pounds (again…for illustration purposes ONLY). I would need to enlist the help of someone who is able to at least lift 100 pounds so we could move the object. Would I go to Nathanael to ask him to lift two times more than what I can lift? And would I trust his and my health to the prospect of him being able to? Of course not! Because he is the inferior between the two. Of both of us, I should be able to lift the heavier portion of the weight. Well, just as silly as it would be for me to reach out to Nathanael to do what I can’t do, it is even more ridiculous and DANGEROUS for me to trust in something I have created to give me the answers that I seek?

               The craftsman made this idol in our passage above. He took a piece of wood (wood that was intentionally grown by man in verse 14) and begins to mark and cut it, to shape it into the “figure” of a man. It is not a man; it was manmade. It cannot do what a man can do, but it totally reliant upon men for its existence and its movement. In Isaiah 41:7, the craftsman has to secure the feet of the idol to the ground with pegs just so it won’t fall over. In Isaiah 45:7, the owner has to carry the idol wherever it needs to go and when he puts it down, there it will remain! And yet this lifeless, created thing is supposed to be our HELP in our times of greatest trouble? What will we do – bring the idol to the spiritual battle so that it can even get there in the first place? Of course not! Nothing of human invention will avail us in the biggest battles of our lives. Don’t place your hope and confidence in anything you’ve created. Not in money. Not in your reputation. Not in your church. Not in another person. Not in emotions or philosophy. Nothing manmade will help us in the end.

               Secondly, we see that idols are IMPOTENT to help us when we need them. Moving on from the foundation of their creation (which is owed to the men who trust in them), we now turn our attention to what an idol cannot do for us. The Bible minces no words about the futility of idols, almost to the point of making fun of them. Look at Psalm 115:5-7 – “They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.” Their created faculties don’t even work! They have mouth, but they can’t tell us what we need to know. They have eyes and yet they cannot discern the present from the future. They have ears, but they cannot even hear us if we prayed to them. And even if they heard, they couldn’t give us an answer because they don’t have throats. What a pitiful excuse for a god! Who in their right mind would ever bow to one of these worthless, powerless, incapable things?? But we do at times. And do you know what the Bible’s estimation of that kind of person is? Everyone who trusts in them is as worthless as the idols are (Ps. 115:8). Idols cannot help us. No matter how big or special or significant that they seem to be, idols are nothing but disappointment, defeat, and death.

               Thirdly, the Bible proclaims that idols have NO REAL PURPOSE for us. I laugh each time I read the passage above. The same idol that is supposed to make all the difference for us in our lives…is dismantled to make firewood to cook with and to keep us warm. Does that not make you laugh a little bit? This idol is supposed to have all the answers for the provision of our lives, and yet we can by our personal choice take it apart to cook with or to burn in a fire for warmth. Do you realize what happens when you put wood into the fire? It undergoes a chemical change that destroys it forever. Does that not conclusively show us how powerless and worthless an idol is? If we have the power to destroy it, it isn’t our god…no matter how often we tell ourselves that it is (v. 17). This reminds me of the story from Judges 6 when Gideon destroys the altar of Baal in his hometown. The townsfolk are furious and want to see him condemned for tearing down their god (an idol…in an Israelite territory…and they’re mad because it got torn down…). Gideon’s father comes to them and says that Baal ought to plead for himself if he is a god. His message is true. If an idol is powerless AGAINST us, it is also powerless FOR us. And it is even more useful to burn in a fire than for our eternal security.

               Lastly, we see that idols present to us a tremendous spiritual DANGER because they stand in the place reserved for the one true God. In Psalm 46, God says, “Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me” (v. 9). “Our God is in heaven,” Psalm 115:3a tells us. He is not here confined into a manmade facility or philosophy or thing. These idols are not gods…and yet they stand quite ready to receive our worship and our trust should we choose it. But beware of the great danger in this. You do not incorporate another god into your theology without there being damage to your soul. There IS no other God like our God. An idol is no god, period! But we have been known to sell ourselves cheaply into the service of those things which are not God at the expense of the right relationship with OUR God. Dare we think that God is okay with this? Do we think that the Lord, the uncreated eternal God, is willing to share His devotion with a worthless idol?  “For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Ex. 34:14). That sounds pretty clear to me. There is grave and eternal danger in allowing our devotion and worship to given to anything beyond the Lord.

               “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:21). That is such a strange way for John to end a letter talking about the supremacy and excellence of the knowledge of Jesus Christ as our Savior. And yet he puts it right there, right at the end. The last thing we read in this New Testament letter is an admonition to avoid idols. John wasn’t writing that to reach a word count. He wasn’t doing it based on an “I bet you won’t” dare. Idolatry is a serious concern among the people of God. Anything that stands in the place of God is a threat to our spiritual wellbeing. And we must be on guard against these temptations. Your money will not stand with you in judgment. Your home will provide no safety from the storms that come. Your reputation, as highly as you think of yourself, will not hold up against the power and majesty of the King of heaven. Your philosophies might dazzle the thoughts of weak-minded men, but they will fail against the truth of the Gospel. Nothing will stand in that day but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work for our lives. What are you trusting in today? What commands your affections and your attention? What is it that demands your money? What do you find yourself seeking comfort and solace in? Where are you looking for help? What are you sneaking in as your god? Keep yourselves from all idols. Keep yourself only for God.

               Have a blessed week!

 

~Bro. Benjamin

 

 

Previous Postings                                                                  This Week's Sermons
March 19
March 12                                                                                         March 17 (AM)
March 5                                                                                    "When Jesus Returns"
February 26                                                                             2 Thessalonians 1:1-10
February 12                                                                        
February 5                                                                                      March 17 (PM)
January 29                                                             "The Gospel of Jesus Christ Is THE Gospel"
January 22                                                                                   Galatians 1:11-17
January 15                                                                              

January 8                                                                          
            March 13 (WED)
January 1                                                                                       Acts 26:1-18
December 18                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
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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

March 17 (AM) "When Jesus Returns"--2 Thessalonians 1:1-10
March 17 (PM) "The Gospel of Jesus Christ Is THE Gospel"--Galatians 1:11-17
March 10 (AM) "Both the Young & the Old"--Zechariah 8:1-6
March 10 (PM) "No Other Gospel"--Galatians:1:6-10
March 3 (AM) "Deliverance through the Storm"--Acts 27:12-44
March 3 (PM) "Greetings to Galatia"--Galatians 1:1-5

 
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!