FINDING GOD IN THE VALLEYS
(Beausejour Church – Pastor Chris Jordan)
- To listen to or download the audio MP3 of this message, click HERE.
- To download a printable version of these notes, click HERE.
INTRO TO TOPIC: QUOTES FROM WAKING THE DEAD:
“There are few things more crucial to us than our own lives. And there are few things we are less clear about. This journey we are taking is hardly down the yellow brick road. Then again, that’s not a bad analogy at all. We may set out in the light, with hope and joy, but eventually, our path always seems to lead us into the woods, shrouded with a low-lying mist. Where is this abundant life that Christ supposedly promised? Where is God when we need him most?
Has God abandoned us? Did we not pray enough? Is this just something we accept as “part of life,” suck it up, even though it breaks our hearts? After a while, the accumulation of event after event that we do not like and do not understand erodes our confidence that we are part of something grand and good, and reduces us to a survivalist mind-set. I know, I know – we’ve been told that we matter to God. And part of us partly believes it. But life has a way of chipping away at that conviction, undermining our settled belief that he means us well…
What is really going on here? Good grief – life is brutal. Day after day it hammers us, till we lose sight of what God intends toward us, and we haven’t the foggiest idea why the things that are happening to us are happening to us.” (John Eldredge).
THE BIG IDEA: Sooner or later, our life journey will take us through dark valleys. It’s during those times that we need to learn how to find God and experience His peace and joy.
- AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SHEPHERD:
1 A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23).
- Background to David: He was a shepherd boy – a man after God’s own heart. He wrote worship songs to the Lord (this is one of them) and went on to be a great king. But he had many struggles, challenges and valleys in his life, too.
- The first thing we learn in this Psalm is something about the nature of God.
- Jesus said, “I am the door. Those who come in through me will be saved. Wherever they go, they will find green pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:9-11).
- When we believe in Jesus, He becomes our Good Shepherd. But there is a bad devil!
- The fact that God calls us sheep is not a compliment: “All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” (Isaiah 53:6).
- FUNNY: Someone shared with me how they misunderstood this Psalm as a child: “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.” Why talk about someone we don’t want?
- “I shall not want.” Speaks of satisfaction and fulfillment that comes only from Jesus.
- THE GOOD TIMES IN OUR LIVES:
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures
- “He makes me” – because I get too busy.
- “lie down” – we need seasons of rest in our lives.
- “green pastures” – feeding on the Word. Builds our faith (Romans 10:17 & Matt. 4:4).
He leads me beside the still waters.
- “Still waters” speaks of His presence – this comes in prayer.
- “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).
- We need times of refreshing to be nourished by the Lord.
- “Jesus said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.” (Mark 6:31).
3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
- How? “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.” (Psalm 19:7a). The Word.
- Stay on the path the shepherd has laid out for us – walk in obedience to His Word.
- THE DARK VALLEYS IN OUR LIVES:
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
- QUOTE: “In this section, David switches pronouns. No longer does he refer to the shepherd as He, He becomes You. In the valley of the shadow of death, we are brought face to face with God.” (Barry Buzza).
- Why does the Lord sometimes allow us to go through valleys?
- Because it’s easy to forget about Him when we live comfortably on the mountains.
- Benefits to valleys: “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” (James 1:2-4).
- How can we say, “I will fear no evil?” “For you are with me.”
WHAT TO REMEMBER IN DARK VALLEYS:
- Valleys are inevitable. Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
- Valleys are unpredictable. “Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.” (Matt. 8:23-24).
- Valleys are impartial. Jesus taught that the floods of life break against those who obey His words and those who don’t obey. The difference is those who obey will have their house standing when the flood is over. (see Luke 6:46-49).
- Valleys are temporary. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” (1 Peter 1:6).
- Valleys are purposeful. “These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure.” (1 Peter 1:7, NLT).
Your rod (discipline & protection) and Your staff (direction), they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
- SOME ENEMIES: Broken relationships, loneliness, unemployment, financial struggles, sickness, rebellious children, depression.
- GOD’S PLAN AND PURPOSE FOR OUR LIVES:
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
- When we follow the shepherd’s path – that will take us through hills and valleys – we can rest assured that He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him!
- Finally – the end of our life’s journey following the shepherd: that we dwell in the house of the Lord forever – in Heaven!
CLOSING APPLICATION: If you are going through a valley in your life right now:
- Refuse to be discouraged.
- 1 Sam. 30:6: David had to strengthen himself in the Lord.
- Remember that God is with you.
- Isaiah 43:2: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned.”
- Rely on God’s protection.
- Psalm 91:1-2: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
NOTE: Some of the thoughts in this message were inspired by a message entitled “Through the Valley” by Pastor David Koop and the book “Life Journey” by Pastor Barry Buzza.
Beausejour Community Church Website: www.beausejourchurch.ca
Pastor Chris Jordan’s Blog: https://pastorchrisjordan.wordpress.com/