Intro: While we may not know all that will unfold in our lives during this New
Year, there will be one sure constant: We will still have problems! In these
verses, the Apostle Paul gives us some much needed insight into the
problems we face and how we should handle them. After all, either we can
handle our burdens, or they will surely handle us! This morning, I would like
to take a few minutes to look into these verses to find help in developing a
Y2K plan for the valleys we will face this year.
It may be that you entered the year already in a valley. It may be that
as the New Year dawned, there were problems that began to develop in
your life. Even if these 2 statements are not true in your life, most likely you
will face a valley before 2001 arrives. In fact, God's children are in one of
three places this morning. You are either in a valley, coming out of a valley,
or getting to go into a valley. Since this is true, we need to be prepared
when the valley days come. These verses will help us to do just that. Join
me as we consider A Y2K Plan For Your Valley.
I. V. 8-12 WE MUST PLAN FOR THE VALLEYS
(Ill. There is a statement that needs to be made here about the context of
these verses. Here, Paul is speaking primarily of the persecution of the
believer. He suffered greatly for the Lord's sake. Often, we will suffer, not
for the Savior, but because of our own sins. That is, we experience the
chastisement of God in our lives because of disobedience and foolish
decisions! That is not the focus of these verses. If you are suffering today
because of your sins, then the only recourse you have is to repent and seek
to restore your fractured fellowship with God. After all, He will chastise the
wayward son - Rev. 3:19; Heb. 12:6. These verses do speak to those who
are suffering for their faith and to those who are bearing burdens that
represent the natural problems and valleys of life.)
(Ill. Having said that, it needs to be said that valleys will come - Job 14:1;
A. V. 8-9 They Are Painful - (Ill. In these verses, Paul uses some pretty
descriptive language. He describes his valleys as times of pain. Note
the language he uses:
1. Troubled - Presses, squeezed, under pressure.
2. Every side - In every way, place and occasion.
3. Perplexed - To be at a loss, to wonder which way to go.
4. Persecuted - To be hunted like an animal.
5. Cast Down - To be smitten and beaten down.
(It is apparent that the Apostle is enduring circumstances that could be
described as painful. This happens in your life and mine as well. In
fact, these words could very accurately describe the way we feel from
time to time. When we go into the valley, it is no fun and often it is
quite painful. The point is, you are not the first, neither will you be the
last, that will face painful times in life.)
B. V. 10-11 They Are Planned - These two verses hinge on one word
that is found in both. It is the word "that". Paul tells us that he has
endured all that he has for one reason. That reason was that Jesus
might be seen in him. This tells me that when the trials of life came
Paul's way, they came because they were planned of the Lord. We
need to realize this morning that things don't just happen to the
believer. There is always a purpose and there is always a plan. More
will be said about this in a few minutes, but for now, remember that
nothing can happen in your life or mine that has not been allowed to
happen by God! (ILL. Job 1 & 2) If you are saved, there is no such
thing as bad luck, or unfortunate events, there is only the will of God
seeking glory for God.
C. V. 8-11 They Are A Privilege - When these distressing events came
about in Paul's life, He was able to respond to each through the grace
of God. The valleys Paul faced were just chances for him to prove
that God was truly God! Notice what Paul said about his valleys.
Each difficulty was contrasted by an exclamation of God's help and
1. Distressed - To be crushed. "Under pressure? Yes! Crushed!
2. Despair - To be hopeless with no sense of confidence or security.
"Do I wonder which way to turn? Yes! Am I without hope? No!"
3. Destroyed - To perish. "Am I hunted like an animal? Yes! Will
I perish in the hunt? No!"
(Ill. What Paul is saying is that the trials and valleys of life are tough
and they are hard. However, they are the perfect arena for us to
demonstrate to the world that the God we serve is worthy of that
service. Our valleys, when handled correctly, tell the world that we
serve a God Who is worthy of our faith and of our service. When we
handle the valleys of life God's way, Jesus Christ is glorified! His life
is manifested in the lives of His children ans the very valley that
causes us so much grief becomes a mission outreach from Heaven.
God uses you as a living billboard across which He writes such words
as "Grace"; "Sufficient"; "Blessing"; "Power"; "Glory"; "Worthy", etc.
Therefore the valley need to be seen as a privilege!)
I. We Must Plan For The Valleys
II. V. 13-17a WE MUST PLAN WITH A VISION
(Ill. v. 13 - This verse tells us that our vision must rest upon our faith in God.
It is our faith in Him that makes a successful navigation of the valleys of life
A. V. 15a A Vision Of The Plan Of God - Paul tells us in verse 15 that
"All things are for your sakes." As hard as it may be for us to
understand, this includes our valleys! When you face a difficult time
in life, it must always be remembered that God has allowed it as part
of His plan for you, Rom. 8:28.
(Ill. The life of Joseph. He was betrayed by his brothers and sold as
a slave into Egypt. Later, he was falsely accused and cast in prison.
Many would have seen this as a time of terrible affliction, but later,
Joseph was able to look back on it and say that God had brought it al
to pass for good - Gen. 50:20. Even Jacob could see no good in it,
Gen. 42:36, but later, he saw it all wok out, Gen. 45:26-28.)
B. V. 15b A Vision Of The Praise Of God - We need to remember, as
I have already stated, that the valley is a good time for us to let our
lights shine for the Lord. When we face the valleys of life in genuine
faith, God is glorified and His name is praised!
(Ill. It ought to be our goal in life, whether circumstances are favorable
or evil, that we will seek first and foremost the glory of God. 1 Cor.
10:31; Matt. 6:33. Too often, we forget that if it is happening, God
allowed it and He did so for His Own reasons and glory.)
(Ill. On October 25, 1999 golfer Payne Stewart was killed in a plane
crash. We all heard the news about the run away aircraft and the
subsequent crash and death of Stewart and all the others on board.
That was what the news reported about his death. What they didn't
tell you was this: Payne Stewart was a dedicated Christian and a
member of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida. His funeral was
preached by his pastor, Dr. Jim Henry. His memorial service was
broadcast live on local stations and around the world on networks like
CNN, ESPN, and The Golf Channel. As soon as the service was
over, the phones at First Baptist began ringing off the hooks. Callers
from around the world wanted to know how they too could come to
faith in Jesus Christ. E-mail began to come in of decisions that had
been made as a result of this service. God literally used this valley in
the life of Payne Stewart and his family to bring praise and glory unto
Himself. His plans may not be, and hopefully aren't as extreme in
your case, but His desire is the same. He wants to receive glory from
your life as He lives through you.)
C. V. 16 A Vision Of The Power Of God - Another truth that needs to
be remembered in the valley is the truth that God will sustain His
children. If He has allowed this ti\his time to come into your life, you
need not fear that He will run away and leave you trapped in the
valley. He was there before the valley, He will be there after the
valley, and He will certainly be there in the valley, Heb. 13:5; Matt.
28:20. Regardless of how difficult life becomes, God has promised
grace sufficient for whatever you may face in life, 2 Cor. 12:9.
(Ill. God promises here to renew us every day, Lam. 3:23.)
D. V. 17a A Vision Of The Promise Of God - This verse makes a
curious statement about our trials with which we might be tempted to
disagree many times. However, when we take the time to analyze
this verse, we find that there are 2 precious promises given here that
will make the darkness of the valley a lot brighter.
1. He Controls The Load In The Valley - There is a common
misconception among believers that God will not allow us to
experience anything that we are not able to bear. This comes
from 1 Cor. 10:13. The truth is, that verse is talking about
temptation and not about valleys! There are times when you will
be tried way past your own breaking point. You see, He may
break you, but whatever you face, it will never break Him! It all
goes back to abiding in Jesus! As long as He is the Vine and you
are the branch, it is His responsibility to bear you up! Then, Phil.
4:13 will become real to you! Remember, Matt. 11:28 is for those
who are "heavy laden." He said nothing about removing the
burden, just about giving rest in the yoke. Remember, He controls
the load. What seems so heavy to us is as light as a feather to
(Ill. How can God call my burden light? The answer lies in the
weight of glory that He will place on His children when they get
home, Rom. 8:18.)
2. He Controls The Length Of The Valley - Not only does the Lord
determine how much I carry, He also determines how long I will
carry it. He says here that our affliction is "but for a moment."
Sometimes, it doesn't seem that way. It seems that the valley will
never end. How can the Lord say that our never ending trials only
last for a moment? Again, the answer lies in looking beyond the
present into eternity! Regardless of what we endure here, and
regardless of how long we are forced to endure it, it is nothing
when it is laid alongside of eternity.
(Ill. Think of the endless span of time we will have to enjoy the rich
blessings of the Lord Jesus in that new heavenly home! No matter
how bleak or how black it looks on this shore, it will be far better
there than it could ever be here even on the best of days.)
I. We Must Plan For The Valleys
II. We Must Plan With A Vision
III. V. 14, 17b-18 WE MUST PLAN FOR THE VICTORY
A. V. 14 A Victory Beyond The Grave - There is a saying that went
around a few years ago that went something like this, "Life is hard,
and then you die." That is the attitude that many people have about
life. However, I have good news for you! When they take us out to
the graveyard, that will not be the end of us! We will continue to live
beyond the grave and the life we will live then will be immeasurably
better than this life could ever be. You see, the same power that
raised Jesus Christ from the dead will see to it that when you stop
living in this world, you start living in Heaven, 2 Cor. 5:8. In fact, the
same life that fills the resurrected Jesus fills your life right now if you
are saved. In other words, you don't wait to get to Heaven to have
eternal life, you got it the minute you were saved! That is enough to
shout about! What this means is that no matter how deep the valleys
may be that we have to walk through, we are going to outlive them all!
When we reach the grave, trouble cannot follow! When we get to
Heaven, trouble will be banned from entry, Rev. 21:4; 21:27
B. V. 17 A Victory Abounding In Glory - Paul tells us that when we do
make it to Heaven, everything we faced in this life will be remembered
as nothing when compared to the glory that we will share in over
there! What a blessing!
(Ill. The idea that should be kept in mind as we go through life is of
ourselves facing a huge set of balance scales. We place our valleys
on the one side and the glory we shall receive on the other. When we
are able to do this, and look beyond the now to the then, we will find
that our glory outweighs our trouble each and every time! Ill. Rom.
C. V. 18 A Victory Available Now By Grace - We do not have to wait
until we die or get raptured to enjoy the victory! It is ours right now in
the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. You don't have to get to Heaven
to enjoy the best God can give. It can be yours right now. This verse
gives us the secret to facing anything that life might throw at us. Paul
tells us that our focus should not be the trials of this life, but on the
glory of the next! That doesn't mean that we don't hurt. It doesn't
mean that we won't have problems. It just means that we learn to
keep everything in its proper perspective. No matter what you are
facing today, it is a temporal thing. There will come a day when it will
end, or you will leave this world. The valleys cannot last forever!
However, the place we are headed to and all of its joys is eternal!
(Ill. This is what sustained the Apostle Paul as he endured the trials
and persecutions on his life. He may not have had a lot down here,
but he was able to look to a distant shore where he had laid up some
treasure. He was able to keep his focus, not on the bad, but on
Heaven. He never forgot that something better was waiting just downthe road, Matt. 6:19-21; 1 Pet. 1:3-6.)
(Ill. Someone may say, "Well, preacher, that was good for Paul,
but what about me? How can I face my valleys today and walk
in the victory?" I think the answer is the same for you as it was for
Paul. The secret lies in getting your eyes off the size of your problem
and getting them on the splendor of your Heavenly home. Folk, we
are just passing through! We need to keep our eyes on the prize!
The worse thing that can possible happen to us is nothing when it is
compared with what the Lord has waiting on us over there! Perhaps
that is why Paul tells us that we always have the victory, 1 Cor. 15:57.
If I always have the victory, then I should live like it, and so should
you! Jesus would have us trade our defeated spirit for a spirit of
power and victory. Hey, child of God! You're a King's Kid! Your
Father is rich in houses and lands. He holds the wealth of the world
in His hands. Of rubies and diamonds and silver and gold, His coffers
are full and His riches untold. Victory is yours! Why not live in it? It
sure beats the alternative!)
Conc: I do not know what the year 2,000 will bring to pass in your life or
mine, but I do know the One Who is in charge of all those things. His
promise is to be with us, to help us and to keep us. If there are needs in
your life that you need help with I would challenge you to bring them to
Jesus right now. If there is a storm brewing on your horizon and you want
to be sure you are equipped and ready for it when it arrives, I challenge you
to come and to bring that need to Jesus. This hasn't been a salvation
message, but if you need to be saved, you can come and Jesus will save
your soul! All I am saying is that whatever your need may be, Jesus Christ
has the supply. Won't you come to Him right now?
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