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2 Cor. 4:8-18 A Y2K PLAN FOR YOUR VALLEY

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; John 16:33.)

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 blessing.

1. Distressed - To be crushed. "Under pressure? Yes! Crushed! No!"

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 possibility.)

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 Him!

(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. 8:18.)

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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