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Summary: 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.

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FINDING GOD IN THE VALLEYS

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.

1. AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SHEPHERD:

Psalm 23:1 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.

2. THE GOOD TIMES IN OUR LIVES:

Psalm 23:2a 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).

Psalm 23:2b 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).

Psalm 23:3 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.

3. THE DARK VALLEYS IN OUR LIVES:

Psalm 23:4 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.

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