Summary: keys to making it through the many trials life has to offer each of us.
Intro: plastic Christianity is when people try to act like when you become a Christian there are no trials, no problems, no disappointments and no valleys.
David was a realist, His Psalms told it like it was: his ups and downs, his victories and defeats, his mountaintops and his valleys. Psalms 23 is his lesson on getting through the valleys of life.
The Lord is my Shepherd—in Hebrew—the understanding of the name Lord here is: the God who is, the God who was, and the God who will always be. That is the first key to getting through your valley: that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. That He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
GETTING THROUGH THE VALLEYS OF LIFE
I. Let God Be In Control—v.1 A Shepherd doesn’t follow the flock, a shepherd doesn’t walk with the flock, the shepherd leads the flock. When you are in the valley, one of the first rules is to totally submit your life to the Shepherd.
· If you won’t give God the control, you may find out what it is to live your life continually in the valley.
· Israel let fear rob them of moving forward, so they stayed 40 years circling the desert. You meet a lot of people who have lives where they won’t give God control, and they spend their lives circling deserts or stuck in valleys.
· God won’t force you to follow—with all of His power, He won’t make you follow, He gives you the opportunity to surrender your life to Him.
Ill) a house caught on fire and everyone in the family got out, except one boy who had an upstairs room. He opened his window and his dad said, jump down son I will catch you. The son was scared, and the smoke was all around, he said, Dad, I can’t jump, I can’t see you, He said, son jump, because I can see you.
II. Obey God’s Leading—v.2-3 serving God is a long journey. There will be times when you won’t understand God’s leading, you may even think you know a better way. But if you want to get out of the valleys, you must follow His lead.
· If you ever stray from the flock, and go out on your own, you will find out that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and living with the wolves is a dangerous occupation for sheep.
Ill) we sheep love going astray. Listening and letting God lead is a discipline that only comes with maturity. Years ago when I first started driving Dad noticed I was following to close and having to brake to quickly at lights. He said, you better slow down or you will get into an accident. Now I had been driving 3 weeks and what did he know. So I kept driving my way. It was a hard pill to swallow calling the house saying, I have had a fender bender on Perry Hill road.
III. Realize His Presence—v.4 Another key to getting through the valleys of life, is that He is always there, even when you don’t see or hear him. I guess this is one lesson that many have a struggle with in life. God seemingly lets you go through valleys and times, and you may feel you are all alone. But He is closer to you in the valley, than on the top of the mountain.
· You have to learn to become sensitive to God. You have to learn His presence. The more you surrender the more you see Him, the more humble you become, the more your hear, the more you submit, the more you sense Him near.
· it’s not the length of the trip but the one you travel with that makes the journey. David realized this truth when He said, even in the valley, He is with me.
IV. Be Refreshed by Him—v.5—you won’t make it through the valleys of life on your own strength. He is the one who fills your life, he is the one who can overflow your life with joy.
V. See Beyond the Valley—v.6 David gave us the greatest help in making it through our valleys, we need to see that there is the other side. Surely goodness and mercy are following me, surely I will dwell in God’s house forever.
Close: only God can get you through the valley’s of life. Because He is the one who is, who was, and the one who will always be.
Ill) a guide took a group through a desert place. When they ran out of water they all started to panic but the guide said, we are almost to a fountain in the desert. They all saw a beautiful lake in a different direction, but the guide said, follow me. They rebelled and killed the guide and headed for the beautiful lake that was just a mirage. They all died in the desert. But what they couldn’t see was they killed the guide less than a mile from a continual flowing fountain.
If you want to drink from the fountain, don’t kill the guide, if you want to make it through the valleys of life, trust the Shepherd.