VIDEO The Great Outdoors, Valleys – Isaiah 41 Sermon

The Great Outdoors—Valleys

I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. Isaiah 41:18

“The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome,” said Helen Keller. “The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.”

To travelers enjoying the great outdoors, valleys are a sight to behold. Certain websites suggest the most beautiful valleys in the world. Usually, the list includes the Valley of Geysers, a remarkable nearly four-mile long basin in the Russian Far East with ninety pulsating geysers sending plumes of steam into the air like tea kettles.

All of us occasionally end up in our own Valley of Geysers. Valleys are symbols of suffering and shadows. But when we’re walking with God, He creates rivers from the heights and fountains in the valleys. Isaiah 41, addressed to people in captivity, assures us that God knows how to refresh us in the valley as well as on the mountaintop. If you’re in a valley today, remember, “Though I walk through the valley…I will fear no evil; for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4).

Valleys are great places to enjoy your walk with God.

Jesus will walk with me down through the valley. 

Haldor Lillenas in the hymn, “Jesus Will Walk With Me”


Isaiah 41 Sermon by Pastor D of Oiled Lamp Church

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Generous Givers

Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. 1 Chronicles 29:14

After reviewing all God had already done throughout our church’s history, leaders presented the congregation with a proposal for a new gym to help us better serve our community. The leadership team announced they’d be the first to sign pledge notes to fund the construction. I initially prayed with a heart soured by selfishness, not wanting to offer more money than we had already committed to give. Still, my husband and I agreed to pray for the ongoing project. While considering all God continued providing for us, we eventually decided on a monthly offering. The combined gifts of our church family paid for the entire building.

Grateful for the many ways God’s used that gym for community events since we celebrated opening its doors for ministry, I’m reminded of another generous giver—King David. Though the Lord didn’t choose him to build His temple, David invested all his resources to the project (1 Chronicles 29:1–5). The leaders under him and the people they served gave generously too (vv. 6–9). The king acknowledged all they’d contributed had first been given to them by God—the Creator, Sustainer, and Owner of everything (vv. 10–16).

When we recognize God owns it all, we can commit to grateful, generous, and faithful giving for the benefit of others. And we can trust the Lord will provide—and may even use the generosity of others to help us when we’re in need.

Lord, please help us remember You own it all as we commit to giving You our all, willingly and selflessly.

God gives first, and He always outgives His most generous givers.

By Xochitl Dixon 

INSIGHT

For further study, see Cultivating a Heart of Contentment at discoveryseries.org/hp052.

Truth Can Set You Free

John 8:31-36

Freedom is something we all love, but do we really know what it is? Some people think it’s being able to choose or act with few if any restraints, limits, or accountabilities. But that is what God calls rebellion because it’s a rejection of authority, as each one does as he sees fit (1 Samuel 12:14-15). True freedom is being released from bondage to sin, and that is only possible through Jesus Christ.

The first step to freedom is recognizing areas where we are imprisoned. People who have not received Christ as Savior are in bondage to sin and unbelief. They can neither believe God nor trust the promises of Scripture because sin has blinded their eyes to the truth that they need a Savior.

Even followers of Christ can find themselves in bondage to particular sins despite repeated attempts to change. But for some of us, the struggle is with more subtle kinds of enslavement. Habitual feelings of inferiority, insecurity, rejection, or worthlessness can cloud our responses to life’s challenges by altering our ability to think or act while undermining our trust and obedience to God.

The Lord wants us walking in freedom, and Jesus describes the pathway. He says that if we’ll continue in God’s Word, we will know the truth, and it will set us free (John 8:31-32). First of all, we are liberated from sin and its condemnation through faith in Christ. Then, as we continue reading and meditating on Scripture, our mind, will, and emotions will be changed. The sins that once enticed us will become repugnant, and the emotional prisons will be opened as we discover our position in Christ.

Really, Delusion from God?

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” (2 Thessalonians 2:11)

This is a startling declaration! Why would God want to deceive people and cause them to believe a lie? The “cause” that would activate such an extreme decision on God’s part must be very serious. The preceding verse states it plainly. It is “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Because they “resist the truth” (2 Timothy 3:8), they will “believe the lie”!

The specific context refers to those who elect to follow the coming “man of sin,” but the principle is timeless. It tells us that God’s attitude toward men is determined by their love of the truth rather than by their knowledge of the truth. When people love God’s truth, there is no limit to the amount of truth and blessing they may receive from God. Note the attitude of the writer of Psalm 119: “How sweet are thy words unto my taste!” “Thy testimonies . . . are the rejoicing of my heart.” “I love thy commandments above gold.” “Thy law is my delight” (Psalm 119:103, 111, 127, 174).

But when people begin to exhibit a disdain for God’s truth, there may soon come a time in their lives when they find it impossible even to comprehend the all-important truth of God’s saving gospel (creation, salvation, and reconciliation through Christ).

Because they refused the love of His truth when it would have been easy to believe, a blindness gradually engulfs their minds until they love the deceptive philosophies of the world, and they never escape the strong delusion that God has allowed to engulf them. Henceforth, though they are “ever learning,” they are “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). How important it is, as early in life as possible, to receive from God His proffered gift of the love of His truth! HMM

They that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word

Acts 8:1-24

Acts 8:1

He took pleasure in the execution of Stephen, being zealously resolute to put down the church.

Acts 8:2

It is not wrong to lament the death of holy men, for they are a great loss to the community.

Acts 8:4

Driven yet further afield, they carried the gospel into other lands. The winds of persecution fan the fire of faith in the church, and carry the sparks of truth to a distance. The Devil destroys his own kingdom, while he thinks he is crushing the rising empire of Christ.

Acts 8:5

Stephen is gone, but Philip comes forward; the church will not fail for want of men to bear her standard.

Acts 8:6-8

Joy in forgiven sin, joy in healing mercy, joy in God’s gracious presence. See how Christians, though persecuted themselves, make others glad.

Acts 8:13

But he did not savingly believe, as is clear from his conduct. He was baffled by Philip, and therefore believed his doctrine to be true, made a profession of faith and entered the church, and might have done immense mischief, had he not been detected by his own greed. The church of God has many foes: Saul vexes her without, and Simon within.

Acts 8:18, 19

Hence the purchase of office in the church is called Simony, Wretched distinction, to furnish a name for a new sin.

Acts 8:24

He did not say, “Pray that I may be forgiven,” his heart only throbbed with carnal desires for power, or slavish fears of judgment. All around him the divine light was spreading, but he remained blinded by sordid feelings. The Lord grant us to rise far above everything mercenary in religion.

 

Beware of Satan’s Stratagem

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables. (2 Peter 1:16)

It is amazing that Satan’s wiliest stratagem against Christian believers is to use our virtues against us! Perhaps it is more amazing that he often does this with great success.

By means of temptation to sin he strikes at our personal lives; by working through our virtues he gets at the whole community of believers and unfits it for its own defense.

To capture a city an enemy must first weaken or destroy its resistance. The Church will never fall as long as she resists. This the devil knows; consequently he uses any stratagem to neutralize her resistance.

Satan first creates a maudlin, inaccurate concept of Christ as soft, smiling and tolerant. He reminds us that when Christ, as a lamb brought to slaughter, opened not His mouth—and suggests that we do likewise. Then if we notice his foot in the door and rise to oppose him, he appeals to our desire to be Christlike. “Love everybody and all will be well,” he urges.

The shepherd, taken in by this sweet talk, is afraid to use his club, and the wolf gets the sheep!

 

Food And Rest

“I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.” Ezek. 34:15

Under the divine shepherdry saints are fed to the full. Theirs is not a windy, unsatisfying mess of mere human “thought”; but the Lord feeds them upon the solid, substantial truth of divine revelation. There is real nutriment for the soul in Scripture brought home to the heart by the Holy Spirit. Jesus, Himself, is the true life-sustaining Food of believers. Here our Great Shepherd promises that such sacred nourishment shall be given us by His own self. If, on the Lord’s Day, our earthly shepherd is empty-handed, the Lord is not.

When filled with holy truth the mind rests. Those whom Jehovah feeds are at peace. No dog shall worry them, no wolf shall devour them, no restless propensities shall disturb them. They shall lie down and digest the food which they have enjoyed. The doctrines of grace are not only sustaining, but consoling: in them we have the means for building up and lying down. If preachers do not give us rest, let us look to the Lord for it.

This day may the Lord cause us to feed in the pastures of the Word, and make us to lie down in them. May no folly, and no worry, but Meditation and Peace mark this day.

 

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