Episode 1
|
December 6, 2021

God With Us | In the Valley


When we’re enjoying a mountaintop experience, it can be easy to believe that God is with us. But what about in the valleys of life? God promises that we don’t have to go through our valleys alone.

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[Music]
well good morning 242 how are
good welcome saginaw monroe we're so
excited to be with you uh today in
worship we are starting a new series
today called god with us because i don't
know if you know this or not but
christmas
is right around the corner i don't know
if you're anybody who's ready for
christmas
yeah i didn't think so y'all better get
started hey before we get moving on that
though um we do want to bring to your
attention something that i'm sure you're
fully aware of uh this past week uh
there was a tragic shooting uh at oxford
high school right here in michigan
um anytime things like this happen
uh we find ourselves
oftentimes at a loss
for answers
i know
that my kids ask questions and sometimes
i feel like
i just don't have sufficient answers for
them but right now we have a community
in our midst that's grieving a community
that's hurting and actually this is
reached into our communities
as well through connections and family
members and
um
we just want you to be in prayer for
that community
a community the right now and we're
going to talk about this a little bit
today is experiencing what we would call
a valley
in some darkness and some pain and a lot
of grief
so we asked that you pray for the
families that today this morning woke up
and are experiencing life
without a loved one
who was taken from them too soon
and pray for the community
and pray for the church
because for me this is one of those
reminders of why we do what we do
why the church exists because we live in
a world that is in desperate need of
jesus
and it's the church's responsibility to
do exactly that so so be praying for the
global church and specifically the local
churches in that community as they seek
to to figure out how do they respond and
how do they be the light of christ for a
broken in a hurting world
um so before we get started this morning
i would just like us to pray now whether
you're online saginaw monroe right here
in brighton can we just pray for that
community the holy spirit would just
just move in dramatic ways
almighty god we
we
grieve
with our brothers and sisters in christ
we feel sorrow when we feel pain
and we feel hurt
or sometimes it's hard for us to wrap
our minds around
these tragedies in these situations
the lord we serve an amazing
and powerful god
a healing and redemptive god
so we ask now that your holy spirit just
moved through that community
would you bring
peace
would you bring comfort
would you bring healing
to those who so desperately need it
right now in this very moment
and lord
your bride the church
stands ready to respond
so whether it be 242
or any other church
mayor holy spirit speak loudly
about how we are to respond and how we
are to
shed the light of jesus
in a dark world
because while we would like to say these
things will never happen again
it's likely that it will
so lord help us not only respond to this
one but help us to preemptively share
the love of jesus
it's in christ's name that we pray
amen
so we uh
are starting this series
called god with us and in this series is
is really all about discovering the
reality of this thing that we call the
incarnation it's it's jesus christ
coming in flesh it's god coming to us
and we begin to explore what this means
in
terms of our entire lives so it's really
foundationally from matthew chapter 1
verse 23 it says the virgin will
conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him emmanuel which
means god
with
us
so you can you can see where the title
came from we're not like rocket science
just here
on creating titles but very simply god
with us and if we think about it like we
know we know what it's like to have god
with us right
friends how many of you have tried uh
roasted chestnuts
all right i just tried them for the 42
years old i just tried them for the
first time in my life and i'm not
kidding you i've looked for them for
years and they're hard to find but we
tried them and it was like heaven in my
mouth
like as soon as i put it in my mouth it
was like i knew beyond a child of a
doubt that god was with me
because this was amazing you've had
experiences like that right
you got that new raise you got that
promotion
everything seems to be going good your
kids are finally sleeping through the
night so you can get a full night's rest
your relationships are clicking along
everything's working like when we're on
top of the mountaintop
we know what it's like
that god is with us
but what about the valleys
well what about those moments where we
have pain and suffering and grief and
sorrow in our lives like like where is
god then
it always
amazes me how we can have like so many
things going right in our lives i mean
things can be clicking along and
everything's fantastic and great and
then suddenly one thing happens
one thing happens and it makes us tumble
off of the mountaintop and we find
ourselves in the valley live in a very
very different situation
years ago when we only had one child at
the time we
we spent our summers
when i was a kid growing up camping at
warren dunes state park right on lake
michigan it was one of my favorite
places to go and if there is ever a
place in all honesty that i just feel
like god is with me it's when i go to
the top of that first dune and i just
kind of hang out with god and for
whatever reason in that space probably
because i grew up going there
like i just feel the presence of god
there
so we began taking our family there
and our kids love it and they really
enjoy it and and when we went my my
daughter at the time i think was like
two or three years old
and when we were preparing for this
vacation it was a need of your ministry
and when you're in ministry in your
first church you're like the lone ranger
right you're the only ones you're kind
of doing wearing every hat during every
roll and we were just it was time for a
vacation and time for a break so we had
this vacation plan we were gonna go camp
at the warren dunes and about wednesday
before we left my daughter got sick so
you know how it is with kids with runny
nose fever all that gross stuff and we
were giving her ibuprofen and tylenol
and just treating it and she didn't seem
to be getting any better so we decided
okay let's let's take her to the doctor
because i don't want to go on vacation
if she's like really sick so we take her
to the doctor and they say you know it's
fine it's going to pass it's not a big
deal just keep giving her medicine
we said all right so saturday comes
along we're going to leave on sunday and
and and she's getting a little bit
better and then sunday comes along and i
say tell you well i'll go do the church
thing
and i'll come home and we'll make a game
time decision on whether or not we're
going to go on this vacation
so i go and i come home and ask my wife
she says well it seems like she's doing
better like she seems to be turning a
corner she's playing she's eating she's
doing you know all those things you
would expect her to do so we're like
awesome fantastic so we loaded up and i
made the greatest parenting decision of
my life and i said we'll go camping
so so we go camping we get all set up
and then my daughter takes a turn for
the worst
and she would basically sleep the whole
time and she would wake up
long enough for the medicine to kick in
and for her to eat a little bit of food
drink a little bit of water and then she
would just go back to sleep
we did this for about a day and a half
two days and we're like you know what
this is just i don't know she's just not
getting any better we need we should
probably call the doctor so called the
doctor set up an appointment for the
next morning so in the dead of night i
pack up the camper and we go home
i take her to the doctor um and the
doctor runs some tests and he comes back
into the room and he says all he says is
we're going to admit your daughter for a
couple of days to keep an eye on her
oh
why didn't see this happen
you know they never actually used the
word
but when we got home we read the
paperwork what we discovered was that my
daughter had sepsis
was an infection throughout her entire
body and her blood and she effectively
could have died
so i remember sitting for two nights i
stayed at the hospital my wife went home
so she could get some decent rest and i
remember every hour on the hour
my little girl would sit up
in the bed and she would grab the
bars of the cage that she was in and she
would look out to make sure her daddy
was still there
in that moment i know for a fact that
one of the questions i was asking is god
where are you
like we were on such a high on a
mountaintop like everything in life was
it was awesome and it was great we were
going this great vacation and then it
seems as though we just got thrown off
of the mountaintop into the valley
and maybe that's where you're at today
maybe there's there's something in your
life that makes you feel like you're in
the valley
maybe there's something in your life
that you were on the mountaintop and it
just threw you down like your
relationship seems to be falling apart
or maybe life is great but your kids are
making some really bad decisions that
are just tearing you apart
inside
or maybe your marriage is fantastic but
you're pretty sure this next week you're
going to get laid off
and you just feel as though you've been
thrown off of the mountaintop and you
find yourself in this valley
so i want to focus on today is where is
god in those moments
it's easy to see god on the mountaintop
but how do we find god when we're in the
valleys
so we look at scriptures the valleys are
interesting because they represent
several different things
one of the things that happens in
valleys is that's where battles are
fought that's where wars are fought
that's where that's where people die
it's it's a it's a dangerous place it's
filled with thorns and it's a place of
desperation it's a it's a place of
isolation and loneliness
but the interesting thing about valleys
is valleys are often a place of great
growth as well
so it brings us to the big idea for
today and so this is the one thing that
if you get nothing else this is the one
thing i want you to get so if you're
notetaker i want you to write this down
we enjoy god on the mountaintops
but we get to know him intimately in the
valleys
we enjoy god on the mountaintops but we
get to in
know him intimately
in the valleys
and we're going to explore here in psalm
84. so if you have your bibles go ahead
and turn there psalm 84 and we're going
to look at three verses five six and
seven and we're going to begin to
understand how we can identify and see
god in the midst of our valleys now if
you've read this psalm before odds are
you've probably skipped kind of kind of
right past this not thought too much
about it so let's read those three
verses
blessed are those whose strength is in
you
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage
as they pass through the valley of baca
they make it a place of springs
the autumn rains also cover it with
pools
they go from strength to strength
till each appears before god
in zion now what in the world is this
guy talking about there's this valley of
baca what does this mean so the valley
of baca was probably named that after a
tree of a similar name
now this tree was a tree that would leak
sap and they would often say that the
tree looked as though it was crying so
it was like a a weeping tree the valley
of bacca was also known as the valley of
weeping
it was the valley of loss
it was a valley of tears
so the people that were reading this and
the author of the psalm would have known
exactly what this valley was this was
not a a pleasant valley this was a
difficult valley
furthermore what you discover in
scripture is that valleys were places
that were filled with thorns and
thickets that were dangerous there were
there were wild cats that were dangerous
there were marauders yes i said
marauders and they would jump you and
they would rob you and they would beat
you
i mean quite literally passing through a
valley was a dangerous and a difficult
thing and to pass through a valley
without being harmed was well it was
probably a little bit unusual which i
think is why the author says here in
verse 5 blessed are those whose strength
is in you
whose hearts are set
on pilgrimage
so
if you don't know god intimately
and you find yourself in the valley at
some point you're going to
you're going to get exhausted
you're going to be tired you're going to
be worn out and maybe maybe for you
that's what you feel
is you've you've been in this valley and
you've been asking the question where in
the world has gotten
like it sure doesn't feel like god is
with me
and you're wondering if he's ever going
to show up
and what you discover is you're just
you're tired you're exhausted
and you're worn out
you see when we run out of strength we
have run out of everything
when we don't know god intimately all
that we have is literally all that we
have
but as jesus followers we know that
there's a there's an additional strength
that we can tap into there's something
beyond ourselves
i don't know if you can tell by looking
at me but i'm kind of a bodybuilder
i'm not sure what the laughs are for
when i was when i played baseball in
high school we had to do these winter
workouts that were um not mandatory but
they were mandatory and and i would
always hate
when my coach would be my spotter
because my coach was
relentless
and he would push you further than he
ever wanted to be pushed but you lay on
the bench and you would you would do
these bench presses and he would be
yelling and encouraging you and and
lifting just enough to to help you and
then just a little bit more the next one
and
i hated it but what i realized was that
when he was my spotter i would always
lift more weight than i would any other
time
because somehow he helped me tap into
something deep within myself
in regards to my strength that i didn't
know i had
in a very similar way this is what the
holy spirit allows you to do that when
you run out of strength there's more
strength to be had
there's something supernatural something
beyond yourself
if you're in the valley right now
if you find yourself off the mountaintop
and in the valley wondering where god is
know this as a jesus follower there's
more strength to be had
there's more strength to be had that's
why he says blessed are those whose
strength is found in god
doesn't say blessed are those who pick
themselves up with their bootstraps
blessed are those who find a way on
their own or blessed are those who do it
all by themselves and never ask for help
he said blessed are those whose strength
is found in god
you see we live in a world that tells us
the opposite
that independence is the way to go
that's much better to do it yourself
than to ask for help we live in a world
that tells us that manhood is measured
by strength and self-reliance rather
than community and character
but if you've ever found yourself in the
valley
you know that independence is not the
answer
if you ever find yourself in the valley
you know that your strength will
eventually run out
and at some point you're going to need
strength from something else this is why
the apostle paul says to the corinthians
that he delights in his weakness because
when he is weak christ's strength is
made perfect in him
there's an additional strength beyond
ourselves that we tap into when we're
weak
i want to show you what the new living
translation how they put verse 5 it says
what joy for those whose strength comes
from the lord who have set their minds
on a pilgrimage to jerusalem
what you think about matters
now he says what they set their minds on
think about this for a minute paul told
the colossians set your mind on things
above not on things below
he told the philippians if anything is
excellent or praiseworthy or admirable
or lovely think about these things you
see where you are is one thing
what you think about
that's another thing
what you put your mind on
is another thing
here's what you need to know
your situation may find yourself in the
valley
but your mind can still be set on
god you may be suffering loss and have
grief and sorrow in your life but your
mind can still be set on god
you could be in pain and confused and
hurting and aching but your mind can
still be set on god
you might be grieving the loss of a
loved one right now this very moment
but your mind can still be set
on god
where you are is one thing what you put
your mind on
is another
because listen to what he says here in
verse six
as they pass through the valley of baca
they make it a place of springs
the autumn rains also cover it
with pools
as i pass through the valley of baca
as i pass through the valley of weeping
as i pass through the valley of loss
as i pass through the valley of tears
as i pass through this difficult valley
i'm just passing through
so notice what he says like i may be in
the valley but it's not my destination
i'm just passing through
i'm passing through to something better
something far greater something
something grander
and sometimes when we get to the end of
our strength we begin to appreciate the
strength that god gives us why because
we know this is not our destination
think of this way the psalmist in psalm
23 one that you may be more familiar
with says even though i walk through the
valley of the shadow of death i shall
fear no evil
why because god is
with me
friends i may be in the valley but i'm
just passing through
i may be hurting and grieving but i'm
just passing through
i may be in a difficult place right now
but i'm just passing
through i may be in a dark place right
now but but god will show me the light
because i'm just passing through
you see sometimes when we're in the
valley
our prayer is often god get me out of
here
god just just get me out of this just
remove me from the situation just just
help me go around this valley but but
the truth of the matter is
our pathway to the place of peace
is often through the valley not around
it
it's through the valley and not out of
it
my family loves to watch uh survival
shows you must like survival shows like
like bear grylls is one of my heroes
um so we watch man versus wild and all
these different things and like on
netflix there's an interactive one if
you have netflix it's so cool
but i love to watch it because i want to
know like if i ever get lost in the
desert i can survive
even though i hate the desert so
in the desert which is like this place
of death as far as i'm concerned um one
of the ways to survive is you begin to
dig
and if you're able to dig depending on
what kind of desert you're in if you're
able to dig far enough down you'll
eventually get to water
so effectively what you do to survive in
that situation is you you dig a well
and this is something we see in
scripture too that the
digging a well is a thing that that
takes a place of death
and turns it into a place of life
this place of death can become a place
of life the valley that you find
yourself in can actually become a place
of life for you
verse six as they pass through the
valley of baca
they make it a place of springs
you hear that
it's not just passing through and
looking to survive it's it's passing
through and and bringing life
they make it a place of springs
which means they dig a well
which means they contain they have a
container they
they make room for life
maybe for you
that's what you're missing
is you find yourself in the valley but
you've never really made room
for god to be with you
you've never really made room
for god's grace to show up
so you make a container for god even
though it hasn't rained yet
you make a container for god even though
you haven't found water yet
begin to make room
for god
it's almost as if god is saying show me
your faith
and i'll show you my faithfulness
dig a well and i'll fill it
make room for me and i'll show up show
me your faith and i'll show you my
faithfulness you see i think there's
someone here right now
that's struggling in the valley
there's someone here right now that
finds themselves thrown off of the
mountaintop
and maybe it's time for you to dig a
well
maybe the reason that you don't find god
with you is because you've never made
room for god to be
with you
because you'll enjoy god on the
mountaintops
but you get to know him intimately
in the valleys
and the only way we do that is when we
begin to make room
for god to be there
we make room for god to show up
if you're in the valley today
you are not alone
you're not going through it alone god
will lead you through it
if you're in pain today god is your
comfort
if you're scared god is your peace if
you're depressed god is your joy
if you're weak god is your strength
it says in verse 7 they go from strength
to strength
till each appears before god
in zion i want you to hear that they go
from strength
to strength
it's such a great thing to know that
when i run out of strength when when my
personal strength runs out and i am weak
god gives me his strength
and then upon that is built more
strength and more strength and more
strength and eventually god's strength
will lead us
through the valley
and into the place of peace
you see the same god that we enjoy on
the mountaintop is the same one that we
get to know intimately in the valley if
we make space for him
are you making space for him
scripture says even though i walk
through the valley of death i fear no
evil why
well matthew 1 23 tells us
the virgin will conceive and bear a son
and they shall call him emmanuel which
means god
with
us
you see friends
some of us here right now
are struggling to feel god in our lives
we see tragic situations and scenarios
in our lives like a school shooting
in one of our communities and
sometimes we stand back and we say
where's where's god in this
because sometimes we find ourselves in
the valley
but the valley is a place for great
growth
if we make room for him
if we decide that we're going to build a
container for god are you making
space
and creating room for god
maybe today that's what you need to do
you need to simply step back and realize
that the reason we haven't felt god with
us
is because we haven't made space for god
to be with us
would you pray with me
lord god we uh
are so very thankful
for our emanuel our god with us
and so many times in our lives lord we
have we have felt your presence
and we have known beyond a shadow of a
doubt that god is with us
lord sometimes
we find ourselves in the valley
sometimes we just don't
we just don't feel it
and sometimes we just don't
we just don't believe it
so holy spirit would you
just move
where we are
would you help us know beyond a shadow
of a doubt that you
are
with us
and may our time in the valley
not be a time of us rushing to get out
but a time for us to get to know you
intimately
because you will bring us to the place
of peace
you will bring us out
because the valley
is not our destination
we're just passing through
it's in christ's name we pray
amen
as we move into our time of encounter
i think today is an excellent
opportunity
for us to just simply
make room for him
to just create space
for the holy spirit to
to be present with us
and maybe today what that means for you
is that um
you see someone to pray with you
back here in the back corner there's a
table with a white light on it that
you want someone to pray with you
they would love to do that for you
you don't have to say a word honestly
you can just walk up there and they'll
just pray for you
or maybe for you it's to to engage in in
communion together which
which we'll do here in a moment
this is this is in a way that the
presence of god with us right now that
no matter where you are whether you're
on the mountaintop whether you're
tumbling down or you've been in the
valley for a long time this is a
reminder to us that god is with you
right now
or maybe for you
maybe for you the reason that you
haven't felt like god is with you
is because you haven't been with him
you've never made that decision to make
him your lord
and your savior
maybe today's that day
[Music]
you just receive him as your lord and
savior and you take that that next step
in your life to be baptized if that's
you you come right over here
some amazing people have an awesome
conversation with you and help you take
that next step
whatever it is that the god is laying on
your heart whatever it is that that god
is calling you to
whatever way you need to experience god
with you right now is the time friends
the holy spirit was present in the space
before you ever walked in
ready to meet you
ready to transform you
ready to just be
with you
so let's experience his presence now
whether you're on the mountaintop or in
the valley or some other place
we remember
when jesus met with his disciples at
that table
and he lifted the bread and he gave
thanks for it he broke it and he gave it
to his disciples he said take and eat
this is my body
broken for you this is my presence
with you
[Music]
at the end of the meal he took the cup
he lifted it and gave thanks and he gave
it to his disciples and said drink of
this all of you as often as you do
in remembrance of me this is my blood
shed for you and for many for the
forgiveness of sins and a reminder of
what
i
am with you
[Music]
so let us during this last song
experience god
and his presence right now
right here
regardless of the valley you find
yourself in almighty god thank you for
your presence
[Music]
thank you that we are not alone
if we don't go through this life on our
own that we don't
we don't struggle we don't wrestle we
don't
we don't suffer we don't grieve alone
lord we
we are with our loving
graceful merciful god
for some of us today we just need to
feel that
[Music]
so holy spirit we step back
and we ask you to move
and whisper into our hearts and our
souls whatever it is
that we need to hear
amen



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