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Down in the Valley (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
July 3, 2020 4:00 am

Down in the Valley (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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July 3, 2020 4:00 am

After a glorious victory, the prophet Elijah fell into a season of overwhelming fear. Our biggest victories are often similarly followed by our darkest moments. Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg teaches us how to trust God in life’s valleys.


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Sometimes our greatest victories in life are we followed by low dark moments was certainly true for the prophet Elijah after his glorious mountaintop triumph over the profits of bail. Elijah fell into a season of overwhelming fear and depression today on Truth for Life. Alastair beg helps us learn from Elijah's experience in first Kings chapter 19 in biography one of the great temptations is to try and gloss the faults of people or perhaps at the other end of the spectrum to highlight them to an unhelpful and even a non-true degree, but the Scriptures possess a tremendous balance when it comes to these things.

And while many of us may have been tempted in addressing the record of the life of Elijah to make sure that we portrayed in chapter 18. And all of its success as a wedding glorious Technicolor we may have decided that we would just exert chapter 19 because the tremendous success of 18 is more than matched by the defeat of 19 Scripture, however, makes no attempt to conceal or to excuse the blemishes or the faults or the failures of its heroes and that in itself is one of the pointers to the very infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture, the divine record which God has left to us. The contrast revealed by the chapters 18 and 19 of first Kings are clearly presented, and in considering them.

We learn something of God's character and we learn also of the frailty of God's servants, and in this case. Specifically, Elijah, and chapter 18 we could quickly summarize it we see Elijah introduced to us as the man of prayer we see him as an individual of great humility. We see him clothed in power as he goes on his journeys from their triumph is written all over. The 18th chapter of first Kings how remarkable it isn't, is then to simply glance down less than a paragraph and find that we are here confronted by this mighty servant of God now displaying the fact that he was frail as well. And when you study this 19th chapter of first Kings.

You may find yourself retreating to the sounds, for they are the medicine chest of the soul. And if you know your Bible well enough, you may end up at some 107 and reminding yourself of the believers spiritual voyage is akin to that encountered by the sailors and that some would it said of them that they mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths in their paddle. Their courage melted away. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress in the same way as we walk the Christian pathway. We recognize that we are prepared to be honest at all that we do not always experience the highs of spiritual encouragement, but we also encounter the lows of discouragement and sometimes it can happen to us almost simultaneously, almost from great victory to a moment of defeat.

Most of us find it okay to march when the band is playing in the crowd is owed and all is going well.

It is a little more challenging when the wheels come off our wagon in the way that we used to sing in that song when you travel in the car with your grandpa. You know for wheels on my wagon and I'm still rolling along and that three and I'm still rolling along and then down to zero and I rolling along and let's be honest enough tonight to say there are times when we get up in the morning or week turnaround one afternoon and all of a sudden it would appear that every single wheel came off the wagon and we are certainly not rolling were stuck God's servant said all levels of ministry. I don't believe are immune to this when I was invited for the first time to the pastors conference at Moody Bible Institute invited me.

I think 18 or 24 months before I appeared in the letter of invitation. They said that I had to give them the title for two seminars which I would conduct so I thought were what will I conduct seminars on two years from now what do I know anything about what that reduced the opportunities dramatically. Of course, and I as a result of some study that I be doing. I wrote back to them and said that I would do a seminar on the subject, biblical church discipline and then that I would do a seminar under the heading dealing with ministerial depression.

The church discipline. One was good. The ministerial depression one depending on how you want to look at. It was phenomenally encouraging or horribly depressing. It was the most attended seminar in the whole pastors conference and I wasn't because I was giving it because nobody knew me from a hole in the ground and it was a standing room only event in pastors and some of them with their wife's turned out in droves to hear if somebody had anything creditable to say concerning dealing with the blues or what you do when you face discouragement is recently this Sunday past after I have preached and I have preached from a section of the Bible that was illustrative of the necessity for the person in the pool.

To be humbled, and to point away from himself to Jesus Christ. I did my best stayed within the time we finished and I stood around afterwards. The first lady up to me said here read this so I didn't read it immediately, but I read it when I got in the car to drive home and when I'm going to do all the details lady basically said you are the absolute antithesis of everything you spoke about this morning you did everything that you said you're not supposed to. You are this and you are that and you are the next thing so I said well let's see, you know. Much of this is true. Much of this is a word from the Lord in a movie for read it upside down. There's an encouraging message or something but I put it in my pocket I said hey you know, welcome to the ministry. I went home I had my lunch. I did my thing. I got back to the prayer meeting at 530 in the evening I sat down I was leading the prayer meeting.

One of the other guys in the pastoral team was leaving it and I just joined in with a little group and in a pause from prayer the older lady with whom I had sent to the group of about five of us praying together. She took the bulletin for that evening and she wrote on it right and see what she was writing but she started to write and she passed it to me and on it it said that the word that God has given me for you tonight is this, if God before you, who can be against you, and I told her afterwards. I said, you know, did you do that on the spur of the moment. She said no, I've been thinking about you all through the day and I felt I should give you that verse I said well you can tell anyone about this. I said, but your one verse counteracted what I have here in my talk pocket and so from the discouragement of this morning to the encouragement of this evening and we keep going. There are no dull days in pastoral ministry unnerving board in my life.

There are delightful days and there are disastrous days and I find that God gives me enough of those morning notes or allows me to receive them enough to keep me humble and I'm just enough of the evening notes to make sure that you don't leave the pastoral ministry. How long is it since you wrote your pastor or just an encouraging note he done it this year.

Done in the last 24 months. Are you just write him notes when the sermon was to longer the hymns were too old to new or whatever it was some of your from churches all over the place. Well maybe you go home right began. Note it's not difficult to believe that God loves us, says one of the commentators when we are on the heights of caramel but is not so easy when like Elijah in the desert.

We lie stranded or as dismantled and rudderless vessels.

We roll in the trough of the waves most necessary it is for our peace and comfort to know and believe that the love of God abides on changing as himself element trying trace a line through this.

I didn't mean to say all of that by way of introduction, but I've said it now so I can take it back where told of Elijah that he received a threatening message you've never been in pastoral ministry unless you've had a threatening message or to write the worst of the anonymous notes because you don't know who to respond to this one was not anonymous but it reached Elijah Jezebel send a messenger verse two says to say to Elijah. May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely. If, by this time tomorrow.

I do not make your life that like that of one of them, one of whom one of the profits of bail. In other words, he received a death threat is number was up and he was going to be written into the history books Jezebel had her way we are not to come up with any of this nonsense about why would a man be afraid of a woman there is a plenty of good reasons why a man would ever be afraid of a woman.

You only need to read the book of Proverbs to understand just why you might be and Jezebel was not exactly what you would call a run-of-the-mill lady.

She had a number of operations which she was running that would've allowed her to hold her on an a in in various families. Let's put it that way. In North America, and so to receive this note from Jezebel was to be confronted by a real potential ordeal.

But aren't you surprised to discover the response here in verse three it may read in your Bible and Elijah saw and ran for his life, or perhaps region your Bible and Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. Surely not mean why he just come from a situation where he was on his own meal in front of 450 guys who were totally opposed to who he was and what he did.

They were possessed of lances and swords and is surely as they/themselves with them. They made it just as well if/then with them and he had seen God come down in mighty power and vanquish the host of the enemies, and yet here on the strength of just a message that he come from a lady about the fact that he may find himself like the prophets of bail. Elijah runs for splits and is gone.

Let me ask you can defeat so quickly follow up on success, and if so why will the fact of the matter is that when we read our Bibles, we discover that this is perpetrated time and again. Think about the victory of faith expressed in Noah's life, as he continued without a drop of rain to build the art and then think about the sorry description of all that happened to Noah and his drunkenness. Think about Abraham as he sets out on the journey of faith and then think about what happened to him when he went down into Egypt.

Think about David as he triumphs over Goliath.

Think about David and the moment the kings go out to war as he finds himself embroiled in adultery and in merger and in total care's mentioned the sadness of AW Bing but let me quote from them tonight. He says concerning these things, God suffers it to appear. The best of men are but men at best, no matter how richly gifted they may be how eminent in God's service are greatly honored and used of him. Let God's sustaining power be withdrawn from them for a moment and it will quickly be seen that they are earthen vessels.

No man stands any longer than he is supported by divine grace. The most experienced saint. If left to himself is immediately seem to be as weak as water and this timid as a mouse.

Therefore, it is vitally important that we pray faithfully for those that God has raised to places of leadership and responsibility amongst the people of God. Let me say to you again and I'm not speaking about this place because I recognized from a variety of places your pastor may preach the same messages as he has been preaching right up until this day to far greater effect. If the congregation will only pray for him prior to Julian and subsequent to his proclamation. You've all read of Spurgeon and now when he used to show people around the Metropolitan Tabernacle. He would take them downstairs into a lower room he would open the door and he would say, and this is the boiler house you would see the boiler house. There's not a boiler to be seen.

It just was full of full of seats. Spurgeon said no, no, you see every Sunday morning when I preach year to the 4000 people who are upstairs. There are three and 400 people downstairs in the basement who pray for me as I preach.

Spurgeon never gave an evangelistic appeal. He only invited those who were troubled in their spirit to meet him in his vestry on a Monday morning and it is recorded by the biographers that there was never a Monday morning in the history of Spurgeon's ministry that he did not have inquirers concerning their soul and its condition before Almighty God, what was the key appeal was saved because Spurgeon was a phenomenal preacher. The reason that you know about Spurgeon tonight and I do to is because of the 500 people who were down in the boiler room when Spurgeon preached Elijah represents the failure of a hero and the failures of the heroes of the Bible are, therefore, is not to hide behind what is warnings to deliver us from expecting too much of others, and indeed from expecting too much of ourselves. There is a limit that everybody faces and Elijah maxed out at the end of 18 Elijah was drained. Elijah was bushed. Elijah was done in and so it only to the briefest of messages from a distance through 1/3 party to send him running for, and his experiences mirrored in the experience of others in the aftermath of spiritual triumph. It appears that the potential for defeat is at its height, Robert Barta McShane said although he died at the age of 29. He said I have found that the seeds of every sin known to man well within my heart. A reminder to us that the individual who thinks he stands better take heed lest he fall's Martin Luther said how when he received some notable encouragement of God's grace, he almost immediately knew the expedience of the devil writing is it where on his back and seeking to drive him to the ground we mentioned earlier in the week. Paul's words concerning Ephesians 6 and the necessity of the armor of faith because of the fiery darts of the evil one. So it is that for many of us to of the darts that come with greatest frequency as the dart of complacency, thereby neutralizing acts or the dart of despondency, thereby rendering our ministry also somewhat obsolete. I think there are people here tonight and despite the fact that the hymn singing has been great and the opportunity for fellowship has been fine.

You're not exactly on the mountaintop. Your rather in the Valley there's been a change in your life, from faith to fear, perhaps fatigue has set in physically. Perhaps you fed news discouraging news concerning your health. Perhaps you just see the waning of your powers and you're beginning to wonder just how long you have will then let's just learn here from Elijah because the reason that he found himself in this condition was largely because his focus changed. He started as it were to look at God through his circumstances rather than to look at his circumstances through God. There is a reason that the King James version translates verse three and Elijah saw and ran for his life. He looked at things but looked at them differently now. Perhaps it was simply that he was so tired and when you get really tired. You usually the last one to know people come up to you and say my, you're awful tired, does not make you feel great when they tell you that all you're looking awful tired and you are majorly look in the mirror and say do I really look that bad. But the fact is that we're often the last to know we keep going and going and going and eventually somebody says to us if we don't give out first. They say let me tell you something when you're tired there are number things you must do when you're really tired. Don't write important letters. When you're really tired. Don't quit your job or get a new one when you're really tired. Don't try and assess your spiritual condition and when you're really tired. Definitely don't try and assess the spiritual condition of anybody else because with that fatigue comes a change in focus and the focus shifted for this individual. He began to walk by sight and not by faith, and so his peace was affected his spiritual prosperity was eroded. He had magnified the difficulties and he was beginning to become paralyzed. Admittedly, an angry woman is an awesome opponent. But God was more than able to meet that Genesis chapter 12 in the encounter of Abram with the circumstances that weren't all the best, reveal the exact same thing after God has called Abram out there is a famine which arises in the land and as a result, Abram goes down into Egypt because there to live there for a while because the famine is severe and as he's about to enter Egypt. He says to his wife Sarah. I I know what a beautiful woman you are.

She didn't know what was coming next.

He was about to jeopardize her purity.

He was about to jeopardize her life. He was about to jeopardize their marriage for the sake of his own neck when the Egyptians see you they will say this is his wife.

Then they will kill me but he will let you live. Say you are my sister so that I will be treated well for your sake, and my life will be spared because of you.

You call that a giant you call that a hero of the faith on the world can this happen from the great success of his errantly beginning to the immediacy of a circumstance that is famine and that is warfare and he crumbles like a pack of car, the longer we live, the more we are to be sympathetic with the conditions of men and women around us and recognize that what we experience is not alien to them.

He down in the valley.

The title of our message today from Alastair big country for life. I'm sure for many of us.

Today's message has been especially relevant in light of the circumstances our world has faced the past few months. Some of us of experience loneliness or financial strain, physical suffering that comes from illness. When you find yourself in a dark Valley God's word is the only source of light and hope to see us through. We prayed that these daily messages on Truth for Life are a source of encouragement and biblical perspective for you were so grateful for all who have supported this ministry financially.

If you benefited from Alistair's clear relevant Bible teaching will you pass that blessing forward today donating to support this ministry. When you do we want to say thank you. By providing for your book that you'll find incredibly helpful as you interact with teenagers either in your home or young people in your church youth group. The book is titled ask if you've ever struggled responding to your team's questions about faith and current issues. This book provides clear, typical answers, it addresses 52 real-world questions asked by teenagers from all around the world.

The author David Robertson clarifies what the Scriptures teach about dozens of diverse topics, things like the Big Bang theory. Understanding the Trinity and the subject of forgiveness. We highly recommend this Q&A book requester copy when you give or get by calling 888-588-7884 mentioned the book titled ask one final reminder are invited to watch Alastair teach from the pulpit of Parkside church on Sundays when the services being streamed live to see if Alastair is teaching this weekend. You can check the on Bob Lapine for Alistair Begggett and all of us the Truth for Life. Wishing you a restful weekend. Join us Monday as we continue looking at Elijah's season of despair and God's faithfulness in the midst of it. Today's program was furnished by Truth for Life learning is prolific

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