Summer Heat - Psalm 23 - Nate Heitzig
Turn your bibles to Psalm 23. That's where we're going to be this morning. I'm going to give a message that I gave a few years back for a Wednesday night service. We were doing a series called Summer Heat. And I decided to teach this message again, because the series we're going through about God has been so profound. Who's been enjoying the series about God?
Well, I think message really ties it together. And I think it's going to give you encouragement. So will you join me as we open up in a word of prayer.
Lord, we come before You right now. Expectant-- believing that You want to speak to us here this morning. Believing that You have a truth for us and that You want to do something incredible in our lives. So I pray a special prayer for those who are here this morning who are stuck in the heat of life.
They're stuck in the trial. They're stuck in the tribulation. They're stuck in the temptation. I pray that You'd reveal Yourself to them today in a very special way. And we'd all leave here today with a little bit of hope. In Jesus' name we pray. And everyone who agreed said?
Amen. Hey, it's been hot this week, hasn't it? It's been a hot week. It's going to be hot today. Turn to your neighbor and say it's hot today.
Whoever it is you came with, turn back to that person-- say you're hot today. Just kidding-- just kidding. Someone's like, man, I'm glad I didn't bring my mom. That would have been really awkward. Hey, do you believe that God wants to speak to you today?
Then turn to your neighbor and say, God wants to speak to me today.
I believe God wants to speak to you today, as we're in Psalm 23. This past week has been one of the hottest weeks of the year. The past couple weeks, we've had temperatures in the high 90s. I think one day it even hit 100 degrees. And guess what? It's not even summer yet. You realize that? The first official day of summer is June 21. And summer heat is upon us.
I was reading an article the other day about what extreme temperatures can do. And did you know that when it's 100 degrees outside, the temperature in your car can soar to over 200 degrees. To give you perspective, that temperature is hot enough to make pizza and cookies in your car.
And if you were to leave either one of those items in your cart when you went to work. And it was 100 degrees, you'd come out at the end of the day. And you'd have fresh dinner and dessert waiting for you. I know one of those moms is going to try that. You're like, man, I haven't had time to cook. It's been busy. I know where I'm making dinner and dessert this week.
You've got to take a video of it if you do and show me. There's certain things though that you don't want to leave in the heat. The same heat that can make cookies and make pizza can melt candy bars. Right, you don't want to leave a candy bar in your car. It can melt string cheese-- just ooh, right, that's gross.
It can melt ice cream. The same heat can either melt or make based on what it is inflicting. Don't worry, this isn't the Food Network. We're going to get some spiritual truth here in a second. You're saying what does this have to do with me?
The heat in your life-- the trials, the tribulation, the valleys, the stuff you're going through-- it can either melt you or make you based on who you are-- based on what you're made of. You determine whether or not the heat is going to make you or whether or not the heat is going to melt you.
Now this has been the whole premise for the But God series, allowing God to turn your story into a God story. You might think your story is finished. But your God story has just begun. And we need to learn as humans how to turn our period into a pivot point, because there's times in our lives where we have this story written for us. And it's sad. And it's painful.
And then the world wants to put a period on it or an exclamation mark on it, as though that story's over. But God says no, let's put a dot, dot, dot on that. And let's see what I'm going to do in that story. And that's the whole premise and reality of walking with Christ is that's life's hard-- things come-- life's difficult, but God.
And we don't want to allow the heat to melt us. We want to allow the heat to make us into something greater. So the question you need to ask yourself right now this morning is who am I? Am I going to allow the heat that I'm going through right now? Am I going to allow that to melt me or make me?
What will the heat do to my character? What will it do to my understanding of God? What will it do my belief in him? What will it do to my outlook on life? What will the heat that I'm going through, not only do to me, but what will it do to those who are around me? Will it melt them? Or will it make them? Well, will they be better because of it or worse because of it?
Question-- have you ever had the heat turned up in your life? Something going on in your life. And it just got turned up. Come on, you guys are a bunch of liars. Who's ever had a situation go on in your life that you're like, man, this is just hard to go through. A time where unexpected circumstances suddenly came crashing down on you.
Perhaps a time when it seemed like God himself abandoned you. Maybe it's a tremendous hardship that you're dealing with. Maybe it's family problems. Maybe your marriage is on the brink of divorce. And you're trying so hard to keep it together. You're trying so hard to make it work. But it just doesn't seem to be working.
Maybe your parents are about to get a divorce. And that thought is so terrifying and scary to you, you don't know what your life's going to look like if that happens and how it's going to shatter you. Maybe your kids are walking away from the Lord. And you just don't know how to bring them back into the fold.
Maybe it's a health problem. Maybe you've been sick for a long time. Maybe it's hard for you just to do the normal things that people do every single day. It's hard to just get out of the house. Maybe it was hard to get to church today. Maybe you didn't want to be at church today. Maybe you don't want to be at church today.
And it's just hard for you to live life. Maybe it's a serious temptation or a sin in your life-- a trial. And you try so hard to not get pulled into the sin every single day. But it seems like every single time you make a good decision and take a step forward, Satan's there to bring you three steps backwards. And you just want to know how you can escape the sin that's in your life.
Have you ever wondered if this difficulty or this heat would ever come to an end? Have you ever asked yourself that question, man? When is it going to end this heat of light? When is it just going to cool off so I can just take a breath?
The point is that each and every one of us has experienced pain. But what sets us apart is how we respond to it. See, it's easy to say when you go through pain in life that things would be different if I wasn't going through this. If I wasn't experiencing this. If I just had that person's life, then I would succeed.
But one thing that all human beings have in common is pain, sadness, and difficulty. And guess what? The person next to you, in front of you, or behind you that you think has the perfect life that you think has the charmed life, you say, man, if I just have their life-- they're going through things that they don't want you to know about.
They're going through pain. They are going through sadness. And it might be pain and sadness that you wouldn't even know how to deal with. Each and every one of us experiences hardships-- experiences pain. Your hardships might be different than someone else's. But the emotion of pain and sadness is universal.
So the question we need to ask is that when the heat gets turned up in our lives, when we have a choice, how are we going to respond? Hey, I want you to write something down, because I think this will really help you have perspective when you're going through pain. And I believe it will hopefully put the weight of making the right decision on you so that you can make the right decision. And that is this-- each and every one of us only has a few moments in life that will determine how we're remembered.
You might not believe me to write it down, because I'm going to prove it in a second. Each of us only has a few moments in life that determine how we're going to be remembered. The heat defines your legacy. Legacy's such a huge thing right now. We want a legacy, a legacy, a legacy.
The heat defines your legacy. See, we have the tendency to think that it's the totality of our existence that defines our legacy. But it's really only a few key moments that determine how we're remembered. In the face of the greatest adversity, certain men and women were defined by the heat. They're remembered because of their response to the greatest adversity they ever face.
Winston Churchill facing the greatest threat that he could ever imagine stood up in front of a crowd of people and said, never, never, never, never give up. And that defined who he was from that point forward. Abraham Lincoln in the face of America splitting up entirely stood on a battlefield and said, "Four score and seven years ago," and delivered a speech that began to rally the nation.
Martin Luther King stood on a stage and said, "I have a dream" and declared this vision of a future that seemed so adverse and false from what they were experienced at that time. Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks-- all these great men and women, who in the face of the greatest adversity they could ever imagine, rose up and said, I'm not going to let the heat define me.
I'm going to define the heat. I'm not going to let the heat melt me. I'm going to let the heat make me. I'm going to come out of it, not just unscathed, but I'm going to come out of it stronger because of that. Church, we need to rise up in heat and say, I'm not going to allow it to define me. But I'm going to start defining my moments.
Can we define our moments? We've been looking at the series. Throughout the series, we've looked at people in the Bible who define their moments. They didn't allow their moments to define them. They were moment makers. And they said I'm going to go into this situation no matter how bad it is. I'm going to make this moment work for me.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible-- I just love reading about him is Daniel. Daniel's got such an incredible life. What I love about Daniel-- He's one of the few guys in the Bible-- there's nothing bad written about him. He just lived a faithful life-- a really good faithful life. Daniel had about 70 years of ministry. It's a long ministry, right? 70 years of faithful service.
But you know what? He's remembered because of three or four moments in his life. In 70 years of faithful ministry, there's only three or four moments that he's really remembered by. And each one of those moments came in a really difficult time within his life. And what that makes me think as man, how many moments that could define our legacy have we already experienced. And have we passed or failed?
And you say Nate, I don't want to think about that because that's depressing. Because I can think of a few moments. And I think I failed. I think I missed them. But before you start getting on that road, let me ask you this question. How many more moments like that do you have ahead of you? And what is your response going to be to them? Because it's too late to cry over spilled milk.
But it's time to look ahead and say man, next time I'm in the heat. Next time I'm put in the situation where I have a decision to make, I'm not going to let the heat melt me. I'm going to let the heat make me. And I'm going be better because of it. When the heat gets turned up in your life, you get thrown into a pit like Daniel.
When the heat gets turned up in your life, and you get thrown into a furnace, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When the heat gets turned up in your life, and your family abandons you, like Joseph. When the heat gets turned up in your life, and you find yourself in the belly of a whale, like Jonah. What will your response be? Because you only have a few moments. And it's better to decide right now what you're going to do when you get into them.
David's greatest fall and his greatest triumph occurred when the heat was turned up. How he respond to the heat determines how the world remembers us. The heat makes you or breaks you. So why don't we stop asking God to turn down the heat and instead ask God to turn up our lives so that we can go through that heat, so that we can respond to that heat the right way. Instead of asking for the external temperature to decrease, let's turn up the internal temperature to match it. Amen?
Let's turn it up.
We have to realize that God has a purpose in allowing the heat to be turned up in our lives. And God wants to use those painful situations as a megaphone to declare his glory to the ends of the earth. How do I know it? Because Paul did it. Paul used the trial and tribulations that he went through as a platform-- as a megaphone. He used his trials to get him all the way to Rome to spread the gospel.
And guess what? God wants to do the same for you. And you say, well, Nate, I'm just from Albuquerque I don't have giftings, like Paul. I don't have the same talents as Paul. I'm just a stay-at-home mom. I'm just a kid. I just work at Intel. I just work at the lab. I just work in a sandwich shop. God can't use me. I'm not one of those guys.
Hey don't you think that Joseph might have thought that when he was a young kid, and he had these dreams of grandeur-- these dreams of what God wanted to do with his life? Don't you think he might have said, God, I'm just a kid. I'm just 1 of 12 boys. And I'm the youngest one at that. God can't use me.
Don't you think Daniel might have thought that when he was being drug as a slave from his land to a foreign land? Don't you think he might of thought, man, any possibility of me being used by God-- that vanished the second the Babylonians came and took over Israel. There's no way I'm going to get used by God. There's no way God can do something with my life.
Don't you think that Jonah might have thought that when he was sitting in the belly of a whale, I'm too far gone. I messed up too greatly. There's no way God can restore me. Church, if you think you're too far gone, you think you're too far backslide. And my question for you is have you ever sinned so greatly that God sent a whale to swallow you?
If Jonah can be restored, then so can you. You still have an opportunity. You still have a chance. It's what you do right now that's going to define that-- that's going to determine that. So don't underestimate where you are now, because God wants to use where you are now to take you to a place that is greater than you could ever imagine to be used in ways that you could never fathom. Starts with belief. You can't see it right now. But right now is the time where you develop that belief that God can and God will use you.
We're going to read Psalm 23, verse 1 through 2 now together. Actually, we're going to read the whole Psalm together. Says "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever."
As we begin to unpack this, we're going to focus primarily in verse 3 and 4 as we look at this message. But we're going to see four things. Number 1, we're going to see that restoration means falling sometimes. Number 2, we're going to see that the heat is hard. But you're not alone. Number 3, we're going to see that the heat is hard. But there are lessons to be learned. And number 4, we're going to see that the heat is hard. But it makes you compassionate.
This Psalm starts off so encouraging, doesn't it? I love the first two verses of the Psalm. So pleasant-- green pastures, still waters, no wanting. I don't want to want. I love that. That just sounds so great. But then verse 3 signals a change in mood. See, David, the author of this Psalm was no stranger to calamity and hardship.
As a matter of fact, this guy could have been a country music star with how depressing he was sometimes. It's like, bro, I mean, the Psalms themselves read like a country best dub. I mean, you got Psalms talking about girls and how sad it is and how hard it is. You've got Psalms talking about wine that makes the heart glad. Every country song has beer in it.
You've got Psalms talking about dogs surrounding me. You got dogs, girls, sad stuff, and beer. I mean, that's the country top 10-- the Psalms are country songs. I mean, this guy had such a depressing life at times. For years, he was hunted like a wild animal even after having been anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the next King of Israel.
See the very premise of this Psalm is that David has just come out of a difficult situation. That's the very idea of what this Psalm is all about. How do I know that? Well, look at verse 3. Verse 3 says, "He restores my soul." Well, you say Nate, that sounds good, not bad.
Question for you. What happens in life to cause you to be in a place that you need restoration? Falling-- that's the answer-- falling. In order to be restored, you have to be down. Let's bring this to a modern situation so you can understand a little bit better right now. LeBron James right now needs to be restored because he's falling. He needs to be restored.
Can I just say how encouraging and inspiring that is to me. If somebody as good as LeBron James can lose and then get up and keep going, that means that you can too. It means that in life, when you fall-- when you lose-- when it doesn't work out, you can get up and keep on going.
There's times in life when we need restoration. And so this is point number 1-- restoration means falling sometimes. Restoration means falling sometimes. Hey, what do you think that anyone under the care of the good shepherd would never go astray-- would never need restoration?
Sadly, that's not the case. As a matter of fact, it seems the opposite. It seems like we are constantly giving in to the foolish and illogical patterns of sin. Anyone else relate with me on this? It feels like you're constantly falling-- you're constantly sinning.
You guys are seriously all a bunch of liars. I know you guys are all falling. I know you guys are all sinning. It's not a bunch of perfect people here. I see you guys drive. We're constantly falling. We're constantly sinning. Even though you shouldn't do it, you do it. Even though that little voice in your head says don't do it right before you do it, you do it anyways.
Man, Paul said it way before One Republic did. Everything that makes me feel alive kills me. Everything that kills me makes me feel alive. I mean, this is the reality of life. That which we don't want to do we do. And it's this illogical pattern where we sin, and we restore. We sin, and we're restored. We sin, and we're restored.
Albert Einstein says that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By that definition we're all insane. I don't care what degree you have, there's times when you're dumb. You just do things that don't make sense. You do things that nobody should do, and you know you shouldn't do it. But you do it anyways, because humans are dumb sometimes.
We do things that we know are bad for us. It feels like insanity doing it over and over again, wanting a way out. But we can't find it. It's a matter of fact, David himself knew all about the need for restoration-- considering the chain of events that unfold in his life as a result of his sin.
At times, David's life can look like an episode of Jerry Springer, The Real World, Dr. Phil, Teen Mom, and CSI all combined. I mean, there's times in his life he looked more like Hugh Hefner than he did Billy Graham. And guess what? That should come of encouragement to you, because despite all that, you know at the end of his life what it said about David? It says David was a man after God's own heart.
He was a man after God's own heart. which tells me that it doesn't matter how messy your life looks. It doesn't matter how many people have written you off, and said they can't change. God's not going to do anything with them. They're on a road that God can't use them. God's still looking at you, and he says, I can still use you. I can still define your life.
At the end of your life, you could still be a man or a woman after God's own heart. It just takes the decision right now that you're going to rise up out of that and say, I'm not going to be defined by my past anymore. I'm going to start defining my future through the power and the restoration of Jesus Christ.
When you think of David, two names should come to mind-- two other names-- David and Goliath and David and Bathsheba. Isn't that interesting? I said before, remember, we're only defined by a few moments in our lives.
We have choices to make. David was defined by two moments in his life when the heat got turned up. One represented his greatest victory. The other represented his greatest defeat. One, his greatest moment of faith. The other, his greatest moment of failure. Again, the heat defines our legacy either melts you or makes you. How you respond to the hear determines how the world remembers you.
And sure, times of greatest temptation often follow times of greatest triumph. Right after the Father said, this is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, the devil was waiting to tempt Him in the desert. And here's the premise-- the devil always opposes those whom God approves.
So if God approves of you, you better know that the devil opposes you. The Bible says that the devil is like a roaring lion going to and fro seeking whom he may devour. Now if that doesn't put goosebumps on you, you've never seen the Discovery Channel or National Geographic. I have, and so I know what that means.
Now you watch these lions on the Discovery Channel, and they get really low in a high grass. And they find this cute little baby zebra. And they pace back and forth. And their eyes never leave that animal. And then in a split second, they jump out. They grab that zebra, break its neck, and they devour it.
That's scary stuff, right? I remember watching that one time with my daughter when she was younger. And I remember she was looking at that. And she said, daddy, look it. That little zebra and that lion are playing together. And I said, Katie, I don't think the zebra knows the rules of the game. I don't think the zebra likes that game. Zebra's definitely not winning, that's for sure.
I love going to the zoo. Can I bring in Albuquerque? We have a great zoo, don't we? We have a great zoo. I love going to the zoo. And I love watching the mountain lions. And I love seeing these things because I know we have them in New Mexico. And then I get terrified. And I realize they're in New Mexico. And I never want to hike Lulu's ever again.
You think, oh, they're smaller than normal lions. No, they're scary. These things are huge. And one time we were there. And my son and I were watching this lion. And if you are my son and I, and I'm the lion, and this is the glass, this is what the Lion's doing. He has his eyes locked on me and my son doing the pacing thing. And then every now and then, he does this-- he just licks his lips.
My son, ever so astute, says, Dad, I think he's hungry. And I said, yeah, for you. He wants to eat you. Church, the devil's are roaring like a lion seeking whom he may devour. And he's got his eyes on you. He's pacing back and forth. He's crouched real low. He's licking his lips. He wants to pounce on you. He wants to break your neck. He wants to devour you. He wants to eat you.
But the Bible also talks about something else that goes to and fro. The Bible says the eyes of the Lord are going to and fro, looking for those who He can show Himself strong on their behalf. So church, if Satan's the lion, God's the zookeeper.
If Satan's powerful, God's more powerful. If Satan's the Indominus rex on Jurassic World, then Jesus is the Mosasaurus that's going to jump out of the water and eat that big old dinosaur in one bite. And guess what? I would have any day God approve of me and the devil oppose of me, rather than the devil approve of me and God oppose me, because God will always win that battle. And I'm going to put my bet in the right place. Do you believe that church?
And you say, Nate, well, I can't do it. And I say, you're right. You can't. You finally did it, if it's you against Satan, you don't stand a chance. But if it's you and God against Satan, Satan doesn't stand a chance.
So let's align our lives with God. Those who are obedient and faithful to God become the biggest targets of Satan. But it's OK. Many times in our lives the most difficult trials come after the greatest triumphs. Usually the most intense heat comes after a time of quiet refreshing. Summer heat leads to Summer refresh.
After Jesus had his mountaintop experience of being transfigured with Moses and Elijah. There was a demon-possessed person waiting for him at the bottom of the hill. David, after slaying Goliath, was met with praise from the people and a spear from Saul.
Samson, after he destroyed 1,000 enemies, met a girl named Delilah. And he said, hey there, Delilah. If you don't understand that, ask someone. Peter, who boldly stood for Christ, and even hacked the ear off a soldier, only hours later, was ashamed to even acknowledge Jesus.
Look, sometimes our successes can cause us to feel invincible. And we can let our guard down. We can get a little fat and sassy-- a little high and mighty. I think that we got it all together that nothing can touch us. And then when the heat gets turned up, we're not prepared for it.
In the contest between Elijah and the 450 prophets of all of Mount Carmel, God personally worked in a powerful and tangible way. And Elijah saw the power of God more clearly than many of us might ever get to. But in spite of the miraculous working of God, within one week, Elijah was so in despair that he begged God to take his life.
No sooner had Israel been delivered from Egypt, then Pharaoh came pursuing them with his army. No sooner had Paul had an abundance of revelations that he was hit with a thorn in the flesh by a messenger of Satan. Look, whether you're 15 or 50, you need to hear this. Whether you've been a Christian for three months or 30 years, this is for you.
The most intense heat in your life comes in the beginning and the end of the Christian life. In the beginning because Satan wants to derail you from walking with God. He doesn't want you to be used by God. He doesn't want you to see what God wants for your life. And so he'll bring heavy duty temptations. He'll hit you in predictable ways offering you all the kingdoms of the world, so to speak. Cause you to doubt your salvation.
But for those of you who are stalwarts in the faith, you've been a Christian for many, many years, you need to know-- you need to hear this that Satan will try harder to derail you at the end of your life than he will at the beginning. Because if he can get you to fall in your last lap, then he can discredit all the years that you've had a faithful run.
Don't believe me? Just ask any one of the number of pastors in the past 20, 30, since history, who have fallen-- who have given into some moral temptation-- moral failure. And all the years of faithful service they had were completely discredited because they fall once on their last lap.
Church Satan knows the power and influence of a life faithfully lived for God. There are those who do not finish well in the race of life. We lower our guard. We put our spiritual lives in cruise control. But we don't realize that we don't have our belts on. And Satan would love nothing more than to scrape your dead body off the pavement.
Satan's plans for you look a whole lot like TruTV's most shocking car accidents. You're an accident waiting to happen. The question isn't will it happen. But how will you respond? Because Satan won't stop when you're down. He wants you dead. Satan won't stop when you fall. He won't also want you to get back up.
Satan won't stop when you look. He wants you to lust. Church, this is why sanctification is so important. We tell every person that gives their life to the Lord, hey, you made a big step today. But it was the first step. Walking with God is about daily taking a step with Him.
Anyone who has been a believer for a while knows this to be true. You don't just have to walk backwards to backslide. If you stand still, it will happen on its own. If you just stop moving, you'll stop walking with God, because He's going to keep moving forward. And you're going to stay behind. You'll isolate yourself. And then you'll be in the perfect position that Satan wants you in, in order to knock it down.
If we aren't daily making a conscious effort to do what God has called us to do, then we we'll naturally begin to do what Satan knows we shouldn't do. The question for you-- when we sin, what is God's attitude towards us? Because you say, Nate, I'm in a place right now where I've fallen. I need restoration. I'm there. I'm in that place right now.
So what's God attitude towards you? Is God out to get you? Is He like, Bruce almighty, says he is. Is He a big bully on an ant hill, burning ants with a magnifying glass, and we're the ants? If you love someone, set them free. If they don't return, hunt them down and kill them. Maybe for your psycho ex but not for God.
No, no. God's desire is for you to return. He has this loving desire for a relationship with you. Like the good shepherd with the lost sheep, He longs for you to come home. Like the Father with the prodigal son, when you come home, He's not going to be vindictive and hurt you for repenting. He's going be waiting with open arms to hug you, to love you.
His desire is to put a code of honor upon you to give you a seat at the table or prepare a feast before you. God loves you. He doesn't hate you. You say, Nate, this is all fine and good. It's great. We love it when our good shepherd leads us to green pastures and still waters. You know what? We even rejoice that when we're cast down, He seeks to restore us.
We love all the places he leads us to, accept for one. Look at verse 4. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." Look, everyone loves the green pastures until we realize that those green pastures are on the show, The Walking Dead, and there are zombies that are chasing us into the valley.
Everyone loves the yellow brick road until the flying monkeys come and snatch you. The still waters are beautiful until you realize they're shark infested, and jaws takes a chunk out of your leg. Verse 4 is the dread of every single Christian. Have you ever, like me, just said, God, can't we just leave that part out? Can't we just pretend that that doesn't exist? Can't we just stay in the green pastures by the still waters?
And this passage speaks to every single child of God who goes through the valleys of life. We all find ourselves in the valleys for one reason or another feeling the heat beating down on us. As we already said, it could be a hardship you're dealing with, family problems, health problems, a temptation, or a trial.
And sometimes when we go through the situations, we'd like to ask ourselves this question, why? Why is this happening to me? Why now? Why this way? Can I tell you, why is one of the most dangerous questions you can ask when you're going through pain, because even if you had an answer, it wouldn't really help you anyways.
If I were to tell you exactly why you were experiencing the pain you were experiencing, it wouldn't make it better-- it wouldn't make it go away. Reasons don't help but resources do. And so I want to give you three resources from this text and a few others that I believe can help you in the valleys of life.
Number 1 is that the heat is hard, but you're not alone. Whatever it is you're facing, remember this morning-- you are not alone. You are not alone. I'll say it again. You are not alone. Why is this important? Well, we already talked about Satan. He's a lion seeking whom he may devour.
Have you ever seen a lion hunt? What they do-- once they scare the pack, as they try to isolate an individual animal to get them away from the herd, because they become easier prey. So once they get away from the herd, the animal becomes scared. It realizes it doesn't have its friends around.
The animal sometimes will just freeze in fear thinking the lion can't see it. But the lion can see it. Or that little animal, that cute zebra decides which way to run. But the Lion's smarter and faster than the little baby zebra. And the lion always gets the zebra.
What does this have to do with you? Satan would like nothing more than to make you feel like everyone in this church-- they don't know what you're going through. They don't know how you feel. They've never been through what you're going through. They judge you. They don't like you. They don't want to hear your problems. You're all alone. No one cares about you.
And if he can do that, he can isolate you. Then he can destroy you. And so it's so imperative that when we're in the heat of life, that we constantly remind ourselves, I'm not alone. I'm not alone. I'm not alone. I'm not alone. Because the more we remind ourselves of that, the more we stay connected to the community of Christ, the harder it is for Satan to destroy us.
What hope and promise do we have when we're in the valley? Look at verse 4-- it continues. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." Why? Because You're with me. I will fear no evil because You are with me, not because the bad stuff goes away, but because You're with me.
Maybe you're here today, and you're in the heat of life. And you can't feel or sense God's presence. That doesn't mean that He's not there. If you go out this afternoon and let's say it's overcast-- I pray it is. That be nice. Let's say it's overcast. And you can't see the sun. Do you say, the sun no longer exists. I can't see it with my eyes, therefore it's gone.
Well if you believe that, then lay out this afternoon with no sunscreen on for six hours and see what's going to happen. Oh, you're going to burn. Might even burn worse or try it with gravity. I can't see gravity. I can't feel gravity. Therefore, it doesn't exist. You're going to get a lot worse than a sunburn.
God's there, not because I feel Him or because I see Him, but because He promised to be. Isaiah 43:2-- this verse should give you some encouragement. "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sleep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze."
Come on somebody, how good is that? Now when the summer heat comes beating down on you, it will not burn you. The summer heat won't set you ablaze if you rely on God. How do I know? Because God promised that it wouldn't.
He promised that if you turned to Him, if you rely on Him, if you walk with Him as He walks with you-- if you realize that He is with you, you will not only come through the fire unscathed, but you will come through the fire stronger than you ever were before.
It's time for us to realize and actualize the promises of God within our lives. Certainly Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did when they literally went through the fire. Hebrews 13:5-6 says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?
I feel like the author when he said that felt like a little chest bump, like, uh, come on what? What can man do to me? The funny part is that in all reality through the years I found that many of us think that God will forsake us because people have forsaken us.
Maybe when you were young, your parents left you when you were a kid. You feel forsaken. Maybe your spouse has forsaken you and left you. Maybe you feel alone, sad, hopeless, feeling like there is no future. And now you say, what can man do to me? Well, at times, it feels like man can do a lot to me. And it really hurts.
But you need to realize that although people might forsake you, although people might let you down, God never will. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He is with you. He loves you. He cares for you. He wants good things for your life. His desire is to give you a future and a hope.
So we have to turn to Jesus and cast our problems upon Him when we find ourselves in the heat. Church, you don't serve and follow a God who's disinterested in your life. He is compassionate, caring, concerned, and He wants to help. It's why the Bible says cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for you.
Most of us, if we're honest, we just rather avoid the heat of life entirely. In fact, we prefer if the Lord would drive us around in an air conditioned escalate from green pasture to still water and just say, man, sign me up for the Jesus Uber service. I don't want to go through the valleys unless it's in an air conditioned car.
But number 3, we see that the heat is hard, but there are lessons to be learned. The heat is hard, but there are lessons to be learned. As a matter of fact, there are lessons that can be learned in the heat that can only be learned in the heat. One, is that God will always reveal Himself to you in a very unique and special way.
I want to put a verse up on the screens. It's 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 7 through 10 in the message version. We're going to put it up. We're going to read along together, because I think it's so incredible.
It says, "Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down;" but what he did in fact was push me to my knees.
"No danger then of walking around high and mighty!" At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and I begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and the Lord told me, "My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness."
"Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on my handicap and I began appreciating the gift." Come on somebody. "It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness." And so "now I take my limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size-- abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."
Come on, how good is that? The weaker I get, the stronger I become. Church, you need to let the strength of the Lord move in on your weakness. You need to realize that God's strength comes into its own in your weakness. And the weaker you get, the stronger you become.
The heat doesn't have to melt you. The heat can make you. We need to start living by that principle. When the heat gets turned up in your life, you have a choice of how you're going to respond. Are you going to melt under its pressure and wait? Are you going to be strengthened from it?
Number 4. We see that the heat is hard, but it makes you compassionate. The heat is hard, but it makes you compassionate. See, in the heat of life, we learn lessons that we can only learn there. Lessons of compassion that we can only find in the heat of life.
2 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 3 through 7, I'm going to read it again to you in the message version. It's going to be up here on the screens. I love this. It says "God comes alongside us when we go through hard times." We already know that, right? You're not alone. God's with you.
Keep on reading. But "before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort. When do suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. Your hard times are our, hard times."
Church, can we start viewing our heat in that light? Can we allow our brothers and sisters, hard times, to beat our hard times. Can we realize that when we're going through the pain of life that you might be in a hard time right now so that God can bring you alongside someone else who's going through a hard time? That maybe God's been conditioning you in the heat, so that you can tell someone else who is in heat, hey. I know that it hurts. But it's not that bad, you're going to get through it.
I have friends who live in Phoenix. Anyone visit Phoenix? It's hot, right? I have friends who live in Phoenix. And whenever I go there, man, it's so hot. And they always say, it's not that bad. You'll get used to it. And I respond, I don't want to get used to hell. Thank you very much.
But they're always so positive. They say, hey, when you've lived here for awhile, you just get used to it. And they give you these pointers. They try to help and encourage you how to get through it. They say, well, just turn your car on 15 minutes before you leave. Let the AC run-- just stay in the shade-- stay hydrated. And they give you these pointers to help you.
Church, the heat in your life is the same way. When you're going through the heat-- when you've been in it for long enough, you can come alongside someone else and say, hey, I know it's hot. I know it hurts. I know it's painful. But it's not that bad. You're going to get through it. Here, read this scripture verse. It helped me. Watch this teach in your podcast. That encouraged me.
Join this ministry. It gave me a new perspective. Join my connect group. There's people there who love you and were there to help. Look, it's not going to make that trial not hurt. It's still going to hurt. But it's easier to hurt with someone than it is to hurt without someone. Isn't that true?
So church, we made the commitment to hurt with one another. Can we get the commitment to let our brothers and sisters' hard times be our hard times? And finally, as we close, remember this-- the heat doesn't last forever. It doesn't last forever.
David did not say, yea, though I crawl through the valley of the shadow of death. Or yea, though I curl up and die in the valley of the shadow of death. Or yea, though, I cry in the fetal position and ... And we said, yea, though I walk. What it speaks of is continual movement-- a decision to keep moving forward. A decision to find a goal and shoot for the goal.
Keep moving, church, because the valley doesn't last forever. And at the end of the valley is your Father's house. And there are times of quiet, refreshing, and an abundance of mercy. Keep on moving. Has anyone ever bungee jumped? I did it once.
When I got married, our honeymoon-- and once in Africa into the Nile River, because that's a good idea. Bungee jumping-- they tell you something so terrifying when you do it. And they don't tell you this, by the way, until you're all strapped up, and you can't get out of it.
You're standing on the edge. And they say, OK, you ready? Yeah. OK, what you need to do is find a spot 200 yards out, take that spot and jump out towards that spot. And they say, because if you just get scared and fall off, and you don't jump far enough out, the bungee cord could pull you back up and cause you to hit the platform and knock you out or kill you. Why doesn't everyone do this?
And so you picked that spot and with deliberation with the decision, you say, I'm going to leap out in faith. I'm going to trust the bungee cord. I'm going to commit. And I'm going to go all in, because that's the only way to get through it. And I'm going to trust that when I fall, that bungee cord's going to grab me and pull me back up.
Church, when, you're on the precipice of peril, when you're on the edge of the heat, you got to look with deliberation. You got to look with the decision and say, I'm going to go all in. I'm going to jump in. I'm going to commit. I'm going to let this build my faith. And I'm going to trust that when I fall down, God's going to pull me back up.
We got to dive all in. It's time for you to look at your heat and stop saying, oh, I'm just going to fall into it. Now jump. Get into it. Let God teach you something through it. Let God make you better because of it. The heat will melt you or make you. If your faith in Christ is true that He will make you. If it's not, it will melt you.
But remember that He is with you in the furnace, showing His strength in your weakness, making you more compassionate, more like Jesus. And you will come through your valleys. But you have to decide what you're going to look like when you get out.
As we close, one closing thought. Only a believer can rest in the promise of this verse. Only a true believer can say the Lord is my shepherd. Only a true believer can say you are with me. Everything else is true. Everyone's going to go through pain and heat in their life.
But only a believer can say that God is with them. A nonbeliever just goes through the heat, and it just hurts. And there's no hope. And they wake up. And they feel sad. And they feel depressed.
Look, I don't want to put my hope in some unrealistic Hallmark slogan. For every cloud, there's a silver lining. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. All's well that ends well. I believe that for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows. I believe that somewhere in the darkest night, a candle glows.
I believe that every time I hear a newborn baby cry or see a leaf or touch the sky, make me vomit. Sometimes life doesn't go well. Sometimes there isn't a happy ending around the corner. But guess what? With Jesus Christ, there doesn't need to be, because it's not the journey that matters. But it's who's traveling with you and what the destination is.
I'll tell you what I believe as a Christian. I believe that the Lord is my shepherd. I believe at the end of the valley is the house of the Lord. And it's in that truth that true happiness is found. There's a lot in life we don't know. But we know that there's a heaven.
We know that there is a God who died for our sins. We know that through that death, He made it possible for us to join Him. And we know that if we accept Him and repent of our sins, that we can go to heaven. And that's where true happiness comes from knowing. Do you?
Lord, we thank you for Your word. We thank You for the encouragement that it brings. I pray for anyone right now who's in the heat of life. Lord, I pray that You'd help them to cling to You. I pray to You to help them to see You that You would restore their soul-- that You would be with them in the fire. And You would speak to them in a profound way.
And Lord, I pray right now for anyone here right now who does not have a relationship with You. They do not have a good shepherd. They do not know that comfort of going through the valleys and having a God who loves them with them.
And maybe you're here. And you're in the heat of life right now. And you say, man, I'm just in it. I have no hope. I have no joy. I have no belonging. And I so badly want what you're talking about. I so badly want somebody who loves me who cares for me. Somebody who's there for me when I'm in it.
If that's you, I want to give you an opportunity right now to accept Jesus Christ to know that your sins are forgiven-- to know that you're going to heaven and to know that along that journey, God's going to be with you every step of the way. If that's you, I just want you to raise your hand. And you're saying, Nate, pray for me. I need Jesus Christ. Just raise it up right now.
Right here in the middle. Anyone else? Raise it up high over here to my right, if God's speaking to you right now back over here. Keep it up so I can see it. God's calling you right now-- right now, amen. Anyone else? Raise that hand up of God speaking to you right here in this moment. Anyone else? If you want to know that your sins are forgiven-- you want to find a joy that's going to be there tomorrow. Anyone else? Amen.
Lord, I thank You for all those people who have raised their hands, acknowledging their need for You. Lord, I pray that You'd be with them. I pray that You guide them. And where you are right now, if you raised your hand up, I just want you to say this prayer after me. I want you to say it out loud. It's a simple prayer of repentance. And it's really asking God to be with you in the valleys of life.
Just say, Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I've done many things that have hurt You. But Lord, I believe that You died for those things. And I believe that You rose from the dead. So Lord, I ask You to come into my life, forgive me of my sin. I turn from my old life, and I turn to You. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. Hey, can we get those who raised their hands and say that prayer, a round of applause.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.