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1 Kings 20:22-29


Intro: These were treacherous times for the people of Israel. Their wicked king, Ahab, had been guilty of leading the people to worship the Canaanite god Baal, instead of the Lord God Jehovah. As a result, wickedness filled the land of Israel and they were headed on a collision course with the judgment of God. However, in the midst of their sins, God still loved His people. Thank God, His love never fails, Jer. 31:3!

During this time, Israel was attacked by the neighbor to the east, Syria. When this battle was waged, God allowed Ahab and the people of Israel to defeat the Syrians and to claim the victory. However, Ahab is notified that the Syrians do not plan to accept defeat so easily, v. 22. He is told that they will return to fight again. It is this second battle that we want to look into this evening. There are truths taught here that will help each of us as we journey for the Lord in these days.

I just want to say that in the Syrian army I see a picture of out adversary, the devil. When we are enabled by the Lord to win a victory against him, you can count on him returning to fight another day. His desire is to see you defeated one way or the other. If he doesn't win in one area of your life, he will change the direction of his attack and come at you again, 1 Pet. 5:8. We will see that this is just what the Syrian army tried against Israel. However, just as the Syrians were defeated and Israel walked in victory, you and I can walk in victory too! Notice with me a few simple truths from this passage that let us know that He Is Still God, Even In The Valleys Of Life.


A. Ill. The Context. The Syrians make a dangerous assumption concerning the God of the Israelites. Since they were defeated in the first battle on the hills surrounding Samaria, they assume that the Israelite God is a mountain God only. Their strategy is to get the Israelites to fight in the valley, where they think they will easily defeat them. For the Syrians this would be a costly assumption, however, it is a gamble the devil makes all the time.

B. You see, when we are on the "mountain" spiritually, we are hard for the devil to handle. When we are walking around with a shout in our soul and glory in our hearts, we are a force to be reckoned with. It is hard for Satan to defeat an excited Christian. Maybe that is why Nehemiah said "the joy of the LORD is your strength.", Neh. 8:10.

(Ill. This is the situation Satan ran into with Job. He put the squeeze on Job expecting Job to turn on God. However, all the devil was able to extract from the life of Job was worship and praise, Job 1:6-22. If the devil squeezes you and all he gets is praise to God for His efforts, he is likely to stop squeezing after a while!)

C. it was advertised that the devil was going to put his tools up for sale. On the date of the sale the tools were placed for public inspection, each being marked with its sale price. There were a treacherous lot of implements. Hatred, Envy, Jealousy, Doubt, Lying, Pride, and so on. Laid apart from the rest of the pile was a harmless-looking tool, well-worn and priced very high. "What is the name of that tool?" asked one of the purchasers.

"Oh," said the adversary, "that's Discouragement."

"Why have you priced it so high?"

"Because it's more useful to me than the others. I can pry open and get inside a person's heart with that one, when I cannot get near him with other tools. Now once I get inside, I can make him do what I choose. It's a badly worn tool, because I use it on almost everyone since few people know it belongs to me."

The devil's price for Discouragement was so high, he never sold it. It's still his major tool, and he still uses it on God's people today.

(Ill. It has been said that "Discouragement is the handle that fits all the devil's tools." The idea here is that Satan know that when we are on the mountain, we are hard to get at. Therefore, he assumes that if he can get us in the valley, we will be easier to defeat. Sadly, he has been right in many, many cases. If the devil can get you to focus on the negative aspects of any situation, he can get you discouraged. If he can get you discouraged, he can get you defeated. If he can get you defeated, he can steal the victory of the Lord right our of your heart.)

D. I just want to remind you of this: life is 10% about what happens to us and 90% about we react to what happens to us! If you develop a "woe is me" attitude concerning the events of life, then you are going to be easy pray for the devil. If, however, you can learn to put into practice the lessons of Philippians 4:6-9.

E. Has the devil tried this trap in your life? Has he used the tool of discouragement on you? I know he has on me and, not to give him any credit, but discouragement works better on me than any other tactic the devil can try. If he can just get us off that mountain top, we will be easier for him to handle!

I. A Dangerous Assumption


A. There was only one problem with the Syrian's assumption concerning God: God was greater than they thought He was! He sends his prophet to tell Ahab that God is going to prove Himself to be God of the valley as well as God of the mountain. He assures His people of victory!

B. I just want to remind you this evening that God is bigger than your valley. I know that it is easier to serve the Lord when we are on the mountain top. It is easier when we are excited about the Lord and about His work. However, when we go into one of the valley experiences of life, His is still God! When we enter the valley of physical pain, He is still God! When we enter the valley of spiritual discouragement, He is still God. When we enter the valley of sorrow, He is still God. Regardless of the valley we are forced to enter, we will find out that He is still God!

(Ill. You see, God wants to demonstrate to His people that He is God in every stage of life. He wants to be able to demonstrate His power in your life. He wants to show you that He is still God. That is why the Bible is literally filled with promises that teach us that God is in control. Verses like Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:17, and others let us know that our God is determined to prove to us that He is God in every circumstance that we face.)

C. For us, victory begins to be realized when we come to understand that Satan wants us to be defeated, but that God has promised we can walk in the victory in spite of our circumstances. When everything around us suggests that we should be discouraged and defeated, God still says that we have the victory, Rom. 8:37, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."

D. In the final analysis, genuine spiritual victory is never a matter of that which I am facing in life. Genuine spiritual victory is simple faith in the promises of God. I am victorious, not because everything is perfect in my life, I am victorious because God is in control of my life and He says that I am victorious. Therefore, regardless of the situation, I can rest in the promise of God. The battle may raging around me, but it does not have to rage within me! While I may be in the battle, God has already won the war and I am victorious because He said so!

(Ill. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not promoting "positive thinking", "possibility thinking" or any other heretical teaching. I am promoting taking God at His word and believing what He tells me, instead of what the devil or the flesh may be saying.)

(Ill. More than anything else, the path out of the valley begins with the ability to surrender to God in every circumstance. )

(Ill. Fanny Crosby was blind since childhood and lived to be ninety-five. She wrote this poem at age eight:

Blind but Happy

O what a happy soul am I!

Although I cannot see,

I am resolved that in this world

Contented I will be;

How many blessings I enjoy

That other people don't!

To weep and sigh because I'm blind,

I cannot, and I won't.

I. A Dangerous Assumption

II. A Dynamic Announcement


A. Ill. The Context. The people of Israel believed God and enjoyed a tremendous victory over the Syrian army. They saw their enemy put to flight by the power of God working through them.

B. This is the place desires to bring us to. He wants us to come to that place where we realize that He is God regardless of what we are facing. He wants us to get our eyes off our need and get them squarely on the face of Jesus, Heb. 12:2. He wants us to know that He is able, Eph. 3:20, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us," You see, regardless of what we think about what we are facing, God is still God! Shame on us when we live like He isn't!

(Ill. AS A RECENTLY RETIRED MAN was sitting on his porch down in Kentucky, his Social Security check was delivered. He went to the mailbox to retrieve it and thought to himself, Is this all my life is going to be from this time on? Just sitting on the porch waiting for my next Social Security check to arrive? It was a discouraging thought.

So he took a legal pad and began to write down all the gifts, all the blessings, all the talents, and everything that he had going for him. He listed them all, even small things. For example, he included the fact that he was the only one in the world who knew his mother's recipe for fried chicken in which she used eleven different herbs and spices.

He went down to the local restaurant, asked if he could get a job cooking their chicken. Very soon the chicken became the most popular item on the menu. He opened his own restaurant in Kentucky. Then he opened a string of restaurants and eventually sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise to a national organization for millions of dollars. He became their public representative and continued in that role until his death. That man, who refused to accept defeat, was none other than Colonel Harlan Sanders.)

C. Friends, this is where the victory is enjoyed. Notice I didn't say won! Why not? Because God has already won all our victories for us. We live in defeat and discouragement because we refuse to embrace victory by faith. Never allow Satan or the flesh to cause you to wallow in your valley. Never allow them to get you discouraged, or to cause you to think that God is unable or unwilling to help you out. The truth of the matter is this: victory is available, all the time, in every situation, for every child of God. then why don't most Christians have victory in their lives? Simply because they are waiting for a feeling instead of claiming what God has already given them by faith!

(Ill. Think for a minute about some great men from the Bible who knew God had already given them victory in spite of what their circumstances said.

1. Joshua and Caleb - Numbers 13:27-14:9

2. David - 1 Samuel 17

3. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - Daniel 3

4. There are many others, but these are sufficient for us to see that regardless of how things may appear on the surface, we must never that God is always in control of every situation!)

Conc: I have no way of knowing what you are facing this evening. It may be that the devil has and is using the tool of discouragement in your life. It may be that you feel defeated and a million miles away from the mountain top. Let me just remind you one more time before I close that God is God when you are on the mountain and that He is also still God when you are down in the valley. The secret to enjoying the mountains and the valleys is learning that God is in control. If you can do that, then whether you are on top or on bottom, you will always be on the mountain in your heart and victory will always be yours. You get there and you'll be a hard nut for the devil to crack. The first step in arriving at that place is learning to bring your burdens to Jesus.

Ill. Many New Testament promises have corresponding verses in the Old Testament that reinforce their power. When Peter, for example, said, ". . . casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7), he was but restating David's words in Psalm 55:22: "Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved."

Elisha A. Hoffman loved those verses. He was born May 7, 1839, in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania. His father was a minister, and Elisha was introduced to Christ at a young age. He attended Philadelphia public schools, studied science, then pursued the classics at Union Seminary of the Evangelical Association. He worked for eleven years with the Association's publishing house in Cleveland, Ohio. Then, following the death of his young wife, he returned to Pennsylvania and devoted thirty-three years to pastoring Benton Harbor Presbyterian Church.

Hoffman's pastime was writing hymns, many of which were inspired by pastoral incidents. One day, for example, while calling on the destitute of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, he met a woman whose depression seemed beyond cure. She opened her heart and poured on him her pent-up sorrows. Wringing her hands, she cried, "What shall I do? Oh, what shall I do?" Hoffman knew what she should do, for he had himself learned the deeper lessons of God's comfort. He said to the woman, "You cannot do better than to take all your sorrows to Jesus. You must tell Jesus."

Suddenly the lady's face lighted up. "Yes!" she cried, "That's it! I must tell Jesus." Her words echoed in Hoffman's ears, and he mulled them over as he returned home. He drew out his pen and started writing,

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!

I cannot bear my burdens alone;

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!

Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

Hoffman lived to be ninety, preaching the Gospel, telling Jesus his burdens, and giving the church such hymns as What A Wonderful Savior, Down at the Cross, Are You Washed in the Blood?, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and a thousand more.

Do you have a burden too big to bear? Why not take a few moments to tell Jesus about it. Take your burden to the Lord, then leave it there by faith, casting all your concerns on Him, for He cares for you. After all, He is still God, even in the valley!

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