Dark Times – sermon video audio notes

We all go through dark times in life. Why is that? When understood, dark times are a blessing, not bad. Our good times are actually a result of our dark times. Dark times germinate our seed dreams, seed goals, seed talents, seed objectives, and seed potential.

Dark Times – sermon video audio notes

Dark Times – sermon video audio notes

Scriptures: James 1:2-3, 1 Peter 1:6-7, John 12:23-24, Psalms 105:17, Psalms 4:1, 1 Samuel 17:34-37, Psalms 23:1-6

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Life Gate Church Reaching Up and Reaching Out

Dark Times - sermon video

Dark Times - sermon notes

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We all go through dark times in life. Why is that? Why does every person go through difficult dark times? Doesn’t it seem some of God’s favorites would make it through life without going through dark times? No. Even those who seem to be God’s favorites go through dark times.

Your spouse betrayed you. It’s a dark time. Maybe the company made cutbacks and you were laid off. Someone becomes severely ill -- a dark time. These things numb us. Divorce? A child broke your heart. We lose a loved one.  A mother has a miscarriage -- dark time. Your spouse has mental issues such as Alzheimer’s. After years, someone walked out of a relationship and left you. It’s a dark time. We all go through dark times, and the list is endless.

It’s easy to become discouraged and give up on God, give up on your dreams, and give up on life in dark times. It’s easy to become depressed. It’s because we allow the dark time to use us as we don’t use the dark times.

In our series titled “It’s Not Right!” we saw some interesting scriptures.

James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, BECA-- USE YOU KNOW THAT

1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. THESE HAVE COME SO THAT

There is a reason and purpose with every trial, trouble, suffering, grief, and dark time we experience. We all experience them, even Jesus did. Here is what he said.

John 12:23-24 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

(KJV) John 12:24  Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, IT BRINGETH FORTH MUCH FRUIT.

Jesus was speaking about his darkest of times -- his crucifixion. He pictured his life as the kernel of wheat, a seed. The seed cannot germinate as long as the seed is in the light. It’s unproductive -- it remains only a single seed. It must go into the ground -- a dark time -- to germinate. Only after it’s planted and goes through the process of germination and transformation -- the dark time -- is the potential inside unlocked to produce the life and much fruit locked within.

There are seeds in you -- seed dreams, seed goals, seed talents, seed objectives, seed potential, etc. These seeds will only germinate, and there potentially unlocked in dark times. Your dark times “glorify you.” You germinate and transform in dark times. Your character is developed. Your priorities are adjusted. Dark times make you strong. Your vision realigns. You become who you and God want you to become because of dark times. Dark times are necessary if your dreams germinate and become fruitful. You don’t realize it, but dark times are a blessing.

God uses the dark times. He will not waste one. They may have caught us off guard, but they didn’t catch God off guard. If the dark time wasn’t for our good, God wouldn’t have allowed it to happen.

If given enough information we see every person in the Bible, all the mighty in faith (Hebrews chapter 11), went through dark times. Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Job and on and on it goes. God will allow Satan to bring dark times, but God will use the dark time to bring germination unlocking the potential within us. What I want you to see is at the end of every dark time, when handled correctly, there was always fruit and blessing. Always!

How about Joseph? Joseph’s own brothers betrayed him, threw him into a pit, sold him as a slave, he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and put into prison for thirteen years.

Psalms 105:17 and he sent a man before them -- Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, TILL THE WORD OF THE LORD PROVED HIM TRUE. The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free. He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed

Joseph had to go through his dark times. God used Joseph’s dark times to direct Joseph’s life to Joseph’s destiny. You may not realize it, but your dark times are directing your life far more than your good times. Your good times are actually a result of your dark times.

Dark times are uncomfortable. I prefer the good times when everything goes my way, but I’ve become who I am because of the dark times. Dark times taught me to pray. I don’t pray the same in good times. Dark times were where I developed an unshakable trust and faith in God. Without dark times, my and your growth would be stunted.

David, the man after God’s own heart, went through a thousand (endless) dark times just like you and me, but David understood dark times. We don’t.

(KJV) Psalms 4:1 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: THOU HAST ENLARGED ME WHEN I WAS IN DISTRESS; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.

God used dark times -- distress -- to enlarge and prepare David. Good times didn’t enlarge David. David constantly talked about his “distress.” In the Book of Psalms alone, he used the word “distress” around twenty times. You will have many stressful dark times even if you’re a person after God’s own heart. Why? They enlarge you. They make you bigger and better. David understood the dark times, but he never liked them. He always asked the Lord to deliver him from them, yet he understood the Lord used them to enlarge him.

David as a young boy shepherded sheep. He probably didn’t want to keep sheep. He’d rather be hanging out with his friends, but God was doing something inside David. He had no one to talk to but God… and the sheep. It was at this time and young age David developed a deep relationship with and unshakable trust in God. God will allow dark times where there’s no one to talk to but him. Those years keeping sheep prepared David to become a champion.

1 Samuel 17:34-37 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

People thought David was an overnight Phenom when David killed Goliath. David wasn’t an overnight wonder. His dark times when attacked by the lion and the bear prepared David for Goliath. Your dark times prepare you for the Goliaths in our life. David understood in every distressful dark time, the Lord was enlarging him, and he knew on the other side of his dark times were amazing blessings. David wrote,

Psalms 23:1-6 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even 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 TABLEbefore me in the presence of my enemies. You ANOINT MY HEAD with oil; my CUP OVERFLOWS. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

David said the same God who led him to still waters and green pastures was the same God who led him through the valley of the shadow of death. The green pastures and still waters are easy and good times. It’s easy to trust God there, but can we trust him in the dark valleys? It’s lonely in the dark valleys. It’s stressful in the dark valleys. It’s frightening in the dark valleys. We talk to God in the dark valleys.

It was after going through the valley of the shadow of death when God prepared a table and all David’s enemies watched as he partook of God’s blessings. Dark times didn’t destroy David. They blessed him. It was after the valley he was anointed with oil. After the valley, his life was refreshed with a new anointing, energy, and purpose. It’s after the dark valley the cup overflows with amazing blessings. It’s after the betrayals, layoffs, illness, numbness, divorce, broken heart, miscarriage, mental problems -- distress and dark times we get to the table, the anointing, and the overflowing cup of blessings. You’ve got to go through it continuing to do the right thing when the wrong thing is happening. We want the overflowing cup. God says okay, but you’ll need to go through more dark valleys.

I’ve learned when something seems to be dying in my life, something else is birthing. You lost your job, and it’s dark. You’ve got to trust God in the valley. God must have something better planned. A friend betrayed you. It hurts, but God must know something. There’s a better friend already lined up to come into your life. Maybe someone left the church. It broke my heart, and it always hurts. It’s discouraging, but God sent you. I’ve learned if I’ll go through the valley trusting God and doing what’s right when wrong things are happening there is a table, an anointing, and the overflowing cup of blessings waiting.

Your divorce did not end your life. Your layoff did not end your life. It did not bury you. It planted you. Your sickness was not the end of you. In the dark time, you discovered what’s on the inside of you. Dark times germinate and release the potential hidden on the inside.

Randy has been faithful to God, our church, and a friend to me for thirty years. Several years ago the company for which he worked cut back and terminated Randy. I think the first place Randy came was to my office. He was worried, embarrassed, limited, depressed, hurt, and bitter. It was a dark time. I told Randy I didn’t know how, but I did know it was going to work out for his good. I helped Randy make a good résumé, and we sent it out. Several companies offered Randy jobs, but none of them would pay what he needed. I’d talk to Randy, and he would be depressed and bitter. I told him to go on vacation and relax. He looked at me as if I were crazy. For three months, Randy could not find a job he wanted, but he never gave up on God. He kept giving, being faithful in his distress, and we kept praying. Randy decided to take a job he didn’t want. Just before Randy was to report for work, his old company who terminated him three months earlier called Randy. They not only wanted Randy to come back to work. They wanted him to oversee the entire plant. It was a huge promotion and tremendous pay increase. Randy had to go through the dark valley, but on the other side there was a table prepared and his enemies watched Randy eat the blessings. A fresh new anointing came on his life, and the cup has overflowed with blessings for 15 years now. There’s always fruit at the end of the dark valley.

Don’t get stuck in your dark valley. The Lord is with you. The dark valley is not your home. It’s only planting season. Don’t become stuck asking questions and doubting God. Asking, “Why me?” and saying, “It’s not right!” becoming angry, saying and doing mean things will only bog you down in the valley. I didn’t remember it, but Randy reminded me this week how bitter he was. He said I got him to write a letter to each of his old superiors, not blasting them in how badly they treated him, but rather telling them how he appreciated the years they employed him. It was a tough thing for Randy to do, but Randy said not long after he mailed the letters came their offer. You’ve got to do the right thing when the wrong thing is happening. Don’t get stuck in the dark valley.

One more story and we’ll end for today. Our church went through a dark time nearly twenty years ago. Saying I was distressed doesn’t seem close to how badly I felt. I experienced the most humiliating time of my life. People left us, and we had a large mortgage with no money to pay it or our staff. I was so bitter and filled with anger my wife told me I’d shake sleeping. As difficult as it was, I kept doing what was right when the wrong things were happening. We trusted the Lord. It looked bad. It looked like we were going to be buried, and our enemies would win. One day Judy, my wife, called me on the phone telling me she believed the Lord had spoken to her. If we’d make a board and explained we wanted to pay off our facility, it would happen. All the leadership decided to try. It couldn’t hurt.

I heard Joel Osteen say an exclamation point is only a question mark straightened out. We had many questions. Question mark -- Would we survive? Yes! Here we are twenty years later! -- Exclamation point. Question mark -- Would we pay our mortgage? Yes! We paid off the mortgage! -- Exclamation point. Question mark -- Would we be able to pay our bills? Yes! Today we are a debt-free ministry! We also paved our parking lot and carpeted the entire facility! -- Exclamation point. God will turn your question marks into exclamation points if you trust him in the dark times. He sat a table before our enemies. We were on the front page of the newspaper and on the radio as our enemies witnessed us burning the mortgage and our enemies realized they did not control our destiny. God does! Our enemies had to watch us being blessed. Like Joseph, our brothers (and sisters) threw us into a pit. Potiphar’s wife lied about us. We had a stay in prison, but what they meant to harm us, God meant for good! We had a new anointing and a better church internally and externally. God overflowed our cup.

Dark times are meant to bless us, not destroy us. If dark times were not good for us, God would not allow them. Dark times germinate the seeds of your dreams, goals, talents, objectives, and potential. Dark times direct your life to your destiny. Dark times enlarge and prepare you for your Goliaths. Keep doing the right things when the wrong things are happening. At the end of the dark valley, there is a table prepared for you. Your enemies will watch you partake of God’s blessings. You will have a new anointing, and your cup of blessings will overflow if you won’t get stuck in your dark valley.

Dark Times – sermon video audio notes

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