Priority #3 : Jesus is Alive and Within You

Chapter 21 - Streams in Your Valley

God is interested in you as an individual. God cares about us. The very nature of God, if you knew nothing about people and all you could read was the nature of God you would have to say there's a needy people somewhere of those in need because God's entire nature is structured to minister to needs of people. He cares about us so much. When I think of what God is doing in the lives of believers I see the excitement and confidence that they have in God as they have found Him real. Colossians 3:1-4. For a few moments I want to spend a little time in this portion of scripture because it tells such a story of the believer and what this new life is. He tells us this new life besides being a brand new way of life with a new source of life, it becomes a new fellowship. It becomes a new way of worship. It gives new family life; every area changes. It gives new business life it tells us here.


So first of all we're going to look at what happens to the believer in this new life. "If you are raised with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ sits on the right hand of God. The first thing is raised with Him. In Ephesians the second chapter he tells you a little bit about what you rise from. A place of death, a place of separation from God, a place where there's no hope. You've been raised with Him. Then he said you have new affections, new love. Set your affection on things above, not on things of the earth for you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. He's telling us here that are physical being is not dead but we have shared the death of another. Jesus died; we accept and identify with His death. For a reason here, that our life might be hid with Him, we might be covered with Him, His love. "When Christ who is our life shall appear then shall you also appear with Him in glory."


So the picture is this, the Lord has given us new life, He has forgiven us of our sins, He has covered us. We're wrapped in His love. If you have the living Bible and would care to read Ephesians 1:4 you'd read about how you're all wrapped up in His love. You're covered with His love. So when God looks down at you He doesn't see the unsightly things about you. The faults, the failure, the mistakes. You're wrapped up in His love, covered with His love. That's why he said, "Now your life is hidden;" when God looks at you He says, "Oh perfection." You know what He's looking at? You're hidden in Jesus. That's why in 2nd Corinthians 5:30 he tells us that He was made sin for us that we might be made His righteousness. Wrapped up in His righteousness. This is the reason why we can have peace with God. We can walk with Him.


Romans 5:1. "Therefore being justified by faith, counted as though we've never sinned, all wrapped up in the love of Jesus." You finally have peace, and God has called us to peace. Colossians 3:15, he tells us that the thing that He's called us to, the greatest need in the human life is that we might have the peace of God in our hearts. Not only the peace of God, but he has allowed us to make peace with God. This is the position of the believer. You folks who have found Jesus real to your heart, you have been risen. You have partaken in Christ' resurrection, His life that came about because of that. You have His life flowing through you. It's a brand new life. Then he tells you now with this new life, set your affection on things above, not on things of the earth. And I might emphasize something here that God has put the handle of your affection in your hands and he tells you that you can steer that love whichever direction you want to. Love is not made in hell. There's no love in hell. Love is made in heaven. God gives it to us. But oftentimes we are guilty of misdirecting the love that God has given to us.


Husbands love your wives. Turn your love in that direction. Wives love your husbands; turn your love toward heaven. Turn that love toward people in need. Let the love of Christ beam out to others. We have the control here on that love. Set your affection on things above. Then I would like to say this also, that in the great drama that's going to happen soon that he speaks of right here in verse 4, Christ is going to appear. There's going to be a time of meeting Him. Then there's going to be a great appearing of the Lord to the earth and here the Word tells us when Christ who is our life shall appear because you have been risen with Him, the great drama that's about to unfold includes you in it. Because you have been raised with Christ, it's going to happen. It isn't just a life of ease, a life of fellowship with God, but when God saves us He also does something for us that helps us to get along with other people. So His life includes how we look to Him, our fellowship with Him, He sees you all wrapped up in Christ' love. Justified. Just as if you have never sinned. This is important to have this on the top.


A lot of people say the most important thing is that something develops in you that people see first and then God will accept you. But God says it's not so. He says you can't really please Me until you're covered, until you have this first part. So notice the first part here. This is how you look to God. But God didn't make a plan that didn't work. His plan was that we would be helped all the way through. A beautiful plan of fellowship with Him. And then He says now this gives you a life that others can see too. Not only something that God wants to see, that's all taken care of. But now He says since you're going to appear with Him, since you're sharing His life, since your sins have been covered, since you're hidden in Christ in God, you need to let other people see what Jesus has done for you and is doing for you. Life before others.


Verse 5; "mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, covet ness which is idolatry." That word mortify actually means choke the life out of these things. This isn't the work that makes Christ accept you; this is what He says to do because you are alive to Him. Choke the life out of the old way. Paul said that since we have this new life in us, choke out the old life. Praise God. Then notice verse 8, Put off all of these, this is the life lived before people, "put all anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth and lie not one to another seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds." Can you imagine the apostle Paul telling some people who were already hidden in God that they had to put off anger that they had to put off wrath. That there were some things that they said that weren't good? How could you accept that? You said you've already been hidden with Christ in God. Well certainly a person hidden in Christ in God certainly wouldn't be doing any of these bad things. You'd be surprised. So that's why Paul said it. He said your life is hidden with Christ in God.


Now in drawing this new life God says He wants you to live before the world that the world can see what Jesus has done for us. Now that you have this new life you need to clear some ground, lay aside those old things you did when you lived in them, lay them aside, clear some ground so that the new life will have some room to move in, the new man can grow inside of you. Get rid of this stuff so the new man can live and grow. So people can see it. This is the kind of the gospel when you get first things first that you can live. When you get this first and the other second you'll never get to the other. Because all your life will be spent in struggling, working, striving trying to please God, failure after failure. But when you know that your life is hidden with Christ in God. And now with His help with that new life surging it isn't going to be a matter of life or death. If you happen to not reach your highest effort that you're trying to make. People can live in such fear and such turmoil because they never quite reach the goals that they set for themselves, the spiritual goals. And if was a matter of reaching those in order to be ready for Jesus' coming, no one would make it. Because we don't know just where the line is. And we keep wanting more and more of God, I still don't have all I want of God they say, this is the hunger that God has placed in there. But with this new life the Lord can help us to lay these other things aside.


There are people who know what Christ has done for them, they've experienced the new life but fail to recognize their responsibilities before God. And they oftentimes move out of God's protection, move back into those old things that God has delivered them from. Oftentimes as these people have been ensnared by the enemy, their minds almost go haywire and they look for things to justify their sin and their wickedness. And they will go from one believer to another saying this really isn't so bad is it? Tell me it's just because I'm weak, looking for someone to strengthen their hand in wickedness. You know what God wants you to tell those people because you know what God has done for them. God wants you to tell them I'm not going to let you destroy yourself. I know what God's done for you. You might go out and do it anyway but I'm not going to push you out I'm going to pull you back in. They might not accept it. They may go out and say that person was my best friend but they don't like me anymore. I tell you it's because you do love them that you're not going to let them go so easy.


And if you're here this morning thinking of throwing your spiritual life away, shaking your fist in the face of God who lifted you and let you share the greatest thing there is in this whole wide world. Its one thing where you may not want to support the traditions of men or the forms of religion and God isn't going to hold it against you because He's not too high on breaking tradition either. But when you break His word, that's so clear and so definite, and know it and don't care and are looking for something to try and justify it. Do you know that you can find plenty of scripture to justify any sin that you want to get into? But it's not taken in the direct way that God wants it to be. One of the big battles that I have in ministering to people is that they're looking for scripture to somehow justify sin. If you're considering or harboring sin and rebellion and are making plans to leave the place that God has brought you to, don't do it. There's no peace. It's peace that God is drawing us towards. When people try and stop you, if you saw one of your friends put a gun to his head with a thought of pulling that trigger, you'd grab that gun so fast and pull it away from his head. Never pat his back when you see him destroying himself in sin. He wants us to live before others and let them see what Jesus has done.


Then he said the new man is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him which created him. Where there is no Jew or Greek, bond or free but Christ is all and in all. God has a brand new order of life here that He is over all. Religion doesn't make the difference, Nationality doesn't make the difference, Social standing doesn't make the difference but having Jesus in your heart makes the difference. That's where the life comes from. Can you imagine Paul calling these people that still got mad and had some malice and some of these other things, can you imagine him calling them holy and beloved. The only way he could do it was he knew they were all wrapped up and Jesus' holiness was covering them and they were beloved of God. Now he says put on these bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, and long-suffering. You know what he's telling you there? The same thing he did in verse 10. Where he said you're going to be in the image of God, God's nature is love, joy, peace, gentleness, long-suffering. You read it in Galatians 5:22. God's nature being lived in us, being reflected in us. That's the new person because it's His life growing within us, and then people could see His life. Humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another and forgiving one another. "If any man have a quarrel against any even as Christ forgave you so also do ye. And above all of these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection," it's the cement that holds all of these other things together. The love that Jesus has. "And let the peace of God," here it is, not only the peace with God which we read about in verses 1-4.


When you have peace with God the war is over, you've made peace and it's all settled and you have his forgiveness, you have peace with God. There are thousands of Christians that have never have received God's peace. They have peace with God but they don't have the peace of God, the peace that let Jesus sleep in a storm. That allowed the conflicts to pass Him by. That's the kind of peace that He has called us to. You notice here in the 15th verse He said, "This is what I called you to. I want you to have peace with not only with Me but My peace, my very own peace." John 14, when He was telling His disciples He was going away and He said "I want to leave you the very best thing I have." He ran through all the list of things that He might be able to give and He said the thing these people need the most is My peace. So He said, "My peace I give to you." That's His plan you see. That's living the new life. It's a brand new way of life as far as the world's concern. It's a new way of worship, verse 16.


"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Here's spiritual worship. That time when you may sing a song that's never been put down on paper yet. It even makes good family life when you have Him. Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands as is fit to the Lord. Husbands love your wives and be not bitter against them. Today I'm so aware of the hurts in people's lives. Nearly everyday someone or more than one comes, whose heart is hurting so badly. They've been raised with Christ, their lives have been lived for God and they're striving to please Him but they've suffered a blow that has hurt them so badly. And they wonder, where do I stand with God? What is the answer? Does He really still care because I'm hurting so badly, I've prayed to Him but it seems like the heavens are brass, I haven't been able to get my prayer through.


Romans 8:35 in the Living Bible tells us, "who then can ever keep Christ' love from us? When we have trouble or calamity, when we are hunted down or destroyed is it because He doesn't love us anymore? And if we are hungry or penniless or in danger or threatened with death, has God deserted us? No. For the scriptures tell us that He is with us. That overwhelming victory is still ours because He died for us." In 2 Corinthians 4:4, "we are pressed on every side by troubles but not crushed and broken." Could this be you this morning? Listen to this. "We are perplexed because we don't know why things happen as they do." Can I see the hands of those who are perplexed? There are a number of people that wonder why things happen as though they do. We are hunted down but God never abandons us. These bodies of ours are constantly facing death just as Jesus did so it's clear to all that it's only the Living Christ within who keeps us going. That is why we don't give up. Though our bodies are dying our inner strength is growing everyday.


Listen folks, because you've given yourself to the Lord, because you have His new life, because you've been risen with Christ doesn't mean we're in heaven yet. And it doesn't mean that it's all your fault if things go wrong in spite of what some people say. The Apostle Paul I believe knew God and lived close to God but he spoke of the times of when he was beaten and shipwrecked, the time when he was stoned. He suffered but he did it for the gospel's sake. If living for God meant that all troubles would just be completely gone people would be living for God not because of who God was but they would be doing it like they get food stamps. It would be an easy thing to get and it would be convenient and food stamps have served a real good purpose and this would serve a real good purpose. But one of these days it's going to happen when you get, "over there." But in this life instead of saying the rivers are going to all dry up for you when you come to them, the fires are all going to go out when you have to walk through them. Instead of that He said, "When you pass through the waters I will be with you, through the rivers they won't overflow you, when you walk through the fire you're not going to be burned because I am with you." Just as the Hebrew children went through the fire. God is still with us, Hallelujah. Praise God forever. But He has promised that there is a shelter that our spirits can hide in safely, even while the storms are going on around us and the conflict rages. I think of that verse in Isaiah 32:2 where he speaks of Jesus becoming a great rock in the weary areas and in the dessert and this great rock provides shelter in the time of storm. You can hide under His shadow. Then there are times when it seems like Job, I wonder if there's anybody here that has ever experienced the things that Job has experienced. Job really had it rough. He lost everything he had. He lost the members of his family. God let him get things in perspective and he said, "Though He slay me I'm going to trust Him." Then he said, "There is a path that the vultures eye has not seen, my spirit is walking down a path where the lions cannot roar against me, where the little nagging things in this life, the lion's whelps can't pester me. It's a place that's protected; it's a hidden path near to the heart of God. God said, "Aw, that's where I wanted to bring Job to, he wouldn't have found it otherwise. Now I'll heal all the boils and I'll restore him and Job had 10 times as much at the end as he had at the beginning. He didn't say it was all going to be easy but he said it was going to be right and He was going to be with us.


I'm reminded of that passage in Psalm 84:6 where David in talking about the burdens that people would have and the dry places of life. And I know that every person here has suffered real desert experiences. You've walked through some dry places. You've wondered if God was really there and if He cared. God has spoken to my heart, several people right here this morning He's given me your names, I'm not going to give them that have been troubled by this and you know who you are. You've felt like you've been completely encased outside of God's care and God's love. You've been in the valley of bitterness and sorrow. And in this beautiful verse of scripture he said that God has given us the right and the ability as we place our confidence in Him as we walk through the valley of sorrow and bitterness. That word Baca mean bitterness, sorrow, heartache and some of you this morning are walking through the valley of heartache. The reason it was called that, that's the place where they took Achan, a man that disobeyed God out and stoned him. And they put him in this valley and they called in the valley of Baca because it was the valley of sorrow. But he tells us today, when you are going into that valley of bitterness, of sorrow, and of heartache, your home is broken, your husband or your wife has told you they don't love you anymore, or your children have come home and they've been involved in deep pornography with magazines that have been handed to them, and of taking of drugs, or there's been a problem in the home, a daughter that is expecting a child out of wedlock or your son has been involved in burglary or some things that have just shocked you and they've hurt you. You wonder "how can I ever stand it?"


But he said because you have Him, because you have been raised with Him in the middle of that valley He causes an artesian well to spring up and you can still be refreshed, you can still find Him, you can still receive the help from Him, Hallelujah, you're not defeated yet because the well is there. Then I come to that beautiful verse of scripture Isaiah 35:6 that are God because of His care for us knows where your deserts are this morning and He said He provides streams in your desert. And the source of those streams is the heart of God, His love, His compassion, His care flowing to you. Streams in your desert. Hallelujah.


When I was thinking of these streams in the desert, God reminded me that those who except Him drink of Him, He said out of your innermost being shall flow rivers. And as I thought of these streams I could see God's children labeled God's streams and through your life flowing comfort and strength to some of the people that are hurting as you come to them, they can be refreshed by your life as you carry the water of life and the refreshing from God's heart to them. We can sometimes offer to them nothing but a mirage. We tell them what it is but we don't show it. That's the reason why these verses that I gave you are so important to clear out the old things and let that new river, that new life flow through, that when people come with that need of help and that need for life, we can offer it to them. Not a mirage but a real stream of life.


Then I think of the call of Christ where He said, "come unto Me all that are weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. You will find rest for your soul if you will come and learn about Me. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light and you will find rest for your souls." There may be some things we go through but His promise will never change. He said, "I will not alter one word that comes out of My mouth. I made a promise, I'll be with you, I'll help you, and I'll stand by you." Hallelujah. I'm going to ask at least 20 of our prayer workers to come and stand here right now. There are some people with real needs this morning.