SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 2010/07/18: "Finding the Lord's Joy In Tough Times"

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Finding the Lord’s Joy in Tough Times


          This year I got my tomato plants in on May 12th. It’s always a struggle getting the plants early enough to make a good harvest, and late enough to escape any early Spring killing-frosts. I hit it just right this year. There were no more deadly frosts after May 12th.

          In March I began constructing a long rectangular box to elevate my tomato plants. I filled the box with good quality topsoil. Before I added the topsoil, I laid down a heavy landscaping fabric that blocks out tree roots and weeds. The soil is rich in organic material and an ideal plant food. As I planted each plant I laid down a pool of miracle grow plant food, and carefully placed a thin bamboo stake next to them.

          After this it was up to God and the weather. My tomatoes are waist high, and I have already added a heavier stake. I have used strips of an old stretchy T-shirt to tie the stalks loosely to the stakes.

          The last thing I have done is to begin pinching the runners on the plants after two weeks in the ground. A runner usually grows at the top of the plant. Since tomatoes are a vine-type plant, you have to prune the runners so that the energy of the plant can go into fruit production. A runner is a single leaf followed by two leaves behind it. Pinch/prune it with your fingernail to do the job. If left unchecked the runners will function like suckers, siphoning off the energy of the plant.

          I feed the plants the “Miracle Grow” solution twice a week. Pour the liquid over the leaves from the top and let it drip down. Then pour the liquid around the base. Don’t let the plants get dehydrated. If they look saggy or wilty, water them good.

          I’m looking forward to bushels of sweet vine-ripened tomatoes. One of my volunteers has followed my garden project with interest. He is a young man that grew up without a father to teach him fun things like this. Today he asked for a few of my bamboo tomato stakes to practice these garden tips in his own garden. These are lessons that will last a lifetime.

          What if, after all this work, there were no tomato blossoms and no fruit? That’s where the prophet proposes in today’s text. It challenges us to keep our eyes on Jesus, who is the author of this incredible life that proliferates all around us.


Pastor Phil   <><<

July 18, 2010 - Sheepfold Ministries

Pastor Phil Roland

Finding the Lord’s Joy in Tough Times


HABAKKUK 3:17-19

"Can you find the Lord’s Joy in difficult times? Does the morning news decide your level of peace or joy? God’s the same all the time." pastor Phil


“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10b


The Prophet uses three strong Scenes to help us get Perspective:


   “Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines;”

        A. Blossoms and forming Grapes mean fruit is coming

                        1. Anticipation and Hope for abundance

                        2. Good times /Good things are on the way

            B. What do you want in your future?

                        1. The Idealism of your Youth

                        2. Every person has a dream

            C. The Prophet says there are no signs of fruit

                        1. Have you asked God for a tiny blossom or grape?

                        2. Felt the despair of laboring w/o reward?

                        3. Emptiness. . .Frustration. . .

            D. The Prophet urges us to Hold onto the Lord’s Joy – v. 18

                “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

                        1. Feel you have no Future?

                        2. Hold on to God, He’s holding on to you

                        3. Joy is slippery when your circumstances are negative

                        4. Hold on to “All Things” – Romans 8:28

                          “And we know that all things work together for good to those who

                            love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”



   “Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food;”

         A. You have trusted in things that have let you down

                        1. Materialism has produced emptiness – Haggai 1:6

                          "You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have

                            enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe

                            yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns

                            wages to put into a bag with holes."     

                        2. Worldly Position and Power are nothing

                                    a. The Great Babylon’s of yesterday are today’s ruins

                                    b. Can you remember yesterday’s heroes?               




Finding the Lord’s Joy in Tough Times, cont., p.2


            B. The Olive crop has failed / the fields produce no food

                        1. Hard work and labor have come to nothing

                        2. Laid off after decades of faithful service

                        3. Marriage/Relationship ends through no fault of your own

                        4. Invested money into the stock market that failed

            C. You feel God has pulled the rug out from under you

                        1. Left with a face-full of tears and a bitter heart    

                        2. Cynical about the future

            D. The Prophet WILLS himself into the Lord’s Joy – v. 18        

                “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

                        1. Faith is acting as though God is present

                        2. Faith is believing even when you feel He isn’t present

                        3. Cannot please God w/o faith – Hebrews 11:6

                           “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who

                             comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder

                             of those who diligently seek Him.”

                        4. We rejoice in the Lord’s Joy in spite of our circumstances



“Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls;”

         A. “Provision” is your Hope for a Cushion on a rainy day

                        1. Wealth was measured in herds and flocks

                        2. The more animals you owned, the more wealthy you were

                        3. They represented year-round provision

                        4. They were the ancient man’s “money in the bank”

            B. Yet the Prophet speaks of Lack

                        1. No sheep in the pen

                        2. No cattle in the stalls

                        3. There were no reserves, no cushion to fall back on

            C. Exactly describes today’s bleak economic picture

                        1. No Money in the bank

                        2. No Equity in the house

                        3. Credit Cards are maxed out

                        4. Zero Financial Reserves

                        5. Tapped out

            D. Where do you go when you’re running on empty? V. 18

                “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

                        1. The Prophet declares his faith with Job – Job 13:15

                            “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

                        2. Faith is “Forsaking All I Trust Him”

                        3. David put it this way in Psalm 20:7

                           “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will

                             remember the name of the LORD our God.”

                        4. Your Extremity is God’s Opportunity

            E. Lean on God, He’s there for you – “Leaning on the Everlasting                                  Arms”

Finding the Lord’s Joy in Tough Times, cont., p.3


IV. DELARING WHAT YOU KNOW TO BE TRUE – v. 19                              

     “The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He

       will make me walk on my high hills.”

         A. God is the Strength of our Life – Psalm 27:1

               “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is

                 the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”

                        1. MONEY – Is your strength in money?

                                    a. Will money make you feel safe in your bed at night?

                                    b. Will a big paycheck cause you to feel secure?

                        2. Worldly Position or Worldly Power?

            B. God will give you the feet of a mountain deer

                        1. You will be able to climb above your circumstances

                        2. You will be able to leap over your enemies

                                    a. Enemies like Poverty

                                    b. Enemies like Fear of Lack

                                    c. Enemies like Depravation

                                    d. Enemies like Death and Disease

            C. Listen for the Shepherd’s Voice and Follow Him – Psalm 18:33

               “He makes my feet like hinds' feet, and sets me upon my high places.”

                        1. His Voice has a distinctive quality – John 10:27

                          "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

                        2. Do you know Him? Have your heard His Voice?

                        3. You will need to know him in the days ahead






Finding the Lord’s Joy in Tough Times, Text:



Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls;

18  Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19  The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.