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07/26/2009 Restoration Knox 16 PC

314/655/626 Psalm 85 Jeremiah 32:36-44 Luke 22:31-34

OOPS! A few years ago a man who was a deacon in his church was caught stealing tools from the factory where he worked. As a result he was fired. He had rationalized that taking something from a large corporation wasn't stealing. Deep down inside, however, he knew better, and he quickly "saw the light" after being confronted. He repented before the Lord, apologized by letter to his former employer, confessed his sin before the church, and resigned from his office as deacon, though he continued to attend church faithfully. About 2 years later, this man was asked if he would be willing to serve again as a deacon or to be a Sunday school teacher. But he said no.  
  UGH! The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He restores my soul. David was a man who had to have a lot of restoration.
When he'd come into idle times, he lusted after a married woman. After all, he was the king. And in the tradition of most nations in that one time he did what most kings would do. King David had an affair with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, the Hittite.  
  In the days before birth control, Bathsheba became pregnant by David. In order to cover up the mess, David ordered Uriah to come home and do his duty as a husband to his wife. But, Uriah was a righteous man. He would not permit himself this indulgence while the army were out in the battlefield. Therefore, David arranged to have Uriah, the Hittite, murdered.
This was a full breach of one of the 10 Commandments. You shall not murder. God is not happy. He gives his message to Nathan the Prophet. Nathan comes to David with a story about a rich man who had plenty of sheep and the poor man who had but one little lamb. The rich man was going to have a banquet for some of his friends. But, rather than take the sheep from his own abundant flock, he took the Lamb of the poor man to serve his friends. David pronounced the punishment that the man should be punished. And then comes those profound words from Nathan. You are the man.  
  Immediately, David was convicted of his crime. He threw himself on the mercy of the Good Shepherd. There were still consequences to pay but David was restored. This concept of restoration doesn't hold a very high place of honour in the real world of today. When people are caught in their crimes and punished, most people would say that you will never ever restore those people to any kind of position in society.
He is no good now. He was no good then. And he will be no good in the future. But this is not the story of the Scriptures.  
  AHA! He restores my soul rings throughout the whole of Scriptures. In the Psalms there is a sense of restoration brought forth on many occasions. Psalms 42 and 43 are indicative of this kind of restoration.
WHEE! God seems to have rejected his servant. The servant remembers how he used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. And he cries out, "Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God."  
  The Psalmist knows that with God there is restoration. It is only a matter of time when God will lift him back up again and restore him to the community of grace. He says further, by day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
The one who is exiled is feeling dejected. "I say to God my Rock, "why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning? Oppressed by the enemy? My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, "where is your God?"  
  He cries out to God. Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. The member of the Christian community is not a deceitful and wicked person, but is a person who from time to time falls from grace and gets caught in need of the Good Shepherd.
It is worth describing the image of the sheep here. When a sheep lays down on its side to sleep or rest in softer pastures, the sheep is putting himself in the place of compromise. How many Christians over the years have wanted to take a little bit of rest or to take the easy way out. To not quite live in communion with all of the commitment which they made to God, but now hold back on?  
  And as the sheep relax and nicely fall asleep and the feet roll a little this way and leave the ground, they are on their backs and they can't get up. If the shepherd doesn't come along and pick up the sheep and turn him upright and get his circulation going again, that sheep will die.
Shepherds are on the alert for this and they go seeking for those sheep who are lost to see if they are in this kind of the position of vulnerability. And when they find them they raise them up. This is what it means to be cast down.  
The sheep is considered to be cast when it is on its back and helpless. Who will restore me to a place of honour?  
  A member of a church board had fallen into sin. The pastor called together the other board members, and with love and compassion he told them the sad story. Then he asked them this questions: "If you had been tempted as our brother was, what would you have done?" The first man, confident of his ability to withstand temptation, said, "I'm sure I would never have given in to that sin." Several others made the same statement.
Finally, the minister addressed the question to the last member of the board, a man the others respected as being deeply spiritual. "Pastor," he answered, "I feel in my heart that if I had been tempted and tested as he was, I would probably have fallen even lower." There was silence. Then the pastor said, "You are the only one who can go with me to talk with our erring brother and try to restore him to fellowship."  
  Lets listen to stories of restoration. David writes in Psalm 51 from the perspective of remembering his great sin against God in the Bathsheba affair. "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you."
The most grievous sin which draws the penalty of hell for eternity, is the sin against the Holy Spirit. Here, great concern is expressed about not having the loss of the Holy Spirit. He turns rather to the giver of salvation and the Lord his God.  
  In Jeremiah, the prophet is talking about a city which is about to go off the rails and into exile. Yet, in the midst of all of this God says, "I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
The greatest restoration is the restoration of the nation of Israel. In that complete redemption that comes under Jesus Christ to redeem all the nation's. The two sheep folds will become as one. All who have fallen short of the glory will be brought into full restoration with the living God.  
  When we are forgiven all of our sins, we are forgiven our sins of the past, of the present, and of the future. In eternity there is no time. The thing we have to master is to recognise the need of restoration.
We have to cry out for help from God when we are flat on our back and we can't get up, like a sheep. Perhaps our wool has become clogged up with manure and ticks and other creatures that ravage the body and will eventually destroy it. It is time for the wool to be shorn off, cleaned up and farmed out and to have a fresh start.  
  Listen to the words of Jesus as spoken to Peter. "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Peter's reply? "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." Jesus answered. "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."
True to form, Peter letdown his master. But, what a glorious sight on the beach when Jesus Christ restorers Peter to be the leader of the church. Indeed, he did teach those when he had turned back. He restores my soul. This is the story from one end of the Scripture to the other. Redeemed, forgiven and restored.  
  Three men from California were driving to DC for the rally of Promise Keepers. On their way they passed a homeless man. They stopped and invited him to go with them. At first the man refused, saying that he wasn't worthy of standing with so many men to worship God. He explained that he had abandoned his family 16 years before in Alabama and hadn't been in touch with them since.
The men told him they had failures in their lives, too, and that the purpose of the rally was to confess and repent. So the man finally agreed to go. Shortly before they joined the throng on the mall in front of the Capitol, one of the men said they might be able to find a group from Alabama so their homeless friend could talk to someone from his home state. It didn't seem very likely that would happen, though, with a million men in attendance.  
  YEAH! When they got there, the first group they met was from Alabama. When the man told them what town he was from, they said somebody in their group was from there and they went to get him. They brought him over and he turned out to be the homeless man's own son! The two spent the day together and at the end of the time the man went home with his son to Alabama to be reconciled to the rest of his family.
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