Speaker: John Love
Date: 2024-03-03
Sermon# 12677
Time: Sun 6:30 pm

 

P. Love –

Good evening everyone. Clearly, based on our attendance tonight, quite a few people are on their way to
Eurocon! The rest of us that could not afford a plane ticket are here! I’m just kidding. God has
ordained it that we should be here. Amen? Amen. Amen.
So, just want to recognize P. Duke’s here from York, Pennsylvania. Thanks, P. Duke. P. Carl is
here from Wilmington, Delaware. Great to have you. And I don’t know how many of you
noticed it, but P. Steve Paragello is back from Cambodia and Thailand, East Asia. Good to have
him back. Amen.

And I’m going to start off and tell you a humorous story, okay. I think you’ll find it humorous. If
you’ve already heard it, I apologize. So, this is what happened. A gentlemen out in the west
coast lives near the water and one day he decides he’s going to take a walk. Beautiful day.
Beautiful day. He’s taking a walk out on a pier and there’s benches along the sides of the pier
and he walks out and notices an older woman. Very attractive woman. She’s just sitting there.
He thought well he took his walk up and down the pier and he said I think I’ll just sit down and
take a rest. I’ll sit right beside her. She didn’t mind.

So, he sat down. They were just talking for a couple moments and all of a sudden she sneezed
and out pops her glass eye. Now listen, this gentlemen is very quick. He catches it. Catches her
glass eye. Now, she is both thankful and humiliated at the same time, as he hands her her eye
back. She says I just can’t believe that happened. I just don’t know what to say. I feel terrible.
No, not a problem. Really.

She says please. How can I say thank you to you? Not necessary. Please, let me take you out to
dinner at a nice restaurant. It’s not necessary. She said I insist. He said, fine. Okay. They met
and she brought him out to a nice restaurant. They had a wonderful time together. Beautiful
meal. She paid for everything. And they had conversation that continued into the evening.
Finally, he said listen. Do you treat all the mean you know with this kind of kindness. She said,
no. But you caught my eye! Which he did! He really did!

Turn to Psalm 42. I’m glad that you liked that cause what I have to say is really going to hit you
hard! I’m just kidding you. Psalm 42. Tonight, we’ll talk about how our God restores our soul. And
if you have been walking with Christ for any length of time, you know how God restores your
soul simply because we needed it. Amen. And there is nothing wrong with admitting from time
to time that your soul needs to be restored.

David said something very interesting and if it happened to someone like David, it can happen
to us. Psalm 42:5 listen to what he says. Vs. 6, 11. (Prayer). So, Psalm 23 perhaps one of the greatest
psalms ever written. In the middle of that psalm, vs. 3, David said one of the many things that

his Shepherd did for him – God – and the many things God does for us; one in particular he
emphasizes and it’s this: “he restores my soul.”

What does it mean to have something restored? The basic idea behind that language is that it
brings something back or someone back in our case, in David’s case. Think about the
restoration of a building. Have you ever seen a building that’s been restored or a work of art
that looked like it was going to be lost but then somehow through the work of people who have
those abilities and qualities, they restored that piece of artwork.

Well, we find right in the middle of Psalm 23 God saying that he has the ability to restore our souls.
I’m glad. For one, I’m thankful that he says that because there have been a number of times,
perhaps too many to even think about or mention, in the course of my life that I have needed
to be restored. To kind of be brought back to the previous place where I once was. I’m so glad
that we find that verse in Psalm 23.

And I’m so glad that David says what he says here in Psalm 42. Why? Because we all have a
tendency to break down in life, right? I mean over time, it’s quite possible for a believer who
was once shining brightly for the Lord to kind of lose his or her luster. Time will do that.
Difficulties can take their toll upon our lives. Sometimes the challenges can get a little bit
overwhelming, and what happened to the psalmist can happen to us.

British shepherds actually have a name for their sheep in some instances and it’s called a cast
down sheep. I asked Sebastian if he would put a picture up of a cast down sheep. That’s a fact.
This is a reality that shepherds are well aware of and they understand. And if you and I would
be honest tonight, we would say yes I have been there, right? It looks like our lives have been
turned upside down where all we can do is kind of like we’re left flailing our legs and our feet
and our hands and we don’t know what to do and how about this? We’re stuck there. We’re
stuck there. That is literally what they call a cast down sheep.

Now, how does it happen? Sometimes a heavy or an overweight sheep will lie down in a little
hollow or little depression in the field and just kind of get comfortable in that piece of ground,
and then when it’s time to get up it tries to turn itself upright. It struggles, and as it struggles,
things only get worse until the point that that happens. It’s true. It’s legs are flailing. There are
gases that build up in the rumen of the sheep. The blood drains away from its extremities, and
now on top of being in that situation – and by the way, they cannot right themselves. They
cannot right themselves.

Have you and I ever been in a place in our lives where we just say God there isn’t a single thing I
can do to turn things around right now in my life. It’s completely upside down. I have
completely lost sight of even what you are capable of doing. I just simply need one thing, Lord. I
need to be rescued. And that’s what our Shepherd does for us. He comes and he rescues us.

There is a saying among shepherds. They say that a cast down sheep is a dead sheep. Why?
Because also in this situation, they are so vulnerable to attack, right? Wild animals can come
and in this condition, there’s not a thing they can do. Let alone the fact that sheep can’t do
much to defend themselves in the first place. Even if they were upright, even if they could stand
on all four feet, even in that condition they’re vulnerable. But in this condition, even more so.
Our world sometimes can turn us upside down.

We can at times literally I know that it’s happened to me and chance it’s probably happened to you if you’re honest, and you could say I couldn’t right myself. I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t know what I was going to do when
the next opportunity to make a decision had come into my life.
When we’re in the trenches of life, you know who we need? We need Christ. Amen. We need
our Shepherd. Our Good Shepherd. You know what he does for these kinds of sheep? They look
for them. Whenever they realize there’s a sheep that’s not been counted for, they come
looking for sheep like this. And what they do is they kind of put their arms down underneath
them and they pick them up and they get them right and some shepherds will just start to rub
their legs and get the blood flowing once again and make sure that they are all right. If left
alone – think about it for a sheep – if left alone long enough, it can simply die that way.
Imagine.

Well, the Hebrew word for “restore” in Psalm 23 and what David was referring to here in Psalm
42, it means God is ready to do for us what a shepherd does for his sheep. Restore to vitality.
Restore to bigger. Restore to strength once again. That’s what God promises to do for us.
And in the Old Testament, he is simply called our Shepherd. In the New Testament, Jesus
proclaimed himself to be the Good Shepherd. And in the book of Hebrews, the Bible tells us
that Jesus is referred to as the Great Shepherd of the sheep. He sees you in your worse
condition.
And by the way, it is so important for us to note that it doesn’t matter how you got there. It
doesn’t matter. It could have been terrible failure. It could have been willful sin. It could have
been the mistake that you made and you just kind of passed it off and didn’t think about
confessing it. It doesn’t even matter how you got there. What matters is you have a Shepherd
who’s on his way to rescue you. That’s all that really matters.

Because God is always looking for his downcast sheep. Listen to what Ezekiel 34:11 says. Isn’t
that amazing? God says he doesn’t even delegate that responsibility to angelic beings. He
doesn’t even delegate that responsibility to other people. He says I will do it myself. I will find
them. Oh certainly he will use other people. He will use pastors and teachers and leaders in the
church. He will even use Spirit-filled people who are around us. We think of the words Paul wrote to the Galatians, Galations  6:1. It says if you know someone or if you yourself have taken a
false step that we should go with a ministry of restoration to others who have taken that false
step and we should restore them.

You know, I think the greatest sign of spirituality in a person’s life is how quickly we can get to a
person who has stumbled, who has fallen, who has made a false step and get them back on
their feet. That’s what spiritually minded people do. And that’s what Paul wrote to the
Galatians in chapter 6:1. You who are spiritual, you find someone who has been overtaken in a
fault and you do everything you can possibly do to get them back on their feet. To take them
from that awful position that we saw in that picture of that sheep and make sure they get back
on their feet. And tell them that this could happen to you even as you are in the process of
restoring them. The Bible says we should always do it with meekness considering ourselves lest
we find ourselves in a similar position as they are in some point in the future.

You know, the final verse of Psalm 119 and I don’t know that there is a greater chapter. I know
that there’s not a longer chapter written in the Bible. But I also know that there might not be a
greater chapter in all of the Bible than Psalm 119. It’s the longest chapter for sure.
But you know what it says? You know what the last verse of Ps. 119 says? Listen to this. “I have
gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant O Lord. I do not forget your thoughts to me.”
Isn’t that amazing?

That’s the last verse of Ps. 119. And that psalm is filled with amazing
promises that we oftentimes quote. One of them P. Schaller has preached about recently, Ps.
119:25. Where it says our souls cleave to the dust, and the only way that we can counter this
cleaving of our souls to the dust is by being quickened by the Word of God. And knowing that
we have a Shepherd.

If we find ourselves in a situation like that sheep, he’s going to come and seek us out. He’s
going to come and find us. He’s going to come and in compassion, restore us back to what we
once were. Think of how often in the Bible when Jesus met people, think about how
compassionate he was. Think about how much he cared. When he saw people who were
maimed or crippled, he was moved with compassion to do something about it. He would even
look at the multitudes.

And sometimes in my mind I think that Jesus looked at all the multitudes. People standing like
this. And he would see them like sheep turned upside down. That’s probably how he saw them.
Knowing how capable they are of being lost. How capable they are of going astray.
I’ll never forget and I shared this recently with our Bible college class. When my wife and I
celebrated our 25 th wedding anniversary, we went to Ireland. And you know, she begged me we
got to go to Ireland. And of course I’m Irish. My both sets of grandparents are from Ireland. I
never really had a great desire to go, but she said we’ve got to go. And it seemed like everywhere we went whether it was a restaurant they did a lot of drinking, the Irish! ‘

They seemed to like their alcohol. Now granted, it was a time, they’re at a time when the World Cup
is going on and Ireland qualified for the World Cup and the won one game. And I think they
drank the country dry after winning that one game, cuz everywhere we went, I felt like I saw
drunk people. Everywhere! At one point I said Lord, I’d just like to talk to one sober individual in
the country.

In any case, there was a lot of drinking going on there. Anyhow, we had an opportunity to get in
a car and we drove around what they call the Ring of Kerry. I don’t know how many miles long it
is, but it’s a beautiful pathway and you go through the meadows and you go up into the
mountains.

And at one point we’re on top of one of the mountains and I look over to my left and I see a
sheep with its head stuck in a bush. And I looked and I stopped the car. I pulled over and I said,
Maureen, look! Look! She said, what? I said, look at that sheep? She said, what? What about it?
That’s us! That’s what we do. We can get lost in a bush. We can walk to the edge of the cliff and
step right off of it. We have the propensity in our souls to just wander away from the God who
loves us, died for us, forgave us all of our sins, and will do anything he is available to do for us.
And we would walk away from him because of this nature, this sinful nature that we have.

I find it fascinating in Psalm 119 with all those amazing promises, the last one says God I have gone
astray like a lost sheep. Can you seek me? And even the Apostle Paul when he wrote to the
Corinthians, 2 Cor. 7:6, he said our God who comforts those who are cast down. He finds us. He
seeks us out. He is not going to leave us in that condition. He will not show up and say look I
told you this was going to happen. I warned you the last time this happened not to do it again,
but you seem so foolish and so bent on your destructive ways that it’s just happening again and
at some point you know you’re going to cross the line. Praise God there are no lines that God
says don’t cross. He knows better but he’s always going to be there to pick us up, put us back
on our feet, and get us moving in the right direction again.

It’s because of who he is. Again, I want to reiterate. It doesn’t matter how you have become cast down. What really
matters is that you have a Shepherd who is ready to seek you out and get you back on your feet
and get you moving again. Because if we don’t have him to restore us, we could end up crying
out. And we have just like David and he said I’m cast down. I’m like one of the sheep. David
probably knew first-hand what that looked like because he himself was a shepherd. He had
witnessed it first hand, so he knew what a cast down sheep was. And here he is finding himself
in that same condition spiritually and what did he say? Hope thou in God.

Think about what it’s like to have no hope. So many people they might caught in the thickets of
failing health. It might be a broken heart, an empty wallet. They could be in a hospital room. It
could have been a divorce. It could be any number of things. But there’s something unusual for people in those conditions. They lose hope. And for all too many people in our culture today,
hope is in real short supply.

But we know the Bible refers to our Shepherd as the God of all hope. He finds a way to restore
our souls with just that, hope. And by the way, hopelessness is kind of like an odd bag. It’s a
burden, but it’s unlike other burdens. For instance, you know anxiety if you look in the bag of
anxiety, it might be filled and you carry it around and it’s a heavy load. If it’s fear, it might be a
bag that’s filled with all kinds of fears and it’s to big a burden to carry.

But homelessness is different in the sense that it’s empty. There’s nothing there. And I’ll tell
you I think it’s safe to say that as believers that’s the one thing that we cannot afford to lose.
Because in life – you know this – we’re going to lose a lot of things. We’re going to lose our
money. Perhaps eventually and I know it’s terrible to say it to think this way, but we might lose
our health. That could potentially happen. Right? We’re going to lose our hair. We’re probably
going to lose our minds at some point along the way. You start to lose everything. It’s the
nature of what it’s like to continue on in life in this temporal existence.

But the one thing we cannot afford to lose is hope. And we need it restored from time to time.
And what do you think that we would need to kind of reenergize our journey? I think there’s
three things. #1. When you’re at the end of the hope supply within your soul, the first thing you
need is a person. You’ve got to have a person, but not just anyone.

You certainly don’t want to look for a person who is just as hopeless as you might be. You don’t
want to find a person who is just as confused as you are. You don’t want to find a person who
says my life is falling apart and they go that’s amazing because mine is too. You’re not going to
find a lot of hope with that person. You’ve got to find the right person. A person who says hey, I
understand your hopeless condition, but I got great news for you. What’s that? I know that
there’s a way out of it. I can take you there. So, the first think you need is a person.

The second thing you need is some sense of vision. Someone who has vision. Someone who has
the capacity to life your spirits. Someone who can say listen, this is not the end. You might think
it is. You might feel like that downcast sheep. You might feel that nobody is coming to rescue
you. You might think that your days are now numbered and there’s only a few of them left. But
I’m telling you, this isn’t the end. Don’t give up. There’s a better place than this and I’m going to
help you get there.

So, you need a person. You need vision. Finally, you need direction. If you have someone who
has direction and you have someone that has a vision, then you’ve got someone who can lead
you to the right place. Someone who can restore your hope. Someone who can help to restore
your soul. And thank God our Savior Jesus he majors in restoring hope to our souls.

You say, how’s he going to do it? Is he going to lead me out? Listen, to be honest with you, it’s
even quite possible that you might not even leave your present situation. It’s just that someone
namely Jesus comes and restores your hope and then you find yourself changed even in the
situation that you have not been taken out of or removed from but in it God finds a way to
reenergize your soul and to give you that vigor and to give you that vitality and to renew your
strength and it all comes because you’re determined that you’re going to patiently wait for the
Great Shepherd to show up. And he always does. He can do it. He can restore your soul. He’s
got the right vision. He’s going to remind us.

Maybe one of the things he’ll remind us of and I love what this verse says in Colossians 3:2 in Eugene
Peterson’s version of the Bible called “The Message.” Listen to what he says. He says, “Don’t
shuffle along. Eyes to the ground. Absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up. Be
alert to what is going on around Christ. See things from his perspective.”

I think this is the way that God fills our hearts and restores us with hope. He says you’ve got to
start thinking with me even if it begins with one small thought. Maybe the thought that says I
am with you. Or the thought that says I am for you. Or the thought that says I will always be
with you until the end of the age. Maybe you just start with that thought and you go to the next
thought which is no matter what comes against you, I am greater than what it is. No matter
how deep that pit is, God’s love for you is deeper still. No matter how long you have been in
that condition whether it’s heartache or brokenness or depression or despair, God says hey, it’s
what I do. It’s what I’ve always done for the ones that I die for. I come. I rescue them. I take
them in their downcast condition and I put them upright and we get walking by faith once
again.

And again, it’s not that we deserve it. He knows that. He knows that he comes to us and finds
us by his grace. It’s not like God owes us anything. In fact, you think about it. Sometimes we
might say to God it makes sense that you just leave me in that condition. Let me be over with.
God says, no, no, no. I can’t afford to do that. I paid much too high a price to redeem your life.
And I’m going to find a way to have my purpose fulfilled through your life.

Listen. You could be in a condition and here tonight or listening live online and you could be
saying I am in a place where there is hopelessness. I got news for you. Someone is available to
help you. Someone who has vision for your life. Someone who has direction and he’s going to
come and he’s going to make a difference in your life.

When you find yourself lost in the land of hopelessness, remember. I think Jesus made the
boldest statement ever made when he said these words in John 14:6. He said, “I am the way.”
We so often, what do we do in our hopelessness? We’re looking for a way out. And Jesus comes
and he says, listen. I am the way. That’s vision. That’s direction. He’s made a path for each one
of us to walk in. Most of all, he’s the right person to take us there.

I love the story of someone who is on an African Safari. They’re out in the jungle. It was the first
time they had ever done it. They are out in the middle of the jungle and they are walking
through just a canopy of bushes and shrubs and trees. There’s a guide and he’s kind of hacking
his way through it with a machete. But now the journey has gone on for a couple of hours. The
heat is intense, and finally the traveler who is so worn out and so weary and so frustrated, he
said to the person who was leading, where are we? Do you even know where you are taking
me? He finally just kid of yelled out, hey! Where is the path? And the seasoned guide looked
back at him and he said, I am the path. I’m the path.

Isn’t that just like Jesus? When looking for a way out, when we’re looking to him when our
world is turned upside down; when we’ve been cast down, when the circumstances seem
almost against us and to such a great extend that we’ve reached that point of hopelessness;
what does he say? I am your guide. I am the path. I am the way. When we feel like that man
walking through that jungle did. And by the way, lots of people refer to this world as a jungle,
right? We hear it all the time. It’s a jungle out there. Well, don’t we need the right kind of guide
to get us through this jungle-like experience? Don’t we need somebody?

And by the way, Jesus knows not only how to get us on that path where hope can be restored
and our souls can be restored, but think about it. Not only can he do that, but he’s walked this
path. He’s been here. He knows what it’s like to be in a human body and to have the human
nature. No, he did not have an old sin nature. And no, he never sinned. But he knows what it’s
like to be rejected. He knows what it’s like to be misunderstood. He knows what it’s like to be
hated. He knows what it’s like to be human. So not only does he say I know the path but I am
the path and on top of that I have walked this path before you.

Think about it. Think about how greatly he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane before he
was arrested and taken to Calvary. That was God’s way of saying when you go through your
Gethsemane, know this. I have been through mine, and I will be able to guide you through
yours. And there isn’t anything that you will go through – we have not a high priest who cannot
be touched with the feeling of our infirmities but was in all points tested like as we are.

And then of course it says yet without sin. I’ve had people say to me, oh if only Jesus could
identify with me in my sin. He did! On the cross. He became sin for us. We think oh if he’d just
experience that sin and the pain of it and the suffering. He did. He never sinned but because he
never sinned, he became a substitute for sinners and there on Calvary bore the brunt of all of
our sins, failures, mistakes and everything evil that we could ever do. Yes, he knows.

So, from the cradle to the grave, he said I can guide you. And when you find yourself cast down,
I’ll put you upright. I’ll restore your soul. Does that mean God is going to remove the jungle that
we live in? No. No, he won’t do that. Does it mean he’ll take care of all the predators that

potentially could cause harm along the way? No, he won’t do that. He doesn’t promise that. He
doesn’t give us hope by changing the jungle. He restores hope by giving us himself. That’s all we
need.

And I think we have all learned that, and if we haven’t learned it, I think we will. We just need
him. He is enough. If we get other things that he adds to our lives, praise God. But what we
need more than anything or anyone is a Shepherd who will come and find us and restore our
souls. And when he comes and sees us in our cast down position, he like no one else will get us
back on our feet. He’ll get us moving again. Because like he said about himself, he said I am the
way. We may be looking for a way but God says then just look to me because I am the way. I’m
the truth and I’m the life and I’m everything you need.

I’m your shepherd. David would call him that by saying the Lord is shepherding me. I’m the
Good Shepherd and I declared that in John 10. And I’m the Great Shepherd of the sheep. I think
the greatest thing you and I have going for us as sheep is that we have a Shepherd and with him
we have everything we need. Amen. Amen. Would you pray with me. (Prayer)

 

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