Apr 3 2022 Signs that Your Soul Needs Restoration

So, we are going through Joel, and so far, the book has been discouraging! All about judgment, and what we have is the total collapse of Israel’s economy. The people turned away from their faith – but this is a transition point – these are some of the most encouraging verses from the prophets.

Back in December, I realized I had not talked much about the Minor Prophets – and I thought – they are so discouraging – we need encouragement – and Dave Brunelle suggested, sometimes we need judgment! Okay – so I found Joel, which is discouraging but it has its encouraging parts!

Joel 2:17

17 Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep. Let them say, "Spare your people, O LORD, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations.

They have had all this disaster and have become a laughingstock among the nations – and right before verse 18 where everything changes, there is a sudden shift – up to this point – it has all been about Israel’s sins and judgment – then there is this:

Why should it be said among the peoples, 'Where is their God?’” 18 Then the LORD became jealous for his land, and had pity on his people.

And it is God’s reputation that is at stake – they are saying He has abandoned them – is of no use – and has abandoned them. The problem is not with God – however, if we move into Joel’s context – his world – according to the worldview of the people at the time, the God of Israel has failed.

The way they understood thing – every nation had a god or gods. If you were from Egypt, you had your own gods. Israel had Yahweh – and the boundaries of the land belonged to ‘your god’

The first role is to lead the nation to military victory. When one nation lost to another, the reason they lost is because their god was weaker than the god of the other nation. At the time of Joel, Israel had suffered crushing defeats at the hand of their enemies.

The second role is to provide financially – and at this point, the locusts had come in and eaten their entire economy – and their ‘god’ could not even protect them from ‘bugs’ – but we know the problem was the people. What did Israel do that caused this? Joel never says! All the other prophets say why. But for us, it tells us – we have to ask the question – Why might God judge a nation? What would be the reasons for that? Thoughts? Sexual immorality – oppression of the poor, violence, racism, drugs and drunkenness – all of those things are more like symptoms of the real problem – results of the real problem.

In the Old Testament – every time God judges His people – there is one reason – His people have broken their covenant relationship with God. That is always the reason.

What does that mean? It is like infidelity or adultery in marriage. It breaks the marriage relationship.

We call these the Minor Prophets, because they are shorter, not because they are less important. The 12 prophets were on 1 scroll – 1 book with 12 chapters to be understood in light of one another.

Hosea – chapter 1 – starting in verse 2 or 3 – God explains the problem.

Hosea, God tells him – GO and marry a prostitute and have children with her – and every time she prostitutes herself, I want you to accept her back – because that is what Israel has done to me – and that is what my relationship to Israel has been all about – they have been unfaithful – committing spiritual idolatry and I am constantly welcoming them back and forgiving.

We have to look at the idolatry of God’s people. Are there forms of idolatry within the church today?

18 Then the LORD became jealous for his land, and had pity on his people.

There is a jealousy – a hot passion to protect and guard because they are mine. He had mercy/pity on His people. No matter how much they fail, He has mercy on us.

The land belongs to God. It did not belong to Israel. They were subjects – a theocracy – they had a king, God, and they were His subjects.

When we see this – we need to think – the Church belongs to God. We belong to God. This is about us = as we read this – not about them, out there – the judgment is on the people of God and the solution is with the people of God. We focus on those people out there, and God wants us to focus on these people in here – and this person here.

Then, somehow, we don’t know exactly – the people turn back…

19 In response to his people the LORD said: I am sending you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a mockery among the nations.

God begins to restore Israel. God restores what we have lost. It starts with a promise from God. I am sending you… This is what I am going to do… All revivals begin with a promise from God – not us. What we need is a promise from God. We need it for our own lives – a word from God, a promise – of what He wants to do.

Then He says:

20 I will remove the northern army far from you, and drive it into a parched and desolate land, its front into the eastern sea, and its rear into the western sea; its stench and foul smell will rise up. Surely he has done great things!

The next thing he does – He removes the judgment the plague is now gone. He gets rid of the enemy. We need to ask – what promise do we need and what enemy do we need removed?

What ‘locusts’ have crept into our lives – or into the church? And then God needs to remove those from us.

This is a process of restoring that covenantal relationship with God. For Israel, they broke it – for us, it has been restored in Christ, but we do things that ‘aren’t the greatest’ – and it disrupts that relationship.

21 Do not fear, O land, rejoice and be glad, For the LORD has done great things.

He talks to the LAND! The ground! Then to the beasts:

22 Do not fear, beasts of the field, For the pastures of the wilderness have turned green, For the tree has borne its fruit, The fig tree and the vine have yielded in full.

All of a sudden, this is all happening. And he is addressing these things in this way because he is addressing everything that has been affected by the locusts. This is all God’s work – that is what he is showing us. For ourselves, we are too concerned with human activity and what we need to do to restore the land.

The only thing Israel did – they returned. They turned back to God. That is really it! That is the beginning point of the process of restoration.

23 O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the LORD your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before. 24 The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

So, at the very beginning – Grain/Wine/Oil – the three staples – were all wiped out – and now they have it back in full.

We have oil at $100/barrel – what if, in the next year, it went up to $1,000! But then it would be like going down to $5/barrel!

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.

All of us can look and say – there are things that have been lost – years that have been taken away – years of relationship – because of whatever reason – years of income, peace, health – I will restore all of that to you!

26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. 27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,

(So, the question – where is their God, has been answered)

and that I, the LORD, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

God’s reputation is also fully restored in every way.

Now – the big question! This is really encouraging – everything restored… WHAT DO WE DO WITH THESE PROMISES? What do they mean for us?

Is this a guarantee that when you come to a financial point where you have to take all your retirement account out – does that guarantee that it will all be restored when you are 70? No.

What about relationships – we all have relationships that have been lost. Is this a guarantee that those relationships will become the fullest relationships and every aspect will be restored? No. That may happen, but that is not a guarantee.

But this is a guarantee – IF – we keep eternity in mind.

In eternity – ALL THINGS will be restored. In eternity.

But what we do now, we enter into that process of God restoring things. That process – we may not get near as far as we would like before we enter eternity – and we may get further than we ever could have thought – but we do begin the process now.

AND – in Christ, at least positionally and spiritually – we are now FULLY RESTORED. Once again, our experience of that restoration – we need to have eternity in view.

In Christ we have restoration – but on this earth, we have tribulation. But in Christ, we are restored.

In closing – Application time.

Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.

This is where restoration begins – in our souls – in our hearts in our relationship with Him. That must be our first focus. Sure, a lot of things may need to be restored, but our souls and hearts should be our first focus.

Signs that your soul needs to be restored –

First – when you find yourself doing Christian stuff, church stuff – to ignore the pain and emotions within you. When you fill your life up with Christian activity – to not go to a place to deal and address those areas, you need a soul restoration.

Second – when you use the truth to JUDGE people rather than to set them free! Jesus said you shall know my truth and it shall set you free. Do people leave your truth by saying – I am free?

Jesus continually addressed people whose truth was not freeing.

Third – when we find ourselves doing for God rather than being WITH God.

When I first became a Christian – there was an attitude of What can you do for God? But we have to first ask – what can I do to be WITH God.

We had the grandkids this weekend – I took them to DO stuff – climbing wall, bowling… I did not do Climbing wall with them, or I would no longer be with them.

Cindy made food, and slime, and played games to be WITH them – that is what matters.

It is the same in our relationship with God – we do stuff for Him – but first, we need to be WITH Him.

Fourth – we know we need our souls restored if we refuse to live with margins. If our lives are always being pushed to the edge – having no margins, whether in work, or relationships, or recreation – if we have no space for things like Quiet, Aloneness, and Thought – then our souls need to be restored.

Three quick practices to help you do it –

First – the practice of cross examination – Not like in a courtroom – but THE CROSS – search me and know my heart – it is a guilt-free, forgiveness filled examination of my heart. When I think of search me and know my heart – it fills me with dread – but when I understand there is no condemnation …

The practice of capturing Divine Moments. My daughter-in-law is really good at this on Instagram – They have a dog – Cincy – and the baby was trying to grab the tail and stick it in her mouth – and as a grandparent – I get to participate in that and see it.

And God puts these sacred pauses in our lives – STOPPING – throughout the day – to look and see where God was through the day – taking a mental picture of it.

Third – we need to practice entering into the WORLD of Scripture – not just READING scripture, but entering into its world. Scripture is not Alexa! We don’t go to Scripture like Alexa –

There are answers to all kinds of things – but its purpose is for us to enter into it.

As we read Joel, where do we find ourselves in this story? Where are we in the restoration process? What locusts are eating away that we need God to eliminate from our own lives.

God wants us to enter in and become a part of that.

We join into this great story of the Bible – even though it happened a long time ago, the journey continues and we enter into it.

O LORD God of hosts, restore us; Cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved. (Psalm 80:19 NASB)

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