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Sermon 11-22-09
Psalm 23:3 - He Restores Me

Audio Sermon

He Restores Me

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:2)

Over the last two weeks, we have looked at Psalm 23, Verses 1 and 2, reflecting on the emphasis in those verses that, “The Lord is my shepherd” and “He leads me.” We’ll now take a look at Verse 3, finding that all of Psalm 23 contains important information. We are like sheep in the sight of God, which is to say we are not as bright and strong as we might want to be or think we are. Considering our condition, a logical next step is to become concerned and then seek outside help from the only One who can truly provide what is needed. We need our Shepherd, we need protection, we need guidance – we need the Lord.

It might seem to you that you don’t need help. You think you can be the captain, the shepherd, and decide your own fate. But there comes that time when you know your need. You might be comfortable, at ease, healthy, wealthy and seemingly wise, but something happens. Some key element leaves your life. You might lose your health. It might be a person so dear that you never thought they would ever be gone. But they are. You did not appreciate your need of them until after they walked away, pushed you aside, or left this world altogether.

There have been many verses through the years that have touched my heart in a personal way. One of them is Psalm 27:10 – “When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.” We do not need to live in fear, for even though it is apparent that every one of us will ultimately lose what this world offers, yet the Lord is our Shepherd and He very personally is leading you right this minute. In the losses of this world, we can become depressed to the point where we despair even of life. Often at that point, we become able to discover the tender hand of our Great Shepherd who “restores (our) soul,” just as it says in our verse for today.

The “soul” is a part of us that is not physical and yet it does not seem to be the same as the “spirit” of a human being. It is non-physical as the spirit is, but also somehow separate in a manner that is deeper than our ability to understand. Hebrews 4:12 mentions the “word of God,” describing it as “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit…” Both parts are non-physical, but appear to not be quite the same. Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:25, prayed that our “whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Whatever this “soul” of ours is all about, the Lord Himself can and will cause it (and us) to be “blameless” in the sight of God.

In the Hebrew of our Scripture, the word “soul” refers to the breath, the animation, the desire of a person, which is our mind, will and emotions. The spirit, on the other hand, is more like the deep part that meets God and can accept Him. In John 4:24, we find Jesus’ words – “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” There is something like a “throne” in the center of our being. We must abdicate, we must be dethroned, and let God Himself direct our lives. This “soul” of ours needs to be restored to God’s original intention for us.

Charles Swindoll spoke about how God “restores” us in “The Quest For Character,” Page 49: “A few years ago, an angry man rushed through the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam until he reached Rembrandt's famous painting ‘Nightwatch.’ Then he took out a knife and slashed it repeatedly before he could be stopped. A short time later, a distraught, hostile man slipped into St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome with a hammer and began to smash Michelangelo's beautiful sculpture The Pieta. Two cherished works of art were severely damaged. But what did officials do? Throw them out and forget about them? Absolutely not! Using the best experts, who worked with the utmost care and precision, they made every effort to restore the treasures.”

Swindoll continued, “By His sovereign grace, God can bring good out of our failures, and even out of our sins. J. Stuart Holden tells of an old Scottish mansion close to where he had his little summer home. The walls of one room were filled with sketches made by distinguished artists. The practice began after a pitcher of soda water was accidentally spilled on a freshly decorated wall and left an unsightly stain. At the time, a noted artist, Lord Landseer, was a guest in the house. One day when the family went out to the moors, he stayed behind. With a few masterful strokes of a piece of charcoal, that ugly spot became the outline of a beautiful waterfall, bordered by trees and wildlife. He turned that disfigured wall into one of his most successful depictions of Highland life.”

Our Lord died for this very purpose, that we might be restored. He “worked with the utmost care and precision,” making “every effort to restore” you and me. In John 3:3, Jesus referred to our need by saying, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Something deep inside us needs to be restored to what it was always meant to be. Only He can do it. As it was said about Him, hundreds of years before He was born into humanity, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Louis Armstrong was a jazz trumpeter and singer who was a popular American performer from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. Among his many songs that enraptured a generation was, “It’s a Wonderful World.” He didn’t write it, but he did make it famous. Here are some of the lyrics:

"I see trees of green, red roses too; I see them bloom for me and you, and I think to myself, 'What a wonderful world!' I see skies of blue and clouds of white, the bright blessed day, the dark sacred night, and I think to myself, 'What a wonderful world!' The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky are also on the faces of people going by. I see friends shaking hands saying 'How do you do.' They really say, 'I love you!' I hear babies crying, I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than I'll ever know, and I think to myself, 'What a wonderful world!' Yes, I think to myself, 'What a wonderful world!'"

We hear beautiful music or see a wonderful sunset and think for an instant, “What a wonderful world.” And yet, the much greater news is that “the Lord is my Shepherd,” and “He leads me.” Many are afraid that the Lord will lead them into some foreign mission field, and sometimes He does. But what He really does is “lead me in the paths of righteousness” as it is in Psalm 23:3. He changes us for the good inside. We may have tried to be clever, but He gives us innocence. Our lives were damaged and He restores our soul. And since many feel undeserving of all this, the reason why we can depend on His help in delivering us is about His character: He does it “for His name’s sake,” which is the conclusion of our verse for today.

Some feel that they don’t need to be restored. Others feel, way down deep inside, that they don’t deserve it. So take comfort that yes, the Lord loved you enough to die for you, and yet His reason is even greater than your need. It’s about His Name. He is so holy that we are awestruck by Who He is. His Name is pure - He is pure. He is honest and He is true. When it says, “He leads me,” we can TRUST that the words are truth. He IS "the truth" (John 14:6).

Great Shepherd, I long for You. I long for the “green pastures” of God. I am Yours, Lord. Please restore me, lead me and protect me. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"
(Romans 5:8)

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