The Song of Recovery

Bible Book: Psalms  23 : 3
Subject: Renewal; Restoration; Revival
Series: Song of the Soul
Introduction

Robert Robinson, author of the hymn, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," also lost the happy communion with the Savior he had once enjoyed, for in his declining years he wandered into the byways of sin. As a result, he became deeply troubled in spirit. Hoping to relieve his mind, he decided to travel. In the course of his journeys, he became acquainted with a young woman who was a Christian. As they talked, she soon realized that he was well-informed on spiritual matters, and so she asked him what he thought of a hymn she had just been reading. To his astonishment he found it to be none other than his own composition. He tried to evade her question, but she continued to press him for a response. Suddenly he began to weep. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he said, "I am the man who wrote that hymn many years ago. I'd give anything to experience again the joy I knew then." Although greatly surprised, she assured him that the "streams of mercy" mentioned in his song still flowed. Mr. Robinson was deeply touched. Turning his "wandering heart" to the Lord, he was restored to full fellowship.

Even the very best of God’s servants are prone to wander. It is the nature of the sheep to get our of fellowship with the shepherd. Certainly that is true of us. What is true of sheep is true of Christians. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.” If we are not right we need to get right and if we are right we need stay right.

A Backslider is a saved person who was slidden away from the Lord. Relationship is not lost, but the fellowship is lost. Every Christian goes through some periods of backsliding during a lifetime. What we are to do when our hearts are not a close to the Lord as they should be? That is what this message is about. It is important for us to remain close to the Lord. Two theological students were walking along a street in the Whitechapel district of London, a section where old and used clothing is sold. "What a fitting illustration all this makes!" said one of the students as he pointed to a suit of clothes hanging on a rack by a window. A sign on it read: SLIGHTLY SOILED--GREATLY REDUCED IN PRICE. When we wander away from the Lord, we become soiled and greatly reduced in our worth in the Kingdom. Tonight, let us look at the sheep that wanders away and how it is restored.

I. The Categories of the Sheep

Sheep can be divided into three categories. As we look at these divisions or types of sheep, we can see ourselves. If we have slipped away from the Lord, it will be in one of these three ways.

A. Defiant Sheep Restored with the Rod

These are those who go their own way. They can be mulish. “All we like sheep have gone astray, we’ve turned everyone to our own way.” Dig up sapling. Cut away roots. Use knob on the end. He would put pieces of metal in the end of it. He practiced throwing it. He could protect the sheep with it. A lady visiting Switzerland came upon a sheepfold located high on a mountainside. Her attention was drawn to one poor sheep lying by the side of the road bleating in pain. Looking more closely, she discovered that its leg was injured. She asked the shepherd how it happened. "I had to break it myself," he answered sadly. "It was the only way I could keep that wayward creature from straying into unsafe places. From past experience I have found that a sheep will follow me once I have nursed it back to health. Because of the loving relationship that will be established as I care for her, in the future she will come instantly at my beck and call." Sometimes the shepherd has to use the rod on the sheep. Occasionally he would wound or even break a sheep’s leg. He would take care of the sheep. That sheep would stay close to the shepherd. He would become a leader among the other sheep. Look at Hosea 6:1, “Come and let us return to the Lord, for He hath torn and He will heal us; He hath smitten and He will bind us up.” The same God that breaks us is the God who will bind us up. David said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray. It is good for me when I was afflicted.” Jacob got away from God. Jacob wrestled with God. God wounded Jacob. He crippled his hip. When he came to the end of his life, “Jacob worshiped leaning on his staff.” Broken that he might be blest! We must learn to lean! Hebrews 12:5….”Despise not the chastisement of the Lord.” He restoreth my soul and leads me the paths of righteousness. Note in Hebrews that righteousness is always the goal of God following His chastisement.

You can do one of three things when you are chastised.

First, you can Resent It (Hebrews 12:5). You should not resent it. It reveals that you are a child of God It also renews your worship (Hebrews 12:9). We give reverence to our fathers who chastised us.. As adults we actually brag about it. We are glad about it. That is what happens when we properly accept the chastisement of God. It restores our fellowship. Look at 12:11. It is not joyous at the time it is taking place.

Secondly, you can Faint Under the chastisement of the Lord. Hebrews 12:5. Don’t despise and don’t faint. They are chastised and they throw up their hands and quit.

Thirdly, you can be Exercised by it. Hebrews 12:11.

B. The Drifting Sheep is Restored through Rescue

Careless sheep fall into pits. They get entangled. The shepherd would cut a sapling, straight and beautiful. He would soak it in water while it was green and then slowly begin to bend it. He would end up with a crook at the top of the shepherds staff. It was big enough to go around the chest of a lamb or the neck of a fully grown sheep. He used it guide the sheep. It was a instrument in his hand. He would pull sheep out of difficult mud, briers, holes, etc. David said, “He hath lifted me up out of the miry clay and put my feet upon the solid rock.”

C. The Diseased Sheep is Restored by Responsiveness

Disease, poison, etc., can harm the sheep. Each night the shepherd would bring the sheep into a fold. He would count them and call them by name. He would caress them and feel of them so that he might find any bruise, scratch, or wound. When he found anything wrong with the sheep, he would pour on oil. Nose flies. Oil kept them away. Thank God for the Holy Spirit who keeps the devil’s flies away.

II. The Companionship of the Shepherd

He restores us that He might lead us! “He leads me in the paths of righteousness.”

A. Fellowship with the Shepherd

The Christian must remain in close fellowship with Christ. A backslider does not lose his relationship with the Shepherd, but he can lose his fellowship with the Shepherd.

B. Following of the Shepherd

There must be a willingness go with the Shepherd. The will is the battleground.

In an exciting revival service people began to testify. The meeting had gotten a little out of hand. One man stood and said, "I've been smoking three packages of cigarettes a day, and I'm going to quit." "I've been drinking two cans of beer a day, and I'm going to quit," echoed another man. "I've been cursing an awful lot, and I'm going to quit," confessed another parishioner. Caught up in the excitement of the moment, a little old lady stood up and said, "I haven't been doing anything and I'm going to quit."

We can be guilty of doing things that are wrong, but we can also be guilty of not doing things that are right. One is as bad as the other!

C. Faithfulness to the Shepherd

We are too often of trying to get out of trouble rather than getting into righteousness. Football player: Coach said there is one kind of player we want on our team. What kind is that? Well, there is the kind of player that you knock him down and he stays down. Player said, “We don’t want that kind, do we coach?” “No. Then there is the kind that gets knocked down and gets up. But then the next time he is knocked down he stays down.” Player said, “We don’t want that kind, do we coach?” “No. Then there is the kind that gets knocked down and gets up, he gets knocked down and gets up. He keeps getting knocked down and he keeps getting up.” The Player said, “Yea, that is the kind of player we want, right coach?” “No! Find me that man that keeps knocking everybody down, that is the one we want!!!” Folks we need to get up and stay up. We need to do some knocking instead of being knocked around!

We are called to follow Him because he is our Master. We are to serve Him for His name’s sake. For His name’s sake. What is the name of the Shepherd. Jehovah is my Shepherd. The most holy name for God in all of the Bible! God’s honor is at stake through your life. People judge the shepherd by the condition of the sheep. NT does not contain Jehovah - for in reality Jehovah is Jesus and Jesus is Jehovah! There is something about that Name! 2 Timothy 2:19

Conclusion

Why are we stressed? Psalm 100:3. We are like sheep. Not a complaint. Sheep are not smart. Overloaded with dumbness! Not very intelligent. Sheep are defenseless. tigers have claws, snakes have fangs, bears can crush, etc. But a sheep is defenseless. Weak eyesight. Weak muscles.

No sense of direction. All we like sheep have gone astray. The cows wander home. Dogs come home. Every tried to get rid of a cat? But sheep don’t know how to come home without leadership.

A “cast” sheep is one which has fallen down and can’t get up. If unchanged, he will die. We will die in our effectiveness and joy if we remain in a “cast,” or Backslidden condition. Let us examine ourselves tonight and see if we belong to the Lord and if we do, let us ask if we are in close fellowship with Him and faithful service for Him! If we find ourselves lacking, we can turn to the faithful Shepherd who will take us in His arms and lead us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.