Marion Crawford – "The God of Restoration" – Williams, W.A. Australia - 2007

Hymn 349:  "My Pilgrim Way"

It’s wonderful to be at convention again, a place where we can all be restored, our faith can be restored, our confidence in the power of God can be restored.  We are glad that we are here.

I’m thankful that the God of creation, the God of re-creation, is also the God of restoration. In 2nd Samuel we have an interesting account of Saul and Jonathan: Saul was injured in battle, and Saul felt that he could not live so he fell on his own sword, but he really didn’t die. An Amalekite came along and took hold of him and Saul asked him to finish off his life.  This is what the Amalekite did, who then went to David and told him what had happened.  “And the young man that told him said, 'As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, 'Here am I.'  And he said unto me, 'Who art thou?'  And I answered him, 'I am an Amalekite.'  And he said unto me again, 'Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.'  So I stood upon him, and slew him.'”

Then we come to the statement that has taken my attention. “Because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen:”  This man thought, after he told all this to David, that David would be happy because of all the years Saul had harassed him, but this was not what David felt at all. David mourned and all of David’s men mourned, so David said to this man, 'How was it that you were not afraid to stretch out your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?'  This man was so sure that Saul could not live after he was fallen that he was the one who lost his life.

When we fall or someone else falls, someone we love or meet with or is close to us, the enemy would like us to feel like this Amalekite. He would like to make us feel that we cannot live after we have fallen but that’s not true, because our great God is a God of restoration.  We can live after we have fallen, we can rise up again, we can be restored, and that’s what we want.  That’s what convention is all about, isn’t it?

Then there are some other verses in the 37th Psalm, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand."

Proverbs 24, "For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and He turn away His wrath from him."

Then some verses in Micah 7 that I love, "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me."  The Amalekite was so sure that Saul could not live after he had fallen, and was rejoicing over that, but that is not how David felt.  That’s not how God felt and that’s not how God wants us to feel.

God wants us to have the attitude that Micah had, "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy."  When I fall, I shall arise, with absolute purpose that I am going to get up and go again, for a just man falls seven times then rises again, gets up and goes again. We don’t want to rejoice when our enemy falls lest the Lord see it and it displease Him.

David was not happy and the Lord was not happy when Saul fell. This is the attitude that Satan would like us to have but it’s not the attitude that God has, and it’s not the attitude that we should have.

Isaiah 42:3, “A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench:  He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.”  This is the attitude of Jesus. Just because the light has gone out and the flax is smoldering, it does not mean that it cannot be trimmed and lit again and continue to burn brightly.  Just because the reed has been bruised, it does not mean that it cannot be bound up, and make sweet melody again; that’s our Master, that’s the heart of our Saviour.

Luke 10:30-35, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was.  When he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, 'Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.'”

What was the difference? The priest and the Levite looked upon this man and thought the same as the Amalekite did, didn’t they? They were sure that he could not live after he had fallen, but then the Samaritan came along and he had a different attitude like what the Lord would like us to have, the attitude that He has, an attitude of compassion, an attitude of care, an attitude of offering a little help of encouragement to bind up his wounds and take care of him, because he had the attitude that when a just man falls seven times then he rises again.  It is not the end, for when I fall, I shall arise.

We would like to have that attitude, wouldn’t we? Whether it is with ourselves if we have fallen or if it is someone we know well that has fallen, we want the attitude of the Samaritan and not the attitude of the Amalekite.  It is possible to live after we have fallen, for our God is a great God, a God of restoration.

Psalm 30 seems to be the testimony of a bruised reed that has been healed:  Verses 1-4, “I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried unto Thee, and Thou hast healed me. O Lord, Thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of His Holiness.”  This is the song of the bruised reed that has been restored and has a song again.

Then I thought of the smoking flax that has had its light restored, and that seems to be the 58th chapter of Isaiah, where the people of God had a form of fasting.  It was not pleasing to God; it was formality and not reality, and God said, (verses 6-10) “Is not this the fast that I have chosen?  To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?  Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?  When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?  Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; 'Thou shalt cry, and He shall say, 'Here I am.''  If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday.”

This is smoking flax that was re-trimmed and restored, so the light could burn brightly again. Both Peter and Jude wrote of what we could do so we would never fall.  That’s a nice attitude to have, a nice desire to have, but the truth of the matter is that it is possible that we will fall again. We do want to have the attitude of Micah when we do fall so that we shall arise again. We want to have that settled in our heart before we fall so the enemy will not hold us down and rejoice over us because we have fallen, or make us believe that we can’t live after we have fallen.

Peter wrote of the things that we can add to our faith that can enrich us, and then he writes in II Peter 1:8-10, “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”  That is a good recipe to follow, for if we do these things they will help us not to fall.

Then Jude writes in verses 21-25, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.  Amen.”

So there are things that we can do that will save us from falling:  we can keep ourselves in the love of God, in His hand and in His control, because He is the One who can keep us from falling.  As long as we do that, we will be safe. That is a wonderful aim to have, a wonderful goal. Although Peter wrote like this, he had the experience himself, didn’t he, of falling. Before Jesus went to the garden, Peter said he would never deny Jesus, and even if all men forsook Him he would never do that.  Peter meant every word of that, the same as when we give our testimony on a Sunday morning, but when it comes to Monday, Tuesday and Saturday, when a test comes, we lose our purpose. That is how Peter felt; he meant every word but he still fell but didn’t stay down, did he?  He got up and went on and he became stronger than ever.

Perhaps Judas had the attitude of the Amalekite when he fell; he believed Satan could not live after he had fallen and he went out and took his own life.  We don’t want that attitude but want the attitude of Micah: when I fall I shall arise for our God will help us.  Our God is a great God, a God of restoration.

There are also some verses in Jeremiah that have helped me.  I do not know any of you here but by your testimonies.  I hear that there are some not here who were here in previous times, and that brings a little sadness into our hearts, doesn’t it?  But we never want to have the feeling or attitude that they cannot be restored again for it is possible to live after they have fallen.

Jeremiah 31:15-17, “Thus saith the Lord, 'A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.'  Thus saith the Lord, 'Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded,' saith the Lord.  'And they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end,' saith the Lord, 'that thy children shall come again to their own border.'”

There is no comfort in spiritual death but there is hope that those that have fallen can live again.  Our God is a great God, the God of creation, the God of recreation, and the God of restoration.