How to Get Right with God
Take your Bibles please and turn to Psalm 23 in our continuing study on the 23rd Psalm.
We have already looked at the first two verses and today we are going to look at verse 3.
He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his nameís sake.
If you would, keep your Bible open. If you donít have one with you...
Look there in the pew rack before you and most likely there will be one there.
Then open it up to the 23rd Psalm Ė in the middle of your Bible.
Now look up here.
I want to ask you a question...
What do the falling men have in common?
Jacob...David...Samson...Simon Peter...John Mark and Joe Thompson...
Iíll tell you what they all have in common.
They are all men of God, who love God, but have gotten out of fellowship with God.
Who have been brought back into fellowship with God.
And you could probably add your name to that list as well.
It is the nature of a sheep to wander and stray...
It is the nature of the sheep to sometimes get away from the shepherd...
Prone to wander...prone to leave.
But itís the nature of the shepherd to restore his sheep.
No wonder David gloried to write the 23rd Psalm after he had wandered from God.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He restores my soul.
I want to talk to you today bout how to get right with God and how to stay right with God.
How to get right with God if you are not right with God.
And if you are right or if you get right...how to stay right with God.
This is what David is talking about in this Psalm.
He restores my soul.
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his nameís sake.
Now many of us become what the Bible calls "backsliders".
Now a backslider is not lost...
A backslider is a saved person who is out of fellowship with God.
It is a person already saved.
You see, you have to go somewhere in order to slide back.
The Bible refers to God being married to the backslider.
You see, the bond cannot be broken.
But the fellowship can be broken.
And the joy can be lost.
And therefore, David prayed in Psalm 51.
Restore unto me the joy of my salvation.
He didnít say, "Lord, restore my salvation."
He never lost his salvation, he lost the joy of his salvation.
And he wanted to be restored.
And God did restore him and David could say...
He restoreth my soul.
Now I want to tell you how the Lord restores us.
Iím going to give you three wonderful truths.
The first one is the ministry of the shepherd.
Now David thought of himself as a sheep and the Lord as his shepherd.
You know that the Lord Jesus is the good shepherd.
Now letís look at three things the Lord Jesus does when his sheep strays.
And there are three kinds of sheep that need to be restored.
#1 Ė there are the stubborn sheep.
What are the stubborn sheep?
They are sheep that want their way.
We think of sheep as not being wild and very easily led.
But that is not so.
Sometimes sheep can be very stubborn or mulish.
They want to go their own way.
Isnít that what the Bible says in Isaiah?
All we like sheep have gone astray, we turned every one to his own way.
When we want our way, we get very stubborn.
And sometimes stubborn sheep need to be restored.
Now there is another kind of sheep that need to be restored, not stubborn sheep but straying sheep.
These are sheep that donít willfully go away...they just weekly go astray, they carelessly go away.
And many times they fall into pits and crevices and they get tangled up in thorns.
They get away from the shepherd.
They get into out of the way places.
And they need to be restored and brought to the fold.
Then there is a third kind of sheep that needs to be restored.
Itís not the stubborn sheep...
Itís not the straying sheep...
But the sick sheep.
Sheep can get sick Ė there are many enemies out there.
Many diseases, many things that might poison or ensnare the sheep.
And sick sheep need to be restored.
And it is the ministry of the shepherd that restores this kind of sheep.
I want you to see how he does it.
How does the good shepherd restore the stubborn sheep?
If you are a stubborn sheep how does the Lord restore you?
How will he restore you?
Well he has three instruments.
#1 Ė he has a rod...
#2 Ė he has a staff...
#3 Ė he has a bottle of oil.
And he uses these to restore the sheep.
Now he restores the stubborn sheep with the rod.
What was the shepherdís rod?
A shepherd would take a sapling and pull it up by the roots and take his knife and begin to cut the root away...
Until there was just a knob, itís bigger than sapling...
Then he would begin to smooth it until he got it like he wanted it.
Then he would drive nails in it and leave them sticking out or pieces of metal. It would have been heavy.
Then all the time while his sheep were grazing he would practice throwing his rod.
And he used it to protect himself from robbers and thieves and wild animals.
It became a deadly missile and he knew how to wheel it like a club.
But sometimes he had to use the rod on the sheep themselves.
Sometimes if there would be a very stubborn sheep...
The shepherd would do something very drastic.
He would take that rod and break one of the legs of that sheep.
Just break its leg.
Then after he did that he would bind it, put it in a splint...
And try to heal the sheep and carry it on his shoulders...
Until the leg was mended.
He would carry that sheep that he had wounded around on his shoulders and nurture it and pour the oil into the wound.
Then finally, when the sheep was healed again and on its feet...
Then a very interesting thing would happen.
That sheep that he had broken and healed would stay very close to the shepherd.
In my studies I have found that this sheep would stay right by the shepherd and keep nestling his leg.
Everywhere he went that sheep would want to be very close.
He would be the leader who would follow the shepherd, the one who had been broken and restored.
Hosea 6:11: Come, let us return to the Lord.
He is speaking to those who have been away from God.
(Verse 1) He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us. He has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.
The same God that breaks us is the same God that binds us.
In order that we might return to him.
That is exactly what David who wrote this meant when he said...
Before I was afflicted I went astray.
And then he said: It is good for me that I have been afflicted.
Then I was thinking of that scripture over in Hebrews when Jacob the patriarch and a shepherd himself, had gotten away from God.
The Bible says: he wrestled with the Lord.
Do you know what the Lord did?
The Bible says that the Lord put Jacobís thigh out of joint.
Do you remember that?
He was crippled.
The Lord himself wounded this man of God.
And he broke this man of God and all the rest of his life Jacob would walk leaning on a staff.
And the Bible says in Hebrews 11, when Jacob came to the end of his life.
(Verse 21) By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Josephís sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
Why is that in the Bible?
To teach us a lesson.
Dear friends, sometimes we have to learn to lean.
Now what God does sometimes is to chastise the sheep.
Not because he doesnít love the sheep, but because he does love the sheep.
Letís look at the New Testament passage on that.
Turn to Hebrews 12:5: and have you forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
My son, do not make light of the Lordís discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you!
(Verse 6) Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.
(Verse 7) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
(Verse 8) If you are not disciplined and everyone undergoes discipline, then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
(Verse 9) Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respect them for it. How much more should we submit to the father of our spirits and live?
(Verse 10) Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our good.