Journey to Restoration – Joel 2:1-27 – Al Pittman

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Introduction: Hello and welcome to this message
from Calvary Albuquerque. We’re excited to hear from our special guest speaker Al Pittman,
senior pastor of Calvary Worship Center in Colorado Springs, where he seeks to make the
hope of Christ known to the world. We pray that God uses this message to breathe new
life into your relationship with him. If he does, we’d love to hear about it. Email us
at [email protected] And if you’d like to support this ministry financially, you
can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving. We invite you to open up your Bibles to Joel,
chapter 2, as Pastor Al begins the message “Journey to Restoration.” Pastor Al Pittman: Well, God is so good. And
I want to talk to you today about restoration. And I’ve entitled this message “A Journey
to Restoration.” And I’m taking for my text the book of Joel, or not the whole book, but
just chapter 2, verses 1 to 27. And I want to share that with you today and pray that
God would speak to your heart. If God is anything, he is a God of restoration. Aren’t you glad
about that, that he is a God who restores us? And so I to talk you to a little bit about
that today and share with you. And I pray that if you’re here today, you feel hopeless,
you’re going through a time where you feel like it’s all over, whatever—listen—there’s
a God who’s able to restore to you even the years, as we’ll see, that the locust have
eaten. And so I pray that the Lord would bless you.
But let’s, let’s start with a song, all right? You may remember this song. You sing along
with me? [singing] I see the Lord seated on the throne, exalted. And the train of his
robe fills the temple with glory. And the whole earth is filled, and the whole earth
is filled, and the whole earth is filled with his glory. Sing holy, holy, holy, holy, holy
is the Lord. Sing holy, holy, holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Lords. Father, we declare
you are holy today. [applause] You are holy in this place and we’re here to exalt you,
Lord, no flesh, no man, but exalt our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Bless now your
Word, Father, as it goes forth. May it accomplish your divine purpose and will and not return
to you void. We ask it all in Jesus’ name, and everyone said amen. All right, praise the Lord. Well, Joel chapter
2 verse 1 through 27, as we look at our text today we’re going to talk about restoration,
as I mentioned, and the fact that our God is a God of restoration. Now some of you know
the background to the book of Joel. And God is calling Judah, southern Israel, back to
repentance and to restoration, and they’re resisting the Lord. In fact, many of you know
the history of southern Judah, of Israel, how they resisted God. Even here they did
not embrace the message of Joel and his word from the Lord to his people for restoration.
But God is always—his hands are stretched out still—always welcoming us to come back
to him and restoration. And so the Lord gives him kind of an outline of how to come back
to him in restoration. And I believe it’s an outline even for us
today as we consider the topic of restoration. Now, the Lord invites us to come back to him.
Now, maybe you’re in a place where you’re doing just fine. God bless you, amen. We don’t
like you, but God bless you. [laughter] But, no, I’m teasing. But maybe you’re in a place
where you need, man, you need a word of restoration; you need to understand or be reminded that
God is able to do above and beyond what we could ask or think. And I pray that you would
hear that today. But the first thing that I find in Joel’s message to Judah for restoration
to take place, it must first be a sense of urgency, a sense of urgency within your life.
A lot of times we want God to touch us and to change us, but there’s no urgency. In fact, I would say that one of the Devil’s
favorite words is “tomorrow.” Tomorrow. “I’ll change tomorrow.” “Tomorrow I’ll surrender
to the Lord.” “Tomorrow, Lord, I’ll surrender, because tonight I gotta go partay!” You know,
tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. But the Bible says, “Today is the day of salvation. Now
is the acceptable time.” “Do not harden your heart unto the Lord as you did in the day
of rebellion,” but to turn to the Lord. And so, you know, rather than waiting tomorrow,
God tells the people of Israel here, the people of Judah, “Here, this is an urgent matter,
something you need to take heed to right now.” And many times God will allow circumstances,
situations in our lives to bring us to a place of urgency. Amen? And, “Lord, you got my attention. I’m sitting
right up. I just, you know, I walked away from that car accident,” or “My spouse walked
out on me,” or whatever it might be. Or “the doctor said I had an incurable disease,” whatever.
“You’ve got my attention now.” Amen? And God will allow us sometimes to go through times
like that in order to gain our attention, to show us there’s an urgency. And there’s
always an urgency in regards to sin. Never take sin for granted. There’s an urgency in
regards to sin. And so God is calling his people, giving them an issue and an urgent
call here for them to return to him. Now in verses 1 through 11 talks about that urgent
call and what it means. And we won’t go into the details of it because, you know, I don’t
have enough time. But verse 1 sets the tone as the Lord says,
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain!” He’s speaking of the
temple, speaking of the holy mountain, the temple in Jerusalem where God would reveal
himself or would speak to his people from Jerusalem, from the holy temple. And he said,
“Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming,” and he
says, “For it is at hand.” You’ve run out of time. No more time for playing games. God
is saying, “I’m speaking to my people. Now is the time to take heed to the Word of God.”
In fact, the Bible tells us in Malachi chapter 2 verse 2 that it’s important when God speaks,
that we hear him that we listen to his Word, we take heed to his Word. He honors his Word
even above his name, the Bible says. And so the Bible tells us in Malachi, chapter
2, it says verse 2, ” ‘If you will not hear, and if you will not take it to heart, to give
glory to my name,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will send a curse upon you, and I will
curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart.’
“When you do not take the Word of God to heart, no matter what kind of prosperity you may
experience in your life, your life is not right. Until we take heed to the Word of God—because
God honors those who honor him—we cannot truly be blessed. And so God’s calling his
people: “Listen, this is an urgent thing. When you hear my voice, and you hear my Word,
you need to respond. You need to respond and take it to heart.” And we need to take it
to heart when God speaks to us as well today. And here’s the second thing that I find, again,
in verses 1 to 11. You know, he describes kind of the urgency of the hour and all of
that that he is bringing about this judgment upon his people that they need to pay attention
and repent. And the precursor to the judgment of the Babylonians coming to judge them was
the plague of locusts that had eaten up all the vegetation of the land. And God is basically
saying, “I’m warning you.” And God, in love, always warns us before he sends that final
judgment. And he’s warning his people through the plague of locusts that a worse infestation
by the Babylonian army is coming upon Judah, unless you repent. And so he speaks about
that in verses 1 through 11. But in verse 12 he reveals to us the second
step, if you will, in our journey to restoration, which is brokenness, brokenness. In verse
12 he says, “‘but, therefore,’ says the Lord, ‘turn to me with all your heart.’ “There’s
no such thing as a halfhearted relationship with the Lord. God wants all of our heart.
He says, “‘Turn to me with fasting, with weeping, with mourning.’ So Rend your heart, and not
your garments; return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger,
and of great kindness; and he relents from doing harm. Who knows if he will turn and
relent, and leave a blessing behind him—a grain offering and a drink offering.” In other
words, the Lord is saying, “Come to me. Turn to me with all of your heart, so that I can
bless you. “My purpose for you is to give you a future
and a hope,” as it says in Jeremiah 29:11. “My purpose is not to beat you up and to judge
you.” A lot of people won’t even come to church because they think, “Well, God’s just going
to beat me up.” That’s not why he sent the Savior. Jesus said, “I came not to condemn
the world, but that the world through me can be saved.” He came for those who were sick,
those who need a physician. He came for people the likes of me and the likes of you. We needed
a Savior and so he—but he didn’t come to condemn us, to beat us up, to beat the world
up. He comes to bring us mercy and grace. He comes to bring us graciousness and mercy.
And according to verse 13 God is “slow to anger.” He’s patient with us. And he came to reveal to us the great kindness
of our God, so that he might bless our lives. Verse 14 said God wants to “leave a blessing
behind.” He doesn’t want to leave a legacy of your life of judgment, but a blessing that
you might be a praise and give glory to God. That’s what it means when he says here that—and
that God says that he might “leave behind a blessing—a grain offering and drink offering.”
Those were used in the worship of the Lord. And so he wants us, our lives to be to the
praise and to the glory of God. He wants to leave a blessing behind, not judgment. And
Joel said, “The Lord may relent, oh, if we would just simply rent our hearts—and rend
our hearts, rather, rend our hearts before the Lord, God would relent.” In other words,
God would turn that judgment away from us, if we would turn to him. He is not designed us to be disciplined. In
other words, God doesn’t want to spank your behind. Amen? I mean, you don’t-you don’t
wake up in the morning and go, “Where the kids at? I just want to beat one of ’em down.”
[laughter] “Hey, Junior, come in here! Ahhh!” You know, that’s not why you had them. That’s
not why you—you’ve got the best in store for them. You save for their college and all
that. And, you know, if—but sometimes you spend that college fund, but that’s another
sermon. [laughter] But—amen. But you save them because you want them to experience the
best. You want to give them the best. You want to bless them. And God is saying, “I
don’t want to spank you. That’s not why I created you. I want to bless you. I want to
leave a blessing behind.” But he says you gotta—in order to experience
that, you’ve got “to rend your heart, not your garments.” What does it mean by that?
Well, he’s talking about the religious acts that many of the people in the ancient times
in Jesus’ day—and some probably still practice it today in some orthodox circles, Jewish
orthodox circles—of tearing their clothes when they’re feeling great remorse, or they’re
sad, or sorrow. You know, to show their remorse and to tear their garments. And, of course,
my—the way my mind works, always a sense of humor, is like, “Man, it’d be nice to have
a clothing business back in the days of Jesus.” You know, people tearing their clothes. “Hey,
Joel, third time this week—you need another suit?” You know, or whatever. [laughter] Of course, that’d be hard to do back in the
seventies, because everything was polyester, amen? You imagine? Agh, agh, ah, eh, [laughter]
trying to rend that polyester shirt with the wide lapels, you know. Wouldn’t work so good.
But they would tear their clothing. God is saying, “Listen, I don’t want your religion.
I don’t want your outward show of emotion. I don’t want your crocodile tears. I want
transformation. Tear your heart.” God’s looking about for torn hearts. “Men look on the outward
things, but God looks upon the heart.” Rend your heart. You know, I love that show on
television about renovating houses and all that. And, you know, because I can’t fix nothing.
I can screw in lightbulbs, but beyond that I’m kind of helpless. I’m all thumbs. And, you know, my wife sees me put on the
tool belt, she dials 911. [laughter] “Might as well just get them here ahead of time.”
And you know, just, I’m not good at it, but I watch these guys. And, oh man, it’s so neat
to watch them go and take a kitchen and just remodel it. And what do they do in order to
build a new kitchen? What do they do? They gotta destroy the old one. When God comes
into renovate, he comes in to knock down the old stuff, that he might create something
new. And these guys, when they go in there to renovate a house or whatever, they don’t
just go in and throw on some wallpaper or a fresh coat of paint, and say, “Oh, that
looks good.” And God’s not here today to just put another fresh coat of paint on your religiosity,
or to put some wallpaper over your sins or whatever. He’s here to renovate. He’s here to restore
your life and to bring you into a right relationship with him. But these guys, they’ll start tearing
stuff apart. And you know what happened? They’ll start tearing things apart and they will discover
the former contractor’s—let’s call it, indiscretions. [laughter] Amen? Some of you contractors know
what I’m talking about. “Who wired this!? Who did this plumbing job? They must have
put this in at 4:59 just before beer o’clock,” you know. You know, you contractor guys know
what I’m talking about, “beer o’clock.” [laughter] This was done on a Friday late in the afternoon,
because these guys really didn’t care how they did it. Sloppy, shoddy work. And they
pulled back the Sheetrock to reveal the mold or to reveal the bad wiring or the bad plumbing. They don’t just, you know, paint over it.
Well, God is here today to do the same thing in our hearts. He pulls back the Sheetrock.
“Oh, no, I just want—just give me a fresh coat of a sermon.” No, uh-uh. God says, “I’m
pulling buck the Sheetrock of your life. I’m going to reveals to you the spiritual mold
in your heart, so that I can restore you, that I can renew you. I want to give you a
new heart, a new mind through restoration.” And so God does that by the power of his Holy
Spirit. [applause] And David said in Psalm 51 verse 6, he said, “Behold, Lord, you desire
a truth”—where?—“in the inward parts, and in the hidden part you will make me to
know wisdom.” God wants truth to be in the inward parts. Truth is the—his Word is the
disinfectant for the spiritual mold in our hearts. That’s the way we get it, exposing that mold,
if you will, to the light of God’s truth. And God will wound us many times, but he does
it that he might heal us. And here’s the other thing: the reason for brokenness here is that
we might be exposed as we repent simultaneously. We’re exposed, again in verse 13, to the graciousness
and the mercy of God, God’s patience toward us, his great kindness. It’s like a simultaneous
thing that happens. You know, when you confess your sin, God reveals his benevolence to you.
And the reason God calls us to brokenness also is not only that we might know his benevolence,
but the fact is God can only use broken things. God can only use broken hearts, hearts that
are humble before him. There was a revivalist, an author by the name
of Dr. Vance Havner who once said, and I quote, “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil
to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to
give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter,
weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever,” close quote. And it’s so true,
that broken heart, God can use. God uses broken people. Why? Because broken people are humble
and “He resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” God uses broken people. He
bestows upon our brokenness his grace and his mercy, his patience and his kindness.
Here’s a third step I find in restoration, is that there has to be an urgency in my life,
there has to be a brokenness in my life. And there is also to be—I have to come to
a point of surrender. And this is what he speaks about here in verses 15 to 17, as he
says, “Blow the trumpet in Zion.” They’re getting this, this is an urgent matter. “Consecrate
a fast, and call a sacred assembly.” Call the people together. “Gather the people, sanctify
the congregation, assemble the elders, and gather the children, the nursing babes; let
the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room. Let the
priests,” verse 17, “whom minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar.”
Underline that if it’s not underlined or highlighted in your Bible. “But weep between the porch and the altar;
and let them say, ‘Spare your people, O Lord, and do not give your heritage to reproach’
“—Lord, don’t give us to our enemies—” ‘that the nations should rule over them. Why
should they say among these, the peoples, “Where is their God?” ‘” See, God doesn’t
want to set us up for failure; he wants us to succeed. He wants us to be a people that
we reveal—that through our lives is revealed how great our God is. Now, I’m not talking
how much money you have in the bank or anything like that, but the greatness of God’s mercy
and grace toward us, the greatness of who he is, not who we are. Amen? And so, so God
is calling his people to surrender: “Call the whole nation: the babies and the bride
and the bridegroom.” Break up the honeymoon, whatever, you know. “Everybody, this is an urgent matter, come.
And you priests, I want you cry out to God between the altar and the porch.” Now that
phrase is very important, because between the altar and the porch was a place that the
priest would lay prostrate before God. It was also—listen—a place of mercy and grace,
God’s mercy and grace, or God’s atonement. I’ll show you here in just a moment. And here’s
the idea, the idea, God says, “This is where I want you to call out to me from between
the altar and the porch. Why? Because you can’t fix yourself. I want you to surrender
to my grace and my mercy. You can’t fix yourself up. You can’t restore yourself. You have to
come and lay prostrate before me, become utterly, completely dependent upon my ability to restore
you.” Amen? That’s what he’s calling them to do between
the porch and the altar is a place of atonement. I want you to look at Leviticus with me, Leviticus,
chapter 16. In Leviticus, chapter 16, the Lord is giving instructions to Moses concerning
the atonement to be made for the people of Israel. And he says this is what Aaron should
do: Aaron should take a couple of goats and use them for the atonement of Israel. And
in this particular ceremony it represented God’s forgiveness for Israel, these two goats.
But I just want to read it to you, because everything that is done in the tabernacle,
even a study of the tabernacle, those of you who study the tabernacle, it all points to
Jesus. All of the celebrations and all, they all point to Jesus. And this sacrament, if you will, or this celebration
here, or order, religious act here, I should say—I’ll get it right—is really an illustration
of the work of the cross. That for us as believers today, if we are going to indeed be restored,
there’s only one place we can be restored; and that is, through the atonement of Jesus
Christ. It is not through our ability, but it’s through his grace, his mercy, his atonement.
So in verse 7 of chapter 16 we read, in God speaking about Aaron and the priests, he says,
“He”—that is, Aaron the high priest—“shall take the two goats and present them before
the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” “The door of the tabernacle of meeting,”
between, if you will, the altar and the porch. And he said, he says here, “Then Aaron shall
cast lots for the two goats: and one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat.”
You ever wonder where that phrase comes from? Some people say, “Oh, I’m just a scapegoat.”
Well, you’re just like Jesus, the scapegoat. “And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the
Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering.” Again, this is a picture of Christ offered
as a sin offering. “But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat had been
presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as a scapegoat into
the wilderness.” Now, I love way he says here, and “the scapegoat shall be presented alive
to the Lord.” And then I’m reminded of what Jesus told Mary when she clung to him after
the resurrection. He said, “Don’t cling to me.” He said, “I still have to go before my Father.”
To make a presentation before the Father, I think, it’s because for our atonement. You
know, he was going to present himself alive before the Father as an act of atonement.
And then in verse 20, verse 16, he says, “And when he has made an end of atoning for the
Holy Place”—that is, Aaron, the priests—“had made an end of atoning for the Holy Place
in the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. And Aaron shall
lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of
the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on
the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable
man.” “And the goat shall bare on itself all their
iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.”
You see the work of the cross there? That Jesus Christ is not only our Savior, our sin
offering, but he is also our scapegoat in the sense that he not only died for your sins
as an offering, but he removes your sin from you into the wilderness, as far as the east
the from the west, to never come back to you again. In this— [applause] in this place
between the altar and between the porch is a place of atonement. Only in the atonement
of Christ can we be truly restored in a right relationship with God. [applause] This is
the atoning work of the cross that he speaks about here in the book of Leviticus. And, of course, rabbinical tradition, many
of you know, has it that the suitable man who led the goat away from the camp, as a
sign of God’s forgiveness, and will lead the goat out, that the man would actually lead
the goat to a—maybe a—conveniently to a steep cliff. And then kind of boomp, kick
that goat off to the cliff and so the goat would die, so they would not return back to
the tabernacle, to the camp of Israel, because that would be a sign of the sins coming back.
But Jesus died for ours sins. In him there is restoration, because only in him could
our sins be completely and totally removed. Amen? Oh, that’s good stuff. That’s why I
disagree with those who say you can lose your salvation. Don’t get mad at me. Because in
order for you to lose your salvation, the goat’s got to come back in the camp. Amen? And the goat is no mo’. [laughter] The goat
is not coming back, because Jesus is seated at right hand of the throne of God—amen?—as
our atonement forever. [applause] And then John says in First John chapter 3 verse 5,
“And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins,” our sin offering, “and in
him there is no sin.” “In him there is no sin.” Isn’t that great? “There is now no condemnation
for those who are in Jesus Christ.” The point that I’m making here to you is that our restoration
can be fully experienced only through the atoning work of Christ, and metaphorically
speaking, between the altar and the porch, where God meets us in atonement and forgives
and washes away our sins forever. Amen? Now there are benefits to that as we go back to
Joel. In Joel verses 18 to 27, we’re going to fly
through them here, but there are four benefits that I want us to recognize real quick as
a result of that. As a result of what? A result of them responding to the urgent message,
being broken before God, rending their hearts, and coming and surrendering to God’s sovereignty
and God’s grace. As a result of that, we’re brought into right relationship with God.
Israel, Judah at this time was brought into a right relationship with God, but, of course,
we know they resisted the Lord. But this is what God promises. He says, “Then,” in verse
18, “Then the Lord will be zealous for his land, and pity his people. And the Lord will
answer and say to his people, ‘Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, and you
will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.’ ” God says, “I will bring you into a right relationship.”
You say, “Well, where does it say ‘relationship’ here?” When he speaks about the grain, the
new wine and oil, he’s speaking about the Word, he’s speaking about the bread, the grain.
Of course, they would make little cakes and make an offering to the Lord with the grain.
And then the new wine spoke of joy in a sense that it was a sweet wine, the first harvest
of the grapes. You know, and in that particular year, in the first year of that harvest, and
it was called the sweet wine or the new wine. It spoke of joy and prosperity. And then the
oil was the oil that they used to anoint kings and priests. And the oil spoke of the anointing
of God or the very presence of God. And, of course, the oil was used in the lamps
in the temple to light the temple, to light the lamps, the lampstand in the temple. So
it represented the anointing of God and the presence of God. So when God says, “I will
bring back to you guys—I know you’ve been ravaged. I know it looks like your life is
over, but I’ll bring you back the grain, my Word. I’ll bring you back my joy. I’ll bring
you back my presence into your life. You don’t have to be estranged from me any longer.”
And then he also said, “I will deliver you from your enemies.” Verse 20, he says, “But
I will remove far from you the northern army, and will drive him away into a barren and
desolate land, with his face toward the eastern sea,” that is, the Dead Sea, “and his back
toward the western sea,” which is the Mediterranean Sea. “His stench will come up, and his foul odor
will rise, because he has done monstrous things.” “I will bring the judgment that is coming
on you, I will bring it back onto your enemies. I will deliver you from your enemies, the
Babylonians that are coming. They will turn tail and run with their face toward the Dead
Sea and their backs to the Mediterranean running for their lives.” The promise that God gives
to us is in restoration. He will be our defense. That he will defeat our enemies. He will stand
up for us. He will be a refuge for us. And the third benefit that I find here is God
says, “You don’t have to walk in fear any longer, but you can walk in fruitfulness.”
Oh, when you’re restored back to the Lord, the fruitfulness comes back to your life. God brings restoration of fruitfulness and
delivers us from fear. Why? Because “perfect love casts out all fear.” And he tells them
here in verse 21, he says, “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done
marvelous things! And do not be afraid, you beasts of the field,” even your livestock,
“for the open pastures are springing up, and the tree bears its fruit; and the fig tree
and the vine,” you know, “their strength. And be glad, you children of Zion, and rejoice
in the Lord your God; for he has given you the former rain faithfully, and he will cause
the rain to come down.” He’s speaking about prosperity here, blessing here. “The former
rain, the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat,
and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.” God says, “I want to bless your life.” And,
again, I’m not talking about cars and homes. And those things are wonderful or whatever,
but God—oh the joy of the Lord when it overflows in your heart. [applause] Man, you might have
a nickel in the bank, but you have joy. I’ve been to places in Kenya, been to Mathare Valley.
That’s not a boast, that’s simply to tell you I’ve seen people—you think poverty,
you’ve seen poverty, you haven’t seen poverty till you go to Mathare Valley, one of the
world’s largest slums. People who live in a ten-by-ten room, and you probably got eight
people living in there. There’s no bathroom. There’s a little fire to cook, maybe a little
heating unit that they can cook on or whatever. And, yet, I found believers in Mathare Valley,
with nothing, with more joy than many believers in America. [applause] And it’s because of
their right relationship with God. This is the excitement or the joy, the fruitfulness
that God wants to bring back into our lives. It doesn’t matter what our situation is. And
then, lastly, the fourth benefit is recovery. Hallelujah. Right relationship with God, deliverance,
fruitfulness, and lastly, recovery, verses 25 to 27. “So I will restore to you the years—I
will restore to you the years that the locusts—swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the
consuming locust, the chewing locust, my great army which I sent among you.” You know, God
says, “I’ve used this to discipline you, but I will restore even that which has been taken
from you through my discipline.” “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 be put to shame.” Those who trust in the Lord shall not be put to
shame. And “Then”—when?—when something good comes out of nothing in my life, when
beauty is created out of the ashes of my own actions, when everybody has given up on me
and yet God has not given up on me—“Then,” he said. “Then,” he says, “you shall know
that I am in the midst of Israel: and I am the Lord your God and there is nobody else.”
Amen? [applause] “And my people shall never be put to shame.” Folks, that’s a good word.
That’s a good word. God says, “I’m going to give you the years the locust have eaten.” Listen, I had a birthday last month. I turned
thirty-nine years old. [laughter] And, uh, okay, okay, I lied. I’m fifty-nine and my
wife is thirty-nine. [laughter] But sometimes you start thinking, feeling sorry for yourselves,
“Oh, my better years are behind me.” No, with heaven before you, the best is always yet
to come. Heaven is still before us, amen? [applause] Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
God can restore the years even that you wasted. He can restore the years that the locust have
eaten. You know, you can’t do anything about yesterday, but you can start right now. Today
is the first day of the rest of your life in Christ. Always because of his great mercy
and his grace toward us. God can recover all of that. Doesn’t mean that, you know, your spouse may
come back to you, or all of this, you know, but God can still use all things. Romans 8:28,
if you would turn to him, “He works all things out for good to those who love God, who are
called according to his purpose.” And God is calling you today. But you will know that
he is God and there is no other God when God creates something beautiful out of ashes,
and God does something wonderful, does something out of nothing in my life. In other words,
folks, we bring nothing to him. Now, imagine the children of Judah. They’re looking at
the ravaged land by the locust. The locust have eaten up everything, and they’re looking
at this going, “Man, there’s no way.” And God says, “Yes, even what you’re looking
at, the devastation that you’re looking at, don’t focus on that, because I’m a God who’s
able to speak into existence things that don’t even exist.” Don’t listen to the news reports.
Don’t listen to what you’re friends are saying. Don’t listen to your own estimation of yourself.
He’s able to restore you, if you’re listening to him and trust in his Word. Amen. Thank
God that he’s the God of the impossible. What’s impossible for man is still possible for God.
He’s a God of recovery. You know, we love Albuquerque, not because of Albuquerque, but
because of you. We love the fact that Lenya and Skip embraced us and welcomed us as family.
And you embraced us. Man, you people still pray for us, still come by visit us sometimes
up at the church. You know, they’ll come through Colorado Springs.
Some of you have stopped by to say hi. And we have a love relationship with you guys
that will never end. But the reason this place is so special to us is that God did a work
of restoration. You just don’t know. We got to Albuquerque—Honey, you remember?”—we
didn’t have groceries. We didn’t even have enough money to buy groceries. We believe
God told us to come. We clung to his word. The Devil was speaking in my left ear just
saying, “You fool! What are you doing trusting God?” I trust God and believe God. Didn’t
have a nickel in the bank. And we called the bank that one time, where we came from. We
were living in Olathe, Kansas. That’s where we came from. And you know, and called the bank back there,
and they said we had well over a thousand dollars in the bank. I said, “Honey, claim
that. [laughter] Get that wired, like, now.” [laughter] “Well, maybe they made a mistake
on the payroll.” “Well, that’s their bad.” Amen? [laughter] I’m just saying. God blessed
us, a little money in the bank. Didn’t have any groceries and some of the folks on the
worship team at that time came to our house and brought us groceries. The Devil said,
“Oh, you’re going to be living in your car,” and all this. And we had so many groceries,
folks, we didn’t have enough cupboard space for them. It was all on top of the counters
and everywhere. Let me tell you—I’m going to tell you something:
when God does something out of nothing, out of nothing—we had nothing—and then the
church embraces. And Skip took me to lunch one day and said, “Come on staff,” and the
rest of it is history. We were restored in this place. You’ll always be dear to us. This
will always be home for us. And then sent us back to—went back to Colorado Springs.
[applause] Amen. Give God glory. Amen. Praise his name. [cheers and applause] But I share
that story to say it doesn’t matter what your situation is right now, that God in the midst
of your situation—“Pastor, I can’t afford groceries. I’m in a bad situation.” In the
midst of that situation, in the midst of swarming and chewing locust, God says, “I’ll do something
brand new if you’ll trust me.” Amen? [applause] All right, two verses that I’m going to leave,
because I want to be able to come back. Psalm 107 verse 9, “For he satisfies the longing
soul, and he fills the hungry soul with goodness,” the hungry soul longing for restoration. Psalm
3 verse 3 says, “But you, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the lifter, the One who
lifts my head.” Amen? He’s a God of restoration. Father, thank you for your Word today. Bless
this congregation. Thank you for their love and generosity. But I pray for that person
today who may be in a place and is in desperate need of restoration. Would you speak to their
heart right now. Help them to see that we have a God who has never given up on them
and never will. Lord, I pray that if there’s anyone here that
does not know Jesus that they would open their heart to Jesus and surrender to you today.
That they would say with their own lips, from their heart, they would tear their hearts
and say, “God, forgive me. I’m a sinner. Jesus, come into my life. I put my faith in you as
my Lord and my Savior this afternoon. Come into my life, in Jesus’ name. Thank you, Lord,
for being a God of restoration, amen. God bless you all. Closing: We hope you enjoyed this special
service from Calvary Albuquerque featuring our guest speaker Pastor Al Pittman. How will
you live out what you learn from this message? Let us know. Email us at [email protected]
And just a reminder: you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank
you for joining us for this special teaching from Calvary Albuquerque.

 

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