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It's Time to "Restore the Years", Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
May 18, 2022 7:05 am

It's Time to "Restore the Years", Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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Today, on Insight for Living. The people of God must return to a hunger and thirst for righteousness. You must refuse to be entertained and have it called worship. Stop watching and supporting and sending your money to media ministries that do not feed your souls.

And do that soon! When you look at the spiritual condition of the church around our country and in many parts of the world, it's discouraging to find many pulpits drifting away from the Bible and presenting a false version of the gospel. So, is it too late to recover? Will our churches ever return to the biblical model? Today, on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll concludes this series called The Church Awakening. He'll answer these pressing questions and others as we look to the Old Testament prophets for inspiration. Chuck titled his message, It's Time to Restore the Years. There's a hollow ring heard in many a church today that once had a strong pulpit and a vibrant adult fellowship ministry and a youth ministry and a children's ministry where the fellowship was authentic and love was real and grace abounded and there was a passion work of the Holy Spirit igniting lives and bringing people who were lost to a knowledge of the Savior.

Where there was this kind of give and take, this kind of vibrant spiritual life and you feel it, you can't stay away from it, but now it's a hollow ring. There's just a memory of we once had a prophet here. We turn to a man named Amos. Amos is a country boy.

He's a sheep herder and when that wasn't going on, he picked sycamore figs. So, he's a fig picker from Tekoa and of all things, the Lord's hand is on Amos and he says to Amos, I'm going to use you to minister up north right in the face of the king who is cruel and immoral and unfaithful and unfair and you're to confront him with his wrongs. Amos, you're to speak the truth without fear and I'll go before you and I'll be with you as you do so.

Chapter 7, verse 10. Then Amaziah the priest, he's a false priest. He's a phony priest. He's the kind of priest that tells the people around him what they want to hear. Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent word to Jeroboam king of Israel saying Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is unable to endure all his words. Hey king, you got to know something. He's back. He's right down there, right there in the court. For thus Amos says Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.

Now that's not how you win friends and gain a lot of contacts for business. But Amos isn't worried about that. So Amaziah is telling on him saying to the king, you got to understand the guy's back.

He's a pain. And Amaziah then says to Amos, verse 12, go you seer. You know, get out. Flee away to the land of Judah. Go back home. There, eat your bread and do your prophesying, but no longer prophesy at Bethel for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal red line.

You get the feeling? Flee. You're on a fence. Get out and take your sheep with you.

Fig picker. I love this. I love this response. Then Amos replied to Amaziah, listen to me high pockets.

Well, that's kind of a Swindoll paraphrase to get us into it. I am not a prophet, meaning I didn't self, I'm not a self appointed man of God. God's called me.

I've responded to his call. I didn't do this on my own. I'm not here representing me. Nor am I the son of a prophet. I don't have a daddy who was a preacher and my granddaddy wasn't a preacher. I'm not from a long line of preachers. I'm a sheep herder and I'm a fig picker.

That's the truth. I'm a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me, go and prophesy to my people Israel. Now, now you hear the word of the Lord. You were saying you shall not prophesy against Israel, nor shall you speak against the house of Isaac.

Therefore, since you say that, here is my answer. Thus says the Lord, your wife will become a harlot in the city. Well, that's a good opening line. You might mention to Jeroboam his wife's going to be on the street in a while selling herself and your sons and your daughters will fall by the sword and your land will be parceled up by a measuring line and you yourself will die upon unclean soil.

Moreover, Israel will certainly go from its land into exile. Whoa. There is nothing easy to hear in a message like that. It isn't the job of God's spokesman to shape his words so that they're easy to hear. Oh, they need to be accurate. They need to be relevant.

But they must not be compromised. Turn the page and look at chapter 8 verse 11. Amos is not true speaking.

Behold, which is his way of saying, pay attention. Days are coming declares the Lord when I will send a famine on the land. You talk about 21st century prophecy. I will send a famine on the land.

It'll not be a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger. They'll wander from one coast to the other, from sea to sea, from the north to the east to the west to the south. They'll go in all different direction.

They will go to and fro. There's the seeker seeking the word of the Lord, but they will not find it. I don't know of a more apt statement to define our times than Amos 8, 11, and 12. That false priest earlier had tried to run off the rough and rugged Amos since he confronted wrongdoing with such passion. Amos later predicted that there will come a day when the land will languish, longing for a strong voice for God courageously and politically incorrect, standing for what is right. And the famine, men and women, has come. We are in the midst of it. Be aware of it.

Watch it on your television screen. Listen to religious comments made by the so-called professionals. Not all, remember, there are exceptions, but most.

And don't go by size of churches or size of offerings. Listen for the truth. We've heard from Ezekiel and his baleful words to a congregation that didn't want to listen. We've interviewed Amos and watched him in action.

We're not through until we interview briefly a man named Joel, back to chapter 2, the book that bears his name. You thought the famine that Amos mentions is bleak? Why, the people in Joel's day have gone through the swarms of locusts. In fact, they are identified more than once as a creeping locusts and swarming locusts and stripping locusts and gnawing locusts. Ever seen the work of locusts?

Many of you haven't. When we lived in California, I stopped on my way back from Mount Hermon Conference Center. Family was asleep. It was about dusk. I pulled over to a service station and stepped out and underneath my feet I could feel the crunching of something. It wasn't long before my whole windshield was covered with insects and I felt them getting in the back of my neck on my clothing and I quickly opened the gas cap and shoved in the nozzle to make sure I didn't have insects. To me, they were just bugs. And I said to the attendant, what is this? You could hear it just like a motor running. He said, oh, there's locusts.

It's those blankety-blank seven-year plague that's come through. He said, look over there. And I looked. And what had once been crops were now brown stalks sticking like canes out of the ground. Brown. He said, look over there.

And I looked and it was green. They were moving. They were moving. There were swarms in ancient days that would eclipse the sun as they would move into an area. Creeping, crawling, stripping, gnawing locusts. And he said, we live for the day this is over.

They're taking everything in their wake. You know what the Lord calls the locust plague in the days of the prophets? In the verse 25, my great army which I sent among you. The creator of all is able to control the creation. And when he says to the locusts, sic em, or whatever you say to locusts to get them moving, it's amazing what they do as they come out of the ground and out of the larva and their wings begin to move and they devour. Joel writes words of hope. There's this great section of scripture.

We've seen a body of people cynical because they have been exiled. And we've heard Amos as he stood with strength and authority in front of the king and his false priest. Now we go back further and we read of that famine that was caused by those locusts.

But the good news is that's not the end of the story. Look at chapter 2 verse 12. Here is where hope arises. Joel is lamenting the presence of the plague and the Lord says to him, return to me with all your heart with fasting and weeping and mourning and rend your heart and not your garments and return to the Lord your God. It's the Lord saying to his people, turn to me, trust me, rely on me, break your heart before me, stand before me and I will be gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding and loving kindness.

Those are words of hope. Verse 16, gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders. Verse 17, let the priests, the Lord's ministers weep between the porch and the altar.

Look at the people, look at the priests, look at them coming together and they're before the Lord on their faces, on their knees saying Lord have mercy on us, have pity on us and our hearts are broken over our lives. Verse 18, then. Verse 25, then.

This is the result of God's blessing that comes in the wake of repentance. Then the Lord will be zealous for his land. Verse 18, I will have pity on my people. The Lord will answer and say to his people, I'm going to send you grain, new wine and oil you will be satisfied in full with them and I will never again make you a reproach among the nations. 25, then I will make up to you for the years the locusts have eaten.

One of my favorite verses in all the scriptures. I promise to you when you do what you must do, I will make up for the years the locusts have eaten and the promise continues. 26, you shall have plenty to eat and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord your God who has dealt wondrously with you and my people will never be put to shame. That is the day I wait for.

That is a day of revival. Now what do we do to get there? Let's acknowledge three changes that must occur and I'm going to ask you to write them down.

You'll forget them and you'll need them so I want you to write them down. Three changes that we must acknowledge in order for there to be this kind of end of the famine and the beginning of God's favor upon the church. First, the people of God must return to a hunger and thirst for righteousness. The people of God must return to a hunger and thirst for righteousness.

You must be weary of eating husks and leftovers and being entertained. You must demand a halt to superficial religion. You must refuse to be entertained and have it called worship. You must openly state we expect more of our pastor than a 12-minute sermonette. We will not put up with that any longer. These United States do provide for us the opportunity to protest and I think it's high time the people of God protested against those who have taken the church in the wrong direction. Stop watching and supporting and sending your money to media ministries that do not feed your souls. And do that soon. It's as simple as that.

If they don't have the finances, they cannot continue. And there are those who continue, continue to support them. Back in the days when grace was hardly mentioned, I decided I would do a series on grace. It later came to be called The Grace Awakening. And in that series I said it's time to stop submitting to legalists. It's time for us to quit living like we're under the law. It's time to stand fast in the liberty where with Christ has made us free. And it was like a voice in the wilderness.

I wasn't the only voice, but there weren't many. And from that came a whole movement and the famine that had been ignored long enough began to shift and change. And now legalists are exposed for what they are. And grace abounds. And it's the way it ought to be in the church of Jesus Christ. Second, the ministers of God must repent of their failure to fulfill their calling.

Ministers of the gospel must repent of their failure to fulfill God's call in their lives. When people in the medical profession fail to fulfill their calling, there's no question it's called malpractice. And we won't stand for it. We will take on, if necessary, the whole association because we've been wronged physically. When investors take advantage of our money and they use it for their good, their own lining of their pockets, it's called fraud. It's a criminal act. And we don't stand for it.

We stand against it. But when ministers fail to do their responsibility, it's amazing how people put up with it. Back to Peterson, he writes, I don't know of any other profession in which it is quite as easy to fake it as in ours. By adopting a reverential demeanor, cultivating a stained glass voice, slipping occasional words in like eschatology and hyelsgoschichte into our discourse, we are trusted without any questions asked as stewards of the mysteries. Even when an occasional fits of humility or honesty, we disclaim sanctity, we are not believed. If we provide a bare bones outline of pretense, they take it as the real thing and run with it, imputing to us clean hands and pure hearts.

That's an honest statement. Ministers need to stop faking it, need to declare that they're lazy, that they'd rather play golf than do their work and their study. I wonder how many ministers have more than three shelves of books, most of them paperbacks. I wonder how many of them really do spend time with God, really do pour their heart out before God, really do plead for the souls of the lost. It's time for there to be a repentance from the phoniness, from the greed, from the perfunctory spirit, from the lack of diligent and devoted prayer. We in ministry need to return to the study, to meditation, to seeking God's mind, to courageous and contagious preaching, to zealous and passionate, passionate service for God.

Our counseling needs to be honest. We need to confront wrong. We need to stop hobnobbing with the wealthy. We need to stop playing favorites and ignoring our wives and children in the process. Who knows how many could claim ministry as their first wife? Wives wait, longing for the love and affection of their husbands who were married to the church. That calls for repentance, repentance. Every one of my mentors as I look back had a strong home and family because every one of them was devoted to his wife and his children.

It doesn't mean they all turned out right or they were all great. They're all flawed individuals, but there was no question. Ministry was second to the responsibility of the home and family, most of all to the relationship with the living God. Repentance is needed. I think I got the point across. Here's the third. Here's the third.

Write it down. The house of God needs to represent its biblical purpose for existence. The house of God needs and must represent its purpose for existence. It is a house of prayer. It's not a house of business. It is a house of worship.

It isn't a house of corporate planning. It is a place of protection for children and for single women and the vulnerable and the broken and the bruised in life. The house of God is a refuge for those who have special needs and can't keep up, those who are trying hard but can never find their way even to the realm of average. We are to have a place for them. It's a harbor of hope for those who are addicted and struggling, even through a divorce, trying to find a reason to go on.

And may I add, it is a model of art and beauty, grand music, creative expression of such, new songs, lovely surroundings, and may I add, inviting the up and out as well as the down and out. Where do those people go who have this world's goods? Why wouldn't it be an evangelical church? Why would they have only the choice of another place where they're going to get ten or twelve minutes to hear what they want to hear? It's time for the church to awaken.

I love the way this man puts it. Direct preaching has always marked the proclamation of God's man down through the ages. Noah's message on the steps going up to the ark was not, something good is going to happen to you. Amos was not confronted by the high priest of Israel for proclaiming confession is possession.

Name it and claim it. Jeremiah was not put into the pit for preaching, I'm okay, you're okay. Daniel was not put in the lion's den for telling people possibility thinking will move mountains. John the Baptist was not forced to preach in the wilderness and eventually beheaded because he said, smile, God loves you. The two prophets of the tribulation will not be killed for preaching.

God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. Pastors who are committed to biblical exposition must have a confrontive element in their preaching. It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and heals than falsehood that comforts and kills. It is not love, it is not friendship if we fail to declare the whole counsel of God.

It's better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie. It is better to stand alone with the truth than to stand for wrong with a multitude. We are in hard times, the church is barely surviving.

There was no Rip Van Winkle to waken. We are to be awakened. We are to be the ones, the church of the living God saying that is enough and I will not tolerate it any longer. Let's bow our heads.

Bow your heads with me please. Lord God have mercy upon us. In the midst of all of the locusts and all of the desolation and all of the barrenness that has come as a result of the times in which we live, raise up by your grace, raise up a remnant that will be characterized by the kind of stuff that marked Ezekiel and Amos. Make us women and men of God in a culture that doesn't care in a world that's lost its way. Guard us from stupid, out of balance, over reactionary action but give us the courage to stand where standing is essential so that we might survive. In fact that we might one day again by your grace flourish. Awaken your church is our prayer in the name of Jesus our Savior.

Everybody said amen. This is the daily radio program known around the world as Insight for Living and with Chuck Swindoll's closing prayer we conclude our nine-part teaching series called The Church Awakening. And if you'd like to learn more about Chuck Swindoll and this ministry visit us online at You know it's not often we're able to offer a book that complements Chuck's teaching on this program but today is the exception.

Chuck wrote a full-length book that was inspired by our current study. It's also called The Church Awakening and this is the very last day we'll feature this resource on the program. If you've intended to request a copy now's the time to respond. Insight for Living has never intended to replace the church and we never will. Instead we're focused on helping you find a local church where the biblical model is honored and one that allows you and your family to experience all that God intended. To purchase a copy of The Church Awakening go to slash offer or call us.

If you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888. Once you're finished reading this book you'll want to share it with your pastor as well. At Insight for Living we're pleased to receive notes letters and phone calls from friends who affirm the value of this daily program. You might be encouraged to hear this one. It said I'm a pastor in southern Texas.

I'm 70 years old but going strong. Preachers need to have a preacher too and Chuck is my preacher. Insight for Living brings me daily inspiration, accountability and instruction in God's word. Thank you and God bless you.

Isn't that great? When we inspire the pastor of a church we're impacting all the people who attend that church as well. And when you give a contribution to Insight for Living you're making these moments possible. To give a donation right now call us. If you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888. To give a donation online today go to slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us tomorrow when Chuck Swindoll starts our next series. This time on the remarkable life of David. Join us Thursday to hear Insight for Living. The preceding message, It's Time to Restore the Years, was copyrighted in 2008 and 2010 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2010 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-17 07:24:58 / 2023-04-17 07:34:08 / 9

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