Sunday, December 17, 2017

Brought back

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TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 126:1-6

TO CHEW ON: "When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing." Psalm 126:1-2

It's doubtful whether most of us will experience the joy of a return from physical exile like the Psalm-writer describes here. But we do know other kinds of captivity—the prison of sickness, the pain of alienation from family members and friends, the feeling of being estranged from God…

When we come down to it, our times of exile are meant to drive us to God in the first place or back to Him if we have wandered away. In a little study of  what it means to be "brought back" spiritually I discovered four things:

1. Exile from God is called backsliding. Sin and neglecting to follow God's rules frequently led to actual exile in the OT. When writing about backsliding, the Bible writers often refer to it as an illness that needs healing - Isaiah 54:15, 18; Jeremiah 3:22; Hosea 14:4.

2. God is the One who instigates and does the restoring (Psalm 23:3). One of the things He does is deal with our sin (Micah 7:19) so that His anger toward us is placated (Psalm 84:5).

3. He also uses people in the restoration process. Paul, with the language of childbirth, describes his work of restoration among the Galatians (Galatians 4:19). He also enlists lay people to help restore those who have fallen into sin (Galatians 6:10).

4. Restoration is a party! Look at the story of the Prodigal Son - Luke 15:22-24;32. David prays for restored joy after confessing his sin with Bathsheba - Psalm 51:12. The people in our psalm are in a pinch-me-is-this-really-happening? state of ecstasy, their mouths filled with laughter, their tongues with singing.

Do we find ourselves in exile? If we are, let's respond to God who wants us back. He will restore us spiritually and has the power to restore to us other things as well (like health and relationships - Joel 2:12-14; 25).

Dear God, the joy of restoration in these verses is palpable.  I pray that You will bring back those who read here from whatever exile they are in and restore that joy. Amen.

MORE: Vagabonds by Stuart Townend

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent.

The liturgy today begins with this collect prayer:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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