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Summary: This sermon encourages us to trust God during the 'dry seasons' of our life with the confidence that He will bring restoration into our life and Ministry

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GOD’S RESTORATION OF THE LOST YEARS (Isaiah 54, Joel 2)

INTRODUCTION – One of the historical wonders of my country Sri Lanka is the complex rock fortress, Sigiriya, and the palace built on it by one of our former Kings, Kasyapa, many centuries ago. It is an amazing place to see & tourists flock there to view its beauty, grandeur and craftsmanship. One of the highlights of Sigiriya is the frescoes that are painted on the rock walls. These and the site itself are considered National treasures, with UNESCO listing Sigiriya as a world heritage site. (If ever you come over to Sri Lanka, you need to visit Sigiriya). Many years ago, some of the frescoes were vandalized by an unknown group of people, with, (if I remember correctly), either ink or paint being thrown, to deface them. As a result, many experts had to be brought in (foreign and local), to work at restoring these frescoes back to their original state. Thankfully, they succeeded in most of their painstaking efforts.

We as God’s people, sometimes go through what could be termed the ‘lean years’. It’s a period where it looks like nothing much is happening and sometimes as if nothing at all is happening!! It can be a very trying period. We sometimes call them the ‘lost years’. However, If we walk close to God during such trying times, He is still in the business of restoring disappointed and damaged periods of our lives and He can bring restoration to our ‘lost years’! The ‘lost years’ need never be ‘wasted years’, if we allow God’s purposes to be accomplished in us.

PROPOSITION - God can restore all that seems lost during the ‘lost years’.

In our lives, we work hard and sometimes pray for years to maybe win our fiancĂ©e over, to earn a degree, to win an estranged partner back, to have the blessing of a child, to maybe get a promotion and to raise healthy, God -fearing children. But we never consider that time as wasted. In fact, I had to wait 4 years to marry my wife Regina, but it was sure worth the wait! Similarly, God will make the waiting period during the ‘lost years’ a blessed experience, as He brings restoration into our lives.

From Isaiah 54 and Joel 2, I would like to share 4 thoughts on God’s restoration.

1. GOD'S RESTORATION WILL RENEW YOUR JOY ( Isaiah 54: 1/ Joel 2:23)

When we struggle with difficult periods in life (the lost years), it could well be a time of sadness, tears and questions. However Isaiah 54 :1 says “Sing, O barren woman, ....burst into song, shout for joy ....” When God's restoration comes in, He will renew your joy as well as the song that may have been stifled in your life. Joel 2, which also speaks of restoration, says in verse 23 “Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, ... for... He sends you abundant showers”. Psalm 126 :5 says,“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”

Dear friend, has the joy been lost in your life? Have you been struggling to find a new song? Look to God for restoration and He will renew your joy and restore a song in your heart. The 'lost years' could well be part of God's discipling process in your life and He will eventually make it to work out for good.

ILLUSTRATION – According to the information we have, the prolific hymn writer Fanny Crosby lost her sight in both eyes at a very young age, due to a medical mishap. She could have easily allowed the circumstances and the challenging years that followed to kill her joy and remove the song in her heart. However, she allowed God to work His plan through what seemed like a tragedy, with no bitterness in her heart, and today, the church is so much more richer due to the hundreds of songs she wrote. How often we have been inspired by hymns like 'Blessed Assurance'! It is also said that although she was blind, Fanny spoke about vision and sight in most of her songs. For example, in 'Blessed Assurance', we find the lyrics,

'VISIONS of Rapture now burst on my SIGHT'

'WATCHING and waiting, LOOKING above'

As we begin 2016, let’s allow God to renew our joy!

2) GOD'S RESTORATION WILL EXPAND YOUR INFLUENCE (Isaiah 54: 2-3)

Verse 2-3 carry the words 'enlarge, stretch, wide, do not hold back, lengthen and strengthen'. All these words carry a connotation of large expansion, which is what God's restoration will accomplish.

Are you willing to trust God for such expansion? To spread out under His anointing? To see your ministry grow stronger than ever before? Can you enlarge your vision in 2016? Amos 9:13 says,“The days are coming”, declares the Lord, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes”. That’s harvesting at its best!

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