Yeah! Everybody give it up for our band! What a way to kick off our brand new series called “The ‘80s.”
Footloose, both the movie and the song, were released in 1984. And I know we’ve got a lot of younger people here that weren’t even alive in 1984, so let me give you a glimpse of the awesomeness that you missed simply because you were born too late. Here’s a hint of what pop culture was like in 1984.
Some of the top movies that were released in 1984 included The Karate Kid. If you’ve ever said, “wax on, wax off…” If you remembering standing in front of a mirror seeing how cool you looked doing the crane kick, then you are a child of the ‘80s. You know all about The Karate Kid.
Then there was this one. Every child of the ‘80s knows the answer to this question. Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! That’s right. If you remember the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man…and if you remember that you never, EVER cross the streams of two proton packs, then you are a child of the ‘80s who remembers the movie Ghostbusters.
And of course, we have to mention classic 1984 movies like The Terminator, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins, and of course, Footloose. All were released in ’84.
Some of the top TV shows that debuted in 1984 were Punky Brewster. For the record, one of my elementary school “girlfriends” looked a lot like Punky Brewster. I don’t know what that means, but there you go.
Airwolf. Still the coolest helicopter ever built.
Miami Vice. One way to tell if you are really a child of the 80s…you look at this picture of Crockett and Tubbs, and you’re still convinced that what they’re wearing is cool.
Charles in Charge. How many of you remember the song? “Charles in charge of our days and our nights. Charles in charge of our ___________________” Wrongs and our rights.
Highway to Heaven. Remember this one? Michael Landon played an angel that was sent back to earth because he was on “probation.” He and his partner, Mark Gordon, helped people overcome all kinds of problems. The show was pretty sappy and I’ve got some definite opinions about it, but somebody here was probably in the Michael Landon fan club, so I’ll just keep my mouth shut.
And finally, The Cosby Show made its debut in 1984. I preach some kind of family or parenting series every year, and this year is no exception. We’ve got one coming this summer. But honestly, I’m pretty convinced that I would never need to preach a parenting series ever again if everyone would just watch more of The Cosby Show.
Also in 1984, some incredible technology was developed. The first Apple Macintosh went on sale in 1984. All you young whipper-snappers are laughing at this, but this was the bomb back in ’84. This was unbelievable technology. I remember the first time I saw a computer with a mouse. I thought I was on an episode of the Jetsons. This was some crazy, futuristic stuff.
Sony and Philips introduced the first commercial CD players in 1984. Again, this was crazy technology. Music is played on a disc that is read by a laser. Wow!
Although back in ‘84, most of us were still listening to cassette tapes on our Walkman. Last year, I actually found an old cassette tape at my house. I showed it to our son Ryan, and said, “Do you know what this is?” He studied it for a minute and then said, “Is that some kind of ancient MP3 player?” True story.
1984 was definitely an awesome year. In fact, the ‘80s were an awesome decade. And we’re going to be remembering stuff like this for the next four weeks during our series called “The ‘80s.” We’re going to have a lot of fun, because like I said earlier, if you can’t have fun at church, where exactly CAN you have fun?
But just because we’re going to have some fun in this series doesn’t mean that God isn’t going to do something in our lives. Just the opposite. God is going to move in this series BIG time. Our band is playing songs from the ‘80s, and I’m going to be preaching for the ‘80s. Not the decade of the ‘80s, but the 80th chapters of the book of Psalms. And there is some stuff in these chapters that God is going to use to challenge us, heal us, free us, and change us.
This is kind of a back-to-basics series. In the 80th chapters of the Psalms, we really get a view of who God is and what He wants to do in our lives. And our prayer for this series is that we would all see God more clearly and we would know Him more fully.
So let’s take a minute and pray for that now.
Today, we’re going to be in Psalm 80. Psalm 80 was written during a time when God’s people, the Israelites, were under attack. We’re not exactly sure who was attacking them. Maybe the Babylonians. Maybe the Assyrians. Scholars disagree on who was attacking Israel at this time, but when you read Psalm 80, there is no doubt that it was a dark time for the Israelites. And in this Psalm, the Israelites are crying out to God.
And in this Psalm, the same phrase appears three separate times. If you look at Psalm 80, you’ll notice that verses 3, 7, & 19 all say the exact same thing. Word for word.
One simple principle to remember when you’re reading the Bible is look for things that are repeated. If something is repeated in Scripture, that means that God is trying to get our attention. And if something is repeated three times, that means that God is REALLY trying to get our attention. So we’re going to listen to exactly what He wants to say to us today.
Here is the prayer that is repeated three times in Psalm 80. “Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” (Psalm 80:3, 7, & 19, NIV)
Three different times, this prayer is written verbatim in Psalm 80. So we’re going to spend our entire time today unpacking this prayer. It is short. It is simple. But it is also powerful, because it reveals who God is and what He wants to do in our lives.
It shows us that God restores. That’s who He is. He is a God who restores. That’s what He wants to do in our lives. He wants to bring restoration. And as we’re going to see today, our only hope is found in this truth: God restores.
I’m kind of a History Channel nerd. I like Pawn Stars, American Pickers, and Swamp People. In fact, while everyone else in America watched 24 this past week, I was watching Swamp People. And it was awesome.
And then, there’s one more History Channel show that I like called American Restoration. The show features a guy named Rick Dale who owns a shop in Las Vegas called Rick’s Restorations. His shop specializes in taking broken down junk and restoring it back to like-new condition. The stuff arrives at his shop absolutely trashed. It is absolutely roached out. But by the time Rick’s team is finished, it looks brand new. They breathe new life into stuff that is dead.
And the more I think about it, the more I realize that this is exactly what God does for me. I’m a total restoration project. When God got a hold of me, I was dead. But God is doing a work of restoration in me, because that’s what He does. God restores.
This prayer from Psalm 80 is just as applicable to us today as it was when it was written centuries ago. “Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” (Psalm 80:3, 7, & 19, NIV)
Let’s unpack this a little bit. When the Psalmist prayed, “Restore us, O God,” he was praying for God to give Israel a second chance at life. Things were dark. Things were hard. Things looked hopeless. And it seemed like Israel was dying. So the Psalmist prayed, “Restore us, O God.” “Give us a second chance at life.”
And nothing has changed. There is nothing that we need more than a second chance at life.
Some of us need a second chance at life because of what we’ve done. The ghosts of our past still haunt us. It might have been something in the last decade. Or in the last year. Or last week. Or even last night. But something we have done in the past still haunts us. It still holds us in the grip of guilt. We’ve never been able to get past our past.
Others of us need a second chance at life, not because of something that we’ve done, but something that was done to us. Somewhere along the line, someone wounded us deeply. And the wound has never fully healed. We’ve never been able to move past that hurt.
Some of us need a second chance at life simply because things aren’t working out they way we thought they would. Maybe you’re not even sure how you got to where you are, but this is definitely not what you expected. It’s not what you planned. It’s not what you wanted.
No matter what is going on in your life…no matter what you’re dealing with from your past or your present…this is the truth that God wants to drive deep into your mind, heart, and soul. God restores. It’s what He does. It’s the core of who He is.
God restores the broken. He restores the sinful. He restores the disappointed and discouraged. He restores the sick. He restores the disillusioned. He restores the damaged. He restores the dying.
And here’s how He does it. He changes darkness into light. Look at this prayer from Psalm 80 again. “Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” (Psalm 80:3, 7, & 19, NIV)
Israel was in a very dark time, so the Psalmist prayed for God to make His face shine on them. In other words, He prayed for God’s light to break into their darkness because that’s how God restores us. He changes darkness into light.
But the problem is that a lot of us are still living in darkness. Darkness tells us that things will never change. The way things are, are the way things will always be.
Darkness says you can’t be forgiven. Not after what you’ve done. Other people might be forgiven, but not you.
Darkness tells you that you can’t be authentic about your struggles. If people knew what you really struggle with, they wouldn’t want to have anything to do with you. If your church knew what was really in your past, they’d pull back and you’d be isolated and alone.
Darkness tells you that your past will always dictate your future. You’ll never move past your past. It will always hold you prisoner. It will never let you go.
Darkness tells you that you have to be an imposter. If people knew the real you, they’d walk away from you. Don’t let people in. Keep them at arms length. Keep the truth in the shadows.
I talked earlier about some popular shows from the year 1984. One of the most popular shows throughout much of the 80s was the A-Team. Every child of the ‘80s remembers Hannibal, Face, Howling Mad Murdock, and B.A. Baracus. And you have fond memories of phrases like, “I love it when a plan comes together.” And, “I ain’t getting’ on no plane, fool!”
The A-team were soldiers of fortune who had to hide from the government. They had been convicted of war crimes that they did not commit. They broke out of a maximum security stockade and were forced to become part of the Los Angeles underground. They had to live in the shadows. They had to wear disguises. They could never let their real identity be known.
And maybe that sounds really familiar to you. Maybe I just described every single day of your life. Shadows. Disguises. Hiding your real identity. In other words, darkness.
I’ve got a liberating truth for you today. You can leave the darkness behind. You can come out of the shadows. You can step into the light, because light is where God does His restoring work.
Listen to what Jesus said in John 12. “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (John 12:46, NIV)
You can’t be in Christ AND in darkness. That’s a complete contradiction. Jesus came to bring you out of the darkness. He gave His life for your life. His resurrection to life gives you a brand new life. His death and resurrection are a work of restoration. It restores your life. It gives life to what was dead.
But it also means that you have to be willing to step out of the darkness. It means being honest about your struggles. It means seeking people to circle around you and pray for you. It means putting aside any religious masquerade and getting real about what is actually going on in your life.
Stepping into the light doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect. Just the opposite. It means that you finally admit that you don’t have things all together.
Here at Connect, it’s okay to not be okay. And those aren’t just words. We really mean it. It’s okay to not be okay.
If things are all messed up, if you are far from perfect, then I want to welcome you to Connect, because you’ll fit right in. We are a church where it’s okay to not be okay.
But we are also a church where it’s not okay to stay that way. We are a church of people who are being restored by God. Now, we’re all in various stages of restoration. Some of us are further down the line. Some of us are just getting started. We’re far from perfect, but God is doing a restoring work in our lives. But it only happens when we’re willing to step out of the shadows; when we choose to leave the darkness behind and step into God’s light.
I love the honest words written by the Old Testament prophet, Micah. Tell me you don’t resonate with this. “Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” (Micah 7:8b, NIV)
I love that, because it is such an accurate description of my life. “Though I have fallen, I will rise.” You’re going to fall. I’m going to fall. We’re going to mess up. We’re going to sin.
But because of Jesus, our falls aren’t fatal. Every time we fall, we rise, all thanks to God’s incredible grace. We’re going to fall into darkness, but God’s light is there to rescue us every single time.
Think about it this way, since it’s Mothers Day. Every mom remembers their babies learning to walk. They take a few bumbling steps, and then they fall down. Now, obviously they are made to walk. They have two legs. They have knees that bend. They have two feet. They have ten toes. They have all the necessary tools to just walk, and yet they stumble and fall after a couple of steps.
And what does mom do? She cheers! She claps! She goes way over the top to celebrate something that, to be honest, isn’t all that impressive. It’s really not much of an achievement.
And yet, to mom, it is. It’s an incredible achievement because this is her child. And because it’s her child, she celebrates the steps and immediately overlooks the fall.
And God does the exact same thing for His children. He celebrates the steps, and overlooks the fall.
That’s exactly what Job said. In the Old Testament book of Job, he said to God, “Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin.” (Job 14:16, NIV)
God remembers our steps, but forgets our sin. He remembers the steps, but doesn’t keep track of the falls. He celebrates every win, but He doesn’t remember any failure.
At the same time, God has both a perfect and a horrible memory. I love that He has perfect recollection of every victory in my life. But I’m even more glad that His grace makes Him forgetful. I’m so glad that He doesn’t remember my failures, my struggles, my defeats, my falls, and my sins.
There are some beautiful lyrics to an old, obscure hymn that really hit me this week. “What though the vile accuser roar, Of sins that I have done; I know them well, and thousands more; My God, He knoweth none.” (What Though The Accuser Roar, Samuel Whitelock Gandy, 1838)
Isn’t that awesome? After God does a restoring work in our lives, He doesn’t even remember the way we used to be. He doesn’t remember the sins in our past, or even in our present. He doesn’t remember the junk that came into His shop. All He sees is the restored work. All He sees is the new creation that we’ve become.
That’s what the Apostle Paul reminds us about in 2 Corinthians 5. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)
When God restores you, the old you is gone. It isn’t just gone. It has passed away. It is dead. You are a completely new creation, and that’s all God sees when He looks at you.
And if that’s how God sees you, shouldn’t that be how you start to see yourself? This is something I’ve been really working through lately. I focus on my failures. God remembers my steps, but I remember my falls. And to be honest, most weeks I go home from church feeling like a complete hypocrite. I go home, knowing that I just preached a message about something that I’m struggling with myself. And that’s a tough thing to deal with. I go home thinking, “I know what I said, but I also know the real me. I know how screwed up I am. I know that I fail way more often than I succeed. I fall way more often than I walk. I know the real me.”
But you know how God responds? He says, “No you don’t. You don’t know the real you, because you’re focused on the old you that is dead and buried. I know the real you. The real you is who you are in Christ. The real you is a new creation. I am doing a work of restoration in you, and that’s all I see. The real you is restored. Forgiven. Free. Brand new.”
If you are in Christ, that’s the “real you.” Your identity is found in Jesus. Your worth is found in Jesus. The “real you” is found in Jesus.
This is a message that every single person in this room needs to hear. The “real you” is found in Jesus. It’s not found in your sin. But on the flip side, it’s not found in your self-righteousness, either. This is a double-sided blade. It cuts both ways. Because of Jesus, we aren’t defined by our sin. But we aren’t defined by self-righteousness, either.
Go back to the prayer in Psalm 80. The last part of this is crucial. “Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” (Psalm 80:3, 7, & 19, NIV)
The Psalmist was completely honest. He said, “We need to be saved.” Translation: “We can’t do this ourselves. We need a Savior.”
And it blows my mind how many people in the church seem to forget this truth. The longer we are in the church, the more we can begin to believe that we don’t really need a Savior. Because the longer we’re in the church, the more our lives change. Which is exactly how it should work. Our lives are patterned more and more after what we see in Scripture. That’s awesome.
But here’s what’s not awesome. For a lot of people, as morality increases, their perceived need for a Savior decreases. And that is a lie that comes straight from the mouth of Satan himself.
Here’s the truth. I don’t care if you’ve been in the church for 50 years. You need a Savior just as much as the person who came to church for the first time today. You need the gospel just as much as they need the gospel. You need grace just as much as they need grace.
Instead of becoming self-righteous, people in the church should be completely sold-out to the gospel. Because they know the darkness they used to live in. And they know the darkness that remains in their lives. They know that they used to sin. And they know that they still do sin. And they realize that self-righteousness is no righteousness at all.
We are not defined by self. We are defined by our Savior. And no matter how long we have followed Jesus, we still need His grace and forgiveness and mercy just as much today as we did the day we met Him.
Martin Lloyd Jones wrote, “The man who has faith is the man who is no longer looking at himself and no longer looking to himself. He no longer looks at anything he once was. He does not look at what he is now.
He does not even look at what he hopes to be as the result of his own efforts. He looks entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, and rests on that alone.”
Here’s the thing about self-righteous people. They think they’re living in the light, when in reality, they are living in complete darkness. Self-help is offers no hope. Self-righteousness isn’t righteous at all.
Our hope isn’t found in self. It’s found in our Savior. It’s found in the truth that Jesus already did it all. Through His death and resurrection, He changes us into new creations. It’s nothing that we do. It’s nothing that we can sustain. It is a work that is 100% done by Jesus.
In fact, when Asaph wrote Psalm 80, he told us the exact same thing because he wrote specifically about Jesus, even though this was written centuries before Jesus would be born. There is an incredible prophecy about Jesus in this Psalm.
Start in verse 17. Asaph wrote this prayer. “Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name.” (Psalm 80:17-18, NIV)
Who is the One who sits at the Father’s right hand? Who is the “son of man” that God raised up for Himself? Jesus!
And centuries before Jesus was born, this prophecy reminds us that we are revived, we are renewed, we are restored when we call on the Name of Jesus. It reminds us that it’s all about Jesus and it’s not about us.
That’s why we repeat ourselves all the time here at Connect. That’s why we preach Jesus every single week. Because we need constant reminders that it’s all about Jesus.
That’s why religious people will have a hard time here at Connect, because religious people are all about being self-righteous. And we tell them that it’s not about them. It’s all about Jesus.
But this is also why sinful people feel such a connection here. Because it’s not about them. It’s all about Jesus.
And if I have to choose one group of people to offend, I’m going to choose to offend the same people that Jesus offended. I’m going to offend self-righteous people so we can reach more sinful people. That’s what Jesus did, and that’s what we want to do.
We want to reach people with the message that God restores. And His restoration comes through the finished work of Jesus. That is the message that sets us free, because it’s not on us. We don’t have to perform in order to be loved. We don’t have to excel in order to be accepted.
Because of what Jesus did through His death and resurrection, we are renewed. We are redeemed. We are restored.
One last time from Psalm 80. “Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” (Psalm 80:3, 7, & 19, NIV)
Because of Jesus, we know that God will always answer that prayer. Through Jesus, He already has answered that prayer.
That’s why we give you a chance to respond to Jesus every week here at Connect. Because Jesus has done it all. What He did through His death and resurrection is enough to forgive all our sin. It is enough to set us completely free. It means that we don’t have to be good enough. We don’t have to be worthy. All we have to do is surrender. Surrender to Jesus, and then let Him to do the rest.
If you’re still wrestling with questions or doubts, we’d love to talk and pray with you. If you’re ready to give your life to Christ, we’re ready for you. If you are ready to be baptized, symbolizing your connection with Jesus’ death and resurrection, it can happen today.
We’re ready to serve you in whatever way you need. We invite you to come to the back during this last song.
This song nails what we’ve been talking about all morning. Think about some of the words. “I lift my cry to you, O God. Only You can save.”
“Despite my pain, you plan remains. You will deliver me.”
“God, You lifted me out.”
It’s not about what we have done. It’s not about anything we can do. It’s all about what Jesus has done. So let’s stand and worship Him now.