RESTORATION: A CALL FOR THE NEW YEAR
THIS IS RESTORATION OF OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH GOD AND WITH ONE ANOTHER
A CALL TO RESTORATION
Restoration means bringing something back to how it was in past times – it might even be making it better than it ever was before!
Take furniture as an example – time wears it down; ill-usage causes it to be marked and damaged. The time comes when it is no longer fit for purpose and is considered useless – fit only for the dump or the fire. But take that old, worn out, furniture and lovingly spend time rubbing it down and filling cracks and replacing worn nails and hinges, re-coating it with varnish and paint, and all that effort will eventually be rewarded with something glorious that will grace the room for the future.
It is the same for us. Time wears us out. Circumstances and problems mark us and damage our spirits. The trials and tribulations of life cause our relationship with God to break down. The trials and tribulations of life cause our relationship with one another to break down.
2021 is an opportunity for New Beginnings – an opportunity to restoration of relationships with God and with one another. But, just like when restoring an old bit of furniture, it demands three things:
- A recognition – an admission – that the relationship is not what it used to be and is damaged.
- A response – a crying out that we want restoration with God and with one another.
- A reaction – the willingness to do what is needed to restore those broken and damaged relationships.
Let us look at our lives at the start of 2021 and ask if there are those with whom we need to seek restoration of relationships – God and man.
THE BIBLE CONTEXT: 1 PETER 5: 6-11
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Here we see 8 steps to restoration in 2021 – we are told that He will “restore” us if we undertake to do these things:
- HUMBLE YOURSELVES
We humble ourselves when we see ourselves for who we truly are; when we do not think more highly of ourselves than we ought.
We humble ourselves “under God’s mighty hand” when we recognise that He is perfect, and we are imperfect; when we see that He knows all things and we know so little; when we understand that He is almighty, all-knowing and all-present and that we are not; we humble ourselves when we confess that He is holy and that we continue to sin.
We humble ourselves before others when we acknowledge that we are no better than them, no cleverer than them, no wiser than them; when we see that their point of view, their opinions, their hopes and fears, hurts and happinesses are of equal worth to ours; we humble ourselves when we truly seek to put others before ourselves.
When we humble ourselves before God and man, we are close to restoration with them.
- CAST ALL YOUR ANXIETY ON HIM
We do this when we bow and acknowledge before God that we are at the end of what we can do; when we recognise that we are unable to deal with the breakdown of relationship in our own strength.
When relationships with God and others are not right, we are often angry. Angry with God – feeling that He has let us down; angry with others – that it is THEIR fault that things are bad between us.
When we hurt, we are anxious – we can’t get these thoughts out of our mind.
God calls us to just come to Him and let go of our hurts and anxieties – to just give them over to Him. When we do this, we are close to restoration with God and with man.
- BE ALERT AND OF SOBER MIND
We do this when we realise that breakdown of relationships with God and man comes about because our enemy, the devil, wants to drive us away from our loving Father in Heaven, and wants to destroy the unity of the church. He does this by being the liar and “murderer” (one who wants to destroy what is good) as Jesus tells us (John 8: 44).
“We are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2: 11) and so we remain alert. We remain sober when we refuse to entertain hot-headed thoughts against God or the one who has hurt us.
When we recognise the true origin of relationship breakdown then we are close to restoration with God and with man.
- RESIST HIM
We resist the devil’s lies and deceptions when we choose to “submit to God” (James 4: 7) and choose to follow His ways of love and obedience.
When we choose to put God first in our lives and refuse to listen to the devil’s lies then we are close to restoration with God and with man.
- STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH
We do this when we stand on the Good News of the Word of God – all His promises. We do this when we seek the Paraclete – God the Holy Spirit – to stand right by our side and help us.
When we stand firm in our faith on the Word and with the Spirit then we are close to restoration with God and with man.
- THE FAMILY OF FAITH ARE SUFFERING
It is so easy to become self-absorbed when relationships break down – to see only how WE have been hurt, and how WE have been affected. And so we “take our eye off” what is going on around us in our families, in our church and in the world.
Here we have a call to put things into perspective – to recognise that all round the world people are suffering.
When we lift up our eyes to recognise the problems and troubles that Christians have around the world and put our hurts from broken relationships into perspective then we are close to restoration with God and with man.
- THEN HE WILL RESTORE YOU
And here is the promise – “THEN He will restore you”. Do these things are restoration will happen. But you have got to WANT restoration with God and with man. If you want revenge, justification that you are right and that God and man are wrong, then there will be no restoration. You have to do all these things.
- SO, GIVE HIM THE GLORY – TO HIM BE THE POWER
And then we will bow down in worship – for there is nothing more wonderful than to see restoration with God and with man take place. And as we bow down, so we acknowledge that it is He, and He alone, who has brought all this about through His power – the power of His love.
SO, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
In Matthew 5 Jesus is teaching His followers the way to live. Specifically talking about times when we have a problem in our relationship with others, He tells us (in verse 24) to –
leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Although Jesus is talking about relationships with one another I think it is the same in our need to look for restoration in our relationship with our Father in Heaven.
And the principle is REALLY simple (but involves courage and hard work):
- Leave “your gift” at the altar. Our gift is what we bring to God – it is our work, our abilities, our very lives. We are called to just stop what we are doing – right then and there and then..
- Go and be “reconciled” to the one we need restoration with.
- This implies rapid action. It implies a “don’t leave this for long – but get on with it straight away as you can’t give your gift to God until it is sorted”.
- This means “us” going to “them”. They might not even know that there is a problem between us. God will know but the person might not. It does not mean that we wait for them to recognise the problem and come to us. It is “what it says on the tin” – it is go to them and sort it out.
- Reconciliation implies that we are going to do what it takes to sort things out with the other one – to be restored to them. It implies that we want to put it right, that we are willing to say sorry and seek a way back. It puts the onus on us!
Believe it or not this is far simpler when it comes to deciding to be restored to a deeper relationship with God. When the Prodigal Son came to his senses and went back to his father, he found him waiting for him on the road – and the father did all the work – all the son had to do was WANT to come back to the father – sorry within for what he knew he had done and willing to do whatever it took to be back in his father’s house. Oh! How God is LONGING for you to come to Him and seek deep restoration! And how EASY He will make it!