Christian Restoration

This morning, we’re beginning a new message series filled with hope and encouragement entitled, “Christian Restoration”.

There is something within us that loves to see things that are broken, damaged, or neglected be restored and made new or even recycled to serve a whole new purpose. There’s a huge list of T.V. shows that thrive off of this desire such as Extreme Makeover, Love it or List it, Income Property, Flea Market Flip, What Not to Wear, and Biggest Loser. Some shows go back even further such as This Old House and even Oprah. This message series is spoofed from the History channel’s series American Restoration. These shows are all about people and things being restored and made new. Also, checkout Pintrest. It also reveals just how hungry people are for restoration. It is a huge resource for new ideas for restoring or re-purposing things.

This concept is popular and trendy in our culture today, but it’s not actually anything new. God has been in the business of taking broken down things and people and restoring them and making them new ever since the fall of mankind into sin whenever things started to break down and death was introduced.

In dealing with a coming calamity, but also a miraculous restoration following it, God posed this rhetorical question to the prophet Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 32:27
I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?

Indeed, nothing is too hard for God! No matter how broken we may be, no matter how dismal our circumstances are; God is able to bring restoration and make all things new!

In fact, after all of the end time events take place and all those who accept Christ’s salvation are united, Jesus declares:

Revelation 21:5 (KJV)
Behold, I make all things new

However, God’s ability to bring restoration into our lives and to make us new doesn’t just happen once we step foot into Heaven. Scripture is full of accounts of real people who had real problems. These are real people who made real mistakes and lived with the tough consequences that came with them. And yet, we see time and time again that when they cry out to God, He comes in mighty to save with the power of His salvation and restores them and blesses them!

Last week, Jason shared a message that God had laid on his heart about the unexpected and unlikely people whom Jesus ministered to and how God is also calling us to reach out to those same people.

Jesus said,
Mark 2:17
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus is calling us to reach out to the broken, the lost, the sick, the hopeless. Why? Because these are the ones who have come to the place in their lives where they have nowhere else to turn to. They are desperate and long for someone to come rushing in to save the day. They are the ones most likely to be ready and willing to allow Jesus to come into their lives and be the mighty restorer that He is!

Think about the men whom Jesus chose to be the foundation upon which He built His church with the intent that it would transform the world and last for all generations to come. You would think that these would be men with decades of leadership experience who had sat at the feet of great teachers of scripture. You would have thought that He would have chosen elders, scribes, teachers of the scriptures, members of the Sanhedrin. That’s because we would have been looking at those men through the eyes of the world.

Instead, Jesus chose several fishermen, a tax collector, and a political zealot! Jesus saw these men for who they were through the world’s eyes. They were not men filled with hope, faith, and wisdom. They were rough men who had issues. However, Jesus saw through the prophetic eyes of the Holy Spirit and saw the potential that each one of them possessed.

Watching these restoration shows on T.V. give us a hint as to how God sees us. The American Pickers travel the United States on road trips looking for antiques to pick. There have been many times when they pickup a hunk of rust and end up selling it for hundreds of dollars. They see value in the same things that I look at and see junk not even worthy of being scrapped.

That’s how God sees us. He doesn’t just see who we are with all of our problems, He also sees beyond the rust and into the person who He created us to be. That’s how He is able to take our lives, no matter how broken and damaged they may be, and restore us and make us brand new. Paul wrote about this very matter:

2 Corinthians 5:16-20
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.

So we see here, that we have a choice to make. Are we going to choose to look at people the way that the world does? Are we going to choose to allow people’s problems and mistakes to define them like the world does? Oh, that person’s a low life, they’re a drunk, they’re a bad parent, they’re a thief, they’re lazy… Think about it. It’s easy for anyone to look at a person’s life and just allow their problems to define them.

However, if we are a follower of Jesus, we have to put those childish ways behind. Think about it, if we choose to be that way, it’s really no different than that bully on the elementary school playground picking on the kid with a stutter. Just as Paul said, from now on – FROM NOW ON!, we regard NO ONE from a worldly point of view.

This isn’t an easy thing for us to do, but it is possible. As we train ourselves to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and to hear from Him, we’ll begin to see ourselves and others as God sees them. He’s not repelled by the shameful state of people, He is drawn to that lowly state by compassion and through His mighty power, He lifts them up and restores them to the person He created them to be. Another thing that helps us to keep this perspective is what has happened in our own lives.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Sometimes we lose sight of the person that we were before God did His restoration job on us and made us a new creation. It’s a good idea to allow God to take you back to that place so that you are able to share your testimony of who you were, what God did, and who you are now. There’s no shame in being honest about who that old creation was because it gives God all of the glory in who that new person is and how He restored us. We can also give others hope in this way because if He can do it in our lives, He is able and willing to restore any life that turns to Him!

We now continue on and come to the realization that we are the chosen promoters and advertisers for God’s restoration business and personally represent Him to the broken!

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Although the most significant work of restoration is done in our lives when we make the choice to be reconciled to God by simple faith in the salvation provided by Jesus, it doesn’t stop there! Sanctification is a big, theological word. However, it simply means to be set apart. When we are first saved, we are separated from our past life of sin and set apart for God’s purposes. This is a process that continues throughout our lifetime as God continues to restore us into our full potential in Christ.

Whenever we commonly think of restoration, we think of restoring something back to it’s original state. Whenever God restores us, however, He doesn’t restore us to the way that we once were. He does something so much better! Since God is our Creator and can make anything from nothing, God is able to restore us to be better than we’ve ever been. He doesn’t restore us to a previous state, He restores us into the full potential that He created us to possess!

There is only one thing that we need to if God is to bring His restoration into our lives and fill us with the hope and life that He intended us to possess. That thing is to lay down our own lives and allow God to do His work in our lives. One of the ways in which God reveals this to us is the analogy of a potter shaping clay.

However, we have a tendency to get our role and God’s role confused in our lives! It’s nothing new, though… The Lord speaks this even to many in our generation today:

Isaiah 29:13-16
13 The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
14 Therefore once more I will astound these people
with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
15 Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?”
16 You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,
“You did not make me”?
Can the pot say to the potter,
“You know nothing”?

In order for God to restore us, we need to turn things back right side up. We’re not the potter and God is not the clay! He does not change to fit our needs and our desires. His word and His will does not change to make us happy. No, instead we are the ones that need to change. We are the clay in God’s hands. We need to change and conform to His will in order to be happy and satisfied. We don’t tell God what we’re supposed to do and what we’re supposed to be. We allow God to shape and form and mold us into who He created us to be.

Jeremiah 18:1-10
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

If God is able to do this for an entire nation, He is fully able and willing to do this in our lives. Even in this room, there is testimony after testimony of how God has done exactly this in our lives.

* Clay mug example *
However, clay doesn’t always cooperate. I can’t change this clay mug into the beautiful work of art that I intended it to be because it remains stiff, stubborn, and prideful. That’s a choice that each of us make. If we take this stand in life, however – that I am who I am and won’t change, that the old way of doing things is better, that I’m exactly who Christ wants me to be – God only has one choice if He is ever to have His way in our life.
* Throw down mug and break it *
God has to break us, saturate us, and pull us back together before He can do anything with us. We force God to reconsider the good that He hand intended for us.

Many people are out there all around us in this state. They are broken and they don’t know how to become whole again. They need the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives to restore and complete them. It is up to us to love and care for them; to lead them to Christ and walk along with them as God restores them.

However, if we remain humble and teachable, we’re more like this clay. Notice how I can shape and mold and form this clay into whatever I desire. It cooperates with me in full humility and willingness. This is how God desires us to remain – like clay in the hand of the potter. When we remain in this state, God is able to cooperate with us and do His awesome work of restoration unhindered for our good and His glory!

As we continue throughout this series, we’re going to learn of several things that God desires to restore to us. I encourage you to invite someone to join you and find encouragement of what God can do to bring restoration to our lives.