The Joy of Restoration

Restoration is a very powerful byproduct of a life well-lived in Christ. Define reconciliation and restoration in your own words. Sometimes we use them interchangeably, because being made right with God involves both words. Change that happens to a life is summed up in these two words.

  1. Describe how you came to know Christ.
    1. What was your life like before you received Christ?
    2. How did your salvation story happen?
    3. What is your life like now that you have Christ?
  2. Put into words the feeling you have about forgiveness and the newness you have in Christ.

Video Questions:

  1. How is forgiveness a necessary step toward restoration?
  2. In what area of your life do you need to experience restoration or new birth?
  3. Standard definitions:
    1. Reconciliation: From the Greek meaning to change or exchange; literally to change in one’s relationship to God (from enemy to friend).
    2. Restoration: synonymous with renew, best described in David’s use in Psalm 51, to restore is to make right (after a sin against God). New birth can be described as restoration.

Bible Study: John 21:15-19

  1. Peter understood the concept of restoration. He was outspoken and said he would never deny Christ… but he did, and Jesus came to him and offered restoration.
  2. Jesus repeatedly asked Peter if he loved him (agape-unconditional God-like love) and Peter responded with phileo (a brotherly love). We wonder if Peter really understood the depth of Love that Jesus had for him.
  3. Peter affirmed the Lordship of Jesus (John 21:17) and that Jesus knows all things. The response ultimately is NOT in Peter’s response to Jesus but in God’s knowledge of Peter’s heart. The instruction is for Peter to do the work of a shepherd (feed, shepherd and tend his sheep).

Bible Study: John 21:1-4, 22

  1. Notice where Jesus encounters his disciples in this post-resurrection appearance. What are they doing?
  2. Peter had gone back to where he had started, on a boat doing what he was doing when Jesus first called him.
  3. When Jesus asked if Peter loved him more than these (John 21:15) he could have meant the FISH.
  4. Peter is concerned about what will happen to John (what about this guy?) but Jesus hammers on the call he cave to Peter, “You follow me.”

Bible Study: Acts 2:36

  1. Peter goes from a denying, fearful man to a person with power and authority, and confidence.
  2. He is so different here than back in Mark 14:66-27.
  3. So, does Peter now appear affectionate toward Jesus (phileo) or passionately committed to him (agape)?
  4. How have you experienced God using you in light of being forgiven and restored?
  5. Restoration involves allowing God to do a work of renewal in our lives. Christ did the work of restoration by his work on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
  6. Restoration takes time, and we may not see the lasting effects until we get to heaven. Where do you need to do the hard work of restoration in your life?

At the end of the film, we see Cindy’s redemption but Hannah does not. We are left to wonder whether the relationship ever went beyond the written note.

A Guide to Biblical Restoration: *

Failure among God’s people is nothing new; biblical history is filled with failure. Samson failed. Abraham failed. Solomon failed. Jonah failed. The Hebrews failed. All twelve of the disciples of Jesus failed; Even King David, who was a man after God’s own heart failed; “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27). So all of these committed willful disobedient sin after having once pledged fidelity to God. In both Testaments, the evidence of failure is both overwhelming and sobering.

There is the overwhelming evidence that God is also in the restoration business. The Bible is the astonishing record of the God’s effort to reclaim and to restore those who are his, but who in a moment of weakness betrayed their allegiance to him. The potential for restoration plainly exists. In Galatians 6:1 we are told “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” Needless to say, there are verses that mention restoration, and these verses outline a process and responsibilities that if embraced, have the potential of releasing the believer from their bondage and restoring them to God.

What are Steps of Restoration?

1. Confession:

Restoration hinges on the honest and straightforward admission of failure. Sin can never be addressed if it is not named. It cannot be purged if it is not identified. It cannot be cleansed if it cannot be seen.

Occasionally we comprehend our sin alone, without the help of an outside voice. Guilt, shame, and loss of peace all creep into our souls and remind us of our error. Others may not be aware of their error, but we know. We fear discovery. We comprehend the enormity of our sin, as did David in Psalm 51.

More often than not, however, we rationalize our sin, deluding ourselves into believing that our behavior is acceptable or not that serious. We refuse to look at ourselves honestly, we ignore the stirrings in our conscience, and we avoid responsibility. We become defensive when questioned and find ourselves postponing the inevitable.

In either case, confession must take place, either at the prompting of the Spirit or by the approach of another believer, following the commands of (Matthew 18:15) and (Galatians 6:1).

Confession is the cleansing of the wound. It forces to the surface of the infection that has festered and stained us. It can be painful and humbling, but there is no other way for restoration to begin. Confession must be clear and straightforward. It cannot be couched in excuses or minimized by stubbornness. This confession must be made to God first, but it should also be made publicly to the church if the sin is publicly known. However, if the sin is unknown publicly then it should be properly dealt with privately. As a general rule, confession should be made to anyone directly injured by our sin. Confession of sin is a necessary step toward restoration and renewal. Confession to God opens the door for his forgiveness. Confession to the one offended opens the door for the victim’s forgiveness. Confession to the offended opens the door of opportunity for the church to demonstrate forgiveness.

2. Repentance:

To repent is to change course, to reverse direction. Once confession has been made and forgiveness received, repentance must be demonstrated. A firm commitment to turn away from the offending behavior must be made. According to Proverbs 28:13, God’s mercy is extended only to those who confess and forsake their sinful practices.

As with confession, the commitment to repent is most effective when rendered first of all to God and then secondly to the one injured by our offense. One’s confession of guilt to those sinned against accelerates the healing process for all involved in ways which secret promises cannot. In the same way a marriage vow is made before witnesses, a renewed commitment to walk with Christ is best made before witnesses.

Even when the sin is private, a specific plan outlining how the penitent person will make spiritual corrections will maximize success. An accountability system has great power to guard our steps. A spiritual mentor can help identify weaknesses, circumstances, and vulnerabilities and help steer a clear course. Enlisting a spiritual member of the church to work with us in being faithful is wise. Such “repentance plans” may be necessary for months or years, depending on the nature of the infraction and personal history, but every effort at restoration needs such a plan.

3. Restitution:

Some sins require restitution, the attempt to restore the loss someone else has suffered by our sin. Restitution typically involves a formal apology to the injured party and evidence of the offender’s intent to repent. The spiritual intent is to “gain the brother,” not to lose him. Restitution helps the wounded person understand that restoration is possible.

4. Discipline:

Establishing an accountability partner and disciplinary policies for restoration can be of great benefit. If the sin was public enough to require church discipline, it requires a commitment on the part of the church’s leadership to stand fast and consistently in implementing church discipline procedures.

Those representing the church must confront sin in the spirit of meekness and sincere humility, with each one acknowledging their own vulnerability to the enticements of sin. Discipline must be redemptive, not punitive. It must be forgiving and not judgmental.

5. Restoration:

When honest and straightforward confession has been made, repentance has been acknowledged and demonstrated, restitution has been pursued and completed, and a structure of loving discipline has been enforced, a formal end to the process should be recognized. The memory of the sin should be sealed and removed from all conversation, and a celebration of the Lord’s goodness and mercy should be enjoyed. After a proper time-frame, the wounded person may take his or her place back in service, free of the past and empowered spiritually to face the future.

No two circumstances are alike, but biblical guidelines are always valid helpful. Many wounded saints can be honorably returned to worthwhile service, if the appropriate steps are taken over a sufficient period of time.

When we come to our senses as did the prodigal in Luke 15, we can step back into the purposes for which God originally created us.

 * [ Adapted from Gantt Street Baptist Church ]

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The Purpose of Work

Many men feel that working is part of the curse, going all the back to Adam getting thrown out of the garden (Genesis 3:17, 18-19) but notice that Adam was commanded to work in the garden before the fall, when the world was still a paradise (Genesis 2:15).

They say that man has three basic needs in life: love, purpose and significance. Many times, humans attempt to find purpose and significance in work itself. In Ecclesiastes 2:4-11, Solomon details his search for meaning in a variety of projects and works of all kinds. Even though the work brought some degree of satisfaction in accomplishment, his conclusion was: “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

The fact is, the curse made work laborious and difficult (which is what we often experience every day). But work is a blessed activity and the desired goal of work is found in this verse:

“So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is why we are here! No one will bring us back from death to enjoy life after we die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:22)

“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” (Ephesians 4:28)

“If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:28).

Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

So, why work? This brief video explains the real purpose of why we work…

Other biblical principles regarding work are:

  • Work is done not only to benefit the worker, but also for others (Exodus 23:10-11, Deuteronomy 15:7-11, Ephesians 4:28).
  • Work is a gift from God and, for His people, will be blessed (Psalm 104:1-35, 127:1-5, Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, 5:18-20, Proverbs 14:23).
  • God equips His people for their work (Exodus 31:2-11).

The Christian attitude toward work should be like Jesus: “My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34). Work is of no value except when God is in it.

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The Wisdom, Goodness and Word of God

This is the first lesson for the New Beginnings Bible study class at King’s Grant Baptist. Our study in the book of James begins this weekend. It is a practical little book about Christianity in blue jeans. It helps us to see what a mature believer looks like and how that person lives in the world.

Here is a brief outline of chapter one:

The Wisdom of God (1–11). You need wisdom in trials so you will not waste your suffering and miss the spiritual growth that should result. When you trust God, trials work for you and not against you; but be sure your heart is wholly yielded to Him. If your heart and mind are divided, trials will tear you apart. I want to show this video in class this Sunday:

The Goodness of God (12–20). When you realize how good God is to you, you will have no interest in the temptations the enemy puts before you. When you are tempted, count your blessings; and you will soon have strength to say no.

Have you ever thought about how to change the world? Sometimes we wonder about any goodness in the world. Why do bad things happen to good people? The better question may be, “Why do any good things happen anybody?” We are the hands and feet of God, so if God is the giver of all good gifts (James 1:17), he can certainly work through us to bring it about. This video clip suggests that if we want to change the world, start with one random act of kindness (goodness):

The Word of God (21–27). The Word gives us spiritual birth (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:22–23). It is like seed planted in the heart that produces spiritual fruit (James 1:21). It is a mirror that helps us examine ourselves (James 1:23–25) and cleanse our lives. We must do the Word of God, not just read it or study it; the blessing is in the doing.

When we encounter God through his Word, lives are forever changed. When we read the words, we must allow them to abide in us and allow Christ to mold us into his image. Grace is the foundation of the gospel, getting something we can never earn and will never deserve. This clip shows how God’s Word, forgiveness and grace changed several generations of a family:

Here are “famous” verses we will encounter in this little book:

  1. “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” James 1:2
  2. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach.” James 1:5
  3. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17
  4. “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19–20
  5. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” James 1:22
  6. “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:20
  7. “Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:2–3
  8. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
  9. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:7
  10. “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17
  11. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16

I hope to see you this Sunday in the Welcome Center.

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Connectors Create Joyful Experiences

The Word of God is never boring; I believe it is a sin to bore a student. Boring is the one phrase that would accurately describe someone who is not connection to others. We need to develop a system of collecting quotes, stories and illustrations that add to the topic. Here are a few tips on how to be interesting:

Take Responsibility for Your Students: In the long run, there are never any bad audiences, only bad teachers or speakers. If the students are asleep, something needs to happen to wake them up. Grabbing attention is the responsibility of the teacher, not your students. You will likely quote the proverb that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink; but think about ways you can make that horse thirsty. You need to work to keep your students engaged in what’s happening. We can never have a take-it-or-leave-it mindset. That is what John Maxwell calls “cemetery communication,” lots of people out there but nobody’s listening. Our job is to create interest, activate the audience, enjoy the experience and add value to others.

  1. Charisma is what causes your students to want to hear more. Think about a conference you attended, the time goes by so quickly, interest is captivated, and you really enjoyed being there.
  2. Charisma is something you can develop; it is not a natural talent that draws people toward someone. Always ask yourself how you might better draw in your students.

Communicate in Their World: Maxwell tells a story of a traditional father balking at changing a diaper; he did not know how. Then the mom said, “Lay out the diaper in a diamond shape, put second on home plate, but the baby’s bottom on the pitcher’s mound, hook up first and third, slide home underneath. If it starts to rain, the game is not called, you start all over again.”

There are always important things in life, but people do not remember what we think is important, they remember what they think is important. There are a lot of voices out there calling for the attention of your students. If you want to make an impact, you must meet them in their world. To connect in their world, you have to link what you want to say to what other’s needs are.

This is good: if you talk at me, you’ll talk alone; if you talk to me, I’ll listen; if you talk about me, I’ll listen for hours. Always maintain authenticity when you try to meet them in their world.

Capture People’s Attention from the Start: If you don’t capture their attention from the start, they will take the remote and click you off. Always make a good first impression; you will never get a second chance to make a first impression. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Comments: about today and some current non-controversial event.
  2. Introduce yourself: if there are guests, they don’t know you and you will never connect with them.
  3. Use humor: it brings people in, but don’t make the humor a lame joke. Try it out on the kids first, unless you’re looking for a groaner.
  4. Create a sense of anticipation: you’re about to add value to their life, get excited and hopeful, they are about to learn something, ask them to tell what they learn to another person.
  5. Activate your students: It is easy to connect with someone who is highly energized and active. Are they taking notes, reading their Bible, searching for another Scripture, making eye contact, nodding in agreement?
  6. Ask questions: Don’t get too specific but ask ones where 90 percent of the students should be able to answer.
  7. Get people moving: Break the routine and get them to stretch, move around or get into smaller groups.
  8. Ask people to interact: When students become involved, it increases their energy.

Say it So it Sticks: Some quotes are remembered long after they are spoken.

  1. Give me liberty or give me death – Patrick Henry.
  2. I regret that I have but one life to give for my country – Nathan Hale.
  3. A government of the people, by the people and for the people – Abraham Lincoln.
  4. Never, never, never give up – Winston Churchill.
  5. Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country – John F. Kennedy.
  6. I have a dream – Martin Luther King Jr.
  7. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall – Ronald Reagan.

Link what you say to what people need: Nothing makes a lesson more memorable than need.

Find ways to be original: There is a direct impact on predictability and impact. The more predicable they think you are, the less impact you will have on them.

  1. Use Humor: possess the ability to laugh at yourself, and let people know that you are as human as the next guy.
  2. Say Things in an Interesting Way: A catch phrase said creatively can catch on and make a connection
    1. A person must sacrifice to get to the top, or you have to give up to go up.
    2. Relationships are important to influence people, or people won’t go along with you until they can get along with you.
    3. People won’t listen until they know you care, or people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
  3. Learn to Pause: Connecting is a two-way street; a dialogue, not a monologue. Allow people time to respond and give feedback. When you are a non-stop speaker, people’s minds disengage.
  4. Be Visual: We are a part of the MTV generation, with YouTube, movies and camera phones. Add spice to your presentation by finding a video clip, magazine article or newspaper clipping that makes your point.
  5. Tell Stories: Nothing is better than a story to keep people engaged. Cold facts will rarely connect with people. People connect with stories, not statistics. Jesus was the master communicator; and he use stories to make his point. Scientists say that our brains are wired more for stories than for abstract ideas and PowerPoint slides.

Summary:
Connecting Practice: Connectors create an experience everyone enjoys.
Key Concept: Work to create the right experience for your communication setting.

Practical Steps:

  1. Strive to create a sense of intimacy with your students.
  2. Help your group to have a sense of shared accomplishment where they feel connected to you and the group.
  3. Try these principles in telling your stories:
    1. Enthusiasm: storytellers enjoy what they are doing.
    2. Animation: lively facial expressions and gestures.
    3. Group participation: involve your audience in some way; sing, clap, repeat phrases, do sign language.
    4. Spontaneity: while stories are memorized, storytellers respond freely to the listeners.
    5. No notes: storytellers employed a truly oral event; they told stories, they didn’t read them.
    6. Humor: humor can be included even in serious or sad stories.

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