Thursday, September 29, 2022

Living A Restored Life

Friday, September 30, 2022

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4

Living A Restored Life

Saved by grace. Restored by grace. Falling away after you have been a believer for a while and coming back after being restored carries even stronger emotions than being saved. Before we are saved, we don’t know the sweet fellowship with God and other believers, so we do not recognize the void in our lives. But walking, falling, sliding away leaves a gaping hole where our relationship with God and fellowship with other believers belongs. Coming back into fellowship after being restored is like coming home after being lost. We are coming back to open arms and love and warmth and acceptance – or at least we should be. That is the reception you get in a grace filled church. Coming back into fellowship with other believers is just one part of the whole picture. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to living restored is the battle we have with ourselves. 

After any battle that you survive you will most likely have scars and anytime something has to be mended – or restored – it leaves a mark. These marks are daily reminders of our failures, but they should really serve to be daily reminders of how loved we are and, how even with those marks, we are valuable and cherished to our Heavenly Father. You don’t sin without something being injured or broken. The scars are real and will remind us of our weakness, but also of His mercy. 

Sometimes it is living with the scars and consequences of our failures that can steal the victory out of our restoration. The road is long, and path leads uphill. Every single day, with so much intention, we have to win the battle that rages in our heads – the one that whispers You are no good and You are too far gone, and Why even try? The one that screams You will never be usable by God again. You have messed it up forever. 

We can let the scars take us out of the game or we can let the scars make us stronger. It is tough because the road is long and the process feels so slow. Having to live with consequences and broken relationships, etc. from our sins makes living a restored life even harder but in Him it is possible. Victory is ours. 

Satan wants nothing more than for us to live defeated. When we live defeated, we are not going to step up and help someone else who is going through exactly what you went through. Living restored in our victory that Christ claimed for us, we become powerful for the glory of God and His kingdom. Our testimony is stronger, and our resolve is sure in His strength. God is all about restoration. He wants everyone that is lost or fallen away to come back, and we are sometimes called to go and get them. 

The very same power that rose Jesus from the grave is the power that resurrected us from our graves of sin the first time and the same power that snatched us back from destruction again and again. And that power is in us every day. This is the power that sustains us and quiets the lies in our heads. This power is what makes living a restored life possible.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Privilege of Bearing Another’s Burdens

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

The Privilege of Bearing Another’s Burdens

The best friends are the ones that go with us into the worst times. God uses others to help us through the hard times and to lead us out of the messes we get ourselves into. If you are the one that has been called to restore someone in gentleness and bear another’s burden, realize what a special person you are to be invited into this time and this place in their lives. Not just anyone gets invited into the deepest darkest places of our lives and not just anyone can help us get out. 

Paul is urging believers to help our loved ones in this passage because it is part of His purpose for us: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another John 13:34-35. Burdens are a part of life, but we are never meant to carry them alone. Often, we think we need to just get over it or pull ourselves together, but God’s design is for us to help each other. There is no shame in needing and accepting help from each other. Love always looks for ways to help and lift each other up.

This is not as hard as we can make it seem at times. We are not solving their problems and we are not rescuing them. We are not controlling them. We are walking alongside them and lifting them up, encouraging them to keep going and praying for them. When you see a burden to bear, bear it. 

Paul was speaking directly to the legalists within the Galatian Christians. He knew they were big rule followers, wanting to keep the Law as the way to salvation. So he plays on the word law by saying that they would be fulfilling the law of Christ by bearing each other’s burdens. Following the law only – going through the motions in our own flesh and not relying on the spirit will not save us. Works alone do not get us into heaven. The only way we can follow the law is by relying on the Holy Spirit. Instead of trying to carry the burden of trying to be perfect and follow the law enough to be qualified, we need to carry each other’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ – the law of love. 

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

Jesus freed them from  the law they could never fulfill. His law is the law of love and that is what He wants us to choose to live by. We have been set free and we can use that freedom any way we choose. As an example, Jesus had all the freedom, and He chose to serve others in love. When we serve others in love we get out of the flesh and into the power of the Holy Spirit. To sum that up, Paul asks them – you want to fulfill the law? Then serve one another. Lift one another up. Bear one another’s burdens. 

If you have been honored to be the one who is helping someone to find restoration, don’t forget what a privilege it is to walk along side, be their first call, and lead them out of the darkness. Make no mistake – you are not fixing them – only God can truly restore people. We are His support team, yet it is not about us, it is about helping one another, through Him, and in love.

Restore in Love

Wednesday, September 28, 2022 Some material taken from The Church I Want To Belong To

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. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2 

Restore in Love - you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…

As we have been talking about restoration this week, we come to the part where the rubber hits the road. Restoration does not happen without action and sometimes our loved ones and friends might need our help. Don’t ever underestimate a relationship or a moment that God puts you in where you are able to help someone out of a place they don’t need to be in. We may feel that we do not qualify for “you who are spiritual,” but as we learned on Sunday this is about those who are trapped in sin themselves. If you find yourself in a place and you feel God is leading you to restore someone in love, then you are there for a reason and should follow His lead. It is our responsibility when He leads us to restore someone, and it is a responsibility that we should not take lightly, and we should not ignore.

Restoring someone is a delicate situation because we all feel like we should mind our own business and we don’t want others poking around in our stuff. But if we truly love someone, we will want to keep them from moving further away from God, physically hurting themselves, or losing jobs or relationships. If we love them, we will want to restore them – as restoration is the theme of God’s Gospel for the world. We get saved and then restored because that is God’s plan. And sometimes we have to be restored again. That is part of His plan as well. 

If you dislike confrontation like I do, you may shrink back from doing this, but confrontation does not mean we are going to wrestle someone into doing what they need to do. We are not going to judge and condemn them, or scold. If we restore in love – and a spirit of gentleness, confrontation will not be a part of the equation. We need to be sensitive because there is likely already some wounds to be treated with tenderness. The Fruit of the Spirit is so necessary here. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Paul warns us not to be tempted as we restore someone. Paul knew the weakness of the human flesh. He also wanted us to remember that we could be the one – none of us are above being taken out by Satan because of our vulnerability and human weakness and the moment we think we are not, is when he attacks. 

So, what am I to do when someone I love seems to be sliding away or “caught in sin”?

·  Pray for that person and ask God to help you understand their weakness or situation.

·  Ask God if you are the one who should be reaching out to this person. If this is a loved one or family member, then you know you cannot leave them in their sin. You may have been the one hurt by this sin and as a result you may not be the best choice to “restore in love.” You are probably dealing with some stuff yourself that needs to heal and would have a hard time not “being the consequence.” It is a natural reaction to being hurt. 

·  Go with a desire to restore and not punish or condemn the one defeated and ensnared. It is not our job to judge or condemn, just to love and gently restore. 

·  Share with them your genuine love and concern and offer to help them find help. 

·  Be prepared to step away if they do not respond to your efforts to let God work further on them. Be prepared for their reaction which could be anything from anger (embarrassed from being caught) to remorse. Do not take responsibility for their problem. Assist them to seek further help but do not take responsibility for it. If they do not want to change, there is nothing more you can do besides pray for them. It is not a failure on your part. 

You may also want to be aware that you could end up losing the relationship with them – either temporarily or permanently. They may be angry about you trying to help them. They could pull away out of shame. It is a risk but if God has called you and if you love them and want them restored it is a risk worth taking. 

·  Trust God to restore them. Pray and leave it with God.

It can be heartbreaking to watch someone who is caught in sin. It can be devastating if you are the one hurt by someone else’s cycle of sin. If we pray about it and feel God is calling us to gently restore someone in love, we need to be obedient to His calling.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

A Life Restored

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  Acts 9:3-5
There are many important people in the Bible that God restored. He restored them and they became powerfully important in spreading the Gospel. We are never too far gone. God will always take our broken lives and make them something beautiful if we let Him. Paul was one of those people. 
A Life Restored 
Saul of Tarsus was a horrible man.  He hated God, Christians, and made it his life purpose to persecute and kill Christians.  His reputation preceded him and everyone knew who he was and what he stood for.  At one point, he asked the high priest for letters to the synagogues at Damascus so that if he found any believers he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem.  As he traveled down that dirt road to Damascus, he, and the men travelling with him, were suddenly blinded by a bright light.  It knocked him right to the ground and he heard a voice saying… Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  Then the voice told Paul to get up and go into the city where he would be told what to do next.  The men that were travelling with Saul were speechless.  They heard it too but could not see anyone.  Saul got up, still blinded and they led him into Damascus.  For the next three days, he was blind and he didn’t eat or drink.  When his eyes were opened, he became a zealous witness for the Lord.  When God wants to get our attention, He will take whatever measures are necessary!
If the amazing love and mercy of God can forgive and look past the horrible sins of a man who murdered and persecuted Christians and change him into something new, I know He can look past my messes.  There are days when I long for the blinding light of the Savior to strike me and take everything else, every other distraction, away so that I am focused only on Him.  You see, even though I know better, sometimes I can get so covered up in wrong that I cannot turn myself in his direction, just like Saul.  God knows this about us and He will give us the opportunity to do it ourselves but when He needs to, He will rescue us. For Saul, it took an event, a blinding experience that knocked him to his knees and kept him down for three days.  Three days of blindness and no food or drink.  God wanted his full attention with no distractions.  I guarantee he was focused on God during that time.  
When God changed Saul, He began to be referred to as Paul in the Bible.  Many Bible scholars say that God changed his name when he changed his heart.  Whether God changed Saul’s name or not, it is a perfect example of how we are a new creation in Christ.  A name change is a sign that something is different, that something new has happened or will happen.  A name change is a fresh start, a do-over, a re-invention.  Saul had a complete change in his life from one extreme to the other.  He turned and literally went in the opposite direction.  What a graphic example of repentance.  God calls us to not only confess our sin, but to turn away from it. 
Unfortunately, Sin also changes our name.  It changes our name to things like liar, cheater, addict, thief, murderer, adulterer, etc… These names people don’t quickly forget even though God has changed us.  Sin makes us into something we don’t want to be and it changes the way people see us. It makes us cross lines and compromise values that we never thought we would waver on.  It takes us places we would never go on our own, into the thick, suffocating, miry, clay.  But even there, God can reach us and pull us out completely and blind us with His great conviction laced with mercy and love.  This is the character of our God: He redeems, rebuilds, renames. As He disciplines, He also restores. Praise God we are never too far gone for the reach of His restoration!
This should be our character towards one another as we reflect His character in us. If God is willing to restore us, how much more should we be willing - and eager - to restore each other?

They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me. Galatians 1:23-24 ESV

Monday, September 26, 2022

The Only Constant

Monday, September 26, 2022

For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will lift me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:5

The Only Constant
I resisted change for a long time. I like to be comfortable and like to hide in my comfort zone. It's safe there. In a world full of uncomfortable, it is easy to sit and stagnate in a soft, warm place.
The thing about comfort zones is that they have borders - or boundaries - which are good, and what makes them comfortable. But in a comfort zone you can only grow as far as the borders.
I'm better with change now (definitely still a work in progress). I want change - maybe even crave it - but it is process. When the borders become uncomfortable, change cannot happen fast enough. The right change happens in God's timing in our lives. He is perfect and sovereign and wants what is best for us. We cannot see over the borders which is scary, but He can.
God will leave us in our comfort zones if we resist His calling us out. We can continue to hide there but when we need healing and restoration in our lives, we most likely will need to move on from where we are. He brings healing and restoration to us when we let Him and we probably have to get a little uncomfortable for that to happen. Growing pains.
It is true what they say - the only constant in nature is change. It is the most uncertain thing that is certain. I say for us, the only constant in change is God. In the most uncertain times, He is the most certain. No matter what the season, or the zone, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Make Him your comfort zone. We can trust Him to be with us every uncomfortable step of the way. He can be our comfort zone and safe place that we never outgrow but is always there by our side, no matter what we face.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Church I Want To Belong To Part 2

The Church I Want To Belong To Part 2

Galatians 6:1-16

Galatians is a book about grace (the power of God to do His will) and its meaning for the Christian.  There is a great difference in God’s work of grace and man’s attempts to satisfy his wrath.  There is also a great difference in the way a grace church treats the fallen.

The heart of God is grace-filled.  The work of God is grace centered.  The church which worships God should be grace-minded in its relationships. 

Falling away after you have been a believer for a long time and being restored carries emotions like being savedagain.

Too many are lost to long-term ministry because of short-term weakness.

God does not do anything halfway and that includes restoration.

That which has been mended always leaves a mark.

The scars are real and will remind us of our weakness and His mercy.

The Church I Want to Belong To Is…

A Church That Seeks to Restore, not Condemn Galatians 6:1-2

What? "restore"- Put back in position. 

Katartizete - a Greek word used for setting broken bones and in the New Testament for mending fishing nets.

There is no greater theme in the Bible than that of restoration.

The mercy of God is exhibited by His patience with us when we rebel against Him.  


Grace does not remove the consequences from disobedience.

Scripture tells us to receive a rebuke and submit to accountability to strengthen that area of our lives.

Restoration is only possible with honest repentance.

Only God can change someone, and He will wait on them to turn to Him.

Helping people help themselves is one of the hardest jobs.

·       The fact God understands our weaknesses does not mean He excuses our behavior

·       Stop our enabling and control.

·       Address the cause of their situation instead of the consequences.

·       Avoid the temptation to “be the consequences.”

·       Learn to trust God to change the one we love. 

SO, how are we to respond?

HOW?  In a spirit of meekness and fear v.1

Such qualities are GRACE given and GRACE driven.

…in a spirit of gentleness

Not "lording over" them but submitting to them in service and love.

Considering yourself lest you be tempted - Acknowledges our own vulnerability.

Why?  Because this is the law of Christ (love). v.2

Friday, September 23, 2022

Qualified, Rescued, Transferred, and Redeemed

Friday, September 23, 2022

Joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:12-14

The believer who has placed their faith in Christ has done so in response to His sacrifice.  That sacrifice was for a reason…an eternal gift of life.  Like greedy immature children, we forget the effort and sacrifice of the gift itself.  We take it and run, sometimes never looking back until we are in dire need.  When we speak of “being saved” we often fail to consider the full scope of what occurred to provide for our salvation and restoration of fellowship with God.  As a reminder, we are going to highlight some key words from the passage above.  I love putting them all together in one sentence: I am qualified, rescued, transferred to His kingdom, and redeemed because of what He did for me!  

Qualified – There is absolutely nothing that you or I can do to qualify ourselves for what the Holy God of the universe has freely given us.  We do not have to try out, audition, prove ourselves, or pass a test to get what He has given.  Best of all, we can’t flunk out either. 

Rescued - He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. Psalm 40:2 – One of my all-time favorite verses.  He loved me enough to pull me out of the quick sand of sin and darkness, and not just one time either.  I was saved once and for all but I still find myself knee deep in the miry clay from time to time and every single time He pulls me out. 

Transferred – Transfer means to move from one place to another.  That is what He did for us when He rescued us.  He moved us from Satan’s domain into the kingdom of His Beloved Son, a place of grace, mercy and forgiveness.  We have been relocated to a place where we belong, to His kingdom.  We are now subjects of His kingdom, His laws, and belong to His community.   

Redeemed – In the transfer, we were redeemed, released from bondage and set free from the power of sin and darkness.  Jesus paid the ransom and redeemed us forever from our sin.    Our debt was cancelled and we have become handpicked heirs to His kingdom.  
I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel safe and secure.  It wasn’t just something that happened on a whim.  It was by His design, purposefully carried out.  Planned and executed by the God of the universe because He loves us and finds us worthy, even from the pit of slimy, miry clay.  He qualified me when I could never qualify myself, a worthiness I could never attain on my own.  I am grateful beyond measure for this ultimate gift from Him, the King of Kings.  I am qualified, rescued, transferred to His kingdom, and redeemed because of what He did for me! 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

Thursday, September 22, 2022

In Need of Healing and Restoration

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Acts 3:19-21

In Need of Healing and Restoration

This coming Sunday Brother Van is going to be talking about restoration. Our God is a God of restoration and that it is greatest desire for us – to be restored in our relationship to Him, receiving His mercy, forgiveness, salvation, and gift of eternal life. 

I was 53 years old before I ever began to heal from some of the things in my past. It was not until then that I began to ask myself why I do some of the things I do, feel the way I feel, and allow the things I allow. I always just believed that I was broken, and honestly hopeless. I would never be different. I would never be better. And I certainly have not arrived but today I have hope. If I were being honest with you – I would say that this afternoon I could feel different, but even when I feel different, I never entirely lose that glimmer of hope. 

I believe that we all need to heal from something, and we either are on the path to healing, or we are not. I also believe that healing is an ongoing lifetime process. Some days there is blessed relief and some days are absolutely miserable and I couldn’t tell you why. They just are. Like sanctification, healing and restoration are never complete until we are at home in heaven. This life on earth is full of triggers and things that can jerk the scab off before we know it. 

Healing is a long process and even though I know I am making progress, there are the days when I feel like I have lost much of what I have gained along the way. That is the nature of it. Then the fog lifts and I am reminded – like this song says – of the truth. God heals and restores. He walks the journey with us and carries us when we need Him to. He speaks truth in the face of the lies that fill our heads and hearts, and His love heals the pain. 

Some of you may need to start the healing and restoration process. Healing is necessary for restoration to take place. If you have a hole in the wall, you have to patch the hole before you paint the wall. God desires to heal our innermost places of pain – you know, the ones we have buried beneath the pile of proverbial garbage we have heaped upon it to cover it up. I have tried many things to take the pain away – compulsive behaviors and distractions that don’t work. The pain just festers and some of these behaviors add more pain on top of that. God is the only one. He is the only thing that can heal and restore the brokenness in our lives. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

No One Is Too Far Gone...

 Wednesday, September 21, 2022 

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Galatians 6:1

No One Is Too Far Gone...

What are those things in your life that you never thought you might do – but now you are caught in the middle of? It is always those things that Satan uses to catch us when we are not expecting it. He likes to surprise us, but not in a good way. To be caught in sin, is not the same as contemplating and planning to sin. It is the sin that slips up that you did not see coming.

We are weak in our flesh, even though we may think we are strong. We can do all the right things – go to church, read our Bible, teach a class, but we can still get “caught” if we are not intentionally vigilant against the weaknesses we have – and the ones we don’t think we have. There is nothing that Satan likes more than to see a Christian fail, especially if we bring another one down with us. 

The beautiful thing about having a relationship with Christ is that He does not discard us when we sin against Him. He simply waits for us to come back to Him to be restored. He knows we are weak, and He knows we will fail. He provided for that in the salvation He gifted us with the sacrifice of His Son: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1-2 NASB I love the next two verses in the Message translation: God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. Romans 8:3-4 the Message

God went for the jugular for us. He was ferocious for us against sin. He took it out because He knew the power that sin can have over us, and He wants us to be free from that forever when we become His child. It is exactly what any of us would do for our own children if they were in danger. 

In church we have our brothers and sisters in Christ – who we love. There may be some that we don’t love a lot, but we tolerate each other, and we fellowship together, and we even grow together. Paul is talking to the Christians in Galatians, and he is telling them that there will be those in the fellowship that get caught in sin. They may even be blinded to it themselves. Sometimes when we are in the middle of a mess, we don’t even see the mess. Paul’s intention here is not that we kick those Christians out of our fellowship when we see they are caught in sin. His message to us is that we go to them in love. We love them and we do what we can to help them get out of whatever they are caught up in. 

The key word here is love. Look at the verses above that speak about how God sees us and what He does for us when we get caught up in sin. Remember, we are talking about Christians, not hardened sinners. This is a Christian who finds themselves trapped in a place they never thought they would be. The idea is that it is not the deliberate, or planned sin that is stressed here, but rather the unexpected situation we can find ourselves in. This is a mistake that is a surprise to the one who finds themselves caught due to the weakness of the flesh. 

Just as God gave us the gift of fellowship, He gave us the task of taking care of one another. The last thing we need when we are caught in sin is condemnation and even God does not condemn. If you cannot restore in a spirit of gentleness, then you are not the person to do it. It also bears highlighting that it says you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. If you are caught in sin yourself, you should probably not be the one to restore your friend.  

We are all weak, no matter how strong we think we are. Nothing will remind us of that faster than Satan as he blindsides us with a sin that so easily entangles us. No one is too far gone for us to walk alongside them to help them get out of whatever they are tangled up in. Restoration is always the goal. God is a God of second chances… and third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh too. His desire is always for us to return to Him, and He wants us to have every opportunity to do just that. 

Do you know someone who needs some help because they are caught in transgression? If you do, pray first and ask God for the right spirit and to not be judgmental. Then talk to them in love and gentleness, pray for them, and let them know you are with them all the way through. 

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