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Monday, December 10, 2012

Principles of Recovery Pt 6: Restoration

This article is part of a continuing series about how to recover from economic and social loss with out losing your faith.  The base text of this series is the story of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of Luke chapter 15.  We  have traveled from the pig pen of life to the point of restoration.  Learning valuable lessons along the way.  We have learned that our own bad decisions in life guide us to the peg pen of life. We have also learned that hope and self determination can lead us out of the pig peon of life.  We have learned that in order to have hope we each must have a vision of ourselves enjoying a better and higher station of life.  We also learn that each of us must maintain a humble disposition on our way back, being ready to make restitution toward those we offended and be willing to take a lower position that we are accustomed to, willing to work hard to restore each of our names and rebuild the respect we lost we those who know of us.  I caution each of the believers at this point that sometimes it is not possible to rebuild the respect that we lost with others,  this does not mean that we each can not be restored, our respect just will be restored differently than we had it before.

Now before we go on with the lesson, I would like to share a personal testimony concerning restoration.   I am writing this series out of my love for the body of Christ, and out of my personal experience.  I lost my marriage, children, home and my job.  I became homeless, I was in my pig pen.  I did not loose those things because I did something morally wrong, I lost those things because of my selfishness and greed.  I lost those things because I had gotten a hold of some bad teaching.  That is when I began to read the Word of God for myself and questioned all the teaching that I had received and compared it what the Bible actually said about a subject or a topic.  I lost everything but my faith in God, I want to tell everyone, if you have faith in God, you will rise above your social economic condition.  You just have to do it God's way, that is, if you want to do it in faith.  The one scripture that inspired me to start over is "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it...." (Psalms 127:1)  I promised the Lord from that point on that I will allow Him to rebuild my life, that I will go where He will lead me, I will do what He will require of me.  That meant that I had to trust Him.  I also told the Lord that many in  the Homeless shelter was looking at my, some even mockingly, saying, "You God lead you to the poor house, why should you continue to follow Him?"  I also told the Lord that this is where the rubber meets the road, either faith in God works or it doesn't, I surrender my will to yours, do with me as you wish. Now I tell others that Faith works, if you work it.  Meaning it does not work like a magic wand or incantation.  Faith works through application, and a trust in God's ability to do what he had promised.  All I wanted was to start over, rebuild my life.  I knew that I would not be in my pig pen  for very long, I arose and made my way back to my "Father's House", I returned to serving the Lord.  After returning into the Lord's service. I got remarried, a new house, job and a new family, in short I got restored.  May be not the way I may have expected, but none the less restored. This is not the end of my testimony, God is not through with me yet, but  it is a relative part to this series.

What is Restoration?

Restoration Defined: (Noun)
1.
the act of restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment.
2.
the state or fact of being restored.
3.
a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.
4.
restitution of something taken away or lost.
5.
something that is restored, as by renovating.

(Source: Dictionary.com)

Therefore restoration is the process of being returned to a former, original, normal or unimpaired condition. Or the process of  replacing that what was once lost.   This is what happened to the prodigal son.  Even though he was willing to work for all the wealth he lost, for the respect that he lost, for the honor that he shamed, his father  not only embraced him, but restored him to his former status in the household.  Let us review the passage:

"And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.  But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put [it] on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on [his] feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry:  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." -Luke 15:21-24

A few things I would like to point out in this passage is the fact that the prodigal son did exactly what he planned.  He confessed his sin and he made offer of restitution for his foolish actions.  His wealthy father responded with the restoration of the son to the house (this is represented by the father putting the best robe upon his son), the restoration of the son's authority in the house (this is represented by the father putting a ring on his hand.  [Now rings in Jesus day was an important sign of authority,  many family rings were use to place seals or signatures to legal documents] ), the restoration of putting shoes on his feet (this symbolized the freedom to go where ever he wished on his father's property).  The killing of the fat-ted calf. (this was a calf that was fed extra food to make him more fatter for slaughter.  Only to be slain on special occasions  and for special visitors.) The return of the wealthy man's son was a special event to the father of the prodigal son, for he mourned for his son, as though he was dead until he returned.  Now that he has returned, it was time to celebrate.

I remember when I became a minister again, the associate pastor gave me my first robe.  It was like God saying that he was glad that I had returned, like he was restoring me to where I once were.  Here is the thing though, I knew that was not the end.  This is the place many of us get messed up.  We get caught up in the celebration of the restoration and forget that is not the end of the journey.  The purpose of Restoration  is to do what we did not do before, in order to not end up in the pig pen of life ever again.  This means that an evaluation of everything that was said and done and who it was done with and to must be processed and put before the Lord.  A wise man said that insanity is doing the same thing again that failed before and expecting a different result. How many of us have went back to something that failed and hoped that a different result would occur?  Many.  This is why I caution believers to not rush back into things they once participated in, because without careful evaluation of what went wrong, some of us may repeat the same mistake, or bad judgement decision.  The parable does not disclose to us how long it took the prodigal son to return to his father's house.  I also did not get remarried right away, I waited a few years.  Evaluated  myself, my choices and always waited on God for his will to be revealed.  Granted, there are circumstances that require quick decisions, if you are in that kind of fix, then rely upon what you know to be God's will and make your decision accordingly.  Trust God with your decision and if turns out not to be the right one, you know now how to come back from a bad choice. 

I hope that this lesson today has blessed you, as it has blessed me in sharing it.