All of us have known heartache, shame and difficult times, and for many of us these lean times have lasted months, years or decades. Those of us who have known God for a long time will recognise that He loves restoring our lives. God is in the business of restoration. When you come to Jesus, He doesn’t leave you in the same state He found you, He restores your life to what it should have been like all along.
WHAT IS RESTORATION?
Merriam Webster defines Restoration as “bringing back to a former position or condition.” In the Bible, restoration is always in abundance. The restored condition is always superior to the original, because to God restoration is not just getting back a previous life you lost, but having you live the life God had planned for you all along.
I love watching Reno shows on TV. I’ve seen many a house that was run down, old, broken or not functioning restored. The aim is to restore it to its original splendour, but the builders don’t install hundred year old plumbing or electrics. When they restore the house, they add even more and make it better than the original.
That’s God’s plan for your life. Not to make you what you once were, but to make you everything you should have been. That is real restoration.
WHY DO I NEED IT?
Joel 2:25-26 (ESV)
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
The Hebrew word for restore here is SALAM, which means restore, make complete and to be in a covenant of peace. It becomes SHALLOM, the Hebrew greeting, which means peace to you. It is a covenant word, so restoration is part of a peace covenant. As we know, a covenant involves 2 parties who each agree or promise the other. It’s a 2 way Street.
Every one of us has years that locusts have eaten. Sin is a locust, it eats everything of value, and if you have ever seen a locust plague, you will know how unbelievably destructive they can be. A locust plague destroys every living plant, ruins crops, destroys wealth and provision. Locusts are like teenage boys, they eat everything, except Brussel Sprouts.
Look back at your life, your relationships, your ministry. We have all made bad decisions, we’ve all sinned and we’ve all lost, sometimes a little, sometimes decades of our lives. Sometimes we didn’t sin, someone else did, and we got caught in the crossfire.
I am here today to tell you that God wants to restore to you the years the locusts of sin, pain, hurt and disappointment have eaten.
You cannot get lost time back, but Restoration means to make it as if the years of neglect never happened. So what kind of things does God promise to restore to you starting today?
1. RESTORATION OF PROSPERITY
OK, some have never had wealth and financial prosperity, but some of us have suffered financial loss and hardship. Fiona and I lost everything and then some in the GFC and Storm financial.
Through it all we learned not to trust in money, but to trust in the Lord. It was an expensive education! We found ourselves going from a million dollars in assets to the best part of a million dollars in debt. I remember clearly the day it happened, and God promising me on that day that He would restore our finances.
Job was a successful businessman who had his wealth, family and health taken from him. He was a righteous man, but God allowed the devil to ruin his life, so much so that
Job 2:9 (ESV)
his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
Through it all, even though he could not understand what was happening, Job declared his trust in the Lord. I did the same when we lost everything, including our home, and we stood in faith declaring God’s provision for ourselves and our family. Job put it this way…
Job 13:15 (ESV)
Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
Can you trust God even when everything physically seems to be against you? Can you keep your eyes on Him when circumstances don’t seem to make sense? If you can trust in God, no matter the circumstances and no matter the cost, then He can and will restore to you the years the locust have eaten. This is Job’s end…
Job 42:12 (ESV)
And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.
If you have suffered loss, it’s time to believe that God restores finances, wealth, families, prosperity and health!
2. RESTORATION OF RELATIONSHIPS
Many of us have broken relationships in our past. Whether it’s a breakup, a divorce, a child that is estranged or a friend who let you down, a church that hurt you, all of us know what broken relationships are. Well God can restore broken relationships where they are applicable. And what’s the prime Biblical example?
Joseph had a technicolour coat and a superior attitude, and some of his brothers wanted to kill him, but they settled on selling him into slavery. Some years down the track the dream of the brothers bowing down to him was fulfilled, and the brothers were terrified that he would kill them in retribution.
Genesis 50:19-20 (ESV)
But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, right through Paul and Barnabus. Conflict is inevitable, but restoration is possible, if you approach it humbly with a spirit of reconciliation. God can restore the right relationships, so if you allow Him he can restore the years the locusts have eaten in relationships.
3. RESTORING REPUTATION
Sometimes due to something we have done or not done, and sometimes due to false accusation, our reputation gets tarnished. It is tempting to fight for your reputation, but I have learned to give it over to the Lord and let Him restore my reputation.
Psalms 43:1 (ESV)
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!
I have had to live this out many times, even recently. Even with the miracles and blessing the Lord has poured upon us, where He miraculously provided $700,000 for Lily House to buy this property so we can buy the Nambour property, one bitter ex member of Ignite is spreading the lie that Darin and Fiona have stolen $700,000 from Lily House. I don’t have to defend myself against such blatant, diabolical accusations, I have to just trust God.
1 Peter 2:12 (ESV)
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
If your reputation is destroyed, God is in the restoration business, and if you trust Him and serve Him, your reputation is His problem, not yours!
Isaiah 61:7 (ESV)
Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.
4. RESTORING TIME LOST
I said at the outset that sin is a locust that can destroy your life. Maybe you have allowed a sin to dominate you. Maybe you suffered from a long term debilitating illness, or found yourself in a dead end marriage, relationship or church, or just got lost in life somewhere. Perhaps you’ve been out of church for a period. All of this constitutes time lost, and the big news for you today is, despite not getting to rewind it and do it all over again, God can and will restore lost time, the wasted years!
“Lost years can never be restored literally,” said Charles Spurgeon. “Time once past is gone forever. . . . You cannot have back your time; but there is a strange and wonderful way in which God can give back to you the wasted blessings, the unripened fruits of years over which you mourned. The fruits of wasted years may yet be yours.”
God says, I will restore the years the locusts have eaten. Even if the lost years are as a result of your sin and bad decisions. Look at King David, who had everything going for him, but committed adultery, lies, cover-ups and even murder… Yet God didn’t punish him forever, God restored him… David wrote
Psalms 51:1-2 (ESV)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
Psalms 51:12 (ESV)
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
This is the same David who wrote,
Psalms 34:6-8 (ESV)
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
God saved him from his enemies, his misfortune, and even some of the consequences his own sin. God restored him and his joy, and he will restore you if you come to Him today.
5. RESTORING MINISTRY
What about Peter. Peter claimed to serve the Lord, but under pressure denied Jesus 3 times. He showed so much promise, but lost his ministry.
But after Jesus was resurrected, he asked him this 3 times…
John 21:17 (ESV)
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
Why 3 times? Because Jesus was restoring Peter’s ministry. 3 denials, 3 questions, 3 calls to feed the flock. Peter lost his ministry, but Jesus restored it to him, and he became the rock again, and a leader in the church. Then he preached at Pentecostal, and 3,000 people were saved. 3, 3, 3, then 3,000… God restored his ministry 1,000 times over! Peter later wrote…
1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
The Greek word Peter uses for restore is katartizō, which means to repair what is broken, to fit it perfectly, to gather and make it perfect.
You may have been out of the church, you may have been away from God, you may have been in sin, or rebellion, but if you come to Jesus this day, He will fit it back together perfectly, and restore the years the locusts have eaten… Make it as if the years of neglect never happened!
6. RESTORATION OF DREAMS
God wants to restore your life, and your dreams today. To the people of Israel in exile, whose dreams were shattered and destroyed by the Babylonian, He said,
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (ESV)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
What dreams did you once have in God that are shattered, that lay destroyed. I prophesy to you today that these dreams of doing something truly significant in life are not dead, they are dormant and waiting to be restored.
And remember, God’s restoration is better and more abundant that what you once we’re, it’s restoration beyond measure.
HOW TO START
Restoration is not a passive process. If you want to restore a car, or a house, it takes time, effort, resources and commitment, but if you see it through you can and will see the wasted years restored. Remember, restoration doesn’t give you the time back, but it makes it as if the years of neglect never happened. And you are restored not to what you once we’re, but to what you should have been all along.
1. RESTORATION TAKES TIME
Make time to come to church and make time to invest into your quiet times. Restoring something always takes time, but the restoration is worth the time invested.
Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
So how are you going to make room for spending time with God today? You can start by prioritising coming to church and prioritising spending time every day in your quiet times.
2. IT TAKES DEVOTION
Devotion is a hallmark of those who lovingly restore things. They don’t chuck it together or wing it, they carefully plan the restoration, choose colours and fittings carefully and devote time, money and energy to the task.
Acts 2:42 (ESV)
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
How can you devote time, money and energy to restoring the wasted years of your life? By getting engaged here at Ignite, not sitting back and watching others serve, but getting engaged yourself in the area God has called you to serve in.
3. IT TAKES COMMITMENT
Restoration takes more than wishful thinking. You can sit around thinking, wishing, hoping, even strategising how to reclaim the wasted years of your life, how to restore the dreams, relationships, wealth or ministries you once had, but wishing doesn’t make it happen.
Israel’s most successful king, Solomon, advised this,
1 Kings 8:61 (ESV)
Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”
It takes commitment, it takes wholehearted devotion. It takes determination to see it through. It’s not how we start, it’s how we finish. As Paul said,
2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
4. RESTORATION STARTS WITH A DECISION
Restoration starts right here with a decision. Hey devil, I want those wasted years restored! I’m not going to let you hold me back any more. I want God’s plan for my life at any cost. Decide right now that those wasted years will be restored!
God wants to restore to you the years the locusts have eaten. The years wasted, the years you’ve spent wandering in the desert, today is the day your future, your destiny, your dreams are restored. But you face a decision… Isaiah writes,
Isaiah 30:20-21 (ESV)
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Right now some of you are hearing that voice, and He is calling you to restoration.
Open your heart and say with me right now, yes, Lord, I want You to restore the wasted years of my life.
Joshua 24:15 (ESV)
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
We make a choice to serve the Lord and let Him restore our lives.