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Your restoration: the artwork of the Redeemer

"Can I do not do with you, O house of Israel, just as the potter has done?" (Jr 8:6)

From the cross to your heart. Jesus Christ carried out his work of redemption, truly dying in our place and for our sins. We know that the Father resurrected and glorified him, exalting him with his Ascension to the highest and giving him the Name that is above all names, confirming him as Lord and Savior, with all authority and power. Through him we the believers are reconciled with God and have the path to his presence open, as to regain communion with him and life eternal. Today, on the earth, it is the Holy Spirit who in the name of Jesus Christ brings us closer to the work carried out on the cross. Truly, the Holy Spirit continues bringing the presence of Christ among us. That is why we can say that Jesus saves today. When we accept the Savior of our life, salvation comes to us: from the cross into our hearts.

In some cases, as we have mentioned before, the Christian who accepts Jesus Christ and receives his salvation, finds the joy of getting its "full package", experiencing a radical change in all areas of his life. Notwithstanding this, he will need to make a daily renewal of his commitment to his Savior and to come closer to his cross, from where gushed the Blood that set him free, that forgave and healed him, as to maintain that joy and to deepen his relationship with his Savior.

Usually, in their first personal encounter with Christ, the believers begin their road of salvation and find their first gift in eternal salvation, and then go progressively discovering the other gifts that are with the former. This way the Lord goes on dealing with our life in a process of restoration —spiritual, moral, emotional, psychological, of memories, of health, and finally of each and every area of our life and of our relationships and actions, including our work or service and our family and social life.

As God wants to deal with the faithful, in one way or the other, the result should be the same. The works of the Lord are all perfect, and each one of us is the work of the Lord! He, as an expert Potter wants to work till he is fully satisfied with it. Notwithstanding and regrettably, it is not always that we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this work of restoration, our lack of cooperation (sometimes due to ignorance, but mostly due to disobedience) being the main reason why the total salvation that the Lord wants for our life is not manifest in us, thus delaying the restoration that the Lord wants to carry out, if not moving it backward.

The process. The plan of redemption and salvation is made complete by the plan of restoration: it is not only that we are set free from sin and its consequences, but also all that sin has damaged in all areas of our life is restored, and wherever previously were evils or shortcomings, there are now blessings. David cried out in this way: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits —who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long you live, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s" (Ps 103:1-5).

The first and most important thing to do is to restore the communion with God. Sin is always the main obstacle that comes in the way of this communion, and as such we should move away from it as the Spirit goes on revealing it to us. And together with sin, it is the influence of the spirit of the world with its customs, ambitions, and ways of relationship, of spending time, money, etc, that has to be replaced by a life ruled and guided by the Holy Spirit.

In this process of restoration it is God who heals us of our hurts and fills us with good things. The weaknesses of our character or temperament, of our emotions, of our will, of our body, are important for our Savior. He wants us to be healthy, first, and then to be strengthened wherever there was infirmity or deficiency. Thus says the Third Letter of John: "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul"(3 Jn 2).

The final objective that God has in mind is nothing but for us to "be conformed to the image of his Son" (Rom 8:29). In other words, "until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ" (Eph 4:13). This objective may look unattainable, and in fact it is for us. But in this wonderful restoration of us we are assured of the powerful help of the Holy Spirit: "He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful: by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor 1:8-9). But although we have God on our side, without our cooperation with the Holy Spirit we would reach nowhere.

Our task. To cooperate with the Lord is not easy. Many times we don’t know what the Lord wants us to do and so we do not move in the same direction. However in the majority of cases the problem is that our interests do not coincide with those of the Lord, so we don’t allow him to act. We may want him to tidy something in our life, while the Lord wants to begin with some other area, a work more necessary and urgent according to his perception. Frequently, we human beings pay more attention to material, economic problems, to health, and family and emotional ones, and we don’t give much importance to problems of greater draught, like hidden sins, idol worship that we harbour in our heart, improper emotional bonds, unforgiveness towards those who have hurt us, or inclusive spiritual problems inherited from our ancestors, all of which require a specific intervention from the Lord.

  • Many times, a simple act of repentance or of renunciation of any idol worship allows the Lord to begin to work the restoration of large areas of our life. However, till we take this step, we truly keep preventing God from working in our life.
  • Conversion will be our constant attitude of changing the direction of our life, leaving behind our old ways of thinking and living, and submitting more and more areas of our life more entirely to the Lordship of Christ.
  • Receiving the Word is fundamental in this process of restoration. Paul said: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God —what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom 12:2). This transformation we long for in our life has much more to do with the renewal of our mind and for this we need to know the Word of God, as to know his will and to cease living according to the criteria of the world.
  • Obedience to the Word is the assurance of success in our life. A true acceptance of the Word of God includes obeying it. Many things will fall in place in our life when we begin to act according to the Word of God. When we attune ourselves to the will of God, changes occur in our life, in our way of acting, and we stop making wrong elections and we begin to choose wisely, benefiting ourselves from the consequences of our correct actions. Moreover, if we apply the principles of the Word of God, if we do his will, God’s promises will follow us, we will realize that God is faithful and that he is with us: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Is 43:2-3).
  • The communion with the Holy Spirit is the key. It is he who not only leads us to repentance, but also the one who reveals us the Word and leads us to the full truth, or teaches us to pray, and also the one who is in charge of walking with us, of helping us and to complete the work of restoration of our life. The results depend on the quality of our relationship with him.
  • Prayer should be the environment where our life in the Spirit develops. In prayer, we find protection, light and God’s guidance that we require. Someone has said that "nothing happens without prayer" meaning nothing good. This means that if we desire that God may intervene in our favor, we should begin to persevere in prayer.
  • Adoration is the workshop of the transformation. In the presence of God, when we prostrate ourselves at his feet and develop a communion with him, not only our relationship with God grows and strengthens, but we give him an opportunity to work in us and to bless us. And since God is desirous of blessing and transforming us, but we don’t give him often this opportunity that he wants, the moments of adoration and even more the life of the adorer, are something precious for him. This way God can transform and heal us deeply from within and in addition give us everything we need: ability to forgive, wisdom, mercy, humility, etc. Everything is possible, in the presence of the Savior, in the presence of the Healer.
  • The trials are another precious method that the Lord uses to carry forward the work of restoration in us, and of this we shall speak later on.

When the problems increase. We may have an erroneous concept regarding the term restoration and think that it means that all is well with us in human terms. This is not the case. When God acts, when God blesses, when we give the Lord an opportunity to take control of our life truly all "will go well" (Job 22:28) with us, but from God’s perspective. Many times what is a success for the world is a failure for God, and what the world frequently scorns, is the most valuable for God, who looks at and probes into the heart and do not look to the external appearances, as men do.

When we truly surrender ourselves to the Lordship of our Redeemer and God begins to act into our life, frequently our problems seem to multiply instead of becoming solved. David had this experience and said: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all" (Ps 34:19. When he experienced that his problems were growing, his faith and trust in the Lord also grew, and time after time he could see that the Lord was delivering him from all his problems and untying all tangles.

In fact, one of the habitual ways that many problems can be solved is by their worsening, or, in other words, by hitting the bottom, thus allowing us to know their true nature and depth. In this way we can seek for appropriate help and begin from zero, thus healing the problem from its root. It is necessary that all this may happen, even if we don’t understand it at that moment. Later on we will understand that God had a purpose of restoration much higher than anybody could have dared to ask for. When Lazarus became sick, the Master stated: "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it" (Jn 11:4) and meanwhile apparently he did nothing… on the contrary allowed Lazarus to become worse and die!

God is all-powerful and for him nothing is impossible. He rejoices in showing his "glorious arm" (Is 63:12) in favor of his people. But he is more interested in our eternal salvation. Many times the difficult situations we are going through, help him to have us grow, to give us an experience and enable us to help others, to strengthen our faith, to unite us to him forever. And this, especially, when we are not taking full advantage of the workshop of transformation that adoration is: it is basically then that the furnace of trial becomes almost essential. Thus spoke God through a prophet, to a rebellious people: "I will turn my hand against you; I will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy" (Is 1:25).

The trials are part of the process. We should be ready and wait for the trials. Also for the grace to overcome them! Paul praises the Christians of Macedonia: "for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part" (2 Cor 8:2). This wise advice reminds us: "My child when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing" (Sir 2:1). From them God takes out hidden treasures and moulds our faith: "In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith —being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire— may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Pt 1:6-7). The victory is of those who fight and win, and God calls us conquerors: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Rom 8:37), since God’s plan is to make us partakers in the victory of Christ: "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 15:57).

From your heart to the cross. If from the cross of Christ comes to us all the work of salvation and the power to restore our life, it is also true that from our heart should come a love response to the one "who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20). Paul exclaimed: "May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the whole world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal 6:14). If it is true that we have not resisted the Holy Spirit and have not failed to profit from his grace, if it is true that Christ dwells in faith in our hearts, we shall reflect on our identification with him, in his love, in his surrender, on his humiliation, on his death, so that the power of his resurrection be also manifest in us: "More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Phil 3:8).

Questions for sharing:

  • What is the role of the Holy Spirit in our restoration?
  • What value adoration has in regard to our restoration? What does being an adorer mean?
  • Which is the ultimate goal of our restoration?

 

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