Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Restoring the Fallen

"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." (Galatians 6:1)

I watched a leader stumble.

I watched the church quickly jump into action. "Accountability!" they cried, and then set up a system of hoops, hurdles and hoolas for the servant to perform. Whether or not the hoops, hurdles and hoolas were doing anything directly to bring about restoration was inconsequential. The fact that something was being done, was sufficient to keep the servant out of the limelight long enough to prevent them from being associated with the church that embraced him.

The word "restoration" has been thrown around the church for many years. I've watched, seen some good restorations, but mostly bad ones. Magazines, authors, TV shows, and tabloids continue to exploit failures long after the servant is gone. The servants of yesterday who failed miserably during their lives carry the darkness of their blemished lives well into the history books, without regard for the blessings and countless lives that were transformed through them while they lived. The malice of this behavior is abhorrent to God who is not looking for earthly advisors to increase punishment when He has increased grace!(Read Matthew 18:22-35) Jesus tells us that the ones who are "blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy". (Matthew 5:7) Paul writes that he was an example of the most hideous sinner, in order to display the unlimited patience of Christ Jesus! (1 Timothy 1:16)

Failure is history's school teacher for generations to come. It stands alone as the "principals office" as an example to those who walk naively by. I remember once in primary school in South Africa receiving two "cuts" (spankings) as they called them. It was with a bamboo switch and it helped me very quickly come to the decision that I would never get another one. I was made to sit in front of the principals office for what felt like hours, while everyone walked by, knowing I was about to enter a painful discipline process. My behavior was modified. I never endured that situation again! I failed. Others saw that I failed. They knew I was disciplined. But that was the end of it!

If restoration is truly from God… then the failures of the past are swept beneath the blood of Jesus too, and if we are walking beneath that blood, we too, must function as Our Father… and forgive… and move on! Restoration only occurs when we forgive.. and move on!

When we are invited into the process of restoration, it is to restore a brother or sister to the place destined for them by God who is STILL their Father! We are invited into that process with the caution to be careful. Be careful of falling as they have fallen and be careful of judging beyond the atmosphere of grace.

Paul deals with the this subject specifically when a man is caught and continues in the sin of adultery in the Corinthian Church. He administers the rod of correction when he tells the church to "turn him over to satan!" (1 Corinthians 5:5). Evidently the discipline worked and the man repented. But the church continued on in their discipline. They disciplined beyond grace. They went from discipline to punishment and from punishment to banishment and rejection. The didn't understand the  restoration process was to restore the man to his function and calling in God. They operated under law. Law always produces a legal spirit that demands, extracts, and extorts more than what is required. The man was defiled… and they didn't want to be associated with him anymore!

Paul writes to forgive and comfort the man so that he won't become discouraged anymore. He must again experience the LOVE of Christ. He must be embraced again or who knows what will happen to him! The schemes of the enemy are to produce self-righteousness in those who are trying to walk purely, and devastation for those who are trying to walk righteously. On either account. Grace is removed, and law prevails! We must not be outwitted. We must prevail.

(2 Corinthians 2:4-11) For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you. If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent--not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven--if there was anything to forgive--I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes."

Time fails me to share about Peter who was restored fully after a bold, public, rejection of Jesus. The failure simply demonstrated that God invades humans who are frail. Peter's life reflected failure, but his life also, and more predominantly, reflected brilliant obedience that resulted in his ultimate martyrdom for Jesus! Or Elijah, who failed miserably and ended his days outside of the treasured promised land for disobedience in not anointing the two kings God told him to, and wallowing in self-pity. (1 Kings 19:15-16) I could also bring up Moses, who failed horribly during his life. He too, was prevented access to die in the treasured Promised Land. (Numbers 20:11-12) "Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 'Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.' " Interestingly, because of Grace brought by Jesus, both of these Old Testament examples were restored to the full Promises of God when Jesus invited them to the Mount of Transfiguration!

In October 2005, I had a lengthy visitation with Jesus that indicated a "Restoration" among the prodigals would begin after a restoration took place in my own home. On February 2, 2006, my daughters who have been abducted over six years prior were returned to me. They are home, and are thriving in His Presence today! I received emails and letters from around the world indicating that the restoration of my daughters was a prophetic sign to many. They didn't realize Jesus had spoken that to me specifically. I knew in general that there would begin a restoration with children of those who love God…. but I also knew that there would be a massive release of restoration upon those who had failed miserably in years past; those who were now simply sitting on shelves and collecting dust would be restored! I saw Fathers, Mothers, Sons, and Daughters of the King waiting on a bench for those who were playing the game to invite them back into the game. I knew that many of them were far better players with greater skills, but they had been sidelined and they simply waited. I knew that some died while they were waiting, knowing that the Father had laid hands on them, but they were discouraged to the point of excessive sorrow. They couldn't measure up to those who could invite them back into the game, and so in mercy God allowed them to come home!

Samson failed miserably. He had his very eyes taken from him. His future vision was removed. But where were the rescuers who would go and restore him rather than leaving him to grind grain with animals? He was a powerful servant of the Lord. He fulfilled the office God called him to, but the people of God were not included in that victory because they left him to fend for himself. Where were the mighty men of Israel in that day?

It is easy to remember what once was? It is easy to remember failures in each other. Even a simple Egyptian can do that. Moses had plenty of those reminders in his life. (Exodus 2:14) The man said, "Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and thought, "What I did must have become known."

Knowing the past about a person doesn't make us prophetic... calling them into their future does! The question has never been, can we read the history of a man. The question has always been, can we restore the future of a man! Anyone can read the history of the man… but the Heart of the Father is to release the unfulfilled destiny of His broken Children.

Restoration is based on Repentance. Repentance has fruit. John questioned the self-righteous Pharisees who knew how to twist truth to meet their own agenda and doctrines. His words were like a sword! "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." (Matthew 3:8) Grace doesn’t annul a holy lifestyle, grace simply overwhelms our confessed unholy unrighteous acts with the Love of Christ that forgives!

But having said that; neither does repentance come as a result of believers beating each other up. It doesn’t come as a result of a heavy hand that extracts justice and revenge. It doesn’t come as a result of judgment! It's the kindness, not judgment, of the Lord that leads people to repentance. "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" (Romans 2:4) Just as we can “quench and grieve the Holy Spirit,” we can also be contemptuous of the ways of God as He works with His kids. God lavishes the riches of Grace on us through kindness, tolerance, and patience. When we step in and become the taskmaster and produce judgment beyond the parameters of Grace, we reveal hearts that are very different than our Father in Heaven.

I don't in any way believe that we "restore people who are continuing in sin  “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2)“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God”. (1 John 3:9)

My heart is not to "bless those who continue destroying lives," I don’t believe that is the Father’s heart either. He indicated that those who cause little ones to stumble were those who needed to be stopped! Jesus made it very clear when he talked about a millstone around a man’s neck! The Scripture calls those who prey on the innocent, wolves! It is the nature of a wolf to deceive in order to manipulate situations to their benefit and ultimately to their capturing further prey! We don't want to bless wolves in any way!! BUT regardless of the sin we, as His Children, must forgive and release people into their callings. (Jesus only spoke of one unforgivable sin - that I won't discuss in this article). Grace changes lives. People do change. All things become new! If we don’t believe this, we don’t really believe the power of the Gospel, and we are simply walking out memorized doctrines without a true understanding of Him who bought us!

I too am one who has born the brunt of difficult situations against my own life, against my family, my wife, my daughters, and my sons... but at the end of the day, Jesus believes His Sacrifice was plenty for not only Him to forgive those that wounded me, but for me to forgive them as well.

The examples of Scripture indicate God used pretty messed up people.... who were changed by His Grace! When people repent, we MUST recall them to the destiny that God has for them. The fruit of their life will evidence the changes that Grace made!

There is a vast difference between punishing and shaming a person and disciplining and correcting a person! The first is administered by the letter of the law that brings death, the other is administered by the Holy Spirit who gives life! Jesus demonstrated well this grace when He overcame the "requirements of the law" with grace when He ministered to the woman caught in adultery.  "Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"  "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." (John 8:10-11)

The fields are ripe. Just a couple days ago the Lord spoke to me that He needs more workers. In the conversation I knew He was going to be making a profound prophetic call to some who had gone AWOL (absent without leave/ deserters from His army). I knew He was going to be calling some who had been benched and were living in caves! I knew that that call was going out to those with extreme failures… the ones that would give the Apostle Paul pretty close competition for his statement in 1 Timothy 1:15-16. ”Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” Some have failed miserably. But many are going to burn more brightly than ever with His Glory!

The evidence of Grace is that God can take a man or a woman and redeem them. He can change their lives where fruit prevails, where once there was only baggage. He can show His awesome kindness to the world by overwhelming the worst with the Love of the Greatest! I am looking for that army! He is looking for that army! Broken…. but covered with GRACE!

The world awaits this army of Grace! What are you waiting for? Get off the bench… His Grace is greater than all the shame. His Grace is greater than all your failures. His Grace is sufficient to reveal, not your reputation, but HIS through your life!
Saved by Grace!
Overwhelmed by Kindness!
Mesmerized by Love!

Thank you Jesus!

Danny Steyne