I recently visited Venice and was struck by the contrast of new, old, restored and “work-in-progress”. In part, the erosion of the world around us is quantified by our inability to identify works of art. Philanthropists, councils, governments and the like enjoy the praise from the public who are in awe of the large sums of money that pay for restoration. But what about our spiritual restoration, who is going to stump up the cost for that? Does anyone ever think that there is a price to pay?
When it comes to spirituality, we have become a race of defeated individuals who roll over because the world tells us to? Where is the backbone, where is the fight! Throughout the Bible, we read about people who, by God's grace and intervention, became something different to what they were before He got hold of them!
They didn't sprout wings, turn green like “The Hulk” or demonstrate amazing powers like “The Fantastic Four”. No, they started behaving differently because they began to learn and understand what God wanted of them.
God let them know that he was with them every step of the way, not that he would do it for them, rather, he wanted them to make the first move. Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, David, Jonathan, they all made the first move after hearing from God.
Our society is stopping men from making the first move because it encourages us to be afraid. But afraid of what? For someone to point the finger and say who do you think you are? So what! What do they know - nothing, that's just it. The naysayers of the world have been appointed to stop men in their tracks from becoming what God wants them to be and it can be done with a simple “off-the-cuff" comment that sows a seed of doubt that grows in to inaction.
The time has come to show that we do possess a rod (1Cor 4:20) and we’ll use it, however we prefer to live in love instead. Equally, we’re not afraid of a fight! We must be committed to learn the word, meditate on it day and night so we will be sure to obey everything written in it, only then will we prosper and succeed in everything we do (Joshua 1:8).
We also need to tell God, that we're willing to be made willing – to show him that we submit. That we want him to open our eyes, ears and hearts to what he's capable of doing in us and with us. And then pray for him to let rip!
Spiritual restoration is not about “self” as our first priority is to support and care for each other. For far too long people have felt isolated cast adrift because we enjoy a “blinkered lifestyle” and have all held on to our money and possessions. Our family and friends who have been wanting, have simply had to grin and bear it, they on the one hand (being typically British and making out that everything is okay) never said a word. And then there are the people who we don't even know but see on a regular basis at church, work or some other location.
How on earth are we supposed to help the poor if we don't know who they are unless they are selling The Big Issue!
There is no shame in not having money. But we are shunned if we announce our financial situation. Surely victory is preferable than lack. And having more than enough to live on means that we can bless others too. A lack of finances and poverty is a work of the enemy (as in Satan, the Prince of the Air, whatever you want to call him) and a curse that Jesus bore for us so that we could live a life worth dying for.
As Christians need to pray against lack in our lives and in the lives of others so that we can start to make a difference. We need to encourage our brothers and sisters to speak out and to let us all know what the state of play is in their lives, financially and in other areas.
The enemy likes nothing more than keeping families and individuals in lack and then getting them to focus on not having enough money thereby keeping them away from Church and God. Why should anyone focus on God if he’s not coming through for them?
Sadly, there are too few people giving their testimony about the amazing things God has done, not because they don’t have an opportunity but because they're not expecting anything. Not enough Christians keep a record of what they are trusting in God for.
Equally, many Christian couldn’t answer the same question – “what are you trusting in God for?” (double-entendre intended!) Their hopes, thoughts and prayers are random and they certainly don't expect them to come to pass. And if something does happen, their first response is not praise God, but rather, “oh what a coincidence, fancy that”.
We are not called to be world changers by ourselves. First we must simply be “changers”, starting with ourselves and then with one other person. Yes, only one other. We don't need to make a meal of it, we can start with a friend.
In the same way that we are told to put on the oxygen mask over our own mouth's first and then help someone else. The same is true of our own faith. How can we expect to encourage others if we haven't got it clear in our own heads?
It is important to get your own clear understanding and not believe everything you hear. Be warned, experienced Christians can also be destructive entities. Just because they have been “practising” for a number of years, it doesn't mean they're any good at it. Just take a look at X factor if you don't believe me!
For us to realise our potential and be restored spiritually, we have to submit ourselves to God. When we are lined up with his word and his plan for us, everything falls into place. We are more energised and remain enthusiastic. If we're not lined up, with his will for us, we become tired and impatient with our work or activities.
This is not about some kind of gimme, gimme philosophy. God wants us to really get to know him and once we do, our lives change. It's a fact. When you know his ways, you will understand about finance, love, and everything God has planned for you (it doesn’t happen overnight and we’re all a “work-in-progress”). But, don't be put off by others, and there will be plenty of people who will want to stop you from following God’s will for your life. Because when you are doing what he made you for, your life will never be the same and you become a threat to the enemy, who until now has kept you blinded. Just think, you might go and tell someone about what God is doing in your life and that just won’t do!
We must keep ourselves accountable to what we are expectant about. Keep a journal, review it, share it, talk about it. Your written requests are petitions. They show that you are expectant. They also help to ensure that you're focusing on God’s word and living how he wants you to live.
The first aspect of that can be forgiveness. Remember, if you can't forgive, how can God forgive you!
The second is to understand what it means to love one another according to the Bible and not as we would love our wives in a physical way!
That means: Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous or boastful or proud on rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and he keeps no record of being wrong. It does not rejoice about injustice that rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance (1 Corinthians 13:4).
Are you going to be able to shed the skin that the world wants you to wear? Are you going to be able to speak with your own voice, guided by God or will the words that come out conform to the ways of the world.
We have all seen the preachers on Hollywood westerns telling settlers to repent, but they seem to be a figure of ridicule by the filmmakers. But the reality is that we're living in an age where all our values and things we have believed to be sacrosanct are being erased.
What was once abhorrent is now acceptable, and if you disagree you are vilified not the perpetrators. Our language is changing to a series of acronyms and grunts. Charity is about showing off and celebrity is more than okay! Our idols are not just people they're also the next new shiny piece of technology the real I in Idol is iPad, iPhone, iMac and of course I. Men don't want to go to church although women want a man to be God-fearing but why?
I believe God wants us to be aware that its "TIME":
Spiritual restoration starts with our own faith, recognising what is happening in our world and knowing that we are called to do something about it. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you to a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).