Friday, 1 May 2020

True Restoration

Scripture:  Luke 19 v 8 - 10:  "And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him four-fold.  And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, inasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham." 

Zacchaeus was a very rich man who lived near Jericho, and some of his wealth was obtained by blackmail, or other corrupt ways.  Yet when Jesus visited his town, this short little man longed to see him, but was unable to get a glimpse of Him because of the crowds.  So he climbed a sycamore tree to see Him better.

Jesus always knows our hearts, and He knew Zacchaeus!  He stood under that tree and told him, I am coming to have a meal at your house!  Immediately, Zacchaeus stood before Him and the power of the Holy Spirit on Jesus convicted him of sin.  I will make restitution, he said, half my possessions to the poor and four times the amount I extorted will be paid back!

Jesus said, Now is salvation come to this house.  He knew that there is a curse on every one who steals, or uses His name as a blasphemy.   He also knows that it is not enough to just have forgiveness of sin, we need to make right with those we have wronged.  We need to restore to them if we have taken from them - goods, respect, forgiveness.

Zechariah 5 v 3 - 4:  "Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it. 
4  I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof."

Do we have a grievance against somebody who stole from us, conned us out of our savings, kidnapped a loved one, and never got caught, or repaid the things stolen?  Do we want revenge?  Pay back the money?  Read these verses again and be reminded that in Romans God said, Vengeance is Mine! I will repay!!

So we do not need to find the satisfaction of vengeance against those that have conned us.  The Lord said He will cut them off.  Think of cutting someone out of our last will and testament.  God is cutting them off from life, everlasting life, unless they repent and restore what they have taken.  Zacchaeus is our example.  Now is salvation come to this house.

The writing was on the wall for Zachhaeus.  In the conviction of the Holy Spirit he would have been reminded of the words of Zechariah.  He hoped four-fold would be enough and it was.

God says unless we forgive He will not forgive our sins.  How many people are struggling with their faith on this point alone?  Mark 11 v 25 - 26:  "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
26  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."

How many are struggling financially because they need to confess that they have conned people, stolen goods, blackmailed family for drugs or alcohol etc etc.?  How many Christians are struggling because they neither forgave nor made true restoration themselves?  The Lord says My people perish for lack of knowledge.

We don't know what is required of us.  We are ignorant until the Holy Spirit convicts us of things which we need to put right.  It brings salvation to our house.  A strong faith and testimony.  Like Zacchaeus who is remembered to this day for his obedience.

So take this opportunity to examine your heart and allow the Holy Spirit to shine into every nook and cranny of your soul.  If there is anything lurking there then fix this area quickly so you will be free of any barriers that may stand between you and Jesus, preventing a true freedom of worship and serving Him in Spirit and in truth.

God loves us but He honours truth and righteousness, love, mercy and forgiveness above all things.  If terrible wrongs occur He brings judgment upon cities, nations, groups or individuals.  Like the Flood.  Even this coronavirus, where it started centuries of human abuse has continued unabated, unrepented, and God pointed His finger.  

Consider the nations of Europe badly hit by the pandemic and asking, Why us?  Consider the Roman conquests, inhuman loss of life across the known world centuries ago.  They have had 2000 years to repent, and never have.  Consider the Spanish Inquisition and the millions of martyrs whose blood cries out, and its never been repented of.  Our God will have His vengeance on the unrepentant.  He will abundantly pardon the worst sinner.

He causes me to consider all these matters and to warn people to show them that evil behaviour has bad consequences.  Did God not say, An eye for an eye, a life for a life?  He never wastes His words, they never return void to Him, they always accomplish the purpose for which they were sent.  Never forget how much He loves us and wants us to enjoy His favour through our obedience.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the testimony of Zacchaeus to show us that confession of sin includes a restitution clause to show that we don't just use forgiveness of sin as a cop out.  True restoration is to love others more than ourselves, and to treat them the way we want You to treat us.  Help us to know and understand the depths of our commitment to You. In Jesus' name. Amen.