Although we’re embarking on a new year (and let’s be real –– we’re relieved to head into 2021, right?), we can’t deny how much the events of 2020 disrupted all of our lives in tons of different ways. We’re still dealing with the effects of all that happened! At Crossroads, we know God wants to do a unique work of restoration in us individually and as a church family in this new year, and we’re seeking his heart and his will for what’s next. Are you in?
1. Year of Restoration
- 2020 was not what any of us expected. Although the difficult things we experienced haven’t disappeared, a new year is an opportunity to reset our mindsets, to refocus on what really matters. God has new things to do in and through us this year.
- The vision God has given us for this year is Restoration. Restoration can have two different meanings: to restore something back to its original state, or to restore something to an even better condition than its previous state. There has been a falling apart in many ways in our lives in the last year, and God wants to restore us.
- Jeremiah prophesied that the children of Israel would be taken into captivity by the Babylonians and that it would ultimately be for their restoration. Although their circumstances are obviously different from ours, the principle we can learn from these verses is that nothing––not even the most terrible things in life––happens apart from God’s sovereignty, nor is it beyond his ability to turn it into something for our growth and restoration.
- The restorative work God wants to do in us today is one in which he brings us to an even better place with him than before. God’s work always makes things better, more fruitful and more glorifying to his name.
When you look at your family and your own life, what things do you think that God wants to restore in 2021?
2. Restoring the soul
3 John 2
- This year has been hard for all of us at a soul level. Isolation, division, fear––it all takes its toll on us and can strip us of our spiritual vibrancy. And it will, unless our strength is grounded solely in the Lord. If we are looking to our circumstances, our government, or even our loved ones to restore us, we will always feel a lack. Only Jesus can bring the restoration we crave.
- Restoration of the soul is part of our Year of Restoration. We need to implement spiritual disciplines to help restore our sensitivity to the Lord. Our daily Bible reading plan is a good place to start. No matter what you decide to do, you have to have a plan.
What spiritual disciplines could you implement this year that would be restorative to your soul?
3. Restoring the family
- In God’s economy, no man is an island. So as we restore our individual souls, that restoration should overflow into the restoration of our families, both biological and spiritual. To do this, we have to go a step beyond just reading the Word (the basis of our soul restoration) and teach it to others, our children or people who look up to us. Just as others can’t restore us, we can’t restore others with our own wisdom. It has to come from the Lord.
- Something we have learned this year is that many of us have allowed pastors and Sunday school teachers to do all the discipling work in our families and social circles, but we all need to take responsibility for that work.
While it makes sense to practice caution right now in regards to the COVID-19 virus, at some point, we have to come back together. It won’t always be this way, and you can’t be a Christian apart from relationships with others.
Who are you discipling, and who is discipling you? In 2021, what adjustments do you need to make to your discipleship relationships? How is God leading you to work toward relational restoration in your biological and spiritual families?
4. Restoring the community
- We all have different circles we inhabit within the community. As we rebuild our families and churches, we should naturally move out into the community and see opportunities to build up the kingdom of God everywhere we go.
- The work of the Spirit is an exponential one. He plays for the long game, desiring that everyone would know his love and salvation. The commission of Jesus is the same as it has always been, and it’s good for us to learn to get creative about how to share the gospel with others!
Reflect on the greater community in which you live. What work of restoration needs to happen? What is God trying to accomplish in your community? How can you (practically) participate?
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?