Reclaimed

This morning, we’re beginning a new message series entitled “Reclaimed” which is all about becoming who you were created to be.  This series begins our focus on the work of the Holy Spirit and His ministry, the third core value of New Hope.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to reclaim is to rescue from an undesirable state.

It is amazing to watch someone take what appears to be little more than a pile of rust found behind a farmer’s field and work to restore it to its original condition looking and driving like a floor-model muscle car.

It gives us a sense of awe to watch someone pick up a worthless item from a yard sale and repurpose it to become a highly sought after, new and unique object.

Anyone who has ever watched Chip and Joanna Gaines on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” are well aware of how old, weathered barn wood can be reclaimed to become shiplap ready to bring beauty to any home regardless of its age and style.

These acts reflect the creative ability, gracious heart, and passionate desire of God as were created in His image.  God is ready and willing to take any life, no matter how broken or run-down or undervalued it may be, reclaim it, and do something beautiful and amazing both to it and through it.

1 Corinthians 1:26-30
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

The human life being reclaimed is the most awesome miracle to experience!

1 Tim 1:15 (ISV)

This is a trustworthy saying that deserves complete acceptance:

To this world Christ Jesus came,

sinful people to reclaim.

God places a value on our lives not by who we are now, but who He created us to be.  Becoming the person that He had in mind when we were created is the process of being reclaimed.

The starting point of any reclamation project begins with redemption.

Before I can restore a car back to its original condition or repurpose an old wire spool into a stylish coffee table or tear apart a barn to reuse it’s wood, I first must have possession of that item.  If I do not already own the item, I must redeem it.

To redeem an item, myself and the owner must come to an agreement on the value of the item.  If you’ve ever been to an auction or watched shows such as ‘American Pickers’, you’re well aware that even this can be a process in and of itself.

Some owners place a value on an item far too great due to greedy selfishness or because of sentimental emotions attached to that item.  Others joyfully part ways with their belongings for a low cost simply because they value getting rid of what they view as nothing more than junk.

Once a value is agreed upon by the owner and buyer, an exchange is made.  Usually this involves paying money for an item.  However, the good old barter system is still quite effective as well.  This involves either trading an item for another item or some type of service in order to gain possession of an item. 

This exchange is known as redemption.  The item was redeemed by the buyer.

A more common example is a coupon.  When I hand over a coupon or use my member card or scan my phone, those coupons are assigned a value.  I buy a $4 box of cereal, but because I have a coupon for 50 cents off, I only have to pay $3.50 for that cereal.  The store redeems the coupon for the agreed upon value of 50 cents.

Now redemption carries a larger meaning as well, but it begins with valuing that item and paying the price for it.  Redemption also has the intent to make rights wrong or to improve what has been purchased.

God’s desire has always been to redeem mankind.  Mankind chose to value His creation over a relationship with the Creator and sin corrupted us ever since Adam and Eve did so. 

To this very day, as Paul taught in Romans 1, the very things that still plague and destroy mankind can often be summarized as valuing the creation over the Creator.  Most addictions, substance abuse, marital unfaithfulness, theft, and other destructive acts boil down to this reality; choosing the creation over the Creator.

In the Old Testament, when God was setting up a theocracy form of government within Israel by defining their laws, He setup a system of redemption found in Leviticus 25-27. 

God’s plan for national economics are incredible to review!  No interest could be charged to poor people and food had to be sold to them at cost.  People could work hard and become incredibly prosperous, but never at the cost nor neglect of the poor nor could anyone take advantage of another.  Written in His laws were not just punishments for wrongdoing, but also a way to right those wrongs and even better, incredible rewards for doing good!

He wanted His people to understand that the earth is His along with everything within it and that we dwell as foreigners and strangers in this land; it is not our permanent home.  This is why the redemption system was setup including giving our tithes and offerings to God.  Every fifty years, they would enjoy the year of jubilee where all debts were forgiven and everyone would return to their own property.

If any individual became too poor to redeem their property back, their nearest relative could pay the cost and redeem it on their behalf.  This individual was referred to as a kinsman-redeemer. 

We now fast-forward to our own lives.

God’s desire has always been to redeem mankind. Mankind chose to value His creation over a relationship with the Creator and sin corrupted us ever since Adam and Eve did so. From that moment forward, because of our sin, we are indebted to God. The cost of sin is death. We owe Him a debt that we cannot pay on our own.

In the Old Testament, when God was setting up a theocracy form of government within Israel by defining their laws, He setup a system of redemption found in Leviticus 25-27.

God said that He setup this system of redemption because He wanted His people to understand that the earth is His along with everything within it. He wanted us to realize that we dwell as foreigners and strangers in this land; it is not our permanent home.

This is why the redemption system was setup including giving our tithes and offerings to God. Every fifty years, they would enjoy the year of jubilee where all debts were forgiven and everyone would return to their own property.

If any individual became too poor throughout that 50 years to redeem their property back, their nearest relative could pay the cost and redeem it on their behalf. This individual was referred to as a kinsman-redeemer. An awesome example of this is found in the story of Boaz and Ruth.

We now fast-forward to our own lives.

God wants to clear all of our debts, He wants to fill our lives overflowing with joy and jubilee.  He wants to reclaim us; making us either as good as new or repurposing our lives altogether so that we might become who He created us to be.

Unfortunately, the value of the debt that we owe due to our sin is death.  Not just physical, but eternal.  We owe a debt that we cannot pay.  In the Old Testament, God setup a system of sacrifice so that, by faith, mankind might have a way to redeem themselves at the high cost of animal sacrifices.  It was just a foreshadowing of what was to come, though.

Jesus then came.  He was unlike us in some ways, born by the Holy Spirit and not by flesh and therefore was not born into sin.  He was fully God and fully  man.  He was like us in most ways, tempted to sin, weak, and tried.  He sacrificed over and over again so that He lived a sinless life.  He then willingly gave up His life on the cross to pay the debt that we owed. 

Jesus became our kindsman-redeemer.  The Heavenly Father placed a value on your life and mine and decided that His own Son was worth the cost.  The Father redeemed mankind at the cost of His one and only Son.  That is the value that God places on your life.

You are worth far more than the choices that you’ve made.  To the world, you are the result of all of your past choices, but you are so much more to God!  When looking at your life, the world sees your past, but God sees your future.  The world sees you as you are, God sees your potential.

This is the source of our hope.  We have hope because we do not have to repeat tomorrow the mistakes of yesterday.  We have hope because change is possible.  We have hope because to Jesus, nothing and no one is every too far gone.  We have hope because He is able to bring beauty from ashes and life from even death. 

We have hope because He has not yet finished the good work that He started in us.  We have hope because we take another breath.  We have hope because we awaken to a new day with new grace and new mercies.  We don’t just have hope, we have a LIVING hope in Jesus; the author, the beginner, the pioneer, the perfecter, and the finisher of our faith!

Sure, your choices yesterday may not be acceptable to God, but you are always acceptable to Him.  Your choices are forgivable and He will accept you just as you are when you come to Him.  Even when Isaiah stood in the presence of God and fell to his knees crying out “Woe is me, I’m ruined!” when he realized just how dirty and sinful he was, God just said, “Hey, take care of that.” and all of his sins were forgiven and cleansed.

Jesus paid the highest price for this to be your reality – you are accepted just as you are!

1 Tim 1:15 (ISV)

This is a trustworthy saying that deserves complete acceptance:

To this world Christ Jesus came,

sinful people to reclaim.

Of course, this redemption is essentially an open tab.  Though it is freely available to anyone who would receive of it, it is forced on no one.  If you would rather pay in full the cost of your sins yourself, hey, knock yourself out.  If you’d rather accept the payment that Jesus made on your behalf, then go you!  When you make that choice, Heaven rejoices!  Redemption is a choice.

Salvation is made freely available to all mankind.  However, it is our choice whether or not to be redeemed.

The process of being reclaimed begins with choosing redemption and cannot take place without it.  Redemption is turning to Jesus and giving Him control of our lives.  Just like the person who buys that pile of rust car or yard sale bargain, Jesus paid a price to purchase your life. 

Redemption is the process of allowing that transaction to take place.  You accept the value that He places on your life and you give Him ownership of it.

After redeeming that pile of rust or yard sale bargain, the original owner yielded their right to control that item as it is no longer theirs.  We surrender control of our lives to Jesus, trusting Him to do something great in and through our lives.  Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a

You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

This morning, we make the choice to be redeemed.  We give our lives to Jesus wholly and fully.  This is the very beginning of the awesome process of reclamation.  God wants each and every one of us to reach our full potential for which we were created, not missing out on anything, but living our lives to their full!

For this to happen, redemption must take place.  Before God can do anything in our lives, we must hand them over to Him.  After this takes place, well, that’s where things get good and what we’ll be covering in the rest of this series!  🙂