That antique table caught his eye at one of those farmhouse auctions. For many years, probably decades, it had just sat out in the barn. Chickens had roosted on it. Old greasy tools had sat on it. In fact, through the years all sorts of trash had been thrown on it. It was filthy and flimsy, and when the auctioneer called its number, no one even made a bid on it. So he bought that old table for just a couple of dollars and the next week took it to a man who loved to restore old furniture items in a shed behind his house. He stripped it down to its bare wood and, over the course of several days, restored it to the thing of beauty it once was. That table is one of his most cherished possessions and conversation pieces.
1. God is in the RESTORATION business.
It is never too late for a new beginning for anyone. God uses people like you and me to help people find a new beginning. There are people all around us who have been relegated to an old barn somewhere, beaten and broken by life’s circumstances, and finally put off to the side where they began to lose their beauty. But there is a land of beginning again — for any and all of us.
PETER – If ever someone needed restoration and a new beginning, it was Simon Peter. Peter had been so self-confident and boastful about his commitment to the Lord Jesus, boldly asserting that even if all the others turned back, he would always stay true to his Lord. Peter was true to his word until he was accused of being a follower! Jesus had been arrested and Peter “followed at a distance” (Luke 22:54), and when he was recognized as one of the Galilean followers of Christ, Peter denied it three times. As Jesus had prophesied, the rooster then crowed to signal the coming dawn. But Peter, remembering Jesus’ earlier warning that he would betray Him, went out and “wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).
After the resurrected Christ met Peter and some of the disciples on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus provided Peter with three opportunities to reaffirm his love for Him. Peter’s second chance was not only possible, but it was also profitable. Simon Peter never turned back. Restored, he led the church into its greatest days of growth (Matthew 16:18).
The Bible contains many accounts of men and women who got a second chance. Who would have picked a murderer to deliver a nation from slavery and lead them to freedom? God did. MOSES killed an Egyptian (Exodus 2:11-14). But forty years in the desert enabled him to take advantage of the second chance God gave him, and he became the great emancipator of his people. Moses told Pharaoh to “Let My people go” and released 10 plagues on the Egyptians
DAVID was described as a “man after God’s own heart” (2 Samuel 11:1- 27; 1 Samuel 13:14). David committed adultery and murder. Read David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51 and see what qualifies people for a second chance.
JONAH (Jonah 3:1) tried a different kind of fishing. He was the bait! He disobeyed God and run away from what God told him to do. Jonah got a second chance.
SAUL (PAUL) was a persecutor of Christians until Jesus got a hold of him. When Paul “saw the light” he repented, was baptized into Christ and became the most out-spoken and prolific writer of the early church.
2. The second chance is POSSIBLE, but it is not automatic.
Judas didn’t get a second chance. Why? He didn’t repent, so he didn’t receive the opportunity to be restored.
The rich young ruler didn’t get a second chance either. He was remorseful upon hearing the demands of discipleship and “went away sorrowful.” Sorrow is not the same as repentance. He didn’t repent so he was not restored.
What about Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who condemned Jesus to death? He washed his hands in a basin of water, regretting that he had done as the crowd demanded, but Pilate did not repent.
The second chance is possible but not automatic. It is reserved for people like Peter, who don’t merely feel remorse or try to reform, but who truly REPENT. That is, they change their minds, which results in a change of action; and as they do so, they find a new beginning.
Simon Peter definitely took advantage of his second chance. He went from his seaside meeting with Christ to become the powerful preacher of Pentecost, and his message brought about the birth of the church. (Acts 4:20). Peter died being crucified upside down because he did not consider himself worthy to be crucified like Jesus was.
James closed his letter with the important reminder that sin can wreck hearts, homes, plans, and people. But your sin can never keep God from LOVING you.
3. “It is never too late for a new BEGINNING!”
Every time I see a restored antique, I am reminded that God specializes in the restoration business. All of us know people who are like that old table used to be, who are battered and bruised and have been stuck in the back corners of life, having lost their beauty, and who are not being used for any real purpose. James concluded his letter with this challenge to us. Can you hear him?
Take the sinners and the broken people we know by the hand and bring them to the One who can make old things pass away and make all things become new.
God desires that all of us get into the restoration business. Paul framed it like this: Galatians 6:1-2
In the Greek, the word restore is from a medical term that means “to set a broken bone.” When someone breaks a bone in his or her arm, a doctor sets it, realigning it and then putting a cast on it to keep it in place as it heals. Then during about six weeks, God does the actual healing. Is there something in your life that need to be reset so you can heal?
Our job is to find those broken people who need a second chance. We are to restore them: we are to help get their lives and priorities lined up with Scripture and God’s will. Once that realigning is done, God can then do the healing.
Richard Geringswald felt led to start a new church. He wanted some help. So he found a few “battered and bruised antiques” – Marvin, Morty, Dan and Glen – dusted them off and put them back to usefulness. It’s never too late for a new beginning.