God brought restoration to the lives of many Bible heroes, and He is still doing it for us today, says preacher Bayless Conley.
By Melissa Chen
The hand of God always moves to bring restoration to broken lives, preached guest speaker Bayless Conley to the members of City Harvest Church at the weekend services of Feb. 25 and 26. His message encouraged the congregation to live the life of an overcomer.
Bayless Conley is the senior pastor of Cottonwood Church in Orange County, California. He is also a frequent conference speaker and television personality who hosts Answers with Bayless Conley which is broadcast each week to more than 100 nations on major television channels all over the globe.
Known for his ability to bring practical teaching of the Bible to its viewers in a non-religious way, Conley shared with the congregation at CHC, story after story about how God has moved in the lives of many–Bible heroes and living Christians alike. He provided evidence that God is still in the business of restoration.
The first story he shared was his own. Conley was a drug addict when a 12-year-old boy first told him about Jesus Christ. The boy’s family eventually led him to a church service where God answered every one of Conley’s questions through the preaching of the Word. That very day, he gave his life to Christ.
Conley then shared the stories of three notable Bible characters—Paul, Jacob and Joseph. Paul was able to see the faithful friends he had in the midst of betrayal, and even chose to forgive those who betrayed him; both Jacob and Joseph were able to hold on to their faith towards God in the midst of their valley experiences, which allowed God to lead them to a place of position and power.
Paul: Betrayed But Forgiving
Conley shared three lessons that Christians can learn from Paul, out of the books of Timothy.
1. Do not be surprised by troubles.
Paul told Timothy that many of his co-workers left him, and even his ministry companion Demas, “having loved this present world” had forsaken him in ministry.
Quoting 1 Timothy 4:1, Conley explained that the Bible stated that in latter times some will depart from the faith, Christians should not be surprised when betrayal, disappointment, abandonment and trouble come.
“It’s bound to happen,” said Conley. “So don’t let it rock your world when it happens.”
2. Don’t Let The Bad Eclipse The Good
“When the moon eclipses the sun, it looks like the moon is bigger than the sun. But in actual fact, the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon; it’s just that it is much further away.”
There are more faithful people than unfaithful ones, and Paul was quick to recognize them in 2 Timothy 4:11 when he said, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry”. When one has been betrayed, Conley reminded the congregation that it is important to focus on those who love them and not be swallowed up by betrayal.
3. Forgiveness Is The Way
Paul concluded his letter to Timothy saying, “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.” (2 Timothy 4:16) Paul was quick to forgive those who had betrayed him.
“Forgiveness keeps the channel of God’s blessing open,” Conley said. “And in arguments, it’s better to be kind than to be right most of the time.”
Joseph: Betrayed But God Restored
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave and thrown into prison. It seemed like God did nothing to help when Joseph was going through his ordeal.
“Yet, if his brothers had not betrayed him, if Potiphar’s wife had not falsely accused him, Joseph would never have gone to prison and met the chief butler who brought him to his destiny. And if the chief butler had not forgotten about him, the timing of Joseph’s meeting with Pharaoh would have been wrong!” Conley explained.
“It may seem like God has forsaken us in bad times but when we look back, we would see the hands of God working, moving us towards a place of influence and leadership.”
Jacob’s life journey was a process that revealed God’s faithfulness as He delivered Jacob from Leban and restored him to his original destiny and purpose.
It is difficult to see the work that God is doing when one is facing troubled times. But Jacob could recognize the work of God and said to his wives in Genesis 31:5-7, “I see your father’s countenance, that it is not favorable toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.”
“’But God did not allow him to hurt me,’” repeated Conley. “When Jacob looked back at the things that happened, he knew that God was with him. Unless we see the big picture in the midst of our troubles, we will not understand that God works through a process to bring restoration.”
Another reason why Jacob knew that God was with him was because he had made a vow to God earlier in Genesis 28:20-21. The Bible said, “And Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and clothing to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God.’”
Conley continued to encourage the congregation that apart from honoring the vows made to God, it is also important to honor God with the first-fruits of all one’s increase.
To drive the message home, Conley went on to share testimonies of Christians who had been blessed because they honored God. The members of a Native American church were blessed financially when they made a vow to honor God and fulfilled their vow. A woman’s eyes were healed, and a man who was destined to be paralyzed all his life got up and walked, all because they honored God and served in His house.
Conley also shared the testimony of his wife Janet who received healing in her womb. She had never told anyone about the fact she had not had a menstrual period for a long time. But when she went forward in a church service to have her teeth prayed for, the pastor prayed for her female problem. She received healing that very day and after marrying Conley, gave birth to three children.
Conley concluded his service by declaring, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty. We do not have to succumb to things of the world to fill the emptiness in our hearts. Jesus died on the Cross so that God can come and fill that hole.”
With that, he led hundreds into the Sinners Prayer and into the Kingdom of God with an altar call.