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Faithlife

Renewal

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Renewal

Good morning!  It is great to have each of you here today.  This time of year it is common to have some of our members traveling on vacation.  But we often have visitors from many other states, and it is always wonderful meeting members of our Christian family from other locations.  If you are visiting with us, know that we delight in these opportunities, and we hope that you will stay and visit with us after services so that we can get to know you and your family.

A few weeks ago, I received a notice in the mail from the Missouri Department of Revenue.  It is the same notice that you no doubt receive every year or two – time to renew the license on my car.  We regularly renew our insurance policies and some of us may occasionally renew our passports.  We may spray Renuzit in our home to refresh the air in our home.  On a more serious note, some of us have renewed our vows with our spouse – Ina Ruth and I renewed our vows several years ago.

We understand the concept of renewal in so many areas of our life.  Renewal means to revamp, renovate, refurbish, repair, restore, mend, or replenish.  This morning, I want us to spend a few moments thinking about what renewal means to us as Christians.

Let’s start our study together this morning by looking at the very beginning of our Christian walk.  Please turn with me to Romans 6:4, a very familiar passage:

Romans 6:4

4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

When we die to our old self and are buried in baptism, we are raised to have a whole new life, just as Jesus was raised to a new life.  Our new life begins at that point.

Paul’s letter to Titus sheds a bit more light on this renewal.  Let’s take a look at Titus 3:4-7 as we continue.

Titus 3:4-7

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

When we become Christians, this passage tells us that we are renewed by the Holy Spirit, who is given generously to us.  And lest we forget, this passage also reminds us that we are justified by grace.  The first point that we need to remember this morning is this:

 Our renewal as Christians begins at baptism as we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit begins working in our lives.

Well, begins is an important word.  The renewal does not end at baptism.  To understand our relationship with the Spirit of God, we need a couple of background scriptures before we move on.  Let start with Romans 8:11, if you will turn with me.

Romans 8:11

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

The next passage conveys a very similar understanding.  Please turn with me to 1 Corinthians 3:16.

1 Corinthians 3:16

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

From these two passages we understand that the Holy Spirit lives within each Christian.  That is important for us to remember before we move on.  Now, let’s continue our study of the renewal process by turning to Romans 12:2:

Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

If we want to be more Christ-like and less worldly, the transformation begins with our mind.  It takes new thinking!  If we keep thinking just like we thought before we became Christians, our lives will continue in the same worldly pattern.  Yes, as we read, there is the Spirit living within us to continue to renew us, but we have to do our part as well.  We have to change the way we think.  Colossians 3:9-10 expands on this idea of renewal:

Colossians 3:9

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Once again Paul writes that our renewal requires something of us:  We have to put away our old self and our old practices.  It is more than just new thinking – it is new actions as well.  God and His Spirit will help us understand His Word as we study, and we are renewed in our knowledge of Him and His will for us.  Our renewal makes us more like our Creator.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes more on this idea of spiritual transformation.  Please turn with me to 2 Corinthians 3:18, and let’s continue there:

2 Corinthians 3:18

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Here again we see that we are being made into the likeness of our Lord.  It is a transformation process that happens when we and the Spirit work together.  You will remember our first point this morning as:

Our renewal as Christians begins at baptism as we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit begins working in our lives.

Our second point in our study of renewal this morning is this:

Renewal continues after baptism, transforming our lives, as we study God’s Word, change our thinking and actions, and live a life in concert with the Spirit.

Well, the renewal begins at baptism, and we know it continues as we leave our old lives behind us and become more Christ-like, but when does the renewal stop?  Let’s turn to 2 Corinthians again, this time looking at chapter 4 and verses 16 and 17:

2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Renewal does not stop when we become a Christian.  It is something that continues throughout our lives.  It happens within us.

As a parenthetical note, I bring you greetings from Andy and Kathaleen Miller.  We stayed with them this past week and renewed friendships left idle much too long.  Sometimes when you see someone you have not seen in a long time, you become aware of the fact that you don’t look the same as you did when your friends last saw you.  One of the things we talked about as we caught up on each other’s lives, was how much we didn’t like what was happening to our bodies as we got older. 

Apparently Paul did not care for this too much either.  He said that even though our bodies may get old and tired and waste away, even though we may struggle with our health, that is not really who we are as Christians.  We are a transformed people.  And that leads to our third point this morning in our study of renewal.

We are a people whom the Holy Spirit renovates, refurbishes, repairs, restores, mends, and replenishes each day. 

 

Now at this point you may be thinking, “Sounds reasonable.  I agree with the thoughts so far.  But why is it that I don’t feel renewed!  Why don’t I feel restored, mended, replenished – why don’t I feel those things?”  Let’s investigate this a bit further, because I really want this lesson to be more than an academic exercise for us.  I hope that each of us will carefully consider how this lesson affects us.

Sometimes it is pretty easy for us to feel beat down.  Over the years, everyone in this church family here this morning has received a hard knock of some sort, and I dare say that all of us have experienced a lot more than one hard knock.  Problems with kids, our parents, struggles with our health or our job, perhaps frustrations or fears or disappointments in the church.  School weighs on our students.  Financial issues may hang like a cloud.  And instead of having our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, as we find in Ephesians 6:15, we may find we are wearing the lead boots of apathy.  We may start thinking that our efforts don’t matter much, and you can quickly see how that kind of thinking can have a serious impact on the energy and growth of a church.  In the brief time that remains this morning, I want us to look at a few quick “clarities” to get us each personally refocused on our renewal.

Clarity #1:  Consider the source

Remember that God is the giver of good gifts, as Luke 11 tells us.  James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift is from God.  Knowing that, and knowing God, do you really think that God wants you to forget about being renewed to be like him?  If it is not God, then who would want you to be discouraged?  Who wants you to feel like you can’t make a difference?  Who wants you to feel apathetic or beat down?  Only Satan wants that for you.  None of us want that for you, and God certainly does not want you to forget the renewal his Spirit brings you.  Clarity #1:  Consider the source.

 

Clarity #2:  Remember the Book

Remember in our second point in our study of renewal that the ongoing process of renewal involved us doing our part while the Holy Spirit did his part in transforming us.  And brothers and sisters, I think every last one of us may at some point forget that.  We will forget that linkage between studying our Bible and becoming more like Jesus.  We will forget that knowledge of our Lord is absolutely critical to understanding His will for us.  And we may even forget the blessings we enjoy, the joy and closeness of a Christian family, and the importance of sharing all of that with those around us.  Reading the Book will remind us our renewal.  Clarity #2:  Remember the Book.

 

 

 

Clarity #3:  Check your View

Have you ever been driving down the road and looked out at one of your side mirrors expecting to see a view of the lane behind and to the side of your car, but instead all you see is pavement or your door handle?  Somebody has whacked your mirror and you are no longer looking at what you are supposed to be seeing.  Hard knocks in life can do the same thing to us.  Get enough good whacks, and before you know it we are spiritually staring at the dirt.  Nothing is going right, nothing ever will.  Things will never change for me. 

Our youth from camp could remind us all what we should be thinking about.  Philippians 4:8 is the theme verse for camp this year.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

2 Corinthians 4:18 tells us to fix our eyes on that which is eternal.  Hebrews 12:2 tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus.  Let’s make sure that we fix that view of ours, and focus on spiritual eyes on good and positive things, and never take our eyes off of Jesus.  Clarity #3:  Check your View.

Are you feeling renewed today?  Do you feel renovated, refurbished, repaired, restored, mended, and replenished each day?  Maybe as a Christian you are not doing your part in the renewal process.  Perhaps you have neglected spending time in God’s Word as you should.  Life can get busy, but we cannot let our busy-ness get in the way of our time with God and His Word.  If you are not feeling that sense of renewal, perhaps it is because some of those practices from your old life are creeping back in and you need to sweep them back out of your life.  Or, perhaps there have been so many spiritual hard knocks along the way that your view has become misadjusted and you are no longer focused on positive and excellent things, and on sharing your spiritual blessings with others around you.  Maybe you have just lost sight of Jesus your Lord, and you need to fix your eyes on him again.

It could be that you are here today, that you have heard and studied God’s Word, you know the good news about Jesus, but for one reason or another you have not put on your Lord in baptism.  Let me ask you to once again consider the source.  Consider who is asking you to put it off, to not take it seriously, to leave this morning without getting right with God.  Do you seriously believe that God would ever want anyone with the knowledge of the gospel to not act on it this morning? 

We don’t know what your needs are, but we are ready to help you, to pray for you, to study with you.  Whatever need you might have, please come as we stand and sing.

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