Times of Renewal.
I was studying recently and was just kind of checking out ideas on Renewal. As I went through a variety of articles and books through my Logos 7 Bible software program. I began to see a theme develop, and not surprisingly it depended on prayer, fervency and our willingness to totally yield to the will of God.
Not to my surprise, the individuals who were catalysts for renewal were not passive, but instead folks who took a decisive action in their lives. Actions that sometimes took them out of their comfort zones, then sending them into uncharted waters of faith. Does that sound familiar to you? Does it feel like the direction God is challenging you to consider in your life as well? It could be, and how you respond to it will not just bring about positive changes in your life, but those in your home, church, community, etc...
There were a lot of fitly spoken words I have read upon the subject of renewal, but here in this blog post I will will share a few with you. All of which I think are relevant and to the subject of renewal.
Here are some selections for your consideration:
From the " The Christian Educator's Handbook On Spiritual Formation "
History teaches us that renewal usually comes through “saints”—women and men whose lives are radically dedicated to the Lord in prayer, humility, and obedience. “Men and women saints have always been fonts and origins of renewal in the most difficult circumstances throughout the Church’s history. Today we have tremendous need of saints, for whom we must assiduously implore God” (Extraordinary Synod of Catholic Bishops, 1985, p. 47). This does not mean that those who respond to God’s call are godly from the beginning. But through seeking to respond to God’s grace, they are progressively purified and transformed into the image of Christ and are used by God to strengthen His body, the church.
All Christian traditions can point to certain individuals who have been instruments powerfully used by God for the renewal of the church. And part of the Good News of Jesus is that each Christian, including you and me, is called to be a saint, and to be used by God for the renewal of His church. The crucial question for each of us is: “Will we, and how fully will we, respond to God’s grace and His call to be saints, to ‘be holy as He is holy’ (cf. Lev. 11:44–45; 19:2; 20:7; 1 Peter 1:15–16), so that we may be used by God to renew His church?”
How does renewal come about? Prayer must be at the heart of any authentic renewal movement. Only through prayer, humility, and obedience can the church hear God’s call to renewal and respond to it. Besides being a precondition for renewal, prayer and holiness are also the most evident fruits of renewal. Authentic renewal may take many forms, but it always results in Christians following the Lord and His ways more faithfully and fervently.
" Sustaining Preachers And Preaching. "
There is a theological conundrum to be faced here. No-one—no Church or Church authority—can make it happen. Such renewal is simply not within our control or remit: the Spirit blows where the Spirit wills, (Jn 3:9). But if we reject a Pelagian approach to preaching which places too much emphasis on human effort, we should also reject its opposite: a quietism which says, in effect, ‘There is nothing we can do but wait for the Spirit’. The Bible itself, and Christian tradition down the centuries, point to a middle way. We cannot engineer renewal, but we can want it, prepare for it, pray for it, and work for those conditions which make the Church more open to the possibility of renewal. The Acts of the Apostles provides the classic instance: the first disciples had been together in the upper room praying (Acts 1:14) and preparing for the future (1:18–26).
" The Inner Chamber And The Inner Life. "
The daily renewal—its cost
“Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.”--2 Cor. 4:16.
“Be not fashioned according to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”--Rom. 12:2.
It is not a little or an easy thing to be a full-grown, strong Christian. On God’s side, it means that it cost the Son of God His life, that it needs the mighty power of God to new create a man, and that nothing less than the unceasing daily care of the Holy Spirit can maintain that life.
From man’s side it demands that when the new man is put on, the old man be put off. All the dispositions, habits, pleasures, of our own nature, that make up the life in which we have lived, are to be put away. All we have by our birth from Adam, is to be sold, if we are to possess the pearl of great price. If a man is to come after Christ, he is to deny himself, and take up his cross, to forsake all and follow Christ in the path in which He walked. He is to cast away not only all sin, but everything, however needful and legitimate and precious, that may become the occasion of sin; to pluck out the eye, or cut off the hand. He is to hate his own life, to lose it, if he is to live in “the power of an endless life.” It is a solemn thing, far more solemn than most people think, to be a true Christian.
This is specially true of the daily renewing of the inward man. Paul speaks of it as being accompanied and conditioned by the decaying of the outward man. The whole epistle (2 Cor.) shows us how the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ, even to conformity to His death, was the secret of his life in power and blessing to the Churches. “Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” The full experience of the life in Christ in our person, our body, our work for others, depends upon our fellowship in His suffering and death. There can be no large measure of the renewal of the inward man, without the sacrifice, the decaying of the outward.
To be filled with heaven, the life must be emptied of earth. We have the same truth in our second text, “Be ye transformed in the renewing of your mind.” An old house may be renewed, and yet keep very much of its old appearance; or the renewal may be so entire that men exclaim what a transformation! The renewing of the mind by the Holy Spirit means an entire transformation, an entirely different way of thinking, judging, deciding. The fleshly mind gives place to a “spiritual understanding” (Col. 1:9; 1 John 5:20). This transformation is not obtained but at the cost of giving up all that is of nature. “Be not fashioned according to this world, but be ye transformed.” By nature we are of this world. When renewed by grace we are still in the world, subject to the subtle all-pervading influence from which we cannot withdraw ourselves. And what is more, the world is still in us, as the leaven of the nature which nothing can purge out but the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, filling us with the life of heaven.
Let us allow these truths to take deep hold and master us. The Divine transformation, by the daily renewing of our mind into the image of Him who is far above, can proceed in us no faster and no farther than our seeking to be freed from every vestige of conformity to this world. The negative, “Be not fashioned according to this world,” needs to be emphasised as strongly as the positive, “be ye transformed.” The spirit of this world and the Spirit of God contend for the possession of our being. Only as the former is known and renounced and cast out, can the heavenly Spirit enter in, and do His blessed work of renewing and transforming. The whole world and whatever is of the wordly spirit, must be given up. The whole life and whatever is of self must be lost. This daily renewal of the inward man costs much, that is, as long as we are hesitating, or trying to do it in our own strength. When once we really learn that the Holy Spirit does all, and in the faith of the strength of the Lord Jesus have given up all, the renewing becomes the simple, natural, healthy, joyous growth of the heavenly life in us.
The inner chamber then becomes the place for which we long daily, to praise God for what He has done, and is doing, and what we know He will do. Day by day, we yield ourselves afresh to the blessed Lord who has said, “He that believeth on Me out of him shall flow rivers of living water.” “The renewing of the Holy Ghost” becomes one of the most blessed verities of our daily Christian life.
I hope these passages and thoughts conveyed on the subject of renewal that we have considered in this post. Have been of benefit to you at this time in your Christian journey. I challenge you to consider, pray for and hunger for renewal. Its refreshing, purging and creative force I believe will bring growth and change in your Christian walk.
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Reverend Patrick Vossen,