Category Archives: Sunday

Second Chance: Titus 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

Titus 2 [NIV]
– 1 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 

§§§

My words today are Paul’s words from Titus 2.  They are “quoted truth” and details that matter.  They emphasize renewal is a personal blessing but God has a Kingdom purpose for it.   Paul reminds people of any age or status in life that personal renewal is “so” much greater than personal benefit.

“These, then, are the things you should teach… while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.  For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
so that no one will malign the word of God.
so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”

Second Chance: 1 Timothy 2

1 Timothy 2 [NIV]
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people.

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There’s only one highlight for me from this chapter: Paul’s instruction on the need for renewal with “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving…for all people” so they “may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” We are called to be holy, not innocent.  That’s what renewal is all about.  There’s a Biblical lesson for us today from that first Garden long ago.  Today our  “innocence” is really only ignorance of what God desires and whichever word you choose, it’s surely the same unplanted seed of holiness that’s been leftover for us to deal with. 

“The seed is the Word of God…”• Luke 11b  and ”…A man reaps what he sows.”
• Galatians 6:7b.  
The conscious and purposeful practice of sowing seeds we gather from the Word is how we move beyond the innocence of  ignorance.   We reap godliness and holiness in our relationship with the “one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for ALL people.” 

Second Chance: 1 Thessalonians 2

1 Thessalonians 2 [TLB]
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken 

8 “We loved you dearly—so dearly that we gave you not only God’s message, but our own lives too…11 We talked to you as a father to his own children—don’t you remember?—pleading with you, encouraging you and even demanding 12 that your daily lives should not embarrass God but bring joy to him who invited you into his Kingdom to share his glory.”

13 “And we never stop thanking God for this: that when we preached to you, you didn’t think of the words we spoke as being just our own, but you accepted what we said as the very Word of God—which, of course, it was—and it changed your lives when you believed it.”

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Thank God for those who speak on God’s behalf.  Thank God for renewal.  Remember that first Word you heard that broke through to your heart?  I do.  It wasn’t a flowery testimony about the saving grace of God or the penetrating conviction of sin in my life.   I remember because it was embarrassment that God used to open the door to my renewal.  [read that story here]

Embarrassment is certainly less comfortable than the encouragement of grace and less obvious than the demand for repentance but I’m living proof renewal can begin in a most unexpected way.  There’s so much more to the purpose of renewal than knowing the right answer.  Have you ever considered “that your daily lives should not embarrass God but bring joy to him who invited you into his Kingdom to share his glory[?]”  If you haven’t thought about your invitation into His Kingdom for a while, it’s time to remember: God has a very personal stake in your renewal.  

There’s no greater gift for God than a heart that remembers the embarrassment of riches He’s pouring into your daily life.  Renewal is God’s personal, long-term investment plan for you…so you’ll be “equipped to share his glory.”

Second Chance: Philippians 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

Philippians 2 [NIV]
– 1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…

– 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

– 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God 15 without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. 

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Paul has written the perfect word picture of God’s “good purpose” for us.  This portion of his story begins with the encouragement of renewal and ends with the promise of results.  Renewal and results are the bookends that span the timeless truth of v13.

Renewal is God reaching out to us with “encouragement from being united with Christ,” the “comfort from his love” and the “common sharing in the Spirit with “tenderness and compassion.”

“It is God who works in you to will and to act
in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

Results are God reaching into us with the fulfillment of His “good purpose.” He continues to work through our renewal to create in us the desire “to will and to act” with “the same mindset as Christ Jesus… “as [we] hold firmly to the word of life.”

Second Chance: Galatians 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

Galatians 2:9 and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised; 10 only they would have us remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do. 11 But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And with him the rest of the Jews acted insincerely, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”…20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose. [RSV]

¶ Galatians 2:20 was the very first time I purposely wrote about what these particular Words of God meant to me.  It is the verse of my life’s renewal that has proved it’s value over many years now.  I revisit that verse periodically [See blog posts Gene Therapy posted on November 8, 2015 and Assurance posted on January 10, 2018].  It has been an enduring part of my life of faith. 

Today I read this quote from an article by Richard Foster on renovare.org: “Christ-likeness is not merely the work of the individual; rather, it grows out of the matrix of a loving fellowship.”  

Matrix: a mass of fine-grained rock in which gems, crystals, or fossils are embedded.

I felt like I knew the meaning of the word matrix but when I looked it up it was that secondary definition that helped me find the “new” in renewal from this familiar Scripture.  Paul makes a simple switch from using the name “Peter” in the first part of the chapter to using Cephas in the rest.  I wonder if the use of both those names for the same Apostle was Paul’s simple way of reminding Peter of the purpose of his renewal.  It certainly has become a reminder for me. 

God’s renewal in the life of his disciples is to purposely move us from law to love.  Love is what changes renewal into sacramental faith.   It’s worth remembering sacramental faith is how the matrix of gems, crystals and even fossils [that’s us] become the “rock” God uses to build his church.  

Second Chance: I Corinthians 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

NIV…2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.  4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power…7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began…10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 

¶ Who would ever imagine the “demonstration of the Spirit’s power” might be Paul’s testimony “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  God has taught this teacher, who dedicated so much of his life to knowing and obeying the law, a powerful truth about human nature: words can be used to target changing the listener’s convictions instead of their hearts.   Human nature is still about the law and “wise and persuasive” words can still become an easy substitute for the reality of renewal.  Paul chose to avoid those persuasive words “so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” 

¶ Here’s the big word for the day – litigious: unreasonably prone to go to law to settle disputes.  

¶ I’ve recently become sensitized to how important Paul’s words are to life today.   The airways are filled with persuasive hot-button words about laws, politics and current events.   It’s important to remember those words have power designed to influence convictions and distract but it’s only the “demonstration of the Spirit’s power” that changes hearts.  We are not renewed by the words we hear or even by our deeply-held convictions.  We are renewed by our relationship to Jesus “so that [our] faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”

¶ “These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

Second Chance: Acts 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

NIV Acts 2:2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…

Courage :
• from the prophet Joel  Acts 2:17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
• from David the king 2:28 “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”
• from Peter 2:32 “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

A big part of renewal in a life of faith is having the courage to come to grips with the Holy Spirit.  Identifying the Holy Spirit as wind is familiar but I’ve never noticed the word “violent” before [other versions use “mighty.”]  The idea that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit might not be a gentle and virtually invisible interaction at all but the surgical  removal of the sin within us that’s so violent it might even require fire to cauterize the wound.  That’s just my theory.  The truth is the moment the Holy Spirit enters into us the dramatic renewal and  healing within us begins.  ‘God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.”