Tag Archives: Renewal

Purpose

John 15:11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

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Verse 11 is an unfamiliar place to look for a connection to Advent but we have history and hindsight to remind us God had a purpose in sending Christ as a new born baby.  John recorded this statement as part of the narrative of the purpose of the life of Christ.  Jesus clearly said what the purpose of His teaching was.  That’s a lot of “purpose” from a one-sentence verse but when I read the definition of the two grammatical parts of “purpose” it became my purpose for this second Advent post.

Purpose
noun: the reason for which something is created or for which something exists.
verb: have as one’s intention or objective.

God’s purpose for the birth of Jesus into our world as a baby was to provide a visual experience of new life and growth with all the perfection that had been lost back in the Garden of Eden.  That is the renewal of purpose we celebrate during Advent.  John is a respected expert on the purpose of the life of Jesus from the moment of His conception in the mind of God through His birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection.  

Verse 11 might actually be the bottom line purpose of why we celebrate Advent year after year.  There are so many good things that appeal to us emotionally and visually during the preparation for Christ-mas but don’t ever leave out that  “-.”  Christ was “created” and “exists” [the noun] as the reason for this season but  His ”intention or objective” [the verb] for your life lasts far beyond Advent – “that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

True North

Hebrews 6:1 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. 2 You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.

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A very important concept of faith every believer has to learn is renewal is not repetition.  Surely that’s the beginning of a whole new direction that leads us to “become mature in our understanding.”  Maturity and understanding have their ups and downs but God has a plan for that.  He’s built that plan into us with this expectation: redemption through Jesus has made possible a consistent sense of direction through the moral compass of the Holy Spirit.  

Welcome to my spiritual science lesson.  A compass has a small magnetic pin suspended inside it’s casing so that it’s free to move and respond to true north.  In between that magnetic pin and true north lies a magnetic field that is impacted by local disturbances.  Those dips and undulations can affect the compass needle’s ability to point to true north.  Users of a navigational compass have charts that help them recalibrate their compass as needed to compensate for those variations in the magnetic field and keep them heading in the desired direction. Does this sound at all familiar to you?  

God is true north.  The Holy Spirit is the small magnetic pin. We are the casing.  Faith is our compass. The inconsistent magnetic field is our world.  The local disturbances are the up and down experiences of life.  God’s Word is the chart that recalibrates  those up and down experiences  as needed to keep us heading in the desired direction.  “And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.”

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. 

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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: 2 Timothy 2

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

2 Timothy 2 [NIV]
1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others…4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this…25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth…

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Renewal is the application of “the grace that is in Christ Jesus” that fills the void sins once occupied in us.  What makes renewal real is Jesus’ grace, and our confidence in it.  That’s the only thing that can overcome our limitations.  

Paul knew it was God who’d entrusted him AND his limitations, to be a witness for Him.  He had first-hand experience of the power of Jesus to change even the most undeserving opponent, despite their limitations.  Isn’t that an interesting thought?  God knows how to teach us to use what we wish he would just take away.  

This is my grand finale for all of us today.  I want our confidence to be in God’s power and the grace of Jesus to help us reveal He is the strength we count on despite our obvious limitations.   Then we can we be His reliable witnesses “qualified to teach others… in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth…”  I guess it’s the “takes one to know one” method of witness….and on a personal note, if God can “gently” instruct and continue to change a woman who once said…I’ve changed enough…He can change anyone.  

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.”