Words are important. Words we say, words we read, words we receive from God. Words give life and hope.
A few months ago the words Rest, Refresh and Restore kept coming to mind. I longed for rest, to be refreshed and restored by the Lord. Then early in December God gave me the word Renew. I found scripture promises associated with the word Renew. One was very familiar, from Psalm 51:10. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. I’m always encouraged and thrilled to discover God does the work in me. He creates a pure heart in me and He Renews a steadfast spirit within me. I can’t muster up more of a pure heart or renew a steadfast spirit myself. As I write this in early January and as you read it at the end of January we remember that changes in heart and mind won’t be from us trying harder or making more effort to keep any new year’s resolutions. What can be done is rest in God’s promises, read his Word and allow Him to refresh and restore and renew as only He knows what is needed and is possible. All things are possible with God.
As one who enjoys books and figures and is always looking for a book that will help me and others discover more about a topic of interest, I found and am reading a book by Kai Mark Nilsen titled Renew Your Life: Discovering the Wellspring of God’s Energy. Author Nilsen is a Pastor who went through a season in his life similar to where many Christian’s find themselves at one point or another. His emptiness and wondering if his faith was genuine led him on a journey towards patience with himself and discovery of the power of the Holy Spirit given to him and all believers. The power of the Holy Spirit is often ignored or not understood as a gift God provides for his children. Pastor Nilsen, like many of us today, discovered that a quick, self-help route just doesn’t work. Rather, God guides, teaches, restores, refreshes and renews us over time. As we daily surrender our control and moment by moment trust him, God will lead us in the specific way he has for each individual. God’s love never fails.
Published in 2015, this book contains self-reflective questions that are relevant to the concerns Jesus followers face today. I really appreciate the Essential Life Questions Pastor Nilsen scatters throughout the book. Spend time with these questions: What is my image of God? How does my image of God affect the way I see the world, others, my own life? What hopes shape and give meaning to my life? In what ways have I been blessed by an unwanted gift? How does affirming that all people are created in the image of God affect how I see and treat them? What am I here for at this time? What in life brings me joy? As you can tell, the questions lead one to look deep within and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit over time, can help us discover what has held us back. Depending on the Holy Spirit will free us, guide our choices and attitudes and will “renew that steadfast spirit within me.”
Whether you chose to read this book or not, I encourage you to take a step of deeper dependence on the LORD. Our Father longs to grant us Rest (Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28), He will Refresh those who rest in him (he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:3). He does Restore those who wait on him (who Restores to me the joy of your salvation and grants me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:12). If you decide not to read this book, then by all means incorporate a daily time with God. Try something new, like a devotion or book that will challenge you and encourage your daily walk with Jesus. Commit to a regular time with God in His word in prayer and journal the words God gives you. Join a Bible Study Group, a Prayer Group, or a lifeGroup. Because each person responds to something different, consider this Essential Life Question: “What in life brings me joy”? Then integrate that activity or spiritual discipline in your time with God. See how He Renews you daily for the plans and purpose he has for you as His chosen child. Be aware and rejoice (I just love re words) in what God is doing within your spirit for his glory and for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God will Renew (but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31)
Reformation is another important word for 2017. God is at work as the Church focuses on Reformation. What will that mean in your life? Rest-Refresh-Restore-Reform-Renew in the Jesus Our LORD.