Tonight, we begin 40 Days of Renewal in the Holy Spirit and I'm already beginning to ask the Lord, "What does renewal look like in my life?". We will continue to focus on the Holy Spirit for the next 6 weeks leading up to Easter. There are many scriptures which speak of the Holy Spirit's role in renewal. Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones and their resuscitation is a vivid illustration of the Spirit's power to re-life us, to renew us, and to re-generate us (Ezekiel 37)! Ezekiel spoke of the Holy Spirit and renewal when he proclaimed, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (36:26) Jesus, as well, spoke of regeneration and the Spirit, saying "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:6)
My personal favorite Bible verse on renewal is Titus 3:4-5 because it speaks of "salvation", "rebirth", "renewal", and the role of the Holy Spirit. The NIV reads, "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 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, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."
Each word in this verse has great meaning, but allow me to highlight just a few.
1) First, the phrase "the kindness and love of God" reminds me that it is God's grace and mercy that compel us towards salvation and sanctification, not righteous standards or judgmental pharisees. What God's righteous and just standards could never accomplish has been accomplished by the love of God in Christ Jesus! May the Lord help me to live with the kindness and love of God flowing in and out of my heart!
2) The second word "saved" reminds me of the reality of redemption. "Once I was lost, but now I am found! I was blind, but now I see." (Amazing Grace) Anytime we read of salvation in the Bible we are reminded of our need for a savior (John 1:29). Our culture today says, "You're fine the way you are!" But, God's word says, "I need a savior; I need to be rescued from the brokenness and bondage of sin!"
3) The third phrase "washing of rebirth" provides a word picture for how the Holy Spirit renews me. I've had the unique privilege of giving all of my children their first bath (Thanks to Jeni!) -- it can be quite emotional. I mention that only to say that a "good washing" and a "birth experience" are both pretty dramatic experiences. When you put them together, you have a grand transformation! Can you imagine the Holy Spirit giving you a bath so that you are spiritually born from above? (John 3:3-6)
4) The phrase "renewal by the Holy Spirit" is a reminder that spiritual renewal is a work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit renews our minds (Romans 12:2), transforms our hearts (Psalm 37:4-7), empowers our feet to run with good news, our hands to serve, and our mouths to speak.
5) The result of all this renewal is "eternal life"! This was Jesus constant invitation to us, "Come to me . . . and I will give you life." (Isaiah 55:3; Matthew 11:28, John 10:10)
The Holy Spirit is a teacher, a comforter, and a spiritual power source for serving God, but most of all, the Holy Spirit re-lifes us, to renews us, and regenerates us so that we can love God, love our neighbor, and live the new life to which we are called in Christ Jesus.
So what is the anatomy of renewal? It looks like someone living with the kindness and love God transforming they heart and mind so that a new kind of spiritual life oozes out of them. Lord give me that kind of renewal is my plea!