Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Renewing a right spirit

Sermon on 2-13-11

Step 1 for spiritual renewal is:

Our spirit is in constant need of fellowship with God for personal renewal.

When we compromise that fellowship with Him, when we neglect our spiritual life, the weeds of sin come in and choke out the beauty God planted there.

When we're weak and tired, sin goes unchecked and our spirit goes unfed. That gives our human nature the opportunity to corrupt and weaken the spirit.

We can learn about the power of sin to hinder our spirits through the life of David in Psalm 51:10-12.

Click title for the rest:

In this Psalm, King David is pleading to God for mercy and forgiveness.

Psalms 51:10-12, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."

King David is pleading for God's mercy and forgiveness. His soul is weak and unfed.

I think it's safe to assume that David hadn't fed his spirit for a while.

He hadn't tended to his spiritual garden in a long while, because his life had become so entangled in sin. At this point in king David's life, he was so wrapped up in sin that his conscience was completely buried by it.

He sees Bathsheeba bathing in the pool below from his balcony: "Should I continue watching her, or give her some dignity?" and he decided to continue watching her. He was engaging in sin and it consumed his life.

Was the night recorded in the Bible only the first night he watched Bathsheeba secretly from his balcony, or had he seen her on other evenings before, and made a habit of it? How long had he been watching her?  Whatever the case, we know that his sin was progressive.

James reveals the progressive nature of sin in chapter one of his book saying: "but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." James 1:14-15

One evening when David was watching Bathsheeba bathe, he had her brought to him, and committed adultery with her. When he found out she was pregnant with his child, he had her husband killed.

The progression of sin in David's life began with one weed in his garden: one perverted thought, progressed to voyeurism, gave birth to the act of adultery and adultery gave birth to murder: death. "Sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death."

In David's case, it meant the physical death of an innocent man and spiritual death for the sinner. Sin always progresses from one level to the next: from seemingly insignificant things to deadly things, almost invisibly.

A major work of spiritual renovation was necessary in the life of King David at that time. He needed a spiritual renewal to restore a right spirit in him. Much of the good in David's life would be uprooted and destroyed simply because he let the garden of his spirit go untended for so long that the weeds of sin overgrew the beauty God placed in his life. The spirit was beyond the point of being able to resist the temptation of the flesh because he was weak and unfed.

Just like Adam and Eve, the rest of David's life was spent in toil, and in hardship because of his own original sin. His punishment was the same as theirs: he would work the soil of his life with sweat and blood for the rest of his days.

Nathan the prophet came to David to inform him that God was going to punish him for his sins.  The Lord shed light on the condition of David's spirit, and David was deeply ashamed.

How many of us feel weak in our spirit today? How many here are honest enough to admit we are in need of spiritual renewal?

As soon as we come into God's presence and receive that spiritual strength and renewal, we receive sustenance for our souls and our spirit receives strength from God to overcome the flesh, (the earthly nature of humanity apart from divine influence.)

When we're obedient to God, when our spirituality is stronger, we are able to put our natural impulses into submission to the spirit of God in us. Then we are in a place to be broken, pliable, able to be shaped by the hands of God.

So prayer and reading the Bible are fellowshipping with God.   This is the first step to spiritual renewal: the food of the spirit.

II: REPENTANCE: The next step is repentance. (a change of mind, turning towards God).

David was in desperate need of spiritual renewal, and he began his pursuit of it on his knees. That led him to repentance. 

He said, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

A spirit of purity, of commitment, of dedication to God begins with repentance (remorse, regret).  We are renewed by the presence of repentance in our life.

It begins when the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts, when the sinner finally has a sense of shame and sorrow for the condition of sin in his or her heart.

It begins when we come to God, empty-handed, without any defenses or excuses, without any pretension or ceremony, in the most personal and submissive posture. 

It comes from a sincere heart when we confess our sins and say, "I'm sorry", to the only pure and holy One, the God of the ages... who alone can forgive and buy back: renewing our spirits to Himself.

We are each in desperate need of true repentance in our lives for renewal. 

There's not a person here today without need of repentance in your life for something. 

How long has it been since your last heart to heart fellowship with God?  How long has it been since you allowed Him to shed light on the true condition of your spirit?

When was the last time you knelt before God in tears, pleading to Him for forgiveness, and asked Him to renew a right spirit in you? 

Repentance is like a DETOX to the soul. It makes a spirit healthy again.  The Lord is passionate about repentance!

In Ezekiel 18:30-32, The Lord says, "…Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!"

The Lord is passionate for a people who are serious enough about our relationship with Him that we are willing to cast ourselves at His mercy, turn from all our offensive ways and ask for His forgiveness.  He's passionate about our need for repentance and spiritual renewal.  

Repentance is a daily requirement for our spiritual lives and transformation.  Every day we need to detoxify our souls, whether it be large or small. Men and women of the Old Testament took repentance seriously. They even offered up sacrifices for sins they may have committed without knowing. (Puritans)

The idea of repentance is to see to it that we are in a right relationship with God at all times in our lives.   We need to make sure our spirit is strong and well fed by the presence and power of God.

Repentance is key to spiritual purity, strength and renewal.
Acts 3:19, "Repent, then, and turn to God, [(why?)] so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,"

God's desire is for His people to be refreshed: to go from strength to strength, to transform valleys of weeping into bubbling springs: to draw strength from Him, to encourage and build each other up in faith.  We need to be eager to receive all that God has for us today, including spiritual gifts that are meant to amplify our relationship with God and the power of the Spirit in each of us.

There's an incredible gift from God just waiting, available to each one of us today, who are seeking to be more like Jesus, and we should be excited about receiving all He has for us.

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