Spiritual Renewal ~ A Nine Week Challenge
Greetings fellow sojourners! Have you discovered that if you desire to continually walk by the Spirit it will require a focused resolve on your part? A determined yielding to the Spirit of God? A knowledge and wisdom more of Spiritual things than of worldly things? The Holy Spirit will renew us by giving us new life IN Him (Titus 3:5). Jesus said we will recognize the real and the false by the fruit a person produces (Matthew 7:16-20). If we are going to manifest this Spiritual fruit it would benefit us to know about the nature of this good fruit so that we can anticipate the results as we yield ourselves to the Spirit.
Will you join me in a daily challenge over the next 8 weeks and lean into what Galatians calls ‘the fruit of the Spirit’? This fruit is manifested as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Over the next several weeks, we will have an opportunity each day to really allow each fruit to sink in. Each week we will devote ourselves to one (kindness and goodness will be combined) of the fruits or characteristics of living life in the Spirit.
Tuesday: Read the weekly topic presented at free2love.org. Pray and ask the Lord regarding how to apply the meaning to your own life.
Wednesday: What impacted you during our meeting that will assist you in yielding your heart and will to the Lord so that this fruit is manifested in your life?
Thursday: Pray and fast (as you see fit) and submit your heart and will to the Father’s will.
Friday: Repent of what is hindering you from manifesting the specific fruit in your life. Let’s strive for fruit consistent with repentance. (Ideally, we should come to the Lord before the close of each day with a heart of repentance.)
Saturday: Yield your heart and will to the Father’s will and make note of at least one time you manifested or were aware of this fruit working in you.
Sunday: Yield your heart and will to the Father’s will and make note of at least two times you manifested or were aware of this fruit working in you.
Monday: Yield your heart and will to the Father’s will and make note of at least three times you manifested or were aware of this fruit working in you.
“I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance — as I told you before — that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:16-26
The desires of the flesh will overtake us if we are not careful. If we walk by the Spirit we are told we WILL NOT carry out the desires of the flesh. Thank you, Jesus. Here is a promise with a condition: We walk by the Spirit and the Spirit will equip us. WE must walk by the Spirit. Walking by the Spirit is terminology often used in a figurative way to mean “way of life” or “behavior”. We are to allow the Spirit’s ways to be our ways. This is accomplished by yielding our will to the Father’s will. Jesus gave us many directions in His word regarding how we should live out this life in the spirit.
The flesh and the Spirit do not really get along; they have opposing desires. We can not make them both happy so we will have to daily choose. If we try and make them both happy one of the results is that we will become a lukewarm Christian. Imagine yourself fired up for the Lord one day and the next your enthusiasm is just not there ~ you are cold. When you combine the swinging emotion of hot and cold you get lukewarm. You have a choice ~ choose to walk in the Spirit. The Greek word for ‘walk‘ is peripateō and has the meaning of treading all around, walking as proof of ability, to be occupied with (the walk), to make one’s way, to progress, to make due use of opportunities, to regulate one’s life, to conduct one’s self (Strongs). We walk in the Spirit 1) as proof of our ability to do so, 2) we occupy our time with how we intend to progress in this manner, 3) we make full use of opportunities presented to us, and 3) we order and conduct our lives in such a way that point others to Jesus.
Being led by the Spirit has the meaning of going along by laying hold of and bringing to a destination. Will you yield yourself to the Spirit of God and allow Him to lead you to destinations God chooses?
Let’s consider the following in regards to fasting and praying. Hezekiah lays out a strong example of spiritual renewal in 2 Chronicles 29:1-32:33. His father Ahaz never made an effort to put the Lord first in his life and as a result, the Lord was not put first during Ahaz’s management of the kingdom. Instead of boldly choosing to serve the Lord, Ahaz boldly chose to serve idols. It is no different for us. If we do not put the Lord first in our life then our walk with Him will also reflect that decision. After Ahaz died, Hezekiah became king and decided to forget the past and his father’s influence and instead do ‘what was right in the Lord’s sight.’ (2 Chronicles 29:2) It will be the same for us. If we have had a less than stellar influence in our lives we must never the less choose to forget the past and decidedly move forward in ways that please the Lord. No fingers need to be pointed and no comments need to be made as this only indicates bitterness remains in our hearts. It is a decision we make because we can and because we desire to do so. No one has the power to stop us from moving forward except ourselves. Decide now that the Cross of Christ has the power to remove a bitter root, pride, timidity, fear, rebellion and anything else that has kept you from making a bold and steady move toward Christ.
God forged an eternal covenant with us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. A covenant was also forged with Israel so a new covenant was not needed in Hezekiah’s time but instead, a renewed one on behalf of the people was needed. It would cost Judah something – initiating and maintaining a bold and distinctive devotion to God. Hezekiah had a mind and heart for this and therefore ‘opened the doors of the Lord’s temple’ (2 Chronicles 29:3) and determined to renew the covenant in the people’s hearts.
Hezekiah ordered the priests to consecrate themselves in order to maintain the high standard God ordained for His priests because their role was to intercede with God on behalf of the people. The priests were not to be irreverent in this matter. I find it interesting that they were also to consecrate their garments. Do you ever give thought as to what you wear? Does it disrespect your body; the temple of God’s Spirit? They were also to consecrate the temple of the Lord. They were to ‘remove everything impure from the holy place’. (2 Chronicles 29:5) If the priest were to not be irreverent in their consecration we should not expect anything less in our pursuits. Our hearts should be completely on board with the things of God.
Once they had consecrated themselves and their garments, the consecration of the inward part of the temple began. They also brought in sacrifices and thank offerings. After the temple was reestablished, Hezekiah began his daily governing. I find it interesting that in Hezekiah’s day, there were not enough Levites to step in and make sacrifices for those citizens who were unconsecrated. Because of this, Hezekiah asked God, “May the good Lord provide atonement on behalf of whoever sets his whole heart on seeking God….So the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.” (2 Chronicles 30:17-20) Do you find the word ‘healed’ here interesting? Does your heart need healing? Bring it to the Lord in its present condition ~ He can be completely trusted with your heart.
The festival carried on for an additional seven days because of everyone’s great joy. A person’s desire and willingness are essential for spiritual renewal. This type of renewal is not genuine if it is forced or done from an unwilling heart. Because the festival extended another seven days this meant the people had to re-prioritize their lives and schedules to put the things of God first. Again, this will be no different in our own lives.
Consider these things as you fast, pray, repent, yield, manifest, and become aware of the fruit of God’s Spirit in your walk with the Lord.
I invite you to consider this. What would you as a person look like completely yielded to the Spirit; if you took your will and exchanged it for the Father’s will? What would you imagine yourself doing if you gave Him your emotions, your heart, your energy, your imaginations, your dreams, and your future and saw what He would do with them? What fruit do you imagine would be yielded from this?
In His grace,