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Renewed, Refreshed, and Revived
A customer wrote a letter of complaint to a company he had bought a knife from. He said that as he used his new knife it had gotten dull, and he had expected that it would last a long time.
The company responded, “It will. Sharpen it and try it again.”
No matter how sharp a knife might be, however, if it isn’t re-sharpened it will get dull.
The point of the story is that no matter how young or old in the Lord someone may be, no matter if they are a baby Christian or an elder of a church, no matter if they teach in the children’s ministry or adults in a Bible study or home fellowship, or they are serving as a greeter, usher, or in the area of hospitality, if they are not sharpening themselves through time spent in reflection, and examination, along with time spent in prayer, the Bible, and fellowship, they will get dull, burnt out, and what I have seen, quit.
Therefore, we must be constantly renewing, refreshing, and reviving our soul and spirit in the things of God.
Listening to a teaching video, the Lord laid upon my heart several questions that frankly I wasn’t sure when or how I was to ask them, not just of myself, but also of those within the church. And then after reading the story of the customer with the dull knife, I knew that these questions are essential for our own self-evaluation and examination.
Now, these are rhetorical questions, that is, I’m not asking for a show of hands or a shout out, but rather take a moment and quietly reflect and think about how you would truthfully and honestly answer.
• How many of you are happy with where you are in life?
• How many of you believe that God is happy where you are in life?
• How or where do you stand based upon God’s word that says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29:13)
• If Jesus were to return right now, will He find not only faith, but also a people who truly love Him?
For just about everyone in here today you’ve been through so much, one battle after another, from illness to financial difficulties, and everything in-between, that have literally taken your breath away. And what you need now, before you get too dull and used up is to get re-sharpened, that is, get yourself renewed, refreshed, and revived.
This is what I think God wants us to know, because we’ve become a little dull. In looking at the pillars of our church, it seems that the excitement for evangelism, that is, each one reach one with the good news of Jesus Christ, or that of discipleship, that is building up God’s house within us, or are mission of making a difference in our community for Christ, all these seem to have taken a back seat to everything else that is going on in our lives.
So, it’s time we re-sharpen our spiritual senses, renew, refresh, and revive our flagging, if not sagging, spirits. But how we go about doing this, and who we turn to that will help us accomplish these goals; that is what I would like to spend time on today.
1. Seek God’s Rest
One of the most important and commonly neglected areas of our overall health is rest. Rest is essential to good health. And while it won’t provide immunity from illness and disease, it will thwart and slow down some of the more serious physical, emotional, and spiritual problems we face.
Even medical science says that those who get regular and adequate rest are more likely not to get sick as compared to those who burn the midnight oil. Maybe we can say that those who burn the candle at both ends aren’t as bright as they think.
We live in a 24/7 culture with cellphones and the Internet to help us stay connected and assessable. But even with all our new inventions, timesaving tools, short cuts, and quick fix solutions we always seem to be in a hurry and running out of time. And so, we push ourselves even harder, squeezing every second out of our work, play, and family time.
And yet with all these so-called efficiencies, we seem to have less time than ever before. When it comes to life, however, warp speed has a way warping our souls. The thinner we spread ourselves; we’ll soon find that there is nothing left of us at the end of the day.
To counter this overall feeling of tiredness we pop vitamins and no-doze tablets. We take herbal supplements and drink coffee and high-power energy drinks. We do anything and everything to get a boost to see us through the day.
But doing more isn’t the answer. The answer is rest.
If we don’t want to fall apart we need to then take the time and come apart from all that stresses us out, and rest. God calls it taking the Sabbath.
God established the Sabbath because He knows of our need for rest and worship. He created the Sabbath to be a delight. Therefore, the Sabbath is His word of grace for those who are driven and harassed by stress and anxiety.
The Sabbath had its beginning in the beginning at Creation. God created the universe in the first six days and then took the seventh day off.
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2-3 NKJV)
The word “Sabbath” comes from the Hebrew word meaning “intermission” or “break,” as well as “to cease, desist, or rest.” And God set this day apart from all the other days.
God, therefore, instituted this day of rest out of His love for us. God established this day because He knew we needed a stop-what-we-are-doing day. God created us and knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows what’s best for us so that we can operate effectively.
In a culture that coined words like, “burnout” and “workaholic,” this is important.
While the Sabbath is a commandment, the principles set forth in the Sabbath are to be kept as well. We need time on a weekly basis to restore and refresh ourselves physically, mentality, emotionally, and spiritually.
Especially spiritually, and so we need to set some time apart for God on a daily basis to restore and refresh ourselves through spiritual devotion, instruction, and worship. We need to take time from both work and play to renew our spirits. This is the heart of the Sabbath.
If we neglect this Sabbath principle, however, it’s to our own detriment, because the Sabbath is God’s design to recharge our spiritual batteries, and to re-sharpen what has become dull.
And in whom is our Sabbath? Our ultimate rest is in Jesus.
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)
This word “weary” means those who are tired and exhausted. It describes those who come home and collapse on the sofa in front of the TV with remote in hand, and then go to bed exhausted from the trials of life.
Let me just say that it isn’t enough to just know these words of Jesus; we have to take Jesus at His word and trust in Him. We need to found our rest in Him, and quit striving.
Jesus also revealed just how important physical rest is to ministry. Because so many people were coming and going that both He and the disciples didn’t even have enough time to eat, so Jesus said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:31 NIV)
Now, to rest doesn’t mean to cease from doing God’s work, rather it is to cease from doing His work our way, or wanting our way so much that in the end we keep banging our heads against the same brick wall.
I saw this quote and it really spoke to me. “If God shuts a door, stop banging on it! Trust whatever is behind it is not meant for you.” That’s resting in Jesus, trusting Him that He knows what is best and will give us rest.
2. Renew Our Minds
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV)
To conform is an outward-in change. It is what we see in nature around us as wind, rain, cold, and heat do their work changing the landscape. To transform, however, is an inward-out change, which is best seen in how a caterpillar morphs inside its cocoon into a beautiful butterfly.
And so, the Apostle Paul is telling us not to allow the world around us to change us from the outside in into what it wants us to be through its philosophies. But rather we are to have an inside out change through renewing our minds, that is, we are to start thinking the way God would have us think.
To renew our minds is like renovating. We have to tear down and demolish our old way of thinking, that is, the lies propagated by this world, and start to replace them with the truth of God’s word.
We see this in another one of Paul’s letters, this time to the Philippian church.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NKJV)
Now I don’t know about you, but I find this extremely hard to do, and the reason is that it is beyond our natural ability. And so, if it is beyond our natural ability, we need then supernatural strength that can only come from God.
Note, Jesus said that after His death, resurrection, and accession into heaven, He was going to send the Holy Spirit for this very purpose.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13 NKJV)
It’s the Holy Spirit that helps renew, or renovate our minds so that we can know what and how we are to think godly thoughts in the midst of a perverse and godless world. It’s the Holy Spirit that leads and guides us into all truth, and it begins with us getting into God’s word, the Bible.
Every day when we open up the Bible we need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts to that which both the Father and Jesus wants us most to hear and learn.
Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26 NKJV)
And so, as we have seen, the first thing we need to re-sharpen our spiritual lives is to find the rest that only Jesus can bring. Next, we need to renew the way we think through the power of the Holy Spirit working through God’s word, the Bible.
3. Find Godly Fellowship
Fellowship helps us face life’s problems by providing the support and encouragement of other Christians. The church is meant to be a place where we experience in depth relationships and lifelong friendships.
Every Christian needs to be around others Christians, especially those who are more established in their faith. This is a great way to learn how to be a Christian, by imitating those who have been in the Lord for much longer time.
The Apostle Paul even said this to the Corinthian church saying, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJVO)
This process is seen in Proverbs 27:17.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17 NKJV)
It can also be seen in part of the Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy.
“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (1 Timothy 2:22 NKJV)
Paul is calling Timothy into fellowship with other believers to help his walk with the Lord.
But it is the writer of Hebrews that drives this thought home saying that we need each other to help us continue on this path of godliness.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV)
And just for good measure so we don’t miss this all to important point, Solomon in Ecclesiastes states that living a solitary life isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NKJV)
Fellowship was and still is necessary for a Christian to grow in his or her walk with the Lord.
God created family so we could have closer relationships, and so we can enjoy one another’s company and companionship. Have you ever noticed in the wild how we have swarms of bees, flocks of birds, and herds of buffalos? Consider the Lone Ranger. He wasn’t entirely alone; he always had his faithful companion, Tonto, who actually kept him out of trouble.
Further, there are many analogies that can be used for a Christian who is disconnected from a church, like a football player without a team, a soldier without a platoon, or a tuba player without an orchestra. But the picture I believe best fits is that of a child without a family.
This is something we need to strive for, especially here in America, which is known as a nation of strangers. And because of this, America is experiencing an epidemic of loneliness in the midst of so many.
Therefore, if we want to re-sharpen our spiritual lives, as iron sharpens iron, we need to hang out with other believers in Christ.
Now, this isn’t to the exclusion of those who are not believers. We are told in no uncertain terms to go and make disciples of all nations, which includes the people who live next door or that we work with. This is known as the Great Commission that Jesus has called for us all to partake in (Matthew 28:19).
But just as in any sport, there are time outs where the team comes together; it’s known as the huddle, where strategy is discussed and encouragement given. This is what coming together as believers does, and then it is to get back into the game and be those witnesses for Jesus Christ.
These huddles, these gatherings, is what we do in church, and this helps to bring refreshing, renewal, and restoration, for the reviving of our souls and spirits.
And so, to get ourselves back on track to being renewed, refreshed, and revived, we first need to get rest from the hectic pace of this world, and that rest can only be found in Jesus.
Next, we need to renew our minds, first by rejecting the lies of the world, and then by accepting and living our lives by the truths found in God’s word. And the Holy Spirit is the only One who will direct us to God’s truth.
And finally, we are to seek out godly fellowship with other believers in Jesus Christ who will help us on this journey of faith we are called to take.
Yes, we will wear out and get dull, but the knife company’s response is the same response I believe God would give us today. If we want to be renewed, refreshed, and revived, then we need to re-sharpen our spiritual lives.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study