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How to be Renewed

  • November 8, 2023
  • By Donielle
How to be Renewed

Who out there would like to feel renewed? The craziness of the fall season is underway and the holiday season is right around the corner. We have so much to do! And for some of you the silence at home looms large and the loneliness is overwhelming. Maybe you just need a break from your kids. They may not be really diplomatic and well mannered like mine.  Awhile back I made something that my little one didn’t like. They way she let me know was so great.  She said, “I’m not saying that the food you cooked is disgusting.  I’m just saying it tastes disgusting when I put it in my mouth.” She is so diplomatic.

How does renewal happen?

So, what about being renewed? When we look at renewal in the Old Testament, we see it is a community event. We often talk about the people of God collectively. What are we renewing?  In the Old Testament it is a covenant with God. Renewal is when the people are rededicating themselves to God. It happens several times in the Old Testament on different occasions and for different reasons. But it always happens the same way.  It begins with a recitation of the great things God has done for His people! Let’s look at some of those accounts:

This is right before God gives the 10 commandments, God calls to Moses from a mountain and tells him what to say to the people: Exodus 19:4-8, “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.

Treasured Possessions

God didn’t ask the Israelites to blindly trust Him in this instance. Their re-commitment to God started with God Himself reminding them what He had done for His people. What would it do for us if we wore name tags that said “TREASURED POSSESSION OF THE MOST HIGH GOD”. For ourselves and those we encounter every day? Contemplate that for a second. How does that change how you see yourself?  How you see God? And how you see others?

The response?

God reached out and Israel has an enthusiastic response, “We will do everything the Lord has said.”  Stop and put ourselves in the sandals of the Israelites right there. How might we have responded? Imagine we are fired up, God is speaking these beautiful poetic words over us. Will you do everything the Lord has said?

Because that is kind of scary.  If we know the story, we cringe.  Israel was so unfaithful, constantly! They did not do everything the Lord said.  But God had grace for that.  He knew they wouldn’t.  They couldn’t without His Holy Spirit. The Lord knows that we resolve to do our devotions every single day – and we fail.  We purpose to never lose our temper again, and we fail. So we can totally relate to Israel and the need for a renewed our commitment to God.

And again

In our quest to be renewed, we move forward to the book of Deuteronomy.  This is years later and Moses does a “Part 2” to help another generation remember God’s goodness to Israel.

Deuteronomy 26:8-11, we start in the middle of God’s narrative: “So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now I bring the first fruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me. Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before him.”

The Lord wants to renew us in relation to our stuff!

God is teaching His people to tithe – not because He needs anything from them, but for their own good. He wants to renew them in relationship to their stuff. And He starts with a really cool, poetic description of what He did for His people. He brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.  Isaiah 52:10 says it even more poetically, “The Lord has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations.” His Holy Arm is a poetic symbol of His might and power. God is flashing muscle! Remember that Rosie the Riveter poster from World War II? She is the ultimate girl power symbol – a big strong gal’s arm with the caption “We Can Do It”.

He Can Do It!

God’s Holy Arm blows that image out of the water – we can’t do it. He can do it! The Lord has bared His Holy Arm!  What is it we say when we have a job to tackle?  We roll up our sleeves!  That is what God is telling His people He has done for them – he rolled up His sleeves and went to work for them, though they were undeserving and there was nothing particularly special about them.

Where has God bared His Holy Arm for you?

Where has God bared His Holy Arm for you in the past? Where has he rolled up his sleeves and went to work for you?  Where has He done what you could not do? Whatever the Lord brings to mind, jot down. This whole lesson in Deuteronomy starts with a description of what God has done for them in the past – a reminder.  What an amazing tool when we need to be renewed.


According to Amanda Logan, CNP at the Mayo Clinic, “Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood and immunity. Gratitude can decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain and risk of disease. If a pill that could do this, everyone would be taking it.”

Again, God is so gracious.  When we stop fretting and do what He asks, we reap both physical and spiritual benefits from it! And I am taking to myself, too. I have been through some tough times, just like you. Two years ago, during covid, I was dealing with my dad’s death, handling his affairs, sending my first kid to college, and caring for my grandma. My journal from this time, when I so badly needed to be renewed, is full of lists of God’s faithfulness and provision.  Why was this so refreshing?  Renewal follows this recital of God’s faithfulness. This is why gratefulness is so healthy for us.  Even the secular world has caught on to this.

And yet again

We get to see this again with the successor of Moses in Joshua 24:8-14. Joshua assembled all the people and starts reciting what God did for Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob. He describes their rescue from the Egyptians again.  But then we get an update of some new things God has done:

“‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.

11 “‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness…” This passage ends with famous words: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

As for me

Its an easy declaration to make, but not an easy one to keep.  We will serve the Lord – unless a more exciting opportunity pops up on Sunday morning? We will serve the Lord, except that our lives are insanely busy and we need our Sunday morning to sleep in.  Oh, we will serve the Lord all day except, well my kid is really good at this thing. We will serve, but we are retired now. Ya’ll, we will serve the Lord, except that we planned to be gone a lot this year at our vacation home that the Lord blessed us with, so we can’t commit to any ministries? We will serve the Lord – as long as he doesn’t ask anything inconvenient of us! Treasured possessions of the Most High God, we cannot ask God to be renewed and seek renewal somewhere else.

We cannot ask God to renew us and then look for renewal elsewhere.

Try this at home

What if we used the Lord’s recitation of His goodness to us in Joshua 24 as a template for our renewal recitation: It helps to personalize scripture whenever we can. Below is where I did this for myself!

The Lord says, I brought you to _____ (through the death of both of my parents).  ____ (name withheld) tried to curse you, but I blessed you. Then you came to ____ (cleaning out Dad’s house and garage every Saturday for 2 months). ______ fought with you, but I delivered them into your hands! I sent the hornet ahead of you (how did the Lord clear the way for you?) Sent buyers for every single weird tool that I had no idea what is was

You did NOT do it with your own sword and bow (What are your weapons of choice? Money, influence, habit of manipulation, mom guilt, Sharp tongue and clever wit). And so I gave you ___  that you didn’t have to work for and ____ that you didn’t need to buy. Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Personalizing scripture that way bring it to life, and helps us understand its relevancy to us. Try it! The Lord is not done with this thread on being renewed yet, though.

One more time

In 2 Kings 22-23 Josiah is king and together with his secretary and the high priest, they are overseeing some repairs to the Temple. And they find a lost Book of the Law (a part of the Bible) and read it to the King. Listen to his reaction:

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes… 23 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant. 2 Kings 22:11, 23:1-3.

This is the pattern of renewal – recounting the Lord’s goodness to us, hearing what His Word says, and pledging our obedience to Him. King Josiah pledges this with all his heart and all his soul.  What does that mean? What do we do in life with all our heart and all our soul? The words trip so lightly from our mouths, but what does a life look like doing anything with all our hearts and all our soul?

What about my circumstances?

We find through these examples that times of refreshment are not dependent on our circumstances. These times of being renewed come through in the midst of tough times.  And that is when we really need it, isn’t it? The Israelites in the Joshua account are getting ready for war.  God leads them to the Promised Land, he fights for them, but they have to strap on armor and march around those walls in the hot sun.

King Josiah and the priests are in the middle of reforming the nation of Israel that has fallen into disgusting idol worship.  He is destroying altars that people have put up and statues they have carved.  I can’t imagine, though he is busy doing the right thing, that he is Mr. Popular. People don’t like this kind of thing.  They certainly don’t like to be told that they are wrong.

You can hear the enthusiasm and the intensity in the responses of the people Moses is leading, of Joshua, and of King Josiah. They are feeling renewed. Then what do they do? They pledge themselves anew to God.  Where in your life is God asking for a renewed commitment to Him? Is it your prayer life? Reading His Word? Is there somewhere He is asking you to trust Him? Somewhere He is calling you to serve? Is there something hindering your walk with the Lord that He wants you to handle?

When it hit home

For me, several years ago, at the Unleashed Conference, God was asking me to seek help for my highway driving. I started having panic attacks at age 14. I had them to varying degrees for 25 years! The Lord used a beautiful book called Freedom from Fear to heal me.  But the one thing I could not bear to do was drive on the highway. The Lord called me to deal with this issue. It was not easy. Fear is habit forming and it was entrenched. I don’t love the highway now. I get nervous. But I do it.

But the funny thing is, in the middle of dealing with that phobia the Lord brought me face to face with my real problem: my perfectionism. Sometimes the things the Lord is calling us to deal with seem small and insignificant.  But taking our stuff to Jesus brings freedom. Bring your stuff! Be renewed!

And the New Testament?

So what do we find in the New Testament? It is instructing us in the patterns set back in the Old Testament. Ephesians 4:23 says to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Our lives are hidden with Christ in God. His story becomes ours.  But until we receive a new body when Christ returns, we function with the old brain that has learned coping mechanisms, unhealthy habits, wrong thinking.  This is the source of the anxieties, worries, and sins we get stuck in.  If what we think or believe is not true, then our feeling won’t reflect reality.

 Romans 12:2 tell us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Our minds get muddled, distracted, carried away with the cares of this world. Romans 8:6  reminds us, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

When Paul says to set our minds on flesh, on the things that rot, fade away, or disintegrate is death, he is saying that choice is leading us the opposite of where we need to go, to chaos, to destruction, to disease. And where does stress and worry lead – medically?  High blood pressure, heart disease, mental health issues? When we are stressed, we can’t sleep. Sleep is how our bodies are renewed. So what do we do?

Whose job is it anyway?

It says in Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”

Who does the work of renewal here?  Do we manage it ourselves? No, it is the work of the Holy Spirit. HE inhabits the praise of His people.  His Spirit is there to renew us whenever we recount His deeds and commit ourselves to Him.  He is the One we ask to change our thinking when we can’t see ourselves as the treasured possession of the Most High God.  He is the one we ask to remind us where He has bared His Holy Arm for us in the past and He‘s the One we ask to do it again.  The Holy Spirit is the One who shows us what it is to declare as for me and My House, we will serve the Lord!

By Donielle, November 8, 2023
Obey Who?
Raising Hope Filled Kids
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