A Gracious Renewal

Psalm 51:10

When I was a small boy attending church services, I used to hear that "we ought to renew
our covenant with God
Did you ever hear that?
Well, there are occasions when I think that we should renew our covenant with God.

One occasion is after recovering from sickness.
When like Hezekiah, we have had months and even years added to our lives,
we should renew our covenant with God.

Then, after any extraordinary deliverance, when troubles have ceased, when joys have entered our lives afresh,
and after despair and depressions our souls have been lifted and refreshed,
we ought to renew our covenant with God.

And especially after any sin, such as when we may have grieve the Holy Spirit
or have brought dishonor upon the cause of God.
And when we like David, have gone to our own closet, and wept bitter tears of penitence;
and have prayed for God's forgiveness and cleansing and have dedicated ourselves again to the Lord,
we ought to renew our covenant with God.

And, also after times of prosperity.
Have we come here today with our hearts filled with joy?
Have we received a valued favor from God which we little expected?
Can we sing of mercies multiplied?
Then this is truly an occasion to renew our covenant with God.

And may I also suggest that there are certain seasons in life when we ought to renew ourselves
– our commitment – our dedication – our love to our great and gracious God.
When young people graduate from high school or college.
And also at the birth of children.
And at the death of friends and loved ones.
And at the anniversaries of our birth and our years of marriage.
And in times of promotions and in retirements, we should renew our love and commitment to our Lord.

These thoughts should be in our minds, but there is another which goes deeper than these.
And David prayed that in our Scripture passage.
"Renew a right spirit within me."

Surely when the Lord does this in us, and our consecration is renewed, the fountain of our lives will be filled,
and the streams of joy will flow again; the sun will be shining on our lives again;
plants will bud and bloom; the sap within the tree will flow vigorously, and the fruit will be plentiful.

Now we have gone right to the core of the matter – "Renew a right spirit within me."
So, we look to the power of God, the Holy Spirit, to renew our spirit,
and bring us afresh and anew to our great God.

So, come with me to the footstool of divine mercy, and let us in humble, earnestness call upon the Lord
to renew within us a constant, vibrant spirit, and invigorate our lives for Him.
There are several reasons and motives for which we should do so.

First, an important motive for desiring the renewal of God spirit within us is to be found
in the absolute necessity for it -- if we would persevere.

The fact that we need renewal is clearly seen when we understand that all created things need it.
Nothing that God has made is self-existent.
Self-existence belongs exclusively to the great "I am that I am."

Mountains can crumble, rocks can dissolve, and even marble can wear away.
Our great rivers within us must also be refreshed with the rains and the melted snows from the mountain tops.
All things on earth need perpetually to be renewed.

"Thou renewest the face of the year," said the psalmist; "for in winter earth sleeps like a weary a giant
as if hoary with the decay of age, the snow covers it slumbering it.
In winter the world shows nothing of her youthful greenery; all her beauty lies buried beneath the sod

All things are hushed and quiet in winter's bedroom of life.
But spring comes, and the songs of birds arouses the slumbering earth, and she awakes refreshed.

And this truth is especially applicable to those creatures of God which are endowed with life.
Animal and man cannot live without the refreshment of sleep and food.

You and I, having life, cannot expect that it should be sustained without renewal from God.
Our natural life needs constantly bread and water.
The strongest man that ever lived must soon yield to the weakness of death,
unless he be invigorated by nourishment and rest, and even more so in the spiritual life.

We must drink again of the living water.
But we must feed anew upon the living bread.
Remember the Scriptures speak of waiting upon the Lord and renewing our strength.

Listen to David when his sayings, "Thou restorest my soul."
We really need the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.
In our own inner consciousness, as Christians, we are aware that our piety requires constant renovation.

Christians, have we not seen, that as men must eat, we also must pray?
Have you not felt the vacuum in your heart and a pain in it, if prayer has been neglected?
Have we not discovered that as we must breathe, so we must also exercise our faith in Christ?
For if our faith be suspended for a moment there is a suffocation of all our hopes,
our joys, our love, and even of our very life.

Have we not found that, as it is necessary to replenish the strength of the body by nourishment,
we must also replenish the strength of our soul by feeding upon the Word of God,
and by listening to the preached Word of God, and by hearing the teaching of the Word of God?

We might need to consider our experience with God if we have not discovered a hungering and thirsting
in your heart for the things of God.
These many things that we have mentioned are proofs that renewal is needed and wanted.

What does our love for our Lord become if we go for a period of time without focusing our attention upon Him?
Our faith flickers, if we are for a little while we take our eyes off of Jesus.
How depressed are our graces when our attendance at God services is neglected.

You know if you want renewal and you need renewal.
And I believe that many here feel that you do.
Need I say more?

Now, if you do not perceive this very apparent truth, let me remind you that you may be made to see it,
and maybe even terribly by some surprising sin or by some unwelcome ways.

Just as this prayer was forced out of David by his adultery with Bathsheba, and his bloody murder of Uriah,
so it may be that we could be suddenly overtaken in a fault,
so "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

There are temptations yet to come, and if and when they come, woe to those mariners
who have not yet strengthened their mast, nor cast their anchor, nor sought a near haven.
Without perpetual restoration, we are not ready for the perpetual assaults of hell,
or the certain afflictions of life, or even for the strifes within us.

If we suffer the good and grow weaker, the evil will surely gather strength and struggle desperately
for the mastery over us.
And then evil will come, and there will be a sad downfall and a sorrowful disgrace that may follow
our neglect to renew our love and our spirit before God.

Now we must also see that unconscious backsliding from God is perhaps an even more dangerous
than a disgraceful and open sin.
Not being conscious of God's presence will certainly be ours unless we have seasons of renewal.
This is a sin in the Church of God which we rarely see or want to see.
Too often we walked carelessly, and we don't care as we should.

Indifference is our temptation.
We're not as kind as as we should be.
We're not as grateful as we should be.
We're not as faithful as we should be.
Were not as caring as we should be.

We can confront other sins, such as stealing, gossiping, easier then we can the sin of indifference.
When there is no conflict in the church, and we are resting in Zion, we are in danger of sleeping.
This is a time will when we must be vigilant because peace and quietness of the church can bring on
an idleness, a dullness, an indifference, a lethargy, as deadly and as damnable and as outrageous sin itself.

And unless the Holy Spirit arouses us, and constrains us to come back again to the simple earnestness
of our first love, we shall slip and slide, and will not realize how low we have fallen until out of the depths
we have to cry out in agony, "Renew a right spirit within me."

Now, for these reasons – I persuade you, and I persuade myself – that we will take these words to our souls.
Let us turn unto the Lord.
Let us plead for Him to heal our backsliding, and to receive us graciously and to restore us
to be the Christians that we must be.

In the words of Jeremiah in the Lamentations, let us pray,
"Turn us onto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned, renew our days as of old."

If the joy of our heart has ceased, and if we have sinned and our fellowship with God
and with other Christians is strained, and let us return unto God from whom we have erred,
and renew our commitment, O Lord: "Renew a right spirit within me."

If we should be stirred up and renewed, and if we have renewed our covenant with God,
then there are blessed results which are sure to follow.

Think of the joy that you will experience.
The joy of being with our Lord is so sweet that it ought to cause every child of God to seek that experience.

Do you remember that in the days when you first knew the Lord, besides having an abundance of joy,
how full of the heavenly life your graces were, and how real everything appeared to your faith?
Do you remember how real and how wonderful it was when you first proclaimed that "Jesus Christ is mine."?
Do you still have the joy of singing, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine…"?

Do you member how real Jesus Christ was as you worshiped Him in church with His people?
Do you remember how every song was really a psalm of praise, and then the prayers that were prayed,
and how you followed every word of the pastor?

Do you remember how much nearer you grew, and how you loved the quietness and despised
the slightest movement of worshipers that would distract you from the worship of your God?
It was no mockery, no routine, no mere duty, it was real talking to God, and real worship
with your Father in heaven.
Oh, how much you really loved your Savior, Jesus Christ.

I can talk about loving Him now, and there are times as if He said to me as he did to Simon Peter:
"Lovest thou me?"

And I would dare to answer, "Thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee."
But still my consciousness of love in Christ is not always as vivid as the first one was.

So now, again, if we will come and put our hand in His hand afresh, this will be the effect
of His renewing our spirit, then we shall have again all the fullest and will realize
that early new-born piety that we had before God
– oh, how blessed that will be!
At that time we will remember how active all our graces were.
At that time we will remember that we had no doubts, our faith was so strong,
and we were not lukewarm, and our zeal was burning within us.

Then we remember how we used to drink in each word from the Word of God as it was taught or proclaimed.
We remember how we used to feed upon that precious Word.

We remember that if anyone would have bribed us to stay away from Sunday school or Bible study
or evening services on the prayer service – that bribe would not have worked.
But now there are times that we can miss without even a little discomfort, and we have managed to get over it.

And now, if you admit and if you experience very little discomfort, and if the teacher doesn't reach you
and if the pastor doesn't preach like you will think he should, and that is possible.
It is more likely that you have lost the ears you once had, and your ears have become dull of hearing,
and your eyes have lost their quickness of sight, and that your heart may be less tender and sensitive,
and certainly your graces are not as real as they were.

So now if you come back to our Master, you can still have your youthful force and vigor renewed.
It's also such a joy to watch young Christians as they serve God.
They always seem to have a vigor and they do such spontaneous things emotionally and enthusiastically
that we are reluctant to do.
Maybe they do things that we consider as rash just because they have such an excess of love and zeal
that they didn't know how to put it in action.

Young life demands exercise.
It would be great if all of us could recover some of that youthful vitality and energy.
In answer to this prayer, we can find it.
"Renew a right spirit within me."

Our usefulness to others will be increased if the Lord should graciously visit us with times of refreshing.
We should want the renewal of our spirit in our personal lives; in our Sunday school class;
in our home, with our family – we should want. and we should get this by coming anew
and afresh to our Lord.

Probably there are some who came here this morning complaining of the world and its trials.
The world has been hard on you, and your troubles have multiplied.
But how different things will be when the Lord renews your spirit.

What did it matter when you were first converted, whether you are rich or poor?
It didn't matter!

Like Simon Peter, you left the net and the fishes to follow the Lord.
Like the woman at the well, you left the water-pot so that you might go and tell others
what you have seen and heard and have experienced.

Well, if your spirit is renewed, and if the zeal of your younger days are restored – the world will be
just as much a trifle to you as when you first received the gospel.

Since all these blessed results will follow, let me beseech you.
By your love to your own souls, and by your care to grow in grace, and by your anxiety to prosper
in the Lord's way, and by your interest in the welfare of others, pray with me this prayer:
"Renew a right spirit within me."

If you have gone astray, pray this prayer today, and God will answer it.
If you have been just drifting, pray this prayer today, and God will answer it.
Say it again and again, "Renew a right spirit within me."

As the fire fell
When Elijah prayed.
In the wilderness when the bread from heaven came down.

I've even heard about what You did for Jonah
When he didn't go where he should have been

Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord!
Oh, Lord God, do it again

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White