R You Being Renewed?

By Pastor Kim Eskridge

For the past couple of weeks in Sunday School and in our Weekday Childhood Ministry (WCM), our younger children have been learning about ways that we can worship God. Specifically, we have been talking about the positive examples of two of the Old Testament kings, Joash (2 Chronicles 24) and Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29). We have learned that people can worship God in many ways such as singing to God, learning about God from the Bible, talking with God in prayer, and giving money as offerings to God.

As part of my weekly preparation to lead chapel sessions in WCM, I find it helpful to read the passage we will be learning about in context. Lately, I have been reminded of a cycle in the relationship between YHWH and His chosen people. This week, I have been thinking of these “r” words to describe what happened:

Rebellion against God
Retribution from God
Repentance to God
Remission of sin from God
Restoration of a right relationship with God

The people frequently turned away from God and worshiped false gods. One generation would be led by a good king, but the next king might allow or even encourage worship of false gods, which caused the hearts and minds of the people to turn away from the one true God. God is patient and merciful, but eventually He would punish them. Then the people would repent of their sins and turn back to God. This was followed by God’s forgiveness. Then all would be well until the people again turned from God, and the pattern repeated over and over and over.

As a child, I remember feeling and expressing frustration with “those people.” I wondered why they couldn’t just keep loving and worshiping the one true God. As I grew older, I realized that I was just like “them.” As my life experiences expanded, I was so easily distracted, forgot about the One who loves me perfectly, and put other things before God in my life. Even after I fully committed my all to the Lord as a young adult, I still struggled with distraction. I wanted to grow closer to God, but I just couldn’t seem to make much progress. Being married to someone in the military and having three little ones born in less than four years certainly provided many other things to think about and do. Even now that we don’t have children at home, life, work, and the world around me can, at times, begin to crowd out the peace and presence of our Lord.  
But, God has shown me what I need to do to break the patterns of life that pull me away. Keeping my heart and mind focused on Christ involves regularly gathering with other believers to worship Him in the ways that the children have been learning. Then daily time with Him is critical to keeping me on track and growing in my relationship with the Lord and changing the negative cycles that are so easy to fall into.

In Be Still: 90 Devotions for the Hopeful Heart, Cleere Cherry writes:

"If we want our life to change, we must start with our thought life. And if we want our thought life to change, we can only do it through His Word. As we make our focus the truth of His promises, we will be able to revitalize our thought life to reach our God-given potential."

Finding time to spend in the Word and in prayer can be tough, though.

Years ago when Pastor Wayne was first on our staff and I was a public school teacher, I remember that he taught about not only tithing money and possessions but time as well. I thought that was fine for him, since he worked at church. Surely he had plenty of time to sit around and read the Bible and pray. Ha! Well, now I understand that even those who work on a church staff can find it challenging to find time to spend with the Lord.

For me, it means getting up a little earlier, which is an act of worship in itself for this non-morning gal. I know that if I don’t spend time meditating on God’s word and praying then, the busyness of the day will take over, and it won’t happen. And I want to start out the day focused on our Lord and what He has for me for that day.

For some, it may work better to set aside time at night. I have lovely memories of drifting off to sleep and hearing the voices of my parents from across the hall as my father read Scripture to my mother and they prayed together. Ending the day with Him can be a rich and calming practice as well.

Let’s consider some more “r” words. In order for us to live full, rich lives with Christ, we must be renewed through revitalizing rhythms in our daily routines. Only then can we truly live in relationship with Him.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.     
–Romans 12:2

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