Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring: A Timely Reminder of an Eternal Truth

Dogwood blossoms - messengers that
spring has indeed arrived.
A few weeks ago, perhaps when we weren’t looking or paying attention, spring arrived. For people in some parts of the country, belated snowstorms made that hard to believe, but it showed up just the same. Looking out the window of our home in late March and early April, blossoms that suddenly appeared on our dogwood tree gave evidence to it.

Throughout the winter the tree had stood barren, without a single leaf to show any sign of life. Then out sprouted the blossoms, followed by tiny leaves, ones that soon will grow to full size and vibrant green. I don’t know that trees “play possum,” but for several months this tree definitely appeared dead. Then it burst forth with life, demonstrating that despite purported “climate change,” the seasonal renewal cycle remains in effect.

Soon flowers will be blooming brilliantly in their gardens, bees will be flitting from petal to petal. Grass – and weeds – will display their hearty return. Birds will resume chirping, mosquitoes will again “buzz off,” and all things spring will have sprung. Manifestations of “Mother Nature” will be renewed.

Renewal is a common part of everyday life, too, from the annual renewing of subscriptions for periodicals to insurance premiums to memberships in favorite organizations. For many things in life, it’s not once for all time – a restart is necessary from time to time.

Interestingly, renewal is a key to spiritual growth as well, both collectively and individually. This theme recurs throughout the Scriptures, in both Old and New Testaments, providing a foundation for becoming a consistent, fruitful follower of Jesus Christ. However, unlike natural renewal which occurs like clockwork – you can almost set your calendar by it – spiritual renewal isn’t automatic. It involves God and the believer working in tandem. Here are some biblical principles about renewal:

Renewal is not optional for Christ followers. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Renewal is a work of God. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

Renewal involves an act of the will. “lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and…be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Renewal begins in the mind. “Do not conform any longer 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).

Renewal focuses on the present and the future, not the past. Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

Renewal must be – renewed - daily. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Renewal results in making us more like our God. “…since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:9-10).

So as we enjoy the return of beautiful flowers and trees, watch the squirrels, rabbits and other critters frolicking in our yards, and engage of myriad springtime activities, let this season of renewal serve as a visual reminder of our great need for spiritual renewal as well – beginning with today.

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