Personal awakening, spiritual renewal

Getting Going Again Spiritually

by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

Summary: Feeling dry? spiritually stagnant? lacking energy and motivation in your Christian walk? Seven simple, biblical principles will bring renewed fire to your spiritual life.

Over the years, I have known many Christians whose spiritual lives have ground nearly to a halt. Oh yes, they still love God and are determined to live their lives for Jesus Christ. But their inner fire seems to have gone out. Their devotional lives are dry, and ministry efforts feel more like a duty than a joy.

•• If that describes you (or someone you know and want to help), read on for a spiritual recharge, kind of a heavenly shot in the arm.

•• Here are seven simple, biblical prescriptions for such a spiritual “jump start”.

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Mark 9:20-24  ...(23) [Jesus said,] “Everything is possible for him who believes.” (24) Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!

(1) ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR NEED.

•• The father did believe in Jesus’ ability to heal his son. But he also openly confessed that his faith wasn’t at the level he knew it should be. So he cried out to Jesus, “Help me overcome my unbelief!”

•• You know full well if you need a personal spiritual renewal. And it is just as certain that the Lord knows it! But as the father did in these verses, you would do well to voice your need to the Lord. Just be open and transparent before Him. Here are some possible examples.
• “Lord, I do love you, but I’m kind of dry right now and need your help to recover my joy.”

• “Lord, I believe the Bible, but I’m having a hard time really expecting some of its promises to work for me.”

• “Lord, I know I should pray; help me to get back on track and do it.”
•• God will certainly honor this type of humble, honest, sincere confession to the Lord of our need for a personal awakening within.

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Psalm 85:6  Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?

(2) ASK the Lord for a PERSONAL REVIVAL.

•• In essence you are saying, “Lord, I want revival, but it will have to start with a revival in my own heart. And only you can cause that to happen.”
• Make this appeal on the very personal level. Appropriate the verse for yourself: “Lord, will you not revive me again?”

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Psalm 51:1-4, 10  [King David, under conviction over his adultery with Bathsheba] Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. [2] Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. [3] For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. [4] Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight ... [10] Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

(3) Seek God to FORGIVE, to CLEANSE, and to burn out the CHAFF in your life.

•• This, of course, applies broadly to all of us who fall short of Jesus’ perfect stature. But the context of these verses is speaking of sin in our lives that has not yet been dealt with and repented of before God.

•• Like the Song of Solomon’s “little foxes that spoil the vines” (2:15), even seemingly small, often hidden areas of carnality can spoil our own personal vineyards.
• With all your heart, soul, and mind, cry out to God: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” And the clear conscience resulting from genuine repentance can be a springboard to personal awakening, spiritual renewal, and growth. Without this clear conscience, it is not possible to move forward in a vibrant walk with God.

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Deuteronomy 8:2-3  Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. [3] He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

(4) Are You Recognizing God’s HUMBLING, TESTING, and TEACHING?

•• You may be experiencing hard times in your personal “desert”. But not all hard times can be blamed on the devil. Sometimes God in His all-knowing wisdom is humbling us, testing us, and teaching us in the midst of troubling circumstances.
• A difficult time in your life may be permitted by God “in order to know what [is] in your heart (vs. 2).

• The verses above show that at times God may even lead His people into a desert experience “to test you ... whether or not you would keep his commands” (vs. 2).

• Vs. 3 indicates that God is wanting “to teach you that man ... [lives] ... on every word ... of the Lord”. Have you begun to neglect your time in God’s word, the Bible? If so, remember God’s “teaching” lesson — that is, that we will find true life in God’s word.

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Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

(5) REJOICE in the LORD!

•• At first glance, if you are in need of a personal spiritual renewal, this may sound empty, like someone telling you, “Be warmed; be fed”, but failing to give you the clothing or food you need.

•• But in reality, according to Christian counseling professional Dr. Jay Adams, rejoicing in the Lord is a powerful prescription for recovery from a downward emotional or spiritual spiral.

•• If you are feeling spiritually dry, cast down, or stagnant, determine to rejoice in your heart before the Lord. Don’t dwell on your circumstances, but rather rejoice in Him. Praise Him, worship Him, declare to Him how blessed and glad you are to have Him as your heavenly Father, and Jesus as your Savior. And you will find that any heaviness of soul will begin to lift as you put on the “garment of praise” (Isaiah 61:3).

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1 Peter 5:7  Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.

(6) Consciously CAST your CARES on the LORD.

•• This takes personal discipline, and it is not intuitive or easy for many of us who tend to internalize our worries, cares, and anxieties. But much relief can come to our souls as we deliberately cast our cares upon the Lord, asking Him to resolve them and to bring aid, comfort and encouragement to us.

•• If we don’t do this, the opposite process often takes place, and we are “choked with [the] ... cares of this life” (Luke 8:14, KJV), we are “choked by life’s worries” (Luke 8:14, NIV). And then our personal spiritual growth takes a distant back seat to the stresses of modern life.

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Matthew 3:11  I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

(7) Finally, look to JESUS for a RENEWED BAPTISM “with the HOLY GHOST and FIRE”.

•• There is a “fire” that is kindled within us via the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

•• If you’ve not received the powerful baptism with the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues, look to Jesus to grant you that experience, with its heaven-sent infusion of power (Acts 1:5,8).

•• If you have already been baptized with the Spirit, ask Jesus for a rekindling in you of the fire you once felt.
• Jesus intends that we “keep our lamps burning(Luke 12:35), so He will surely give us the ability to do that if we ask Him.

Summary of Seven Principles for Spiritual Renewal:

1) Acknowledge your need (Mark 9:24).

2) Seek the Lord for personal revival (Psalm 85:6).

3) Pursue forgiveness and cleansing from all sin (Psalm 51:1-4,10).

4) Consider if God is perhaps humbling, testing, and teaching you in your current “desert” experience (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).

5) Rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4:4).

6) Cast your cares on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7).

7) Seek to be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit and fire (Ephesians 5:18; Matthew 3:11).

Follow these principles while remaining faithful in prayer, Bible reading, and church attendance, and you will find that personal awakening and spiritual renewal are ready and waiting for you!

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©1999, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.