[25APRIL2012] Eastertide Devotional Series
I will be posting this devotional series as part of my Eastertide reflections for the next three weeks (see this link for other installments in the series). Each week of this devotional series focuses on a specific theme (week one: brokenness, week two: repentance, and week three: renewal). I hope you’ll enjoy the series and I invite you to comment here on the blog or email me direct; I would love to hear your thoughts.
Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 2:11-18 (see also—Neh. 3-6)
The Book of Nehemiah is a great representation of spiritual renewal. The people of God, the nation of Judah, lay in ruins. This once great nation had lost its identity and was full of shame, embarrassment, guilt, and was without hope. They had realized the repercussions of their sin through the words of the prophets, the sacking of their land, and the exile of their people, but Nehemiah had hope. Nehemiah prayed. Nehemiah examined the situation. Nehemiah made a plan. Nehemiah put his plan into action. Nehemiah did not allow challenges to thwart his plan. Nehemiah, with the aid of God Almighty, saw his plan to completion.
A few of the most important things for us to recognize from these past few days of reading and prayer is that spiritual renewal does not happen in a void or on its own. True spiritual renewal begins with obedient surrender to God the Holy Spirit and depends on His guidance. Spiritual renewal also requires active participation with you taking responsibility for your spiritual growth and well-being; it is intentional, and it is contingent on deliberate planning. Spiritual renewal is also best done in community.
Nehemiah can be a great inspiration and model for our own spiritual renewal. As we read and learned in yesterday’s devotional reading, God has given us everything we need to live a godly life. There is also the expectation that we share in the partnership and responsibility to keep the divine nature inside us burning brightly—fanning our own flames. As we bear these thoughts in mind, we take a prayerful and honest examination of our hearts, attitudes, and habits listening closely to the Spirit of God who provides us with direction for our next steps… our plan. If this is something you are uncomfortable doing on your own, perhaps contacting a trusted Christian friend and asking help might be the “first” next step for you. The most important part of your “next step” is taking one.
Nehemiah rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem in 52-days by hearing from God, assessing the needs, implementing a plan, and enlisting the support of his community. What might you be able to do in the same time using the same model?
Examine your spiritual life and disciplines that support it. Are you operating a plan for your spiritual development at this moment? Are you satisfied with where you are in your current relationship with Jesus? Do you sense there are changes that need implemented in your current plan? Is there margin in your life to add structure and spiritual discipline to it? Will you need to stop or remove certain hobbies or activities in order to begin new ones that might be necessary for spiritual renewal?
Our Prayer: O Gracious Lord, thank you for your gift of guidance. Thank you for providing me with a plan to set me on the path of spiritual renewal. I confess that I need more of you in my life. I desire to grow fully mature and lacking nothing that you desire for me. I pray, O Lord, that you would help me to hear your voice and surrender myself in complete obedience to your direction. I ask also that you would put the right people in my path who might inspire and help me as I put my plan for renewal in action. Amen.