The Renaissance Washing
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3.4-7 NIV).
The Renaissance Period was a time between the 14th to 17th century where a rebirth of art, literature and music took place. The word, renaissance, means a revival or a renewed interest in something, and its synonyms include: Rebirth, Revival, Renewal, Reawakening, Regeneration.
When we feel our faith has grown stagnant and our hearts are not bathed in God’s love, we may need a Renaissance Washing. The joy of God is so bright and amazing. The fact that the Holy Spirit walks this life with us produces awe in the deepest parts of our souls. To forget the miracle of mercy is to vanquish all joy and peace of life. God always wants to revive our heart, and here are 8 ways to let Him renew our first love.
“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2.4 NIV).
The Distracted Heart
Rebirth begins on our Salvation Day, the day we ask Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior. But just like the ocean, the waves of renewal should wash over us continuously. Each wave bathes our hearts and brings us into greater intimacy with God. The enemy to this washing is distraction brought on by worries and greed. When we worry, we reveal our mistrust of God. When we covet, we reveal a discontented heart. These distractions prevent us from dipping into the basin of Living Water where we find refreshment and renewal for our inner person.
“The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13.22 NIV).
8 Ways to Renew your Heart
When I feel like I’ve forgotten the mystery, the beauty and the awe-inspiring goodness of God, I know that I need to do something to immerse myself in His presence, so the wave of His mercy and grace can wash over my hardening heart. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us in an imperfect world that came at the price of His Son, Jesus. I want to open that gift and allow it to permeate my thoughts, attitude, actions and day. It’s interesting how we will give ourselves wholly to worry, entertainment, relationships and pleasures, but we have difficulty giving ourselves completely to the majesty and tenderness of God. When I feel my heart has become distracted and cold, I aggressively want to wake it up!
“This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you'” (Ephesians 5.14 NIV).
Heart Renewal 1: Seek a New Perspective
Our faith grows stagnant when we arrive at the end of ourselves. We must seek other spiritual voices via podcasts, books, sermons and friendships. These unique points of view offer us a more dynamic and rounded view of God and His love for us.
Right now I am studying the early Celtic Christians just after St. Patrick revived their world with the presence of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Celtic Christians died early and infant mortality was very high. They didn’t know if they would make it through the night, let alone until they were 80 years old. The briefness of their lives caused them to have a profound joy in the present and deep appreciate of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for them. My soul is refreshed when my perspective aligns with a new revelation of God’s goodness.
Heart Renewal 2: Start Something New
Doing a new activity creates a childlike atmosphere of learning and growth in our lives. We can get comfortable where we are at and avoid taking risks. I always tell me kids that “You have to be bad at something before you can be good.” The problem is that we have become so entitled that we view starting something new as a pain in the neck rather than a new adventure.
I have made it a lifestyle to always be learning and trying new things. Currently, I am learning how to cook gourmet meals. During almost 20 years of marriage, I have always been the main cook of the family. However, in the last few years, I’ve desired my meals to be restaurant worthy. I host people at my home several times a month, so I want my entrees to be delicious and beautiful. This creative process gives me a deeper appreciate of God’s gift of food, creativity and hospitality.
Heart Renewal 3: Serve Others
Serving others is the quickest and surest way to have a spiritual revival. We are endowed with purpose, and too many self-serving activities can leave us feeling useless and meaningless. Although there is nothing wrong with self-care, there should always be areas in our lives that we give of ourselves freely without expectation of award or acclaim.
One example of serving in my private life is that I enjoy packing up leftovers for family and friends. I try to make extra every time I bake or cook, so at least one other person can enjoy a home-cooked meal or dessert. An example in my public life is that I make it a priority to read other writers’ books and give them a review on my blog and Amazon. Reviews are very important to writers. These words of encouragement and affirmation highlight their longs hours of working in the shadows.
Heart Renewal 4: Tune Out the World
The world produces so many little roots that entangle us each day. From social media, to emails to home and work responsibilities–our focus is constantly being pulled onto the natural world with little time to spare for spiritual matters. We have to make a choice to set our computers, TVs and phones aside to bathe in the reviving presence of God. And we can’t simply do five minutes and expect to have a hearty, full experience with the Father. He wants to engage with us and it takes time for our distracted thoughts to slowly turn toward Him.
If I don’t spend time with God each day, I know that I’ll hit the floor running with my keyboard on my lap and my phone in my hand. However, some days I need more than just a quiet time in the morning. When I sense that I need to spend a big chuck of time with God, I will either take a bath or take a walk. The bath helps me to really focus my attention on God because the distractions of the world are momentarily shut away. A walk outside also allows me to listen to His voice while enjoying His creations–nature, birds, wind, etc.
Heart Renewal 5: Record God’s Promises
The Bible is filled with God’s Promises. God will highlight verses and apply them to our lives. We can write these promises down and read them whenever we feel like our faith is running low. Also, God will give us special words from people we trust. We can write these words of encouragement down and read over them if we are struggling doubts and fears.
I have many verses highlighted in my Bible that God has given me at just the right down. Currently, I’m in a season where He’s been giving me the same dozen or so verses over and over again. I have used colored tabs to mark them in my Bible. Whenever I feel doubt creeping in, I grab my Bible and reread these verses. The words remind me of the promises of hope God has given me.
Heart Renewal 6: Create Something New
God is a Creator God and He made us in His image. We were designed to be creators. This doesn’t mean we have to create art, literature or music. We can simply create a meal, a prayer, a conversation, an act of service…. When we ignite our God-given imagination, there is no limit to what we can do in Christ. Much of our stagnation is due to our limited expression of God’s love and goodness in our lives. God is unlimited, and we can tap into His imagination create something beautiful.
Something I like to create is an imaginative time of prayer with God. Reading the Bible has fueled my imagination with many images that paint the supernatural world in my mind. I imagine myself at the throne room of God. I see myself wearing the Armor of God: the Helmet of Salvation, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Belt of Truth, the Shield of Faith, the Shoes of Peace and the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6.10-17 NIV). And I stand as a warrior princess, pledging my full allegiance to the Lord of Lords and King of the Universe.
Heart Renewal 7: Read Scripture Aloud
The Bible is very specific on the power of the spoken words. Reading the Word (which is Jesus in the flesh) out loud will have powerful effects on our lives (John 1.1). The enemy hates the Bible because he knows the Bible contains the energy of our Living God. When we feel like we are slipping into defeat, we can take up our Bibles (Swords of the Spirit) and wield out slicing words. The enemy and our negative feelings will be vanquished.
I have a Bible app that reads the Bible to me. When I’m struggling with melancholy emotions, I take my phone and play my Bible. If I wake up with dark feelings, I’ll listen. If I’m wrestling with doubt, I’ll listen. If my heart feels despondent, I’ll listen. The Bible is living and active, and it is sharp enough to cut away all thoughts and feelings that are not of God (Hebrews 4.12).
Heart Renewal 8: Do a Daily Devotional
Daily devotionals sometimes get very little credit for how much purpose they can serve. The writer of each devotional is like a chef who prepares a delicious meal or a scrumptious dessert from the ingredients within the Bible. Although reading the Bible for ourselves is very important, sometimes we need to sit at someone else’s table and feast on what they’ve prepared. Daily Devotionals usually don’t greatly impact us in a single moment (although they can); rather, it is the day-by-day nourishment that shapes us over time.
I’ve read so many daily devotionals that it is impossible to list them all, but a few of them are My Utmost for His Highest, Streams in the Desert, Sparkling Gems from the Greek, Jesus Calling and Day by Day. Whenever I open one of these daily devotionals, God always speaks to me. My life and current situations may be different from what I’m reading, but there is an eternal principle that can be applied to my life-struggle at the moment.
If you would like a daily devotional that will start your day with both comfort and strength, check out my one-year devotional book, Slay the Day: Your Daily Dose of Victory. It covers all 66 books of the Bible, applying short yet powerful Biblical revelation to your life each day.