The Road to Renewal

Bible Book: Genesis  35 : 1-15
Subject: Renewal; Revival

How many of you this morning are thirsty for renewal in your life? I’ve been praying for you this week in a way I’ve never prayed before. I’m asking God to make you thirsty for Him. I’m asking that God will make you restless for renewal and revival. Everyone one of us needs to come to the place where we ask God to renew us in our walk with Him.

After years of living in halfhearted obedience to God, Jacob is ready to renewal in his life and not only his life, but also his family. I’m excited about God bringing renewal to your life and also the family of God at CWBC. Are you ready for renewal?

I. Get Serious About Obeying God

Renewal Can Come When You Get Serious About Obeying God

Genesis 35:1, “Then God said to Jacob.” I want you to think about something for just a moment. Are you serious about hearing from the Lord? Do you want Him to speak to your heart? Renewal is all about hearing a fresh word from the Lord. There came a time in Jacob’s life when he was fully ready to listen to God and follow His leadership. Renewal comes to those who are serious about hearing and obeying the voice of the Lord. Often times renewal comes to one and then spreads as others are motivated to follow the Lord anew.

The Christian Index ran a great article this week about a Pastor Harold Chandler from Pine Bluff, AR. Its entitled, “Arkansas pastor aims to be half of his former self.” It seems last year at this time Pastor Chandler was up to 349 pounds - 2 whoppers away from 350 lbs. His blood pressure was at an all time high and he didn’t have the energy to do those things he needed to do. With encouragement from his wife, daughter and granddaughter, he got serious about obeying God with his health. This was not an easy task, but with support from his family and church, in one year, he lost 170 pounds. Pastor Chandler also made a spiritual point about this comparing his weight loss to a lost person who needs Christ. He says, “There has to come a desire in the seeker’s heart to do something - something has to happen to hit a person’s life. Something has to happen to make you seek what you need.”

I wonder, what’s it going to take for God to get your attention in life? Is it going to be through a period of health issues, family problems, financial turmoil, etc. Whatever it takes for God to get your attention, it’s worth it!

II. Return To The Sacred Place

Returning To The Sacred Place Fires The Passion For Renewal!

Then God said, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.” Gen. 35:1 What is God doing here? He’s calling Jacob back to his where they had their first encounter. That’s where renewal begins, it’s going back to God - to the place you first met Him! And notice the invitation God gives to Jacob - an invitation to dwell at Bethel. Sometimes, God wants to take you and I on a journey to Calvary - and we need to dwell there until Jesus restores our lives and renews our faith in Him!

You may recall several chapters ago that Jacob was fleeing for his life from his brother, Esau. God spoke to him in a dream one night and it was so awesome that Jacob said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it; he called the name of that place, Bethel.”

Jacob had spent years in a backslidden condition away from the presence of God and now God says these words, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there.” Don’t move out of my presence anymore! Revisit often the place where you first met the Lord and it will fire you up to worship Him once more! Every single Christian has a Bethel in their life. It may have been the day you met Christ as your Lord and Savior. It may have been when He met a need in your life you thought never would be taken care of! Revisit your Bethel often!

For some of you, Colonial Woods Baptist Church is your Bethel. This is where you meet with God week in and week out. Rekindle your fire for the Lord of the church. Remember why you come here! I like what the Psalmist said, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name, For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” Sometimes, it’s good thing to remember why God placed this church here. God placed us here so we could come together in worship of Him and also encourage one another - to be stirred up to do those love and good deeds God has called us to! Revisit your Bethel, your sacred place and get the fire for worship once more!

III. Remember To Remember

Those Who Desire Renewal Make A Habit Of “Remembering To Remember!”

Jacob got serious about putting the old ways behind him and moving forward in the ways of God. Chapter 34 of Genesis is an awful chapter. God is nowhere to be found. Sin had infected Jacob’s family for the past 10 years and it has led to awful consequences (Incest, rape, murder).

Nothing ever positive happens when people get away from God. Renewal starts when people have had enough of their old life and habits and desire a fresh encounter with God. Is there anything in your life this morning that is taking top priority over the Lord Jesus? A person? A pleasure? A priority? Renewal comes when God has first place in your life once more! In one of her books Elizabeth Elliot makes the point that the process of Christian growth is one in which God breaks the idols of our life one by one by one. Oh, how painful it is because by definition, we love our idols. We protect them because they give us strength and hope and meaning. God is greater than any idol!

Renewal began in Jacob and he began to talk to his family about the Lord. If it’s really revival, you can’t keep it to yourself, but you are compelled by the love of Christ to pass it on to those around you. * Billy Graham met with John F. Kennedy, before he was president and asked the evangelist if he believed in the second coming of Jesus. When Graham said he did, Kennedy asked him to tell him about it. Billy Graham told him about why Jesus came the first time and what the Bible said about His coming the second time. Kennedy listened with such attention, and as they pulled up to the house he said, ëDoes my church teach that?’ He said, ëWell, they believe it in their creeds and in their confessions but they don’t talk about it anymore.’”

Some time later, Graham attended a prayer breakfast with President Kennedy, and afterward as they were waiting for their cars, Kennedy asked Graham if the two could have a talk. Graham had the flu and needed to decline the president’s request and talk another time. The President with obvious disappointment said, ëYeah, yeah, that’d be OK, Billy.’ Just a few weeks later Billy read and heard of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He says this was an irrecoverable moment. How he wishes that he had talked to him that day because he will always remember that look in his face, that he wanted to talk about spiritual things.” Parents, are you talking to your kids about spiritual things? Or do you put it off for “better timing.” It’s never too late to do what is right!

Also, this renewal in Jacob’s life comes about in his older years. Some of you feel the best years of your life in Christ are over - you believe God is through with you in your elderly years and that’s just not scriptural. The best is yet to come for those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.

You can make it your aim to grow old gracefully in the Lord. Like Jacob, retrace and remember the ways God had has been so good to you. James M. Boice says the secret to growing old gracefully is to look back and remember the goodness of the Lord in your life! That’s what Jacob is doing as he calls his family to put the old sins in the past and press on in the Lord.

You can just see Jacob reviewing all the Lord has done for him. In Genesis 32:10 he says, “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies.” What is he doing? Remembering to remember! Now in Chapter 35 he recalls the goodness of God once more, “Let us arise and go the Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.”

Jacob knows what He needs to do! He knows the road to renewal can only come when God has first place in his life. The road to renewal begins when you get your focus back on God! When you think less of what’s gone wrong in your life and focus on what’s gone right! Instead of worrying about who’s done you wrong, think of all the things that people have done right for you! Be the kind of person who looks upward and recounts the blessings of God, instead of being one who turns inward and is full of defeat!

IV. People Notice Renewal

People take notice when renewal is taking place!

“And they journeyed, and the terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.” Gen. 35:15

When Jacob made the decision to get right with God, to turn away from disobedience and move forward in faith, God divinely protected them as their family traveled to Bethel. The surrounding cities wanted to take vengeance on Jacob’s sons (Simeon and Levi) for all the trouble they had caused in the town of Shechem, but the terror of God came upon the cities and stopped them from attacking.

Alpine Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. Steven Trammell experienced great renewal in the late 90’s. The church had been stagnant for years but Pastor Stephen encouraged the church to get outside the four walls and start sharing their faith with their lost friends and family. The power of the Holy Spirit led Christians to renew their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and to get right with one another. In the small community of Alexandria, LA people could see what God was doing at our church and they wanted to be a part of it.

Jacob could have let fear of others stop him from renewal, but he didn’t. Never allow what fear of others might think stop you from turning to God.

V. Renewal Points Us Back To God

Renewal always points us back to God and away from ourselves.

Renewal is not about us, it’s about God and His faithful work of drawing us back to Himself, back to the heart of worship. Notice Gen. 35:7, “And he built an altar there and called the place El Bethel (God of the House of God), because there God appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother.”

Some of you this morning are in deep need of personal renewal in your life. What is God asking you to do this morning? What sin do you need to lay down in order to see God again in your life? Do you simply need to recall how faithful God has been to you all throughout your life?

This morning, I want to offer Jesus Christ to you. If there has never been a Bethel in your life, a time where you really committed your heart and life to Jesus, don’t delay in coming to Him - do it NOW! Today is the day of salvation. Also, I want to encourage every Christian to come and get right with God at this altar. To kneel and confess your sins to the Lord and to ask Him to remind you of Bethel and to flame your cold heart for His presence and power once more.