This morning I want to talk to you about renewal.  Today, everybody is fascinated with renewing and refurbishing all kinds of things.

Dozens of TV shows extol the virtues of renewing old houses and old automobiles.  If you watch shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars, you have seen people like Mike and Frank and Danielle and Rick and Big Hoss renew everything from old cars, and signs and gas pumps to old jukeboxes and pinball machines.

In my life, I have renewed or restored several old cars and trucks, including a 1947 Chevy Fleetline, a 1960 MGA, and a 1966 Ford F100.  Cost–not much. Today, restoring cars and trucks has become so expensive that I have to content myself by renewing old typewriters.  I have more than a dozen old typewriters in my collection, and several have new platens. I simply took the old ones out–which is not as difficult as it sounds and mailed them off to have new rubber put on them.

In Isaiah chapter 40 the prophet talks about the need for people to be renewed.  He says:

30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 31 but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

We human beings need various kinds of renewal.

Certainly, human beings need physical renewal.   Our bodies grow tired, and our bodies grow old. Some of us have nutritionists and personal trainers and gymnasiums for when we grow tired, and we have doctors, and nurses, and hospitals for when we grow old.  But the LORD God remains the one who “renews our strength” and “heals all our diseases.” (Psalm 103)

We human beings also need moral renewal. The Psalmist says, “None is righteous, no not one.  No one understands. No one seeks for God, all have turned aside, together we have gone wrong.” (Psalm 53/Romans 3) Thankfully, the Lord God is also the one who “forgives all our iniquities.”(Psalms 103) “Though our sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow,” says the prophet. (Isaiah 1:18)

We human beings need mental renewal.  When the world around us is breaking down and we seek new direction, we must seek the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In Romans 12:1-2 the apostle writes:

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (or, “spiritual worship”).  2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

We human beings also need social renewal.  There are three approaches to every situation. 1) My way, 2) Your way, and 3) God’s way.  We need to move past the first two to the third.  Of course, we are often left arguing which is God’s way.  Some say, “Scripture alone,” and they quote one or two verses and think that the matter is settled. But like Martin Luther, Count Zinzendorf, and John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, I believe scripture itself teaches four warrants of authority.  Wesley called the four “the quadrilateral of faith”: 1) Scripture, always primary, all of it.  It is not enough to shore up our own prejudices.  We always seek to answer two questions: “What did the original writers say to the original readers?” And, “What does God now say to us?”2) Tradition. Remember the Old Testament did not create Israel, Israel created the Old Testament, and the New Testament did not create the church, the church created the New Testament. 3) Reason, for the Bible teaches that God reveals himself not just in scripture, but also in the world of nature, for even “the heavens are telling the glory of God.” If your Bible is not big enough to incorporate the truth of science it is too small. 4) Experience, for the Bible, frequently ask us to listen to our own hearts.  That is why Jesus said that all the law and the prophets can be summed up in a single commandment, “Do unto others what you would have others do to you.”  (Matt. 7:12) This “Golden Rule,” which underlies all the law and the prophets, always “trumps” the individual laws.  Thus, one who loves his neighbor may have to ignore the fact that his hungry neighbor just stole some of his bread, because his neighbor needed it just to keep his family alive.

For Isaiah, the source of renewal is the LORD God who made the heavens and the earth.  Isaiah says that the LORD God stretched the heavens like a curtain and spread them like a tent. His power brings princes to naught and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.  Naught and nothing both equal ZERO. If we remember that when compared to God, the abilities of all human beings, whether individually or taken all together, equal ZERO, it is easy to see that one person, even you or me, plus God, is a majority in any situation.

30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 31 but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.



The Pastor





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