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Spiritual Renewal Themes in Revelation

Spiritual Renewal Themes in Revelation

Revelation is one of the more complex books in the Bible but at the same time, we see principles for Spiritual Renewal and we also see the restoration of the creation during the Millennial Kingdom

God Rules Over All
God is sovereign. He is greater than any other power in the universe. Nothing and no one can compare to him. When we look at the turmoil in the world today, the problems we face, the pain we have suffered or the pain we have caused others, we may wonder whether God will really be able to right all the wrongs. But John wrote this book to assure us that though evil may seem to win today’s battles, God is all-powerful and will assert himself for his people. In the end, all things will be made new in Christ.

God Is the Source of Hope
The book of Revelation reveals to us the ultimate source of hope—Jesus Christ. He is coming again and will deal with the problems of our sin-scarred world, restoring what is broken and dealing with the injustices around us. Life is never hopeless, regardless of what has happened to us or what we have done. We can focus on God’s love, grace and forgiveness. He has made our restoration possible in Christ, and Christ will return to complete his task of renewal throughout all creation. If we are looking to Christ, we can hang on to our hope despite the difficult circumstances that we may face.

The Pain of Consequences
Every one of us cries out for justice. When evil and injustice prosper, we begin to feel angry. It often appears that people get away with their selfish and wicked deeds. But in reality God will judge all wicked actions. Those who openly defy him will ultimately face the awful consequences of their sin. Those who turn to God in repentance for forgiveness need not fear the future day of judgment. Judgment is an awful thing, and the pain of sin’s consequences should motivate us to turn our lives over to God and obediently follow his plan.

Excerpted from the NIV Spiritual Renewal Study Bible c.2005 by Zondervan

Renewing Your Mind Lesson Notes

Renewing Your Mind Lesson Notes

Opening Remarks:

This past week we observed World Mental Health Day and that, along with the recent suicide of someone that I know. Prompted me to consider what, if anything, the Bible might have to say about the mind and mental health, which led me to the Apostle Paul’s counsel to the Church at Rome

Romans 12:1-2 (CSB) 

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.[ 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Paul counsels the Christians at Rome to renew their minds as opposed to being conformed to the pattern of the world. Let us consider: 

12:1 bodies. Not just the physical body but the whole person, with a view to our engaging the world around us living our day to day lives. God’s grace in Christ has made Christians spiritually alive (6:13). true and proper worship. The worship appropriate for thinking creatures who recognize all that God has done for them. This worship is not confined to the Sunday morning worship service; it embraces the whole of life.

12:2 this age. This present evil “age” (Greek aiōn; see Luke 16:8; 1 Cor 2:6,8; 3:18; Gal 1:4; Eph 2:2; 1 Tim 6:17; 2 Tim 4:10) has its own pattern of thinking and living that redeemed believers must avoid. renewing of your mind. The work of God’s Spirit within must reprogram the “depraved mind” (1:28) that characterizes this world (see Eph 4:23).

7 Precepts for Spiritual Renewal (Adapted from New Life)

Seek God and Surrender to Him (Matthew 6:33, 1 Peter 5:6)

We have a tendency to follow in the footsteps of our father Adam and to hide from God when we have sinned or when we think that He is angry with us, such as in times of testing. Yet we are advised by the Apostles Matthew and Peter that we should seek, firstly, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

In a sense, this is a type of repentance, which is a turning toward Christ and away from our sin. Of course, this seeking of God’s Kingdom and righteousness is the first step toward a healing and wholeness of mind.

See the truth (Psalm 139:1)

What is the truth that we need to see? That God knows everything about us; He searches our innermost thoughts (Jeremiah 17:10) and, as the Lord spoke to Jeremiah, knew us before we were formed in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Every trouble we face, every time there is a trial, God knew about it and was not surprised by it.

We can echo the words of the Psalmist when he said, “even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for You are with me.”

Speak the truth (James 5:16)

Many times, but not every time, the darkness we feel can come from sin that has not been dealt with, as indicated by James. There are times when we seem to be in darkness and it is caused by a physical illness or perhaps even as a side effect of medication, This is quite normal and if you think this is the case for you, I would encourage you to see your doctor. Perhaps some changes in your care plan which need to be made.

However, if it is not the case that there is a physical illness, then we must speak the truth that it is a spiritual issue and then call upon the elders of the church to assist us through the resolution of the issue.

Accept responsibility (Galatians 6:5)

In those instances where our troubles are caused by our own sin, we must own up to it. In the well-known 12-Steps, the first step is to admit that we have lost control of our lives and that the addiction has taken over, a prime example of accepting responsibility for our sins.

Grieve, forgive, let go (Matthew 6:14)

       It is natural to give those sins which we have committed or have been committed against us. However, in order to avoid allowing that grief to destroy us, we must lay that grief at the foot of the cross and allow the forgiveness of Christ to flow through us.

 Transform your life (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

       God’s comfort flows through us and as it does so it transforms us. No longer are we held captive to our troubles and sorrows. Instead we become instruments of God’s grace unto others as He has given us His grace both directly and through others.

Preserve your spiritual gains (1 Peter 1:8)

It is always a wise idea to keep a record of the Lord’s goodness to us during our faith-walk. It is a good idea to journal- I, personally, like to use a wide margin Bible although many keep a separate notebook.

CSB Restoration Bible

CSB Restoration Bible

 

This review is going to be a little different from my other reviews. Instead of simply commenting on the book and its features, which I will do, I am also going to suggest some real life uses for the book, the CSB Restoration Study Bible. (Note: Holman Bible Publishers provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I am not required to give positive feedback and my opinions are my own.) It is available in paperback, brown leathersoft (I am reviewing this edition) and an e-book.

As is our habit, let us begin with some features from the publisher:

Features Include:

  • Over 450 guided, devotional-style notes with Restoration-centered themes
  • Seven Life Restoration Principles
  • A “First 30-days” Restoration devotional
  • Book introductions highlighting “Restoration Themes” in each book
  • 66 restoration profiles of biblical characters
  • 10 full page features filled with scriptures highlighting biblical themes related to restoration
  • Index of all features for quick and easy reference
  • One and three year Bible reading plans
  • 52-week Scripture memory plan
  • Topical concordance
  • Two-column text
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Presentation page
  • Full-color maps

Translation:

The Restoration Bible is offered in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation. CSB is what is called a mediating or optimal equivalence translation meaning it endeavors to be as literal as possible while still capturing the original meaning as would be understood by the original reader. I have remarked before that if you could merge the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version into a single volume, this is what you would get.

CSB offers a host of translator’s footnotes; it continues the tradition of its predecessor, HCSB, of being one of the most well annotated versions of the Bible available. Because of this, CSB works very well for lesson preparation whether that is the Sunday Sermon, a small group study, or one on one discipleship. The CSB is very trustworthy and it is a translation which I reference weekly in my lesson prep.

Cover and Binding

This is brown leathersoft, an imitation leather, and I have to tell you, if the box did not tell me that it was imitation, I would swear this were a calfskin Bible; the imitation is that convincing. It includes a sewn binding for lifelong usage. Holman categorizes this as a deluxe Bible, meaning it has more premium materials than a hardcover or paperback Bible but it does not rise to the level of a premium (genuine leather, calfskin, or goatskin). The binding is quite satisfactory. I have tossed it into my back a few times with no issue. It will easily last for your entire ministry career.

Paper, Font, and Layout:

The paper is soft white, a little thin but still sufficiently opaque, and very soft and smooth to the touch. It feels a little like cotton but is very clearly still Bible paper. You should be able to mark in the text with a ball-point pen or a colored pencil. As a general rule, I do not recommend a liquid highlighter in a Bible as the paper is sufficiently thin to allow the liquid to bleed.

The font is a crisp black and I would estimate at approximately 9-point font. I actually find this text block to be easier to read than the large print ultrathin reference Bible which has a very similar font. The Restoration Bible is a black letter edition, meaning that they do not place the words of Christ in red. Red letter editions a just fine to use but since I always write my notes in red pen, they can be challenging so black letter is a better choice for studying and preaching.

Speaking of study and preaching, the text is laid out in a double column paragraphed format as opposed to a verse by verse format; each paragraph starts on a new line. Verse by verse is my preference but there are practical issues which frequently pose challenges.

Lastly, there is are two ribbon markers to help you remember your place, one for the Old Testament and one for the New.

For the remainder of this review, I will be commenting on the content and ways to use it.

 The Restoration Bible is clearly designed to be used with others, especially in Biblical Counseling, and I recommend that both the counselor and counselee have their own copy of this Restoration Bible for use together.

The Restoration Principles

In the front materials (what precedes the Biblical text), we find an article outlining the Restoration Principles. It is a 2-page article listing each principle, using the acronym R.E.S.T.O.R.E., offering a brief explanation, and then the primary Scripture from which the principle is drawn.

Restoration Devotional

A 30-day devotional is offered to give us an overview of the Restoration Principles and to show us how they are drawn from the Scripture to develop a Christlike mindset. There are several ways this could be used and I will suggest two: 1st the devotional can be used consecutively and, in a counseling/discipleship session, 7 days could be treated. As an alternate, this could be used as a 30 week overview so that the disciple and mentor can cover each devotion in one week. In either case, the Restoration Devotional offers a very solid foundation to develop Christ exalting thoughts and habits

In-text articles

Every book of the Bible contains in-text articles, in a green box, treating various restoration principles found in the text. In studying a particular book, systematically, you could deal with each article as they come up. Alternately, you have the option to study directly through each restoration principle.

Book Introductions

Each book of the Bible includes a 3-page introduction. Page one provides an overview of Spiritual Reformation in that particular book. Page two offers the usual information on author, setting, intended audience , outline, etc. Page three is really unique- it is a RESTORE Chart listing each principle and the appropriate passages from the book to guide you in your study of the Restoration Principles.

Topical Index

Instead of a Concordance, we are given a Topical Index. A Topical Index is more appropriate for this Bible as it specifically treats subjects (i.e. addictions, sins, spiritual wounds) and guides through the specific Scriptures related to that subject. While I recommend book by book teaching, this Bible is geared toward discipleship and counseling and as such, a topical study will probably be more practical as it enables teaching to be tailored  to the needs of each disciple.

The Reading Plans

There are 3 plans: a three year plan for more in-depth reading, a one year plan to get every word of the Bible in a “normal” reading plan, and thirdly, a 52 week reading plan geared toward committing Scripture to memory. The last plan is, to me, the most important; the only way to experience true restoration from sin is to overcome it with the Scripture which we have committed to memory.

Final Thoughts

The existence of the Restoration Bible is a great comfort to me. As a pastor, I encounter the hurting on a daily basis and this is one of a select few tools which I turn to every time I minister. Again, I recommend that both teacher and disciple have a copy, together, so that they can follow the Scripture simultaneously.

I am grateful to New Life, who designed this Bible, and to Holman, who published it. The only true pathway to healing, hope, and joy in Christ is through the means He offered to us, the Bible, and this Bible, especially, focuses on caring for Christ’s wounded lambs and restoring them to relationship with the Loving Shepherd.

 

To my pastoral brethren, I am going to go a step further than a simple recommendation and say that you NEED the Restoration Bible. The demands on our time are many and intense and we can turn to this tool to refresh ourselves and to help those entrusted to our care be restored to fellowship with our glorious Lord. Please, find yourself a copy and use it regularly.

 

Precepts for Spiritual Renewal

Precepts for Spiritual Renewal

On a daily basis, I deal with people who are carrying wounds, some emotional and some phyicial and I deal with others who simply feel like their faith has gone dry/stale/stagnant. One of the most helpful tools that I have come across, as a pastor, is the NIV Spiritual Renewal Bible from New Life Ministries, which offers 7 Precepts for Spiritual Renewal. I would like to share those precepts with you, today, and we will expand upon them as we go.

 

7 Precepts for Spiritual Renewal

  1. Seek God and Surrender to Him (1 Peter 5:6)
  2. See the truth (Psalm 139:1)
  3. Speak the truth (James 5:16
  4. Accept responsibility (Galatians 6:5)
  5. Grieve, forgive, let go (Matthew 6:14)
  6. Transform your life (2 Corinthains 1:3-4)
  7. Preserve your spiritual gains (1 Peter 1:8

 

No matter the wounds you carry nor how dry your faith may seem, these 7 Precepts will help you to refresh your soul and to restore your fellowship with God the Holy Spirit. Everything you could ever need to commune with the Lord is found in your Bible and there is no wound you carry which is too  severe for the Holy Spirit to heal. 

If you are struggling, today, I invite you to trun back to your Bible. There you will find the Holy Spirit waiteing to meet you as you pray over the Scriptures. He will show you HIs ways and restore you to fellowship with Hum. 

Until next time, Grace to you.