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Summary: There are two possible directions that renewal may take. Renewal can go in the direction of preservation, which is restoration. It is an attempt to restore to the original and maintain the past. We restore old cars, furniture, houses, and many other items

(This series was used during a capital funds campaign to raise money for repairs and renewal of the facilities.)

Jeff Armbrester

Renewal for Growth

There are two possible directions that renewal may take. Renewal can go in the direction of preservation, which is restoration. It is an attempt to restore to the original and maintain the past. We restore old cars, furniture, houses, and many other items. Or, renewal may go in the direction of growth, which involves adapting and updating. In a word, this renewal means change.

Seeing the Need for Renewal

Matthew 3: 1-10

(Part 1 of 4)

Before renewal can take place, we must see the need for renewal. We must closely examine the cracks and worn places in our lives.

We see the need for renewal of our church facilities. The heating air conditioning systems were worn out and they have been replaced. The ceiling tiles in the narthex and hall were falling down and they have been replaced. The paint is stained with age. The carpet is worn. The roof over the education wing leaks. The shrubbery needs attention.

We look around and see that we need to renew our building. But we’ve decided not just to restore it. We want to improve the building. We have grown beyond the capacity of the building for Sunday School. There are no more rooms available. We need an elevator to assist many who can no longer safely negotiate the stairs. We are almost filled to capacity on Wednesday evenings. We are renewing the building with future growth in mind. These facilities will continue to be a place that conveys beauty, warmth, excitement, and most of all the love of God.

While we’re renewing the building, let’s take a close look at our lives. I’m sure if we look close enough; we’ll see a need for renewal there as well. Let’s take an honest look at ourselves. Many of us may have to stare long into a mirror before we begin to see the real person standing there. Look deep into the eyes. What do you see? Listen carefully to the voice. What do you hear? Look deep within the heart. What do you feel? If we only glance into the mirror, we will not see a need for renewal.

Many times we don’t see the sin within ourselves. After all, we hate sin, don’t we? Or do we?

Several residents in a neighborhood were extremely upset at the reckless and fast driving in their quiet subdivision.

They organized a petition drive and demanded that the police patrol the area with greater frequency and penalize drivers who ignored the speed limits.

The police obliged and immediately ticketed five drivers who ignored the speed limits. All of them were fuming at the fines they received.

It seems, however, that all five who were ticketed had signed the petition calling for enforcement.

We hate sin, don’t we?

At least other people’s sin!

Dr. David Jeremiah

Those five people needed someone else to show the sin in their lives. We are no different. Often we need someone else to point out the ways our lives don’t match our profession. In the scripture reading today we have someone whose message causes us to see our need for renewal.

1In those days John the Baptist began preaching in the Judean wilderness. His message was, 2"Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near." 3Isaiah had spoken of John when he said,

"He is a voice shouting in the wilderness:

’Prepare a pathway for the Lord’s coming!

Make a straight road for him!’"

4John’s clothes were woven from camel hair, and he wore a leather belt; his food was locusts and wild honey. 5People from Jerusalem and from every section of Judea and from all over the Jordan Valley went out to the wilderness to hear him preach. 6And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

7But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to be baptized, he denounced them. "You brood of snakes!" he exclaimed. "Who warned you to flee God’s coming judgment? 8Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God. 9Don’t just say, ’We’re safe--we’re the descendants of Abraham.’ That proves nothing. God can change these stones here into children of Abraham. 10Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever your roots. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.

(New Living Translation)

John the Baptist played a two-part role. He not only announced the coming of the Messiah, he reminded the people of their need for a Savior. John’s message was clear and simple, "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near." (3:2) There had been no prophet in Israel for about 400 years. The people had not forgotten about sin, but the hope of a Messiah was getting thin. In fact, the prominent thought of a Messiah was one who would be a military king like David. Most people didn’t see a need for a spiritual Savior. They didn’t see the need for renewal. John helped them to see that their lives weren’t matching their profession.

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