Renewal 1: Renewing the Person

Due to the inclement weather, we are canceling our 8:45 and 10:00 a.m. services. We’ll have one service at 11:15 a.m. Childcare for infants and toddlers will be available. All other Sunday School classes are canceled. 

If you cannot make it to Forest Avenue, we invite you to participate in worship this morning by streaming our 11:15 a.m. service, and following along with our worship guide

For Meditation

The beginning of a new year is a time when lots of people think about things they want to change in their personal lives. We all have habits, character flaws, and negative patterns in our lives that we wish were different, and the calendar transition seems like a good time to address them. But somehow we always end back in the same place again. Why? Because most of the change we seek to implement in our lives is through external management rather than internal transformation. The kind of change that comes through external management is temporary and ultimately cannot bring about the kind of true transformation we seek.

This passage in Titus is all about a different vision of personal change. Paul speaks of the “washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” that God produces in us by grace (Titus 3:5). The Greek word he uses for “renewal” here is the word palingenesia, the same word Jesus uses when he talks about the ultimate cosmic end-time renewal of all things (Matthew 19:28). Paul now says that the future palingenesia in which the whole cosmos will be restored can begin in us now through the power of the Holy Spirit. Like the first bud of spring that will later become countless forests of trees and fields of flowers in full bloom, the Spirit now can begin in each of us the new life that will one day renew the whole earth.

This is a fundamentally different kind of change. It is change from the “inside-out” rather than the “outside-in.” It is change that God does in us when we receive his grace through Jesus and cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. It is persistent, powerful, permanent change that only God can produce. It is change so significant that the Bible uses words like “born again” and “new creation” to describe it (John 3:3 , 2 Cor. 5:7)

As we begin a new year, we’ll consider our church’s vision to see individuals made new and renewed through the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Our finalized weekly worship guide (bulletin) can be downloaded here. 

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Titus 3:3-8

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 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, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.