Last week we began our series entitled Renovation looking at the need for our lives, much like the space that we’ll soon be inhabiting, to be renovated. We need our minds, our wills/heart, our bodies and our world to be renovated to look more and more like Jesus each and every day. Just like our space is becoming more and more what it will one day be, our lives when they are renovated under the power of the Holy Spirit, are becoming more and more like Jesus intends us to look like. Also just like our space isn’t renovated in one quick fell swoop and isn’t instantaneous, our lives won’t be renovated in one quick fell swoop and won’t be instantaneous. The renovation of our lives to look more and more like Jesus will take time, energy, work, perseverance, and trust. And it will probably take more time than we can even imagine, just like the renovation of our space. In fact, the renovation of our life will take all of our life and the renovation won’t be done until our journey on earth is over.
So last week we talked about renovating our mind so that we have the mind of Christ. We talked about how we renew our minds so that we can be transformed and renovated. We talked about what types of things we can do individually and corporately to obtain the mind of Christ and renovate our minds.
Today we are talking about some more substantial work of renovation. That of renovating our will and our hearts. Because I believe it is true, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” I believe what resides in our hearts (things like love, grace, mercy, compassion but also hate, anger, judgment, lust, etc..) will be manifested in our external lives. So we need Jesus to renovate our will and our hearts so that the Kingdom of God values will be lived in us and through us.
To look at the renovation work that needs to be done in our heart and will we’ll be looking at Romans 14:17-18 in the Message version of the Scriptures put out by Eugene Peterson. We’ll talk about the Kingdom of God, what it looks like when our will and heart are renovated, and what being single-minded has to do with renovation.
Romans 14:17-18 says, “God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.”
So in this context, in Romans 14 the Apostle Paul, the writer of this book, is talking about the cultivating of relationships. Talking about followers of Jesus having differing opinions about things like holy days, and eating meat and also the importance of loving each other in the midst of differing opinions and thoughts. And then we come to the line “God’s Kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake.” Paul is getting at the importance of the Kingdom of God. In fact, the Kingdom of God is so important that Jesus spoke more about life in the Kingdom of God than any other thing. The gospels record Jesus talking about the Kingdom (of God, of heaven, etc..) more than 100 times. Jesus speaks more about the Kingdom than about money, pride, heaven, hell, etc… So there must be something substantial about the importance of the Kingdom of God if Jesus talks about this more than any other thing. If we want to talk renovation of the will and heart than we need to place that work within the Kingdom of God. And that ultimately the work of renovation of the heart and will, will ultimately leak out of us, into others lives, and into the world, and will help move the Kingdom of God forward. In other words, the work of renovating your life, your will, and your heart, isn’t just for yourself. In fact, it is so that you’ll be a blessing to the world, and partner with what God wants to do in the world, and for the Kingdom of God.
So my question to you now is, what does it look like when your heart and will are renovated? How can you tell when your heart and will have been renovated? How can you tell when the heart and will of others are in the process of being renovated? I believe the next part of this text has something to say about these questions. “It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy.” There are a few things that stand out in this part of the text when it comes to the work of renovating our heart and will that I want to spend a few minutes focusing on. The first thing that we need to realize and know regarding this renovation work of our heart and will is that the renovation comes from God. It is what he does, and not what we do. Scripture says in 1st Corinthians 1:30, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” Jesus Christ is the ultimate renovator. We are righteous, holy, redeemed, set right, etc… because of the renovation that Jesus has done to us through his life, death, and resurrection. To believe that we are the ones that can renovate our lives, that we have the power to set ourselves right, is about as ridiculous as believing that I could do all the renovation to the new space by myself. That I could do the electric without getting fried. That I could lay all the flooring by myself. All the painting by myself. All the plumbing, etc… I can’t do that all by myself I need others to do what they can do (plumbing, electric, etc..).
And so what happens when we realize that we can’t renovate ourselves? When we realize that only through Jesus can we be renovated? What happens when we stop trying to renovate our lives and open ourselves up to the renovation that only God can bring? The next part of the verse tells us that, “he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy”. When we give our lives, our hearts and wills, over to Jesus, he begins the work of renovating. And he begins to set our lives right. He begins to put it together, and at the end of it all he completes us with joy. Not unlike what is happening with our space. It is being renovated. It can’t renovate itself. And it is being set right, into what it will be. It is being put together. And we’ll have joy when it is completed. But what is awesome about the work of renovation that is being done by Jesus, isn’t just on our lives and our hearts and will, it is awesome happening to everything (the creation itself is being renovated). By Jesus life, death and resurrection everything is being set right, put together, and will be completed with joy when Jesus comes back. Look at Colossians 1:20, “and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
But what does all this have to do with the heart and will? I believe to desire to live out the Kingdom, have our hearts and wills renovated, we need to be about what the Apostle Paul speaks about next in verse 18, “Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.” Jesus also speaks about how to renovate our heart and will when he responds to Satan during this temptation in Matthew 4:10, “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.” Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul are saying the same thing. That if we want to follow Jesus, we need to have that as our one overriding purpose or goal in life. To Single-mindedly or single-heartedly serve Jesus means that there is only one life being lived here- God’s. God’s life is freely coming forth from your heart and will when you single heartedly and single-mindedly live for him. When your heart and will are firmly set on following him and him only. When you seek to live solely for him, your heart and will are changed, and it leaks out into your life, as well as the people around you. And the more your heart and will are renovated, the more you’ll want to single heartedly and single-mindedly live for Jesus, and the cycle continues.
So my questions to all of us this morning are these: Where are we in the process of having our heart and will renovated? Are we single heartedly following Jesus? Is that our overriding purpose and concern in our life or are we double-minded, and double-hearted? And how do we have our hearts and wills renovated so that we are single heartedly following Jesus? We’ll spend some time talking about these questions.
And during our musical worship time following our discussion, we’ll have a few of us available to pray and anoint you with oil. If you feel that you need prayer and anointing to help you with the renovation of your heart and will so that you singleheartedly follow Jesus, come up to one of us, we’ll pray for you and anoint you.
1. What thoughts, comments, insights, questions, etc.. do you have regarding the passage and the message? 2. What has God set right, put together, and completed with joy when it comes to the renovation of the heart and will? 3. What area does God need to set right, put together, and complete with joy when it comes to the renovation of the heart and will? 4. What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? What is God saying to us and what should we do about it?