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 (Manna 52: Spiritual Renewal)
Returning to God - the Essential Step to Spiritual Renewal
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Returning to God—the Essential Step to Spiritual Renewal

Lawrence Q. Wong—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

            As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. (Ps 42:1)

These words of David reveal a growing void weighing upon his heart. There was a void left in his soul because he felt distanced from God. David knew that he would not be complete again until he was once again nestled within the presence of God.

Reading through Psalm 42, we discover that the key to spiritual renewal is God Himself; specifically, a return to Him. This is a process requiring our active pursuit. The onus is on us to initiate the process.


            Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jer 6:16)

God reminds the people, through Jeremiah, that they are walking upon a path that is far from His will, and as a result their souls are weary. To find rest for their souls, they have to return to God. Pursuing a thorough understanding of the Scriptures is the beginning of the trajectory back to God.

Often, after we have spent a considerable amount of time at spiritual convocations, we find our souls calmed down. Regular prayers and Bible reading also bring the same soothing feeling to our souls. These are times when we taste the beauty of seeking after the kingdom and righteousness of God first, before anything else (Mt 6:33). These are times when we actually return and rest in God.

The Israelites had forgotten their God and all that He had done for them. Judah and Jerusalem were ignorant about the Word of God and instead loved the world. God sent them counsel in the hope of correction, but it was all in vain. God reminded them through the prophet Jeremiah that if they walked upon the path where the good way was, they would be at peace and their souls would find rest.

Therefore, “let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD” (Lam 3:40).


The attitudes and intentions of a person are apparent through the kind of life he or she leads. That is why we have to soberly consider the direction we are heading and to test and examine our ways.

We all have the freedom to do whatever we want and to live the life that we want to live (1 Cor 10:23). But not everything that we could possibly do is beneficial and according to the will of God. Every so often, we may have veered off the course that God wants us to be on. The more time that we spend on that course, the further away we will be from God. Moreover, the more time that we spend away from God, the less our life will be lived for Him and doing the things that bring Him glory.

The life of Solomon is a good tool for reference when checking in on ourselves. In his lifetime, Solomon sought and received everything he possibly could, except one thing—God. We need to constantly search and examine our way and consider his words of reminder (Eccl 2:11; 12:13). The bottom line is, there is only one thing that truly matters, which is whether we have lived our life for God. Every other accomplishment or desire pales in comparison.

By what standards should we use to check on ourselves? One key criterion is to be in the Lord (Col 3:17). If the path we choose is in the Lord, then the things that we do and the things that we seek will be exclusively for God. If we realize that we have squandered opportunities by diverging from the will of God for our own desires, we need to turn around and go back to the Lord (Lk 15:13, 17).


As we advance through life, many situations remind us just how weak we really are. And while we are in this world, we cannot remain righteous and holy without constantly renewing ourselves towards God (Hos 6:3). At times, it may get to the point that we are on the verge of forsaking our faith and God by giving in to temptations and weakness.

The Holy Spirit, which is given by God, is stronger than any weakness or temptation. It will never leave us hanging and it will always be before us, but we must continually abide in it (Jn 15:4). This is, however, a reciprocal relationship—the Holy Spirit will always help us, but we must do our part too.

When we consider Jesus Christ, He prayed constantly: in the early mornings, and late into the nights (Mk 1:35; Lk 6:12). That process allowed the Holy Spirit to continually embolden Him with the power of God, and the glory of God was manifested every time He taught the people or when the sick came to Him.

The Holy Spirit gets us through all adversities, no matter how tough or hopeless they may be. All things are possible through God and He is able to offer guidance in any situation (Mk 10:27).

The Holy Spirit is like a fire whose power cannot be understood until it is fanned and grows into a mighty flame. Its light can then be seen and its power felt. We can then have the strength and the boldness to stand up for our faith (Acts 1:8). Spiritual renewal occurs each time we put God first in our lives and when we are able to fight the temptations before us with righteous acts.

As a new creation, we must develop into a person who is able to be an ambassador for God at all times. As long as we live in the world and within the domain of Satan’s influence, we will feel the effects of his work and we have to stand firm with faith. We have been chosen by God to represent and uphold His Word in this world. And with this Word comes the power and strength needed to break the bonds that keep us from salvation.

When the dust settles, the only significant question is whether we have endured and rekindled our spirits toward the almighty God.

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Author: Lawrence Q. Wong