Because of the challenges and troubles that we face every day, we all want to experience a time of refreshing. We often resort to all kinds of recreational activities, but these give no relief. If ever, these can only give temporary pleasures. What then is the key to having lasting times of refreshing? In one of his preachings, the apostle Peter said, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). The first step to having a time of refreshing is repentance. We are burdened because of our sins and, for as long as sin reigns in our mortal body, we will have no rest.
Repentance is being sorrowful for sins and results in a change of heart, mind and will. This sorrow is what the apostle Paul referred to as godly when he said, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Cor. 7:10). Any sorrow that does not cause us to turn to God and surrender our hearts, minds and will is worldly and brings forth death. The fact is that many feel sorry for their sins but they are not repentant. They are merely sorrowful because they could have been put to shame or are suffering the consequence of such sins. They have no intention of turning to God. True repentance causes us to not only acknowledge our sins, but to also feel sorry that we have offended God.
Repentance is an apt message in our generation, just as it was during the time of the Lord Jesus Christ here on earth. It must be recalled that both John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus started their ministries preaching the same message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). Unless there is genuine repentance, a time of refreshing will not come. In fact, the reason why Jesus preached repentance was because repentance was necessary for a man to be born again. Earlier, Peter also said to the people, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
When we repent of our sins, they are wiped out and forgotten. The Lord himself said, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isa. 43:25). This truth gives us so much freedom that we can restart our lives without feeling guilty for our past sins. This is the reason why the apostle Paul encouraged the believers saying, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:1).
King David modelled true repentance when he prayed, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:1-4). David committed the very serious and complex sins of adultery and murder yet he was forgiven because his sorrow led to repentance that brought salvation. He took full responsibility for his wicked actions and was sorry that he offended God. His pleading for grace and mercy was heartfelt and he was forgiven.
When we are burdened, the best thing to do is to respond to the invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). Only Jesus can give us true times of refreshing. He not only refreshes our soul but our body as well. In Psalm 23, King David gave a good imagery on how Jesus, our Good Shepherd, leads us into a green pasture and beside quiet waters. A time of refreshing comes when we are not only released from our physical burden but the burden of our soul. Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour is the key to a time of refreshing. Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:37-38). Let us receive this offer and experience times of refreshing. Glory to God!