I recently received a letter from one of my former college roommates. Because my experiences and associates during my years at Lipscomb University were so vital to the formative years of my spiritual growth, I was eager to discover what had transpired in his life recently. The blessing of marriage. Several productive and rewarding years serving the Lord and ministering to people. The excitement of preparing to enter a new ministry and career. The exuberant joy of being a new father.
His written words took on a life of their own. So much so I could readily sense his energy and animation. I could feel his faith, conviction, joy and humility in all that God has blessed him with, what he has been enabled to do and his hope for the future. I couldn’t help but to praise and thank God for what He had accomplished in his life.
My friend’s confidence in God, his forthright personality and his godly representation of Jesus were attributes that endeared me to him and contributed to the strengthening and solidifying of my young faith. It was an infusion of fresh air into the stale, lifeless Christianity I had experienced up until then. And of all the Christians I met before, during and since that time, he is still one of the ones whom I most admire and respect. Years ago he told me to always remember his favorite Scripture. . .
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.”
– II Corinthians 4:16 (English Standard Version)
Then (and now) my brother in Christ refreshed my heart in Christ. The intensity and frequency in which the apostle Paul speaks about this spiritual act of service and ministry (encouragement) is clear throughout his letters (Romans 15:30 – 32, I Corinthians 16:15 – 18; II Timothy 1:15 – 18; Philemon 4:7, 20).
We all know the profound effect that a gentle, cool, and refreshing breeze of air can have upon a weary mind or body. Physically and mentally, this natural occurrence can displace or relieve oppression, heaviness and staleness. It can reinvigorate us and give us a taste of serenity.
Yet our often-neglected souls and spirits need renewal and nourishment as well. That is why we have Christ (the Bread of Life – John 6:30-59; John 4:5-14), prayer, meditative Bible study and fellowship (together time) with those who share our faith and hope. In Acts 3:19, the apostle Peter uses the phrase “times of refreshing” which literally from the Greek language means “to cool again; to refresh” or “cooling, reviving with fresh air.”
Graciously God can send each of us “times of refreshing” (spiritual renewal, revival, restoration, salvation and endless blessings) from His very presence. But to receive only what He can provide we must obey His terms and conditions. Notice Acts 3:11 –21 in context.
After the miraculous healing of the beggar in the temple, Peter delivers his second gospel message recorded in this book. The special times of spiritual refreshment for these onlookers depended on their repentance, conversion and having their sins erased or forgiven. The same is true for you and I today. Notice the process…
Verse 19: We must repent; reconsider everything, consciously change our minds, heartily and sincerely feel guilt and hate for our past sins and strive for the better purposes God has for us.
Verse 19: We must be converted: turn back again morally to God.
Verse 19: God will forgive us our sins and send times of refreshing.
Verse 20: God will send Christ when He (God, the Father) restores everything as He promised through His holy prophets.
As we close, let us briefly consider the phrase, “in Christ”. If you are a Christian (as defined and prescribed in the New Testament) you are “in Christ”. Among other things…
- One is a new creature/creation in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17)
- Redemption/forgiveness of sins is in Christ (Romans 3:24; I Peter 1:18, 19)
- All spiritual blessings are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)
- Salvation is in Christ (II Timothy 2:10; Acts 4:10 – 12)
- Eternal life is in Christ (I John 5:11, 12)
It is clear the Bible teaches that one is either “in Christ” or out of Christ (Romans 16:7) and that there is a difference between the two. The word of God has much to say about the need for, the process of, and the results of spiritual renewal, encouragement and rest of the Lord. They begin with and can be summarized in one simple, yet powerful and life-changing, invitation from Jesus Himself:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
– Matthew 11:28 – 30 (English Standard Version)
So how does one “come unto Christ” and then “put on or get into Christ”? (Notice the different meanings of these two terms.) Faith, repentance, and confession bring one unto Christ (Acts 11:18, Romans 10:10; I Timothy 6:12, 13; Hebrews 11:6). Baptism is how one enters into Christ (Romans 6:1 – 4; Galatians 3:26). Being in Christ is the ultimate in spiritual refreshment. It is salvation and restoration. We must have a renewed mind to have renewed thoughts and then renewed actions (Romans 12:1, 2). Underneath all of life’s agitations, you can know the peace of God.
In parts 2 and 3, we will consider 5 instances where the apostle Paul talks about being refreshed in the Lord: being renewed in spirit, being encouraged, being strengthened. And in doing so, consider 5 ways we can encourage or refresh each other.
- Encouragement For Young People: Your Attitude Toward Becoming A Christian (rmhic.wordpress.com)