Points Covered: New Year Sermon. Refreshing in the Bible. How to receive refreshing from the Lord? What happens when refreshing comes?
We have come to the final moments of 2015. If you can look back and see where God has brought you from and what he has done, you cannot keep quiet but thank God. Let’s clap our hands and give thanks to the Lord for 2015. Give him a triumphant praise.
We are seeing this moment because God was in control this year. Yes, down to the smallest details of our life had been guided by God. Some of you may be sitting here with regrets but it is time to get over it and receive 2016 by faith.
You see, it is easy to step into the New Year with the experiences of the previous year, focused on what did not work out, on who hurt us, on the mistakes we made. But as long as you are living in regrets, focused on the failures of the past, it is going to keep you from the bright future God has in 2016.
You got to let go of what did not work out, let go the hurts and pains, let go of your disappointments and your failures, take valuable lessons of 2015 and move forward to 2016. You cannot do anything about 2015 but you can do something about 2016. You may have had an unfair past but let it not stop you from a successful 2016.
Every year that God gives to us is a gift and you have the responsibility to receive that gift and maximize it. There is a blessing in every season. There is a promise for every year and you got to receive it and maximize it in your life.
Theme for 2016 – Times of Refreshing!
Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
Refresh means revive, revitalize, restoring, freshening.
1. Meaning of Biblical refreshing.
The Biblical theme of refreshing has a variety of physical and spiritual meanings.
In Scripture we read of refreshment by resting on the Sabbath. Exodus 23:12 Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.
b. Cool drink.
With cool water after physical activity. Judges 15:18-19 18Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the Lord, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. When I was a small boy, I used to walk 3 km from school to my home. My school leaves at 3 pm and by then I would have exhausted my water. I had to take 40-minute walk to my house. Sometimes I would be very tired finding it difficult to keep even a step. I remember, there used to be a public tap somewhere in the middle of the route. I would wait to reach there. There in the shade of the tree I drink enough water, fill my bottle and then continued refreshed to my home. It was a place where my thirst was quenched, a place where my tiredness was replaced with refreshing.
Heavenly, godly music or worship can revive us. 1 Samuel 16:23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.
d. Holy Spirit.
In the NT we find refreshing given by the Holy Spirit.
Times of refreshing was promised by the prophets. Jeremiah 31:25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. I do not know if at the end of this year you are weary and faint. You have struggled enough. You have wandered enough, you have gone through some dry patches, you have been waiting enough, I know you have gone through a tough time, hold on times of refreshing is coming.” If you believe that should a Hallelujah!
Today I want to concentrate on the Holy Spirit refreshing. The book of Acts starts off with Jesus’ resurrection, appearance to his disciples, and ascension to heaven. All of a sudden they were left alone in the dark. They did not know what to do. Jesus asked them to stay in Jerusalem. In Acts 2, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and a new season of refreshing started in their lives. Peter preached and 3000 were saved in one message.
So when the refreshing of the Holy Spirit came, there was power, joy, and growth. God is setting you for his power, growth and joy in 2016. Then we find healing because of the refreshing.
In Acts 3, Peter and John saw a lame man begging at the gate of the temple. They healed him in the name of Jesus Christ. The healed man goes into the temple walking and leaping and praising God. The crowd is filled with wonder and amazement. So Peter seizes the opportunity to preach his second message. He told them about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. He accused them of putting Jesus to death. Then he said: Acts 3:19-20 19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.
In fact the times of refreshing has started when Jesus Christ came into this world. He was moved by the Holy Spirit. He brought refreshing to the ones who were with him. Now that Jesus has ascended to the Father, He has sent His Holy Spirit to send us the refreshing. This is exactly the refreshing Peter preached in: Acts 2:37-38 37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
You see, it is the Holy Spirit that brings refreshing. This refreshing is available for everyone who believe in Jesus. So this is the season of refreshing; however, it comes to people only who are prepared for the refreshing.
2. How to receive Refreshing?
As much as God is willing to give us refreshing and renewal, we have a responsibility. God expects us to position ourselves to receive the refreshing. Do not waste 2016, if you can position yourself refreshing is coming, rest is coming, mercy is coming, joy is coming, your breakthrough is right around the corner. So what do I do?
When there is genuine repentance refreshing will come. Turning away from sin brings times of refreshing. Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, and Apostle Paul preached repentance. To repent means more than to feel sorry for the bad things we’ve said or done. The idea of repentance includes remorse, but also involves turning away from that which is offensive to God. It involves more than just an emotional response. True repentance results in change.
This shows that repentance calls for action. When John the Baptist came preaching repentance, even the religious leaders were drawn to him and wanted to hear what he had to say. John didn’t please them, but told them to bear fruit that was worthy of repentance. In other words, be willing to change the way you live, and God will give you his Spirit that brings refreshing.
Maybe there is something that God has told you to do, but you haven’t obeyed him. There is a habit that you are struggling with, there is some pride and ego that you need to deal with. If we will obey the Lord, we will find times of refreshing in our lives.
People call sin a mistake. Sin is an infection that kills our soul, the only antibiotic for sin is the blood of Jesus Christ. Sin is awful and only Jesus could do something about it. Let’s repent and turn away from the sin we have allowed into our lives, and the times of refreshing will begin to flow into our lives like cool refreshing water.
Illustration: One little girl saved up her money for weeks and weeks. She wanted to buy a pretty little plastic pearl necklace she had seen down at the store. At last, she had enough money to buy the necklace. She was so excited! Her Daddy took her down to the store so she could purchase the necklace of her dreams. She brought it home and paraded around in it proudly. That night, when her Daddy came in to kiss her goodnight, he asked her, “Selena, can I have your necklace?” Little Selena looked at her Daddy with a frown and said, “No, Daddy. It’s my necklace.” Her Daddy just smiled and kissed her and said, “I love you, Sweetie. Good night.” The next night the same thing happened. Her Daddy asked her if he could have her necklace, and her response was the same: “No, Daddy. I saved and saved and bought this with my own money.” Daddy just kissed her and said, “I love you, Selena. Good night.” On the third night, when her Daddy came in, Selena was sobbing, with big alligator tears streaming down her face. She handed her necklace to him and said, “Daddy, you can have it. I don’t need it anymore.” Her Daddy smiled and knelt down beside her and pulled her close for a great big Daddy hug. Then, he took her necklace and slipped it into his pocket. As he did, his hand came out with a thin black box with a velvety cover. He opened it and held it out to her. Her eyes got as big as saucers as she saw a string of real pearls shining back at her. “Oh Daddy,” she said. “Thank you, thank you! If I had known, I would have given you my necklace the first time you asked.”
Are you willing to let go of what seems so important to you? If you will, I can assure you that God has something 1000 times more wonderful than what you would be giving up.
In addition to turning away from sin, we must also turn toward our heavenly Father.
b. Turn to God.
Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Turning to God Brings Times of Refreshing. God is telling not only to repent, but to do an absolute turnaround to God for times of refreshing.
Malachi 3:7 Return to me and I will return to you.
There are times that we may find ourselves walking far from God. If it has happened in our life, it is because we have moved, not because God has left us. If you ever find yourself feeling far from our Heavenly Father, remember, that God is there with open arms to receive you back.
Hosea 14:1-2 1Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! 2Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. So if you are feeling far from God right now; Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. For He loves you very much!
How can I run to God? How can I come back to my first love? How can I position myself for refreshing?
Come back to Godly fellowship. Romans 15:30-33 30I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.33The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
c. Helping others.
2 Timothy 1:16-18 16May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. 18May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.
d. Give to God.
1 Corinthians 16:15-18 15I urge you, brethren-you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints-16that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us. 17I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. 18For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.
Philemon 1:4-7 4I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 7Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
2 Corinthians 7:13 By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.
III. What happens when refreshing comes?
If we can look at what happened when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in Acts 2 we can get a picture of our lives when we are refreshed by God.
a. Power and witness.
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 2:41 Those who accepted their message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Acts 2:47 The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 3:21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
Acts 3:25-26 25And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
Boldness to do God’s mandate in our lives. Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
IV. Times of refreshing will be fully fulfilled in the second coming.
Acts 3:19-21 19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.21Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
The apostle’s statement was especially meaningful to the Jewish audience with its reference to the millennium when Messiah would rule. But the good news of spiritual life would also be extended to the Gentiles (Acts 10). Even now as believers we can experience a time of refreshing by quieting our hearts in a devotional time of prayer and Bible reading. When we spend time alone with the Lord, we can experience His peace and joy which renew us in spirit. Aren’t you thankful for these daily times of spiritual refreshment?
A Prayer: Lord, I need my spirit refreshed and renewed today. Speak to me through Your Word that I might hear Your heart, and help me to share my heart with You in prayer. Amen.