Repentance, Refreshing and Restoration Part 2
In order for something to be refreshed, it must first have lost its freshness… it has to be negative or out of order or wrong to be in need of refreshing. When you work out, it doesn’t feel good while you’re doing it, but once it's over and you get refreshed, you feel better than you did before the workout. Getting forgiven for your sins is much the same - it doesn’t feel good to be convicted and to confess those sins, but it feels wonderful when God gives you the refreshing of His grace.
“One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."”
Luke 7:36-40 ESV
The community and the church were aware of this woman’s sinful condition. The woman was well aware of Jesus’ ability to right that which was made wrong. Many people who are lost in sin want to be free from it, they are miserable in their sinful condition. This woman was so moved by the mercy that Jesus was willing to extend to her…
Many people think that submitting to God and turning from sin will cause them to get all of the fun sucked out of their life. This is not the picture of a woman who was getting all of the fun sucked out of her life by being brought under the authority of Christ! This is a picture of a woman being refreshed!
“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."”
Luke 19:1-10 ESV
Zacchaeus became wealthy by taking advantage of people through his role as a tax collector. The crowd of people didn’t like him because they had been ripped off by him. Zacchaeus was comfortable watching Jesus from a distance, that’s easy to do when there’s no danger of being called out. But Jesus did call him out and Zacchaeus received him joyfully! He was ready to be refreshed!
We are called to “fear God and keep His commandments.” And we should have that healthy fear, but we should seek forgiveness from Jesus out of a response to His love every bit as much as fear of what God can do to us. As soon as Zacchaeus came into contact with that love, his heart was moved to repay everything he had taken. Jesus didn’t ask him to do that, and made no indication he was required to do it. But for Zacchaeus, the direction of his life was turned by this encounter with God. It’s amazing how God changes, day by day, the people who come into contact with Him!
We get obsessed with the idea of getting people to come to church, but it’s far more important to get people to come to Jesus! If they do that, then the church thing will sort itself out - you’ll want to be in church once you’ve been in contact with Jesus!
“They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.”
Mark 5:1-5 ESV
This demon-possessed man was living a miserable, sad existence. People had tried to help him - their attempts to restrain him were not just for their own safety, no doubt.
“The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.”
Mark 5:14-15 ESV
When we live in sin in our life before we have come into contact with Jesus, we are under the influence of Satan… we may not be demon-possessed like this man, but we are in some way in the same kind of situation because of our condition of servitude to self and sin. When we look to this man who was miraculously healed by Jesus, we see what is possible when Jesus comes into contact with us. When we try, in our own power, to “do better” or “turn over a new leaf,” we aren’t going to really do better until we allow God to take over the direction of our life. When we get refreshed in the presence of God, we just want more of the presence of God. When we start to get dry, cold in our soul, when we don’t find ourselves longing for the word as much or when church attendance starts to seem like a chore… we need a refreshing. We should want to want the presence of God in our lives. The Holy Spirit will call us into a period of refreshing. When we request for God to refresh us, it will shower us like rain and renew our outlook.
If you start studying the Bible, you may get to the point where you’re reading the very end of the Old Testament - the book of Malachi. We can read to the end of Malachi and then go right into the book of Matthew, a gospel, the story of Jesus. But in reality, there was a 400 year gap between the day of Malachi and the day of Jesus. It was as if God just shut off a faucet, going silent, for 400 years - no prophets, no preachers.
Then, all of a sudden, Jesus shows up on the world scene! The titled of the Jews had gotten rather gloomy. They were under the control of the Romans and felt forsaken by God.
“the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned." Matthew 4:16 ESV
Jesus showed up, into that darkness, to be the light of the world and to share with them about the love of God! As Jesus began performing amazing miracles, it was absolutely clear that Jesus had come from God! It was a great sign of hope! When Jesus came into Jerusalem, His “triumphant entry,” the people were so excited that they waved palm branches for Him as he entered the city. It’s amazing what a little bit of hope can do for people! They began to realize that God had not forsaken them.
Now, the joy these folks felt did not come from repentance… they thought Jesus was coming as a king who would defeat the Romans and change their circumstances. Once they realized He was not going to raise an army, when He was arrested and their hope started to fade that they were going to get what they. Wanted, they turned on Jesus. They were the ones to shout, “Crucify Him!” Oh how quickly we can change - and we’re no different today.
But, those who truly understood the real work of Christ and that He had come to die and save us from our sins, their refreshing continued because their hope continued. They were no longer living just for this world, but for the next one.
“When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, "'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'— for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus." And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
Acts 4:23-31 ESV
These people did not lose their hope, they went back to the source of their refreshing!
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
1 Peter 3:7 ESV
…”so that your prayers may not be hindered.” Has God been silent in your life for a while? Has church become dull? Maybe you should look at how you’ve been treating your spouse. Sometimes we need to repent to God and we feel like we can do that. But it can sometimes be harder to repent to another person!
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Matthew 5:23-24 ESV
Repentance has to be a way of life for us, not just to God but to other people, too. When life doesn’t seem to be working out the way you want it to, maybe it’s because you’re withholding repentance from people! You can’t say, “I love God, but I hate people.”