Refresh & Restore — 4/16/2020

Acts 3:17-21 — [Peter said] “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke of His holy prophets long ago….”

Psalm 119:49-50 — Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

1 Peter 1:3-5 — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

           Some time after Jesus had ascended into heaven after His resurrection, Peter and John were going to the temple to pray. There was a man outside the Beautiful Gate who had been unable to walk his entire life, and people carried him to that gate every day so that he could beg and make what living he could. When he asked Peter and John for money, check out what they told him: “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6) I love that: “what I do have I give to you”; what they had was Jesus, and there’s no greater gift!

            That started an awesome chain reaction. The man got up and walked! Then, he went and shared what he had: what Jesus had done for him! What an awesome series of events; one that can be repeated on and on, even today! The people the man ran to – ran for the first time! – were gathered at Solomon’s Portico outside the temple.

            Peter preached to them about what had happened with Jesus (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter) and the part that they had played in those events. But he was not beating them down. He offered them what he had, just as he had the “man lame from birth”. He offered them repentance. He told them of the forgiveness of sin that comes from Jesus and that, even though they had part in His crucifixion, that forgiveness was available to them.

            What an awesome display of forgiveness. These people had “delivered over and denied [Jesus] in the presence of Pilate” and “killed the Author of life, whom God raised form the dead” (Acts 3:13, 15), yet Jesus Himself stands ready to forgive them. He shows that He is the “Author of life” by “mak[ing] us alive together with [Himself]” instead of being “dead in the trespasses and sins in which [we] once walked” (Ephesians 2:4, 1-2).

            Not only that, but those who repented of their sins and turned to Christ would be given “times of refreshing [that] come from the presence of the Lord” until the time that Christ returns “restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of His prophets long ago” (Acts 3:20-21). That’s something that they could never have hoped to be offered, and it was offered to them by the very One from whom they could have never hoped to receive it. That’s good news – for them and for us!

            Today, we need to be refreshed. We need to be restored. And there’s only one source from which we can find such refreshing and restoration: Jesus Christ, the Resurrected King! And He offers it freely to all who repent and turn to Him!

            So, how do we get such things in this day and age? The first source is the Word of God. The psalmist, in Psalm 119:49-50, tells us that we find hope in God’s “word” and life in His “promise”. By spending time in God’s Word, we find everything that can be known about Him. By reading His Word, we find the promises and life and hope in Christ Jesus. The Word of God is listed first because it is through the Word that we find salvation (Romans 10:17). And it is through His Word that we grow deeper in our relationship with Him.

            It is in that relationship where we find our deepest source of refreshing and restoration: Jesus Himself. Peter, much later in his life, wrote a letter to a group of people who had been through worse times than we could ever imagine. They had been dispersed from their homes and forced to flee to foreign countries (1 Peter 1:1). Yet, despite all they had been through, Peter reminds them that they had been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

            So many times, hope is fleeting here on Earth. We hope in jobs and resources and people and are let down time and time again. But the hope that comes from Jesus is different; that hope is “living”. When we put our hope and trust in Him, that hope has a name and power beyond our imagining. That’s good news! He’s not fleeting, nor will He fail us.

            No matter what is going on in our life – quarantine, isolation, sickness, job loss, lack of electricity – Jesus is alive and offering hope. We can be refreshed and look forward to the time when everything is restored. There’s no greater hope than that.

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