Times of Refreshing from the Lord

God has given His obedient children “many great and precious promises” to help us along life’s pilgrim pathway. Faithful believers today need to claim every one of those promises as satanic pressures increase and “evil men and seducers wax worse and worse.” As we seek to labor for our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in the heat of the day and in the thick of the battle, how important it is to personally experience times of refreshing which only He can give.

We are reminded in Acts 3:19 that “the times of refreshing” from the Lord begin with conversion. Do you, dear reader, know that you have been born again (Jn. 3:3-18)? Have you experienced the rest that only comes to those who have accepted the invitation of Jesus Christ who said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28)? There is wonderful, abundant refreshment from the Lord for every sinner who trusts the Savior! The burden of sin is lifted forever! There is rest for the soul—truly a time of refreshing from the Lord.

After experiencing the new birth, the child of God soon discovers that he is now in a battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. He finds that there is need for continual times of refreshing from the Lord, for, while the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak (Matt. 26:41). To His children, God explains, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). Even the dear apostle Paul testified concerning this struggle in 2 Cor. 7:5—“For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.”

Fellow pastors, fellow believers—is that your situation today? Does the load seem too heavy to bear? Does the road seem too long to go much further? Then, do not forget that following Paul’s testimony of his own weakness, the Spirit of God led him to write, “Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (2 Cor. 7:6). And Titus had previously been refreshed by the obedience and love of the believers in Corinth (2 Cor. 7:13). In the midst of a very difficult time in his ministry, Paul experienced “the times of refreshing from the Lord,” and we may do the same.

We must not forget that God promises that His Word will not return void (Isa. 55:11). Therefore, we should keep on proclaiming that Word even when no immediate results are discernable to the human eye. We should keep our minds and hearts centered on His promise in Galatians 6:9—“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

When the flesh and the devil combine in an effort to convince us that God’s way is indeed too long and the burden too heavy, we need to listen again to His words in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18—“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” What wonderful times of refreshing from the Lord come to those who see things as God sees them.

It is also important to realize that times of refreshing from the Lord often come through the ministry of fellow believers. Paul refers to just such a situation in 2 Timothy 1:16 where he mentions Onesiphorus: “For he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain.” Though we are not prisoners in chains as was Paul, the heat of the continuing battle for truth and against error produces great pressure upon us and all those associated with us, and we thank God for those whom He has used to bring “times of refreshing” through letters, gifts, phone calls and personal conversations.

And, we continually pray that Foundation magazine, Feature daily Bible study guide and the radio, literature and cassette tape ministries may be used by the Lord to bring encouragement and genuine “times of refreshing” to His faithful ones around the world. There is much that needs to be done for the Lord while we still have our liberties and open doors to reach out to others. Every believer who is part of God’s faithful remnant in these last days needs to “[help] every one his neighbour” and say, “Be of good courage” (Isa. 41:6).

Furthermore, since our numbers are small, our human resources limited and our efforts belittled by men, we must look to God for the fulfillment of His promises such as Isaiah 59:19—“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” And as we face so many seemingly impossible situations personally and in the Lord’s work, we must look to His Word for “the times of refreshing” which will give us peace of heart and mind in every circumstance, for He said, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isa. 43:2).

There is another very important fact to remember for those who sense the need of the times of refreshing from the Lord. The flesh says, “Oh, if I could only get away from it all—at least for a while!” But God operates on an entirely different principle, one which provides “the times of refreshing” in the midst of it all.

Jesus Christ provides the divine example of this for us. In His busy ministry, He became physically “wearied with His journey” (Jn. 4:6) and sat down to rest. And, while the disciples went on further to obtain food, Jesus was ready to give spiritual help to the Samaritan woman who came to the well for water. Tired—yes! Hungry—yes! But not so physically weary from the journey that He could not tell the Samaritan woman about the “water of life” and send her back to her home enjoying the times of refreshing from the Lord.
When the disciples returned with food to satisfy their hunger, Jesus surprised them by saying, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of” (Jn. 4:32). And, as the disciples wondered if someone else had provided food for their Master, “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work” (Jn. 4:34). His time of refreshment came not from “getting away from it all” but by being ready to do the will of the Father in the midst of physical weariness and weakness.

Certainly there is an important lesson here for all of God’s faithful, battle-scarred, battle-weary soldiers and servants today. We all need those times of refreshment which only the Lord can give. Because of advancing years, we may not be able to run as fast or work as long and hard as we could in our youth, but we can stand fast; we can pray; and we can set an example for younger believers who must be encouraged to remain faithful to God and His Word regardless of the cost. Young or old or in-between, we can all experience those wonderful “times of refreshing” from the Lord in the midst of the battle, knowing that our labor is certain to be rewarded and is never in vain (1 Cor. 15:57-58).

— M. H. Reynolds, Jr. (1987)