God speaks of “times of refreshing,” seasons when we sense a greater awareness of His presence and manifestation of His Kingdom here on earth. We see more people being saved, more healings, a spirit of repentance, etc. When we look at church history, we can see times of refreshing through awakenings, revivals, and various moves of God. Note Peter’s reference to this promise:
“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” (Acts 3:17-19).
As Christians hungry for the life of God, we are tempted to run to places we hear God is moving. I to have gone to receive, and have visited a number of such places. To be refreshed in His Presence is always a good thing. However, we can’t reproduce what is happening elsewhere. The people there have paid a price, and God has called them to that place. There is a cost to stepping into those seasons. God is looking for people who are willing to pay that price—those committed to do His will in the place they are called to. It won’t look the same, and that is okay. It is God who determines the time and place, and He initiates the awakenings.
Having said that, we can all prepare for such “refreshing.” Here, I want to focus on three essentials that invite an authentic move of God:
Standing firm for the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
God actively seeks those willing to pay the price for the things of His Kingdom. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16). This is essential. If a church strays from the truth of the Gospel, it loses its power and authority to say anything of value to society.
We must remember that the Gospel does not stop at personal salvation. The Gospel has to do with the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ and His life here on earth, plus His death, resurrection, ascension, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Keeping a repentant heart:
I well remember a time when Michelle and I were at a retreat where God was doing some wonderful things. Lunchtime was approaching, and I turned and said to her, “Paul (not his real name) is going to stop what God is doing so we can break for lunch.” After lunch, we started the next session with communion. The Holy Spirit convicted me strongly. I knew I could not take communion, as within my heart I had criticized Paul. Of course, he did not know this, but God did.
It might seem like such a small thing, and all I needed to do was simply repent before God. But I knew that I had to put it right with Paul. So while the communion was coming our way, I got up and went to the front. Everyone was looking at me and wondering what I was doing, but I knew God had spoken. I shared with Paul what I had said and asked him for forgiveness. The peace of God flooded my heart. Paul was a mature Christian, so no offense was taken. But I learned that keeping a heart of repentance as a lifestyle is a powerful key in the Kingdom of God!
A repentant heart is a humble heart, a pliable heart, a teachable heart, a heart that is open to correction. God emphasizes this in Scripture. Note His words through Isaiah:
“And it will be said: ‘Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.’ For this is what the high and exalted One says—He who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” (Isaiah 57:14-15).
Cultivating an openness to the refining of God:
If we truly want God’s Presence, what is in our heart will be exposed so that the enemy cannot take us out just at the point of breakthrough. God wants to reveal those things that hold us back so they can come into the light and be dealt with. We might interpret these apparent “delays” as the work of the devil or that God has withdrawn His presence completely. You know those times, don’t you, when it seems God has simply not heard your prayers? It is frustrating, but God has a purpose and a plan.
We know the story of Peter telling Jesus he would be willing to die for Him. (See Luke 22:31-34.) Peter was not lying; he simply did not know what was in his heart. But Jesus did. And so Jesus tells Peter that before the rooster crows three times he will deny Him. We read the account of Peter’s denial in Matthew 26:69-75. God allowed what was inside Peter to come out. And we recall that Jesus—in the most loving way—restored Peter, after which he was ready to be used powerfully for God.
God knows what He wants to address, so He creates a climate of desperation. This type of desperation brings a genuine transformation, which in turn positions us for the refreshing that God wants to bring. We are open vessels, hungry for the things of God, desperate to give our all for our amazing Lord.