I share this because, after nearly two weeks of oppressively high temperatures, with daily heat indices making one feel as if the thermometer was in triple digits, we are finally getting some relief. In comparison with 98 or 99 degrees compounded by high humidity, a mere 88 feels like fall. And to what do we owe this respite? Or should I say, “How do we spell relief?” The answer is a four letter word starting with R. And you spell it “R-A-I-N”! Storms aplenty are unfolding this day. And they are welcome.
Together, the stifling air and the parched earth cry out for relief. But added to and more than this is the resounding cry of so many human hearts for relief from the oppressive heat. The third chapter of the New Testament Book of Acts contains the following episode:
1One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
As might be expected, this gave Peter an opportunity to share with people just how powerful God is. He Who made us can also cure what ails us. He can give us physical relief as can no other. But God can do much more than this. He can cure a far more significant type of illness than mere physical – He can cure spiritual illness.
Thus, halfway through his message (in verses 19 and 20), Peter makes this statement:
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.
Peter wanted them to know that God could cure every ill from which they suffered. And the most significant of these, the one with the biggest consequences, was sin-sickness.
Physical heartburn is one thing. But spiritual heart sickness is quite another. The former usually only causes one minor discomfort and inconvenience; the latter always has end-results far more consequential. The first produces suffering that is temporary; the latter that is eternal.
How, then, does one spell spiritual relief? The answer is a six letter word that starts with “R”. And it is spelled “R-E-P-E-N-T”! The specific word peter used in the original Koine (or common) Greek language was “metanoēsate”, a derivative of the verb “metanoeó”, which is itself a combination of two words: “metá”, meaning "to change after being with" and “noiéō”, meaning "to think". Properly, therefore, the words together mean "to think differently after" or “to have a change of mind after" or (literally), "think differently afterwards".
Scholars tell us that it was commonly employed as a military term in the ancient world, having to do with hearing and responding to a change to stop marching in one direction and then to march in another.
Thus, the promise of God’s Word is that if one will but repent of their sins, hear and respond to the Word of God, that He will forgive his or her sins (Greek: “ex-aleiph-thēnai” - literally “blot them out of a register book”), and then bring to him or her a time of “refreshing”. This latter word, in the original language, is “ana-psyxeōs”, which is a combination of the word for “again” with the word for “to cool off with air”.
This week, along with many others, I have experienced relief from physical distress (in the form of excessive heat) by again experiencing a time of refreshing (with the return of cooler air). And believe me, it feels great.
But as a follower of Jesus Christ, I have also experienced spiritual relief. I have known the oppressive burden of a sinful life. But I have also come to know the wonderful refreshment provided by God as a result of my repentance.
How about you today? Does your heart ache? Do you suffer from the oppressive effects of spiritual sickness? Then I can bear testimony to the fact that I know how you can find relief! “R-E-P-E-N-T”! I know by experience the power of God to forgive and to restore; and I wish for all, including you, my friend, the soothing relief I have come to know!
SOURCES: http://biblehub.com/text/acts/3 and http://biblehub.com/text/acts/3-20.htm.