When the Lord was anticipating the return of His people, Judah, from captivity He promised that, I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint (Jer. 31:25). A part of the blessing that the Lord brings to His people is that of refreshment. As the gospel began to be preached in the New Testament, a similar promise was given to all who respond. Peter in his preaching encouraged his hearers to Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19). God very often uses his servants to bring this refreshment. Let us face then the challenging question: Are you being used as a refresher?
In 1 Corinthians 16:17-18, Paul writes of how “I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition. When we arrive in someone’s presence are they glad as a result or are they dispirited? What is the impact of our presence? From this brief reference we get the clear impression that these three believers, Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus, were natural refreshers. They not only refreshed Paul, but had a similar impact on the Christians at Corinth. The fact that Paul says that they should be recognised indicates that they were top quality people. It is good to have people like them in our lives and in our churches.. We need refreshers who encourage us to keep going in the walk of faith.
Onesiphorous was a man of similar character. Paul was so grateful for what he had done. Paul says of him that he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains (2 Tim. 1:16b). Onesiphorus put himself out for Paul. Do we do that for our brothers and sisters in Christ? Paul further says of him when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me (2 Tim. 1 v 17b). Here was true “brotherly love” being demonstrated. There seems to have been a consistency about this man, as well, because he had also helped Paul in may ways at Ephesus (see 2 Tim 1:18b). Oh for reliable Christians who are steadfast in their commitment to helping their fellow believers. Such people are true refreshers and a real blessing to the church.
As we ponder upon the character of refreshers let us hear what Solomon says: Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master. (Prov. 25:13). We live in a world where people are increasingly unreliable. “Who can you trust nowadays?” We sometime lament. What a joy it is then to come across reliable people. In the proverb quoted above, we see how refreshment comes from dealing with reliable people. The master is refreshed by a trustworthy messenger. The scripture gives us a very evocative image when it compares the refreshment from a trustworthy messenger to cool snow on a hot harvesting day. That is refreshing! Do we bring such refreshment to others through our trustworthy characters?
The most essential part of our being which needs refreshment in this weary world is our heart. When our hearts are refreshed then we can be strengthened to move forward for our God. It is good to be refreshed in body, but far better to be refreshed in the heart. Philemon was a heart-refresher. Paul writes to him “You, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lords’s people” (Phile. 7b). Through his prayer, care, exhortation and general being, Philemon had put fresh courage and vigour into the inner-most beings of God’s people. Could that be said of us? Such ministry starts when we ourselves have a deep love for the Lord and longing that other believers would walk strongly for Him.
We must ask the question here about how the refresher can be freshened himself. This is important because the danger is that someone who is always giving out refreshment gradually empties their tank and has no more refreshment in them to dispense. The necessary thing is that we are continually taking time out to be refreshed and renewed in the Lord’s presence. The Lord’s Day is a key gift from God to that end. In Exodus 23:12, we read Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed. Make good use of your Sundays to refresh your soul. But also embrace the principle of taking daily “time-out” with the Lord to be refreshed. Through our study of the Word and seeking of the LORD in prayer we refresh ourselves so we can refresh others.
It is worth noting though, in the gracious working of our God, that refreshers are also given refreshment. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Prov. 11:25). There is something refreshing about seeing weary souls refreshed. It is such a privilege to be a part of God’s renewing purposes.
Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of September 2012
(Originally published at Venabling on December 8th 2016)