Yesterday I was describing how the Holy Spirit uses other brothers and sister to bring refreshment and encouragement when we are burdened with the “concerns of life.” At the end of the message I was encouraging each of us to actually become one of those the Holy Spirit is able to use, for us to have in essence, a “Ministry of Encouragement.” I am thinking about a fellow named Barnabas, from the book of Acts. His real name was Joseph, but everyone called him Barnabas, meaning “Son of encouragement.” He evidently someone who earned the nickname!
In the 5thchapter of Acts, Barnabas is reported as selling some land and sharing the proceeds with the church. Everyone cheered and slapped him “high-fives,” but he just shrugged it off. That was the kind of brother he was.
Another person we find in Acts 27, when Paul was on a ship headed for Rome and the vessel came to a stop at Sidon. Paul asked the centurion in charge for permission to visit some friends in the city, and “Julius . . . gave him liberty to go to his friends to refresh himself” (Acts 27:3). Here is yet another instance of God using believers to refresh other believers.
This is found everywhere! Look in II Timothy, where Paul writes about one particular believer:
“May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains. When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me. May the Lord show him special kindness on the day of Christ’s return. And you know very well how helpful he was in Ephesus” (II Timothy 1:16-18).
The ministry of refreshing clearly includes seeking out those who are hurting. We hear a lot of talk about power in the church these days: power to heal the sick, power to win the lost, power to overcome sin. However, I say there is great, healing power that flows out of a refreshed and renewed person. Depression, mental anguish or a troubled spirit can cause all kinds of physical sickness, but a spirit that is refreshed and encouraged—one that is made to feel accepted, loved and needed—is the healing balm needed most.
We find this ministry of refreshing in the Old Testament, too. When David was being hunted down by King Saul, he was exhausted and hurting, forced to run day and night. During that time, he felt rejected by God’s leaders and God’s people. Then, at a crucial moment, David’s friend Jonathan came to him: “Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David . . . and strengthened his hand in God. . .” (1 Samuel 23:16-17).
That was all David needed and immediately his spirit was refreshed to go on. We see this example time after time in Scripture: Yes, God can send an angel or a vision, but almost as a rule, he sends a fellow believer to refresh his beloved ones.
How about you, are you in need of a brother or sister to come “strengthen your hand in God?” Spend some time asking your Father about it. Or better yet, let Him work it out. That’s what He does best.
Maybe you are the one he is going to send to someone else . . . Give that some prayer, too.
(I send out messages like each morning. If you are interested, let me know. However, you can also find these messages at: Thought For The Day)