Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., Pastor, Grace Bible Church of Costa Mesa, California
Copyright © 1995-2014 Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., All Rights Reserved
The Meaning of Refreshment
The word refreshment in the English language usually denotes food and beverage. The New Testament Greek word has a much greater meaning. It means to restore the strength of the soul. It means to actually revive the divine viewpoint of life to an individual and to do this apart from the Pastor's function of teaching the Word of God. This soul restoration is actually an individual believer providing blessing to the life of a fellow believer without sitting them down and teaching them Bible doctrine. We are to possess unconditional virtue love toward everyone and conditional, personal virtue love toward our few loved ones and friends. As we possess this type of caring, compassion, and consideration, we become a stimulant, a blessing, and a source of refreshment to others as we continue in our spiritual advance. The meaning of the Biblical word refreshment denotes supplying what is necessary in spiritual blessing during a time of adversity and disaster in the life of another individual.
The New Testament Creek verb for "refresh" is ANAPSEUCHO. ANA means "again" and PSEUCHO comes from the Greek noun for the "soul." When you put it all together, it means to breathe again and again or to revive the soul. Our lives as Christians should be a source of revival to individual souls in our area. Our lives as spiritually maturing believers can be and should be a source of blessing to others without getting into any competition. This means to do so without "one-ups-manship," without putting others down, without becoming upset and fretting over people, and without that terrible sarcasm which has become so natural and so characteristic of our own day and age.
It is wonderful to possess a true and honorable friendship with others which is a relationship based upon strength of character. This is what characterizes a sincere friendship relationship. We must remember that in our own day and age, sincerity has been misused by those believers who equate Christianity with ecstatics and are always involved in some reaction from emotions controlling their souls. These charismatic Christians, as they call themselves, have eliminated rationalism and common sense in favor of emotions controlling the soul. When the Christian is growing spiritually under the influence of Bible truth, he will never overreact. In fact, the intake and application of Bible truth levels off the soul and actually provides the basis for communicating warmth, friendship, stability and encouragement, and all of the things that go into making life very attractive. It's wonderful to realize that we have the opportunity to utilize all these things under the ministry of refreshment. As it concerns our friendship with fellow believers, refreshment must always be a two-way street. This means that your true and sincere friends are those who are really "taking in" and "living out," Bible doctrine.
The Ministry of Refreshment Through Music
Music can be used in the ministry of refreshment. We must realize that there is nothing wrong with tapping our feet to some up-beat rhythm or song. However, we should remember that the most important thing in Christian music is not the melody or the rhythm, but the lyrics. The lyrics or the words to the song should convey an accurate doctrinal message or testimony, word of praise, or thanksgiving. Modern day sacred music is totally out of line by presenting songs in the medium of heavy metal, hard rock, punk rock, and other forms of rock and roll music which has so many satanic connotations. It is perfectly all right to write or sing a sacred song, which is in the "pop" category and is up-tempo. But we must be very careful in our churches, conferences, camps, etc., not to pattern ourselves after apostate Pentecostal Christians. Those who emphasize a lot of body-swaying rhythm and music and neglect the words to the songs are superficial or erroneous! When we are Spirit-filled and ministering or being ministered to in song, we can experience a great sense of refreshment, encouragement, and blessing.
Refreshment through music is seen in 1 Sam. 16:23 where King Saul experienced a temporary alleviation of his psychotic condition through the ministry of refreshment in music. Apparently, King Saul had a psychotic condition which erupted from time to time when there was any kind of extreme pressure. Apparently, this condition was triggered by jealousy from Saul's backslidden state. It seems there was very little that could be done. Saul would just "lose a few bricks from his load" temporarily! But we see that a spiritually mature teenager by the name of David came into the life of Saul and was able to help. 1 Sam. 16:23 says that whenever an evil spirit from God (this is permissive control of history by Jesus Christ, permitting, demon influence in the life of arrogant backslidden Saul) came to Saul, David would take his harp and play it and Saul would be refreshed and become well.
Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. (1 Samuel 16:23)
Why did Saul became refreshed and well? It was the music David played on the harp and the doctrinal lyrics which he sang. Whenever David sang and played that music, it reached right into Saul's soul and brought his soul back to reality and temporarily relieved the psychotic condition. In other words, refreshment came to Saul's soul and the refreshment alleviated the suffering and caused him to calm down. As rest of the verse indicates, the evil spirit would depart from him. Refreshment from doctrinal music, both the melody and lyrics, can be used for soul recovery from an adverse condition whether it's caused by being backslidden, psychosis, or any influence of Satan's cosmos. This may apply when we are just under a period of minor depression. We all get 'bummed out' from time to time. The words and melody of a hymn or a gospel song can bring such refreshment and blessing that we experience a revival or recovery within our soul from the adverse condition. We must remember that the thing that brings the refreshment is primarily the lyrics of the song - not the melody or the rhythm.
The Message of Refreshment
Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the spirit of his masters. (Proverbs 25:13)
Proverbs 25:13 is actually a proverb on Biblical refreshment. We should think of refreshment here from the standpoint of the one who teaches the Word of God resulting in the message of the Word providing encouragement and refreshment to its hearers. This verse is a short 3-line poem and in this 3-line parable - the first line is the illustration of the next two lines. The first line gives us the illustration: "Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest." The time of harvest is a time when the farm workers get very hot and it is a warm autumn day and they are very uncomfortable. So they often had water boys sent to some near place where there was snow. They would bring this snow down to the workers, but by the time they got it down the hillside it was cold water. The snow referred to in this verse is melted snow that is still cold and refreshing. The water boys would bring it down in containers and the farm workers would all stop and take a drink of this very, very refreshing water. This becomes the illustration for the next two lines: ALike ice water in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send for him."
In the analogy, the communicator of the Word, like a Pastor-teacher, is a "water boy." He refreshes the souls of his masters or his congregation that hears and applies the Bible doctrines in his messages. You see, the water boy worked for everyone else. The refreshment to the Christian comes through the one who is faithful and loyal in communicating Bible truth. It=s like cold water that is refreshing. Refreshment in the Scripture is always connected with the individual's soul. The teacher of doctrine is the key to the ministry of refreshment. Your ability to take in, metabolize, and apply Bible doctrine has everything to do with whether the Pastor-teacher ever reaches the point of refreshment or not. The point of total refreshment for the Pastor is when Christians reach spiritual maturity while in his congregation. A mature believer is always going to be a source of refreshment to those in his life. This is a part of the blessing by association which we should provide to other believers.
Refreshment and Misery to the Nation
All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth. "Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there." Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"--but they would not listen. So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there--so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 28:8-14)
Rejection of refreshment brings discipline upon a nation according to Isaiah 28:8-14. Isaiah 28:8 refers to a maximum number of alcoholics within the nation. Both questions in Isaiah 28:9 anticipate a negative answer. Then the prophet goes on to explain why the nation is in such horrible trouble. It is not because of the children, but the adults. The adults had become negative to what the Word of God provides for their national blessing. Those adults could take in the Word of God, or they could neglect and reject it. They chose to neglect and reject Bible truth. This principle is seen in Isaiah 28:10.
All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth. (Isaiah 28:8)
"Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? (Isaiah 28:9)
For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there." (Isaiah 28:10)
The phrase Ado and do@ in Isaiah 28:10 means the do's and don'ts of the Bible that have been taught categorically. The phrase Arule on rule@ refers to expository teaching. The phrase A a little here, a little there@ refers to the daily intake and utilization of Bible truth.
Isaiah 28:12 refers to Israel who has rejected the Bible truth that has been taught. The Bible truth is the Arest@ referred to here and also means refreshment. Doctrinal teaching give rest or refreshment to the weary, but cannot to those who reject the refreshment or Bible truth.
to whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"--but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:12)
Isaiah 28:13 goes on to say what happens when Bible truth is rejected by a nation. They Amight go and fall backward" which means that they might revert and backslide into apostasy. The phrase Aand be torn to bits and therefore trapped and destroyed" refers to many citizens of the nation who have backslidden and have reverted from the Laws of Divine Establishment and/or Bible doctrine and they are disciplined by their enemies taking over their land. Isaiah 28:14 speaks to those with negative volition toward Bible truth. This passage must be tied in with the words of the Apostle Peter from Acts 3:19.
So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there--so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. (Isaiah 28:13)
Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 28:14)
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)
Peter is challenging those of the nation of Israel to change their minds about what the Word of God says about Jesus Christ being their Messiah and Savior. In other words, they should stop rejecting Him and they should receive Him. Their returning to the Lord would be tantamount to recovering from a national backslidden condition. Their sins would be forgiven by God and a great time of revival will come to the nation. These Atimes of refreshing@ is the only thing that can save a nation as far gone as the northern kingdom in Isaiah's day or the southern kingdom of Judea in Peter's time, or the USA in 1990's. ATimes of refreshing@ refer to a revival in the souls of believers. It refers to a revival of doctrinal intake and doctrinal living in the lives of those who are born again. We must always remember that revival within a country comes about as a result of a spiritual awakening and/or a revival in the souls of believers.
Refreshment and Metabolization
Responding to the Word of God is referred to in the Scripture as refreshment in Romans 15:32. Here, Paul is stating that he is anticipating returning to Rome and he has joyous anticipation of coming by the Will of God to teach these Christians in Rome and to refresh them. But we must remember that refreshment is a two-way street and the believers in Rome will refresh Paul by their response to the teaching of the Word, their love for God and others, and their faithfulness and loyalty to the Plan of God. All of this will be the basis for encouragement and refreshment to Paul.
so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. (Romans 15:32)
Also, in 2 Corinthians 7:13, Paul informs us that he has been encouraged and comforted by the encouragement and comfort that Titus has received from the congregation. In this passage, he states that the Christian should always rejoice over the happiness of fellow believers. This is what he did concerning Titus because the mental attitude of Titus was revived and refreshed by the Corinthian congregation. Not only did Titus straighten out the Corinthians, but he made some lifetime friendships. Many of these people were a source of refreshment to Titus who was probably the greatest "troubleshooter" of the early days of the Church Age.
By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. (2 Corinthians 7:13)
Refreshment and Maturity
The mature believer has a ministry of refreshment. This is a part of his blessing by association. In his association with other Christians, he becomes a source of encouragement and refreshment to them. We will refer to three instances of the ministry of refreshment by mature believers in the New Testament. First of all, in 1 Corinthians 16:17-18, the Apostle Paul refers to three men which he enjoyed as lifetime friends. These three men came to Paul and were a source of great blessing to him. Then in 2 Timothy 1:16, Paul refers to God continually extending mercy to the family of Onesiphorus. This Christian gentleman was a great source of encouragement to Paul. He was one of those great believers who refreshed Paul. In order to be a refreshment to the great apostle, you really have to be something great in the Spiritual life. Finally, in Philemon 7 and 20, Paul refers to his dear friend Philemon and the joy, encouragement, and love that they shared with each other. Paul refers to the great source of encouragement and refreshment that Philemon has been to fellow believers as well as to Paul himself. In Philemon 20, he challenges Philemon to revive his encouragement by receiving back into fellowship and good graces, his runaway slave, Onesimus.
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. (1 Corinthians 16:17-18)
May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. (2 Timothy 1:16)
Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. (Philemon 1:7)
I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. (Philemon 1:20)
Refreshment as a Mainstay
The Lord provides respite and refreshment in our continued times of pressure and adversity. The key word here is mainstay. By mainstay, I refer to the wonderful confidence that we have in the God that we love, and the stability and security that He imparts to us through His Word which is such a blessing and refreshment. Our passage for this thought is Psalm 138:7.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. (Psalm 138:7)
It's wonderful to realize that during times of continued trial and tribulation, God in grace, through the power of His Word, gives us respite and refreshment which enables us to keep pressing on in our spiritual growth as we continue to partake of His wonderful tranquility and happiness.