Posted by: Jo | September 23, 2011

Times of Refreshing

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints” – Philemon: 7

We often see the word “refreshing” used in advertising, especially if the advertisement has something to do with long cool drinks. We can use it ourselves in describing a cool shower on a hot day. A well deserved nap after an arduous morning’s work can be refreshing, so the task can be tackled again. Lying in the shade of an accommodating tree after completing that hike up the mountain side, restores one’s laboured breathing and refreshes the lungs. Tired clothes hanging in our cupboard for a period of time can be refreshed by a rubbing over of the steam iron. Lots of action words are used in the dictionary to describe the word “refresh”; reinvigorate, reanimate, brighten, strengthen, make clearer, make more distinct, so what does Paul mean when he writes to Philemon and thanks him for refreshing the hearts of the saints? How does one refresh the heart of another? Most of the above definitions work just as well within our spiritual lives as they do in our everyday lives.

Scripture often refers to times of refreshing coming like streams of water in a parched and dry land. The prophet, Isaiah, tells the people of the wonderful way God will restore them in these beautiful words,

“I will make rivers flow on

barren heights,

and springs within the valleys.

I will turn the desert into pools of water,

and the parched ground into springs.” – Isaiah 41:18

Sometimes our life seems to be like a parched desert, with no relief in sight. Our faith seems dry and lifeless. Our prayer life becomes routine without that infilling of joy that was once there. We need refreshing! Paul was commending Philemon for doing just that for the believers in Colosse. We need also to seek the company of believers, but most of all we need to be refreshed by the Lord himself. God’s word is a good place to start.

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

The Lord may have also placed people in our lives that need refreshing. Maybe a care giver of an elderly parent who needs to have a break; perhaps a young mother who would love some time of her own if the little one she has could be minded; the lonely widow who sits at the back of the church who desperately needs someone to talk to; the young teenager at odds with his parents who would appreciate an older type brother to listen to him; or the friend who is struggling to hold on to her faith after a tragedy in her life.

When we seek to refresh others, we ourselves become renewed and reinvigorated, our own lives no longer desert like, but filled with life giving water and we will be able to say like Paul.

“ that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.” – Romans 15:32


  1. A particular family member has struggled with life for years. Numerous attempts have been made to assist always hoping for some positive change, but things remain the same.
    When a gardener continues to water the seed hidden out of view, he does so with the hope that the seed will sprout and grow. He watches for that small green sprout of growth – hope realized.
    The same is true when a loved one is suffering. We tend to think our efforts are for naught simply because their circumstances continue to be desperate. But hope prevails and we continue to “water the seed”.
    We don’t always know exactly what it is that refreshes another, but a caring gesture can give them HOPE. I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 13. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
    “Times of Refreshing” reminds me not to give up. My prayer is that these “springs of water” will one day sprout that seed in him and he will rise above these desperate circumstances into the light.
    Thank you.


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