How to Refresh Your Mind, Heart and Soul
How to Refresh Your Mind, Heart and Soul
The former televangelist, Jim Bakker, in his autobiography I Was Wrong, tells of his descent into ignominy, impoverishment and imprisonment for accounting fraud. He lost his freedom, his sanity, his dignity, his confidence in his faith and, eventually, even his wife. Inmate 07407-058, one-time friend and advisor of presidents, had hit rock bottom.
At his very lowest point, a prison official told him, ‘Billy Graham is here to see you!’ He thought, ‘Billy Graham has come here... to this place... to see me.’ When he walked into the room, Billy Graham turned towards him and opened his arms wide.
At that moment, Jim Bakker felt total acceptance and love: ‘I will never forget that the man who had just been voted one of the most influential men in the world and who has ministered to millions of people took time out of his busy schedule to come minister to one prisoner.’ He describes how in the midst of his depression, flu, filth and hopelessness, Billy Graham’s visit refreshed his heart and boosted his spirit. ‘I felt as though Jesus Himself had come to visit me.’
Refreshment means restoring strength, energy and vigour. A light snack is sometimes referred to as a ‘refreshment’. Physical refreshment can also come, for example, from sleep, rest, or exercise.
Paul tells Philemon that he has ‘refreshed the hearts of the saints’ (Philemon 7). Later on in the letter, Paul asks him to ‘refresh my heart in Christ’ (v.20). But how do you refresh your mind, heart and soul?
The words of GodPsalm 119:121-128
Gold is the most valuable thing this world affords. It cannot be tarnished. It shines with a glow like no other metal.
Yet God’s words are far more valuable than even the finest gold. The psalmist writes: ‘I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold’ (v.127).
The source of the psalmist’s soul refreshment is God’s words. Earlier in the psalm he said, ‘My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times… My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word’ (vv.20,28). Allow God’s words to refresh your mind, heart and soul.
Lord, thank you so much for how amazing it is to be refreshed emotionally and spiritually by reading your words, meditating on them and absorbing them in my mind, heart and soul.
The people of GodPhilemon 1-25
Paul writes to his friend Philemon to ask for a favour (v.1). Philemon had a slave called Onesimus who had escaped. Whilst Onesimus was on the run, Paul had led him to Christ (v.10).
The normal fate of a runaway slave was death or flogging and branding on the forehead. Now, in this letter, which is full of grace, humility, genuine love and charm, Paul writes to persuade Philemon to take Onesimus back – not as a slave, but as a friend and brother (v.16). Centuries later, the ripple effect of these words contributed to massive social change. Local history became global history.
It is a request that Paul expects will receive a positive answer. He is absolutely confident that Philemon will do what he has asked him to do (v.21). This is an example and a challenge to bring love, forgiveness and reconciliation everywhere you go.
Philemon is a close friend. He leads a church that meets in his home (v.2) and he is a man of faith and love (v.5).
Paul prays that Philemon may be ‘active in sharing his faith’ (v.6). It is interesting to note that Paul thinks that this is the way that he will receive ‘a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ’ (v.6). For example, I have often noticed on Alpha how quickly people grow in their understanding as they become small group helpers and hosts on the course. The way to grow is to be active in sharing your faith.
He then goes on to say, ‘Your love has given me great joy and encouragement because you have refreshed the hearts of the saints’ (v.7). And he asks Philemon to refresh his heart in Christ by another act of love (v.20). His whole appeal for Onesimus is ‘on the basis of love’ (v.9).
Clearly, Philemon was a man known for his love: ‘I keep hearing of the love and faith you have for the Master Jesus, which brims over to other believers’ (v.5, MSG).
Paul makes ‘a very personal request’ (vv.8,9, MSG), asking Philemon to welcome Onesimus back as ‘no mere slave this time, but a true Christian brother... welcome him back as you would me. If he damaged anything or owes you anything, chalk it up to my account’ (vv.16–18, MSG). He writes, ‘You’ll be doing it for Christ’ (v.20, MSG), but it will also ‘refresh my heart’ (v.20).
Forgiveness involves extending love and mercy to someone who has wronged or hurt you. It clears the way to reconciliation and restoration of a relationship.
Paul is longing to see Philemon. He writes, ‘Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers’ (v.22). Spending time with people you love and who love you, whether it is family or friends, refreshes your heart and soul.
Lord, thank you so much for the church and the love of brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you for how they refresh my heart and soul.
The presence of GodLamentations 2:7-3:39
The prophet’s heart is in great need of refreshment. As Jeremiah looks out at the devastation of Jerusalem, he is surrounded by the most appalling suffering. There is destruction all around. The people are starving. It has reached such a nadir that there is the horrific possibility of women eating their own children (2:20).
It is not just that the suffering is all around Jeremiah. It is also in his own heart and soul. He writes, ‘My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground’ (v.11). His heart is pierced (3:13). He feels besieged and surrounded by ‘bitterness and hardship’ (v.5). He is dwelling in darkness (v.6).
He feels he has been ‘left… without help’ (v.11). He is laughed at and mocked (v.14). On top of all this, he has ‘been deprived of peace’ (v.17).
Like Jeremiah, sometimes our prayers do not seem to have been answered: ‘Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked’ (vv.8–9).
The answer lies ‘in the presence of the Lord’. He writes, ‘Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord’ (2:19).
He goes on, ‘My soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him…
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love’ (3:20–25,32).
Times of refreshing come from ‘the presence of the Lord’ (Acts 3:19, AMP). You can receive this refreshing every day.
God’s mercy is new every morning. You can make a fresh, new start every single day. Every day you can seek him, wait for him quietly, hope in him and be refreshed by his presence.
When you realise how much God has forgiven you and how great is his mercy, you can more easily forgive those who have hurt you and extend mercy to them. This is the key to great relationships.
These are not naïve or superficial words of encouragement. They are realistic about the depth and extent of suffering and struggles without and within. Yet in the midst of all this, you can hang on to the goodness and love of God: ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed’ (Lamentations 3:22).
We see here a hint of how this love is made possible. The prophet writes, ‘Let them offer their cheeks to one who would strike them, and let them be filled with disgrace’ (v.30). Jesus offered his cheek to the ones who struck him (John 19:3; see also Matthew 5:39) and bore our disgrace on the cross. It is the blood of Christ that cleanses you from all sin (1 John 1:9) and through his death you can be forgiven, cleansed, renewed and refreshed in your heart and soul every day.
Lord, I pour out my heart to you today. Refresh me with your presence. Thank you for your great faithfulness and unfailing compassion – made available to me, new every morning, through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Whatever we are going through today, we can take comfort from these verses: ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’
Verse of the Day
‘… his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning’ (Lamentations 3:22–23).
Jim Bakker, I Was Wrong, (Thomas Nelson, 2010) pp.282–284.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.