New Hope Notes
Pastor Elwin Ahu
Everyone needs encouragement! I think we all share the feeling of uncertainty each morning as we get out of bed. With the economy, swine flu, furloughs and
Paul the Apostle understood the need for encouragement because he needed encouragement himself. Although he wrote more than half of the New Testament, he also got depressed. There were times when he didn’t feel up to the ministry. In fact, towards the end of his ministry he was abandoned by all of his friends. Let’s take a look and listen to what Paul says about being refreshed and encouragement.
“You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me…The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but…he eagerly searched for me and found me” (2Tim. -17). This tells us refreshment was needed even in Biblical days. Okay, but who’s Onesiphorus? Firstly, the name Onesiphorus means to bring profit or to bring happiness. Interesting enough, when Onesiphorus was in Paul’s presence, he lived up to his name and encouraged Paul.
How many of you can say you live up to your name? My name is Elwin and it means a friend of elves. I never liked my name when I was growing up, and even more so when I became a Christian. In addition to not liking my name because of the way it sounds and what it means, what made it worse is that people never got it correct. I’ve been called Elvin, Elwood, of course Elvis, and once I was even called Eleven! And if that wasn’t enough, my last name – only 3 letters mind you – is often misspelled as well. Let’s see, Ahu became Ahi, Aku, Ahn or Ahlo.
I never liked my name, until one day when I was walking around church and a gentleman came up to me and noticed the name on my name tag. He looked at me and said, “Elwin, that’s a good name!” And I replied, “Really?” He went to say that in Hebrew “El” means God. And with “win” alongside it, it was like saying that God always wins! Of course, being absolutely encouraged by this, I immediately said, “Yes! I love my name!”
As for Onesiphorus, he really lived up to his name. And that is why Paul wrote about him. As insignificant as it may seem, it was important to Paul for us to understand the importance of friends who bring encouragement into our lives.
In this 21st century of social networking, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and chat, all offer friends worldwide. Although these all seem like good means of communication, and we may be making more acquaintances than ever before, we seem to be dwindling in deep, meaningful relationships – friends. Suffice it to say, I think we’d all agree that we need more Onesiphoruses in the world. For the world is in need of encouragement and to be refreshed.
Although we don’t know what Onisephorus did or said, we do know his relationship with Paul made a huge difference in Paul’s ministry. Imagine the difference we could make in our own families and churches if we would refresh one another’s spirits. Imagine the difference we could make in our communities if we’d all be encouragers.
So then how do we become a refresher? Well, here are three keys in becoming an encourager.
First, an encourager is one who….
1. BREATHES LIFE INTO THE LIFE OF ANOTHER.
For example, if a person is not physically breathing and is unresponsive, CPR would be administered. Basically, it is breathing air into someone else’s physical body to help them live. The same goes for our soul and spirit. We breathe encouragement to others which brings life. On the other hand, we can blame, accuse, grumble and even put others on trial. But when we do this, we are sucking the life out of others instead of encouraging them. And, words like “I told you so” can do more harm than good.
Here’s an interesting question. Are you someone who revives a soul when they are in your presence? Or, is there someone you know of who does this for you? Take a look at what the scriptures say, “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life” (2Cor. -16).
If we’re not careful we can suck the spirit out of others. It often happens when we are hurting on the inside and we unload our hurt on someone else by insisting on talking about it in their presence. Another term for this is a victimized life. This is when we go through life with a “woe is me” attitude. It’s an attitude where the world is against me, there’s always a problem, and it’s always because of someone else.
Let me just say there’s nothing wrong with problems. Each and every one of us will go through problems in life. But here are some encouraging words of what the Bible says our reaction to problems should be: “Consider it all joy when you encounter trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).
Therefore, I encourage you to seek counsel or assistance when needed to resolve a problem you may have rather than walking around with unresolved issues. Listen, if you’re hurting inside, you won’t be able to help others. Catch this! Did you know hurt people hurt people? Yes, people who are hurting will hurt other people. So please, if you’re having a financial or relational issue, please seek some help. Thereafter, you’ll be more than able to give others life rather than sucking life out of them. You see, whether we realize it or not, we either give life to others or suck life away from them. So be careful and mindful. For scripture tells us, we’ll either bring a fragrant aroma or some other kind of aroma.
Here’s a question for you. What’s your aroma? In other words, when you walk into a room, what do people say about you? Do they inhale and like what they breathe-in about you? Or, do they breathe in and with a sour face ask, “What’s that smell?” You see, one way or another you will give off an aroma. The only question is what kind of aroma will it be? And the answer to this entirely depends on what you are using to refresh yourself on a daily basis. It’s like brushing your teeth. If you brush your teeth in the morning, you’ll give off a nice aroma when you speak. Whereas, if you don’t brush your teeth in the morning, you’ll give off a different kind of aroma.
So what shall we use to refresh ourselves with? Here is what the Bible tells us, “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.’”(Jn. 4:13-14).
This source of our refreshment is none other than the Word of God! It will refresh your soul everyday. And in turn, you can refresh the souls of others. The way to do this is by doing daily devotions. Daily devotions is simply reading scriptures on a daily basis. You can do this by following a Bible reading plan. After you’ve read the scripture, you journal by writing the scripture, your observation of the scripture, how you will apply them in your life, and then praying about what you have just read and learned. If you do this, you will be refreshed indeed.
Not only can a refresher breathe life into the life of another. But this person…
2. STABILIZES THE SPIRITS OF OTHERS.
As for Onesiphorus, he had a genuine concern for Paul23 which means he did not allow circumstances to define, distract, or shape his attitude towards Paul. Scholars say Paul’s letter to Timothy was his last before being executed. I don’t know about you but if I were to write a last letter of communication, it would be things of importance.
Well during that time, the Emperor Nero wanted to exterminate all Christians and Paul was one of them. Not only was he in prison, but in chains as well. Nonetheless, Onesiphorus went and looked for Paul. By doing so, he put himself in the same risk of being executed. So why would he risk this? Because of his genuine concern for Paul.
Therefore, this tells us circumstances did not dictate his friendship with or loyalty to Paul. And although we don’t know what Onesiphorus said or did – maybe he didn’t do anything at all – it may have been that Onesiphorus’s presence itself meant a lot to Paul.
And the same should go for us: we can be a refresher without ever speaking a word. We can refresh others just by our presence. And this presence will show we have complete trust in God. Here is a question for us, “When you step into a situation, do you trust God enough to be able to refresh souls by stabilizing everything? It is a real act of faith and trust to understand that God’s hands are always in a situation and that we can always trust in Him. For example, our Men’s Ministry traveled to a maximum security prison in
It’s easy for someone to tell you, “Just call me and I’ll be there.” Yet, when things go bad, how many people would truly stand by you? Especially in times when you face failure, shame, humiliation, brokenness or have fallen away. Onesiphorus was a good example of this. He was one who actually lived out what Solomon said, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Pro.17:17). The phrase “at all times” does not only refer to when conditions are right or when I feel like it. A refresher is someone who remains constant and stable especially when the conditions or circumstances are not right.
All in all, I encourage you to be one to empathize, to be a sounding board, to feel and just be there as a friend. In fact, this kind of friend will redefine the circumstances by his trust in the Lord. Moreover, in the midst of hurricane force winds, this kind of person will bend but will never break. As a result, others will always find confidence in him. Why? Because he is one who stabilizes the circumstances amidst the changing winds. And he will always encourage a person towards God’s best.
Listen to what scriptures say we should do. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men…Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phi.4:4-7). This tells us that stabilizers will always be rejoicing because God is there.
So remember, a person who stabilizes the spirits of others is a friend who loves at all times and is an encourager and refresher. And finally, the third key to an encourager is…
3. TAKES THE RISK TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
As we have learned thus far, Onesiphorus was not about himself. He could have been arrested, ridiculed and rejected. Yet he took the risk because he was a refresher of Paul’s soul. He was not there to accomplish his own will but the Lord’s will.
When we become encouragers and refreshers, it is the Lord who will reward you. “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints” (Heb. ). This tells us when we make a difference in someone’s life, we may not be rewarded here on earth, but instead we may receive an eternal reward.
Hence, identify who the encourager and refresher in your life is. And when you do…
· PASS IT ON
“I rejoice over the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have supplied what was lacking on your part. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men” (1Cor. -18). This tells us to acknowledge those who’ve encouraged and refreshed us. Here is what you can do: write a letter and thank them for what they’ve done in your life. Or if you know of someone who needs some encouraging, write them a note and encourage them. Then, send it out in the mail.
This will make a huge difference in their lives and yours. Though you may never know what the result will be from doing this, it’s okay. All we need to know is…God wants us to be a church of encouragers and refreshers.
In summary, a refresher breathes life into the life of another. He or she stabilizes the spirits of others and, takes the risk to make a difference. The world is waiting, watching and listening. As God’s chosen people, through Him we can be a refresher and encouragers to others for His Kingdom!
1. Have you developed a daily discipline of devotions? If not, how can you make that a priority so you are refreshed daily? What part of the day could you devote to being refreshed?
2. If there is an unresolved issue, where can you go for help and encouragement?
3. What scripture do you rely on to uplift you when you're facing trouble or uncertainty. If you don't have one, find one and memorize.
4. Who is the encourager and refresher in your life? What have you received from them that you would like to share with others?
5. Is there someone whom the Lord has placed in your heart to encourage and refresh? Reach out to them today.