Refreshment

My husband and I recently took a vacation. After several challenging months, we were not seeking a grand adventure — just physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional refreshment.

Merriam-Webster offers several meanings for the word refresh, including: to restore strength and animation to (revive); to freshen up (renovate); to restore or maintain by renewing supply (replenish). Revive. Renovate. Replenish.

Vacation can offer refreshment. So can a special occasion. A change of scenery may revive our enthusiasm. A change of routine may renovate our mindset. A break from daily responsibilities may replenish our motivation. Sometimes we have to work hard to prepare for refreshment; the investment is worthwhile if it allows us to be completely immersed in the refreshing experience.

But vacations and special celebrations are inadequate refreshment. They are too short and infrequent to carry us through the whole year. Just like we cannot eat only a few days of the year and be healthy, we cannot run ourselves ragged most of the time and rely on an occasional day to revive, replenish, and renovate us. Instead, God has instructed us to build refreshment into our lives.

Remember the Sabbath (seventh) day to keep it holy (set apart, dedicated to God).  (Exodus 20:8, AMP)

God not only gave a frequency for refreshment — every seventh day plus some holidays (Leviticus 23) — but also told us how to rest — setting apart the day for Him. He instructed the Israelites to refrain from work, giving their bodies a break. He also told them to refresh their mind and spirit by remembering, worshiping, and honoring Him. God knew we needed to regularly engage in these practices to find far more life.

Over time, the Jewish leaders added rules to define acceptable and unacceptable Sabbath activities. These rules became burdensome for the people and hindered their rest. When Jesus walked the earth, He declared:

…The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27, NIV)

God instituted a day of rest to bless us, not burden us. We have freedom to decide what will help us rest and connect with God. For many, one Sabbath component is time with a church family, engaging in group worship and receiving Biblical instruction. For many the Sabbath also includes time in nature, exercise, rest, interaction with family or friends, a special meal, hobbies, or entertainment.

Sometimes it is good to ask ourselves if our Sabbath practices are truly refreshing. Do they revive our body? Revive our mind? Replenish our spirit? If not, we are wise to consider what WOULD lead to true refreshment and make changes.

But we do not have to run on empty the other six days of the week. God offers to revive, renovate, and replenish our heart, soul, mind, and strength every day!

He refreshes my soul… (Psalm 23:3, NIV)

We need spiritual refreshment and there is no better place to turn for that than the One who created our soul. We live in a world that is spiritually darkened; the light of God’s Word, His truth, and His promises restore our strength so we can keep living righteously and purposefully. Far more life is found as we read and meditate on His Word, the Bible, every day to drink in His refreshment.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. (Jeremiah 31:25, NIV)

The context of this is God providing hope to His people. They were living in an oppressive environment, surrounded by people who did not honor God or value His ways. It was exhausting to remain faithful to God. God reminded Jeremiah that He saw their struggle and would provide all they needed to remain faithful as long as they demonstrated a willingness to follow Him. Far more life calls out to God daily for a replenished heart, body, and mind to live righteously.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7, NIV)

Our minds are susceptible to Satan’s lies about what is good, sensible, right, reasonable, or deserved. Our thinking is renovated and our spiritual vision is replenished when we look to God’s commands and instructions for guidance. Far more life finds refreshment in following God’s principles, believing our All-Knowing Father is wise, loving, and trustworthy.

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, NIV)

When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as payment for our sins, they are wiped out. That is the ultimate refreshment! But as time goes on and we realize we will continue to sin, our refreshment may diminish. Repentance — making the choice to turn away from sin and turn to God — is a lifelong refreshing process. Every time we repent we are reminded of our position in Christ. We grow in far more life as we become aware of sins and repent; the grace flowing to our Spirits is replenished and we are refreshed.

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14, NIV)

Once the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, refreshment is always available! He renovates our mind so we can see with His perspective. He revives our excitement about His plans and purposes for us. He replenishes our strength so we are ready to join His work. We do not have to wait for vacations or holidays — far more life offers refreshment every day!

Sisters,
When have you felt most refreshed?
Is your weekly Sabbath refreshing? If not, what do you need to change to make it so?
How do you connect with God for daily refreshment? What barriers do you face to deeper connection?
Engage in far more life today, seeking out God’s refreshment and enjoying His purposes for your day!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso
Photo by Ray Damaso

A Prosperous Soul

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2, NASB)

I have read 3 John numerous times but never noticed this verse before. What a great perspective! What a memorable description of far more life: a prosperous soul!

We work hard to prosper in many areas of life and to have good physical and mental health. But how much attention do we pay to the prosperity of our soul? We may attend church, pray, read our Bibles, attend Bible study, serve in the church, and do other good works. But these activities may or may not lead to a prosperous soul. They can be soul-feeding connections with God that fulfill and energize us. Or they can simply be habits, obligations, or items to check off our to do list.

What is a prosperous soul? Other Bible versions translate 3 John 2 as: strong in spirit; doing well spiritually; progressing spiritually; it is well with your soul. A prosperous soul is consistently experiencing (and sharing) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. A prosperous soul is growing in understanding God and becoming more like Him. A prosperous soul is far more life.

When someone asks how we are, imagine if we answered based on the condition of our soul:
“I am having wonderful fellowship with God today!”
“I am praising Christ for all He has done for me!”
“I am expectantly waiting for God’s best in some areas to become evident!”
“I am having a hard day but trust Him to keep all His promises!”
“I feel disconnected from God.”

“God’s promises feel empty and meaningless.”
“I am struggling to walk in the fruit of the Spirit.
“I am angry with God.”

In many situations, those would be awkward responses. But it is refreshing and life-changing to be self-aware and open with trusted brothers or sisters in Christ. I have a good friend who regularly asks, “How are you doing spiritually?” I confess that sometimes it is tempting to answer “Fine,” and change the subject. But I know she is offering me a precious gift! Sharing the condition of our souls helps us prosper by living out Paul’s instruction to the Philippians:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. (Philippians 2:1-2, NIV)

This Scripture passage was read at my wedding and has challenged me many times to get my heart right toward God and my husband! Being open about the prosperity — or lack of prosperity — in my soul has benefitted me and our relationship. It has helped me maintain far more life. And enabled us to have a loving, Christ-centered marriage.

A prosperous soul is the foundation of a healthy life. When our soul is healthy, we keep everything else in the perspective of eternity. It reminds me of the promise in Matthew:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33, NIV)

“All these things” are covered in the preceding verses: life (what you will eat and drink) and clothes (what you will wear). At a minimum, when we are investing our lives in God’s kingdom, He will supply our basic physical needs. But this promise is attached to a command found a few verses earlier:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? (Matthew 6:25, NIV)

The command that produces a prosperous soul and healthy life is, “Do not worry.” When we replace worry — mental distress resulting from concern for something anticipated — with trust that God already knows our needs and is prepared, willing, able, and planning to meet them, our soul prospers. And we gain far more life.

Worry is based on a faulty belief about God and our position before Him. It robs us of far more life. Perhaps we can recite multiple Bible verses about God’s faithfulness, love, provision, and our righteous standing before Him. But some part of our mind does not believe it. Some experience from the past planted a seed of doubt that Satan has watered and fertilized to keep our soul from optimal prosperity. Thankfully we are not stuck with that lie. We can expose it by exploring our negative emotions and the reasons behind them until we discover the false belief and replace it with God’s truth. (To learn a systematic method for this, read the post “New Master”, published October 29, 2020.)

What keeps your soul healthy? Your spiritual diet and exercise choices!

He refreshes my soul. (Psalm 23:3, NIV)

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25, NIV)

Choose what goes into your mind and heart: connect daily with God and His word; engage meaningfully with other believers; pursue pure entertainment and recreational options. Also engage in the disciplines that promote spiritual growth: regular praise and prayer; capturing false or harmful beliefs in obedience to Christ; blessing others by using your spiritual gifts. When you recognize your soul is unhealthy — not experiencing the fruit of the Spirit — confess it and do the heart work needed to get back on track.

Every day can be a prosperous and healthy day for your soul. A day of far more life!

Sisters,
Do you focus more on your prosperity in life, your health, or the state of your soul?

How would you describe a prosperous soul?
What is the condition of your soul right now?
What spiritual diet or exercise practice would improve the health of your soul?
Thank God for enabling you to improve the prosperity of your soul today and embrace far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso