“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek” (Matthew 6:31-32).
Jesus tells us that worry—about the future of our family, about jobs, about how we are to survive—is a heathen’s way of life. Jesus is talking here about those who have no heavenly Father. They do not know God as he wants to be known, as a caring, providing, loving Father in heaven.
“Do not worry about tomorrow” (v. 34). In these plain words, Jesus commands us, “Do not give a thought, do not give a worry, about what might or might not happen tomorrow. You can’t change anything. And you can’t help by worrying. When you do, you’re only doing as the heathen do.” Then Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (v. 33). In other words, you are to go on loving Jesus. You are to move on, casting all your cares on him. You are to go on resting in his faithfulness. Your heavenly Father will see to it that you are supplied with all the essential things of life.
I wonder if the angels are baffled by all the worrying and anxiousness of those who claim to trust in God. To them it must seem so degrading, so insulting to the Lord, that we worry as if we had no caring Father in heaven. What perplexing questions the angels must ask among themselves: “Have they no Father who is in heaven? Do they not believe he loves them? Did he not tell them he knows all about their needs? Do they not believe that he who feeds the birds and the whole animal kingdom will feed and clothe them? How can they fret and worry if they know he owns all power, all wealth, and can supply the needs of all creation? Would they accuse their heavenly Father of neglect, as if he was not true to his word?”
You have a heavenly Father. Trust him!
“The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me…and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus” (2 Timothy 1:16-18).
Onesiphorus was one of Paul’s spiritual sons and he loved Paul so deeply and unconditionally that he sought him out in his sufferings. Once, when Paul was jailed, Onesiphorus went through the city looking for him until he found him. His motivation was simply, “My brother is hurting. He has suffered the terrors of shipwreck, and now he’s being buffeted by Satan. I have to encourage him.”
The ministry of refreshing clearly includes seeking out those who are hurting. We hear a lot of talk about power in the church these days: power to heal the sick, power to win the lost, power to overcome sin. But I say there is great, healing power that flows out of a refreshed and renewed person. Depression, mental anguish or a troubled spirit can cause all kinds of physical sickness, but a spirit that’s refreshed and encouraged—one that’s made to feel accepted, loved and needed—is the healing balm needed most.
We find this ministry of refreshing in the Old Testament as well. When David was being hunted down by King Saul, he was exhausted and hurting, forced to run day and night. During that time, he felt rejected by God’s leaders and God’s people. Then, at a crucial moment, David’s friend Jonathan came to him: “Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, ‘Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that’” (1 Samuel 23:16-17).
That was all David needed to hear and immediately his spirit was refreshed to go on. We see this example time after time in Scripture: God sends not an angel or a vision, but a fellow believer to refresh his beloved ones.
How did the Holy Ghost bring comfort to Paul during his downcast times? The apostle himself tells us: “Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (2 Corinthians 7:6). Titus arrived in Macedonia with a refreshing spirit, and suddenly Paul’s heart was lifted. As the two men fellowshipped, joy flooded through Paul’s body, mind and spirit, and the apostle wrote, “I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation” (7:4). Paul was declaring, “I still face problems, but the Lord has given me what I need for the battle. He has refreshed me through Titus.”
Throughout my years in the ministry I’ve seen men and women of God come to the end of their endurance, cast down low and utterly confused. I’ve anguished over these dear brothers and sisters in their pain, asking the Lord, “Father, how will these servants of yours ever get out of such a pit of suffering? Where is the power that will bring them out? What can I say or do to help them?”
I believe the answer is found right here, in Paul’s testimony. Here was a man so deeply weary that he was no longer himself. Paul was at the darkest time of his ministry, as cast down as he’d ever been. Yet within a few short hours, he was completely out of that dark pit and reveling in joy and gladness. Once again, the beloved apostle felt loved and needed.
How did this happen? First, let’s look at what happened in Corinth. When Titus arrived there to meet with the church leaders, he received his own glorious refreshing. An awakening was taking place in the church because they had heeded Paul’s instruction, and now God was blessing them mightily.
This refreshing word, brought by a dear brother in the Lord, immediately lifted Paul out of his pit. God uses people to refresh people. He didn’t send an angel to refresh Paul. The comfort this man received came through the refreshing of Titus’ spirit, who in turn refreshed Paul’s.
Sometimes the solution to our problems is a person who serves. That probably doesn’t sound like a fix, does it? Our answers are usually “Let’s have a three week prayer and fasting meeting. Set up a series of revival meetings! Why don’t we send someone to Bible college?”
The apostles response to the early church's problems of racism, favoritism, classism, conflict over people’s pasts was “Let’s find some people who really love to serve.”
What is God’s response to division, strife and sin among his people? Often, it’s to put some men and women of God who have a servant-leader’s heart in the middle of everything. These people go in and saying, “I am here to serve you. I’m here to love you.” Nothing will quench the demonic fires of corruption and carnal living among believers than the men and women whom God raises up who say, “I don’t want any recognition. I don’t want to be put on the stage. All I want is to serve people in need.”
Peter himself told the church, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV).
Soberly pursue using the gift God has given you. No longer put it to the side. We are meant to work and serve within the body of believers, so stop giving excuses like “One of these days I’ll get back to being involved, but right now, I’m kind of tired.”
We’re called to live soberly and understand the call of God on our lives. There’s an old saying, “It’s easier to direct a rolling stone than one that’s sitting still.” Find a way to get started, and you will find that you are being directed more and more in the will and anointing of God.
We helped raise our granddaughter so she was often with us, and one time we were walking through Queens. She was about five or six and a bit ahead of us. Then some junior hoodlums turned the corner ahead of us, and they were trying to look hard, and their jeans are falling off their backends. They’re cursing, shoving each other and yelling, “You got nothing. Let me see what you got.”
The moment my granddaughter sees them, she comes a little closer to me. We’re walking closer and closer to this group of wannabe gangsters, and they're all trying to act so tough even though they’re practically kids themselves, but my granddaughter doesn’t know that. She gets closer and closer to me. One of these kids pushes another, and he falls off the curb.
Suddenly, her little hand reaches out, searching for mine, her whole body rigid and tense. The moment I took her hand — it’s a moment caught so clearly in my memory — her whole body relaxed.
I can’t remember any of the Christmas presents or things she’s gotten me over the years, but I will never forget that moment because trust is precious.
This is what God wants from us. He invites us to trust him, at all times but especially when something frightens us. “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthews 6:26, ESV).
So how do we grow in faith? Faith comes by hearing a promise and a truth. The Word of God has power to create faith. When scripture says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), we must notice that it’s in present tense. It’s moment by moment.
Faith means to trust; but even more than that, it means to rely and to lean on something. In the Old Testament, David describes faith as “I will run to him and find protection under his wings.” We are all in a school of faith, and God wants to develop faith in you and me. This is part of why he allows troubles in our lives or the answer to prayers is delayed, so we learn to trust him. Us trusting and relying on him means more than anything else in this world.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.