The Fragrance of Christ

The Fragrance of Christ

By: Marion Stroud

2 Corinthians 2:14-17

We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:15

Which of the five senses brings back your memories most sharply? For me it is definitely the sense of smell. A certain kind of sun oil takes me instantly to a French beach. The smell of chicken mash brings back childhood visits to my grandmother. A hint of pine says “Christmas,” and a certain kind of aftershave reminds me of my son’s teenage years.

Paul reminded the Corinthians that they were the aroma of Christ: “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:15). He may have been referring to Roman victory parades. The Romans made sure everyone knew they had been victorious by burning incense on altars throughout the city. For the victors, the aroma was pleasing; for the prisoners it meant certain slavery or death. So as believers, we are victorious soldiers. And when the gospel of Christ is preached, it is a pleasing fragrance to God.

As the aroma of Christ, what perfumes do Christians bring with them as they walk into a room? It’s not something that can be bought in a bottle or a jar. When we spend a lot of time with someone, we begin to think and act like that person. Spending time with Jesus will help us spread a pleasing fragrance to those around us.

Lord, please shape my thoughts and actions so people may sense that I have been with You.

When we walk with God, people will notice.

The imagery of a pleasing aroma coming up before the Lord appears in several different ways in Scripture. In the Old Testament, one of the pieces of furniture in the tabernacle was the altar for burning incense (Ex. 30:1). Along with the lampstand and the table for the bread of the Presence, the incense altar was in the holy place—just outside the Holy of Holies. In Revelation 8:3–4 incense is offered on the altar in heaven. This incense is connected to the prayers of the people of God. We see that not only can our lives be a pleasing aroma to God, but our prayers can be as well. Bill Crowder

With Respect

With Respect

By: Dave Branon

Ezra 5:6-17

If it pleases the king, let a search be made in the royal archives of Babylon to see if King Cyrus . . . issue[d] a decree.

Ezra 5:17

The citizens of Israel were having some trouble with the government. It was the late 500s bc, and the Jewish people were eager to complete their temple that had been destroyed in 586 bc by Babylon.
However, the governor of their region was not sure they should be doing that, so he sent a note to King Darius (Ezra 5:6-17). In the letter, the governor says he found the Jews working on the temple and asks the king if they had permission to do so. The letter also records the Jews’ respectful response that they had indeed been given permission by an earlier king (Cyrus) to rebuild.
When the king checked out their story, he found it to be true: King Cyrus had said they could build the temple. So Darius not only gave them permission to rebuild, but he also paid for it! (see 6:1-12).
After the Jews finished building the temple, they “celebrated with joy” because they knew God had “[changed] the attitude of the king” (6:22).
When we see a situation that needs to be addressed, we honor God when we plead our case in a respectful way, trust that He is in control of every situation, and express gratitude for the outcome.

Lord, help us to respond respectfully to situations around us. We need Your wisdom for this. May we always honor, trust, and praise You.

Respect for authority brings glory to God.

Starting Upstream

Starting Upstream

By: Philip Yancey

Matthew 6:5-10

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Matthew 6:8

My home sits along a creek in a canyon in the shadow of a large mountain. During the spring snowmelt and after heavy rains this stream swells and acts more like a river than a creek. People have drowned in it. One day I traced the origin of the creek to its very source, a snowfield atop the mountain. From there the melted snow begins the long journey down the mountain, joining other rivulets to take shape as the creek below my house. It occurs to me, thinking about prayer, that most of the time I get the direction wrong. I start downstream with my own concerns and bring them to God. I inform God, as if God did not already know. I plead with God, as if hoping to change God’s mind and overcome divine reluctance. Instead, I should start upstream where the flow begins. When we shift direction, we realize that God already cares about our concerns—a loved one’s cancer, a broken family, a rebellious teenager—more than we do. Our Father knows what we need (Matt. 6:8). Grace, like water, descends to the lowest part. Streams of mercy flow. We begin with God and ask what part we can play in His work on earth. With this new starting point for prayer, our perceptions change. We look at nature and see the signature of the grand Artist. We look at human beings and see individuals of eternal destiny made in God’s image. Thanksgiving and praise surge up to Him as a natural response.

Dear Lord, I praise You for loving and caring for me so much. What would I ever do without You?

Prayer channels God’s supply to our needs.

In Matthew 5:21–48, Jesus deals with the burdensome teachings of the Pharisees and in 6:1–18 with their hypocritical practices. They were showcasing how spiritually pious they were through an ostensible display of their religious duties: charitable giving (vv. 2–4), praying (vv. 5–15), and fasting (vv. 16–18). Jesus calls them to move away from such showmanship and to pray in the privacy of their homes (v. 6). Desiring the praise of others, they forfeited their reward from God (v. 5). Elsewhere, Jesus warned that those who “for a show make lengthy prayers . . . will be punished most severely” (Mark 12:40). Instead of babbling with pretentious empty words (Matt. 6:7), we are to pray with simplicity and sincerity (vv. 9–13).

Go a Little Further

“And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Matthew 26:39

Jesus left the crowd. He left the twelve disciples. In Gethsemane He even left the three who were closest to Him, went a  little further and fell on His face and prayed, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” It was here, face-to-face with His Father, that He found strength to handle this crisis and the wisdom to know what to do will be yours if you’ll just go a little further, stay in My presence a little longer, and dig a little deeper in My Word. If only you knew how close you are to the answer!”Jesus was only a few hours away from the cross, a few days away from the resurrection, and on the threshold of launching the church. Are you in Gethsemane? Sometimes surrendering  your will to God is hard, isn’t it? Look at Jesus. Before heaven accepted the sacrifice of a broken body, it demanded the sacrifice of a broken will.

Have you surrendered to God? Why do we trust others so easily while God longs for us to Trust Him? You go to a doctor whose name you can’t pronounce, get  a prescription you can’t read, take it to a pharmacist you don’t know, get medicine you don’t understand, and take it with confidence. Why is it so much easier to have confidence in these “unknowns” than in God, Who is faithful in every way? The answer lies in where you place your trust. Trust comes from knowing someone intimately, listening to them, and spending time with them. it doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time.

Taken from The Word for You Today: Wednesday November 19, 2014

 

IF YOU ARE WONDERING “WHY ME!!??” THIS IS FOR YOU

Whatever You ask in Prayer, Believe…….

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24

When you pray:

(1) Use your faith: William ward says: ” We stamp and address an envelope and send it on its way with complete confidence that it will reach its destination. Yet we wonder, and even doubt if our prayers will be heard by an ever present, ever loving God.” Wrap your prayer in expectation. God doesn’t respond to your need, He responds to your faith.

(2) Don’t worry about using the right words: Jesus said of the Pharisees, “They think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Ever heard the lawyer’s version of “Give us this day our daily bread?” (Matthew 6:11). “We respectfully petition, request and entreat that a due and adequate provision be made, this day and date first above and inscribed, for the satisfying of the petitioners’ nutritional requirements, and for the organizing of such methods of allocation and distribution as many deemed necessary and proper, to assume the reception by and for said petitioners of such quantity of cereal products (hereinafter and herein called bread), and shall in the judgment of the aforesaid petitioners constitute a sufficient amount.” THAT’S EIGHTY WORDS!!! Jesus used only seven! Sometimes the most effective prayer is brief and to the point.

(3) Be specific: Jesus said, “You will be given whatever you ask for in my name” (John 16:23). The great things about being specific is that whenever God answers, you know it. the loved one you prayed for got saved. The sickness got healed. The more specific you are, the more alert you’ll be for answers-which means you can be more specific with your thanks to God.

 

Taken from The Word for you Today: Saturday November 15, 2014

How and Why???

HOW ARE YOU ASKING AND WHY?

While you are pondering this question, I will give you a true story.

My family and I went to a family reunion over the summer. When we arrived at the hotel we had to wait for our rooms because the hotel was full. While waiting I had a discussion with one of my aunt’s about signing up with the Hilton Honors program because the point system is nice. When I checked in my aunt was standing with me, and the admin clerk gave me a signed letter from the hotel manager thanking me for being a Hilton Honors member, and he realized it was my first time being there. The hotel manager went on to say he hope my stay with that particular Hilton is pleasant.

The admin clerk went on to explain to me all of the benefits Hilton Honors members receive, and there are designated floors for HH members. Now at this time I am feeling like big stuff because no hotel has ever gone out the way like this since I have signed up with the company. The admin clerk proceeded to tell me because the HH member floors are booked up, I would be on the floor underneath those. The admin clerk then got on the radio and announced there was a Hilton Honors member checking in at such and such room, and to make sure the amenities HH members receive are there. family-choice-room

I proceeded to turn to my aunt with this smile on my face and say, “Girl you gotta become a Hilton Honors member.” Now I am on my way to my room, and low and behold, when I get in there the room only has two full sized beds. My mouth hits the floor, and I am flipping out because I requested “2 DOUBLE BEDS!!!!” So now I am on the phone with my aunt, and she ask me to come to her room. When I get to her room she is on the top floor where the HH members are supposed to be, and her room has a theatre with theatre seats, a huge locker room shower, a Jacuzzi, and a lot of other good stuff that I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE!!!

228903_l   Tranquility

Tranquility Suite Wilson Suite

Now I am furious and griping to my husband about how that is unfair, and I asked for double beds, and that I am a Hilton Honors member, and how is it someone who isn’t a member can get all of this? I wanted a new room, and for those few moments I did not want Christ to handle anything because I am a HH member, and I deserve better. Though my husband told me to just calm down and be thankful, I didn’t want to hear all of that.

My aunt said something to me that put me back in check. She said, “You have to be specific about what you want. You have to ask questions. You have to ask what is provided. You cannot assume that all hotels are the same, and the size of their rooms are the same along with their amenities. YOU MUST BE SPECIFIC!” That got my attention. A lot of times in our life we go to Christ just throwing up some “I hope it make it up there” prayers thinking that because God is all knowing that HE should magically perform our un-spoken requests. The scripture says in Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

When someone ask the Lord for something, and he/she is specific about what they want, you should not get upset because they counted up the cost and did their homework before they put their request in. Many times in life we will get envious of others because they took the time to be specific about what they want and how they want it, and the Lord causes them to shine because they are honoring HIM through the received answer. When we just through junk up to the Lord, Junk is what we get back.

The Lord know there are times when we make certain requests we want to shine in our own way like I did. I wanted to stand tall because I was a Hilton Honors member, but the word says in James 4:3, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” That little lesson showed me that I wanted to shine in front of my family, but the Lord would not allow it because HE will never give us anything that would cause us to think that we are better than anyone else.  The Lord will always answer prayer that is according to HIS will for our life, (John 14:12-14) not according to the lust of our flesh.

I know the LORD desires to supply all of our need according to HIS riches in glory by Christ Jesus, but my question to you again is HOW ARE YOU ASKING, and WHY????

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