Mar 10, 2015
We were created perfect in a perfect world. Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s rule, which resulted in sin, shame, and nakedness. Ever since, we have been trying to cover our nakedness and hide our true selves from God, ourselves, and other people. We can never adequately deal with our nakedness, but God has come into our wrecked world to provide a perfect cover for us.
I am full, having received . . . the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma . . . well pleasing to God. —Philippians 4:18
I’m grateful that God has given us the sense of smell so we can enjoy the many fragrances of life. I think of how much I enjoy something as simple as the fresh and inviting aroma of after-shave lotion in the morning. Or the mellow smell of fresh-cut grass in the spring. I especially enjoy sitting in the backyard when the delicate scent of my favorite roses fills the air. And then there are the savory aromas of delicious food.
So it catches my attention when the apostle Paul says that our generous acts of love toward others are like a “sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18). When we think of helping those in need, we usually think of it as the right thing to do—or even the Christlike thing to do. But Paul says that our intentional act of reaching out to meet someone’s need actually fills the throne room of God with a fragrance that brings pleasure to Him.
We can please God with the aromas that rise from being a blessing to others! What an added incentive this is for us to perform deeds of kindness in His name.
Who might need your act of kindness today? Ask God to lead you to someone. Be a blessing. It’s a fragrant thing to do!
Here is what I hope to do for others today.
Blessing others is a blessing to God.
“God bless you!” We hear it all the time, don’t we? From the pastor’s benediction in worship to a simple courtesy when someone sneezes, we hear wishes of God’s blessing so often that we don’t even stop to consider what the phrase means.
Let’s break away from habit and discover what it truly means to be blessed by the Lord. In Genesis 12, God’s commission of Abram shows His wonderful promise to make the man into a prospering nation and give him a great and enduring name. More than that, God extends His blessing to those close to Abram and ultimately takes it to a global scale, pledging to bless the entire world by what He’s doing in this one person’s life.
So, when the Lord speaks about blessing someone, it’s a promise to intervene mightily and noticeably in that individual’s life. This could mean a thriving, happy family or, possibly, financial prosperity. Maybe it involves emotional security or spiritual insight. The heavenly Father might have in mind to give honor, wisdom, or lasting purpose. In fact, we see every one of these things in God’s pledge to Abram.
But let’s not overlook two conditions for the Lord’s favor. From Abram’s life, we see that God values obedience and faith (Gen 12:4, Gen 15:6, Gen 22:2-3, 12).
God wants to bring abundance into your life. Be sure His blessing isn’t being hindered. Ask, Am I trusting Him? Have I ignored something He has asked me to do? Give in to His call, and open your arms to receive what your Father longs to give you.
“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 26:18)
All too often we consider forgiveness a mysterious and spiritual transaction that, once accomplished, is a past event that has little to do with our subsequent lives.
It is certainly true that there is a historical point in our earthly lives where the forgiveness of Christ was granted—even though He was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).
Christ has subdued, cleansed, and forgotten our sins: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?. . . he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19). “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Isaiah 43:25). “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins” (Isaiah 44:22).
Christ has replaced our sins with His holiness: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. . . . For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21).
Christ has given us victory over sin: Since all of the above (and more) is true and active in the lives of all believers, there should be an obvious exhilaration that enables us to confidently stand against whatever “fiery darts” the enemy may throw at us. We are clearly told that “sin shall not have dominion over [us]” (Romans 6:14). And since Jesus already dealt with the “offence” of sin on the cross, we can “reign in life” by Him (Romans 5:17). HMM III
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. —Matthew 6:6
Among the enemies to devotion none is so harmful as distractions. Whatever excites the curiosity, scatters the thoughts, disquiets the heart, absorbs the interests or shifts our life focus from the kingdom of God within us to the world around us—that is a distraction; and the world is full of them. Our science-based civilization has given us many benefits but it has multiplied our distractions and so taken away far more than it has given….
The remedy for distractions is the same now as it was in earlier and simpler times, viz., prayer, meditation and the cultivation of the inner life. The psalmist said “Be still, and know” (Psalm 46:10), and Christ told us to enter into our closet, shut the door and pray unto the Father. It still works….
Distractions must be conquered or they will conquer us. So let us cultivate simplicity; let us want fewer things; let us walk in the Spirit; let us fill our minds with the Word of God and our hearts with praise. In that way we can live in peace even in such a distraught world as this. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27).
Lord, help me to cultivate simplicity, to be satisfied with fewer things and to find the inner peace that You can give in a life of prayer and meditation. Amen.
For I am the least of the apostles… But by the grace of God I am what I am…. 1 Corinthians 15:9, 10
Every humble and devoted believer in Jesus Christ must have his own periods of wonder and amazement at this mystery of godliness—the willingness of the Son of Man to take our place in judgment so that the people of God could be a cleansed and spiritual people!
If the amazement has all gone out of it, something is wrong, and you need to have the stony ground broken up again!
The Apostle Paul, one of the holiest men who ever lived, was not ashamed of his times of remembrance and wonder over the grace and kindness of God. He knew that God did not hold his old sins against him forever!
Knowing the old account was all settled, Paul’s happy heart assured him again and again that all was well.
He could only shake his head in amazement and confess: “I am unworthy to be called, but by His grace, I am a new creation in Jesus Christ!”
I make this point about the faith and assurance and rejoicing of Paul in order to say that if that humble sense of perpetual penance ever leaves our justified being, we are on the way to backsliding!
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection. PHILIPPIANS 3:10
Do we really believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is something more than making us the “happiest fellows in the Easter parade”?
Are we just to listen to the bright cantata and join in singing, “Up from the Grave He Arose,” smell the flowers and go home and forget it?
No, certainly not!
It is truth and a promise with a specific moral application. The Resurrection certainly commands us with all the authority of sovereign obligation—the missionary obligation!
I cannot give in to the devil’s principal, deceitful tactic which makes so many Christians satisfied with an “Easter celebration” instead of experiencing the power of Christ’s resurrection. It is the devil’s business to keep Christians mourning and weeping with pity beside the cross instead of demonstrating that Jesus Christ is risen indeed.
When will the Christian church rise up, depending on His promise and power, and get on the offensive for the risen and ascended Savior?
Lord, Your resurrection is a call to action. No other religion can claim the power You displayed on that first Easter morning. You are the one, true God! Give me opportunities to tell others about Your saving power.