Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Fragrance of Christ

" But thanks be to God! For through what Christ has done, he has triumphed over us so that now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Gospel like a sweet perfume.  As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives. It is the fragrance of Christ within us, ..." (2 Corinthians 2:14-15a -New Living Translation for better understanding.)

I have been using essential oils now for the last year or so.  I love to be able to use these oils to naturally support me in many ways, both emotionally and physically.  For example, if I need some calmness, I drop some lavender and other oils in a diffuser and it fills the room with a wonderful aroma that just melts all the stress away. Each one has special uses and smells. Whether to create calmness, or to purify the air, each oil has special qualities.  There are many options. 

When I read this verse I instantly thought, wow, we can be a diffuser for Christ!  When we walk into a room or converse with someone, they should be able to sense that we are followers of Christ, both in our manner and conversation.  I have sensed this many times when meeting new people. 

What is the Fragrance of Christ?

1.  To walk in Love:

"And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. (Ephesians 5:2)

2.  To be a person of prayer:

In Exodus 30:34-35 it tells us what spices were used for the incense altar in the Tabernacle where the priest would pray.  Frankincense was one of those ingredients.  Among other benefits, it promotes a spiritual and meditative connectiveness.  It was a sweet smell before the Lord. 

"And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray:..."  (Matthew 14:23a)

3.  To be humble and obedient:

"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:8)

4.  To be meek and gentle:

"Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ,..."                            (2 Corinthians  10:1a).    

5.  To be a light:

"I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)

These are only 5 of many fragrances of Christ that we could follow.  Just like the essential oils that you could use,  each one is worthy of further study so that we can effectively diffuse the fragrance of Christ where ever we go.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Ancient Path

"The snow never melts high up in the Lebanon mountains. The cold, flowing streams from the crags of Mount Hermon never run dry. These can be counted on. But not my people! For they have deserted me and turned to foolish idols. They have turned away from the ancient highways of good and walk the muddy paths of sin.  Therefore, their land shall become desolate, so that all who pass by will gasp and shake their heads in amazement at its utter desolation." Jeremiah 18:14-16 (The Living Bible - used for better understanding.)
When Jeremiah wrote these words, Israel had forsaken God.  They worshipped foreign gods.  God's word was not heard in the land and His commandments were not obeyed. Therefore, God was sending the Babylonians to utterly destroy Israel and take them all captive back to Babylon.  It was a very harsh, brutal punishment.  Israel had forsaken God and stopped following the "ancient path" given to them on Mount Sinai.
The 10 commandments:
1- Thou shalt have no other gods before me.2- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.3- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.4- Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.5- Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.6-  Thou shalt not kill.7- Thou shalt not commit adultery.8-  Thou shalt not steal.9- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.10- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's." (Exodus 20:3-17)
The Greatest Commandment:
 In the New Testament, when Jesus was questioned by a scribe as to which is the greatest commandment,   "Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."  (Mark 12:28-31). We all know it as the golden rule.   Each one of these commandments is like a stone on the ancient path we should follow.
What path are we following?I have been so saddened about the recent protests and violent riots against our country, it's flag, courthouses, president, memorials, statues, monuments, churches, and many other things that are good and represent our country.  Our liberties and freedom of speech and worship have also been attacked. What warrants this behavior? Our country is crumbling.  These precious ancient stones are being tossed aside.  A strange, harsh, stumbling path is now being formed and followed, leading to disaster and many of the leaders are just letting it happen.  We are a Judeo-Christian nation, founded on God's commandments and many more instructions given in the Bible, leading to stability and peace. For sure, we've had our problems. We work through them, and learn from them.  There are still many more obstacles to cross. With respect for others, and with God's help, we will solve them.   But I feel like we, as a country, have forsaken God in so many ways and are walking in the "muddy paths of sin".
We as believers need to stay on the ancient path and pray for our country, our president, his family and our churches before our land becomes, as Jeremiah said, "desolate, so that all who pass by will gasp and shake their heads in amazement at its utter desolation." 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Are You Looking for That Blessed Hope?

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" Titus 2:11-13
When we live with the realization that Christ Jesus could come at any moment to rapture the believers in the air and forever we will be with Him in Heaven (the blessed hope), our life here on earth becomes focused on the question, "Am I ready?"  And the second question is, "Am I living a life, pleasing to God?"
Am I Ready?
Do you know Jesus?  Is your name written in the Lamb's book of life?  If not, would you like to know?  It's as easy as A,B,C.
Admit before God that you have fallen short of God’s perfection.  The Bible calls this sin.  There is no exception; all of us have offended God. Sin separates us from God.
 “For there is not a just man upon the earth that does good and sins not”
(Ecclesiastes 7:20)
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

Believe that Jesus died on a cross for your sins, was buried, and rose again from the dead.  The gift of eternal Life is only through Jesus Christ.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

"These things have I written unto you
that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that ye may know that ye have eternal life,
and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God”
(I John 5:13)

Here is a way you can make it more personal - by inserting your name where it says "world" and "whosoever":
 "For God so loved the world (you can insert your name here),
that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever  (insert your name) believes in him
 should not perish, but have everlasting life”  (John 3:16)

God's "only begotten Son" is Jesus Christ.

Confirm your decision. Speak to the Lord from your heart and receive him now as your personal Savior. 
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."  Romans 10:9

Since prayer can be an expression of sincere faith, you may express your trust in Jesus as your Savior through words like these: 
    *** Note ***   (It’s not saying the words, but your trust in Christ alone that saves)
“Lord God, I admit that I have a sin nature, and  I  have fallen short of  your perfect righteousness.  Forgive my sin of unbelief.  I now accept and believe that Jesus, God in the flesh, died on the cross, shed His precious blood for my sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day. Thank you for your forgiveness, and for the gift of eternal life.  Lord Jesus, live in my heart and save my soul.  Help me to walk faithfully in my new spiritual life.
 In Jesus' name I pray, Amen." 

If you have prayed and accepted the Lord's gift of eternal life, or have questions please let me know in the comments!  I would be happy to pray for you in your new life with Him!

Am I living a life pleasing to God?
Our verse above in Titus 2 says that because of the grace given to us, we are to live godly, righteous, sober lives.  As we grow in the Lord through prayer and reading His Word, the Bible, we learn more and more how to walk in His ways and do the things that please Him.  It is a journey.  We continue to learn and to yield our lives to him each day as we look for that blessed hope.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

3 Encouragements From Psalm 46 for Times of Trouble

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, " Psalm 46:1-2a
The Power of God working for us. "God is our refuge and strength,"
God has the power to keep us safe.  He is our refuge.
Cities of refuge were provided in ancient Israel.  When someone killed another person by accident, they could go to the nearest city of refuge and know that the next of kin of the deceased would not be able to hurt them in revenge.  They were protected there.  We can run to the Lord for refuge in times of trouble for protection.  We can be secure in His strength.  He has only to speak the words and the earth came into existence. "The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted." (verse 6)
The Presence of God working with us. "a very present help in trouble"
"The Lord of Hosts is with us..." (Verse 7)
Jesus' name, Emmanuel, means "God with us."  And He said,  "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrew 13:5b). We don't have to face our troubles by ourselves.  We can pray for help.  Others can also pray for us.  This gives much hope that things will be okay.
The Peace of God working in us. "Therefore will not we fear"
"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." (verse 10)
In Philippians 4:4-7, we are given a few steps to follow in order to have this wonderful peace in our hearts.  1.  Rejoice in the Lord always.  Note the word "always".  This means in good times and in bad times.  2. "Let your moderation (gentleness) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand" We need to get along with everyone and be kind to one another. 3. Don't worry about anything. Pray, be thankful for everything and give your concerns and requests to the Lord. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
So, be confident and have peace in knowing that we have a mighty, powerful God, who knows and loves us so much that He wants to help and be with us through all circumstances.
Note: Inspired by a devotional by Derick Cleave from the UK.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Keeping Calm during Troubled Times

For around 3 months we have been at home during the Covid 19 pandemic.  It has been a scary/depressing time.  At first, not much was known about it, except that it was very contagious and deadly.  I used the extra free time at home to do some art work everyday.  I began to follow Shawn Petite's lead in making a calm art journal to focus my mind on good things.  As I started working on it, I realized that most of the words of the word prompts in the journal were the same as the "Fruit of the Spirit". 
 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 
As I painted each page, I would think of the word and what it meant for me.  I also looked up the word in the Biblegateway website and read and meditated on the scripture for that word.  It really was a great way to focus on the Lord. Through this exercise He gave me the peace I needed to get through this troubled time.  Here are the pages in the journal.
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39
This verse always jumps out at me.  I am loved by God!  Wow!  You are loved by God!  He loves us so much that He gave his only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins.  He was buried, and then 3 days later He rose from the grave. (John 3:16).  This is the greatest love.  Tenderness, kindness, others first, self sacrificing, caring, and commitment are other words that came to my mind as I painted this page.
"Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:" Psalm 66:1
My beautiful grandchildren fill up my "joy" tank every time I see them. They are such a blessing to me.  Other things that bring me joy are hearing birds singing, little birds, balloons, painting, my kids, nature, trees, music and flowers.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27
Wow, this verse really helped me.  No matter what happens, I know that Jesus will always be with me.  Other peaceful things for me are the ocean, a quiet lake, a singing bird, the sunset or sunrise, music, flowers, a hug, a cuddly little dog, a flickering candle, God's word, a smile, and a sleeping baby.
"But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:4
The first 2 weeks were pretty easy to just stay home.  But, as the weeks turned into months, it got harder and harder to wait for things to be normal again.  It's been tough to wait.  It's been hard to miss out on our gathering together at church to worship and praise the Lord together.  Sure, it was great to at least join and participate with virtual worship on-line.  But, it's not the same.  Things won't be normal for a long time.  So, we continue to wait and be patient.  The Lord has all things in control.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
My faith in God and Jesus makes me who I am.  My faith gives me peace, joy, strength, love and many more good things.
"The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy." Psalm 147:11
My hope is in the Lord.  It's so good to know that it gives Him pleasure.

"But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:" I Thess. 2:7
 Be kind to one another.

"Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Joshua 1:9
 I was thinking of our brave medical workers and our wonderful military, who are the front line workers for us.  They practice courage everyday and I am so thankful to them.
I pray that as you read through this post and look at each journal page that it will help you to have hope, calmness and peace.  God bless you my friend!