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Fragrance or Stink: What Do You Smell Like?

1 Oct

A woman, trying to control her dry hair, treated her scalp with olive oil before washing it. But then, worried the oil might oliveoil_margenauer_pixabaylinger, she washed her hair several times.

That night, as she went to bed, she leaned over to her husband and asked, “Do I smell like olive oil?”

“No,” he said, sniffing her.

“Do I smell like Popeye?” *

I once read that if you lick your wrist and wait 10 seconds, and then smell your wrist… that’s what your breath smells like!

Is that true? Oh wait … Yikes!

There are sweet smells and offensive smells, right?

  • The smell of a newborn baby (minus a soiled diaper).
  • The smell of old books.
  • The smell of exotic perfume.
  • The smell of a bakery.
  • The smell of a wet dog.
  • The smell of honeysuckle vines.
  • The smell of an angry skunk.

But the smell I’m considering today is the aroma that lingers from my attitudes. 

Even if you are not aware of it, you are leaving behind a fragrance wherever you go.

Encouraging, godly attitudes will bless others, but when our attitudes “stink,” it will affect everyone around us in negative ways.

Although sin grievously affects us personally, we don’t sin unto ourselves—others are affected. Our “stink” can rub off on others! One example is the stinky attitude that comes from an unforgiving, bitter attitude that “defiles many” (Hebrews 12:15).

The story is told of an old homeless man, taken in by a God-fearing couple who wanted to help him. They took him home where he showered and cleaned up. But then he put on his old, dirty, stinky clothes! He didn’t realize the loving couple had laid out fresh, clean clothes for him.

This is what we Christians do sometimes. We are “washed” by the Lord when He rescues us and makes us His own (1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26) and God wraps us in a robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10); but then we keep righteousrobe_stinkygarments_lolwithgodputting old “stinky” garments over that robe!

Our hearts are changed, but we still resort to stinky thinking patterns that lead to stinky actions.

When tempted to put on those stinky attitudes, we need to lay them down and pick up the attitudes the Holy Spirit has “laid out” for us.

What are these attitudes?

Sweet-smelling attitudes arise from the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and goodness (Galatians 5:22-23). They include behavior that shows we have become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4-7).

And our thoughts help us focus on these attitudes. We need thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). We need to think these kinds of things and practice sweet-smelling habits that flow from those thoughts.

We all sin. Every day. If we say we don’t, we’re deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8). But that doesn’t mean we cozy down with our sins. We should hate our sin as God does, and confess it to Him in repentance (1 John 1:9) so we can move forward in His grace to thoughts, words and behaviors that please Him (Ephesians 5:8-10; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Romans 12:1-2).

We need a “daily washing” to make sure the aroma of Christ is what lingers, wherever we go and in every situation;

“For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15, Amp).

King David, after committing terrible sin, cried out to God, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity [wickedness], and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 51:2). In essence, David was saying, “Scrub me clean. Soak out my sinful attitudes and actions, and let me be pure again.”

Determine that your aroma will be the fragrance of Christ, not the stink of sin!

How can you know what “aroma” emanates from YOUR life? By others’ reactions and responses? Through the conviction of the Holy Spirit? From the Word of God?

from * Adapted from The Cybersalt Digest, Issue #4177, 9-1-16

~ Dawn

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Change? You’ve Got Everything You Need.

16 May

TwoCaterpillarsTwo caterpillars were chatting on a leaf. Suddenly, a beautiful butterfly fluttered by.

One caterpillar turned to the other and said, “You’ll never get me up on one of those butterfly things!”

It’s always dangerous to assume we know all the answers, and to resist change because we don’t understand.

The truth is, we have to stop being caterpillars before we can MonarchButterflybecome butterflies.

After my dog barked at a caterpillar the other day and I rescued the little stripped larvae (envisioning the gorgeous butterfly that would someday take flight), I thought about that caterpillar joke. How pitiful that the caterpillar didn’t understand the destiny of change.

I am tired of listening to Christians grumble that they “can’t change.”

And I’m not being critical of others. I’m just as tired of hearing my own complaints and excuses.

Like many people, I’ve caught myself saying, “I can’t change. It’s just the way I am.” No – I need to wake up to all that I have in Christ and my true destiny in Him. I need to step out in faith, courage and obedience – to walk as a child of light, pleasing the Lord (Ephesians 5:8-10). A child of light; that’s who I really am. I just keep forgetting the power that is mine.

Let me rephrase that. It’s not my power. God’s “divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). The Lord is our El Shaddai – God the all-sufficient One – and He perfectly supplies our needs. Although the primary focus of this passage in 2 Peter is our spiritual rather than temporal life, God’s children attest to His care, even in the storms of life.

Still, Paul said he considered everything else he had “a loss” and even “garbage” compared to the “surpassing worth” of knowing Jesus (Philippians 3:8). He understood that to know and “have” Jesus is to have everything.

Many Christians don’t think this way. They don’t believe we have all we need to live a godly, purpose-filled life. They’re always looking for an allusive something that’s missing so they can “have victory,” “find purpose,” or “live for God.” They think it might be in the next blog they read, or the next Sunday message. The truth is, God is actively seeking to change my life and make me more like Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:23). I am a work in progress, and God has given me the Word and spiritual tools for change.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “encouraging, comforting and urging” them “to live lives worthy of God” who had saved them (1 Thessalonians 2:12). But why did he tell believers to “make every effort to add” to their faith so they will be effective and productive in their knowledge of God and service for Him? (See 2 Peter 1:5-10; 3:18.) Why? God expects us to grow! Though we may face trials, God continues to work in us (Philippians 1:6 ). When we suffer and stumble, He restores us and make us “strong, firm and steadfast” for His glory (1 Peter 5:10).

When my husband recovered from knee surgery, we kept the post-surgery swelling down using a machine that streamed icy water through a rubber mat. The first time I wrapped the mat around his knee and plugged the machine into the wall, I thought it was broken. It took me a few minutes to realize a tiny wire at the top of the machine’s casing was not completely pushed in. What appeared to be powerless or even broken was simply a disconnected wire.

In the same way, I have everything I need to live a godly, effective life, but I need to make sure I’m connected each day, mentally and spiritually. I need to remember the cross, and think about who I am and what I have in Christ. The scriptures tell me my life is “hidden with Christ in God” and therefore, I am “qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 3:3; 1:9-14). That is the truth. That is why I can walk in light. (I have been justified; I am being sanctified.) I can make the daily upgrading choices that align with God’s plan for my life.

God expects my cooperation – a willing, surrendered heart. So I will strive for excellence in all things, desiring to reflect the glory of God. I will pursue holiness and be careful in my behavior, walking in wisdom and making the best use of my time, doing my best to understand and follow the will of the Lord (Ephesians 5:15-17). I will “walk worthy” of my calling (Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27a; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).

I’ve got everything I need for change; and if you know the Lord in a personal, redeemed relationship, you have everything you need. Believe it.

When is it hardest for you to believe you’ve got everything you need?

– Dawn

God’s ‘Leftovers’ are Makeovers!

9 May

Three wives were bemoaning their husbands’ attitudes towards leftovers:StillLeftovers

“It gets rough,” one said. “My husband is a movie producer and he calls them reruns.”

“You think you have it bad,” was the reply. “Mine is a quality control engineer and he calls them rejects!”

“That’s nothing compared to me,” said the third lady. “My husband is a mortician. He calls them remains!” *

Much has been written about not serving God the leftovers in our lives when He desires our best. I like – OK, truth be known, I was convicted by – what Francis Chan wrote in “Serving Leftovers to a Holy God.”

“God gets a scrap or two only because we feel guilty giving Him nothing … Leftovers are not merely inadequate; from God’s point of view (and lest we forget, His is the only one that matters), they’re evil.”

But that’s not what this post is about. One night, my husband Bob and I discussed this question: Does God have any leftovers?

A New Testament miracle came to mind. Jesus ministered to people whether their need was for truth, healing or food. Mixed within the multitude of people who followed Jesus were some who came because of His message and miracles, but most came simply for the meals. When they didn’t understand His message or the source of power behind His miracles, they still knew they could count on some chow. The Bread of Life provided well.

At least in one case (John 6:12-13, the feeding of the 5,000), there were “fragments” of food – 12 baskets full – that remained after the mass feeding. After the disciples saw Jesus turn the two barley loaves and fish into dinner for a crowd, they heard him say, “… gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” I’ve always wondered about those leftovers.

ChristBlessingTheFiveLoaves_2

“Christ Blessing the Five Loaves,” a print at Holy Transfiguration Monastery

The multitude may not have felt the 12 baskets of “fragments” were that important, but apparently Jesus did. Perhaps they represented God’s blessings. Maybe they represented the Father’s good grace.

Sometimes I’m guilty of considering only the big evidences of God’s work in my life as important, but the truth is, even the small blessings can point me back to the goodness and grace of God. Without Him, I can do nothing. He gives me strength; He is my Provider, my Sustainer.

So I try to gather up all these little fragments of blessing in my life and remember them, especially for the tough times. I believe there are no “worthless leftovers” in God’s plan.

God redeems everything in the believer’s life; He makes or will make all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:5). So instead of complaining or wallowing in discouragement when facing life’s trials and problems, I can choose to rejoice and count (rehearse) my blessings. I pick up all my “fragments” and praise Him for the work He’s about to do.

Consider some of the Bible’s lowly “leftovers”:

  • The lowly slave boy, Joseph, became Egypt’s second in command. (He not only collected the small fragments of his life and trusted God, he showed the Egyptians how to survive in famine – Genesis 47:13-31.)
  • God chose a lowly shepherd boy to be Israel’s king.
  • Jesus  chose 12 simple men to be His disciples.

So don’t get discouraged if you feel like a “leftover” in the Kingdom of God. Instead, meditate on 1 Corinthians 1:27-29:

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

God chose me … an unworthy servant … to speak and write about His love and holiness to this generation; and knowing that God uses what others might reject encourages me to reach out with the Gospel. Sometimes He invites people to His banquet-table that others might never consider (Luke 14:15-24). Learn to see people from God’s perspective:  He transforms lowly leftovers into miraculous makeovers! In God’s economy, every “fragment” is precious.

How have you seen God radically change an area of your life? How is He transforming you for His glory?

* Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3934, 12-31-12

– Dawn

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