THE FRAGRANCE OF CHRIST

“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭2:14-17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What does Jesus smell like?

To the hungry He smells like homemade bread.

To the captive He smells like mountain air.

To the lonely and isolated He smells like a birthday party.

To the defenseless He smells like victory.

To the prisoner He smells like mercy.

To the arrogant He smells offensive.

To the lost He smells like a shepherd.

To the abused He smells like justice.

To the discarded and rejected He smells like Braveheart.

Jesus. The beautiful smell of hope.

Culled from a 30 day devotional for Youth leaders

REACH FOR YOUR DREAMS

“Too many people are not living their dreams because they are living their fears.”

From The Confident Woman Devotional by Joyce Meyers

This word hit my so strongly this morning. I realized that all I do is to please and make everyone around me happy and comfortable. I invest so much of myself to satisfy others and in the process lose sight on me. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with doing things for the benefit of others, in fact so much joy is derived from doing just that. Jesus our example tells us to bear each other’s burdens, to live at peace with All as much as lies within us. My point this morning is that in doing that we should not lose sight of who we are, we should not forget to be the men/women God created us to be, we should not please men and displease God!

In other words, instead of doing things out of our heart, we do them because we are afraid of what will happen if we don’t. “Someone will get angry! I will get left out! People will talk about me!” It is time that we started being the person we really want to be. The person God created us to be! The World Changers! The Overcomers! The Winners! It is time to reach for your dreams.

God Who Transforms

“During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions. This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said. “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip. (Even today the people of Israel don’t eat the tendon near the hip socket because of what happened that night when the man strained the tendon of Jacob’s hip.)”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭32:22-32‬ ‭NLT‬‬

From the 30 day youth leaders devotional

The ultimate moment of Jacob’s relationship with God had come. Jacob was now truly alone. Yes, he was alone when he had the dream at Bethel but at that time, Jacob was still full of himself and his plans. Now, Jacob was truly alone. All that he possessed and longed for was separated from him. There was nothing that he had left, to hold on to. What was ahead was certain disaster and this was when, in his total emptiness & brokenness, Jacob chose to reconcile with God.

Many of us are still ‘running’ in life. We have not yet come to the time and place where we are willing to put down all our defences and preoccupation and say, “Yes, Lord. I’m here before you”

The all night wrestling match was Jacob’s encounter with God. Jacob had to find the solution to his life of ‘running’. Jacob was not willing to let God go. God touched him and Jacob the supplanter was transformed into Israel, a prince with God. This was the transformation of God and nothing about Jacob’s capability. The limp remained in order for Jacob to always remember that the transformation was from God and not from him.

From now on Jacob’s life belonged totally to God and for His purposes.

Have you come to this place in your life journey? Or, are you still running? Will you come to God right now, put down all you defences and preoccupations and say, “Lord I totally surrender my life to you”?

Lord, I come to you in total surrender. Take all of me for yourself

MORE OF JESUS LESS OF ME

Culled from 30 devotions for youth leaders

Two full tables of guests never looked at me.

I stood behind the lectern and addressed an audience in Frederick, Maryland – only to discover that a significant number of those in attendance paid no attention to me. Their eyes were locked on Jennifer.

Jennifer was a competent and enthusiastic interpreter. Her language? Sign language.

Youth for Christ in Central Maryland leads a vibrant, impactful ministry at the Maryland Deaf School, and many of our advocates, friends and supporters attended the annual fundraising banquet to show their support.

My words found a home in Jennifer’s hands, whose job it was to convert my verbalization into motion. Even as I referenced members of the deaf contingent, their eyes never looked my way—they remained fixed and focused—on Jennifer.

It unnerved me at first, but over the course of 30 minutes I found it to be beautiful and appropriate. My text was John 14:6: Jesus said to him (Thomas), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The experience became a lesson, not for the audience, but for me. My message, rightly and humbly communicated, should push the gaze of those I lead, of those I serve, of those I communicate with, off of me.

Is it possible that even as I communicate the message of Jesus, I am “pleased” that the eyes of the crowd are on me? This reality convicts me, as it rightly should.

The words of John 14:6 reverberated through Jennifer’s hands. Her silent competence pounded the reality of my calling deep into my soul.

My effectiveness should be measured by where the eyes of those who follow me gaze. At me or at Jesus? Is it my compelling delivery that draws them or the unconstrained message of the Gospel? Would I be content if the people in the room never saw me?

I was in the classroom, even as I stood at the front of the room. Through the silence – I heard my Master. Only Jesus. Always Jesus. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus.

More of Jesus – and yes, less of me.

YOU ARE VALUABLE

“Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you and your children from east and west.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

You are special to God, it doesn’t matter how you feel, what people have told you, the unequivocal truth is that YOU ARE VALUABLE TO GOD! YOU ARE SPECIAL IN HIS EYES! GOD LOVES AND CHERISHES YOU!

DARE TO ASK

“Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]–”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

WITH RECKLESS ABANDON

From 30 devotions for youth leaders devotional

As Jesus peers across the Temple, He looks deeply into the souls of the congregants. He wasn’t auditing their actions. Instead, He was searching their hearts and assessing their motivations.

The way He commends the widow causes me to question my own patterns of living and giving. When Jesus affirms her for giving “out of her poverty,” it convicts me to the core. It reveals how little I understand the love of Christ, that I would underestimate His provision and care for me. Life has taught me:

To risk only from a place of safety.

To love only from a place of security.

To defend only from a place of certainty.

To explore only from a place of predictability.

To dream only from a place of realism.

To give only from a place of plenty.

This is not Jesus’ plan. He calls us to live with the abandon of souls set free. In spite of our desperation and brokenness, he asks us to live generously.

We love because He first loved us.

We give because He emptied the treasury of heaven for us.

We risk because our safety is found in Christ alone.

We forgive because He forgave.

We defend the defenseless because He wielded His sword for them.

We abandon bias and prejudice because His assessment of the soul exceeds our ability.

We reconcile because He alone is judge.

We live “out of our poverty” because it is there that we can plumb the depth of our worth in Him.

It is no sacrifice to give from a full account. But when Jesus looks across the temple, He sees beyond our actions to assess our motivation and sacrifice. Jesus, our model and master, knows the pain of our sacrifice, the depth of the well from which our gifts are given.

When we give out of our poverty we tap into the limitless love of Jesus. Live from a place of confidence in Christ, not from the “safety” of self­ reliance.