Spreading the Fragrance of Christ

Daily Devotional: Day 189

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

God is unstoppable. So is His Word. In Christ Jesus, God always prevails in His Word. As the Lord testifies in Isaiah 55:11, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (ESV). The Lord sends His Word through the ministry of Angels, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and many others. These servants of the Lord are unstoppable, too. The enemy may successfully stop some of them, but he cannot stop every messenger of God’s Word. In the end, God’s Word will prevail, accomplishing its divine purpose – by convicting, healing, encouraging, rebuking, correcting, exhorting, and revealing the secrets in people’s hearts.

Paul, an eminent Apostle of Christ, knew about this prevailing power of the Lord. Writing to the believers in Corinth, he praises God who always causes us to triumph in Christ. Paul and his companions in ministry encountered obstacle after obstacle, yet somehow, the Lord made a way for them to send His Word to the intended recipients. Through us, Paul continues, God manifests the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. Knowledge of God is like a fragrance. Through many messengers, the Lord diffuses this fragrance among people. And, the fragrance is unstoppable.

Then Paul adds, “we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” This means, to God, messengers of the Gospel are the fragrance of Jesus Christ. Wherever they go, this fragrance is revealed and diffused. Now notice the remaining part of today’s Scripture. Paul says that God’s messengers are the fragrance of Christ among two groups of people: those who are being saved, and those who are perishing. Not everyone receives the fragrance of Christ unto salvation. Some reject this fragrance, and in so doing, perish. Others, however, receive the fragrance unto life by submitting to the Lord’s message.

Today, know that God is counting on you to make a difference, too. As a Christian, you are – by default – a messenger of God. It is, therefore, important how you carry yourself. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, and whomever you are with, God’s purpose is to manifest the sweet-smelling fragrance of Christ through you. Make yourself available to Him. God doesn’t accept a mixture of fragrances: Christ fragrance plus sin fragrance or the worldliness fragrance. It’s all fragrance of Christ or nothing. Go out today and spread the fragrance of Christ in your deeds and words. Amen.

May the power of God’s Word prevail in your life and cause you to triumph in all things. Amen.

For further study: Romans 6:11-23

Make the devil Flee from You

Daily Devotional: Day 130

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, KJV).

Your blessing as a Christian consists in submitting to God. This means to subordinate your will to God’s will – as Jesus did. You recall what Jesus said in John 6:38: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (emphasis added). If you wish to be like Jesus, submit your will to God’s. Let God do with you whatever He pleases. Live your life with one purpose in mind: to please God in all things. This is important for many reasons. But let’s focus on just one today.

Your ability to spot and overcome the wiles of the devil depends on your submission to God. In other words, your power to resist satan flows from your submission to God. If you resist God – through disobedience – it would be impossible to resist the devil, because those who live in disobedience are vulnerable and can easily be exploited by the adversary.

 But you can resist the devil easily.

To resist the devil means to fiercely oppose everything he represents and to have nothing to do with deeds of darkness. As you do this, you’ll become a threat to the devil, and he will have no choice but to flee from you. If you submit to God, the devil is no match for you. Remember this: Those who – through obedience – are faithful to the Lord pose the biggest threat to satan. God wants you to have victory over the devil. Start today by submitting to God.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you today! Amen.

Take time to pray to the Father about today’s message.

For further study: 1 Peter 5:5-11

When to Obey God, Instead of Man

Daily Devotional: Day 121

“Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives . . . “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive” (Exodus 1:15-17, NKJV).

The Israelites lived peacefully with the Egyptians for about 400 years. But all of this changed when a certain Egyptian king ascended the throne, who felt threatened by the increasing number of the Israelites. He, therefore, adopted a policy of hostility and enslavement to subdue God’s people. This is the background for our Scripture reading today. The king of Egypt ordered the Hebrew (Israelite) midwives to kill all Hebrew sons whose birth they assisted. But the midwives disobeyed the king. As I often like to stress, pay attention to the detail. The midwives did not disobey just for the sake of disobeying.  They did not disobey because they were arrogant and rebellious. Notice this: The midwives disobeyed the king, because they feared God.

On several occasions the Bible admonishes us to honor and submit to civil/political authorities (cf. Mark 12:13-17Romans 13:1-71 Peter 2:13-17). When, however, you are ordered to commit evil, deny your God, or violate your Christian conscience, then you must object, and if necessary, disobey that human authority. In other words, whenever you are put in a situation where you must choose between obedience to God’s Word and obedience to men, God wants you to obey Him rather than man. God alone must be feared. I have said this in one of my Daily Devotionals, and I’d like to repeat: You cannot fear God and fear man at the same time. You must choose whom to fear.

God rewards those who fear Him and respect His commandments (See Exodus 1:20 for the blessings God bestowed on the midwives for their bold stance). When the Hebrew midwives disobeyed the king of Egypt, they were putting their profession and even their life on the line. But because they feared God, they did not fear what the king could do to them. They’d rather die than disobey God. This is the meaning of fearing GodBeing willing to rather die than sin against God. If you are a ‘people-pleaser,’ you can’t be a ‘God-pleaser,’ or vice-versa. Likewise, you cannot be a ‘God-fearer,’ if you are a ‘people-fearer.’

I’ll share a personal story with you. About 15 years ago, I was a senior at a seminary in Ghana where I was training to become a Catholic priest. As president of the student council, I had several responsibilities, and often I had to make important judgment calls. I’ll spare you the details, but one day there was a shortage of food at lunch time. Three professors (who were my superiors) ordered me to break into the food storage room to make food available to the students. But in good conscience, I disobeyed the order. I was fully aware that these professors were taking advantage of the temporary crisis to use me as their pawn to further their political agenda against the Rector of the seminary. I refused to play along. At the end of the day, God vindicated me. 

The point is this: You have a God-given right under the Bible to disobey a human law that commands you to violate the law of God or your Christian religious conscience. Whom or what you fear says a lot about you. Do not compromise your loyalty to God’s law because of your fear of human power. Your sole desire as a Christian is to do what pleases the Father, following your Bible-trained conscience, regardless of what people think about you or threaten to do to you.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today. Amen.

Pray to the Father about what you’ve heard today.

For further study: Daniel 3:1-30

Change Begins Today

Daily Devotional: Day 97

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years’” (Hebrews 3:7-9, NKJV).

Today’s Scripture reading is referencing Psalm 95:7-9.

During the forty years Israel walked with God in the desert, many of the people rebelled against God. The rebellion was primarily in the form of disobedience and lack of trust. Of course, if you can’t trust the Lord, you can’t walk with Him. Many Israelites perished in the desert because of their stubbornness and unbelief.

What everyone ought to realize is that God and His Word are inseparable. If you trust God, it means you trust the words that come out of His mouth. And the way you show that you trust His Words is by obeying His commandments. Think about it: Why would you obey someone you don’t trust? Or why would you disobey someone you trust? Trust and obedience, therefore, go hand in hand.

The biggest obstacle to God’s Word is hardness of heart. When the heart is hardened, a person always looks for an excuse to ignore the voice of God or to postpone his decision to obey God. Hardness of heart is a serious spiritual disease that can frustrate God and jeopardize one’s salvation. That is why in today’s passage, the Holy Spirit warns us as he did the Israelites, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts . . .”

One day, Saul, the first king of Israel, disobeyed the voice of God. In response, here is what the prophet Samuel said, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23). When God compares disobedience to witchcraft and idolatry, we need to pay attention.

Decide today: If you need to abandon a sinful lifestyle, the decision to do so is today, not tomorrow. Why repent tomorrow when you can repent today? If you need to start attending church, the decision is today, not tomorrow. If you need to trust in Jesus for salvation, today is your day. If you must start honoring your parents, the time is now.

Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day of change. Today is the day of decision. If you ignore God’s voice today, tomorrow may be too late. Train yourself through study of the Bible to hear God’s voice. And when you do hear His voice, take prompt action. God bless you. Amen.

Prayer:

Dear Father, thank you for your Word today. Remove from my heart every resistance to you, and by your Holy Spirit, enable me to obey your voice. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen. 

For further study: Hebrews 3:1-19