Fragrant Aroma, Spreading the Aroma of Christ in Your World

Why God?

Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Faith, Uncategorized, Why | 0 comments

Why God?

  When our nation is impacted by numerous disasters such as hurricanes, fires, tornadoes and flooding, people always ask, ‘where was God in all this?’ or ‘why did God allow this?’, or just simply – why? The answer to the first question is to know that God is Omnipresent meaning He is everywhere present. But the answer to the second question, as I perceive it, is there is no answer we can determine. No one can fully answer the why question. And so you ask, why do we not have an answer? It is because there are things about God that are unsearchable – things we will never have an answer for. If you take a look at what the Bible says about the things of God that we do not know, you discover the unsearchable things of God. First, the biblical meaning of the word unsearchable is “that which cannot be sought out or known by investigation, examination or inquiry.” And so if some things of God are unsearchable, what are those things? Marvelous things – those are extraordinary things separated by a distinguishing action that can only be accomplished by God himself. They are beyond our power to do and too difficult for us to understand. We see the word unsearchable used in Job 5:9. Job was certainly a man looking for answers. He had lost everything, was doubted and accused by his friends, yet he said of God “He does marvelous things, wonders and miracles that are unsearchable.” His greatness – We cannot understand the greatness of God because it is an attribute of God. It is in reference to the magnitude and majesty of God. It is who He is, His great and majestic actions. (Psalm 145:3) He is worthy of our praise, but His greatness is unsearchable. His judgments, His ways are past finding out. Ways = a course of conduct, manner of thinking, feeling, deciding. Judgments = matter to be decided, decisions. The decisions God makes and acts on are things we will never be able to search out and examine. Oh, we can try, but will not come up with the answers that only He knows. If you have ever been in a courtroom waiting for a judge’s decision, you sense the anticipation of his thinking, deciding and acting upon his decision; but you cannot know what he is thinking until he reveals his decision. So it is with God. Only He knows what He is thinking, feeling and deciding until it is revealed to us in some way. (Romans 11:33) “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and inscrutable his ways.” Inscrutable means ‘impossible to understand or interpret.’ Riches of Christ – abundance, fullness, that with which one is enriched. The fullness of His perfection, fullness of all things in store for God’s use. Used of the fullness of the things pertaining to salvation with which Christ is able to enrich others. (Eph 3:8) But the riches of Christ are unsearchable. We cannot understand how God could love us enough and want us to have a relationship with Him for eternity to the point that he would come to earth in the form of a man, Jesus, who would die for...

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We Are Surrounded

Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Faith, Freedom, Pain, Prayer, Security, Uncategorized, worry | 0 comments

We Are Surrounded

“But you LORD are a shield surrounding me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.” Psalm 3:3   As I read Psalm 3 this morning, the word that caught my attention was ‘shield’. What is a shield anyway? In Ephesians 6 we read about the armor of God which includes the shield of faith. That shield is one that we lift up for protection from the enemy rather than dragging it behind. But Psalm 3:3 tells us that we are surrounded by a shield. That shield is God Himself. It is not one we have to lift up. It just simply is a fact. The shield is for protection and defense. This verse tells us that God is our protection and defense. We need to know that today. We need to trust this today. God has entrusted us with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and will protect that within us. It is permanent and eternal. But because of the decay of society by sin, there are times when we question God. We question our faith and become ensnared by the horrible things going on around us. When that happens, we don’t look like Christians. Our witness is damaged by our actions and words. When we feel surrounded by evil and fear for our safety, we need to remember that God is everywhere present. He is our shield of protection, not just in front of us, but all around us. We are surrounded by Him! If I back away from a difficulty, He is there. If I move forward to face the circumstance, He is there. If I turn to the left or right, I will hear His voice saying, ‘this is the way – walk in it. He is there guiding, protecting, defending and speaking. With the world in turmoil, with death and destruction taking place to terrorize us, it is hard to see God’s shield of protection sometimes. But we need to trust that it is there. We need to protect the cause of Christ by speaking and acting like Christians in spite of what social media tells us. Respond in love asking ‘what would Jesus say’. We must check the facts before speaking so we are speaking truth that benefits rather than assumed truth that harms. As believers in Christ, we simply cannot continue beating each other up with our words. Rather, we should trust the one who surrounds us to guard and protect our hearts in Christ Jesus. When King David penned this Psalm, it was at a time when his own son was trying to kill him and take over the throne. But when others said of him, ‘there is no help for him from God’, David claimed the Lord as the shield of protection surrounding him. He claimed God as his shield and the One who lifted his head when despair and discouragement threatened to overpower him. I believe this is a lesson we can all learn from. God will not allow us to linger in despair, but instead will lift our heads to press on knowing He is all around us to guide and protect. As we trust Him, He gives peace. It may not be what we perceive peace to be, but will be peace as God...

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From Designing to Defending Women

Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Faith, Pain, Security | 0 comments

From Designing to Defending Women

Designing  Defending Women Recently I saw a video clip from an old television show called “Designing Women”. In the clip, one of the Sugarbaker sisters, Julia, was defending her younger sister, Suzanne from a fellow beauty contestant. In looking back to this clip, I noticed several interesting things. First, through the entire tirade, there was not any foul language. She got her point across without resorting to crudity. In addition, her delivery of defense was confident. It was passionate. It was sustaining. This clip reminded me of my own sister through the years in her defense of who I am. She would not allow anyone to be critical of me in a way that was hurtful and destructive. If I shared my hurts with her, she carried them as if they were her own. I thought of that this morning as I read Psalm 55:22. “Cast your burden on the LORD. And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” NKJV This verse is telling us to throw down or, throw away those thoughts, difficult relationships or circumstances that have become so heavy on our heart and mind that we are paralyzed from moving forward in what God has for us. But, the Psalmist completes this phrase by telling where to throw those heavy burdens. We are to throw them on the Lord. Why? Because He will sustain you. That means He will hold you up when you are weak and weary. He will nourish your dry spirit and take upon Himself all you have thrown His way. Why would the Lord do such a thing? Because He does not want us to be weakened in our faith or to fall into despair. “He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” The promise for you and me as believers is security. No matter what struggles we are dealing with, God will not give permission for our faith to be overthrown, dislodged or carried away. He is there to defend us and to catch us when we begin to waver and fall. In those moments when you feel like giving up because things are hard, you will read something, see something or hear something that will draw you back to lean on the Lord. Those are His reminders to you that He is with you always. He will not allow you to be moved from your position of relationship with Him. You are secure in His loving arms. He is your defense and will always defend your cause according to His will. He is passionate about you. He is confident in you as His child, and He will sustain you by His power that you may endure whatever hurts and pain come your way. And then finally, what if we as believers were as quick to jump to the defense of our sisters in Christ who are facing criticism and mockery as the Lord in His defense of us? As we sit in our church pews, we are surrounded by those who have like minds. But when we go into our communities, we are surrounded more and more by those whose words and thoughts are in stark contrast. Mockery and criticism abound in the secular world. We must take up our cause for Christ in...

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Let Freedom Ring

Posted by on July 2, 2017 in Citizens, Freedom, Holiday, Hope, Leadership, Prayer | 0 comments

Let Freedom Ring

As we approach the 4th of July this week, known as Independence Day; it is important to recognize that this day stands for more than vacation and fireworks. However, fireworks have been part of the July 4th celebration since 1777. July 4th in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago in 1776 on July 4 by the Continental Congress. The second paragraph speaks of our freedom. It says, we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What is freedom? Freedom is the condition of a citizen. It is exemption from punishment. The Bible talks a lot about freedom. We find Paul speaking about a greater freedom than even national freedom. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 What he is speaking of is the freedom from the burden of the rigorous demands of the Old Testament Law as the means for gaining God’s favor. This did not represent the freedom given through Christ. In fact, this demand impeded the development of the Christian life. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free exempting us from the penalty of our sinful state. This is explained further in Romans 7:4-6. “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” What does this mean? The Law was condemning and could not free a person on a daily basis from their sin. They had to wait, sometimes, a year for their sin to be atoned and forgiven through a priest. But through Christ, we have access to God on a daily, moment by moment, basis. Therefore, He gives a freedom like no other. He does not condemn us in our sinful state, but rather delivers us from it. In fact, Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery; “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” She said “no one sir”. Jesus replied, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11 Freedom also addresses the state of citizenship. We are born as citizens of the country of our birth, but with freedom in Christ, our citizenship is in heaven. Phil 3:20. Once we become citizens of heaven through Christ, we are in this world, but not of it because our final resting place will be with Jesus in Heaven. And if we are citizens of Heaven, we should act like it by patterning our lives after Jesus. And so, what is it...

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Sit With Me in the Rain

Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Faith, Grow Your Faith, Listening, Love, Uncategorized, Worship | 1 comment

Sit With Me in the Rain

“Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land.” HCSB We have a promise from God that as we strive to know Him better, His presence in our lives is a sure thing. And by His presence, He will teach us in a way that we flourish and grow. We have His promise that He will stimulate growth in us as we open our hearts and minds allowing Him to make conditions right for learning. Many years ago, I went with friends to a retreat in Colorado that was held on a ranch. The theme was “Loving Jesus”. On the last day, the speaker challenged us to take our Bible outside, find a place of solitude and listen for the Lord to speak through His word. Being a ‘girly girl’ back then, I didn’t want to get my hair messed up or my clothes dirty so I looked and looked for just the right spot. Finally I saw a slab of concrete and prepared to open my Bible. But just about the time I was settled, it began to rain. Oh my goodness, you can’t believe the grumbling and complaining coming out of my mouth and God heard every word. As I gathered my things to go back inside, the Lord spoke through a still small voice as if He were standing right there in front of me. He said, ‘Virginia, don’t you love me enough to sit with me in the rain for a moment.’ Whew! My knees gave way and I immediately sat again knowing I had heard a word from the Lord. The funny thing is that as soon as I opened my Bible again, the rain stopped! But funnier still is that the passage I opened to was Hosea 6:3. As I look back on that occasion, I realize that God was testing my love and obedience to Him.  He wanted me to recognize that my priorities were messed up; that I was more concerned about my appearance, my hair and clothes than I was spending time in solitude with Him. God wanted to stimulate spiritual growth and maturity in me. Even though it has been at least 20 years since then, I remember it as if it were yesterday. God wants us to love Him enough to sit with Him in the rain if that’s what it takes to get our attention so we can listen, learn and grow. God got my attention that day. In James 4:8, it tells us that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. That is what He did for me that day, and that is what He will do for you. If you hear what God teaches through His word, if you come to Him and acknowledge who He is in your life; you will find His assurance. That assurance is this: The more we listen, the more we grow… The more we grow, the closer we become to God. The closer we become to God, the more we are assured of His love and faithfulness. Studying the Bible is about new life. It is about growth and relationship. If you want...

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Perspective

Posted by on February 7, 2017 in Grow Your Faith, Prayer, Uncategorized, Wisdom | 0 comments

Perspective

Putting Things in Perspective “…should I not have compassion on Nineveh?” Jonah 4:11 This is an excerpt from “Facing Fears, Quenching Flames”, a devotional book on overcoming fear and anger. Available on amazon.com and christianbooks.com.     Scripture Reading: Jonah 4:1-11 “Do you have good reason to be angry?” Jonah was so angry that he wanted to die. But what God recognized in him was an outburst of anger for a surface issue that covered a deeper problem. The surface issue was a plant that had died. The real issue was Jonah’s attitude toward God over circumstances that he could not control. He was still angry that God showed mercy instead of judgment for Nineveh, but the anger he expressed was related to taking away his comfort. His attitude was so resentful and despondent that he no longer wanted to live. But what purpose does it serve to be angry at God? I think we learn from Jonah’s example that it serves no purpose other than to make us miserable. There was a pattern of behavior in the life of Jonah that God was trying to get him to acknowledge and change. His attitude led him to a place of despair and self-pity. Jonah was trying to control God and His actions, so the results would be the way he thought they should be, rather than according to God’s character of mercy and compassion. God’s point to Jonah was the value of life. He pointed out that Jonah was angry over the death of one insignificant plant, but God was concerned with the lives of 120,000 people. This story is a picture of how anger distorts our thinking until we have unrealistic expectations of others and of God. When those expectations are not met, emotions plunge to despair. As difficult as it may be for us, God wants us to put things in perspective. Whatever it is that has caused our anger, we may never know the why or the circumstance which caused it. And so, in order to survive this frame of mind, there are several things to do that help in getting our emotions to a place of healing.   Acknowledge that God is wiser and more powerful that you are – Isaiah 40:21-27   Identify the root of the anger before you become bitter – Hebrews 12:15   Give your emotions and circumstances to God – Psalm 55:22, Psalm 69:19   Be forgiving and merciful – Ephesians 4:32   Re-join the land of the living – Matthew 22:32, 37   Hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:5 This book of the Bible ends in a very strange way. It just simply stops with God’s question to Jonah. Perhaps God wants us to consider this as food for thought. Perhaps He wants us to remember this question and the point that people are more important than our personal comfort and damaged pride. And so, what we learn from this book of the Bible is that God is Sovereign, He is the God of salvation and He is compassionate. We can trust Him to do what is best even when it is not what we expected or wanted. Today’s Prayer: Lord, Your wisdom and power are greater than anything my mind can...

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The Blank Page

Posted by on January 9, 2017 in Direction, Faith, Pain, Prayer, Serving, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized | 34 comments

The Blank Page

It is a new year! I can’t say I am sorry to see the last one go. 2016 was filled with tension, conflict and transition for our nation, for many of our lives personally. For myself , it was also filled with tension, illness and transition as my husband and I moved from a metropolitan area where we have lived for many decades, to a remote area by a lake. This move meant saying goodbye to lifelong friends, our church home of 35 years and everything near and dear to us. It meant saying goodbye to teaching Bible Study that I had done for years. When we moved in the summer, I had already committed to teach before I knew we were moving. So my sweet husband told me that if I wanted to keep that commitment for the fall, that he would drive me the five hours each week so I could complete my commitment. And that is what we did. It happened that I was teaching from the book of 2 Timothy. This book of the Bible is the last letter the Apostle Paul wrote and the last word Timothy heard from him. So, it was very emotional for me because it was my goodbye to a class of women I had taught for many years. For some reason in the fall semester, I used a different Bible than I had normally used. This one was new and I was not as familiar with how the books and chapters flowed on the pages. Then, in the last week of my study, as I read the last few verses of the book of 2 Timothy, I turned the page for more. The page was blank. As I looked at that blank page, I was overwhelmed with grief and thought, “this is what my life looks like right now. Blank. I don’t know what is ahead for me.” No sooner had I thought these things then I sensed God in my spirit saying “What looks blank to you, I have already filled. I know exactly what your future holds – trust me.” Trust means to be confident and secure in something or someone, and as I thought about it, I remembered one of my favorite passages of scripture: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 In that moment, I had immediate peace like a weight had been lifted because I knew I could be confident in my security with Him. I began to pray “Lord, I do trust you with my life and my future and I thank you in advance for it. Because my understanding was flawed by my human nature and grief, all I saw was a blank page, but you knew what was written upon it and I am confident you have gone before me and paved a path for me.” One month later, as I sat in my remote lakeside home, I received an unexpected invitation to speak and teach through a radio program. I was shocked! But as I prayed about accepting and spoke with a spiritual mentor, I remembered God’s promise. The page that looked blank to me, God had...

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5 Me’s

Posted by on November 24, 2015 in Direction, Faith, Hope, Listening, Love, Pain, Prayer, Thanksgiving | 0 comments

5 Me’s

“O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; In your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.” Psalm 143:1 NIV It is the holiday season – that time of year for celebration and giving thanks for our country and God’s provision for those who landed on the shores of this great land all those years ago. And yet, for many this Thanksgiving and holiday season, celebration is the last thing on their minds. Hearts are broken, health is in question or provision unknown. Where is the hope and help needed in these times of despair and hopelessness? In reading a prayer of David in the Psalms, you will find five “me’s in his requests of God in chapter 143: Answer me Show me Rescue me Teach me Lead me David was overwhelmed by his situation. He was desperate for mercy and word of God’s unfailing love. Despair was trying to drag him down into a pit, but he was determined to trust God. He cried out to Him for his needs of rescue and guidance. He needed a quick answer because his spirit was failing, meaning he was at his wit’s end and sinking into despair fast. He needed guidance and direction for which way to go through the difficult circumstances facing him. He needed to be rescued from those who were out to destroy him. He needed lessons for how to know God’s will and how to do it. He needed to be led on a path that was free from obstacles at every turn. Throughout David’s prayer, he made commitments to the Lord to meditate on all the works of God and the things He had done. This is where you would remember that it is God who created you to be His very own. It is God who loves you with an everlasting love that cannot be taken away from you. Then David surrendered his situation, made his “me” requests known and trusted God for answers, love and deliverance. There are times in our prayer life when we intercede for others, but there are times in our prayer life when it is all about “me”. When you are heartbroken and in despair it is perfectly OK for your prayer to be all about you. God wants you to be healed from your broken heart, illness, despair or whatever state has tried to drag you down. He will give you strength to endure. This Psalm of David is short but filled with hope, encouragement and teaching for all, but especially those in seemingly hopeless situations. With Jesus, there is always hope because He is our Hope! (I Timothy 1:1) Practice the five “me’s” in your prayers as you trust God for hope, answers and direction. He will guide you through whatever difficult situation you may find yourself experiencing. No matter what you hear, experience or who comes against you, He is with you always. He is there for you and hears the cries of your...

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Candles in the Dark

Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Direction, Faith, Hope, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Candles in the Dark

“I AM the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV It was a great idea! My friend Laura wanted to host a neighborhood social and have a craft project for her neighbors. And so, I volunteered to teach candle making. I had the supplies – all we needed was heat to melt the wax and power to plug in the glue gun. The day arrived and we were excited! Then I received an early morning call on the day of the event. “We have no power”. The storms had affected the power lines in Laura’s area. We decided to proceed anyway hoping for a quick repair. Thankfully her stove was gas but with no power, we were working in the dark. I commented to Laura, “This is a good lesson for why we need candles – to shine light in the darkness.” As I looked at the candles around the room, each had a soft glow of light in a dark place. In order to see what we were doing, we were drawn to light from them. It reminded me that as believers, we are to be that glowing light of Christ wherever we go. There may be dark places we are required to walk in our schools, work places, community, government or even family events, but our light is to shine in those places. We can be a light in the darkness because Jesus is our power source. Extending love and kindness to those around you, no matter where you are, is letting Him shine through you. Or maybe you are in a dark time right now. Be encouraged to know there is light for you. His name is Jesus. He will shine on the path before you to light your way and direct your...

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What is That One Thing?

Posted by on August 18, 2015 in Direction, Faith, Leadership, Serving, Uncategorized | 0 comments

What is That One Thing?

“Tell Archippus: “see to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” Colossians 4:17 Archippus was a Christian teacher/minister. He had been given a lifetime job from the Lord – a calling to Christian service. We don’t know why Paul felt compelled to send a word of exhortation to him to complete the work he had been given. Perhaps he heard something about him that we don’t know, or perhaps in his own experience he knew how difficult ministry can be. But whatever the reason, he sent a word to Archippus to complete the work. As one who is serving the Lord, I know how hard it can be. I know how easy it would be to slack off, or simply give up. I’m sure you do too. In society today, we are hearing more and more about pastors and Christian leaders who are caving under the pressure. Adultery, suicide, exhaustion, financial hardship or turning away from ministry are just a few of the things we hear about. And so, just as Paul said to Archippus, we say to you: “see to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” Let’s break that down: See to it means to look away from all else and look to that one thing being addressed. In this case, the work you received in the Lord. Is there anything drawing your attention away from that one thing. See to it that you complete… According to Strong’s and Vines Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words,  some of the Greek definitions for the word complete are:  to fill to the top, carry to the end, accomplish, to cause Gods will to be obeyed as it should be and Gods promises to receive fulfillment. But my favorite is to end together, thoroughly finished. And so, the message is to look away from any distractions to the call of God on your life and end together with Him what He has placed within your heart to do. Keep on doing it until He says otherwise. What have you received from Him to do? What service are you passionate about? Review the list of Spiritual gifts in Romans 12 because God has gifted every believer. If you are gifted to teach or preach, then do so. If serving is your strength, then serve, if gifted to give, then give, etc. The point is, don’t give up or give in to the pressures of this world that the enemy is throwing at us from every direction. Stand firm in your faith and your mission. There is no such thing as retirement from Gods perspective. Hosea 10:12 tells us to continue to break up unplowed ground until He comes. God’s mission is for a lifetime and He does not discharge His servants from their work. His gifts and calling are irrevocable. And so, be strong and courageous for the Lord your God is with you. He will fight for you in this battle of sin, corruption and immorality such as we have never before seen. But He wants our participation of faithfulness to press on in the midst of it. Stand firm, don’t give up. This battle belongs to the Lord. Cling to Him. Ask Him for a renewing of passion...

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