An envelope came through the door the other day, on the front it read ‘Here is how you can spread the fragrance of grace to the world – Chuck Swindoll’ and this got me thinking.
The fragrance of God’s grace.
Fragrance is a word I would associate with a beautiful smell, aroma, like a flower, or perfume/aftershave as someone walks past. A smell that attracts our attention through our curiosity. What is that? Where can I get that? I would like to smell like that.
So when I look at the sentence in full, I see ‘The fragrance of God’s grace’ as being how the world sees us differently. Our different attitude, care, love and compassion that attracts other people to us because they like what they see/hear/smell.
A fragrance that is so attractive that they are drawn to us, to speak to us and ask us questions. Where did you learn to be like that? Why are you so nice when they are so horrible to you? How can you hold your temper when people rant at you like that? Or compliments such as I wish I could be like you, the patience you have when other people blow their top! or shout and complain to you.
I have discovered that the power of the Holy Spirit in us, and the fruits it provides adapts and changes us internally over time as we we grow and learn as Christians. I know because I have seen the change in me personally over the last 19 years. Most noticeable of these changes has been my increasing ability to control my tongue and anger.
I was watching YouTube the other day and came across this on auto-play Controlling the Body’s Strongest Muscle – Charles R. Swindoll. (Click the link to watch it later).
I love to listen to this guy, he’s definitely got the fragrance to draw people in when he speaks, like Apollos in Acts. I was drawn in as he spoke about the tongue, and the power of it.
This made me stop and think about how often, in my old life, my sarcastic and smart mouth had got me into trouble in the past, or how I had caused myself embarrassment (after fully jumping in to say my piece with my size 8’s without even pausing to think of the consequences of what I was saying). It literally was a case of the old saying ‘loose lips sink ships’!
The tongue in my head had the ability to tactfully and deceitfully convince others to do things for me, under the guise of a friendly and smiling face, all for my personal selfish wants or pleasure.
I had the ability to mesmerise and manipulate the male and female of the species to carry out some outrageous things for my personal entertainment and gratification, all of which, I now realise, came back to hurt me in the end, when I began to hate the person I had become, and started to self-medicate to release and escape from the reality of everyday life.
How blessed I was that Jesus came into my life to save me, and save my life. He welcomed me with warmth and joy, I no longer needed alcohol or drugs.
I had made some truly awful decisions and made so many mistakes when I tried to live my life my way, without him in the centre as my shepherd.
I smile as I write this, an ex-addict, no longer controlled by the synthetic lies the enemy pedals. Jesus protecting me when the enemy tries to take me out with my racing negative thoughts. You see, he’s very clever, and plays dirty! So be aware of that.
The enemy tells me I’m useless, that Jesus is not real, that I’m weak, I’m mad, and that he is waiting patiently for the day that I break and come back to him – he’ll be waiting with the drugs I miss when I fail. He tells me that I’m a rubbish parent, I am a rubbish Christian because I don’t do enough to help other people… the list is endless and the barrage of insults is continual.
But Jesus…. well he is my protector, he provides me with the power , through Holy Spirit, to just blow him away like a dandelion seed from a stem. To remind me that my past sin has been paid for, by him, he died for me to pay for it, and it’s no longer relevant.
Jesus puts things back into perspective, in the BIG PICTURE, he’s always with me at my side, speaking up for me when I am weak, fighting my battles when I am not functioning, and providing me with the promise of eternal life, through the gospels that I read, hear and see.
The attacks from the enemy are powerful, they are horrible to experience, but are temporary (even though sometimes they can last for hours), because when they start, I use the power that the Lord has provided me, I can pray to him until the thoughts subside and stop.
As soon as I read scripture, the enemy flees, I love to read his promises of protection, I write prayers to him in my journal, and even by singing or helping others I can literally now have the strength to put the enemy in his place – under my feet, and the same way the enemy made me feel before Jesus saved me.
We are so blessed to be living in times where we have so much access to his Good News, the bible in multiple forms, encouraging ministry, videos, audio, radio, TV, podcasts etc. through the amazing technological advances over the last 20 years. We can access it, on demand, any time of the day or night, any day of the year, it never takes a day off, a bit like God really.
So when I am having a non-functioning day (depression related) I can still access anything to worship God, or learn something about the Gospel, or the Bible to provide peace and reassurance. We can also reach out and communicate to our brothers and sisters all over the world (even those who do not speak our language using translators) to share our love and encourage each other. What an amazing blessing! Thank you Lord!
I think it’s very important at this time to communicate the message of Jesus as much as we can while the resources available are free, especially on the world wide web. Let’s take this amazing resource back for good, and stamp out the evil it is being abused to carry out.
Something that has also come up in conversation a few times recently is the sadness that some of the people (who do not have access to social media) are experiencing because they feel like they are missing out on the groups setup for our churches, and that they are missing out on the joy that we can easily take so much for granted.
Let’s take for example, the much older generations, who don’t have phones and PCs, but have a huge knowledge of life experience as a Christian and of the scriptures applied in everyday life. This is worldly real life information that desperately needs to be passed down to the younger generations.
It’s wonderful to hear of some countries, who value so much the older generations, and make it their priorities to take care of them during their twilight years, because they have so much that they can teach us! Sadly, and frustratingly this is not the case in so many other countries and I pray that these things can be addressed very soon Lord!
We are living in times of fast food, convenience, and when it’s broken dispose of it rather than try to fix it and sadly it seems to be seeping into our way of thinking when it comes to humans.
This has made me think about what we can do to celebrate our older generations, and not write them off the day they retire from work. One thing I have started doing is writing letters (yes handwritten) to share the good news, for encouragement in Christ and share examples of experiences with Jesus to encourage each other. I strongly encourage doing this, because it brings such joy to receive a hand written letter through the door.
Email has made us blind, we get so much email sometimes (through automated processes) that we cannot see the wood for the trees! I know personally I look at the fact I have 3000 emails still outstanding in my inbox and it puts me off even opening them to read. We can so easily miss important or personal messages, or don’t read them until it’s too late.
I feel that we need to take the time to learn from our older generations, reconnect with them, around the table, over a short visit for a cup of tea. We need to listen to how they managed to exist with the bare necessities in the past, how they coped, what was important, what were their models and procedures for living on basics.
This will not only build valuable and essential human interaction, but will also help the older generations to have value and their voice heard, to motivate the next generations of youngsters to solve the environmental and industrial issues that are destroying our planet and it’s inhabitants.
Good communication is the key, sharing our love for Christ, shining our lights in the world, and our beautiful fragrance, for free, no catch, no scam! Just good old fashioned caring and looking out for each other, sharing our stories and experiences and encouraging each other with our stories of how Jesus has helped us, and can help them too.
I am going to schedule myself a task, not sure when it will happen because often when I try to plan something goes wrong, but my aim is to interview one of the very older members of our community church and publish her story. (with her permission of course!) She is an amazing lady, and full of Holy Spirit, so as users read I pray that they may see how God shines through her, as she shares her encouragement, advice and her undoubted love of God and Jesus.
I was given this key verse this morning. Which links quite nicely into what I just said about interviewing my amazing sister in Christ.
25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor[a] and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.Acts 18:25,26
Back to the fragrance…
So picture this…. I can imagine, a TV/cinema advert, top budget, like Chanel or Gucci fragrance, where a man and a lady prance around in beautiful floaty light coloured clothing. The audio begins to whisper (you know the voice, in a husky gentle way) lines from the gospel, showing the people being attracted by the fragrance from the man and the lady.
The people hugging and embracing, and entranced by the beauty of the fragrance… “love… joy… peace… everlasting life… Holy Spirit… you love him… you love her… you need this…” then the bottle appears and boldly announces Jesus (pour elle et pour homme).
Ok back to reality!
So the scripture took me in my study bible to information about Apollos, who was a great communicator, so good in fact that when he had been updated to all the wonderful message of the gospel, not just the Old Testament half of it, he became so popular that the Colossians setup a fan club for him! So he had to leave, because they were worshipping the messenger, not the message. And that was not God’s will.
So lets not fall into the same trap with our wonderful learning resources. When we use non personal bible reading resources focus on the message, not the person delivering it. Focus on Jesus, and what we can apply from his examples to our lives today.
Let us share the beauty of Jesus in our lives, the Gospels, the messages, why they are still relevant today, compare examples of fallen cities and practices to current living. Let’s share how we put the enemy in his place when he tries to put a spanner in our works, let’s remind him that we have been saved by Jesus, that he has been condemned and he has no place here.
Let’s get together in prayers, making it as normal as conversations when we meet, let’s share what God has revealed to us this week, instead of discussing the latest storylines in the soaps, and let us make our thanksgiving LOUD and CLEAR to our amazing and awesome God for every single thing he does for us.
I’m off now to read the Gospel of John. I’ve had this task on my list for a few weeks now, and really need to get on and do it!
All praise to the Lord our God, thank you for the blessing of this message today, and for the tools and ability to take the message from prayer to thoughts, to paper, to here for the public domain to read. You are a truly amazing God and I thank you every single day for the joy, peace and motivation you bring to share your Good News! I pray in Jesus’ precious name. Amen x
Let us share our ‘fragrance of God’s grace’ far and wide.