15 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. – 2 Cor. 2:15 NLT
In the first century, when a king or leader had conquered a new territory, he would bring the captives back to his country and parade them down “main street’. This was to show his subjects how powerful he was and to receive their worship and praise. It also reminded them of what could happen if they ever decided to be disloyal to the king. These were unwilling captives. Paul is giving thanks to God that we are led in this triumphal procession as willing captives. We are captives and bondservants because we have chosen Jesus as our Savior and King. Now, it is time for each of us “to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere”. That Word will be good news to some because they will receive the Word with gladness of heart, accept Jesus and receive the gift of forgiveness and eternal life. It will be a stench in the nostrils of those who refuse to accept our God as the only true and living God and Jesus as their Savior and King. That rejection will lead to death and eternal punishment. Just as Paul felt inadequate to do that job, so should we. As he says, “who is equal to such a task?” None of us can do this work alone, It must be Spirit-led and Spirit-fed. As Paul also explains, “I can do all things through Jesus Christ”. And so can we do all things through Jesus. It is His plan, His purpose and it is accomplished by His power, not ours. We are to be faithful and follow His example.
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. — Eph. 5:1 NIV
We are to offer our lives as a sacrifice and a fragrant offering to God. Just as bees are drawn to honey, others are drawn to Jesus by people who live sacrificial lives.
Do our lifestyles release a sweet smelling aroma of life or a stench of death?
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved
. – John 10:9 NLT
Jesus explains to the people that He is telling the truth and He is the
gate, there was only entrance to the sheepfolds. There is only one way in to the safety and security that the fold provides for the sheep. Jesus explains that others before have claimed to be the Messiah, but they were thieves and robbers. They were there to lead the sheep astray, but the true sheep, the elect, would not listen to them. Later on, Jesus makes this statement,
Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.–John 14:6 (NCV)
Only those who come to the Father through Jesus will be saved.We must come through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, there is no other way, The thieves and the robbers had come to take what wasn’t theirs and destroy all those that they could deceive. Following them would lead to death.
12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.—Proverbs 14:12 (NASB)
Jesus came that we might have full, abundant life. The Greek word used here in verse 10 is zoe and one of the definitions of zoe is that it is” life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ.” It also carries the idea that there is more to come than we have here and now. Zoe points forward to our life with Jesus after the final resurrection. This is the hope that makes Christianity totally different from those other beliefs that the world calls religion. When we walk through the door called Jesus, we have a relationship that will lead to a better life eternal. No more sorrow, no more pain, better everything than we can imagine.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. — Deut. 30:15 NLT
In the Old Testament, God gave the children of Israel a choice between life or death based on their obedience to the law and the Commandments. Disobedience would lead to death and disaster while obedience would lead to life and prosperity. He gave them this choice just before they crossed the Jordan into Canaan. They were to leave the old and enter into the new.
He gives us the same choice in the New Testament. Only now it is based on our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. Once we have accepted Jesus, we are no longer slaves to our carnal, sinful nature. We are free to choose to live a life that is given to us through the power of God’s Spirit abiding in us. Therefore, we need to “put off” our old deceitful desires and live a new lifestyle that is Holy and pleasing to God. Then we will have life, and not just life, but eternal life in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:12-16 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
12 Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous? — Psalm 34:12 NLT
When I read this verse, my first thought is this: Is there anyone who doesn’t want to live long and prosper? Our bodies were originally designed in God’s image to last forever. Then sin entered the world bringing decay and death with it. Now, our bodies wear out and decay because sin still exists here on earth. God designed a garden where man could live forever and prosper. Sin entered that garden, seduced humankind, so God had to remove man and never allowed him to re-enter. So, living long and being prosperous has taken on a whole new meaning. Actually, it has taken on two meanings. One is defined from the worldly point of view and the other from the Godly point of view. We are bombarded on a daily basis with how the world defines prosperity. As Christians, we can be very prosperous in the Kingdom of God and the world will little know or pay any attention to the wealth we have built up in heaven. But God knows where we are laying up our treasures and He also knows that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also. What is worldly will perish in the fire, that which is Godly will last throughout eternity. A worldly long life of a hundred years or more is nothing but a speck of dust compared to eternal life with God. We, as Christians, shall all live long and prosper! God has promised and so shall it be! So, let us join in a praise of thanksgiving!
Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! — Psalm 47:1
6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. — John 1:6, 7 NLT
God sent John the Baptist as a forerunner of Jesus. The purpose and plan for John’s life was to tell the world about the Light that was coming. John understood and accepted his mission wholeheartedly. John spent his life in the wilderness living on locusts and honey, witnessing to those who came out to hear him. He was not the Light but was a witness that the Light was coming. John was so effective in his work that Jesus called him “the greatest man who ever lived”.
Yet, Jesus said “even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is”. How can this be that we could be greater than John the Baptist who lived his life for and utltimately gave his life for Jesus? The word “greater” here is used in the same sense that the word “greater” is used when Jesus said that we would do even “greater” works than Jesus did when He walked here on the earth. It is not meant to demean or lessen the value of the work that John and Jesus did, but to emphasize the greatness of the Kingdom of God itself. It is not written to give us illusions of grandeur or self-importance, but to encourage us to work for the Kingdom of God. It is not as individual Christains that we are greater or can do greater works but it is our inclusion in the Kingodm of God that is emphasized as being of utmost importance. So, the work we do for the expansion of the Kingdom of God is greater in importance than anything that we do that the world considers great or important. If we are to be “greater” then we must finish the work that John started. John was the forerunner, Jesus was the reason and we are the witnesses for this and future generations. We are here as Light and Life to a dark and dying world. So, let your Light shine and speak the words of Life to those around you wherever you are and whenever you can. There is no “greater” work to be done.
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”— 1 Cor. 10:23-26 NIV
We are born with a free will, but as we get older we realize that our choices are controlled by our fleshly desires. If we wish to be truly free, we need someone to free us from the bondage of sin and fleshly desires. Jesus came to do just that, When we accept Him as our Savior and Lord, we are free indeed and can choose to do whatever we please. We have the right to do anything, but we will soon learn that that attitude is not pleasing to God because He realizes that not all things are good for us or the body of Christ. Some choices are destructive and harmful to ourselves and others. As we mature in our spiritual walk, we start to understand that our love for Him should constrain us from making those bad choices. Yes, we can eat anything and we can do any thing. But are those choices beneficial to us and the Kingdom? The Kingdom of God is not about our fleshly desires, it is about serving others. We should show our love for God by loving others and showing that love by our actions.
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.–Romans 14:17,18 NIV