“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him in every place. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. Who is adequate for these things? For we do not market the word of God for profit like so many. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-17
It is impossible to enter into the presence of God and remain unchanged. Knowing Him and being known by Him always does a deep internal working in our hearts and souls, transforming us more and more into His likeness. And being transformed into His likeness is what causes us to be carriers of His glory, to anyone we come across. Have you ever been around someone, who after being around them for only thirty seconds, you just know that they have been in the presence of the Living God and their heart has been wildly transformed in that place? That is what this sweet aroma that lingers is.
The Living God is the God of love. So those who enter into His presence are transformed by His love, and then, go forth carrying His love to others, both to believers and nonbelievers. This is a tangible love that is sincere and directly from His heart. It is this love that spreads to every place, as this passages declares, leaving no heart left untouched by this beautiful embrace.
What an incredible design for evangelism that the Lord has given us. This love that comes as a strong aroma that lingers everywhere it touches. But with love also comes truth, because love that hides part of the truth is not real love. And to some of these hearts that this love reaches to, they are prone to reject this love, which is what leads to death, as verse 16 describes.
The truth is that this love is a gift paid and made available to every single person. Some will reject it, due to deception from the evil one, but it is something that has been made available to all, as a gift from God and before God.
Dear friend, are you entering into the presence of the Living God? In this place, you discover this pure, abounding, steadfast love that spreads. Will you allow yourself to be a carrier of this sweet aroma, so that the residue may remain with all who you encounter, and lead them into this same love? Will you participate in this invitation of evangelism, by simply abiding and becoming saturated with the love of God, that it can’t help but rub off onto everyone else around you?
Our Inheritance by Whitnee Sand
“I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
The promise and gift that Jesus bought and gave to us as His apprentices is to be brought into the safety and refuge of a family. And not just any family, but the Divine Family, the love that the Father, Son, and Spirit share between one another. As Jesus prayed for us, the saints who came after the original disciples, in John 17:20-23, He is praying that we would be joined and unified with Them, sharing and participating in the love that They have for one another. Jesus even tells the Father in verse 23 that He has loved the world as the Father has loved Him.
Ephesians 3 is another prayer, and along with it comes an invitation. It’s an invitation to the saints, the children of God to enter into being filled with the fullness of God. God is love, and so to be filled with the fullness of God is to be filled completely with perfect love. The kind of love that God shares within Himself.
How quickly our first tendency and reaction is to completely shut out this love, because we believe that because of our sin, we are undeserving and unworthy of receiving it. While it is true that before Christ, we fell short into all kinds of sin and were deserving of death, it is so much more true that after Christ, we have the invitation to allow all of that the fall away and to enter into the fullest love that anyone could offer. This is the price that Jesus already paid for us - because of love! His love! He wants us to be rooted and established in His love, to know and comprehend this love, even though it is so vast and perfect that it surpasses all knowledge!
As children of God, as family members of the Divine Family of the Father, Son, and Spirit, the perfect and full love of God is our inheritance. To reject it is to reject Jesus’s death because it’s the very thing that He died to allow us to have. This is also how we receive the riches of His glory and are strengthened inwardly by the power of His Spirit. Through entering into all that He has given to His children.
My prayer for us is exactly the prayers of Ephesians 3:16-19 and John 17:20-23, that we as His children would be filled completely with the fullness of God and would enter fully into our places and identities as children of God, receiving the love He has freely given to us.
“When I think of you as I lie on my bed,
I meditate on you during the night watches
because you are my helper;
I will rejoice in the shadow of your wings.
I will follow close to you;
your right hand holds on to me.”
It is no secret that going through life on earth, on this side of eternity, brings a multitude of heartaches, pains, challenges, and traumas. No one is exempt from hardship, and if you are in a time of lightheartedness and ease, you can still easily think back to a time when you were struggling and expect more troubles to come in the future. This, by no means, is meant to come across as depressing or looking through life without the lens of our hope in Jesus. And I think it’s important and even beautiful for followers of Jesus, especially, to acknowledge the pain and suffering that’s still in this world. In fact, Jesus even promises and assures His followers that they will experience suffering in this world (John 16:33).
I know what you’re probably thinking, “Whitnee, this is supposed to be encouraging. What is this?” Wait, my friend, I’m still getting to the really good part.
I have a question for you. Have you ever gotten to intimately witness the great, abounding love of Jesus in the midst of deep hardship or suffering? If you can read John 11:32-35 and imagine the look of deep love, compassion, and pain in Jesus’s eyes as He had this conversation with Mary, as she grieved the loss of her brother, Lazarus, it is likely that you have witnessed it. My friend, I’m here to tell you that if you’ve never witnessed this love and compassion that our Beloved Jesus has for the broken-hearted in the middle of their pain, you are in for such an astounding surprise when you invite Him into that place to let Him love you like that!
This is what it means to be in the shadow of His wings, as Psalm 63 talks about. In this place, He holds and comforts His beloved children like no one else can. The word that Psalm 63 uses for when we are in the shadow of His wings is “rejoice.” How can this be? If His wings are meant as a place of protection, strength, and comfort, then that means they come to shelter and protect us in times of suffering and pain. But who rejoices when they experience suffering and pain? The children of God do. Because it is in this place of such deep vulnerability and intimacy that we get to lock eyes with Jesus, as Mary did as she mourned over Lazarus, and see such an astounding, soul-rattling love and compassion that only comes from Him. This is how we can consider it a great joy when we experience trials, as James 1:2 says, because the loving touch of Jesus gives us no other response but rejoicing.
My friend, if all of this sounds so foreign to you, my prayer for you today is that you would allow Jesus to blow your mind with His overwhelming love, in the deep places of your pain. Because, speaking from experience, there is nothing that can ever be compared to this love. I pray that you would choose to follow close to Him, allowing His right hand to hold you (Psalm 63:8). There is nothing that is more healing than the gentle, holistic, loving touch of Jesus.
"Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever" (Psalm 145:2, ESV).
Let's cut straight to the point: David gives us the best heart that we should have in life. We praise Him no matter what we are going through. No matter what we face, we will praise Him. No matter what prayers are not being answered as we would like, we will praise Him. No matter what valley or mountaintop we walk through, we will praise Him. No matter how busy we are, we will praise Him! No matter what each day brings, WE WILL PRAISE HIM!
Take some time now to bless Him and praise Him. Tell Him how manifold are His works. Share with Him that the heavens (and nature) declare His handiwork. Thank Him for the breath you are taking. Bless Him for the blessings in your life. Praise Him for loving you, and tell Him you'll love Him forever.
-Pastor Tim Escamilla
"1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 THEREFORE WE WILL NOT FEAR though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea" (Psalm 46:1-2, ESV).
I love these two verses. We very often quote verse 1. We have it memorized, we have pictures of it in our houses, and we've even sung songs that declare its truth. It's a verse that can easily become a life verse.
I hope that we would become just as familiar with verse 2 as we are with verse 1. It tells us that God being our refuge and strength and help in times of trouble is the reason WE WILL NOT FEAR no matter what happens! He is the foundation of our fearlessness! He shares His fearless nature with us when we surrender our nature to Him. When we trust Him with our situations and life, He trusts us with His fearlessness.
Ever since our message on Fearlessness a couple of weeks ago, I have constantly reminded myself that I have nothing to fear. (If you missed the message, click the link above. It's also a good one to go back and revisit!) And in that, I want to remind you that YOU have nothing to fear. No matter what comes our way, in Christ, we are predisposed to fearlessness. It's in the new nature of the new creation we have become in Him!
So think of all the difficult decisions, the hurtful circumstances, the lonely situations, and heart-wrenching battles you have ahead of you and say to them, "I am not afraid of you!" Even if you don't think you have authority to say this to them, you DO. Why? Because God is your refuge and strength.
As you face tough times, remember, and be comforted by the fact that He is your refuge. He is your strength. His strength is made perfect in your weakness. And remember, you have His strength simply because you're with Him. So I pray He would make Himself known to you wherever you are, whatever you're doing, and whatever you're going through: He is with you. You are strong because of Him. And you have nothing to fear, because His perfect love casts out fear.
May you experience His love and fearlessness in ABUNDANCE!
-Pastor Tim Escamilla
King Above All
"For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods" (Psalm 95:3, ESV).
No matter what we face in this lifetime, it's always a good thing to have proper perspective. And the perspective that all creation should have is that the Lord is a great God! Not only that, He is a great King above all gods. He's so great, He's above all else!
It's good to remember He's above every situation we will ever face. It's good to remember He's above every report, whether good or bad. He's above every force that comes against us. These are all good things to know as we engage in battle.
Every day is a battle. This is why Paul told us to put on the whole armor of God! This battle isn't against flesh and blood. It isn't against your brother, sister, friend or neighbor; this battle is against principalities and powers of the air. It's against sin, our fleshly desires and passions, and against the kingdom of darkness. This battle is a battle against the evil one, the devil.
But we must remember, we do not fight alone. We have a family, the family of God, who fights with us. Most importantly, we have the Lord Who is mighty in battle! He fights for us! He has defeated sin and death, and will return to fully defeat the adversary and the kingdom of darkness.
This is why I wanted us to focus on the verse above. We must remember that He is above, greater, and infinitely more powerful than any battle or situation we face! He is above it; He will see you through it. He will make a way for you. He's greater than it could ever be. And this, dear one, is the proper perspective for the believer. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. Be encouraged; His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
-Pastor Tim Escamilla
"Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy are in his place" (1 Chronicles 16:27, ESV).
This passage was in my morning reading. Immediately after reading it, I highlighted it and marked it so I'd remember to prayerfully write something encouraging for you. Take some time and think about the verse above.
For a while, I have been constantly reminding you I am in awe of the Lord and who He is. I believe, if you're reading this, that you're in awe of Him, too. This passage is all about His awe. I like to picture splendor and majesty going before the Lord anywhere He makes Himself known, or present; anywhere He manifests His presence. The picture I get is like that of a flower girl, spreading flowers on the floor to make sure wherever the bride steps, there are flower petals before her.
In the same way, I picture splendor and majesty being spread before Him! When we call on the Lord, when we praise and worship Him, when we come to Him in prayer, or when we gather in His name, I believe we spread splendor and majesty before Him as we invite Him into our midst. Truly, He is everywhere. But when we call on Him, by offering splendor and majesty, we welcome Him in a way He deserves.
You've almost made it through the week. Maybe you're needing strength, maybe you're needing joy; maybe you're needing both! I know I am. What we need to do is to simply BE with Him. Be in His place. Spend time with Him in intimacy. This could be in your car, your pantry, your garage or your closet. Whenever you and I are with Him, in His place, strength and joy are there. In His presence are strength and joy! Simply being in His presence fills us with strength and joy. As He fills you with strength and joy, thank Him in His splendor and majesty!
No matter what you are facing this week and no matter what you have faced; no matter how you are feeling right now, I pray you are filled with His strength and joy! I pray it in Jesus' name! If you feel led, please put your hand on your heart, and pray, "Lord, in Your splendor and majesty, please fill my heart with strength and joy. Amen!"
-Pastor Tim Escamilla
"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe" (Hebrews 12:28, ESV).
Before we get into this final post in our 21-Day Dedication, I want to say that these writings have blessed me, as they have blessed you. Everyone who wrote this year, really followed the Lord in their posts. That being said, I do want to continue posting weekly encouragements! There is no way we could make them daily, but weekly, I think that is possible. I know those who wrote would be willing to contribute, and I know many of you hear from the Lord and would like to write something for the body to be edified and built up. So we will continue this in 2023!
My final instructions for you are to continue being dedicated to the Lord in every way! Follow hard after Him!
We look to the scripture above. Be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken! This is what we have received in this dedication: an unshakeable kingdom! And because the kingdom is unshakable, WE are unshakeable. Let your faith and trust in the Lord be unshakeable! Let your dedication and commitment to the Lord be unshakeable! Storms will come, wild winds of life will come, difficulties and troubles; yet we will remain unshakeable in Him.
No matter what 2023 may throw at you, be unshakeable. No matter what the future brings, be unshakeable. No matter what hurts may come, be unshakeable!
And then, go through this year offering the Lord acceptable worship, with reverence and awe. I am so filled with awe right now. I am in awe of the One Who has made me unshakeable. He's done the same for you! Be in awe! Look at Him with reverence! Worship Him, for He, the Unshakeable One, is worthy!
Be grateful that He has not only given you an unshakable kingdom, but also has made YOU unshakeable. We haven't only been working at being unshakeable these past 21 days; we've been working on it a whole year (intentionally, at least). We heard this from the Lord in 2022, we worked on it, and will continue to walk in it in faith in 2023!
So may you and I be DEEPER, STRONGER, and UNWAVERING in Him. May we be unshakeable!
-Pastor Tim Escamilla
"Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day” (1 Kings 8:61, ESV).
As we are near the end of this dedication, I want to leave you with some thoughts. What the Lord has done in you in this dedication was never meant to fade away as we complete this dedication. I don't want you to think that the closeness and intimacy gained in this dedication will fade away because we eventually go to day 22, 23, 24, and so on. No, that will not be the case.
See, what we've done together, is we've developed habits before the Lord. We've developed godly habits of putting Him first. I pray we have gotten used to being in Scripture more, worshiping more, praying more, fasting more, and any other thing He's called us to do. This is our new normal before the Lord!
Each of these things bring us closer to Him. Each of these things WILL CONTINUE to bring us closer to Him! This is only possible because we have given Him our hearts. We go wherever we have placed our hearts. Where our hearts are is where our treasure is. My brother and sister, our treasure is Him! And here is where I remind you of the verse above: Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God! Let your heart be committed to Him. Let your heart stay dedicated to Him! Continue to put Him first, and all else will be taken care of. Keep your heart in Him, and He will continue to be your treasure.
How do we prove to Him that our hearts are His, and that we are fully dedicated to Him? By walking in His statutes and keeping His commandments. Because our hearts belong to Him, we will long to do what He wants us to do and we will NOT want to do anything He doesn't want us to. As our hearts are fully dedicated to Him, they will be fully dedicated to doing His will and walking in His ways. Even beyond this dedication, we will continue to walk in His ways! We will continue to be fully dedicated to Him in 2023. Why? Because He has our hearts. Because our hearts are wholly true, and fully dedicated to Him! Stay dedicated and stay true to Him, for He is your treasure!
-Pastor Tim Escamilla
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:22-23 (NIV)
Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the kingdom…” Matthew 13:37-38 (NLT)
Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Galatians 6:7 (NLT)
Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God. Luke 8:11 (ESV)
Let us not grow weary in doing good for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Gal 6:9 (ESV)
Seeds… I am fascinated by the concept of seedtime and harvest that the Lord has set into motion in our world. The law of sowing and reaping… and that we ourselves are part of this law. He has set us as seed into the soil around us, and with His watering, and nourishment by His Word, He grows and leads us to accomplish the good works He has prepared for us.
Whether we are there for a moment, for years, or for a lifetime, the impact that we have on those around us for the Kingdom is real. I think of how something as simple as a smile, when offered in the love of Christ, can be a seed. Aren’t we blessed to be afforded His currency?!
I am so thankful for the seeds of prayer, and that God—through Kingdom power and His creative love and breath in our lives, takes our seeds and transforms them into living reality in so many beautiful ways. As I look at the prayers I’ve prayed—those most recent to those long-term, I can see the roots, the fruit, the beginnings and the endings, and it is so powerfully encouraging to know that He hears us, builds into, and responds to the desires of our hearts for one another.
Help us, Father, to remain steadfast—when we WAIT on you, when we do not see in the natural the answers to those things for which we pray, and to stand in faith and believe that this law of your kingdom IS fruitful. Remind us that while some seeds are yet underground, waiting for their appointed time, they may be germinating—bursting forth under the soil, where we cannot see!
I pray today for our own continued wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God, and for abundant harvest for those that God has placed in our territory, whether that be for a moment, or for a lifetime.
I’m so grateful to Jesus, that He made the way for us to live in His Kingdom, and transact with His currency, and may our faith ABOUND, EXPECT, and ACTIVATE more of His power toward fruitfulness as we seek to blossom and bloom where he’s planted us.
Keep praying! Keep believing! For God is working in our midst in miraculous ways!
Read encouraging posts, that will hopefully fill you with relentless hope in 2023!