“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.
Read encouraging posts, that will hopefully fill you with relentless hope in 2023!