How Sweet the Smell

Read – 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

The introduction of Sunday’s sermon started out with a bang. “Every moment of our lives is a big moment.” It certainly caught my attention. I watched some of the congregation go from poor posture to backs straight and heads up. That is more than a statement. It’s more than a philosophy. It’s a mindset.  It’s an approach to life. It made me think, “Do I really believe every moment of my life is a big moment?”

Big moments mean big things. Big moments lead to success or failure. Big moments result in joy or sorrow. Big moments can cause contentment or discontentment. Big moments can lead to love or a lack thereof. Big moments bring big choices, and big choices lead to big consequences. Do you feel the pressure yet?

If you’re like me, then you feel the pressure and heat of big moments. I hear, “Every moment of my life is a big moment” and I tense up. I’m hard on myself, and I have high expectations for the output of my life. I’m a Christ follower, husband, father, son, brother, ministry leader, boss, etc. I’m faced with big moments every day of my life. Every day throws challenges and curve balls. The decisions I make ultimately affect one of my roles and responsibilities. Therefore, there is truth in, “Every moment of my life is a big moment.”

In 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, the apostle Paul reminds us that every moment of our lives is a big moment, yet he also reminds us of a significant promise. Yes, he gives a clear illustration of what our lives should look like but he also gives a clear illustration of something bigger. He opens up with, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” What does this mean?  

Let’s start with ‘triumphal procession.’ According to Zondervan’s NIV Study Bible, “A victorious Roman general would lead his soldiers and their captives in a festive procession, while the people watched and applauded and the air was filled with the sweet smell released by the burning spices in the streets.”

He is reminding us that in every big moment, we are led by God in a triumphal procession because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. In other words, the victory has already been won. Yes, every moment of our lives is a big moment, but the pressure is off. The victory has already been won because of what Jesus Christ did. You can attack manhood with clarity. You can attack your roles and responsibilities with freedom. Jesus is triumphant, and YOU are triumphant through Him.

No matter what life is throwing at you, remember that Jesus has won. Regardless of your situation, you have the privilege of marching behind God in a triumphant procession. Is it not much easier to engage in battle when you see the victory coming?

In this day, the people knew victory was evident not just because of the processional march but also because of the fragrance in the air. This brings me to my next point – are you allowing Christ’s victory in you to cause a fragrance that seeps into the lives of everyone around you? They may not be involved in your day-to-day life but is your aroma undeniable? Distinct fragrances and aromas cause a reaction. How are people reacting to you? Do they smell the victory in your life?

Every moment of your life is a big moment because of what Christ did for you. How sweet is the smell of victory?

“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” Corinthians 2:15 

 

Garret Barbush, Executive Director

The Struggle of Mindset

Read Colossians 3:1-14

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality,impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Setting my heart and mind on things above does not come naturally.  Instead, what comes naturally is setting my heart and mind on immediate happiness, contentment, and pleasure…for me.  I sit here this morning feeling convicted, and I’m reminded of how grateful I am for God’s forgiveness and grace.

No matter how busy I am or how much is on my plate, I will often go out of my way to play golf, ride bike, or pursue other things I like to do — simply because it’s what I like to do.  I go out of my way to do these things because it is convenient and comfortable to serve myself and chase after things that bring me satisfaction.

However, as I sit here this morning, I reflect on my past year.  It’s been a good year with a lot of blessings.  Honestly, I have nothing to complain about.  My life has been good.  Yet, I realize there have been too many situations where I have found myself feeling irritable, depleted, and tired.  There have been things with Men of Iron that haven’t evolved the way I anticipated, my wife and I are still trying to find a groove in our marriage since having a child, and my faith has been inconsistent.

I sit here this morning curious to know what my soul may feel like if I had been more intentional about setting my heart and mind on things above.  Setting my heart and mind on things above doesn’t necessarily mean I read my Bible more, memorize more scripture, and pray more.  Sure, that’s part of it.  It’s more than that, though.  IT’S ABOUT A MINDSET!  It’s about a mentality.  It’s about an approach to life.

Setting my heart and mind on things above is truly communing with God, where I not only sit and talk to Him, but I find a way to LISTEN, as well.  Setting my heart and mind on things above is less about my vision and more about His vision.  It’s about the things that really matter to Him — people around me, my marriage, etc.  I think Jesus is more concerned about the relationships with my neighbors than he would the growth plans for Men of Iron.  I think if my heart and mind were set on things above, then I would put much more effort and focus into loving my wife with awesomeness than I would into moving Men of Iron forward.  I think if my heart and mind were set on things above then I would be more likely to spend $50 on lunch and clothing for a homeless person in my community rather than spending $50 to play golf.

Setting my heart and mind on things above requires a true dedication to do the things that are important to Him.  Yes, God is concerned about the things that are enjoyable to me, however, the things that are enjoyable to me are often things that I make a priority.  If I’m really honest, when I think about my priorities, they are typically all about me — my goals, my dreams, my desires, my interests, my hobbies, etc.

My mindset is dangerous at times.  It’s all about me, me, me and so little about Him, Him, Him.  What’s your mindset?

Garret Barbush, Executive Director