Thursday 8th April
Aroma of Christ
Please be still as you come into God’s presence
Think about –
Jim Elliot wrote “To stand by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and to give oneself again to God, what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth. I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him.”
Song Forever https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeJ14W2lXCw
Reading – 2 Cor 2:14-17
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.
Father we long to be the aroma of Christ as we go about life today. Places being filled with the aroma of a love that goes so deep, it penetrates uncertainty, hopelessness and misplaced belief.
The fragrance of His gentleness, of beauty. Loving Lord, be with us as we take every step on this journey.
Thank you that you lead us in this triumph. Please, as we travel, walk with us; be by our side as we celebrate your resurrection this day and every day.
Tom Wright encourages “Read a story from the gospels then prayerfully imagine that you are there in the scene. Imagine the sights, sounds, listen to the teachings – then at a certain point Jesus turns around and speaks to you.”
The last couple of reflections we have done this from John 12. Is this story still touching your heart? More to the point, is Jesus as real and as glorious as He was on the Easter weekend?
What about Him leading us today – captive to all that He secured for us on resurrection day?
We are the Aroma of Christ
Firstly, we are this to God, note the verse again! You see when we live our lives the way He wants us to live our lives, God is moved. Just like the offerings of the Old Testament, He is pleased. But it’s not with burnt offerings and sin offerings anymore, He is pleased if we offer our very lives to Him as living sacrifices. Because He tells us that when it comes to the spiritual act of worship, that’s what’s required of each and every one of us every day.
Jesus did! “live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Eph 5:2
What about the fragrance of Jesus Christ? What kinds of actions and attitudes would "smell beautiful" to God and to our family and neighbours?
What if I asked you about the fragrance of Magor Baptist, what is it to you, to others? What would your answer be?
When the Spirit of God speaks to our hearts, that is the time to step up and serve God. Too often, we miss out on those special moments to express our loyalty to Jesus, when we ignore God’s leading.
Florence Nightingale wrote in her diary, "I am 30 years of age, the age at which Christ began His mission. Now no more childish things, no more vain things." Years later as she ended her heroic life of service, she was asked to give her explanation for why she had accomplished so much, she said, "I can give only one explanation and that is this: I have kept nothing back from God."
I reckon that sums up what being the ‘Aroma of Christ’ is like! It’s discipleship, loyalty, keeping nothing back from God.
Yet even Paul agonises at the end of v. 16: "Who is sufficient for these things?" "Who is up to it?" Who is adequate to spread this incredibly delicate yet powerful fragrance?
Even in our best moments, our best on our best days is not able to be a pleasing aroma to God. When we become a sacrifice as Jesus became a sacrifice it is a sweet aroma to God. See Roms 12:1-2
Paul mixes his metaphors. Along with the Levitical language, he brings in the imagery of the ancient Roman practice of the triumph parade. But we are also the aroma of victory.
Personal identity hand in hand with personal purpose. Today, we are the fragrance of resurrection life.
Tommy Tenny - “I don’t know about you, but I am tired of just being ‘another somebody’ to the lost around me. I have made a decision. I made up my mind and set my heart to declare, I am going to pursue the presence of God in my life. I am going to get so close to God that when I walk into secular and public places, people will meet Him. They may not know that I’m there, but they will definitely know that He is there.”
Look again at 2 Cor 2:14-17
We will experience the victory
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ." - 2 Cors 2:14a
We will express the Gospel
"...and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." - 2 Cors 2:14b do we turn people’s heads – do people really know that we are in victory in Him?
We will encourage the saved (each other)
"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved..." - 2 Cors 2:15 Amazing thought!
We will expose the lost
"...and those who are perishing...we are the smell of death..." - 2 Cors 2:15, 16 Are you saddened by the reality of this?
N.T. Wright writes about it this way: "The resurrection of Jesus doesn't leave us passive, helpless spectators. We find ourselves lifted up, set on our feet, given new breath in our lungs and commissioned to go make new creation happen in this world."
Remember, you've not been sent instead of Christ, but as Christ. Paul calls us the aroma of Christ, the scent of Jesus.
Someone said – ‘Christ undertook a battle not rightly his; we share in a triumph not rightly ours’
What does it mean to be the fragrance of resurrection? We can live today with this amazing truth that the inevitability of death is not the last word. Light will overwhelm dark; love will overwhelm fear; freedom will overwhelm bondage; resurrection will overwhelm death. There is nothing to fear because God wins in and through the resurrection of Jesus.
Whatever form it takes, it always smells the same. It is not the odour of hopelessness; it is the aroma of Christ. Here is a profound truth…You smell like what you’ve been around! Ours is the aroma of Christ.
John Piper – “The world does not need cool Christians who are culturally saturated. It needs exiles with the scent of heaven and the aroma of Christ.”
Hymn May the fragrance of Jesus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYpYofs8Xp4
Be still before God
God bless you.
The Easter Magazine is out! Please check the website here to read it!
The communion offering in April is for the South
Wales Baptist College
The college is a community where people can discover more about the Christian faith as they explore God’s purpose for their lives.
They welcome women and men who are preparing for various forms of Christian ministry and mission. One of the College’s core tasks is working with people preparing for ordained ministry within both the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the Baptist Union of Wales. Please pray for them and support them!
The communion offering for March was for Peter & Rose's ministry in Uganda and raised £3,055 towards a new irrigation system. Peter says thank you so much for your wonderful generosity.
We are looking at the whether we be able to hold the Annual General Meeting in May. If this is possible, we will be electing the Church Officers and three deacons. Davina and Jonathan will be standing down as Joint Treasurers. Are you willing or are you able to nominate a member to take on the role of Treasurer? Please continue to pray that we will be able to fill this important role in the Church. We will be inviting nominations as soon as the AGM is confirmed.
A date for your diary – Sunday, 4th July. Rev. Jim Thomas will be leading our Church Anniversary. Hopefully, we will all be able to celebrate together.
From South Wales Baptist Association
Our focus for prayer this week covers two important areas. In Wales, we have seen the beginning of lock down restrictions being lifted as the youngest pupils have returned to school. We hope this continues over the coming weeks and take the opportunity to pray for those in education. Over the last couple of days, it has been announced that Wales has administered its one millionth vaccine. The roll out of the vaccine gives us hope for the coming months being very different. At the same time, many in poorer parts of the world currently have less hope because of inequitable vaccine access. This week we will hold this before God in prayer.
Prayers for Education
Pray for teachers and students as they return or prepare to return to school. We especially remember those who are anxious about this.
Continue to pray for those who continue to ‘home school’. A number of parents are having to juggle work and being ‘teacher’ as well as parent.
Pray for education minister, Kirsty Williams, and others in government as they make decisions about when it is safe for others to return to school.
Remember those in exam years, wondering how the pandemic is going to affect their future
There are increased levels of loneliness and mental health issues and we hold those affected before God in prayer.
Prayers for Vaccination
We thank God for the number of people in Wales who have been vaccinated so far and pray for the continued success in the coming months
We pray for poorer countries who are not currently receiving vaccines in anywhere near the quantities needed.
We pray for generosity and wisdom for Boris Johnson and other world leaders as they consider issues around the equitable sharing of vaccines
Renewed call to persevere in prayer across Baptist churches in the UK
As Covid-19 threatens to overwhelm our health service and continues to inflict pain and loss, we stand together with many others and renew our commitment to sustained prayer.
You may like to join virtually with friends to pray, perhaps in small groups or as a wider congregation. You might like to spend time in solitude praying for our nation at this time of crisis.
Here are some pointers to help you and your friends as you pray. These have been written by a senior A&E nurse in a large teaching hospital:
Pray for all the NHS staff for their own safety, energy and peace in dealing with each and every patient.
Pray for those in hospital leadership, for wisdom and for good decisions to give the best outcomes for patients.
Pray for patients; for healing, for peace and ultimately to fight this disease and get home and pray for their relatives who feel helpless.
Pray for the vaccine, that it will and is working against this latest strain of Covid-19.
Pray for a reprieve and an end to Covid-19.
You may know people who are currently working in the NHS in your area, please let them know you are praying for them and ask them how you can pray specifically.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
CHURCH MOTTO 2021
Sudbrook Mission Project Description – December 2020 Jeremy Lock
Mission summary - (Initially based in Sudbrook).
“for I have many in this city (area) who are my people” Acts18:10
I believe the Lord has called us back to South Wales to minister to the homes and housing estates within the South Eastern corner of Wales.
This started about three years ago when God clearly spoke to me and said “I have place before you an open door” (based on Revelation3:7,8).
Over time this has been confirmed and resulted in Ruth and myself moving back to South Wales.
Most recently I have been reminded again of this promise.
The reminder has come in the shape of a key that I found (I’m still trying to trace the owner).
This is not the first key that I have spotted abandoned but those are other stories.
This key however reminds me of the one who holds the key, Jesus himself, and he is the one who opens doors and confirms that he has placed that open door before us!
My gifting is in leadership and would want to engage with Christians in the area and to seek to encourage them to be involved in the work, initially with a focus on the new housing estates in Sudbrook, and then extending to the surrounding area.
I am also studying at the South Wales Baptist College in Cardiff.
Figure 1: Pictures of Sudbrook including the chapel that we plan to use.
We have recently started a prayer meeting for the work in Sudbrook, there is a website and, we have the use of the Presbyterian chapel.
We have started to contact residents to establish those who are interested in being part of a church in Sudbrook.
Please pray with us that:
God will place Christians in Sudbrook who would be involved in this exciting work.
God will be at work in the community and will guide our prayers, contacts and activities.