“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense” (Psalm 141:2a).
Are there certain smells that you like? Some people love to smell pine trees or old books. Others like to smell cookies baking or different kinds of flowers – roses, lilacs, hyacinths, gardenias. People like pleasant smells, smells that remind them of loved ones or favorite places.
Prayer can be like a sweet, pleasant smell to God. The Bible compares prayer to incense, a very pleasing fragrance. Did you know that your prayer is like the act of offering up a sweet perfume to God? God loves for you to pray. He wants you to bring all of your concerns to Him – big and small. When you pray, you are showing God that you trust Him and need Him to help you. You are showing Him that you love Him enough to spend time talking to Him.
God’s children bring glory to Him when they express their love and trust in Him. And they can express that love and trust through praying. Praying is like giving God a breath of a wonderful, sweet scent that He loves.
God loves for His children to pray, because when they pray they show Him that they love and trust Him.
» Do I take some time each day to pray to God?
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Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Communicating Love
Being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
There is no greater communication of love than proclaiming the gospel of God. Such a love forfeits lesser benefits—being well thought of, meeting the expectations of others, holding a prestigious title, enjoying a comfortable life, and so on—for the sake of making the good news of Jesus known. Not that those blessings can’t be given to us by God, but they are not primary.
Notice that Paul and his missionary partners sought to share both the gospel and themselves. The gospel is best communicated within a loving friendship. But a loving friendship is not the same as gospel communication. No one declares the gospel passively; it must be actively shared.
And so we see that while Paul labored to build strong relationships, he also “proclaimed to [the Thessalonians] the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:9). The word “proclaimed” in this verse denotes the action of a herald, who declares what is given to him to say. A herald’s job is not to make things up, to respond to all the felt needs of those around them, or to make people feel good; it is to stand up and to speak up.
If you are a gospel believer, you are a gospel herald. The only question is: How effective a herald are you? We cannot replace the God-given message of the cross with our own views. If we get caught up in the desire to impress others, then we will quickly neglect what’s most important. We are meant to go into the throne room of the King, to receive His message, to enter our little spheres of influence, and to share what He has said—nothing more and nothing less. As John Stott writes, “Every authentic Christian ministry begins here, with the conviction that we have been called to handle God’s Word as its guardians and heralds. We must not be satisfied with ‘rumors of God’ as a substitute for the ‘good news from God.’”
Some of us, then, need to love others enough to spend time with them, serving them and demonstrating that we are for them, so that we might love them by sharing the gospel of love with them. Others of us, though, need to use the friendships and networks we already enjoy as bridges for the gospel. What will gospel-sharing love for others look like for you, in the place and among the people God has set you today? Whatever the answer, remember this: there is no better way you can love and care for others than to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
1 The Message of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, The Bible Speaks Today (InterVarsity, 1991), p 68.
Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,