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Shake The Dust Off

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.” -Romans 1:16 CSB

If there has been one common question in the family of God, it is what is my purpose? Or phrased a little bit differently, what is God’s Will? Throughout scripture we see regular people like you and I healing the sick, setting people free from demon’s, multitudes being set free through the blood of Jesus, and fire dropping down from heaven and huge crowds speaking in tongues. God’s will and desire for us to be apart of the miraculous power found through the Holy Spirit has never changed. However, I have seen over and over and even dealt with myself a few of these common denominators of why people do not live in fulfillment of the power of the Holy Spirit.

The biggest reason why I have seen people not living out the true will of God is because of their fear of man rather than obedience to God. When you are a follower of Jesus Christ you are faced with an abundance of rejection and even hatred for fulfilling the will of the father. If we hold onto the rejection of man rather than the acceptance of God, we are filled with grief, sorrow, and guilt we were never meant to carry. In fact, there is a common phrase that Jesus speaks to the disciples as he charges them to spread the Good News. You can find this phrase throughout Acts, Matthew 10:14-22, Mark 6:7-13, and Luke 9:5.

If they do not accept you, shake the dust off your feet.

Specifically, in Acts 13, we are shown Paul and Barnabas spreading the gospel through the region. As they were leaving, the people were urging them to stay and talk more about the Good News of Jesus Christ. Huge crowds were coming to hear the good news and experience the salvation and love found through Jesus Christ. However, there was one problem, the Jews were jealous. I could write a whole different  post on jealousy and envy and how it demonic, but I will save that for another time. These Jews were so jealous of Paul and Barnabas that they banned them from coming back! I know what you are thinking, “you mean to tell me that they were fulfilling the will of God and sharing the love of Jesus and they were being expelled from areas because of people’s jealously?”. Yes, that is exactly what the bible says.

So many people, including myself in the past, have their expectation in the wrong place. We oftentimes try to please man and say it is fulfilling the will of God. When our motives of our heart are to please people, when people hurt us, we stop doing what God asked us to do. We think that just because we are rejected, it could not possibly be fulfilling the will of God. This could not be further from the truth. Jesus himself did not even accept man’s glory,

“I do not accept glory from people, but I know you—that you have no love for God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and yet you don’t accept me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, since you accept glory from one another but don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God? -John 5:41-44 CSB

The truth is, as Jesus spoke, the only acceptance and glory we should truly be after is what God so freely wants to share with us. You and I while fulfilling the purpose God has for us are going to be faced with many challenges and maybe even some pruning of people pleasing. When people do not accept what you have to say about Jesus, understand it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their heart. Maybe like the Jews they are dealing with jealousy and envy or maybe they are not ready to hear the message but you have planted a seed that God will give growth to later.

What is important is that when you are rejected that you do not let it dull your roar or harden your heart. You are I are to shake the dust off just as Paul and Barnabas display in Acts 13.

“When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed.  The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the prominent God-fearing women and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. But Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:48-52

Paul and Barnabas set their attention on those who were appointed to believe in eternal life, they were not focused on the Jews that did not accept them and eventually kicked them out of the town. So how do we shake the dust off? Shaking the dust off simply means understanding that those people’s reactions were not based upon you doing or not doing something. It is understanding that their reaction was based upon them not knowing Jesus and rejecting what Holy Spirit was speaking through you. I would strongly suggest to fervently pray for those who reject or show hatred toward you. The saying I is true that the people that hurt us the most are the people who are in desperate need of our prayers. Even though they did not accept what we had to say, does not mean a seed was not planted. And it certainly does not mean we cannot pray for their hearts to be softened. God does not give up on his kids and neither should we! Shaking the dust off means rejecting the responsibility of guilt for the rejection of the message. God knows when we shake the dust off and does not take it lightly.

If we focus on rejection and do not shake the dust off we miss the joy of the progress this far and the appointed time for others. You are not held responsible for other people’s reactions. But you are going to be held accountable for your boldness and continuance of the Gospel. God desires us to be unashamed of the Gospel. He desires us to share the good news and if people do not accept what we have to say to pray for their hearts to be softened. Like Paul and Barnabas, if we are rejected or shown hatred we should not take it personally and understand that this is a spiritual war, it is not us being rejected it is the Holy Spirit in us that they do not like. Remember there was a time in both our lives that the scales did not fall off yet but we were so desperately searching for Jesus. Thank God for the people who prayed for us and planted seeds along the way. Thank God for the forgiveness that we have for hurting those people unintentionally because we were lost. We must be those people who shake the dust off and are unashamed of the Gospel. While there may be people who are not ready to receive the gospel, there is a field ready to be harvested. It is as simple as shaking the dust off of the past and sharing what God has done in your life. Are you willing to be bold and unashamed of the Gospel?

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work,” Jesus told them.  “Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, and then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, because they are ready for harvest. -John 4:34-35 CSB

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The Responsibility To Spread Our Aroma (Yep, You Read That Correctly)

Wow, wow, wow. You know when the Lord wakes you up at 2am and wants to speak, it is going to be good! This morning he left me plenty to meditate on. However, I only want to share what he has spoken to me to directly share with you.

Let us focus together in 2 Corinthians 2:

“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 CSB

If you have not figured it out already, we as Children of God, are not everyone’s cup of tea. Or as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians, the aroma we give off is not always the most enticing to those who are perishing. Can you remember a time before you knew Jesus and someone was trying to talk to you about him? Yeah, me too. (Shout out to my Aunt and Grandma who never grew weary in planting seeds!!) During this time, I can remember what they were saying sounded unappealing and like a bunch of trash. I thought they were being annoying and “shoving their religion down my throat”. (Sound familiar?) To me, when I did not have a relationship with God, the truth in what they were speaking gave me the aroma of trash. It smelled bad, it tasted bad, and I simply did not want to hear anything they had to say.

Let’s flash forward to today now that I have a relationship with God… I am faced with the same situations my Grandma and Aunt went through with me. Friends, family, and other people I am faced with on a daily basis because they do not have a relationship with God are unable to acknowledge the truth I have spoken as something that smells good and gives life. Rather, because they are blinded by satan’s lies and are unable to see the truth due to the blinders he has put on, every word that comes out of my mouth gives off a stench rather than a beautiful fragrance.

What are we supposed to do as Christian’s in these situations?
Let’s look at the very first verse and the very last…

” 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.” –2 Corinthians 2:14 CSB

“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 2:17 CSB

Heaven is our home and the world is fallen. Not everyone is going to agree with us and that is okay. It is of great importance to remember, our war is not against flesh and blood but against dark principalities in which we cannot see. People themselves, are NOT our enemy. The devil loves to try and trick us to make us think they are though. Be aware of his schemes. (You can read more on this in 2 Corinthians 2 as well).

But, in EVERY place we go, whether we choose to realize it our not, we are giving off a fragrance. Not everyone is going to like the aroma we give off. However, this should not stop us nor discourage us from living like Jesus and “spreading the aroma of the knowledge of him in every place”. There are many people we run into on a daily basis that have been given the wrong image of Jesus due to wolves in sheep’s clothing. After all, the devil does disguise himself as an angel of light right? I cannot put enough emphasis on HOW important it is that we are constantly bearing ripe fruit and imitating Jesus example. People want Jesus, they may not acknowledge it aloud. I know that I did not when I was caught up in worldly affairs. But this should not discourage us to not show the love of Christ and speak the truth. This is not a time for us to shrink back. This is a time to pray for boldness and courageousness, to speak the truth in love, and to spread the Good News!

In verse 17 Paul talks about people who speak the word of God for profit. Unfortuantley, there are many “pastors” that feed themselves rather than tending to the sheep. I want to be clear, I am not saying that Pastor’s should not get paid. In fact, Pastor’s should get paid, it is biblical! What Paul is talking about here is that there are people in this world, false prophets and teachers, or people who have gone astray and will tell you what you ear is itching for, rather than speaking the truth of God’s word. There are pastor’s in this world whose hearts are in the wrong place and are “pastoring” for the status quo and money, rather than tending to the sheep. I love how Michael Todd talked about being a “Lead Pastor” in his Marked Series. He said, “Rather than being called Lead Pastor, I should really be called Lead Servant”. Can I get an AMEN!? Paul states, that we are speak with sincerity in Christ. There is nothing worse than speaking from a place of hypocrisy and simply lip service.

This world NEEDS genuine faith, transparency, and vulnerability. As Christian’s, we do not have it all together. But we do have a God who does. We do have Jesus who has given us healing, wholeness, and freedom. The world needs genuine faith and a sincere heart.

If my Grandma and Aunt would have looked at me as the world does, for my misdeeds and sins or if they would have wound up discouraged because of my action, if they would have gotten weary in doing good and would have gossiped and complained rather than going to God in prayer… In all honestly I do not think I would be alive today. The devil was well on his way in trying to kill me with drugs and suicidal thoughts. In the end, as children of God, we know that we “triumph”! We are more than conquerors and victory is ours through Jesus Christ! Do not let people’s reactions to speaking the truth discourage you. Speak the truth in love anyways! We are to look at people as Jesus looks at them. Not through the eyes of sin, but through the lens of love. Pray and ask him to help you with this if you need help. I know that I need his strength to do this.

We as Christians need to remember that we have a responsibility to give people what this world does not even realize they are desiring, an opportunity to make Jesus the Lord of their life. We were all once lost and if you were anything like me, did not want to hear anything the “bible thumpers” had to say. But the seeds that my Aunt and Grandma planted, God gave the growth. Follow Holy Spirit’s leading in spreading the Good News. The world NEEDS love. We know that perfect love is GOD himself. If you are rejected, remember they are not rejecting you, they are rejecting Jesus. IMMEDIATELY go to God and intercess on their behalf. Prayer brings heaven to earth. Remember the one you are communicating with is the ONLY ONE who can change the heart.

Questions To Reflect On:

  • What aroma am I giving off?
  • Does my aroma smell like Christ or does it smell like the world?
  • Do I need to pray and ask God for boldness and courageousness to speak the Good News?
  • Who can I share the Good News with today? Who can I share what God has done in my life with?
  • Who can I pray for today? (You can pray Acts 26:18 for the lost)

Truth To Chew On

  • Matthew 28:16-20
  • 2 Corinthians 5 (Specifically verses 20-21)
  • Mark 16:14-20
  • Psalm 96:3
  • Revelation 12:11