Devotional by Ray Stedman – The pleasant smell – A daily devotion for April 26

Topic:The pleasant smell

When Jehovah smelled a pleasant smell, he said in his heart: “I will not curse the earth again because of man”.
Genesis 8: 21a

Ray Stedman

What is surprising is that the first thing Noah does when leaving the ark is to thank God. Would not you think that it would have occurred to him at least to stop to build a bonfire to prepare a meal? No, this man knew how to put the most important things first, so the first thing he did was to thank God. What a tremendous scene, as Noah’s family kneels on earth to give thanks!

It is the constant call of God to the people: “Give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It is because, as is natural, giving thanks means that we recognize reality. When you give thanks you are acknowledging God’s underpinning, the presence of God in the midst of life and His control over the events of life. Therefore, you can not give thanks without recognizing the situation as it really is.

In Romans 1, God’s charge against a false and ungodly world is that “having known God, they did not glorify him as God did, and did not give him thanks” (Romans 1: 21a). They did not recognize the basis on which their life depended. Although they would not have hesitated to thank someone for the simple fact that they had taken a handkerchief from the ground for them, they could not find the time to stop to give thanks to the God on whom their life depended, but Noah built an altar and He thanked God for his release.

God said: “Never again will I send a flood upon the earth, for the imagination of the heart of man is evil from his youth.” There is nothing a flood can achieve when it comes to transforming the heart. The destruction does not change it, so God does not send a flood again. It was necessary to find another way to get people to change. This is how God laid the foundation of a new proclamation of the message of redemption for a new world. We read that Noah’s thanksgiving was a pleasant smell in the noses of God. He delights in the gratitude and praise of the person.

God saw in this act of Noah the total surrender of Jesus, the fact that here there was one who, just like these sacrifices, gave his life out of love for what could be achieved by doing it, not doing it unwillingly but voluntarily. When God saw this reflected in sacrifice, it was for Him the fragrance of Christ. That is what God desires in our lives. How do you glorify God? How do you live for His honor? Giving yourself, that’s the way to do it and that’s what true love means.

The world is continually talking to us about rights: “Demand your rights!” That is exactly the opposite of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. “Everyone who wants to save his life will lose it,” he said (Mark 8: 35a). If by selfishness and greed you demand your life and try to cling to it, you will lose it. God has written this throughout the pages of history and he writes it on the page of each person’s life. “Losing” your life is an odor pleasing to Jesus Christ.

Thank you for having offered Your Son, which is a pleasant aroma for You, Father. Allow my life to be an offering that is pleasing to You.

Application to life
We can not truly give thanks without recognizing the situation as it really is. Is the presence of God manifested in our lives by our constant gratitude for all that He gives us?

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