Jesus, the Forever Fragrance

Was Jesus that joyful?

I’ll never forget the first time we viewed The Gospel of Matthew over fifteen years ago. The joyful portrayal with which Bruce Marchiano seemed almost, well, sacrilegious.

After all, I’d grown up watching Jesus of Nazareth. For years, I subconsciously carried Robert Powell’s somber portrayal in the back of my mind.


Bruce Marchiano, The Gospel of Matthew

Bruce Marchiano made me realize how I’d underestimated the emotional side of Jesus. Yes, He was on a mission, walking earth with intentionality, but Scripture also reveals He was full of joy. So why did Bruce’s outbursts of laughter catch me off guard? A smile, okay — but a belly laugh? No!

My naivete is embarrassing.


Robert Powell, Jesus of Nazareth

One need only look to the Word to see that Jesus is the very definition of joy.

It was with joy that He chose to leave His place in heaven and take ours here on earth. (Luke 10:21,22)

It was with joy that He dwelt among us, loving the unlovely, and holding children close. (Mt. 13:15-19)

It was with joy that Jesus endured the cross. (Heb. 12:2)

The Word gives us all we could ever hope to know Him but seeing the biblical versions played out on screen helped me to visualize the emotions He experienced as the One who was clothed in flesh—and full of joy.

How about you? Have you always imagined Jesus to be joyful? And who, in your opinion, has best portrayed Jesus in a film? 


My personal favorite, Brian Deacon’s portrayal of Jesus in the JESUS film project.
“I have told you this so that My joy may
be in you and that your joy may be
John 15:11



Who Says God Wants You to Be Happy?

by Cathy Baker

God wants me to be happy. 

Six words – a belief system, if you will – that, at one point, plunged my life into the  proverbial place known as rock bottom. 

In the moment, it was blissful. Believing this lie—that God was more interested in my happiness than His holiness—eased my conscience, leading to sinful choices that continue to affect my family twenty-six years later. 

So, although this month’s series is on joy, today is also about happiness because many, such as myself, have at some point in life confused the two. And the end result is often costly: 

I’m leaving my spouse. He/she just doesn’t make me happy anymore. And, of course, God wants me to be happy.

Truth is: God designed marriage. God defined marriage. Our completeness is only achieved through a relationship with Him, not another person. That kind of burden will crush the other because they were never designed to carry it. However, when our purpose, our fulfillment, is grounded in Christ, joy feeds hope and hope gives flight to “all things possible.” God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:16) Thankfully, He loves those of us who’ve experienced it but He hates the act, especially when He’s used as the excuse to do so.

I would be happier if I had a bigger house, a better car, {fill in the blank}. After all, God wants me to be happy. 

Truth is: There’s nothing wrong with a bigger, better house, car, or whatever — as long as we’re consumed by the Gospel rather than stuff. Joy, the eternal fragrance of Christ, will never linger upon temporal trinkets that simply rust and decay. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Col.3:2 

I wish I’d not fallen for the six-worded lie all those years ago. I wish I’d known Christ and His truth, but I didn’t. It was, however, through this rock-hard place in life that I came to experience the tenderness of God’s holiness and the joy of my salvation. The kind of joy that scales the most jagged of all circumstances and soars for an eternity.  

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9

Made in Japan, from my collection.

Today was the original date set for the teacup drawing mentioned in last Monday’s post but due to Spring Break (something this empty
nester failed to remember!) I’m extending the drawing until Friday, April 10th. If you would like to be included in the drawing, please leave a comment here. Best of luck to you!

Joy: The Forever Fragrance

by Cathy Baker

Welcome to our NEW series!

I can’t imagine a better time to revel in the truths of joy as we celebrate Easter this coming Sunday.

It’s because of Christ and His resurrection that joy is not only attainable — it is forever infused into the life of every follower. 

This month, we’ll camp out beneath a canopy of truths about joy, dispelling common misconceptions but most of all, celebrating its true meaning and the implications these truths hold for our daily lives.

In a day when circumstances continue to crumble about us, we need to hold fast to the fragrance of Christ that will linger forever, and that, is joy. (No foolin’!)

I look forward to sharing this joy-filled journey with you.

So, what is one way you’ll celebrate JOY this Easter weekend? 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great
mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…  1 Peter 1:3

What’s NEW? Your Future

Remember not the former things…behold,
I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I
will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43 

God wanted the Israelites focused on the NEW work He would do. After all, how could they possibly go forward if they remained stuck in the muck of their past failures and sins? 

When energy is focused on past failures it’s easy to miss the NEW thing God is doing in our lives. 


It’s interesting that in the verses prior to those above, the Israelites are told to look to the past to remember the great things God had done for them at the Red Sea. 

Recalling—and resting—in God’s past work on our behalf is a catalyst for walking in freedom today. The opposite occurs when I choose to dwell on my past sins. The focus on self extinguishes joy, clarity of mind, and a sensitivity to God’s leading. 

Do you perceive a NEW thing God may be doing (or wanting to do) in your life or ministry? 

There’s no need to worry about the details or detours. When God guides He is also faithful to provide. His resources are boundless, as is His love for you. 

I can’t imagine a better way to begin this NEW year than in prayer. Is there a specific way I can be praying for you this week? Feel free to leave it in the comment section or email me privately (click the purple envelope button in the top right-hand side bar.) 

Thank you for joining me on this NEW journey!

Simple Ways to Share Christ this Christmas

This past week, while finishing up some last minute shopping, I was struck by how relieved surprised pedestrians seemed when I came to a complete stop for them AND smiled in the process. Such a simple gesture. Why wouldn’t I always do that? Sigh! 

The pedestrians expression immediately reminded of a post I did back in 2011, which goes right along with this series. Thank you for allowing me to share it with you once more:

I’m a bonafide multi-tasker.

Who else could belt out Joy to the World while nearly mowing down a couple exiting the local Bi-lo?

The expression on their faces coincided with a gentle shoulder tap from the One who didn’t become flesh to hear me sing about Him—but rather for Him—by remaining in tune with the Spirit.

Since that fateful night in the Bi-lo parking lot, I’ve been reminded just how powerful the practical can be when I am:

  • Igniting
    my prayer life before the engine, asking God to reveal divine
    opportunities in living out His joy, mercy, and love to those driving
    too slowly, the rude and weary waitress, or the woman who plops down 20
    items in a 10 item lane.
  • Stopping
    for pedestrians at the malls, Target, Walmart and alike. (No doubt the
    couple wished I’d been enlightened on this one a bit sooner.) Better
    yet, stop and smile as you wave
    them on, assuring them they’re not an intrusion on your day, but a
    divine appointment. It’s also the perfect opportunity to pray for them
    as they make their way ever-so-slowly by your car.
  • Going
    the extra mile for Salvation Army bucket volunteers by picking up a
    bottled water for them in addition to your donation. If it’s nippy
    outside, consider delivering a hot cocoa from a nearby place, thanking
    them for their willingness to volunteer for the benefit of others.
  • Smiling. Sharing a warm hello. We never know who needs it the most, but God does (the beauty of God’s providential prompts!)

matters not if any of the above actions are reciprocated. What matters
is that we take every opportunity to impart God’s joy instead of simply
singing about it. 

How about you? Is there a simple way you’ve found to share the love of Christ with others during this holiday season? 

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Colossians 4:5

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