sin, grace, and salvation

Smoked Cheese and the Holy Spirit – transforming our hearts and lives

Ever since we’ve discovered that cheese can be put into our smoker, we have been hooked on the stuff. As much as I absolutely loved the unseasonably warm fall, I found myself anxious for the temperature to drop so that we could make a batch of the smoky goodness. It finally got cool enough, and we’ve been smoking cheese ever since. We’ve been smoking so much cheese that I’ve even been able to find the Lord using it to teach me a lesson. Let me explain…

When we put it on the smoker, it’s a plain ordinary block of cheese – nothing special about it. But as the smoke rolls over and around it, that distinct flavor is absorbed. When opening the smoker doors to check on it, the smoke flows out and surrounds whoever has peeked in. When the cheese is done and is left to rest on the counter in my kitchen, the smoky aroma takes over the room. Simply walk down the stairs, and there’s no doubt that we have a batch waiting to be wrapped.

At church a couple of weeks ago, the pastor was talking about the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives. As he spoke of the amazing gift that is the Holy Spirit, I couldn’t help but think about our smoked cheese. You see, I think we are all like those blocks of cheese, rather ordinary and plain. I look at myself and see a teacher, cook, wife, and mother and feel like I’m pretty similar to the many other teachers, cooks, wives, and mothers in this world. Nothing too outstanding. That is, until I realized that the Holy Spirit is at work in my life. Like the smoke being absorbed into the cheese, the Holy Spirit permeates my life, my thoughts, my heart, my soul. The Lord’s Spirit doesn’t just roll over and around me, it dwells within me. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). When we put our faith in Jesus as Savior, God the Father sends the Holy Spirit to live within us and make us a new creation living to serve the Lord. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). We are being transformed by the Holy Spirit to be more like Christ.

That ordinary block of cheese that goes into the smoker comes out transformed in flavor and color, and goes from ordinary to extraordinary. The same thing happens when we trust in the Lord and accept the Holy Spirit in our lives. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul prays for the believers, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:16a). When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, he changes our flavor – the Spirit helps us to make our desires, God’s desires. “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:4-6). When we delight in the Lord, we find joy in His plan for our lives; our desires match his. When we recognize God’s will for our lives and commit to giving him control, the Holy Spirit works to transform the flavor of our hearts to taste more like the Lord’s. The Holy Spirit also transforms our color: the way other people see us. When we give our lives to the Lord, there is an outward change. We live differently. We make decisions based on God’s laws and his wisdom instead of what the world says is acceptable. This outward change makes us stand out, makes us different. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). Again, we are transformed. The Holy Spirit works within us to make our desires closer to God’s which transforms the way we live and the way other people see us. Finally, the Holy Spirit takes us from ordinary to extraordinary. We are born sinful creatures unworthy to serve the Lord, but through the gift of salvation we are given the opportunity to love and worship an amazing God who wants even more. He wants a personal relationship with us. When we accept that relationship and give our whole lives to him, he can do remarkable things. “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). Amen! God can do immeasurably more with our lives than we can ever imagine. He can take me an ordinary teacher, cook, wife, mother and do immeasurable things. He can take YOU, an ordinary ______ and transform you, through the Holy Spirit, and make you extraordinary. He can and will do immeasurable things with your life when you surrender it to him. Like cheese coming out of the smoker, we release the aroma of the Lord to fill the rooms we enter, the people around us, and the lives we touch. “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15). So let’s all be like cheese and let the Holy Spirit fill us so that we can be transformed as we live for Christ.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit into my life to dwell within me. I pray that others accept the gift of salvation and allow you to enter their hearts and transform them into the people you created them to be. I pray that you use me to reach those who don’t know you. I pray that I am a pleasing aroma of Christ, use me like smoke to permeate the lives around me sharing your love and grace and all the while giving you the glory.

Amen

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