Better than Before

Posted on 02/11/2018 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***

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lyrics by Henry van Dyke
music by Ludwig van Beethoven

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee,
Op'ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav'n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o'er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
In the triumph song of life.

by Benjamin R. Faust

Lord, You've been so good to me
You gave me sight when I was blind
You showed me light I could not see
You brought me truth I could not find

Lord, You've been so good to me
You paid a debt I could not pay
You turned my darkest night to day
Lord You've been so good to me!

And so I praise You in the morning
and I praise You in the night
For You are my Salvation
You are my Guiding Light
So I give You my everything
I just can't give You less
When You sent Your Son to love me
You gave me Your best!

Lord, You've been so good to me
You set my feet on solid ground
You rescued my life from the grave
when no other help could be found
Lord, You've been so good to me
and I could never repay
All the love You gave so freely
Lord, You've been so good to me!


Lord You've been so good to me
Lord You've been so good to me (better than I deserve)
Lord You've been so good to me
You paid a debt I could not pay
You turned my darkest night to day
Lord You've been so good to me

Lord You've been so good to me
Lord You've been so good to me (you're good all the time)
Lord You've been so good to me
and I could never repay
All the love You gave so freely
Lord You've been so good to me


You gave me Your best!
You gave me Your best!

Lord, You've been so good to me.

lyrics by Munster Gesangbuch
music by Schlesische Volkslieder

Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
thou, my soul's glory, joy, and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer
who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
and all the twinkling starry host:
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
than all the angels heaven can boast.

Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
now and forevermore be thine.

*** Choose your connection speed and listen to the audio to hear the introduction. ***

Isn’t the Presence of God beautiful? If you entered in during the time of musical worship, and you touched His Presence, then you feel refreshed, renewed, and at peace.

And if you didn’t, it’s not too late. Just let everything else fall away -- all the distractions, all the mental noise, all the stories -- and come fully into His Presence, right where you are and in this eternal Present Moment.

And as you enter in, and the inner quiet, the inner stillness, and the Peace of God begins to wash over you, let’s proceed to this question:

Isn’t THIS the fragrance you’d rather leave behind you everywhere you go?

You might have noticed what we humans generally tend to leave behind. Public restrooms can quickly become disaster zones. Store shelves get disorganized and out of whack. Parking lots accumulate trash and stray shopping carts. Floors collect clutter and, much to some unlucky person’s dismay, discarded chewing gum.

Any driver is exposed to and perhaps contributes to stress and dangerous situations, as we cut eachother off, drive much too closely, honk in frustration or rage, and ignore the traffic laws in favor of our imagined superior understanding of what is safe and acceptable.

And what do you suppose is the result of all these little things in those examples? Is it the fragrance of God? Or does it kind of stink?

Well, today I’d like for us to take an open, honest look at what lies beneath these things. And I was torn between naming today’s topic “Better than Before” or “Leaving His Fragrance.” But it doesn’t really matter; I COULD have titled it “Air and Sunshine” or “Sleeping Lollipops,” and that wouldn’t have made any difference. So there you have THAT.

In Colossians 3:17 (TLS*), we read this:

17 And whatever you say or do, do it all in a way that displays the nature of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

So what do you think displays the nature of Christ more?

Leaving little messes out in public? Or Leaving whatever you go a little bit better than how you found it?

Doing as little as you can get away with at work? Or finding ways to improve the atmosphere, to go above and beyond what is required of you, and to benefit someone else’s bottom line?

Fooling yourself into thinking you’re getting to your destination as quickly as possible while teaching the slow pokes and idiots a lesson, or obeying the traffic laws and being mindful of the physical and psychological safety of others?

Saving a few steps by leaving your shopping cart in the parking space next to yours, or walking the extra few feet to put it in the cart collection stall?

These are seemingly little things. And if you are lost in the mind, it will very quickly snap back to its programming. And you’ll feel the discomfort as it struggles against itself in a futile attempt to change what it is secretly fighting to keep the same.


you could step back………

back into the place of Presence………

back into the Temple of God, where His Spirit rests in its fullness………

and observe the mind doing what it does without fighting against it………

and in THAT place of still, quiet contentment………

you can refresh the atmosphere around you with the sweet fragrance of Peace, Love, Joy, and Aliveness.

After all, it takes only a moment to pick up a piece of litter someone else left behind. Not to make yourself feel superior to them, but to go about your day display the Nature of Christ, leaving behind HIS fragrance rather than the odor of the fallen human mind.

And it takes no physical effort to fully respect and honor other drivers and pedestrians as you go from here to there. Give them space, obey the traffic laws, and rest in the knowledge that displaying the Nature of God in this way cannot possibly result in the harm that the mind insists it will.

And the mind might insist that it isn’t getting paid enough and is being forced to work harder than it should -- and that it’s just not fair. And if you identify with the false “you” it has created, you’ll get swept away in its childish delusions. Or you can come back to the place of Presence in God’s Temple, and you can take ownership and personal responsibility for the atmosphere around you at your place of employment, selflessly pouring your all into spreading the Nature and Fragrance of the Spotless Lamb of God without demanding anything in return.

It’s just the right thing to do. And by doing the right thing, the Godly thing, the thing that leaves a space better than you found it, for no reason other than extending the Peace and Presence and Likeness of God into the world around you, you will find that your life changes in subtle yet unspeakably priceless ways, as you being to perceive everything through the eyes of Presence.

This is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to show Jesus to others -- not in an attempt to fill their heads with knowledge and convince them to adopt your beliefs, but simply to share the Beautiful Fragrance of His Spirit.

After all, what convicts the world of sin? Shouting at them about hellfire and brimstone? Or the Spirit of God?

In John 16:8 (KMV*), Jesus said this:

8 "And when (the Holy Spirit) has come, He will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment."

It is the Spirit who shows people their need and draws them to God. And if you dwell in Presence and live in the way we’ve been talking about today, you will leave the Spirit’s fragrance wherever you go. And as others’ attention is drawn to His Nature, His Godly Scent, their resistance to His work will begin to weaken, and they will start to thirst for more.

So take this challenge. Dwell not in the mind, but in the inner Presence of God in the Temple of your body. And do and say everything in the nature of Christ, the clean, living, peaceful, joyful, selfless, serving atmosphere of true Godliness. And you will find that you cannot help leaving every space you visit Better than Before.