Saturday, August 25, 2007

"Grace and peace to you"

"Grace and Peace to you." These words appear in almost every one of Paul's letters to the churches and individuals he ministered to. Often in Bible reading, sermons, or even serious in-depth Bible study we skim over those words of the introduction, ready to get to the "good stuff". But have you ever thought about the significance of that phrase?

2 Thess. 1:2 is a perfect example: "Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." If we slow down, we see that Paul and his team (Silas and Timothy) are writing them, and they greet them with this incredible phrase. The grace and peace aren't from Paul, Silas, and Timothy - they are from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Father and Son, through Paul's inspired words, personally extend grace and peace to the Thessalonians - a church in need of both!

The Thesslonians had been persecuted, we learn in 1 Thess., and now were troubled because some were claiming that the "day of the Lord" had come. Imagine thinking that Jesus came and you missed it! But Paul's first sentences - a phrase we take for granted - would be reassuring to them. "Grace and peace to you - from God!" Yes, the Father and Son are intimately involved in what concerns the churches.

Most people in the world live under legalism. Even many Christians fall into that trap. Grace is amazing because it is rare, and it is supernatural. Grace is inextricably bound with love, and reflects that love carried out in some unexpected, undeserved ways. Grace saves us, teaches us, and sustains us - and grace poured into someone else's life can result in transformation and a life of hope instead of despair.

Peace is also a rare commodity in today's world. Not merely the absence of conflict, but wholeness and health of all parts of one's life, is a goal many reach for their entire lives. It's that stillness and quiet in the eye of the hurricane while all around the storms of the world rage.

In your own struggles, have you forgotten the simplicity of the grace and peace of God? Remember for a moment how incredible it is to realize that God personally gives us grace and peace. No matter how you feel today, that hasn't stopped. Don't rush over Paul's words here - let them be the balm of Gilead to your soul.

And when you seek to minister to other who are hurting, remember that we have something rare - grace and peace, not of our own effort but from God Himself.

May you experience His grace and peace in a new way today.

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