Grace and Peace to You

Posted on September 21, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:2

I have always been incredibly blessed by reading the prayers of the Apostle Paul. In most of his epistles he digresses in what seems to be a spontaneous pouring out of his heart in prayer to God on behalf of the recipients of his letter. Confident these prayers were inspired by God, as is all of Scripture, they were captured as a divine legacy revealing God’s purpose and desire for all believers.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing insights and reflections from these prayers but begin with one consistent with all of Paul’s writings. Whether to a congregation or an individual Paul always greeted his readers with a prayer that they would experience God’s grace and peace. This seems to be a traditional form of greeting rather than a formal prayer, but a blessing that comes from God is equivalent to praying that God would grant that which he desired for his friends and fellow believers.

Grace is God’s undeserved favor and mercy. We never want to stand before God on our own merits. Efforts to live an acceptable and holy life become legalism and will always fail. We are saved only by the grace of God who provided salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, something we can receive by faith alone.

Certainly Paul’s readers were already recipients of God’s saving grace, but they needed grace to live life as it ought to be lived. In Galatians 2:20 Paul talked about the Christ-life; he had died with Christ and the life he now lived was no longer him but Christ who lived in him. In the next verse he explains that he, therefore, did not nullify the grace of God. In another place he explains God’s grace is not in vain when we live by faith. Grace is something that goes beyond our initial salvation experience.

Like the recipients of Paul’s letters, we need to grace to live a holy, cleansed life. We need a continual flow of God’s grace to have discernment to make decisions day-by-day, avoid succumbing to temptation and responding appropriately to disappointments and adversity. That outpouring of God’s grace is not unrelated to having the peace that God desires for us.

Our hectic pace of life, demanding responsibilities of work and family and the tendency of strained relationships all rob us of an abiding peace and sense of well-being. Jesus invited us to “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). He said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Jesus concluded His discourse with his disciples in John 16:33 by declaring, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.”

We are in constant need of peace in heart and mind that transcends our circumstances–the worry and anxiety thrust upon us by the world. And God wants us to have that abiding rest that comes only from Him. But don’t miss the connection between grace and peace. They both come from God and through our Lord Jesus Christ. We experience victorious, abiding, overcoming peace only when we are appropriating God’s grace–relinquishing every aspect of life to Him in faith. May grace and peace be yours in abundance today and every day!

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