Grace and peace to you...
Thoughts for Today:Grace and peace are a part of the formal introduction in all of Paul's letters. Grace or "charis" is the Gentile (non-Jewish) form of greeting, and "peace" or "shalom" is the Jewish form of greeting. Paul linked these two together and he always put them in the same order. I think he did so because he knew man would never experience peace unless he understood grace first.
If we try to be holy or more deserving of God's blessing our Christian lives will lack peace. But if we understand "grace" -- that God blesses us unconditionally -- then we'll stop trying to earn His blessing and we will have "peace".
My daughter Natalie is one of those over-achiever kind of people (we are alike in that way). When she was little if I asked her to read a chapter of a book she would read two. If I asked her to put away her clothes, she would open her drawer and decide it could be better organized -- then reorganize the whole dresser full of clothes. She always gave me more than I asked. She is 27 now and her desire to "do more than asked" has served her well in all areas of her life and as a result, she is a very successful business person. Not long ago, we had one of those heart to heart talks and I told her for the hundred thousandth time how proud I was of her. She melted and said, "That's all I've ever wanted -- for you to be proud of me. That's why I always try so hard." I said, "You know Natalie, I would be proud of you no matter what you did because I love you." She said, "I know, but I like to see you smile and when I do well it makes you so happy!"
I think Natalie's comment pretty well sums up my relationship with the Lord; I do the things I do, not because I'm trying to earn anything -- I already have the Lord's love. I serve the Lord because it makes Him smile and that's all I really want in life: "Well done good and faithful servant".
Questions to Ponder:If you don't have peace in your life, then perhaps you should take a good look at your thoughts and beliefs about grace. Do you feel guilty? Are you deserving of punishment? Are you unworthy? None of us deserves anything except the most severe punishment for our sins. All of us are guilty, all deserve punishment, none are worthy. What makes your sin any worse than the rest of ours? We all need God's grace and we don't need to earn it -- the only thing we need to do is accept it. I am living under grace, are you? Does your life express it?