Of Grace and Peace

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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:2)

Paul’s letters begin with these words: grace and peace. Each time they are accompanied by, ” from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In his letters to Timothy, Paul also adds mercy.

Jesus mercifully came to pour out His grace so that the Holy Spirit might forever reign in believers hearts giving them peace.

That I would carry a greeting of grace and peace to my brothers and sisters in word, heart, and spirit. That takes the infiltrating mercy I receive from God to turn and pour out mercy upon mercy. Giving mercy just as I have been freely given mercy.

How often is my soul in a state of unrest? Worry, sin, and striving can lead to this state, but abiding in Christ Jesus and growing in love and knowledge of Him ushers forth His grace and peace in my spirit and yours.

When the angels told of the birth of Christ, they ushered in their tidings with,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased. ” Luke 2:14 (emphasis mine)

In the form of a warm and fleshy baby boy, peace and joy were birthed to earth so that striving and death could be ceased.

I long to behold the baby boy of Bethlehem whose birth we celebrate over two thousand years later. To be one of the lowly shepherds to coddle, kiss, and worship his tiny fingers and toes. To bask in the earthen glow of a heavenly Savior is to know Love.

Our King.

I must recognize my thirst for my Savior and His Word beckoning to me, “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The shepherds momentarily laid down their duties to partake of His grace and joy. I should do the same.

How did the lowly shepherds spend the rest of their earthly days?

What joy did they take forth into their mundane tasks?

Was that moment in a stable enough to sustain them till heaven or did they ask God for more? How many of them lived the thirty-three years more to receive the eternal anointing of the Holy Spirit?

Indeed the baby boy of heaven changed everything.

This Thanksgiving which ushers in the Christmas season, might we remember to receive His grace and peace in all things as we worship the new-born King of Kings turn Risen Savior? Might we pause from tasks, turn from distractions, and then bow our heads in meditation and wonder at the gift of Christ our Savior?

Grace and peace to you in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas season and every one thereafter.

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An Unexpected Christmas

The first Christmas came pregnant with anticipation and the heralding of angels upon lowly shepherds in a dim-lit field. For thirty-three years Mary would remember the night her son, our Savior, was born. She would ponder the events in her heart and pour over the man the Son had become. On the thirty-fourth year after His birth, she would find herself celebrating an unexpected Christmas: God and Son reunited, mother and Son separated by heaven and earth.

From angels, to now ages without Him, we too may find ourselves celebrating an unexpected Christmas. A Christmas marked by loss even as we are cradled in the cross of Christ.

The Father empathizes with our empty place settings at the table this Christmas. He sees every tear and knows the aching of our hearts. The loved ones who are united now with the Father have left a scar on our souls; a separation that only death can bring.

Thankfully death lost its final sting at the resurrection, and those who were in Christ in life now celebrate Christmas with the One of whom it was prophesied:

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. ~Isaiah 53:4-6

The separation from our loved ones is temporary because Christ first separated Himself from the Father. He brought us peace in His pain and healing in His affliction.

No one comprehends the sorrows of a grieving heart like the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Indeed He sympathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15) and gives grace in our grief.

As unexpected Christmas’s are celebrated all around the world, petitions are made to the One who brought us eternal peace asking Him to pour His healing balm on temporal suffering hearts once more.

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Tomorrow’s Race

Each child is a gift from God. No matter how children come to us, they are made in His image and were created to bring Him glory. Ron and I are blessed with two such children. We are seeking to adopt to make it one more.

As we have considered adoption we are now pursuing a license to foster as well. People will caution that you shouldn’t foster to adopt. However, this scenario happens and we are hoping that it does so for us.

Two nights ago Joshua was pushing his over-sized dump-truck outside and went down hard after he raced his truck bobsled style down a small slope in our court. He incurred two pretty nice knee scrapes that kept him awakening multiple times in the night. With little sleep from frequent calls for mom and dad, I came back to bed muttering, “And I want to foster only newborns?” Oh my!

Yesterday on the very few hours of sleep that I did manage to get, I kept asking, “Is foster care really going to work for us?”

The truth is, I really don’t know.

With another night of minimal hours of sleep, I awoke early this morning to some much needed quiet time to read.  I need that early morning time alone to be with my Father…and uninterrupted silence is golden. In my study I came upon these verses that spoke directly into my worried heart concerning tomorrow.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

~Matthew 6:33, 34 ESV

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

~Hebrews 13:20, 21 ESV

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

~James 1:5-8 ESV

God promises grace for today and hope for tomorrow. I cannot rely on today’s grace for tomorrow’s race.

What worries do you need to give God today that require tomorrow’s graces?

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