Grace to You and Peace-2 (1 Thess. 1:1) Part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 12 November 2017

Finally, let’s very briefly talk about extending peace to one another. When we interact with someone, we have three choices—to be a) a peace-breaker, 2) a peace-faker, or 3) a peace-maker. We break peace when we fight or put others down with our (often mean and harsh) words, or gossip about them behind their backs. We fake peace when we just run away and avoid them or deny the problem or play the blame-game. But we can make peace by overlooking other people’s mistakes and inadvertent sins or by talking to them when it is a serious sin issue or by getting help when the talks fail. I hope to talk about these things in greater detail in a Sunday school series. But I wanted to bring them up even briefly to remind ourselves that we have these choices in all of our interactions and challenge ourselves to make the choice for peace-making.

 

 

Of course, in order to do these things, we must live and move and have our being in the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, we have been brought into the kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. This is our reality. But for it to be a practical reality, which affects everything we do, we must be intentional in keeping it at the forefront of our mind and heart. They say there are two different levels of competency when it comes to our vocabulary: there are words we can recognize when we hear them or read them; there are words we can actually use in our conversation and writing. For many of us, our vocabulary of grace may be at the recognition level. We must bring it up to the level of practical and ready usage. For that, we must constantly think about God’s grace and peace in Jesus Christ, constantly seek to experience more of them in our heart and relationships, and actively seek opportunities to talk about them, about their practical applications in our lives. Let us help one another do so proactively and intentionally. That is why God has brought us together in this covenant community in the name of Jesus Christ—until that day when we shall live in perfect shalom with God and our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Grace to You and Peace-2 (1 Thess. 1:1) Part 4 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 08 November 2017

This means that there can be true peace when our heart is conformed to His good, perfect, irrevocable, sovereign will. When we harbor sins in our heart and refuse to let go of our idols, we cannot experience the peace of God—until we confess them and turn away from them. The peace we experience may not be so overwhelming in an extraordinary way. It may be, and usually is, quite peaceful, in fact! But it has the power to overwhelm our anxieties and fears and make us confident and courageous. How tragic it is when we do not enjoy this peace with God all the time, especially when we consider the costly price Christ had to pay for that purpose! And we should never forget that Christ is the reason for this peace. Our submission is necessary for our experience and enjoyment of peace with God. But our submission is not, and cannot be, the legal, meritorious basis for our peace with Him.

 

 

As we conclude, let us notice Paul’s delight in extending the grace and peace of God to the Thessalonians. This should be our delight as well. Let us pray for one another that God’s grace and peace would abound in our hearts! What can be better that to experience God’s grace and peace at all times, especially as we journey through this fallen world? What shall we fear if God’s grace and peace should fill us and surround us?

Grace to You and Peace-2 (1 Thess. 1:1) Part 3 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 08 November 2017

What is the condition of the heart, which is a proper receptacle for God’s peace? It is a heart that is directed toward God. This doesn’t necessarily mean a heart that is full of faith and wholly submitted to God’s will. It can be a heart that is full of pain and sorrow, fear and anxiousness, confusion and doubt, guilt and regret, etc. But as long as the heart is directed to God—even in his grievances and complaints, as were the hearts of the Psalmists in their lamentations—that heart is ripe for God’s peace. It is a heart that is restless until it finds its rest in God; it is a heart that is dissatisfied until it receives its answer from God. God is gracious and merciful far beyond our imagination, more than a mother caring for her sick child. I heard on K-LOVE and I think it’s true: even though it often feels like God is keeping us on hold when we pray, we should not forget that God is the One who is holding us all the while. It is against His nature to reject those who come to Him with a broken and contrite heart (Ps. 51:17).

Grace to You and Peace-2 (1 Thess. 1:1) Part 2 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 08 November 2017

If the Thessalonians already possessed grace, and if this grace is something that can never be taken away—"For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29)—why wish them grace? Because grace is not a thing, which is given just once for us to keep: it is God’s disposition toward His people. That means it is something that colors God’s every interaction with His people: it is something that constantly flows from God to us. We can say “constantly” because we live and move and have our being in God. There’s never a moment when we are independent of God and His sustenance. In fact, God chose us before the foundation of the world; He knew us even before we were born. None of us have come to know God by chance. From the moment of our birth and all the circumstances surrounding it, God orchestrated everything in our life and guided each of our steps to arrive at the precise place and moment, in which we placed our faith in Jesus Christ. And we can say that that was the moment at which we were brought into the realm of His grace. (Whether we can pinpoint the time or not doesn’t matter because God knows and we know it by the fruit of our faith in Christ.) And from that moment on, we constantly receive God’s grace flowing down from His throne of grace to us! So, in wishing the Thessalonians grace, Paul was not only reminding them of God’s grace that had come to them but also wishing them to have “more” of God’s grace—that is, to have a continuing and ever-deepening experience of that grace in their lives.

Grace to You and Peace-2 (1 Thess. 1:1) Part 1 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 08 November 2017

Last week, we saw the costly price God had to pay to extend to us His righteous grace. If it were just simple grace, God did not have to sacrifice His Son. He could have simply waived our punishment and forgotten about the whole thing. A tyrannical God can do that with a snap. But the God of the Bible is not a tyrant. Even in extending His grace, He cannot compromise His justice. Think about what the result would be if God simply gave us grace: God can be accused of being unjust and tyrannical and we will have to live in ignominy like a criminal unjustly pardoned by the President because of his sizeable contribution to the presidential campaign. Do you see how wonderful it is to be saved by a righteous grace? We ought to be humble because we are saved by grace. But we don’t have to be ashamed because we are saved by a righteous grace. This is also why God’s grace cannot be used as an excuse to sin with license—because it is a holy and righteous grace! What was this costly grace for? We can say that it was for peace—for peace between God and His people, for peace among the people of God.

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