Friday, June 27, 2008

Do You Smell Like Grace And Peace?

Last Sunday, Chad continued the “Colossians” series by talking about these first two verses of the book: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Herein, Chad focused on two particular aspects of these verses: grace and peace.

Paul was always greeting his readers with “grace and peace.” The way Paul said “hello” was beyond that of a standard “hey, how are you?” Paul’s greetings were heartfelt and sincere. He conveyed warmth and joy to his readers with those love saturated words “grace” and “peace.“
So, how deep are the words “grace” and “peace”? Chad described grace as being joy, favor, and acceptance. He also said that peace is the presence of the goodness and fullness of God. So, when Paul was writing “grace and peace” to his readers, what he was essentially saying was something to the effect of “joy, favor, acceptance and the goodness of God’s fullness be to you……may all of these good things be yours.”

Isn’t that beautiful and heartwarming? What would the world be like if we all greeted each other in such a tenderhearted way? How would that change communication and relationships? I think it would make a HUGE difference! Personally, when someone speaks gentleness and love to me, it always softens my heart in some way. One example would be like when we visit Chick-Fil-A. (In case you have never heard of it, it’s a restaurant chain that serves some really good chicken)!! The company is faith and family based, and boy does it ever show in their attitudes!! The restaurants are always the cleanest, the people are always the friendliest, and their customer service is unmatched. Why? It’s because of their humble hearts and attitudes (and because they are Christ-centered!). It even shows in their words when they ask, “how may I serve you?” Think about how that phrase (compared to “how can I help you?”) makes you feel. “Serve” has a humble feel to it; and you know that the person really means it. “Help” is more of a general term, and doesn’t seem to go quite as far as the word “serve.” Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear “how can I serve you?” and then hear them say “it was my pleasure” when you thank them for your food, it just blesses my heart and makes me feel valued and relaxed. In fact, my husband loves hearing it so much that he will gladly go up to the counter multiple times to get a refill (or to order more food) just so he can hear them say those two phrases. (You should see the way Mitch grins from ear to ear - and I do too!! LOL). Those words are truly life-giving words that touch the heart and have the power to transform!

Words that speak from the heart of our heavenly Father always have that effect. It’s no wonder that gentleness and kindness are fruits of His Spirit. When those fruits are present in us, we have a better chance of helping people to know and understand Christ through our tender attitudes and loving hearts. Gentle and tender words really do “massage the soul” as Chad put it.

We all need grace and peace to live. Grace is what saves our souls and brings us eternal life. And, that assurance of eternal life is what brings that peace to our soul. Chad says when we “soak” in that, we just become marinated. To illustrate that point, he held up a nice raw steak (Oh that made me squirm - and he noticed when I turned away too. LOL Yeah,…sorry. I have this thing about touching raw meat). He then proceeded to put it into a special marinade. Next, he put the steak on the steaming grill he had at the back of the stage. He described that even when put to the fires, the grace and peace that we are marinated and soaked in gives off an aroma. He cited Acts 20:22-24 which reads: “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Even though Paul’s life was frequently in danger, and he often didn’t know what turmoil awaited him, it was his “grace and peace” attitude that fueled him to keep going. He knew his life wasn’t merely his but God’s. It was for God’s purpose that he persevered and kept spreading the gospel of “grace and peace” - and he gave off that “aroma” to everyone he met!!

So, like Paul (and like that steak) we are to permeate the world around us with that delicious aroma of “grace and peace” that simmers in our hearts. Everyone needs to hear (and see) “grace and peace” from us. That’s when Chad posed the question, “who most needs to hear ‘grace and peace’ from you?” I know we can all think of someone. Often times, it’s usually people within our own homes and families because oddly enough, they are sometimes the ones that get the least “grace and peace” from us. I guess it’s just all too easy to take those closest to us for granted isn‘t it? Chad said he started saying “grace and peace to you” to his kids all last week - he said his kids started getting “freaked out.” LOL So, maybe we don’t always have to say it with words, but we can show it in our actions. Actions speak louder than words anyways.

I pray that we can all soak in the marinade of God’s “grace and peace.” May we all give off that delicious “aroma” so that others will hunger for it. May God’s abundant grace and peace be with each and every one of you!! All good things to you; my brothers and sisters!! I love you!!

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