“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 1:2 (NKJV)
If you want to have not just a great year, but a great life, you need grace and peace. What is grace? It is often defined as unmerited favor. Divine grace is God’s relentless and loving pursuit of His enemies, who are unthankful, unworthy, and by our standards, unlovable. Grace means that despite our filth, God still desires to transform us so that we can share in the divine nature and enjoy divine happiness. That’s God’s saving grace.
However, God’s grace extends beyond salvation. The Father and the Son, the Divine Dynamic Duo, tag team to provide Christians with extra special gifts that we that we can't earn and don’t deserve. The privilege of serving the Lord although we are broken is grace. The continual forgiveness of sins is grace. The empowerment to live abundantly is grace. The ability to give abundantly is grace. God’s all sustaining strength being infused into our spirits in our times of weakness, that’s grace. God’s grace is limited only by His limitless power. For every need, every hope, every situation, and for everyone, there is grace.
Secondly there is peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This pronouncement of peace is reflective of the traditional Jewish greeting of peace, shalom. It was a blessing for well-being.
The Father and the Son are responsible for peace. Our Lord “made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20). Our Lord gave us peace with God the Father. There is therefore a state of untroubled, undisturbed wellbeing for the sinner who places his faith in the Savior, thereby becoming a saint.
In Christ, we have peace with God. The law has nothing against us, and we can look up into the Father’s face unashamed. This peace that makes us right with God is justifying peace. Christians also enjoy a sanctifying peace. The Holy Spirit produces His fruit of peace within us. Peace changes your perspective on life. So often we view bad things that happen in our lives as the punishment of God. And while God does discipline His children, much of what God allows to happen in our lives isn’t an act of punishment, it is an act of perfection. God’s goal is to grow us into mature children of God. We can have peace because we know that struggles are designed to develop us and not to destroy us. That kind of peace can only come from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a supernatural manifestation of peace. Grace and peace will give you a fresh start. God’s grace is amazing and His peace passes all understanding.
We have a refrigerator that is designed to dispense water, cubed ice, and crushed ice. One day, when I pushed the button for cubed ice, crushed ice came out. Since the refrigerator was still under warranty, we called for service and they came out and fixed it. However the problem happened again. This time, the refrigerator was no longer under warranty. Instead of paying for the service call, we decided that we could live without cubed ice and that if we really needed cubed ice, we would just open the freezer and get it out of the dispenser. For months and months the button on our ice dispenser would indicate cubed ice, but give us crushed ice.
Then one day last month, then I pushed the cubed ice button and cubed ice came out. For the last few weeks, the refrigerators has been functioning as designed. Interestingly, for the first week or so after it started working properly, I kept expecting crushed ice to come out of the cubed ice dispenser. I had been exposed to the refrigerator not working properly for so long, that it was strange to me when it functioned as designed.
The same thing can be said about our lives. We can normalize dysfunction. It can become such an expectation that healthy seems strange. And while we may have adjusted to the dysfunction and no longer see it as strange, those on the outside don’t. They see us operating in a way in which we were not designed to function.
The good news is that God’s word teaches us how to function as designed. God’s warranty on us never expires. His help is always available. The transforming power of His Holy Spirit is continually at work in us. Transformation may not feel comfortable at first. There will be the temptation of returning to unhealthy patterns and behaviors. Don’t fret or fear. Don’t give up on what is working. Eventually, healthy will feel normal as you continue to function as God designed and desires.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.