To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus…Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:1-2 NIV
I often overlook Paul’s greetings and dive right into his messages. But here in the beginning of Philippians – the letter in which he writes of JOY and REJOICING more than any other – I am suddenly aware of the significance of his greeting.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul is writing to those who by grace have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Those whose sins were paid for by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and whose lives were changed forever by his resurrection from the dead. (Christians!)
GRACE – unmerited favor, an undeserved gift
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIV
I lied. I hid. I sneaked. I feared exposure. I was blind to my trespasses and judged others. I hated those whose goodness revealed my own duplicity. But then I experienced GRACE.
Jesus Christ overwhelmed me with love. It washed over me. I recoiled in shame, but wasn’t condemned. Jesus looked straight through my deception, and then to my surprise and joy, he opened his arms to embrace me. “Come, my dear one,” he said to my heart. “Follow me.”
My fear and anger fell away. I experienced joy. I had been drowning and here was the lifeline. Jesus saved my life!
When did you first experience God’s grace in your life?
Share your experience of God’s grace. (We write this to make our joy complete. I John 1:4 NIV)
PEACE – state of security, perfect harmony and freedom
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. Romans 5:1-2 NIV
I was at war with God. He let life hurt me and I was angry. I opposed his authority over my life. God frightened me. I would go my own way. I wasn’t only at war with God – I was at war with everyone. But then I experienced PEACE.
When I received peace with God through Jesus Christ, my anger dissipated. Suddenly, the struggle for dominance was over. I found I could obey my mother, forgive my father, love my neighbor. God gently illuminated sins hidden in my heart and released me from my fear of condemnation by his compassion.
He continues by His Spirit to convict my heart of sin, and in response I repent and enjoy his cleansing flood. No matter the circumstances, I can be still and trust God’s sovereignty and goodness. This peace gives me abiding joy.
How have you experienced God’s peace?
Share how God has granted you peace in your life.