Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Grace and Peace

Today is day 2 of our fourth week, reading the Bible through in a year together.  Our scriptures are Genesis 43-44, Galatians 1,  and Psalm 24. 

These two scriptures stand out to me from my Bible reading today:

Psalm 24:1-2 ESV

The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers.

Galatians 1:3-5 ESV
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 24:1-2 reminds me that the whole earth is the Lord's--everything and everyone in it belongs to God.  This is an important thing to remember, when I have to deal with difficult people.  This may be a difficult thing to believe, but I don't like everybody!  There are some people who just grate on my nerves, who serve as adversaries to what I'm trying to do, who try to tear down what I build up.  Maybe you have people in your life like that as well.  Just as Paul had a "thorn in the flesh" that he asked God to take away, but the Lord refused, saying "My grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9)," so you might have a person or people in your life who do nothing but irritate you.  You've prayed that God would remove them from your life in one way or another, but God's answer comes back, "My grace is enough."  In other words, you have enough grace from God to be able to deal with them.

Verse 2 of Psalm 24 reminds me that everything that God has made, He has founded on the seas and established on the rivers.  I take this verse figuratively to mean that God has established everything in the universe on the principle of ebb and flow.  Sure, there are things in the earth that are difficult, but "the fullness thereof" reminds us that all things belong to God--even those difficult things.  Those things won't be around forever.  Their influences and effects will rise and fall, flow this way and that according to the way of God's Spirit.  Rather than trying to fight the current, the best thing that we can do is trust God to buoy us up when the tides are against us.  We can see that just as we are floating in the waters of God's creation, so also are those who bother us.  We drift together in the ocean of God's love--even if we do bump into each other painfully from time to time.  So rather than focusing on those painful bumps, it's better to focus on the ocean that holds us all--and find unity in God's love.

In that love, it becomes possible to say to our enemies, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."  Even if you're not feeling it, it's not disingenuous to extend God's grace and peace.  Even if you don't have enough grace and peace of your own to give to those who torment you, you can offer them God's blessing.  You can do this because you remember that Jesus gave Himself to deliver us from the present evil age (including the evil things they're doing to you), and that the pain you're experiencing will soon flow away into God's everlasting love.  You place yourself, and your enemy, in the will of the Father, and trust that God will bring His glory out of a difficult situation.

Are you struggling with being able to give grace and peace to your neighbors?  Don't give your own grace and peace--that will always fail. Instead, extend the grace and peace of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ--and the Holy Spirit will take that gift you give and take care of the rest. 

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