GRACE dependence & pursuit of PEACE

Grace takes you, from where you are, in your walk with God right now in your life, to the place where He wants you to be; to enjoy the fullness of all that He has for you. For, you are called to inherit a blessing, and to see good days in your life, and experience His goodness, as you pursue peace, which is a part of riches and honor.

And, there is a path, a procedure outlined in God’s word, that leads you to it. He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit; Let him turn away from evil, and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. [1 Peter 3:10,11] Good days come as you speak words that are in line with God’s word, in any situation that you face in life, and follow it by doing what is good, which is doing the will of God concerning it. It is the effort that you need to take, knowing that Christ has accomplished a divine exchange on the Cross of Calvary, to make it all possible.

For, there are two extremes that need to be avoided; one is to think that you do not have to do anything at all, for Christ has done it all. And, the other is to totally rely on self effort, and give no place to what Christ has done, and is still doing in your life. There needs to be a balance in your approach, as you do what you need to do, leaning on the grace of Christ, and what He became on the Cross for you; the punishment that He endured on Calvary, so that you may have peace.

Peace is wholeness :

Peace, in God’s word, means much more than experiencing a feeling of calmness, or an absence of strife. Rather, it is wholeness, a total well being in your spirit, soul and body, and an absence of lack. It is the fullness of God in you, having everything you need, in the right place and in the right order. For, people whether they admit to it or not, experience lack in some area of their lives, at some point or the other; it could be financial, relational, emotional, physical wellbeing, whatever. It is that lack, which the peace of God removes, to make you complete in Christ.

And, as you seek peace and pursue it in your life, you will also see a healing in your brokenness, which makes you whole. Pursuing peace does not happen automatically, but is a process, and holiness or sanctification is also connected to it. For, when you cannot be at peace with the Prince of Peace, being at peace with men will indeed not be possible !

Pursuing peace, and holiness:

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. [Hebrews 12:14] Pursuing peace is connected to holiness, for your well-being hinges on both your holiness before God, and your peaceful relationship with men. And, pursuing peace with people cannot happen without sanctification, or a good, peaceful relationship, with a loving God who is patient and long suffering ! Billy Graham, the evangelist who needs no introduction, has spoken wise words, in saying this about the word of God – Every day, in his daily meditation, he reads from the book of psalms to gain understanding in talking to God, and from the book of proverbs, to grow in the wisdom of relating and talking to people !

For, some people can talk for hours with God, in silent prayer, but it is when they start talking to people that trouble erupts ! Some, on the other hand, have excellent communication skills, the gift of the gab, to talk to anyone and everyone, effortlessly and charmingly. But when asked to talk with God, to say a short prayer, they will become speechless and dumb !

The truth though, is that, you need to pursue peace with men, and also sanctification, for it is then that you can see God. Seeing is beholding, and beholding is becoming. And God wants you to behold and possess all that He has for you, His fullness that will drive away any emptiness, blessing you with peace. And, grace, is the key that unlocks it all. On receiving it, you will be enabled, to experience God’s peace in your life. And, the writer to the Hebrews, also states the cost of not receiving it.

1. GRACE – do not fail to receive it :

See to it, that no one fails to obtain the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled. [Hebrews 12:15] May grace and peace be multiplied to you, is the greeting of the apostle Peter in his epistle. [1 Peter 1:2] And, in other places in the epistles too, grace and peace are mentioned in combination. Why is it so ? Grace is what God gives to you; and peace is your experience of it. Therefore, if you fail to recognize grace and how it operates, pursuing peace will become a mission impossible in your life, even if you desire it greatly.

For, what God gives to you, cannot be received in any other way. In this context, it is about pursuing, and experiencing peace. In every other context too, it is the truth that remains unchanging. What God gives to you, is all by His grace; there is absolutely nothing you can do to earn it. Therefore, it is by understanding what grace is, and what it is not, that you will be able to receive and apply it in your life. And the truth of God is not complicated; the path to it is simple, but profound.

God gave manna to the Israelites, more than seventy lakhs of them, every day, day after day, for forty years. It came every day, fresh and new; all that the people had to do was collect it and use it for that day. And, suitable provision was given for the Sabbath too. There is nothing too big for Him, or nothing that is impossible. God’s grace to you also, is new each day, given to you every morning. It is abundant, for it is God who supplies it. He is a God of abundance.

And, what is your responsibility ?

It is just to receive it ! But, if this marvelous truth is not understood, it will be impossible for you to receive holiness that only God can give you, and peace that only comes to you through grace. And, you will end up trying to pursue peace and holiness in your own strength, through your own self effort. You can only try though, for it will all be futile and vain attempts, which are not successful in achieving their end. You and I are alive today, all by His grace. It is why the psalmist in gratitude and praise says, Let everything that has breath, Praise the Lord ! Praise the Lord. [Psalms 150:6] And, you and I, can indeed say ‘Amen’ to it !

It is the instruction of God’s word, in the words of the writer to the Hebrews that one should not fail to receive the grace of God. And, the apostle Paul cautions the Corinthian church about not receiving it in vain, but goes on to proclaim words of life and hope to brighten the heart .

2. GRACE – do not receive it in vain :

We then, as workers together with Him, plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. [2 Cor 6:1] God has a specific purpose, in giving His grace to you. But, when it is used for a purpose that is not of God, it is receiving His grace in vain, and will not result in an experience of divine peace. The grace that He makes available to you, in your finances, your family, your ministry, in every aspect of your life, is for His purposes to be worked out in your life, Therefore, it is when you receive His grace with the right understanding and clarity, to walk in alignment with His purpose for it, that your pursuit of peace will lead to making it your experience. And, in God’s majestic plan for humanity, there is a time for every purpose of His. It is what Paul goes on to address .

The acceptable time :

‘In an acceptable time I have heard you; and in the day of salvation , I have helped you’. [2 Cor 6:2] Applying the promise of God above, in the context of not worrying about tomorrow, you will see with clarity, how not to receive the grace of God in vain. It is not thinking about tomorrow, but worrying about tomorrow, that the Lord has commanded you not to indulge in. And, if thinking about tomorrow, leads you to worry, then your thinking is wrong, and it needs to be corrected.

The right way, would be to think, ‘Yes, there may be challenges tomorrow; but there will be new grace from God tomorrow, which will be the resource and the empowering to face them successfully’. It is this right understanding, which will enable you to enjoy the grace that has been given to you for today. The negative circumstances that you may find yourself in, need not make you despondent, when you depend upon God’s grace, and His word that can never change. ‘All your children will be taught of the Lord; and their peace shall be great’. [Isaiah 54:13] It is God’s unchanging word.

And, right now, a child of yours may be illiterate when it comes to the things of God, and walking totally against His spiritual principles. But, God will not change His word, just because one child is misbehaving. Rather, He will change that one child’s heart and soul, to come into alignment with His word. Times of financial downturn may be everywhere. But, the word has declared that ten thousand may fall all around you, but it will not touch you. And, it is with a mind renewed by God’s word, that you can overcome the worry that the devil will try to throw at you, whenever he finds an opportunity. For, living in fear of the future, anger over the present, and resentment concerning the past, is not God’s plan and purpose for your life.

It will only hinder your progress in the race appointed by Him for you, that you may finish the race and receive the crown of righteousness. And, ‘forewarned is forearmed’, the saying goes. It is why the word of God warns you and instructs you, that you may not miss out on receiving the grace of God, and receiving it rightly. Arm yourself with the same attitude that was in Christ Jesus, the word of God declares. It all assumes deeper significance when you understand the truth of the grace of God that is available to you for today, and only for today. For, there will be new grace tomorrow ! And, Paul goes on to proclaim this encouraging hope to you ;

TODAY – is the favorable season & acceptable time :

Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. [2 Cor 6:2] Today, is the day of salvation, God says to you now. And why is it so ? It is because ;

1. In the acceptable time – He has heard you, and

2. In the day of salvation – He has helped you.

He has heard your prayer, and He has helped you ! Today is the day of salvation. May they be words that bring light and life to your heart today . God, heard even the painful sighing of the Israelites, to intervene and deliver them. And, this is your favorable season; this is your acceptable time; and this is your day of salvation. So, in obedience to His word, open your mouth to ask and receive His grace available for you, that you may not fall short and miss out on His grace for you.

3. GRACE – falling away from it :

Lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. [Hebrews 12:15] What is described above is the consequence of missing out on the grace of God. You will then end up depending on your own self. But the truth is, no one is righteous before God; and no one can become righteous before God, without the help of God. And, to a man, who depends on his own self effort, it will be impossible to pursue peace.

Another scenario arises, when after rightly receiving the grace of God, you then start depending on your own self, when it comes to executing it in your life, in the timing of it. This can again lead you away from the destiny and plan of God for your life, to find pursuing peace very difficult, and sanctification to be a suffering ! It is what Paul addresses in his letter to the Galatians, who began by believing in the grace of God, in order to be saved, but then depended on the works of the law, in order to continue in their Christian walk.

Severed from Christ:

You are severed from Christ, who attempt to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from the grace of God. [Gal 5:4] You may be focused on a task right now, devoting all your attention to it, for you think that it is your own intelligence and effort, which is going to make it succeed. But the truth is, there are a hundred and one things going on around you that can affect your task, and it is God who is reigning over all of it, to make it come through satisfactorily. Even on the road, you may think that it is your driving skill that is keeping you safe. But it is not so; for, it is God who is keeping you safe from all the others who may not be driving well, and in fact may be driving very dangerously !

The life that you and I enjoy here on earth, every moment of it, is all by His grace. You and I are lifted up in life, not just because of our ability; for, there may be so many others more skilled and knowledgeable, even in our own line of work. It is by receiving the grace of God, and walking in it.

Chosen by His grace :

Among the billions in this world, you have been chosen by God, to be His child. It is all His grace; and grace alone. And, the more you understand this amazing grace, which is His unmerited favor upon you, the less you will brag about yourself. ‘What is man that you are mindful of Him?’, are the grateful words of the psalmist, understanding and acknowledging the grace of God. And, godly blessings come to you, in godly ways, in God’s time, as you depend more and more on His grace. Depending on self effort though, will ultimately lead a person to failure, discouragement, and a place of bitterness, where he will end up blaming God .

It is why the psalmist’s prayer is very apt, and needs to be what you say unto Him too – ‘Lord, see if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in your everlasting way’. The ways of man take him away from God, is the wisdom of the proverbs. [Prov 14:12] And, pursuing peace can never happen, unless you draw near to God, and depend on His grace. Two brothers, and how peace was lost between them, even though God intervened to make His grace available, is the picture of Cain and Abel, in the word of God.

Cain and Abel – the difference :

Cain symbolizes self effort, a dependence on self, and Abel is the picture of grace dependence. And in the process of time, it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the first born of his flock. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering. But He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his face fell. [Genesis 4:3-5]

Why did the righteous and good God reject Cain’s offering ?

God’s word itself explains it all ; By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice. [Heb 11:4] Faith was the difference. For, without faith it is impossible to please God. And faith operates only by grace. Cain became angry though, and it was then that God, in His grace, intervened in his life, to say , ‘Why are you angry ? And why has your countenance fallen ? If you do right, will you not be accepted ? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its’ desire is for you, but you must rule over it’. [Genesis 4:6,7]

Our God of grace and mercy :

God intervened in love and grace, to counsel Cain, that he may do what was right, instead of getting angry. It resonates in your life and mine too, for quite often in life, another person’s promotion, makes us resentful. Even today, you may have such a grievance against another person. But, just leave him out, even as Abel was kept out of the picture. For, it is all between you and God. And, He is the God who loves you, just as He loves the other person ! Depend on God, and do what He says, to get better in your understanding, to become successful in the work of your hands, and you will be exalted in your own position.

Better, not bitter :

Instead of yielding to frustration and anger that makes you bitter, get better in your situation, as you ask and receive the grace of God, and depend on it. God may have rejected Cain’s offering, but He did not condemn him. Rather, He immediately intervened to show him the right path to gain acceptance. And, Abel did not have to say anything, for God Himself stepped in. Even in your life, leave it all to God, to intervene on your behalf. And, in a similar situation therefore, do not compare, but comprehend, gain understanding; and do not compete, but think of the person beside you as one who complements you in your task. And, as you do what God counsels you to, you will move from a bad situation, to the place of blessing that God has prepared for you. The devil may try to pull you down, but God says to you, ‘Depend on Me and I will lift you up’.

Reconciliation is giving and receiving :

Forgiving someone is what you do unconditionally, for Christ has forgiven all your sins on the Cross. But, for reconciliation to take place in a relationship that has been damaged by envy or strife, there needs to be a giving and receiving. It is a two way process, where God has to do His work of grace in both hearts. And, very often, it takes time ! It is why you need to completely depend upon God, with sensitivity to be led by His Spirit, in the timing of it. And, it is then that your pursuit of peace will lead to fruitfulness and not frustration.

You may be thinking that there are people, with whose help you can escape out of a bad situation. But, the truth is, when you wait on the Lord, and depend on Him instead, to ask Him for His grace, you will do better and not become bitter ! You can indeed put an end to all bitterness even today, as God intervenes in your life. God offered to Cain His gracious counsel, and also His word of caution, regarding the consequence of sin. They were words that were sadly not heeded by Cain.

The sad story of Cain :

He never turned around, even though the wise and loving God intervened in grace. And, Cain became the first murderer. As a result, he was cursed upon the earth, to become a restless nomad, a wanderer, who was unsettled all through his life.But it will not be your story. For, as you depend upon His amazing grace the Lord promises to settle you. He will settle you in a land that is lush and fertile, that you may be blessed to be a channel of His blessing.

The gracious story of Joseph :

He had every reason to be bitter; but, God was with him to make him successful. The word of God tried him, the psalmist says, as he describes the trials and afflictions of Joseph, and his unjust imprisonment. But, through it all, God’s work of grace in his heart, enabled Joseph to speak kindly to his brothers and even provide for them, when God lifted him up, though they had treated him so badly earlier. Today, the God who was with Joseph is with you. And, you can depend on Him, to do His work of grace in you. Therefore, instead of leaning on your own understanding, commit unto Him, all your plans; and He will make you succeed. And, in your relationships, wait for God’s perfect timing, as He brings about a change in the other person’s heart, for He has made all things beautiful in its time.

GRACE – is more powerful than sin :

Sin is powerful; it is why bitterness can take root in a person; but grace is much more powerful. Therefore, bitterness can be uprooted. And, God will make His grace sufficient unto you, as you depend upon Him. In your weakness, His strength is made perfect. He knows your pain; He knows your heartache. Allow Him to heal you. His gift of salvation includes reconciliation and restoration. Ask Him therefore, for His help to deal with anything that is disturbing you, and hindering your experience of peace. He is your Healer. May your broken heart be healed, and peace flow like a river in you.

It is all about His grace – amazing grace !

In the Name of Christ Jesus Amen.

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