Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 1:1-3 ESV
By all accounts, the Apostle Paul is a key player in God’s Kingdom. He was God’s instrument to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles, He was God’s instrument to pen a majority of the NEW TESTAMENT, He IS GOD’s role model for many to follow. It is Paul’s Words, divinely inspired, that great men such as Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, and countless others have used to surrender and commit their lives to the sufficiency of Christ! When Paul would encounter people or connect with an individual he would greet them, in a remarkably similar pattern. Notice the words in this typical greeting in his letter to the church at Ephesus: GRACE, PEACE, BLESSED! As children of Jehovah, as Sons and Daughters of the RISEN KING these are words that we should all greet each other with, and words we should grasp, and share and believe! Searching the Pauline letters you will find Paul usually began with a salutation that always includes the words, “grace to you and peace” or “grace, mercy, and peace” as in the case of 1 and 2 Timothy. Paul’s salutations include the writer, the recipient, and the greeting proper, which follows the style of other letters of his time. Paul’s salutations consist of the normal Greek and Hebrew greetings, “Grace to you and peace”. Again this shows Paul’s ability to connect with his audience. He was dealing with basically 2 groups, Jews, and Gentiles: Hebrews and Greeks. We understand today in order to connect with people, you must meet them in their ‘map of reality’. Paul also extended the concept of ‘Blessed’. What an interesting way to approach people, as we meet them to bring Grace, Peace and Blessings to them! When you come into people’s lives, what do you bring to them?
Leader, the right word, at the right time, can change someone’s life. The wrong words, at the right time- if someone allows, will destroy them! Words can build up, bless, curse, encourage, and motivate or they can also tear down, hurt, and cause horrible scars. Proverbs 15:4 says, “A soothing tongue [speaking words that build up and encourage] is a tree of life, but a perversive tongue [speaking words that overwhelm and depress] crushes the spirit”. When you enter a conversation, or the space of someone else, a home, or a meeting- what do you bring? In Genesis 1:1 we are told in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Our first introduction to God is as CREATOR. 25 verses later, we read that we were made in the GOD CLASS. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him. (Genesis 26a,27a) We were made to CREATE. When you interact with people, what are you creating with them, within them and between you? After you have been with people, do they feel BLESSED? In the Bible, a blessing is depicted as a mark of God’s relationship with a person or nation. When a person or group is blessed, it is a sign of God’s grace upon them and perhaps even presence among them. To be blessed means that a person or people take part in God’s plans for the world and humanity. Who have you BLESSED today, who are you going to BLESS to today, who have been BLESSED by you entering their lives? This is a litmus test of our walk with GOD! Who feels more connected to God, because you have entered their life? How well are you creating blessings in others lives? Whose life is better, BLESSED, because you have intersected with them? This is the fruit of your walk with God! How does your harvest look? Follow the FRUIT, to the ROOT!
Conduit, Grace, as Paul stated, comes from God the Father and Jesus Christ. Paul understood that it is a divine attribute, a uniquely Christian concept not found in other religions and belief systems. Outside of Christianity and Judaism, no other religion teaches a God who loves, accepts, and forgives human beings- not based on anything we do, but in spite of what we do. God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son lavish Their love on human beings because that is who and what They are. God is love personified (1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16). GOD’S AGAPE love, His supreme love can be better called, GRACE! Grace is the giving of every good thing to those who of themselves deserve nothing. Titus 2:11 puts it succinctly; For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men! 1 John 3:1 ties the words together; See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. In the book of Numbers, the Priestly blessing (Num 6:22-24) is the most familiar passage; “Yahweh bless you and keep you; Yahweh make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; Yahweh lift up his countenance upon you—and give you peace.” The central message of the blessing is stated in the closing Hebrew word, šālôm, translated “peace”. In English, “peace” connotes the absence of war. It can also describe a state of tranquility. But the peace of God in the priestly blessing includes good health, security, inner harmony, wellness, material prosperity, and a long life. Consider this; GRACE has benefits and one of these benefits is reflected in the word “peace” which the Apostle always associated with GOD’S GRACE. In fact, the order is significant. First grace and then peace. Until we know and appropriate grace, we cannot experience peace. “Peace” was a typical Jewish greeting (see Judges 19:20), but for the Christian, it carries a much deeper meaning than it did among the ancient Hebrews. This brings us to BLESSED! When we have GRACE, that brings PEACE– that shows and proves, we are BLESSED! Today, walk in the GRACE of GOD, so you can have the PEACE of GOD and WITH GOD, and then you will walk as one who is BLESSED! The world says, “no justice, no peace”. The blessed say, NO JESUS, NO PEACE! Know Jesus; Know GRACE, know PEACE and be BLESSED!