Friday, September 14, 2012

Flowers Fade Friday: Grace to you; Grace with you

I recently read Future Grace by John Piper, and in this book Piper points out something interesting about the way Paul begins and ends almost all his letters to the churches. Take the letter to the Ephesians, for example...

Ephesians begins with the phrase "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1:2).

Then Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians with this line: "Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible" (6:24).

Notice that I bolded the prepositions "to" and "with." Piper points out that these small words are very important to the way God's grace works through Scripture.

As Paul begins his letters, he realizes that his own written words will be God's grace to those who read them. Imagine Paul thinking as he writes his letter, "grace is now active and is about to flow from God through my inspired writing to you as you read - grace [be] to you." When Paul is about to end his letter, he realizes that the flow of God's grace through written words is about to end, but because God is so good, there must be another form of grace to sustain the readers once they are done reading. When the question rises, "What becomes of the grace that has been flowing to the readers through the reading of the inspired letter?" Paul answers with a blessing, "Grace [be] with you." This is the grace that is "with you as you go home to deal with a sick child and an unaffectionate spouse. With you as you go to work and face the temptations of anger and dishonesty and lust. With you as you muster the courage to speak up for Christ over lunch." This is how God's grace remains with us each and every day.

This is the beauty of reading and being filled by God's word. We don't have to feel dry or lost or confused in all the moments after we put down His Word for the day. His grace comes to us through the Scriptures and it remains with us as it transforms our minds, softens our hearts, and fills us with the Spirit, changing the way we act and think and talk every single day. Piper says it better than I ever will: "We learn that grace is ready to flow to us every time we take up the inspired Scriptures to read them. And we learn that grace will abide with us when we lay the Bible down and go about our daily living."

Fill yourself with the riches of God's grace in His Word and pour out His grace on others because He has promised His grace is with you where ever you go...

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