The Thessalonians were going through much trial, tribulation and persecution. In II Thessalonians 1:2 Paul writes, May God our Father (how wonderful to be His children), and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. (In the midst of all they were going through).
Grace is the unmerited favor or undeserved favor of God so that we can “endure to the end” with His strength, and help when it seems that we just can’t take anymore. If we ever have to face persecution, loss of possessions or loved ones, sufferings or terrible hardships, we most likely will call out to God for the grace we need from Him to endure and hang on, because we know that He is holding our hand in the midst of the storm and giving us His grace, so we can endure.
The Thessalonians also needed peace. In order to go through hard times in our lives, we need to have that quiet, settled peace in our hearts that we know God will take care of us and those we love, He will provide a way, and He always knows what is best and how long we have to endure something, and why we have to go through this or that. But we know that He knows what He is doing, and what is best for us no matter what. This then gives us peace in our hearts. “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts richly.”
Grace is not just God being so kind and gentle that He will overlook our sins with no consequences to suffer because of them. There is always a price to pay, either now or later. We don’t get off scot free, hoping that God isn’t watching us do, say or think something. He knows all our thoughts, words, and actions. Some consequences are more severe than others depending upon the sin involved. I have had to pay the price for words and actions and know this to be true. Of course, by no means does it mean that all difficulties are a result of our sin, but some of them really are. Example: a girl gets pregnant out of wedlock, there is the consequence of perhaps a child coming which is a lifetime commitment to the child. Perhaps we speak something to someone else that was told to you in confidence by a good friend. They asked us not to disclose this to anyone else, but we were tempted and we did, and the person who told it to us finds out. The consequence is the loss of a good friend and her confidence in us. The relationship can never be quite the same. And so forth.
In regards to our salvation (which is God’s unmerited or undeserved favor towards us), the Bible tells us that we are saved “by grace through faith and this is a gift from God”, just because God chose to give it to us anyway, through “faith” by believing that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to die for sinful mankind, so that we who believe could be adopted as the sons and daughters of the living God, and “transferred from this kingdom of darkness into His kingdom of marvelous light.”
I use to tell the children in children’s church this story (after seeing the movie Annie). ha ha
There was an orphanage where lots of boys and girls lived. They all wanted to be adopted and go to a home that would love and care for them, but mostly the babies were the ones who got adopted, so older children just had to hope that someone might come someday and choose them out of all the rest.
One day a big black limousine drove up to the curb of the orphanage and a schoffer opened the door for a very elegant white haired man dressed in a beautiful black suit who was let out of the car. He came to the door and asked to see the children who did not have a home to go to yet. So all the children lined up in a row for him to look over. He came upon one child in particular (you), He chose you to come and be His very own child forever. So you got into his beautiful black limousine and sat right beside him as the scoffer drove the car home. As they came nearer to the home that was awaiting you, you peeked out of the window and saw a beautiful mansion in the distance, and a beautiful gate that opened up with a very long driveway which passed by the lawned area on both sides of the driveway, perfectly manicured and trimmed. It was oh so lovely to behold! You were so excited and so thankful and so very very happy. When you got inside the home, there were servants who were standing there to greet you and the man who adopted you.
He told the servants to go a draw a bath and get you all cleaned up. After being washed, you found beautiful clothes laying on the bed for you to get into. Oh how lovely you looked as you came out of your room and went down the winding staircase.
The man greeted you at the bottom of the staircase, and took you into his office where you sat down and listened to him explain things to you. The bath represented the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit stripping off the old man and putting on the new. He told you that you would now be given his name as your last name because you belonged to him. He clothed you with beautiful clothes, loved you like his own child, would take care of you and provide for all your needs all the rest of your life. And you would live in his wonderful mansion with him. Oh how thrilled you were.
I now explained that the same is true in real life as well. I told them the following: You see, God is like the One who got out of the car, and went into the orphanage. He saw YOU and knew you were the one for Him. So He took you and adopted you as His very own child, and transferred you from Satan’s kingdom to His very own kingdom, giving you the very best of everything (either to be received in this life or the next), He has given you a new name which is written down in heaven just for you, He has clothed you in “robes of righteousness”, and you will be priests and kings one day when Jesus comes back to get us all. We will be taken care of by God even when we don’t understand His ways, as His ways are past finding out and higher than our ways, and we cannot always understand them, but He always means to do us well. He will take care of us, protect us and love us always, both down here and in heaven too.
So we never want to presume upon the grace of God nor grieve the Holy Spirit by which we have been sealed until the day of our redemption. Grace is not God overlooking our sins because of His grace, and giving us an excuse to continue in our sin because after all “it’s all under the blood”, or “I am saved by grace”. Ever heard of cheap grace. This is cheap grace, and gives us the a false misunderstanding that because God is so good and kind, we don’t need to change and turn from our sins. We have been told in the Bible that “Be ye hold even as I am holy”. This takes God’s real grace to fulfill. Or “without holiness no man shall see God.”, or “God will made you worthy of the life to which He called you” but this requires our cooperation on our part.
God is looking for a holy remnant that He can choose in these last days, to be His end time army, who will deny themselves, put God’s honor before anything else, and be used to fight Satan and his minions. We want to be useable and choose able for Him don’t we. It says in the Bible, “Many will say in that day, Lord, Lord we did this or that….in Your name, and Jesus will answer back, depart from Me you workers of iniquity (sneaky sins), I never knew you! Heavy stuff.
When we sin against God or another, first thing we must do is go to God as soon as possible, with humble sincerity, feeling the pain that we caused either God or someone we have hurt in some way, and ask for forgiveness, and the grace (help, unmerited favor, undeserved favor) to help us not do it again, telling Him how sorry we are. Then we must go the person we have wronged and ask for their forgiveness too. But sometimes, they will not forgive us, and that is ok, at least we did what we were supposed to do before God, and that is all we can do.
Next, we need to really seek to be holy, pure and cleansed as David continually cried out in the Psalms. Asking for our thoughts, motives, actions, words to become acceptable in God’s sight. Lifting up holy hands unto the King of Kings.
THIS could be our gift to Jesus this Christmas, giving up our lives to Him and trying to please Father, Son and Holy Spirit in all our ways!