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Posts Tagged ‘1 Corinthians 13’

romans1-7

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father

and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

–Romans 1:7b

 

With those words the Apostle Paul greeted the Christians of Rome in a letter.

Turn a few pages in your Bible to Paul’s next epistle, 1 Corinthians, and you’ll read:

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

–1 Corinthians 1:3

 

Notice any similarities?! In fact, all thirteen letters written by Paul and included in our New Testament begin with the same or similar greeting. Sometimes the wording changes a bit, but he always expresses the desire for God’s grace and peace to be upon his friends.

Was there purpose behind his choice, or was he simply following polite protocol for the day, much as we might say, “Hello, how are you?”

grace

GOD’S GRACE

Perhaps Paul’s intent was to highlight for his readers, first and foremost, the foundation-truth of God’s grace. It is only because of his loving kindness toward us that he:

 

“Grace is the overflow of God’s total self-sufficiency.”

–John Piper

 

And I would add, toward those with no sufficiency in themselves.

We deserve none of his benevolence.

“We’ve compiled a long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us” (Romans 3:23, The Message).

 And yet, his goodness to us, his grace, is mentioned 104 times in the NIV translation of the New Testament—that’s how overarching it is–woven throughout scripture; woven into every day of our lives.

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GOD’S PEACE

In addition to grace, Paul includes peace in his greetingspeace that indicates a state of untroubled tranquility, harmony, and well-being.

Peace is surely an aspect of God’s grace, one of the blessings he bestows upon us out of his loving kindness. So why did Paul choose to mention it separately?

Perhaps because we fail to appropriate it.  Paul wanted to remind his readers that God’s precious gift of peace is always available:

  • Peace with ourselves as we place our wills, our hopes, and our futures in his capable hands (Philippians 4:6-7).
  • Peace with circumstances, as we affirm that his perfect peace is available to those who think on God and trust in him (Isaiah 26:3).
  • Peace in our relationships, as he provides the grace to love as he loves (Romans 14:19).

GOD’S GRACE WITH YOU

As already mentioned, Paul began his letters with “grace and peace to you.” Turn to the end of each letter and you’ll read his signature closing: “Grace be with you.” For example:

1-corinthians-16-23

“The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” 

–1 Corinthians 16:23

Now why would Paul make that slight change? Is it important?

Perhaps he wanted his readers (including us!) to be mindful that God’s grace is always with us—day and night, in trouble or triumph, through the ordinary as well as the extraordinary. Maybe Paul chose the phrase as a worthy send-off.  After his listeners and readers had paid careful attention to the instructional content of his letters, came the time to apply it…

…by God’s grace, which was always with them.  And just as surely, God’s grace is always with us.

*     *     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the unmerited favor of your grace that has brought us salvation, strength, kindness, and incredible riches in the spiritual realm. All of your grace is always with us—no matter who we are, no matter where we find ourselves. In fact, you long to be gracious to us, to rise and show us compassion. You astonish us!

(Titus 2:11; 2 Timothy 2:1; Ephesians 2:7; Isaiah 30:18)

Art & photo credits:  www.suggestkeyword.com; http://www.knoxchristian.com; http://www.www1.usw.salvationarmy.org; http://www.inbetweenthepinesamightyoakgrows.files.wordpress.com.) 

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(This post is in response to a friend who asked, “Could you write about how to deal with those little aggravations that cause such trouble in our marriages?”  Here are my thoughts!)

Tremendous trifles–that’s what my sociology professor called the irritating habits of spouses that can drive us crazy.  Things like…

  • Allowing odds and ends to pile up on the kitchen counter, and never putting them away
  • Leaving lights on in vacated rooms
  • Hitting the snooze alarm five times before actually getting up
  • Checking messages during a dinner-date
  • Rarely being ready to leave the house on time

Tremendous trifles present choices, don’t they.

1.  We  can  choose our attitudes.

Will we dwell on the negative or will we focus on the positive qualities of our spouses?

Paul’s advice about our thought-lives (Philippians 4:8) can be applied to how we think about our spouses:

“You’ll do best by meditating on things noble…the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8, The Message).

Years ago, I completed a Bible study on marriage,  specifically written for wives.  The author recommended writing down all the positive traits of one’s husband.  I surprised myself by filling a page with more than a dozen qualities I admired about Steve.  As I wrote, my heart filled with refreshed love for the generous, thoughtful, hard-working man God has given me.

That familiar scripture above is accompanied by a promise, which also applies to marriage:

[Meditate on the best], “and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into most excellent harmonies” (v. 9, also from The Message).

Doesn’t that sound like the perfect marriage?  Two people blending together in perfect harmony!

2.  We can choose our responses.

Will we complain every time a light is left on?

Or, might the best choice be to just turn off the lights ourselves?

Yes, flipping a switch is a no-brainer for some folks, but for others—the creative and/or problem-solving types?  They seem to struggle with such mundane matters. Turning off the lights just isn’t in their skill-set, no matter how much they may want to remember.

So if saving electricity is important to you, it may be wise to flip those switches yourself.

Your motto can be:  “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8b)!

3.  We can choose to discuss the issue.

Does that mean we blast away when the pressure builds?

Or, will we ask the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation and provide wisdom and grace to share honestly but kindly?

Begin with a careful choice of time and place.   It’s best to discuss important matters when both parties are well-rested and well-fed.  A private location is also a must.  Perhaps the corner booth of a pleasant restaurant would offer a setting conducive for  heart-to-heart conversation.

And then limit the discussion to one matter.  An overload of negativity will sabotage the discussion.

Try a praise-then-prompt approach.  That’s a teacher-tip I learned in college, but it works in any conversation when you want to present a serious request.  Share with the other person at least several traits you appreciate.  Then ask if it would be possible for him/her to turn out the lights!

Each choice above gives us the opportunity to express our love the First-Corinthians-Thirteen Way.

Love is patient (when the clutter-pile grows),

Love is kind (when the mirror is splattered),

It is not rude (when she finishes your sentence),

It is not self-seeking (when he wants to watch a football game),

It is not easily angered (when the cupboard doors are left open–again),

It keeps no record of wrongs (when she leaves the sponge in the sink–again).

Love always perseveres.

It takes perseverance for a stable, mutually fulfilling relationship to grow.   Happily-ever-after marriages  don’t just happen.   They are created carefully, moment by moment–in the choices we make.

(photo and art credits:  www.homelifesimplified.com , http://www.lifestyle.ca.msn.com , www,jagran.com , http://www.justalittlebreezy.com )

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