This year our Pastor has challenged us to “Go There.” in 2016 —it is simply a call to be intentional in our daily walk as we share the gospel in the places, situations and relationships which the Lord has placed us. Perhaps you hear “share the gospel” and immediately feel panicked and unsure; you’re immediately looking for a place to run and hide or you just tune out. I know. I can relate. I’ve felt this way most of my Christian life. But I’ve learned over the years that it’s not so much about having all the right answers or a prepared script to quote, as it is about being willing to share your story of change. How has Jesus changed your life?
I can do that.
I know the answer to that.
I can talk for days on that!
I’ve also discovered it’s about building relationships, engaging in conversations and being willing to share truth from God’s Word that you’ve read, studied, pondered, prayed and put into practice in your own life. It’s a willingness to be transparent about the obstacles you’ve faced and overcome by trusting and relying on Jesus. It’s simply sharing your story. The story of how God’s Word and your daily relationship with Him changes how you think, feel, act and react. We’ve all got a story to tell and God is working and moving in our lives every day, so there’s always another chapter being written.
This is one of the reasons I love to read the letters of the New Testament written by Paul. He’s got an amazing story. He’s passionate about sharing his story. He’s passionate about sharing the lessons he’s learned and the way God is moving and working in his life in every circumstance. He’s passionate people hearing the gospel and coming to know Jesus. He’s passionate about praying for people. Paul devotes a great deal of attention in each of his letters to praying for people. I love the heart of Paul for his God, for the gospel, and for people.
Paul speaks to the idea of our lives being stories, living letters, penned by the living God on the tablets of human hearts. Our stories, if we are willing to share them, speak of God’s power and redemption to those around us.
And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. —2 Corinthians 3:2
God’s Word and prayer are two important instruments He uses to shape our stories. The prayers of Paul we find in the New Testament letters combine the truths of God’s Word with prayer, giving us a powerful tool. These prayers help us to examine our own hearts and lives as we seek to walk out the truth of gospel. These prayers are a great way we can speak the gospel into the lives of others. These prayers are rich resources for us to study, know and pray.
Over the next several weeks, I’d love for you to join me as we study through, and pray through, the prayers of Paul found in the New Testament letters he penned. We’ll examine one prayer each week. We’ll study the prayer in the context of the letter and people to which it was written. We’ll study the specific words Paul uses to gain a deeper understanding of what he is praying and why. We’ll find encouragement and confidence as we learn to pray Scripture for those the Lord places in our path.
Let’s begin with one simple prayer, comprised of just two words. we find repeated throughout Paul’s letters — grace and peace.
grace – in the Greek language of the New Testament it is the word charis, which is the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection. It is God’s divine influence upon our hearts, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude.
peace – in the Greek it is the word of the New Testament it is the word eirene, meaning peace, quietness, rest; peace between individuals; safety and security. It is the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot.
Grace and peace are where our stories begin. Grace and peace are foundational to the story of gospel. We all need grace. It’s how we come to know Christ and find forgiveness and restoration.
Grace —we all need grace on a daily basis as we battle sin and seek to walk in a way that honors God. We need to embrace grace daily. We also need to extend grace on a daily basis. The kindness, mercy and love we are shown in Jesus should so overwhelm us that it moves us to extend kindness, mercy and love to those around us.
Peace — it is the result of Jesus stepping into our stories of chaos and sin and filling those places in our hearts that were empty and searching. When we encounter those who are empty and searching to find peace in all the wrong ways and places, we have a story we can share. In a world that is shaky and constantly changing, knowing the peace of God, found in Jesus, that surpasses all understanding is a powerful story we can share.
Who can you pray grace and peace for today? Think of the situations, relationships and circumstances in your life and in the lives of those you know who need to experience grace and peace. What’s one story of grace and peace in your own life you can share with someone in need?
Today, begin by simply praying for grace and peace in your life and in the lives of those the Lord brings to mind and those who cross your path. Here are some verses that speak to grace and peace you can pray for yourself and others today.
Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. —2 Timothy 1:2
Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. —Romans 5:2
Peace I [Jesus] leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. —John 14:27
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:4-7
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. —Romans 15:13
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. —Romans 1:7
Grace and peace to you,
©2016, Susan Cady