Love Makes No Distinction

He made no distinction between us and them, for He cleansed their hearts through faith. – (Acts 15:9, NLT)

God does not discriminate nor give preferential treatment when it comes to receiving people into His kingdom. All have fallen short, and all must earnestly seek Him to be saved. It is only by His grace that we are saved when we come before Him in faith, trusting that He is who He says He is. In the same way, we must not discount anyone, nor assume that they are too hard to receive the love and grace that God has set in place for us to extend toward them. It is not up to us to determine how it is received, but rather to be obedient to extend His loving kindness to all whom we meet. God will be God, and He will do immeasurably more than we could ever hope or imagine if we do our part and then get out of the way. Let love and faithfulness be our motivation, as we love well and allow God to reign.

To say, “God so loved”,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

where grace was begun;

when God sent for us,

the gift of His Son.

Because Jesus came,

each can become clean;

by faith, seeking God,

trusting the unseen.

This gift is for all,

all people of earth;

cleansing, renewing,

blessed second birth.

Please open our hearts,

help reach out our hands;

so we may love well,

just as You have planned.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not make a distinction between us, as You receive ALL who call on Your Name in faith. Thank You that when we trust in You and give our hearts to You, You purify all that is sinful within us, and call us clean before You. Forgive us for thinking ourselves or anyone else is too far gone to be reached by Your grace. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk in obedience and allow You to be God, as You move in ways that only You can move. Lead us to love all those around us, even if they seem unloveable. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the wondrous ways that You move in our midst, despite our doubts based on what we see. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

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It is Grace that Saves

In this fast-paced world with its ever growing demands, it is easy to lose perspective. Within almost every avenue we navigate, there are performance expectations attached to each step of the way. At times, the pressure is so great, motivation to perform is entirely fear-based. Thankfully, we serve a God who is nothing like that. Our salvation is a gift that is given to ALL who believe and choose to receive. We do not have to achieve a certain level of holiness to be considered righteous before Him, but rather it is His grace alone that saves us.

 

This point had to be driven home by Peter before the council in Jerusalem, as the Jewish believers were arguing that Gentile believers needed to do certain things to be saved. His response was with words that ought to still resonate with us today: No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are. – (Acts 15:11) May we embrace the grace that has set us free from sin and shame, and walk forward in obedience to Him who has called us according to His purpose.

 

Though pressure is great,It is Grace that Saves

to always perform;

in Christ we need not,

let fear be the norm.

We are saved by grace,

gift granted in love;

with no strings attached,

salvation for us.

The strength of His love,

compels us to rise;

to love others well,

and serve with our lives.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are saved by Your loving and generous grace, and not by our ability to follow a series of rules and regulations. Thank You that when we believe and receive new life in You, You grant us Your Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the ways that we are meant to go. Forgive us for trying to earn favor or perform somehow, rather than simply being obedient to all that You ask of us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will do all that You ask without hesitation. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they may see You through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we go forth in the grace that You so generously have given. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

Calling for Counsel

Acts 15, for me, has two terrific take-aways.  The first, is when there is a question or dispute about what is right according to God’s will, seek the word and the wisdom of godly counsel.  Second, if there is a point of disagreement that seemingly has no resolution that is not foundational in our faith – agree to disagree and move on.

It was brought to the attention of Paul and Barnabas, that some men from Judea and Antioch were teaching in such a way, that they were attempting to place the yoke of the old law upon the necks of Gentile believers, rather than recognizing that the inner working of the Holy Spirit in their lives was more than enough.  “This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them.  So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.” – (Acts 15:2) After meeting with the counsel of elders, who examined the scriptures, they recognized that there was no longer a need to place the former regulations required for Jewish believers upon the neck of the Gentiles who had come to Christ.  Instead, they were given a few simple instructions to follow that were to protect their physical and spiritual well-being.

Paul and Barnabas were great friends and brothers in Christ.  They had traveled many miles together, and shared miraculous moments that the Lord had provided both through them and in them along the way.  After they had met with the counsel, the two men disagreed about whom they should bring along on the next leg of their journey.  Ultimately, they parted company and each took a new traveling companion, thus doubling the ministry teams that were sent out.  Both men had very effective ministries, that were eventually reunited and ultimately combined (as the point of contention had been over bringing Mark along, and Mark later became a vital part of Paul’s ministry).

When things are unclear,Calling for Cousel

seek that which is true;

first God, then the word,

then wise counsel, too.

If disputes arise,

try first to resolve;

let not opinions,

true friendships dissolve.

For there will be times,

when it will be best;

let disagreements,

lay down, put to rest.

If we truly love,

then we’ll be okay;

if not eye to eye,

in every way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace.  Thank You that You provide us with Your wisdom through Your Holy Spirit and through Your word.  Thank You too, that there are godly men and women around us whom we can seek together, when questions arise, or answers seem unclear.  Thank You that You create us for community so that we may learn and grow with one another.  Thank You too, that as humans, it is okay to disagree on some things.  Forgive us for attempting to make snap decisions without seeking You and further counsel when necessary, and also for not being okay with others having opinions that differ form our own.  Please grant us the wisdom to know to always seek You first, and to know when we are meant to seek further counsel.  Help us to know when it is okay to agree to disagree.  May we live in the light of Your love, so that those who know You not, might come to see the goodness and grace that is available through a relationship with You.  May many choose to live for You.  Be glorified in all that we say and do.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23