To Demonstrate Love

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – (John 13:34, NIV)

“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I loved you.” – (John 13:34, ERV)

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in the same ways.” – (John 13:34, VOICE)

 

Love one another, on this day, where people are intentional to express their love and appreciation for others, there is the perfect opportunity for loving one another as we are called and commanded to do. In this particular passage, Jesus had just washed the feet of His disciples, and was sharing a last meal with them, prior to His betrayal that took Him to the cross. Jesus was giving charge to His disciples, as He knew the road that lay before Him, and wanted the faithful followers to be prepared to persevere. When Jesus told the disciples to love as He had loved them, they understood the enormity of the love that they were being called to give. First hand, they had been the recipients of the care, provision, healing, help, patience, kindness, faithfulness, honesty, hopefulness, perseverance and protection that His love provided. Jesus knew the task was impossible in their own strength, yet with His help, they could do all things. We are no different today. The command to love each other deeply and fully, remains. Our Source of strength to love anyway, even when those we know we are called to love seem unlovable, is Christ. He empowers us to love as He loves. Sometimes love is simply a kind word or an encouraging smile. Other times, love reaches out and goes beyond what is comfortable, to be certain that those around us know that they are valued and worthy of love.

One of the best examples of this that I can think of is Jesus at the well, speaking to the Samaritan woman. He crossed cultural divides and racial relations to reach out and impact the heart of a hurting soul. The very act of speaking to her in the first place, violated all sorts of barriers that normally were in place between Jews and Samaritans, much less men and women. Because Jesus loved, He spoke truth in love, and her heart was forever changed. What had been a space of sin and shame, became her testimony to tell of who Jesus was and how He knew about her before she said a word. That woman at the well went from being an outcast, to knowing that she was loved, valued and known. That is our purpose in love. May we seek the Lord and His strength, so that we too may acknowledge those around us in ways that help them feel valued, loved and known.

 

We are commanded,

wp-15816817937588641311806906910576.jpg

The loves of my life. Photos courtesy of Dee Jones, Open Door Photography

To go forth in love;

Value each other,

Like the Lord above.

Love grants us value,

Helps us know we’re known;

When unseen is seen,

God’s true love is shown.

Let us seek His strength,

So love leads the way;

May we follow Him,

And love well each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love. Thank You that this is not something done flippantly, but rather it is intentionally and specifically, as there are countless examples of love in Your word, and directions as to what love is and how to love well. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to love those around us well. Teach us to seek Your strength, even when we are struggling with our own trials and frustrations. Thank You that often the antidote for difficulty is to reach out and give love, support and encouragement to others, in spite of ourselves. Grant us the strength and wisdom to seek You and show us how to love those around us best. You know each need and what will bless and encourage the most. Show us, I pray. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and choose to love one another. Amen.

 

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

 

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. – Deuteronomy 7:9

Palm Sunday

Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around Him were shouting, “Praise God! Blessings on the One who comes in the Name of the Lord!” – (Mark 11:9, NLT)

Running ahead and following after, they were calling out, Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in God’s Name! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven! – (Mark 11:9, MSG)

 

Today is Palm Sunday. This is the day that we remember Jesus making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, just days prior to the last supper, the betrayal of Judas Iscariot, the crucifixion, and ultimately, His resurrection. On Palm Sunday, as He returned to Jerusalem, Jesus was actually welcomed as the One who saves. People praised God as He passed by, threw palm branches before Him, and even their own cloaks so that Christ would not walk on the filth of a regular road. Jesus was given the honor that was due, yet the hearts of the people were still not quite grasping how His reign would come to be. They wanted Jesus to overthrow the Roman rulers right then and there, rather than reign in their hearts and rescue them from their sin and shame. God’s ways are far greater than ours, and it is often difficult to grasp the greater good when we want immediate relief. May we ever remember that despite what we see, God has our very best in mind. He sees and He knows what is and will be, and His ways are higher and greater than ours.

 

Triumphal entry,Palm Sunday

All honor is due;

To the God who saves,

All praise unto You.

Let us ever praise,

Despite what we see;

Your ways are higher,

Help me trust in Thee.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

That all’s in Your hands;

You take willing hearts,

And lead in Your plans.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that like the people of Jerusalem, though we might not fully understand what You have in mind, our hearts long to give You praise. Thank You that You show us Your will and Your way, and strengthen and equip us to do as You say. Forgive us for the times that we run the wrong direction in search of security or relief, when You are all we need to successfully navigate every obstacle and trial. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would run to You, trusting Your way, despite what we see, as whatever we go through here and now is temporary in comparison to our eternity that is to come. Show us how to love those around us with kindness and grace, so that they may see the hope we hold in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we remember the magnitude of the sacrifice You made for us. Amen.

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Purposeful Passover

On this sacred day

Leonardo da Vinci'sThe Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci’s
The Last Supper

many years ago,

Jesus told His men,

“find a room, now go.”

Preparations made,

the table was set,

for Passover feast,

they still knew not yet.

As each one arrived,

Jesus washed their feet.

Is this how a king,

comes to claim His seat?

While eating the meal,

He stopped and soon said,

“One will betray me,

who shares in this bread.”

Sorrow surrounded,

with “surely not I’s.”

Anguish awaited,

the one who denied.

Christ then took the bread,

gave thanks, handing each,

saying, “remember,

whenever you eat.”

He then took the cup,

and in the same way,

gave thanks and shared it,

“remember today.”

The bread – my body,

my blood is the cup,

both broken and shed,

to save and lift you up.

(Responding after rereading each of the accounts of the Last Supper from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son so that we have a way to come into a personal relationship with You.  Thank You that because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are able to come together as a body and remember with thanksgiving as we commemorate the Last Supper, each time we take communion.  Forgive us for not recognizing the significance of the moment as we partake, and help us to move forward with a fresh understanding of just how significant was Your sacrifice, and what a privilege we have to be a part of Your body – able to stop and remember all that You have done for us because of Your great love.  May our lives be lived in such a way, that Your love is evident in all that we do and say.  May many come to know You, by our love.  Amen.

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

Agony in the Garden

Soul full of sorrow,

image by Adam Bram

image by Adam Bram

He went off to pray.

Gethsemane’s gate –

He asked them to stay.

One simple request,

keep watch and stay here.

Heart full of anguish,

He knew time was near.

Jesus went farther

and fell to the ground,

poured out His heart cry;

His answers were found.

Back to disciples,

in weariness creep,

in shock and horror,

He found them asleep.

Could they not keep watch

for one hour’s time?

Resist temptation.

Let’s try it again.

Again Jesus went,

off to pray alone.

Heart heavy laden,

coming burden was known.

On His third return,

to the sleeping guys,

He told them, “Rise up!”

Open weary eyes.

For His time had come.

Betrayal before;

signaled with a kiss,

the path to death’s door.

(Responding to Mark 14:32-42)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You does not even begin to suffice for the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus, for our sake.  Thank You, Jesus, for enduring all that we deserve, and giving us Your grace in punishment’s place.  Forgive us for taking our salvation for granted, and help us to live each day full of gratitude for the incredible gift we have been given because of what You began in the garden in Gethsemane.  May our lives bear witness to Your blessings, so that many may come to know You as their Savior too.  Amen.

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

Prevention Rather than Regret

“When Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.  ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’  ‘What is that to us?’ they replied, ‘That’s your responsibility.” – Matthew 27:3-4

image by Clive Coutet

Judas wanted to drop his charges, but the religious leaders refused to stop the trial.  Judas must have recognized the magnitude of the mess he had made, and was trying to make amends.  It was too little too late, as once such plans were set in motion, they could not be stopped. (paraphrased from NIV Study Bible footnotes)

Perhaps a key take-away for us, the readers, is that we ought to consider carefully the collection of possible consequences, BEFORE we take action.  Sometimes, regardless of the sincerity of our remorse, our actions cannot be cancelled nor the outcome reversed.  That being said, there is nothing that we have ever done, nor will ever do, that cannot be forgiven by our Heavenly Father.  Jesus’ death on the cross was carried out so that our debts might be cancelled and our conscience made clean.  Though we are forgiven in heaven, it does not mean that there will not be consequences on earth.  We must choose wisely, our words, thoughts and deeds, for some damage done, cannot be undone.  Yes, God can work ALL things together for the good of those who love Him, and can use them to teach and turn hearts toward Him, yet intentional sin is blatant rebellion against our Redeemer.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, so that we, as sinners, might be granted second chances.  Thank You that Your mercy and grace do not run out, and that they are made new every morning.  Please forgive us for our sins, and keep our focus securely fixed on You, so that we might consider the consequences before we take action.  Let Your love be the light in us that keeps us from choosing darkness.  May our careful consideration lead to prayerful prevention from our partaking in things that cannot be undone on earth.  Teach us to choose wisely, so that others too, will want to walk in Your way into life everlasting with You.  Amen.

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