The Seeming Lunacy of Lavish Love

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – (1 Corinthians 1:18, NIV)

The teaching about the cross seems foolish to those who are lost. But to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – (1 Corinthians 1:18, ERV)

To preach the message of the cross seems like sheer nonsense to those who are on their way to destruction, but to us who are on our way to salvation, it is the mighty power of God released within us. – (1 Corinthians 1:18, TPT)

 

Without the cross, we would have a lengthy laundry list of laws that we would be required to follow to find way to heaven. The cross changed all that. Laws show us our sinfulness, yet Christ went to the cross to bear the burden of our every failure to follow. Rather than rules and rituals requiring strict adherence to look to the Lord, we now have hope in a Savior who calls us to love. The saving power that was presented at the cross, provides the desire and strength to look to the Lord and be in relationship with Him. Before, there was a veil that separated people from God. Torn in two, as Jesus took His last breath, His decision to die for us all destroyed the barrier between God and mankind, and made the way for us to know Him, personally. The more we know the Lord, the more we are compelled to let go of our former foolishness and follow after Him. He who knew no sin, wore all of our sin upon Himself so that we could come to know His power, individually. His mercy and grace provided us with a fresh start and a call to two things: love God and love people. When we do the two, we reflect the goodness of God to the world, and make salvation tangible for those who do not know Him. May we ever embrace the goodness and grace that was granted at the cross, and receive His power that is presented to us as we come to Him in faith.

 

Seemingly foolish,Live Right by His Light

God sent His own Son;

To take away sin,

This Most Holy One.

Bearing our burdens,

In love, chose to die;

So we might know Him,

All sins rectified.

Such power and love,

Laid bare on that cross;

All to offer life,

Horrifying cost.

Yet freely He chose,

So we could know grace;

Receive and believe,

Daily, seek His face.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the radical and unfathomable love that You have for us. Thank You for making the way for us to come to know You, personally. Forgive us for all that we think, say and do that led You to choose the cross so that we might live. Teach us to trust You more, ever coming before You with gratitude and eyes to see the depth and breadth of Your love. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes Your goodness and grace visible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for who You are and how You love, trusting our very lives into Your holy hands.  Amen.

 

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

 

When we were overwhelmed by sins, You forgave our transgressions. – Psalm 65:3

Wrestling for Blessing

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”  – (Genesis 32:28, NIV) 

Then the man said, “Your name will not be Jacob. Your name will now be Israel. I give you this name because you have fought with God and men, and you have won.” – (Genesis 32:28, ERV) 

You will no longer go by the name Jacob. From now on your name will be Israel because you have wrestled with God and humanity, and you have prevailed. – (Genesis 32:28, VOICE) 

 

After twenty years of hard physical labor and dealing with a father-in-law who had repeatedly changed Jacob’s wages and the agreement that the two had made, Jacob determined to take his wives, children and livestock back to the land from which he had come. After a week of traveling with the massive group of folks and flocks, Leban, his father-in-law, caught up to the caravan and had a discussion with Jacob. After the tension subsided, the two men reached an agreement, and parted ways. As the journey continued, they group neared the land of Jacob’s father. Jacob was afraid of how his brother, Esau, would respond to his return. He selected a large number of his livestock to gift to him, and sent servants with groups of animals ahead, in hope of pacifying his brother. Once everyone had gone on ahead of him, Jacob met a Man, with whom he wrestled all night. The One with whom he struggled, told him to stop, but Jacob insisted that they continue until he was blessed by Him. Verse twenty-eight is the response given by the One with whom Jacob wrestled. Jacob had struggled with man and God, and now was receiving the blessing for which he was asking. Both commentaries that I read surrounding this passage, pointed out that with the change of name, came also, a change of heart. A personal encounter with God changed Jacob forever. Likewise, an encounter with God changes us forever too. Our persistence to persevere, even in the struggle, results in the Lord’s presence and His help. Though it is unlikely that any of us with physically wrestle with God Himself, (or an angel messenger, as different commentaries suggest that it was either God Himself, or one of His messengers) we will however, struggle with our circumstances and our faith. The more we seek Him, the stronger our trust becomes, fueling faith for every future endeavor. May we fearlessly wrestle with the struggles that come our way, as we depend on God to strengthen and sustain us, in all things and at all times. 

 

Though we may wrestle, f9d3a1df-a6ed-4149-9c89-54ddf9a6f9788443963905273144234.jpg

With our circumstance; 

Lord God, Almighty, 

Will help us advance. 

For as we seek God, 

He hears our heart cry; 

Strengthens our resolve, 

And hope to choose try. 

The blessings do come, 

As we choose persist; 

Hope, strength and His love, 

Things that prayer enlist. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear us as we call out to You. Thank You that though we may wrestle with our circumstances and our faith, You never falter, and hear our heart’s cry. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would run to You and lay our need before You, knowing that You hear and help those who seek You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that displays Your faithfulness, strength and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we press on and pursue You in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

Blessed are those who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart. – Psalm 119:2

Freely Given

When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. – (Titus 3:4-5a, NLT)

But then the kindness and love of God our Savior was made known. He saved us because of His mercy, not because of any good things we did. – (Titus 3:4-5a, ERV)

But then something happened: God our Savior and His overpowering love and kindness for humankind entered our world; He came to save us. It’s not that we earned it by doing good works or righteous deeds; He came because He is merciful. – (Titus 3:4-5a, VOICE)

 

Our hope and our help come not as a result of what we have done, but rather that of which God has done. In His kindness and love, He made the way for us to be saved. Salvation is not dependent on our qualifications, but rather on our reception of that which is freely given. If we choose to believe and receive the new life that He offers, our hearts are changed and minds are made new. While we were yet sinners, He loved. Most of us are able to extend mercy to friends and loved ones, but to those who are against us? The Lord demonstrates the depth and breadth of His love through how He loves and offers salvation to ALL. There are no exceptions nor exclusions from His offer; His mercy is available to everyone. May we both receive and extend that which we have been given freely, so that others too, may come to know the loving kindness and mercy of our Maker.

 

It’s kindness and love, Hands of Grace

Through mercy He brings;

That we can be saved,

Freed from sinful things.

Salvation’s not earned,

By good that we do;

But given by grace,

That shows His love true.

What it takes from us,

Is choice to receive;

To place trust in Him,

Allow God to lead.

As we give God reign,

Our eyes start to see;

Others with His grace,

Kindness and mercy.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came to save us, not because of anything that we did that made us good enough, but rather because of Your kindness and love. Thank You that You are merciful and full of grace, ready to receive all who seek Your face. Forgive us for thinking we have to measure up, rather than freely receiving that which You have to give. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to lead us and change us from the inside out. Show us how to love others with the same kindness, love and mercy that You extend to each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive what You freely give so that we can give likewise. Amen.

 

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

 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

The Greatest Gift

But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. – (Galatians 4:4-5, NIV)

But when the right time came, God sent His Son, who was born from a woman and lived under the law. God did this so that He could buy the freedom of those who were under the law. God’s purpose was to make us His children. – (Galatians 4:4-5, ERV)

When the right time arrived, God sent His Son into the world (born of a woman, subject to the law) to free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately, He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters. – (Galatians 4:4-5, VOICE)

 

God knew that humanity needed a Savior. For most, the law was a list of do and do not from a distance out of fear and reverence, rather than being rooted in relationship. The arrival of Jesus changed everything. God out there, became God is here. Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension gave way for us to be adopted into God’s family as His children. No more are we simply subjects attempting obedience out of fear, but rather we are children of the Most High, saved by grace and dearly loved. From this position of freedom, it is difficult not to desire to do what is pleasing to the very One who set us free. May we rise up and recognize the sacrifice that was given so that we could be free, and walk out our days honoring God with our words, deeds and praise.

 

God saw all our need, The Greatest Gift

And set forth a plan;

Redemption and grace,

By His loving hands.

Hands that chose to send,

His beloved Son;

To bear all the weight,

Of what we have done.

Freely He took on,

All our ugliness;

So we may be called,

His in righteousness.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You saw mankind’s need for a Savior and sent Your Son to redeem us. Thank You that not only do You forgive us of all of our sin, but You adopt us as sons and daughters of Your own. Thank You that You lovingly receive all who come seeking You. Forgive us for forgetting the magnitude of Your sacrifice to be called sons and daughters. Teach us to treasure the gifts of Your mercy and grace far more than we do. Show us how to love others in a way that extends the same sort of mercy and grace to others, so that they might see glimpses of You through the good we give. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for the greatest gift ever given through the sending of Your Son. Amen.

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

 

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14

Love Made Known

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. – (1 John 3:18, NLT)

My children, our love should not be only words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do. – (1 John 3:18, ERV)

My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love. – (1 John 3:18, VOICE)

 

John, who had walked with Jesus closely as His disciple, was both reminding and reassuring those who followed Christ, that our ultimate call is to love. This charge has not changed throughout the ages. All of the wisdom and wonder that is packed in the Bible can be best explained as: we are called to love God and love people. To do so, it cannot simply be something that we theorize and discuss, but rather we must act upon it and live it out in our daily lives. Love must be evident in not only what we say, but also in the things that we do. May our lives display a pattern of faithfully living a life of love, consistent with that which we are called to do.

 

Our love shouldn’t be talk, Love Made Known

It’s much more than words;

It must be sincere,

Beyond what is heard.

For love is made known,

Through what we choose show;

May all that we do,

Be lit by love’s glow.

When all that we do,

And all that we say;

Demonstrate His love,

His heart’s on display.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are love. Thank You that You call us to love You and love those around us through our words and deeds. Thank You that You do not call us to do anything that You are not also willing to equip us to do. Forgive us for the times that our words and deeds do not align with Your gracious love. Teach us to trust You more so that we would show Your love through all that we say and do. Help us to love those around us with goodness and grace, even when the word or deeds extended toward us are kind nor warranting a gentle response. May our love turn away wrath and lead many to Your loving arms. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show love through all that we say and do. Amen.

 

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

 

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

Complete in Christ’s Love

Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has for you. – (Ephesians 3:19, ERV)

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. – (Ephesians 3:19, NLT)

 

If each of us could grasp but a glimpse of the greatness of God’s love, imagine what the world would become. Once a heart begins to hold even an iota of understanding of how deep and how wide the love of the Father is for us, we cannot help but be changed. The more we know love, the more we long to share what has been given. Our capacity to care for those around us multiplies, as we are made aware of how much the Lord cares for us. May we ever seek the Lord and readily receive His love, so that we may be made complete in the fullness of life and power that He has prepared for us to go forth and love as we are loved.

 

A love far greater,Aquiring Armor

Than any that’s known;

The love from the Lord,

As His heart is shown.

Lord, help us to seek,

The love that You give;

So we may be filled,

With fullness to live.

Your life and power,

Await those who seek;

To love and be loved,

Strength when we are weak.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love is far greater than any that we have ever known, and that but a glimpse of Your great love will change our hearts and lives forever. Thank You that as we come to know You and Your love for us, You fill us with life and power and make us complete in You. Forgive us for not seeking You and Your love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will ever seek more of You. Help us to receive all that You have for us. Show us how to love well, all those around us as You fill us with Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to know and understand more and more of Your love in our lives, and go forth and love likewise. Amen.

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

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

 

To Give as We’re Given

Give love and mercy the same as your Father gives love and mercy. – (Luke 6:36, ERV)

Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. – (Luke 6:36, MSG)

So imitate God and be truly compassionate, the way your Father is. – (Luke 6:36, VOICE)

 

We are called to extend to others, the very same love, mercy, generosity, grace, compassion and kindness that God gives to us. To further clarify for myself, I studied the definitions of each of the previously listed words. Love is benevolent affection, and to me that is a love that gives care, kindness and compassion without expecting anything in return. Mercy is being pardoned when we deserve punishment. Grace is undeserved favor; being freely forgiven. Generosity is the act of liberally giving without expectation of return. Lastly, compassion is a deep sorrow for another’s suffering, accompanied by a strong desire to help bring relief. Extending love, mercy, generosity, grace, compassion and kindness to my family and friends is relatively easy, however, there are times when it becomes quite a challenge with students, particularly when there is repeated disrespect, and combatant behavior. The verse does not have a qualifier. It does not say give love and mercy the same as Your Father only when it is easy or when those around you are kind, but rather it asks that we give love and mercy as He gives. God does not wait for us to meet a set of certain criteria to love us, but rather He meets us in the middle of our mess and extends compassion, grace, mercy, generosity and love, which lead us to long to do the same. If we do likewise, perhaps the hearts of those who suffer the most and lash out, will be touched and changed for the better. May we ever seek the Lord and His strength, so that we may imitate God and be truly compassionate, the way our Father is.

 

Give love and mercy,Healed Hands Reach Out

As given to us;

Be compassionate,

Like our Lord Jesus.

He gave us His grace,

It was not deserved;

Generosity,

That cannot be earned.

Just as He’s given,

We’re called to the same;

Give love and mercy,

Honor Jesus’ Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You gave. Thank You that You give us love, mercy, grace, generosity and compassion – though we deserve none. Thank You that through Your lavish love, You equip us to go and do likewise. Forgive us for not giving love and mercy as You give unto us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would live out our God-created identity as You intended. Show us how to love others with the same mercy, grace, generosity and compassion that You have for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pattern our lives in love towards others, just as You give unto us. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Overcoming Power

“He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what He told you back in Galilee, that the son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that He would rise again on the third day.” – (Luke 24:6-7, NLT)

 

Grief does funny things to our ability to think clearly. I can only begin to imagine the weight of the sorrow shared by those who had walked closely beside Jesus, prior to His crucifixion. Despite His having told those dear to Him what had to happen, and what would happen after, if they were anything like most of us, they probably could not grasp anything beyond His having to die. Even more surreal to see in one’s mind, is the arrival at the empty tomb. What began as shock, horror, and perhaps even outrage that Jesus’ body was missing, was quickly turned to worshipful awe, as they were greeted by angels who told them what had happened. It had to have been quite a sight to see, if the first words from those whom God had sent, was, “Don’t be afraid.” I envision it being a two-fold extension of kindness. Don’t be afraid of us, and do not be afraid of what you do not see. It did not take long for the truth that they had been told prior to Jesus’ death to be recalled, and suddenly, everything changed. Mourning turned to gladness, and sorrow surrendered to great joy! Jesus had risen! May we rise this day and remember the reason for the festivities. The Light of the world defeated death and conquered the grave so that we could have life everlasting in Him.

 

Two days of darkness,Hope in an Empty Tomb

Then third day, He rose;

Defeating the grave,

All hope to disclose.

Greeted by angels,

At the empty tomb;

Awe and amazement,

Minds blown at the truth.

Though He had foretold,

Was hard to believe;

No more was Christ dead,

He’d risen indeed.

What joy they had found,

Their sorrow, no more;

Jesus has risen,

Worship and adore!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You did not stop at the death on the cross on our behalf, but You showed us Your power as You defeated death and overcame the grave so that we could have life everlasting in You. Thank You that the very same power that conquered the grave is available to all who trust in You. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to defeat our resolve, rather than turning to trust in You. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone have the power to carry us through every circumstance. Show us how to live and love boldly, as we have been given all that we need to love as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to fill us so that we may live and love in the overcoming power You place in each of us. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 54:8

Justified, Not Qualified

Clean up your act – the way you live, the things you do – so I can make my home with you in this place. – (Jeremiah 7:3, MSG)

This is what the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, says: Improve your conduct and your actions, and I will dwell with you in this place. – (Jeremiah 7:3, CEB)

 

God gave this warning to Jeremiah to deliver to the people of Israel, as they were not following the path that He had placed before them according to His will. Thankfully, today, we do not have to clean up our act or the way we live to come to Jesus, but rather when we come before Him and invite Him to be Lord of our lives, He comes and dwells within us and shows us how to clean up our conduct and do right by Him. The tables were turned and the process flipped upside down, when heaven came down and made the way for us to be restored to a right relationship with our Redeemer. I am so grateful for the mercy and grace that we have been granted to come before our King as we are, and then He cleans us up and shows us how to live right, according to His good and perfect will. May we embrace the grace that He has freely given, and seek our Savior to show us the ways in which we are meant to move.

 

It’s not on our own,Refreshment Through Repentance

That we get things done;

But rather by grace,

As we seek the Son.

Though there was a time,

Needed qualify;

That all changed in Christ,

His life justified.

Now we’re called to come,

To God each new day;

Where He makes us clean,

And shows us the way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the glorious gift of Your Son, Jesus, who changed everything. Thank You that we no longer have to clean up our act and the way we live to somehow convince You to draw near, but rather we can come before You with a humble heart, seeking change, and You will cleanse us of our sin and shame, and show us the way to a new life in You. Forgive us for not seeking Your direction when we are uncertain which way we are meant to go. Teach us to trust You more, as You gave everything so that we could be in relationship with You. Show us how to love those around us with kindness and generosity, just as You have loved us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come before You again and again, allowing You access to all so that we might live right by You. Amen.

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

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

In Hope, Be Still

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. – (Psalm 62:5, NLT)

I must calm down and turn to God; He is my only hope. – (Psalm 62:5, ERV)

My soul quietly waits for the True God alone because I hope only in Him. – (Psalm 62:5, VOICE)

 

I find myself in a strange space this season, as I face impending endings – with dear friends moving away, a grandmother living out her last days, and then the dealing with that which is in my own heart, as I adapt to the new dynamics in my own life. When I quiet myself before the Lord, I am able to see the hope, even in the sorrow of change. For those moving, God is taking them into a new season, as He also is with those of us remaining here. My grandmother has outlived her spouse, her family members, and all of her closest friends, and for her, she is certain of her destination, so she faithfully waits in hope for her homecoming. For myself, in the stillness of my quiet mornings with God, I am reassured of all that He has for me. His plan and purpose for me has not changed, so I am able to continue to hold fast to the hope that is found in Him alone. May we all slow down and quiet ourselves before the Lord, so that we may hear the still small voice within that reminds us that He is our hope and He has good plans for us.

 

Let all that I am,Anxious for Answers

Wait in stillness here;

For God is my hope,

So I need not fear.

In times of great change,

In seasons of doubt;

Help me trust in You,

To show the way out.

Out where there is hope,

And freedom is found;

Where all of me trusts,

In You, I’ll abound.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our hope and our peace. Thank You that as we wait quietly before You, You reassure us and fill us with Your hope. Forgive us for not slowing down to turn to You. Teach us to quiet ourselves before You in all things and at all times, so that we may hold fast to the hope that is held in You alone. Show us how to love others in a way that gives hope to the hopeless and peace to those who know none. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we wait quietly before You, knowing that all hope is found in You alone. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15