Mercy Like Our Maker

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” – (Matthew 1:20, NIV) 

Now when Joseph had decided to act on his instincts, a messenger of the Lord came to him in a dream. Messenger of the Lord: Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to wed Mary and bring her into your home and family as your wife. She did not sneak off and sleep with someone else – rather, she conceived the baby she now carries through the miraculous wonder-working of the Holy Spirit. – (Matthew 1:20, VOICE) 

 

Much like Mary, Joseph found himself in a difficult situation. Normally, the law would lead Joseph to bring public disgrace and likely death upon Mary, yet even before the appearance of the angel of the Lord, he had determined to walk away quietly. However, his plans were transformed when a messenger of God appeared to him to announce the truth of what had happened to his fiancé. His faith held fast to what was spoken, and he willingly walked a likely trying road, as he moved forward with the plans to wed a woman whom few knew or understood the truth about her visible unexpected condition. Joseph chose to obey, and became the earthly father to the Son of God. Though our willing obedience will not lead to parenting the Prince of Peace, we never know the lasting impact our decision to do the things that the Lord asks of us may have. Our extension of mercy and grace when it is not deserved can be utilized by God to change hearts and transform communities. May we seek the Lord to be our strength and our guide, so that we may walk in His ways and love others as He intends us to love. 

 

When actions deserve, No Room for Them

Seeming punishment; 

We ought to ask God, 

What is His intent. 

For often what’s seen, 

Mere part of the whole; 

Wisdom is needed, 

To serve well, our role. 

God’s mercy and grace, 

Made the way for us; 

To love as He loves, 

Just like Lord Jesus. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us the willing hearts of those before us who have extended mercy and grace, when it was seemingly undeserved. Thank You that what we see is not always the whole story. Forgive us for the times that we have not extended mercy and grace, and simply acted on what we observed. Teach us to slow down and seek You, so that we will know best how to love and honor You in all that we say and do. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends mercy and grace, and seeks to listen and understand first. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to love others as You first loved us. Amen.

 

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

 

Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

Consider Greater Love

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – (Hebrews 10:24, NIV)

We should think about each other to see how we can encourage each other to show love and do good works. – (Hebrews 10:24, ERV)

Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds. – (Hebrews 10:24, VOICE)

 

Yesterday was an “off” day at school. A few of my students who have the propensity to struggle with everyday expectations, each had a difficult day. I am not sure whether it can be attributed to the full moon, the numerous guest teachers on campus, the changing seasons, or perhaps an off day due to a wrench in their normal routine, but whatever the cause, the challenge remained and I was extraordinarily grateful for colleagues who are kind and encouraging. Thankfully, I learned long ago to not take a student’s display of distress, personally. Rather, it sets me on a path of seeking to discover more of what motivates and helps calm the child best, so that I might better anticipate and diffuse potential outbursts on a day that they are struggling. Both the presence of para-educators and an interpreter, and later that of administrators who were looking for students, became a source of help that inspired me to greater love, despite my temporary frustration. Sometimes, just knowing that someone else sees the reality of what has taken place, is enough to feel validated in the moment and motivation to let go and move on. There is no “perfect” in humanity. We will always irritate and frustrate, as we as become irritated and frustrated by others. What we do with it matters most. When we choose to love and extend grace, even when it is seemingly undeserved, we are offering the very thing that we have been given through life in Christ. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength, so that we may choose to love and do good works, always.

 

Help us consider, Show the Love

How to choose to love;

To do the good works,

We’re called to get done.

Love is not about,

How much it’s deserved;

But rather a choice,

We choose as we serve.

At our very worst,

God still loves with grace;

So too, we should love,

The whole human race.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us no matter how we come or what we have done. Thank You that Your grace covers our shortcomings. Forgive us for the times that we do not choose love or good works, despite the clear call that You have given. Teach us to trust and rely on You for the strength and endurance to love even when it is challenging. Show us how to love those who are struggling in practical ways that help them understand goodness and grace, and to encourage others to do the same. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love and do good, encouraging one another as we are encouraged by You, according to Your perfect plan to which we are called. Amen.

 

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

The second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” No other commandment is greater than these. – Mark 12:31

Pardon Brings Peace

God blesses those who are merciful, for they are shown mercy. – (Matthew 5:7, NLT)

Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy. – (Matthew 5:7, CEB)

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being “care-full”, you find yourself cared for. – (Matthew 5:7, MSG)

 

Mercy is an incredible gift that is given to us from God. The very definition of mercy, is compassionate kindness, favor and forgiveness that is undeserved; pardon when punishment is warranted. As recipients of God’s tender mercy, we ought to be quick to extend the same to those who “offend” us. Sadly, in our broken humanity, often our first thought is retaliation or revenge. It takes an intentional act of our will to choose to seek the Lord and His help, to extend mercy to those whom we feel deserve punishment. A great example of Jesus demonstrating mercy, was to the woman who was caught in an adulterous act, and an entire squad of Pharisees were ready to stone her for her crime. Jesus, spoke to the men, and told them that whomever was without sin, should go ahead and throw the first stone. One by one, they all eventually walked away. Soon, it was just she and Jesus standing there. Rather than casting stones, as He was indeed without sin, He extended mercy and told her to “go and sin no more.” Can you imagine the impact that His act of mercy had on the woman who was likely prepared to die that day? Though public stoning is not such a concern in society today, our sins, mistakes and missteps can weigh just as heavily on our hearts. When someone extends mercy when we deserve otherwise, the impact is powerful and long lasting. May we go forth with hearts full of grace, ready to extend mercy to those who need it most.

 

Those who give mercy, Pardon Brings Peace

Are given the same;

God grants full pardon,

And removes all shame.

For He forgives us,

As we choose forgive;

So hold not a grudge,

Be free, in peace live.

Merciful are blessed,

With hearts full of joy;

True pardon is known,

And peace is employed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first show Your mercy to us while we are yet sinners. Thank You that You forgive, though we do not deserve forgiveness. Thank You that mercy is a choice that we can decide to extend with Your help, regardless of what we feel. Forgive us for the times that we should have been merciful and were not. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would give mercy to others, just as mercy has been given to us. Show us how to love in a way that is compassionate and kind, with favor and forgiveness, even to those who do not “deserve” it. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we show mercy to others, just as we are shown mercy by You. 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

To Overcome Offenses

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. – (Proverbs 25:21-22, NIV)

If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch; if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness, and God will look after you. – (Proverbs 25:21-22, MSG)

Is your enemy hungry? Buy him lunch. Win him over with your kindness. Your surprising generosity will awaken his conscience and God will reward you with favor. – (Proverbs 25:21-22, TPT)

 

 

When we choose to give good to those who are not good to us, there is a softening on both sides. Often, it makes our hearts more tender toward the offender, and the heart of the one who chose unkindness toward us, to see us in a different light. Though I don’t see others as enemies, I do try to catch myself when I am hurt or offended by the words or actions of another. “How can I respond in kindness, despite that which I have been given?” This is not always an automatic reaction, and there are some offenses that make responding in love far more difficult. We are all a work in progress, and God’s grace is far greater than our own. When we seek Him for the strength and wisdom to respond according to His will, the outcome is far better than if we simply react. May we ever pursue the Lord and His love for people, so that we may surprise others with goodness and generosity that is not necessarily deserved.

 

When we receive rude, Pursue Righteousness and Love

Let’s love anyway;

As others choose hurt,

May we walk God’s way.

Generosity,

Extended with grace;

Can change the outcome,

Create new safe space.

For God will reward,

A generous heart;

Despite what’s given,

His grace He’ll impart.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we choose to love as You love us, despite what we are given by others, You intervene and move in the hearts of people. Thank You that while we were yet Your enemies, You did this for us, as You showed us Your kindness and grace, and brought us to a place where we could know and understand the depth of Your love. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to choose to love and extend kindness to those who have not been kind to us. Teach us to trust You more, as You guide and direct our steps with Your wisdom and grace if we are willing to walk in Your way. Show us how to love the people around us, even those who make loving difficult. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they become aware of Your goodness and grace. Be glorified O God, as we choose love, regardless of what we are given, as You first loved us. Amen.

 

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

 

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Imitate Who We Appreciate

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. – (Ephesians 5:1, NLT)

You are God’s dear children, so try to be like Him. – (Ephesians 5:1, ERV)

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. – (Ephesians 5:1, MSG)

 

Imitation is a form of admiration. As small children, we imitated those whom we most appreciated and the traits and strengths most desired to be duplicated. Once a person comes to know Jesus, a more defined set of ideals come into our consciousness. He who loved with His life and lived without sin, is the ultimate example of whom we ought to aspire to imitate. Through seeing and experiencing His love first hand, we learn how to love as we are loved. May we ever seek to imitate God in all that we do, so that our every word and deed is done in love, according to His good and perfect will.

 

In all that we do, Imitate What We Appreciate

Let’s imitate God;

The love that He gives,

To broken and flawed.

It is by His grace,

That we know He’s good;

It’s not what’s deserved,

Yet kindness withstood.

So let us go forth,

And love just like Him;

Imitate His grace,

Again and again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to imitate You as Your children, but You sent Your Son to show us the way and equip us to go forth to do as You do for us. Forgive us for attempting to imitate anyone other than You, as You alone are the only example that is free from all sin and without flaw. Teach us to look to Your example in all that we do, so that we may be tangible examples of Your goodness and love. Show us how to love as You love, so that all might see Your light that burns within us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to imitate You in all that we do, so that others may come to know Your goodness and grace. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6

Forgiving Offenses

Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act in kindness. – (Colossians 3:13, VOICE)

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. – (Colossians 3:13, NLT)

Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, ERV)

 

We, as humans, are fallen and flawed, and fail to be offense-free forever. No matter how hard we try, nor how much grace we give, eventually we will offend and become offended. What we do with our offenses makes all the difference. The feelings that follow are our own, but what we do in response is a matter of our choosing to trust God and forgive, or rely on our own brokenness and lash out. We are called to forgive because we have been forgiven. Kindness has been given time and time again; though we deserved it not. Though others will wrong us, and we will likewise wrong others, may we ever seek the Lord for strength to go forth in forgiveness, so that His heart may be made known through our love. When we offend others, may we also be quick to repent and remedy the relational strain.

 

O Lord let Your light,Faith and Hope in Action

Be made known through us;

As we choose forgive,

Like Your Son, Jesus.

For we all offend,

As we have been wronged;

We must choose let go,

Trust, rise; carry on.

Don’t let us fixate,

On faults of others;

For we all fall short,

But Your love covers.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have forgiven us, and because we are forgiven, we can go and do likewise. Thank You that Your grace covers every fault found within us. Forgive us for not extending the same grace to others when we are offended or hurt by those around us. Teach us to turn to You in trust, as You suffered every offense known to man, and You forgave anyway. Help us to forgive and love like You. Show us how to extend Your loving kindness to all those whom we encounter, so that they might gain glimpses of who You are and how deeply You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we forgive the faults and offenses of those around us, and operate our lives in the loving kindness that You have granted unto us. Amen.

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

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

No Record of Wrongdoings

If You, God, kept records of wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is Your habit, and that’s why You’re worshiped. – (Psalm 130:3-4, MSG)

 

Today, I am so thankful that God is not like us. Imagine if God were only able to forgive over time? Or worse, if God held grudges? Though we may pursue to extend the same forgiveness to others that Christ has given to us, not one of us has arrived. There is always something that weighs on our hearts, or that takes us time to walk through, before we can truly forgive. With God, He chooses to take our sin and remember it no more. Such mercy and grace warrants worship. May we embrace the grace that our loving Father grants to us, and offer all of our praise to Him, as we seek His help to do unto others as He has done for us.

 

The glory of grace,Risk to Reward

Beyond what we see;

For not one could stand,

Without God’s mercy.

Forgiveness given,

Though it’s not deserved;

Reason for worship,

Give praise undeterred.

May we seek the Lord,

for His love and grace;

So we can extend,

The same all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You keep no record of our wrongs when we repent before You. Thank You that You forgive out of Your abundant love. Forgive us for our stubborn hearts that hold grudges and hurt, rather than giving the offenses over to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring all of our burdens before You, and allow You to mend the brokenness with Your lavish love. Show us how to keep no record of wrongs, and to extend mercy and grace to all those around us. May many come to find a lasting relationship with You, as they see Your love in our words and deeds. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love without limits and to forgive freely like You. 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

Let Us Choose Kindness

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. – (Ephesians 4:32, NLT)

Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, ERV)

 

We are called to be kind, loving and forgiving, just as Christ is unto us. While we were yet sinners, He chose to love us. In the same way, He asks that we choose to love others so that they might see Him through us, and come to know that there is so much more available to all who choose to trust in Christ. May we love, forgive and extend kindness, just as each are given unto us, so that others too, might choose to enter into a relationship with our Redeemer for all eternity.

 

In this crazy world,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Where anything goes;

Let us choose kindness,

So Christ in us shows.

May we choose to love,

Where others might not;

We’ve been forgiven,

Make known what we’ve got.

As we offer grace,

Though it’s not deserved;

May the truth be known,

In Christ, hope’s preserved.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be kind and loving to one another, just as You are unto us. Thank You that You forgive us, and in turn grant us the grace to forgive others. Thank You that when we do, Your light shines through us, making the truth known to those who might not yet know You. Forgive us for our lack of kindness and grace toward those around us, and for any lack of forgiveness that we harbor in our hearts. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend to others, the very same kindness, love and forgiveness that You give unto us. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we choose to be kind and tenderhearted to those whom we encounter, forgiving one another as we have been forgiven by You. 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

 

Run and Don’t Quit

We have all these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fall. – (Hebrews 12:1, ERV)

In my world, running so often parallels lessons of faith. I can run on my own, yet I discourage more easily and grow weary and want to quit. However, when I run with great people around me, their faithfulness to finish inspires me to run without ceasing, and challenges me to be better than I was before. Often our conversations become a dumping ground for the things that hinder our hearts from moving forward, and set us free to move forward as we were intended to run. As we run together, we look out for one another, warning of dangers on sidewalks, in the roads, and even of crazy drivers coming our way. Our inspiration and encouragement is built in, when we are invested well in a community with a common goal.

Fortunately for me, most of my best running buddies are also dear friends with a shared and committed faith. I have the double blessing of sharing both a similar running philosophy and the same core values that drive our lives. God uses us to speak life into one another, and to encourage each other to keep “running“, even when life is hard. Investing in a faith community is a necessity to run our race well. Great examples give us hope and inspiration to keep moving, even when we want to quit. Additionally, when we are connected, we are accountable to others, and allow them to speak truth, leaving room to remove anything that would slow us down, and the sin that causes us to stumble and fall. May we each find a faith community in which we can fully invest, so that we can run the race before us and never quit, with others beside us to challenge and encourage us along the way.

We need not look far,Run and Do Not Quit

to find faithful few;

for the consistent,

allow love shine through.

Ever they’re seeking,

to honor and serve;

to love as Christ loves,

not as is deserved.

For good company,

helps us each to grow;

to run our race well,

so His light will show.

Invest in others,

as we’re called to do;

sisters and brothers,

His love makes us new.

When we are equipped,

we’ll run our race well;

strong to the finish,

as truth our lives tell.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the great people that You have placed around us as examples in our lives. Thank You that You show us what faith means. Thank You that You equip us to run the race that is set before us without quitting, as You bring beside us, others to encourage and challenge us to do as You call us to do. Forgive us for holding the things that slow us down or cause us to stumble. Set us free from sin. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You first, then trust You to place us in the appropriate community that challenges and cares for us well. Show us how to contribute to the growth and greatness of others. Lead us to love as You so wonderfully love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we run the race You have set before us without quitting; removing all that slows us down and every sin that causes us to stumble. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19