Unfettered Forgiveness

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21:22)

 

During that time, rabbis taught the people that they ought to forgive others three times. So when Peter suggested seven times, he likely thought the “perfect” number was more than sufficient. However, Jesus did not concur. Seventy-seven times or seventy times seven, (depending on which verse we read) is a matter not of actual numbers, but rather of a number so high that a person would not actually keep a record of faults and foibles forgiven.

 

This is not necessarily an easy task, and often, the repeated steps of forgiving occur for one single action. There are times when we have to forgive again and again for one isolated incident. On Saturday, I wrote of a childhood friend who lost her seventeen-year-old son in a tragic car accident. He was doing nothing wrong, yet was t-boned by a speeding, and possibly intoxicated driver, at 7:00am. Not once since that tragic day, have I seen a single statement by her that has condemned the other driver. However, I imagine that each time she pictures her sweet son, she has to stop and forgive the other driver, as she is left wondering why her son was taken so soon. She is a woman of unflappable faith, and I know it is only by His grace, that she is able to choose to forgive.

 

All of us have contributed to a comparable atrocity against Christ. Though He was without sin, He was killed for our sake, because of our sin. However, He chose to allow our actions that grieved the very heart of God, to be placed on Him, so that we could be forgiven. EVERY. SINGLE. SIN. As He willingly bore the cross, He declared, “It is finished,” so that we could be forgiven, and likewise we could go forth and forgive others.

 

Count not the times,Unfettered Forgiveness

we have to forgive;

for Christ counts not,

forgiveness He gives.

Let His love lead,

when it’s hard to love;

He is our strength,

all grace from above.

Despite the deed,

the pain to our heart;

we must forgive,

and grant a fresh start.

Just as our sin,

was worn on that cross;

we must let go,

trust God with each loss.

All in His hands,

be it large or small;

help to forgive,

He’s covered it all.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You forgive us for all of our sin, the moment we come to You and confess. Thank You that You do not hold things over our heads, but rather once You have forgiven, You have chosen to forget and let it go. Thank You that as we come to You and seek You, You help us find forgiveness, even in the face of great adversity, grief, and anger. Forgive us for our unforgiveness, and make us acutely aware of things that we are holding that need be released. Help us to forgive as we have been forgiven by You. May we be gracious and kind, abounding in Your love. Let others see Your goodness and grace in us, and may that be what draws them unto a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified as we extend Your forgiveness and grace to those who grieve our hearts. Amen.

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

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – I Corinthians 3:5

 

 

The Look of His Love

“Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” – (Mark 12:30-31)

The solution to our struggles, always seem to return to being rooted in love.  When our character is assaulted with false accusations, or our integrity questioned without reason, we can grow frustrated and defensive, or we can choose to love anyway.  Human nature causes our head and heart to hold out for an equally hurtful response, yet the still small voice within, whispers, “Love.”  Though it may take swallowing some of our own righteous wrath to choose to love, to do so, is that which we are called to do.  Often, it is through our responding in love, that the accusations are disproven and our integrity is clearly upheld.  Responding in love, removes the claws, from those with ill intentions.

This is not to say that we are always meant to face the fire, as there are times when He calls us to retreat and stick to praying for those who persecute.  God is gracious and kind, and grants wisdom as to when and what we are to do.  If our focus is on loving Him and loving others, we will be walking in obedience to what He is asking of us.

When words are like weapons,The Look of Love 2

and they puncture the heart;

seek He who is loving,

to heal and grant fresh start.

Respond not in anger,

words can’t be taken back;

go straight to the Father,

when we’re under attack.

He alone is our peace,

our place of perfect rest;

our anchor through the storms,

the One who loves us best.

Let all of our focus,

eyes, heart, soul and our mind;

fix on loving the Lord,

and the rest of mankind.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You simplified all that You ask of us into one command: Love You, and love others.  Thank You that You do not ask us to do this in our own strength, but rather if we come to You and trust You, You equip and empower us to love You and love others, as You are calling us to do.  Forgive us for our pride that attempts to preserve our reputation, rather than allowing You to be our protection in all things.  Please grant us wisdom and strength to hear You clearly, and to heed Your instruction in all things and at all times.  Lead us to truly love as You love us, and may many come to know You as a result.  Be glorified through our love for You and one another.  Amen.

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

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

To Be Called Conquerors

Despite the name of this blog, the book of Revelation, has always intimidated me.  Every year, as  this time rolls around, I find myself back in the book of Revelation, as I follow a yearly reading plan.  I eagerly anticipate His return, however, it is the time of trial and tribulation that I get hung up on.  This morning, I was extra intentional to ask that He grant me new insight, that would perhaps make this book a bit more approachable over the next several days.  The following is what I found, as I chose to first read Revelation 1-4 in The Message translation:

“Look at Me.  I stand at the door.  I knock.  If you hear Me call and open the door, I’ll come in and sit down to supper with you.  Conquerors will sit alongside Me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, to the place of honor at the side of my Father.  That is My gift to the conquerors!” – (Revelation 3:20-21)

My heart began to soar, as I recognized that I am a conqueror, not because I am strong enough or good enough, but rather because I have opened the door of my heart and invited Him in.  It is not what I can do, but what He can do through me, if only I choose to be willing.  Oh Lord, You know I am willing!  “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” – (Romans 8:37)

You called to me,

I opened my heart;To Be Called Conquerors

You welcomed me,

and granted fresh start.

You sit with me,

and call me Your own;

You strengthen me,

beyond what I’ve known.

Fear need not be,

present in trials;

times of testing,

shall be a short while.

And through it all,

one thing shall remain;

Your love, present,

the hope we can claim.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we are more than conquerors!  Thank You that with You, we have nothing to fear.  Though struggle and trials shall come in this life, our hope is assured for all of eternity in You.  Forgive us for our fearfulness of the unknown, and help us to recognize that we are more than conquerors in You.  Give us strength and endurance to remain steadfast in that which You have called us, and teach us to trust You even more.  May we love like You, so that many others too, may come to know the overwhelming gift of grace that You freely give.  May many come to know the overcoming power that is present in a lifelong relationship with You.  All praise to You, our Overcoming One!  Amen.

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

The Wonder of Warmth

We have been experiencing extra frigid temperatures, not typical for our area, throughout this week. Though my boys are quite warm-blooded, it is a bit brisk, even for them. That being said, they will often try to walk out of the house without a coat. Though they have access to several warm layers, they opt to attempt an exit without one. As a parent, I am able to insist that they go back into the house and properly layer for the elements outdoors.

So often, it seems, this is how society views Jesus. They are aware of Him, yet set Him aside and go on without Him, thinking that they will be okay on their own. Just as having a coat does not keep us warm unless we actually wear it, so does Christ do nothing for us until we choose to receive His salvation. When we receive what has been freely given, we go forth, clothed in His grace, and grow in the gifts that He has imparted in us. The more we know Him, the more we desire to spend intentional time seeking to serve and know Him better. We become robed in His righteousness, and His warmth flows from us, as we invest in our walk with Him.

“This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.” – (I Timothy 4:9-10)

May Your warmth, O God,The Wonder of Warmth

flow into our hearts;

may we be aware,

of each day’s fresh start.

May hearts be open,

so each shall receive;

Your grace and Your hope,

found as we believe.

As we’re clothed in You,

may our lives be light;

that shine of Your love,

our Hope and Delight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to be the Savior to all. Thank You that salvation is available for all who choose to believe and receive what You are offering. Thank You that we don’t have to somehow be “good enough” and earn it, but instead, it is Your amazing gift of grace, given to us because of Your great love for Your created. Forgive us for walking out the door without being clothed in You, and help us to begin each day, embracing the grace that You give, remembering that Your mercies are new every morning. Teach us how to go forth in love and in light, so that we may reflect the radiance of lives that are transformed by Your grace. May many come to know Your salvation for themselves this season. Be exalted, our great and loving God. Amen.

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

Live in Light

image by MamaOwlPhoto

image by MamaOwlPhoto

We were once lost in darkness,

now are lavished in His light;

therefore live as His children,

steer clear of the deeds of night.

Focus on the fruit of day,

full of good and truth and right;

expose the deeds of darkness,

get caught not in evil’s plight.

Everything that is hidden,

will be visible one day;

so we need be wise in life,

and use care with what we say.

Make the most of each new day,

and understand the Lord’s will;

don’t give in to drunkenness,

instead, seek His Spirit’s fill.

Speak to each other, sweet words,

that encourage weary hearts;

sing and make music to God,

for our everyday fresh start.

(Responding to Ephesians 5:8-20)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your loving light comes and dwells in us, not when we are “good enough”, but whenever we choose to invite You in.  Thank You that You do not call the “qualified”, but You qualify the called. (all who trust in You!)  Forgive us for allowing our focus anywhere other than You, and help us to expose anything hidden in our hearts so that You may bring healing.  Help us to heed the wisdom and warnings You provide, and may we make the most of each moment we are given.  May our words and deeds demonstrate Your great love to those who are lacking, and may many come to live in Your light as a result.  All glory and honor to You, God.  Amen.

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

See also, Let it Shine