The Parts Make the Whole

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. We all have different gifts. Each gift came because of the grace God gave us. – (Romans 12:4-6a, ERV)

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. – (Romans 12:4-6a, NIV)

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as part of His body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. – (Romans 12:4-6a, MSG)

 

This is such a critical message to remember in community – be it in family, friend groups, work or other circles in which we gather. Each of us are created with unique strengths and giftings, intended to utilize them for the encouragement and betterment of those around us. I know this to be true in my family, marriage, and among close friends, and I am extremely grateful for the way that different gifts work together to create a stronger whole. As my colleagues and I spend the week in trainings and meetings to prepare for the upcoming school year, I intend to look for and celebrate the different giftings that each part of our staff brings to the whole of our school community. It is the people that have kept me in the same school for the entire twenty-three years of my teaching career thus far. Superintendents and higher ups have come and gone, yet, there have been core people who have helped keep a familial culture in existence over the years. Those who have come in and embraced the sense of community, have remained and strengthened what was started long ago. When kids begin joining us in a little over a week, it will be our charge to identify the strengths and gifts that each of them brings to our classroom. It is my hope and prayer that we not compare ourselves nor them to each other, but rather see and celebrate each one as is, recognizing the potential in all that is yet to be.

After speaking with mom last evening, I received a bit more clarification about her appointment last week and the hold-up with in-home therapies. Apparently, it is not a need for seeing another specialist, but rather a bit of a fight/search to find in-home therapies that her new insurance will cover. This is extraordinarily frustrating, as a different insurance would have been selected, had we known it would have been so difficult. God is good, and He is faithful to meet mom’s needs, so we are trusting that He will make a way quickly, as a long delay is not beneficial to mom’s ongoing rehabilitation and recovery. On the positive side, she is working hard, making sure to work on her walking multiple times each day. Please join us in praying that all will be worked out and settled this week, so that perhaps as my nephews return to school, mom will be able to begin her therapies back up at home.

 

We each have a role, aristotle_quote_the_whole_is_greater_than_the_sum_of_its_parts_1439598_1807304324820819141384587.png

A part we’re to play;

Gifted and equipped,

God has made the way.

When we choose to live,

To walk out our days;

As He intended,

Our lives bring Him praise.

Part of the body,

Embracing our role;

Encourage others,

To work as a whole.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created each of us with different strengths and gifts, and intended us for community so that we could work together to be strong and whole. Forgive us for comparison, for that is the thief of joy that leads to us thinking either too little or too much of ourselves. Teach us to instead, appreciate all that You create and grow in each of us, and to encourage those around us well. Show us how to love those You place in our lives in a way that celebrates the unique way that You have created each of them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for each person that You have placed in our community to contribute to the whole. Amen.

 

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

 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – John 15:12

The Good in Good Friday

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)

For God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured God’s goodness into us! – (2 Corinthians 5:21, TLB)

For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with Him. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, TPT)

 

This. This is the good that we celebrate on Good Friday. Jesus Christ, who had lived and served and loved without sin, willingly took all sin upon Himself and bore it on the cross, so that we would have a way to be right with God. Our sinfulness was exchanged for Christ’s righteousness. His sacrifice made the way for all who seek Him to become righteous before God. This holy exchange is the very thing that empowers God’s goodness to be evident in us. Christ’s love that made the way for us all to be restored unto God, is the good in Good Friday. May we each recognize with reverent awe, the enormity of the exchange that took place on our behalf.

 

One horrific day, The Good in Good Friday

A long time ago;

Christ went to the cross,

To make goodness known.

Upon that old cross,

Jesus bore all sin;

The wrongs of the world,

Were nailed upon Him.

The weight that He bore,

Was for you and I;

Though we were sinners,

He still chose to die.

Such a painful death,

So we could be free;

Covered with goodness,

Righteousness to see.

This is what is good,

On this dreadful day;

Death of our Savior,

Cause for Good Friday.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to take our place upon the cross. Thank You that His goodness covers all of our ugliness in Your eyes. Forgive us for not recognizing the enormity of the burden You bore on our behalf. Help us to see just how good, Good Friday is because of Your incredible love. Show us how to embrace the goodness You have given to us and empower us to love well, all those whom with we cross paths. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we become aware of the incredible exchange of our sinfulness for Your righteousness, that make Good Friday so good. Amen.

 

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

 

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

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

The Ultimate Love

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, NIV)

Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him would not be lost but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, ERV)

For this is how much God loved the world – He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life. – (John 3:16, TPT)

 

Because God loved us, His created, so much, He sent His Son to make Himself tangible and approachable to all. Jesus made the way for all who choose to believe, to have life eternal in Him. This blessed assurance provides hope, peace, comfort and removes fear from all that lies ahead. No matter how tumultuous life can become, there is so much more waiting for us when our time here is done. Though we mourn loss of loved ones as we have to adjust to life without their tangible presence, we may also rejoice for those who know Him, as they enter into eternal glory. Additionally, when we know the Lord as well, goodbye is really just a “see you later.” One day, we will be reunited with those who have gone before us to be with the Lord. Imagine the celebration that will take place when we see Jesus face-to-face, and again join with loved ones who have gone ahead of us. May we rejoice in the incredible love that God has for each of us, as His Son showed us what He is like and how greatly He truly loves.

 

The ultimate love, Healed Hands Reach Out

Chooses truly see;

Past every flaw,

And looks to meet needs.

There’s no greater love,

Than God’s sacrifice;

A love undeserved,

Paid ultimate price.

A death undeserved,

In our place He chose;

Faced the darkest grave,

And third day, He rose.

He went on ahead,

To prepare a place;

For all who believe,

His welcome embrace.

May we look to God,

Ever seek His face;

Trust all that He is,

And unending grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that because You loved, we too, may come to know love. Thank You for the precious gift of Your Son, who made love tangible for all to see and understand. Forgive us for the times that we let go of hope and allow our struggles to define what we see. Teach us to trust You more, so that despite the hard things that we walk through and endure, there is everlasting hope to be held in You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your love and provides hope for what is yet to come. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for our everlasting hope, and embrace the grace that You alone give. Amen.

 

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

 

In Your unfailing love you will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling. – Exodus 15:13

The Light Has Come

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, NIV) 

This will happen when the special child is born. God will give us a son who will be responsible for leading the people. His name will be Wonderful Counselor, Powerful God, Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, ERV) 

Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams, a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift. And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great. The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders. His name? His name we’ll know in many ways – He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing, Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, VOICE) 

 

This declaration in Isaiah occurred centuries prior to Christ’s arrival. God’s faithful followers were quite familiar with this passage, as they understood that one day, the Christ would come. Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds all knew that this was to come to pass, and suddenly, here they were, in the midst of God’s promised miracle. No wonder Mary pondered these things and treasured them in her heart, and likewise, it is no surprise that the shepherds were overwhelmed with praise for the newborn King. All that they had been waiting for was unfolding before them.  What a wonder to behold! Today, we are equally blessed to be the bearers of this news. For the baby that was so long promised, came, grew, and made the way for us to know Him, leading us to a place of knowing the Prince of Peace for ourselves. Throughout time, Christ has shown himself in each of the roles, again and again. He is the Wonderful Counselor who is faithful to lead us and guide us; Powerful God, greater than any circumstance we may face; Everlasting Father, who is the same yesterday, today and forever; and the Prince of Peace, who reminds us that He is present in powerful ways, as He came to be the Light of the world. May we all find a quiet moment to reflect on how our Heavenly Father has fulfilled all of these roles in our lives this year, and look forward in faith, knowing that He will remain present as we walk forward without fear of the future – for God with us, shall endure forever. 

 

The Light of the world, The Hope of the World

Most surely has come; 

Born in a stable, 

Omnipotent One. 

Though but a baby, 

The Savior, He grew; 

To bless with new life, 

Both for me and you. 

Our great Counselor, 

Most Powerful One; 

Who reigns forever, 

The Lord’s only Son. 

Now and for always, 

The great Prince of Peace; 

The Light of the world, 

Whose reign will not cease. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your one and only Son to us, so that we could be restored to right relationship with You. Thank You that You are our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and our Prince of Peace. Forgive us for not recognizing the remarkable roles that You are willing and available to fill for all who seek You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would allow You reign in our hearts and lives forever. Show us how love those around us in a way that illuminates darkness with the hope and help of Your holy light. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your power and Your perfect peace. Amen.

 

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

 

Wile I am in the world, I am the light of the world. – John 9:5

The Essence of Prayer

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself interceded for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. – (Romans 8:26-28, NIV)

Meanwhile, the moment we realize we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs and aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. – (Romans 8:26-28, MSG)

 

Yesterday, my pastor spoke about prayer. He reminded us that the essence of prayer is talking to God. So often we overcomplicate prayer, thinking that it requires specific rituals, routines or the “right” words. In actuality, prayer is us communing with God. It is a time of intentional slowing down to not only share our hearts with Him, but to listen as well. When we do not have the words to speak, we can rest in silence before Him, fixing our hearts on Him, and He hears what we cannot put into words. May we take time each day to commune with our Maker, as He knows and He hears our every heart cry and is faithful to be present as we travel each step of our path.

 

In strength and weakness, Refreshment Through Repentance

Our faithful Lord hears;

Each prayer that we pray,

Throughout all our years.

Even without words,

With our hearts to Him;

He hears and He knows,

Each need from within.

All things in our lives,

Can be used for good;

As we live for Him,

His grace understood.

So make time to pray,

With our God, commune;

You’ll find He’s faithful,

His heart to us tuned.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that prayer is not the complicated thing that we tend to make it out to be. Thank You that prayer is talking to You. Thank You that You made the way for us to commune with You directly. Forgive us for neglecting our relationship with You through lack of prayer. Teach us how to slow down, pull away and be disciplined to have intentional time conversing with You. Show us how to love well, all those whom we encounter, and to pray for all who are in need. Help us to listen too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come before You intentionally and spend time communing with You. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

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