Choose Gather

“For where two or three gather in My Name, there am I with them.” – (Matthew 18:20, NIV)

“Yes, if two or three people are together believing in Me, I am there with them.” – (Matthew 18:20, ERV)

“For wherever two or three come together in honor of My Name, I am right there with them!” – (Matthew 18:20, TPT)

 

Loneliness is something nearly all of us have experienced at one time or another, as it is brought on either by isolation, or more often, by lack of true connection. We can be surrounded by people and feel completely alone. This occurs when authentic connections are not established. God has declared that it is not good for us to be alone, and that two are better than one. This is not just reserved for marriage, but for friendships and familial-like connections as well. We are created and designed to be in community. The promise is provided that when we gather in His Name, God will be with us. Though He is always present, His nearness is more tangibly known in the company of others who have gathered together with purpose. This is the intention of “church”. It is an opportunity to gather in His Name and create authentic connections with those around us. At times, the group that gathers for a church service is too large to truly connect, so it requires an additional investment of time to get to know others with whom familial connections are established. A solution that some churches have is to offer small groups; at Grace (where we are invested) they are called Life Groups. Though there is a risk in stepping out of one’s comfort zone to meet with new folks and gather together, each time I have done so, I have walked away enriched, knowing new people for whom I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know. May we intentionally choose to invest in our relationships, making fellowship a priority, so that we may know people, and in turn, be known.

Both mom and my sister are in a space of unexpected isolation. Mom, as she is away from her home and the community that she has invested in for many years; and my sister, as she works tirelessly to juggle work, family, and caring well for mom, finding there are simply not enough hours in the day to connect with the community she holds close. God is good, and can make a way where there seems to be no way. Both, are in need of His covering, care and grace, as they navigate and need community. It is my prayer that rapid healing happens, and more opportunities for outings for each of these amazing ladies occur.

 

May we choose gather, img_2019-09-23_05-22-377139561410898030072.jpg

Come close in His Name;

Discover the grace,

In Christ we can claim.

Whenever we meet,

With a heart for Him;

His presence is shown,

As love enters in.

Loneliness scatters,

As connections form;

To know and be known,

Is how hearts transform.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promise to be present when we gather in Your Name. Thank You that You make Your presence known. Thank You that You designed and created us for relationships. Forgive us for the times that we have either isolated ourselves or allowed others to remain in isolation when we can do something to help pull them out. Teach us how to navigate relationships well, so that we would love others in a way that knows people and helps them feel known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest in fellowship in the communities in which You have placed us. Amen.

 

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

 

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

 

 

Why We Gather

“For where two or three gather in My Name, there am I with them.” – (Matthew 18:20, NIV)

“Yes, if two or three people are together believing in Me, I am there with them. – (Matthew 18:20, ERV)

“And when two or three of you are together because of Me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” – (Matthew 18:20, MSG)

 

This verse is a reminder of why it is so important to gather with other believers. Church is not about religion and rules, it is an opportunity to join together and recognize the presence of God. Yes, God is with us, always, but there is something powerful that transpires when a group of people gathers to seek the heart of God. His presence is made known, and those in the midst of it are strengthened, encouraged and equipped to go out in His power. We were created for relationship. Isolation for too long, causes the heart to grow weary, and faith to become frail. God is faithful and loving no matter what, but He invites us to lay hold of the power of His presence through gathering together with others who seek Him. May we ever pursue opportunities to gather with others who are seeking the Lord, so as to mutually encourage and edify one another as He makes His presence known.

 

Let us seek gather,

Peace Through Understanding

With others, pursue;

The heart of the Lord,

As His word is true.

When people choose join,

Their hearts and their minds;

To seek our Savior,

His presence, they find.

Our God is faithful,

His word ever true;

He makes Himself known,

Collective pursuit.

Let’s seek with intent,

And join together;

For God will be found,

Most gracious treasure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to join together to seek You. Thank You that You are faithful to make Your presence known, each time we gather to pursue You. Forgive us for thinking that we can handle life on our own, rather than joining with others to seek and find Your faithful presence. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would invest in relationships that support and encourage a life lived in pursuit of You. Show us how to love and encourage those around us, so that they too, would want to pursue Your heart with others to experience the power made known as we gather. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we gather in Your Name, recognizing the power of Your presence that comes when we join together to seek You. Amen.

 

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

 

Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to Your Holy Name and glory in Your praise. – Psalm 106:47

Called to Come Together

There is a reason that God calls us to be a part of the body. We were never meant to walk through this life alone. Though Christ is with us and will never leave us once we have invited Him in, there is something powerful that He purposed in the gathering of His people. He hears the cry of our heart when we pray, yet His word instructs us that there are times when we ought to also band together with others to present our petitions before Him.

 

For where two or three come together in My Name, there am I with them. – (Matthew 18:20)

 

Not only are we called to invest in the lives of others, but we were meant to join and lift one another up in prayer. As we pray together, His power is promised to be present. No matter what we are facing, be it a blessing or going through great grief, knowing that Christ will be present as we join together to pray, is reason enough to do so. May we join hearts and hands in His Name, as we present our petitions and praise unto He who is able to make all grace abound unto us.

 

Be in the body,Called to Come Together

and follow His way;

gather together,

with open hearts, pray.

For as we choose come,

gather in His Name;

His presence’s made known,

as truth is made plain.

Whatever is faced,

we’re meant to surround;

united in Christ,

where true strength is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to be present in the midst of us, any time that two or three of us come together in Your Name. Thank You that You hear our prayers, and that You are loving and kind and full of goodness and grace. Thank You that we were not meant to navigate this journey on our own, but rather each of us are meant to be a part of the body; moving, growing, contributing and comforted, as we follow after You. Forgive us for isolating ourselves when things get difficult, and teach us to trust You more, so that we are willing to be transparent in the safety of those whom You have placed in our path to pray alongside us and lift us up. Lead us to love well, so that we too, may be sensitive to hear Your leading as to how we might walk beside others who need the encouragement that You grant us to give. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we invest well in the body of believers, gather in Your Name, and then go forth. 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 34:8

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

 

 

It is Good to Gather

image by The Natural Heritage Collection

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three come together in my Name, there I am with them.” – Matthew 18:19-20

In this passage, Jesus points out the power that is present when two or three believers come together in prayer.  God hears the hearts of His children as we press in, united in prayer.  As we stand in agreement, He is with us, and He is faithful to answer what His followers are asking.

Though it is good and necessary to spend time on our own in study, praise and prayer, it is also important to be involved in a body of believers.  Having a person or two whom we trust and are in a similar space in our faith with, provides accountability and access to put our faith in action.

Where two or three are gathered, there is opportunity to discuss and process a shared experience in His presence.  Sometimes, that which He speaks, or how He comes in power, is beyond our ability to hold or hear on our own.  When another is present, each can help the other recount and remember His  faithfulness to answer from the time together.

God created us to be relational.  We are not meant to walk alone.  When one falls down, the other is there to pick them back up.  Yes, He is always with us, yet He knows our need for the tangible too.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be in relationship with You and with one another.  Forgive us for trying to go out on our own, rather than connecting with common heart and purpose in prayer with another in You.  Lead us to trustworthy trios and pairings as we gather to call on Your Name.  Teach us to balance our individual time with You, and our time spent corporately as a body of believers.  Grant us wisdom, I pray.  May our purpose and prayers presented to You lead the lost to a lasting relationship with You.  Amen.

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