How Great the Father’s Love

I never grow weary of the parable of the lost son, as each time I read it, I am reminded of just how great the Father’s love is for each of us. In this story, the son had squandered wealth he should have never asked for, and had sunk to rock bottom. His found himself in the lowliest of positions, destitute and desperate. When the son assessed his situation, he realized that repentance before his father, and a willingness to work as a hired hand were far better options than his present position. So he got up and went to his father. “but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” – (Luke 15:20)

 

The son recognized his sin, repented, and merely hoped to be made a hired hand. Instead, his father ran to meet him from a long way off, embraced him and celebrated his homecoming. God does the same for each of us when we come to Him with a repentant heart. Though we may come, simply hoping to somehow be seen as “okay”, He does so much more. Christ welcomes us, gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us, and we are adopted as sons and daughters of God Himself. We are granted an eternal inheritance that cannot be taken, and provided promises to propel us along our path. May we receive the glorious gift of God’s grace, and welcome with open arms, the compassion conveyed in His embrace.

 

Foolish and selfish,How Great the Fathers Love

the arrogant son;

ran off and rebelled,

lowly position.

When he had squandered,

all that had been his;

he started longing,

for what he fed pigs.

It was then he knew,

that he must repent;

for his father’s men,

lived far more decent.

Perhaps he would hire,

give a chance, employ;

no longer worthy,

to be called dad’s boy.

So the son set off,

he headed for home;

imagine the awe,

as grace was made known.

For while still far off,

his father, he ran;

to greet and embrace,

this shell of a man.

The gifts that he gave,

assured him his worth;

a chance for new life,

a sense of rebirth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You with a repentant heart, You do for us, just as the father did for his son. You meet us where we are, shower us with Your grace, robe us in Your righteousness, celebrate our homecoming, and call us Your own! Thank You that we are welcomed into Your family, no matter where we have come from. Thank You that Your grace is more than enough to cover our sin and shame, and that You celebrate and embrace each of us as we choose You. Forgive us for thinking that You could not possibly forgive us for what we have done, or that another around us does not deserve the mercy and grace that You give. Teach us to see things through Your eyes, so that we too, will celebrate and embrace each and every individual who comes into Your kingdom. Lead us to love others as You unfailingly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize how ready You are to receive everyone who comes. Be glorified O God, as we give and receive Your great love. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Made to Shine

When Jesus was teaching the disciples the meaning of a parable He had told, Jesus went on to ask them a few questions to reveal to the disciples the importance of their position as they were to go forth to share the truth. He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?” – (Mark 4:21, NIV) Jesus wanted the disciples to understand that if others could not see His light in them, it would be useless.

 

We are created and called to shine before all; not to hole up in our tidy little Christian circles, never to get out of the church’s four walls. He calls us to be a light wherever we are. Are there “bowls” in our hearts that keep us from shining? If so, how might we get out from under them, so that Christ can again shine brightly through us, wherever we go? May we seek Him, keeping short accounts, so that as we go forth, His light in us shines bright before all whom we encounter.

 

He grants us His word,Made to Shine

so that we shall know;

the hope of His truth,

peace that makes us grow.

In our very hearts,

His Spirit resides;

to shine before men,

truth can’t be denied.

Let nothing cover,

what shines from within;

for His light is life,

to all steeped in sin.

Use us Lord, Jesus,

so many will know;

the hope we now hold,

let Your freedom flow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You and give You our hearts and our lives, You use us to shine brightly before others. Thank You that it is nothing that we do in our own strength, but rather it is Your Spirit dwelling in us that others may see. Forgive us for anything in us that has caused Your light to grow dim in us, and help us to remove the “bowls” so that Your light is clearly seen. Lead us to love generously and shine brightly, just as You so do unto us. May many come to know You as Lord and King as a result. Be glorified, O God, as Your light shines through us, unhindered and in plain view. Amen.

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

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

Tending Our Talents

In the parable of the loaned money, (found in Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus tells of a master who is preparing to go on a journey. Prior to his departure, he gives varying amounts of money to three of his servants. To one, he gave what would be worth about $5,000, to the next; $2,000, and the last; $1,000. He entrusted each of them with his money, expecting to see a return. When he arrived back from his journey, he checked to see how each of his servants had done.

 

The first, to whom he had given much, had earned an equal return, doubling the master’s money. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master’s happiness!” – (Matthew 25:21)

 

The second servant had done the same. He had been entrusted with $2,000, and had $4,000 to return to his master. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” – (Matthew 25:23)

 

Finally, the man who had been given $1,000 reported to the master. The foolish servant claimed to fear the master, so he had gone out and buried the money in the ground. Upon the master’s return, he dug it up, and took the money to present back to his master. His master did not give him the reception he had likely expected. The talents had been given for the servants to utilize, to invest – not to hide away. Taking his talent, the master had him removed and sent out, and gave his money to the one who had multiplied the most.

 

“God gives us time, gifts, and other resources according to our abilities, and He expects us to use them wisely until He returns. We are responsible to use well what God has given us. The issue is not how much we have, but how well we use what we have.” – (NIV footnotes for Matthew 25:15)

 

Each of us given,Tending Our Talents

talents meant to grow;

blessings from the Lord,

to extend, to sow.

May we use our time,

with wisdom and grace;

invest what’s given,

in our present space.

May He multiply,

whatever we bring;

so more hearts may know,

to honor the King.

Let our hearts soon hear,

the words from the Son;

“Come and share my joy,

your work is well done.”

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bless us with time, gifts, resources and abilities that You have purposed for us to utilize to serve and honor You. Thank You that we are not expected to do this in our own strength, but rather in Yours. Thank You that as we earnestly seek You, You make our path plain. Forgive us for our fearfulness, or our anything else that keeps us from moving forward and utilizing what You have given for Your purposes. Teach us how to be bold on Your behalf, and may many come to know the hope that is found in You alone. Be glorified as we give You all of ourselves. Amen.

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

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

 

 

Persist in Prayer

“Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” – (Luke 18:1)

“To persist in prayer and not give up does not mean endless repetition or painfully long prayer sessions.  Always praying means keeping our requests constantly before God as we live for Him day by day, believing He will answer.  When we live by faith, we are not to give up.  God may delay answering, but His delays always have good reasons.  As we persist in prayer we grow in character, faith and hope.” (NIV footnotes for Luke 18:1)

According to dictionary.com, persist means to continue firmly in purpose, especially in spite of opposition.  In my experience, this is how faith is further formed, and hope is given way to rise up.  As we face opposition or difficulty, what we choose to do in response, determines the development of our character.  If Jesus instructs us to pray and not give up, then regardless of how things appear, that is what we are meant to do.  Faith requires action.  First and foremost, our petitions ought to be presented before Him.  However, that is rarely the end, but instead, just the beginning.  As we seek Him earnestly, He often gives instruction as to how we are to move further in faith; the what we are meant to do as we wait.

Never give up,Persist in Prayer

persistently pray;

trusting He hears,

despite seen delay.

He is faithful,

and always, He’s good;

let faith rise up,

our hope, understood.

When He says move,

do all that He asks;

answers await,

we grow in new tasks.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and faithful, always.  Thank You that regardless of what is going on around us, You have our heart in Your hands, and You remain present.  Thank You that You hear our every prayer, and that You instruct us to be persistent as we pray.  Forgive us for our lack of fortitude in the fight, and grant us Your strength and endurance in all things and at all times.  Teach us how to be persistent in prayer, without endless repetition or whining.  Thank You that You are a patient and loving Father, Who loves us, and continues to help us grow in character, faith and hope as we seek You.  May we honor You in all that we say and do, and may many come to know You through our love and persistent petitions before You.  Be exalted, Lord.  Amen.

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

The Parable of the Lost Son

In The Parable of the Lost Son, found in Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells a tale of a selfish son who arrogantly asks for his share of his inheritance while his father is still living, and then goes off and squanders every last cent with wild living.  After his spending frenzy, the foolish son was in desperate need in the midst of a severe famine.  He finally found a job feeding pigs in the fields.  As a Jewish male, he had hit rock bottom.  Not only was he interacting – touching swine – which were considered completely unclean, but he was so hungry that he found himself envious of the food that he was feeding to those very pigs.  In a moment of clarity, the son came to his senses and realized that his father’s hired men had food to spare, and that perhaps if he went back to him with a repentant heart, his dad might be so kind as to hire him on as one of his laborers.  So, off he went to face his father.  “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” – (vs20b)  After the son’s confession and plea for forgiveness, the father abundantly gave.  He restored the son to his position in the family, despite the contemptuous behavior he had previously displayed through his departure and wild living.  Not only did the father embrace the son, but he called for a feast to celebrate his son’s return.

Our God in heaven celebrates us in the same way.  No matter how horrible we have been, He waits.  When He sees our hearts turn toward Him, He runs to meet us while we are still far from Him.  As we repent, He restores us to right relationship with Him, and recognizes us as His heirs – His sons and daughters.  Though we too, have stooped so low as to be muddied and hungry and hurting, He has always been watching and waiting – and when we at last recognize our need for cleansing and His care, He is right there.  May we both embrace the grace that we have been given and extend the same to those who are still stuck in a muddy space.

Stuck in the mud,The Parable of the Lost Son

our own sinful mess;

seems no escape,

until we confess.

Our God forgives,

fresh start He shall bring;

draws hearts to Him,

our Savior and King.

He wipes away,

our mud and our mess;

grants us His grace,

His great faithfulness.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Father, and we are Your lost sons and daughters, whom You are ready and able to save.  Thank You that You waited and watched for us, even when we were still far off.  Thank You that You are willing to woo us unto You, and show us how great Your love truly is.  Forgive us for wallowing in our own filth, or for somehow thinking that You would not receive us in our wretched condition.  Thank You that You accept us and love us far beyond what we can even begin to understand.  Teach us to receive all that You offer, and in turn, to extend the same love and grace to all whom we encounter.  May Your love in us, draw others unto You as well.  Let the lost be found, and those who are searching, find the security that is held in the safety of Your loving embrace.  Be glorified in all that we say and do.  Amen.

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

Love Looks to Act

Luke 10:27-37, is an account of the parable of the Good Samaritan.  The story, is of a man who was traveling toward his destination, when he encountered a band of bad guys who “stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.” (vs. 30)  A priest, one who should have rushed to his aid, being the very nature of his calling; but alas, this man of the cloth, saw the man lying in the road in his horrible state, and crossed the road away from him, and kept walking.  Another man, one whom had been trained in the ways of the law, and again ought to have rushed to the aid of the hurting man, quickly crossed the road and avoided him, hurrying on his way as well.  Finally, a Samaritan, one whom was considered a half-blood, a despised people among the Jews, not only stopped, but came to the rescue of the wounded man, and cared for him beyond just the moment along the side of the road.  He took him to an inn in town, and paid for his care from his own pocket.  Beyond that, he promised to cover any additional expenses that were necessary, all for the sake of an injured stranger.

The question an expert of the law had asked Jesus prior to the telling of the parable, was “And who is my neighbor?” (vs. 29)  After Jesus had told him all of this, Jesus asked the man, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”  The expert in the law replied, “the one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (vs. 36-37)

Three principles about loving our neighbor are highlighted in this passage:

1) Lack of love is often easy to justify, even though it is never right.

2) Our neighbor is anyone of any race, creed, or social background who is in need.

3) Love means acting to meet the person’s need.  Wherever you live, there are needy people close by.  There is no good reason for refusing help.  (taken from NIV footnotes)

Love looks at the pain,Who is My Neighbor 2

straight in the hurt face;

it meets it head on,

comes and extends grace.

Love looks at the need,

and offers a hand;

it shares what we have,

and does what it can.

Love makes no excuse,

turns not a blind eye;

it points to the One,

for whom all sin, died.

Love sees through His eyes,

the value of each;

all His created,

our reason to reach.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love and value each and every one of Your created, equally.  Thank You Jesus, for showing us what Love should look like.  For You loved without limits – You touched the untouchable, You spoke to those whom society deemed socially unacceptable, You dined with sinners, and traveled with fishermen – You did not place value on power nor position nor wealth, but rather on those who were willing to set aside their own agendas and choose to follow You.  Forgive us for thinking we are too busy to help, or that we have too little to make a difference.  Help us to know what we are to do, and how we are to help, in all things and at all times.  Thank You that if we slow down and listen, You will whisper what we are to do.  Help us to hear You.  Teach us to listen and love, as You so lavishly love us.  May we be Your hands, heart and voice to the hurting, and may many come to know You through practical presentations of Your provision.  Be glorified in all that we say and do.  Amen.

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