Be Kind to All

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – (Matthew 5:43-48, NIV) 

‘’You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves. This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and the bad, the nice and the nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” – (Matthew 5:43-48, MSG) 

Yesterday, the message delivered by one of the pastors at our church, resonated so clearly with me. (Link here, if you wish to listen.) His message mirrored the cry of my heart and what I have felt compelled to and ascertain to accomplish, for as long as I can recall. The bottom line is to love as God loves us. That means EVERYONE! Does this mean that I am successful every minute of every day? No. However, I am ever seeking to learn and grow and be established and rooted more deeply in Christ, so that I may do and be better each day. This is the reason that I refuse to engage in political banter on social media. When it is words being spewed into the oblivion, it seems to get really ugly, really rapidly. There is no capacity to see and hear the heart of the “speaker”, therefore it becomes a matter of attempting to prove why one’s own position is right, and the other is wrong. Kindness and love fall away, and what we are called to do, is far from done. We are not called to attempt to prove why our thinking is right and the other person’s is wrong. We are called to LOVE. Period. End statement. Love acts justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly. (Micah 6:8) Love is patient, kind, protective, honest, full of hope, and always perseveres. Love does not envy, boast, dishonor others, have a “me-first” attitude, is not easily angered, and does not keep record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Jesus loved the sinners and the saints; shared meals with both the despised and the embraced, and He shared much with the masses. He helped, He healed, He accepted, and He loved. What Jesus did, is what we are called to do. Our charge, as children of the Almighty God, is to LOVE. No matter who it is or what circumstances surround us, we must be kind and figure out how to love. Incredibly, when we ask and actually listen for answers, He will teach and equip us to love as He is calling us to love. Every act of kindness is an investment in others. As we sow love and kindness and generosity, God works in the hearts of those who receive. We are not called to preach at people, but rather we are called to love as Jesus loved. If we do so, according to His call, hearts can be changed and minds renewed. May we seek the Lord to strengthen and equip us each day, so that we may go forth and love one another according to His good and perfect will. 

We are not just called, 

To love those who love; 

But also, those who, 

Challenge us above. 

Jesus has shown us, 

To love enemies; 

For as we choose to, 

Both sides are set free. 

Set free from anger, 

From ugly dissent; 

For kindness disarms, 

Leads us to repent. 

Lord teach us to see, 

Others with Your love; 

To live as You lived, 

Give kindness above. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You equip and empower every willing heart to love as You loved, as we earnestly seek You. Forgive us for the times that our words or deeds did not reflect a love like Yours. Teach us to love both friend and foe in the same way that You love each of us. Show us what it means to love like You, and how to be kind and loving, even to those who make it difficult. May hearts be changed and relationships mended, as we seek to love ALL, as You love us; and may many come into a lasting relationship with You, the One who loves forever. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grow us in Your love for others. 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

The Significance of a Shepherd

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” – (Luke 2:8-11, NIV)

That night, some shepherds were out in the fields near Bethlehem watching their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord was shining around them. The shepherds were very afraid. The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I have some very good news for you – news that will make everyone happy. Today your Savior was born in David’s town. He is the Messiah, the Lord.” – (Luke 2:8-11, ERV)

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. – (Luke 2:8-11, MSG)

 

It is so interesting that God chose to announce the arrival of the birth of His Son to a group of shepherds who were out in their fields, guarding their flocks at night. The more I pause and ponder, the more fascinated I become with the significant roles and references to shepherds throughout the Bible. David was a shepherd boy who became a great king. Jesus was from the line of David, which is why Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census in the first place. Additionally, there are many references throughout the New Testament where Jesus is referred to as the good shepherd, as He tends to us and watches over us as His flock. Shepherds care for and protect their sheep, and know them each by name. Back then, shepherds had to fight off wild animals and protect the sheep from all harm, as well as tend to the sick and injured among them. Their livelihood was dependent on the well-being of their sheep, and from what I have read, the shepherds that tended their own flocks, did so in much the same way as Jesus did for the people all around Him. The shepherds in the fields that night, though well-trained in fending off predators, had no exposure to a visit from heavenly hosts. It is no wonder that the first words prior to announcing the arrival of Jesus, was “Do not be afraid.” Between shock and awe, the shepherds took in the announcement and acted upon it. With great urgency, they hurried off to see what the heavenly hosts had proclaimed.  Lastly, in the same way that shepherds care for their sheep and that Jesus modeled for us what it is do love and shepherd those around us well, we too are called to be shepherds of God’s flock; watching over them and caring well out of our own eagerness to serve. (see 1 Peter 5:2) May we seek the Lord to have the heart of a shepherd; humble, protective, and willing to go to great lengths to love and care for those who are placed in our reach.

 

Fiercely protective,

With hearts full of love;

We’re called to shepherd,

Like the Lord above.

Watch and extend care,

Throughout night and day;

Listen to God’s lead,

So none go astray.

For God chose the hearts,

Of the faithful ones;

In love, tending flocks,

To announce His Son.

He seeks the faithful,

To shepherd and keep;

All His beloved,

His people; His sheep.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You chose the faithful and protective ones to be the recipients of the great news of the arrival of Your Son. Thank You that You call each of us to faithfully love and protect those around us in much the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have not been as vigilant as we ought to for those who we are called to care for and protect. Teach us to love and protect like You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your comfort, protections, peace and presence known in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You, the Good Shepherd, to direct our steps as we seek to love those around us as You call us to love. Amen.

 

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

 

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve. – 1 Peter 5:2

Love to Sea

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, NIV)

Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, ERV)

Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, TPT)

 

This morning I will be taking my boys to the harbor to drop them off for their long cruise with Sea Scouts. This adventure will take them all over the San Juan islands on their 128-foot vessel. The unique and exciting thing about this cruise is that the ship will be run by the scouts. I have one boy who works primarily in the engine room, and the other who tends to the duties on deck. They will venture to places that few people are blessed to see, as they are only reachable by boat or by seaplane. As I send them, it is my hope that they will feel loved in this way as they go, and at the same time, extend love accordingly. The group will be in close quarters, so choosing love will likely be required. Some of their best buddies will be with them, so it is my prayer that they feel safe, protected, trusted, hopeful and determined to persevere. May we each seek the Lord in His loving kindness, to grow in us such a love.

 

May God’s protection, wp-15339963685833737060002924945712.jpg

And unending grace;

Be granted to each,

Who choose seek His face.

For His love persists,

It does not give up;

May we do likewise,

As He fills our cup.

Let us choose to trust,

Have hope in His Name;

He’s faithful always,

May peace be proclaimed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are kind and loving and protective; always. Thank You that we can turn to You in trust and ask of You, all that is needed. Forgive us for not seeking You to lead us and guide us in all things. Teach us to trust You more each new day. Please protect and infuse Your love over my boys and their entire crew as they set off on this wonderful adventure. Show us all how to love in a way that protects, hopes, trusts and perseveres forever. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place all in Your hands, knowing that we can trust You in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

 

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

 

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – 2 Samuel 22:33

Learn to Live a Life of Love

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, MSG)

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, NIV)

 

As God’s children, we are called to go forth and love others as we are loved. The love that we are shown is patient, kind, protective, trusting, hopeful, perseverant and will never fail. Though we are human, and our capacity to carry this out perfectly will fall flat, in Christ, we are equipped and empowered to love like He loves us. We become like the company we keep, so if we are keeping company with Christ, our capacity to love as He loves grows greater. Our hearts become aligned with His, and we more readily recognize His will and how to walk in the light of His love. May we aspire to imitate God our Father, and live our lives filled with love in a way that is pleasing before Him.

 

To learn to love well,Enter With Thanksgiving

We need only seek;

Our Lord God above,

Love is how He speaks.

As His dear children,

He shows us the way;

To love with our lives,

For all of our days.

As we look to Christ,

Who made love so clear;

May we do likewise,

So all know He’s near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do as You have done for us, so that others too, may come to know the power of Your great love. Thank You that as we seek You and spend time with You, You show us how to follow the example that Christ set before us, and You equip us to go and do likewise. Forgive us for not living a life of love as You have called us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would imitate You and Your love in EVERYTHING that we do, because we are Your children. Let our lives speak volumes without our lips having to speak a single word. Show us how to love those around us in a way that pleases You and draws them unto Yourself. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we imitate You in all that we do, through living a life filled with love. Amen.

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Thanks for Strength to Trust

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. – (Psalm 28:7, NLT)

This has been a week in which I have seen how the Lord has done exactly this; He has been my strength and shield, and He has helped me and filled my heart with joy. It has taken all that I am in some tough moments, to truly trust Him with all of my heart. That being said, there have been many occasions of bursting out into songs of thanksgiving as I have found myself acutely aware of His faithfulness and love just for me. As much as we despise times of trial and troubles, each one provides opportunity for us to see how God is our strength and shield, as we place our trust in Him. In that space where we become aware of His help and His heart for us, we cannot help but find joy and respond with thanks and praise to He alone, who is worthy. May we choose to trust with our whole heart, as the Lord is our strength and shield. He is our help and will fill our hearts with joy. Let every heart burst into song as we give thanks and praise where it is due.

The Lord is my strength,Gifts Given to Glorify

my protective shield;

in Him I will trust,

His joy we shall yield.

May we raise in song,

all our thanks and praise;

because God is good,

O Ancient of Days.

He will be our help,

in our time of need;

and our Source of joy,

as we let Him lead.

All thanks be to God,

our great Mighty King;

our hope for all time,

and reason to sing.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and shield. Thank You that we can trust You with our whole heart, and You will help us and fill us with Your joy. Thank You that songs of thanksgiving rise within us, when we choose to give pause and take in all that You are doing in and around us. Forgive us for not giving You our trust, and for forgetting just how mighty You are. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You in all things and at all times, as You are our strength and shield, our hope and our joy. Help us to love others with thankful hearts, so that they too may come to know the grace that You freely give to all who seek You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You with our whole heart and sing songs of thanksgiving unto You. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

Sing Out, O My Soul

Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. – (Psalm 63:7)

 

It never ceases to amaze me when, despite chaos or struggles surrounding me, if I feel safe, songs rise up in my heart. The very space of safety that our hearts are able to hold, even when security does not make sense, is Christ’s presence so close, that we are in the shadow of His wings. It is here that we find rest, release the raw and the real that we are in, and discover His help, giving our hearts reason to rejoice. As we discover Christ’s help and how very near He is, we cannot help but sing praise for who He is and all that He has done. May we recognize His help, and sing praise to Him in the sweet shadow of His protective wings.

 

Sing out, O my soul,Gifts Given to Glorify

for safety is here;

in Christ’s sweet shadow,

He calls us, draw near.

His wings wrap around,

protecting us all;

our help and our hope,

He’ll not let us fall.

Sing out, O my soul,

may songs ever rise;

of Christ’s faithfulness,

and hope realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our help, and our safety. Thank You that You keep us close in the shadow of Your wings. Thank You that in that safe space, we can release all of our burdens and fix our eyes and hearts entirely on You, giving You the proper praise that You deserve. Forgive us for not recognizing You nearness, and for not singing out the songs that are ready for release. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will recognize the security we have in Your hands, and know how Your help is available and at the ready when we call on Your Name. May songs of praise be ever on our lips, as we choose to sing of Your faithfulness, even through the difficult. Lead us to love others well, just as You so wonderfully love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we sing out to You from the shadow of Your wings, remembering always that You are our help and our hope. 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

Faith and Hope in Action

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – (1 Corinthians 13:13)

 

Faith is the foundation and content of God’s message; hope is the attitude and focus; love is the action. – (NIV footnotes) When our faith is assured and our hope is secure, we are free to love as Christ loves us. The more we know God, the more we reflect Him in how we love one another. Love that comes from God is patient, kind, protective, trusting, hopeful, perseverant, and rejoices in the truth. His love never fails. Love from God is the life and breath of our faith and hope in action. May we place our every hope in Him, as He grows our faith in His unfailing love.

 

May we find our faith,IMG_0438

in the Corner Stone;

hold fast to the hope,

by Whom we are known.

For from faith and hope,

come love in action;

the fruit of His grace,

true satisfaction.

The more we know God,

the more that we show;

His love for others,

His heart in us glows.

Let faith, hope and love,

forever remain;

as His light is shown,

as we let love reign.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we place our faith in You, and allow You to be our hope, Your love is made evident in our actions. Thank You that Your love is complete and unfailing. Forgive us for thinking that Your love in any way, resembles humanity’s flawed and limited love. Help us to trust in Your all-encompassing love, so that we may go forth in the hope that we hold, and love others as You so lavishly love us. May many come to know the greatest love of all, as they find faith and hope in You. Be glorified, O God, as our love is poured out as the life and breath of our faith and hope in action. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

Finding Joy

“What has happened to all your joy? …” – (Galatians 4:15a)  Paul did not mince words while communicating with the Galatians.  He was greatly concerned, as he had heard that they were returning to the letter of the law, rather than remaining in the freedom found through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

As a spiritual parent of sorts, Paul was passionately protective of the Galatians.  He did not want for even one of them to be caught up in legalism and lose the joy that they had found in their salvation, that came through faith in Christ alone.  His exhortation for the Galatians, is meant for us as well.  Legalism was the joy thief of the time, and often is for us still, today.

“Legalism can take away joy because:

1) It makes people feel guilty rather than loved.

2) It produces self-hatred rather than humility.

3) It stresses performance over relationship.

4) It points out how far short we fall rather than how far we’ve come because of what Christ did for us.

Are we living by faith in Christ, or by trying to live up to the demands and expectations of others?” (NIV footnotes for Galatians 4:15)

Freedom is found,Finding Joy

through Jesus alone;

not by good deeds,

as foundation stone.

Law shows us sin,

not God’s gift of grace;

to know true joy,

Christ we must embrace.

Let not the thief,

steal that which is yours;

the peace of God,

He freely outpours.

As we seek Christ,

we come to know joy;

where they once dwelled,

guilt and shame are destroyed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we are set free from guilt and shame, and that You forgive us from our every sin as we come and confess before You.  Thank You that we are no longer bound by legalism that would dictate that we have to worship or pray or do things in a specific way in order to be heard by You.  Thank You that by Your grace, You made the way for us to come before You, freely, unencumbered, so that our joy may be complete in You.  Forgive us for thinking that joy has anything to do with our surrounding circumstances, and help us to remember that joy is that deep-rooted knowledge that You are with us and the hope that we have of a future secure in You.  May the joy within us be contagious, and be a cause of curiosity in those who do not yet know You.  Help us to love without limits, as You love us; and may many come into a saving relationship with You.  Be glorified as we go forth in joy.  Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – I Chronicles 16:31