Growing Love

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. – (Philippians 1:9, NIV)

This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love. – (Philippians 1:9, ERV)

I continue to pray for your love to grow and increase beyond measure, bringing you into the rich revelation of spiritual insight in all things. – (Philippians 1:9, TPT)

 

Isn’t this honestly what we all need? As I return home later this morning and my sister takes the reigns here at mom’s, knowledge, understanding, revelation and insight are needed to best love those we are called to love, where we are called to love them. Though it is a bit easier to love our family members well, after long periods of separation there are likely to be challenges, hurts and misunderstandings. We need insight and a heart like Jesus, to love well, regardless of how our “re-entry” goes. Yes, I am eagerly anticipating time with my husband, boys, dear friends, and students, however, I do not expect it all to be a “bed of roses”. I anticipate hiccups and frustrations, especially after such a long-awaited return. My sister will likely endure similar struggles, as she has been eager to get back to mom, yet had to leave her husband and boys at home. There is new territory to navigate and a rhythm to discover, and it will not look nor feel the same as the one that mom and I have established. The time together will grant them each opportunity to grow even closer; as just yesterday, mom and I were discussing the blessing in this whole crazy catastrophe is that we have had more intentional quality time together over the last six weeks, than we have had in ages. We can communicate with looks and gestures, just as easily as with words. Laughter abounds in the house, and there is much joy, despite the challenges and frustrations in the long and arduous task of rehabilitation and recovery from a stroke.

Yesterday was a wonderful, busy day. The first order of business was occupational therapy. Elizabeth, her therapist, is working tirelessly to come up with ways to help mom regain movement and mobility in her right arm. Though the gains are slow and seemingly insignificant, Elizabeth’s enthusiasm and encouragement keep mom uplifted and ready to do the work for the long haul. Soon after her appointment, one of mom’s dearest friends from childhood and his wife came for a visit. The two of them are treasured friends, and mom was engaged and uplifted from time together. We had a mellow afternoon, full of movie watching and down time, as I think mom was too excited for Megan’s return to actually sleep, yet knew she needed to rest a bit. After dinner, we caught up with some sweet neighbors of mom’s, and again, mom was lifted up at the blessing of being together with dear ones. Shortly after they had gone, Megan at last, arrived. We had decided to go outside to see if we could catch her upon arrival, and just reached the garage door as the car had pulled up the driveway to welcome her in. Mom was over-the-moon to have both of her girls home at once, and we thoroughly enjoyed catching up with one another, visiting and laughing together, until we all were ready to call it a day. I know the bond between each of us has grown stronger through all of this as well: my sister and me, mom and my sister, mom and me. God is good, and He brings beautiful things from the ugliest of circumstances. May we ever seek Him to grow our love more and more, in knowledge and depth of insight.

 

God, grow our love more, img_20190613_213857_7235691910451312632394.jpg

In knowledge of You;

Grant us Your insight,

Show us what to do.

Help us understand,

How deep and how wide;

How vastly You love,

As we choose abide.

Show us Your mercy,

Wrap us in Your grace;

Teach us to give love,

That honors Your Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we ask, Your love abounds in us more and more, and that You grow us in knowledge and understanding of who You are and how You love. Thank You that we can spend a lifetime pursuing You, and still never fully grasp the depth and breadth of Your incredible love. Forgive us for the times that we somehow think that it is not enough. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to receive all that You have to offer, so that we may in turn, give out of the abundance that You give to us. Lead us to love those around us with wisdom and insight, so that they too, may see Your heart through our love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue You, and seek to grow in the knowledge and understanding of Your overwhelming love for us all. Amen.

 

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

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5

The Weight He Bore

At noon the whole country became dark. The darkness continued until three o’clock. At three o’clock Jesus cried out loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” This means “My God, my God, why have you left me alone?” – (Mark 15:33-34, ERV)

 

Probably the most powerful imagery that I have read about Christ’s hours on the cross, came from Max Lucado’s book, Six Hours One Friday. Jesus who knew no sin, had walked and been in constant communication with the Father. Suddenly, He who had never sinned, became sin and bore the weight for all of the world’s madness. Imagine a darkness so heavy that an entire nation loses it’s light. Jesus chose to take our place of scorned separation and suffering so that we would not have to. He bore a weight not one of us could bear, so that we could come close and know the nearness of our Creator. It is difficult to fathom a faithful love so powerful, that it kept the One who calls things into being, connected to the cross on our behalf. Thankfully, despite the devastating darkness that fell, and the somber sorrow that left the disciples distraught and directionless, did not last. Friday’s heartbreak was followed by Sunday’s discovery of a promise fulfilled. The grave could not keep Him. The Lord was alive; He had risen indeed! Our hope and our reason to celebrate this sacred season lies in the remarkable remembrance of what Jesus did on our behalf, so that we could have life everlasting in Him. May we hold fast to the hope of the light that is yet to come, even on our darkest days, for He is faithful to fulfill what He has promised, and our future is secure in Him forever.

 

Such darkness befell,Perseverance in the Face of Persecution

The whole countryside;

“Why have You left me,”

Our dear Savior cried.

The weight of the world,

He bore on that cross;

In love, willingly,

So none should be lost.

Buried in silence,

The world had to wait;

Then God’s mighty hand,

Moved to celebrate.

For on the third day,

The Lord rose again;

So we could have life,

Forgiven from sin.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible sacrifice that we cannot even begin to comprehend. Thank You Jesus, for bearing the weight of all of our sin and shame on that cross, so that we can have life everlasting in You. Forgive us for not standing in awe of the weight of what You did on our behalf. Help us to be forever grateful for the power of Your sacrifice and the joy found in relationship with You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that lightens their load and points people to the hope and joy that come from knowing You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all our gratitude for the gift of life You give. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

Perfect Love Expels Fear

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. – (1 John 4:18, NLT)

Love will never invoke fear. Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love. – (1 John 4:18, VOICE)

 

The love of God is perfect. His love draws us to desire change, rather than to run in fear. Though He is mighty and just, the Lord loves us to life again when we fall. His kindness draws us to repentance, and grows our drive to please Him. When we fear a consequence to our own actions, or some sort of separation from His love, it shows us that we have not fully grasped the depth and breadth of His amazing love for us all. There is NOTHING that can separate us from His love. This promise should promote our desire to earnestly seek Him in all things. Let us embrace the grace that we have been given through the perfect love of God, and go forth, without fear, and love well.

 

Love does not cause fear,Forgiveness is Free

But drives it away;

For true love’s embrace,

Has promised to stay.

There’s nothing we do,

Nor words that we say;

That shall separate,

From His loving ways.

For love is complete,

Through His perfect love;

No fear need be near,

Where grace reigns above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your perfect love casts out fear, and we need not be afraid. Thank You that we can come to You and confess the things that we have done, and know that You love us so much, that You will forgive us and receive us with open arms. Forgive us for our fearfulness, as we know we deserve punishment and lose sight of the greatness of Your mercy and grace. Teach us to trust You more, as You show us the fullness of Your perfect love. Help us to love those around us in such a way, that they too may see love without limits and grace that grows ever greater. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to receive Your perfect love and let go of fear. Amen.

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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Jesus is…

My pastor began a series yesterday, titled, Jesus is… The intent of the next several weeks is to unpack through scripture, just who Jesus is, and what that means to us, individually. First and foremost, Jesus is God. Again and again, scripture affirms how He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. (Revelation 1:8) Jesus is the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15) Jesus is the exact representation of God. (Hebrews 1:3) Christ is the chief cornerstone in whom all join together to become a holy temple in the Lord. (Ephesians 2:20-21) Scriptures throughout the Bible point to the truth that Jesus is God. The more we understand and learn about who Jesus is, the clearer picture we will have of God. The character of Jesus is the character of God.

 

Many people have a misguided image of God. They perhaps have heard just a part of the story and see God as an angry God. Would an angry God send His Son to restore relationship with people for all time? Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, showed us the heart of the living God. Not only is God loving, but He is a God of compassion too.

 

A man with leprosy came to Him and begged Him on his knees, “If you are willing, You can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man, “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. – (Mark 1:40-42)

 

Jesus cared more about a man in his moment of need, than He did about societies social graces. It was unacceptable to touch one considered unclean, yet Jesus touched he who was thought to be untouchable, and healed more than just a physical ailment. Suffering and separation from society ceased, with one tender touch from Jesus. May we hold fast to the truth that our God is compassionate and caring, and that He is willing to touch us, even when we feel that we are untouchable.

 

Invisible God,The Power of His Name

elusive, unseen;

yet so crystal clear,

through Jesus, is seen.

Compassionate Lord,

Who comes close to touch;

to cure what’s ailing,

because He loves much.

Alpha, Omega,

beginning and end;

all the in between,

our Savior and friend.

He’s hope in the hard,

and peace in the storm;

joy in the morning,

and Light all day long.

May we ever seek,

to understand more;

the nature of God,

through Christ’s open door.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us who You are in a tangible way. Jesus, thank You that You made clear that You are the living God. Thank You that the better we come to know You, the more clearly we understand who God is. Forgive us for having misguided opinions or orientations toward You, and help us to set our sights solely on the pursuit of who You are, so that You may instruct us in all things. Teach us to trust You completely, and to listen well to all that You have to say. Lead us to love others as You love – with compassion that is not afraid to reach out and touch, even the seemingly untouchable. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we grow in our understanding of Christ. Amen.

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

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

Prepare to Worship

After reading Leviticus 10-12, I am again grateful that we are no longer bound to follow the letter of Levitical law, but rather are saved by grace when we believe and receive Jesus as our Savior.  Though we are saved by grace alone, He does give us a command that He expects us to follow.  However, it is not an extensively detailed list, but rather something quite simple to remember – we are called to love God, and love one another.  If we do both of these, we fulfill the law.

Something that did strike me, was that there were extensive preparations made in order to enter into worship.  Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY grateful that I do NOT have to sacrifice an animal for the sake of my sins, nor do I have to go through ceremonial cleansing nor separation from others for being considered unclean, but there is something to be said about preparing our hearts for worship.  We ought not live however we like during the week and then enter into worship on Sunday, as if the week prior has not happened.  There is power as we enter into His presence daily, and a recognition of our need for His grace and His help to do that which He has commanded, as we earnestly seek Him.  It is a far greater experience to enter into a worship service on Sunday when I have been walking with Him all week, than when I have cast Him aside, and only called on Him when it was convenient or out of my own desperation.  He is good all of the time, and He longs to be in constant communion with us.  God is always listening, are we?

Gone are the days,Prepare to Worship

when all is unclean;

separation,

distinction that’s seen.

Now there is grace,

a gift our God gives;

to His presence,

we enter and live.

Don’t take lightly,

His wondrous grace;

one day we’ll stand,

present, face-to-face.

Keep short accounts,

seek Him and confess;

for on that day,

may we hear Him bless.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and loving and full of grace.  Thank You that You sent Your Son so that we would no longer have to attempt to live up to Levitical laws, that were nearly impossible to keep, and that we now have Your Holy Spirit dwelling within us, to lead, guide and empower us to love You and love people as You call us to do.  Forgive us for not properly preparing our hearts for worship, by either completely neglecting our relationship with You, or for setting it aside until we feel like we “need” You.  Teach us to be in constant communion with You – praising You when things are great, asking for help when things are hard, and remaining in communication with You for everything in between.  May our hearts full of hope, love well those around us, and may many come to know You as their Savior and King.  Be exalted in all that we say and do, and may we daily, walk in a state of worship unto You.  Amen.

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

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