Selected to Serve

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. – (Philippians 2:5-7, NIV)

In your life together, think the way Christ Jesus thought. He was like God in every way, but He did not think that His being equal with God was something to use for His own benefit. Instead, He gave up everything, even His place with God. He accepted the role of a servant, appearing in human form. – (Philippians 2:5-7, ERV)

And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let His mindset become your motivation. He existed in the form of God, yet He gave no thought to seizing equality with God as His supreme prize. Instead He emptied Himself of His outward glory by reducing Himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! – (Philippians 2:5-7, TPT)

 

Jesus was the ultimate example of how we ought to relate to one another. He let go of who He was so that He could love all in a way that was tangible and approachable. Heaven came to earth and walked among us. The Creator of all that is and was and ever will be, set down His deity to become like us, so that we might understand what love means. Jesus did not come as a king demanding to rule, but rather as one who served and loved, helped and healed, touched and taught. By serving in love, Jesus influenced the hearts of humans for all of eternity. We are called to do the same. May we seek the Lord and His loving kindness, so that we may love and serve with the same mindset that Christ has for us.

 

How vast is the love, Healed Hands Reach Out

That set throne aside;

To be made like man,

Deity denied?

And O so much more,

Jesus came and gave;

He taught, lived and loved

Healed, sacrificed, saved.

O how the Lord loves,

Still unto this day;

Contending for us,

To walk in His way.

We are also called,

To choose do the same;

To love and to serve,

Honor Jesus’ Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Jesus. Thank You Jesus for the example You lived, and for Your ongoing help through Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that You showed us what it looks like to serve and love. Forgive us for not following the example that You are calling us to walk out. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose loving kindness, regardless of what we receive. Show us how to love those around us with Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength to walk in Your ways and do Your will, all of the days of our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people. – Ephesians 6:7

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

Fear Fades in Perfect Love

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) 

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. – (1 John 4:18, CEB) 

Love will never involve 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) 

 

To love God and know His love in return, requires a mind shift as we recognize the difference between fearing God, in the sense of awe and wonder at His power and authority, and fear of punishment, which delivers discipline without love. God loves us so much that He corrects, redirects and leads us to the paths we are meant to take. When we are walking in the light of His love, fear becomes unfamiliar as He shows us what it is to be loved in spite of ourselves. When we fall short, He still loves fiercely. As we misstep or make foolish decisions, He loves us so much that He leads us back the direction that we are meant to go. It is not a fearful thing, but rather our loving Heavenly Father, leading us in His perfect love. May we ever trust in Him who is love, as in Him and through Him we have nothing to fear. 

 

The love of the Lord, Fear Fades in Perfect Love

Is perfect indeed; 

It expels all fear, 

Grants strength where there’s need. 

When we find we’re stuck, 

Fear what we deserve; 

We need to recall, 

His sacrifice served. 

For as we know Christ, 

His cover of love; 

Our fears fade away, 

And hope’s found above. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is no fear in Your perfect love. Thank You that though we deserve punishment, You already paid the price for all of our sins. Thank You that when we seek You, we find You, and You lead us and guide us in the direction that we are meant to go. Forgive us for being fearful when we falter, rather than seeking You for forgiveness and help. Teach us to trust You more, so that we embrace the grace that You freely give, and walk boldly in the light of Your perfect love. Show us how to love those around us with a love like Yours. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to know and understand Your perfect love so that we can go and love others in the same way. Amen. 

 

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

 

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Praise in Mourning

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, NIV)

All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, VOICE)

 

This morning, I find myself in a strange space – torn between grief and gladness; sorting between sorrow and surrender. My whole life, my grandmother has been a very real and powerful presence. Her faithfulness to our Heavenly Father, paired with the gifts that He birthed within her that she used without restraint, have been the model that I have looked to, and one whom I admire most. Gram has always been the glue that bound our family to one another. Despite differences, each of us has had a unique and treasured gift in the bond that she has formed with us, individually. The ability to see the value in people and set their heart at peace simply by being in her presence, is a trait that drew so many unto her.  She lived a live unrivaled, faithful in all that she endeavored. Gram served her family, her church, her community, and above all, God. The love grown deep in the quiet time on her knees, overflowed to all who knew her. No matter what I was going through, I knew she was covering me in prayer. After ninety-eight years on the earth, and a long year of colon cancer taking root and stealing the independence she had always known, she went home to be with Jesus last night. I am grateful that her suffering was not prolonged, yet grieve not getting one more visit. God is compassionate, and He offers comfort to us as we mourn. Though there is much sorrow for the personal loss of the phenomenal person my grandmother was, it is tempered with great joy in knowing that she is singing with our Savior. No more sorrow, no more pain. I imagine a great celebration as she is reunited with so many who have gone before her. May we all take comfort in the Father of compassion and comfort, as we give praise for the blessings we’ve been given in the time we had.

 

This morning, it seems appropriate that I share one of my grandma’s poems rather than write my own. Her words are likely the echo of what she is singing right now.

 

Song of Praise – by Rosemary Steiner

Glory and majestyPraise in Mourning

To the Lord God,

Who created the Heavens

And the Earth;

And breathed life

Into all creatures,

Even us, His people.

He gave meaning to our being;

He called us brothers

And prepared a place

For us with Him

Eternally.

He breathed life into us,

Transcendent life of the Spirit –

Gave us eyes to see beauty,

Ears to hear truth,

Wills to choose His way.

The heavens reflect His omnipotence

Time without end.

God enjoys the music of the spheres,

But hears our dissonance

With compassion,

How worthy is He.

How infinite His love.

Holy be His Name forever. Amen.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that so many of us were given through the long and loving life of Gram. Thank You that though we mourn her passing, we can celebrate her homecoming with You. Thank You that we have the blessed hope of being together again for all of eternity in heaven. Forgive us for our fears and regrets, and teach us to trust You so that we might fully live out each of our days, according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to love with compassion and comfort, all those who grieve. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they see the faithfulness that has been fulfilled through the life of my grandmother. Be glorified O God, as we choose to give You praise, even as we mourn. Amen.

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

There is a time to cry, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

Called to Serve

We are not called to be people who think we are better than anyone else, but rather we are called to see the value in all, and to serve. Jesus came to love and serve and offer new life to all whom He encountered. He did not expect fanfare nor honor, despite the reality of who He was. Instead, He humbled Himself and sat beside sinners, loved lepers, protected prostitutes from persecution, and demonstrated to all, what it means to serve rather than be served. As followers of Christ, we are called to go and do likewise.

 

People who think they are better than others will be made humble. But people who humble themselves will be made great. – (Matthew 23:12, ERV)

But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. – (Matthew 23:12, NLT)

“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” – (Matthew 23:11-12, MSG)

 

The greatest aspiration that we can have in life, is to make our life count for Christ. We are each created with a plan and a purpose. If we walk out the purpose for which God intended, then we will stand out in Him – through humbly serving the One who strengthens and grants us the grace to do the very things to which we have been called. May we wake each day with ears to hear and hearts that are ready and willing to serve.

 

The way to stand out,Forgiveness is Free

is to choose step down;

to reach out and love,

those who need be found.

We are called to serve,

to follow Christ’s way;

in humility,

love others each day.

No one can be great,

knocking others down;

great is in lifting,

those who need be found.

Let us choose to serve,

be humble and kind;

show God’s love and light,

as hope is defined.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to show us what it means to humble oneself and serve. Thank You Jesus, that as You served and humbled Yourself, You gave light and life to all who trust in You. Thank You Father that Christ’s humility brought Him to Your right hand, where He is seated on His rightful throne, granting us forgiveness and grace. Forgive us for not seeing ourselves through Your lens – either too highly or not as enough – for either way, we are not honoring You. Teach us to trust You and who You have intentionally created us to be, so that we would go forth and serve as we are called. Let our lives count for what matters to You. Show us how to love others in such a way, that hearts are drawn unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we choose to humbly serve others, just as Jesus served all whom He encountered. Amen.

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

Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up. – James 4:10

Be Clothed with Love that Binds in Unity

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us together in perfect harmony. – (Colossians 3:14, NLT)

 

Love breaks down barriers that nothing else can get through. When we go about our day clothed in the love that Christ has given to us, people respond accordingly. If we automatically greet others with kindness and respect, regardless of how they first appeared, their countenance typically changes to mirror our own.

Yesterday evening as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across a little gem that one of my friends had posted. The gist of the article was that the majority of “bad customer service” comes from our approach to the one by whom we are being served as the customer. There are always exceptions, as everyone has a story, but what was written, I have found to be true. My M.O. when out and about is to treat others the way in which I would want to be treated. (Not only has my faith fueled this, but the memory of my teen years of working in retail) As a result, I have had very few “bad experiences” in customer service. Instead, I have had many candid conversations with whomever is at the register where I am making a purchase. Often their day has been long and tiring, and one kind word from a customer, truly makes their day. Watching their countenance transform from weary to animated and smiling, is love binding us together as God’s created. We all have had days that make us weary; and each have had that moment when someone stepped in with an encouraging word. May we clothe ourselves with the love that binds us together in perfect harmony before going out into the world. Let His love lead us, so that we may share well, that which we have been given.

 

Now above all else,Hearts of Thanks

clothe yourselves with love;

which binds together,

united above.

We each have been called,

to share this great gift;

through kindness and grace,

may weary, we lift.

Sometimes the small things,

end up meaning most;

to all whom we meet,

may kindness be shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, You clothe us with Your love that binds us together in perfect unity. Thank You that by Your grace, we can go forth and extend kindness and love to all whom we meet. Forgive us for not being clothed in Your love, and for responding to people in any way that does not demonstrate Your kindness and grace. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will tame our tongues, settle our hearts, and see others through Your eyes. Lead us to love and respond to others as You respond to each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we clothe ourselves with Your love that binds us together in perfect unity, so that we will go forth and love others as You love each of us. Amen.

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

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

 

Expressing Gratitude

“When Jesus came into Peter’s house, He saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on Him.” – (Matthew 8:14-15)

 

Peter’s mother-in-law’s response to the miraculous was immediate. She did not delay, but set right away, to serve the Savior, out of her heart of gratitude. She is an excellent example of how we ought to express our gratitude to God, as He too, has so often rescued and healed each one of us. Additionally, we have the promised hope of our heavenly home to hold, as our reason to give thanks. How we love and serve others, is a way that we are able to express our gratitude to God.

 

The touch of His hand,Expressing Gratitude

has made our hearts whole;

let our lives give thanks,

praise to Christ, extol.

May we serve others,

as He has served us;

let our existence,

reflect Lord Jesus.

With hope in our hearts,

and praise on our lips;

may we serve Him well,

as we’ve been equipped.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us as we are, and that Your love brings healing to our hurts – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Thank You that we can respond immediately to Your touch by stepping up to serve. Forgive us for thinking we have nothing to offer, or for being “too busy” to step out. Teach us to seek You in all things and at all times, so that we may be ever aware of what You have done, and what we have to hold in hope, so that we cannot help but long to serve out of a heart full of thanks and praise. May many come to know You, as we express our gratitude to You, our great and glorious God. Be glorified in all that we say and do. 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

 

 

 

Believing for Blessings

Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, weave a wonderful story of trust, integrity and faithfulness. These attributes ultimately led to blessings. Both Naomi and Ruth were widows. Though Naomi was the mother-in-law of Ruth, Ruth chose to remain with her after their spouses died, rather than return to her own family. Ruth ran a tremendous risk, as the two widows traveled back to Bethlehem, hoping to find food, due to the famine in Moab, where they had been living.

 

The character of Ruth was demonstrated day in and day out, as she willingly went out and did all that Naomi asked of her. She trusted the wisdom of her mother-in-love, and sought the God whom she served. Ruth’s ongoing faithfulness to Naomi became evident to all, and she captured the attention, and ultimately the heart, of Boaz. After further steps of obedience, Ruth became Boaz’s wife, and bore a child. Both she and Naomi became blessed beyond what either had hoped for. Perseverance and faithfulness had provided the opportunity for God to pour out His blessing. (for more, read the book of Ruth)

 

Trust in the heartache,Believing for Blessings

always persevere;

seek the Lord always,

know that He is near.

Stay faithful to God,

hear what elders say;

give ear to wisdom,

trust God and obey.

Step out, be faithful,

trust Him to provide;

be true to the Lord,

for God satisfies.

Know that His blessings,

are not far away;

for we have a hope,

for now and always.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the examples of those who have gone before us, who have so faithfully followed and trusted You. Forgive us for our lack of perseverance and doubts, and help us to hold fast to the unfailing hope we have in You. May we trust You without question, and obey without hesitation. Lead us to love others as You love us, and may many come to know You as their Savior as a result. Be glorified, O God, in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

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

 

Not a Matter of Talk

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” – (I Corinthians 4:20)  Talking about faith is good, but only if it can be backed up with action.  Speaking the “right” words without reflecting God’s redemption, holds no value.  If our words and our actions do not align, neither will hold any weight with those whom we might hope to influence.

In my own life, the people who have best modeled a life of faith, are not always just those who are regular speakers and teachers, but they may also be those who have faithfully and consistently served.  Often, it is those who serve on the sidelines and have spoken countless words of encouragement and wisdom, that have found favor as their gentle approach has given them access to even the most guarded of hearts.

Words matter, but they are not truly given weight until they are fueled by faith.  Faith is made evident by our actions.  When the two align, our life becomes a reflection of our Redeemer.  May His light shine through us, before all.

The kingdom of God,Not a Matter of Talk

is not about talk;

it is how we live,

how we walk the walk.

For by His power,

words turn to being;

our actions align,

His grace is freeing.

He fuels forgiveness,

grants mercy and grace;

empowers, equips,

helps us run our race.

We must keep moving,

with trust to pursue;

listen and follow,

what He asks, we do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that more than just words matter to You.  Thank You that our actions and words are meant to align.  Thank You that without You, this is an impossible task, but with You, all things are possible.  Thank You that You fuel our faith and equip us to live the lives to which we are called.  Forgive us for our fears and doubts, and help us to trust completely in You.  Thank You that You are faithful, even when our faith is fickle.  Teach us how to “Preach the gospel always, and when necessary, use words.” (St. Francis Assisi)  Let our very lives speak volumes for You, as we honor You in everything.  May many come to know You as their Savior and King as we love like You love us.  Be exalted, Lord God.  Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You have done great things. 

Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19