Lean into Love

For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. – (Hebrews 7:19, NLT)

The Law of Moses could not make anything perfect. But now a better hope has been given to us. And with that hope we can come near to God. – (Hebrews 7:19, ERV)

After all, the law could not make anyone or anything perfect. God has now introduced a new and better hope, through which we may draw near to Him. – (Hebrews 7:19, VOICE)

 

Our confident hope is found through drawing near to Jesus. No longer are we weighed down with the burden of abiding by a strict set of rules and regulations for every aspect of our lives, but rather we are called to love God and love each other, and thus by doing so, we fulfill His requirements of us. A life of drawing near to God deepens our love and understanding of what His will is for our lives. Additionally, the better we know the Lord and His heart for us, the more certain we are of our hope in all that is yet to come. May we draw near to God with hearts full of thanks, as He shows us the hope that is found forever in Him.

 

Though all imperfect,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Weighed down by our sin;

When we go to God,

We are forgiven.

Made right by His grace,

Compelled by His love;

He shows us His hope,

As He’s sought above.

Let’s turn to the Lord,

With hearts full of praise;

Lean into His love,

And walk in His ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are no longer required to adhere to an extensive list of rules and regulations to attempt to come before You. Thank You that You made the way for us to come directly to You through the sacrifice of Your Son. Thank You that Your grace covers us and leads us to a life of love that is full of hope in You. Forgive us for the times that we have not turned to You, as You are our Source of help and hope forever. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would lean into You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in a way that draws others into Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise forever for the hope we have in You. Amen.

 

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

 

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:5

 

 

To Stay True the Course

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – (Hebrews 3:13, NIV)

But encourage each other every day, while you still have something called “today.” Help each other so that none of you will be fooled by sin and become too hard to change. – (Hebrews 3:13, ERV)

This is the time to encourage each other to never be stubborn or hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – (Hebrews 3:13, TPT)

 

This is part of the explanation of why we need to be part of a body of believers. If left to our own devices, there is no one to encourage nor spur us on in our faith. Even the most devoted need encouragement to stay the course. We are created to be in community. The benefit of belonging grants a place to be plugged in and to grow. As we are encouraged to stay the course, we too, do the same for others.  In strength, our hearts are softened to others, so that they too may learn of the love that the Lord longs to lavish upon us all. May we encourage one another each day, so that none of us become entangled by the web of sin.

 

Encourage others, MSH29

To stay true the course;

To which we are called,

With God as our Source.

We need each other,

To stay true the path;

To steer clear of sin,

And its aftermath.

Invest time with God,

Be part of His church;

To know others well,

And walk out our worth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to encourage each other. Thank You that the purpose is multifaceted. Thank You that encouragement propels us to do good, and helps keep us from becoming entangled in sin. Forgive us for not encouraging those around us, or for neglecting to be a part of the body. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may mutually encourage one another and help each other stay the course to which we have been called. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages others to be the best version of themselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we encourage each other to grow and stay the course to which we have been called. Amen.

 

 

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

They help each other and say to their companions, “Be strong!” – Isaiah 41:6

 

 

 

 

Setting Our Sight

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. – (Philippians 4:8, NIV)

Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. – (Philippians 4:8, ERV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. – (Philippians 4:8, VOICE)

 

In light of recent events in the news, there is much temptation to allow our thoughts to fix on things that are entirely opposite of that to which we are called.  Demoralizing or demonizing an entire group of people based on the actions of a few, is not focusing on what is honorable, right or lovely at all. As an individual who has a varied circle of people whom I love, opinions and affiliations among them lie on both sides of the argument. Both camps feel as if the media/popular opinion is making their side out to be something it is not. The name calling and judgments passed from both camps bring out the worst in people, rather than the best. It is my hope that rather than focusing on the bad, we all might fill our minds with beauty and truth.  Let us fix our hearts and minds on things that are honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy.

 

For we are all called,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

To set our hearts right;

Love as the Lord loves,

In Him take delight.

As we choose to set,

Our hearts and our minds;

On the things of God,

There’s hope for mankind.

Hope’s found in choosing,

To set our soul right;

To love and be kind,

In good things delight.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us with the capacity to love and be loved. Thank You that You do not have a political agenda nor affiliation. Forgive us for allowing our opinions, emotions or personal experiences to taint how we view others. Help us to fix our eyes on that which is good, lovely, honorable, right, true and above all, that which brings glory to You. Show us how to love those around us well, regardless of differing opinions and views of the world. May many come to know You through our love. Be glorified O God, as we set our souls on the good that You give to us daily, as we choose with intention to open our eyes and hearts to notice. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked before us. – Hebrews 12:1

Set Down Our Stones

“Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – (John 8:7b, NIV)

“Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” – (John 8:7b, CEB)

“Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.” – (John 8:7b, VOICE)

 

This particular story recorded in the book of John, is one of the amazing goodness and grace of Jesus. A woman who was caught in sin was brought before Jesus by the Pharisees, as they hoped to trap Jesus and condemn the woman. When Jesus spoke these words to those who accused her, one by one, they dropped their rocks and walked away. Each one knew that they too had sinned and did not qualify as sinless to hurl stones. I imagine we all have certain offenses against us that make our blood boil, however, when we slow down, breathe and reflect, we have to recognize that we are also offenders of others, even if it is without intent to harm. Sometimes it is the words that escape our mouths, other times it is our actions, or often even worse, our inactions, that are among our own sins. It is critical that we deal with our own sin, rather than try to manage that of another. Granted, there are roles that we are called to fill where it is our job to help others navigate a life of obedience, but even then, it is not by throwing stones that we correct, but rather through conversation, consequence and redirection. May we look to the example of Jesus when the offenses of others are brought before us, for not one of us is free from sin.

 

The stones in our hands, Set Down Our Stones

We must choose set down;

As we all have sinned,

We’ve made our own mound.

A mountain of rocks,

Where our own sins lie;

Each one forgiven,

Love never denied.

Let us do likewise,

Forgive each other;

Demonstrate God’s grace,

To one another.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us incredible examples of Your forgiveness and grace, though they are not deserved. Thank You that we all are in need of mercy and grace, as not one of us is without sin. Forgive us for holding stones in our hands, ready to throw, rather than slowing down to look at our own lives and recognize that we too have reason to receive retribution for our own offenses. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would set down our stones and seek Your strength and grace to extend to those around us. Show us how to love others with the same mercy, grace and goodness that You extend to us in our own spaces of need. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set our stones in Your hands, and receive the goodness that You give in their place to extend to those around us. 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

Where Greatness is Found

They began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. – (Luke 22:24, NLT)

Later, the apostles began to argue about which one of them was the most important. – (Luke 22:24, ERV)

The disciples bickered over which one of them would be considered the greatest in the kingdom. – (Luke 22:24, TPT)

 

Even after spending nearly every day with Jesus for the previous three years, the disciples still argued and postured for position. What this shows me is that even those who walk closely with the Lord, are subject to the frailty of the human condition. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and we all desperately need a Savior to lead a life of love, according to His good and perfect will. A bit further in the same chapter, Jesus let the disciples know that to be great, is to serve rather than to be served. He reminded them to follow the example that He had set before them all along. As always, the main message can be simplified to loving God and loving people. If we do both of these things, we will not worry about being greater, because we will prefer one another in love. Love lifts up, it does not tear down nor posture for position. May we ever seek the Lord and His ways, so that we can love Him and others for all of our days.

 

Let’s fix not our eyes, Enter With Thanksgiving

On how to be great;

But instead choose serve,

Lift up, elevate.

Choose prefer others,

Let love lead the way;

For this is God’s plan,

To share well His grace.

Never be worried,

About being great;

For God looks at you,

And He celebrates.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us not because of what we do, but because we are Your created. Thank You that You meet us where we are, and love us anyway. Forgive us for our foolishness that argues or seeks position rather than Your affirmation. Teach us to trust You more, so that the only approval that concerns us is Yours. Show us how to love those around us in a way that prefers others first and meets needs wherever they may be. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love You and love people as You call us to do. 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

His Passion for Our Peace

But as He came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, He began to weep. “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is hidden from your eyes.” – (Luke 19:41-42, NLT)

Jesus came near Jerusalem. Looking at the city, He began to cry for it and said, “I wish you knew today what would bring you peace. But it is hidden from you now.” – (Luke 19:41-42, ERV)

When the city came into view, He wept over it. “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it is too late.” – (Luke 19:41-42, MSG)

 

I’m not quite sure why this portion of passage has never stood out to me before, but this morning, I feel as if it is giving me deeper insight into the heart of our loving Father. The verse, “Jesus wept,” is often quoted and easily pointed back to the loss of His dear friend, Lazarus, and the response Jesus had when He saw the grief of those mourning the loss. In this passage, Jesus is grieving over an entire city. He knows the fate that will befall them, as He has shared His message of hope and peace again and again, yet knew that His time was nearing an end and the people who chose not to hear Him would be lost. I imagine that God grieves over us in much the same way when we stay stuck in our sorrow, grief and hopelessness, rather than turning to Him in trust. Jesus came and bore the weight of all of our heaviness so that we could know His peace, yet we must receive it in order to know it for ourselves. Though Jesus knocks and waits, we are not immortal. Each of us have an expiration date that is unknown. If we choose to neglect our opportunity to know Him when He is directly in front of us, the possibility may pass us by. May we ever seek our Savior and turn to Him in trust, as He is our place of peace at all times.

 

The Lord sees our hearts, His Passion for Our Peace

When lost, without peace;

With weeping, He grieves,

When we choose not seek.

God is the answer,

The hope our hearts need;

He’s ever waiting,

As we ask, He’ll lead.

He’s always gentle,

Won’t force His way in;

Waits for us to ask,

Then sets free from sin.

Peace He will bring us,

If we make request;

Grace freely granted,

He gives us His best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your heart is so clearly for us. Thank You that You love us to the point of tears, and that You willingly sent Your Son so that we could have life abundantly in You. Forgive us for not seeking You in trust when evidence of Your goodness and faithfulness are all around us. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, so that we would ever seek You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers Your peace to those who need it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You with our lives and receive the grace and peace that You abundantly give. Amen.

 

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

 

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

To Know Your Nearness

Seek the Lord while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near. – (Isaiah 55:6, NLT)

So you should look for the Lord before it is too late. You should call to Him now, while He is near. – (Isaiah 55:6, ERV)

Seek God while He’s here to be found, pray to Him while He’s close at hand. – (Isaiah 55:6, MSG)

 

God does not move away from us, yet the choices we make can create barriers that make seeking Him and hearing His voice more and more difficult. When we understand the greatness of God, and how good He is, it becomes increasingly more important that we call on the Lord often and keep short accounts. As we do, we remove that which hinders our hearts from seeking and hearing God, and remain ever aware of His nearness. Conversely, when we sit in our sin or get so caught up in the hectic pace of life that we neglect to acknowledge our need for God, He begins to feel far away. We are created to commune with our Creator. May we seek the Lord with our whole hearts, as He is always close at hand and ready to hear us.

 

Be not too busy, To Know Your Nearness

To seek the Lord’s face;

For He is waiting,

With mercy and grace.

We must keep seeking,

It’s where faith is found;

God’s ever present,

His love shall abound.

Let us not neglect,

To pray to the Lord;

We need know He’s near,

To find hope restored.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You. Thank You that as we call on Your Name, we come to know Your nearness. Forgive us for staying stuck in our own sin, or for allowing the hectic pace of life to keep us from seeking You. Teach us to make You a priority, as knowing Your presence matters most. Help us to seek You in all things, so that we would know Your heart to guide us. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways that make Your nearness known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and find You, as we seek You with all of our heart. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Where Good Comes From

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts shifting shadows. – (James 1:17, NLT)

Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from Him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same. – (James 1:17, ERV)

Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. He is consistent. He won’t change His mind or play tricks in the shadows. – (James 1:17, VOICE)

 

All that is good, all that is lovely, all that is worthy of praise, exists because God gives. The trials and troubles that come are not given by God, but rather occur because sin, brokenness, and free will are part of our reality. Even in the midst of our struggles, God is still good, and remains present with us. As the days grow longer, it is a tangible reminder that He is the Father of lights. He times the sun to rise and set, and paints brilliant colors in the process. On dreary days, light still appears, and then darkness returns at day’s end. Just as the coming of a new day is consistent, so too is our God. He doesn’t take time off, nor does He neglect the cries of His people. When we call on Him, He hears. May we ever give praise for every good and perfect gift that comes from God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

 

Every good gift,Forgiveness is Free

That comes from above;

Is given to us,

In God’s perfect love.

The Father of lights,

Continues to show;

How faithful His love,

So our hearts may know.

He never changes,

His love shall remain;

All good gifts from God,

Our hope to now claim.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that every good and perfect gift comes from You. Thank You that You are the Father of lights, and that You do not change nor try to trick us like the light of shifting shadows. Forgive us for forgetting how very faithful and consistent You are. Teach us to give You thanks for every good gift, and to seek Your help in times of trouble. Show us how to love well, all those whom You place in our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we appreciate every good and perfect gift from You, and seek You in all things. Amen.

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

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

Free to Love and Serve

For dear brothers, you have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other. – (Galatians 5:13, TLB)

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do to destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love. – (Galatians 5:13, MSG)

Brothers and sisters, God has called you to freedom! Hear the call, and do not spoil the gift by using your liberty to engage in what your flesh desires; instead, use it to serve each other as Jesus taught through love. – (Galatians 5:13, VOICE)

 

We are no longer bound by Levitical law, but rather we have been set free by the sacrifice of Christ, to choose to follow Him. A life in Christ is not about living according to the letter of the laws of rituals, but instead it is all about opting to engage in a life of love. If our priority is choosing to love God and love people, we will use our freedom well and do what is pleasing before God. When we elect to engage in sin, we grieve the heart of God and abuse the freedom that was granted in love. May we ever seek to love the Lord and those He places in our path, and trust Him to help us lead a life that honors Him.

 

Brothers and sisters,Generous Giving

We each have been called;

To live in freedom,

By grace, not by law.

The freedom we have,

Is not meant for sin;

But rather to love,

And let others in.

In our gift to choose,

May we opt to serve;

Love as we are loved,

So hope can be heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the freedom we have in You. Thank You that it is not freedom to do wrong, but rather to make the choice to follow You and live a life of love because of the sacrifice that You made on our behalf. Forgive us for abusing our freedom and not allowing Your love to lead us in all that we say and do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to show us how to love in all things. Help us to love and serve one another as Jesus loved and served. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love and serve as You have shown us what it is to love and serve. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

Knowing Our Own Need

In Luke 7:36-50, the story of Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman is unpacked. I love the scene that my mind’s eye imagines, as the Pharisee, who has invited Jesus to dinner, likely to show Him how “great” he was, was quite put out when this immoral woman showed up and began hanging out at the feet of Jesus. It even went so far as to record what Simon (the Pharisee) said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman is touching Him. She’s a sinner!” (Luke 7:39, NLT)

The sinful woman was fully aware of her sin. She was repentant as she knelt at the feet of Jesus and washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. Additionally, she anointed his feet with perfume and continued to cover them with kisses.

Simon just did not get it. Jesus wanted to be sure that he did. He stopped Simon in his tracks, and told him a story of two men being forgiven their debts. One was forgiven a small debt, the other, a much larger debt. When Jesus asked Simon which man would love more, Simon was able to reply, “The one who had been forgiven more.”

It does not appear that Simon had some sort of great revelation for himself and his own need for forgiveness, but at least it seems he gained a glimpse of why the woman’s weeping and washing of Jesus’ feet with her hair was an act of worship.

This story has many points, but the two that stand out the most are that we need to recognize our own necessity to repent, and that it is not our position to determine a person’s heart when they come before the Lord. We all have a past, and those who have been forgiven much, love much. May we ever seek the Lord and His forgiveness, so that we may go forth and love as He loves.

 

There’s no “good enough”,

caught-in-awe-sylvia-carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

Nor penance required;

Instead, we can come,

Presence is desired.

Jesus says draw near,

Despite where we’ve been;

He longs to forgive,

Wash away our sin.

As we choose take pause,

Truly recognize;

His mercy granted,

Great love realized.

As we’re forgiven,

Let us likewise love;

So others too know,

Hope in Christ above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us such beautiful examples of forgiveness and gratitude for Your mercy and grace. Thank You that You call us to be gracious and merciful as You are full of mercy and grace toward us all. Forgive us for the times that we either viewed others as less than, or ourselves as more than we should. Teach us to see ourselves and others through Your lens – as loved and in need of a Savior. Help us to love well, all those around us, so that they may see Your heart through our mercy and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love without limits, and forgive as we have been forgiven. 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