So Loved

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, NIV)

Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him would not be lost but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, ERV)

For this is how much God loved the world – He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life. – (John 3:16, TPT)

 

God so loved that He gave. He gave all so that we might come to know His love that leads to life everlasting with Him. The very same God who loves us to life, calls us to love each other. His example demonstrates what love truly is. Love gives the best of oneself to others, so that they too, may know and understand the vast depth and breadth of the love that God lavishes upon all who trust in Him. Incredibly, God did not so love the saints, or those who were somehow sinless, (for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God) but He so loved the world – all of us, all people, for all time – that He gave. There were no qualifiers nor prerequisites, God simply loved His created. In the same way, we are called to love those around us. Not just our friends and family, but all – for all are His created. May we receive and embrace the overwhelming and powerful love that God gives to us, and in turn, go forth and love those around us, so that all may experience the power of His love, personally.

 

Despite how things seem, Measured By Our Maker

One thing shall remain;

The love of the Lord,

Is always the same.

His love chose to give,

Not some, but gave all;

So we might have life,

And answer His call.

God’s love grants us grace,

Brings new life and light;

Hope from the despair,

Beauty and delight.

So, seek first the Lord,

Receive all He gives;

Then go forth, love well,

It is how love lives.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You so loved the world that You gave Your one and only Son to bring us the opportunity to have everlasting life with You. Thank You that when we accept what You offer, we gain grace and forgiveness and love overflowing to go forth and love like You. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen love, despite the incredible, unending love that You have for us. Teach us to love those around us as we are loved by You. Show us practical and tangible ways to be Your hands, heart and voice in love to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the incredible love You have for us, and rely on You to help us love others well. Amen.

 

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

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. – Psalm 136:1

Ponder in Wonder

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – (Luke 2:6-7, NIV)

While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby. She gave birth to her first son. She wrapped Him up well and laid Him in a box where cattle are fed. She put Him there because the guest room was full. – (Luke 2:6-7, ERV)

When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor, and there she gave birth to her firstborn son. After wrapping the newborn baby in strips of cloth, they laid Him in a feeding trough since there was no available space in any upper room in the village. – (Luke 2:6-7, TPT)

 

This portion of the Christmas Story always leaves me in awe and wonder at the miraculous that took place, out among the animals. A young girl, her first child, no modern conveniences nor medical assistance, and a tremendous trust in God, are but a few of the standouts to me as I ponder the sacred stable scene. I cannot even fathom traveling on foot and donkey, ninety miles, in the heat, very pregnant, only to discover there were no rooms available – anywhere. Then, after your new husband finds someone who will give you room out with their animals, the time comes and there is no stopping what is next. By God’s grace alone, they birth takes place, and after swaddling the newborn King, Mary had only a feed box to lay Him in. Probably not the scene that she had envisioned when the angel had appeared to her and told her what would take place. That being said, she persevered faithfully to all she had been called to do. Perhaps the takeaway this morning is to be faithful in all circumstances, and choose trust, despite what we see.

 

Weary arrival, Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

No where vacant room;

The baby would come,

They needed space soon.

Placed in a stable,

Where animals lay;

Our Savior was born,

God’s plan underway.

The sacred infant,

Grew into the man;

Savior, Redeemer,

Fulfilled the Lord’s plan.

He lived and He loved,

Sinless, full of grace;

Took all upon self,

Then died in our place.

On the third day rose,

Death He overcame;

So that we might live,

As we trust His Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the Christmas Story does not end with the birth of baby Jesus, but rather it is only the beginning of the beautiful road to redemption that You created for all who choose to trust in You. Thank You Jesus, for leaving You heavenly throne to come to earth and live as we live and die in our place. Thank You for the incredible gift of Your amazing grace. Forgive us for pondering Your birth, without going beyond the miracle of an infant, born in a stable; for the story is so much more. Show us how to live and love in a way that makes the truth of Your story tangible to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the humble and faithful beginnings and the powerful life, death, resurrection and ascension that brought us to relationship and the hope of eternal life with You. Amen.

 

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

 

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name, Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. – Matthew 1:20

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

Given Despite What We Deserve

“We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – (Luke 23:41-43, NLT)

 

This scene so perfectly depicts the mercy and grace that God is willing to give if we choose Him. Like the criminals hanging on the cross beside Jesus, we all deserve to die for our sin. Not one of us is sinless, and the promised punishment for sin is death. However, while we were yet stuck in our sin, just as those hanging beside Him, Jesus chose to bear the burden for all so that we could come to Him to have life everlasting. All it took for the criminal in his final hours of life, was the recognition and admission of who Jesus was, and how he deserved what he himself was receiving. In asking to be remembered, the criminal was granted the mercy and grace that is given to each of us who choose to do the same. When we come to Christ and call on His Name, admit that we are sinners in need of a Savior who are seeking His forgiveness and grace, He grants us the very same promise of eternal life that was given on that most remarkable day. May we remember the price Christ paid for our sins, and the love that leads us to life everlasting.

 

Criminal status,Shackles No More

All of us with sin;

Each destined to die,

‘less grace enters in.

Because of the cross,

We all can choose claim;

Christ as our Savior,

Find hope in His Name.

For it is by grace,

That we all may come;

Receive His mercy,

O Most Holy One.

So come one and all,

Seek mercy and grace;

Receive forgiveness,

Everlasting place.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to be restored to right relationship with You. Jesus, thank You for willingly taking our sin upon Yourself, so that we could be made righteous before You. Thank You for loving us despite our unworthiness. Forgive us for thinking that we or anyone else has to be qualified somehow to deserve mercy and grace. Teach us to love as You love, so that we would offer mercy and grace to all whom we meet. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love others as You have loved us. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things. Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

Just Faith

Attempting to be right before God in our own strength, does not work.  Our very best intentions will never lead to justification, regardless of how hard we try on our own.  However, when we choose to live by faith, and place our trust in Him, we are counted righteous as He covers us with the mercy of His sacrifice made, and we are seen as spotless, shameless, and set free from sin.

“Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.” – (Galatians 3:11)

Even our faith is a gift that God gives.  We have the freedom to choose whether or not we are to embrace God and the glorious gifts that He has given; or not.  When we choose Him, He meets us where we are, grows our faith within us, and opens the eyes of our hearts to more clearly see who He is and what He has done for us.  As our understanding deepens, we cannot help but long to love more deeply, and serve more selflessly.  By His grace, we embrace our faith, and He deems us righteous before Him.

In our own strength,Just Faith

no way justified;

only by grace,

we are sanctified.

It is by faith,

not by any law;

that we’re called right,

before Father God.

It is a gift,

for us to embrace;

may each heart know,

His unending grace.

Open our eyes,

to more clearly see;

Your righteousness,

that has set us free.

Dear Jesus, thank You for coming and taking our place on the cross, so that we can be called clean, justified before God, because of what You willingly did on our behalf.  Thank You that despite our best efforts, on our own we would never measure up – yet with You, by faith, we are considered righteous before God.  Forgive us for trying to justify ourselves with our “I’ll do better next time” or “I’ll never do that again“, and help us instead to confess to You, and rely on You to be our help and our hope, so that we will do better the next time we face a similar scenario – not because we are better, but because we are trusting You more.  Teach us how to rely on You completely in all things and at all times, and be our hope and our help, even when we can’t seem to see or hear You in the midst of the mess.  Thank You that You are always present, and always good.  Help us to love others as You love us, and may many come to know You through our loving kindness.   Be exalted in all that we say and do.  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