Settling Stones

The stoning of Stephen is an overwhelming example of an individual responding just as Jesus did, in the face of suffering and persecution.  “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’  Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’  When he had said this, he fell asleep.” – (Acts 7:59-60)  As Stephen was actively in the throes of being killed, he prayed for forgiveness for those who were murdering him.

Though I have never faced trial for my faith, nor have never had my life threatened for who I am in Christ, I have been spoken to harshly, and have had to make a choice as to how to respond in the moment.  When people speak to me angrily or with unkindness, I have come to a place where I am most often able to respond in the opposite spirit.  However, I recognize that I don’t necessarily pray right away for forgiveness.  Typically, I find that I am grateful to God that something gracious came out of my mouth, yet in order to do as Christ did, I ought to also release the offender from the offense, immediately.  Often, it is not until much later, that I realize that I am still carrying some sort of irritation about the offense, and have to stop and release that which should have been let go, hours earlier.  It is not an intentional carry, yet it is a burden that I take on, adding to a load I am not meant to tow.

As others lift up,Settling Stones

their stones set to throw;

help me to release,

the anger they sow.

For I can’t control,

what others will do;

yet I can let go,

give the reigns to You.

Help me to forgive,

the moment deeds done;

so I don’t carry,

battles You have won.

May my heart respond,

with Your heart of grace;

so they may soon know,

Your loving embrace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us amazing examples in Your word of those who have gone before us and have forgiven others, as You ask us to forgive.  Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, who by His sacrifice and ultimate example of forgiveness and grace, made way for the Holy Spirit to come dwell in us, and empower us too, to extend the same forgiveness to others.  Forgive us for not listening to Your still small voice, or for holding onto grievances that You have asked us to lay down.  Help us to release wrongs against us – regardless of how great or small.  Lead us to love as You love, and to respond as You respond to all whom we encounter.  Let Your light be evident in all that we say and do.  May many come to know You as their Lord and Savior, through the grace that is given unto them.  Be glorified, our gracious God.  Amen.

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

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ.  – Ephesians 2:4-5

Bold Before Foes

With boldness, Stephen spoke,

image by Relaxation Works Co.

image by Relaxation Works Co.

the history of the Jews.

Telling of the failures,

and blessings God had used.

Recapped Moses’ story,

the details he knew well.

From birth to avenger,

fleeing to his return.

Then raised up as leader,

to trust God, he had learned.

Escape to the desert,

to wander forty years.

Foolish disobedience,

complaints to God’s own ears.

Tabernacle traveled,

in the desert with them.

Rested in David’s land,

then housed by Solomon.

The words Stephen spoke next,

angered hearts, fueling fires.

God lives not in temples,

and His Spirit, He requires.

You always resist Him,

just like your forefathers.

And you murdered the Christ,

you’ve judged with no lawyers.

As they heard Stephen’s words

they gnashed their teeth and groaned.

He saw heaven appear,

then was dragged out and stoned.

As the blows kept coming,

from his knees he cried out.

Forgive them please, Father,

receive my spirit now.

(Responding to Acts 7)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not dwell in man-made buildings, but in the hearts of everyone who invites You in.  Thank You that through Jesus, You made the way for us to have a relationship with You without having to follow a laundry list of rules and regulations.  Thank You that what You ask of us are two things – to love You, and to love people.  Forgive us for not doing those well, and teach us how we can love You and love people as You would have us love.  Grant us confidence and boldness in You, as You are our strength and security.  Teach us to forgive and extend grace like You.  May our love be the sweet scent of salvation to those who are seeking, so that they may find their hope in You.  Use us Lord, to touch hearts and lives.  Amen.

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