The Beauty of Otherly

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. – (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too. – (Philippians 2:3-4, ERV)

Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first. – (Philippians 2:3-4, VOICE)

 

An “otherly” approach brings beauty far greater than anything that comes from simply looking out for oneself. This weekend, I have witnessed two wonderful examples of such love in action. First, my sister has been working tirelessly to fight the insurance battle to orchestrate in-home therapy for our mom. She has been loving mom well, and fighting on her behalf. The fruit of all of Megan’s labor has finally come to fruition, as Mom’s evaluation and step one of in-home therapy will take place on Monday! Second, our trip out to this part of the country has been for the sole intent and purpose for my husband to see his father and let him know he is valued and loved. Mark’s love for his dad is not dependent on their history together, but rather on knowing how important it is to look beyond himself and simply choose to love. Additionally, he wanted his dad to have one more chance to see his grandson and daughter-in-law, along with his son. We had a great day visiting with each other, and Mark is able to go back home knowing that he has cared well and extended love as he is called to do. May we ever choose to have an “otherly” approach, so that we may care well for the lives of those around us with humility.

 

May all that we do, 09141912302527739590534708850.jpg

Be rooted in love;

With others in mind,

Lives valued above.

Held higher than pride,

In humility;

Love without limits,

For in Christ, we’re free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us what it means to prefer others and to love with others in mind. Thank You for a love so selfless that He laid down His very life for us. Forgive us for the times that we get caught up in ourselves and neglect to look beyond at the needs around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love as You love and without pride or selfish ambition, would simply love others well. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to share the beauty of Your “otherly” love with the world. Amen.

 

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

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34

Revelation Through Pursuit

For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love. – (Psalm 33:4-5, NIV)

The Lord’s word is true, and He is faithful in everything He does. He loves goodness and justice. The Lord’s unfailing love fills the earth. – (Psalm 33:4-5, ERV)

For God’s Word is something to sing about! He is true to His promises, His word can be trusted, and everything He does is reliable and right. The Lord loves seeing justice on the earth. Everywhere you can find His faithful, unfailing love! – (Psalm 33:4-5, TPT)

 

What God says, He will do. His faithfulness, righteousness and justice are not dependent on us. Rather, His unfailing love is evident everywhere because He is good. If the Lord loves goodness, righteousness and justice, shouldn’t we then seek to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God? As we do, He shows us how to live right before Him, to view justice through His lens, rather than our own, and above all, He leads us to love as He loves. May we ever seek the Lord and spend time in His word, so that we can recognize the truth of His word, have faith in He who is righteous and just, and ever receive His unfailing love.

 

Ever He’s faithful, Prepare the Way

The Lord God on high;

The work of His hands,

Seen from earth to sky.

Always He is just,

And His word is true;

Righteousness revealed,

As Him, we pursue.

Love that’s unfailing,

No matter what comes;

As we choose to trust,

We see His will done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your word is true and Your promises make us new. Thank You that as we seek You, You lead us and guide us in the ways in which we are meant to go. Thank You that above all, You love, and we are meant to do likewise. Forgive us for anything that we have said or done that was not right in Your eyes, not just, or not motivated by love. Teach us to trust You more to lead us in the way that we are meant to go. Show us how to love without limits, act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your leading and trust Your promises. Amen.

 

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

 

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord requires of you – but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

The Mirror of the Heart

As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person. – (Proverbs 27:19, NLT)

Just as you can see your own face reflected in water, so your heart reflects the kind of person you are. – (Proverbs 27:19, ERV)

A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses. – (Proverbs 27:19, TLB)

 

The very heart of who we are is demonstrated by the choices we make. Our words, our deeds and the very company we keep, all show the content of our character in the same way that water or a mirror reflect our physical appearance. People are far more aware of the condition of our heart through what we do consistently over time, rather than what we claim. A few of my favorite quotes that are connected to this verse, include: “Actions speak louder than words” and “Preach the gospel always. When necessary, use words.”(St. Francis of Assisi) Both quotes emphasize the importance of what we do. People cannot and will not have any desire to hear what we have to say if they do not trust our heart. May we ever seek our Savior to strengthen us to love as He loves us, without limits or conditions, so that we may clearly reflect the heart of our Father in heaven.

 

May what we reflect, The Mirror of the Heart

From the inside out;

Be a heart of love,

Spread kindness about.

For all that we do,

Speaks louder than words;

Each time we give grace,

Love’s goodness is heard.

In all that we do,

And all that we say;

May our hearts reflect,

The Lord’s loving ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and kind and loving to all who seek You. Thank You that as we ask, You equip us to do the same. Forgive us for the times that our words, thoughts or actions have not been loving or kind. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend kindness and grace, even in the spaces where it does not seem warranted. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways that help their hearts hear how Your heart beats for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fuel our hearts with faith to live out Your love in our every word and deed. Amen.

 

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

For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. – Psalm 117:2

The Gift of Salvation

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this, it is a gift from God. – (Ephesians 2:8, NLT)

I mean that you have been saved by grace because you believed. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. – (Ephesians 2:8, ERV)

Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish. – (Ephesians 2:8, MSG)

 

Salvation is a gift that God freely gives to us, if only we choose to place our trust in Him. We cannot do enough, nor be enough, but rather it is a matter of making the choice to believe that God is who He says He is, and that He is true to His word. There is no prerequisite to have a certain depth of knowledge in biblical studies or theology, instead, we simply need to have a heart that is open and willing to allow God to be God, because we are not. For those who trust in the Lord, let us give thanks for the gracious gift that He has given; for those who are searching – He is always available and at the ready to hear our heart and love us to life.

 

God saves us by grace,

Rejoice Always

Not by what we do;

It’s all about love,

For His word is true.

What the Lord offers,

Is a gift that’s free;

It’s given to all,

Who choose to believe.

Rise up and have faith,

In God You can trust;

For He alone saves,

God’s loving and just.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You save us by Your grace if only we choose to believe. Thank You that we do not have to do “enough” or be “enough” to somehow earn Your favor, but rather You love us where we are and accept us because we are Your created. Forgive us for thinking that we have to somehow get ourselves cleaned up or do things a certain way before we can approach You. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, as Your grace is greater than all of our shortcomings and failures. Show us how to love without limits, all those whom You place in our charge, so that they too, may come to know the greatness of the gift of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the gift of salvation, and trust You with all that we are. Amen.

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

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14

Grace Unearned

And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is – free and undeserved. – (Romans 11:6, NLT)

And if He chose them by grace, then it is not what they have done that made them His people. If they could be made His people by what they did, His gift of grace would not really be a gift. – (Romans 11:6, ERV)

Grace is central in God’s action here, and it has nothing to do with deeds prescribed by the law. If it did, grace would not be grace. – (Romans 11:6, VOICE)

 

God’s grace at first glance, seems to be a paradox, as how could He possibly give such undeserved goodness and love to a sinner, such as myself. That is the amazing thing about His grace, He gives to the undeserving, and loves without limits. Each time I am made aware of His goodness and grace, I recognize just how incredible His love is for me, despite all of my flaws and failures. Yes, I love Him and long to serve Him, but I am a work in progress, and am far from having “arrived“. Perhaps that is the point. As we recognize our own shortcomings and see how His goodness is complete, we are ever aware of our need for Him in our lives. May we rise up in thanksgiving for God’s goodness and grace, and give Him thanks for the gifts that we’re given, though we deserve them not.

 

We cannot earn grace, The Wonder of Unfailing Love

For God freely gives;

Because He is kind,

We have life to live.

Every good thing,

That comes unto us;

Is thanks to the Lord,

And His Son, Jesus.

There’s nothing we’ll do,

And no words we’ll say;

That can earn His grace,

Or take it away.

All thanks be to God,

For kindness and love;

It is undeserved,

These gifts from above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your kindness to us. Thank You that it is not given for good works that we do to somehow earn it, but rather You give grace out of the abundance of Your love for us. Thank You that it is free and undeserved, reminding us that You are God and we are not. Forgive us for the times that we either take Your grace for granted, or try to somehow earn our way into a good space before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that all that we say and do is motivated by our love for You. Show us how to love those around us with kindness and grace, so that they too, will long to seek Your face. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the grace that You freely give, and praise You for who You are. Amen.

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

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

Love Remains Present

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. – (Romans 12:15, NLT)

When others are happy, you should be happy with them. And when others are sad, you should be sad too. – (Romans 12:15, ERV)

Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. – (Romans 12:15, MSG)

 

Part of loving well is walking alongside those around us, no matter what state they are in. If a person is happy and has reason to celebrate, we ought to join them in expressing joy. When we encounter the sorrowful, it is not our job to fix them, but rather to sit beside them in the midst of their pain and be present. Remarkably, when happiness is shared, it miraculously feels multiplied; yet when sadness and sorrow is shared by someone who comes and sits in the space alongside the suffering, the weight of the ache is lessened somehow. God intended us to be in community. So much of scripture directs us as to how to be in relationship with one another, and to function as a body of believers. Two are better than one… A three-strand cord is not easily broken… There are countless references reminding us that we are not meant to do this life alone. May we place our trust in He who walks beside us in joy and pain, and go forth with intent to do the same.

 

Choose to celebrateThe Benefit of Broken Barriers

Those with happiness;

Share space of sadness,

With ones in a mess.

For God walks beside,

And ever stays near;

Present in weeping,

And likewise in cheer.

We have been chosen,

As community;

To love as Christ loves,

For His love sets free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to be happy with those who are happy, and to weep with those who weep, but You sent Your Son to show us what it looks like to love like that. Thank You Jesus, for showing us how to love without limits, despite what You were going through and the things that surrounded You. Forgive us for making excuses as to why we just cannot get involved when things seem to messy or emotional. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remain present with those whom You have placed in our lives, no matter what comes their way. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are happy with those who are happy, and share tears with those who are down. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

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

His Love Expressed In Us

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us – perfect love! – (1 John 4:11-12, MSG)

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, NLT)

 

God loved us so much that He gave without limits and chose to draw near. Because of His sacrifice, we have the capacity to love one another, just as we are loved. With a free will, we have the choice to take the very love that we have been given and give it away, thus ever growing in His likeness, or we can withhold love and deny who and what we have been created to become. As we opt to love others as we are loved by God, His love that lives within us rises up and is reflected in a way that offers the remarkable gifts of mercy and grace that God abundantly gives. May we ever choose to love one another as God loves us, so that He who dwells deep within us might be made clearly known.

 

Because we are loved,Tether Our Hearts

So we should love too;

For God gave us all,

To bless and make new.

Though we’ve never seen,

God with our own eyes;

We’ve received His grace,

Found hope realized.

It’s through this great love,

That others may see;

Who God really is,

And become set free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You loved us so much that You gave without limits and chose to come close. Thank You that You dwell within every heart that invites You to be Lord. Thank You that as we love one another, Your love lives in us and is fully expressed through us. Forgive us for the times that we withhold love when You are calling us to reach out. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be living expressions of Your love to those around us. Show us how to love as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love each other as we are loved by You. Amen.

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

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

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

Reverence Reveals His Joy

The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love. – (Psalm 147:11, NIV)

The Lord enjoys people who worship Him and trust in His faithful love. – (Psalm 147:11, ERV)

But His joy is in those who reverence Him, those who expect Him to be loving and kind. – (Psalm 147:11, TLB)

 

God is far greater than we can begin to grasp. He is both our loving Father and Almighty God. The Lord is worthy of all of our worship and adoration, and we ought to have a reverent respect full of awe and wonder at all that He is, has done, and ever will be. We bring Him joy and delight as we trust Him, and allow our hearts to hope in His unfailing love. Let every heart trust in His unending love as we offer our worship in reverent awe of who He is and how He loves.

 

To be the delight,Refreshment Through Repentance

Of our Holy God;

We must trust His love,

With hope, stand in awe.

We need choose revere,

His power and might;

Trust unfailing love,

To be His delight.

God is always good,

And His love is true;

Let every heart hope,

In Christ, be made new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us without limits, and for delighting in us when we trust in You with the reverence that is due. Forgive us for not giving You proper praise, or for questioning the character or nature of who You are, as Your love never fails. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would not place human parameters on Your nature or character, but instead, in reverence and awe, would recognize the enormity of Your unfailing, faithful love for all who call on Your Name. Show us how to love those around us in a way that models our reverence for You and the hope that we hold in Your love that never fails. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we worship You and trust in Your unfailing love. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6