Righteousness through Relationship

“For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” – Romans 2:13

Hearing God’s commands does not make us right before Him.  Righteousness is found in doing what is asked, without delay.

What exactly is being asked of us?  God calls us to love Him and love people.  If we are doing so in word, thought and deed, then we are fulfilling the law.

Righteousness, being right before God, does not come through “earning”, rather it is established by our relationship with our Redeemer, and made evident by the fruit that is produced as our roots are deepened in the soil of our Savior.  Our shortcomings are covered by the cross as we earnestly seek Him and keep short accounts – being quick to confess when we stray from the straight path on which we are being led.

The better we know our Beloved, the more compelled we become to honor Him in all that we say and do.  We become willing to walk wherever He leads, even when we cannot begin to fathom how we might manage to do as He is asking.  Faith and trust pave the road to righteousness.  Trusting Him for our everything and having faith that He is able to do exceedingly more than we can imagine on our own, restores our right relationship with our Redeemer.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that righteousness before You comes not by our memorization of Levitical laws, but by running to You and doing as You ask us, Your cherished children.  Teach us to love You and love people with our whole heart.  May we live lives of love as You are leading, so that others too, may come to know the restoration found in a right relationship with You.  Thank You that we are a work in progress, and that it is only by Your gift of grace that we are saved.  Amen.

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

Faith to Trust

“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.” – Romans 1:17

The Message states it this way: “God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what scripture has said all along: ‘The person in right standing before God by trusting Him really lives.”

Faith is belief that is not based on what is tangibly seen, rather it is grown in our hearts as we gain understanding of God, by His grace.  Trust, is total reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, and surety of God.

That being established, as we trust, as we totally rely on God to be God, our faith will be firmly established in our hearts, and our lives will display the bounty of our belief in the Beloved.

To really live, we must trust God and who He is.  To trust Him, we must know Him.  To know Him, we must spend time in His Word and recognize His perpetual presence.  As we are actively engaged in pursuing our Provider, He firmly establishes our foundation of faith so that we may completely trust in Him.

Faith increases trust and trust multiplies faith.  We must believe in order to trust, and know that He is worthy of our trust to truly believe.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that faith is a gift from You.  Thank You that You alone are worthy of all of our trust.  Teach us to totally and undividedly trust You in all things and at all times.  Grow our faith God, that we might step out in the gifts we have been given so that others too, might come to know the righteousness of You, our Redeemer.  Amen.

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

Love to Persevere

Painting by Thomas Kinkade

“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:5

He is faithful.  He strengthens and protects us from our foe, and will direct our hearts in His love.  He will empower us to persevere.

Perseverance produces hope.  Hope helps our heart hold the truth that He is faithful.  His presence, power and passion for His people is not dependant on what we see.  Our human eyes are finite in their capacity to see the whole scene.  Though we may take in the tangible, we do not have the capability to sense for certain what He is stirring in souls.  This is where the “rubber meets the road”.  Are we willing to turn our hearts to Him and trust that His love and provision are enough?

Regardless of my wrestling, He waits.  He remains ready to redeem ruin and wreckage that are handed to Him.  His presence is permanent and His passion for His people is steadfast and secure.  As we face our giants, God will give us all that we need, if we turn our trust to Him.  He is good and His love endures forever.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are forever faithful.  Thank You that You sustain, strengthen and protect us from all that comes against us.  Direct our hearts in Your love, and teach us to persevere just as Jesus modeled for all mankind.  May our fervent faith fuel friends and foe to trust and follow You.  Amen.

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

Grasping His Goodness and Grace

“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Though this exhortation was written by Paul to the Thessalonians, it is timeless and ought to be an encouragement to each of us still today.  By God’s grace we have been saved, through the atoning sacrifice of His Son, Jesus; and through His death and resurrection, we are redeemed and granted eternal hope.  Our hope in Him will encourage our hearts and strengthen our souls, so we are empowered to do good for our great God in our every word and deed.

If we forget our Source, the very idea of doing good is exhausting.  However, when we fix our eyes firmly on our Heavenly Father, He is faithful to supply all that we need to do the next right thing in His Name.  He is good and His love endures all things forever.

“He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6

“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.” – Hebrews 6:10

We must take heart and keep doing good.  On our final day, as we stand and face our Heavenly Father, we will hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us, encourage us, and grant us the great hope of our heavenly home.  Thank You too, that You supply strength where we have none, to do the next right thing.  Teach us Father, to hear Your heart and to respond in a way that honors You with our hearts, heads and hands.  May our every word and deed bring honor to You, so that all may come to see the glory that is You, our good and gracious God.  Amen.

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

A Posture of Praise

“Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.” – Psalm 95:6-7

Let us come before God with the proper posture in our hearts; acknowledging that He is Lord and Creator of all.  He is ours and we are His.  He will watch over and care for us continually.

Both of my boys have been sick this week.  Between bronchitis, ear infections, nasty coughs and fevers, each has endured more than they would wish to take.  Fortunately, the faith of my offsprings is phenomenal (truly a gift from God), and the moment either are washed over with a wave of nausea or fever, their instant response is either to pray or ask for prayer.  Though young in age, deep is their understanding that God is our Shepherd that will always keep watch over His sheep; His hands are those that heal.  Each has held a posture of praise, ever aware of His presence and His provision.

Though they will both miss one more day of school, I am certain that this day will be one of recovery and rest, provided by our remarkable Redeemer.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Shepherd and we are Your people for whom You care and watch over constantly.  May we come before You with a proper posture of praise for who You are, and how You love us so well.  Teach us to trust in Your tender care.  Make us Your instruments, extensions of Your arms, ready to embrace all who need to know You are near.  Amen.

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

Gratitude Grown in Grace

photo by Emma Walton Hamilton

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Joy is the internal security of our promised heavenly home, not something that is determined by external circumstances.  To pray continually is to be in an ongoing conversation with our Creator, taking every thought captive and allowing His heart to be heard through how we live our lives.  Gratitude is an attitude of praise for His permanent presence in our hearts and lives, regardless of the chaos that comes.  All of these are what our Creator is calling us to carry.

Each of these acts of obedience, fuel the other.  When we pray, how can we not give praise?  As we give thanks, does not joy rise up?  The will of God is for us to live lives abundant in Him.  His mercy and grace are lavished upon us, despite our undeserving demeanor.

As our hearts whisper words of praise to our Provider for His presence, even in the seemingly impossible places, His heart can be heard as we are upheld in His hands.  Today, I begin with words of thanks that I draw breath and may breathe in the the beauty of my Beloved.  I am blessed beyond measure because He is my constant Companion.  Wherever I am, He is with me; and this alone is reason to give thanks.  His joy is found, as I become more aware of His permanent presence on this journey called life.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us with the capacity to pray and give You praise.  Thank You that even now, as we give You thanks for who You are in each of our lives, Your joy rises up and is our strength.  Teach us to walk in Your will, and allow Your joy to be found in each of us, no matter what our circumstance.  May the words our hearts whisper be good and pleasing before You, so that we may continually walk in Your will.  Amen.

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

How to be Holy

“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” – I Thessalonians 4:7
God created man to be in relationship with Him.  His intent was that we might live holy and blameless lives before Him.
All that was intended was interrupted when man (and woman), decided that they wanted the ability to determine the difference between dark and light on their own.  Impurity entered the garden when we decided to disobey the only decree that had been given.
God, in His infinite wisdom and unfailing love, made way for right relationship to be restored, so that man could once again, walk beside Him and live a holy life.  Our greatest gift, God’s own Son, who willingly bore the weight of our wicked ways, took all of our impurities upon Himself in our place, and returned our option to be received as holy and blameless before our Beloved.
Though our nature is sinful, we have help to become holy in His sight.  When we receive the redemption of our Redeemer, God sees us through the shield of His spotless Son, regardless of the wreckage we have become.
God does not expect perfection from His people.  Rather, He requires that we recognize and receive the mercy and grace that He offers, so that we may be made whole in Him; thus be seen as holy in His sight.  We can do nothing to earn this loving kindness extended by the Eternal, yet as we are willing to receive all that He offers, we become compelled to live lives of love.  His love leaves us longing to turn from our wicked ways to trust, as we taste the totality of Truth.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we are sinful, we are not stuck in our sin.  Thank You that You made a way so that we could once again walk beside You in a right relationship; restored and seen as blameless before You.  Teach us to trust with our whole heart, so that we might receive and walk out the holy life that You have laid out before us.  May our lives of love lead all who are longing, straight into Your loving arms.  Amen.

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

Called to Community

“Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel.  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or discouraged.” – I Chronicles 22:13.

Though these were David’s words to the people of Israel in reference to their task of building the temple of God, they still ring true as we “build” and care for the temple of the Holy Spirit.  When we love God and love people, we are keeping His commands, and are better aware of His presence and anointing, enabled to do whatever He is asking.  As we recognize His presence, strength and courage supplied by Him, rise up.  In Him, we shall not fear.  He is a God of encouragement, not discouragement.

We are God’s temple, and God wants His temple built up, not torn down.  As we bless and encourage others, and speak truth, even when it is trying, we are helping build the temple in others as well.

He has created us as creatures who need community.  It is critical that we are covered in Christ and connected to a body of believers.  Our success is sustained as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with siblings in our Savior.  There is power in prayer; where two or more are gathered – united in heart and purpose.  Forces that would fight to come against us, find no footing when we are engaged in fellowship with those the Father calls friends.  This is not to say that we are not to invest individually, for surely our relationship with our Redeemer is paramount.  Rather, this is to encourage each of us committed to Christ, to look outside of ourselves and take a leap of faith.

As an introvert, this is a challenge requiring commitment and courage found only through faith in the Father.  However, I am finding that the more I am willing to risk, the greater the reward, as He shows me even more of Himself through Christ who dwells in all of His children.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we learn to better listen to You, we gain insight as to how we are to give and receive, and how we are to individually invest in the community to which we are called.  Teach us Lord, how to love You and love people well.  Grant us strength and courage so that we may be willing to risk as we walk where You lead.  May we contribute to creating strong communities centered in Christ.  Amen.

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

Maternal Mirrors of Majesty

“Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” – I Thessalonians 2:20

photo by the Associated Press

These were Paul’s words to the people of Thessalonica, as he had ministered to them and was greatly encouraged by their growing faith.  As a leader, he filled a sort of parental role to the people on a spiritual level.

In the same way, as a mother, one of the greatest joys I’ve found is in seeing growth in my own children.  To watch them walk their own path, and to observe them earnestly seeking more of the Savior, is both a privilege and pleasure that has been presented by my Provider.  So often He uses the words that leave their innocent lips, to teach me lasting life lessons.

Just as I am grateful for the blessing of being a mother, so too am I blessed by my own amazing mom.  Additionally, God has also granted me the gift of wonderful and wise women that fill a sort of spiritual mother role.

Today, and always, I am eternally grateful for these precious people that God has given me in my life.  To all of the wonderful women that fill some sort of maternal role to someone – Happy Mother’s Day!  May this day be abundant in blessings as you have been such a blessing to others!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for both the gift of mothers and the treasure found in filling a mothering role.  May our mothering magnify Your magnificence to the masses.  Amen.

photo by Garden City Floral

To the one who comes beside me still

who loves and guides, provides my fill.

I give thanks right now, forevermore

for the glorious gift, whom I adore.

For teachers, coaches, aunts and moms

who love and lead and right our wrongs.

Be blessed today, for the gifts you are

right here, right now, whether near or far.

God gave us moms to always treasure

for their worth is far beyond all measure.

To those who love and serve without complaint

may you never grow weary nor feel faint.

Thank you, Father, for the gift of moms

whom You have used to make us strong.

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

Our Consummate Creator

“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.” – 2 Samuel 22:31

David’s Song of Praise, clearly conveys the character of our Creator.  God’s way, His design and desire for our lives, is perfect.  He, who is omniscient, provides us with His flawless word.  The Lord is also our shield and our protection; we can always run to Him, our safe Refuge.

He makes me lie down in green pastures…

Who wouldn’t want to pursue a perfectly prepared plan for their presence on this planet?

My desire is to do as my Deliverer has designed.  The challenge, is that I often get in the way.  I will try to run ahead, without knowing which way I am to go, or I detour or delay because I am distracted, or disturbed by the peril the path ahead may appear to hold.  The critical piece in pursuing all that He has prepared for us is remembering that our race requires faith and strength and wisdom and protection – all planned provisions that are ready and available, as we depend on our Redeemer.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your way is perfect, Your word is flawless, and You are a shield about us as we run into Your open arms.  God, please grant us all that is needed to pursue You and Your plan for our lives without wavering along the way.  Lead us to Your love, life and light everlasting, so that we may share our security in You with the souls that long to seek Your shining face.  Amen.

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