Archive for November, 2012


“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” – Romans 3:28

For proof of His presence is EVERYWHERE!image by Yoga on the Beach

For proof of His presence is EVERYWHERE!
image by Yoga on the Beach

Our forgiveness, salvation and justification from and before the Father are found only by faith; by trusting whole-heartedly that Jesus’ death on the cross was enough for us to become right with God.  We are not saved by works.  Only by FAITH.

“Why does God save us by faith alone?

(1) Faith eliminates the pride of human effort, because faith is not a deed that we do.

(2) Faith exalts what God has done, not what people do.

(3) Faith admits that we can’t keep the law or measure up to God’s standards – we need help.

(4) Faith is based on our relationship with God, not our performance for God.” – (NIV Study Bible footnotes)

If faith eliminates our personal pride for what we practice, then as we come before Him with humble hearts, He can do immeasurably more than we could ever hope or imagine.  As we exalt what God has done, we point to the path for people to find faith in the Father.

As our faith grows, we come to know just how short we fall from keeping the law in our own strength.  When we come to know our own need, we seek Him for the strength necessary to sustain us and keep our path straight.

Finally, faith is found through relationship with our Redeemer, not through our personal performance.  If our hearts and minds are busy looking to see how we are measuring up, we have moved our focus off of the Father and are missing the point.  However, when we press in and keep our focus on the Founder of our faith, spending time with Him, accepting His limitless love, mercy and grace, our faith finds secure footing and we learn to stand strong on  solid ground.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that through Your Son, You have provided the way for our salvation.  Thank You that it is not through our performance, nor through our ability to follow the letter of the law (for we ALL fall short – Romans 3:23) that we are saved, but instead, it is through accepting the immeasurable investment that You have made available to every heart that believes.  Jesus’ life paid our price, so that we might receive eternal residence in Your holy presence.  Forgive us for forgetting our faith and trying to work to please You.  May we find rest in the very best that You grant us all, by faith and forgiveness through the sacrifice of Your Son.  Lead us to live lives faithfully in and for You, so that many may come to find faith too.  Amen.

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

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image by Megan/Brassy Apple

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.” – I Thessalonians 5:18

This does not mean that we need to be thankful FOR all circumstances, rather, we are to be thankful IN all circumstances, for God is still our God – be it in blessing or in battle.  His love and presence remain, and for that, we ought to give Him thanks and praise.

Every evil attack against us is NOT from God.  He who is good and is love, has nothing to do with that which comes against us.  God, in His infinite wisdom, continuous kindness and lavish love for us, His kids, will keep close – as near as our next breath – through both the presence of pain and of plenty.  God’s very nature, His nearness, these are our reasons to be grateful and to give Him praise at all times.

There are times when the suffering or the struggle are making it seemingly impossible to stand, yet in Him, there is strength.  In Him, there is hope.  In Him, there is reason to reflect upon His goodness and grace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our reason to give thanks.  Thank You that no matter what surrounds us or comes against us, You alone, remain with us, holding our hands and our hearts.  Forgive us for losing sight of You in our storms, and help our hearts to hold onto our hope in You, no matter what comes near – as You are our beacon that shows the way through the storm to the safety of Your loving arms.  Teach us to trust in You; Your strength, Your mercy, Your grace, Your great love for each of us that always stays the same.  May we give thanks IN all things and at all times, not FOR our circumstances, but for Your faithfulness to us in them.  May many come to know Your nearness through our lives lived in gratitude, despite our circumstances.  Amen.

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

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” – I Thessalonians 3:12

Paul wrote these words as an exhortation and prayer for the Christians in Thessalonica.  “If we are full of God’s love, it will overflow to others.  It is not enough merely to be courteous to others; we must actively and persistently show love to them.  Our love should be growing continually.  If our capacity to love has remained unchanged for some time, ask God to fill us again with His never-ending supply.  Then look for opportunities to express His love.” – (NIV Study Bible footnotes)

In order for our love to increase, we must decrease – our agenda, our ideals, our desires, our “rights” – and allow His love to fill us up, once again.  His love is without limits; it is we, who are not willing to receive all that He has to give.  When we humble our hearts and are intentional to spend time with Him, (in His word, in worship, in prayer and in wait) He is faithful to fill us to overflowing.  As our love grows, it overflows to those who are around us.  Our patience and persistence increase, while anger and animosity decrease.  The more we are in tune with Him and readily receiving His love, the more often opportunities become obvious where we are meant to  choose to love others well.

Line-up from L to R – me, my cousin, Gram, my sis, my mom – LOVE!

My grandmother, whom I affectionately call Gram, is one of the greatest human examples of this kind of overflow that I have ever had the pleasure to know personally.  She has lived through The Great Depression, WWII, devastations, heartaches, deaths and dismay, great love and great loss, yet through it all, she has chosen love.  Everyone who meets her feels safe, known, heard, and loved in her presence.  Her heart for people clearly reflects the love and light of the Lord.

Dear Heavenly Father, may Your love in us increase abundantly so that it might overflow to all whom we encounter.  Forgive us for failing to receive all that You are ready to give.  Heal our hearts so that we will readily receive, and in turn, pour out Your loving kindness to all.  Lead us Lord to love like You.  May many come to know how deep and how wide is the love You have for each of us, as we invest in our relationship with You.  Amen.

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

“When Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.  ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’  ‘What is that to us?’ they replied, ‘That’s your responsibility.” – Matthew 27:3-4

image by Clive Coutet

Judas wanted to drop his charges, but the religious leaders refused to stop the trial.  Judas must have recognized the magnitude of the mess he had made, and was trying to make amends.  It was too little too late, as once such plans were set in motion, they could not be stopped. (paraphrased from NIV Study Bible footnotes)

Perhaps a key take-away for us, the readers, is that we ought to consider carefully the collection of possible consequences, BEFORE we take action.  Sometimes, regardless of the sincerity of our remorse, our actions cannot be cancelled nor the outcome reversed.  That being said, there is nothing that we have ever done, nor will ever do, that cannot be forgiven by our Heavenly Father.  Jesus’ death on the cross was carried out so that our debts might be cancelled and our conscience made clean.  Though we are forgiven in heaven, it does not mean that there will not be consequences on earth.  We must choose wisely, our words, thoughts and deeds, for some damage done, cannot be undone.  Yes, God can work ALL things together for the good of those who love Him, and can use them to teach and turn hearts toward Him, yet intentional sin is blatant rebellion against our Redeemer.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, so that we, as sinners, might be granted second chances.  Thank You that Your mercy and grace do not run out, and that they are made new every morning.  Please forgive us for our sins, and keep our focus securely fixed on You, so that we might consider the consequences before we take action.  Let Your love be the light in us that keeps us from choosing darkness.  May our careful consideration lead to prayerful prevention from our partaking in things that cannot be undone on earth.  Teach us to choose wisely, so that others too, will want to walk in Your way into life everlasting with You.  Amen.

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

image by Ray Cordova Ministries

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.” – Matthew 25:40

Jesus was explaining to His followers that whatever we do for another, it is as if we are doing it unto Him.  How we love and care for one another, matters to God.  In fact, He takes it personally.  He sees, hears and knows all that we do out of our love for Him, and He counts it as if it has been done unto Him.

Though we are saved by grace alone, it is because He loves us and cares for us individually, that we ought to do the same for one another.  As we come to receive His love, we are compelled to convey that same love to one another.  He equips and encourages us to do just that, to love as we are loved.  We have not limitless resources nor time, yet we are refreshed and supplied by the Savior who does.  No, we cannot do or be all things to all people, yet we can choose to do the next right thing.  If we see someone who is hungry, we can give them something to eat.  If we see someone who is cold, we can give something to offer warmth.  If another is lonely, we can offer our company.  If one is hurting, we can lend a helping hand.  The needs around us are far too numerous to count.  All together, they present a daunting, monumental and impossible task; however, if we look at one thing at a time and do what we can, we are choosing to have open eyes, hearts and hands.  Through us, His love will flow, when we are willing to extend our hearts and hands to another.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to live as our example, die for our sins, and rise to be seated beside You as our Intercessor so that Your Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, might lead and guide us in the way we are meant to go.  Please forgive us for our paralysis when we are overwhelmed and know not what to do to help with the numerous needs around us.  Teach us to trust You and to listen to Your leading so that we may simply do the next right thing, and then repeat, again and again and again.  Lead us to live lives of love, just as You love us.  May our love be lived out loud, so that many may come to know of Your care and concern for each of us individually.  Amen.

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

“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes.  Immediately, they received their sight and followed Him.” – Matthew 20:34

image by ForSuchATimeDesigns

Two blind men, seated by the side of the road, heard that Jesus was going by, so they shouted out for Him to be merciful.  Jesus, despite the crowd’s determination to deter Him from the duo that was crying out, stopped in the middle of His movement, and came close.  He asked them what they wanted, and their response was likely bold and full of belief, as they said, “we want our sight.”  They knew their own need for mercy, and Jesus came close with compassion and touched those thought to be untouchable.  The instant His hands extended and touched, both blind men immediately received their sight and set out to follow Him who had healed.

The compassion of Christ as He came close, the belief of the blind that led to blessing, and the present power to heal held in His hands, made a mere moment move lives and hearts so that they would find and follow He who forgives and holds our forever in His hands.

Compassion goes beyond care and concern.  Compassion calls the compassionate to action.  It requires that we come close and act on the observed need and actually do something to help change the circumstances.

In this blessed season of celebration, there are many with great needs – both known and unknown.  What can I do to come close and show Christ to those in crisis?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son so that we might see the loving heart of You, Lord; full of compassion and fueled by love.  Forgive us Father for knowing needs and doing nothing.  Teach us to trust You for strength and supply, so that we might draw near to need and give – of ourselves, our resources, our time, our heart – just as You have given unto us.  Lead us Lord to truly love like You, so that we might be compassionate in a way that conveys Christ to those in crisis.  Use us Lord to touch lives and transform communities, as we love others as You have first loved us.  Amen.

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

Please enjoy this song, Little Things, by JJ Heller, that so profoundly demonstrates how much the little things can make a difference.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKnXx7thMtQ&feature=player_detailpage

image by The Natural Heritage Collection

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three come together in my Name, there I am with them.” – Matthew 18:19-20

In this passage, Jesus points out the power that is present when two or three believers come together in prayer.  God hears the hearts of His children as we press in, united in prayer.  As we stand in agreement, He is with us, and He is faithful to answer what His followers are asking.

Though it is good and necessary to spend time on our own in study, praise and prayer, it is also important to be involved in a body of believers.  Having a person or two whom we trust and are in a similar space in our faith with, provides accountability and access to put our faith in action.

Where two or three are gathered, there is opportunity to discuss and process a shared experience in His presence.  Sometimes, that which He speaks, or how He comes in power, is beyond our ability to hold or hear on our own.  When another is present, each can help the other recount and remember His  faithfulness to answer from the time together.

God created us to be relational.  We are not meant to walk alone.  When one falls down, the other is there to pick them back up.  Yes, He is always with us, yet He knows our need for the tangible too.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be in relationship with You and with one another.  Forgive us for trying to go out on our own, rather than connecting with common heart and purpose in prayer with another in You.  Lead us to trustworthy trios and pairings as we gather to call on Your Name.  Teach us to balance our individual time with You, and our time spent corporately as a body of believers.  Grant us wisdom, I pray.  May our purpose and prayers presented to You lead the lost to a lasting relationship with You.  Amen.

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

“After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray.  When evening came, He was there alone.” – Matthew 14:23

copyright Shannon E. Moreno 2012

Jesus was intentional to set aside time to be alone in the presence of God in prayer.

If Jesus, who is our example of how we ought to live, was intentional to make time to meet with our Maker, how much more are we meant to be intentional in our time spent alone with Him?  Though corporate worship and fellowship with the body are good and benefit in the building of our faith, the true intimacy in a relationship with our Redeemer, comes through our intentional isolation, spent seeking and sitting still before Him as we present our praise and prayers.  We cannot hear if we are never quiet, and we cannot gain deeper insight, if we do not spend time in His word.

Real relationship is formed through prayer, patience, praise and persistence in His precious presence on a regular basis.  A wise friend recently gave me an acronym for rest as a reminder that yes, He does want my time and energy spent studying, praying and being obedient to Him, but He also wants me to take time to REST in Him as well.

RRelax

EEnjoy

SStillness

TTrust

Seeking is good.  Studying is good.  Resting and enjoying Him in stillness and trust, are also necessary, yet seemingly foreign in this fast-paced existence.

Jesus was busy too.  Wherever He went, crowds would find and follow Him.  When He wasn’t teaching a crowd or healing the hurting, Jesus was training the disciples in truth and trust, so that they too could stand strong and share the good news.  In all the perpetual motion, the Majestic still made time to be before our Maker, alone, so that His heart and mind might be refreshed and refueled, and His heart be made ready for the rough road ahead.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to be our example and to make the way for us  to pray and rest in You.  Forgive us for the times that we are not intentional to set aside time to spend in prayer alone with You, and for not remembering to also take time to REST in You.  Teach us to be intentional in our prayer, and to rest in You, so that we might be refreshed and renewed and made ready for our road ahead.  Lead us to love others as we are loved by You, so that others too, might find truth and rest in You.  Amen.

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

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

image by St. Gerard’s Choir

The worries of the world weigh heavily, when we do not willingly yield our cares and concerns upon Christ.  He who conquered sin and death, can carry the cares and concerns of His kids.  He longs to grant us rest.  He is humble and gentle, despite His dominion and deity over all.  He is never invasive, yet ever waiting, patiently, for us to place our trust in Him.  As we trust, we will find rest.  His yoke is not laden with the laments of the world, rather it is lavish in love and lends light to the lost.

Today, as we give thanks for all the good that has been granted in our lives, may we embrace the grace He has given through His promises, His presence, His peace and His protection.

A tradition found in the church of my youth, was the corporate declaration of thanks to God for the various gifts of grace that He had given.  As I have been enjoying the numerous declarations of gratitude that have been poured out this month on  various social media, my mind has been mulling over the many blessings that I have been bestowed.  The following is but a brief beginning of the blessings that are far too numerous to name:

For life and love, for God’s great grace;

thanks be to God.

For family and friends, and even foe;

thanks be to God.

For health and hope, for thwarted harm;

thanks be to God.

For faith and freedom, and future secure;

thanks be to God.

For home and hearth, for more than enough;

thanks be to God.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that even in this season of busyness and chaos, we can come to You, and find true rest.  Thank You that You restore our spaces of ruin and love us back to life.  Forgive us for not giving proper praise, where all of our worship, thanks, adoration and gratitude ought to have been given.  May we come to You and exchange our heaviness for Your hopefulness, and our hurts for health and healing in You.  Use our yielding to Your yoke to lead the lost to Your loving arms.  Amen.

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

image by Matt Beaty

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” – Matthew 10:42

“How much we love God can be measured by how well we treat others.  Jesus’ example of giving a cup of cold water to a thirsty child is a good model of unselfish service.  A child usually can’t or won’t return a favor.  God notices every good deed we do or don’t do as if He were the one receiving it.  Is there something unselfish you can do for someone else today?  Although no one else may see you, God will notice.” – (NIV Study Bible footnotes)

To give with no expectation of return, is to love as Christ loves us.  The motivation in our heart is what matters most.  If we reach out in love and offer what is needed to another, it is as if we are applying that action to the Almighty, Himself.  He sees and He knows what we do on His behalf.  Do our actions reflect our Risen Lord, or do they wreak of expected return?  We are called not to give so that we can get, but instead so that others may come to know the great grace of God.  What simple acts of kindness can we offer, be it in our lack or in our abundance?  A kind word, a gentle touch, a helping hand?  Though such things might not be our natural inclination in every circumstance, each time we choose to act in love, we are allowing His light to shine through us.

Grace grows as we give it away.

Rather than concerning ourselves with whether or not there is gratitude from the recipient of our actions, shouldn’t we instead be grateful for the resources we have be given to do anything outside of ourselves?  If we can move, we ought to give Him praise.  If we can speak, we ought to say what He says to us.  If we have breath, we ought to give thanks with every breath we breathe.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that despite our inability to return the great grace and very gift of life that You have given to us, that You accept and receive our every offering of compassion and kindness that is extended to another as if it were done unto You.  Please forgive us for our blindness to the abundant need around us, and for our selfishness that sees extending ourselves as too costly.  Teach us to trust so that we may give as we have been given – lavishly, lovingly, and without limits.  Let our every offering lend Your light to dark places, and may it provide hope where hope has previously been lacking.  May You be clearly seen as we live out our lives with open hands and hearts, willing and ready to reach out to others as You have done to us.  Amen.

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