Mercy Shall Reign

This morning Cautious and I had an interesting conversation about forgiveness and a kid who is often unkind at school.  Five of his six classes are shared with this young man, and daily, his heart is challenged to forgive.  Cautious is a serious rule follower, and he is very disturbed by the number of disruptions caused each day by this boy’s behavior.  We spoke of my favorite strategy, to pray for those who persecute (or perturb), and ask to see one another through God’s eyes.  Soon, his sweet demeanor returned, as he realized that he too, has been forgiven much, and is blessed with love and support that surrounds him.

We cannot do anything to be more deserving of God’s grace than another.  It is not earned by being good enough.  However, when we recognize just how great the gift truly is, we cannot help but be compelled to give as we have been given.  The magnitude of God’s mercy extended to all who believe, is beyond what one heart can hold.  Not only does He withhold the punishment that is due – death; but He gives far beyond what we could ever hope for on our own, as He took our place on the cross so that we could spend eternity with Him.

“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” – (Romans 4:7-8)

Grace gives what we can never get.Mercy Shall Reign

Mercy withholds His judgment net.

Love extends His kindnesses still.

Faithfulness with hope He will fill.

Peace because His mercy shall reign.

Praise to Him who removes our stains.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we do not deserve it, You forgive us and love us as we are.  Thank You that when we ask, You remove our sin and shame, and no longer count it against us.  Lord, we need Your grace and strength to do the same to others, as on our own, we fail miserably.  We know that we must forgive as we are forgiven.  Please forgive us for any unforgiveness we are holding, or any bitterness that may linger.  Cleanse us from our unrighteousness, and help us to see others through Your eyes, so that we may extend Your love, grace and mercy to all.  May many come to know You, as they see You in our ability to forgive and extend the very same grace that has been given to us.  Be glorified as we offer all that we are, unto You.  Amen.

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

The Seasonal Shift

There is a not-so-subtle shift that somehow takes place between yesterday and today.  Every year, it seems much the same – gather, eat, relax and enjoy the company of family and friends, and return home to rest.  Despite a day off that follows, there is a sort of frantic feel in the air; a new sense of list-making, and task-doing that must be accomplished NOW.  Though I am not a Black Friday shopper, nor did I set an alarm clock this morning, I woke early with a sense of urgency to get things done.  Perhaps it is a realization that Christmas is now only twenty-six days away, or that I have not even begun to shop, decorate, or visibly prepare for the next season that has now arrived.

After slowing down my heart and mind, and spending time in His presence, I am reminded again of what matters most – not only this time of year, but always.  Am I loving God with my whole heart?  Am I loving people?  If I can answer yes, I am choosing to commit each day unto Him, then I am moving in the right direction.  Christmas is a most wonderful time of year, when we keep Christ in the center.  Remembering how He came to us as a vulnerable baby, only to go through all of the growing pains that we too experience and more, so that He could love us with His life, and ultimately, His death in our place on the cross and then His resurrection on the third day;  it truly is a sacred season.  When we think about preparations and giving, where does our heart go?  My hope is that as I ready my heart and home for this blessed new season, I will be intentional to honor Him.  As I give, I want to feel a fraction of what He feels when He gives us gifts.  When I worship, I want to marvel in the majesty of His presence.  Seated near the tree that will eventually go up, I hope to hear the heavenly hosts singing praise in my heart, as I gaze upon that which is adorned before me, as I think of Him.

May every heart stop,The Seasonal Shift

slow down and take in;

glimpses of You, God,

our Father, and Friend.

Let us not forget,

You are the reason;

we now celebrate,

this holy season.

Grant us eyes to see,

and Your heart to hear;

the glory around,

as You’re ever near.

Be honored, Lord, God,

in all that we do;

may all be now done,

to glorify You.

“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) 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the beautiful blessings that You wrap in this most holy season.  Please help us to keep our eyes fixed securely on You, so that our priorities will be aligned with Yours.  Show us how we may be a blessing to those around us.  Forgive us for getting caught up in the craziness of the “have-to’s”, and help us to know what matters to You, and what does not.  Help us do everything unto You, and may many come to know the real reason we celebrate this Christmas season.  Let Your love shine brightly through all that we say and do.  Amen.

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

Go in Grace

Dysfunctional dynamics seem to grace the tables of families as they gather together to celebrate the holidays.  There are always quirks and past hurts that flavor relationships, and how individuals interact with one another.  Every family has their “stuff“, be it external or internal – and it impacts the ebb and flow of how we do life together.  When God’s grace is understood, received, and in turn, extended to others, holiday gatherings are a blessing.  However, without grace, tension runs high and eggshell walking wields weariness as its weapon of war.

Today, as many of us go forth and gather, we have a choice – will we extend grace and love all as they are, or will we hold onto past hurts or our own concept of what ought to be?  How would we respond if Jesus, in the flesh, were seated beside us at the table?  If He is in us, He will be present in an equally tangible way.  It is our responsibility to allow His heart to be seen through our attitudes and actions.

May the God of all grace,Go in Grace

hold onto your hand;

may we truly receive,

trust all He has planned.

May we allow Your heart,

to be what is shown;

let our loving kindness,

make Your heart be known.

“May God our Father Himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you!  And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you.  May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all His followers.” – (I Thessalonians 3:12 – The Message)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for family.  Thank You for the blessings and love that You pour out on us.  Thank You that You are the reason we may gather and give thanks.  Forgive us for any attitude toward others that is not one of love and of grace.  Lead us and guide us as we go forth today, so that we are Your ambassadors to our families and friends.  May Your heart be made known, and Your love be clearly shown through all that we say and do.  Please provide places for those without family to gather and be loved, and show us how we too, are to be Your hands and heart to all those around us.  May many come to know the real reason for giving thanks on this day and always.  Be magnified, our Mighty God.  Amen.

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

God’s Gift in Grief

It is not good to navigate grief, nor face trials all on our own.  God gives us people to walk beside us and keep watch.  Though our first and foremost resource is our Heavenly Father, He created us to need people too.  In the glory of His goodness, He allows people to be His hands, heart and voice.  Jesus in us, makes Christ tangible to others, when we are faithful friends who do life with one another.

This morning, as I read further in Matthew, something stood out to me in a new way.  “Then He said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me.” – (Matthew 26:38)  Though Jesus, who was fully God, did not need to have people with Him, He wanted to have friends near Him in His hour of need to keep watch, as He knew what He would soon endure.  If the God of all creation wants to keep friends near when trials come, how much more should we desire the same?  We are relational creatures, created to be in relationship with God and with people.  We must do both to obey the greatest command: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” – (Luke 10:27, also Mt 22:37, Mk 12:30) 

God’s greatest gift,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

in the face of grief;

His heart made known,

friendship’s sweet relief.

For we are called,

to love people well;

as Christ loves us,

our actions do tell.

To walk beside,

through the good and bad;

grants glimpses of,

our Heavenly Dad.

Seek Father first,

and let people in;

we are all made,

for sweet communion.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be relational people.  Thank You that even Jesus, in His hour of need, wanted to have those closest to Him nearby.  Though His priority was time with You, the nearness of friends was also good.  Forgive us for the times that we isolate ourselves, not wanting to bother those who care about us and are a gift from You, and for the times that our priorities are out of order and we do not seek You first.  Help us to know the balance.  Teach us how to seek You first, and to know when to reach out, and when we are meant to sit in Your presence on our own for a time.  Thank You that You love us so well.  May we be a blessing to those around us, as we choose to love as we are loved.  May many come to know You as their Redeemer and Friend.  Be glorified in our love for You and for those around us.  Amen.

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

Hearts of Thanks

A heart that longs to serve, is the very sort of heart our Savior seeks. When we are willing to look beyond ourselves, He is able to use our offering of service, to touch the lives and hearts of those around us. When Jesus said, The greatest among you will be your servant,” – (Matthew 23:11), He didn’t just say it, but He lived out His days, modeling a life of serving others. Christ gave up comfort for the care of others, and loved with His very life.

An amazing thing happens when we choose to serve. As our gaze goes from inward to outward praise for who He is, and thanksgiving for all He has done, rises up, it can’t help but season how we serve. Not only does He use our obedience to bless those who are being served, but I know I always walk away better than when I began. There is a remarkable shift when we seek to serve.

Seek to serve Christ,Hearts of Thanks

in all He asks;

trust in His strength,

to do each task.

For not by might,

but by His love;

may we each serve,

our God above.

Do as He says,

follow His lead;

receive His grace,

to meet each need.

God is so good,

let us give praise;

with hearts of thanks,

our hands to raise.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us the way, so that we would know how we ought to live. Jesus, thank You that You came as a servant to all, rather than one that demanded what You deserved. Thank You that You are gentle and humble in heart, and therefore, we too, should be also. Forgive us for thinking that we deserve anything, and help us to have hearts full of thanksgiving and praise, that overflow in the form of serving others in love. May we seek You, and serve others as You ask of us. Teach us how to live and love like You, and may many come to know the saving grace that is found in You alone. Help us to be gentle and humble in heart, so that we may more clearly reflect Your radiance. Amen.

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

Pray Anyway

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” – (Matthew 21:22)

Prayer is the power of God in action;  it is not some sort of magical wish upon a star phenomenon.  However, in order for prayer to be effective, our heart must be aligned with our Heavenly Father’s.  Our requests must be in synch with the principles of God’s kingdom.  The more in tune we are with God and His will, the more likely we are to make good and pleasing requests.  God does not answer prayers that would hurt people, nor does He do things to go against His own nature or will.

What about the times that prayers seem to go unanswered, or do not turn out as we had hoped?  I anticipate this very loaded question may be meandering through your mind, as most of us have heartfelt prayers that we have earnestly prayed, that seemed to go unanswered.  How do we reconcile the disappointment, when we trusted and believed that He would answer?  What I have learned, and am still learning, is that believing and trusting Him and His character first, must be my priority.  His answers do not always come in the package I anticipate.  Though I ask for one thing, He may have other plans for my life or the life of another.  God, being the Divine Creator of ALL, knows best, and I have to trust that His ways and His plans are far better than my own, even if it means temporary heartache here.  I know that He is good.  I know that He loves me with an everlasting love.  I know that He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, and that He has a hope and a future for me.  At times, that has to be enough.

In faith, we must ask,Pray Anyway

trust God and believe;

for it is through Christ,

we now may receive.

All hope comes from Him,

our soon Coming King;

Lover of our souls,

our praises we bring.

May we come to know,

Your faithfulness, God;

as we pray to You,

and on Thy path, trod.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to hear our prayers.  Thank You that You answer that which we ask, as we earnestly seek You and Your will.  Thank You that though answers do not always appear in the form that we might hope for, You are forever faithful, and always have our best in mind.  Thank You that those who do not receive their healing on earth, are whole and in perfect health in Your presence now.  Thank You that Your love for each of Your created, is far greater than our own, and You know what is best, even when we want other than what has been done.  Forgive us for our frustrations and doubts, and help us to place our heart in Your hands, trusting You with all things, knowing that You hear us, and love us.  May we live each day as love and light to all those around us, and may many come to know the saving grace that is only found in You.  Thank You that You are so very good.  Amen.

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

The Unforgiving Debtor

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?’

Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22)
The verses that follow tell the tale of a servant who owed the king far more than he could ever hope to earn and repay in his lifetime, and deserved a life sentence of servitude to pay it back.  When he was brought before the king, who was working to settle accounts with the people of his kingdom, this particular debtor begged the king to be patient, so that he might pay back all that was owed.  The king had compassion on the man, and extended mercy undeserved, as the king cancelled the servant’s entire debt.
One would think that a man set free from such an unbearable burden, might be moved to go out and do likewise.  Sadly, this servant left the king’s presence, only to go and find a fellow servant who owed him a small sum of money, and demanded immediate payment.  Much like the wicked servant who’d been forgiven a large debt, this servant was not presently able to pay the amount owed.  Rather than extend mercy as had been done to him, the selfish servant had he with the lesser debt carried off and thrown into prison because he could not pay.
We too, have been forgiven a debt far greater than we could ever hope to pay.  When we confess before Christ and receive Him as Lord, He wipes our account clean and says that our debt has been paid in full.
Anytime that we harbor unforgiveness in our heart toward another, we are doing the same as the selfish servant.  It grieves my heart to think that I would act as the wicked servant did, and compels me to keep close accounts before Christ.  I am quick to call on Him for help when I feel unforgiveness attempting to find a foothold.  His mercy for me is so great, how can I help but hope to do the same unto others?
Our sins are erased,The Unforgiving Debtor
our debts have been paid;
each nailed to the cross,
and left in the grave.
His Spirit now ours,
to lead and to guide;
strength to grant mercy,
in Him, we abide.
Give undeserving,
that which is not due;
for that is what Christ,
has done unto you.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You forgive us each time we come to You and ask.  Thank You, that in turn, You equip us to do the same.  Forgive us for holding onto hurts or unforgiveness, and show us how to hand it all to You.  We want to be kind and merciful; people who are living examples of Your love in action.  Lead us to live as light and love, and may many come to know Your mercy, as they enter into an eternal relationship with You.  Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present. 

Dispelling Doubt

Stepping out of the boat is an ongoing act of faith. Courage is required to step into the new, unknown, and seemingly impossible scenarios that God calls us into. I can easily identify with Peter, as he experienced both the glory of the miraculous moments where he was walking on water, and the defeat that followed when he allowed doubt and fear a foothold. He was called to do something seemingly impossible, but as he stepped out with his eyes on Jesus, he found firm footing where firmness should not have been found. The struggle only came as the wind and waves that surrounded Peter, took his gaze off of our Savior, and only then, did he begin to sink. However, despite his momentary doubt, he quickly realized to whom he needed to cry out. Though there was a boat full of capable fishermen behind him, he called out to the One walking on water before Him.

“Come,’ He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!” – (Matthew 14:29-30)

More than that, Jesus responded right away. “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him…” (Matthew 14:31a)

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. His response to Peter, is no different than He will respond to us. When He calls us to “Come”, He will also provide safe passage, despite how our surroundings might appear. It does not mean walking in faith will be easy, nor does it mean we are above our own human doubts, yet it is critical that we remember Who our true Source of help is, be it in times of trouble or in peace. He hears our cries, despite our battle with fear and doubt, and lovingly shows us again and again that He is faithful to do as He says He will do.

Finding our footing,Dispelling Disbelief

when storms rage around;

eyes on the Savior,

lead lost to be found.

With gaze upon grace,

willingness to move;

He’ll hold hand and heart,

His faithfulness prove.

When we hear Him call,

and He says to “Come”;

may we move in faith,

so His will be done.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful and worthy of all of our trust. Thank You that You are the same – yesterday, today and forever. Thank You that we can cry out to You, in all things and at all times, and You hear our cry. Thank You that You are mighty to save, and Your heart is that not one of us sink. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, and help us to be quick to call on Your Name, when such struggles try to worm their way in. Grow our faith, Lord. Teach us to live and love as You call us, and may many come to know Your saving grace, as they surrender their lives to You. May we be faithful to follow wherever You lead. Amen.

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

He alone is Mighty to Save. Enjoy a version of the song I enjoy by Jeremy Camp. 🙂

Gentleness for the Weary

“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)

By Friday, this is an excellent reminder, especially during the unending busyness that accompanies this time of the year. My priority must remain in Him, as He is my source of strength and security, peace and rest. He does not give me burdens too heavy to carry; I am the one who picks them back up again. Each time I start to repack them, I become bogged down by the weight, and weariness quickly follows. It is essential that I give all unto Him, as He determines that which I am to carry, and that which I am not. Christ alone, knows how much ought to be in my bag at any given time, and is excellent at including grace and good gifts, to further ease the load that I am to bear at any given time.

Rest for my soul is a far greater promise than mere rest for my body or mind. If my soul finds rest, all else will follow. As joy bursts forth from the core of our being and is made visible from the inside out, so too, does rest for a weary soul, refresh the body and mind.

Gentleness is the most welcome response for the weary. God knows we need His kindness when we are worn. Though He is the Creator of the entire Universe, He cares for us individually, personally; and our Lord will receive us and provide His rest as we come unto Him.

When weary and worn, Gentleness for the Weary

heavy and weighed down;

come to our Father,

His kindness renowned.

His yoke is easy,

His burden is light;

He grants our souls rest,

allows our heart’s sight.

He helps us to see,

His mercy and grace;

that His load for us,

leads to freedom’s space.

He provides purpose,

and loves us so well;

He takes our burdens,

and the truth He’ll tell.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our place of rest. Thank You that when our soul finds rest in You, we are refreshed from the inside out. Thank You that You are gentle and kind, and humble in heart – though You are the Lord of all, You love us individually. Forgive us for attempting to carry that which is not ours to hold, and for picking back up the things we have already given to You. Help us to hand every burden to You, and trust You to hold our hand, heart and cares of this life – for You alone know what is best in every situation and circumstance. Thank You that we are a work in progress and that You are not finished with us yet. Show us how to love as You love, unburdened and unashamed. May many come to know the safety of Your glorious grace, and enter into an eternal relationship with You. Be glorified in all that we say and do, and may our load be full of Your love, goodness and grace. Amen.

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

One of my favorite reminders of where to turn when I am feeling weary and worn – Worn, by Tenth Avenue North.

To Be A Blessing

As an educator and a mom, kids are often on my mind. Though both my students and my own children are at an age where they have reached some level of independence, they still need love, nurturing and guidance to make wise decisions, and still require support from adults to have their basic needs met.

In the public school setting, this requires a delicate dance. Wisdom and vulnerability must be in balance, or students will not trust, nor hear what I have to teach. When kids know that they are cared for, they are willing to try. “I am sending you out like a sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” – (Matthew 10:16) I am not implying that the students are wolves, for they are like little lambs, (that occasionally have sharp teeth), but rather those who would like to see robots instructing without any heart – those are the wolves of whom we must be wary.

Teachers, in their very job description, give to kids. If a child comes to class without a pencil, we supply them. If a child comes hungry, we feed them. When a students comes not knowing how to behave in the classroom, we redirect and instruct them in the ways that are acceptable. “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) Our love for God is exemplified in how we treat others, and He notices how we care for those in our charge. We don’t earn our salvation through our deeds, but our relationship with Him is made evident to others, by our love and care for His created.

With wisdom and grace, Life Lived in Love

give unto the Lord;

worry not the cost,

nor of the reward.

But think of the one,

who has the great need;

love to the lonely,

and hungry to feed.

May our hearts be known,

so all see His light;

may comfort be found,

in Him, all delight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our salvation is not earned, but rather is a gift of grace that You freely give when we come to You and invite You to be the Lord of our lives. Thank You that as You take Your place in our hearts, You invite us to partner with You in loving people well. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected a nudge to do something that You were asking, and help us to obey immediately, regardless of the cost. Thank You for the blessing of kids, and for the joy and perspective they bring to the world. Teach us how to love and serve them well, so that we raise up a brilliant generation of believers, who are sold out for You. May they be world changers, as they touch lives and transform the communities in which they live. May many come to call You King of their lives today. Amen.

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