Wages vs. Gifts

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 6:23, NIV)

The payoff for a life of sin is death, but God is offering us a free gift – eternal life through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King. – (Romans 6:23, VOICE)

 

In our natural state of sinfulness, we deserve death. Not even the kindest and most gentle of individuals is without sin. The consequence for such, is death. However, God sent His Son to extend to us, the opportunity to choose life – life everlasting in Him. There is nothing that we can do to earn this gift that He gives, but rather we must choose to receive what is being freely offered. When we choose Christ, we choose life. We are not promised pain-free pleasantries each day of our lives in the here and now, but in Him, we have the glorious hope of our future freedom from all such things, for all of eternity with Christ. There is no greater gift than He who laid down His life for our sin and shame, so that we could have life abundant in Him. May we receive all that He is offering, as we walk into this weekend of remembering not only His death on our behalf, but Christ’s resurrection from the grave that could not contain Him, so that we could enter eternity with Him.

 

Though we deserve death,Good Gifts

He’s given to us;

the gift of His Son,

life in Christ Jesus.

When we choose receive,

new life becomes ours;

where hope is our truth,

and Love empowers.

Let us choose embrace,

this gift given free;

so all may come know,

Christ dwelling in me.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we deserve death for our sinfulness, You made way for our lives to be redeemed through the gift of Your Son. Thank You Jesus, for dying in my place, so that I might come to know the truth of who You are, and how You love. Thank You for the hope that we hold forever in You. Forgive us for not living with an eternal perspective, as all in the here and now will one day fade away. Teach us how to trust You more, so that we will see things through Your lens. Show us how to love others well, so that they too may come to know the hope that is found in You alone. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the gift of life that You freely give. Amen.

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

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

Storing Treasures

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – (Matthew 6:20-21)

 

Storing our treasures in heaven is really a matter of where we are investing our hearts and our resources. It is not merely a matter of money, but how too do we spend our time and our talents? Do we seek to serve God and fulfill His purposes with what we have been given, or is our agenda self-serving? If we seek to accumulate “stuff”, and squander our time and talent on that which is self-serving, our reward is only in the here and now, rather than a return that lasts for all of eternity. May we seek to serve Christ with what we have been given, and may our hearts hold fast to our heavenly treasures, rather than that which is temporary.

 

To each one of us,The Holiday of Hope

He has granted gifts;

resources to share,

down-trodden to lift.

What we choose to do,

with what He’s given;

determines what’s stored,

treasures in heaven.

No one can destroy,

what’s given in grace;

the Lord’s light won’t dim,

as we seek His face.

May we invest well,

all that is growing;

so many may come,

into a knowing.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created each of us with gifts and talents that can be used to honor You. Thank You that all that we have can be trusted in Your care, and utilized for Your glory. Forgive us for allowing our hearts to treasure anything that is not of eternal value, and help us to hold fast to You, so that our heart will treasure that which lasts forever. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will not limit our investments in Your Kingdom, but rather that we would be willing to be obedient however You ask us to give. Lead us to love in such a way, that Your light is made evident through each of us. May many come to know Your saving grace as we seek to invest all that we are and all that we have, into that which is eternal. Be glorified, O God, as we operate in obedience in how we invest the gifts that You have granted. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

Set Free

For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. – (Romans 3:23-34)

 

Sin is any and every word, thought and deed that goes against what God has intended for us. Unkind thoughts toward another separate us from God just as much as murder. According to His word, ALL sin cuts us off from our holy God, leading to death. However, because of what Jesus chose to do on the cross, ALL can be forgiven.

 

God judges us through the lens of His Son, Jesus; and we are therefore justified, declared NOT GUILTY, as every charge against us has been nailed to the cross that He already bore. As we ask for forgiveness, God removes our sin and wipes our record clean, as if we have never sinned. What a joy His justification is to all who believe!

 

Redemption is a reference to being set free from slavery. For all who are in Christ, that is exactly what has been done. Christ has redeemed us from a life enslaved to sin, and set us free to follow Him; to live a life in the light of His glorious grace.

 

Miserable mess,Set Free

until we are found;

lost and all alone,

by sin we were bound.

Then one lovely day,

in a moment’s time;

we met our Savior,

Who forgave our crime.

He took each poor choice,

and cast it away;

came into our hearts,

where He’s promised stay.

All guilt was removed,

now covered with grace;

granted a new start,

for each day to face.

May my life bring praise,

in all that I do;

each word, thought and deed,

grant glory to You.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that despite our short-comings and our sinfulness, You love. Thank You for sending Your Son to take our place, as He justified and redeemed us from all that kept us from You. Jesus, thank You for carrying the horrendous weight of our burdens, so that we could enter into an eternal relationship with You. Forgive us for holding ourselves or anyone else to a standard other than that which You set before us, and help us to forgive, as we too are forgiven. May many come to know the joy of being justified and redeemed through Your salvation, and may we extend Your love and grace to all whom we encounter. Be glorified as we live, love and forgive, as You have done for us. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things. 

Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

Wanting the World for Our Children

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of Him.

“What is it you want?” He asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at the left in your kingdom.”

– (Matthew 20:20-21)

 

As a mom, I can understand the motivation that was driving Zebedee’s wife’s question. She wanted assurance that her boys would be secure and established not only now, but in Christ’s kingdom, forever. Though the question was a bit over the top, the heart that had the audacity to ask, was one of a mama who wanted the very best for her boys.

 

Based on the response that Jesus gave, our charge as parents to help establish security for our children, is to teach them to have a heart to serve Him, rather than to pursue recognition. If we keep in mind that our children are not our own, but rather are a precious gift from God, granted for a tender time to raise in the way that He calls them, and then are meant to be released to go forth to pursue whatever path He has placed before them, we may continually be in a space of lifting them up before Him. Our prayers do not go void, and our children never stop being our kids.

 

Faithful the love,Wanting the World for Our Children

of a mother’s heart;

seeks to provide,

safety from the start.

The greatest gift,

granted as they grow;

roots deep in Christ,

so His path, they’ll know.

Lead them in love,

show a heart that serves;

quick to forgive,

give praise that’s deserved.

Not in our strength,

but clearly in His;

faith, hope and love,

great blessings He gives.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the treasures that children are to us. Thank You that You consider us Your children, regardless of our age or upbringing. Thank You that You are loving and full of grace, and that You provide all that we need to parent and love children well. Forgive us for our own selfish desires for our kids, and help us to submit our children wholly unto You. May Your purposes and plans for their lives come to pass. Teach us how to love and raise them in the way that they are meant to go, and help us to cover them in prayer, always. May many come to know the gift of Your goodness and grace through our precious progenies. Be glorified through the faithfulness of our families. Amen.

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

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy.

– Hebrews 4:16

 

Promises to Pass On

Mark 10:17-31, reveals the story of an exchange between a rich young man and Jesus.  The young man, who had amassed great wealth, came to Jesus and asked what he could do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus, despite how the man had appropriately addressed Him, saw past the list of laws he claimed to have upheld, and recognized the root of pride held in his heart.  “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” – (Mark 10:21a)  In His great love, Jesus told him truthfully, what it would cost for the young man to follow Him.

Jesus does not ask all of us to sell everything we own, nor are we often expected to give it all away.  However, He does ask that we place Him above all else.  He saw that wealth was in the highest position of honor in the young man’s life, so He directly exposed its root.  Our eternal security is not something that we can earn, but rather a gift that is freely given, if only we are willing to believe and receive in faith.  As we trust Him, He directs our heart in the ways we are meant to go, and keeps our path straight.  When we are submitted to our Savior, we will hear what He is asking of us along the way.  We are not promised wealth, nor security, nor a cushy bank account; but we are promised hope, faith, love, and a peace that surpasses all understanding, as we have His Spirit with us to navigate this adventure of a life.

‘Tis not to be earned,Promises to Pass On

this glorious gift;

our treasure to hold,

all praises we lift.

Forever our hope,

is founded in Christ;

not temporal things,

though they can be nice.

For Jesus alone,

is our only Source;

redeeming Savior,

our holy true course.

As we fix our eyes,

our hearts and our minds;

true treasure is found,

the eternal kind.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You look upon us with love, regardless of where we are in the process of moving closer to You.  Thank You that You lovingly show us the way we are meant to go, and that You redirect us when we get off course.  Forgive us for not fully submitting all that we are and all that we have, unto You.  Teach us to trust You completely, as You alone are our true Source.  May we recognize all that we have and all that we are is a gift from You that is meant to be shared.  Help us to hear You well, so that we love as You call us to love.  May many come to know the eternal hope that is held in You alone, as we live in the love You have so generously poured upon us.  Be glorified, our great and mighty God.  Amen.

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

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

The Power of Generosity

Yesterday, my pastor continued the series, Into the Wild, with a message titled, The Power of Generosity.  The text for the message was taken from Genesis 13:1-18, and continued with the story of Abram on his adventure Into the Wild, as he walked in obedience to the Lord’s calling.  In Abram’s obedience, the Lord had greatly blessed him, so much in fact, that his herdsmen, and Lot’s herdsmen, had begun to argue about having enough pastureland to graze all of their livestock.  Rather than focus on He who had blessed them, the herdsmen had begun to fixate on the blessing.

Instead of allowing disputes to ensue, Abram moved in faith, and acted in abundant generosity.  Though he was the patriarch of the family, and had every right to claim all that had been given unto him, he treated Lot as his equal, and gave him first choice of the land before them as they were to part company so that the land could better support all of their livestock.  Lot chose what appeared to be the better of the two directions, yet Abram seemed unfazed by his decision.  He recognized that the God who had so abundantly blessed he and his family, was not limited in how He might bring forth the promised blessings.

Abram’s generosity models how we ought to live.  Generosity is one of the ways that we are most able to live freely before God.  When we are generous, we are choosing to live our life unrestrained, for Him.  As we release things to God, we make room for the miraculous.

The power to change,The Power of Generosity

a heart full of pride;

sincere humbling,

grace giving resides.

A generous heart,

gathers and unites;

selfishness scatters,

makes people take flight.

Such hearts are humble,

they give God control;

releasing the reigns,

make serving their goal.

Perspective through Him,

hearts that understand;

all His ways are best,

so trust in His plan.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us numerous examples of how to live generously, so that we may fully understand and know the freedom that comes when we give all unto You.  Thank You that generosity is not just about our finances, but it is about who we are, being all in for You – our time, our trust, our encouragement, our willingness to do whatever You ask.  Forgive us for withholding any part of ourselves or our resources from You, and help us to understand how to release all unto You.  May we make room for the miraculous in our lives.  Let us live our lives in love, as You love us, and may many come to know the generous and loving God You are, as a result.  May hearts be turned and lives be changed.  Be glorified, O God.  Amen.

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

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

As We Are Available

When a problem was identified among them, the leaders gathered the disciples together to discover the source of their dissent.  Once the issue was identified, the Twelve determined a need to appoint others to assist in administrative tasks, so they selected those who were full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.  “They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.” (Acts 6:6)

We are given a great model of how to run things well, through the example set by the early church.  Even if the arena is not a church setting, wisdom ought to direct leaders to gather and identify those who are gifted with strengths in the areas of need, and then those selected ought to be placed in a position to perform the given tasks, with the blessing of the leadership.  Thriving businesses, schools, corporations and churches, all seem to utilize this model.  No one leader attempts to do everything, but rather those meant to lead, keep the main things the main things, and delegate administrative tasks to individuals who are gifted in those given areas.

How can we be a part of the solution, rather than perpetuating the problem?  If we see a need, we can help fill it if we are able; if not, we can identify the lack, and bring it to the attention of those who are in charge.  Our ability to help is often limited more by our willingness, rather than our skill set.  If we have a heart after God and a mind set to serve, there is likely something that we can contribute.  May we each be willing to do whatever He calls us to do.

Leaders gather,As We Are Available

recognize a need;

seeking helpers,

to the Lord, they heed.

For the faithful,

in whom Spirit dwells;

ready to move,

to answer Him well.

May we be those,

on whom they can call;

willing to answer,

trusted to install.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us an example of how things ought to be, through the example of the early church.  Thank You that You still provide the very same faith and Holy Spirit in us, that You did in them, to allow us to operate in the same way.  Forgive us for grumbling rather than taking action or seeking answers, and help us to be willing and available to be part of the solution.  May we help take the weight off of those You have placed in leadership positions, so that they may best do that which You have called and equipped them to do.  Let our lives lived in love be both an encouragement to the faithful and a witness to those who know You not.  May many be drawn unto You, and come to know You as their personal Savior.  Be glorified in all that we say and do, and let Your authority be evident among the body of believers.  Amen.

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

To Honor the Dream

Today, many of us are the recipients of an extra day off.  This day is in honor of the birth and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Were it not for him, and the myriad of others who joined in the fearless fight against the injustices taking place in these United States, the face of our nation would not be nearly so beautiful, as it is today.  My classroom, which is a melting pot of countries and cultures, seated together, learning from each other, would not be possible.  What a travesty indeed it would be, to miss out of the blessing of living out the dream, of Dr. King.

Our charge, as humans – God’s created, is to love one another.  If we truly love, then the dream that Dr. King and so many others fought for, is alive and going strong.  It is when we choose to allow individuals to taint the face of an entire people group, that barriers are built up, and all that was fought for, is for naught.

“I can’t help but wonder why You care about mortals – sons and daughters of men – specks of dust floating about the cosmos.  But You placed the son of man just beneath God and honored him like royalty, crowning him with glory and honor.  You ordained him to govern the works of Your hands, to nurture the offspring of Your divine imagination; You placed everything on earth beneath his feet.” – (Psalm 8:4-6 – The Voice)

May we learn and grow in how to nurture and govern well, in a manner that is pleasing unto God.  Let us choose love, even in the face of adversity or fear.  Our strength to live and love, comes from Christ alone.

To honor the dream,To Honor the Dream

of a faithful man;

to live out our lives,

in line with God’s plan.

He calls us to love,

to choose to embrace;

regardless of creed,

religion or race.

May we truly show,

what love really is;

so many may come,

and long to be His.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for men and women of faith who have gone before us and modeled love, and fought peacefully to end injustice.  Thank You for the progress that has been made in this nation, so that all people have opportunity to learn and grow, dream and achieve.  Forgive us for any personal barriers we may be bearing, and please break them down with the wonderful weight of Your love.  Lead us and guide us, so that we may love and embrace all who come near, regardless of whether or not their values and beliefs align with ours.  You dined with outcasts, and spoke freely with sinners – trusting the Father, never concerning Yourself with social norms, nor societal expectations.  May we have the very same trust, and continue to grow the dream.  May many come to know You as their Savior, as a result of our loving kindness.  Be glorified in all that we say and do.  Amen.

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

Child-like Contributions

So often, the truth of God’s word comes to life through the faith of children. Kids do not overcomplicate nor overanalyze, but rather they take the truth as it is presented, and make it a part of their reality.

As I was reading in John six this morning, something new stood out to me as significant. When Jesus had asked Philip where they might buy bread for the multitude that had gathered to hear Him, it was not Philip, nor even one of the disciples who brought forth any sort of offering; instead, a boy with five small loaves and two small fish came forward and offered what he had. Jesus took the gracious gift of a child and multiplied it into enough to feed the masses, and more. The miraculous happened after the movement of one young boy, who offered what he had.

“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, He said to the disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” – (John 6:10-13)

I imagine that is why He asks us to have a “child-like” faith. If we simply have faith and do not doubt, we see far more of the miraculous. Our offering is not about how much we give, but rather our heart, as we bring what we have to offer. If we come and believe that He will take what we offer and transform it into something great for His purposes, then we understand the point in giving at all. When we give, our hearts gain opportunity to grow further in our faith. We often get to witness the miraculous in our lives, and the lives of others, simply because we choose to offer what we have.

May I come to You,Child like Contributions

with faith like a child;

and give without doubt,

with a heart beguiled.

Let that which I bring,

to You, give glory;

so many may know,

how great Your story.

May Your truth be told,

through our offering;

our time, talents, gifts,

unto You we bring.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to meet us wherever we are at, and that You readily receive that which we offer. Thank You that You can take something seemingly so small, and use it for something great in Your kingdom. Thank You that it is not up to us to determine how our offering will be used, but rather how we prepare our hearts, and choose to give in faith, trusting that You will utilize all that we offer, for good. Forgive us for holding back for fear that we have to little to offer, or for giving with doubts that anything could possibly be done with that which we bring. Thank You that You determine the value of our offering, not the world. Thank You that You see our time, our talents, and our resources as all equally valuable in touching lives and transforming communities. Teach us to trust You more, and help us to have “child-like” faith as we give of ourselves, trusting that You will do the miraculous as we are willing to move. May many come to know the greatest gift that has ever been given this Christmas, as they come to know the true reason for the season. Help us to love like You, so that You are seen in us. Be glorified in our giving of gifts this sacred season. Amen.

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

Glory to the Giver

Glory to the GiverTo humble oneself,

is not to put down;

let not comparing,

determine our crown.

For it matters not,

our state verses men;

but rather to Christ,

who was without sin.

Let exaltation,

be given to God;

for there is none else,

deserving such laud.

Recognize the gifts,

He has placed in you;

be obedient,

let purpose ensue.

Serve with a pure heart,

and offer Him praise;

our purpose in Christ,

should direct our days.

Place all trust in God,

for His word is true;

all of creation,

He’s granted to you.

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” – (Luke 14:11)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not compare us to one another, but rather, when we are in You, You view us through the covering of Your Son – considering us sons and daughters whom You call worthy and loved. Thank You that You grant good gifts to each of us, and allow us to learn and grow in how we might honor You with all that You’ve given. Thank You that Jesus is our perfect example of how we are to walk in humility. He did not elevate Himself, nor neglect those in need; yet He was bold and undeterred in answering Your call, even unto the cross. Please forgive us for comparing ourselves to each other, and for not honoring the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Teach us to view ourselves with proper perspective, as we are all sinners, saved by grace alone. Help us to move mightily wherever You call us to walk, and may many come to know You as Lord of their lives as we live out our purpose, loving well with the gifts You have given. Be glorified in all that we say and do. Amen.

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