A Final Act of Love

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. The men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” – (Luke 24:1-5, NLT) 

 

Though Jesus had told those who followed Him that He would rise again, I imagine it was still difficult to conceive, as the very idea was a seeming impossibility. As I attempt to place myself in the position of one of the women who went to the tomb that morning, I picture women overwhelmed with grief as they walked toward the resting place of their Redeemer. This Savior whom they loved, was now three days in the grave, and they were prepared to interact with His broken body as a final act of love and a way to say goodbye. The tomb had been sealed by a giant boulder, immovable, even by a malicious act of will. Imagine the shock that flooded their hearts and minds as they approached the tomb when they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Fear? Anger? Concern? What could have happened to the body of their beloved? Then, as they stood there puzzling over what was missing, two men in dazzling robes appeared out of nowhere. Clearly the women recognized that the men were messengers from God, as they bowed their faces to the ground in terror. From sorrow to confusion to frustration to fear, these ladies must have been flooded as heaven came near. And then, after all of that, to hear that Jesus was alive… The women navigated the roller coaster quite gracefully, as the very next thing they did was go and tell the disciples what they had seen and heard.  

This is the very day that we celebrate and remember the miracle of the resurrection. The grave could not hold Him, and He is alive and moving on our behalf. May we remember our Risen Savior as we go about this day and know that His sacrifice saved us while His resurrection reminds us that we are no longer dead in sin.  

 

Early Sunday morn, Hope in an Empty Tomb

They went to the tomb; 

Grieving act of love, 

No hope yet assumed. 

Imagine their hearts, 

With Jesus not there; 

Distraught and confused, 

The Lord is gone. Where? 

Angelic visit, 

In dazzling light; 

The women bowed low, 

Faced the ground in fright. 

The men then asked them, 

“Why did you come here? 

Don’t look among dead, 

For live to appear.” 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Your Son, Jesus. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross for all of our sin and shame. Thank You that the grave could not hold You, and that You rose again and are seated at the right hand of the Father, moving on our behalf. Thank You that in You we can have life and light and love forever. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your sacrifice and the glory of Your resurrection. Help us to grasp the enormity of Your mercy and grace. Show us how to extend love and goodness to those around us as an outpouring of our gratitude to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise and give You glory for Your love that defeated death and gives life to all who receive You as Lord. Amen. 

 

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

 

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

Complete in Love

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. – (Ephesians 3:19, NLT)

Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has for you. – (Ephesians 3:19, ERV)

 

Just as this was Paul’s exhortation and prayer for the church of Ephesus, I pray the same for each of us today. God amazes me with the community that He has placed me in, as I gain glimpses of His love through how I am loved by those around me. Additionally, I find hints of insight into the depth of His love through the love I feel for my children, my family and my beloved circle by whom I am surrounded. The more we know His love, the more we are able to give it away. We do not have to have it all together to be loved by God, He loves us just as we are. When we are willing to receive what He gives, life and power and strength grows within us so that we can go and do likewise. May we ever be open to receive the love that God lavishes upon us, and freely give as we have been given.

 

May we truly know,Complete in Love

The great love of Christ;

In it we are made,

Through His sacrifice.

There’s fullness to know,

Of life and power;

That comes from the Lord,

Our great, strong tower.

No matter what comes,

To Him we can run;

By love we’re made whole,

Praise You, Holy One.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though Your love is too great to fully understand, we are made complete in the fullness and life and power that comes from You as we trust and depend on You. Thank You that You make Your love known to us in tangible ways through the people that You place in our lives. Forgive us for not recognizing the incredible gifts of Your goodness and grace in the hands and hearts of those around us. Teach us to receive the love that You give so lavishly, so that we would in turn, love others as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are filled with all that You have for us and we go forth wherever You lead. Amen.

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

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

Come Close

Come close to God, and God will come close to you… – (James 4:8a, NLT)

 

Everyone has heard stories of receiving that dreaded phone call – the one that announces unfortunate news of a loved one, causing an immediate emotional response, and a quick call to action. Yesterday morning, that phone call came to me. At the start of my second period class, I received a frantic phone call from my Mom. It was miraculous that I was at my computer taking attendance when she called, otherwise I would not have even seen her photo pop up on my phone screen, as I keep my ringer off during class. She never calls during school hours, so on a whim, I answered. On the other end of the line, I heard a voice that I barely recognized as hers, telling me that she’d been in a horrible accident. When I asked if she was okay, her response was simply, “no.” She was able to tell me her location, and I knew in that moment, that nothing mattered more than my getting to where she was to be present. My quick, internal, “Oh God, help me!” was followed by my class quickly being covered, a rapid exit from my room, and my arrival on the scene of the accident before the first responders had my mom loaded in the ambulance. Seeing her face and talking to her in person as I held her hand when I arrived at the accident site, brought a bit of peace, despite the destroyed car in front of me. The hardest span of time throughout the entire ordeal, was the time between leaving the scene and arriving at the hospital. Though I could see she had no lacerations visible, the internal and skeletal damage was unknown. All I could do was breathe and pray as I made my way, trusting that He had her in His hands. Thankfully, after two CT Scans, two x-rays, hours of waiting, blood draws and routine checking, Mom was given the all-clear (and the last few hours of her care were provided by a friend of mine who happened to be the nurse on shift in the ER), and walked away from an accident that could have taken her life. God protected and preserved the life of my Mom, and I am forever grateful. Though it is only the morning after, in hindsight, I already can look back and see how He covered and protected my Mom, surrounded and provided for me, as a way was made for me to get to her so quickly, as well as the loving community of friends and family that called, made themselves available, and sent messages to check on Mom as soon as they heard the news. Much of the time I spent waiting for Mom during her scans and x-rays, was utilized to reply to dear ones who were desiring updates on her well-being. I was back and forth between two phones, as the notes kept coming in. Last evening, two of my beloved favorites came to help with both the care of my Mom and to go and check on the status of her car, while another pair of dear former neighbors came to call on Mom to see that she was okay for themselves. God is so good, and He has provided and placed us both in kind and caring communities that are family. More than anything, this continues to show me how near God is in all things and at all times, and how He uses people to be His hands and heart when we hurt. May we ever draw close to God, for He will be near to us.

 

When that call comes in,ambulance

And hearts are dismayed;

Call upon the Lord,

He will not delay.

His presence made clear,

In tangible ways;

Hope and help to us,

As we seek and pray.

Choose draw closer still,

For God will be near;

He calms anxious hearts,

His love covers fear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we draw near to You, You are right here, waiting. Thank You that You are faithful to bring peace to our anxious hearts, and surround us with support and encouragement when it is needed most. Forgive us for our fearfulness when we walk into the unknown. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love and encourage those around us in times of peace and in times of turmoil. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we draw ever nearer to You. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

A Command to Love

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. – (1 Timothy 1:5, NIV)

 

In this passage, Paul was giving Timothy instruction as to how to stand firm in the faith. Paul’s instruction was received well by Timothy because Paul had proven his heart toward him and his fellow believers over time. Love had been made evident over time, and the instructions were delivered from one with a good conscience, sincere faith and a heart that had been made pure by that which Christ had done. We are called to do likewise. It is our charge – His command to us – to love. The only way that we can truly do this is if we love as He has loved us. When we submit ourselves to Christ, He purifies our hearts, cleanses our conscience from any unrighteousness, and grows us in sincere faith. It is from this space of submission, that we are able to fulfill the goal of the greatest command – to love. May we choose to receive that which He has given unto us, and go forth and do the same to all whom we encounter.

 

The greatest command,Purposeful Prayer

that we have been told;

instructs us to love,

all whom we behold.

Not just those we choose,

but all whom come in;

as Christ’s beloved,

treat all as if kin.

From a heart that’s pure,

and conscience that’s clean;

with a sincere faith,

show all what love means.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You do not first demonstrate and then equip us to do. Thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus, who came and showed us how to love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. Thank You Jesus, for Your sacrifice so that we could become pure and acceptable before God because of what You have done for us. Forgive us for not recognizing the remarkable work that You did on our behalf on the cross to make us acceptable before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive that which we have been freely given, and would then go forth and do likewise in love. Help us to love others well, as You so perfectly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to obey Your call on our lives to love others well from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

 

 

Fixing Our Thoughts on Thanks

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. – (Philippians 4:8-9, NLT)

When we fix our hearts and minds on the things of Christ, His peace is present within us. The more we focus on He who is worthy of all of our thanks and praise, the more we begin to bear the likeness of our Beloved. We have been given tools to know and understand what the expectation is for true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable things. It is merely a matter of opening the word of God and seeking Him, to grow in our understanding of what pleases Him, and what does not. His Spirit within us will provide that still small voice that whispers to either press on or walk away. Our charge is to open our ears, eyes and hearts to Christ, so that we may operate in a fashion that follows His. Let us fix our thoughts on the things of God, giving Him all the thanks and praise both now and forevermore.

May we fix our thoughts,Modeling Our Maker

on that which is true;

most lovely and pure,

things that reflect You.

For excellent things,

most worthy of praise;

are those graced by God,

throughout all our days.

May we give Him thanks,

for His perfect peace;

that He grants to us,

as we gaze on these.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise. Thank You that when we seek You and listen to You, You lead and guide us to such things. Thank You that Your peace rests upon us as we choose to set our focus on such things. Forgive us for allowing our thoughts to stray from Yours, and teach us to trust You more, so that we would remember that Your peace remains present when we keep our focus on You. Lead us to love others with the very same love that You give to us, so that they too will seek to give You thanks and praise. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we fix our thoughts on all that is excellent and worthy of praise, and rest in the sweet space of Your peaceful presence. 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

Discipline is Discipling

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves as a father the son he delights in. – (Proverbs 3:11-12, NIV)

My son, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be angry when He corrects you.  The Lord corrects the one He loves, just as a father corrects a child he cares about. – (Proverbs 3:11-12, ERV)

The word discipline has always held a strange duality in my world.  On one hand, it held this connotation of being in trouble, and that is a very negative association for a people-pleaser; yet on the other hand, as an athlete, discipline  has simply meant adhering to the training and teaching prescribed by coaches who knew far more about my sports than I did.  In athletics, I never had a problem with a coach correcting me, as I knew it was for my benefit as an athlete, and would make me stronger, faster, or more efficient (depending on which sport they were coaching).

As I unpack the word this morning, discipline in this portion of Proverbs has the same connotation as my second example.  Discipline here, actually means to teach and to train.  God wants to teach us and train us in His ways, and He loves us enough to correct and redirect us when we go astray from the path on which He has placed us.  His Holy Spirit will whisper to our heart when we have said or done something that we ought not have done.  That unsettling feeling of regret or remorse is actually our invitation to repentance.  The Lord is so kind and gentle.  He patiently and lovingly waits for us to turn our eyes back to Him, and set our sights on that which matters most – who He is, and who He is calling us to become.  May we embrace the Lord’s discipline as His sons and daughters, understanding that it is because He delights in us, that He disciples us in love.

The Lord loves to teach,

and train those He loves;Compassion in Confrontations

He shows us the way,

to change, overcome.

Just as a parent,

shows a child the way;

to live life upright,

for all of their days.

Embrace the correction,

for He teaches those;

beloved children,

whom He calls His own.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your discipline is part of discipling, and You are teaching and training us in the ways in which we are meant to go.  Thank You that love alone is Your motivation.  Forgive us for rejecting correction, or for being slow to respond.  Help us to quickly recognize Your voice, correction and direction in our lives, so that we can walk ever closer with You.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we may embrace all of Your discipling, even when it involves rebuke or redirecting from where we thought we were meant to go.  Lead us to love others with the same generosity that You pour out upon us.  May many come into a lasting relationship with You.  Be glorified O God, as we embrace the teaching and training that You extend to each of us, individually.  Amen.

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Hold Fast to Truth

“If you hold to My teaching you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” – (John 8:31b-32)

 

Jesus is the truth that sets us free from the sin and deception that seek to entangle us. When we commit our lives to Christ, and invest our hearts and minds into learning Who He is, we are considered His disciples. However, we must not simply be readers of His word, but also doers of His word. Disciples display faith in action. As freedom is found and truth is made known, our lives should actively reflect His presence in us. May we embrace His teachings so that we know the truth, and walk boldly in the freedom that Christ bestows upon His beloved.

 

Let us each hold fast,His Mighty Power

to God’s Holy Word;

where the truth is found,

and freedom is heard.

When we choose embrace,

the teachings of Christ;

we must also move,

model a changed life.

The truth that we know,

should be evident;

in how we go forth,

in Christ, we’re content.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You and seek to know You, we find You. Thank You that You reveal Yourself to us, and set us free from the sin and deception that entangle us. Thank You that equip and empower us to do Your will, as we actively seek You. Forgive us for not investing in our relationship with You, or for not holding fast to the truth of Your Word. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will be quick to hold fast to all that You have promised, no matter how things appear. Lead us to be faithful doers and not mere talkers. Help us to love others as You so abundantly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You this season, as they encounter the truth of who You are, and what You have done for them, individually. Be exalted O God, as we actively reflect Your presence in us. Amen.

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

For Freedom, We’ve Been Set Free

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – (Galatians 5:1)

 

Jesus came and bore the cross in our place so that we would no longer have to live under the weight of a long list of laws and regulations that were impossible to obey in their entirety. His sacrifice set us free from the chains that enslaved us to our sin, and has granted us new life – freedom to follow His ways of loving God and loving people. Because of Christ, we can now do what was impossible before – live unselfishly unto Him, rather than to indulge our every desire. Yes, we will still struggle with our own humanity, but we are no longer ruled nor enslaved by the sins that once bound us. May we stand firm in the freedom we have been afforded through the loving sacrifice of Christ.

 

Freed from the chains,For Freedom

that once held us down;

cleansed from our stains,

by His thorny crown.

Our weighty yoke,

He’s taken away;

given instead,

His strength to obey.

Not a long list,

but two simple things;

love God and man,

is what He’s asking.

Eyes looking out,

to God and to man;

selfishness fades,

in freedom we stand.

No more we’re bound,

to sin’s slavery;

held in Christ’s hands,

beloved and free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in Christ, we have been set free from the yoke of slavery of our sinfulness. Thank You that in You, we are able to stand firm, and fight the good fight, as You are our Champion and our Strength. Forgive us for taking our eyes off of You, and allowing sin and anything that would try to entangle us to have a foothold. Protect us from the snares that seek to enslave us, and grant us Your wisdom to know where to walk and how to stand firm in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we remain firm in the freedom we have found in You. May many come to know the freedom that You offer, as we live and love as You call us to do. Be glorified, O God, as we stand firm in the freedom of our faith. Amen.

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

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

Come Quickly

Come QuicklyCome quickly to us,

O Lord, do not delay;

mighty Deliverer,

be our help today.

The need is so great,

a painful poverty;

not for lacking in wealth,

but for Your healing.

Desperate the need,

as death knocks on the door;

she trusts You are faithful,

she needs You, still more.

A touch of Your hand,

the warmth of Your embrace;

be hidden in Your wings,

pour Your love and grace.

Your peace that passes,

what is known to mankind;

fill her overflowing,

body, soul and mind.

Oh dear Beloved,

heal as only You can;

restore unto body,

that which You have planned.

“Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my Help and my Deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.” – (Psalm 70:5)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You and cry out, and You hear every hope that our hearts hold. Thank You that Your love is far greater than our needs. Thank You that You are faithful to walk beside us, even when the road feels like a cliff we are about to fall off. Forgive us for fearing what our eyes see, and help us to see things through Yours. Thank You that for You, solutions are simple and paths are plain. We lift up our loved ones with needs that are known, and ask for Your wisdom and grace to guide us as we walk alongside. Be the Healer and the Prince of Peace, as You continue to hold our hands and hearts. May we move in the light of Your love so that many may come to know all that You offer. We love You Lord. Amen.

Anne 2
Anne update: Yesterday was very difficult, as Anne’s pain was far beyond what most of us could bear. It is a helpless feeling to know that we are unable to make it all better. However, we have a God who can. Please continue to contend with me for Anne’s healing, and for His comfort to cover her in the wait. Thank You so much for joining me in prayer, as Anne travels this difficult road. Love and blessings to all. – Shannon

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

Summoned to Stand

image by Muara Fatan

image by Muara Fatan

In the path of destruction,

and in the throes of such pain;

let us not forget our God,

who rules in spite of the rain.

Amidst the devastation,

where all seems rubble and dust;

these places where hope rises,

evidence of faithful trust.

For even in great sorrow,

promised joy again will rise;

as beauty from the ashes,

grants us hope to realize.

Where there is fear and darkness,

we are called to stand and pray.

May we offer what we can,

be His hands and heart today.

Rise up all His beloved,

for we all can do our part.

Today, what is He asking?

Answer.  That is where we start.

image from abcnews

image from abcnews

“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” – (Psalm 33:20)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in the midst of devastation and destruction, You are still God.  Help us to not lose sight of Your strength to save and restore, even out of the spaces of seeming total wreckage and rubble.  We lift up all of the lives impacted by the recent collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh, the earthquakes, the fighting, corruption, terrorism, and most recently, the terrible tornadoes in Oklahoma.  Lord Jesus, help all to see Your light in the darkness and devastation, and grant us wisdom to know what You would have us do in response.  Forgive us for being apathetic to that which does not directly impact us, and grow in us, a passion to pray and to pursue that which You would have us do, to be Your hands and heart to the hurting.  Lead us in Your love, so that many may come to know that lasting hope is held in You alone, and is not dependant on time, space, nor circumstance.  Thank You that You are forever faithful and worthy of all of our trust.  Amen.

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