Love Comes Near

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. – (John 13:34, NLT) 

I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I love you. – (John 13:34, ERV) 

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. – (John 13:34, VOICE) 

 

On the same night that Jesus was betrayed, He shared a last meal together with His disciples. After they had eaten, He spoke the words above to them. Each of the disciples had walked with, learned from, listened to, and had seen with their own eyes and experienced for themselves how deeply and completely Jesus loved. When He spoke the words, they understood what Jesus was calling them to do. In the same way, we are commanded and called to love. We are not called to set limits and qualifications as to whom and how we love, but rather we are called to love one another deeply and fully, just as Jesus loves each of us. It is not always an easy calling, but it is always worthwhile when we follow through. His love makes way where there seems to be no way and softens even the hardest of hearts. May we rise up and be ready to forge forward in faith and love one another in the same way that He loves each of us. 

 

We have been given, Ambassadors of Love

A command to love; 

To love like Jesus, 

As He so loves us. 

Love that is faithful, 

Trustworthy, sincere; 

That’s freely given, 

And chooses come near. 

Love without limits, 

Nor rules to receive; 

By grace, it’s given, 

Because we believe. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithful and generous love for each of us. Thank You that You both call and command us to love one another as we are loved by You. Thank You that You equip and empower us to give the very same love that we have received to all whom we encounter. Forgive us for withholding love in spaces where it is needed most. Teach us to trust You more, as You loved us when we were most unlovable so that we could do the same for others. Show us how to love like You, so that many may come to know the depth and fullness of Your lavish love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fill us to overflowing so that we may go forth and love others as we are loved by You. Amen. 

 

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

 

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

Overcoming Power

“He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what He told you back in Galilee, that the son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that He would rise again on the third day.” – (Luke 24:6-7, NLT)

 

Grief does funny things to our ability to think clearly. I can only begin to imagine the weight of the sorrow shared by those who had walked closely beside Jesus, prior to His crucifixion. Despite His having told those dear to Him what had to happen, and what would happen after, if they were anything like most of us, they probably could not grasp anything beyond His having to die. Even more surreal to see in one’s mind, is the arrival at the empty tomb. What began as shock, horror, and perhaps even outrage that Jesus’ body was missing, was quickly turned to worshipful awe, as they were greeted by angels who told them what had happened. It had to have been quite a sight to see, if the first words from those whom God had sent, was, “Don’t be afraid.” I envision it being a two-fold extension of kindness. Don’t be afraid of us, and do not be afraid of what you do not see. It did not take long for the truth that they had been told prior to Jesus’ death to be recalled, and suddenly, everything changed. Mourning turned to gladness, and sorrow surrendered to great joy! Jesus had risen! May we rise this day and remember the reason for the festivities. The Light of the world defeated death and conquered the grave so that we could have life everlasting in Him.

 

Two days of darkness,Hope in an Empty Tomb

Then third day, He rose;

Defeating the grave,

All hope to disclose.

Greeted by angels,

At the empty tomb;

Awe and amazement,

Minds blown at the truth.

Though He had foretold,

Was hard to believe;

No more was Christ dead,

He’d risen indeed.

What joy they had found,

Their sorrow, no more;

Jesus has risen,

Worship and adore!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You did not stop at the death on the cross on our behalf, but You showed us Your power as You defeated death and overcame the grave so that we could have life everlasting in You. Thank You that the very same power that conquered the grave is available to all who trust in You. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to defeat our resolve, rather than turning to trust in You. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone have the power to carry us through every circumstance. Show us how to live and love boldly, as we have been given all that we need to love as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to fill us so that we may live and love in the overcoming power You place in each of us. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 54:8

Let It Be Yes

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying – I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. – (Matthew 26:74, NLT)

 

Peter, who had been one of the three who was closest to Jesus, ultimately betrayed Him in His darkest hour. This must have been particularly painful, as Peter was the only disciple who was mentioned as having followed where Jesus was taken after His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. Rather than extending support or testifying on His behalf, Peter stood outside at a distance – watching and waiting to see what would happen. In his wait, he was asked three times if he was associated with Jesus. Three times, he denied even knowing Him. After Peter’s third denial, the weight of his words overwhelmed him, and he ran off weeping bitterly at his own weakness in the face of adversity. However, the beauty of Peter’s story is that he does not live the remainder of his life as a broken and remorseful man, but rather Jesus forgives and redeems him, and he goes on to become the rock on which the church is built. Peter’s failure later became the way in which he was restored, as Jesus asked him three times, “Peter, do you love me?” Each time Peter responded with a resounding “Yes“, and Jesus followed his “yes” with the call to go out into all the earth and share the good news. Peter went from mess to minister, through the power presented in the forgiveness Jesus provided. May we each seek the redeeming power that Jesus provides as we are willing to say “yes” to Him as He forgives our every sin and shortcoming.

 

Oh Lord as we come,Beside Still Waters

Broken in our sin;

I stand in such awe,

As we’re forgiven.

Your grace overwhelms,

Restores and renews;

Gives rise and purpose,

To all who come choose.

Lord take all our sin,

And wash it away;

Show us how to rise,

To walk well, Your way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God who forgives, heals and restores us and raises us up so that we can do mighty things for You. Thank You that our past does not determine our future. Thank You that You can bring beauty from ashes, and testimonies from trials. Forgive us for wallowing in our own failures, rather than seeking Your forgiveness and redemption. Teach us to trust You more, as Your hand is what moves us in mighty ways. Show us how to love as You love us, so that many may come to know and understand the power of Your forgiveness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for forgiveness, and rely on You to be our strength and guide wherever we are meant to go. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Peace in Times of Trouble

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – (John 16:33)  

Jesus spoke plainly to the disciples about what was going to happen on the night He was to be betrayed, and let them know why He was leaving and to Whom He was being sent. Despite the darkness that was about to befall the disciples as they would watch their Savior and friend walk the long and agonizing road to the cross alone; Jesus assured them that it would not be the end. His assurance was played out in the most miraculous way ever recorded. Jesus defeated death, after bearing the brunt of all of our sin and shame. He rose again, appeared to many, and then returned to the Father so that He could send His Holy Spirit to be our Counselor. Jesus truly overcame the world, and in Him, we too, can overcome any obstacle that comes our way. His peace is available for us, and His strength in steady supply. To take heart is to place our trust in Him and allow Him to lead us, no matter what season we are walking through. He is faithful and He has already overcome all that lies before us. May we rise up in faith and take heart, for our Heavenly Father is holding us in the hollow of His hand.

Jesus has told us,His Mighty Power

a number of things;

so we may find peace,

that only He brings.

Though we’ll have trouble,

He won’t let us fall;

the Lord’s overcome,

He’s conquered it all.

Let’s rise up in faith,

in Christ, take a stand;

for the Lord is good,

we’re held in His hand.

Strength for the weary,

so we won’t grow faint;

His Spirit in us,

let’s trust in His Name.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us Your word that tells us what is good and true and lovely. Thank You that when we seek You, we find You and come to know Your peace. Thank You that despite the trouble that we all face, we have the blessed assurance that ultimately, in You, we will overcome. Thank You that we are more than conquerors in You. Forgive us for forgetting how near and powerful You are when the waves begin to overwhelm us. Teach us to slow down, and fix our eyes on You, rather than the storm that surrounds us, so that we may see what really is the truth. Lead us to love others well, so that they too may come to know Your peace and provision in such a way, that they turn to You forever. Be glorified O God, as we take heart in You, learning to lean into Your peace as You lead us to overcome all that comes against us. Amen.

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

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

The Road Less Traveled

There are times in our Christian walk when the road less traveled is not the easy path to take. In fact, there are times when following Christ is downright difficult. However, any difficulty that we endure now, is well worth our eternal gain. Jesus is our ultimate example as to how we are to handle the hard. On the night on which He was betrayed and was praying in the garden, the following was His prayer. “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for You. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” – (Mark 14:36)

 

Jesus asked that His Father take the trial before Him away, yet if not, He was willing and ready to obey. Christ’s obedience on that very night, is the reason that we are able to traverse the more difficult road to which we may be called. His Spirit, which dwells in us, empowers us to continue, even over the seemingly impossible terrain. God is not offended if we ask Him to take away the difficulties, yet we too, must be willing to continue pressing in, even if our trials remain. He is good, and His love remains forever. Christ uses our obstacles to demonstrate His strength. May His power be clearly present in the places where pressures are the greatest.

 

The long, winding road,Prepare the Way

that has not been paved;

where we’re asked to walk,

so truth may be raised.

Let every step,

be made with intent;

to honor the One,

by Whom we are sent.

Help us to endure,

the trials that come;

not in our own strength,

but through Christ the Son.

Let all those who see,

what we may endure;

know it’s Christ in us,

that makes us secure.

What’s impossible,

for humanity;

is “yes” and “amen”,

through Jesus in me.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son.  Jesus, thank You for enduring so much suffering for the sake of our sins. Thank You for taking our place, so that we could have life in You. Thank You that what is impossible for us, is possible through Your strength. Forgive us for seeking to serve our own will, rather than Yours. Help us to trust You more so that we too, may pray, not what I will, but what You will. Teach us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come into a saving knowledge of Who You are, as they see Your power at work in our lives. Be glorified, O God, as we seek to follow Your will for our lives. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Conferred by Christ

You are those who have stood by Me in My trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on Me, so that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. – (Luke 22:28-30, NIV)

 

You men have stayed with Me through many struggles. So I give you authority to rule with Me in the kingdom the Father has given Me. You will eat and drink at My table in that kingdom. You will sit on thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. – (Luke 22:28-30, ERV)

 

Jesus offered these words to His disciples at the last supper on the night He was betrayed. Though they had just been arguing about who among them was the greatest, Jesus pointed them to the proper perspective on personal position, and then proceeded to acknowledge all of them as His faithful friends who would be seated at His table in Heaven. Our charge is to serve, rather than concern ourselves with attaining a place of power. Whatever our position, we are called to serve and honor Christ. If we seek to serve, rather than be served, our heavenly rewards far outweigh any earthly acquisitions we might hope for. To know that we will be in Christ’s presence forever, is reason enough to seek Him all the more. May we be faithful to stand firm, and rest assured in the reward that is yet to come in Christ.

 

When we seek the Lord,External Appearance

His power resides;

He dwells within us,

so near, He abides.

Christ’s great faithfulness,

and goodness alone;

ought to compel us,

make our heart His home.

With hearts set to serve,

may we go in peace;

to honor our King,

His glory, release.

When our days are done,

and we stand alone;

may we hear, “Well done,

come child, you are home.”

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You, and You love us to life. Thank You that You sent Your Son to show us the way to love and serve, as You want us to do. Forgive us for being more concerned about our position or acquisitions than about people. Teach us to prioritize as You do. Let Your love lead us to serve others, so that they too, might come to know the truth. May many find their way to a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we seek to serve as You call and equip us to do. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Perseverence in the Face of Persecution

Jesus was no stranger to insult, persecution, and slanderous statements. From the night on which He was betrayed, until the moment He drew His last breath on the cross, He endured ongoing evil against Him at the hands of men. Despite the malice and maltreatment, Jesus was without sin. In fact, He sustained suffering we cannot begin to fathom at the hands of mankind, all for the sake of our sins. He chose to hang on the cross and be subject to all the anguish, so that we could have life in Him. In the throes of His affliction, He asked God to forgive them, for they knew not what they were doing. What kind of love does that?

 

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” – (Matthew 5:11)

 

This particular verse comes from the Sermon on the Mount, as Jesus gave some specific words of encouragement for those who would come and follow Him. Jesus himself, spoke the words about rejoicing when we are persecuted. He did not simply ask nor instruct us in these things, but rather He modeled it with His very life. Though I have not reached a point yet where I embrace even the idea of persecution, there are benefits in the process, for those who believe. Withstanding persecution takes our eyes off of earthly rewards, and instead points to the eternal; it strengthens the faith of those who endure, and those who persevere faithfully, serve as incredible witnesses.

 

Let not slander,Perseverance in the Face of Persecution

tear your heart down;

think of Jesus,

and that thorny crown.

Though He suffered,

He chose to give;

His life away,

so we might now live.

Insults were thrown,

and lies were told;

yet Jesus loved,

the Hope we can hold.

As nails were placed,

in outstretched hands;

He still chose love,

to fulfill His plan.

As skies grew dark,

and lots were cast;

the veil was torn,

and Christ breathed His last.

The best of it,

was coming soon;

for in three days,

stood the empty tomb…

 

Dear Jesus, thank You that You came. Thank You that You lived and loved and showed us what it is to walk in Your way and do the will of the Father. Thank You that You did not leave us on our own and expect us to just figure it all out, as You sent Your Holy Spirit to dwell in us, so that we have help and comfort and Your constant presence with us always. Forgive us for fearing the trials that may come our way, and grant us strength and grace to endure all things. Teach us to trust You as our source of strength and hope, even when things seem unbearable. Please grant Your peace to those who are in the midst of such suffering, and give comfort to their loved ones who are away from them. Help us to love as You love us, and may many come to know the blessed hope held in You alone. Be exalted in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

 

 

His Help Sustains

“Surely God is my help; the Lord is the One who sustains me.” – (Psalm 54:4)

 

As I read this morning’s passages, this verse in Psalm 54, commanded my attention. Though they were David’s words in reference to his own struggles with Saul and his insanity that was constantly trying to kill him, (among other challenges), I could not help but relate it to Jesus and what He must have been going through on this day, so many years ago. He knew the horrors He would willingly have to endure to make the way for mankind to become reconciled back to right relationship with the Father. Jesus also knew that He would be betrayed and abandoned by His dearest friends in His greatest hour of need. After time in the upper room with the disciples, Jesus knew He needed to go to the garden to pray, to commune with God, His help and the One who sustained Him when all others were unable to so much as stay awake and keep watch.

 

People are flawed, and cannot nor should not be our ultimate source of help and hope. Yes, God gives us amazing people in our lives to help, encourage, lift up, and walk beside – but ultimately, our help comes from Him. He is the One who sustains us, and the Lord is our help and our hope. Because of what He willingly went through all those years ago, first in the garden, then before Pilot and Herod and the rest, what He endured on both the ground and while He hung on that cross – was all for us – for you and me, individually, so that we could come to Him and trust Him to be our help and our hope. If not even death can defeat Christ, how can we not trust Him to be our help in all things?

 

Surely You are,His Help Sustains

my help and my strength;

sustaining One,

Who goes to great lengths.

You bore my sin,

and all of my shame;

so I might know,

the hope in Your Name.

O Lord, my God,

again I’m amazed;

at Your great love,

I give You all praise.

I place my trust,

in Your mighty hands;

Your will be done,

by Your grace, I stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our help and the One who sustains us. Thank You for sending Your Son to make the way for us to have access to You and know You as our personal Savior. Thank You that You are not God out there, but You are God right here, dwelling in the hearts of all who believe. Forgive us for not turning to You when troubles come, or for attempting to take on trials in our own strength. Thank You that You love us so much that You provide Your help and strength, and often, You provide people too. Help us to be available to those around us, so that You may use us to encourage and build up the body. May we love others as You love us, and may many come to know You as their help and their hope this Easter weekend. Be glorified, Lord God. Amen.

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

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence.

– Acts 2:28

 

 

 

The Saga of that Somber Day

Agony

Withdrawal

Prayer

Disappointment

Prayer

Frustration

Submission

Betrayal

Healing

Denied, denied, denied

Mocked

Beaten

Insulted

Questioned.  Answered.

Accused

Questioned.  Replied.

Justified

Slandered

Sent away

Questioned

Accused

Ridiculed

Robed

Returned

Presented

Exchanged

Sentenced

Surrendered

Burdened

Crucified

Mocked

Defended

Believed

Accepted

Taunted

Forgave

Darkness

Torn

Committed

Received

Finished.

(Responding to Luke 22:47-23:46)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your only Son for us.  Jesus, thank You for enduring the excruciating

image by 123rf.com

image by 123rf.com

separation and the weight of the world’s sin, for our sake.  Thank You that the story does not end in darkness and death, but we look forward to Sunday, knowing that You alone defeated death and rose again, so that we might come to know new life.  May we recognize the gravity of this day, yet not lose sight of the joy and hope held in You, our overcoming One.  May many come to know You this week, as so many are willing to walk into church and will hear Your word.  Let Your love, light and hope be heard, held and received.  Amen.

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