Refreshment for My Soul

He refreshes my soul… – (Psalm 23:3a, NIV)

He restores my strength… – (Psalm 23:3a, ERV)

You let me catch my breath… – (Psalm 23:3a, MSG)

He makes me whole again… – (Psalm 23:3a, VOICE)

 

As I have been provided the opportunity to gather with dear friends this weekend, my heart holds onto the promise that He refreshes our souls. This particular group of gals and I have been dear friends for twenty-five years. We met in Montana as each of us was following the call to participate in Discipleship Training School with YWAM. Our time together back then was an intense six months, as we prepared and then traveled to our determined destination in Southeast Asia. Three of us landed together in Thailand, while the other two spent their outreach experience in Japan. That connection so long ago has held fast, and we are each blessed and refreshed as we try to make time to get together at least once a year for a weekend. Though each of our lives have gone different directions, there are common threads and shared experiences that bring our bond even closer. This weekend grants us each room to catch our breath, as we find time to laugh and simply enjoy the presence of one another as we share what has been happening in our lives. I love how God uses the people that He has placed in our lives to refresh, restore and encourage us as we navigate the path that He is leading us along. May we ever seek Him to restore our strength and refresh our soul, as He is the One who will make us whole again.

 

Be still, O my soul,

YWAM Girls

From the last time we gathered…<3

For there shall be rest;

He knows what we need,

And He loves us best.

He restores our strength,

When it’s all but gone;

Helps us catch our breath,

To end the day strong.

Our soul is refreshed,

Through His loving grace;

He grants what’s needed,

As we seek His face.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind, and that You refresh, restore and make us whole again when we feel completely depleted. Thank You that it is not something that we need muster the strength to do, but rather it is in the seeking that You provide. Thank You for the gift of long-standing friendships that last. Forgive us for attempting to muscle our way through difficulties rather than seek You for strength. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would slow down and trust You to restore what is broken and refresh us in our weariness. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends Your refreshment and restoration so that they might catch their breath and find strength in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we seek Your refreshment and strength, as You alone, make us whole. Amen.

 

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

 

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

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Growing Good

Large cypress trees will grow where there were thorn bushes. Myrtle trees will grow where there were weeds. All this will happen to make the Lord known, to be a permanent reminder of His goodness and power. – (Isaiah 55:13, ERV)

In place of the thorn the cypress will grow; in place of the nettle the myrtle will grow. This will attest to the Lord’s stature, an enduring reminder that won’t be removed. – (Isaiah 55:13, CEB)

Prickly thorns and nasty briers will give way to luxurious shade trees, sweet and good. And they’ll remind you of the Eternal One and how God can be trusted absolutely and forever. – (Isaiah 55:13, VOICE)

 

Just as God promised to replace the harsh and harmful places with those that are beneficial and blessed, He does the same in the lives of those who place their trust in Him. It takes little to look back and discover the spaces within our own hearts and lives where God has taken the things that brought harm and redeemed us with His blessings that overflow and offer good to those around us. God is faithful, and each place where we see new growth of good, we have a lasting reminder of His goodness and power – both in us and for us forever. May we seek the Lord and His everlasting love, as He is the One who brings new growth of good where destructive and harmful things once stood.

 

In place of the thorns, How Faith Grows

God will grow new good;

As we see Him move,

His heart’s understood.

This amazing grace,

That makes broken new;

Shows with great power,

That His word is true.

For as bad gives way,

To new, good and sweet;

The Lord is made known,

Our sacred retreat.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that where dead and destructive things once grew, You have brought new that is good and beneficial. Thank You that in every space where You have turned the harmful into good, we have an enduring reminder of Your goodness and power. Forgive us for our frustration and fearfulness of the prickly and nasty spaces – both inside and out. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You to be our strength in the pruning process, and our guide to navigate through the new. Show us how to love others well, so that we may be reminders of Your faithfulness forever. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we keep our eyes and hearts open to be aware of the good that You are growing in and around us. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Rise and Press On

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – (Psalm 73:26, NIV)

Maybe my mind and body will become weak, but God is my Source of strength. He is mine forever. – (Psalm 73:26, ERV)

I admit how broken I am in body and spirit, but God is my strength, and He will be mine forever. – (Psalm 73:26, VOICE)

 

Learning something new can be the most exhilarating and frustrating thing on the planet. I know from experience that everything worthwhile, requires hard work. Currently, I am in a space where the learning curve is a bit overwhelming, as my mind attempts to grasp all the new and I commit my body to conform to the physical demands that are unlike anything I have ever done before. Nagging aches and strains are challenging my resolve, and my mind’s capacity to recall play after play as it is called seems to be compromised. Despite my feelings of lack, weakness and brokenness, the strength He provides within me, drives me to press on. Each day is new, and He refreshes and rebuilds us in our spaces of lack and leads us forward in His strength. May we ever seek God in our areas of weakness, trusting Him to empower us to move forward forever in His goodness and grace.

 

On days that we fail, You Make Me Strong

Feel broken and weak;

Let’s trust in the One,

Provides those who seek.

For strength from within,

Is from God alone;

Forever He gives,

And makes His heart known.

Power presented,

To rise and press on;

Strengthening of heart,

Resolve is made strong.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we feel broken and weak, You are strong and You are our Source of strength to press forward in You. Thank You that You are our portion forever. Forgive us for our frustration with our own humanity, as we fall short and fail. Teach us to turn to You to be our Source of strength in our every weakness. Show us how to love and encourage those around us when they feel broken or weak. May many rise up and come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our strength where we are weak and give You all praise for Your faithful provision. Amen.

 

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

 

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

His Peace to Pass On

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)

“I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, ERV)

“I know the plans I have in mind for you,” declares the Lord; “They are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, CEB)

 

In my personal life, I have watched as God has brought beauty from ashes and is leading me forward into so much good. My hope is secure and I know He has my future in His hands. However, professionally, it is difficult to see the future and hope that lies before us, considering the direction that education seems to be going. With school shootings and violence on the rise, and fear among students, staff and families elevating at an equally alarming rate, I have to look at the promise presented in God’s word and trust that it is true, even when I cannot see His hand at work. His plans are for peace and not disaster… The same God who set captives free, parted the Red Sea, healed the blind, the broken and raised the dead, can meet us where we are in our current mess and bring peace and hope for the future. May we set our eyes on the One who is our solution and seek His peace to pass on to those around us.

 

The plans of the Lord, Quiet Hope

Are always for good;

To grant future hope,

His grace understood.

He does not plan harm,

Though bad’s in the world;

He has overcome,

Hope He shall instill.

So, look to the Lord,

Where our hope is found;

Seek His direction,

For the path that’s sound.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have good plans for us that grant us a future and a hope. Thank You that Your plans are for peace, not disaster, despite what we see around us. Forgive us for allowing what we see with human eyes to dictate how much hope we permit our hearts to hold. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hold fast to Your promise of plans for peace that give us a future filled with hope. Show us how to love others in a way that extends hope and promotes peace in places where chaos seems to reign. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your plans because You are always good. 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

Blanketed in Peace

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” – (Luke 2:14, NLT)

“Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom He favors.” – (Luke 2:14, CEB)

“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.” – (Luke 2:14, TPT)

 

Just as the host of angels sang these words after the one had brought the glorious announcement to the shepherds in their fields at night so many years ago, we are reminded of the very same peace and glory today. Last evening as our candlelight service ended, snow began falling and blanketing the earth around us. To me, there is nothing quite so serene, peaceful and beautiful as a scene freshly blanketed in snow. It reminds me that we are made new, and restores hope that the things that seem chaotic will become calm, and that which is broken or fractured can be made new. Peace on earth, goodwill to all, for the Light of the world has come to bring hope to us through the baby born in a stable so long ago. That baby grew and lived and loved with His very life, so that we could know life everlasting. May we take pause in awe and wonder, and marvel at the peace and good hope that has come to us, as gently as freshly fallen snow.

 

Just as fresh snow falls,

Blanketed in Peace

photo credit: Flickr by pixelmama

And blankets the earth;

We’re reminded of,

Our dear Savior’s birth.

For on that dark night,

A long time ago;

The angels appeared,

To shepherds below.

With heavenly voice,

They lifted a song;

All glory to God,

May peace carry on.

Great hope is granted,

To those who believe;

Who trust in the Lord,

With this He is pleased.

So, gaze and the snow,

Take in its pure light;

Remember the peace,

That came on that night.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the precious gift of Your Son and the hope and peace that is found in Him. Thank You for the beauty of Your creation, and the tangible reminder of how we are made clean and new in You, just as the earth appears in a blanket of freshly fallen snow. Forgive us for not recognizing the reminders of Your peace and hope that You present all around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we are acutely aware of Your presence and Your peace, even in the places where it does not make sense. Show us how to be ambassadors of peace and hope to a world in need, as we love as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the peace that came to us through the precious gift of Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

Love Each Other

This is my command: Love each other. – (John 15:17, NIV)

But remember the root command: Love one another. – (John 15:17, MSG)

This is My command to you: Love one another. – (John 15:17, VOICE)

So this is My parting command: Love one another deeply! – (John 15:17, TPT)

 

In each translation, the message remains nearly identical, as there is no substitution nor synonym for loving one another. This is a command and a calling. Jesus gave this charge to His disciples (and to us) shortly prior to His sacrifice on the cross. He modeled how to love through His life, death, resurrection and ascension, and empowers us to go and love like Him. It takes little effort to discover the deep need for love all around us. So many are broken and hurting and in need. Though we cannot solve all of the world’s ills, we can choose to love wherever we are. Often, a smile, a friendly greeting or a simple, kind exchange of conversation extends love in ways that reach far beyond what we might imagine, and remind the recipient that they are valued and worth our while. Jesus will use our willingness far more than we could hope or imagine, if only we choose to love. May we rise up in obedience to what God requires of us, as He calls us to love in word and deed, just as we are so lavishly loved by the Lord.

 

The Lord, He commands, Love Made Known

We love each other;

He values us all,

Sisters and brothers.

The light of His grace,

Is meant shine through us;

As we choose to love,

Show the world Jesus.

So much of our love,

Is not simply words;

But through what we do,

That God’s love is heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace, as You demonstrate Your love to us so often through the words and deeds of others. Forgive us for the times that our words or actions did not show Your love, and teach us to do better each time we have the opportunity to love. Show us how to love those around in a way that demonstrates Your loving kindness and faithfulness through all that we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to obey what You are asking, and go forth and love one another as we are loved by You. 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

Accept One Another

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. – (Romans 15:7, NLT)

Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other. This will bring honor to God. – (Romans 15:7, ERV)

So accept one another in the same way the Anointed has accepted you so that God will get the praise He is due. – (Romans 15:7, VOICE)

 

We are called to accept others in the same way that Christ has accepted us – with open arms that see the good, not highlight the flaws. God does not look at us and immediately go into “fix it ” mode, but rather He sees us in love. It is through coming to understand the depth of His love and grace that we are compelled to make changes so that our lives will more clearly reflect His light through our own. The more we know Him, the greater our desire to do as He has done for us. May we ever seek to grow in our understanding of who God is and how great His love is, so that we may go forth and love others as we are loved by God.

 

We’re called to go forth, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And love as we’re loved;

Received, accepted,

By grace from above.

As we do the same,

Accept each other;

God’s given glory,

Grace to discover.

So, let us choose love,

As Christ has loved us;

All praise to the Name,

Of our Lord Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love and accept us, just as we are, even in our broken and messy spaces. Thank You that Your love is what cleanses and heals us. Thank You that You only call us to do that which You have already done, and are willing to strengthen and equip us to do as well. Forgive us for withholding love or acceptance from anyone, and teach us to trust You more, so that we extend the same acceptance to others that You give to us. Show us how to love and accept all those around us in a way that blesses them and honors You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we accept others just as You have accepted us. 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

Imitate Who We Appreciate

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. – (Ephesians 5:1, NLT)

You are God’s dear children, so try to be like Him. – (Ephesians 5:1, ERV)

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. – (Ephesians 5:1, MSG)

 

Imitation is a form of admiration. As small children, we imitated those whom we most appreciated and the traits and strengths most desired to be duplicated. Once a person comes to know Jesus, a more defined set of ideals come into our consciousness. He who loved with His life and lived without sin, is the ultimate example of whom we ought to aspire to imitate. Through seeing and experiencing His love first hand, we learn how to love as we are loved. May we ever seek to imitate God in all that we do, so that our every word and deed is done in love, according to His good and perfect will.

 

In all that we do, Imitate What We Appreciate

Let’s imitate God;

The love that He gives,

To broken and flawed.

It is by His grace,

That we know He’s good;

It’s not what’s deserved,

Yet kindness withstood.

So let us go forth,

And love just like Him;

Imitate His grace,

Again and again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to imitate You as Your children, but You sent Your Son to show us the way and equip us to go forth to do as You do for us. Forgive us for attempting to imitate anyone other than You, as You alone are the only example that is free from all sin and without flaw. Teach us to look to Your example in all that we do, so that we may be tangible examples of Your goodness and love. Show us how to love as You love, so that all might see Your light that burns within us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to imitate You in all that we do, so that others may come to know Your goodness and grace. Amen.

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

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

Through Trust, We Love

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. – (1 John 4:16, NLT)

So we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love. God is love. Everyone who lives in love lives in God and God lives in them. – (1 John 4:16, ERV)

We have experienced and we have entrusted our lives to the love of God in us. God is love. Anyone who lives faithfully in love also lives faithfully in God, and God lives in him. – (1 John 4:16, VOICE)

 

Because we have entrusted our lives to the love of God, we have experienced and know His love in us. The very nature of who God is, is love. Outward evidence of our inward existence is demonstrated through the love that we give according to the grace and goodness that we know we have received. With Christ in us, we cannot help but love. The spaces where we struggle to love, are often the same spots within us, that we find it difficult to believe that God loves and accepts such a broken or flawed part of us. May we ever seek to live in the love of the Lord, receiving all that He has to give, so that we may go forth and love as we are loved.

 

When we choose to trust, Purposeful Prayer

Our hearts come to know;

The depth of God’s love,

The grace His love shows.

Let us choose to live,

In light of His love;

So we may too give,

God’s hope from above.

Entrust in the Lord,

And you’ll come to know;

The depth of His love,

And how it will grow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You show us the depth of Your love and how trustworthy You are in all things and at all times. Thank You that as we place our trust in You, we are able to live in love because You love us so well. Forgive us for not demonstrating Your love to all whom we meet in our moments of frustration, and teach us to trust and rely on You more, so that we give the same grace and love that we have been given by You. Show us how to love all those with whom we interact each day, so that they might see Your love through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your love and live in You as You live in us. Amen.

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

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

Faithful to Finish

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – (Philippians 1:6, NLT)

I am sure that the good work God began in you will continue until He completes it on the day when Jesus Christ comes again. – (Philippians 1:6, ERV)

There has never been a doubt in my mind that God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day that Christ Jesus appears. – (Philippians 1:6, MSG)

 

What God begins in us, He will be faithful to finish – even if it seems to be a very slow and labor intensive process. God loves us as we are, wherever we are at, but His love is too great to leave us that way. He takes the good and makes it better, and meets us in our most broken and wounded places and begins to mend and restore and bring beauty where there was once only ugly and injury. If we are willing to allow Him in, He often will take what we perceive to be our most worrisome weakness, and utilize it somehow to magnify His majesty as we rely on His strength. May we ever seek the Lord and trust Him, as He is faithful to finish all that He has begun both in us and through us.

 

God, He is faithful,IMG_3268

For what He begins;

He will continue,

Persist to the end.

Each good work started,

Will continue on;

Until it’s finished,

And old ways are gone.

So ever seek Christ,

And allow Him move;

As His will is done,

And His goodness proved.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the good work You begin in us will continue until it is finished when You return. Thank You that none of us “arrive” or get it right all of the time, yet You are good and full of grace, ever loving us and drawing us nearer to You still. Forgive us for not seeking You in the places we need You most. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love well, all those whom You place in our lives to love as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your unfailing love that works within us to finish every good work that has been started by You. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8