Gratitude for Grace

Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – (2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT)

But the Lord said, “My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by My power.” So I will boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can stay in me. – (2 Corinthians 12:9, ERV)

But He answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and My power finds its full expression through your weaknesses.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. – (2 Corinthians 12:9, TPT)

 

As this saga continues with my leg, I have come to a place where my heart is beginning to grasp a tremendous amount of gratitude. Though I feel extraordinarily frustrated with this space of inactivity, I recognize God’s great grace in the discovery and diagnosis in my calf, for if it had gone unnoticed, it could have been fatal. I don’t know that I am necessarily celebrating my weakness, but I certainly am giving gratitude to God for sparing me from what could have been. His strength is enough to carry me through, and His grace reminds me that this is merely a short season to rise and stand strong in Him. May we ever give glory to God in all things, for He is our strength in our weakness, and His grace grants us power to persevere when we have nothing left.

 

God’s grace is enough, Be Full of Joy

Whatever we face;

He will be our strength,

His power in place.

For where we are weak,

The Lord, He is strong;

As we trust in Him,

We will not go wrong.

He’s most clearly seen,

In our weakest space;

Power made perfect,

By His lavish grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your grace is all that we need. Thank You that Your power is made evident in our weakness. Thank You that You meet us in our need and supply Your strength to carry us by Your grace. Forgive us for our frustration and lack of faith when we cannot see past our own fears. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remember that Your power is perfect when we are not strong, so it is okay to turn to You and be carried in our spaces of weakness. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers strength and hope and encouragement in spaces of struggle. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your grace to be enough, as Your power prevails when we are weak. Amen.

 

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

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14

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The Lens of Love

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. – (1 Samuel 16:7b, NLT)

God doesn’t look at what people see. People judge by what is on the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart. – (1 Samuel 16:7b, ERV)

God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans only see what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart. – (1 Samuel 16:7b, CEB)

 

I am so grateful that God sees beyond the exterior that we present to the world and gets to the heart of the matter. He sees faith, hope and love, even when the world cannot. God will take the smallest seed of good and grow it into something greater. People tend to notice faults, whereas God sees strength and beauty and potential in the glory of His created. The more we seek and depend on Him, the more we begin to see others through His eyes. May we pursue the Lord with our whole hearts so that we may see others through the lens of His love.

 

Judge not appearance, the-lens-of-love.jpg

Of all those you see;

But look at the heart,

And love lavishly.

For that which is seen,

It never will last;

Yet the heart God sees,

Created, steadfast.

Let’s look at others,

Through Love’s lavish lens;

To see true beauty,

And choose grace extend.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not look at us the same way that people do. Thank You that You look past how things appear and get straight to the heart. You see and You know the heart of the matter, and You love us through it all. Thank You that Your love shows us how we are meant to love one another. Forgive us for the times that we judge people or circumstances based on what we see. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would look to You to learn the heart rather than superficial appearances. Show us how to see others through Your lens of love so that we can extend the same goodness and grace to others that we have so generously been given. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to see others through Your lens of love. 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

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

Our Saving Help

But may all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who long for Your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!” – (Psalm 70:4, NIV) 

But let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You, and let those who love Your saving help say again and again: “God is great!” – (Psalm 70:4, CEB) 

Let all those on the hunt for You sing and celebrate. Let all who love Your saving way say over and over, “God is mighty!” – (Psalm 70:4, MSG) 

 

God is our help and our hope, and we have reason to rejoice and be glad regardless of our circumstances because He is always good. It is the great love of the Lord that saves us, as He holds us in the hollow of His hands. The more we seek God, the more we come to know Him, and cannot help but rejoice and be glad for the salvation that He brings. May we ever seek the Lord and rejoice in Him, for He is mighty to save and loves us throughout all of our days. 

 

May each heart that seeks, Love Made Known

Rejoice and be glad; 

For our saving help, 

Is no passing fad. 

Our God is mighty, 

We’re held in His hands; 

As we seek, we find, 

He shows us His plans. 

God saves and He leads, 

As we seek His face; 

He’s faithful to help, 

For He grants us grace. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to hear and help us as we seek You. Thank You that we have reason to rejoice and be glad, for You are mighty to save as You love. Forgive us for not seeking You in our spaces of need, or for not rejoicing in who You are and how You love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remember that You hold us in Your hands and that You are greater than anything that we face. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers strength and hope and light where there is need. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You with gladness and give You praise for Your saving ways that You extend to each of us who seek You. Amen. 

 

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

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

Conveyors of Calm

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – (Colossians 3:15, NIV) 

Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking. It is for peace that you were chosen to be together in one body. And always be thankful. – (Colossians 3:15, ERV) 

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. – (Colossians 3:15, MSG) 

 

We need God and we need each other. Humans are not created to take on the trials that life brings on our own. God grants us His peace as we seek Him and provides people to walk beside us if we choose to invest in community as we are called. Additionally, one of the greatest conveyors of calm in the midst of chaos is to begin to express our gratitude for the good in our lives. Suddenly, even in the middle of a storm, we find our hearts holding peace. As we set our sight on that which is secure and He who endures, the temporary trials become less overwhelming. May we seek the Lord and His peace as we walk in gratitude together with the people He has purposefully placed in our lives. 

 

O Lord let Your peace, 

wp-1521807723600596361595.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Come reign in our hearts; 

Lead us side-by-side, 

As strength You impart. 

Help us to give thanks, 

Despite what we see; 

For true gratitude, 

Sets anxiousness free. 

Help us to trust You, 

On Your strength depend; 

Walk with each other, 

And Your peace extend. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You rule in the hearts of all who seek You. Thank You that You call us to peace together as one body. Thank You that we were created for community. Thank You that gratitude combats fear and anxiousness and sets our hearts on what truly matters. Forgive us for allowing what we see to dictate how we respond, rather than trusting You and what we know to be true. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk together in gratitude, ever pursuing Your peace. Show us how to love those around us well, so that peace and thankfulness become contagious. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks that You are the God of peace who rules in our hearts and provides us with community and reason to give You praise for all of our days. 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

All for Good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – (Romans 8:28, NIV)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are His loves who have been called to fulfill His designed purpose. – (Romans 8:28, TPT)

 

I don’t know that I can even count the number of times that what I perceived as something awful, (and at the time, perhaps it was) that God, in His infinite goodness and grace, ultimately used it for good. Each time that I have had to walk through the hard or horrible that life brings, as I sought God and relied on Him, He provided what I needed to navigate the season, and later used the experience for something positive. At times the benefit has been personal growth and the discovery of His strength in times of my own weakness, yet still other times, He has turned my experience into a tool by which I am able to honestly speak to others going through similar, as I can share of His faithfulness that brought me through. God is good, and He has a plan and a purpose for each of us. When we choose to trust in Him, He leads us through life by the light of His love, even when we are in spaces of darkness. May we ever seek the Lord and His plan, as He is good and is the only One who can bring beauty from our ashes.

 

With all certainty, His Passion for Our Peace

I truly can say;

God works all for good,

When we seek His way.

Though life’s not easy,

And despair may come;

The Lord is faithful,

’til each day is done.

He walks beside us,

And shows us the way;

Grants us renewed strength,

Fresh start for each day.

We can be certain,

He’ll use all for good;

If we choose to trust,

Hope our livelihood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we trust You, You ultimately work all things for good in our lives. Thank You that even when we cannot see how that is possible, You are moving and making it so. Forgive us for our fearfulness and doubt. Teach us to trust Your hand in all things, as You are far greater than anything that we face. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages, strengthens and builds faith. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to orchestrate everything in our lives toward something good, as only You can do. 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

To Honor the Dream

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself… – (Leviticus 19:18, NIV)

Forget about the wrong things people do to you. Don’t try to get even. Love your neighbor as yourself… – (Leviticus 19:18, ERV)

You shall not take revenge nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor (acquaintance, associate, companion) as yourself… – (Leviticus 19:18, AMP)

 

Historically, there have been many groups of people that have had reason to hold a grudge for the wrongs done against them, yet for change to occur, the right to revenge had to be released, and love had to prevail. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was a phenomenal example of choosing love, despite his circumstances. Dr. King found ways to bring truth in love, and fight for change through peace. Hate was not his motivation, but rather a heart of love. As a husband, father, minister, leader and spokesperson for civil rights, he let his faith shape the way in which he lived and loved. His words, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear”, still remind us of the way in which we ought to choose to live. Be it an acquaintance, an associate, or a companion, may we choose to stick with love; for it is the very way in which we are called to live.

 

The only true way, mlk

To find peace at last;

Is to stick with love,

Let go of the past.

When we choose forgive,

Our hearts are set free;

The burden of hate,

Is far too heavy.

May we stick with love,

And choose to redeem;

Value all people,

And honor the dream.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the men and women who have chosen to rise up and stick with love, despite the barriers and difficulties that have stood before them. Thank You that when we choose love, You move mightily among us. Forgive us for the times that we have held grudges rather than chosen love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would stick with love, and not allow the weight of hate to destroy that which You intend for good. Show us how to love every acquaintance, associate and companion as You would have us love ourselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. May your peace prevail, and love win where hate has tried to reign. Be glorified O God, as we choose love again and again, knowing that You will use every decision of love to bring the dream to further fulfillment. 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

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

The Heart of a Shepherd

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. – (Luke 2:16-18, NIV)

 

I am continuing to revisit and ponder the story of the shepherds and the role that God called them to play when Jesus was born. Not only were they the first people to witness the miracle of His birth, but they were also the first to share the good news of His long-awaited arrival. These “lowly” shepherds understood the significance of Who was lying in the manger before them, so they went out and shared with others, the awe and wonder that they had just beheld. Rather than being repelled by these shepherds, people were amazed at what they heard. What had been foretold so long ago, had finally come to pass. I imagine it was the hope that had been missing, finally being spoken aloud. Today, it is no different. For so many, hope is absent, and the need to know about or be reminded of the arrival and the reason for the season, is critical. People who normally would be repelled by an invitation to hear, are receptive and willing to partake in candlelight services and “traditional” Christmas activities where the truth about Christmas is told. May we each have the heart of a shepherd and embrace the hope that we know, so that we too are eager to share this hope with those who need it most.

 

The shepherds who watched, The Heart of a Shepherd

Their flocks through the night;

Were by God chosen,

To see first His light.

The angel declared,

What they could go see;

As God had come down,

For you and for me.

The shepherds, they ran,

To find as they’d heard;

In awe and wonder,

They witnessed God’s word.

This amazing sight,

The glory beheld;

Led them to go out,

And of this news tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show the least of us Your glory in incredible ways, and give us the grace to share with others, the beauty of Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You came down and made Yourself approachable and tangible to ordinary people. Forgive us for thinking that we have to be anything other than ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to show us how to love as You love each of us. Help us to make You accessible to many through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate in awe and wonder, the incredible gift You gave us through Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

 

 

Faithful the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. 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