How to Love

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. – (John 15:12, NLT)

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – (John 15:12, NIV)

So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you. – (John 15:12, TPT)

 

Out of curiosity, I searched the word “love” in my Bible app to find out how frequently the word appears in scripture. Six-hundred and eighty-six results were found for a quick, one-word search in the book that God has given us as a guide to follow for living according to His will. Though I am not completely certain, I imagine that it is one of the more often occurring words found in scripture, as it was deemed the greatest command by Jesus, Himself – to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. If we love each other the same way that we are loved by God, that is an even clearer picture of how we are meant to extend grace and choose love, even when it is difficult to do. Loving deeply is a choice, rather than a feeling, and it is about the person, not the words or deeds that they do or do not display. Personally, I am eternally grateful for this, as I have been blessed with family and friends who have shown me love like this. Even at my worst, they choose to love, which in turn, challenges my heart to rise up and choose likewise, bringing forth the same for others. We are ever a work in progress and will fall short and fail to love as we are loved by God. However, He is good, and His grace covers our short-comings as we choose to walk in humility with one another. May we set our sights on loving one another deeply, just as we are loved by God, according to His command.

 

Commanded to love, Enter With Thanksgiving

As loved by the Lord;

Deeply with all grace,

His goodness outpoured.

We are called to choose,

To love others well;

For as we extend,

Lacking space dispels.

Let us offer love,

As we’ve been given;

For goodness does spread,

When love’s our mission.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You love us so completely and without prerequisites. Forgive us for the times that we have placed limits or conditions on love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love each other in the same way that You have loved us. Show us how to love those around us according to Your good and perfect will. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help us love each other as You love each of us. Amen.

 

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

 

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

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Hope as an Anchor

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. – (Hebrews 6:19a, NIV)

This hope is like an anchor for us. It is strong and sure and keeps us safe. – (Hebrews 6:19a, ERV)

We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God Himself. – (Hebrews 6:19a, TPT)

 

God is our hope that secures our soul when all seems unsteady around us. He is our anchor in rough waters and keeps us safe through the most severe of storms. The Lord is strong and secure, even when our circumstances would lead us to believe otherwise. Just as calm waters and blue skies appear again after even the most tumultuous of storms at sea, so too does hope return as lessons are learned, while He calms the storms in me. May we hold fast to hope in He who is our anchor, strong and secure; as He has an unbreakable hold on our hearts and lives and will not let go.

 

We have hope secure, The Power of Praise

It anchors the soul;

For it’s strong and sure,

It’s God in control.

The place hope is found,

Is trusting in God;

He is safe harbor,

Each course that we plot.

Hold fast to the hope,

That anchors the soul;

It’s firm and secure,

And in Him, we’re whole.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the hope that anchors our soul, firm and secure. Thank You that we can trust in You and You are strong and sure to keep us safe in You. Forgive us for seeking security anywhere other than You. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone are the One who is the anchor for our soul when waters grow rough from life’s storms. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps set stability where things are shaky and points people to You, the anchor for our soul. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we cling to hope in You, the anchor of our soul. Amen.

 

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

 

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

Praise Even When

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. – (Romans 5:3-5, NLT)

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary – we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! – (Romans 5:3-5, MSG)

 

I am certain that I have read this passage at least a dozen times before, but for some reason, this morning, it is sinking in a bit differently. Perhaps it is through reading The Message translation, as it speaks of praising “even when we’re hemmed in with troubles” rather than “rejoicing when we run into problems and trials”. Personally, my mind can conceive the even so concept, as God is good even when our circumstances are not, and I know that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Each trial that we traverse, every struggle He grants us strength to navigate, further grow our faith and help our hope the next time we face difficulties. When we look back on where He has brought us from, we can see the overwhelming faithfulness of God and the generous outpouring of love lavished upon us by His Holy Spirit. May we ever give praise to He who is always worthy, as He is the one who supplies the strength and endurance needed to navigate each challenge, as He pours into our lives, His love.

 

In midst of trial,

DSC04506

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

We can, even so;

Give praise unto God,

For His love we know.

He’s faithful to help,

Grants strength as we go;

Our reason for hope,

Sure truth that we know.

Troubles grow patience,

That helps us endure;

Confidence in hope,

As His love’s secure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have reason to praise You no matter what troubles or trials we face because You are good and You will use all things to grow us in You. Thank You that troubles develop endurance and strength of character so that we may more clearly reflect Your heart to the world. Forgive us for fleeing the fire before us, rather than facing the fight in Your strength as You hold us in Your hands. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive all that You generously give as we go through the highs and lows of life. Show us how to love well all those whom we encounter, so that they may see glimpses of Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You on every step of our path as You provide Your presence and Your peace. 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

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

Peace is Made Known

“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, NIV)

“I have told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” – (John 16:33, ERV)

“And everything I taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” – (John 16:33, TPT)

 

One of the hardest times to find peace is in the midst of a trial. It is so easy to allow our fears and emotions to get the best of us, and forget Who is ultimately in control. I am quite certain that this is why God calls us to be in community. When one falls down or is struggling, facing a trial or uncertainty that lies before them, sisters and brothers who know our stories can come alongside to help and encourage, as God equips us to be His hands, heart and voice made tangible to those around us. May we reach out to love well, those in a place of need, and be transparent with the trusted, when we find ourselves in a similar space, so that the peace of God may be made perceivable to all.

 

O Lord, it’s Your peace, IMG_1849

That so many need;

There’s pain and pressure,

Heartache, trials and greed.

The troubles we find,

Are nothing for You;

Each already faced,

Your love will shine through.

Please teach us to trust,

In places we doubt;

For in You, there’s peace,

That’s what love’s about.

Show us how to give,

What You’ve given us;

So peace is made known,

By grace You promise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our peace comes from You. Thank You that though we will have troubles because we live in a broken world, we can take courage knowing that You are with us. Thank You too for community, as You surround us with those who can come alongside us and encourage and lift us up if we are willing to invest. Forgive us for the times we have tried to power through the pressures on our own, rather than seeking You and sharing with those whom You have shown us are trustworthy in our world. Help us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for peace, even in the most tumultuous of trials. Help us to love those around us in a way that offers peace and strength in the midst of their struggles too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we take heart in You, as You have already overcome every obstacle that stands in our way. Amen.

 

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

 

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

He Won’t Withhold Good

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. – (Psalm 84:11, NIV)

The Lord God is our protector and glorious king. He blesses us with kindness and honor. The Lord freely gives every good thing to those who do what is right. – (Psalm 84:11, ERV)

For the Eternal God is a sun and shield. The Eternal grants favor and glory; He doesn’t deny any good thing to those who live with integrity. – (Psalm 84:11, VOICE)

 

This verse both comforts and challenges me. I am overwhelmingly aware of God’s provision and protection, as I have experienced both throughout the entirety of my life thus far. However, the next part is more difficult, as I am quite certain of my own shortcomings, and know that my walk is not without blame. That being said, I have to remember that as I seek the Lord and look to live with integrity according to His will, He covers the places where I have fallen short, and God sees Christ, not me. When we are in Christ, we are His, and He freely gives His good to those who earnestly pursue the path He has placed before us. That is not to say that our road will not be without obstacles, but as we travel, we will be aware of His presence and provision as we go. In all things, He is good. May we ever seek the Lord and His ways, so that we may live a life of integrity according to His wonderful will.

 

For the Lord our God, He Won't Withhold Good

Protector and King;

He grants us favor,

Through good that He brings.

He will not withhold,

His goodness and grace;

As we do what’s right,

And obey by faith.

Although we fall short,

His grace is enough;

To help us press on,

When our road is rough.

So seek to do right,

And honor our King;

He won’t withhold good,

As our best we bring.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Protector and glorious King. Thank You that You bless us with kindness and honor as we seek to do Your will. Forgive us for not walking in the way that You have called us to walk, or for neglecting to do as You ask. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would do as You ask and go where You call, without hesitation or fear. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your kindness and honor, so that their eyes might look to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to live a life of integrity according to Your good and perfect will. 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

Beyond Routine – There is Rest

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:5, NIV)

Oh, I must find rest in God only, because my hope comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:5, CEB)

 

As an individual who thrives on routine, particularly the one by which I begin each day, it has been a strange few days of breaking that which is customary. For forty-eight hours, I have essentially unplugged. I have not begun the last two mornings with my quiet time, coffee and writing, nor have I even had my phone readily nearby. We had a short window of time to travel to my mom’s home on the other side of the mountains, visit with her, my sister, brother-in-law, and nephews, and catch up with friends who came and camped out in mom’s backyard. It was a time of connecting and rest. No schedules, no agenda, yet the little time we had was packed with laughter, fun, and relaxation. In a place where the evidence of His hand is astounding, I found rest in the peaceful space of being surrounded by loved ones in a place that is a sort of sanctuary for my soul. Though it was not my intention, I am quite certain that it was as God intended, as a brand-new school year is set to begin tomorrow with staff, and on Wednesday with students. The spaces in my soul that felt uneasy and a bit anxious about what this new year may hold, seem to have faded away. My hope is restored and my resolve strengthened, as I prepare for what lies ahead. May we ever embrace the rest the Lord offers, remembering that He knows best how to recharge and restore the spaces within us that require His rest.

 

Wherever He leads, Beyond Routine There is Rest

May my heart choose go;

A break from routine,

For what’s best, God knows.

Sometimes there is rest,

When we choose slow down;

Do as the Lord leads,

It’s where peace is found.

As we are recharged,

Our hope is restored;

All thanks be to God,

Whom our hearts adore.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that sometimes rest is found in the breaking of routine, even when the routine is good. Thank You that people are Your priority, and when we do the same, we are blessed in ways we might not have expected. Thank You that You provide renewed hope in the spaces of rest. Forgive us for not slowing down to rest in You, however You ask us to rest. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would recognize the remarkable ways that You grant us new hope as we rest in You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides hope and encourages rest in spaces where it is needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as our souls find rest in You and You fill us with Your hope anew. 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

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

Rise Again

Good people might fall again and again, but they always get up. – (Proverbs 24:16a, ERV)

God-loyal people don’t stay down long; soon they’re up on their feet again. – (Proverbs 24:16, MSG)

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again. – (Proverbs 24:16, NIV)

 

When the going gets tough, the tough keep going. I have witnessed incredible strength demonstrated in the lives of people in the midst of crazy adversity. What I noticed, is that each of those who had strength to rise when most would have crumbled, were firmly established in their faith. Despite their circumstances and what they were able to see before them, their faith did not waiver. Each time I observe such unflappable faith, I am both in awe and inspired to invest more of my heart in the spaces where I struggle to trust. The goodness of God gives way to strength and hope and help in such spaces, if we are willing to place our trust in Him. We must ask in order for Him to answer, as God does not force His way in, nor does He overtake our hearts and minds. We have a free will and must choose. May we ever make the choice to use our voice and intentionally trust in the Lord and His strength, so that each time we fall, we rise up again.

 

We can be certain,Rise Again

That trials will come;

Our resolve tested,

Where will we choose run?

When we trust the Lord,

Seek His strength and might;

We gain the resolve,

To rise up and fight.

No matter the falls,

The times we’re knocked down;

If we trust in Him,

Strength to rise is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we trust in You, You give us the strength and resolve to rise again, each time we fall down. Forgive us for the times that we have fallen from Your grace with the choices we have made, and stayed stuck, rather than seeking You for help and forgiveness. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You when we are down, and when things are going well. Help us to keep short accounts, so that we do not divert from the path that You have placed before us. Show us how to love and lead those around us well, so that they too, may rise again, each time that they fall. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You and Your strength to help us rise again, each time we fall. 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

Two Unchangeable Things

So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. – (Hebrews 6:18, NLT)

These two things cannot change: God cannot lie when He says something, and He cannot lie when He makes an oath. So these two things are a great help to us who have come to God for safety. They encourage us to hold on to the hope that is ours. – (Hebrews 6:18, ERV)

 

People are fallible. It is human nature to err and let others down. Not one of us is without flaw, nor has kept from disappointing another. Though it is rarely our intent, we fall short. However, God does not. Whatever God says, He does. His word is true and it will not change. In Christ, our hope is secure and our future is certain. No, God does not typically give us a play-by-play plan of what is to come, but He does assure us that He will walk beside us, and never leave us, no matter what comes our way. Ultimately, we know that if our hearts trust in Him, we will spend all of eternity in the security of His presence and the light of His love. The challenge lies in our desire to have tangible comfort and security, when we cannot directly see God. So often, when we seek Him first, He will provide people around us to be His hands, heart, and voice to remind us what is true, and to offer comfort where our souls are unsteady. May we ever trust in God, who is our Refuge and where our hope comes from. Let us hold fast to the hope that is promised and will not change, both now and forevermore.

 

Our God has given,Rediscovering Dreams

Both promise and oath;

That He will not change,

Granting our hearts hope.

He is our refuge,

To whom we can run;

The One who is true,

When each day is done.

Let us be assured,

Of the hope we hold;

In God we’re secure,

Forever foretold.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us both Your promise and Your oath, and that these two things are unchangeable because You cannot lie. Thank You that we can run to You as our Refuge in confidence, as we have the assurance of the hope that we know is certain of our eternity with You. Forgive us for placing human parameters on You, and teach us to trust You and Your infinite power and wisdom with all that we are. Help us to run to You in all things, with assurance that You will keep Your promise to be our present help. Show us how to love those around us in a way that reflects Your heart best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we run to You as our refuge, and hold onto the hope that is ours in You. 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