The Fee for Freedom

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – (John 8:36, NLT)

So if the Son makes you free, you are really free. – (John 8:36, ERV)

So if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free! – (John 8:36, TPT)

 

Freedom is not without a price. For most of us, we are blissfully unaware of the extent of the cost of the precious freedom that we enjoy each day. We have the right to say and do whatever we desire to do (within the legal limits of the law), and we have the choice to worship and gather without fear. Many nations in the world today are not afforded such luxuries. The people live in fear and cannot gather without the threat of imprisonment or death, simply for seeking to enjoy the very freedoms we so often take for granted. Today, as we celebrate Independence Day, may we take time to reflect and give thanks for the freedoms we know in our nation, and even more importantly, the freedom we know in our hearts that has been granted by God in the gift of mercy and grace generously given through His Son.

 

This mighty freedom, On the Eve of New

We know and adore;

Has come at a price,

From ones who gave more.

National freedom,

From those who fought for;

Sweet independence,

From ways once abhorred.

Personal freedom,

The greatest of all;

Through Christ’s sacrifice,

Our forgiveness call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that we have been given through the sacrifice of Your Son. Thank You all who seek You, find forgiveness and grace – freedom from the weight of our past mistakes and failures. Thank You too for the gift of freedom that we know in our nation, as we know that not all countries know a freedom such as ours. Forgive us for taking either freedom for granted, and teach us to give You praise for all our days for the incredible gift we have come to know in each. Show us how to love others well, so they too, may know the freedom found in the goodness of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the freedom we know and the grace to grow. Amen.

 

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

 

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19

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That Precious Baby

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. – (Luke 2:33, NLT)

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. – (Luke 2:33, MSG)

Mary and Joseph stood there, awestruck over what was being said about their baby. – (Luke 2:33, TPT)

 

It is difficult to fathom being in Mary and Joseph’s shoes. Though they had both been visited by an angel that told them that she would be with child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and then they were visited just after Jesus was born by shepherds who worshiped this newborn baby because of an angelic announcement, the significance of their Son likely began to hit home a bit more as Simeon unpacked what God had promised about Him. As parents, we always have great hopes for our children from the moment we know that they have been conceived. For most, we can only imagine and dream of who they might become, and pray that they will grow and live well, according to God’s design. For Mary and Joseph, that design was astounding. Their Son was to be the Savior of the world. However, His position would not be without a painful price. I wonder if the two of them could even fully process the prophetic promise presented before them, as they held their eight-day-old baby boy. What a wonder indeed. Jesus grew and was faithful to fulfill all that to which He had been called. His sacrifice is our salvation. May we ponder in wonder and awe, the incredible sacrifice and willing obedience displayed by Mary and Joseph while Jesus was so young, and the faithfulness of God forever.

 

Imagine hearing, Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

Such uncertain words;

Both saving and pain,

The gist of that heard.

A precious baby,

Innocent and new;

Would bear such a weight,

For me and for you.

That precious baby,

Grew into a man;

Who helped, healed and saved,

Faithful to God’s plan.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Mary and Joseph, as parents who were willing to faithfully follow what God asked of them, no matter the cost. Thank You for sending You one and only Son to save us and restore us to right relationship with You. Forgive us for not embracing the mercy and grace that You freely give, if only we choose to come before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be willing to walk wherever You lead, no matter what risk is required. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your mercy and grace in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithfulness forever, and trust You to lead us wherever You call us 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

Love Never Gives Up

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, NLT)

 

The way that we are relentlessly loved by God shows us how we are meant to love. He never gives up on us, no matter how far we wander, or the crazy mess we become – He loves because we are His. Probably the closest example that I have come to understand in my own life is through how I am designed to love my children. Whether they are tremendously successful or they are struggling, my love for them does not change. I have great hope for their futures, and what they do or do not do, does not change the depth of my love. There are days that are more difficult than others, yet always, always, there is love. The very same love that God gives us as His children, He imparts to us to show to those whom He brings into our lives. May we seek the Lord and His unending love, so that we never give up, nor lose faith, and share hope as we continue to choose to love through all things.

 

The Lord, who is love,love-never-gives-up

Will never give up;

He loves endlessly,

As He fills our cup.

Always He grants hope,

So faith is not lost;

Through each circumstance,

No matter the cost.

May we also choose,

To love in all things;

As we impart hope,

Through grace that we bring.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You never give up on us. Thank You that You fill us with faith and hope and grant us endurance to navigate all things because Your love does not end. Forgive us for losing faith or hope in the trials of life, and teach us how to trust in Your love in all things. Show us how to love in a way that never gives up nor loses faith, that always hopes and always perseveres. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they see the depth and unending power of Your love. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to love as we are loved. 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

Our Good, Good Father

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe. – (Hebrews 12:28, NLT)

 

Our inheritance from our Heavenly Father is the only inheritance that lasts. Though our earthly fathers may pass on good things – be it morals, life lessons, or monetary treasures – not one compares to that of the salvation and eternal hope that is held in the hands of our Heavenly Father. As so many rightly celebrate earthly fathers today, may we not forget our Heavenly Father, as it is through Him that we have light and life and hope forever. May we worship the Lord with all that we are, and give Him thanks for the men that He has placed on our path to father us well. May the fatherless know of His love, and men of faith rise up and fill in the gaps in tangible ways.

 

All thanks be to God,Compassion in Confrontations

Our Father indeed;

He sees where we are,

And meets all our need.

Hope for the hopeless,

And light for the lost;

Freedom from our sin,

For He paid the cost.

We give You thanks too,

For the men You’ve raised;

To father us well,

O Lord, we sing praise.

God, You are so good,

And I stand in awe;

Such a good father,

Perfect, without flaw.

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our perfect Father, and You love us without limits. Thank You that no matter what sort of earthly father we have experienced – good, bad or anything in between – You are the only One who is perfect in all of Your ways and worthy of all of our praise. Forgive us for not seeing You as the ultimate Father, when earthly fathers fall short. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would recognize that all are a work in progress, and You are the one whom we are to worship in all things and at all times. Help us to love and support well, the fathers that are around us. May they come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You as our good, good Father. 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

For a listen to a great song, Good Good Father, by Housefires, click the highlighted title. 🙂

Embracing the New

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)

When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new. – (2 Corinthians 5:17, ERV)

Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone – and see – a new life has begun! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, VOICE)

 

Whether we have been rooted in Christ for many years, or it is relatively new, life takes us through seasons. Inevitably, there will always come a season where we must struggle through something – be it a trial, a loss, a refining process, or simply a season of something new that creates challenge as we attempt to adapt and navigate as we have been called. Sometimes in the seasons of struggle, we must be reminded that we are no longer who we’ve been, and that He is leading us into something new that is ultimately for our good. May we embrace the truth that we are a new creation in Christ, and trust Him to provide new life in every area where light is difficult to find.

 

In that broken space,Being Made New

where light seems but lost;

help our hearts to trust,

no matter the cost.

Despite what we see,

Your presence is real;

move on our behalf,

in You, hearts shall heal.

Let us each reach out,

in our brokenness;

allowing Your grace,

move in tenderness.

Thank You that this space,

is not where we’ll be;

for we have the hope,

of eternity.

No matter what’s now,

better‘s yet to come;

for Christ shall make new,

brand new day begun.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are made new in You. Thank You that the old sinful and broken self has been washed away, and we are being made new and whole in You. Thank You that despite the seasons that we walk through, You are present, and You use each one to lead us deeper in our walk with You. Forgive us for reverting to that fearful space in seasons that don’t make sense. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk boldly in You, trusting that You will lead us each step of the way – no matter what comes. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too might see the hope found in our new life in You. May many choose to invest their lives in relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we turn away from the old and embrace the new that You are calling us into. Amen.

A song that really hits home for me regarding this process of embracing the new after walking through an extraordinary difficult season is, Tell Your Heart to Beat Again by Danny Gokey. (click highlighted text to listen.)

© 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

To Choose to Love

Valentine’s Day seems to be bittersweet for many people. Those who are single, are reminded of their perceived lack, and those who are paired, often have unrealistic expectations that lead to disappointment. That being said, there is One who loves without limits, and does not need a special day to deliver. Christ loves us, in spite of ourselves, and His love is patient, kind, hopeful, enduring, and will always win. (1 Cor. 13) Because He loves us so well, He calls us to go and do likewise.

 

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)

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)

 

As followers of Christ, we are not only called, but we are commanded to love. Because we have been loved so well, we are equipped to go and do likewise. The love we have been given to give away, is not all about chocolates and flowers. We are called to serve and honor, encourage and uphold those around us. There may be times that He asks us to bless with a tangible gift, but it is far more critical that we are present and invested, loving with our time, energy and attention. On this day where love is misconstrued, and people have the capacity to feel more alone than ever, may we be present and love well, just as we are loved.

 

For we have been called, Tether Our Hearts

to choose to love well;

it is a command,

that Jesus did tell.

Not merely spoken,

but He showed the way;

to love with our lives,

to give them away.

Sit with the lonely,

walk beside the lost;

speak life to hopeless,

it is worth the cost.

Just as we are loved,

may we do the same;

so all may come know,

the truth of God’s Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have showed us what it is to love. Thank You that You have not just commanded us to love, but You command us to love with the very same love that You give unto us. Thank You that You fill us to overflowing, so that we are simply passing on the goodness that You have given us, when we choose to love. Forgive us for not loving deeply and fully as You have loved us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would not be fearful of the possible repercussions of choosing to love like You. Show us how to demonstrate Your love to all whom we encounter, so that Your light may shine brightly through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love each other fully and deeply, just as we are loved by You. 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

Delight to Sing Praise

Praise the Lord! How good to sing praises to our God! How delightful and how fitting! – (Psalm 147:1, NLT)

 

Indeed this is a fitting day to give praise to the Lord, as we celebrate His blessed arrival all those years ago. Having participated in the candlelight service at my church last night, the image of glowing faces singing praises together to the rightful King, still linger this morning in my mind. It is such a treasure to have the freedom to gather with friends that have become family, and worship the One who came to save. Each one of us has a story, and not one of the stories has been without difficulty. In fact, so many have had a really trying year. In spite of that, God’s faithfulness has been made evident again and again, and each showed up, ready to sing praise, knowing that He is good. May we praise Him as we gather, give gifts, live and love out this day, remembering that all that is good, all that is lovely, all that is worthy to be praised – is because of Christ who came to us. Merry Christmas!

 

More than packages,Christmas star

wrapped up with delight;

is the treasure found,

in that holy night.

The greatest of gifts,

we’ve ever received;

when Christ chose come down,

to meet all our need.

Need for forgiveness,

He took all our sin;

though He was sinless,

they crucified Him.

He willingly went,

upon that old cross;

for us, He chose bear,

the ultimate cost.

Death was not the end,

for after three days;

Christ rose as He’d said,

He conquered the grave.

When back on His throne,

at God’s great right hand;

He sent His Spirit,

to fulfill His plan.

How fitting indeed,

that we give Him praise;

for love and for life,

all thanks all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son so that we could be restored to a right relationship with You. Thank You that You are pleased when Your people praise You. Forgive us for not focusing our attention on the real reason for the season, and help us fix our minds and hearts on You as we go about this day. Teach us how to sing praise to You, and how to delight in all that You have done, and all that You are. Show us how to love others as You have so completely loved each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing praises unto You, and keep our hearts focused on who You are and all that You have done. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

May We Sharpen One Another

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. – (Proverbs 27:17)

 

When we keep good company, we are challenged to be the best versions of ourselves. As we actively engage in sharing life together, we are better able to see things with new clarity, refine what may have been askew, and allow the Holy Spirit to shape what was being whispered, into brilliant insights. This can only take place if we are willing to engage in deep discussions where we can be honest and challenge each other, setting our egos aside. When we are able to receive critique of thought without making it about us as a thinker, the friends who engage in such conversations, sharpen one another. May we invest in the relationships that allow us to sharpen one another, so that we may be refined and ready to go forth as the best version of ourselves.

 

Let company kept,Keep Careful Watch

among those who bring;

out the very best,

in everything.

Those who are honest,

no matter the cost;

words spoken in love,

so we won’t be lost.

May we do the same,

as we walk beside;

sharpen each other,

allowing Lord guide.

Invest with wisdom,

seek the Lord, always;

heed His instruction,

for all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us for community. Thank You that You give us one another to sharpen and refine each other to more clearly reflect Your character. Forgive us for allowing anyone who has intentions that are not good to gain a voice into our lives. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may clearly hear whom we are to engage in a “sharpening” with, and who we are to simply show kindness, but not allow their voice to penetrate the walls of our heart. Grant us discernment and wisdom, I pray. Lead us to love well, so that we may be Your instruments that help sharpen others. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sharpen one another in our mutual pursuit of You. Amen.

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

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

Choosing Obedience

Obedience almost always comes at a cost. At times, it is a point of personal choice to sacrifice our own will for that of the Lord’s, whereas other times, our decision to obey could cost us the respect or friendship of others, as they know not all that is behind our story that leads to our steps of obedience.

 

In Matthew one, we read the story of Joseph, who was pledged to be married to Mary. Before they had come together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph was a righteous man, his intent was to divorce her quietly, protecting her from a fate that ended in death, despite the apparent disloyalty before him. After Joseph had decided what he would do, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him the reality of what was going on with his bride-to-be. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. – (Matthew 1:24) Regardless of the likely disapproval of those around him, Joseph chose obedience to God. His faithfulness to follow the will of the Lord, led him on the path of parenting the Savior of the world…

 

Regardless of the potential repercussions around us, may we too, choose obedience each time the Lord asks us to obey.

 

When our Savior calls,Bold in Battle

us out to obey;

may we choose to act,

in faith, right away.

No matter the cost,

the Lord’s way is best;

He sees the outcome,

in the end, we’re blessed.

Let not fear of men,

come hinder our way;

may all that we are,

see Christ and obey.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though obedience is often difficult, it is always worthwhile. Thank You that You only call us to that which You have for us. Thank You that Your ways are higher than our ways, and Your thoughts, higher than our thoughts. Thank You that though we cannot see the outcome, You already know where You are leading us. Forgive us for our fear and lack of faith to follow where You call us to obey, and teach us to trust You more, so that we will rise up and move in obedience as soon as we hear You call. Lead us to love others with all that we are, just as You so completely love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose obedience, even when it is difficult. 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

What Does Denial Do?

Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross to follow me.” – (Luke 9:23)

 

Jesus was explaining the depth of commitment required of those who choose to follow Him. To deny ourselves is to set aside our own agenda and selfish desires, and to use our time, energy and resources in a way that honors Christ, according to what He asks of us. In order to take up our cross, we must be willing to imitate the attitude of Christ, and obey His commands. Our allegiance to Christ must be above all else; unwilling to be compromised, even in the face of death. Though there is a cost to follow Christ – all that we are; the return far exceeds our investment. Not only do we have His help and His presence here and now, but we have the blessed assurance of knowing that our eternity is secure in the safety of our Savior. May we choose Christ today, and always.

 

To follow the Lord,MSH30

requires great price;

it’s all that we are,

invested in Christ.

Our whole heart and mind,

committed to Him;

no more self-seeking,

nor contest to win.

His Spirit within,

will help us obey;

live life as He lived,

in love each new day.

No matter what comes,

there’s no compromise;

when we are in Christ,

we’re seen through His eyes.

Let us stand in strength,

the strength of the Lord;

our Help and our Hope,

let Him be adored.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we choose You, You have already chosen us. Thank You that You meet us where we are, and change us from the inside out. Thank You that You strengthen us and lead us, and reveal to us what it means to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to follow You. Forgive us for our selfishness and our disregard for Your direction, and help us to hear and obey You clearly. Grant us the courage to trust You completely and the strength to go wherever You ask us to go. Let us love others as You so generously and graciously love us, and may lives be changed and hearts turned forever towards You. Be exalted O God, as we daily choose to follow You. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14