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

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The Love That Remains

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)

Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love – not death, life, angels, or ruling spirits. I am sure that nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us or nothing below us – nothing in the whole created world – will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, ERV)

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. – (Romans 8:38-39, MSG)

 

These are incredibly powerful words of declaration, meant to remind and encourage each of us of just how vast the love of God is for us all. No matter where we go, no matter what we do, God loves us in spite of ourselves. We have the choice to receive or reject His love, but His love remains. The closest comparison I can come up with is the love I have for my children. My love for them is not situational, circumstantial, nor dependent on whether or not they receive and give love in return – I love them because they are mine. If we in our broken humanity have the capacity to love those whom He has gifted us to love, how much more does He who is love, love us in spite of ourselves? When we slow down and are ready to receive that which He offers freely, the depth and breadth of His love surrounds and overwhelms. May we each choose to receive that which God offers to each of us, as His love shall always remain.

 

There isn’t a thing, The Love That Remains

Created on earth;

That can take away,

Our infinite worth.

Because we are God’s,

Made by His own hand;

His love shall remain,

Forever will stand.

No height nor great depth,

For there is nothing;

That can take away,

The love that God brings.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love for us is not dependent on our circumstances, surroundings or on what we do or do not do. Thank You that You love us because we are Yours. Thank You that Your love is ready to receive for all who choose to call on Your Name. Forgive us for rejecting what You freely offer and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love others with the same tenacity that You have as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your love that never ends and seek to go and love likewise. Amen.

 

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

 

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:18

How Darkness Disappears

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. – (John 1:4-5, NLT) 

In Him there was life, and that life was a light for the people of the world. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not defeated it. – (John 1:4-5, ERV) 

His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light – A light that thrives in the depths of darkness, blazes through murky bottoms. It cannot and will not be quenched. – (John 1:4-5, VOICE) 

 

The book of John begins with a reminder that Jesus was in the beginning, and the light that He brings cannot be extinguished. When we seek the Lord and His love, the light that He grows within us, cannot be burned out. Darkness disappears with even the smallest of lights. A small flame allows our eyes to see where previously nothing could be seen. The more we see and know, the more the light within us grows. May we ever seek the Lord and the light of His love, so that we may be light in darkness and shine where love is lacking. 

 

In the beginning, The Lord Listens

Was the Word with God; 

He became a man, 

And on the earth trod. 

Into the darkness, 

The Lord brought His light; 

To love us to life, 

And make all things right. 

When we seek the Lord, 

Allow His light in; 

Darkness disappears, 

And true love begins. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to shine light in the darkness and love us to life where we were dead. Forgive us for not seeking Your light in dark spaces and teach us to trust You to shine in the places where we cannot see through the muck. Show us how to be light in darkness as we love those around us as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fuel the flames of the light that You breathed within us, so that we may go forth and shine bright in Your love. Amen. 

 

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

 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

Declare What You Deem True

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. – (Romans 10:9, NLT)

If you openly say, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from death, you will be saved. – (Romans 10:9, ERV)

 

So often, we make it all far more complicated than it needs to be. Jesus does not desire an army of robotic rule followers, but rather He longs for those who believe and trust in Him. As we make the choice to let actions and voice reflect the truth that we trust, our salvation has already been deemed secure. It takes trust and a profession of our faith – a statement that declares though we may not understand everything, we will choose to trust the truth that we have come to know. In taking a step forward in faith, He meets us and further grows our foundation in the hope that we hold in Him. Though trials come, His promised presence proves trustworthy and true, time and time again, as we lean into the Lord and allow Him to lead. May we declare the truth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that He was raised from the dead, so that all may be saved and know with certainty that our eternity is secure in Him.

 

Confession of faith,Hope in an Empty Tomb

Declaring Christ Lord;

With heart that believes,

Eternal reward.

For it’s not by works,

Nor can it be earned;

God longs for our hearts,

That choose love and learn.

Let words that we speak,

And our hearts believe;

God’s death raising strength,

Our hope to receive.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not desire robotic rule followers, but rather You long for us to believe the truth that You defeated death and say with our voice that You are Lord. Forgive us for over complicating the process of coming into a relationship with You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen and learn the truth as we seek You and spend time in Your presence and Your word. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they might see the evidence of Your heart in our lives as we love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we declare that You are Lord and believe that You alone, raised Jesus from the dead so that we could have life everlasting. Amen.

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

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

Wait to Hear

I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. – (John 5:25)

 

We had a guest speaker in church yesterday who had a great message to share. One of the things that Doug Bursch (@gcfw.org) asked, was “Does God speak to us?” There was a resounding “yes”, but he followed with a few more questions that grabbed everyone’s attention. “Do you hear Him speak?” “If not, are you waiting on Him?” “Are you investing time in His word?” We can only hear and gain life if we are invested enough to seek and listen to the truth. Our source of truth, daily, should come from the word of God, and time spent before Him in prayer. If we are gaining our insight from social media, rather than the word of God, we are not hearing from Him. The above quoted verse from John is part of words spoken by Jesus. His point was that there will be those who are dead in their sin who will come to hear His voice and find eternal life. If we are listening to Him, we are available to offer what He has to those around us. May we be fully invested in His word and waiting on Him, so that we may go forth in peace, extending the love and grace that God alone equips us to offer.

 

Let us come before,

Waiting

the time has arrived;

to wait on the Lord,

where hope’s realized.

Though waiting is hard,

it’s always worthwhile;

for God has purpose,

as we tread each mile.

He teaches our hearts,

and our faith He’ll grow;

so when times are tough,

the truth we will know.

As we’re invested,

He grants us the words;

to lift up others,

so His heart is heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to live among us, and model what a life well-lived in You ought to be. Thank You Jesus for taking all of our sin and shame upon Yourself, so that we could have life abundant in You. Forgive us for our lack of patience in waiting on You, and teach us to trust You more, so that we will wait with perseverance, no matter how long You call us to wait. Lead us to love well, all those whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we wait on You, then go forth in obedience to whatever You ask. Amen.

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

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

Overcoming Leads to Becoming

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. – (Romans 5:3-5)

 

There is a process of overcoming prior to our becoming all that God intends for us to be. Just as plants need pruning to remove the weight of what is dead to grow to their full height and fruitfulness, so too, do we. Part of our pruning process often involves trials that require perseverance. As we press on and into God, He refines and roots our character firmly in Him. Through the growth process, hope rises, and we become certain of in Whom our hope lies, because God is faithful throughout the process, and His Holy Spirit remains present in us, no matter what comes our way. May we rejoice in the process of overcoming, knowing that through it, we are becoming, all that God intends for us to be. Let hope rise, for His love has been placed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Himself.

 

Praise through the pruning,Purposeful Prayer

for when it is done;

remaining is stronger,

so battles are won.

As we persevere,

character refined;

hope is given rise,

God’s glory defined.

He pours out His love,

into seeking hearts;

Holy Spirit’s home,

wherever we are.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though not one of us enjoys suffering, we can rejoice in how You use our trials to produce perseverance, character and hope within us. Thank You that though we may not see the purpose in the tragedies and trials that we face, we can trust that You will use all things for the good of those who love You. Forgive us for our frustrations and fears when we are in the midst of trials, and help us to trust You enough to cling to You, knowing that You will lead us through the overcoming so that we may become more of who You have created us to be. Lead us to love others with the love that You have freely given unto us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we persevere in the overcoming, and trust You in our becoming, more of who You have created us to be. Let hope rise, as we are acutely aware of the love poured into our hearts by Your Spirit as we go. 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

Live Life Awake

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. – (Ephesians 5:14-16)

 

“Every day, there are situations in our normal routines that require us to be the light of Christ in darkness. Waking up spiritually is not just about participating in life-changing efforts of worldwide importance, such as stopping genocide. It is walking through our lives wide awake. It is rising ready where we are, with what we have. It is seeing people where they are and meeting their need.” – (Christine Caine, Undaunted)

 

How often is someone standing beside us in the grocery checkout, discouraged and simply in need of a listening ear? Perhaps a neighbor down the street has suffered a loss and needs help finding the strength to prepare a meal? If we live our lives awake and aware of our surroundings, and choose to be ever listening to the still small voice of the Lord, we may find opportunities to extend His hands and heart to a hurting world in ways we would have never imagined possible. Our charge is not to do everything; it is to do something. When we are willing and available to utilize what we’ve been given, lives are touched and hearts are transformed. Nothing we do is in vain, and God works wonders through our faithful acts of obedience. May we rise up from our slumber and allow Christ to shine through us, as we go forth as His hands and heart to the world.

 

Wake up O sleeper,Live Life Awake

the day has now come;

the Lord is calling,

there’s work to be done.

People in darkness,

stuck in their despair;

if we don’t reach out,

then who will go there?

A neighbor, a friend,

someone down the street;

we must be willing,

to love those we meet.

For as we reach out,

the Lord works through us;

touches hurting hearts,

our mighty Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love so much that You sent Your only Son, so that we could have life in You. Jesus, thank You that You make new life possible because of the sacrifice that You made on our behalf. Thank You that You showed us how to live and love, and that You speak to us still, granting us wisdom as to how we are to make the most of every opportunity to reach out and love as You loved us. Forgive us for our fearfulness that keeps us stagnant in our own four walls, and teach us to trust You more, so that we may live our lives wide awake, open to every opportunity that You would invite us to reach out. Lead us to love like You love, and may many be led unto You. Be glorified as we live our lives fully awake in You. Amen.

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

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

Calm in the Storm

On Sunday, my church family was presented with an assignment for the week, if we were so inclined to accept. As we study and review together who Jesus is, the challenge put forth is to spend the week reading through the book of Mark. This morning, through the reading of chapters 3-5, two passages presented parts of of the nature of who Jesus is, in mighty ways.

 

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. – (Mark 4:39) This first passage attests to both the power of Jesus, and how He is indeed worthy of our trust. Though the disciples were distressed and afraid in the sudden storm and panicked because Jesus was asleep, the moment they turned to Jesus, He stood, spoke, and all was still. The very same presence that silenced the storm, dwells within the hearts of all who believe. Wind and waves may toss us about, but Christ will keep us from going under. At times, He will calm the chaos around us, but more often, He will silence the storm within so that we are able to see the storm through His eyes, instead of our own.

 

The second passage that struck a chord with me this morning, is the interaction between Jesus and Jairus, the synagogue ruler, when men from his house brought news that his daughter had died. Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” – (Mark 5:36) Jesus is the God of comfort and compassion, and He does not want us to be afraid. I cannot imagine what must have gone through the mind of Jairus, as Jesus told him to “just believe.” Hope? Resolve? Curiosity? It was likely quite overwhelming and all a bit surreal. First, he knew his daughter was gravely ill. Then, Jairus was brought news that his daughter was dead. Now, standing before him, the Savior spoke hope that he could hold onto. Jesus is still the same today. When all seems hopeless, He is hope. Nothing is impossible for Him. He who set the stars in the sky and hand-crafted each human before their first cries were ever heard, can do immeasurably more than we can fathom.

 

He’s calm in the storm,Calm in the Storm

peace when there is none;

hope in the heartache,

our safe space to run.

He’ll speak to the wind,

and help us believe;

when fear overwhelms,

or our hearts are grieved.

Our Source of comfort,

when chaos, it reigns;

power to defeat,

death by Jesus’ Name.

Do not be afraid,

in Christ, just believe;

all that He offers,

is ours to receive.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Jesus is powerful and worthy of all of our trust. Thank You too, Jesus, that You are comforting and compassionate. Thank You that You know us and love us, in spite of ourselves. Thank You that there is nothing that we face nor go through that You are not both present and able to walk us through. Forgive us for our fearfulness and lack of faith. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might lean into You all the more, rather than run or try to stand in our own strength in the storms. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they may see Your comfort, compassion and strength through us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your power to see us through the storms, and receive Your comfort when we are afraid. Amen.

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

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

Delivering Dreams

When a dream long dreamed seems all but dead, it is difficult to hold fast to a promise that seems to have been forgotten. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, had longed to have children for many years, but had been barren. She was long past child-bearing age when she and Abraham were visited by angels on their way to carry out the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. During their short stay, they told Abraham that he and his wife Sarah would conceive a son. Sarah, in her sorrow, bitterness, and unbelief because of her advanced years, laughed in response to what had been spoken. Abraham and Sarah traversed more trials in their travels, as they followed where God had called them to go. Just as the angels had foretold, Sarah conceived and bore to Abraham a son, Isaac. Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” – (Genesis 21:6)

 

Though the timing was not what Sarah had hoped for, God was faithful to fulfill His promise, and her heart overflowed with joy. At the initial announcement of the promise, Sarah laughed in disbelief. When the God’s promise at last came to pass, Sarah laughed again, this time for joy in awe and wonder of the goodness of God. We have the benefit of the Bible. Throughout the pages, countless stories of God’s faithfulness are recorded for our benefit. Additionally, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, to remind us that His word is true, and He is faithful to all that He promises to do. May we hold fast to God’s promises to us, and ever forge forward in faith, trusting that God is always good.

 

The Giver of dreams,Delivering Dreams

our Lord God above;

true to His promise,

and faithful in love.

No matter how long,

we seemingly wait;

we’re not forgotten,

and God’s never late.

His timing’s perfect,

all things by His plan;

in faith, we must trust,

it’s all in His hands.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good. Thank You that what You promise, You provide. Thank You that You ways are higher than our ways, and Your timing is not according to our timetable. Forgive us for our impatience and our lack of faith when the wait is long, and help us to trust and persevere. Teach us to hold fast to Your word, and keep our hearts from discouragement and disbelief. Lead us to love well, just as You so generously and faithfully love each of us. May many come to know of Your goodness and faithfulness for themselves, and may we be used as Your instruments to share of how You have been faithful in our own lives. Be exalted O God, as we forge forward in faith, trusting in Your eternal goodness and grace. Amen.

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

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

The Purpose of Perseverance

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. – (Acts 14:19-20a)

 

Perseverance is steady persistence in a course of action or purpose, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement. It is also the continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation. – (www.dictionary.com)

 

Paul’s unwavering commitment to deliver the message he had been commissioned to preach, is the epitome of perseverance. He endured every possible obstacle, difficulty and discouragement, yet he continued in the grace that God gave. The very same power that resided in him, dwells in the heart of all who believe. We too, have the capacity to persevere in difficulty, and are able to overcome obstacles to accomplish all that He calls us to do, if we choose to rely on His grace as we go. Paul never delineated from the purpose of his calling, and stayed the course of sharing Christ with all whom he encountered. How has God called us to persevere? Where are we meant to persist and stay the course, in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement? May we take heart in He who is faithful, for in Him, we are more than conquerors.

 

Let not opposition,The Purpose of Perseverance

steer our hearts off course;

for our faithful Father,

has for us, much more.

If we will persevere,

when trials come near;

the truth shall be made known,

dispelling all fear.

To overcome challenge,

rely on His grace;

and seek the Lord always,

for all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we find the strength and grace that is needed to persevere. Thank You that no difficulty, obstacle or discouragement is too great for Your grace. Thank You that You are more than enough. Forgive us for fixing our eyes on the problem, rather than on You, our solution. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may fully embrace the grace that You are granting. Lead us to love and encourage all whom we encounter, just as You so love and encourage each of us. May many come to know You as their Savior and King, as our hearts respond to the grace You bring. Be glorified, O God, as we persevere in Your glorious grace. 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