Set Down Our Stones

“Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – (John 8:7b, NIV)

“Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” – (John 8:7b, CEB)

“Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.” – (John 8:7b, VOICE)

 

This particular story recorded in the book of John, is one of the amazing goodness and grace of Jesus. A woman who was caught in sin was brought before Jesus by the Pharisees, as they hoped to trap Jesus and condemn the woman. When Jesus spoke these words to those who accused her, one by one, they dropped their rocks and walked away. Each one knew that they too had sinned and did not qualify as sinless to hurl stones. I imagine we all have certain offenses against us that make our blood boil, however, when we slow down, breathe and reflect, we have to recognize that we are also offenders of others, even if it is without intent to harm. Sometimes it is the words that escape our mouths, other times it is our actions, or often even worse, our inactions, that are among our own sins. It is critical that we deal with our own sin, rather than try to manage that of another. Granted, there are roles that we are called to fill where it is our job to help others navigate a life of obedience, but even then, it is not by throwing stones that we correct, but rather through conversation, consequence and redirection. May we look to the example of Jesus when the offenses of others are brought before us, for not one of us is free from sin.

 

The stones in our hands, Set Down Our Stones

We must choose set down;

As we all have sinned,

We’ve made our own mound.

A mountain of rocks,

Where our own sins lie;

Each one forgiven,

Love never denied.

Let us do likewise,

Forgive each other;

Demonstrate God’s grace,

To one another.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us incredible examples of Your forgiveness and grace, though they are not deserved. Thank You that we all are in need of mercy and grace, as not one of us is without sin. Forgive us for holding stones in our hands, ready to throw, rather than slowing down to look at our own lives and recognize that we too have reason to receive retribution for our own offenses. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would set down our stones and seek Your strength and grace to extend to those around us. Show us how to love others with the same mercy, grace and goodness that You extend to us in our own spaces of need. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set our stones in Your hands, and receive the goodness that You give in their place to extend to those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Peace in Thankfulness

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. – (Colossians 3:15, NLT)

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)

 

Peace and gratitude are two excellent things to set to the forefront of our hearts and minds as we enter into this long holiday weekend. For some, this is a season of struggle, as they deal with the reminders of recent loss of loved ones, or are too far from family to gather – for them, may peace be present to hold them, and gratitude fill each heart for what is before them. Many of us, however, will be traveling near and far to gather with loved ones to celebrate this season of thanks. As we go, may Christ keep our hearts and minds fixed on what matters, so that gratitude for time together provides opportunity for His overwhelming peace to be present. May we join together as one body, ever grateful for all the Lord has done, and celebrate His peace that is present as we fix our eyes on Him with thanksgiving.

 

May peace that’s from Christ, Peace in Thankfulness

Come reign in each heart;

As we’re one body,

That has many parts.

Always be thankful,

For here we find peace;

In hearts full of thanks,

God’s grace is released.

Wherever we go,

Be it near or far;

May God’s peace and love,

Show how glad we are.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your peace rules in our hearts when we depend on You to lead and guide us as we go. Thank You that though we are one body with many parts, You have called and created us to live in peace. Forgive us for lacking gratitude for all the good that You give, or for not seeking You and Your wisdom to know how to live together in Your peace. Teach us to turn to You with thankful hearts, ever trusting You to rule and reign with Your perfect peace. Show us how to love others in a way that brings peace and demonstrates gratitude. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to lead us in body, heart and mind, giving You all of our gratitude as we recognize Your peace that is present. 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

Releasing the Right to Revenge

Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. – (Proverbs 20:22, NLT) 

Don’t ever say, “I’ll pay them back for what they did to me!” Wait for the Lord. He will make things right. – (Proverbs 20:22, ERV) 

Don’t ever say, “I’ll get you for that!” Wait for God; He’ll settle the score. – (Proverbs 20:22, MSG) 

 

For many, this is a difficult road to walk. Our natural inclination is to give back whatever we are given. When extended kindness, it is easy to return. However, when someone wrongs us or intentionally brings harm, it is almost without conscious thought, that our minds go to returning the hurt. With Christ in us, there is a filter to know that we are not meant to lash out in anger, nor return harm for hurt against us, yet it is a process that requires a decision to place the hurt or harm in His hands, and trust Him to handle the matter. Our part is to forgive and move forward. Forgiveness does not mean foolishly nor blindly forgetting and setting ourselves in a vulnerable or unsafe space, but it does mean letting go of our desire to lash out or get even and allow God (and if necessary, the law) to deal with the wrong-doer. May we release our perceived right for revenge, and give our offenses to God. Let us trust our hearts in His hands, as He knows best how to handle these hurdles. 

 

Speak not of revenge, Shackles No More

For it’s not our role; 

To repay all wrongs, 

Must not be our goal. 

Instead let us wait, 

Place all in God’s hands; 

He will make things right, 

He hears, understands. 

Often His answers, 

Open our blind eyes; 

We grow in His grace, 

As love’s realized. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that it is not our job to get even for the harm that is done against us, but rather You ask us to place it in Your hands. Thank You that we can trust You, as You are good and just, and You love us more than we can comprehend. Forgive us for seeking to “get even” when we feel we have been wronged. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would place our perceived harms in Your hands, and allow You to handle whatever has hurt our hearts. Grant us wisdom to know how to seek help if help is required, and give us strength to forgive when forgiveness is far from what is desired. Show us how to love well those who have been wronged, so that they may find Your grace and forgiveness, leaving the need for retribution in Your hands. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give our hurts to You, and allow You to handle making things right when we have been wronged. Amen.

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

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Relentless Love

No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:39, NLT)

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 8:39, ERV)

 

By the end of the evening yesterday, I was seriously grumpy. Fortunately, no one was home, nor near me, to need deal with my less-than-stellar state of mind. Perhaps the weight of the weekend had caught up to me and I was just really exhausted. Whatever the case, God’s love for me did not waver based on my foul mood. In fact, He utilized people to encourage and bless me in spite of myself. Two different people sent messages to me that were uplifting and kind, reminding me that His love is not dependent on the condition of my countenance. There is nothing that can separate us from His love for us. No matter where we go or what we do, He still loves. God’s love is not reliant on us doing or being enough, but rather it is something He does freely and fiercely because we are His children. Nothing in us or around us can stand in the way of Christ having loved us with His life. It is that love that overcomes all that cannot be hidden, harmed, nor removed, no matter what comes. May we each embrace the gracious gift of love that God gives, knowing that there is nothing in all of creation that will ever be able to separate us from His love for us.

 

Wherever we go,Enter With Thanksgiving

Whatever we do;

The love of the Lord,

Is present and true.

There’s nothing on earth,

Above nor below;

That can take away,

Or make His love go.

I am certain now,

Of this truth I claim;

None can separate,

From love in His Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your good and gracious love. Thank You that there is nothing in all of creation that can separate us from Your love. Thank You that You love relentlessly so that we may know the peace of Your perfect love. Forgive us for not seeking You in our struggles or somehow thinking that Your love cannot reach us in our space of uncertainty. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us as we are loved by You, so that they too, may come to know the goodness of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your relentless love, and go forth and love likewise. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

Trust for Today

So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time. – (Matthew 6:34, TLB)

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. – (Matthew 6:34, MSG)

 

It is fairly easy to become anxious about what is yet to come when we look too far forward. Rather than fixing our eyes on that which is right before us, we get caught up in the world of “what ifs“. If we are truly trusting God, we begin to focus on that which is in the here and now, living in the moment, rather than getting worked up and worried about that which is yet to come. Yes, God wants us to use wisdom and seek Him for next steps, but we are not meant to be so focused on the future that we forget about today. Each new day God has a plan and a purpose for us. When we live in the here and now, we recognize the remarkable all around us, and are better able to turn in trust to our Provider for what is needed. The Lord holds our future in the palm of His hands. We need not worry about what lies ahead, for the very same God who walks beside us today, will be with us tomorrow, next week, next year and forever. May we let go of worry about tomorrow, and instead live in the fullness of each new day that we are granted.

 

Do not be anxious,hope-overflowing

For the days ahead;

Instead live each day,

As by God, we’re led.

For just as today,

His presence is here;

No matter what comes,

He will remain near.

So choose worry not,

Beyond this new day;

For Christ’s help and hope,

Is promised to stay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not worry about tomorrow, as You who carry us through today, will remain with us to be our help and hope through all of our tomorrows as well. Forgive us for fixing our eyes too far forward, rather than living in the moments as You provide them. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would let go of worry about what may or may not happen in the days, weeks, and years to come, and instead trust You for each new day. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps ease anxiety and offers peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, our Prince of Peace. Be glorified O God, as we let go of worry about the future, and trust You for today and all of the days ahead. Amen.

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

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

Sowers of Peace

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. – (James 3:17-18, NLT)

But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. It is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help people who have trouble and do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. People who work for peace in a peaceful way get the blessing that comes from right living. – (James 3:17-18, ERV)

Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace. – (James 3:17-18, VOICE)

 

As a peacemaker, it is easy to defer to peace. However, gentleness and willingness to yield to others are not always the motivation, nor is the peace that is sought sincere. At times, it is instead a way to keep things calm, rather than deal with conflict, with wisdom and the intent to help being absent. Our motivation matters. Is our pursuit of peace to please God, or ourselves? We need the Lord’s wisdom and guidance to gain His grace to sincerely seek His peace, which reaps a harvest of righteousness. May we be a people who passionately pursue God’s peace with all others, through His wisdom and grace. Let us be merciful and sincere, as His gentleness leads us to love as He so graciously loves each of us.

 

Let us seek wisdom,Marvelously Made

That is true and pure;

For that from the Lord,

Is steadfast, secure.

For from God alone,

Is how peace is found;

His mercy and grace,

To seekers, abound.

May we choose to plant,

Wherever we go;

Seeds of the Lord’s peace,

So His grace shall show.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that wisdom from You is pure, peaceful, gentle and pleasing. Thank You that when we seek Your wisdom and peace, we are prepared and equipped to help those around us. Thank You that when we seek Your peace, peace and righteousness are what we find. Forgive us for wanting peace at any price, rather than seeking You and Your wisdom as to how we can be peacemakers in the midst of whatever we are facing. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone can bring calm in our chaos and peace in our storms. Show us how to love others in such a way, that we too may be peacemakers in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth in Your peace and wisdom, sharing the goodness and grace that You alone provide for us to give. 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

Light Destroys Darkness

He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells within Him. – (Daniel 2:22, NIV)

God is the one who uncovers what lies deeply hidden; He knows what hides in darkness; light lives with Him! – (Daniel 2:22, CEB)

He knows hidden secret things that are hard to understand. Light lives within Him, so He knows what is in the dark and secret places. – (Daniel 2:22, ERV)

 

The truth is that God knows all things. There is nothing that is hidden from Him. Even that which is held in the deepest, darkest recesses of our hearts, are known by God. In spite of what we hide, He loves. When the things that are hidden are what we are meant to discover and deal with, He gently shines His light for us to see. If we are lost or confused and feel as if things are dark and hazy, the light of His truth begins to illuminate what is His will and His way in the midst of our darkness. When we seek Him, we find Him; for darkness no longer exists when light enters in. The two cannot coexist. Light destroys darkness. May we each allow the Lord to shine His light in our hearts and lives, so that darkness will disappear and His light may be reflected to others through us.

 

There’s nothing hidden,Believe Instead of Striving

that God cannot see;

for He is the light,

that lives within me.

Even those spaces,

of hurt and of pain;

the Lord, He’s ready,

to breathe life again.

We must choose seek Him,

for He’s gentle, kind;

He won’t force way in,

as we seek, we’ll find.

New understanding,

of deep mysteries;

are gifts that He gives,

so blind hearts might see.

God is the pure light,

He knows all there is;

He loves and He gives,

so all might choose live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You reveal deep and hidden things, and that You know what lies in darkness because You are the Light. Forgive us for attempting to keep our hurts and our transgressions hidden from You, for You already know each one. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be quick to confess our need for You and Your help, forgiveness and light, as we navigate the often darkness that surrounds us. Show us how to be Your light unto the world through loving others with the very same love that You give unto us. Let Your grace and peace be what we extend to all whom we meet, so that they can clearly see Your light through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and Your light to illuminate the places that seem so dark – for darkness disappears when Your light enters in. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

Agreeing to Abide

In Paul’s final warnings to the Corinthians at the close of his second letter, he encourages them with the following: Now, brothers and sisters, be filled with joy. Try to make everything right, and do what I have asked you to do. Agree with each other, and live in peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, ERV)

 

With these words, Paul was not encouraging the church to ignore nor agree with sin. In fact, he had in just a few verses prior, given specific instructions for how to deal with intentional sin that was continuing among the body of Christ. Once the air has been cleared, and repentance has been sought, each ought to seek to live right with one another, agreeing to abide by the Lord’s standards, which lead to peace. As we adhere to what God has set in place, His love and peace are present, and the joy of the Lord is our strength. May we seek to serve the Lord with our whole heart, and follow Him all of our days. Let His love and peace be present, as He guides us in all of His ways.

 

Let’s keep short accounts,Rest in the Rock

with those in the Lord;

filled with God’s great grace,

and love He affords.

Seek to make things right,

repent when we’re wrong;

forgive those who ask,

His grace makes us strong.

In things of the Lord,

set hearts to agree;

allow the Lord’s peace,

to guide and to lead.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You alone fill our hearts with joy, regardless of our circumstance. Thank You that You call us to make things right before You with one another, and lead us to keep short accounts before You and others. Thank You that as we do, Your peace and love is present with us. Forgive us for not seeking peace in spaces of turmoil, and help us to trust You more, so that we will know what we are meant to do, and what we are to wait and allow You to do. Lead us to love others well, just as You so completely love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we keep short accounts with one another, agreeing with each other in the things of You, as we walk forward in Your love and perfect peace. Amen.

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

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

When Anger Arises

In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. – (Ephesians 4:26-27)

 

Anger can be a tricky topic. Just as any other emotion, there are times when anger is an appropriate response to a given situation. That being said, it is always a matter of how we handle our anger that determines whether or not we are responding in righteousness, or running on the road to ruin. Bottling builds bitterness, and outburts wreak havoc, yet Paul says to deal with anger immediately. Ideally, our objective ought to be to approach the offender in love, with the intent of reconciliation, not retaliation. If a resolution is not readily available, we can, at the very least, submit the situation to our Savior in prayer. As we speak out the words of anger, hurt and frustration openly and honestly before Him, there comes a softening, and He equips us with the capacity to pray for the very person or people that inspired the onset of anger. Through prayer and seeking to set things right, the devil has no hold on the destruction that was originally intended. When anger rises, may we seek to set things right.

 

When fury rises,When Anger Arises

don’t fold and give in;

let not the sun set,

in anger, don’t sin.

Give not the devil,

a foothold to take;

seek to reconcile,

and hatred shall break.

Pray for the people,

who wrong or do harm;

go and confront them,

grace through outstretched arms.

Seek to extend peace,

where chaos has reigned;

love as Jesus loved,

let truth be proclaimed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that anger is not all bad, provided we do not sin when it rises up within us. Thank You that Jesus modeled what righteous anger looked like, when merchants were preventing people from worshiping You and You cleared the temple courts so that they could again enter the space to focus their attention toward You. Forgive us for the times that we have sinned in our anger – for thoughtlessly venting, for bottling it up and becoming bitter – and help us to seek You first so that we act according to Your will, when anger arises. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might respond in righteousness, regardless of the situation or circumstance. Lead us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come to know the saving grace that is available in You. Be glorified Lord God, as we act appropriately when anger arises. 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