Will to Walk in Love

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love. – (2 John 1:6, NIV) 

And loving means living the way He commanded us to live. And God’s command is this: that you live a life of love. You heard this command from the beginning. – (2 John 1:6, ERV) 

Love is defined by our obedience to His commands. This is the same command you have known about from the very beginning: you must live by it. – (2 John 1:6, VOICE) 

 

There are days that choosing love is extraordinarily difficult, particularly when what is received feels miles away from loving. When this occurs, it takes a decision of the will to walk in obedience to His command. Love is not about a feeling, but rather it is a choice to love others as we are loved by God. Love is patient and kind, and does not have qualifications as to whether or not patience and kindness are extended. In fact, it is often the seemingly least deserving that need to observe love in action the most. The negative behaviors that come our way, seldom have anything to do with us, and have everything to do with individual circumstances or what took place prior to our interaction. Walking in obedience is not an easy road, but choosing to live a life of love is never for naught. Even when we do not see the impact of choosing love, we may be at peace in knowing that we have chosen well, and have operated in accordance to His will. May we ever seek the Lord and His strength, as He fills us with His love to extend to others as we navigate each new day. 

 

To love is a choice, Tether Our Hearts

An act of our will; 

Commanded by God, 

Our role to fulfill. 

For we are all called, 

To love as a choice; 

With actions and words, 

His grace to employ. 

So, let us choose love, 

In each circumstance; 

For as we do so, 

Love gets to advance. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us when we are so unlovable, and give us grace when we are completely undeserving. Thank You that You call us to give the very things that we have received to those around us, even when it is difficult. Thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You are not willing to empower us to do. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to extend love, as we allowed our own egos, agendas or hurts to get in the way. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would get out of the way and give You room to move in and through us in love. Show us how to love those around us best, especially those who are the most challenging to love in the moment. Grant us Your patience and kindness and the ability to see others through Your lens of love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You to lead us in love in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

The Power of Praise and Worship

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. – (Colossians 3:16, NIV)

Let the teaching of Christ live inside you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – (Colossians 3:16, ERV)

Remember what Christ taught, and let His words enrich your lives and make you wise; teach them to each other and sing them out in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to the Lord with thankful hearts. – (Colossians 3:16, TLB)

 

On Sunday, a friend of mine, who happens to be our worship pastor, appropriately spoke about the power of praise and worship. She gave several examples in scripture where it specifically calls us to praise and worship. Next, she defined praise as the expression of admiration, thanks, appreciation and approval for all that God has done. Worship, she explained was an attitude of the heart that should be reserved for God alone; the surrendering of every part of our lives to God’s control. As I went about my day yesterday, I mulled over the words she had spoken. I was intentional in my music selection as I went about my day, both driving and when I slowed down to work on a seated task. The three main benefits found in worship and praise are: 1) It realigns our focus on God. 2) It increases our awareness of God’s presence. 3) It pushes back darkness.

For me, I found all three to be true, as I had discovered myself frustrated and in a less than stellar space having spent the morning cleaning, only to happen upon sugar ants in my kitchen cupboards. After having cleaned out and throwing away many things, I left to spend time in our new home. While seated on the couch writing thank you notes, I selected some of my favorite praise and worship music to listen to. In the process of writing out notes of gratitude and hearing lyrics that gave God glory, my irritation was erased and I found thankfulness overflowing from my heart. The simple act of writing out thanks with music that set my heart right, realigned my focus on the blessings that God has granted, made me aware of His love for me, and pushed back the darkness that had attempted make way through my frustration. God is good and He is faithful to meet us and set our hearts right as we seek Him. May we ever offer our praise to He alone who is worthy, allowing our every breath and heartbeat to worship our Maker.

 

Let all that we know, The Power of Praise and Worship

Of Christ come and dwell;

In our hearts and minds,

As our lives shall tell.

Tell of His goodness,

Sing of His great grace;

With thanks, choose worship,

Both now and always.

For songs sung to God,

With hearts fixed on Him;

Chase away darkness,

And let His light in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of praise and worship. Thank You that we are called to do both. Thank You that as we do, our hearts are realigned and we become more aware of You. Thank You that worship and praise push back darkness and allow Your light to fill us again. Forgive us for allowing the chaos and challenges to avert our focus from You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rise with a song in our hearts, reminding us of the goodness of Your love and Your power within us as we praise You. Show us how to love those around us as we walk out our days as an offering of praise and worship unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our praise with hearts set to worship You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore I will praise You, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of Your Name. – 2 Samuel 22:50

 

 

Rendering Reconciliation

Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. – (Proverbs 16:24, NLT)

Kind words are like honey; they are easy to accept and good for your health. – (Proverbs 16:24, ERV)

Pleasant words are flowing honey, sweet to the taste and healing to the bones. – (Proverbs 16:24, CEB)

 

Yesterday, as I met with a student who often struggles to make good choices behaviorally and academically in the classroom for our one-on-one reading conference, I was reminded of how much truth lies in the words of this verse. As we began, he did an excellent job of explaining what he had learned in the book he had read, and then easily defined words from the vocabulary list. Throughout our meeting together, I praised and encouraged him, as I let him know how impressed I was with his hard work and reminded him how much I believed in his ability to do well each time he invested himself in whatever task the class was being asked to take on. Seemingly out of nowhere, his gaze dropped to the floor, and tears silently began to slide down his cheeks. In disbelief, I sat there for a moment, unsure of what I was meant to do. After taking a moment, I encouraged him a bit more and then asked him if there was anything that I could do to help. He shook his head “no”, so I followed with the question, “I can see that things are pretty tough right now. Do you have hope that they will get better?” He nodded his head up and down and accepted the tissue I offered. Our brief exchange reminded me yet again, just how much kind words matter. May we ever seek the Lord for His guidance to fill us with the words that others need to hear most that are sweet to hear and bring healing to places that are hurting.

 

Kind words do matter, Patient Acceptance

Far more than we know;

They heal the hurting,

And help goodness grow.

Sweet, just like honey,

Such help to the soul;

A salve for our wounds,

As His mercy flows.

Let us choose kindness,

With words that we say;

Healing can happen,

When Love leads the way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the truth of Your word that You continue to show us again and again in tangible ways. Thank You that kind words are sweet to the soul and healing to the body. Forgive me for the times that kind words were not the first thought to come to mind or that which escaped my lips. Teach me to trust You more, so that I would listen to Your leading and speak the words that You would have me say. Show me how to love others well with my words, just as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we extend kind words to others in such a way, that healing comes to the recipient. Amen.

 

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

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

Imitate Who We Appreciate

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. – (Ephesians 5:1, NLT)

You are God’s dear children, so try to be like Him. – (Ephesians 5:1, ERV)

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. – (Ephesians 5:1, MSG)

 

Imitation is a form of admiration. As small children, we imitated those whom we most appreciated and the traits and strengths most desired to be duplicated. Once a person comes to know Jesus, a more defined set of ideals come into our consciousness. He who loved with His life and lived without sin, is the ultimate example of whom we ought to aspire to imitate. Through seeing and experiencing His love first hand, we learn how to love as we are loved. May we ever seek to imitate God in all that we do, so that our every word and deed is done in love, according to His good and perfect will.

 

In all that we do, Imitate What We Appreciate

Let’s imitate God;

The love that He gives,

To broken and flawed.

It is by His grace,

That we know He’s good;

It’s not what’s deserved,

Yet kindness withstood.

So let us go forth,

And love just like Him;

Imitate His grace,

Again and again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to imitate You as Your children, but You sent Your Son to show us the way and equip us to go forth to do as You do for us. Forgive us for attempting to imitate anyone other than You, as You alone are the only example that is free from all sin and without flaw. Teach us to look to Your example in all that we do, so that we may be tangible examples of Your goodness and love. Show us how to love as You love, so that all might see Your light that burns within us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to imitate You in all that we do, so that others may come to know Your goodness and grace. Amen.

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

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

He Speaks in the Silence

He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the Lord. – (2 Kings 4:33, NLT)

 

Elisha modeled how we are meant to pray. So often, life is jam-packed with distractions that keep us from hearing the voice of the Lord when we come before Him.

“One of the reasons we need a quiet place to pray is because God’s answers are often quiet. We must be still in order to follow His lead.” – (Adventurous Prayer)

It is only in the hearing that we are able to begin doing that which we are called to do. If we don’t listen, how can we learn? If we don’t learn, how can we be led? May we be intentional to find a quiet space in our day where we can spend solo time in prayer, so that we may clearly hear His leading in all things.

 

As we come to pray,Anxious for Answers

Let’s find quiet space;

So we better hear,

His love and His grace.

Though in a whisper,

His answers are clear;

He makes the way known,

If we seek to hear.

Let every heart,

With longing, come seek;

He’s gentle and kind,

Gives strength to the weak.

A new life awaits,

Those who seek shall find;

Ask and He answers,

Gives new hope defined.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You desire time spent in communication with us, where our focus is entirely on You. Forgive us for not getting ourselves quiet before You. Teach us to be intentional with our time, so that we are still in Your presence, creating opportunity to hear what You have to speak to our hearts. Show us how to love those around us in the way that You are calling us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we make time to be alone before You in silence, so that we may better hear Your heart. 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

 

 

Called to Serve

We are not called to be people who think we are better than anyone else, but rather we are called to see the value in all, and to serve. Jesus came to love and serve and offer new life to all whom He encountered. He did not expect fanfare nor honor, despite the reality of who He was. Instead, He humbled Himself and sat beside sinners, loved lepers, protected prostitutes from persecution, and demonstrated to all, what it means to serve rather than be served. As followers of Christ, we are called to go and do likewise.

 

People who think they are better than others will be made humble. But people who humble themselves will be made great. – (Matthew 23:12, ERV)

But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. – (Matthew 23:12, NLT)

“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” – (Matthew 23:11-12, MSG)

 

The greatest aspiration that we can have in life, is to make our life count for Christ. We are each created with a plan and a purpose. If we walk out the purpose for which God intended, then we will stand out in Him – through humbly serving the One who strengthens and grants us the grace to do the very things to which we have been called. May we wake each day with ears to hear and hearts that are ready and willing to serve.

 

The way to stand out,Forgiveness is Free

is to choose step down;

to reach out and love,

those who need be found.

We are called to serve,

to follow Christ’s way;

in humility,

love others each day.

No one can be great,

knocking others down;

great is in lifting,

those who need be found.

Let us choose to serve,

be humble and kind;

show God’s love and light,

as hope is defined.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to show us what it means to humble oneself and serve. Thank You Jesus, that as You served and humbled Yourself, You gave light and life to all who trust in You. Thank You Father that Christ’s humility brought Him to Your right hand, where He is seated on His rightful throne, granting us forgiveness and grace. Forgive us for not seeing ourselves through Your lens – either too highly or not as enough – for either way, we are not honoring You. Teach us to trust You and who You have intentionally created us to be, so that we would go forth and serve as we are called. Let our lives count for what matters to You. Show us how to love others in such a way, that hearts are drawn unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we choose to humbly serve others, just as Jesus served all whom He encountered. Amen.

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

Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up. – James 4:10

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

Refined to Reflect Radiance

In the midst of tremendous loss, and in the face of his friends who were making false assumptions about why he was suffering, Job stood firm in the truth. He did not know nor understand why he was suffering, but he knew that when it was over, he would once again feel God’s favor upon him. Job’s confidence in God, despite his misery, is clearly defined in the following: But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold. – (Job 23:10)

 

No, none of us are without sin, nor could we ever measure up on our own. However, when we are actively pursuing God’s very best for our lives, Christ in us covers and cleanses us from our sin, and allows us to be seen as blameless before Him. Regardless of the struggles or trials we are facing, He is with us, and when we get through them having clung to Christ, we more clearly reflect His heart and His character to those around us. More than that, our hope is not merely for what may become here, but rather for all of eternity. Our future in Christ is secure, and He alone is on whom we can depend forever.

 

Our ways are all known,Refined to Reflect Radiance

each turn that we take;

He sees each triumph,

each choice that we make.

In times of trial,

He knows where we cling;

He remains present,

through our suffering.

When we don’t feel Him,

He still is right there;

present forever,

our answer to prayer.

Through the press and rub,

of trials foretold;

when the testing ends,

we shall be as gold.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know us and love us and remain with us, even when times are tough. Thank You that though trials and suffering are never pleasurable, You use them for our ultimate good, by refining us and helping us to more clearly reflect You. Forgive us for not clinging completely to You in the midst of our messes, and help us to seek You with our whole heart in all things and at all times. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may be confident and secure in Your nearness, regardless of what we feel. Help us to keep the end in sight, knowing that You will see us through. May we love as You love us, and may many who are seeking, come to know You as their Savior and King. Be glorified, O God, as we are refined to reflect Your glory. 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