Love is an Active Choice

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

My children, our love should not be only words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do. – (1 John 3:18, ERV)

Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions. – (1 John 3:18, TLB)

Beloved children, our love can’t be an abstract theory we only talk about, but a way of life demonstrated through our loving deeds. – (1 John 3:18, TPT)

 

God’s words to us explain what it truly is to love. Love does not merely speak the words, but it is an ongoing demonstration of actions that support the things we say. Tomorrow, I will have the tremendous joy of joining together in holy matrimony with the one who has shown me love in action, day in and day out, in a way that my heart never knew possible. He demonstrates love from the time I wake to a text each morning, greeting me with words that blanket my heart with blessings, to all of the countless thoughtful little things that show me again and again, he loves me and chooses me as his actions demonstrate what love looks like in a life of choosing to love as we are loved by God. Love truly is a choice, and it requires that we align our deeds with the words that we choose to speak. Though not one of us could do this on our own all the time, with God, we are loved in a way that the overflow shapes the things that we do to reflect His heart for one another. May we all seek the Lord daily, so that we may love in action and truth, just as we are loved by Him.

 

Love is so much more,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Than mere words spoken;

For true love lifts up,

It heals what’s broken.

In every act,

In all that we do;

When fueled by love,

God’s kindness shines through.

True love will align,

All that’s said and done;

For love always protects,

As trustworthy one.

True love perseveres,

For it is a choice;

To match word and deed,

One heart and one voice.

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of love that we are given through those whom You have placed in our lives to show us Your love through actions over and over again. Thank You for the love that You have given me in the one to whom I will soon wed. Thank You that as I am loved well by him, I come to understand more deeply, the love that You have for us all. Forgive us for doubting the sincerity of love that is demonstrated consistently in our lives and for the times that we do not allow Your heart to lead in the words that we speak and actions that we opt to carry out. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk in Your loving way each day and be known as people who live lives of love. Show us how to love those around us with our every deed. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love as we are so lavishly loved by You. Amen.

 

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

 

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:7

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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

Love and Patience that Endure

May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ. – (2 Thessalonians 3:5, NLT)

May the Lord bring you into an even deeper understanding of the love of God and of the patience that comes from Christ. – (2 Thessalonians 3:5, TLB)

May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God’s love and Christ’s endurance. – (2 Thessalonians 3:5, MSG)

 

The love of God and the patient endurance of Christ are two things for which I am eternally grateful. When I am at my least loveable, God still demonstrates His love for me in tangible ways. I am shown patience that is willing to endure, despite the difficulties. In twenty-seven days, I will have the privilege and blessing of marrying the man whom God brought me, who shows me again and again and again, how fully I am loved, no matter how I come. He has patience and kindness toward me that seems to know no end. The more I pursue the Lord, the greater my understanding of His love and patience for us all. May we ever seek Him and grow in our grasp of God’s great love and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.

 

May the Lord’s great love,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Surround and sink in;

True understanding,

So peace may begin.

Let His patience too,

Come and overwhelm;

As goodness is grasped,

In God’s loving realm.

By grace let us seek,

So we come to know;

Love and endurance,

As in Christ we grow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace and for the love and patient endurance that You demonstrate to us in tangible ways. Thank You for the people that You place in our lives to show us Your loving kindness and the depth of Your care for us all. Forgive us for not seeking You to understand more fully the depth of Your love and the patience and endurance that come from Christ. Show us how to love those around us with Your love and patient endurance. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue the path that leads us to knowing You more and more. 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

Faithful Answers

You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our Savior. – (Psalm 65:5a, NLT)

God, You answer our prayers and do what is right. You do amazing things to save us. – (Psalm 65:5a, ERV)

You leave us breathless when Your awesome works answer us by putting everything right. – (Psalm 65:5a, VOICE)

Yesterday morning began in a hurried panic. My boys and I were supposed to be up and out the door by 3:30am to get to the airport by 4:00am for departure for their school music tour to San Francisco. My alarm sounded first at 2:45, and I have a vague recollection of glancing at the screen and rapidly pressing the dismiss option, knowing that there would be a second alarm ten minutes later. At 2:55, as the second alarm debuted, I think I thought I hit snooze, but actually pressed dismiss again. Perhaps the combination of not returning home from football practice until close to ten and staying up until nearly midnight helping the boys finish packing, had pushed me to the point of exhaustion. After what felt like a few minutes, I woke, looked at the clock in a daze, read 4:30, and realized in a panic that we were already thirty minutes late! I ran through the house to wake the boys and hustle them out the door, scrambling to get luggage loaded as I called out a quick checklist for the boys. We rushed out the door and I had them at the airport drop off curb by 5:00am. I gave them specific instructions of where to go to check-in their bags and line up for the security check-through, informing them that I would wait in the cell phone lot, just in case, until I heard that they were checked in, through security, and on their way. Sadly, about twenty minutes later, I received a series of anxious calls from both them and their music director. The boys had missed the bag check-in deadline by two minutes and their director was not allowed to permit them to take a later flight by themselves, due to liability issues, so I had to go pick them back up. Though sleep-deprived and frazzled, my mind was in solution-mode. My first go-to was to call mom as I drove to see if she could look up later flights and if she knew anyone who might have a “buddy pass”. Within five minutes of returning home, I had a call into the principal of their school, a call back from mom with a later flight that had two seats available that she went ahead and booked, (as the airline only charged a minimal fee for the flight change), and I determined that I would go straight to the district office to sign some sort of release of liability paperwork to get my boys where they needed to be. We were in and out of the district office in fifteen minutes, and on our way to the airport where the boys were able to make their flight and then reconnect with their group, having only missed a tour of Alcatraz. All throughout, there were some serious prayers being audibly offered. My boys may or may not have thought I was a bit loony as I prayed aloud for each step we took. However, they were witness to doors opening rapidly, and ways being made, when we had been told by their music director that it was impossible. God is faithful to meet us, even in the seemingly small things. He moves mightily on our behalf and shows us His power where we have none. May we ever seek the Lord in all things, for He is faithful to answer our prayers with His awesome deeds.

 

Faithful to answer,

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The Lord God, He hears;

He opens the way,

As He is so near.

When all seems but lost,

God’s presence remains;

He’ll lead and He’ll guide,

He makes our path plain.

So, trust in the Lord,

In faith, call on Him;

His love makes wrongs right,

When invited in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to hear us when we call on You. Thank You for the way that You are faithful to answer, in ways that we would not have imagined. Thank You that You care about all things – great and small. Forgive us for trying to navigate difficulties on our own rather than seeking You, our Source and Supply. Teach us to trust You more, as You do amazing things as we call on Your Name. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your faithfulness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for answers and give You praise for Your faithfulness forever. 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

Hope Deferred and Dreams Fulfilled

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. – (Proverbs 13:12, NLT)

Hope that is delayed makes you sad, but a wish that comes true fills you with joy. – (Proverbs 13:12, ERV)

Hope delayed makes the heart sick; longing fulfilled is a tree of life. – (Proverbs 13:12, CEB)

 

Hope is a powerful thing, as it reminds our hearts that things will turn out for the best. When something comes along and interrupts our hope, the heaviness that hangs in our hearts can make us feel sad to the point of sickness. However, just the opposite is true when we delight in a dream fulfilled. The joy that floods our hearts makes hope soar as we witness what we’ve longed for come to fruition. Presently, I am in a paradoxical position. One hope that I was holding was dolefully dashed yesterday, yet daily, I am in the midst of walking out a dream being fulfilled and am experiencing joy and blessings that my heart has not known before. God is good, even so, and we have to recognize that He can use both the hopes dashed and dreams fulfilled to bless and encourage those around us as we walk forward in faith, trusting in His goodness. May we rise up in assurance, holding fast to the One in whom all hope dwells, as He is the fulfiller of dreams and granter of joy.

 

When hope is deferred,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Heaviness does dwell;

For dreams that are dashed,

Make the heart unwell.

Yet, dreams that come true,

Bring life and great joy;

Our longings fulfilled,

New faith to employ.

Both dashed dreams and joy,

Are places for good;

For His love’s made known,

His peace understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us when hopes are dashed and when dreams are fulfilled. Thank You that Your grace and love remain with us through it all. Thank You that You can use both to bless and encourage those around us, as our story is an opportunity to demonstrate Your faithfulness. Forgive us for allowing the heaviness of our disappointment in a hope deferred to weigh us down too long. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would grieve our loss and seek comfort in You. Show us how to encourage those in a space of deferred hope, so that they may see fulfillment in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the One who truly fills our hearts with joy as the granter of new life. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to our hope in You, no matter what comes and goes around us. Amen.

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

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

Bold Faith in the Face of Fire

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV)

“If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if He doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, MSG)

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had incredible faith as they faced King Nebuchadnezzar. They had been commanded to worship an inanimate object, when they knew the only one deserving their worship was the one true God. Because they refused, they faced a fiery death, yet they had faith that God could save them. Their bold declaration that initially infuriated Nebuchadnezzar was met by the faithfulness of God who saves and ended up so impressing the king that he created a new command protecting those who worshiped the living God, and promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to higher positions in his court. We never know who we will influence when we choose to remain faithful to what we know is true. Our faith and trust in God speaks volumes when we live it out practically. Though we likely do not face fiery furnaces nor such dramatic decisions, when we choose to be faithful in the small things, people notice and wonder why. May we ever remain true to God whom we can always trust, knowing that He is faithful and the ultimate outcome is greater than we could ever hope or imagine.

 

May we choose be bold, Fire Flames 1

With our trust in Him;

For He is faithful,

Beside us, He’s in.

He’ll make plain our path,

Show us where to go;

Raise up faith in us,

So truth shall be known.

Each giant we face,

Is small in His hands;

As we trust in Him,

He shows us His plan.

Walk forward in faith,

Despite what is seen;

Even so, choose trust,

On the Lord, choose lean.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible examples of faithfulness found in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Thank You that through them, You show us how You meet those who are faithful to You, even in the fire. Forgive us for the times that we have not remained faithful to the truth we know. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would stay strong in You and that in great and small things we would remain true to You, always. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength to trust in You in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Love Comes Near

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) 

I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I love you. – (John 13:34, ERV) 

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) 

 

On the same night that Jesus was betrayed, He shared a last meal together with His disciples. After they had eaten, He spoke the words above to them. Each of the disciples had walked with, learned from, listened to, and had seen with their own eyes and experienced for themselves how deeply and completely Jesus loved. When He spoke the words, they understood what Jesus was calling them to do. In the same way, we are commanded and called to love. We are not called to set limits and qualifications as to whom and how we love, but rather we are called to love one another deeply and fully, just as Jesus loves each of us. It is not always an easy calling, but it is always worthwhile when we follow through. His love makes way where there seems to be no way and softens even the hardest of hearts. May we rise up and be ready to forge forward in faith and love one another in the same way that He loves each of us. 

 

We have been given, Ambassadors of Love

A command to love; 

To love like Jesus, 

As He so loves us. 

Love that is faithful, 

Trustworthy, sincere; 

That’s freely given, 

And chooses come near. 

Love without limits, 

Nor rules to receive; 

By grace, it’s given, 

Because we believe. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithful and generous love for each of us. Thank You that You both call and command us to love one another as we are loved by You. Thank You that You equip and empower us to give the very same love that we have received to all whom we encounter. Forgive us for withholding love in spaces where it is needed most. Teach us to trust You more, as You loved us when we were most unlovable so that we could do the same for others. Show us how to love like You, so that many may come to know the depth and fullness of Your lavish love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fill us to overflowing so that we may go forth and love others as we are loved by You. Amen. 

 

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

 

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

Hope Makes All the Difference

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, NLT)

I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in Him. Then you will have more and more hope, and it will flow out of you by the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, ERV)

I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that your hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, VOICE)

 

Hope makes all of the difference in our lives. When we know the hope that is held in God, we find joy and peace in our faith, even when our circumstances are less than ideal. God, in His goodness, fills us to overflowing, so that we may demonstrate the hope we hold in Him. Our joy and peace that comes through trust in Him is the very thing that extends hope to those around us. May we seek the Lord, our source of hope, and pray that He infuses the lives of those around us with His joy and peace to grow faith so that hope is overflowing.

 

To our Source of hope, Hope Makes All the Difference

O God I do pray;

That You will infuse,

Lives with Your great grace.

Grace that brings Your peace,

Abundance of joy;

That builds people up,

May Your hope employ.

For as our faith grows,

We learn well to rise;

To hold fast to hope,

Your love realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can pray to You and seek You to be the source of hope in our lives. Thank You that You hear us and answer with Your joy and peace as You grow our faith. Forgive us for not seeking You to be our source. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would come to You in every circumstance – be it in seasons of blessings or struggle, as You are the One who supplies all that we need. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers hope and brings joy and peace where it is absent. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God as we seek You to be our hope in all things. Amen.

 

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

 

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

Consider Love

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – (Hebrews 10:24, NIV)

We should think about each other to see how we can encourage each other to show love and do good works. – (Hebrews 10:24, ERV)

Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. – (Hebrews 10:24, TPT)

 

I love that this biblical concept has been made tangible to many as people seek to “pay it forward.” One small spark of kindness, generosity or grace can set off an incredible chain reaction. The great thing is, we can love and encourage others through small and simple things. The Passions Translation tells us to “discover creative ways to encourage others and motivate them toward acts of compassion…” I so appreciate this, as some of the seemingly smallest acts of kindness have had the greatest and most lasting impact on me, as they often come when I have needed them most. It costs us nothing to choose to offer a kind and encouraging word or to reach out a helping hand to one we see in need – we simply must choose to extend what we have received to those around us. May we seek the Lord and listen to His leading, so that we may discover creative ways to encourage each other and extend acts of kindness to all.

 

Let us consider, Ambassadors of Love

How to choose love well;

Honor each other,

May our actions tell.

Tell of His goodness,

Extend hope and grace;

Each act of kindness,

Demonstrate His ways.

Choose seek discover,

To love and do good;

Compassion offered,

God’s grace understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You that though we do not deserve it, You come near and extend encouragement and compassion toward us in tangible ways. Thank You that You call us to look for ways to encourage and love one another as we reach out in ways that others can grasp. Forgive us for not always choosing words or ways to inspire those around us to greater love. Teach us to trust and rely on You to be our Source and Supply, so that we will encourage and motivate others toward compassion and acts of kindness. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spurs others toward love and good deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the love and encouragement that You offer to us and then go and give likewise to those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Loved By You

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) 

And so I am giving a new commandment to you now – love each other just as much as I love you. – (John 13:34, TLB) 

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) 

 

We are called and commanded to love, just as we are loved by God. His love is often made evident through the kindness of those who surround us. Yesterday, I was the recipient of His love made tangible on several occasions. My day in the classroom begins with my most challenging class, and yesterday was no exception. By the end of the ninety minutes, I would have gladly gone home if I had been given the option. God knew, and He provided support in spaces where it was needed most. Encouraging words from colleagues who are friends that came randomly as I walked across campus, flowers delivered at lunchtime from my fiancée, a brief, yet supportive conversation with my principal, and more messages from dear ones as the day went on. God knows what fills our hearts, and He loves us the way that helps our hearts hear best. We are called to go and do likewise. May we rise up and make the choice to love one another, just as the Lord so lavishly loves each of us. 

 

New command given, img_20180213_164632_6431902058580.jpg

To love others well; 

For as we choose love, 

Doubts and fears dispel. 

The love that God shows, 

Our hearts and our minds; 

Helps us love others, 

Leads us to be kind. 

On this day of love, 

Let us choose anew; 

To love as He loves, 

For His love is true. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are commanded to love each other. Thank You that You place people in our lives to make Your love tangible when we need it the most. Thank You that just as we are loved, we are called to do likewise. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen anything other than love for those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love as You do. Show us how to love with patience and kindness, just as You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth and love as we are loved by You. Amen. 

 

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

 

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8