Searched, Known and Loved

You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. – (Psalm 139:1, NIV)

O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me. – (Psalm 139:1, TLB)

O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am. – (Psalm 139:1, VOICE)

 

The very One who created us knows everything about us and loves us for who we are. Though we are broken and flawed, He loves. As we seek Him, we find Him. Once we choose to invite Him to be in charge, He will not leave us nor forsake us. There is much comfort and reverence in knowing the overwhelming, never-ending, all-encompassing depth of His love for us in spite of ourselves. May we ever give praise to the Ancient of Days, as He knows us and loves us far better than anyone else ever will.

 

God, our Creator, Searched and Known

Has searched us and knows;

What dwells in our hearts,

When we come and go.

Though dark and broken,

His love still remains;

He brings light and love,

And washes the stains.

So, ever seek God,

He knows our hearts best;

In His love and grace,

We come to know rest.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have searched us and know us and love us anyway. Thank You that You do not place qualifications on Your love. Forgive us for the things within us that are not pleasing to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would give You access to all. Show us how to allow Your light into the dark spaces and give grace room to move where it is needed most. Help us to love those around us the way that blesses and encourages them and helps them to feel known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for knowing us and loving us as we are, and for refining us to become more of who You are calling us to become. 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

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Faith to Listen

Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. – (John 8:47a, NLT)

God’s children listen to God’s words. – (John 8:47a, CEB)

If you really knew God, you would listen, receive, and respond with faith to His words. – (John 8:47a, TPT)

 

When we invite God to be the Lord of our lives, we belong to Him. However, really knowing Him is a lifelong process. Faith is something that grows over time, and in our human frailty, we at times, struggle to respond in trust, though He is worthy of all. Thankfully, He is patient and kind, and shows us His faithfulness again and again, helping our hearts to grasp the depth of how intensely we can truly trust Him. May we ever seek the Lord to grow our faith so that we would listen, receive and respond in trust to all that He asks of us.

 

When we choose the Lord, Faith to Listen

To belong to Him;

He develops faith,

Grows our strength within.

Teaches us to hear,

His every word;

Receive and respond,

With faith to what’s heard.

By grace He will grow,

Our faith within us;

So we listen well,

And live like Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and place our trust in You, You grow our faith and help us listen, receive and respond in faith. Forgive us for the times that we don’t listen, refuse to receive, or fear to respond to that which You ask of us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would gladly move forward in faith in response to all that You are asking. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too may recognize Your faithfulness and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to Your words and respond in the faith that You are growing within us. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

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

Choose Love Anyway

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. – (Matthew 5:44-45, NIV) 

But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and those who do wrong. – (Matthew 5:44-45, ERV) 

 

This can be a serious challenge to actually live out each day. To choose to love, is to make a choice to not respond harshly or rudely, even when that is what we are given. Love is patient and kind and keeps no record of wrongs. That is not to say that we are meant to walk into and remain in abusive and hostile situations, but rather when we are treated any way other than that which God intended, we are meant to respond as He would. Our first line of defense is to pray for those who are against us. So often, it is a matter of hurting people choosing to hurt people out of their own wounded spaces. It does not make it right or acceptable, but it is often a point of prayer for help and healing to be provided for the very one who is causing pain. While we were yet sinners, God loved us. At one point, each of us who call on His Name, discovered the depth of His grace, love, kindness and forgiveness for us, despite our initial lack of love for Him. He tore down the barriers built by our own brokenness and loved us to life in Him. May we choose to love and pray for those who need it most, as God can do far more than we could hope or imagine when we seek Him to intervene in ugly spaces. 

 

We are called to love, Hands of Grace

And choose pray for all; 

Especially those, 

Who want us to fall. 

For as we were once, 

God’s enemies too; 

He loved us to life, 

And made our hearts new. 

Let us choose to pray, 

For those against us; 

Choose love anyway, 

Just as Jesus does. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that while we were yet sinners and walking against You, You broke through the barriers of our hurting hearts and loved us to life. Thank You that You call us to do the same. Forgive us for forgetting to pray for those who treat us poorly. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You for strength and direction as to how to love everyone as You would have us love. Show us how to love even the most difficult to love as You do, so that Your heart may be made evident through our actions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom and strength to love our enemies and pray for those who treat us poorly. 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

Fresh Hope Reconciled

He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. – (John 1:11-12, NLT) 

He came to the world that was His own. And His own people did not accept Him. But some people did accept Him. They believed in Him, and He gave them the right to become children of God. – (John 1:11-12, ERV) 

He came to His own people, but they didn’t want Him. But whoever did want Him, who believed He was who He claimed and would do what He said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. – (John 1:11-12, MSG) 

 

Under the law, God was One to be approached from a distance, rather than One whom we could draw near and be in relationship with personally. Jesus came to break the barrier that separated us from God and give us access to our Heavenly Father as dearly loved children. Our part is to believe and trust in Him. As we do, we are adopted as daughters and sons of the living God. The reality that we are considered children of God when we believe and accept Him as our own, is overwhelming. He sees and knows everything about us, and yet He loves us more than we can even begin to grasp. My role as a mom likely only begins to give a glimpse of the depth and breadth of His love for us. The love I have for my children feels limitless. When they hurt, I hurt. When they are doing well, I am full of joy. How much greater is the capacity to love of He who created all that is and ever was, as He knit us together and breathed life into our being? May we embrace the glorious grace that we have been given, as we receive the gift of being called daughters and sons of the living God through believing in Him and accepting His word is true. 

 

Often rejected, Risk to Reward

Jesus, He still came; 

To offer His love, 

As we call His Name. 

For all who believe, 

Accept His word’s true; 

Become His own kids, 

As we are made new. 

No longer from far, 

But we can draw near; 

Speak to Mighty God, 

We have Daddy’s ear. 

Just as a parent, 

Loves deeply their child; 

We’re loved by the Lord, 

Fresh hope reconciled. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came and made the way for us to be restored to right relationship with You. Thank You that when we believe and accept Your word, You call us Your own. Forgive us for rejecting the truth that You make known to us, and teach us to trust You more. Help us to walk in Your way and honor You in all that we say and do. Show us how to love those around us so that they might gain glimpses of You through our love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we accept, believe and receive all that You show us of Yourself and Your word. Amen. 

 

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

 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Freely Given

When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. – (Titus 3:4-5a, NLT)

But then the kindness and love of God our Savior was made known. He saved us because of His mercy, not because of any good things we did. – (Titus 3:4-5a, ERV)

But then something happened: God our Savior and His overpowering love and kindness for humankind entered our world; He came to save us. It’s not that we earned it by doing good works or righteous deeds; He came because He is merciful. – (Titus 3:4-5a, VOICE)

 

Our hope and our help come not as a result of what we have done, but rather that of which God has done. In His kindness and love, He made the way for us to be saved. Salvation is not dependent on our qualifications, but rather on our reception of that which is freely given. If we choose to believe and receive the new life that He offers, our hearts are changed and minds are made new. While we were yet sinners, He loved. Most of us are able to extend mercy to friends and loved ones, but to those who are against us? The Lord demonstrates the depth and breadth of His love through how He loves and offers salvation to ALL. There are no exceptions nor exclusions from His offer; His mercy is available to everyone. May we both receive and extend that which we have been given freely, so that others too, may come to know the loving kindness and mercy of our Maker.

 

It’s kindness and love, Hands of Grace

Through mercy He brings;

That we can be saved,

Freed from sinful things.

Salvation’s not earned,

By good that we do;

But given by grace,

That shows His love true.

What it takes from us,

Is choice to receive;

To place trust in Him,

Allow God to lead.

As we give God reign,

Our eyes start to see;

Others with His grace,

Kindness and mercy.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came to save us, not because of anything that we did that made us good enough, but rather because of Your kindness and love. Thank You that You are merciful and full of grace, ready to receive all who seek Your face. Forgive us for thinking we have to measure up, rather than freely receiving that which You have to give. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to lead us and change us from the inside out. Show us how to love others with the same kindness, love and mercy that You extend to each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive what You freely give so that we can give likewise. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Ponder the Treasure

But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. – (Luke 2:19, NLT)

Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. – (Luke 2:19, ERV)

Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. – (Luke 2:19, CEB)

Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, VOICE)

 

The chain of events leading to and surrounding the birth of Jesus, must have been more than enough to keep Mary’s mind on constant overload. Angelic visits and prophecies, miraculous pregnancies, having to travel by donkey in the desert, arriving only to be turned away at all of the possible places to stay, giving birth in a stable, having shepherds show up… Mary was now mother to the Son of God. I imagine she vacillated back and forth between bewilderment and amazement at the role that she had been called to fill. Her faithfulness and trust in God was apparent, as she said “yes” to that which she had been called to do by God. Each of these events to treasure, were likely the things that gave her courage and strength in times of uncertainty as Jesus grew. Today, as many of us participate in candlelight services, may we ponder all of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, and treasure them in our hearts, so that we too, will find courage and strength in times of uncertainty.

 

Joining to gather, Ponder the Treasure

In candlelight glow;

Sing of our Savior,

Arrival we know.

Born in a stable,

Such a humble birth;

Path for us to know,

The depth of our worth.

For God sent His Son,

To show love to all;

Let us each embrace,

Grace to which we’re called.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us how to stop in awe and wonder of all that took place surrounding the birth of Jesus through the example of Mary. Thank You that You did not call the equipped, but rather You equipped the called. Thank You that You used ordinary people to do the extraordinary to change the course of history forever; a young girl, a carpenter, some shepherds, an inn keeper with a bit of compassion – each with a role that led us to why we celebrate this most holy season. Forgive us for breezing through the day as if it is just another holiday. Teach us to stop and ponder the magnitude of what You have done for us, so that we will treasure it all in our hearts. Show us how to love those around us with a love that is tangible and worth treasuring. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they are introduced or reminded of Who You are and all that You have done through the glorious gift of Your Son. Be glorified O God, as we ponder and treasure the reason for the season. Amen.

 

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

 

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

 

 

May We Marvel Like the Magi

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, His mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped Him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left that territory without being seen, and returned to their own country. – (Matthew 2:9-12, MSG)

 

As I continue on my journey to dig deeper into the stories of those who first were mentioned in the Christmas story, this morning I did some searching about the Magi. What I had already learned, is that the wise men who visited bearing gifts, did not actually visit Mary, Joseph and Jesus as He lay in the manger. It was likely a year or two later. As mentioned, the wise men entered their home, not an animal shelter of sorts with Jesus in a manger. My new discovery however, is that according to what I found, the Magi were a priesthood of the Medes, known for their exceptional religious knowledge, and some proved to be experts at interpretation of dreams. This was the very same group of wise men and advisors to whom Daniel had been appointed Chief of the Magi, several generations prior. The gifts that these priestly people brought had prophetic and powerful meaning in religious realms. Gold spoke of His kingship, frankincense was a spice used in priestly duties, and myrrh was an embalming ointment anticipating His death. The wise men followed a star, knowing of the significance of Who they would find if they followed where it led. Based on the gifts that they had prepared to take, I imagine that they had already been given some dreams and insight about what had been foretold long before. It is awe-inspiring to envision what the moment must have been like for the Magi. A lifetime of studying and seeking, and then suddenly these wise men found themselves standing before the Savior of the world.  May we each have Magi-like moments this Christmas, where we recognize in awe and wonder, His powerful presence, because He chose to come and be God with us.

 

A star of wonder, May We Live Like the Magi

Led wise men afar;

Check in with a king,

Then follow the star.

The Magi arrived,

In Bethlehem town;

The way clearly shown,

As the star shined down.

With awe and wonder,

The wise men took knee;

They gave Him their gifts,

All praise unto Thee.

May we too behold,

A similar awe;

At the Gift given,

What the wise men saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly show us more and more of Who You are and all that You have done, as we seek You and ask for Your insight. Thank You for the faithfulness and obedience of the Magi, and a bit more of the story behind them. Forgive us for taking everything at face value, or for becoming numb to the depth and life that come from beholding the truth and the treasure that is found in the story of Jesus’ arrival. Teach us to seek to see it through fresh eyes, so that we never lose our awe and wonder at the glory of the Gift that You gave. Show us how to love those around us in a way that points hearts to You, the ultimate Giver of all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe of all that You have done for us, and the very reason we celebrate this season. Amen.

 

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

 

He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

(link to Magi research)

Established Peace

Lord, You have established peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us. – (Isaiah 26:12, NIV)

Lord, You have succeeded in doing everything we tried to do, so give us peace. – (Isaiah 26:12, ERV)

Eternal One, You are preparing peace for us; in fact, everything we have accomplished has come from You. – (Isaiah 26:12, VOICE)

 

Peace has already been established on our behalf; it is a matter of choosing to receive what the Lord freely offers and allowing it to take root rather than continue in the chaos that corrupts contentment and steals joy. No matter what is going on around us, peace is available within us. Emanuel means God with us, and His presence provides perfect peace, regardless of our circumstances. Each time that I find peace in places where chaos surrounds me, I am acutely aware of God’s goodness and grace, as He meets me in my need and provides His peace despite my circumstances. The Lord is willing to grant us peace in all things. May we ever seek our Savior and His perfect peace, recognizing the remarkable resilience He provides as we turn in trust to Him.

 

All that we have done, Established Peace

The good that’s in us;

Is because of You,

Our Savior, Jesus.

You establish peace,

Where chaos seems reign;

And bring us comfort,

To places of pain.

O Lord, You are light,

In each darkened space;

The depth of Your love,

Gives hope through Your grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You establish peace for us, and provide the strength and the grace to do any good that we have done. Thank You that You are with us, be it in chaos or calm. Forgive us for seeking peace and comfort anywhere other than in You. Teach us to trust You more, as You provide Your perfect peace in all things and at all times, no matter what surrounds us. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends Your peace to those in chaos, and brings hope to those in despair. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for Your perfect peace that You establish for us, and gratitude for all that You have done in and through us. Amen.

 

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

 

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. – Isaiah 26:3

To Overcome Offenses

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. – (Proverbs 25:21-22, NIV)

If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch; if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness, and God will look after you. – (Proverbs 25:21-22, MSG)

Is your enemy hungry? Buy him lunch. Win him over with your kindness. Your surprising generosity will awaken his conscience and God will reward you with favor. – (Proverbs 25:21-22, TPT)

 

 

When we choose to give good to those who are not good to us, there is a softening on both sides. Often, it makes our hearts more tender toward the offender, and the heart of the one who chose unkindness toward us, to see us in a different light. Though I don’t see others as enemies, I do try to catch myself when I am hurt or offended by the words or actions of another. “How can I respond in kindness, despite that which I have been given?” This is not always an automatic reaction, and there are some offenses that make responding in love far more difficult. We are all a work in progress, and God’s grace is far greater than our own. When we seek Him for the strength and wisdom to respond according to His will, the outcome is far better than if we simply react. May we ever pursue the Lord and His love for people, so that we may surprise others with goodness and generosity that is not necessarily deserved.

 

When we receive rude, Pursue Righteousness and Love

Let’s love anyway;

As others choose hurt,

May we walk God’s way.

Generosity,

Extended with grace;

Can change the outcome,

Create new safe space.

For God will reward,

A generous heart;

Despite what’s given,

His grace He’ll impart.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we choose to love as You love us, despite what we are given by others, You intervene and move in the hearts of people. Thank You that while we were yet Your enemies, You did this for us, as You showed us Your kindness and grace, and brought us to a place where we could know and understand the depth of Your love. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to choose to love and extend kindness to those who have not been kind to us. Teach us to trust You more, as You guide and direct our steps with Your wisdom and grace if we are willing to walk in Your way. Show us how to love the people around us, even those who make loving difficult. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they become aware of Your goodness and grace. Be glorified O God, as we choose love, regardless of what we are given, as You first loved us. Amen.

 

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

 

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