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

To Give as We’re Given

Give love and mercy the same as your Father gives love and mercy. – (Luke 6:36, ERV)

Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. – (Luke 6:36, MSG)

So imitate God and be truly compassionate, the way your Father is. – (Luke 6:36, VOICE)

 

We are called to extend to others, the very same love, mercy, generosity, grace, compassion and kindness that God gives to us. To further clarify for myself, I studied the definitions of each of the previously listed words. Love is benevolent affection, and to me that is a love that gives care, kindness and compassion without expecting anything in return. Mercy is being pardoned when we deserve punishment. Grace is undeserved favor; being freely forgiven. Generosity is the act of liberally giving without expectation of return. Lastly, compassion is a deep sorrow for another’s suffering, accompanied by a strong desire to help bring relief. Extending love, mercy, generosity, grace, compassion and kindness to my family and friends is relatively easy, however, there are times when it becomes quite a challenge with students, particularly when there is repeated disrespect, and combatant behavior. The verse does not have a qualifier. It does not say give love and mercy the same as Your Father only when it is easy or when those around you are kind, but rather it asks that we give love and mercy as He gives. God does not wait for us to meet a set of certain criteria to love us, but rather He meets us in the middle of our mess and extends compassion, grace, mercy, generosity and love, which lead us to long to do the same. If we do likewise, perhaps the hearts of those who suffer the most and lash out, will be touched and changed for the better. May we ever seek the Lord and His strength, so that we may imitate God and be truly compassionate, the way our Father is.

 

Give love and mercy,Healed Hands Reach Out

As given to us;

Be compassionate,

Like our Lord Jesus.

He gave us His grace,

It was not deserved;

Generosity,

That cannot be earned.

Just as He’s given,

We’re called to the same;

Give love and mercy,

Honor Jesus’ Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You gave. Thank You that You give us love, mercy, grace, generosity and compassion – though we deserve none. Thank You that through Your lavish love, You equip us to go and do likewise. Forgive us for not giving love and mercy as You give unto us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would live out our God-created identity as You intended. Show us how to love others with the same mercy, grace, generosity and compassion that You have for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pattern our lives in love towards others, just as You give unto us. Amen.

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

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

Grace Where We Are

God gave these four young men the wisdom and ability to learn many different kinds of writing and science. Daniel could also understand all kinds of visions and dreams. – (Daniel 1:17, ERV)

 

Despite having been captured and taken into the possession of a foreign king, Daniel and his three friends placed their trust in God. Because they were faithful to follow God’s leading, He granted them favor and wisdom above all others who had been brought into captivity by the king of Babylon. Though I have heard the story of Daniel many times, it dawned on me this morning how much trust he must have had in God to do the things he did after having been captured and removed from all that he had ever known. Daniel did not volunteer to go and serve Nebuchadnezzar, but rather the king’s army had surrounded Jerusalem and carried him off to Babylon. It was likely violent and hostile, yet somehow, Daniel had the peace of God upon him, as he earned the favor of those in whose care he was placed. For me, this is a reminder of how much God moves when we are willing to trust Him. In spite of the less than ideal circumstances, Daniel was faithful. As a result of Daniel’s obedient trust, God honored and blessed him, despite his location and position. May we ever trust the Lord and be faithful to follow Him, for He can bless us and grow us even in spaces we’d rather not remain.

 

When we choose to trust,Enter With Thanksgiving

Despite what we see;

God will do wonders,

He hears our heart’s plea.

Sometimes His help comes,

Right here where we are;

So we can rise up,

Show His grace, thus far.

When we stay faithful,

His presence is known;

For He’ll move mountains,

So His love is shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we place our trust in You, You meet us where we are and make Your presence known. Thank You that though You do not always remove us from situations and circumstances that we would like out of, You meet us where we are and provide what we need to thrive in spite of them. Forgive us for our frustration when we feel stuck. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would ask for Your help and Your hope, and the wisdom to understand if we are meant to remain in a space or season of discomfort or not. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we encourage, strengthen and lift up those who feel stuck. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You, no matter what our circumstances or surroundings, as we know You are greater. Amen.

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

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

Declare What You Deem True

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

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

 

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

 

Confession of faith,Hope in an Empty Tomb

Declaring Christ Lord;

With heart that believes,

Eternal reward.

For it’s not by works,

Nor can it be earned;

God longs for our hearts,

That choose love and learn.

Let words that we speak,

And our hearts believe;

God’s death raising strength,

Our hope to receive.

 

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

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

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

We Are Commanded to Love

If we say we love God but hate any of our brothers or sisters in His family, we are liars. If we don’t love someone we have seen, how can we love God? We have never even seen Him. God gave us this command: If we love God, we must also love each other as brothers and sisters. – (1 John 4:20-21, ERV)

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. – (1 John 4:20-21, NIV)

 

We cannot both love and hate and still live as children of God. The command that we have been given is to love God and love people. It does not mean that we will adore everyone we meet, but rather our hearts can have His intentions for all – kindness, compassion, and light, just as He loves us. Often, it takes time and prayer to view others through Christ’s lens. Everyone has a story and each of us have been created with a purpose. No one is more or less valuable to God. When we come to a place where we allow our eyes to focus through His filter, we become better equipped to see the good, or at least the need, to love those around us. Though we cannot see God, clear evidence of His existence is everywhere. Likewise, though we may not know why a person is the way they are, if they have life and breath, they are here for a reason and need and deserve love – the same as each of us. May we seek the Lord and His loving grace, so that we may go forth and love well, all whom He places in our path.

 

God calls us to love,Faith and Hope in Action

Love cannot be earned;

Brothers and sisters,

True love can be learned.

For as we love God,

He changes our heart;

Gives us eyes to see,

And grace He imparts.

For we aren’t of God,

If love’s not our choice;

To extend to all,

With heart, hand and voice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only command us to love You and love those around us as sisters and brothers, but You show us how to love and grant us what we need so that we may love as we are loved. Forgive us for our lack of love toward our sisters and brothers, and teach us to love others in tangible and practical ways. Show us how to love those whom we see, so that they might seek You, whom they do not. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and depend on You and Your direction and grace, to love those around us as You call us to love. Amen.

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

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

Acceptance

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. – (Romans 15:7, NLT)

Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other. This will bring honor to God. – (Romans 15:7, ERV)

 

Because Christ accepts us just as we are, however we come, we too, are called to do likewise. Our job is not to judge one another, but rather it is to accept and love each other, just as we are loved by the Lord. When we choose to love and accept others, just as we have been accepted by God, we give glory to He who is love. May we go forth this day with the intent to love and accept those who cross our path, not because they have somehow earned it, but rather because we have been called to choose to love.

 

We are each chosen,From Sorrow to Songs of Joy

Called forth to go love;

To accept others,

Like the Lord above.

Not because it’s earned,

Nor somehow paid for;

But because God loves,

By grace, gives us more.

As we choose to love,

God’s given glory;

Let lives honor Him,

Through our own stories.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You accept us and call us Your own, even when it seems that no one else will. Forgive us for not accepting others in the same way, or for not giving You the glory for all that You do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will be accepting of others and give all glory to You. Show us how to love and accept those around us in such a way that Your heart is clearly seen through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we accept others, just as You have accepted us. 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

Avoiding Unnecessary Fights

Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only a fool insists on quarreling. – (Proverbs 20:3, NLT)

It’s a mark of good character to avert quarrels, but fools love to pick fights. – (Proverbs 20:3, MSG)

 

The mark of my closest relationships have always shared a common thread. Rather than assuming ill intent of one another and jumping into fight or flight mode, there has been a posture of seeking to understand. When we choose to approach a situation with the hope of gaining understanding, fights are averted and peace is maintained. Though we may not always see eye-to-eye with the person before us, if we approach conversation and communication with the intent to learn and grow, wisdom is gained and peace remains. May we go forth this day with the intent to listen and learn, seeking to understand those around us, so that quarrels are avoided and honor is upheld.

 

The best character,Who is My Neighbor 2

Will choose not to fight;

But rather listen,

To seek what is right.

To avoid quarrels,

With intent to learn;

Is good character,

How respect is earned.

Only the foolish,

Choose keep quarreling;

Honor comes to those,

Who have peace to bring.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us the mark of good character. Thank You that He modeled what it was like to be a peacemaker in tumultuous spaces, simply by loving the unlovable. Thank You too, that You grant us wisdom to know when to stand up and fight, rather than walk away. Forgive us for stepping into unnecessary quarrels that could be easily avoided by seeking to understand one another. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You for wisdom and strength to do what You call us to do in each situation. Show us how to love others well, even when they attempt to pick fights. Let Your love in us diffuse even the most hostile of situations. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to avoid unnecessary fights, and represent You well to the world. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.  – Genesis 21:6

A Place of Radical Grace

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. – (Romans 5:2, NLT)

Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. – (Romans 5:2, The Voice)

 

Faith is so much more than a feeling. It is a confident trust in God and His word, as we hold fast to the hope we have found in Jesus, who has rescued us from our sin and shame, and restored us to a right relationship with Him. We have not earned His mercy and grace, yet it is our faith that frees our hearts to hold fast with confidence, the glory that is yet to come. Joy is ours today, because we have hope for all of eternity. May we each recognize the radical grace that we have been given, and celebrate the hope that we hold in God’s glory that is yet to come.

 

Jesus leads us here,Receive Life

to radical grace;

where He forgives all,

with welcome embrace.

More than the right now,

is hope yet to come;

our future glory,

spent with God and Son.

Consider the joy,

that‘s ours to behold;

this confident hope,

our strength to be bold.

Though we don’t deserve,

all that the Lord gives;

He loves anyway,

in mercy, forgives.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the undeserved place of privilege that You bring us to when we place our trust in You by faith. Thank You that as we do, we can confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing Your glory for all eternity. Thank You for Your amazing mercy and grace. Forgive us for thinking that we somehow need to earn Your favor, or that Your grace is somehow not enough for us. Help us to embrace the grace that You have freely given, and confidently look forward with joy, to all that lies ahead. Teach us to trust You more, so that our confidence would not be in what we see, but rather in what we know to be the truth. Show us how to love others with radical grace, so that they too may come to know who You are and how You love. Be glorified O God, as we stand with confidence and joy, as we look forward to Your glory that lies before us. 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

Speak Life

In Paul’s letter to Titus, he was providing instruction as to how to lead people to live right, according to Christ. Titus 3:2 is a timely reminder, in light of all that has been going on in the world around us. Despite differing opinions, God still reigns, and we have been given the following instructions: Tell them not to speak evil of anyone but to live in peace with others. They should be gentle and polite to everyone. – (Titus 3:2, ERV) Paul further unpacks the reminder that not one of us has earned our good standing before God. Rather, we were made right with God by His grace. God saved us so that we could be His children and look forward to receiving life that never ends. – (Titus 3:7, ERV)

 

It is by God’s grace that we have been saved. Our charge, as His children, is to love God and love people. We will not always agree with every decision or lifestyle that is chosen, yet that is not our charge. We are called to love. If we speak evil of those who know Him not, how will they ever have any desire to draw near? When we are gentle and kind, extending love and grace to others, just as it has been given unto us, it is then that people may see Christ in and through us. Yes, we are called to come alongside and help correct and redirect those within the church who are walking in blatant sin, but not those who know Him not. May we choose to live in peace with one another, extending gentleness and grace to everyone, so that all may come to know the lavish love of the Lord.

 

Speak not unkindly,Bloom Where We're Planted

and choose be at peace;

be gentle to all,

let grace be released.

For we were all made,

right before the Lord;

because of His grace,

in love, He affords.

Share well His kindness,

extend too, His love;

so all may soon know,

the gift from above.

Be humble to all,

slander not ever;

let His love light shine,

now and forever.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are not called to judge, slander or speak evil of others, but rather You call us to love. Thank You that You grant us discernment to know what is right and wrong, so that we may lead our lives in obedience to You, personally. Forgive us for not being peaceable or considerate, or for speaking ill of anyone based on the choices that they have made – for we all have sinned and fallen short of Your glory. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose to love without limits and allow You to work in the hearts of those around us. May many receive Your glorious gift of grace that You give freely, as they choose enter into an eternal relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we choose to live and love peaceably with kindness, offering Your love and grace to all. Amen.

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

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19