We Are Called Friends

If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of His Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of His resurrection life! – (Romans 5:10, MSG)

I mean that while we were God’s enemies, He made friends with us through His Son’s death. And the fact that we are now God’s friends makes it even more certain that He will save us through His Son’s life. – (Romans 5:10, ERV)

 

The reason I often post a few different versions of a verse, is my way of sharing the process of looking and listening to what He wants my heart to hear on any given day. Sometimes, the words jump off of the page and grab hold of my heart the moment I first read them, however, there are other times that something seems significant and is keeping me stuck on a verse, but it requires repeated reading. Though the main message of Romans 5:10 reminds us that we were saved while we were still sinners because of Christ’s sacrifice, God uses His words that I have read many times, to show me something new, or remind me of truth that my heart needs to hear. This morning, I took pause as I read the portion that says: “now that we’re our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of His resurrection life!” That is a loaded statement. It is rare that I feel that I am at my best, as I am well aware of my own flaws and shortcomings. That being said, whenever I am dialed in on the depth and breadth of the hope I have in Him forever, I recognize how much He has done both in and through me, and know that there is so much more as I choose to faithfully follow Him. May we ever identify the incredible gift that we have been given through the grace of God, and go forth in the hope that we hold in knowing He is with us, for us, and our eternity is secure in Him.

 

What is this great love,IMG_2491

That saw us in sin;

Enemies of God,

Yet still welcomed in?

While stuck at our worst,

He made way to friend;

Greatest sacrifice,

So life would not end.

It is by His death,

And rising again;

We’re forgiven friends,

Life with Christ won’t end.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that while we were yet sinners, Your enemies – You called us friends as You gave Your very best so that we could come to have life everlasting in You. Thank You that through Your resurrection, we are also raised to new life by Your mercy and grace, and empowered to walk in Your way, rather than our own. Forgive us for somehow discounting the depth of what You did and thinking that we do not qualify, rather than receiving the gift that You freely give. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have a proper perspective as to who we are in You. Show us how to walk out our days in the wisdom that we are Your friends, so that we love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the grace that You freely give, and walk forward in that which You have given us to share. Amen.

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

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

Learn to Live a Life of Love

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, MSG)

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, NIV)

 

As God’s children, we are called to go forth and love others as we are loved. The love that we are shown is patient, kind, protective, trusting, hopeful, perseverant and will never fail. Though we are human, and our capacity to carry this out perfectly will fall flat, in Christ, we are equipped and empowered to love like He loves us. We become like the company we keep, so if we are keeping company with Christ, our capacity to love as He loves grows greater. Our hearts become aligned with His, and we more readily recognize His will and how to walk in the light of His love. May we aspire to imitate God our Father, and live our lives filled with love in a way that is pleasing before Him.

 

To learn to love well,Enter With Thanksgiving

We need only seek;

Our Lord God above,

Love is how He speaks.

As His dear children,

He shows us the way;

To love with our lives,

For all of our days.

As we look to Christ,

Who made love so clear;

May we do likewise,

So all know He’s near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do as You have done for us, so that others too, may come to know the power of Your great love. Thank You that as we seek You and spend time with You, You show us how to follow the example that Christ set before us, and You equip us to go and do likewise. Forgive us for not living a life of love as You have called us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would imitate You and Your love in EVERYTHING that we do, because we are Your children. Let our lives speak volumes without our lips having to speak a single word. Show us how to love those around us in a way that pleases You and draws them unto Yourself. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we imitate You in all that we do, through living a life filled with love. 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

Stay True the Course

God is the one who gives me strength. He clears the path I need to take. – (Psalm 18:32, ERV)

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – (Psalm 18:32, NIV)

 

Any strength that we have to stay the course that we are called to cover, comes from Christ alone. On our own, we become distracted, deflated and defeated when opposition comes our way. With Christ, we are equipped and empowered to overcome any obstacle that arises before us, as He either removes the barriers or shows us how to navigate in spite of them. The Lord goes before us and walks beside us, to strengthen and protect every heart that is pursuing to follow the path He has placed before us. May we choose to trust He who is our Source of all security and strength, as we continue walking in the direction He has called us, knowing that He will keep our way secure.

 

Encircled in strength,I Will Go

He makes my path straight;

As I trust the Lord,

In faith, for Him wait.

For the Lord alone,

Provides what I need;

To stay true the course,

He’s called me to be.

Help me ever trust,

In You, God alone;

My strength and my peace,

Come as You are known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the One who gives us strength and keeps our way secure. Thank You that as we place our trust in You, You lead us, guide us and provide what we need to follow the course to which we are called. Forgive us for not moving the direction that You call us to move, or for not seeking Your heart for where we are meant to go. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would desire with all that we are, to know Your way and move according to Your will. Show us how to love all whom we encounter in a way that demonstrates Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength and direction, as You alone are our Source and security forever. Amen.

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

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

Mastered by God’s Grace

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus… For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. – (Romans 6:11 & 14, NIV)

 

When we commit our lives to Christ, there is a laying down of our old self, our sinful nature, and we are made new by the grace granted to us through what Jesus did for us once and for all at the cross. No longer are we bound by our sin and shame, but rather we become free to follow, unhindered, all that the Lord has for us. Though temptation does not disappear, we are equipped and empowered to overcome anything that is placed before us, by His Spirit, if we choose to depend on Him. May we rise up and recognize all that we have received, and live alive to God in Jesus Christ, by the glorious grace that we have been freely given.

 

When rooted in Christ,

Thankful for Love that Endures

Vandy Massey Watercolor

we all get to count;

ourselves dead to sin,

for Christ worked it out.

He opened the way,

for us to be free;

no more bound by law,

with grace guaranteed.

Though grace is a gift,

it compels us on;

to walk in the truth,

’til our days are gone.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we place our trust in You, we die to the sinful part of ourselves and come alive in You. Thank You that we are no longer ruled by sin, but rather we are given Your grace so that we may willingly submit to Your authority in our lives, trusting You to lead us where You have for us to go. Forgive us for allowing anything to have a voice that is above Yours, and help us to quiet our hearts and minds to listen so that we can clearly hear Your direction. Teach us to trust You more in all things and at all times, as Your grace is more than enough. Show us how to love others with the same amazing grace that we are given. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we count ourselves dead to our old sinful ways, and alive in You. 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

To Offer Obedience and Reverence

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. – (Ecclesiastes 12:13, NIV)

That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey His commands, for this is everyone’s duty. – (Ecclesiastes 12:13, NLT)

Now, what should we learn from everything that is written in this book? The most important thing a person can do is respect God and obey His commands, because He knows about everything people do – even the secret things. – (Ecclesiastes 12:13, ERV)

 

Regardless of which version of the text we take in, the bottom line remains. We are called to give God the honor and respect that is due, and obey that which He asks of us. On our own, we would fail miserably, as we are all flawed and broken vessels. However, when we choose to seek first His kingdom, His righteousness is added unto us, and we are led and empowered by His Spirit to do that which we are called to do. His strength is made perfect where we are weak, and His grace abounds where we have none. All that is needed He shall supply, if we are dependent on Him who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Let us have a proper perspective of who God is, as the King who reigns, and allow His Spirit to lead and guide us so that we will walk in obedience to all that He is asking.

 

Our great God, Most High,Refreshment Through Repentance

sits upon His throne;

He loves and equips,

so truth may be known.

We’re called to uphold,

reverence and awe;

obey His commands,

not self-imposed law.

For the Lord, He reigns,

with mercy and grace;

He opened the way,

eternal embrace.

Let our lives be lived,

as an offering;

all praise unto Him,

may each heart choose sing.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though You are God and the Creator and King of all, You chose to love each of us, individually. Thank You that You have given us Your instructions for how we ought to live, and help us, by Your Spirit, to live accordingly. Forgive us for not viewing You with proper reverence and awe, or for taking lightly, the expectations that You have set before us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and Your will in all things, resulting in our willing obedience to what You are asking. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they would see Your heart through ours. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we view You with respect and reverence, and seek to walk in obedience to all that You are asking. Amen.

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

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

Equipped for Desert Seasons

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert. – (Luke 4:1)

Jesus was not tempted and put through trials in the desert until after He had been equipped with the filling of the Holy Spirit. God is loving and kind, and prepares protection for His children. Just as He placed His Spirit in Jesus at the Jordan so that He’d be able to obey all that was asked of Him despite the distractions and temptations, God does the same for us. He doesn’t allow us into “desert seasons” without first equipping us to stand strong, regardless of how things appear. God fills us and leads us, so that we may be ready to withstand whatever comes our way. May we seek His strength in our desert spaces, and trust that He has equipped and empowered us for such a time as this.

In every heart,

that calls on His Name;

the Spirit comes dwell,

for all of our days.

He’ll lead and He’ll guide,

and strength He will give;

so we can stand strong,

in His power, live.

No matter what comes,

a trial or storm;

when we trust in Him,

our heart shall transform.

Where defeat once stood,

our faith shall give rise;

for by God’s great grace,

hope opens our eyes.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You don’t allow us to walk through desert seasons without first equipping us to withstand whatever lies ahead. Thank You that You are faithful to never leave us nor forsake us, and that we can always trust in You. Forgive us for our lack of faith and perseverance, and teach us to trust You more. Help us to rise up and recognize that far greater are You who is in us, than anything that comes against us. Lead us to love others through their desert places, and help us point to You – the only water that refreshes our souls. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your Spirit in us when we are in the desert or being tempted in ways that seem too difficult to withstand. 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

Free in the Truth

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – (John 8:34-36)

 

We are all sinners who need a Savior. Each one of us was once stuck as a slave to our sinful nature. If we choose to trust in Christ, He is our freedom from a life enslaved to sin. More than that, He adopts us as sons and daughters into the Lord’s family, granting us an eternal inheritance with Him. Christ’s presence is available now, and will remain with us forever. God’s perfect truth frees us to become all that He has created us to be. May we embrace the grace the God freely gives, and receive our redemptive place as sons and daughters of the Holy King, whose reign will never end.

 

Do not allow sins,butterflies

that once reigned the past;

to have a foothold,

nor dark shadows cast.

For in Christ the Lord,

the chains are no more;

we’ve been adopted,

empowered to soar.

Considered the kids,

of God our Great King;

forgiven and free,

let’s bring offering.

Offer our whole heart,

our strength and our will;

to be who we’re called,

and His purpose fill.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and give our lives to You, You forgive us and adopt us into Your family. Thank You that You call us sons and daughters forever. Thank You that as members of Your family, we are set free from the chains to sin that once had us bound. Forgive us for trying to return to our old chains, or for revisiting again and again, that which You have forgiven and forgotten. Teach us to trust and rely on You to do that which You are calling us to do. Keep our hearts aligned with Yours, and help us to love all whom we encounter in the same way that You so lavishly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk out our days as Your sons and daughters, displaying the freedom that we have found in Your truth. 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

Obey Truth and Love Deeply

You have made yourselves pure by obeying the truth. Now you can have true love for your brothers and sisters. So love each other deeply – with all your heart. – (1 Peter 1:22, ERV)

 

When we come to Christ and place our trust in Him, He changes us from the inside out. His love draws us unto Himself, and grants us the desire to do that which He asks us to do. As we obey, we learn to walk in His truth, loving one another as we are called to love. If we truly know and understand the love that Christ has for us, individually, we cannot help but pour out the very same sort of love to one another. What is in us, flows from us. May we each invest our whole heart in Christ, so that we may love deeply, with all that we are, through the very same love that Christ has given unto us.

 

Through obedience,Tether Our Hearts

may we be made pure;

hold fast to the truth,

our faith set secure.

For as we trust Christ,

His love is made known;

and we’re empowered,

to make His love shown.

Let us love deeply,

just as Christ loves us;

so others may know,

the grace of Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we obey Your truth, we are made pure before You. Thank You that in that, we are equipped and empowered to truly love others, just as You love us. Forgive us for our lack of obedience that keeps us from loving deeply, and teach us to trust You completely, so that we might love others as You love us. Lead us to love with our whole hearts, so that those who know You not, may come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we obey Your truth and love each other deeply, with our whole hearts. Amen.

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

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

Taking Courage in Trials

As I continue to make my way through the book of Acts, an underlying theme that continues to come forth from the pages, is the ongoing assurance that Christ is present with us, no matter what comes our way. As Paul faced angry crowds, accusations, assault and murderous plots, the Lord provided protection and His very presence. God did not take away the difficult road ahead of him, but He assured Paul that He would be with him, always. The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” – (Acts 23:11) Though Paul seemed to have an insatiable faith, imagine how empowered he must have felt after the Lord actually came and stood near?

 

The very same God that stood beside Paul, resides in the hearts of all who believe. When we are in the midst of difficulty, or are called to go into the face of adversity, He will go before us, be with us, and grant us what is needed to make an impact for Him. As an educator, I cannot help but think of the monumental task that is before the community only ninety miles north of my home. Yet another school, shattered by the brokenness of one child’s permanent solution to a temporary problem. May His courage and grace be poured out upon all whom He sends to bring healing, where devastation has been dealt.

 

When facing giants,Taking Courage in Trials

mountains we must climb;

His nearness constant,

for now and all times.

Our courage is found,

in Christ, the true King;

He supplies power,

and all needed things.

In trial, in loss,

in wholeness, in grace;

circumstances don’t,

determine His place.

For God is on high,

He’s still on His throne;

no matter what comes,

Love will be made known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us, no matter what comes. Thank You that You go before us, remain with us, and that You supply what we need to see us through, even in the darkest of situations. Forgive us for losing sight of Your Light within us, and help us to shine brightly before others, even on the darkest of days. May we offer Your hope to the hurting and Your love to the lost, just as You have so generously done unto us. Father, please be present in the Marysville-Pilchuck community. Help every person impacted by the tragedy to find comfort in You. Equip and empower those You are sending to be Your hands and heart to the hurting in that community. Let beauty come from these ashes, we pray. Be glorified, O God, as we seek to stand firm in the gift of Your presence. Amen.

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

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