Called to Press On

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 3:14, NIV)

The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 3:14, CEB)

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. – (Philippians 3:14, NLT)

 

Any time I near the end of something that has taken time and perseverance, I am reminded of the ultimate end goal in mind. In education, the reward for finishing each academic year is a glorious break that grants opportunity to rest, recover and become refreshed, before workshops, training, classes, meetings and classroom set-up begin again for the following year. This gift of time grants freedom to connect with family and friends, and to catch up on the things that there is no time to do during the school year. As today will mark the beginning of “lasts” (the last Thursday, we end next Wednesday), I am reminded anew to press on to what I have been called to do, for the prize is worth the price. Just as our perseverance through a school year leads to the glorious break during July, so too does a life in pursuit of God and following His ways, leads to a life in heaven for all eternity. In as much as summer is so near that I can hear it calling my name, I am blown away when I consider what heaven will be like, as it says, “For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like You, who works for those who wait for Him!” (Isaiah 64:4) and “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) I have an excellent imagination and have had the privilege of taking in some of the most breathtaking view the planet has to offer, and yet it says that those don’t even compare to what awaits… May we ever press on toward the finish according to the call that has been placed upon our lives, for the prize is well worth the work.

 

We’re called to press on, IMG_3459

To rise, finish strong;

To run well our race,

No matter how long.

For all who finish,

There shall be a prize;

Sweet glory bestowed,

As hope’s realized.

So, keep running hard,

To the finish line;

The prize is waiting,

Refreshing new life.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we press on to finish that to which we are called, there is a wonderful reward that awaits. Forgive us for allowing our weariness and frustration to get in the way of us doing the work we are called to do. Teach us to turn to You in trust, as You are our strength and refuge, no matter what obstacle comes our way. Show us how to love those around us so that we may support and encourage others as they are pressing in to finish the race to which they are called to run. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, each time we press on and run our race according to Your race plan. Amen.

 

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

 

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

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Yet and Still

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. – (Habakkuk 3:18, NIV)

But I will still be glad in the Lord and rejoice in my Savior. – (Habakkuk 3:18, ERV)

Then I will still rejoice in the Eternal! I will rejoice in the God who saves me! – (Habakkuk 3:18, VOICE)

 

Yet, and still… These are powerful transition words as they represent what we choose to do in spite of our circumstances. Today is the second to last Friday of the school year. This past school week has been full of challenges that have shocked and overwhelmed our staff community as we bring this way-too-long week to a close. Yet, and still, I will rejoice in the Lord who saves me. To rejoice is to be glad; to take delight, (dictionary.com) and though none of us are glad about what has transpired, we can take delight in the One who kept us safe and sane in the midst of the chaos. There are days that my joy is renewed in knowing that we are almost done, however, the true Source and space where I find gladness and delight is in the presence of my true Protector. God is good even when circumstances are not, and I will forever have reason to rejoice in Him. May we seek the One in whom all joy resides and take delight in knowing that the trials we face are merely temporary compared to the joy we will know for all eternity.

 

To rejoice in the Lord, Yet and Still

Yet and still, I will choose;

For our God is faithful,

Hope in Him, our best news.

He saves from our chaos,

He brings calm in the storm;

He leads to safe harbor,

As He protects from harm.

No matter the challenge,

Nor struggle that we face;

We’ve reason to rejoice,

In the God of all grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we have reason to be glad and take delight in You and the promises that You have made. Thank You that You save us. Forgive us for losing sight of our reasons to rejoice when life gets trying and hectic. Teach us to trust and lean into You more, so that we would not lose sight of You and all that You have done and continue to do in us and for us. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too will find reason to be glad, even when life is hard. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

Living Among Us

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in You with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. – (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT)

The Lord your God is with you. He is like a powerful soldier. He will save you. He will show how much He loves you and how happy He is with you. He will laugh and be happy about you. – (Zephaniah 3:17, ERV)

The Lord your God is in your midst – a warrior bringing victory. He will create calm with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing. – (Zephaniah 3:17, CEB)

 

This is the exact sort of reminder that many of us need this time of year. In the midst of the busy, crazy, seemingly endless push to the finish, we are not alone. More than that, God is with us and He delights in us. He will bring calm and He rejoices over us with singing. Just as a lullaby soothes the restless soul of a little one, so do the joyful songs of our Heavenly Father as He sings over us. Music can change our entire countenance, and I imagine that when that perfect song comes to mind to lift our mood, it did not drift in on its own. May we ever be open to the One who is among us, as His love brings calm in our chaos while He delights in us with gladness.

 

God is in our midst, Forgiveness is Free

He’s mighty to save;

He delights in us,

And makes our hearts brave.

He calms all our fears,

And sings joyfully;

Victory in love,

To eternity.

So, trust in the Lord,

He is ever near;

Delighting with joy,

And calming each fear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are not God out there, but You are God living among us, right here. Thank You that You are a Mighty Savior who brings victory. Thank You that You delight in us and show us how much You love us. Thank You that You rejoice over us with singing and calm us with Your love. Thank You that You are the ultimate example of a good Father. Forgive us for not turning to You in trust in our trials. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our help and our hope. Show us how to love those around us in a way that brings calm, comfort and joy, so that they may see Your light within us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for all of our days for Your presence, help and joy among us. 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

True Eternal Beauty

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. – (Proverbs 31:30, NIV)

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. – (Proverbs 31:30, MSG)

Charm can be deceptive and physical beauty will not last, but a woman who reveres the Eternal should be praised above all others. – (Proverbs 31:30, VOICE)

 

The persona and package we present may matter to mankind, but what matters into eternity is our relationship with God. Incredibly, some of the most beautiful and charming women I know are those who love the Lord with all of their heart, soul and strength. The beauty within radiates to the external and draws others unto themselves. Their charm is not something that they manufacture, but rather it is an outpouring of the inward work that God is doing that overflows to all those who are near. Loving kindness and compassion that is poured out through their words and actions is attractive and tends to transform the way in which we perceive people as a whole. May we seek to prioritize our relationship with the Lord above all else, as He is the One who does the work within us that draws others near.

 

Seek not to make charm, given-to-show-goodness

Nor beauty the aim;

Instead seek the Lord,

Choose trust in His Name.

For growth in the Lord,

Is lovely to see;

As the overflow,

Lasts eternally.

So, let us choose God,

Love Him and others;

That’s where beauty lies,

Like loving mothers.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what matters into eternity is our relationship with You. Thank You that as we grow in You, there is an overflow of the good that You are cultivating within us. Thank You that the thing within us that draws others near is You. Forgive us for focusing too much on the things that do not last. Teach us to trust You more so that our eyes would focus on You above all else. Show us how to love those around us well. Please bless mothers and those who play a maternal role in the lives of those around them today. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to grow in You above all else. Amen.

 

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

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. – Deuteronomy 6:5

Our Real Reason

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

Always be full of joy. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ERV)

Always be joyful. Always keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, TLB)

 

When we choose to keep praying and give thanks in all things, joy seems to remain, even during our times of struggle. No wonder it is God’s will for us to pray and give thanks in all things, as He longs for His children to remain full of joy, regardless of our surroundings. Our real reason to rejoice is not found in temporary things, but rather it resides in the hope we hold forever. May we choose to keep on praying, no matter what happens, and always be thankful for who God is and how He loves.

 

May our joy be full, Purposeful Prayer

As we choose to pray;

Giving thanks always,

For this is God’s way.

We’re called to seek Him,

No matter what comes;

For he is our help,

‘Til each day is done.

It is the Lord’s will,

That we ever seek;

For each circumstance,

In Him, joy’s complete.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to rejoice, pray and give thanks, as this is the very way that You desire for us to walk out our days in You. Thank You that no matter what comes our way, we always have reason to rejoice in You. Thank You that You are our help and our hope. Forgive us for losing sight of eternity when our present circumstances overwhelm us. Teach us to trust You more and to view things through Your lens of forever. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads joy and gratitude and offers hope where it has been lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all things according to Your good and perfect will. Amen.

 

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

 

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

Thirst No More

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life. – (John 4:14, NLT)

But anyone who drinks the water I give will never be thirsty again. The water I give people will be like a spring flowing inside them. It will bring them eternal life. – (John 4:14, ERV)

I offer water that will become a wellspring within you that gives life through eternity. You will never be thirsty again. – (John 4:14, VOICE)

 

Just as we are wired to need water to survive, our spirit within us desperately desires something to quench our thirst. The only One who can truly satisfy what we crave is Jesus. His love and light and life bring fulfillment where we are lacking. In the spaces where we formerly lacked hope, we discover eternal life in Him. The truth of His word becomes a wellspring within us that bubbles up and flows in us and through us to those around us. May we ever seek the Lord and the hope that He holds, for in Him there is light and life and love forever.

 

We are created, No Matter What Comes

With inborn desire;

A thirst for the Lord,

It’s how we are wired.

We all have a need,

To be satisfied;

Natural pursuit,

Of God glorified.

For as we find God,

We shall thirst no more;

His heart within us,

Refreshes, restores.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You. Thank You that Your word is life that flows within us and through us, granting us secure hope in eternal life with You. Forgive us for seeking to satisfy our thirst anywhere other than in You. Teach us to trust You more, as You are light and life and hope, and our thirst is only truly satisfied in You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that allows Your goodness to freely flow through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we drink from the water of Your word, and hold fast to the hope we know in You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

A Forward Focus

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. – (Philippians 3:13, NLT)

Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. – (Philippians 3:13, ERV)

Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know that I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I am leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. – (Philippians 3:13, VOICE)

 

We are always a work in progress. Not one of us ever “arrives“. However, we can leave our past in the past, and keep pressing forward to that which God has called us, as He transforms us in the process. Each misstep can be an opportunity to learn and grow, if we allow God to lead, and choose to willingly follow. Often He will use our greatest struggles to later become strengths for His glory. May we set aside all that hinders us, and keep pressing forward toward all that God has in store. He is good, and what lies ahead is far better than anything that lies behind.

 

Brothers and sisters,The Author and Finisher of Our Faith

Though we’ve far to go;

The place we are in,

Has required growth.

Forget the old life,

The things of the past;

Press on toward the prize,

And all that shall last.

For when we trust God,

And seek what is true;

Our goals have purpose,

As hope is made new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we still have a long way to go, we can focus on what lies ahead. Thank You that our hope is held in You and our future is secure when we place our trust in You. Thank You that You have a plan and a purpose for each of us, and as we seek You, You show us the way to go. Forgive us for wandering our own way, or for losing focus. Teach us to keep our eyes on the prize, remembering that the end goal is eternity with You. Show us how to love well, all those who cross our paths, so that they too, may come to know the hope that is found in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we forget about the past and fix our eyes forward on what You have placed before us. 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

Staving Off Soreness

Our bodies get sore when we either use muscles we have not used consistently in a while, or utilize them in a new and more challenging way. The resulting soreness reminds us that the muscles exist, and that we ought to perhaps pay more regular attention to the muscle groups that are groaning. Interestingly, our spiritual lives work much the same way. If we rarely exercise our faith, we may find ourselves fearful when setting foot into the new. In prayer, a loss for words is not uncommon, as the posture and position only becomes normal and natural as it is done regularly.

 

Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to Him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.”

But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” – (Luke 9:12-13, NLT)

 

I so appreciate this story of Jesus and the disciples, as He was training the faith muscles of the disciples for later days. Sometimes, the disciples would get it right and find faith in the things that they were being asked to do, yet other times, they would require specific instruction and modeling (true training) in their faith, to learn the lessons that they would need to go forth and do the great things that God was calling them to do down the road. Just as our bodies require consistent physical training to keep from becoming too sore, so too our spirits need ongoing faith-building to be ready to do whatever God asks us to do. The sort of training that we are given for our faith comes through time in the word, worship, fellowship, and prayer. May we be wise with our time and choose to invest well, so that we may be ready for whatever God calls us to do.

 

When muscles are sore,Staving Off Soreness

And we’re out of shape;

We’re meant to persist,

That’s how strength grows great.

Whether in our faith,

Prayer or being;

It requires of us,

Often repeating.

There’s no easy way,

To instantly grow;

Make process habit,

And strength will soon show.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You use everyday experiences to show us the truth of Your word. Thank You that though physical training is good and important to keep our bodies strong and at the ready, our spiritual training is far more significant as it lasts into eternity. Forgive us for the places where we lack consistency, be it our prayer life, time in the word, or in our faith when facing obstacles that seem larger than life. Teach us to seek You daily for our spiritual training, so that we may be fit for all that You are calling us to do. Show us how to love well, all those whom You place on our path. Be glorified O God, as we seek to be fit to serve You well. Amen.

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

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

Always…

Always be full of joy. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ERV)

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)

 

My heart is full, and there is joy despite the sorrow of loss. After hearing more stories of the incredible life that my Gram led, I am even more convinced than I was before that she did exactly what we are called to do in the verses above. Her heart was lined with joy that poured out to all who had the blessing to be near. Gram prayed unwaveringly for each of us, and the words that left her lips were laced with gratitude. Even in the final few months of her life, when she was ill and in agony, she found joy in the nearness of family and friends, and would still love and live and laugh in spite of the pain. Though I will miss her terribly, the lilt of her laughter, the warmth of her smile, the kindness of her encouraging words – the essence of who she was in Christ, will forever live in my heart and mind until we again embrace in eternity. Her example is one that continues to challenge me to seek the Lord in all things. In all circumstances, I can find His joy and express gratitude for who He is, simply because I am loved well. May we never stop praying, as it is in our space of communing with Christ that we find joy and gratitude rises up within us.

 

Such fullness of joy,Always

Shall rise and find way;

When we seek the Lord,

In all things, choose pray.

No matter what comes,

Let thanks leave our lips;

For God who is love,

He strengthens, equips.

To pray and be full,

Of thanks and His joy;

God’s own will for us,

Through grace He’ll employ.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and pray to You, we always have reason to be thankful and full of joy. Thank You that this is Your will for us, as You have designed us to have Your joy dwelling within us all of our days. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to steal our joy or to keep us from giving thanks for the good that exists in spite of the difficult. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would never stop praying and praising You. Thank You for the incredible example of my Grandmother, who prayed without ceasing and was overflowing with thankfulness and joy. Show us how to love others in a way that demonstrates our gratitude and allows the joy that You give to overflow and bless every life we are near. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are filled with Your joy, pray always, and give thanks in all things. 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

A Homecoming to Celebrate

How does one adequately express the essence of a ninety-eight year life lived well? I thought about speaking of my Gram’s faithfulness to God, her unwavering love for her family, friends and church, or perhaps the way that she utilized the gifts that God gave her of music and writing and art to touch the hearts of those around her for Him. For a few weeks I allowed my thoughts to simply settle, and just waited for words to come. As I was driving home from work a few weeks ago, and the lines I knew I was to record and share began playing over and over in my mind, I discovered that my portion to share was not about what Gram had done, but rather where her faith and hope had taken her. Those who knew Rosemary Elizabeth Steiner, knew that she was certain of her eternity. Her hope was not in earthly treasures, but rather in her heavenly home. Gram reminded us always that we were precious in her sight, just as we are in Christ’s. May we all rejoice in the hope of our eternity, and celebrate her incredible homecoming together.

 

Precious OnesWith Gram2

Weep not precious ones,

For I am now home;

The view before me,

Is like none I’ve known.

I walk on gold streets,

With angels, I sing;

Each breath full of life,Praise in Mourning

Love’s sweet offerings.

And O when my eyes,

At last saw His face;

So tender and kind,

His welcome embrace.

Gentle were His words,

As He said to me,

“Well done, precious child!”

I fell to my knees…

Though strong were His hands,Strength in the Sorrow

My Savior knelt down;

He placed on my head,

My very own crown.

I could not contain,

The tears in my eyes;

As loved ones appeared,

This hope – realized.

Oh sweet beloveds,

Do not weep for me;

It’s but a moment,

To your setting free.

©Shannon E. Moreno 2017

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of my Gram that I have known for my entire life. Thank You that my children have had the privilege and the pleasure of knowing her too. Thank You for the example and blessing that Rosemary Elizabeth Steiner has been to so many. Forgive us for not recognizing nor appreciating the treasures we have in those around us nearly enough. Teach us to honor and give thanks for all those whom You have placed in our lives. Show us how to love well, just as she loved like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the blessed homecoming of those who faithfully follow You. Amen.

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

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5