Set Down Our Stones

“Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – (John 8:7b, NIV)

“Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” – (John 8:7b, CEB)

“Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.” – (John 8:7b, VOICE)

 

This particular story recorded in the book of John, is one of the amazing goodness and grace of Jesus. A woman who was caught in sin was brought before Jesus by the Pharisees, as they hoped to trap Jesus and condemn the woman. When Jesus spoke these words to those who accused her, one by one, they dropped their rocks and walked away. Each one knew that they too had sinned and did not qualify as sinless to hurl stones. I imagine we all have certain offenses against us that make our blood boil, however, when we slow down, breathe and reflect, we have to recognize that we are also offenders of others, even if it is without intent to harm. Sometimes it is the words that escape our mouths, other times it is our actions, or often even worse, our inactions, that are among our own sins. It is critical that we deal with our own sin, rather than try to manage that of another. Granted, there are roles that we are called to fill where it is our job to help others navigate a life of obedience, but even then, it is not by throwing stones that we correct, but rather through conversation, consequence and redirection. May we look to the example of Jesus when the offenses of others are brought before us, for not one of us is free from sin.

 

The stones in our hands, Set Down Our Stones

We must choose set down;

As we all have sinned,

We’ve made our own mound.

A mountain of rocks,

Where our own sins lie;

Each one forgiven,

Love never denied.

Let us do likewise,

Forgive each other;

Demonstrate God’s grace,

To one another.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us incredible examples of Your forgiveness and grace, though they are not deserved. Thank You that we all are in need of mercy and grace, as not one of us is without sin. Forgive us for holding stones in our hands, ready to throw, rather than slowing down to look at our own lives and recognize that we too have reason to receive retribution for our own offenses. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would set down our stones and seek Your strength and grace to extend to those around us. Show us how to love others with the same mercy, grace and goodness that You extend to us in our own spaces of need. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set our stones in Your hands, and receive the goodness that You give in their place to extend to those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

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Peace With All People

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – (Romans 12:18, NIV)

Do the best you can to live at peace with everyone. – (Romans 12:18, ERV)

If it is within your power, make peace with all people. – (Romans 12:18, VOICE)

We are called to live at peace with all people as much as humanly possible. If we operate as promoters of peace, extending mercy and grace, goodness and love, just as God gives to us, peace is possible far more often than not. Yes, there are always exceptions who will not receive and will continue to cause unrest, but with all that we are in all that we do, we are called to seek His peace. May we ever depend on the Prince of Peace to fill our hearts and minds, so that we may go forth and live at peace with everyone around us.

 

Peace is not a place,
Joining Together

But a state of mind;

Granted by the Lord,

For all of mankind.

It’s meant to be shared,

One to another;

From neighbor to friend,

Sister to brother.

Let us do our best,

With all, be at peace;

So God’s grace may flow,

And hope be increased.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You fill us with Your peace when we seek You. Thank You that You equip us to be ambassadors of peace to the people around us. Forgive us for not attempting to live at peace with everyone around us when people become difficult to take. Teach us to lean into Your love so that we are filled again with Your grace and compassion and power to promote peace in places where it seems impossible. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your peace to the unsettled places in their hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to live at peace with everyone. Amen.

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

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

Do Right and Build Up

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. – (Romans 15:2, NIV)

(We should not do what pleases us) but do what pleases them and is for their good. We should do whatever helps everyone grow stronger in faith. – (Romans 15:2, ERV)

We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. – (Romans 15:2, NLT)

Our goal must be to empower others to do what is right and good for them, and to bring them into spiritual maturity. – (Romans 15:2, TPT)

A sweet colleague and friend whom I appreciate and admire, who also happens to be a fellow blogger, published a post yesterday that leads me to the application of the verse that my heart landed upon this morning. The gist of her post, though I am not doing it justice, was that despite the struggles, challenges and obstacles that we are facing daily, her heart, with hope, is to have no bad days. One way that we can contribute to the betterment of the days of others is to look for ways to build them up and to empower them. How can we do things that increase the faith of those around us? If we can find good in each day and extend encouragement to others, we not only grow the faith in others, but in ourselves as well. May we seek to do what is right and pleasing so that others may be built up and press on, even on the hardest days.

Help us look for good,

Ways to choose build up;

To please our neighbors,
Do Right and Build Up

In faith, fill their cup.

As we do what’s right,

And opt extend grace;

Empowered rise up,

As they find fresh faith.

Let’s not grow weary,

In choosing what’s right;

Help and love others,

Let’s fight the good fight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do what is good and pleasing for others to help them grow and be built up in faith. Thank You that as we choose to focus on others, You fill and refresh us in the process. Forgive us for somehow thinking that we have nothing to offer in our own space of weariness. Teach us to trust You more, as You fill us and build us up, providing all that we need and more. Show us how to love well the people who You have placed around us, so that we would do what is right and pleasing to build them up and help grow their faith. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for bringing good unto us when we are depleted, and for growing our faith in You so that we may in turn do the same for those around us. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things. Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

Seek His Steadiness

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Romans 15:5-6, NIV)

May God who gives patience, steadiness, and encouragement help you to live in complete harmony with each other – each with the attitude of Christ toward the other. And then all of us can praise the Lord together with one voice, giving glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Romans 15:5-6, TLB)

Now may God, the Source of great endurance and comfort, grace you with unity among yourselves, which flows from your relationship with Jesus, the Anointed One. Then, with a unanimous rush of passion, you will with one voice glorify God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Romans 15:5-6, TPT)

 

As we seek God to be our Source of endurance, encouragement and comfort, we are able to in turn, do the same for others in His strength. The incredible design in this is that as we give as we have been given, our lives give glory to God. We are praising our Provider as we practice passing on the patience, steadiness and encouragement that we have been given so that we may live in harmony with one another. May we ever seek the Lord and the endurance and encouragement that He provides, so that we may do the same with those around us. When we do, our lives united glorify God.

 

God grants endurance, Seek His Steadiness

Encouragement too;

The heart of Jesus,

Passed to me and you.

For as we’re given,

We can also give;

With one mind and voice,

We praise as we live.

So let us choose love,

On the Lord rely;

Together unite,

So God’s glorified.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us patience, endurance and encouragement to help us live in complete harmony with each other. Thank You that as we do, we are giving praise to You. Forgive us for the times that we have not had an attitude that reflects Your heart toward others. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend the same comfort, encouragement and grace that we have been given to those around us. Show us how to love others well, so that we may extend the patience, comfort and encouragement that is needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help the very things that You give us be that which flow from us. 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

Chosen to Love

Love means doing what God has commanded us, and He has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. – (2 John 1:6, NLT)

And loving means living the way He commanded us to live. And God’s command is this: that you live a life of love. You heard this command from the beginning. – (2 John 1:6, ERV)

This is love: that we live according to His commands. This is the command that you heard from the beginning: live in love. – (2 John 1:6, CEB)

 

We are commanded to love one another. It is not a suggestion. When days seem dark and the rubber meets the road, this is the time that we must dig deep and choose to love one another, just as we are loved by God. As we opt to offer kindness, encouragement and the benefit of the doubt to others, remarkably, the same is returned our way. Even in the moments when it is not, we can rest easy in knowing that we walked our road according to His will. May we choose love as we are commanded, and extend patience, kindness, protection, trust, hope and choose to persevere.

 

Commanded to love,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

It’s what we have heard;

To choose live in love,

It is the Lord’s word.

Though we were unkind,

Unworthy of grace;

God chose to love us,

As we sought His face.

Thanks to His mercy,

We can do the same;

Live a life of love,

That honors His Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that while we were yet sinners, You loved us with Your life. Thank You that because You love us, we can go and love one another according to Your command. Forgive us for the times that we do not extend love to those around us as You call us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would live a life of love that fulfills what You expect of Your children. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends patience and kindness, that chooses to protect and trust, that offers hope and always perseveres. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we live a life of love according to Your command. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Rendering Reconciliation

Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. – (Proverbs 16:24, NLT)

Kind words are like honey; they are easy to accept and good for your health. – (Proverbs 16:24, ERV)

Pleasant words are flowing honey, sweet to the taste and healing to the bones. – (Proverbs 16:24, CEB)

 

Yesterday, as I met with a student who often struggles to make good choices behaviorally and academically in the classroom for our one-on-one reading conference, I was reminded of how much truth lies in the words of this verse. As we began, he did an excellent job of explaining what he had learned in the book he had read, and then easily defined words from the vocabulary list. Throughout our meeting together, I praised and encouraged him, as I let him know how impressed I was with his hard work and reminded him how much I believed in his ability to do well each time he invested himself in whatever task the class was being asked to take on. Seemingly out of nowhere, his gaze dropped to the floor, and tears silently began to slide down his cheeks. In disbelief, I sat there for a moment, unsure of what I was meant to do. After taking a moment, I encouraged him a bit more and then asked him if there was anything that I could do to help. He shook his head “no”, so I followed with the question, “I can see that things are pretty tough right now. Do you have hope that they will get better?” He nodded his head up and down and accepted the tissue I offered. Our brief exchange reminded me yet again, just how much kind words matter. May we ever seek the Lord for His guidance to fill us with the words that others need to hear most that are sweet to hear and bring healing to places that are hurting.

 

Kind words do matter, Patient Acceptance

Far more than we know;

They heal the hurting,

And help goodness grow.

Sweet, just like honey,

Such help to the soul;

A salve for our wounds,

As His mercy flows.

Let us choose kindness,

With words that we say;

Healing can happen,

When Love leads the way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the truth of Your word that You continue to show us again and again in tangible ways. Thank You that kind words are sweet to the soul and healing to the body. Forgive me for the times that kind words were not the first thought to come to mind or that which escaped my lips. Teach me to trust You more, so that I would listen to Your leading and speak the words that You would have me say. Show me how to love others well with my words, just as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we extend kind words to others in such a way, that healing comes to the recipient. Amen.

 

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

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

These Three Things

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV)

So these three things continue: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. – (1 Corinthians 13:13, ERV)

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. – (1 Corinthians 13:13, NLT)

 

At the end of the day, despite the drama, disappointment, or discouragement that has been present, Love finds a way to fuel our faith and grant us new hope that better is yet to come.  God, in His kindness, demonstrates His love for us in ways that grow our faith and keep hope afloat. There are times that it is difficult to remember that our hope is not to be held in temporary things, but rather our hope resides in that which is eternal. May we ever fix our eyes on He who is love and seek the Lord to grow our faith so that hope will rise, no matter what lies ahead.

 

Love is the fuel, These Three Things

Where faith gets its fill;

And hope rises up,

When we choose, be still.

For these three treasures,

Are gifts that shall last;

Faith, hope and God’s love,

Future, now and past.

In His great kindness,

God grants us these things;

Each strengthen resolve,

To face what life brings.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that faith, hope and love last forever. Thank You that the greatest of these is love. Thank You that You lavish us with Your love, though we do not deserve it. Forgive us for our lack of faith and for losing hope when things seem more than we can bear. Teach us to trust You more, as You are far greater than any obstacle that lies before us, any burden we must bear, and any challenge we must face. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends faith, hope and love to those who need it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace these treasures You grant us for good that last forever. Amen.

 

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Love Fulfills the Law

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. – (Romans 13:8, NIV)

You should owe nothing to anyone, except that you will always owe love to each other. The person who loves others has done all that the law commands. – (Romans 13:8, ERV)

Don’t run up debts, except the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. – (Romans 13:8, MSG)

 

Our focus ought not be on amassing things that do not last, but rather on loving well all those around us, as love is the only thing that can last forever. God commands us to love one another, just as we are loved by Him. When we do, we give others glimpses of His heart and His goodness and grace for them, individually. As we love, He continues to fill us again and again with more to give. His love will never end, therefore we are called to continue loving. May we be wise as we walk out our days, fixing our eyes on how to best love those around us as we are loved by God, thus following the laws to which we have been called to obey.

 

Help us to focus, Hands of Grace

On the call to love;

For love is what lasts,

Your grace high above.

Lead us to love well,

All those around us;

So people may see,

The heart of Jesus.

Your grace and goodness,

Your love that is true;

Help us to obey,

And love just like You.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that loving like You love is not about giving beyond our means or somehow overextending ourselves in a way that places us in a bind, but rather it is about choosing to love all as we are loved by You. Thank You that You do not expect us to do this in our own strength, but You empower and equip us to obey what You ask us to do. Forgive us for not choosing to love those who are difficult to love. Teach us how to trust and rely on You more, so that we would be Your hands, heart and voice to others in such a way, that they may come to recognize the fullness of Your grace and light of Your lavish love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love as an obedient act of fulfilling all that Your laws command. 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

Praise Even When

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. – (Romans 5:3-5, NLT)

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary – we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! – (Romans 5:3-5, MSG)

 

I am certain that I have read this passage at least a dozen times before, but for some reason, this morning, it is sinking in a bit differently. Perhaps it is through reading The Message translation, as it speaks of praising “even when we’re hemmed in with troubles” rather than “rejoicing when we run into problems and trials”. Personally, my mind can conceive the even so concept, as God is good even when our circumstances are not, and I know that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Each trial that we traverse, every struggle He grants us strength to navigate, further grow our faith and help our hope the next time we face difficulties. When we look back on where He has brought us from, we can see the overwhelming faithfulness of God and the generous outpouring of love lavished upon us by His Holy Spirit. May we ever give praise to He who is always worthy, as He is the one who supplies the strength and endurance needed to navigate each challenge, as He pours into our lives, His love.

 

In midst of trial,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

We can, even so;

Give praise unto God,

For His love we know.

He’s faithful to help,

Grants strength as we go;

Our reason for hope,

Sure truth that we know.

Troubles grow patience,

That helps us endure;

Confidence in hope,

As His love’s secure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have reason to praise You no matter what troubles or trials we face because You are good and You will use all things to grow us in You. Thank You that troubles develop endurance and strength of character so that we may more clearly reflect Your heart to the world. Forgive us for fleeing the fire before us, rather than facing the fight in Your strength as You hold us in Your hands. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive all that You generously give as we go through the highs and lows of life. Show us how to love well all those whom we encounter, so that they may see glimpses of Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You on every step of our path as You provide Your presence and Your peace. 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

A Final Act of Love

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. The men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” – (Luke 24:1-5, NLT) 

 

Though Jesus had told those who followed Him that He would rise again, I imagine it was still difficult to conceive, as the very idea was a seeming impossibility. As I attempt to place myself in the position of one of the women who went to the tomb that morning, I picture women overwhelmed with grief as they walked toward the resting place of their Redeemer. This Savior whom they loved, was now three days in the grave, and they were prepared to interact with His broken body as a final act of love and a way to say goodbye. The tomb had been sealed by a giant boulder, immovable, even by a malicious act of will. Imagine the shock that flooded their hearts and minds as they approached the tomb when they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Fear? Anger? Concern? What could have happened to the body of their beloved? Then, as they stood there puzzling over what was missing, two men in dazzling robes appeared out of nowhere. Clearly the women recognized that the men were messengers from God, as they bowed their faces to the ground in terror. From sorrow to confusion to frustration to fear, these ladies must have been flooded as heaven came near. And then, after all of that, to hear that Jesus was alive… The women navigated the roller coaster quite gracefully, as the very next thing they did was go and tell the disciples what they had seen and heard.  

This is the very day that we celebrate and remember the miracle of the resurrection. The grave could not hold Him, and He is alive and moving on our behalf. May we remember our Risen Savior as we go about this day and know that His sacrifice saved us while His resurrection reminds us that we are no longer dead in sin.  

 

Early Sunday morn, Hope in an Empty Tomb

They went to the tomb; 

Grieving act of love, 

No hope yet assumed. 

Imagine their hearts, 

With Jesus not there; 

Distraught and confused, 

The Lord is gone. Where? 

Angelic visit, 

In dazzling light; 

The women bowed low, 

Faced the ground in fright. 

The men then asked them, 

“Why did you come here? 

Don’t look among dead, 

For live to appear.” 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Your Son, Jesus. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross for all of our sin and shame. Thank You that the grave could not hold You, and that You rose again and are seated at the right hand of the Father, moving on our behalf. Thank You that in You we can have life and light and love forever. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your sacrifice and the glory of Your resurrection. Help us to grasp the enormity of Your mercy and grace. Show us how to extend love and goodness to those around us as an outpouring of our gratitude to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise and give You glory for Your love that defeated death and gives life to all who receive You as Lord. Amen. 

 

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

 

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