Growing Good

Large cypress trees will grow where there were thorn bushes. Myrtle trees will grow where there were weeds. All this will happen to make the Lord known, to be a permanent reminder of His goodness and power. – (Isaiah 55:13, ERV)

In place of the thorn the cypress will grow; in place of the nettle the myrtle will grow. This will attest to the Lord’s stature, an enduring reminder that won’t be removed. – (Isaiah 55:13, CEB)

Prickly thorns and nasty briers will give way to luxurious shade trees, sweet and good. And they’ll remind you of the Eternal One and how God can be trusted absolutely and forever. – (Isaiah 55:13, VOICE)

 

Just as God promised to replace the harsh and harmful places with those that are beneficial and blessed, He does the same in the lives of those who place their trust in Him. It takes little to look back and discover the spaces within our own hearts and lives where God has taken the things that brought harm and redeemed us with His blessings that overflow and offer good to those around us. God is faithful, and each place where we see new growth of good, we have a lasting reminder of His goodness and power – both in us and for us forever. May we seek the Lord and His everlasting love, as He is the One who brings new growth of good where destructive and harmful things once stood.

 

In place of the thorns, How Faith Grows

God will grow new good;

As we see Him move,

His heart’s understood.

This amazing grace,

That makes broken new;

Shows with great power,

That His word is true.

For as bad gives way,

To new, good and sweet;

The Lord is made known,

Our sacred retreat.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that where dead and destructive things once grew, You have brought new that is good and beneficial. Thank You that in every space where You have turned the harmful into good, we have an enduring reminder of Your goodness and power. Forgive us for our frustration and fearfulness of the prickly and nasty spaces – both inside and out. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You to be our strength in the pruning process, and our guide to navigate through the new. Show us how to love others well, so that we may be reminders of Your faithfulness forever. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we keep our eyes and hearts open to be aware of the good that You are growing in and around 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

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Action to Attain Strength

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. – (Psalm 105:4, NIV)

Search for the Lord and His strength; continually seek Him. – (Psalm 105:4, NLT)

Depend on the Lord for strength. Always go to Him for help. – (Psalm 105:4, ERV)

Pursue the Lord and His strength; seek His face always! – (Psalm 105:4, CEB)

 

God’s strength is more than enough for all that we need, no matter what we face. However, this verse reminds us in four different ways that it requires action on our part. We must look to the Lord, search for Him, depend on the Lord and pursue Him, ever seeking Him for help. Though the Lord is gracious and kind, He wants us to actively participate in our pursuit of Him and His strength. In His kindness, God often provides people who point our hearts to Him in our spaces where we have stopped seeking. Again and again, the Lord shows us that He is for us and that His strength is available to all who seek Him. May we ever search for, depend on and pursue the Lord and His strength, for He is faithful to all who seek Him for help.

 

Let’s look to the Lord, Pardon Brings Peace

For He is our strength;

Ready to provide,

As we seek His path.

In good times and bad,

Let’s always choose seek;

For He’s always there,

Grants strength when we’re weak.

He’s our Source of help,

On Whom we depend;

His love fills our lack,

Beginning to end.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can look to You, search for You, depend on You and pursue You for strength, ever seeking Your face. Thank You that as we seek You, we find You, and You supply the strength we need to navigate all of our days. Forgive us for the times that we have sat passively, hoping for things to change, rather than pursuing You and Your strength to know how to best proceed through our every circumstance. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would ever depend on You to be our strength. Show us how to love those around us in Your strength so that they too may come to depend on You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue You and Your strength each day that we draw breath. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Forgiveness Fosters Love

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. – (Proverbs 17:9, NLT) 

Forgive someone, and you will strengthen your friendship. Keep reminding them, and you will destroy it. – (Proverbs 17:9, ERV) 

Those who forgive faults foster love, but those who repeatedly recall them ruin relationships. – (Proverbs 17:9, VOICE) 

 

Our world desperately is in need of the forgiveness of faults to move forward in the freedom that is found in love. Far too often fingers are pointed without taking an honest look in the mirror. We all fall short and make missteps, and at times our errors end up hurting someone near us. If we are walking in love as God calls us to love, we must choose to forgive and move forward. The more we give grace, the greater our friendships grow. Freedom to be human is a tremendous burden lifted, and as we are able to be transparent with those near to us, we are strengthened in our faith and better bonded as dear friends. May we ever choose to be the ones who forgive faults and foster love, just as Jesus has done for us. 

 

As we choose forgive, Faith and Hope in Action

The love we have grows; 

Friendships are strengthened, 

As grace is made known. 

Those who dwell on faults, 

End up in great loss; 

Friendships are ruined, 

Far too great the cost. 

So let us choose love, 

Forgive and give grace; 

Build our bonds closer, 

Throughout all our days. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You care about our every interaction and relationship so much, that You give us guidance as to how to navigate best. Thank You that as we forgive, just as You have forgiven us, You bless us with stronger bonds in the relationships You have granted. Forgive us for dwelling on faults rather than forgiving. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would forgive as we have been forgiven by You. Show us how to love and give grace to those around us, ever strengthening the bonds of friendship that You are building among us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love and forgive as we are loved and forgiven by You. Amen. 

 

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

 

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

Real Love

This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. – (1 John 4:10, NLT)

True love is God’s love for us, not our love for God. He sent His Son as the way to take away our sins. – (1 John 4:10, ERV)

This is love: He loved us long before we loved Him. It was His love, not ours. He proved it by sending His Son to be the pleasing sacrificial offering to take away our sins. – (1 John 4:10, TPT)

 

Real love is that which comes from God. Before we even knew Him, He loved us. His love is so great that He chose to make the way for what had been fractured by our own sinfulness to be restored through the sending of His one and only Son. As we believe and receive the mercy and grace that God grants to all who seek Him, we grow in our own capacity to love as we are loved. May we ever remember the magnitude of His mercy that we have been shown, so that we might go forth and give grace as God has given to us.

 

The love of our God, Enter With Thanksgiving

Abundant in grace;

As He loved us first,

So we’d find our way.

The way to seek God,

Is open, secure;

Through His precious Son,

Our hope is made sure.

Remember the truth,

That God first loved us;

Forgiveness is ours,

When we trust Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that real love comes from You, as You loved us so much that You sent Your Son so that our broken relationship with You could be restored. Forgive us for allowing anything or anyone other than You to set the standard for what love truly is meant to be. Teach us to trust You more, so that we allow Your love to surround and shape us into who You are calling us to become. Show us how to love others as You love us, so that many may come to see the truth of Your love. May hearts be stirred and lives be changed forever in You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your perfect love and go forth to love others likewise. Amen.

 

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

 

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

The True Look of Love

For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, NLT)

Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him would not be lost but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, ERV)

For this is how much God loved the world – He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life. – (John 3:16, TPT)

 

There is no love that has ever been nor that will ever be, that compares to the love God has for each of us. Many of us would give up tangible things that we care about for those whom we love, but I imagine none of us would willingly send our sons or daughters to those whom were against us, knowing that they would die. God gave all so that we would have all in Him. We have a free will that grants us the choice to either believe and receive the glorious gift that He has given, or to reject our redemption and run our own race. Even in that, I envision the vastness of the Father’s heart. He waits patiently for those who wander and welcomes each into His loving arms when we are ready to receive all that He has for us. May we fix our eyes on He who is love rather than on what the world attempts to define as love.

 

The true look of love, The True Look of Love

Is not from a store;

But comes from above,

And means so much more.

The greatest love known,

Is that which God gives;

Because of His Son,

We gain life to live.

As we choose believe,

Receive His great grace;

We’re set on the path,

To run well His race.

The glorious end,

Our true finish line;

Heaven forever,

Most Holy Divine.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You loved the world better than any of us could begin to fully comprehend. Thank You that everyone who believes in You gains life with You forever. Forgive us for allowing the world to define love for us, rather than looking to You for the truth. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive and believe all that You offer, so that we may go and love as we are called to love. Show us how to love others in a way that reflects Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive and believe the greatest love ever given, as You sent Your Son to us to show us what love truly is. 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

Rest to Be Shown

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, NLT)

“Come to Me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, ERV)

“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to Me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.” – (Matthew 11:28, TPT)

 

Recently, it has felt like a very heavy season. Between the heartbreaking stories of what has happened locally, to the behaviors manifesting in students all over campus, (likely caused by personal trauma) to sorrows reaching those whom are dear to me, it is nearly impossible to not be affected by the weight of it all. This is the space where it is critical that I hand the heaviness to Him who is best able to bear the burdens, as it is through Christ that I find peace and rest, regardless of what surrounds me. No, turning in trust to God does not make our burdens disappear, but rather it reduces the weight as He grants us the strength to rise up and press on, knowing that He is with us and for us in all things. Finding His rest in the throes of the fight supplies us with the fortitude to persevere. May we go to God with our every burden, for He is where we find light and life, when all that surrounds us seems dark.

 

Our precious Savior,Quiet Hope

In love, He says, “Come”;

“Bring Me your burdens,

My daughters and sons.”

Those who are weary,

In Me, You’ll find rest;

I will refresh You,

No matter the mess.

Carry no longer,

The heavy alone;

For God is calling,

With rest to be shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to bring our burdens to You, so that we can find rest. Forgive us for trying to bear the weight of the world on our own. Teach us to turn to You in trust, knowing that Your hands that hold all of creation, can handle whatever lies before us. We lift up those affected by tragedy and trauma, and ask that You would show us how to help walk alongside them and help shoulder the weight in Your strength. Lead us to love well, just as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You our heavy burdens and readily receive Your rest. Amen.

 

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

 

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

 

 

A Moment to Mark the Season

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, NLT)

This will happen when the special child is born. God will give us a son who will be responsible for leading the people. His Name will be “Wonderful Counselor, Powerful God, Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace.” – (Isaiah 9:6, ERV)

For a child has been born – for us! The gift of a son – for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His Names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong Father, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. – (Isaiah 9:6, MSG)

 

My boys had their Christmas music concert last night, and the director said something that really resonated true with me. He declared that as the choir and alumni joined in the singing of Silent Night with the procession of concert choir members off of the stage and to the back of the auditorium, tonight, just as in each year prior, that moment seems to mark the start of the season in his heart. As my son, his classmates, and a number of other beautifully trained voices joined in such a hauntingly sweet a cappella version of the familiar, I understood clearly what he was saying. Being seated between those whom I love, and listening to my son sing and his twin brother play the viola beautifully with the orchestra, it all made sense. I too have a bit of a moment on the final day of school before Christmas break, when I can at long last breathe, and slow down in full awe and wonder of the real reason for the season. It is as if I am gifted a pause button as we send off our students with cheerful farewells, knowing that the things I love most about the season can be soaked in and mulled over now, rather than merely glimpsed at the usual race pace. May we each find moments to take pause and remember the real reason for this wonderful season, as the child born to us became our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, and our precious Prince of Peace.

 

Let us remember, 1214171825a1647878590.jpg

This season of cheer;

Why we celebrate,

Is God who came near.

He came as a babe,

So mild and meek;

Yet overcame all,

To help when we seek.

Our great Counselor,

Father forever;

Our most Mighty God,

His peace ends, never.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to us to lead us and become our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father and our Prince of Peace. Thank You that You are so much more than we can hope or imagine, if we simply turn in trust to You. Forgive us for forgetting just how mighty You are, and how deeply Your love flows for each of us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would slow down and recognize the remarkable reason that we celebrate this season. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too may have milestones that help set the season in their hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our praise and adoration this most holy season, and let us again recognize in awe and wonder, all that You have done for us. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Courage to Continue

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. – (Psalm 27:14, NLT)

Wait for the Lord’s help. Be strong and brave, and wait for the Lord’s help. – (Psalm 27:14, ERV)

Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God. – (Psalm 27:14, MSG)

 

It is amazing how this applies to every area of our lives – the things hoped for, the dreams being pursued, and often in our daily devotion to what needs to be done. I appreciate how The Message phrases the verse best, as it reminds us that in the wait, we are often still very actively engaged in whatever we are working towards, yet we need to remember our Source of strength and hope, light and life. Even when things are difficult, (which most things that are worthwhile do indeed require hard work) we must take heart, dig deep and press on. God will supply the strength that we need as it is needed, we ought only continue in the direction to which we are called, and take courage in knowing Who is both with us and for us. For me, I was reminded again of how this applies in a dream being pursued, as we began to walk through plays at football practice. At first, it seemed a bit mind-boggling and overwhelming, but with persistence and commitment to continue, and trust in He who gives me strength, things began to make sense. Though I know there is much to learn, I can take heart in knowing that the courage and strength I need will be supplied as I continue to trust in the Source.  In all things, may we take heart and press on, trusting the Lord to provide the strength and courage that we need to do all that we are called to do, now and forevermore.

 

Be brave, have courage, Courage to Continue

Choose wait on the Lord;

He’s our source of help,

All grace He affords.

Take heart and don’t quit,

Don’t ever give up;

For God is our strength,

Filler of our cup.

Have faith, He will hear,

Each cry of the heart;

As we ask for help,

His strength He imparts.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grant us strength and courage, help and hope, no matter what our situation or circumstances. Thank You that You care about the things that matter to our hearts. Thank You that no hope nor dream goes unnoticed by You. Forgive us for thinking that the desires of our heart don’t matter. Teach us to trust You with all things at all times. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives strength and courage, so others too, take heart and continue to pursue that which pulls upon their heart. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stay with You and trust You to answer and be present in all things, as You are our source of all that we need. Amen.

 

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

 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

His Passion for Our Peace

But as He came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, He began to weep. “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is hidden from your eyes.” – (Luke 19:41-42, NLT)

Jesus came near Jerusalem. Looking at the city, He began to cry for it and said, “I wish you knew today what would bring you peace. But it is hidden from you now.” – (Luke 19:41-42, ERV)

When the city came into view, He wept over it. “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it is too late.” – (Luke 19:41-42, MSG)

 

I’m not quite sure why this portion of passage has never stood out to me before, but this morning, I feel as if it is giving me deeper insight into the heart of our loving Father. The verse, “Jesus wept,” is often quoted and easily pointed back to the loss of His dear friend, Lazarus, and the response Jesus had when He saw the grief of those mourning the loss. In this passage, Jesus is grieving over an entire city. He knows the fate that will befall them, as He has shared His message of hope and peace again and again, yet knew that His time was nearing an end and the people who chose not to hear Him would be lost. I imagine that God grieves over us in much the same way when we stay stuck in our sorrow, grief and hopelessness, rather than turning to Him in trust. Jesus came and bore the weight of all of our heaviness so that we could know His peace, yet we must receive it in order to know it for ourselves. Though Jesus knocks and waits, we are not immortal. Each of us have an expiration date that is unknown. If we choose to neglect our opportunity to know Him when He is directly in front of us, the possibility may pass us by. May we ever seek our Savior and turn to Him in trust, as He is our place of peace at all times.

 

The Lord sees our hearts, His Passion for Our Peace

When lost, without peace;

With weeping, He grieves,

When we choose not seek.

God is the answer,

The hope our hearts need;

He’s ever waiting,

As we ask, He’ll lead.

He’s always gentle,

Won’t force His way in;

Waits for us to ask,

Then sets free from sin.

Peace He will bring us,

If we make request;

Grace freely granted,

He gives us His best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your heart is so clearly for us. Thank You that You love us to the point of tears, and that You willingly sent Your Son so that we could have life abundantly in You. Forgive us for not seeking You in trust when evidence of Your goodness and faithfulness are all around us. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, so that we would ever seek You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers Your peace to those who need it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You with our lives and receive the grace and peace that You abundantly give. 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

When Loved Ones Die

The Lord cares deeply when His loved ones die. – (Psalm 116:15, NLT)

Very dear to the Lord are the lives of His followers. He cares when they face death. – (Psalm 116:15, ERV)

Precious in the eyes of the Eternal are the deaths of those who follow after Him. – (Psalm 116:15, VOICE)

 

I know the Lord cares about our grief when we lose loved ones, in fact, when Lazarus died and Jesus saw his sisters, He wept. His heart is for us, as we were designed by the work of His hands. Though I am certain I have read Psalm 116 many times before, this morning is the first time that this particular verse caught my attention. Perhaps it is because my heart is heavy after the loss of the grandson of my mom’s best friend, yet it certainly is a significant reminder of the Lord’s love and compassion in our seasons of loss. God sees, knows, and cares about those who die and those who are left behind in grief. May we find comfort in knowing that He is waiting with open arms for those who have gone on to be with Him, and that when we know and follow the Lord, we will one day be reunited in heaven.

 

Precious in His sight, When Loved Ones Die

Are those who have died;

God loves them deeply,

Draws each to His side.

Imagine the look,

Of love on His face;

As He welcomes them,

Into His embrace.

So precious are each,

Who’ve entered His rest;

All pain disappears,

In glory, they’re blessed.

And God, by His grace,

Will grant us His peace;

As we grieve the loss,

His comfort released.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You care deeply about Your loved ones who die, and those who are left behind to mourn. Thank You that You welcome little children into Your open arms and embrace them, and You extend comfort and peace to those who mourn so deeply. Thank You that though grief and healing are a long road, You remain present and are big enough to handle our fears, frustrations and questions. Forgive us for not running into Your waiting arms, as we so often freeze in the weight of our own grief. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would lean on You, and trust You to carry us when we do not have the strength to walk another step. Father, please be with the family of Eli as they prepare to remember him well tomorrow. Thank You that You are good, even when life is hard. Show us how to love and support those who are grieving or walking in the weight of loss. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You the glory for loving us through loss, and for welcoming those who go before us into Your presence. 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