The Fee for Freedom

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – (John 8:36, NLT)

So if the Son makes you free, you are really free. – (John 8:36, ERV)

So if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free! – (John 8:36, TPT)

 

Freedom is not without a price. For most of us, we are blissfully unaware of the extent of the cost of the precious freedom that we enjoy each day. We have the right to say and do whatever we desire to do (within the legal limits of the law), and we have the choice to worship and gather without fear. Many nations in the world today are not afforded such luxuries. The people live in fear and cannot gather without the threat of imprisonment or death, simply for seeking to enjoy the very freedoms we so often take for granted. Today, as we celebrate Independence Day, may we take time to reflect and give thanks for the freedoms we know in our nation, and even more importantly, the freedom we know in our hearts that has been granted by God in the gift of mercy and grace generously given through His Son.

 

This mighty freedom, On the Eve of New

We know and adore;

Has come at a price,

From ones who gave more.

National freedom,

From those who fought for;

Sweet independence,

From ways once abhorred.

Personal freedom,

The greatest of all;

Through Christ’s sacrifice,

Our forgiveness call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that we have been given through the sacrifice of Your Son. Thank You all who seek You, find forgiveness and grace – freedom from the weight of our past mistakes and failures. Thank You too for the gift of freedom that we know in our nation, as we know that not all countries know a freedom such as ours. Forgive us for taking either freedom for granted, and teach us to give You praise for all our days for the incredible gift we have come to know in each. Show us how to love others well, so they too, may know the freedom found in the goodness of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the freedom we know and the grace to grow. 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

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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

A Choice of Will

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, NIV)

Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, ERV)

Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. – (Colossians 3:13, TLB)

Fault-finding, blame, grudges and the like, do nothing but keep heaviness in the heart of the holder. Though there are some situations where wisdom will lead us to walk away, it does not mean that we are to hold unforgiveness in our heart. Forgiveness looks different in every situation, but the one thing that is constant is that it is a choice of will, and a decision that has to be made over and over again. There are days that forgiveness comes easily, and we find ourselves in a good space, recognizing that because we have been forgiven much, we too, can forgive much. However, there are times when whispers of previous offenses rise up, and so too does the anger. It is in these moments that we have to choose again to forgive. May we fix our eyes on the Lord who has forgiven us for all that we have done, so that we may go forth and forgive in the same way.

We’ve been forgiven,

The Unforgiving Debtor

For everything;

All our transgressions,

And harm that we bring.

Because of this love,

We’re called to the same;

To forgive others,

Let go, remove blame.

Often the process,

Of choosing release;

Hurt brought by others,

As God’s grace increased.

May we choose to rise,

Forgive in His Name;

Love as we are loved,

Let grace be our aim.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to forgive as we have been forgiven by You. Thank You that as we choose again and again to forgive, You refine and change our hearts to be more like Yours. Forgive us for the times that we have held onto hurts or allowed old injury to rise up and renew our anger toward another when we have chosen to forgive. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek Your strength to forgive again and again, each time a hurt or offense comes our way. Show us how to love and forgive others, just as You love and forgive each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we turn to You to be our strength and our example for forgiveness so that we may go forth and do the same. Amen.

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

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

Sent to Save

God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. – (John 3:17, NLT)

God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. – (John 3:17, MSG)

God did not send His Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it! – (John 3:17, TPT)

 

Mercy and grace are such crazy concepts to grasp at times, especially when we are our own worst critics. The times when we have messed up the most and someone comes along and extends grace or forgiveness, though we do not deserve it, become the most memorable and tangible examples of God’s intentions for us. Though we are all sinners and fall short of His glory, He loves us just the same. He sent His Son so that we could be covered once and for all and be called righteous in His eyes, no matter what we have done. Knowing this reminds me how important it is that I extend mercy and grace to those around me. Yes, there are actions and behaviors that have to have consequences so that learning takes place, however, I have to separate the action from the individual. Just as my children at times make choices that require redirection and consequences, my love and care for them does not and will not change. God views us in the very same light. Though there are at times, natural consequences for our decisions, His love is ever-present to pick us up, dust us off, and love us to life again. May we ever look to the Lord for forgiveness and grace, trusting that He has come to save us.

 

With mercy and grace, Sent to Save

God sent His own Son;

To forgive our faults,

All wrongs that we’ve done.

He came to restore,

What we had broken;

With His dying breath,

Forgiveness spoken.

And when He was raised,

He reclaimed His throne;

Where He covers us,

With love He’s made known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son into the world, not to condemn us, but to save us. Thank You for Your amazing mercy and grace, though we deserve it not. Forgive us for the times that we resist receiving what You freely offer. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk in the light of Your love, forgiven and free, extending the same grace to others that we have been given by You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates mercy and grace in a tangible way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for coming to save us and go forth extending to others what You have given to us. Amen.

 

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

For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. – Luke 19:10

May We Choose Kindness

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:32, NLT)

Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, ERV)

Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:32, MSG)

 

I could not do my job if I did not seek to follow this guiding principle daily. Kids and colleagues alike, need kindness and compassion, forgiveness and grace. Just as I have been forgiven, I must also forgive. If I did not begin each day new, I cannot even begin to imagine the heaviness that would ensue. We all fall short and need kindness extended our way. May we allow God’s grace to direct our steps as we choose to forgive each other, extending compassion, gentleness and kindness to one another, just as He has done unto us.

 

No matter what comes, Pursue Righteousness and Love

Take pause, look and see;

The one who’s upset,

Needs love and mercy.

For when we are kind,

Forgive and give love;

We act as we’re called,

By God up above.

For He forgave us,

All that we have done;

May we choose kindness,

For everyone.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are kind and compassionate to us, forgiving us each time we come to You and ask. Thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You are not also willing to strengthen and equip us to do. Forgive us for the times that we were not gentle or kind, or we lacked compassion or did not forgive. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would forgive others as we are forgiven by You. Show us how to love like You – extending gentleness, kindness and compassion to one another without conditions, especially to those who seem the least deserving. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be kind and compassionate and extend forgiveness to one another, just as we have been forgiven by You. Amen.

 

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

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

Choose Love Anyway

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. – (Matthew 5:44-45, NIV) 

But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and those who do wrong. – (Matthew 5:44-45, ERV) 

 

This can be a serious challenge to actually live out each day. To choose to love, is to make a choice to not respond harshly or rudely, even when that is what we are given. Love is patient and kind and keeps no record of wrongs. That is not to say that we are meant to walk into and remain in abusive and hostile situations, but rather when we are treated any way other than that which God intended, we are meant to respond as He would. Our first line of defense is to pray for those who are against us. So often, it is a matter of hurting people choosing to hurt people out of their own wounded spaces. It does not make it right or acceptable, but it is often a point of prayer for help and healing to be provided for the very one who is causing pain. While we were yet sinners, God loved us. At one point, each of us who call on His Name, discovered the depth of His grace, love, kindness and forgiveness for us, despite our initial lack of love for Him. He tore down the barriers built by our own brokenness and loved us to life in Him. May we choose to love and pray for those who need it most, as God can do far more than we could hope or imagine when we seek Him to intervene in ugly spaces. 

 

We are called to love, Hands of Grace

And choose pray for all; 

Especially those, 

Who want us to fall. 

For as we were once, 

God’s enemies too; 

He loved us to life, 

And made our hearts new. 

Let us choose to pray, 

For those against us; 

Choose love anyway, 

Just as Jesus does. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that while we were yet sinners and walking against You, You broke through the barriers of our hurting hearts and loved us to life. Thank You that You call us to do the same. Forgive us for forgetting to pray for those who treat us poorly. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You for strength and direction as to how to love everyone as You would have us love. Show us how to love even the most difficult to love as You do, so that Your heart may be made evident through our actions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom and strength to love our enemies and pray for those who treat us poorly. 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

Blessings through Honor

“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on earth.” – (Ephesians 6:2-3, NLT) 

Honor your father and mother. This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing. – (Ephesians 6:2-3, TLB) 

For the commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” was the first of the Ten Commandments with a promise attached: “You will prosper and live a long, full life if you honor your parents.” – (Ephesians 6:2-3, TPT) 

 

I am watching the fruit of this very principle unfold before me, as we have traveled to Minnesota to spend time with my Viking’s father. Cancer has invaded his body, and he was given an expiration date that seems quite bleak. Despite the span of nearly twenty-five years since he last saw his father, and only a handful of phone conversations in-between, witnessing the two of them (as well as my sister-to-be, and soon-to-be bonus son) interact with this man in grace and love, honoring him as their father, blessed my heart beyond what I could have imagined. It was as if all of the time, distance and disappointments disappeared, and only good and grace and love remained. It is evident that walking in forgiveness and grace blesses not only the transgressor, but sets free, the very one who has been hurt. May we ever go forth in grace and forgiveness, honoring our parents, regardless of their shortcomings. We all fall short and are in need of grace, and the beauty that comes is worth the release. Let us honor our parents as the people who granted us this glorious gift of life.  

 

The Bible commands, img_2018-01-27_08-43-45418161434.jpg

That we honor well; 

Fathers and mothers, 

Of love and grace tell. 

For with the command, 

There’s a promise too; 

That blessings will come, 

As we follow through. 

So, ever give good, 

Honor and choose love; 

There will be blessings, 

Of grace from above. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of the parents that You give to us. Thank You for those whom we know well and see often, and thank You for those whom we see rarely. Father forgive us for not walking this out according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to honor our parents as You call us to honor them. Lead us in Your love and grace, so that we would be a blessing as we are blessed by You. Teach us to love like You, so that all may come to know the truth of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to honor those You have given us according to Your love and grace. Amen. 

 

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

 

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

The Unlikely Chosen

Then he told me, “The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and hear Him speak. For you are to be His witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard.” – (Acts 22:14-15, NLT)

Ananias told me, “The God of our fathers chose you long ago to know His plan. He chose you to see the Righteous One and to hear words from Him. You will be His witness to all people. You will tell them what you have seen and heard.” – (Acts 22:14-15, ERV)

Then he said, “You have been chosen by the God of our ancestors to know His will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the voice of God. You will tell the story of what you have seen and heard to the whole world.” – (Acts 22:14-15, VOICE)

 

Paul, who was previously known as Saul, had a divine encounter with God on the road to Damascus. His experience interrupted his entire system of belief. Where Paul had been persecuting people who were claiming this new Way, rather than living by a strict code of rules and rituals, he now too, had a first-hand encounter with the living God, and could not go back to what he formerly had known. God chooses seemingly unlikely people to interrupt in their tracks and touch hearts and lives. The incredible thing is, no one can dispute our own personal experiences. I imagine that is what made Paul’s testimony so powerful. People knew who Paul had been, were seeing a man transformed, speaking of grace and forgiveness, where he had once likely spoken of following the law or else. The remainder of his life was used to do exactly that – to tell the whole world of what he had seen and heard. Paul traveled far and wide for the times, and recorded much of God’s faithfulness in the New Testament. May we walk out our days with hearts wide open, ever willing to share our own story of God’s faithfulness to us.

 

With eyes wide open, Chosen With Purpose

May we walk along;

Trusting our Savior,

As He makes us strong.

When chances arise,

Share His faithfulness;

So others may know,

There’s help in the mess.

Help us to love well,

Be Your heart and hands;

Extend hope to those,

Who need see Your plan.

For You are so good,

No matter what comes;

Let us rest in You,

’til each day is done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but You equip the called. Thank You that we do not have to measure up to serve and honor You, but rather You transform us from the inside out as we pursue a life in You. Forgive us for anything that gets in the way of walking out that which You are calling us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen and obey. Show us how to love those around us in a way that points hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we tell our own stories of Your faithfulness in our lives so that people may know of Your goodness and grace. Amen.

 

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

 

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