Pursue Righteousness and Love

Whoever pursues justice and treats others with kindness discovers true life marked by integrity and respect. – (Proverbs 21:21, VOICE)

People who try hard to do good and be faithful will find life, goodness, and honor. – (Proverbs 21:21, ERV)

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. – (Proverbs 21:21, NIV)

 

This passage is an excellent reminder for me this morning, as it is a guiding principle in how I walk out my days. Over the last two weeks, despite every effort and strategy in my educational arsenal, I have had a few students that are struggling to respond to our established expectations. Each day is a fresh start, and I greet each individual with kindness and anticipate good things from and for them. Sadly, the behaviors of a few have made me have moments of questioning my career. Thankfully, when I look at the big picture, God has given me an abundant life. I am surrounded by incredible friends, family, and colleagues, I have two terrific teenage boys, we do not lack anything, and I am loved very well. All this to say that my charge is to press on and continue to be faithful in that which I am called to do, and continue to seek answers for those who are struggling to settle in. May we pursue righteousness and love, for that is where life, prosperity and honor are found.

 

Those who seek justice, Pursue Righteousness and Love

And choose to be kind;

Discover respect,

Integrity, find.

For when we do good,

A faithful life choose;

Goodness comes our way,

As grace is infused.

So let us try hard,

Be faithful and just;

God’s love will be clear,

As we choose to trust.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to pursue justice and treat others with kindness. Thank You that as we do, Your hand is made evident in our life. Thank You that we are not expected to do this on our own, but You equip and empower us by Your grace to love as we are loved by You. Forgive us for not wanting to pursue righteousness when we feel we have been wronged. Teach us to trust You in all things, and to choose to place things in Your hands, and follow Your leading rather than our own. Show us how to do good and be faithful in a way that demonstrates Your love in a tangible to those who need it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue righteousness and love because You are righteous and loving. 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

Hope in the New

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)

When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, ERV)

 

Happy New Year! Though it is merely a calendar page turn, there is a sense of anticipation of that which is yet to come. With a new year, comes new hope, new challenges and new adventures. In Christ, we have new life. Each day begins anew. We need not wait for a new year or a new season, for God gives us a fresh start when we seek Him. May we look back with gratitude for all that the Lord has done, and look ahead, knowing that God has made all things new because we are in Him. Be blessed as the Lord leads in all things new.

 

When we are in Christ,hope-in-the-new

Our world becomes new;

The old life is gone,

And His word proves true.

No more are we stuck,

In our former ways;

We have been set free,

For all of our days.

So rise up today,

Begin this new year;

Confident in Christ,

Walk forward, He’s near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we belong to You, You make us new. Thank You that You give us new starts, new seasons, and new life in You. Thank You for the hope that rises up as we look forward to a new year. Forgive us for the fear that creeps in about that which is uncertain and unknown. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would place all things in Your hands, knowing that You are in control and that You are with us and will never leave us. Show us how to love people around us in a way that give them hope where they have none. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the new life that we have in You in this brand new year. 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

To Give Thanks

As I read again in Matthew 26-27, the account of all that Jesus endured on my behalf, I could not help but be overwhelmed with gratitude.  No matter the trials nor struggles that we face, in Christ, our hope is secure forever! Forever is far beyond the limited existence of anything that I may face in the here and now.  Though struggles and trials are real and can leave the soul feeling ravaged, we have a Savior who has promised to be with us, even in the worst of times, who will never leave us nor forsake us.  He will fight on our behalf and be our strength when we are weak.  He is our strength and our song, and the very breath that we breathe.  Why wouldn’t we give Him all of our thanks and praise?

 

For eternal exchange,Praise the Lord O

the pain He endured; give thanks.

For protection and peace,

our future secured; give thanks.

For the help and the hope,

Love’s true offerings; give thanks.

For grace and redemption,

our dear Savior brings; give thanks.

For fresh starts and new life,

and His healing touch; give thanks.

For the dawn of new days,

He’s given so much; give thanks.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Your one and only Son.  Thank You that You loved so much that You made a way for us to return to a right relationship with You.  Thank You Jesus, for all that You willingly endured in my place.  Forgive us for taking all that You have given for granted, and help us to go forth each day with hearts overflowing with gratitude.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we may be ever more aware of Your presence and Your promises as we learn to rely on You.  Lead us to love one another out of the overflow of the love that You have lavished upon us. May many come to know the glory and grace that is available to all who seek Your face.  Be exalted O God, as we give You all of our thanks and praise.

 

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

And The Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

 

 

 

Unfettered Forgiveness

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21:22)

 

During that time, rabbis taught the people that they ought to forgive others three times. So when Peter suggested seven times, he likely thought the “perfect” number was more than sufficient. However, Jesus did not concur. Seventy-seven times or seventy times seven, (depending on which verse we read) is a matter not of actual numbers, but rather of a number so high that a person would not actually keep a record of faults and foibles forgiven.

 

This is not necessarily an easy task, and often, the repeated steps of forgiving occur for one single action. There are times when we have to forgive again and again for one isolated incident. On Saturday, I wrote of a childhood friend who lost her seventeen-year-old son in a tragic car accident. He was doing nothing wrong, yet was t-boned by a speeding, and possibly intoxicated driver, at 7:00am. Not once since that tragic day, have I seen a single statement by her that has condemned the other driver. However, I imagine that each time she pictures her sweet son, she has to stop and forgive the other driver, as she is left wondering why her son was taken so soon. She is a woman of unflappable faith, and I know it is only by His grace, that she is able to choose to forgive.

 

All of us have contributed to a comparable atrocity against Christ. Though He was without sin, He was killed for our sake, because of our sin. However, He chose to allow our actions that grieved the very heart of God, to be placed on Him, so that we could be forgiven. EVERY. SINGLE. SIN. As He willingly bore the cross, He declared, “It is finished,” so that we could be forgiven, and likewise we could go forth and forgive others.

 

Count not the times,Unfettered Forgiveness

we have to forgive;

for Christ counts not,

forgiveness He gives.

Let His love lead,

when it’s hard to love;

He is our strength,

all grace from above.

Despite the deed,

the pain to our heart;

we must forgive,

and grant a fresh start.

Just as our sin,

was worn on that cross;

we must let go,

trust God with each loss.

All in His hands,

be it large or small;

help to forgive,

He’s covered it all.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You forgive us for all of our sin, the moment we come to You and confess. Thank You that You do not hold things over our heads, but rather once You have forgiven, You have chosen to forget and let it go. Thank You that as we come to You and seek You, You help us find forgiveness, even in the face of great adversity, grief, and anger. Forgive us for our unforgiveness, and make us acutely aware of things that we are holding that need be released. Help us to forgive as we have been forgiven by You. May we be gracious and kind, abounding in Your love. Let others see Your goodness and grace in us, and may that be what draws them unto a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified as we extend Your forgiveness and grace to those who grieve our hearts. Amen.

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

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – I Corinthians 3:5

 

 

The Look of His Love

“Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” – (Mark 12:30-31)

The solution to our struggles, always seem to return to being rooted in love.  When our character is assaulted with false accusations, or our integrity questioned without reason, we can grow frustrated and defensive, or we can choose to love anyway.  Human nature causes our head and heart to hold out for an equally hurtful response, yet the still small voice within, whispers, “Love.”  Though it may take swallowing some of our own righteous wrath to choose to love, to do so, is that which we are called to do.  Often, it is through our responding in love, that the accusations are disproven and our integrity is clearly upheld.  Responding in love, removes the claws, from those with ill intentions.

This is not to say that we are always meant to face the fire, as there are times when He calls us to retreat and stick to praying for those who persecute.  God is gracious and kind, and grants wisdom as to when and what we are to do.  If our focus is on loving Him and loving others, we will be walking in obedience to what He is asking of us.

When words are like weapons,The Look of Love 2

and they puncture the heart;

seek He who is loving,

to heal and grant fresh start.

Respond not in anger,

words can’t be taken back;

go straight to the Father,

when we’re under attack.

He alone is our peace,

our place of perfect rest;

our anchor through the storms,

the One who loves us best.

Let all of our focus,

eyes, heart, soul and our mind;

fix on loving the Lord,

and the rest of mankind.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You simplified all that You ask of us into one command: Love You, and love others.  Thank You that You do not ask us to do this in our own strength, but rather if we come to You and trust You, You equip and empower us to love You and love others, as You are calling us to do.  Forgive us for our pride that attempts to preserve our reputation, rather than allowing You to be our protection in all things.  Please grant us wisdom and strength to hear You clearly, and to heed Your instruction in all things and at all times.  Lead us to truly love as You love us, and may many come to know You as a result.  Be glorified through our love for You and one another.  Amen.

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

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

To Be Called Conquerors

Despite the name of this blog, the book of Revelation, has always intimidated me.  Every year, as  this time rolls around, I find myself back in the book of Revelation, as I follow a yearly reading plan.  I eagerly anticipate His return, however, it is the time of trial and tribulation that I get hung up on.  This morning, I was extra intentional to ask that He grant me new insight, that would perhaps make this book a bit more approachable over the next several days.  The following is what I found, as I chose to first read Revelation 1-4 in The Message translation:

“Look at Me.  I stand at the door.  I knock.  If you hear Me call and open the door, I’ll come in and sit down to supper with you.  Conquerors will sit alongside Me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, to the place of honor at the side of my Father.  That is My gift to the conquerors!” – (Revelation 3:20-21)

My heart began to soar, as I recognized that I am a conqueror, not because I am strong enough or good enough, but rather because I have opened the door of my heart and invited Him in.  It is not what I can do, but what He can do through me, if only I choose to be willing.  Oh Lord, You know I am willing!  “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” – (Romans 8:37)

You called to me,

I opened my heart;To Be Called Conquerors

You welcomed me,

and granted fresh start.

You sit with me,

and call me Your own;

You strengthen me,

beyond what I’ve known.

Fear need not be,

present in trials;

times of testing,

shall be a short while.

And through it all,

one thing shall remain;

Your love, present,

the hope we can claim.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we are more than conquerors!  Thank You that with You, we have nothing to fear.  Though struggle and trials shall come in this life, our hope is assured for all of eternity in You.  Forgive us for our fearfulness of the unknown, and help us to recognize that we are more than conquerors in You.  Give us strength and endurance to remain steadfast in that which You have called us, and teach us to trust You even more.  May we love like You, so that many others too, may come to know the overwhelming gift of grace that You freely give.  May many come to know the overcoming power that is present in a lifelong relationship with You.  All praise to You, our Overcoming One!  Amen.

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

The Wonder of Warmth

We have been experiencing extra frigid temperatures, not typical for our area, throughout this week. Though my boys are quite warm-blooded, it is a bit brisk, even for them. That being said, they will often try to walk out of the house without a coat. Though they have access to several warm layers, they opt to attempt an exit without one. As a parent, I am able to insist that they go back into the house and properly layer for the elements outdoors.

So often, it seems, this is how society views Jesus. They are aware of Him, yet set Him aside and go on without Him, thinking that they will be okay on their own. Just as having a coat does not keep us warm unless we actually wear it, so does Christ do nothing for us until we choose to receive His salvation. When we receive what has been freely given, we go forth, clothed in His grace, and grow in the gifts that He has imparted in us. The more we know Him, the more we desire to spend intentional time seeking to serve and know Him better. We become robed in His righteousness, and His warmth flows from us, as we invest in our walk with Him.

“This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.” – (I Timothy 4:9-10)

May Your warmth, O God,The Wonder of Warmth

flow into our hearts;

may we be aware,

of each day’s fresh start.

May hearts be open,

so each shall receive;

Your grace and Your hope,

found as we believe.

As we’re clothed in You,

may our lives be light;

that shine of Your love,

our Hope and Delight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to be the Savior to all. Thank You that salvation is available for all who choose to believe and receive what You are offering. Thank You that we don’t have to somehow be “good enough” and earn it, but instead, it is Your amazing gift of grace, given to us because of Your great love for Your created. Forgive us for walking out the door without being clothed in You, and help us to begin each day, embracing the grace that You give, remembering that Your mercies are new every morning. Teach us how to go forth in love and in light, so that we may reflect the radiance of lives that are transformed by Your grace. May many come to know Your salvation for themselves this season. Be exalted, our great and loving God. Amen.

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

Live in Light

image by MamaOwlPhoto

image by MamaOwlPhoto

We were once lost in darkness,

now are lavished in His light;

therefore live as His children,

steer clear of the deeds of night.

Focus on the fruit of day,

full of good and truth and right;

expose the deeds of darkness,

get caught not in evil’s plight.

Everything that is hidden,

will be visible one day;

so we need be wise in life,

and use care with what we say.

Make the most of each new day,

and understand the Lord’s will;

don’t give in to drunkenness,

instead, seek His Spirit’s fill.

Speak to each other, sweet words,

that encourage weary hearts;

sing and make music to God,

for our everyday fresh start.

(Responding to Ephesians 5:8-20)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your loving light comes and dwells in us, not when we are “good enough”, but whenever we choose to invite You in.  Thank You that You do not call the “qualified”, but You qualify the called. (all who trust in You!)  Forgive us for allowing our focus anywhere other than You, and help us to expose anything hidden in our hearts so that You may bring healing.  Help us to heed the wisdom and warnings You provide, and may we make the most of each moment we are given.  May our words and deeds demonstrate Your great love to those who are lacking, and may many come to live in Your light as a result.  All glory and honor to You, God.  Amen.

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

See also, Let it Shine