Finding Joy

“What has happened to all your joy? …” – (Galatians 4:15a)  Paul did not mince words while communicating with the Galatians.  He was greatly concerned, as he had heard that they were returning to the letter of the law, rather than remaining in the freedom found through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

As a spiritual parent of sorts, Paul was passionately protective of the Galatians.  He did not want for even one of them to be caught up in legalism and lose the joy that they had found in their salvation, that came through faith in Christ alone.  His exhortation for the Galatians, is meant for us as well.  Legalism was the joy thief of the time, and often is for us still, today.

“Legalism can take away joy because:

1) It makes people feel guilty rather than loved.

2) It produces self-hatred rather than humility.

3) It stresses performance over relationship.

4) It points out how far short we fall rather than how far we’ve come because of what Christ did for us.

Are we living by faith in Christ, or by trying to live up to the demands and expectations of others?” (NIV footnotes for Galatians 4:15)

Freedom is found,Finding Joy

through Jesus alone;

not by good deeds,

as foundation stone.

Law shows us sin,

not God’s gift of grace;

to know true joy,

Christ we must embrace.

Let not the thief,

steal that which is yours;

the peace of God,

He freely outpours.

As we seek Christ,

we come to know joy;

where they once dwelled,

guilt and shame are destroyed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we are set free from guilt and shame, and that You forgive us from our every sin as we come and confess before You.  Thank You that we are no longer bound by legalism that would dictate that we have to worship or pray or do things in a specific way in order to be heard by You.  Thank You that by Your grace, You made the way for us to come before You, freely, unencumbered, so that our joy may be complete in You.  Forgive us for thinking that joy has anything to do with our surrounding circumstances, and help us to remember that joy is that deep-rooted knowledge that You are with us and the hope that we have of a future secure in You.  May the joy within us be contagious, and be a cause of curiosity in those who do not yet know You.  Help us to love without limits, as You love us; and may many come into a saving relationship with You.  Be glorified as we go forth in joy.  Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – I Chronicles 16:31

Numb No More

Yesterday afternoon, I had what I thought was to be a quick cleaning at the dentist. Foolishly, I had forgotten that it was actually an appointment scheduled to fill three teeth on the bottom right side of my mouth that had been damaged during a stretch of time when my night guard had gone missing. As an individual who typically blows through anesthesia before procedures are complete, my delightful dentist was proactive and properly prepared me by providing an extra strong dose of numbing agent prior to the procedure. After staying numb through the entire drilling drama, I had to rush off to return to school for one final student led conference before the day’s end.

The right side of my face, tongue, and lips were still numb. Partial paralysis was in full force, and I was feeling quite foolish as I hurried to my classroom. Fortunately, the student and his family did not seem to notice, or if they did, they were polite enough not to stare at my right side as I spoke.

What I feel like the Holy Spirit wants me to hear this morning, is a reminder of how much each part of the body affects the whole. When a small part becomes numb, the whole cannot function as well without that part’s capable contribution. The other parts may attempt to somehow make up the difference, but they cannot ever really do the job. Each of us are a part of the body. We have been called and created with a purpose. In order to walk out our purpose, we must be in tune with our Heavenly Father. Reading in Galatians this morning, the verse that reiterated what I am hearing is: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) God wants all of us – our whole lives, not just a part. We cannot just give Him Sunday mornings and then be numb to Him during the week, nor can we give Him our emotions and physical needs, but not commit our intellect and our vocation to Him. We must let Him into every aspect of our lives, and allow Him to reign. As we give Him control, we are refined, and the formerly numb spaces begin to tingle with new life.

Let the Lord lead,Better is One Day

give Him the whole;

choose to submit,

allow Him control.

No more be numb,

may our hearts hear;

as He whispers,

truth in our ears.

All to the One,

faithful to lead;

our strength and grace,

in Him, we’re freed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us with a plan and a purpose. Thank You that You give life abundant, when we trust in You. Forgive us for allowing ourselves to become numb in any area, or for neglecting to give any part of ourselves over to You. Please bring these places to our attention as You teach us truth, and help our hearts become aware of the tingling felt as our lives are being restored in You. May we live and love like You, and may many come to know You as their Heavenly Father, so they too may have life abundant in You. Amen.

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

Sure

“Confident, confident, dry and secure, raise your hand, raise your hand if you’re Sure!”

Why on earth was an eighties jingle going through my head at 4:00 am as I was preparing my coffee? At first, I thought little of it, but then I began to mull it over in my mind. Hmm… God shows me scriptures, gives me pictures, whispers words, sings songs – I guess He can use old advertisements to remind me of His truth as well.

As I sat down to read, Paul’s words leapt off the page in Galatians 2:20-21. These words so clearly resonate as our reason to be confident in Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

My confidence and security, the reason I may raise my hands, for I am sure, is through faith in Christ. This faith grows greater as I am able to receive His glorious gift of grace. He lives in me, and I no longer live to self. In Him, I long to live and love like He loves me.

image from Crista Camps

image from Crista Camps


Great confidence,

the truth secured;

granted in Christ,

our hope assured.

By His great grace,

our faith may grow;

rooted in Him,

the way He’ll show.

Unite as one,

body, believe;

all that we have,

from Him, received.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Source of hope and assurance. Thank You that we can always trust in You. Thank You that as we place our trust in You, our faith grows. Thank You that all that we have, is a gift given through Your amazing grace. Forgive us for thinking that we have to do or be enough, and help our confidence and assurance be complete in knowing that Your bore the cross on our behalf so that we can be with You forever! Lead us to live and love in such a way, that many are moved to receive all that You are offering. Amen.

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