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

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Love Comes Near

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. – (John 13:34, NLT) 

I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I love you. – (John 13:34, ERV) 

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. – (John 13:34, VOICE) 

 

On the same night that Jesus was betrayed, He shared a last meal together with His disciples. After they had eaten, He spoke the words above to them. Each of the disciples had walked with, learned from, listened to, and had seen with their own eyes and experienced for themselves how deeply and completely Jesus loved. When He spoke the words, they understood what Jesus was calling them to do. In the same way, we are commanded and called to love. We are not called to set limits and qualifications as to whom and how we love, but rather we are called to love one another deeply and fully, just as Jesus loves each of us. It is not always an easy calling, but it is always worthwhile when we follow through. His love makes way where there seems to be no way and softens even the hardest of hearts. May we rise up and be ready to forge forward in faith and love one another in the same way that He loves each of us. 

 

We have been given, Ambassadors of Love

A command to love; 

To love like Jesus, 

As He so loves us. 

Love that is faithful, 

Trustworthy, sincere; 

That’s freely given, 

And chooses come near. 

Love without limits, 

Nor rules to receive; 

By grace, it’s given, 

Because we believe. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithful and generous love for each of us. Thank You that You both call and command us to love one another as we are loved by You. Thank You that You equip and empower us to give the very same love that we have received to all whom we encounter. Forgive us for withholding love in spaces where it is needed most. Teach us to trust You more, as You loved us when we were most unlovable so that we could do the same for others. Show us how to love like You, so that many may come to know the depth and fullness of Your lavish love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fill us to overflowing so that we may go forth and love others as we are loved by You. 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. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

He Grows Us in Grace

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 1:6, NIV) 

And I am sure that God who began a good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns. – (Philippians 1:6, TLB) 

I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world. – (Philippians 1:6, VOICE) 

 

God is not finished with us yet. When we choose to walk with Him, He refines us from the inside out. Our sin and shame are removed, and He shows us how to walk in His way as He grows His grace within us. None of us ever “arrive”, as we all are a work in progress until our final day when we at last meet Him face-to-face. May we rise up and remember that He who began the good work within us will continue to carry it out to completion. 

 

The good God began, He Grows Us in Grace

Is not finished yet; 

Each works in progress, 

Daybreak to sunset. 

It is a process, 

For our whole life long; 

He grows us in grace, 

And makes our hearts strong. 

Refined from within, 

Sin and shame removed; 

Love lavished on us, 

As goodness is proved. 

Let us choose rise up, 

In love, opt do good; 

Rely on His help, 

To do all we should. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You who began a good work in us will continue until it is completed on the day that we see You face-to-face. Thank You that You grow us in Your grace so that we may go forth and love as You love us. Forgive us for not seeking or trusting You as we should. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You to grow Your grace within us so that we are able to love as You call us to love. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends the same good that You have given to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rest assured that You will continue to grow Your grace within us as we seek You until we one day see You face-to-face. Amen. 

 

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

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

You Lead Us to Rest

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His Name. – (Psalm 23:1-3, NLT)

The Lord is my shepherd. I will always have everything I need. He gives me green pastures to lie in. He leads me by calm pools of water. He restores my strength. He leads me on right paths to show that He is good. – (Psalm 23:1-3, ERV)

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, You find me quiet pools to drink from. True to Your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. – (Psalm 23:1-3, MSG)

 

God is our provider and protector. He leads us to places of rest and refreshment and brings restoration when we are depleted. He will lead us and guide us on the right path, if we seek and trust in Him. Our modern-day meadows come as we listen to His leading about rest. At times, we are given an unexpected span of time to rest and allow Him to refresh where we are weary, yet at other times, we have to be intentional to listen to His leading and make time to slow down from our typical race-pace, and just be. It is in these wonderful windows of time and space that we are refreshed and renewed. I love that this illustration in Psalm 23 speaks of green meadows and peaceful streams of water, as so often, getting outside and simply enjoying what He has made, renews strength and recharges what has felt depleted. May we ever rely on our Redeemer, as He provides for our every need. He renews our strength and sets our feet on the right path to show that He is good.

 

O God, my Shepherd,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

I don’t need a thing;

For You provide us,

Most everything.

You lead us to rest,

In meadows of green;

Bring places of calm,

Beside peaceful streams.

You restore our strength,

When ours is all gone;

And show us the way,

We’re meant to walk on.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Shepherd. Thank You that a shepherd protects and provides for his sheep. Thank You that You lead us to rest in peaceful places and restore our strength when we are depleted. Thank You that You guide us in the way that we are meant to go so that we may bring honor to Your Name. Forgive us for not seeking You to be our Source for rest and strength and direction. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would slow down and intentionally seek You. Show us how to rest in You. Lead us to love others well, so that they too may find rest, strength and direction in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You as our Shepherd who leads, protects and provides for 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

Grow the Good

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (2 Peter 1:5-8, NIV)

Because you have these blessings, do all you can to add to your life these things: to your faith add goodness; to your goodness add knowledge; to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add patience; to your patience add devotion to God; to your devotion add kindness towards your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to this kindness add love. If all these things in you are growing, you will never fail to be useful to God. You will produce the kind of fruit that should come from your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (2 Peter 1:5-8, ERV)

 

We should never stop striving to grow in the good to which we are called. Every avenue of growth in God grants room to grow further in the next. Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love all multiply as we dig deeper in our faith and pursue our Heavenly Father and all that He has for us. As we grow, His goodness shows, and others gain from that which is being developed deeper within our hearts. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us in our faith, so that He may increase within us, allowing that which flows from us to be a reflection of Him to the world.

 

Please grow our faith Lord,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

So we may reflect;

All good that’s from You,

Love, honor, respect.

As our faith does grow,

So too, does the good;

Knowledge and wisdom,

Restraint understood.

With perseverance,

We start to reflect;

The heart of Jesus,

Who loves and accepts.

Affection given,

And also returned;

Increases our love,

With practice, we learn.

So, keep on growing,

In faith and in love;

This is effective,

As God’s placed above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek to grow in You, You increase all that is good within us. Thank You that as our faith grows, so too does our goodness, knowledge, self-control, capacity to persevere, our likeness to Your nature, our affection for others, and our ability to love as we are loved by You. Forgive us for not seeking You to grow in us all the good that You have for us. Teach us to trust You more so that we would rely on You to grow us more like You. Show us how to navigate our days, growing more into who You are calling us to become. Help us to love others in the same way that You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your heart so that we may be effective in giving the good that You so lavishly give to each of us.

 

© 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

The Comfort We Need

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort that God has given us. – (2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT) 

He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. – (2 Corinthians 1:4, ERV) 

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. – (2 Corinthians 1:4, MSG) 

 

I love how God repeats themes in our lives to help us remember important information. Just yesterday, I was having a conversation with a friend about the difficulty that we are currently enduring at our school. We both recognize that though it is hard, our present struggles will ultimately be used for good somehow. This verse is a reminder of the truth that we are now living in. Though the trouble is still taking place, there is comfort, and I know that we often find ourselves in spaces where we are somehow a comfort to someone else. The pain we experience today, will be utilized with purpose down the road. God does not create the chaos nor pain, but He will take the ugly, the difficult and the deplorable, and bring light and life and hope somehow. He is good, and His love endures forever. May we seek the Lord and His comfort so that we can extend the same comfort to others that God gives to us. 

 

God is our comfort, 

When troubles come near; 

Provider of peace, 

Remover of fear. 

As we are given, 

We’re equipped to give; 

Comfort to others, 

A new perspective. 

Let us ever seek, 

The God of all grace; 

True comfort in need, 

Our safe hiding place. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You comfort us every time that we have trouble so that we can extend comfort to others when they experience the same. Thank You that You are gracious and full of love. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to overwhelm us rather than running to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would come to You with our every trouble, knowing that You will supply the comfort we need to navigate through the trials. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides comfort in chaos and peace to their places of pain. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the comfort that You provide to us so that we too can provide comfort to others. 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

Love Fulfills the Law

Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. – (Romans 13:10, NLT)

Love doesn’t hurt others. So loving is the same as obeying all the law. – (Romans 13:10, ERV)

Does love hurt anyone? Absolutely not. In fact, love achieves everything the law requires. – (Romans 13:10, VOICE)

 

All of the commandments can be summed up and obeyed if we choose to do one thing with fidelity. If we love as we are loved by God, we will not do wrong to others and ultimately fulfill the requirements of God’s law. This is far more easily said than done, as love is a choice that we must make, again and again and again. It is easy to give love when love is given to us, but an entirely different challenge when we must choose love in spite of what comes our way. Though there are times that it is seemingly impossible to choose to love, when we seek the Lord and His strength, we find grace and compassion that can only come from Him and are able to love as He loves in the most trying of circumstances. May we ever pursue our Provider in every situation and circumstance, so that we may love without doing wrong to others, just as we are loved by Him.

 

Love does not choose hurt, Hands of Grace

Nor try to do harm;

Instead love gives grace,

Is faithful and warm.

As we choose to love,

By grace we achieve;

What God’s laws require,

Good given, received.

So in everything,

Let love be our choice;

For love multiplies,

Reason to rejoice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we choose love above all else in what we do and say, we are fulfilling that which You require us to do. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen anything other than love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek Your wisdom and strength as to how we are called to love others best in every circumstance. Show us how to love as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your strength to love like You. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Do Not Withhold Good

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. – (Proverbs 3:27, NLT)

Do everything you possibly can for those who need help. – (Proverbs 3:27, ERV)

Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. – (Proverbs 3:27, MSG)

 

If our eyes are open to truly see, we can perceive plainly that the need for good to be given is everywhere. Too often, it can become overwhelming if we look to see the lack and take it upon ourselves to somehow “fix” things. Instead, we ought to be ever alert to that which we can do to bless those around us. Often, it is a kind and encouraging word, a simple gesture of holding a door or extending a smile that makes all the difference in the direction a day is going for another. Yes, there are far greater needs, but we are called to do what we can do whenever and wherever we are able. When we consider our words and actions are representation of Jesus to the world, how we maneuver matters most. Are we intentional in the words we choose and generous and kind in our actions? May we look to the Lord as our example of how to give good to those who need it and go forth in the light of His lavish love.

 

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For we are each called;

To do what we can,

To love one and all.

For those who need help,

Let us choose rise up;

Extend hands of grace,

Choose fill empty cups.

Each time we reach out,

And choose to love well;

We represent God,

Of His grace we tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not withhold good from us. Thank You that You call us to be Your hands, heart and voice to those around us as we go forth and do good. Forgive us for withholding that which You have freely given and teach us to trust You more so that we will do everything that we can to love as we are loved by You. Show us how to help where help is needed so that Your love is made tangible to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we do all that we possibly can to help those around us, just as we are helped by You. Amen.

 

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

 

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

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

Loved By You

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. – (John 13:34, NLT) 

And so I am giving a new commandment to you now – love each other just as much as I love you. – (John 13:34, TLB) 

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. – (John 13:34, VOICE) 

 

We are called and commanded to love, just as we are loved by God. His love is often made evident through the kindness of those who surround us. Yesterday, I was the recipient of His love made tangible on several occasions. My day in the classroom begins with my most challenging class, and yesterday was no exception. By the end of the ninety minutes, I would have gladly gone home if I had been given the option. God knew, and He provided support in spaces where it was needed most. Encouraging words from colleagues who are friends that came randomly as I walked across campus, flowers delivered at lunchtime from my fiancée, a brief, yet supportive conversation with my principal, and more messages from dear ones as the day went on. God knows what fills our hearts, and He loves us the way that helps our hearts hear best. We are called to go and do likewise. May we rise up and make the choice to love one another, just as the Lord so lavishly loves each of us. 

 

New command given, img_20180213_164632_6431902058580.jpg

To love others well; 

For as we choose love, 

Doubts and fears dispel. 

The love that God shows, 

Our hearts and our minds; 

Helps us love others, 

Leads us to be kind. 

On this day of love, 

Let us choose anew; 

To love as He loves, 

For His love is true. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are commanded to love each other. Thank You that You place people in our lives to make Your love tangible when we need it the most. Thank You that just as we are loved, we are called to do likewise. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen anything other than love for those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love as You do. Show us how to love with patience and kindness, just as You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth and love as we are loved by You. 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