From the Heart Our Words Flow

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from a treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. – (Luke 6:45, NLT)

Good people have good things saved in their hearts. That’s why they say good things. But those who are evil have hearts full of evil, and that’s why they say things that are evil. What people say with their mouths comes from what fills their hearts. – (Luke 6:45, ERV)

 

Most of the time, the filter that I was taught from a very early age, is quite effective – “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” However, every so often, in a moment of frustration, I catch myself speaking words that do not edify anyone. It is in those moments that I am reminded anew, just how desperately I need Him to rule and reign in every part of my life. If I do not allow His grace to touch the places where my heart has been grieved, the desire to dispel defensive and unsavory dialogue runs great. Even if the words are never uttered, they lay hidden in my heart. Good can only reign if I allow God to run the ruin out. I must choose to give Him access to all, so that He can remove the sting and stain of that which renders me defensive, and allow Him to soften my heart so that I might see through His lens. May the words that leave our mouths be a reflection of our good and loving God, who fills our hearts and minds with every good and perfect gift.

 

May that which we hold,Internal Investments Exceed External

our treasury be;

the good things of God,

shown through words we speak.

The things in our hearts,

both evil and good;

are evidenced by,

our words understood.

For good comes from good,

and evil the same;

let our words be sweet,

so good is proclaimed.

Lord, come cleanse our hearts,

so all may be good;

let our treasure be,

Your hope understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that a good heart is not something that we can somehow work hard enough to earn, but rather when we invite You to be the Lord of our lives, You come and transform the content of our character and chase away that which was once in darkness. Thank You that only good comes from You. Thank You that when we set our sights on the things of You, those are the very things that flow out of us. Forgive us for entertaining ugly thoughts long enough to give them words. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You when the struggle comes, and allow You to shine Your light in those dark spaces, so that darkness will disappear. Show us how to love others as You so tenderly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as people desire the good they see in You. Be glorified O God, as we treasure all that is good from You, and allow that to be what flows from our mouths. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Calm in the Storm

On Sunday, my church family was presented with an assignment for the week, if we were so inclined to accept. As we study and review together who Jesus is, the challenge put forth is to spend the week reading through the book of Mark. This morning, through the reading of chapters 3-5, two passages presented parts of of the nature of who Jesus is, in mighty ways.

 

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. – (Mark 4:39) This first passage attests to both the power of Jesus, and how He is indeed worthy of our trust. Though the disciples were distressed and afraid in the sudden storm and panicked because Jesus was asleep, the moment they turned to Jesus, He stood, spoke, and all was still. The very same presence that silenced the storm, dwells within the hearts of all who believe. Wind and waves may toss us about, but Christ will keep us from going under. At times, He will calm the chaos around us, but more often, He will silence the storm within so that we are able to see the storm through His eyes, instead of our own.

 

The second passage that struck a chord with me this morning, is the interaction between Jesus and Jairus, the synagogue ruler, when men from his house brought news that his daughter had died. Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” – (Mark 5:36) Jesus is the God of comfort and compassion, and He does not want us to be afraid. I cannot imagine what must have gone through the mind of Jairus, as Jesus told him to “just believe.” Hope? Resolve? Curiosity? It was likely quite overwhelming and all a bit surreal. First, he knew his daughter was gravely ill. Then, Jairus was brought news that his daughter was dead. Now, standing before him, the Savior spoke hope that he could hold onto. Jesus is still the same today. When all seems hopeless, He is hope. Nothing is impossible for Him. He who set the stars in the sky and hand-crafted each human before their first cries were ever heard, can do immeasurably more than we can fathom.

 

He’s calm in the storm,Calm in the Storm

peace when there is none;

hope in the heartache,

our safe space to run.

He’ll speak to the wind,

and help us believe;

when fear overwhelms,

or our hearts are grieved.

Our Source of comfort,

when chaos, it reigns;

power to defeat,

death by Jesus’ Name.

Do not be afraid,

in Christ, just believe;

all that He offers,

is ours to receive.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Jesus is powerful and worthy of all of our trust. Thank You too, Jesus, that You are comforting and compassionate. Thank You that You know us and love us, in spite of ourselves. Thank You that there is nothing that we face nor go through that You are not both present and able to walk us through. Forgive us for our fearfulness and lack of faith. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might lean into You all the more, rather than run or try to stand in our own strength in the storms. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they may see Your comfort, compassion and strength through us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your power to see us through the storms, and receive Your comfort when we are afraid. Amen.

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

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

Hearing His Voice

When Mary had gone to the tomb to see the body of her crucified Christ, she was grieved to tears when she found it empty. In fact, she was so distraught that she did not even recognize Jesus standing before her, until Jesus said to her, “Mary.” – (John 20:16) It was only when Mary at last heard His voice, that she realized that the risen Lord was right in front of her in the flesh.

 

As we spend time in prayer, in worship, and in His word, we learn to recognize His voice as well. Knowing which voice belongs to Christ is critical in walking well with Him. When we hear His heart, we listen and obey all that He is asking, rather than wandering off, following our own every whim. May we learn to listen well with our hearts in love, to the Lord’s ever-present leading.

 

Finding the quiet,Asking for Answers

in life’s busyness;

ready to listen,

to Christ, faithfulness.

Grant us ears to hear,

as You call our name;

may we know it’s You,

all truth be proclaimed.

Teach us to follow,

everything You ask;

equip us in strength,

to fulfill each task.

May we recognize,

Your presence, always;

and share the good news,

for all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You sent Your Son to die in our place so that we could be made right before You. Thank You that through the restored relationship in Christ, You sent Your Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of all who believe. Thank You that You speak to us, and call us by name. Thank You that when we spend time with You, we grow to recognize Your voice. Forgive us for neglecting to invest in our relationship with You, or for tuning into the noise that distracts us from hearing You clearly. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might listen well, and obey all that You say. May many come into a saving relationship with You this sacred season, as we go forth in obedience to all that You ask. Help us to love others as we are loved by You. Be glorified O God, as we listen for Your voice. Amen.

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

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

Growing Awareness

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. – (John 11:33)

 

Jesus had just arrived on the scene where Mary and Martha lived. He watched the sorrowful response of the friends whom He loved, as they grieved the loss of their brother, Lazarus. Our Savior was not some far off, unavailable deity, but rather He came close, and did not hesitate to demonstrate His compassion and love for Lazarus and those who mourned losing him. Just sitting beside His friends in their grief would have been good enough, but God in flesh, opted to demonstrate His power to defeat death, in a such a sorrowful space as He called Lazarus to come out from the tomb, and life was restored where it had been four days dead. No matter our circumstances, He sees and feels what we feel. Christ loves so deeply, that He is moved in compassion and compelled to contend for our care. May we rise up in faith, trusting that He sees and knows our every circumstance, and He is present and moving, even when we are unaware.

 

We serve a Father,Growing Awareness

who’s not unaware;

He knows what we feel,

and He always cares.

He mourns when we mourn,

He weeps as we weep;

He endured all scorn,

so safely He’ll keep.

Trust in His power,

rely on His love;

receive His goodness,

all gifts from above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You empathize with us as we experience the things of this life. Thank You Jesus, that You endured all things so that You would understand and care for us individually. Forgive us for doubting Your ability to assist us in the seemingly impossible, and help us to trust You in all things and at all times. Lead us to love others, just as You so completely love each of us. May many come to know You as their Savior and King as we remember the remarkable arrival of heaven here on Earth, as You moved to become God with us. Be glorified O God, as we grow in our awareness of Your glorious presence. 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

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