Live Out Love

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. – (Philippians 1:27a, NIV)

Just be sure you live as God’s people in a way that honors the Good News of Christ. – (Philippians 1:27a, ERV)

Whatever happens, keep living your lives based on the reality of the gospel of Christ, which reveals Him to others. – (Philippians 1:27a, TPT)

 

As followers of Christ, we are called to live our lives accordingly. No matter what comes, our call is to conduct ourselves as people who love God and love people. If we truly love, we will live our lives in a way that honors God and reveals His heart to those around us. When we choose to walk out our days according to His ways, we proclaim God’s goodness, even when we do not say a word. What we do day in and day out, is an ongoing declaration of our faith. May we ever choose well so that we live in a way that honors God and reveals His heart to those around us.

 

No matter what comes,

dsc062128572408859036658460.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

May we ever choose;

To love as God loves,

So His heart rings true.

Let our very lives,

Show a history;

Of God’s faithfulness,

Giving Him glory.

Each time we choose love,

No matter how tough;

God gives what we need,

He’s always enough.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to live in such a way that others might see You through all that we say and do. Thank You that You trust us as Your ambassadors. Forgive us for the times that we have not represented You well. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and depend on You to supply all that is needed to navigate our days according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to love those around us in such a way that they see Your heart through our every interaction. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we keep on seeking to live our lives in a way that honors You. Amen.

 

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

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19

Faithful Love

Lord, Your faithful love reaches to the sky. Your faithfulness is as high as the clouds. – (Psalm 36:5, ERV)

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. – (Psalm 36:5, NLT)

Your steadfast love, O Lord, is as great as all the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. – (Psalm 36:5, TLB)

 

It is with great joy and an overflowing heart, that I can testify of God’s great faithfulness in my own life. For far too many years, I existed in a world where “love” had conditions and the price was losing much of who I was, and hiding who I was meant to be. After making the agonizing decision to get out of that which was destroying me and detrimental to my boys, I began to learn just how faithful the Lord’s love is for me, personally. I rediscovered my passion, drive, and my voice, and began to discover the depth and breadth of His love and care, as I sought Him in all things. About a year and a half ago, I was visiting with my best friend out on her deck, when she got a text message back from an old friend in response to a mechanical question that she had asked him earlier. Polite, casual conversation, soon turned to his curiosity as to who I was, and whether or not I was single. Her response was, “Not for you.” The banter back and forth that continued that evening between the three of us led to him asking my permission to message me. I verified with my dear friend the safety of doing so, and the rest is history. Last evening, as we gathered with great friends for a Bunco night, my Viking surprised everyone with his sweet proposal, right there, as we were taking a break between rounds. My heart can hardly contain the joy and excitement for the life that we are learning to build together as we spend as much time as we are able as a to-be family of five. The Lord is faithful beyond what we could hope or imagine and we must choose to trust in the power of His perfect love.

 

The Lord’s faithfulness, img_2018-01-21_08-00-532054400719.jpg

Goes beyond what’s seen;

We must simply trust,

The time in between.

Though trust is scary,

To hold what’s unseen;

Love beyond measure,

As God intervenes.

So great is His love,

And that which He gives;

His faithful blessings,

All trust as we live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible faithfulness of Your great love, and how You hold us in Your hands. Thank You that You pick us up, dust us off, and heal the wounded places to prepare us to receive so much more than we ever would have thought possible. Forgive us for our fearfulness and lack of trust when we cannot see Your hand. Teach us to trust You more, as You are faithful forever, and have great things in store for those who follow after You. Thank You for the incredible gift of this man that You brought into my life when I had no intention to risk love again. Thank You for showing me Your heart in new ways through the love that I receive. Show us how to give love that demonstrates Your faithfulness in ways that encourage and touch hearts most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all praise for Your faithful loving ways forever. Amen.

 

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

 

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

Ponder the Treasure

But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. – (Luke 2:19, NLT)

Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. – (Luke 2:19, ERV)

Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. – (Luke 2:19, CEB)

Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, VOICE)

 

The chain of events leading to and surrounding the birth of Jesus, must have been more than enough to keep Mary’s mind on constant overload. Angelic visits and prophecies, miraculous pregnancies, having to travel by donkey in the desert, arriving only to be turned away at all of the possible places to stay, giving birth in a stable, having shepherds show up… Mary was now mother to the Son of God. I imagine she vacillated back and forth between bewilderment and amazement at the role that she had been called to fill. Her faithfulness and trust in God was apparent, as she said “yes” to that which she had been called to do by God. Each of these events to treasure, were likely the things that gave her courage and strength in times of uncertainty as Jesus grew. Today, as many of us participate in candlelight services, may we ponder all of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, and treasure them in our hearts, so that we too, will find courage and strength in times of uncertainty.

 

Joining to gather, Ponder the Treasure

In candlelight glow;

Sing of our Savior,

Arrival we know.

Born in a stable,

Such a humble birth;

Path for us to know,

The depth of our worth.

For God sent His Son,

To show love to all;

Let us each embrace,

Grace to which we’re called.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us how to stop in awe and wonder of all that took place surrounding the birth of Jesus through the example of Mary. Thank You that You did not call the equipped, but rather You equipped the called. Thank You that You used ordinary people to do the extraordinary to change the course of history forever; a young girl, a carpenter, some shepherds, an inn keeper with a bit of compassion – each with a role that led us to why we celebrate this most holy season. Forgive us for breezing through the day as if it is just another holiday. Teach us to stop and ponder the magnitude of what You have done for us, so that we will treasure it all in our hearts. Show us how to love those around us with a love that is tangible and worth treasuring. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they are introduced or reminded of Who You are and all that You have done through the glorious gift of Your Son. Be glorified O God, as we ponder and treasure the reason for the season. Amen.

 

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

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

 

 

Faithful the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. 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

Character Building Endurance

Endurance shapes our character. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. – (Romans 5:4, VOICE)

And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. – (Romans 5:4, TLB)

 

I am guessing that this past week has been one of character building, as it has required much patient endurance on my part. Between fending off some sort of sinus infection and attempting to navigate a very busy week well, faith and hope have been the anchor to which I could cling, knowing that God was with me, despite fatigue and fear of falling short. There is yet today, and I will have to continue to trust big for where I lack. Thankfully, history has shown me again and again, that regardless of my condition, God is faithful to meet me. May we each rise up in trust, patiently enduring that which lies before us, knowing that He will walk beside us and remain with us, every step of the way.

 

When we choose endure,Character Building Endurance

To rise in His strength;

Our hearts are refined,

To reach greater lengths.

We learn what it means,

To hold on for good;

All faith in the Lord,

Where hope’s understood.

The more that we trust,

The more that we’re grown;

’til our faith’s secure,

And through us, He’s shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our busiest, most exhausting weeks can be used to shape, refine and grow us in You. Thank You that You grant us the endurance and patience that we need to press on, despite our desire to dismiss ourselves when days demand more than we can do on our own. Forgive us for lacking patience or not pressing into You. Teach us to trust You more, as our hope and faith grow strong and steady in You alone. Show us how to hope and anticipate Your goodness, always. Lead us to love those around us with patient endurance, regardless of their approach toward us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk forward with patient endurance, trusting You to refine our character and strengthen our hope and faith. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

The Price for Free

I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to Me, for I have paid the price to set you free. – (Isaiah 44:22, NLT)

 

Christ came to grant us freedom from our sin and shame. Great men and women throughout history, have come to know the value of such freedom, and have gone on to fight injustices that prevented people from living in the freedom that was intended. God does not have favorites, but views us all as equals in His sight. If our Creator sees us each with infinite worth, then it is our responsibility to seek to do likewise. Martin Luther King Jr., and all who have fought before him, beside him and continue to fight for equality for all, are the champions of choosing to make our world a better place where the dream Dr. King spoke of aligns with the call of Christ – for us to be one body – united, rather than many parts divided. May we rise up and remember that we are all one in Christ Jesus, hand-crafted and called to freely walk out the purpose that He has placed before us.

 

For we are all called,mlk

To live in His light;

No more in darkness,

Injustice, we fight.

Just as we’ve each been,

Redeemed and set free;

We must view others,

With equality.

For God loves us all,

Sisters and brothers;

Let’s rise united,

Lifting each other.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You and seek Your forgiveness, You wipe away our offenses and set us free. Thank You that You have raised up leaders throughout the ages to rise up and stand against injustices that treat any group of people as less than another. Forgive us for our offenses, for even complacency is fueling the flames of injustice. Teach us how to hear Your direction as to what our part is meant to be. Show us above all, how to love all people as we are loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as Your love transforms hearts and changes perspectives. Amen.

© 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

In honor of the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a few beautiful quotes:

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” – MLK

“The time is always right to do what is right.” – MLK

 

 

Our Hope and Confidence

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. – (Jeremiah 17:7, NLT)

 

Yesterday, was bittersweet. I was blessed with the opportunity to take a day away from work to go and visit my ninety-seven-year-old grandmother, who has been a constant source of encouragement my entire life. Despite her deteriorating condition caused by colon cancer, and the evident pain that she was fighting against, she remained pleasant and in good cheer, as she shared wisdom, history and humor laced in love, as only she does. Her ability to smile through the pain is a direct result of her trust and hope in the Lord. She knows where she is going, so fear is far from her. The treasures I will hold from our time are her confidence and countenance that come from Christ. Her example to me continues, even in these late days of life. Though there is joy in knowing that she will be set free from pain and disease, there is also some sorrow in the idea that this amazing matriarch will no longer be present to love and laugh with here on earth. May we each place our trust in the Lord, so that our hope and confidence can come from Him alone. For it is in this space of trust, that freedom is truly found.

 

Most blessed are those,our-hope-and-confidence

Who trust in the Lord;

Whose hope is in Him,

Let each heart adore.

For confidence comes,

From the Lord alone;

Future is certain,

As His love’s made known.

May we choose to place,

Our entire lives;

In Christ’s loving hands,

’til our end arrives.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the precious examples of people whom You place in our lives to show us what it is to truly trust in You. Thank You for the beautiful blessing of my Grandmother. Thank You that her hope and confidence is in You. Please keep suffering far from her, and Your peace and presence tangible. Forgive us for not trusting You with everything, as You alone are the One whom determines the outcome of all of our days. Teach us to trust You more, so that our hope and confidence will be held in You. Show us how to love others in a way that makes hope tangible and attainable to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You, and make You our hope and confidence for all of our days. Amen.

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

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

Remembering to Look Up

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2)

On this Patriot’s Day, as we remember the terrible tragedy that struck the safety of our own soil, we can also recall a time that our nation banded together as a united front, to help the hurting, care well for the courageous that continued to search for the missing, and sought the strength and security that our Savior alone provided. Our help to make sense of something so senseless, could only come as we chose to cling to Christ.

Time has passed, and the new generation of kids I have in my classroom were not even born yet when 9/11 occurred. Many of them, have no personal connection to the event, as they have not traveled beyond the West Coast, or for some, even outside of our state. They have never known life without scanners and security guards at government buildings and hospitals, nor do many have connections to fire fighters, law enforcement officers, or military personnel. History needs to be shared. Each generations ought to be made aware of what has gone before them, so they gain empathy and compassion for those who serve and protect our nation. Today, this verse is more personal, as I lift my eyes to the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, and trust Him to lead and guide me; to show me how to create connections that are relevant and personal for seventh grade students, to an event that occurred prior to their existence. May we each take time to remember the lost, and the lives of those who continue to live with the holes in their hearts all of these years later. Be our help Lord.

Remember the time,911

when tragedy struck;

nation was silenced,

in shock we were stuck.

The world fell silent,

in horror, we watched;

such acts of terror,

and countless lives lost.

The chaos encased,

in great clouds of dust;

everywhere running,

which sense could they trust?

It did not take long,

for heroes to rise;

to search for missing,

help those still alive.

Even days after,

the tragedy fell;

people were praying,

holding hope as well.

Out of the ashes,

came beauty indeed;

people united,

to rise and meet needs.

Let us remember,

the community;

together triumphs,

with trust, unity.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we lift our eyes up to You, You are where our help comes from. Thank You that we can trust and depend on You, even on the darkest of days. Thank You that You bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Thank You that You alone, can turn tragedy into triumph. Forgive us for allowing tragedy, trials, grief, or our own lack of hope in what we cannot see to keep us from looking to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would lift our eyes to You, no matter what comes our way – for You are our Help and our Hope, always. Lead us to love and encourage others, no matter what circumstance life has them in, and may many find their hope forever in You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to be our Help and our Hope, always. 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

Facing the Giants

God is good and loving, and He always has our very best in mind. When He calls us out of something, or leads us into something new, it is for our benefit, and at times, for our protection. When we fail to trust Him, we may miss out on all that He has for us. Even more than that, there are times when “failing to trust God brings even greater problems than those we originally faced. When we run from God, we inevitably run into problems.” – (NIV footnotes for Numbers 14:34)

 

The Israelites were a prime example of this. Because they failed to trust God, they did not enter into the promised land when it was right there, before them. Instead, they rebelled against God and those He had placed in leadership, and ended up wandering in the desert until they died.

 

From the Israelite perspective, following God into the promised land was a frightening prospect. There were men the size of giants, and their numbers seemed far greater than those of the Israelites. However, the Israelites had been miraculously brought out of captivity, provided for again and again by the mighty hand of God Himself, and yet, they failed to see God’s capacity to carry them over one more hurdle to receive the promise that God had made. Despite the numerous examples that we have throughout the Bible, history, and in our own lives, it is easy to fall prey to the same. If we allow our gaze to fix on that which we face before us, rather than Him who will carry us through, our desire to run begins to outweigh our passion to pursue God’s direction for our lives. May we fix our eyes on He who is more than able to carry us through every circumstance, and trust Him to provide what is needed to get where He calls us to go.

 

Our God is loving,Facing the Giants

and He always has;

the best intentions,

for our promised land.

Yet we have to trust,

and choose to obey;

listen and follow,

and walk in His way.

Even when walking,

seems horrid and hard;

He calls us to trust,

allow Him to guard.

He will not take us,

where He will not go;

His presence promised,

and peace we shall know.

Lead us, Lord Jesus,

wherever You say;

and grant us the strength,

to rise and obey.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You will not lead us where You are not also willing to be present. Thank You that You go before us, behind us, and with us, so that we are never alone or unprotected. Thank You that though trusting You can be frightening at times, failing to do so can mean missing out on all that You have for us. Forgive us for the times that we have run from You, and teach us to trust You more so that we run to You, and embrace all that You call us to do. Lead us to move in rapid obedience, fixing our eyes on You. Help us to love others with You kindness and grace, just as You so completely love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they learn to fix their eyes and hearts on You, the only One who can lead us into the places of promise. Be glorified O God, as we move in obedience, even in the scary spaces. 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

Knowledge Requires Action

Part of Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians included a reminder that simply hearing or knowing the truth is not enough. As we grow in our understanding of the Word of God, we must also put what we learn into practice. It is not enough to simply have heard the word, and let it lie forgotten. It must take root and grow in our hearts, as we allow the Holy Spirit to point us to the places of application in our lives.

 

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. – (Philippians 4:9)

 

Back then, the people of Philippi did not have access to a Bible as we do. They had to rely on what they had heard and what Paul and other early disciples modeled for them. We have the benefit of both the Bible and an abundant history of faithful followers whom have demonstrated a life lived in obedience before Him. To know that the God of peace will be present with me, makes any sacrifice required, more than worth the price. His presence is far greater than anything we may need to give up out of obedience to Him. May we each be willing to put into practice all that He is showing us, and may our hearts be overwhelmed with the presence of His perfect peace.

 

Let my heart take hold,Knowledge Requires Action

of Your every word;

may truth penetrate,

where Your voice is heard.

Please open my ears,

my mind and my heart;

so all that’s received,

I’m willing to start.

Lord, grant me Your peace,

so I will press on;

no matter the storm,

our true battle’s won.

Let hope be our hold,

as eyes fix on You;

we’ll trust and obey,

as You make us new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You provide Your word and Your Holy Spirit, to lead us and guide us in how we are meant to live. Thank You that so many have gone before us, modeling a life lived faithfully in You. Thank You that You do not expect us to just figure it out, but You promise to provide Your peace, that surpasses all understanding, as we press on in faith. Forgive us for neglecting to put what we know into practice, or for not allowing the truth to shape how we live. Teach us to give all of ourselves unto You, so that we may become who You have called us to be. Thank You that You are merciful and kind, loving and full of grace. Thank You that You long for us to come to a place where we surrender and choose total obedience unto You. Help us to be disciples, as You call us to be, not just fans. May many come to the place of total surrender, as we walk in loving obedience before You. Let our knowledge lead to action that inspires others too, to make a choice. Be glorified, Lord God, as we move. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6