To Overcome Offenses

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. – (Proverbs 25:21-22, NIV)

If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch; if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness, and God will look after you. – (Proverbs 25:21-22, MSG)

Is your enemy hungry? Buy him lunch. Win him over with your kindness. Your surprising generosity will awaken his conscience and God will reward you with favor. – (Proverbs 25:21-22, TPT)

 

 

When we choose to give good to those who are not good to us, there is a softening on both sides. Often, it makes our hearts more tender toward the offender, and the heart of the one who chose unkindness toward us, to see us in a different light. Though I don’t see others as enemies, I do try to catch myself when I am hurt or offended by the words or actions of another. “How can I respond in kindness, despite that which I have been given?” This is not always an automatic reaction, and there are some offenses that make responding in love far more difficult. We are all a work in progress, and God’s grace is far greater than our own. When we seek Him for the strength and wisdom to respond according to His will, the outcome is far better than if we simply react. May we ever pursue the Lord and His love for people, so that we may surprise others with goodness and generosity that is not necessarily deserved.

 

When we receive rude, Pursue Righteousness and Love

Let’s love anyway;

As others choose hurt,

May we walk God’s way.

Generosity,

Extended with grace;

Can change the outcome,

Create new safe space.

For God will reward,

A generous heart;

Despite what’s given,

His grace He’ll impart.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we choose to love as You love us, despite what we are given by others, You intervene and move in the hearts of people. Thank You that while we were yet Your enemies, You did this for us, as You showed us Your kindness and grace, and brought us to a place where we could know and understand the depth of Your love. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to choose to love and extend kindness to those who have not been kind to us. Teach us to trust You more, as You guide and direct our steps with Your wisdom and grace if we are willing to walk in Your way. Show us how to love the people around us, even those who make loving difficult. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they become aware of Your goodness and grace. Be glorified O God, as we choose love, regardless of what we are given, as You first loved us. Amen.

 

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

 

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Called to be Family

When Jesus saw His mother standing there beside the disciple He loved, He said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. – (John 19:26-27, NLT)

 

As Jesus was hanging on the cross, weighed down by the weight of the world’s sin, He still took notice of the growing grief on the faces of those He dearly loved. A further example of how Jesus loved people, even as He hung in agony, is revealed to us in this short exchange between Jesus, His mother, and John. Knowing that both Mary and John would need comfort and care from another who had shared in the entire experience of the life and death of Jesus, He presented them to each other in new familial roles so that they could help one another in Jesus’ absence. Clearly Christ’s words were taken to heart, as John took Mary into his home from that day forward. Jesus is all about relationship. He cares about our heart and wants our grieving hearts to be comforted. The people around us are not in place by mistake. He sets the lonely in families, and loves us to life when our light has grown dim. May we ever fix our eyes on Christ, and allow Him to move in us and through us in ways that bring comfort and care to all in need, as we look to the hope that is held forever in Him.Called to be Family 1

 

Jesus sees our hearts,

And knows all our needs;

Surrounds the lonely,

And hungry, He feeds.

Wherever we are,

He sees and He knows;

His heart is to love,Called to be Family 2

So our faith might grow.

Even in anguish,

Christ spoke how to be;

Support each other,

We’re now family.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that family is not only those related by blood, but rather they are those whom You surround us with to be our safety and support. Thank You that Jesus showed us how important it is to be in ongoing relationship with one another, as it was one of the last things He pointed out before He drew His last breath on the cross. Forgive us for withdrawing or not investing ourselves into those that You have placed in our lives to be family – whether they are related by blood or not. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love those around us as You have loved us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace and invest in those around us, just as we are called to do. Amen.

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

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

Look to the Heart

But The Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by the outward appearance, but The Lord looks at the heart.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT)


I am thoroughly enjoying my time at high school camp. People made all sorts of assumptions about teens, and what it might be like to be surrounded by so many for an entire week. These young people have tender hearts that are earnestly seeking our Savior. Despite the struggles and distractions of their day to day, they are hungry to have more of Him. God sees their hearts and is moving in mighty ways. We can’t ever discount anyone based on what we see or think we know; for The Lord sees and knows the heart – and through the heart, comes the remarkable. May we seek The Lord in all things, expecting Him to move mightily in the hearts of all who believe. 
Do not choose discount, 

 One based on what’s seen;

For God sees the heart,

The calling unseen. 

We’re not meant to judge,

To use what we see;

To decide who God,

Will call royalty. 

So often the heart,

Holds treasures unseen;

We need to give room,

For gifts to be freed. 


Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not judge us by height nor appearance, but rather You look at our heart. Forgive us for determining what we think of others based on what we see, rather than leaving room to really know their hearts. Teach us to trust You more, so we would have Your eyes to see the treasure You have created in everyone around us. Show us how to love people in such a way that they might know they are valued as Your created. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look at the heart of Your people in whom You delight. Amen. 
For The Lord your God will bless you, … and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15


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



May Compassion Compel Us to Action

During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I have compassion for these people: they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” – (Mark 8:1-3)

 

Jesus identified a practical need of the people before Him, and went beyond simple concern. Christ’s compassion compelled Him to action, and He carried out another miraculous feeding of the masses. Likewise, the Lord sees and knows our daily needs. He is concerned for us, just as He was for those who had gathered to hear Him. God is never too busy to hear us, nor too callous to not care for our needs. He provides what we need when we need it, though often in ways we would never expect. We are meant to be available vessels, as often He uses us to be His hands and feet to supply what is needed for another. Our hearts ought to be ever open to hear Him, so that we may be ready to reach out however He may ask. Likewise, we need also be willing to receive that which the Lord provides through others, as they may very well be the supply to where we are lacking. May we go forth with open hands and hearts, ready to give and receive all that the Lord has for us.

 

The Lord knows our need,May Compassion Compel Us to Action

far better than us;

that is why He sent,

precious Lord Jesus.

Not one of us could,

live life without sin;

we needed saving,

so Christ entered in.

Beyond the big needs,

Christ cares for the small;

He sees where we lack,

and provides for all.

May hearts be open,

to do as He asks;

to give or receive,

trust Him in each task.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God who sees and knows our needs before we do. Thank You that You care for us and provide in ways that we could not even fathom. Thank You that You invite us to partner with You as Your instruments of peace, to go forth and be Your hands and feet to a world in need. Forgive us for not going where You call us to go, or for refusing to receive what You are providing through another. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may have Your eyes to see what is right before us. Lead us to love others as You love us, and may many come into a lasting relationship with You as a result. Be exalted O God, as we allow compassion to lead us to action wherever You call us to go. Amen.

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

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14

To Bear Fruit

Early in the morning, as He was on His way back to the city, He was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then He said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. – (Matthew 21:18-19)

 

Why would Jesus curse a fig tree? He, who was without sin, would not simply act out in anger. Instead, Jesus was showing an illustration to His disciples as to how He viewed religion without substance. Though the fig tree had looked good from a distance, upon closer inspection, it was found to bear no fruit. Similarly, if our lives appear to be aligned just so at first glance, yet have no genuine investment in our relationship with our Redeemer, we cannot simply settle. How is our heart behind what we do? Are we seeking to serve out of faith, as an act of worship; or are we trying to jump through hoops to be enough? “If you only appear to have faith without putting it to work in your life, you are like the fig tree that withered and died because it bore no fruit. Genuine faith means bearing fruit for God’s kingdom.” – (NIV footnotes)

 

Let our lives speak,To Bear Fruit

may we each be found;

bearing good fruit,

with a faith that’s sound.

Our hearts ready,

to seek and to serve;

to give God’s grace,

when it’s undeserved.

May love be shown,

to the lonely, lost;

joy to lowly,

Christ covered the cost.

Peace to chaos,

kindness to the gruff;

goodness to worn,

He’s faithful enough.

Be gentle still,

when violence erupts;

use self-control,

let Christ lift us up.

It’s by our love,

that others might know;

that God is good,

so let His light show.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are much more interested in our hearts, than how things appear. Thank You that You want all of us, not just our time or our sense of duty. Thank You that as we whole-heartedly bring You our lives, You cultivate good fruit that helps nourish others. Forgive us for not exposing every branch and root, and help us to allow You to trim away, anything that prevents good fruit from growing in our lives. May we bear fruit that lasts, and may hearts turn toward You as we seek to serve You with our whole heart. Be glorified as we go forth in genuine faith. Amen.

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

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

 

The Parable of the Lost Son

In The Parable of the Lost Son, found in Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells a tale of a selfish son who arrogantly asks for his share of his inheritance while his father is still living, and then goes off and squanders every last cent with wild living.  After his spending frenzy, the foolish son was in desperate need in the midst of a severe famine.  He finally found a job feeding pigs in the fields.  As a Jewish male, he had hit rock bottom.  Not only was he interacting – touching swine – which were considered completely unclean, but he was so hungry that he found himself envious of the food that he was feeding to those very pigs.  In a moment of clarity, the son came to his senses and realized that his father’s hired men had food to spare, and that perhaps if he went back to him with a repentant heart, his dad might be so kind as to hire him on as one of his laborers.  So, off he went to face his father.  “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” – (vs20b)  After the son’s confession and plea for forgiveness, the father abundantly gave.  He restored the son to his position in the family, despite the contemptuous behavior he had previously displayed through his departure and wild living.  Not only did the father embrace the son, but he called for a feast to celebrate his son’s return.

Our God in heaven celebrates us in the same way.  No matter how horrible we have been, He waits.  When He sees our hearts turn toward Him, He runs to meet us while we are still far from Him.  As we repent, He restores us to right relationship with Him, and recognizes us as His heirs – His sons and daughters.  Though we too, have stooped so low as to be muddied and hungry and hurting, He has always been watching and waiting – and when we at last recognize our need for cleansing and His care, He is right there.  May we both embrace the grace that we have been given and extend the same to those who are still stuck in a muddy space.

Stuck in the mud,The Parable of the Lost Son

our own sinful mess;

seems no escape,

until we confess.

Our God forgives,

fresh start He shall bring;

draws hearts to Him,

our Savior and King.

He wipes away,

our mud and our mess;

grants us His grace,

His great faithfulness.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Father, and we are Your lost sons and daughters, whom You are ready and able to save.  Thank You that You waited and watched for us, even when we were still far off.  Thank You that You are willing to woo us unto You, and show us how great Your love truly is.  Forgive us for wallowing in our own filth, or for somehow thinking that You would not receive us in our wretched condition.  Thank You that You accept us and love us far beyond what we can even begin to understand.  Teach us to receive all that You offer, and in turn, to extend the same love and grace to all whom we encounter.  May Your love in us, draw others unto You as well.  Let the lost be found, and those who are searching, find the security that is held in the safety of Your loving embrace.  Be glorified in all that we say and do.  Amen.

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

To Be A Blessing

As an educator and a mom, kids are often on my mind. Though both my students and my own children are at an age where they have reached some level of independence, they still need love, nurturing and guidance to make wise decisions, and still require support from adults to have their basic needs met.

In the public school setting, this requires a delicate dance. Wisdom and vulnerability must be in balance, or students will not trust, nor hear what I have to teach. When kids know that they are cared for, they are willing to try. “I am sending you out like a sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” – (Matthew 10:16) I am not implying that the students are wolves, for they are like little lambs, (that occasionally have sharp teeth), but rather those who would like to see robots instructing without any heart – those are the wolves of whom we must be wary.

Teachers, in their very job description, give to kids. If a child comes to class without a pencil, we supply them. If a child comes hungry, we feed them. When a students comes not knowing how to behave in the classroom, we redirect and instruct them in the ways that are acceptable. “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” – (Matthew 10:42) Our love for God is exemplified in how we treat others, and He notices how we care for those in our charge. We don’t earn our salvation through our deeds, but our relationship with Him is made evident to others, by our love and care for His created.

With wisdom and grace, Life Lived in Love

give unto the Lord;

worry not the cost,

nor of the reward.

But think of the one,

who has the great need;

love to the lonely,

and hungry to feed.

May our hearts be known,

so all see His light;

may comfort be found,

in Him, all delight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our salvation is not earned, but rather is a gift of grace that You freely give when we come to You and invite You to be the Lord of our lives. Thank You that as You take Your place in our hearts, You invite us to partner with You in loving people well. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected a nudge to do something that You were asking, and help us to obey immediately, regardless of the cost. Thank You for the blessing of kids, and for the joy and perspective they bring to the world. Teach us how to love and serve them well, so that we raise up a brilliant generation of believers, who are sold out for You. May they be world changers, as they touch lives and transform the communities in which they live. May many come to call You King of their lives today. Amen.

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