To Encourage and Build Up

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV)

So encourage each other and help each other grow stronger in faith, just as you are already doing. – (1 Thessalonians 5:11, ERV)

Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. – (1 Thessalonians 5:11, MSG)

 

Just as the Thessalonians were called and reminded to encourage and build one another up, (as they had already been doing) so too, we are called to do the same. It is incredible the difference that encouragement makes, even in the small things. The other day at school had been particularly long, as we were winding up a week of testing across campus. Kids were wild and tired of being assessed, and teachers were equally exhausted. At lunch, I happened to see a downcast look on a colleague’s face, so I said, “Hey, only two more Fridays!” Their whole demeanor shifted, and I walked away smiling at the thought as well. Interestingly, after I had eaten lunch, I wandered back through the office and heard different friends with whom I work, speaking the same words of encouragement to one another. Though it was not a spiritual truth being shared, it was a word of encouragement offered at the right moment, and its impact seemed to be a bit farther reaching than I would have imagined when the words were spoken. May we ever seek the Lord for wisdom and words to encourage and build each other up, for as we do, others too shall follow.

 

Let us encourage, Do Right and Build Up

Find ways to build up;

Pour into others,

And help fill their cups.

For as hope is built,

The same is passed on;

Each growing stronger,

New strength to hold on.

Go forth in His might,

Build up each other;

Together we rise,

Sisters and brothers.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Source of encouragement and You build us up. Thank You that You call us to be in community where we encourage one another and build each other up, per Your design. Forgive us for the times that we have been too caught up in our own chaos to look beyond ourselves to encourage and build up those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for wisdom and words as to how to best encourage and build up those around us. Show us how to love others well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for wisdom and ways to encourage and build up those whom You have placed around us. 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

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Faithful Answers

You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our Savior. – (Psalm 65:5a, NLT)

God, You answer our prayers and do what is right. You do amazing things to save us. – (Psalm 65:5a, ERV)

You leave us breathless when Your awesome works answer us by putting everything right. – (Psalm 65:5a, VOICE)

Yesterday morning began in a hurried panic. My boys and I were supposed to be up and out the door by 3:30am to get to the airport by 4:00am for departure for their school music tour to San Francisco. My alarm sounded first at 2:45, and I have a vague recollection of glancing at the screen and rapidly pressing the dismiss option, knowing that there would be a second alarm ten minutes later. At 2:55, as the second alarm debuted, I think I thought I hit snooze, but actually pressed dismiss again. Perhaps the combination of not returning home from football practice until close to ten and staying up until nearly midnight helping the boys finish packing, had pushed me to the point of exhaustion. After what felt like a few minutes, I woke, looked at the clock in a daze, read 4:30, and realized in a panic that we were already thirty minutes late! I ran through the house to wake the boys and hustle them out the door, scrambling to get luggage loaded as I called out a quick checklist for the boys. We rushed out the door and I had them at the airport drop off curb by 5:00am. I gave them specific instructions of where to go to check-in their bags and line up for the security check-through, informing them that I would wait in the cell phone lot, just in case, until I heard that they were checked in, through security, and on their way. Sadly, about twenty minutes later, I received a series of anxious calls from both them and their music director. The boys had missed the bag check-in deadline by two minutes and their director was not allowed to permit them to take a later flight by themselves, due to liability issues, so I had to go pick them back up. Though sleep-deprived and frazzled, my mind was in solution-mode. My first go-to was to call mom as I drove to see if she could look up later flights and if she knew anyone who might have a “buddy pass”. Within five minutes of returning home, I had a call into the principal of their school, a call back from mom with a later flight that had two seats available that she went ahead and booked, (as the airline only charged a minimal fee for the flight change), and I determined that I would go straight to the district office to sign some sort of release of liability paperwork to get my boys where they needed to be. We were in and out of the district office in fifteen minutes, and on our way to the airport where the boys were able to make their flight and then reconnect with their group, having only missed a tour of Alcatraz. All throughout, there were some serious prayers being audibly offered. My boys may or may not have thought I was a bit loony as I prayed aloud for each step we took. However, they were witness to doors opening rapidly, and ways being made, when we had been told by their music director that it was impossible. God is faithful to meet us, even in the seemingly small things. He moves mightily on our behalf and shows us His power where we have none. May we ever seek the Lord in all things, for He is faithful to answer our prayers with His awesome deeds.

 

Faithful to answer,

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The Lord God, He hears;

He opens the way,

As He is so near.

When all seems but lost,

God’s presence remains;

He’ll lead and He’ll guide,

He makes our path plain.

So, trust in the Lord,

In faith, call on Him;

His love makes wrongs right,

When invited in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to hear us when we call on You. Thank You for the way that You are faithful to answer, in ways that we would not have imagined. Thank You that You care about all things – great and small. Forgive us for trying to navigate difficulties on our own rather than seeking You, our Source and Supply. Teach us to trust You more, as You do amazing things as we call on Your Name. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your faithfulness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for answers and give You praise for Your faithfulness forever. 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

Seek to be Shown

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. – (Proverbs 3:6, NLT)

With every step you take, think about what He wants, and He will help you go the right way. – (Proverbs 3:6, ERV)

In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success. – (Proverbs 3:6, TLB)

 

The road of life is a journey that takes many twists and turns. Often, we follow the road in the way that feels right, only to discover that He is leading us in a different direction. Though seemingly trivial, my fiancé and I are finding this principle to be true as our house hunt continues. The home we loved and seriously thought could be ours, had fees that were not at first disclosed, and will likely be part of a bidding war that will go far beyond our reach. At first, we were discouraged because it seemed to be such a perfect fit for our merging families and what we need, yet as we talked and prayed and chose to trust, we have discovered that there are more out there that will meet the hopes that we hold, for far less money than the first home. In fact, we found a house yesterday that is literally a few blocks from the home that my boys and I live in currently. It has the space that we need, rooms, restrooms, parking, and even a potential place to build a shop for my fabulous Viking. Even more, my favorite scent of spring is in bloom to the left of the front door, and the entire neighborhood seems to be teeming with English Laurel plants to welcome and invite me in. I know not whether this home is “the one” or not, but we will continue to trust that He will show us which path to take and meet our efforts with success. May we ever seek the Lord in all that we do, as He will be faithful to direct our steps.

 

Choose to seek the Lord, Seek to be Shown

In all that you do;

For He is faithful,

To direct us through.

He’ll show us the path,

We are meant to take;

And grant us the strength,

To walk in His way.

Sometimes where He leads,

Seems disappointing;

But hold on in trust,

And watch what He’ll bring.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You in all things, You are faithful to meet us and show us the right way to go. Thank You that though we may feel disappointment when things don’t go the way that we had hoped they might, You have something better than we could have imagined in store for us. Forgive us for our frustration and lack of faith when we cannot see how You are moving on our behalf. Teach us to trust You even when we cannot see what You are doing, as You are always faithful. Show us how to love others well as we follow wherever You lead us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your will in all that we do and give You praise for showing us the right way to go. Amen.

 

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Our Thoughts Control Our Life

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. – (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)

Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life. – (Proverbs 4:23, ERV)

Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life. – (Proverbs 4:23, VOICE)

 

The thoughts we hold in our heart determine the direction that we take in life. If we hold onto negativity or fear or frustration, each step that we take is weighed down by the heaviness we are holding. However, if we guard our hearts and listen and trust in His word of truth, our burdens lessen and we are better able to stay the course to which we have been called. Obstacles will always stand before us, yet if we move forward with our eyes open and our hearts fixed on He who is greater, the challenges will not determine our direction; the path that has already been presented will continue to propel us to progress in the life to which we are being led. May we ever guard our hearts and minds, fixing all securely on our Savior; for in Him, we find safe harbor and a course that has been set for us to successfully navigate with Him.

 

Let us guard our hearts,

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photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography. ❤

Above other things;

For the thoughts we think,

Impact our blessings.

As we are weighed down,

Fixed on weight we bear;

We miss so much good,

That God has to share.

Protect heart and mind,

For good things shall come;

Our path is made plain,

When we seek the Son.

The blessings in life,

All good things that flow;

Are from God to us,

As we seek to grow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we guard our hearts and place our trust in You, You lead us on a course that is far greater than we could have hoped or imagined. Thank You that though trials and difficulties will come, as we fix our eyes on You, rather than the challenge, You lead us on and carry us through. Forgive us for not guarding our hearts from the heaviness that life can bring. Teach us to trust You more, so that we do not get weighed down by the difficulties and instead rise up in Your strength to press on. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may extend Your goodness, strength and grace to help others navigate the course to which You are calling them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we guard our hearts and fix our eyes on You; for with You, good and noble things light the path to which we are called to walk.

 

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

 

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Our Strength and Safety

You are my strength, I sing praise to You; You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. – (Psalm 59:17, NIV) 

I will sing praises to You, my Source of strength. You, God, are my place of safety. You are the God who loves me! – (Psalm 59:17, ERV) 

O my Strength, to You I sing my praises; for You are my high tower of safety, my God of mercy. – (Psalm 59:17, TLB) 

 

This morning, I wake with nervous excitement, as it will be the first day that we will practice together as an entire team. Veteran players will join us rookies as we take the field today, and the intensity with which we have been working, will surely increase even more. Physically, God has been my strength, and I have felt good, however, remembering all of the plays is a challenge, and my mind often draws a blank when I need to recall. With praise on my heart for the opportunity for the new, I will continue to review that which I need to know and trust the process. May we ever seek the One who is our strength and safety and give praise to God who loves us and on whom we can depend. 

 

O God, You’re my strength, You Make Me Strong

My hope, help and song; 

I bring You my praise, 

Through all the day long. 

You are my safety, 

You bless me with peace; 

In You I can trust, 

As grace You release. 

Help me to rise up, 

In Your strength and grace; 

Protected in power, 

To run well this race. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and our safety, as You love of best. Thank You for the opportunity for new things, and for strong healthy bodies that can do so much more than we would have thought or imagined. Forgive us for not seeking You to be our strength, or for avoiding the new that You bring us to out of fear. Teach us to trust You more, as You supply all that we need to do the new that we are brought into. Be our strength and safety, Lord. Show us how to love and encourage one another, so that we each might find the strength and courage to rise up and be who You have created us to become. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the strength and safety that You supply and give thanks for Your faithful love. Amen. 

 

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

 

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Blessings through Honor

“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on earth.” – (Ephesians 6:2-3, NLT) 

Honor your father and mother. This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing. – (Ephesians 6:2-3, TLB) 

For the commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” was the first of the Ten Commandments with a promise attached: “You will prosper and live a long, full life if you honor your parents.” – (Ephesians 6:2-3, TPT) 

 

I am watching the fruit of this very principle unfold before me, as we have traveled to Minnesota to spend time with my Viking’s father. Cancer has invaded his body, and he was given an expiration date that seems quite bleak. Despite the span of nearly twenty-five years since he last saw his father, and only a handful of phone conversations in-between, witnessing the two of them (as well as my sister-to-be, and soon-to-be bonus son) interact with this man in grace and love, honoring him as their father, blessed my heart beyond what I could have imagined. It was as if all of the time, distance and disappointments disappeared, and only good and grace and love remained. It is evident that walking in forgiveness and grace blesses not only the transgressor, but sets free, the very one who has been hurt. May we ever go forth in grace and forgiveness, honoring our parents, regardless of their shortcomings. We all fall short and are in need of grace, and the beauty that comes is worth the release. Let us honor our parents as the people who granted us this glorious gift of life.  

 

The Bible commands, img_2018-01-27_08-43-45418161434.jpg

That we honor well; 

Fathers and mothers, 

Of love and grace tell. 

For with the command, 

There’s a promise too; 

That blessings will come, 

As we follow through. 

So, ever give good, 

Honor and choose love; 

There will be blessings, 

Of grace from above. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of the parents that You give to us. Thank You for those whom we know well and see often, and thank You for those whom we see rarely. Father forgive us for not walking this out according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to honor our parents as You call us to honor them. Lead us in Your love and grace, so that we would be a blessing as we are blessed by You. Teach us to love like You, so that all may come to know the truth of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to honor those You have given us according to Your love and grace. Amen. 

 

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

 

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

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

True Blessings Through Obedience

And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed – all because you have obeyed Me. – (Genesis 22:18, NLT)

Every nation on the earth will be blessed through your descendants. I will do this because you obeyed Me. – (Genesis 22:18, ERV)

And from your descendants all the people of the earth will discover true blessing. All this because you have obeyed My voice. – (Genesis 22:18, VOICE)

 

This verse is God’s promise to Abraham after his faithful obedience to God. Not only did he leave the land and home that he knew to go where God was calling, but he was willing to give up his only son, the one that was the fulfillment of a very long awaited promise. God saw Abraham’s unwavering obedience, and made a promise to bless his descendants as a result. The very same God who blessed Abraham for being obedient, blesses us when we do the same. When we go where He calls and do what He asks, we see the goodness of God and power of His might as He moves in ways we could not have imagined on our own. Though obedience at times is difficult or simply does not make sense to our human understanding, the true blessings that He pours out on His people as we listen to His leading, make the risk worth the reward. May we choose to listen to the voice of God and walk in the way to which we are being called, so we too may see the blessings of the Lord released all around us.

 

True blessings made known,The Reason for Reverence

Through obedience;

No matter the call,

Nor strange circumstance.

Often He calls us,

To things we can’t see;

So we have to trust,

Just choose to believe.

God in His goodness,

Sees our faithfulness;

For those who obey,

Find that they are blessed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us countless examples in Your word of those who have faithfully obeyed Your call, and as a result, those around them were blessed. Thank You that obedience is not something that we have to do in our own strength alone, but You will equip and empower us if we are willing. Forgive us for our lack of willingness or for the fear that holds us back. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would go where You call and do as You ask, regardless of what we see or think we know. Show us how to love well, all those whom You place around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You completely and walk forward in obedience to all that You ask. 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

Success Through Commitment

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. – (Proverbs 16:3, CEB)

Turn to the Lord for help in everything you do, and you will be successful. – (Proverbs 16:3, ERV)

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish you plans. – (Proverbs 16:3, NIV)

 

This is an interesting verse to have stand out to me this morning, as I am following the unfolding story of my dear friend, Ashley, as she is dealing with the distraction of being bitten by a botfly while in Belize in the midst of being there with her three kids, and participating in important contact meetings as she continues to further establish relationships within the nation for sending medical missions teams. She has completely committed all that she does to the Lord, and His favor has been upon her every step of the way. Remarkable doors have been opened where it did not seem possible, and He has developed and rerouted plans beyond what she would have ever imagined. So why this botfly bite? It is a horrible and strange happenstance, however, I know that God will use this to give Ashley further wisdom and understanding as she leads teams into parts of the nation that nearly never receive medical attention. Somehow, this present experience will give her more wisdom when treating those in need as she goes. For me, it has suddenly increased my passion to pray not only for Ashley and her kiddos right now, but for the team that I will be joining in the jungle of Belize at the end of July. I do not want to go in fear, but rather I need to choose to commit the trip to Him and trust that what He plans, will be accomplished. May we ever trust in the Lord and His goodness, despite distractions that attempt to derail us.

 

Commit to the Lord,Success Through Commitment

All that you choose do;

When given to Him,

He will lead us through.

If we allow plans,

Of ours to be His;

His will established,

Our hearts will not miss.

In all that we do,

Father, You we need;

As we choose to trust,

In You, we succeed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we commit everything that we do to You, You meet us and establish success according to Your plan. Thank You for the faithful who are walking out their commitment to You in mighty ways. Please protect and heal those in spaces where they are exposed to risk factors that are outside our realm of reality. Please bring healing and relief to Ashley, and protect she and her kids in every way. Forgive us for not committing all that we do unto You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You first, and commit all that we are and all that we do unto You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your unending faithfulness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we commit all that we do unto You, and trust You to establish success in the plans that You have for us. 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

The Wonder of Unfailing Love

Praise the Lord, for He has shown me the wonders of His unfailing love. – (Psalm 31:21a, NLT)

 

Here I sit this morning, in awe once again, at the wonder of the Lord’s unfailing love for me. He blesses in ways I do not deserve, and holds my heart in His hands. Where hope was growing dim, He has fanned a spark to flame. In spaces where worry was growing a bit weighty, God has provided beyond what I would have asked or imagined. More than that, as my heart heard my own voice speak the truth of all that He has done as I was sharing with a dear friend yesterday, joy and excitement began to rise up and flood my entire being, for all that lies ahead. The Lord has so much more. What we see now is but a glimpse of what is yet to come. Each time we take pause and look around, we become acutely aware of the wonders of His unfailing love, and find reason to give God praise. May we ever praise the Lord for the wonders of His unfailing love that He never ceases to show all who call on His Name.

 

Give praise to the Lord,The Wonder of Unfailing Love

For wonders anew;

His unfailing love,

Is faithful and true.

Our God loves to show,

How deep and how wide;

Love for the seeking,

In Him, choose abide.

At times it is more,

Than my heart can hold;

The glory of God,

As His grace unfolds.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us the wonders of Your unfailing love. Thank You that You bless us and keep us and lavish us with Your love, not because we deserve it, but rather because we are Yours. Forgive us for not recognizing the wonders of Your love all around us, or not seeking You in our spaces of need. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would look to You in all things and at all times, knowing that above all, Your love never fails. Show us how to love with a love like Yours, so others may see the goodness and grace that comes from You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for showing us the wonders of Your unfailing love, and go forth and do likewise for those around us. 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