Consider Love

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – (Hebrews 10:24, NIV)

We should think about each other to see how we can encourage each other to show love and do good works. – (Hebrews 10:24, ERV)

Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. – (Hebrews 10:24, TPT)

 

I love that this biblical concept has been made tangible to many as people seek to “pay it forward.” One small spark of kindness, generosity or grace can set off an incredible chain reaction. The great thing is, we can love and encourage others through small and simple things. The Passions Translation tells us to “discover creative ways to encourage others and motivate them toward acts of compassion…” I so appreciate this, as some of the seemingly smallest acts of kindness have had the greatest and most lasting impact on me, as they often come when I have needed them most. It costs us nothing to choose to offer a kind and encouraging word or to reach out a helping hand to one we see in need – we simply must choose to extend what we have received to those around us. May we seek the Lord and listen to His leading, so that we may discover creative ways to encourage each other and extend acts of kindness to all.

 

Let us consider, Ambassadors of Love

How to choose love well;

Honor each other,

May our actions tell.

Tell of His goodness,

Extend hope and grace;

Each act of kindness,

Demonstrate His ways.

Choose seek discover,

To love and do good;

Compassion offered,

God’s grace understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You that though we do not deserve it, You come near and extend encouragement and compassion toward us in tangible ways. Thank You that You call us to look for ways to encourage and love one another as we reach out in ways that others can grasp. Forgive us for not always choosing words or ways to inspire those around us to greater love. Teach us to trust and rely on You to be our Source and Supply, so that we will encourage and motivate others toward compassion and acts of kindness. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spurs others toward love and good deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the love and encouragement that You offer to us and then go and give likewise to those around us. 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

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No Room for Them

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – (Luke 2:4-7, NIV)

 

This portion of the Christmas story seemed to strike a new chord within my heart this past week, as my pastor pointed out the scandal and outrage that would have been associated with an unwed woman expecting a child who was engaged to a man with whom she had no intimate relations. Joseph came from the house of David. His heritage was quite significant, and his family name was likely known. Everyone was expected to return to the place of their familial ties for the census, so it is quite conceivable that Joseph had numerous relatives who were also traveling to Bethlehem at the same time. Under normal circumstances, a family would have traveled and stayed together, yet Mary and Joseph made the journey alone. Their isolation leads me to believe that they were being shunned by the family, and left to their own devices to survive. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, they were unable to find a proper place to stay. What I found intriguing is that each version of scripture that I read, says that “there was no room for them. This leads me to believe that perhaps there was room, but they were turned away because of societal standards, and left stranded and a bit desperate. Who was the inn keeper who did at last show some compassion, and at least allow the pair shelter as the time drew near for Mary to give birth? It is both incredible and admirable to think of Mary and Joseph and all that they must have gone though, just to get to the stable birth. Additionally, the thought of the two of them having to deliver the Son of God in their surroundings is overwhelming. She was quite young and he was a carpenter; nothing in their life experience had likely prepared them for what they endured, other than the very presence of God with them. May we continue to ponder with awe and wonder, the miracle of God with us, this most holy season.

 

Hard was the journey, No Room for Them

To travel alone;

This chosen couple,

So far from their home.

Upon arrival,

No room granted them;

Just a small stable,

In old Bethlehem.

The time had arrived,

For the babe be born;

Courage delivered,

Wrapped Him in cloths torn.

No isolation,

Could stand in God’s way;

Strength to them granted,

Right there in the hay.

Though they’d been alone,

It did not last long;

For angelic hosts,

Announced this with song.

The shepherds they came,

They followed the light;

In awe and wonder,

On that holy night.

The baby swaddled,

God’s very own Son;

The faith of this pair,

God’s will had been done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the miracle and wonder that surrounds the story of You sending Your Son to us as a baby, in humble beginnings, to make Him approachable to all. Thank You for showing us Your faithfulness through the hearts of the people that were part of Your story, and modeled what it is to trust in You. Forgive us for forgetting the depth of Your love that sent Your Only Son to us so that we could have life in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would pause and ponder in wonder, the miracle and the majesty of all that You have done. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives insight and understanding to Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your story to fill our hearts and minds this Christmas. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

The Foundation of Wisdom

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. – (Proverbs 9:10, NLT)

Wisdom begins with fear and respect for the Lord. Knowledge of the Holy One leads to understanding. – (Proverbs 9:10, ERV)

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord; the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. – (Proverbs 9:10, CEB)

 

The sort of fear that comes from respect and reverence for our Redeemer is the very space that results in real understanding as to who God is and how He loves. As we grow in our understanding, wisdom weaves its way into our hearts. To know God, one cannot help but stand in awe and wonder as to who He is and how He loves, in spite of who we are and all that we have done. Growing up, I had a healthy fear of my mom, not because she was scary or unkind, but rather because I wanted to do well and please her, as she did so much for me. It is much the same with God. Though He has the power to determine the number of my days, He is a loving God and the fear that leads to wisdom, is more one of recognizing who He is and how One so incredible could care for individuals among the billions alive on the earth. I want to choose well and be wise because He has chosen me. May we ever seek to know the Lord with proper awe and reverence, so that we may find wisdom to walk in His ways.

 

The fear of the Lord, Refreshment Through Repentance

Is where wisdom’s found;

True knowledge of Him,

Leads to choices, sound.

Real understanding,

From the Holy One;

Is granted by grace,

As we seek the Son.

Help us choose be wise,

With respect and fear;

Trust the Holy One,

For He will draw near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we fear and revere You, You reveal more of who You are and how You love. Thank You that the more that we know You, the better our understanding becomes to make wise decisions. Forgive us for not giving You the proper praise and awe that is due, and for not seeking to understand more of You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would ever pursue Your will and Your way. Lead us to walk in wisdom according to Your will. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates respect and reverence for You, and inspires good judgment. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom with reverent hearts, desiring to do Your will throughout our days. 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

Comfort in Mourning

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NLT)

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV)

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. – (Matthew 5:4, MSG)

 

Yesterday was a very heavy day for me. As I made my drive in to work, word of the tragedy that had taken place the previous night in Las Vegas flooded the airwaves. Grief gripped my heart like a vice, as I thought of the families who were suffering both with loss, inexplicable harm to loved ones, and the wait in not knowing if those dear to them were safe or had fallen in harm’s way. Sadly, my grief grew as I learned of the loss of an incredible woman, who had been lovingly invested in her church, community and family, and tragically died shortly after childbirth. It is in these moments, these seasons of sorrow, that I look to the Lord for comfort and some sort of sense to be made out of all of that which seems so senseless. Though I do not think I will ever completely understand why such horrific acts and terrible tragedies occur, I must cling to the promise that God blesses and comforts those who mourn. He is our comfort and our place of peace, even when nothing seems steady nor secure. May we ever cling to Christ, who is our comfort, as He will bless and embrace those who mourn.

 

God brings His blessing,Comfort in Mourning

To all those who mourn;

He’s our safe harbor,

Through all of life’s storms.

He’ll be our comfort,

When flooded with grief;

The One to embrace,

As love grants relief.

When tragedy strikes,

And hope seems but gone;

Bring grief to the Lord,

He’ll carry us on.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that even in the midst of sorrow and heartache and so much tragedy, You are present to provide Your comfort. Thank You that Your arms embrace us, even when we cannot bear to lift our eyes from the weight of our sorrow. Thank You that You meet us in our mourning and bless us with Your comfort. Forgive us for not turning to You in our grief. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone are the Provider of comfort and the One who blesses us in the midst of heartache. Show us how to love and comfort those who are grieving, so that they may know Your comfort in a tangible way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your comfort in our times of mourning. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Pursue Righteousness and Love

Whoever pursues justice and treats others with kindness discovers true life marked by integrity and respect. – (Proverbs 21:21, VOICE)

People who try hard to do good and be faithful will find life, goodness, and honor. – (Proverbs 21:21, ERV)

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. – (Proverbs 21:21, NIV)

 

This passage is an excellent reminder for me this morning, as it is a guiding principle in how I walk out my days. Over the last two weeks, despite every effort and strategy in my educational arsenal, I have had a few students that are struggling to respond to our established expectations. Each day is a fresh start, and I greet each individual with kindness and anticipate good things from and for them. Sadly, the behaviors of a few have made me have moments of questioning my career. Thankfully, when I look at the big picture, God has given me an abundant life. I am surrounded by incredible friends, family, and colleagues, I have two terrific teenage boys, we do not lack anything, and I am loved very well. All this to say that my charge is to press on and continue to be faithful in that which I am called to do, and continue to seek answers for those who are struggling to settle in. May we pursue righteousness and love, for that is where life, prosperity and honor are found.

 

Those who seek justice, Pursue Righteousness and Love

And choose to be kind;

Discover respect,

Integrity, find.

For when we do good,

A faithful life choose;

Goodness comes our way,

As grace is infused.

So let us try hard,

Be faithful and just;

God’s love will be clear,

As we choose to trust.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to pursue justice and treat others with kindness. Thank You that as we do, Your hand is made evident in our life. Thank You that we are not expected to do this on our own, but You equip and empower us by Your grace to love as we are loved by You. Forgive us for not wanting to pursue righteousness when we feel we have been wronged. Teach us to trust You in all things, and to choose to place things in Your hands, and follow Your leading rather than our own. Show us how to do good and be faithful in a way that demonstrates Your love in a tangible to those who need it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue righteousness and love because You are righteous and loving. 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

How Impossible Becomes Possible

Remember, what is humanly impossible is possible with God. – (Luke 18:27, VOICE)

He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” – (Luke 18:27, NLT)

Jesus answered, “God can do things that are not possible for people to do.” – (Luke 18:27, ERV)

 

The mountains that lie before us, no matter how great or small, can be climbed or moved when we rely on Christ. In our own strength, there is much that is seemingly impossible that stands before us, beckoning to be accomplished. Through human insight and understanding, it seems we may as well stop before we even start. However, if God has called us to something, He will lead us through it. The seemingly impossible becomes possible, as we choose to be led by faith and not by sight. God’s grace, goodness, provision and strength, carry us further than we ever thought we might go. May we look to the Lord and be led by faith, rather than staying stuck on the seeming impossibilities that stand in front of us.

 

Mountains before us, How Impossible Becomes Possible

That seem far too high;

Passable in Christ,

When on Him, we rely.

No height that’s too great,

Nor valley too low;

All that’s before us,

With us, God will go.

So trust in the Lord,

And see what He’ll do;

Mountains will be moved,

As we’re carried through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what is impossible for us, is possible with You. Thank You that in You, all things are possible. Thank You that You do not call us to anything that You are not also willing to strengthen, equip and carry us through. Forgive us for our fear and lack of faith when we see the seemingly impossible standing in front of us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would see the seeming impossibilities as opportunities for Your power to be demonstrated in incredible new ways. Show us how to love others in ways that help them to see the possibilities before them rather than the obstacles. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to do the impossible in our lives, as only You can. 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

Grace Unearned

And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is – free and undeserved. – (Romans 11:6, NLT)

And if He chose them by grace, then it is not what they have done that made them His people. If they could be made His people by what they did, His gift of grace would not really be a gift. – (Romans 11:6, ERV)

Grace is central in God’s action here, and it has nothing to do with deeds prescribed by the law. If it did, grace would not be grace. – (Romans 11:6, VOICE)

 

God’s grace at first glance, seems to be a paradox, as how could He possibly give such undeserved goodness and love to a sinner, such as myself. That is the amazing thing about His grace, He gives to the undeserving, and loves without limits. Each time I am made aware of His goodness and grace, I recognize just how incredible His love is for me, despite all of my flaws and failures. Yes, I love Him and long to serve Him, but I am a work in progress, and am far from having “arrived“. Perhaps that is the point. As we recognize our own shortcomings and see how His goodness is complete, we are ever aware of our need for Him in our lives. May we rise up in thanksgiving for God’s goodness and grace, and give Him thanks for the gifts that we’re given, though we deserve them not.

 

We cannot earn grace, The Wonder of Unfailing Love

For God freely gives;

Because He is kind,

We have life to live.

Every good thing,

That comes unto us;

Is thanks to the Lord,

And His Son, Jesus.

There’s nothing we’ll do,

And no words we’ll say;

That can earn His grace,

Or take it away.

All thanks be to God,

For kindness and love;

It is undeserved,

These gifts from above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your kindness to us. Thank You that it is not given for good works that we do to somehow earn it, but rather You give grace out of the abundance of Your love for us. Thank You that it is free and undeserved, reminding us that You are God and we are not. Forgive us for the times that we either take Your grace for granted, or try to somehow earn our way into a good space before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that all that we say and do is motivated by our love for You. Show us how to love those around us with kindness and grace, so that they too, will long to seek Your face. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the grace that You freely give, and praise You for who You are. Amen.

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

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

Transformational Times

When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshipped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” – (Luke 23:47, NLT)

 

This statement by the Roman officer was extremely significant, as it was his response after overseeing the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. He had observed each nail driven into His hands and feet, each insult hurled at Jesus as He hung in pain, and ultimately, he heard the words of Jesus as the world went dark for several hours that day, as Christ called out, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NIV)  Firsthand, this soldier who had carried out the orders to crucify Christ, could see for himself, that there had been no justifiable reason to take the life of the innocent man hanging on the cross before him. Something about what he had observed through the process, helped open his eyes to the glory of God, as the Roman officer responded by worshipping the Lord and declaring the innocence of Christ. When they say there is power in the cross, it is incredible how soon it began. First with the criminal that hung beside Jesus who recognized that He did not deserve to die and asked to be remembered, and then one of the leaders of the Roman regime. The power present to move those two men from death to life on that very day, is still alive and active now. Jesus rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father, so that His Spirit could dwell among us. The very same power that brought life from death, is available and able to save us now. If we come to the Lord, call on His Name, and place our trust in Him, His presence is ours, and we have the hope of life everlasting in Him. May we allow the power of the presence of the living God to transform us from the inside out.

 

The power of God,Transformational Times

Is mighty to save;

For this is the One,

Who conquered the grave.

He brings us to life,

When we choose to come;

Place our heart in Him,

Where freedom is won.

Free from all our chains,

Of past sin and scorn;

Where hope and new life,

In Him, we’re reborn.

New start without stains,

All grace is now ours;

Made new by His love,

His hope empowers.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to live and love and sacrifice, so that we could have life everlasting in You. Thank You for the incredible things that Jesus did, even as He hung on the cross to impact the lives of those around Him. Forgive us for thinking that we cannot do anything in the midst of our circumstances when things are difficult. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be receptive to all that You have for us – both for and through us as we walk out our days in faith. Show us how to love others as You love us, regardless of what is going on in our own lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow You to work in and through us at all times to touch those around us. Amen.

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

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

Love With All You’ve Got

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. – (Deuteronomy 6:5, ERV)

You should love Him, your true God, with all your heart and soul, with every ounce of your strength. – (Deuteronomy 6:5, VOICE)

Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love Him with all that’s in you, love Him with all that you’ve got! – (Deuteronomy 6:5, MSG)

 

When we give God all that we’ve got, He meets us where we are. For whatever reason, God seems to show me tangible examples of this through running. This morning, I had a 15k race to run. I have not really been training, and the longest run I’ve gone on in recent months, was just under seven miles. That being said, it was one of those times where it was not about running a certain pace, but rather about running to finish. My friend and I were in the same position, and both determined that we were going to prioritize having fun while we run, rather than achieving a certain pace. As we ran, we discovered that we were able to enjoy the process, and were provided the stamina and strength necessary to run our own race. We both walked away from the event recognizing the parallels to how God shows up when we give things to Him, rather than attempt to force our own agenda. When we love Him and the life that He has given us, He does incredible things in us and through us. May we be ever willing to love the Lord with all that we are, and give Him all that we’ve got!

 

The Lord, He is good,hot-chocolate-run-2017-pic-1

Worthy of our love;

Our heart, soul and strength,

To God up above.

Let all that’s within,

Be given to God;

He takes what we bring,

Though broken and flawed.

So let all we are,

Give love unto Him;

Our strength and our songs,

Both outward and in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for reminding us to love You with all that we are, as when we do, we are filled to overflowing with Your goodness anew. Forgive us for not trusting or seeking You with our whole heart, and teach us to trust You more, so that all that we are would seek You – heart and soul; loving You with all that we are. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that they may come to know the blessing of Your goodness and faithfulness in their lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You with all that we are, and seek to do the same with those around us.  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

Mindful of Us

But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?” – (Hebrews 2:6, NIV)

What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? – (Psalm 8:4, NIV)

 

It is an overwhelming thought to think that the Creator of the Universe would be mindful of us, individually – that He cares for every single person that ever has been, is and will be. Clearly, the very thought of such a personal God has been mind-blowing throughout the ages. Our mere mortal minds cannot hardly begin to grasp the magnitude of our Maker’s love and care for each of us. He deliberately designed each of us with a plan and a purpose, placing gifts and talents within us, that are unique to the DNA designed in our beings. There is no one else on the planet just like YOU. No one else can fulfill the purpose nor share the gifts that God has designed in and through you. Even with twins, who look remarkably similar, the Lord has created each with different talents, strengths and dreams planted within them to uniquely touch the world. May we each embrace the incredible, as God is mindful of each of us, and cares for us individually. Let us walk out our days as we have been designed, for we are the only one God created to answer the specific call placed on our lives.

 

The most holy God,mindful-of-us

Is mindful of you;

Cares personally,

And His love is true.

The very same God,

Who created all;

Will love us to life,

Catch us when we fall.

Let’s trust in His word,

May our hearts align;

As we live our days,

As He has designed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are mindful of us and care for us, individually. Thank You that despite You being God of matchless power and might, You still draw near and love even the least of us. Thank You that You designed us each with a plan and a purpose that is unique to us. Forgive us for forgetting that we are each intended to fill a role in Your kingdom, and all matter to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk out our days according to Your plan, trusting that which You have placed within us. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they would be encouraged to seek You and to see the deliberate design that You placed within them as well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk out our days as You have designed, recognizing the care that You have for us all. Amen.

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

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5