Choose Love Anyway

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. – (Matthew 5:44-45, NIV) 

But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and those who do wrong. – (Matthew 5:44-45, ERV) 

 

This can be a serious challenge to actually live out each day. To choose to love, is to make a choice to not respond harshly or rudely, even when that is what we are given. Love is patient and kind and keeps no record of wrongs. That is not to say that we are meant to walk into and remain in abusive and hostile situations, but rather when we are treated any way other than that which God intended, we are meant to respond as He would. Our first line of defense is to pray for those who are against us. So often, it is a matter of hurting people choosing to hurt people out of their own wounded spaces. It does not make it right or acceptable, but it is often a point of prayer for help and healing to be provided for the very one who is causing pain. While we were yet sinners, God loved us. At one point, each of us who call on His Name, discovered the depth of His grace, love, kindness and forgiveness for us, despite our initial lack of love for Him. He tore down the barriers built by our own brokenness and loved us to life in Him. May we choose to love and pray for those who need it most, as God can do far more than we could hope or imagine when we seek Him to intervene in ugly spaces. 

 

We are called to love, Hands of Grace

And choose pray for all; 

Especially those, 

Who want us to fall. 

For as we were once, 

God’s enemies too; 

He loved us to life, 

And made our hearts new. 

Let us choose to pray, 

For those against us; 

Choose love anyway, 

Just as Jesus does. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that while we were yet sinners and walking against You, You broke through the barriers of our hurting hearts and loved us to life. Thank You that You call us to do the same. Forgive us for forgetting to pray for those who treat us poorly. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You for strength and direction as to how to love everyone as You would have us love. Show us how to love even the most difficult to love as You do, so that Your heart may be made evident through our actions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom and strength to love our enemies and pray for those who treat us poorly. Amen. 

 

 

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

 

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

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Clothed in Love

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. – (Colossians 3:14, NLT)

Together with those things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity. – (Colossians 3:14, ERV)

And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. – (Colossians 3:14, MSG)

 

Some families are casual and some are formal as they gather for the holidays. However, the most lasting and lovely garment we can don on any given occasion, is that of love. Love breaks down barriers and brings people together in peace. Where tension once reigned, kindness comes in and conveys the calm that Christ intended. For some, the garment of love that we choose to wear, may be the only glimpse of goodness that exists in their environment. As one receives such love, they too are equipped to go and do likewise. May we begin each day by clothing ourselves with the love of Christ, so that we may go forth and love others as we have been loved.

 

The greatest garment, Clothed in Love

That we can choose wear;

Is that of God’s love,

He intends we share.

As we choose share love,

His peace enters in;

For harmony comes,

Where love is given.

No matter the day,

Event or reason;

Let’s dress up in love,

This lovely season.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You and Your goodness and grace, You clothe us in Your love. Thank You that as we go forth in Your love, we are bound together in unity in You. Forgive us for not clothing ourselves in the love You give. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to fill us and equip us so that we can love as You love. Show us how to love those around us in a way that promotes Your perfect peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we clothe ourselves in Your everlasting love. 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

Called to Forgiveness

Come on now, let’s walk and talk; let’s work this out. Your wrong doings are blood red, but they can turn as white as snow. Your sins are red like crimson, but they can be made clean again like new wool. – (Isaiah 1:18, VOICE)

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as snow.” – (Isaiah 1:18, NLT)

 

God is constantly calling us unto Himself. He woos us when we go astray, and wants to lead us in the way we are meant to go so that we can be restored to right relationship with Him. Our part is to receive what He is offering – His forgiveness, His love, His light and His life, so that we may live free from the weight of our sin and shame. It is not a free pass to bounce back and forth, but it is the grace to restore our place of right standing before God when we mess up or find ourselves in a space we never intended to go. God is good and loves us no matter where we are or what condition our hearts and lives are in. If we call on Him, He will listen to our every cry. May we ever seek the Lord and receive the forgiveness and grace that He offers as we choose to place our trust in Him.

 

Seek walk with the Lord, Hope in Discouragement

For there, you’ll find grace;

Forgiveness of sins,

A right standing place.

All that we’ve done wrong,

Is made white as snow;

When confessed to God,

In His grace, we grow.

Where sins are no more,

We’re suddenly free;

To walk in His way,

His plan clearly seen.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and confess our sin before You, You forgive us and wash us clean as if we have never sinned. Thank You for the overwhelming power of Your forgiveness and grace, as You make us new in You. Forgive us for the times that we forget how much forgiveness has been extended to us, and are not gracious or merciful to those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for forgiveness and for the ability to forgive others. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends Your mercy and grace, so that they may come to know and understand the depth of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive and give the amazing grace that You give to us. Amen.

 

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

 

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

When We Are Real

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. – (Luke 18:14b, NLT)

People who make themselves important will be made humble. But those who make themselves humble will be made important. – (Luke 18:14b, ERV)

If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to fall flat on your face, but if you’re content to simply be yourself, you will become more than yourself. – (Luke 18:14b, MSG)

 

After having had my first day with some of my sixth graders yesterday, this verse is an excellent affirmation of my approach. I have never taught sixth grade before, as my previous twenty years of teaching have been spent with seventh, eighth and even ninth graders. Rather than pretending to know what I am doing with this age group and that I have it all together, I began by being real with my students, and let them know that I did not know exactly what to expect from sixth grade students, and that I would need their help to figure it out. By establishing my need for their help as we work together towards success this year, and discover together what it will take for each to accomplish their goals, there was a sense of comfort and communication that began to take root. May we be real with one another, wherever we are at, and look for ways to encourage and lift each other up.

 

Let’s come as we are, Chosen With Purpose

Wherever we’re at;

For when we are real,

Character’s intact.

People will respect,

The truth that we speak;

Our need for their help,

Is not seen as weak.

We were created,

For community;

To work together,

To rise and meet needs.

So let us gather,

Join in and give grace;

Provide our support,

For all in this space.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we choose to be real and come humbly into whatever we are called, You meet us and provide the help we need to accomplish what is asked of us. Thank You that we are not meant to do everything all on our own, as You place us in community and provide help and hope as we are willing to admit our need. Forgive us for the times that we do not humble ourselves and admit our own need for help or for thinking that we somehow have it all together. Teach us to trust You more, as there is ALWAYS more to learn and room to grow in this process of being refined and becoming who You are calling us to be. Show us how to love those around us with humility and grace, so that they may feel safe and valued as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be honest wherever we are at, and trust You to make up for where we lack. Amen.

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

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

Beyond Routine – There is Rest

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:5, NIV)

Oh, I must find rest in God only, because my hope comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:5, CEB)

 

As an individual who thrives on routine, particularly the one by which I begin each day, it has been a strange few days of breaking that which is customary. For forty-eight hours, I have essentially unplugged. I have not begun the last two mornings with my quiet time, coffee and writing, nor have I even had my phone readily nearby. We had a short window of time to travel to my mom’s home on the other side of the mountains, visit with her, my sister, brother-in-law, and nephews, and catch up with friends who came and camped out in mom’s backyard. It was a time of connecting and rest. No schedules, no agenda, yet the little time we had was packed with laughter, fun, and relaxation. In a place where the evidence of His hand is astounding, I found rest in the peaceful space of being surrounded by loved ones in a place that is a sort of sanctuary for my soul. Though it was not my intention, I am quite certain that it was as God intended, as a brand-new school year is set to begin tomorrow with staff, and on Wednesday with students. The spaces in my soul that felt uneasy and a bit anxious about what this new year may hold, seem to have faded away. My hope is restored and my resolve strengthened, as I prepare for what lies ahead. May we ever embrace the rest the Lord offers, remembering that He knows best how to recharge and restore the spaces within us that require His rest.

 

Wherever He leads, Beyond Routine There is Rest

May my heart choose go;

A break from routine,

For what’s best, God knows.

Sometimes there is rest,

When we choose slow down;

Do as the Lord leads,

It’s where peace is found.

As we are recharged,

Our hope is restored;

All thanks be to God,

Whom our hearts adore.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that sometimes rest is found in the breaking of routine, even when the routine is good. Thank You that people are Your priority, and when we do the same, we are blessed in ways we might not have expected. Thank You that You provide renewed hope in the spaces of rest. Forgive us for not slowing down to rest in You, however You ask us to rest. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would recognize the remarkable ways that You grant us new hope as we rest in You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides hope and encourages rest in spaces where it is needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as our souls find rest in You and You fill us with Your hope anew. 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

Love Can Be Found

Your love, God, fills the earth! Train me to live by Your counsel. – (Psalm 119:64, MSG)

Lord, Your faithful love fills the earth. Teach me Your laws. – (Psalm 119:64, ERV)

The earth is filled with Your love, Lord; teach me Your decrees. – (Psalm 119:64, NIV)

 

Everywhere the human eye can see, there is evidence of the Eternal’s love for us. The intentional, exquisite design of each individual we encounter, the beauty of nature, the intricacy of the countless systems set in place by His hands – I stand in awe when I give even a moment to think about the complexity of messages it requires to send information from my mind to my fingers to movement on the keyboard, yet the words that are typed on the screen occur so often with little thought or thanks for He who designed my body to function in this way. Just as it required training to learn to type without having to think about where each key is located, we need to be intentional to train our hearts and minds in the word of God, so that we don’t agonize to know what is right in His sight. May we take time to notice the love of the Lord that surrounds us, and be intentional to allow His word to train us in the ways we are meant to go.

 

The love of the Lord, IMG_3721

Fills the earth, surrounds;

Wherever we look,

His love can be found.

May we ever seek,

To walk in His ways;

Do right by the Lord,

For all of our days.

Lord, train up our hearts,

To walk in Your will;

Do what pleases You,

Your counsel, instill.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love is evident everywhere! Thank You that the earth is filled with Your love. Thank You that when we ask, You are faithful to answer and train us to live according to Your will. Forgive us for not seeking You and Your will as we walk out our days, and teach us to trust You for all of our days. Show us how to live according to Your counsel so that we love others in the way that You intended them to be loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize Your love all around us, and listen to Your leading in all that we do. Amen.

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

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

Gather With Gladness

Every day they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. – (Acts 2:46, CEB)

The believers shared a common purpose, and every day they spent much of their time together in the temple area. They also ate together in their homes. They were happy to share their food and ate with joyful hearts. – (Acts 2:46, ERV)

 

I love the value that was placed on community in the early church. There is nothing that brings people together better than sharing a meal with joy and generosity. When those around us who are united in purpose come together as family, the joy that is discovered in fellowship over a meal is multiplied. Each summer, my church creates opportunity for family connect groups. These groups meet one evening a week for a meal at a host home during the month of August, as new friendships are discovered and relationships are formed. My first connect group of the year begins this evening, and I am reminded of the early church as I prepare to go. Though I know not who will be in attendance, I anticipate joy and gladness as we gather in grace to share a meal together. May we ever seek opportunities to gather together with those around us, and meet with others to share a meal with joy – as God so often uses such circumstances to form friendships He intended to occur all along.

 

Actively look for, Welcome Boxes 1

People that we know;

To join together,

So His grace may flow.

With hearts full of joy,

May we freely share;

What we’ve been given,

So all know You care.

May our hearts be filled,

As we share a meal;

Joy overflowing,

His way is ideal.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be in community. Thank You that You call us to continue to do what the early church did – to gather together to worship and to share meals and fellowship together. Forgive us for isolating ourselves and not plugging into the community to which we are called. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be willing to go where You call and invite others to share time and fellowship and food with us. Show us how to love well the people that You have placed in our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we gather together with gladness. Amen.

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

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

Being the Body

For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too – the many – are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone. – (Romans 12:4-5, VOICE)

 

As I read this passage through several times, I thought about how it applies to my own life. Stepping back, I can see how true this is, not only in my church circle, but at home, at work, and among my groupings of friends. In each arena, God has gathered people with different strengths, gifts and talents, and placed us together with purpose. Where one of us is weak, another is strong. In a space where wisdom or experience are necessary, there is one among us who has been there to build up, encourage or advise. This is yet another reminder that we were created to be in community. Who we are and what we have to give is far more meaningful and effective when joined together with others. Balance, beauty and strength in our everyday lives the way God intended, become recurring reality, rather than a one-day hope. Yes, there will be days that are messy and feel a bit fractured, but if our pursuit is to seek God and be joined in the body as He intended, the difficult days will be well worth the work. May we ever choose to seek the Lord and be invested in community as we are called.

 

We’re each created,Called to be Family 1

With a role in mind;

As God’s given gifts,

To join and align.

For as we gather,

Together as one;

Each part fills a role,

To rise, get things done.

We all have purpose,

That is magnified;

When joined with others,

God’s strength realized.

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us individually with different strengths and functions and purpose. Thank You that You intended each of us to be in community so that our strengths could be utilized together to accomplish Your call and build up one another in You. Thank You that You place us in community when we seek You. Forgive us for not fully investing in the communities we are in, or for withholding the very things that You have birthed in us to share. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would utilize that which You have given us to share for the benefit of the body. Show us how to love all those whom You have placed in the communities we are called to invest in. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we join with one another to become together what we could not be alone. Amen.

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

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

Love Remains Present

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. – (Romans 12:15, NLT)

When others are happy, you should be happy with them. And when others are sad, you should be sad too. – (Romans 12:15, ERV)

Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. – (Romans 12:15, MSG)

 

Part of loving well is walking alongside those around us, no matter what state they are in. If a person is happy and has reason to celebrate, we ought to join them in expressing joy. When we encounter the sorrowful, it is not our job to fix them, but rather to sit beside them in the midst of their pain and be present. Remarkably, when happiness is shared, it miraculously feels multiplied; yet when sadness and sorrow is shared by someone who comes and sits in the space alongside the suffering, the weight of the ache is lessened somehow. God intended us to be in community. So much of scripture directs us as to how to be in relationship with one another, and to function as a body of believers. Two are better than one… A three-strand cord is not easily broken… There are countless references reminding us that we are not meant to do this life alone. May we place our trust in He who walks beside us in joy and pain, and go forth with intent to do the same.

 

Choose to celebrateThe Benefit of Broken Barriers

Those with happiness;

Share space of sadness,

With ones in a mess.

For God walks beside,

And ever stays near;

Present in weeping,

And likewise in cheer.

We have been chosen,

As community;

To love as Christ loves,

For His love sets free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to be happy with those who are happy, and to weep with those who weep, but You sent Your Son to show us what it looks like to love like that. Thank You Jesus, for showing us how to love without limits, despite what You were going through and the things that surrounded You. Forgive us for making excuses as to why we just cannot get involved when things seem to messy or emotional. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remain present with those whom You have placed in our lives, no matter what comes their way. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are happy with those who are happy, and share tears with those who are down. Amen.

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

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

Two Ears and One Mouth

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. – (James 1:19, NLT)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up in a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

 

So often, when buttons are pushed and tempers begin to flare, if the choice is made to first listen to understand where the other person is coming from, the initial spark of anger is diffused, and the things we choose to speak when we are ready, are far better received than if we simply spout out whatever comes to mind in the moment. There is a time and place for righteous anger – the sort of disgust that draws us to rise up and pursue possible solutions. However, in the seemingly small things that spark our hot buttons, we must seek the Lord and His heart and help, so that we are willing to listen, rather than speak. We are created with two ears and only one mouth. I imagine God intended that we use our parts accordingly. Our ears should likely be used at least twice as often as our mouths when we interact with others. May we go forth today with ears open, ready to listen with the intent to truly hear, ever keeping control of our tongue and leaving rage behind us.

 

With ears wide open,Be Not Silent

May we choose to hear;

What’s being spoken,

By those who are near.

Choose be slow to speak,

When anger finds way;

Words that are spoken,

Cannot go away.

Instead, in moments,

Slow down and choose trust;

God’s call to listen,

Just as He hears us.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. Thank You that this is not something that You expect us to do in our own strength, but rather You strengthen and equip us to listen first, so that we may truly hear the heart of those around us. Forgive us for speaking without listening, or for giving way to rage rather than seeking to understand. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be quick to listen and slow to speak, ever keeping anger at bay where it belongs. Show us how to love well, all those whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are willing to listen, slow to speak, and allow You to help keep our anger in check. Amen.

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

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