In Strength, She Smiles

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. – (Proverbs 31:25, NLT)

She is a strong person, and people respect her. She looks to the future with confidence. – (Proverbs 31:25, ERV)

Clothed in strength and dignity, with nothing to fear, she smiles when she thinks about the future. – (Proverbs 31:25, VOICE)

 

Strong people strengthen people. I have been overwhelmingly blessed throughout my life to be surrounded by strong and loving women who have modeled strength, dignity and courage through active faith in their daily lives, no matter what their circumstances. From my phenomenal mom and her mom, to aunts, dear friends, pastors and colleagues, I have seen such lives lived out, and have been encouraged when my own strength, courage or confidence was lacking. Though there is no “arriving”, I am in a space where I look forward to the future with confidence, trusting that God has good things in store for me and my loved ones. I know that trials will come and go, yet He is faithful through all things, so I need not fear what lies ahead. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength and confidence, so that we can look to the future and smile.

 

He’ll clothe us in strength,

dsc045071369451189.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

And His dignity;

As we trust in Him,

In faith, choose believe.

We’ll laugh without fear,

At what lies ahead;

Knowing God’s with us,

By grace, we’ll be led.

Others will respect,

The strength that they see;

As we walk beside,

And help those in need.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You clothe us with strength and dignity and give us reason to look confidently to the future. Thank You for the women that You have placed in our lives that have supported and modeled these attributes for us and in us. Forgive us for the times that we have remained in our fearfulness or attempted to navigate things on our own. Teach us to trust You more, and to embrace those whom You have intentionally placed in our lives for mutual encouragement. Show us how to love those around us in a way that grows strength and dignity and removes fear of the future. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the strength and dignity that You are growing in us and look forward to the future without fear. 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

Advertisements

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

Love Each Other

This is my command: Love each other. – (John 15:17, NIV)

But remember the root command: Love one another. – (John 15:17, MSG)

This is My command to you: Love one another. – (John 15:17, VOICE)

So this is My parting command: Love one another deeply! – (John 15:17, TPT)

 

In each translation, the message remains nearly identical, as there is no substitution nor synonym for loving one another. This is a command and a calling. Jesus gave this charge to His disciples (and to us) shortly prior to His sacrifice on the cross. He modeled how to love through His life, death, resurrection and ascension, and empowers us to go and love like Him. It takes little effort to discover the deep need for love all around us. So many are broken and hurting and in need. Though we cannot solve all of the world’s ills, we can choose to love wherever we are. Often, a smile, a friendly greeting or a simple, kind exchange of conversation extends love in ways that reach far beyond what we might imagine, and remind the recipient that they are valued and worth our while. Jesus will use our willingness far more than we could hope or imagine, if only we choose to love. May we rise up in obedience to what God requires of us, as He calls us to love in word and deed, just as we are so lavishly loved by the Lord.

 

The Lord, He commands, Love Made Known

We love each other;

He values us all,

Sisters and brothers.

The light of His grace,

Is meant shine through us;

As we choose to love,

Show the world Jesus.

So much of our love,

Is not simply words;

But through what we do,

That God’s love is heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace, as You demonstrate Your love to us so often through the words and deeds of others. Forgive us for the times that our words or actions did not show Your love, and teach us to do better each time we have the opportunity to love. Show us how to love those around in a way that demonstrates Your loving kindness and faithfulness through all that we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to obey what You are asking, and go forth and love one another as we are loved by You. Amen.

 

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

 

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

Provided to Share

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. – (2 Corinthians 9:8, NLT)

And God can give you more blessings than you need, and you will always have plenty of everything. You will have enough to give to every good work. – (2 Corinthians 9:8, ERV)

 

God’s economy is not logical by the world’s standards. When we give, we end up gaining more. Sometimes, we feel compelled to give of our time, talents or resources when it appears that we have nothing to offer. However, I find that each time I extend myself from this very space where I have to trust, God comes in and multiplies my little to more. If it is time, I somehow find I have more than I thought I had; if it is offering something of myself – He meets me in the moment and does more than I ever could. When the gift is monetary, my budget always works out – even when it logically should not. A reimbursement check here, a random refund there, a gift, an error in billing… The overwhelming ways in which He works to provide are so inspiring, that I find I am quicker to obey when He asks that I give. May we remember Who is ultimately our Provider, and trust that He is true to His word. Let generosity be our mode of operation, as Jesus modeled a life of generously giving of Himself wherever He went.

 

And God shall provide,Tether Our Hearts

For each of our needs;

At times we’ll be called,

To generous deeds.

For we all have gifts,

That we’re meant to share;

Time, talent, resource,

To show that God cares.

As we choose to give,

Obediently;

The Lord blesses us,

Most abundantly.

To see a need met,

Know God’s faithfulness;

Brings confident joy,

His love is expressed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You generously and abundantly provide all that we need, so that we may share with those around us. Thank You that You ask us to give of ourselves, not because You need us to, but because You desire to bless us with the benefit of seeing Your faithfulness for both the recipient and ourselves when we watch how mightily You move. Forgive us for the times that we have hesitated or avoided giving where You asked us to give because in our own minds we could not figure out how to make it work. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would say yes to You, whenever You ask us to give of ourselves. Help us to hear You clearly. Show us how to love those around us well, with our time, talent and resources. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we share with others, that which You have so lovingly provided unto us. 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

Show the Love

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. – (1 John 3:18, NLT)

My children, our love should not be only words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do. – (1 John 3:18, ERV)

My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or theory. Make it your true way of life and live in the pattern of gracious love. – (1 John 3:18, VOICE)

 

God calls us to love with more than words. Though our words ought to be loving, our actions are what speak the loudest. If what we do is not motivated by love, it is evident to all, and our words will fall on deaf ears. However, when our actions are constantly seeking to serve others, and to put the needs of others before our own desires, people notice that there is something different driving us, and want to know what fuels our faithfulness. It is only through consistent action over time, that words begin to bear weight. In a relationship, the words “I love you” mean nothing, unless actions have shown the words to be true, over and over again. The same holds true in every other place in our lives where we interact with people. We are called to love. May we choose to love with our whole lives, rather than with words alone.

 

Oh Lord let our love,Generous Giving

Be made evident;

Not through words alone,

But acts of intent.

For things that we do,

Speak louder than words;

It is our actions,

The most clearly heard.

May our way of life,

All that we choose do;

Be done with great love,

So people see You.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love with our actions, rather than merely our words. Thank You, Jesus, that You do not just ask us to do this, but You modeled it for us. You touched the untouchable, loved the unlovable and over and over again, helped in tangible ways. Thank You that You also equip us to do the same. Forgive us for the times that our words and deeds are not aligned in love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk out all of our days in the abundance of love that You shower upon us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that reach their hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they see evidence of who You are and how You love through Your people placed in their lives who love them well. Be glorified O God, as we live out our days in the pattern of Your gracious love. 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

What We Can Do

Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. – (Proverbs 3:27, MSG)

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. – (Proverbs 3:27, NLT)

Do everything you possibly can for those who need help. – (Proverbs 3:27, ERV)

 

To love well, we must see the need around us and do what we can with what we have. Christ came and modeled what it is to not withhold good when it is within one’s power to help. His willingness to be present in the midst of people’s pain, is the very thing that helped them most. If healing was needed, He not only touched the physical ailment, but He heard their need and brought a love that truly listened, and healed hearts as well. Where there was hunger and seemingly not enough, Christ had the disciples share what they did have, and it was multiplied before their eyes. The very same power that was working in Jesus, is at work in us today. In the spaces where we think we don’t have enough time, talent, or resource, the Lord meets us and provides as we reach out and share what we have to help another in need. Often, the greatest need around us in others, is to be heard and known, as humans are designed to crave connection. May we navigate our days with our eyes open to see the need all around us, so that we might do what we can to be extensions of God’s hands and heart to a hurting world.

 

In our call to love,The Power of the Tongue

May we clearly see;

Help where it’s needed,

Give kindness; it’s free.

Do not withhold good,

But rather, choose give;

Whatever we can,

To better lives lived.

Whatever we do,

When love’s our command;

Is light to the world,

As God’s heart and hand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so well. Thank You for the people whom You have placed in our paths to show us Your hands and heart for us. Thank You that You call us to do what we can for those around us, just as You have done for us. Forgive us for neglecting the needs we see, or for allowing our hearts to become overwhelmed rather than seek You for direction. Teach us how to trust You more, so that we would seek You and Your guidance as to how we are meant to meet the needs we see. Show us how to love others as we are so lavishly loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we do all that we can for those who need help 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

Accept Each Other With Love

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. – (Ephesians 4:2, NLT)

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient and accept each other with love. – (Ephesians 4:2, ERV)

 

God calls us to walk in humility and gentleness. We are meant to have patience with one another, and accept each other, despite one another’s faults. The only way to love as He has called us to love, is if we are dependent on Him. Patience, acceptance, humility and gentleness are all modeled by Christ and given as we seek and trust in Him. All that is needed, He will supply, if we depend on God to be our Source. Often it is a matter of asking to view others through His eyes, before we are able to find patience and acceptance to love as He loves us. May we seek the Lord and His heart for all, as we pursue His plan to walk in humility and gentleness, having patience with one another, accepting each other with love.

 

Each of us are called,Faith and Hope in Action

With humility;

To choose gentleness,

As how we should be.

Then there is patience,

We’re called to extend;

Accept each other,

With love that won’t end.

Don’t seek to find fault,

But rather forgive;

Do as God has done,

Love well as we live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Jesus showed us what it is to be humble and gentle. Thank You Jesus that You modeled patience with people, regardless of their faults, because of Your love. Thank You that You do not call us to anything that You are not also willing to equip and empower us to do. Forgive us for not being humble or patient, or for our lack of gentleness or acceptance of others in love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would view others through Your eyes, rather than our own. Flood our hearts with Your love and compassion for all whom we encounter. Show us how to love well, everyone with whom we interact. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk in humility and gentleness, extending Your patience and acceptance of one another in 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

He Speaks in the Silence

He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the Lord. – (2 Kings 4:33, NLT)

 

Elisha modeled how we are meant to pray. So often, life is jam-packed with distractions that keep us from hearing the voice of the Lord when we come before Him.

“One of the reasons we need a quiet place to pray is because God’s answers are often quiet. We must be still in order to follow His lead.” – (Adventurous Prayer)

It is only in the hearing that we are able to begin doing that which we are called to do. If we don’t listen, how can we learn? If we don’t learn, how can we be led? May we be intentional to find a quiet space in our day where we can spend solo time in prayer, so that we may clearly hear His leading in all things.

 

As we come to pray,Anxious for Answers

Let’s find quiet space;

So we better hear,

His love and His grace.

Though in a whisper,

His answers are clear;

He makes the way known,

If we seek to hear.

Let every heart,

With longing, come seek;

He’s gentle and kind,

Gives strength to the weak.

A new life awaits,

Those who seek shall find;

Ask and He answers,

Gives new hope defined.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You desire time spent in communication with us, where our focus is entirely on You. Forgive us for not getting ourselves quiet before You. Teach us to be intentional with our time, so that we are still in Your presence, creating opportunity to hear what You have to speak to our hearts. Show us how to love those around us in the way that You are calling us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we make time to be alone before You in silence, so that we may better hear Your heart. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

 

 

Learning to Pray

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” – (Luke 11:1, NKJV)

 

Jesus modeled a life of prayer. His example was to be intentional, to be focused, and to pray often. It was not a matter of making a display of what He was doing, but rather, Jesus would set aside quiet time to go off on His own to pray. He was clearly in constant communication with the Father, as He did the things that He knew the Lord was asking of Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:17  instructs us as follows: Pray without ceasing. I don’t think this is to mean that we are meant to be on our knees 24/7, (though there is a time for that) but rather that we are quick to communicate our praises and petitions to our Heavenly Father. He wants our hearts, and when we love deeply, we want to communicate with whomever we love, as often as possible. Prayer is how we converse with our Creator. May we learn to pray without ceasing, ever communicating our heart to the one Who gives us love, light and life.

 

Help us learn to pray,

caught-in-awe-sylvia-carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

As we’re called to do;

Ongoing in trust,

As we choose seek You.

May we come to know,

The truth of Your word;

That all that we pray,

By Your heart is heard.

Let us never cease,

To bring unto You;

Our praises and need,

As You’ll lead us through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You that not only do You teach us how to pray, but You sent Your Son to model what it is like to live a life in constant communication with You. Thank You that You listen to our every prayer, and long to be in relationship with us. Forgive us for not praying as we ought to pray. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would learn to pray without ceasing. Help our prayers to become natural conversations that occurs throughout our days, in all things and at all times, not just when we go off to a quiet place. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they might see Your goodness and grace through the love that we extend. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pray without ceasing, trusting You to be who You say You are. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

Mercy Wins

Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that set us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time. – (James 2:12-13, MSG)

 

If our words and deeds do not reflect that which we profess, we are inviting judgment upon ourselves. God sent His Son to show us the way in which we are meant to live. Jesus modeled a life of mercy, love and grace to those around Him, and we are called to do likewise. This is not something that we are expected to do in our own wisdom nor strength, but it is by His goodness and grace that we are able to go forth and give the very things that we have been given. May we use our days to extend kindness and grace, so that the magnitude of God’s mercy can be made evident through our words and deeds.

 

Go forth in kindness,Who is My Neighbor 2

As we have been called;

For mercy is seen,

When offered to all.

Help us treat others,

As You so love us;

So people might see,

The hope in Jesus.

Kindness always wins,

As judgment repels;

Let us move in grace,

And love like Christ well.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us what it is to act kindly and to be merciful. Thank You that You equip and empower us to do the same when we seek You for strength. Forgive us for the times that we have not been kind or merciful to those who needed it most. Teach us to turn to You in those moments when kindness and grace are the furthest things from what we desire to give, so that we may act according to Your will, not our own. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that our kindness and mercy move hearts to look to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your strength and guidance to speak and act according to Your mercy and grace, so that we may move in kindness wherever we go. Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31