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

Choose a Life of Love

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. – (Ephesians 5:2, NLT)

Live a life of love. Love others just as Christ loved us. He gave Himself for us – a sweet smelling offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:2, ERV)

Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that. – (Ephesians 5:2, MSG)

 

When we choose to live a life of love, just as Christ loved us, we are a pleasing aroma to God. The idea of our offering being a sweet scent before our Maker is a remarkable reminder that our choice to love matters. Likewise, as we love others as Christ loves us, we are a pleasing aroma to people. When we observe or are the recipients of words or deeds that are not done in love, often the way we describe the situation is that it stinks. I imagine that before God, there is a stench when we are not acting according to His love. We have been given the greatest example that ever was to follow, and He equips us to go and do the same. The decision to choose to live out a life of love is ours, and the choice we make matters. May we each opt to live the life of love that God has prepared for us, and go forth as a sweet scent before both the Lord and those whom He places on our path.

 

The sweet scent of Christ, Love Made Known

Is one full of love;

For His sacrifice,

Grace, His true motive.

Christ’s own sacrifice,

Created the way;

For us to receive,

And give love away.

He did not withhold,

But chose to give all;

So we too could love,

And answer His call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that a life lived out in love is a pleasing aroma before You. Thank You Jesus, for being the ultimate example of how to love without limits. Forgive us for the times that we opt to withhold love when we are called to extend that which we have been given. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose to love anyway, even when it is difficult. Show us how to love well, all those whom You have placed on our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to live a life of love. 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

Don’t Let Pride Guide

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. – (Philippians 2:3-4, NLT)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too. – (Philippians 2:3-4, ERV)

Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbor’s interests first. – (Philippians 2:3-4, VOICE)

 

Following this one can be a bit tricky. Even if our mode of operation is to look out for others and prefer one another in love, there are times when we feel that we have been the recipient of someone’s selfishness or lack of humility, and a sense of self-righteousness may rise. Despite being the recipient of less than we choose to extend to others, it is not our charge to hold grudges and walk in unforgiveness. When we do, we become prideful in our own sense of being right. Rather, we are meant to be humble and extend love, even to those who offered us less. With sincerity and genuine care for one another, healing where the relationship was fractured can take place. Without it, there is no way to repair the damage that has been done. May we choose to be humble and kind in all things and at all times, and allow the love of the Lord extended through us to be the very thing that brings restoration where damage has been done.

 

Be humble and kind, Faith and Hope in Action

In all that we do;

Look out for others,

Give grace and love too.

Don’t let selfishness,

Or personal pride;

Be what is leading,

Let Christ be our guide.

For as we extend,

Love to each other;

We rise up in peace,

Sisters and brothers.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we choose to be humble and selfless, You move mountains that seemed impossible to move. Thank You that when our focus is outward, You do mighty works inward. Forgive us for our selfishness and pride, that makes us think only of ourselves and not of those around us. Show us the places where pride or selfishness have crept in and are keeping us from being who You have called us to be. Help us to love others with humility and selflessness, preferring others before our own agenda to be right. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as we choose to be humble and honor others first. Be glorified O God, as we seek to walk in humility and grace, giving others as You have given unto us. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

Just Believe

Jesus heard this and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid! Just believe and your daughter will be well.” – (Luke 8:50, ERV)

But when Jesus heard what had happened, He said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” – (Luke 8:50, NLT)

 

Need has an interesting way of breaking down barriers as people reach the point of desperation. Jairus, despite being a high official in the synagogue, did not hesitate to drop to his knees in need before Jesus on behalf of his dying daughter. The desire to see her healed was greater than his concern about societal norms. Faith and hope brought Jairus to Jesus, and it was likely the comforting words that Jesus offered upon hearing the news that his daughter had died that kept him from losing his mind with grief. What Jesus says, He will do, and Jairus had to choose to either trust Him and believe, or lose hope and his only daughter to death forever. I can only imagine the wrestling match that must have been going on in his mind as they walked the long road back to his home to where his dead daughter was waiting. “Can He who healed the bleeding woman with the hem of His garment, bring life back to my dead daughter?” My mind’s eye imagines that Jairus gained a bit more boldness with each step, as he recalled what he had just witnessed with the woman who had suffered for twelve long years and then was healed by her unwavering faith. Perhaps each step was taken to an internal cadence that he simply spoke to himself, “Believe, believe, believe!” Regardless of how Jairus traveled, when Jesus and the disciples went up to his daughter with he and his wife, their daughter was brought back to life, and their lives were never the same. May we listen for the voice of Jesus in the midst of our scary spaces, and hear Him as He reminds us to have faith and just believe.

 

In uncertainty,Our Map and Our Guide

Trial or in pain;

We’re called to believe,

Trust in Jesus’ Name.

For the Lord is good,

He alone can save;

Bring comfort to fears,

When we feel afraid.

God of all wonder,

Your power and might;

Is what we can trust,

To set all things right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and faithful and loving. Thank You that You move mountains when we have but a mustard seed of faith. Forgive us for the times that our faith falters because we rely on what we see, rather than what we know to be true in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have faith, even when things do not make sense, as You see the entire outcome. Help us to live and love in such a way, that our faith is infectious to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we believe and have faith, no matter what we see; for You are alone are the One who directs our path. 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 Prospers Through Forgiveness

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. – (Proverbs 17:9, NLT)

Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten onto a slight and – goodbye friend! – (Proverbs 17:9, MSG)

Those who forgive faults foster love, but those who repeatedly recall them ruin relationships. – (Proverbs 17:9, VOICE)

 

I have seen both sides of the truth in these wise words that Solomon recorded. Friends who forgive, foster even closer friendships, but those who choose to dwell on something hurtful, end up losing the friendship altogether. There are times when it is necessary to forgive and walk away, but typically, hurtful things can be discussed and worked through, rather than allowing them to drive a wedge between people who are close. Most often, the offense is a misunderstanding or a misstep that was done with good, not malicious intent. Seeking to understand is always the best mode of operation, rather than harboring bitterness and cutting ties. Sadly, it takes investment from both sides, and if only one half of the equation is willing to work to make amends, then the friendship still ends up lost. May we each offer forgiveness for the faults of others, as we have been forgiven so much.

 

Where we choose forgive,Faith and Hope in Action

The heart of love grows;

Grace that is offered,

Makes God’s true love show.

When we dwell on hurts,

Close bonds are destroyed;

Fixing on our hurts,

Is poison employed.

Let love be fostered,

As we choose forgive;

Love well each other,

In this life we live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to love and forgive, but You have shown us these very acts employed, over and over again. Thank You that You continue to love and forgive us for our faults, as not one of us can navigate this life without mistakes and missteps. Forgive us for dwelling on offenses, and teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose to forgive faults and foster love, rather than repeatedly recall offenses and birth bitterness. Show us how to love as we are loved, forgiving those who offend us as we choose extend Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they come to know Your forgiveness and the depth of Your unending love. Be glorified O God, as we forgive offenses and choose to love well. 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

Joy in Answers Spoken

A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is! – (Proverbs 15:23, NKJV)

People are happy when they give a good answer. And there is nothing better than the right word spoken at the right time. – (Proverbs 15:23, ERV)

 

I imagine we all have been both the bearer and the recipient of a well-timed word that brought joy. It is a treasure to have the privilege of being the one whom God utilizes at just the right time, to deliver that which someone most needs to hear. So often, the words that are received in this way, are simply those that flow freely from us, as we interact with others in love. As we walk in step with our Savior, and have our heart open to His, we are more apt to love as He loves, and speak as He speaks to us. May we invest our hearts in hearing His, so that we might be bearers of joy through the words that we speak to others.

 

As we follow God,The Power of the Tongue

He’ll use words spoken;

To bring others joy,

Hope to the broken.

For at the right time,

The words that we speak;

Offered in His love,

Shine light others seek.

So let there be joy,

Through our spoken word;

As we offer love,

May His heart be heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the times that You have utilized the words that we speak to bring joy to another, and for the times that others have brought us joy through their spoken words. Thank You that You lead us and guide us in Your words and Your timing, if we choose listen to You. Forgive us for not seeking or listening as we should. Teach us to trust and rely on You for words to speak in every season, as You alone, have the words that others need to hear. Grant us Your words to speak that offer joy to those around us, so that we may build up, encourage and point people to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to give us the words to speak, so that we may answer in due season, and bring peace and joy to those around us. 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

 

 

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

Love Breaks Down Barriers

Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”

The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” – (John 4:7,9-10)

 

I so appreciate this exchange between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. He models for us how we can break down social and cultural barriers, and approach people where they are. Though society would have deemed her unworthy – to acknowledge, let alone speak to – Jesus approached her directly and spoke to her face to face. He was kind, honest, and offered the hope she had so long been looking for. As followers of Christ, we are called to do likewise. Our job is to break down barriers that society deems necessary, and show the world that they are not. We must touch the “untouchable“, love the “unlovable“, give voice to the silent, and meet the needs of those without. So many are misunderstood, misrepresented, and labeled as a result of their circumstances. May we be the ones who answer the call to love our neighbors as Christ has loved us – no barriers, no limits, just love.

 

The Lord, He calls us,Hearts of Thanks

To tear down the walls;

That keep us away,

from hurt who fall.

We’re meant to draw near,

To reach out our hands;

To help and to love,

The way God has planned.

May we be aware,

Help our eyes to see;

Where we’re called to go,

And how to meet needs.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son into the world to show us how to love as You love us. Thank You that though we were broken and sinful and needy, You came near and loved us back to life. Forgive us for not extending the same kindness to all whom we encounter. Teach us to trust You more, so that regardless of how things appear, we would offer what we have been given – kindness and grace. Show us how to love others as You so perfectly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we approach those whom society has somehow deemed unworthy, and let Your love give worth to all. 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

Help to Build

We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. – (Romans 15:2, NLT)

But do what pleases them and is for their good. We should do whatever helps everyone grow stronger in faith. – (Romans 15:2, ERV)

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” – (Romans 15:2, MSG)

 

When we grow in strength and maturity in our walk with the Lord, it is not just for our benefit. We are charged to love God AND love people. To love people is to meet them in their need, and do what we can, as we are able, to help them grow and build them up. If our words and deeds are not life-giving, they are a waste of time and energy. That is not to say that in tough times we do not need a safe outlet, but rather when it is well with our soul, we ought to be light and life to those around us. May we rise up in the strength that we have been given, and seek to serve those in need around us for His glory.

 

When we grow in strength,The Power of the Tongue

And our faith does rise;

Our charge is to serve,

Be hope realized.

For people in need,

Need hope so they’ll grow;

A hand that’s offered,

Is God’s grace that’s shown.

Help us to rise up,

To see those in need;

Offer what we have,

To Him, let us lead.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that you strengthen and grow us in You when we earnestly seek You. Thank You that You do so not just for our benefit, but also for those around us. Forgive us for not helping and building up those for whom we are charged to love well. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek to serve, even when it is inconvenient. Show us how to love others to life through loving and serving, just as You so love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your strength to serve and help those around us, so that they may grow stronger in faith. 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

 

For His Grace

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. – (Titus 2:11, NLT)

 

God sent His own Son, so that we might come to know the truth of His grace and lay hold of the salvation set before us. Again and again, He shows us His mercy and love. It is up to us to receive what He is freely offering. Christ stepped down from heaven to earth and arrived in a seemingly ordinary way, to do extraordinary things. As we receive all that He offers, His grace is revealed through us as well. May we embrace the goodness of God’s grace this most holy season, and may many come to receive the salvation that is set before them. Let our words and deeds lovingly display the very same grace that has been granted unto us.

 

The Lord has shown us,Hearts of Thanks

His grace is revealed;

offered salvation,

Hope‘s glorious shield.

May we do likewise,

with our words and deeds;

go forth and extend,

hope to those in need.

For God has given,

so much unto us;

how can we keep from,

sharing of Jesus?

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You reveal Your grace to us again and again and again. Thank You that salvation is available to all who call on Your Name. Thank You that You receive all who earnestly seek You. Forgive us for not being agents of Your peace and grace to all people, and help us to more clearly reflect the radiance of Your Spirit who dwells within us, to all whom we encounter. Show us how to extend Your loving kindness to others in such a way, that they too may seek Your salvation. May many come into a lasting relationship with You this season. Be glorified O God, as we reveal Your grace and goodness to others through the extension of loving others well. Amen.

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:5