Bold Grace

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. – (Hebrews 4:16, NLT)

With Jesus as our high priest, we can feel free to come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we receive mercy and kindness to help us when we need it. – (Hebrews 4:16, ERV)

So let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most. – (Hebrews 4:16, VOICE)

 

Shame is a horribly heavy burden, especially when others have helped add weight to that which is constantly carried. Each time I have a conversation with someone who feels as if there is not a place for them to plug into a church, either because of their past or due to their current circumstances, my heart breaks a bit more. If we are truly loving God and loving people, shouldn’t we have open arms to all who choose to wander our way? Yes, there are precautions and wisdom that need be established for safety (we cannot be unwise) but we all have sinned and fallen short, so we are all equally eligible for the grace of God. His mercy and kindness are the very things that remove the burdens that we are not meant to bear. When we love people well, it often is the nudge needed for them to recognize that they are not beyond the reach of God’s mercy and grace. May we seek our Savior with open hearts and arms to receive His mercy and grace, so that we may in turn, go forth and extend the same to those around us.

 

Let us boldly go, Bold Grace

To the throne of grace;

Where God in mercy,

Our shame shall erase.

The weight we carry,

In love, He removes;

As His help He brings,

And faithfulness proves.

Choose ever seek God,

Go straight to His throne;

Give as He gives us,

So His love’s made known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You loved us so much that You sent Your Son to bear the weight of all of our sin and shame. Thank You that because of Your sacrifice, we can come boldly before Your throne of grace to receive mercy and help whenever we need it. Forgive us for not extending the same mercy and grace to those around us that we have been given by You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love fearlessly and without basing our love on what has or has not been done by those around us. Show us how to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come boldly to Your throne of grace to receive Your mercy and extend the same to others. 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

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These Three Things

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV)

So these three things continue: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. – (1 Corinthians 13:13, ERV)

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. – (1 Corinthians 13:13, NLT)

 

At the end of the day, despite the drama, disappointment, or discouragement that has been present, Love finds a way to fuel our faith and grant us new hope that better is yet to come.  God, in His kindness, demonstrates His love for us in ways that grow our faith and keep hope afloat. There are times that it is difficult to remember that our hope is not to be held in temporary things, but rather our hope resides in that which is eternal. May we ever fix our eyes on He who is love and seek the Lord to grow our faith so that hope will rise, no matter what lies ahead.

 

Love is the fuel, These Three Things

Where faith gets its fill;

And hope rises up,

When we choose, be still.

For these three treasures,

Are gifts that shall last;

Faith, hope and God’s love,

Future, now and past.

In His great kindness,

God grants us these things;

Each strengthen resolve,

To face what life brings.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that faith, hope and love last forever. Thank You that the greatest of these is love. Thank You that You lavish us with Your love, though we do not deserve it. Forgive us for our lack of faith and for losing hope when things seem more than we can bear. Teach us to trust You more, as You are far greater than any obstacle that lies before us, any burden we must bear, and any challenge we must face. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends faith, hope and love to those who need it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace these treasures You grant us for good that last forever. Amen.

 

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

To Honor the Dream

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself… – (Leviticus 19:18, NIV)

Forget about the wrong things people do to you. Don’t try to get even. Love your neighbor as yourself… – (Leviticus 19:18, ERV)

You shall not take revenge nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor (acquaintance, associate, companion) as yourself… – (Leviticus 19:18, AMP)

 

Historically, there have been many groups of people that have had reason to hold a grudge for the wrongs done against them, yet for change to occur, the right to revenge had to be released, and love had to prevail. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was a phenomenal example of choosing love, despite his circumstances. Dr. King found ways to bring truth in love, and fight for change through peace. Hate was not his motivation, but rather a heart of love. As a husband, father, minister, leader and spokesperson for civil rights, he let his faith shape the way in which he lived and loved. His words, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear”, still remind us of the way in which we ought to choose to live. Be it an acquaintance, an associate, or a companion, may we choose to stick with love; for it is the very way in which we are called to live.

 

The only true way, mlk

To find peace at last;

Is to stick with love,

Let go of the past.

When we choose forgive,

Our hearts are set free;

The burden of hate,

Is far too heavy.

May we stick with love,

And choose to redeem;

Value all people,

And honor the dream.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the men and women who have chosen to rise up and stick with love, despite the barriers and difficulties that have stood before them. Thank You that when we choose love, You move mightily among us. Forgive us for the times that we have held grudges rather than chosen love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would stick with love, and not allow the weight of hate to destroy that which You intend for good. Show us how to love every acquaintance, associate and companion as You would have us love ourselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. May your peace prevail, and love win where hate has tried to reign. Be glorified O God, as we choose love again and again, knowing that You will use every decision of love to bring the dream to further fulfillment. 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

All Things Made New

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new. – (2 Corinthians 5:17, ERV)

Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone – and see – a new life has begun! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, VOICE)

 

The first day of the new year is great time to remember and recognize that we are made new in Christ. God is the God of fresh starts, and He is ever making us new as we seek and trust in Him. What better time to seek and listen for direction, as we begin the first page of what He will do in 2018? What are we holding in our hands to utilize for Him right now, and what are the dreams that He has given that are not yet? Our charge is to walk forward in what we’ve been given, love as we are loved by Him, and to be faithful to each new step we are shown along the way. May we take time to recognize all of the places in our hearts, minds and lives that the Lord has made new as we begin this brand-new year with eager anticipation for all that He has in store.

 

All things are made new, All Things Made New

New year, a fresh start;

To choose be faithful,

As God’s work of art.

Each with a purpose,

A plan God designed;

Let’s follow in faith,

Heart, body and mind.

Wherever we are,

And where we choose go;

If lived out in love,

The newness will grow.

Goodbye to the old,

Hello to the new;

Each step that we take,

Chance for love shine through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are made new in You. Thank You for the blessed reminder that all things are new in You, as we begin day one of a brand-new year. Forgive us for dwelling on the past, and teach us how to embrace what we are given now and the promises that lie ahead. Show us how to love well, all those around us, so that they would be encouraged to embrace all that is made new in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for the promise of fresh starts and new beginnings. 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

On the Eve of New

This is what the Lord says – He who made a way through the sea, a path through the waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – (Isaiah 43:16, 18-19, NIV)

The Lord is making roads through the sea. He is making a path for His people, and even through rough waters. The Lord says, “So don’t remember what happened in earlier times. Don’t think about what happened a long time ago, because I am doing something new! Now you will grow like a new plant. Surely you know this is true. I will even make a road in the desert and rivers will flow through the dry land.” – (Isaiah 43:16, 18-19, ERV)

The Lord says – who makes a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters… Don’t remember the prior things; don’t ponder ancient history. Look! I am doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness. – (Isaiah 43:16, 18-19, CEB)

 

I love that the Lord reminds us to not dwell on the past, and to look and see the new things that He is doing. Rather than calling 2018, change; it is a NEW year. God has new things in store for each of us. Change can be scary, yet there is excitement and anticipation with things that are new. Personally, 2018 holds much in store that is new, and I am eager to walk forward in faith into all that lies ahead. He is good, and I can trust Him in all things and at all times. New does not necessarily mean easy, but growth takes work – just as a seed has to stretch and push to break through the darkness to reach the nourishing light needed to grow further, we must do likewise. May we outstretch arms to heaven, and trust in all of the new that our Heavenly Father holds in His hands for each of us in the upcoming year.

 

On the eve of new, On the Eve of New

May we each embrace;

The hope that new holds,

In light of God’s grace.

For where there was once,

No possible way;

New things now spring up,

As we trust and pray.

Once raging waters,

Part with open road;

Set path before us,

Equipped to now go.

Eyes looking forward,

Trust filling each heart;

Blessings this new year,

Each day a fresh start.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You make a way through what seems impossible. Thank You that You remind us not to dwell on what has been, but rather to see what You are doing now and anticipate the new that You bring. Forgive us for dwelling on the past or not opening our eyes to Your mighty hand at work all around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would embrace the new that You have in store for us, knowing that You are good. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them to see the new that You are doing. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we anticipate and embrace all the new that You are bringing in the coming year. 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

Extend the Good

You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head. – (Psalm 139:5, NLT)

You are all around me – in front of me and behind me. I feel Your hand on my shoulder. – (Psalm 139:5, ERV)

You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness You follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With Your hand of love upon my life, You impart a blessing to me. – (Psalm 139:5, TPT)

 

The kindness of God never ceases to amaze me. So often, He uses the people He has placed in my life to show me His love in remarkable ways. Yesterday, as the start of the school day was drawing near, I walked into the library and crossed paths with a colleague and friend. She happened to be wearing my shirt for the Seattle Majestics (the semi-pro, full-tackle, women’s football team I made about a month ago), and I smiled and complimented her on her shirt. Her response was very sweet and supportive, and I walked away blessed and encouraged. Not twenty yards out the library door, I encountered another dear co-working friend, wearing the same shirt and a sweet smile. I did a double-take in disbelief, and again was built up with blessing. One of my dearest friends made a cameo in my class, also donning said shirt, as she informed my students of my latest endeavor. Though I was likely several shades of red, it was entertaining to see my kids respond to the idea of their teacher playing football. At the end of the day, we had a staff meeting and there were a total of four fabulous ladies sporting the shirts in support of this new adventure. For me, it was a reminder that I am valued and known, even if I am quiet and often fly under the radar. He sees and He knows, and His hand of blessing is upon me. May we ever remember Who goes before us and stands behind, as the Lord loves to impart blessings upon us.

 

The Lord goes before, img_20171206_163718_0541739637535.jpg

And He stands behind;

He extends blessings,

With our hearts in mind.

He knows and He sees,

The need of each heart;

The hand of His love,

His blessing imparts.

Protects from the past,

And prepares the way;

Strength for tomorrow,

And love all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You go before us and stand behind. Thank You that You walk beside us and bless us as we go. Thank You that You place us in communities. Thank You for the incredible gift of the people whom You have placed in mine. Forgive us for not recognizing Your hand of blessing in the good that goes on around us each day. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would fix our eyes on the blessings that You bestow upon us, rather than the struggles that we face. Thank You that You are with us through it all. Show us how to support, encourage, walk beside and love those around us in the day-to-day, as that is the community to which we are called. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your presence and Your blessings, and extend the good that we have been given to those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Press On Toward the Prize

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. – (Philippians 3:13, NIV)

Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. – (Philippians 3:13, ERV)

No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. – (Philippians 3:13, TLB)

 

This is a goal to keep in mind as we pursue a life in Christ. If we keep dwelling on the past, we prevent ourselves from moving forward. However, when we make the choice to let go of what lies behind us, and rather, look forward to that which lies ahead, all of our energy and strength is focused in a forward direction. Progress and growth occur when we set our sights ahead. In Christ, our ultimate forward focus is heaven. We can have a heavenly mindset as we fix our eyes on the Lord and choose to love as we are loved by Him. Though not one of us has “arrived” yet, we can ever press on toward the prize, and continue to live out our days with our hearts set on His ways. May we let go of the past that hinders us, and press forward in faith, trusting in the goodness and love that lies ahead in the Lord.

 

Brothers and sisters,Delivering Dreams

All seeking the Lord;

Press on toward the prize,

Heaven’s the reward.

Let go of the past,

All that weighs us down;

Place all in His hands,

It’s where we are found.

Press on toward the prize,

No matter the fight;

The work is worth it,

To do what is right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we can let go of our past sin, mistakes and failures, and move forward toward all that lies ahead in You. Forgive us for forgetting what ultimately matters when the weight of the world bears down on our shoulders. Teach us to lean into You, so that we would let go of the past and press forward to all that You have waiting as we walk forward in faith with You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may let go of what is behind them and move forward toward all of the good that You have waiting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we let go of our past fears and failures, and move forward toward all that awaits in You. 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

Keep Confident Trust

So don’t lose the courage that you had in the past. Your courage will be rewarded richly. You must be patient. After you have done what God wants, you will get what He promised you. – (Hebrews 10:35-36, ERV)

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised. – (Hebrews 10:35-36, NLT)

 

We cannot allow our faith to be shaken by what we see before us. The very same God who brought us through our previous trials and troubles, is present and faithful today. Our part, is to press in and patiently endure the difficulty, as often there are struggles along the way to grow our faith and strengthen our resolve. What God has promised, He will be faithful to fulfill. The challenge for us is to do our part to receive the promise. In my experience, and that which I observe in those around me, I find that there are steps of faith required on our part to get to where God wants us to be to receive that which He has spoken. As we do what we are designed and equipped to do by faith, He meets us and does that which only He can to complete the fulfillment in incredible ways. May we ever keep the courage that we have known in Christ, and continue to have patience in the time between the promise spoken, and when it is fulfilled. Let us be ready and willing to move in faith wherever He calls us to go, so that we may witness the wonder of His mighty work as He brings fulfillment to that which He has promised.

 

Do not lose courage, Keep Confident Trust

Or confident trust;

For God is faithful,

Loving, and He’s just.

As we are patient,

With hope, we endure;

God builds up our faith,

His promise secure.

So keep with His will,

Trust that you’ll receive;

All He has promised,

Be patient, believe.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what You promise, You are faithful to fulfill when we continue to walk in the direction to which we are called. Thank You that You develop patient endurance within us in the time between when a promise is spoken and when it is fulfilled. Forgive us for our lack of patience or our wandering our own way in attempt to pursue that which You have spoken. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would only go the direction to which we are called, and that we would stay the course, regardless of what we do or do not see. Show us how to love and encourage those around us, so that they may recognize Your faithfulness through our consistent living in the light of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to our confident trust in You as we patiently navigate the time between promises spoken and when they are fulfilled. 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

A Forward Focus

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. – (Philippians 3:13, NLT)

Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. – (Philippians 3:13, ERV)

Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know that I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I am leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. – (Philippians 3:13, VOICE)

 

We are always a work in progress. Not one of us ever “arrives“. However, we can leave our past in the past, and keep pressing forward to that which God has called us, as He transforms us in the process. Each misstep can be an opportunity to learn and grow, if we allow God to lead, and choose to willingly follow. Often He will use our greatest struggles to later become strengths for His glory. May we set aside all that hinders us, and keep pressing forward toward all that God has in store. He is good, and what lies ahead is far better than anything that lies behind.

 

Brothers and sisters,The Author and Finisher of Our Faith

Though we’ve far to go;

The place we are in,

Has required growth.

Forget the old life,

The things of the past;

Press on toward the prize,

And all that shall last.

For when we trust God,

And seek what is true;

Our goals have purpose,

As hope is made new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we still have a long way to go, we can focus on what lies ahead. Thank You that our hope is held in You and our future is secure when we place our trust in You. Thank You that You have a plan and a purpose for each of us, and as we seek You, You show us the way to go. Forgive us for wandering our own way, or for losing focus. Teach us to keep our eyes on the prize, remembering that the end goal is eternity with You. Show us how to love well, all those who cross our paths, so that they too, may come to know the hope that is found in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we forget about the past and fix our eyes forward on what You have placed before us. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

Knowing Our Own Need

In Luke 7:36-50, the story of Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman is unpacked. I love the scene that my mind’s eye imagines, as the Pharisee, who has invited Jesus to dinner, likely to show Him how “great” he was, was quite put out when this immoral woman showed up and began hanging out at the feet of Jesus. It even went so far as to record what Simon (the Pharisee) said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman is touching Him. She’s a sinner!” (Luke 7:39, NLT)

The sinful woman was fully aware of her sin. She was repentant as she knelt at the feet of Jesus and washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. Additionally, she anointed his feet with perfume and continued to cover them with kisses.

Simon just did not get it. Jesus wanted to be sure that he did. He stopped Simon in his tracks, and told him a story of two men being forgiven their debts. One was forgiven a small debt, the other, a much larger debt. When Jesus asked Simon which man would love more, Simon was able to reply, “The one who had been forgiven more.”

It does not appear that Simon had some sort of great revelation for himself and his own need for forgiveness, but at least it seems he gained a glimpse of why the woman’s weeping and washing of Jesus’ feet with her hair was an act of worship.

This story has many points, but the two that stand out the most are that we need to recognize our own necessity to repent, and that it is not our position to determine a person’s heart when they come before the Lord. We all have a past, and those who have been forgiven much, love much. May we ever seek the Lord and His forgiveness, so that we may go forth and love as He loves.

 

There’s no “good enough”,

caught-in-awe-sylvia-carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

Nor penance required;

Instead, we can come,

Presence is desired.

Jesus says draw near,

Despite where we’ve been;

He longs to forgive,

Wash away our sin.

As we choose take pause,

Truly recognize;

His mercy granted,

Great love realized.

As we’re forgiven,

Let us likewise love;

So others too know,

Hope in Christ above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us such beautiful examples of forgiveness and gratitude for Your mercy and grace. Thank You that You call us to be gracious and merciful as You are full of mercy and grace toward us all. Forgive us for the times that we either viewed others as less than, or ourselves as more than we should. Teach us to see ourselves and others through Your lens – as loved and in need of a Savior. Help us to love well, all those around us, so that they may see Your heart through our mercy and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love without limits, and forgive as we have been forgiven. 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