Stones of Remembrance

After this Samuel set up a special stone to help people remember what God did. Samuel put the stone between Mizpah and Shen and named the stone “Stone of Help.” Samuel said, “The Lord helped us all the way to this place.” – (1 Samuel 7:12, ERV)

 

I love how often in the Old Testament that those whom had seen a mighty move of God’s hand on their behalf, would set up a special stone to signify His help. They were intentional to mark the place where their Maker had moved mightily, and such a stone created a talking piece for many generations to come so that they too could speak of the faithfulness of God to their people. Since Jesus came to seek and save the lost, the miracles and mighty movement of God in the lives of people for the generations since, has been astounding. Imagine if each of us created our own stone markers for every time that we saw the hand of God move mightily in our lives – our homes, yards, and cities would have stones everywhere! Perhaps it is a positive practice to picture each time we are aware of His hand in our lives. Where would our remembrance stones be standing? May we take time to pause, reflect, and give God thanks for the help of His hand in our lives, as so often we take for granted the good that He gives on a daily basis.

 

Let us remember, Stones of Remebrance

The help of God’s hand;

As He walks with us,

Grants strength to stand.

In the midst of mess,

His presence is clear;

By His grace, He helps,

Makes known He is near.

Imagine our stones,

Where should they each stand?

Mile markers of grace,

Turning “can’ts to “cans”.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the practice of the people in the Old Testament of establishing stones to remember where You moved mightily on their behalf. Thank You that there has been tangible evidence of Your help and hope for us throughout the ages. Forgive us for not establishing stones of remembrance in our own hearts, as You move mightily on our behalf so often. Teach us to recognize and remember the help You have given, so that we may give You praise, and tell of all that You have done. Show us how to love others well, so that some of the stones of remembrance in their lives may be seeing Your love made tangible through people around them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be intentional about remembering and sharing the goodness and grace of who You are as You help us in ways that are worthy of praise. 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

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

A Tangible Display

When the time was right, the Anointed One died for all of us who were far from God, powerless, and weak. Now it is rare to find someone willing to die for an upright person, although it’s possible that someone may give up his life for one who is truly good. But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display – the Anointed One died for us. – (Romans 5:6-8, VOICE)

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. – (Romans 5:6-8, NLT)

 

As we draw ever nearer to Easter, it is good to set our sights on what this season is all about. Each time I take pause and read anything related to what Christ came and did for me, I am in awe of the greatness of His goodness and His grace. Who willingly lays down their life to save another, when the very one being saved is against them? Before we knew Christ, He loved us. Prior to making a choice to invite Him to be Lord of our lives, He laid His down for us. While we were yet sinners, He came and bore the weight of all of our sin and shame so that we could be forgiven and free, and have life everlasting in Him. There is no greater love than He who willingly gave everything so that we could be made right before God and have eternal life. May the power of Christ’s life-raising love fill our hearts and minds, and lead us as we consider the weight of this wonderful week.

 

Stuck in the darkness,Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

Still shrouded in sin;

Christ came and He gave,

Love made the way in.

Though few might choose die,

For those who are good;

Only Christ the Lord,

In our place, He stood.

He bore such a weight,

Sin and shame of all;

So we could be free,

And on His Name call.

What powerful love,

Such wonder He is;

The truth and the life,

Our Savior, Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, Jesus, while we were still sinners, far from You, to give His life for ours. Forgive us for not recognizing the weight of what You did for us so that we could have life everlasting in You. Help us to grasp the magnitude of Your mercy and the greatness of Your grace as we walk out this week leading to Easter. Show us how to love those around us with the very same mercy and grace that we have been given. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the grace that You have freely given, and go forth in freedom to love as we are loved by You. 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

 

We Are Called Friends

If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of His Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of His resurrection life! – (Romans 5:10, MSG)

I mean that while we were God’s enemies, He made friends with us through His Son’s death. And the fact that we are now God’s friends makes it even more certain that He will save us through His Son’s life. – (Romans 5:10, ERV)

 

The reason I often post a few different versions of a verse, is my way of sharing the process of looking and listening to what He wants my heart to hear on any given day. Sometimes, the words jump off of the page and grab hold of my heart the moment I first read them, however, there are other times that something seems significant and is keeping me stuck on a verse, but it requires repeated reading. Though the main message of Romans 5:10 reminds us that we were saved while we were still sinners because of Christ’s sacrifice, God uses His words that I have read many times, to show me something new, or remind me of truth that my heart needs to hear. This morning, I took pause as I read the portion that says: “now that we’re our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of His resurrection life!” That is a loaded statement. It is rare that I feel that I am at my best, as I am well aware of my own flaws and shortcomings. That being said, whenever I am dialed in on the depth and breadth of the hope I have in Him forever, I recognize how much He has done both in and through me, and know that there is so much more as I choose to faithfully follow Him. May we ever identify the incredible gift that we have been given through the grace of God, and go forth in the hope that we hold in knowing He is with us, for us, and our eternity is secure in Him.

 

What is this great love,IMG_2491

That saw us in sin;

Enemies of God,

Yet still welcomed in?

While stuck at our worst,

He made way to friend;

Greatest sacrifice,

So life would not end.

It is by His death,

And rising again;

We’re forgiven friends,

Life with Christ won’t end.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that while we were yet sinners, Your enemies – You called us friends as You gave Your very best so that we could come to have life everlasting in You. Thank You that through Your resurrection, we are also raised to new life by Your mercy and grace, and empowered to walk in Your way, rather than our own. Forgive us for somehow discounting the depth of what You did and thinking that we do not qualify, rather than receiving the gift that You freely give. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have a proper perspective as to who we are in You. Show us how to walk out our days in the wisdom that we are Your friends, so that we love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the grace that You freely give, and walk forward in that which You have given us to share. Amen.

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

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

Christ in Christmas

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, NLT)

 

This is the night where the world takes pause to remember the most sacred occasion where heaven came to earth in the form of a baby boy. Born in a stable, not fit for the Savior of the world, yet God gave incredible assurance that this was indeed the way Mary and Joseph were meant to walk as they brought this blessed bundle forth in a stable surrounded by animals. Angelic visitations had announced that He would be born, heavenly hosts proclaimed His arrival – flooding the night sky over the heads of shepherds as they watched their flocks by night, and a bright star shone on His behalf to lead the way for those who were meant to find Him. Though not necessarily the beginning we might envision for the One who saves the world from sin and shame, Jesus’ arrival changed everything. Because He came, grew, walked in obedience, willingly laid down His life in our place, rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father, we have way to be restored to right relationship with God. May we stop the activity on this day long enough to really recognize the significance of this most holy night that we celebrate. Jesus is the gift, and the reason we can give. Our Counselor, our God, our Father, and our Peace – these are the reasons we have light and life and love. Joy to the world, the Savior has come!

 

For a child was born,The story of Christmas metaphor represented by a manger and crown of thorns.

A Son was given;

The weight of the world,

He has forgiven.

The great Counselor,

Most mighty our God;

The Father who lasts,

Let our hearts applaud.

For He is our peace,

Born so we might live;

May we honor Him,

Through gifts that we give.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your only Son into the world so that we might be restored to right relationship with You. Thank You that You love us so much that You willingly laid down Your life for ours. Forgive us for not having our priorities in place and for forgetting the real reason for this most sacred season. Teach us to fix our eyes and hearts on You, so that all that we do is a reflection of You. Show us how to love and give as You do, so that our words and deeds are Your heart being made known to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as so many take the time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. Let Christ be lifted high this Christmas. 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

Good and Faithful Forever

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. – (1 Chronicles 16:34, NLT)

Give thanks to the Lord because He is good. His faithful love will last forever. – (1 Chronicles 16:34, ERV)

 

This morning, though I woke easily to my alarm, my heart did not feel prepared to return to my regular routine. So much was packed into the four-day weekend, that no real rest was had and I found myself longing for Christmas break. As the above passage appeared as the verse of the day on my Bible app on my phone, I had a bit of an attitude adjustment. Though I am still very much looking forward to a longer break, I am so grateful for the abundant blessings that He poured out upon me over the past four days. My boys and I were kept safe as we traveled a few hundred miles south to my sister’s home to celebrate Thanksgiving, and had an uneventful drive home. I am grateful for the fantastic family time that we had together, and know how blessed we were to be able to spend time. God’s goodness continued to be poured out upon us as we spent our entire Saturday gathering with dear friends. Sunday was filled with our church family and the typical necessary preparations for the coming week. The Lord’s faithful love was made evident through the hands and hearts of all of those with whom we gathered. My heart is full and I am thankful for God’s goodness that lasts forever. May we slow down and recognize the goodness of God that is all around us, and give thanks to Him whose faithful love endures forever.

 

Let our hearts give thanks,Enter With Thanksgiving

Because God is good;

His love always lasts,

Our hope understood.

When life is busy,

Take pause and slow down;

We need remember,

Where our peace is found.

All thanks to the Lord,

For love that endures;

No matter what comes,

In Him, hope’s secure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and that Your faithful love lasts forever. Thank You that You bless us and keep us and remain with us, no matter what lies before us. Forgive us for our lack of gratitude for the things that You have done. Teach us to have hearts full of thanks and praise, regardless of what is presented before us. Help us to trust You more, so that we would remember that Your goodness and faithfulness remain forever, no matter what we see. Show us how to love others with goodness and faithfulness, just as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks because You are good and faithful forever. Amen.

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

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

Carried In His Arms

Praise the Lord; praise God our Savior! For each day He carries us in His arms. – (Psalm 68:19, NLT)

Praise the Lord! Every day He helps us with the loads we must carry. He is the God who saves us. – (Psalm 68:19, ERV)

 

If we take pause and evaluate what takes place throughout any given day, the evidence of God’s hand is clear. He helps us with our heavy loads, and carries us when we grow weary. For all these things and more, the Lord deserves our praise. His grace supplies the strength that we need to keep moving in the midst of life’s messiness. So often, we fail to recognize just how evident His hand has been, until we have reached the other side and take time to reflect. Regardless of our awareness, the Lord is near. May we slow down and give praise to our Provider, as He is our help and our hope as we navigate each new day.

 

All praise to the Lord,Gods protection

From whom blessings flow;

Let’s praise God above,

Who grants strength to grow.

For He is our help,

When we are in need;

He lightens our load,

Helps us to succeed.

The Lord, our Savior,

Worthy of all praise;

May we give Him thanks,

For all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our God and Savior who carries us in Your arms. Thank You that You help us with the loads we must bear. Thank You that You save us, and supply the strength that we need. Forgive us for not giving You proper praise, as You alone are worthy of all of our gratitude. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would come before You with all of our thanks and all of our needs, trusting You with all things and at all times. Show us how to allow You to share our load, and to carry us when we cannot walk on our own any longer. Lead us to love others in such a way, that we help bear burdens and carry those who are struggling. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for each new day, and trust Your help as our God and Savior. Amen.

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

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

 

Remember

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

 

On this day, I cannot help but take pause and remember what occurred fifteen years ago. As I was driving in to work, the information that was conveyed on the radio was surreal. How on earth could a perfectly good airplane crash into a major structure in the heart of Manhattan? The day continued to unfold, as the tragedies grew and the shock and horror that swept our nation was staggering. However, in the midst of the chaos and destruction, there was a rising rally of hope. First responders and volunteers flocked to the center of destruction, and worked tirelessly in hope of finding survivors. People banded together to help the hurting and support rescue efforts. Even in the darkest hours, the hands and heart of God could be seen. In addition to all of the coordinated rescue efforts, there are countless stories of others who were somehow spared that fateful day. Flights that were rerouted, grounded for days and provided for by the people of small towns, individuals who missed flights that were booked on those that crashed, and still others of how rescuers assisted in bringing people to safety in the midst of mayhem. Though we cannot begin to grasp why one life was lost and another was spared, we can hold onto the hope that our help comes from the Lord. He is our strength and our source, and the One on whom we can depend even on the darkest of days. May we seek Him and trust Him in all things and at all times, as we remember that despite circumstances, He is always good.

 

On the darkest days,

The Lord still is light;

He’s present to help,

No matter our plight.

When tragedy strikes,

The Lord is still good;

His hands and His heart,

He makes understood.

So often people,

Are who He will use;

To extend His love,

And share the good news.

News that what’s today,

Is not where it ends;

For hope shall arise,

And new life begins.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our help and our hope no matter what comes our way. Thank You that despite the devastation and destruction that took place fifteen years ago today, we can also remember the stories of communities banding together, of brave men and women who willingly placed themselves in harms way to help, and of our nation that came together to support one another and to mourn. Forgive us for not lifting our eyes to You, as You alone our where our help comes from. Teach us to turn to You in trust in all things and at all times. Show us how to love others as an extension of Your hands and heart. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You for help and then reach out to others. 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

Listen and Follow

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. – (John 10:28, NLT)

 

To be His sheep requires an intentional choice to seek to follow Christ. When we make the decision to live for the Lord, rather than for ourselves, we listen for His instructions so that we might do His will and walk in His way. God sees and knows each heart that earnestly seeks Him. He is present to help all who long to follow where He is leading. We may stumble and fall along the way, but He is present to pick us up, dust us off, and continue to lead us the way we are meant to go.

Not one of us will get it right 100% of the time. However, we cannot allow fear of failure to paralyze us from forward momentum. His grace is sufficient, and He will meet us as we move, gently adjusting our sails if we get off course. Sometimes He allows obstacles to be placed in our path, so that we might take pause and reroute, according to His plan, not our own. May we each be sensitive to hear His voice, and intentional to follow wherever He leads.

 

The Lord is present,Masterd by Our Maker No Longer Slaves to Sin

May we hear His voice;

It’s through our seeking,

Intentional choice.

Each one of us known,

With freedom to choose;

To listen and learn,

His path to pursue.

Lord, help us follow,

With all that we are;

Lead us and guide us,

As You’ve done thus far.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You and we are known by You. Thank You that we can hear Your voice as You speak to us through Your word, through people, and in the stillness of our own hearts. Forgive us for not following as You are leading. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would obey immediately, all that You are asking. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too, shall come to know Your voice. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen and follow after You with all that we are. Amen.

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

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

Rest As Required

They went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint His body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law. – (Luke 23:56, NLT)

 

The women who had faithfully followed Jesus and watched in sorrow as He breathed His last breath on the cross, were without many options as to what they might actually be able to do in response to such a seeming tragedy. The only role they knew was to faithfully prepare that which would grant their Savior a proper burial. I imagine they worked feverishly and with painstaking care, to finish the preparations in hope of going to the tomb right away, prior to their required rest. Sabbath sunrise arrived just after their work was done, and the ladies were left in a holding pattern of not yet.

How often do we too, in our seeming inability to do anything to help a situation, resort to that which we know, only to get to a place where we hit a wall, and find that we are stuck in a space of waiting or not yet? Often, it is much like it was for the women. Sunday is yet to come. That which is ahead, is exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine, even if it is something that has been promised before. Christ had told those who were faithful followers of His that He would rise, yet something about His foretelling did not ever really register with any of them. Often our places of pause or required rest, are strategically spaced just prior to a promise fulfilled or movement of a miracle. May we seek the Lord in our spaces of Sabbath, and simply rest in the assurance that He is good and His faithfulness never ends.

 

In that restless space,Confidence Comes Through Christ

when we hit the wall;

we can’t move forward,

on Him, let us call.

Ever so often,

that‘s the very place;

where He intended,

that we seek His face.

It’s in the seeking,

that we come to find;

His help and His hope,

He’s patient and kind.

Often the forced pause,

that space where we rest;

a season to find,

what‘s coming is best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are present and moving, even when it seems that we have hit a wall or come to a place of helplessness where we can do nothing more. Thank You that this is the very space where You bring us to rest in You. Thank You that You showed us that things were still and silent, and the world had to wait for the promise to be fulfilled, just as You had said it would be. Thank You for the difference that the next day brought. Forgive us for resisting rest when it seems to be required, or for not making time to sit quietly before You to fix our eyes on You and all that You have done. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You in all things and at all times, regardless of how things appear. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too may look to You in the quiet stillness where rest is found. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You on our Sabbaths, and trust You in our spaces of waiting. Amen.

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

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19