The Two Greatest Commands

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – (Matthew 22:37-40, NLT)

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” – (Matthew 22:37-40, MSG)

 

I am routinely amazed at how overwhelmingly blessed and loved I feel, as I try to live my life according to these two commands. When we love God and love people, the rewards far outweigh the risks. God’s love is greater than any sort of love that the human heart can hold and choosing to love people is often returned far bigger and better than we could ever hope or imagine. To love others as we love ourselves, requires that we think of others before we speak or act. Will the words that I speak or the actions that I take be ones that would be a blessing to me if I were the recipient? If not, we are likely not acting in love. Though there are times when we choose love and extend kindness to others and what is returned is far from the same, if we truly choose to love as God loves us, we will extend love anyway. We are not called to stay in harm’s way nor withstand abuse, as sometimes love leads us away to safety. Regardless of the circumstances, we can choose love as we lift others up to the Lord. He is far greater than anything or anyone who comes against us, and His love covers all. May we ever seek to follow the two greatest commands that lead to a life of walking in God’s will: Let us love God and love people.

 

With all of our heart, wp-1519570589366472507998.jpg

We are called to love;

God and all people,

Our charge from above.

As we love the Lord,

And choose love others;

We find that we’re blessed,

Sisters and brothers.

In God’s family,

We find love not known;

As through each other,

His goodness is shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You made it simple for us to follow Your ways and walk in Your will through our own awareness and obedience to the two greatest commands: to love You with all that we are, and love people as we love ourselves. Forgive us for the times that we have not done either. Teach us to turn to You so that we may learn to love as we are loved by You. Show us how to love those around us, according to Your good and perfect will. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You with all that we are and choose to love others as we desire to be loved. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Loved By You

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. – (John 13:34, NLT) 

And so I am giving a new commandment to you now – love each other just as much as I love you. – (John 13:34, TLB) 

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. – (John 13:34, VOICE) 

 

We are called and commanded to love, just as we are loved by God. His love is often made evident through the kindness of those who surround us. Yesterday, I was the recipient of His love made tangible on several occasions. My day in the classroom begins with my most challenging class, and yesterday was no exception. By the end of the ninety minutes, I would have gladly gone home if I had been given the option. God knew, and He provided support in spaces where it was needed most. Encouraging words from colleagues who are friends that came randomly as I walked across campus, flowers delivered at lunchtime from my fiancée, a brief, yet supportive conversation with my principal, and more messages from dear ones as the day went on. God knows what fills our hearts, and He loves us the way that helps our hearts hear best. We are called to go and do likewise. May we rise up and make the choice to love one another, just as the Lord so lavishly loves each of us. 

 

New command given, img_20180213_164632_6431902058580.jpg

To love others well; 

For as we choose love, 

Doubts and fears dispel. 

The love that God shows, 

Our hearts and our minds; 

Helps us love others, 

Leads us to be kind. 

On this day of love, 

Let us choose anew; 

To love as He loves, 

For His love is true. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are commanded to love each other. Thank You that You place people in our lives to make Your love tangible when we need it the most. Thank You that just as we are loved, we are called to do likewise. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen anything other than love for those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love as You do. Show us how to love with patience and kindness, just as You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth and love as we are loved by You. Amen. 

 

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

 

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Patient Acceptance

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

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) 

Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love. – (Ephesians 4:2, VOICE) 

 

Last evening, I was the grateful recipient of patient acceptance, as my teammates and coach were humble and gentle, allowing for my very “off” time at practice. After sleeping so little the night before, I was exhausted and struggling to recall plays. Rather than respond with irritation or unkindness, I was surrounded by people who gently and patiently helped remind me of the routes that I could not recall, and continued to encourage, despite my exhausted state. After sleeping so little the night before, I was struggling to remember routes for the different plays. Rather than grow weary of my questions and seeming memory lapse, those around me gently reminded me of that which I could not recall, and encouraged, even when I did a less than stellar job. Having been on the receiving end of humility, gentleness and patience, I am all the more refueled to go and do likewise in love for those around me. No one has it all figured out, and we are all a work in progress. We tend to thrive and grow exponentially in an atmosphere where we are given grace where we fall short, and encouraged by those who walk in humility, gentleness and love. May we ever go forth with patience, humility and gentleness, accepting others as we are accepted by God. 

 

Always be humble, Patient Acceptance

Choose gentle and kind; 

Patient, accepting, 

With others in mind. 

When we act in love, 

Encourage, build up; 

The empty places, 

Soon become filled up. 

Acceptance in love, 

Provides room to grow; 

So let us choose love, 

As grace is made known. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love and accept us as we are, despite our faults and failures. Thank You that You call us to patiently, humbly and gently do the same for one another. Forgive us for the times that we have not tolerated one another in love. Teach us to look to You to walk in patience, humility and gentleness, so that we may love others as we are loved by You. Show us how to love and accept others as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we follow Your example of humility and gentleness, patiently accepting one another in love. 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

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

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

To Be Wise With Our Words

Speak without thinking, and your words can cut like a knife. Be wise, and your words can heal. – (Proverbs 12:18, ERV)

Thoughtless words cut deeply like a thrusting sword, but the speech of the wise is a healing balm. – (Proverbs 12:18, VOICE)

 

Words have power. They have the capacity to offer life and hope and healing, or they bring heartache, death and destruction of dreams. What we say and how it is spoken matters immensely. Thoughtless words spoken cannot be revoked nor erased from the mind and heart of the recipient. Yes, there is forgiveness and healing, but it is far better to think before we speak and seek the Lord for wisdom as to what we are meant to say. No, not one of us gets this right all of the time, and He is the God of grace; but it is far better to pursue a path where we become people who offer peace and healing and health with the words that we speak to those around us. If our mode of operation is using wise words, then, even when we extend words of correction or redirection, they will be received well, as the intent behind what we do and say will have already been clearly established. May our lips be sealed to thoughtless words spoken, and that which we say bring healing to the broken.

 

O Lord, guard our hearts, The Power of the Tongue

From words without thought;

For they can destroy,

When intent was naught.

Help us stop and think,

Seek You and be wise;

So our words speak life,

Healing realized.

For just as we’ve seen,

How much this is true;

Lead us to be wise,

So we speak like You.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You model life and healing and hope for us in Your every word. Thank You that You do not ask us to do anything that You are not also willing to equip and empower us to do. Forgive us for speaking without thinking, as our words can cause much harm. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and Your wisdom for the words we are meant to say to offer life and health and hope and healing to all whom we encounter. Show us how to love well with our words, and back them up with our actions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stop ourselves from speaking without thinking, and choose to be wise with our words. Amen.

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

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

Shine With Our Words

No, we will speak the truth with love. We will grow to be like Christ in every way. – (Ephesians 4:15, ERV)

Instead, by truth spoken in love, we are to grow in every way into Him – the Anointed One, the head. – (Ephesians 4:15, VOICE)

 

Our growth is largely dependent on the choices that we make. Each time we opt to act according to the will of God in love, His light shines through us. However, when we choose poorly, and do not allow the love of Christ to lead us in what we do, we fall short, and the opportunity for His love and grace to be made known is gone. Every time we choose to speak truth in love, rather than in anger or spite, we grow more in likeness with Christ. Our gentle answer to another’s wrath will often turn the entire situation around. Not only do we grow in grace as we choose to love, despite our own desires to get angry, but the recipient of our loving delivery of truth is exposed to God’s grace in unexpected ways. May we go forth this day, intentionally choosing to speak truth in love, so that we might grow more and more like Christ in every way.

 

Let the light of Christ,unseal-my-lips

Shine bright in our words;

As we speak in love,

The truth we have heard.

For when we choose love,

Instead of disdain;

We grow more like Christ,

And honor His Name.

May all that we say,

Be the truth in love;

So all may find hope,

In the Lord above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the more we seek You and pursue the path that You have placed before us, the more we grow to be like You. Thank You that when we speak the truth in love, not only does the recipient benefit, but we grow as well. Forgive us for speaking out of anger or frustration, rather than slowing down and speaking the truth in love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hold our tongues and wait to speak until we are able to deliver our words in Your love. Show us how to love well as we speak truth to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize the love that You have for them, individually. Be glorified O God, as we speak the truth in love and You grow us ever more in Your likeness as we choose to walk in Your way. Amen.

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

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

Being Loved Well

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. – (John 13:34, NLT)

 

As I sat down to write, after reflecting on my week, I am in awe as I recognize that I have been the recipient of not only Christ’s love, but people who love me well. Despite the busy and chaos that seem to accompany this season that I both teach and coach, I have been loved well in multiple ways in my world. At school, we kicked off a secret pal exchange among staff members. Not only was it a joy to select a surprise for a colleague, but I was blessed by the kindness of whomever treated me. A beautiful bouquet was delivered to me at work on Valentine’s Day, and I was overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness and sweet sentiment that accompanied the card. My fellow coaching staff continues to step up and work together to coach our 135+ gymnasts well, and their kindness and encouragement to kids blesses my heart. Treasured friends remain steadfast, and grant ongoing love and support as I navigate my days. Last evening, I was swept away for a fancy dinner out, and treated like royalty. Both the words spoken and the actions shown, were tangible demonstrations of loving well. My heart is bursting because it has been filled to overflowing, and I am loved, just as I am called to do likewise. May we each embrace the grace that God so generously gives, and go forth in obedience and love each other well.

 

What a joy to see,being-loved-well

The tangible ways;

Where we are loved well,

Throughout all our days.

We’re not only called,

To go forth and love;

But He shows to us,

The hope from above.

Where we have been placed,

He often will show;

His love through others,

So we see and know.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

For all I’ve received;

Help me to love too,

So Your love is seen.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us and showing us what love is through the hands and hearts of those who surround us. Thank You that You call and equip us to go and love likewise. Forgive us for not choosing to love as we are loved. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hear Your heart for those around us, and know how to love as we are loved. Help us to be Your hands, heart and voice to all whom we encounter, allowing Your light to shine brightly through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the love that You shower upon us with gratitude, and as we go forth and love others well. 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

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