Blessed are the Merciful

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. – (Matthew 5:7, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who show mercy to others. Mercy will be given to them. – (Matthew 5:7, ERV)

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being “care-full”, you find yourselves cared for. – (Matthew 5:7, MSG)

 

As a teacher, extending mercy is a necessary part of my job. Often, the extension of a listening ear after an offense, provides opportunity to redirect with kindness and compassion, rather than a knee-jerk reaction that may feel warranted. Last semester, I had a few challenging classes. One class in particular, was especially trying most days. Each day, I chose to start fresh, and hoped for better than the day prior. I wish I could say it all ended up “roses”, but until the final day, it was a struggle that required His strength. This week has marked the beginning of a new semester and new groups of students. My new classes have a very different feel than the last, and I am encouraged as I enjoy the new. That being said, two of my most difficult students last semester, have made a point to come say hello on the way to their final class of the day each day this week. They come to my door, where I greet students as they arrive, look longingly into my classroom, and tell me that they miss my class. I am fairly certain that the blessing in hearing from these cherubs, comes as a result of them knowing that I cared, despite their struggle to behave. God is merciful to us. We have been given grace and forgiveness that we do not deserve. As we are called to do likewise, may we fix our eyes and hearts on Him. Blessings come in curious ways when we choose to extend mercy.

 

Great blessings belong, Shackles No More

To the merciful;

For we’ve been given,

God’s grace, plentiful.

Favor unfounded,

No punishment due;

May we too extend,

Mercy that makes new.

New to discover,

The right way to go;

Blessings uncovered,

As forgiveness grows.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of mercy that Your pour out to us, as You forgive and teach us the ways we are meant to go. Forgive us for the times that we have not extended mercy where we should. Give us Your eyes to see and Your heart to understand, so that we will be merciful as You are to us. Show us how to love those around us through mishaps and shortcomings, and teach us what mercy ought to look like in the circumstances we encounter each day. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to extend mercy in the same way that You so generously grant mercy to us. Amen.

 

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

Do not withhold Your mercy from me, Lord; may Your love and faithfulness always protect me. – Psalm 40:11

Speaking the Truth in Love

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. – (Ephesians 4:15, NIV)

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

Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times – speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly – and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of His body, the Church. – (Ephesians 4:15, TLB)

 

There is a growing trend that has good intentions, but it is missing an essential element. “Speak your truth”, is a phrase I hear almost daily. Sadly, this phrase is lacking the cover and intention of love. So often, when people speak “their truth”, hearts are wounded and relationships fractured, as there are no intentions to express love through the words spoken. Just as a parent is called to raise up a child in the ways they are meant to go, they are directed to do so in love. We can correct, redirect and guide children with love, even when they do not like what we have to say. Truth lovingly spoken is far better received than that which is barked out or expressed in a way that points blame. Likewise, when we encourage, challenge and spur on one another to become more than we have been before, we must do so in love. When another comes alongside us and offers to help as we learn and grow to be more than we were before, it is received far better than if we are simply told that we are “not enough”, according to the eyes of the speaker. May we ever seek our Savior so that we may grow more and more like Him. Let every word we speak be spoken with intention to love.

 

Let us choose to speak, Speaking the Truth in Love

The truth in His love;

So our words spoken,

Bring life and build up.

Even when the truth,

Needs to redirect;

When done in His love,

Grace is still expressed.

May we seek the Lord,

To grow in His ways;

So truth that we speak,

Is His love displayed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that choosing to speak the truth in love is choosing to follow after You. Thank You that You call us to speak truth, yet to do so in love. Forgive us for the times that we have spoken what we perceived as the truth with no intention of loving the recipient. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would stop, think and listen before speaking so that we may say everything with the intention to love like You. Show us how to love well those around us, even those whom we are meant to guide and direct in a different direction. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give our every thought, word and deed unto You, and ask that You would show us how to surround each in love before we follow through. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Pay Back With Blessing

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. – (1 Peter 3:9, NIV)

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with blessing. That is what God had called you to do, and He will grant you His blessing. – (1 Peter 3:9, NLT)

Don’t do wrong to anyone to pay them back for doing wrong to you. Or don’t insult anyone to pay them back for insulting you. But ask God to bless them. Do this because you yourselves were chosen to receive a blessing. – (1 Peter 3:9, ERV)

 

We are called to respond in the opposite spirit when we are hurt by the words or actions of another. Though this contradicts the very nature within us, when we choose to bless when we want to curse, extend kindness when we’d rather kick, and offer hope where we’d rather return harm, so often the situation turns around and we are blessed by the outcome. Even when we are not, we can go forward knowing that we have walked in obedience with a clear conscience, rather than agonizing over what we should or should not have said or done. The ultimate outcome is in God’s hands, so we need not worry when blessing seems to do nothing to help. A prime place where this practice plays out in my life is in the classroom. When a student behaves poorly and I try to redirect with kindness and calm, identifying their strengths and abilities, often it is enough to get them to snap out of their funk and return to what is appropriate. We all have days where we choose poorly or are less than kind, and the very things that help us to reset and choose better are the blessings that come through the kindness of those around us. May we ever choose to extend blessings, even to those who wrong us, as God has chosen to give abundant blessings unto us.

 

Don’t repay evil, Aquiring Armor

With more of the same;

Firing back insults,

Or pointing out blame.

Instead, give blessings,

To all whom you meet;

This is our calling,

Mission to complete.

As we choose to bless,

We become blessed too;

Because we’ve obeyed,

As we’re called to do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your kindness and blessings unto us. Thank You that You direct and instruct us to steer clear of retaliating for the harm that people bring our way, and that instead, You arm us with strength to bless those who insult or do wrong against us. Forgive us for the times that we have repaid wrong with wrong, or returned insults instead of extending blessings. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen for Your voice and heed Your instruction as to how we can bless when we feel wronged, and give grace instead of retaliation. Show us how to love sincerely, even those who insult us or irritate us, as each is Your treasured creation. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ask You to bless those who bring us pain. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Search Us and Know Us

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of life everlasting. – (Psalm 139:23-24, NLT)

God, examine me and know my mind. Test me and know all my worries. Make sure that I am not going the wrong way. Lead me on the path that has always been right. – (Psalm 139:23-24, ERV)

 

Though God already knows our hearts and minds, He is gentle and kind, and will not force His way into our lives. We must invite Him to enter in and be the Lord of all. To truly allow Him to be in charge, we need to grant Him access to all – our thoughts, our desires, our words, our deeds, our direction and our needs. As we do, He comes alongside us, and shows us what is not in alignment with Him, and directs us on His perfect path of peace. God’s ways lead to life everlasting, whereas our ways lead only to worry, heartache and our ultimate demise. May we seek the Lord and grant Him access to search us and know us, so that we may be directed along the path to life everlasting in Him.

 

Please search me, O God,Asking for Answers

know my heart and mind;

test me and show me,

anything unkind.

Please point out the things,

offensive to You;

and show me the way,

that I’m meant to choose.

Lead me on Your path,

that‘s righteous and true;

to life eternal,

in heaven with You.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we invite You into our hearts and lives, You search us and know us, and show us the way in which we are meant to go. Thank You that You lovingly and gently correct and redirect our course, so that we may stay on the path that leads to life everlasting in You. Forgive us for not granting You access to all, as we allow fear and foolishness to get in the way. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will trust You in all things and at all times, knowing that You always have the very best for us in mind. Show us how to love those around us in a way that points hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we invite You to search us and know us, test us and grow us, so that we may be led forever by 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

Deep Love Covers Sin

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – (1 Peter 4:8, NIV)

Most important of all, love each other deeply, because love makes you willing to forgive many sins. – (1 Peter 4:8, ERV)

 

When we love deeply, we have a greater capacity to forgive. The greatest example I know of this sort of love in my own life, is the love I have for my children. Though I am flawed and far from perfect, I am loved by God, and love my children with all that I am. When they make mistakes or choose to do foolish or rebellious things, I do not love them any less. In their space of being stuck, I come alongside them and correct or redirect in love, and do not hold their errors against them.

Christ has done so much more for us. Every single sin we’ve ever done is washed away with our acceptance of His love for us. When we choose Him, His love covers all of our sin and shame, and makes us acceptable before the Father. Additionally, He grants us the capacity to love others with His love, so that we too, might forgive others as we have been forgiven. May we go forth and love each other deeply, so that we are willing to forgive one another, just as we have been forgiven. As we choose to do as Christ has done for us, love wins.

 

Most importantly,Acceptance As We Acknowledge

let love lead the way;

with one another,

all of each new day.

For love’s great power,

covers over sin;

it helps us forgive,

it is how love wins.

So let us each choose,

deeply love others;

give grace and forgive,

sisters and brothers.

As we love as Christ,

so many shall see;

what love truly is,

and how to be free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us deeply, and You love for us covers all of our sin as we accept what You have done for us. Thank You that the very same love that You give to us, You place in our hearts to pass on to one another. Forgive us for not loving one another as You designed us to love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will rely on Your loving kindness and grace to cover over the things that we think we are unable to get past. Help us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Show us how to love relentlessly and deeply, so that others may come to know Your grace through the You in us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. 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

 

Seeking Solitary Spaces

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. – (Mark 1:35)

Despite the crowds and the chaos that seemed to find and follow Him wherever He would go, Jesus found a way to make time to pray. He established time to connect and communicate with His Father. If Jesus was intentional to create time to connect with God, how much more so should we do the same? In today’s fast-paced world, it is not easy to find a solitary place to pray. We too, must be intentional with our time to make a place in our day for prayer. What I have discovered is that when I consistently make room, I find it is far easier to rise early and be focused than it ought to be, considering the chaos and lack of sleep that occurs some weeks. He is faithful to meet me each morning, as I make the decision to dedicate this solitary time to commune with Him and study His word. I have friends who are faithful to end each day in the same way. Where I would struggle to remain awake, they find themselves energized and encouraged. May we each embrace our own opportunities to seek solitary places to pray. For He is faithful to meet us each time we earnestly seek Him.

To seek a safe space,Believe Instead of Striving

where we are alone;

to come before God,

as He’s on His throne.

For in solitude,

our hearts shall be shown;

how great is His grace,

and the depth we’re known.

For as we choose pray,

seeds of faith are sown;

God’s Spirit waters,

and hope will have grown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can seek You in solitary places to pray, where distractions are far from us, and You meet us, and speak to our hearts. Thank You that You are faithful and loving, and that You encourage, instruct, redirect, and empower us as we pursue You in prayer. Forgive us for not being intentional to establish time with You. Teach us to trust You more with our time and space, so that we would be willing to do whatever it is You ask to create a time to be with just You. Thank You that You desire to spend time with us. Lead us to love others with a love that embraces hurting hearts and points people unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we seek solitary spaces with You to pray, so that we may be equipped to love as You love each day. 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

Speak Life

In Paul’s letter to Titus, he was providing instruction as to how to lead people to live right, according to Christ. Titus 3:2 is a timely reminder, in light of all that has been going on in the world around us. Despite differing opinions, God still reigns, and we have been given the following instructions: Tell them not to speak evil of anyone but to live in peace with others. They should be gentle and polite to everyone. – (Titus 3:2, ERV) Paul further unpacks the reminder that not one of us has earned our good standing before God. Rather, we were made right with God by His grace. God saved us so that we could be His children and look forward to receiving life that never ends. – (Titus 3:7, ERV)

 

It is by God’s grace that we have been saved. Our charge, as His children, is to love God and love people. We will not always agree with every decision or lifestyle that is chosen, yet that is not our charge. We are called to love. If we speak evil of those who know Him not, how will they ever have any desire to draw near? When we are gentle and kind, extending love and grace to others, just as it has been given unto us, it is then that people may see Christ in and through us. Yes, we are called to come alongside and help correct and redirect those within the church who are walking in blatant sin, but not those who know Him not. May we choose to live in peace with one another, extending gentleness and grace to everyone, so that all may come to know the lavish love of the Lord.

 

Speak not unkindly,Bloom Where We're Planted

and choose be at peace;

be gentle to all,

let grace be released.

For we were all made,

right before the Lord;

because of His grace,

in love, He affords.

Share well His kindness,

extend too, His love;

so all may soon know,

the gift from above.

Be humble to all,

slander not ever;

let His love light shine,

now and forever.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are not called to judge, slander or speak evil of others, but rather You call us to love. Thank You that You grant us discernment to know what is right and wrong, so that we may lead our lives in obedience to You, personally. Forgive us for not being peaceable or considerate, or for speaking ill of anyone based on the choices that they have made – for we all have sinned and fallen short of Your glory. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose to love without limits and allow You to work in the hearts of those around us. May many receive Your glorious gift of grace that You give freely, as they choose enter into an eternal relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we choose to live and love peaceably with kindness, offering Your love and grace to all. Amen.

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

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

Discipline is Discipling

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves as a father the son he delights in. – (Proverbs 3:11-12, NIV)

My son, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be angry when He corrects you.  The Lord corrects the one He loves, just as a father corrects a child he cares about. – (Proverbs 3:11-12, ERV)

The word discipline has always held a strange duality in my world.  On one hand, it held this connotation of being in trouble, and that is a very negative association for a people-pleaser; yet on the other hand, as an athlete, discipline  has simply meant adhering to the training and teaching prescribed by coaches who knew far more about my sports than I did.  In athletics, I never had a problem with a coach correcting me, as I knew it was for my benefit as an athlete, and would make me stronger, faster, or more efficient (depending on which sport they were coaching).

As I unpack the word this morning, discipline in this portion of Proverbs has the same connotation as my second example.  Discipline here, actually means to teach and to train.  God wants to teach us and train us in His ways, and He loves us enough to correct and redirect us when we go astray from the path on which He has placed us.  His Holy Spirit will whisper to our heart when we have said or done something that we ought not have done.  That unsettling feeling of regret or remorse is actually our invitation to repentance.  The Lord is so kind and gentle.  He patiently and lovingly waits for us to turn our eyes back to Him, and set our sights on that which matters most – who He is, and who He is calling us to become.  May we embrace the Lord’s discipline as His sons and daughters, understanding that it is because He delights in us, that He disciples us in love.

The Lord loves to teach,

and train those He loves;Compassion in Confrontations

He shows us the way,

to change, overcome.

Just as a parent,

shows a child the way;

to live life upright,

for all of their days.

Embrace the correction,

for He teaches those;

beloved children,

whom He calls His own.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your discipline is part of discipling, and You are teaching and training us in the ways in which we are meant to go.  Thank You that love alone is Your motivation.  Forgive us for rejecting correction, or for being slow to respond.  Help us to quickly recognize Your voice, correction and direction in our lives, so that we can walk ever closer with You.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we may embrace all of Your discipling, even when it involves rebuke or redirecting from where we thought we were meant to go.  Lead us to love others with the same generosity that You pour out upon us.  May many come into a lasting relationship with You.  Be glorified O God, as we embrace the teaching and training that You extend to each of us, individually.  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 3:3

Run From Ruin

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. – (2 Timothy 2:22)

 

In a culture that tells us, “if it feels good, go for it,” those who call on Christ and want to walk in His ways, are to take a different path. We are called to a higher standard. While most are simply pursuing pleasure, our charge is to run after righteousness; to follow that which God has for us, and to turn away from that which He does not. To flee the evil desires of youth, is to keep ourselves out of harm’s way. If we know a place or a group of people that create in us a propensity to sin, then we are to flee and avoid the situation, so that we may remain upright before our Father in Heaven.

 

As we pursue what is right according to Christ, we will grow in faith and love; experiencing His peace, as He purifies our hearts. He does not call us to walk this road alone, but rather to walk beside others too, who are seeking to answer all that He is asking. May we flee from that which is evil in the eyes of the Lord, and pursue passionately, all that He has for us.

 

Flee from all evil,Run From Ruin

pursue righteousness;

call out to Jesus,

to show which way’s best.

As we choose follow,

His path, and not ours;

faith, love and His peace,

find home in our hearts.

Do not walk alone,

but rather invest;

in those seeking,

to follow His best.

For on this rough road,

we best navigate;

when we’re surrounded,

and don’t isolate.

Shoulder to shoulder,

we shall rise above;

the world’s temptations,

as we walk in love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we run from that which leads us into temptation and pursue the things of You, You grow our faith, overwhelm us with Your lavish love, and help us to know Your peace – even in places where peace seems impossible. Thank You that You take us as we are, and refine us, creating in us, hearts that are pure and acceptable before You, by the power of Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for allowing ourselves entry into toxic situations or scenarios, and grant us wisdom so that we will flee from the spaces that suck us into sin. Thank You that You are merciful and loving, and that You do not allow us to stay in such spaces, but rather You correct and redirect so that we may follow You with all that we are. Thank You that You do not call us to walk this road alone, but rather You created us for relationships. Thank You that we are called to walk beside one another, shoulder to shoulder, to hold one another up, encourage and challenge each other in love. May many come to know the peace that is found in You alone, as they seek to find faith in You. Let our love extended through hearts You have purified, reflect Your radiance to the world. Be glorified, O God. 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

Realistic Assessment and Commitment

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” – (Luke 14:11)

Humility is not about outward appearances in so much as it is an inward working of the heart.  A humble heart compares oneself to Christ alone, and recognizes one’s own sinfulness and the unquestionable desperate need for a Savior.  In the same state of self-reflection, “a humble heart also recognizes their gifts and strengths, and is willing to use them as directed by Christ.  Humility is not self-degradation; it is realistic assessment and commitment to serve.” (NIV footnotes)

So, how do we do this?  In a society built upon appearances, how do we keep our priorities in order?  It seems that the most straightforward way to keep our focus in the right direction, is if we view everything through the lens of loving God, and loving others.  If we are looking up, and then looking out, there is little time to look down.  Proper perspective keeps the main things the main things, as He is quick to enlighten, encourage, correct and redirect, as we fix our eyes on Him.  When our communication with Christ is constant, we are available to hear what He has to say, and we are less likely to become too puffed up, or conversely, to listen to the lies that would try to destroy our worth in Him.  May we hear Him clearly, so that we are able to realistically assess and commit to serve.

Humble in heart,Realistic Assessment and Commitment

may not mean bow down;

listen to Christ,

for way to be found.

Seek only Him,

compare not to man;

only to Christ,

Revealer of plans.

Recognize gifts,

He’s given to you;

ask Him to show,

serving we’re to do.

Take not the best,

offer to others;

honor each as,

sisters and brothers.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us what humility looks like.  Thank You Jesus, that You are gentle and humble in heart, yet not lowly and meek.  Thank You that You showed us strength of character and grace, yet never considered anyone nor any task, beneath You.  Thank You for modeling what true humility ought to be.  Forgive us for attempted appearances or for making comparisons, and help us to fix our eyes on You.  Teach us how we are to love You and others well, and in the process, teach us how we can continually assess where we are as opposed to where You are calling us to go, and that we may commit our lives to serve one another in love.  May many come to know who You are, as we love and serve You with our lives.  Let the lost be found, and the hurting be held in Your hands.  Be glorified, Lord God.  Amen.

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