Really Love Them

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. – (Romans 12:9-10, NLT)

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. – (Romans 12:9-10, MSG)

 

Above all, we are called to love. This love is not romance nor something that we manufacture, but rather it is a choice to prefer others – to seek to serve and honor others rather than ourselves. We are only able to truly love when we receive and embrace the love that Christ has given unto us. It is through the holding tightly to His goodness and grace, that we are able to in turn, extend the same to others. That which is evil, the things of this world that compete for our attention in a way that draws our hearts to disdain rather than delight, are the very things that we are meant to distance ourselves far away from, so that we can cling to that which is good. May we love one another with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other with the love that Christ grants unto us.

 

We cannot pretend,ç€À

To love each other;

We need assurance,

Sisters and brothers.

Choose to hold tightly,

To that which is good;

Christ’s love that honors,

Grants grace understood.

Flee from what’s evil,

Cling close to the Lord;

Choose to love deeply,

So Christ is adored.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us with a love that gives us new life. Thank You that in You, we are restored and made new, granting us the capacity to love others with the very same love that You have given unto us. Forgive us for choosing to neglect those near to us, or for not loving as You call us to love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would cling to You and flee from all that is not of You, so that we may be refined to love as You call us to love. Show us how to be good friends who love deeply, that prefer one another in love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they see Your loving kindness through us. Be glorified O God, as we cling to You, and love others with the very same love that You have given to us. 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

 

Strength in Hope

And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, ERV)

And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. – (Romans 5:3-4, VOICE)

 

I cannot honestly claim to be happy when troubles come. Patience comes more easily in some scenarios than others. When the rubber meets the road, I know that I can run to our Redeemer, and He provides the strength and stamina that is needed to sustain me through whatever I am facing. His presence provides the hope I hold that the present circumstance will not remain forever, and His goodness and grace grant joy and peace despite the trial before me. God is good, even when our circumstances are not. Every trial that we endure, refines and grows us to more clearly reflect the radiance of our Redeemer. May His patient endurance rise within us as we face what lies before us, and may we hold fast to the hope that is found in the goodness of God alone.

 

In times of trial,Enter With Thanksgiving

Endurance is found;

When we seek the Lord,

His grace does abound.

The strength that we need,

And hope we can hold;

Given through goodness,

Patience shall unfold.

He will make us strong,

Through our suffering;

Our character’s shaped,

When to Him we cling.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we might not be happy with trials or troubles that come our way, we can be grateful for what comes out of them. Thank You that You use our every struggle to establish patience within us, and prove to us the strength that we can find in You. Thank You that our character is refined when we seek You in the struggle, and we learn to further trust and place our hope in You. Forgive us for not seeking or trusting in the throes of the trials. Teach us to trust You more, so that in all things and at all times, we would seek Your wisdom and strength to lead us in the way in which we are meant to go. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too may come to know the hope that is found in Your goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hope in You, no matter what we are going through. Amen.

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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

May We Sharpen One Another

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. – (Proverbs 27:17)

 

When we keep good company, we are challenged to be the best versions of ourselves. As we actively engage in sharing life together, we are better able to see things with new clarity, refine what may have been askew, and allow the Holy Spirit to shape what was being whispered, into brilliant insights. This can only take place if we are willing to engage in deep discussions where we can be honest and challenge each other, setting our egos aside. When we are able to receive critique of thought without making it about us as a thinker, the friends who engage in such conversations, sharpen one another. May we invest in the relationships that allow us to sharpen one another, so that we may be refined and ready to go forth as the best version of ourselves.

 

Let company kept,Keep Careful Watch

among those who bring;

out the very best,

in everything.

Those who are honest,

no matter the cost;

words spoken in love,

so we won’t be lost.

May we do the same,

as we walk beside;

sharpen each other,

allowing Lord guide.

Invest with wisdom,

seek the Lord, always;

heed His instruction,

for all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us for community. Thank You that You give us one another to sharpen and refine each other to more clearly reflect Your character. Forgive us for allowing anyone who has intentions that are not good to gain a voice into our lives. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may clearly hear whom we are to engage in a “sharpening” with, and who we are to simply show kindness, but not allow their voice to penetrate the walls of our heart. Grant us discernment and wisdom, I pray. Lead us to love well, so that we may be Your instruments that help sharpen others. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sharpen one another in our mutual pursuit of You. Amen.

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

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

Knowing Love

Love is more important than knowledge.  I say this not to neglect our pursuit of learning, but rather to prioritize how we live.  People matter far more than power, possessions, or information.  Yesterday, a dear friend reminded me of a common illustration in everyday life, of just how much love matters more.

Driving down the road, not so long ago,  I found myself stuck behind a vehicle that was traveling far below the suggested speed.  WIthout fail, this occurred on a two lane road when I was in a hurry.  My initial response had always been frustration, followed by a desire to educate the driver as to how exactly they should be accelerating on this particular stretch of road.  However, it only took one time of an unkind outburst in the cab of my car, prior to the passing of a very sweet and elderly individual, to turn my self-righteous rant into one of repentance and resolve to love.  These days, when I happen upon a slow moving vehicle, I begin to verbalize the possible scenarios that could be unfolding before me.  Perhaps they are lost?  Uncertain of their destination?  Struggling to see?  An attitude adjustment ensues, and I find myself responding in love.  Lord, please protect them as they go.  Help them safely arrive at their destination…

To choose God, is to love like Him.  Imagine how many times He would have liked us to step on the accelerator and move forward faster in faith.  This choice to love and obey is an ongoing decision, and I often choose poorly.  Fortunately, He is gracious and loving, and He helps me choose better today, than I did yesterday.  How I choose to love, will have a far greater impact for His glory, than any amount of knowledge that I can spew out.  “The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.  But the man who loves God is known by God.” – (I Corinthians 8:2-3)  I would much rather love God and be known by Him, than foolishly think that I have somehow arrived through my own sordid studies.  Our pursuit to love and to grow in Him, should not end until the day that we meet Him face to face.

To love is from God,Knowing Love

though knowledge is good;

love is eternal,

in Christ, understood.

Show not our wisdom,

but rather, show love;

to honor the One,

Who counts us above.

Honored as children,

loved as His own kin;

may we make Him proud,

as we let Him in.

With Him in our heart,

His words we shall speak;

may the lost be found,

courage to the meek.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and created us to love.  Thank You that when we choose to live for You, You take us and transform us to become more like You.  Forgive us for our foolish pride, and help us to be completely dependent on You.  Teach us to trust in You, and allow Your voice to speak words of wisdom to our hearts and minds so that we may be further refined.  Lead us to love like You so that many may come to know the glory of Your amazing grace, as they accept You as the Lord of their lives.  Be glorified in all that we say and do.  Amen.

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

Numb No More

Yesterday afternoon, I had what I thought was to be a quick cleaning at the dentist. Foolishly, I had forgotten that it was actually an appointment scheduled to fill three teeth on the bottom right side of my mouth that had been damaged during a stretch of time when my night guard had gone missing. As an individual who typically blows through anesthesia before procedures are complete, my delightful dentist was proactive and properly prepared me by providing an extra strong dose of numbing agent prior to the procedure. After staying numb through the entire drilling drama, I had to rush off to return to school for one final student led conference before the day’s end.

The right side of my face, tongue, and lips were still numb. Partial paralysis was in full force, and I was feeling quite foolish as I hurried to my classroom. Fortunately, the student and his family did not seem to notice, or if they did, they were polite enough not to stare at my right side as I spoke.

What I feel like the Holy Spirit wants me to hear this morning, is a reminder of how much each part of the body affects the whole. When a small part becomes numb, the whole cannot function as well without that part’s capable contribution. The other parts may attempt to somehow make up the difference, but they cannot ever really do the job. Each of us are a part of the body. We have been called and created with a purpose. In order to walk out our purpose, we must be in tune with our Heavenly Father. Reading in Galatians this morning, the verse that reiterated what I am hearing is: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) God wants all of us – our whole lives, not just a part. We cannot just give Him Sunday mornings and then be numb to Him during the week, nor can we give Him our emotions and physical needs, but not commit our intellect and our vocation to Him. We must let Him into every aspect of our lives, and allow Him to reign. As we give Him control, we are refined, and the formerly numb spaces begin to tingle with new life.

Let the Lord lead,Better is One Day

give Him the whole;

choose to submit,

allow Him control.

No more be numb,

may our hearts hear;

as He whispers,

truth in our ears.

All to the One,

faithful to lead;

our strength and grace,

in Him, we’re freed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us with a plan and a purpose. Thank You that You give life abundant, when we trust in You. Forgive us for allowing ourselves to become numb in any area, or for neglecting to give any part of ourselves over to You. Please bring these places to our attention as You teach us truth, and help our hearts become aware of the tingling felt as our lives are being restored in You. May we live and love like You, and may many come to know You as their Heavenly Father, so they too may have life abundant in You. Amen.

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

The Essence of Exaltation

Glory to the GiverThe essence of worship,

when our love is outpoured;

giving earthly treasures,

without seeking reward.

He laid down His own life,

price we couldn’t afford;

showing obedience,

our great heavenly Lord.

As we bring our worship,

He looks into our heart;

does He see sacrifice,

or us playing a part?

Like the pure perfume jar,

poured upon Jesus’ head;

may our offering be,

as the Spirit has led.

May our acts of worship,

all honor that we bring;

give glory to our God,

our Hope and Everything.

The great gracious Savior,

is so worthy indeed;

let our life song be sung,

so that captives are freed.

(Responding to Mark 14:3-9)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not want robots that go through rituals, rather You desire disciples who are devoted to loving You and loving others with our whole lives. Thank You Jesus, that You showed us what it is to live a life of loving God and loving people with all that You are. Forgive us for the countless ways in which we have fallen short, and use each one as an opportunity to be refined, so that we may more clearly love like You. Teach us to quiet our hearts before You, so that we are intent to listen, and help us to act on all that You ask. May many be moved toward Your majesty through our ongoing acts of worship. Be exalted in everything we say and do, and let our lives bring praise to You. Amen.

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

As my reflection this morning is based on the story of the Alabaster jar broken and poured out as an offering, I found this song to be a perfect pairing. 🙂 Click the title in green to enjoy: Alabaster Jar by Kari Jobe.

Imprisoned for a Purpose

Imprisoned for a PurposeBeaten, imprisoned,

feet shackled up tight;

disciples still sang,

’til late in the night.

All of a sudden,

the prison did shake;

cell doors flew open,

guard’s life near to take.

Disciples called out,

“Do yourself no harm,

we are all still here,

in reach of your arm.”

When lights came ablaze,

and the jailer saw;

men true to their word,

he fell down in awe.

“Sirs, what must I do,

to truly be saved?”

“Believe in the Lord,

your life will be changed.”

At that very hour,

to his home he brought,

he cared for their wounds,

believed what they taught.

The whole family,

was baptized, believed;

the very next day,

disciples released.

(Responding to Acts 16:22-36)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though You do not cause harm to come our way, You at times, allow it, as You use it for the greater good of those who love You, and often use our strength in the struggle as a way to touch the hearts and minds of those who know You not. Forgive us for assuming we have done something wrong when bad things happen, and help us to recognize that even in the struggle and heartache, there is opportunity to allow Your strength to shine and our heart to be refined. Thank You that You receive and love us, just as we are, but love us too much to allow us to stay this way. Continue to refine and shape us to more clearly reflect Your character in all that we say and do. May many come to know who You really are, by our love. Praise to You for Your powerful and unfailing love. Amen.

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

Beyond Simply Speaking

image by Ann Voskamp

image by Ann Voskamp

Our words will mean nothing,

if our lives don’t align.

Our actions tell the tale,

of how we’ve been refined.

How we invest our time,

and choose to spend our days,

matters more to Jesus,

than what we simply say.

For our true foundation,

when built upon the Lord,

will weather every storm,

grant life in His accord.

Oh the day we see Him,

and gaze upon His face;

either words of “well done”,

or “depart”, in disgrace.

As for me and my house,

we shall seek and serve God,

on the day of judgment,

may we hear heavenly applause.

(Responding to Matthew 7:21-23)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are not interested in us simply talking the talk, but You want us to walk the walk.  Forgive us for not always giving actions to our words.  Jesus, thank You that Your word is alive and active, and that when it lives in us, there is evidence in how we lead our lives.  Teach us how to invest our time wisely in You and that which matters into eternity.  Build our foundation strong in You, as we seek You with our whole heart.  May our lives move many toward You, so that they too will hear You say, “well done”, when their final day has come.  May we hold fast to the hope of heaven in our hearts today.  Amen.

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