Praise Even When

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. – (Romans 5:3-5, NLT)

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary – we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! – (Romans 5:3-5, MSG)

 

I am certain that I have read this passage at least a dozen times before, but for some reason, this morning, it is sinking in a bit differently. Perhaps it is through reading The Message translation, as it speaks of praising “even when we’re hemmed in with troubles” rather than “rejoicing when we run into problems and trials”. Personally, my mind can conceive the even so concept, as God is good even when our circumstances are not, and I know that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Each trial that we traverse, every struggle He grants us strength to navigate, further grow our faith and help our hope the next time we face difficulties. When we look back on where He has brought us from, we can see the overwhelming faithfulness of God and the generous outpouring of love lavished upon us by His Holy Spirit. May we ever give praise to He who is always worthy, as He is the one who supplies the strength and endurance needed to navigate each challenge, as He pours into our lives, His love.

 

In midst of trial,

DSC04506

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

We can, even so;

Give praise unto God,

For His love we know.

He’s faithful to help,

Grants strength as we go;

Our reason for hope,

Sure truth that we know.

Troubles grow patience,

That helps us endure;

Confidence in hope,

As His love’s secure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have reason to praise You no matter what troubles or trials we face because You are good and You will use all things to grow us in You. Thank You that troubles develop endurance and strength of character so that we may more clearly reflect Your heart to the world. Forgive us for fleeing the fire before us, rather than facing the fight in Your strength as You hold us in Your hands. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive all that You generously give as we go through the highs and lows of life. Show us how to love well all those whom we encounter, so that they may see glimpses of Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You on every step of our path as You provide Your presence and Your peace. 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

Anticipate God’s Goodness

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. – (Romans 5:3-4, NLT)

And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that those 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)

 

Though all three versions say essentially the same thing, the last part of verse four from the VOICE, really spoke to my heart. It has been an extremely long week in the classroom for me, as I am adjusting to new curriculum, which honestly requires hours of preparation each day, learning how to best help and work with new students, an Open House at the start of the week, (which made for a 14+ hour day), and have had to respond to some serious behavioral challenges that came up in class as the week unfolded. I do not think that I can say that I am rejoicing about the trials, but I am able to see the patience and refining that God is doing through the process, and I find myself hoping for and anticipating God’s goodness through it all. What I know is that I cannot do it all in my own strength. With Him, all things are possible, and great things can be accomplished. Hearts can be changed and minds can be renewed. He has placed me with phenomenal team members who teach the same subject and grade level. Together, we are working to navigate through the new, and the time it takes to discern what needs to be taught and how to best do so, is divided. Additionally, there are extraordinary staff members in roles that mentor, support, encourage and teach the kiddos who are struggling both academically and/or behaviorally, so that they can learn, grow and experience successes in and out of the classroom. May we ever look to the Lord with gratitude for the endurance and strength of character He develops within us, even if we are not yet in a space of celebrating our struggles. May we see the hope that is held in Him, and anticipate God’s goodness as He moves among us.

 

Troubles and trials, Delivering Dreams

Though never much fun;

Serve hearts with purpose,

As battles are won.

These things bring patience,

And patience will show;

The strength from the Lord,

As we learn and we grow.

In this refining,

We learn what it means;

To anticipate,

God’s goodness indeed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we go through trials and troubles, You develop patience and endurance within us. Thank You that strength and hope grow as our characters are refined, and we learn what it truly means to hope and anticipate Your goodness. Forgive us for our frustration with our circumstances. Teach us to press into You, ever seeking and depending on You for strength in the struggles, as You are our Source. Show us how to love well, those around us who are struggling, and how to give strength and hope where there is none to be found. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in the refining and development of our character that takes place in our trials, and look forward with hope as we anticipate Your goodness that is yet to come. 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

Robed in Righteousness

As followers of Christ, our charge is to always be prepared. “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” – (Revelation 16:15) Upon reading this verse, the first thing that came to mind was another verse in Isaiah that is more specific about what being clothed actually means. I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. – (Isaiah 61:10)

 

The point of the verse in Revelation is that we are to be ever prepared. We must not take our salvation for granted, nor grow weary in our walk with Him. Our delight ought to be in Him, and our response should be full of rejoicing. He has clothed us in salvation and robed us in His righteousness. In Him, we shall not be ashamed. Let our lives be lived ever prepared and always grateful, for He is so very good!

 

May our delight,Intentional Retreat

be found in the Lord;

our souls rejoice,

at grace He affords.

For we are clothed,

in His righteousness;

saved by mercy,

endless faithfulness.

Ever alert,

aware He is near;

always prepared,

protected from fear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though You will return at an unknown time, we need not fear if we are invested in a relationship with You. Thank You that You clothe us in salvation and robe us with Your righteousness; not because of anything that we have done, but because of what You did for us on the cross. Thank You Jesus, for loving us with Your life. Thank You for conquering death and sending Your Spirit to dwell in us to lead and guide us in the wait. Forgive us for our lack of faith or our inability to listen at times, and help us to trust You more, so that we will give all unto You. Lead us to listen and obey in all things and at all times. May we love others well, just as You love each of us, and may many come to know You personally, as a result. Be exalted O God, as we remember that we are robed in Your righteousness, and operate our lives accordingly. 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

Where Joy Resides

“Happiness depends on happenings, but joy depends on Christ.” – (Philippians forward in NIV Study Bible)

 

Paul had plenty of reasons to be unhappy. He wrote Philippians while imprisoned in Rome, yet the concept of rejoicing or joy appear sixteen times in this four chapter letter he had written to the church in Philippi. At a time when most would have been miserable, Paul was proudly preaching boldly before anyone who would give ear to what he had to say. Paul recognized that his purpose was far more important than his comfort, and he embraced every opportunity to speak truth before those who were around him.

 

Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. – (Philippians 1:14)

 

Local believers were challenged and encouraged by Paul’s faithfulness, (even while he was imprisoned and in less than ideal circumstances), and compelled to rise up and reach out to share the good new with courage and fearlessness that they had not previously known.

 

When life presses down,

My beautiful Gram - Always joy, regardless of her circumstances. <3

My beautiful Gram – Always joy, regardless of her circumstances. ❤

hope seems far away;

do we reach for Christ,

to show us the way?

For in Christ alone,

true freedom is found;

where joy shall reside,

even when we’re bound.

Happiness happens,

only when life’s good;

but joy’s eternal,

when Christ’s understood.

Let’s run to the Lord,

whether free or chained;

so His joy may dwell,

and His hope sustain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our joy is not dependant on what happens around us, but rather joy depends on You alone. Thank You that we may have joy, despite the most desperate of circumstances, when we are rooted and established in You. Thank You that You utilize our faithfulness in the trials to touch hearts and minds of others. Thank You for those You have placed in our path who have encouraged us, and for the opportunities You provide for us to do the same. Forgive us for our search for happiness, or for depending on our circumstances to bring us joy. Thank You that You are our Source, and NOTHING can separate us from You. Help us to be courageous, as we move fearlessly where You call us to go. Let the lost be found in You, as they come to know You personally, as their Lord and Savior. Be glorified, O God, as we encourage others, even in the midst of our unfavorable circumstances. Let us bring Your love and light to dark spaces that are desperate for Your touch. 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

 

 

Perseverence in the Face of Persecution

Jesus was no stranger to insult, persecution, and slanderous statements. From the night on which He was betrayed, until the moment He drew His last breath on the cross, He endured ongoing evil against Him at the hands of men. Despite the malice and maltreatment, Jesus was without sin. In fact, He sustained suffering we cannot begin to fathom at the hands of mankind, all for the sake of our sins. He chose to hang on the cross and be subject to all the anguish, so that we could have life in Him. In the throes of His affliction, He asked God to forgive them, for they knew not what they were doing. What kind of love does that?

 

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” – (Matthew 5:11)

 

This particular verse comes from the Sermon on the Mount, as Jesus gave some specific words of encouragement for those who would come and follow Him. Jesus himself, spoke the words about rejoicing when we are persecuted. He did not simply ask nor instruct us in these things, but rather He modeled it with His very life. Though I have not reached a point yet where I embrace even the idea of persecution, there are benefits in the process, for those who believe. Withstanding persecution takes our eyes off of earthly rewards, and instead points to the eternal; it strengthens the faith of those who endure, and those who persevere faithfully, serve as incredible witnesses.

 

Let not slander,Perseverance in the Face of Persecution

tear your heart down;

think of Jesus,

and that thorny crown.

Though He suffered,

He chose to give;

His life away,

so we might now live.

Insults were thrown,

and lies were told;

yet Jesus loved,

the Hope we can hold.

As nails were placed,

in outstretched hands;

He still chose love,

to fulfill His plan.

As skies grew dark,

and lots were cast;

the veil was torn,

and Christ breathed His last.

The best of it,

was coming soon;

for in three days,

stood the empty tomb…

 

Dear Jesus, thank You that You came. Thank You that You lived and loved and showed us what it is to walk in Your way and do the will of the Father. Thank You that You did not leave us on our own and expect us to just figure it all out, as You sent Your Holy Spirit to dwell in us, so that we have help and comfort and Your constant presence with us always. Forgive us for fearing the trials that may come our way, and grant us strength and grace to endure all things. Teach us to trust You as our source of strength and hope, even when things seem unbearable. Please grant Your peace to those who are in the midst of such suffering, and give comfort to their loved ones who are away from them. Help us to love as You love us, and may many come to know the blessed hope held in You alone. Be exalted in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

 

 

Rejoicing in Suffering

High priest, jealousy,

image by nooutcasts.org

image by nooutcasts.org

wanting for center stage.

Apostles arrest,

reaction in their rage.

Though placed in prison,

the Lord unlocked the door.

He then brought them out,

leaving chains on the floor.

To the temple courts,

to tell of this new life.

Boldly they went,

despite the coming strife.

Puzzled officers,

chief priests who were confused;

cells still tightly locked,

yet here they preached the good news.

Again brought to court,

for truth, put on trial.

“We must obey God!

In Him, no denial.”

Furious though they were,

one spoke, a voice of reason.

Consider with care,

the time, place and season.

For if it’s from man,

it will surely die out.

But if it’s from God,

you might choose another route.

So they called them in,

and sentenced them a flogging.

The faithful rejoiced,

counted worthy such suffering.

(Responding to Acts 5:17-41)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Your early church.  Thank You that the very same Holy Spirit that equipped and empowered them to do all that they did in Your Name back then, is the very same Spirit that dwells in the hearts of us who invite You in today.  Forgive us for taking too lightly, the significance of Your Spirit in us.  Teach us to live boldly for You, so that we might see Your Kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Lead us Lord in the way we are to go, and teach us to listen and obey.  May many come to know You as we walk in faithful obedience to Your calling.  Thank You that You are always good.  Amen.

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