Forgiving Offenses

Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act in kindness. – (Colossians 3:13, VOICE)

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. – (Colossians 3:13, NLT)

Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, ERV)

 

We, as humans, are fallen and flawed, and fail to be offense-free forever. No matter how hard we try, nor how much grace we give, eventually we will offend and become offended. What we do with our offenses makes all the difference. The feelings that follow are our own, but what we do in response is a matter of our choosing to trust God and forgive, or rely on our own brokenness and lash out. We are called to forgive because we have been forgiven. Kindness has been given time and time again; though we deserved it not. Though others will wrong us, and we will likewise wrong others, may we ever seek the Lord for strength to go forth in forgiveness, so that His heart may be made known through our love. When we offend others, may we also be quick to repent and remedy the relational strain.

 

O Lord let Your light,Faith and Hope in Action

Be made known through us;

As we choose forgive,

Like Your Son, Jesus.

For we all offend,

As we have been wronged;

We must choose let go,

Trust, rise; carry on.

Don’t let us fixate,

On faults of others;

For we all fall short,

But Your love covers.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have forgiven us, and because we are forgiven, we can go and do likewise. Thank You that Your grace covers every fault found within us. Forgive us for not extending the same grace to others when we are offended or hurt by those around us. Teach us to turn to You in trust, as You suffered every offense known to man, and You forgave anyway. Help us to forgive and love like You. Show us how to extend Your loving kindness to all those whom we encounter, so that they might gain glimpses of who You are and how deeply You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we forgive the faults and offenses of those around us, and operate our lives in the loving kindness that You have granted unto us. Amen.

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

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

Proof Through Pursuit

Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, “We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.” – (Luke 3:8, NLT)

 

Though few would likely utilize the “descendants of Abraham” claim today, many believe that their salvation is secure because they either grew up going to church or have Christian parents. The point that Luke is making is that we must own our faith for ourselves. It is essential that we repent from our former ways and turn to God in trust, believing that He is who He says He is, as we trust Him to be Lord of our lives. There is no automatic “in” because of our bloodlines. It is only by the blood of Jesus that any of us are made clean and acceptable before God. We must believe and receive what He has done on our behalf, and then pursue the path of a life lived in faith following Him. May we each turn in trust to Christ to repent and receive all that He offers to those who earnestly seek Him. It is through our receiving, that we are adopted as sons and daughters of the living God, and granted an inheritance in Him that never ends.

 

Let our lives make clear,Generous Giving

The choice that we’ve made;

To turn from our sins,

And walk in His ways.

There’s no auto in,

For family and friends;

All must make the choice,

On whom they’ll depend.

The only true way,

To know hope’s assured;

Is to trust in Christ,

In Whom we’re secure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You desire for us to be in relationship with You individually and personally. Thank You that You made the way for us to turn away from our sin and be forgiven, so that we could enter into a lasting relationship with You. Forgive us for our lack of repentance or for not actively pursuing the deepening of our relationship with You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would keep short accounts with You, and seek You in all of our ways. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they might come to know the goodness of Your love through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we demonstrate our dedication to You by living lives in constant pursuit of You and Your ways. Amen.

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

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

No Record of Wrongdoings

If You, God, kept records of wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is Your habit, and that’s why You’re worshiped. – (Psalm 130:3-4, MSG)

 

Today, I am so thankful that God is not like us. Imagine if God were only able to forgive over time? Or worse, if God held grudges? Though we may pursue to extend the same forgiveness to others that Christ has given to us, not one of us has arrived. There is always something that weighs on our hearts, or that takes us time to walk through, before we can truly forgive. With God, He chooses to take our sin and remember it no more. Such mercy and grace warrants worship. May we embrace the grace that our loving Father grants to us, and offer all of our praise to Him, as we seek His help to do unto others as He has done for us.

 

The glory of grace,Risk to Reward

Beyond what we see;

For not one could stand,

Without God’s mercy.

Forgiveness given,

Though it’s not deserved;

Reason for worship,

Give praise undeterred.

May we seek the Lord,

for His love and grace;

So we can extend,

The same all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You keep no record of our wrongs when we repent before You. Thank You that You forgive out of Your abundant love. Forgive us for our stubborn hearts that hold grudges and hurt, rather than giving the offenses over to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring all of our burdens before You, and allow You to mend the brokenness with Your lavish love. Show us how to keep no record of wrongs, and to extend mercy and grace to all those around us. May many come to find a lasting relationship with You, as they see Your love in our words and deeds. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love without limits and to forgive freely like You. 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

God Delights to Give

This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. – (1 John 4:10, NLT)

True love is God’s love for us, not our love for God. He sent His Son as the way to take away our sins. – (1 John 4:10, ERV)

 

God loves us; not because we are lovable but because He is love, not because He needs to receive but because He delights to give. – C.S. Lewis

 

God has shown us what real love looks like through the gift of His Son. His sacrifice that paid the price for all of our sin and shame, is the greatest gift of love that we have ever be given. Life, when we deserved death. Hope, when we had none. Though we have done nothing to deserve this love, the Lord delights to love us anyway. Because He loves us, we can go and do likewise. May we receive the greatest gift of love that has ever been given, and go forth in love as we are loved.

 

The truest of love,

God Delights to Give

Two of my greatest gifts, as I delight to celebrate their 14th birthday today!

 

that ever has been;

when God sent His Son,

so we might repent.

For it is by grace,

that we’ve been given;

the chance to be free,

all sin, forgiven.

God chose to love us,

not for what we’ve done;

but for the delight,

of calling us sons.

For we are His own,

when we choose receive;

not by what we do,

but when we believe.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us real love. Thank You that You loved us and sent Your Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Thank You that You did this not because we deserve Your mercy and grace, but because You are love, and You delight in calling us Your sons and daughters. Forgive us for thinking that we have to do enough or be enough to somehow earn Your favor, rather than receiving the love that You freely give. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would embrace the forgiveness and grace that You have given, allowing Your love to transform our hearts and minds, so that we too, would go and love likewise. Show us how to love others with the same delight that You find in loving each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your perfect love so that we may go and love like 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

 

 

 

Disciplined in Love

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. – (Revelation 3:19)

Just as a loving parent corrects and redirects a misguided child, so does our Heavenly Father do for us. It is because of His great love for us, that He does not allow us to stay stagnant in our sinfulness, nor remain rooted in wrong patterns. Christ came to cleanse us from our unrighteousness, and created the way for us to be called clean. Our charge is to come before Him and repent – to admit our wrong doing and turn away from that which pulled us away from the path which He has placed before us. Any time that we feel that nudge of the Holy Spirit, the check from His still small voice, we must listen and act with fidelity so that we do not become steeped in the snare of sin. May we trust our loving Lord, who is our Heavenly Father, as He loves us and only rebukes and disciplines us because He loves us and wants us to walk out the very best that He has for us. His plans are exceedingly greater than we could ever hope for or imagine.

Because we are loved,Compassion in Confrontations

let us hear His voice;

for He will correct,

when we make poor choice.

He’ll show us the way,

to walk where He calls;

to escape the space,

of sin’s prison walls.

We must choose repent,

confess, turn away;

admit wrong doing,

return to His way.

Trust in our Father,

His love never ends;

His plans are righteous,

as He forgives sins.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we may not enjoy being rebuked nor disciplined, You do so in love and for our benefit. Thank You that You love us so much that You do not sit idly by and allow us to stay stuck in our sinfulness. Thank You that You call us out of darkness into Your glorious light. Forgive us for our resistance to correction. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be earnest to repent as soon as we become aware of what You are asking us to do. Help us to embrace with grace, every correction that You bring, as we know that all discipline from You brings us closer to that whom You are calling us to become. Help us to love others with generosity and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace Your correction in love, and repent right away so that we may move forward into that which You are calling us to do. 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

The Power of the Tongue

Yesterday morning, we continued in a series entitled, Be Light – Faith in Action, as modeled in the book of James. The topic of the day was The Power of the Tongue. We began the morning by reading James 3:1-12 out loud, together, to create a common foundation and point of reference, as our Administrative Pastor, Paul Zimmerman, spoke. The three main points that he highlighted from this passage were:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   1) Our words affect others. What we say has the power to change us and others, and there are always people listening.
2) Our words take us where our heart leads. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks… (Luke 6:45b)
3) Our words either build up or burn down. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
(Proverbs 18:21)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. – (James 3:9-10)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Words matter. They always have. As a writer, I think I have always been particularly sensitive to the impact of words. From a young age, I learned the power of words through reading, observing, and understanding how they made me feel – for better or worse. On our own, we will say that which we ought not to say, and harm those we long to help. So what can we do? The three take-aways from yesterday’s message were great reminders of how we can best be certain that the words we use build up, rather than burn down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            First, we must be slow to speak. James 1:19 tells us: My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. If we slow down, and think first, we are able to hear His voice, and speak the words that He has for us to say.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Next, we need to put into our heart what we want to come out of it. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. – (Philippians 4:8) Good in, good out; enough said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Finally, rebuild what has been burned down. This means that we must repent when we hurt another with our words. Repentance goes beyond simply saying I’m sorry, as it is a turning away from the old patterns and moving forward into a new way of speaking. An apology is empty words if there is not a demonstrated heart change that follows.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Though a small muscle,The Power of the Tongue
such power it holds;
able to speak life,
or make a man fold.
We each have the choice,
the power to speak;
to offer great strength,
or make others weak.
Let us choose the words,
that extend His hope;
a lifeline to save,
those with no more rope.
Strength to the weary,
peace for those in pain;
may our mouths declare,
all praise to His Name.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we have the power to speak life into others. Thank You that when we are slow to speak, invest our heart in things of You and are quick to repent, others may be built up and pointed toward abundant life in You. Forgive us for the times that our words have affected others negatively and we have spoken without listening first. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will slow down and listen first, trusting that You will provide that which we are meant to speak in all situations so that light and life are passed on to all. Lead us to love in such a way that others may too burn brightly in the light of Your lavish love. Be glorified O God, as we speak life to all whom we encounter. 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

Withholding Wayward Words

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. – (Proverbs 12:18)

 

Our words matter. The thoughts that we choose give a voice have the capacity to cut or to heal those who are around us. Typically, because words are of such great worth in my world, I choose quite carefully. However, when pressed and pushed from every direction, I had a moment the other day, where discernment went out the window, and I went off. My words were not life-giving, but rather they were reactive and ugly, without looking at the potential for their lasting impact. Throughout the day, the Holy Spirit showed me where I went wrong, and how I might repent and bring reparation for what should not have been given “voice”. That evening, after the apology and appropriate words for the situation were extended, communication that had been strained, somehow became much more bearable. Words of repentance followed by kind words of encouragement, lifted the weight of ugliness that had been lurking between our exchanges. Since then, our conversations have been kinder and gentler, with more consideration for one another. Healing does happen when wisdom is used through our words. May we choose wisely each word we give voice today, so that what comes from our mouth and heart bring healing, rather than hurt.

 

Reckless words bring pain,Constructive Permission

they cut like a sword;

wounding tender hearts,

when angst is outpoured.

The tongue of the wise,

brings healing and life;

it builds others up,

the ender of strife.

So let us choose well,

the words we give voice;

in wisdom, speak love,

obedient choice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are life-giving and that Your word brings healing and wisdom to all who seek to hear and know the truth. Thank You that when we trust in You, Your Holy Spirit will guide us in the words we speak, if we are willing to listen. Forgive us for our reckless words, and please bring healing and restoration to all whom our ill-spoken words have injured. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose to be silent before You and listen well, before we ever give voice to what may cause contention. Help us to speak the truth in love, so that others may receive what is said without being wounded, but rather by being encouraged to draw still nearer to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we silence the reckless words waiting to escape, and instead, give voice to the wise words that extend Your healing and Your hope. 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

Agreeing to Abide

In Paul’s final warnings to the Corinthians at the close of his second letter, he encourages them with the following: Now, brothers and sisters, be filled with joy. Try to make everything right, and do what I have asked you to do. Agree with each other, and live in peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, ERV)

 

With these words, Paul was not encouraging the church to ignore nor agree with sin. In fact, he had in just a few verses prior, given specific instructions for how to deal with intentional sin that was continuing among the body of Christ. Once the air has been cleared, and repentance has been sought, each ought to seek to live right with one another, agreeing to abide by the Lord’s standards, which lead to peace. As we adhere to what God has set in place, His love and peace are present, and the joy of the Lord is our strength. May we seek to serve the Lord with our whole heart, and follow Him all of our days. Let His love and peace be present, as He guides us in all of His ways.

 

Let’s keep short accounts,Rest in the Rock

with those in the Lord;

filled with God’s great grace,

and love He affords.

Seek to make things right,

repent when we’re wrong;

forgive those who ask,

His grace makes us strong.

In things of the Lord,

set hearts to agree;

allow the Lord’s peace,

to guide and to lead.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You alone fill our hearts with joy, regardless of our circumstance. Thank You that You call us to make things right before You with one another, and lead us to keep short accounts before You and others. Thank You that as we do, Your peace and love is present with us. Forgive us for not seeking peace in spaces of turmoil, and help us to trust You more, so that we will know what we are meant to do, and what we are to wait and allow You to do. Lead us to love others well, just as You so completely love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we keep short accounts with one another, agreeing with each other in the things of You, as we walk forward in Your love and perfect peace. Amen.

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

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

To Be a Sweet Scent

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. – (2 Corinthians 2:14)

 

Thanks be to God is the easiest portion for me to unpack. Simply put, all thanks belong to Him. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him, as He alone deserves our thanks and praise.

 

The next portion, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ, made me pause a moment to ponder what that might look like in my life. Triumphal procession is a victorious forward movement, fueled, equipped and strengthened by Christ. Every time we choose to walk out our faith, even in the dark and dismal spaces, we are participating in a triumphal procession in Christ.

 

As we obediently walk out our faith, we spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For those who are ready to receive all that He has to offer, we are a sweet scent indeed. To those who deny the truth, we will not smell so sweet.

 

May we rise up and give all thanks to God, as He leads us in triumphal procession, spreading everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.

 

Give thanks unto God,Being a Sweet Scent

for He leads us on;

in triumph through Him,

to rise up, carry on.

He allows us each,

to spread His sweet scent;

the knowledge of Him,

leads lost to repent.

Each step we choose take,

forward for the Lord;

the fragrance of truth,

leaves darkness no more.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You lead us in triumphal procession in You, every time we choose to trust and follow You. Thank You that You allow us to spread the sweet scent of Your salvation through the way we live out our lives. Forgive us for not proceeding forward as You call, or for being an unsavory scent. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may boldly more forward in faith wherever You call. Lead us to love others in such a way, that Your truth cannot help but be recognized through us. May many come into a saving knowledge of You. Be glorified O God, as we rise up and give You thanks as You lead us in triumphal procession to spread Your fragrance wherever we go. Amen.

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

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14