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No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. – (Philippians 3:13, NLT)

Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. – (Philippians 3:13, ERV)

Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know that I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I am leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. – (Philippians 3:13, VOICE)

 

We are always a work in progress. Not one of us ever “arrives“. However, we can leave our past in the past, and keep pressing forward to that which God has called us, as He transforms us in the process. Each misstep can be an opportunity to learn and grow, if we allow God to lead, and choose to willingly follow. Often He will use our greatest struggles to later become strengths for His glory. May we set aside all that hinders us, and keep pressing forward toward all that God has in store. He is good, and what lies ahead is far better than anything that lies behind.

 

Brothers and sisters,The Author and Finisher of Our Faith

Though we’ve far to go;

The place we are in,

Has required growth.

Forget the old life,

The things of the past;

Press on toward the prize,

And all that shall last.

For when we trust God,

And seek what is true;

Our goals have purpose,

As hope is made new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we still have a long way to go, we can focus on what lies ahead. Thank You that our hope is held in You and our future is secure when we place our trust in You. Thank You that You have a plan and a purpose for each of us, and as we seek You, You show us the way to go. Forgive us for wandering our own way, or for losing focus. Teach us to keep our eyes on the prize, remembering that the end goal is eternity with You. Show us how to love well, all those who cross our paths, so that they too, may come to know the hope that is found in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we forget about the past and fix our eyes forward on what You have placed before us. 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

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

But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – (Psalm 13:5-6, NIV)

But I trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me. – (Psalm 13:5-6, NLT)

 

This morning, for whatever reason, I am just plain tired. The good news is that today is not an ordinary school day. It is an early dismissal day for the students, so the energy required on these days is different than on typical school days. Shortened classes go quickly, and after the students leave for the day, the remainder of the afternoon is spent collaborating with colleagues. In a sense, this is a bit of a rescue from my own exhaustion. Just knowing that I need only rise up until 12:40, is an encouragement in and of itself. At just the right time, there is a break in my ordinary routine, and I feel rescued from the weariness that is threatening. God knows what we can take, and provides precious rest in places where it is needed most. His love never fails, and I am so grateful that He cares about the smallest of details. May we ever trust in the unfailing love of the Lord, and rejoice in the salvation that He has provided. Let our hearts sing praise, for He is always good.

 

I trust in Your love,Be Transformed 1

My God and my King;

For You’re always good,

And rescue, You bring.

Salvation from death,

But also You give;

Love, strength, hope and life,

So we truly live.

Let our hearts choose sing,

All praise unto You;

For Your loving grace,

That carries us through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unfailing love that saves. Thank You that You rescue us when we lose our way, and You lead us with Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You are good and loving and kind, and that You meet us where we are but do not allow us to stay stuck in spaces we do not belong. Forgive us for not seeking You when we feel stuck, and help us to ever trust in Your grace and strength to be our help and our hope at all times. Show us how to rejoice and give praise to You, as to You alone, all praise is due. Help us to love those around us in tangible ways that help them to see how much You care. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your unfailing love and sing praise to You forever. Amen.

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

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

Endurance shapes our character. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. – (Romans 5:4, VOICE)

And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. – (Romans 5:4, TLB)

 

I am guessing that this past week has been one of character building, as it has required much patient endurance on my part. Between fending off some sort of sinus infection and attempting to navigate a very busy week well, faith and hope have been the anchor to which I could cling, knowing that God was with me, despite fatigue and fear of falling short. There is yet today, and I will have to continue to trust big for where I lack. Thankfully, history has shown me again and again, that regardless of my condition, God is faithful to meet me. May we each rise up in trust, patiently enduring that which lies before us, knowing that He will walk beside us and remain with us, every step of the way.

 

When we choose endure,Character Building Endurance

To rise in His strength;

Our hearts are refined,

To reach greater lengths.

We learn what it means,

To hold on for good;

All faith in the Lord,

Where hope’s understood.

The more that we trust,

The more that we’re grown;

’til our faith’s secure,

And through us, He’s shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our busiest, most exhausting weeks can be used to shape, refine and grow us in You. Thank You that You grant us the endurance and patience that we need to press on, despite our desire to dismiss ourselves when days demand more than we can do on our own. Forgive us for lacking patience or not pressing into You. Teach us to trust You more, as our hope and faith grow strong and steady in You alone. Show us how to hope and anticipate Your goodness, always. Lead us to love those around us with patient endurance, regardless of their approach toward us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk forward with patient endurance, trusting You to refine our character and strengthen our hope and faith. Amen.

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

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

You made me; You created me. Now give me the sense to follow Your commands. – (Psalm 119:73, NLT)

With Your hands You made me and helped me become what I am. Now help me understand Your commands. – (Psalm 119:73, ERV)

 

Because we are His created, we can seek the Lord and ask Him which way we are meant to go. As we ask, He answers, for God is faithful to meet us as we seek Him. Wisdom from the Lord is required to know how to follow His will and walk in His way. Let us seek God, the Giver of light and life, to grant us guidance to understand and obey His commands.

 

Lord, You have made me,Delivering Dreams

Crafted by Your hands;

I need Your wisdom,

To obey Your plans.

Help me understand,

Your will, and not mine;

Help me to obey,

May my heart align.

Please lead me, O Lord,

In all that I do;

So my words and deeds,

Bring honor to You.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created me – that You designed me with Your own hands. Thank You that You have a plan and a purpose for each of us. Thank You that as we ask, You grant us wisdom and understanding to know how to follow Your commands and walk upright before You. Forgive us for not asking, or for neglecting to do that which we know is the way we are meant to go. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for wisdom and strength, to know Your will and obey. Show us how to love those around us in a way that honors You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for understanding to know the ways we are meant to go. Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, NLT)

“Come to Me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, CEB)

 

Though the holiday season is busy, as an educator I am blessed with a break that is long enough to actually slow down, set aside the weight of what wears me out, and really rest. There is time to catch up on the little things that need doing around the house, and I am able to sleep longer hours than I ordinarily do. These are the sort of things that lighten the load when the time comes to return to school again, as I will go back rested with less on the list that seems to hang over my head. The incredible thing about the promise in these words spoken by Jesus, is that a vacation is not required to go to Him and hand over our burdens and allow Him to grant us rest. He willingly and lovingly will help handle the load that we are bearing, and provide opportunity for us to find rest in Him. In Him, our strength is renewed and our load is lightened, even in the busiest of times. May we look to the Lord who is our strength, and take our burdens before Him, trusting that He is the One who will grant us the rest that we need.

 

Ever He calls us,IMG_0439

The weary and worn;

To come close to Him,

With strength, He’ll adorn.

He will grant us rest,

From the weight we bear;

No more to struggle,

The burden, He’ll share.

Come all you weary,

For Jesus is best;

His arms are open,

In love, He’ll grant rest.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to come to You when we are weary and worn from bearing heavy burdens, and You give us rest. Thank You that Your shoulders are far stronger than ours, and that no burden is too heavy for You to bear. Forgive us for attempting to carry the weight of the world on our own shoulders, rather than seeking and trusting You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring our burdens before You, asking You for help and hope and strength, so that we would only carry that which we are called to carry, and set aside that which we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that lightens loads and shines hope in dark places. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You with our heavy burdens, and receive the rest that You have for us. 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

This is My command: Love each other. – (John 15:17, NLT)

 

We are not only called to love one another; it is a command. If love were merely a feeling, it would not be something required of us. However, love is a choice. No matter how we feel, we must intentionally choose to love, even when it is difficult – for this is what God declares His disciples (all who faithfully follow Him) are to do. There is no better time than now to choose to love those around us. We do not have to share the same opinions, thought patterns, philosophies, political views, or even the same faith, to choose to love one another. As opinions contrary to our own fly, let us love anyway. When tempers flare, may we return gentleness and kindness in love. May we rise up and remember who has commanded us to love one another, and go forth in faithful obedience.

 

As we all gather,Enter With Thanksgiving

Join with love in mind;

It is our own choice,

To love and be kind.

For God does command,

Love one another;

Without conditions,

Sisters and brothers.

We are His children,

Created indeed;

May we view others,

As loved who have needs.

Despite what we get,

Let’s love anyway;

When we love as Christ,

Our grace shows the way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You did not merely command us to love each other, but You sent Your Son to show us how to love, and to make the way for us to do so. Thank You that You first loved us, so that we can go and choose to love those around us. Forgive us for not choosing love, based on feelings or on what we receive. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend love according to Your will. Help us to love those who are difficult to love, so that they may experience Your loving kindness for themselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love others because we are loved by You. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6

But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. – (Psalm 146:5-6, NLT)

 

When we know God and place our hope in He who is faithful forever, there is an undeniable joy that wells up within us; not because everything around us is always amazing, but He who is in us, is trustworthy and proves faithful. In Christ, we have hope and help, regardless of what surrounds us. He who made the heavens and the earth, knows our needs and is willing and able to meet us in our lack and provide the help and the strength that is required to continue moving forward. All that the Lord has promised, He is faithful to fulfill. May we trust in the Lord who keeps His promises forever, and gives us hope to navigate each new day.

 

The Lord, our great God,Aquiring Armor

Maker of all things;

Is our hope and help,

And why our hearts sing.

He keeps each promise,

Today and always;

He’s why joy shall rise,

Even on bad days.

Because He is good,

Forever faithful;

We’re able to trust,

From hearts made joyful.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our help and our hope. Thank You that You who created the earth, the sea, and everything in them, are concerned about us, individually. Thank You that You keep Your every promise forever. Thank You for the joy that is found in knowing that You are for us. Forgive us for allowing the weight of that which comes against us or surrounds us to determine our outlook, rather than trust You with all of our days. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, so that we would be aware of the hope and joy that we have in You, regardless of what comes against us. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that they might see Your joy and faithfulness through our words and actions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hope in You; for You are faithful forever. Amen.

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

As soon as I pray, You answer me; You encourage me by giving me strength. – (Psalm 138:3, NLT)

 

God is faithful to meet us when we pray, however, His answers do not always look the way that we hope they might. Sometimes, the Lord answers only with encouragement and strength to keep pressing on for another day, and then the next morning, will do the same again. We are a fast food, instant-gratification society, so waiting for answers from the Lord is difficult. Answers sought online can be “googled” and discovered in mere moments, but those presented before the Lord can take days, weeks, months or even years. His answers come in a gentle whisper, not in a bright pop-up screen. Our hearts must be intently focused on hearing His, or we may miss what He has been speaking all along. Beyond the hearing, often there is an additional step required of us – the actual doing. I cannot think of a single example of my own asking something of the Lord that did not require some sort of step of faith on my part as well. May we pray in faith, trusting that He hears and answers, ready to act in obedience as He encourages us and gives us His strength.

 

Let’s pray to the Lord,Healed Hands Reach Out

In faith, may we seek;

The Lord for answers,

His love is complete.

The Lord is faithful,

And goes to great length;

He hears our heart’s cry,

Builds up and grants strength.

It may take some time,

To hear the Lord’s heart;

To see the answers,

We’ve sought from the start.

Be patient in prayer,

And trust in His time;

The Lord’s always good,

With the best in mind.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear our prayers and that You answer us. Thank You that though You don’t answer in our timeframe, You encourage us and give us strength as we wait. Thank You that Your timing is perfect, and we can ALWAYS trust that You have the very best for us in mind. Forgive us for our lack of patience and persistence. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would wait patiently on You for the answers we seek, and trust You and Your perfect timing in all things. Show us what steps we are meant to take to walk forward toward the answers You have for us. Lead us to love those around us in a way that helps them see Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust Your timing for answers. Amen.

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

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

So don’t be impressed with those who get rich and pile up fame and fortune. They can’t take it with them; fame and fortune all get left behind. – (Psalm 49:16-17, MSG)

 

All that is amassed on Earth is temporary, but the lessons and growth that are gained in our hearts are eternal. It is essential that we keep our hearts right in regard to those who seem to acquire much in the here and now. Of those who have much, much is required. We are called to be good stewards of whatever we are given. Rather than looking to another who seemingly has more in envy, there ought to be a sort of recognition that there is great responsibility with greater resources. Instead of worrying about what others have, we ought to instead look to the Lord and inquire of Him as to how He wants us to best utilize what we have been given. If we have more resources than we need, how are we being called to use them? When we are known beyond our own small circle, how does He want us to best represent Him to others? May we seek the Lord and clearly see resources and recognition through His lens, so that we may honor Him with what is given while it is before us.

 

Do not be impressed,To Reflect His Radiance

With fortune or fame;

For they are fleeting,

Not something to claim.

Whatever’s done here,

Shall die at the grave;

Unless it’s of God,

And sharing His Name.

Seek first to be wise,

To learn to love well;

Value what matters,

So truth our lives tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that fame and fortune are fleeting, but all that is of You, lasts forever. Forgive us for being impressed or envious of those who have more than us, and teach us to see abundance and notoriety through Your lens. Show us how to utilize our resources to love and bless those around us, so that they can more clearly see You through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we worry only about being known by You, and seek to honor You with all that we are given. Amen.

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

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

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