A Final Act of Love

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. The men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” – (Luke 24:1-5, NLT) 

 

Though Jesus had told those who followed Him that He would rise again, I imagine it was still difficult to conceive, as the very idea was a seeming impossibility. As I attempt to place myself in the position of one of the women who went to the tomb that morning, I picture women overwhelmed with grief as they walked toward the resting place of their Redeemer. This Savior whom they loved, was now three days in the grave, and they were prepared to interact with His broken body as a final act of love and a way to say goodbye. The tomb had been sealed by a giant boulder, immovable, even by a malicious act of will. Imagine the shock that flooded their hearts and minds as they approached the tomb when they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Fear? Anger? Concern? What could have happened to the body of their beloved? Then, as they stood there puzzling over what was missing, two men in dazzling robes appeared out of nowhere. Clearly the women recognized that the men were messengers from God, as they bowed their faces to the ground in terror. From sorrow to confusion to frustration to fear, these ladies must have been flooded as heaven came near. And then, after all of that, to hear that Jesus was alive… The women navigated the roller coaster quite gracefully, as the very next thing they did was go and tell the disciples what they had seen and heard.  

This is the very day that we celebrate and remember the miracle of the resurrection. The grave could not hold Him, and He is alive and moving on our behalf. May we remember our Risen Savior as we go about this day and know that His sacrifice saved us while His resurrection reminds us that we are no longer dead in sin.  

 

Early Sunday morn, Hope in an Empty Tomb

They went to the tomb; 

Grieving act of love, 

No hope yet assumed. 

Imagine their hearts, 

With Jesus not there; 

Distraught and confused, 

The Lord is gone. Where? 

Angelic visit, 

In dazzling light; 

The women bowed low, 

Faced the ground in fright. 

The men then asked them, 

“Why did you come here? 

Don’t look among dead, 

For live to appear.” 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Your Son, Jesus. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross for all of our sin and shame. Thank You that the grave could not hold You, and that You rose again and are seated at the right hand of the Father, moving on our behalf. Thank You that in You we can have life and light and love forever. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your sacrifice and the glory of Your resurrection. Help us to grasp the enormity of Your mercy and grace. Show us how to extend love and goodness to those around us as an outpouring of our gratitude to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise and give You glory for Your love that defeated death and gives life to all who receive You as Lord. Amen. 

 

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

 

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

The Greatest Gift

But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. – (Galatians 4:4-5, NIV)

But when the right time came, God sent His Son, who was born from a woman and lived under the law. God did this so that He could buy the freedom of those who were under the law. God’s purpose was to make us His children. – (Galatians 4:4-5, ERV)

When the right time arrived, God sent His Son into the world (born of a woman, subject to the law) to free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately, He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters. – (Galatians 4:4-5, VOICE)

 

God knew that humanity needed a Savior. For most, the law was a list of do and do not from a distance out of fear and reverence, rather than being rooted in relationship. The arrival of Jesus changed everything. God out there, became God is here. Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension gave way for us to be adopted into God’s family as His children. No more are we simply subjects attempting obedience out of fear, but rather we are children of the Most High, saved by grace and dearly loved. From this position of freedom, it is difficult not to desire to do what is pleasing to the very One who set us free. May we rise up and recognize the sacrifice that was given so that we could be free, and walk out our days honoring God with our words, deeds and praise.

 

God saw all our need, The Greatest Gift

And set forth a plan;

Redemption and grace,

By His loving hands.

Hands that chose to send,

His beloved Son;

To bear all the weight,

Of what we have done.

Freely He took on,

All our ugliness;

So we may be called,

His in righteousness.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You saw mankind’s need for a Savior and sent Your Son to redeem us. Thank You that not only do You forgive us of all of our sin, but You adopt us as sons and daughters of Your own. Thank You that You lovingly receive all who come seeking You. Forgive us for forgetting the magnitude of Your sacrifice to be called sons and daughters. Teach us to treasure the gifts of Your mercy and grace far more than we do. Show us how to love others in a way that extends the same sort of mercy and grace to others, so that they might see glimpses of You through the good we give. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for the greatest gift ever given through the sending of Your Son. Amen.

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

 

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

Love Each Other

This is my command: Love each other. – (John 15:17, NIV)

But remember the root command: Love one another. – (John 15:17, MSG)

This is My command to you: Love one another. – (John 15:17, VOICE)

So this is My parting command: Love one another deeply! – (John 15:17, TPT)

 

In each translation, the message remains nearly identical, as there is no substitution nor synonym for loving one another. This is a command and a calling. Jesus gave this charge to His disciples (and to us) shortly prior to His sacrifice on the cross. He modeled how to love through His life, death, resurrection and ascension, and empowers us to go and love like Him. It takes little effort to discover the deep need for love all around us. So many are broken and hurting and in need. Though we cannot solve all of the world’s ills, we can choose to love wherever we are. Often, a smile, a friendly greeting or a simple, kind exchange of conversation extends love in ways that reach far beyond what we might imagine, and remind the recipient that they are valued and worth our while. Jesus will use our willingness far more than we could hope or imagine, if only we choose to love. May we rise up in obedience to what God requires of us, as He calls us to love in word and deed, just as we are so lavishly loved by the Lord.

 

The Lord, He commands, Love Made Known

We love each other;

He values us all,

Sisters and brothers.

The light of His grace,

Is meant shine through us;

As we choose to love,

Show the world Jesus.

So much of our love,

Is not simply words;

But through what we do,

That God’s love is heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace, as You demonstrate Your love to us so often through the words and deeds of others. Forgive us for the times that our words or actions did not show Your love, and teach us to do better each time we have the opportunity to love. Show us how to love those around in a way that demonstrates Your loving kindness and faithfulness through all that we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to obey what You are asking, and go forth and love one another as we are loved by 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

Palm Sunday

Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around Him were shouting, “Praise God! Blessings on the One who comes in the Name of the Lord!” – (Mark 11:9, NLT)

Running ahead and following after, they were calling out, Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in God’s Name! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven! – (Mark 11:9, MSG)

 

Today is Palm Sunday. This is the day that we remember Jesus making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, just days prior to the last supper, the betrayal of Judas Iscariot, the crucifixion, and ultimately, His resurrection. On Palm Sunday, as He returned to Jerusalem, Jesus was actually welcomed as the One who saves. People praised God as He passed by, threw palm branches before Him, and even their own cloaks so that Christ would not walk on the filth of a regular road. Jesus was given the honor that was due, yet the hearts of the people were still not quite grasping how His reign would come to be. They wanted Jesus to overthrow the Roman rulers right then and there, rather than reign in their hearts and rescue them from their sin and shame. God’s ways are far greater than ours, and it is often difficult to grasp the greater good when we want immediate relief. May we ever remember that despite what we see, God has our very best in mind. He sees and He knows what is and will be, and His ways are higher and greater than ours.

 

Triumphal entry,Palm Sunday

All honor is due;

To the God who saves,

All praise unto You.

Let us ever praise,

Despite what we see;

Your ways are higher,

Help me trust in Thee.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

That all’s in Your hands;

You take willing hearts,

And lead in Your plans.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that like the people of Jerusalem, though we might not fully understand what You have in mind, our hearts long to give You praise. Thank You that You show us Your will and Your way, and strengthen and equip us to do as You say. Forgive us for the times that we run the wrong direction in search of security or relief, when You are all we need to successfully navigate every obstacle and trial. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would run to You, trusting Your way, despite what we see, as whatever we go through here and now is temporary in comparison to our eternity that is to come. Show us how to love those around us with kindness and grace, so that they may see the hope we hold in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we remember the magnitude of the sacrifice You made for us. 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

Living and Loving Well

This is how we know what real love is: Jesus gave His life for us. So we should give our lives for each other as brothers and sisters. – (1 John 3:16, ERV)

 

As I spent much of yesterday with my mom, moving the belongings of my dearly departed grandmother, I recognized how much this rang true in her life. It was because she gave her love, her encouragement, her help and her hope, that my Gram’s life so impacted everyone around her. Daily, she gave her life away. She did not cling closely to things, but rather was generous with all. Gram, in her lifetime had experienced times of very little during the Great Depression; and a time of plenty, after years of being wise with what she had. Throughout my entire existence, she always lavishly gave of herself. Whenever we would meet, a strong squeeze of a hug would embrace me, despite her dainty size. Her words and kindness did the very same for my heart, and whatever exchange we would have during a visit, always lasted long after our seemingly short time together. Even now, I can imagine her laughter and way with words, as they were so readily given away. She was my truest tangible example of real love, outside of my own household growing up. If I can emulate but a fraction of her love and generosity to those around me, then I will have lived my life very well. May we each seek to give away, the greatest gifts that we have been given.

 

The beauty that’s seen,With Gram2

When we realize;

The look of real love,

Hope before our eyes.

As we give away,

All we’re meant to be;

People see the hope,

That Jesus sets free.

Because Jesus gave,

We also can give;

All that we’ve become,

So all might choose live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to show us through His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, what real love is all about. Thank You too, for the beautiful, tangible examples of the faithful that You have placed in our lives, that show us again and again, what it means to give our lives away. Thank You for the lifelong gift of my Gram, and the role model that she was for all who knew her. Forgive us for withholding the very things that You have placed in us to share with those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would willingly and generously give all that we are to all that we do. Show us how to love those around us with our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give all that we are to living and loving well. 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

Reminders Anew

They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will laugh at Him and beat Him with whips, and then they will kill Him on a cross. But on the third day after His death, He will be raised to life again. – (Matthew 20:19, ERV)

 

As Easter approaches, we are reminded anew of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. He willingly bore the agony of the cross on our behalf, so that we could be raised to new life in Him. This season is a reminder of the awakening that occurred as life was breathed into His body in the tomb. Though there are dark days, when the sun returns and the flowers bloom, we see the hope of the longer, sweeter days of summer on the horizon. In the same way, on the third day, after much darkness and despair, those closest to Jesus went to visit His body, only to discover that He was alive again! Our hope is held in the One who defeated death so that we could find life in Him forever. May we always remember that the darkness is but for a season, and His light dwells within us, holding the hope of all that is yet to come.

 

When darkness and death,Embracing Grace

Seem to dominate;

Remember to seek,

Him who can relate.

For Jesus, He knows,

The weight of our pain;

As we seek His help,

He makes His grace plain.

We’re granted His hope,

His love and His peace;

Life everlasting,

Grace that will not cease.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly endured the scorn and shame of the cross, and overcame the grave to give us new life in You. Thank You that even when darkness and death seem to surround us, there is always light and life in You. Forgive us for making You too small, as You are the Overcoming King. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love others in such a way, that we offer hope, light and life where they fear there is none. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize and celebrate the power held in Your presence as You alone bring hope and new life. Amen.

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

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

The Path of Peace

With the loving mercy of our God, a new day will shine on us. It will bring light to those who live in darkness, in the fear of death. It will guide us into the way that brings peace. – (Luke 1:78-79, ERV)

Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s sunrise will break upon us, shining on those in darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace. – (Luke 1:78-79, MSG)

 

These words, spoken by Zechariah, were foretelling of how things would change when Christ was to come. Through His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, Jesus has made way for His light to come to all who live in darkness and fear. When we seek Him, we find Him, and He shows us the way that brings His peace. The incredible thing about the peace of God, is that it is not dependent on our circumstances. His peace can be present even in the most tumultuous of times. God’s peace is the very presence of His Spirit in us, that reminds us that He who is in us is far greater than all that is in the world. Yes, in this world there will be trouble, but we can take heart, because He has overcome it all. May fear be far from us as we cling to Christ, allowing His light to illuminate the path to His perfect peace.

 

With loving mercy,given-to-show-goodness

Our great God shall reign;

Each new day He shines,

Makes path to peace plain.

We need not choose fear,

Though things may seem dim;

For God is greater,

And shines His light in.

One step at a time,

He will show the way;

To be free of fear,

And know peace each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and merciful, and that each new day Your love shines upon us. Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning. Thank You that we need not live in darkness and fear, as You, in Your great love, show us the path of peace. Forgive us for our fearfulness when things seem dark. Teach us to trust You, regardless of what we see. Show us how to love others well, so that we extend Your light into darkness, and Your peace into places of unrest. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and listen to Your leading so that we may know Your perfect peace. 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

Faithfulness Forever

Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth You created. – (Psalm 119:90, NLT)

You are loyal forever and ever. You made the earth and it still stands. – (Psalm 119:90, ERV)

 

David compared the faithfulness and loyalty of God to something tangible that we could grasp. Just as the earth endures, despite man’s destructive nature, so too does the faithful love of the Lord to those who call on His Name. God’s faithfulness did not end because of our sinfulness. Instead, He made the way for our relationship to be restored unto Himself through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. There is no greater love nor loyalty than that of one willing to lay down His life on our behalf. As I consider people in my own life, I am fiercely loyal to those whom I know care for either my children or for me. How much more invested ought my heart be in the One who laid down His life so that I could live? May we lay hold of the magnitude of the Lord’s faithfulness unto us, and respond in a way that demonstrates our gratitude.

 

May my heart embrace,Enter With Thanksgiving

Your great faithfulness;

The way that You love,

Grant life unto us.

Just as creation,

Forever endures;

So too, You’re faithful,

Throughout all our years.

Help us to receive,

These blessings from You;

So we may go forth,

And live life anew.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to every generation, and that Your faithfulness does not end. Thank You that we can trust in You forever, as You have made the way for us to walk upright before You. Forgive us for not receiving all that You offer, and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to walk in Your ways and live in Your truth. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they may see Your faithfulness and loyalty through how we care. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your faithful love forever. Amen.

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

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

Wages vs. Gifts

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 6:23, NIV)

The payoff for a life of sin is death, but God is offering us a free gift – eternal life through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King. – (Romans 6:23, VOICE)

 

In our natural state of sinfulness, we deserve death. Not even the kindest and most gentle of individuals is without sin. The consequence for such, is death. However, God sent His Son to extend to us, the opportunity to choose life – life everlasting in Him. There is nothing that we can do to earn this gift that He gives, but rather we must choose to receive what is being freely offered. When we choose Christ, we choose life. We are not promised pain-free pleasantries each day of our lives in the here and now, but in Him, we have the glorious hope of our future freedom from all such things, for all of eternity with Christ. There is no greater gift than He who laid down His life for our sin and shame, so that we could have life abundant in Him. May we receive all that He is offering, as we walk into this weekend of remembering not only His death on our behalf, but Christ’s resurrection from the grave that could not contain Him, so that we could enter eternity with Him.

 

Though we deserve death,Good Gifts

He’s given to us;

the gift of His Son,

life in Christ Jesus.

When we choose receive,

new life becomes ours;

where hope is our truth,

and Love empowers.

Let us choose embrace,

this gift given free;

so all may come know,

Christ dwelling in me.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we deserve death for our sinfulness, You made way for our lives to be redeemed through the gift of Your Son. Thank You Jesus, for dying in my place, so that I might come to know the truth of who You are, and how You love. Thank You for the hope that we hold forever in You. Forgive us for not living with an eternal perspective, as all in the here and now will one day fade away. Teach us how to trust You more, so that we will see things through Your lens. Show us how to love others well, so that they too may come to know the hope that is found in You alone. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the gift of life that You freely give. 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

Tender Mercy to Perfect Peace

With the loving mercy of our God, a new day from heaven will shine on us. It will bring light to those who live in darkness, in the fear of death. It will guide us into the way that brings peace. – (Luke 1:78-79, ERV)

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. – (Luke 1:78-79, NLT)

 

The merciful morning light from heaven, the new day that shines upon us, has indeed already come. Zechariah was speaking of the birth and life of Jesus that was drawing near. We have the benefit of the light of His life, death, resurrection and ascension, as all have already taken place. Because Christ lived, we no longer need live in darkness nor fear of death. When we trust in Him, He guides us in His loving light, and shows us the path of peace. His ways are higher than our ways, and there is no fear in perfect love. Through Him, we can rest assured that this is not the end. We have a hope that is eternal, that is far greater than our minds can even conceive. May we trust in the tender mercy of our Maker, and allow His light to guide us on the path of peace.

 

Our merciful God,Believe Instead of Striving

great heavenly light;

Who has come to us,

to send fear to flight.

For there’s no darkness,

where His light is shined;

His light leads to peace,

for all He calls “Mine”.

We belong to Him,

when our hearts choose dwell;

in truth of His word,

He’ll help us live well.

May this brand new day,

be one to embrace;

as Christ lights the way,

in love, sets the pace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are tender and merciful. Thank You that You sent Your Son down from heaven to light the way out of the darkness and into the light of life with You. Thank You that Your light shines the way to the path of peace. Forgive us for not trusting in Your tender mercy each new day, or for not seeking You to light the way out of our spaces of darkness and into Your perfect peace. Teach us to trust You more, so that even in the midst of our darkest, stormiest seasons, we would rely on You to show us Your peace in spite of what surrounds us. Lead us to love others in a way that allows You loving light to shine through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace Your tender mercy and allow Your light to lead us on Your perfect path of peace. Amen.

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

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