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,

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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

Freely Given

When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. – (Titus 3:4-5a, NLT)

But then the kindness and love of God our Savior was made known. He saved us because of His mercy, not because of any good things we did. – (Titus 3:4-5a, ERV)

But then something happened: God our Savior and His overpowering love and kindness for humankind entered our world; He came to save us. It’s not that we earned it by doing good works or righteous deeds; He came because He is merciful. – (Titus 3:4-5a, VOICE)

 

Our hope and our help come not as a result of what we have done, but rather that of which God has done. In His kindness and love, He made the way for us to be saved. Salvation is not dependent on our qualifications, but rather on our reception of that which is freely given. If we choose to believe and receive the new life that He offers, our hearts are changed and minds are made new. While we were yet sinners, He loved. Most of us are able to extend mercy to friends and loved ones, but to those who are against us? The Lord demonstrates the depth and breadth of His love through how He loves and offers salvation to ALL. There are no exceptions nor exclusions from His offer; His mercy is available to everyone. May we both receive and extend that which we have been given freely, so that others too, may come to know the loving kindness and mercy of our Maker.

 

It’s kindness and love, Hands of Grace

Through mercy He brings;

That we can be saved,

Freed from sinful things.

Salvation’s not earned,

By good that we do;

But given by grace,

That shows His love true.

What it takes from us,

Is choice to receive;

To place trust in Him,

Allow God to lead.

As we give God reign,

Our eyes start to see;

Others with His grace,

Kindness and mercy.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came to save us, not because of anything that we did that made us good enough, but rather because of Your kindness and love. Thank You that You are merciful and full of grace, ready to receive all who seek Your face. Forgive us for thinking we have to measure up, rather than freely receiving that which You have to give. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to lead us and change us from the inside out. Show us how to love others with the same kindness, love and mercy that You extend to each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive what You freely give so that we can give likewise. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Faithful the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. 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

Delight to Walk Upright

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey. – (Psalm 51:12, NLT)

Your help made me so happy. Give me that joy again. Make my spirit strong and ready to obey You. – (Psalm 51:12, ERV)

Give back to me the deep delight of being saved by You; let Your willing Spirit sustain me. – (Psalm 51:12, VOICE) 

By Friday, many of us simply need a reminder of our real reason for joy. If we are willing to start our day seeking the Savior, who is our salvation and our Source of strength, joy rises up and the desire to do what is right before God gains renewed resolve. He is good, and His unending love will lead us and fill us as we choose to depend on Him to direct our path. May we delight in the Lord, who is our Source of joy and strength, and depend on Him to lead us in the ways in which we are meant to go.

 

Lord, return to me,Delight to Walk Upright

The sense of delight;

That entered my heart,

Made heavy things light.

Restore the pure joy,

Found in knowing You;

For You make us strong,

To walk Your way true.

Please make me willing,

To seek and obey;

For true joy is found,

As we walk Your way. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly and lovingly restore the joy of our salvation and strengthen our spirits to walk in Your way as we seek You. Forgive us for wandering aimlessly without Your direction, or for forgetting to pursue the One who provides our joy. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would begin each day anew, fixing our eyes on You. Remind us afresh of the joy we know, simply through time in Your presence. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads joy and helps sustain the weary. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to restore and refresh our joy when we grow weary, and give us a willingness to walk in Your way. Amen.

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

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

In Quiet Wait, There is Rest

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:1, NLT)

I must calm down and turn to God; only He can rescue me. – (Psalm 62:1, ERV)

Only in God do I find rest; my salvation comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:1, CEB)

 

When life gets hectic and the weight of the world seems to fall upon our shoulders, it is necessary to slow down and find rest in whatever form fuels our souls best. I love the creativity of God and how He provides places and ways for us to recharge as we seek spaces of rest and refreshment in Him. Once a week, during our collaboration period at school, staff members meet to discuss topics that will help improve the culture and climate of our school. Yesterday’s topic, was in part, self-care. Turning to God in trust is the first way that my weary soul finds rest, and that I can carry out “self-care“. Additionally, I am recharged when I spend quality time with the people whom I love. Though I have been fighting a sore throat and dragging this week, there was no hesitation in my decision to keep my plans to join my love, his son, and some great friends of ours at a hockey game last evening. The escape from my normal routine was filled with laughter, cheering and rest. There are few ways in which I would voluntarily sit for three hours, yet with a hockey game on the ice in front of me, no problem. Despite my reduction in sleep last night, (due to the late end of the game) I still bolted out of bed at the first sound of my alarm, and am fully coherent as I begin this new day. As a bonus, this is a short school week, with Friday being an in-service day for which I do not need to complete hours. He is good and rescues us from our weariness in ways that He knows we need most. May we ever wait quietly on God and turn to Him in trust, as He is our rescuer and our salvation.

 

I wait on the Lord, In Quiet Wait There is Rest

So steady and calm;

For I trust in Him,

To keep keeping on.

The Lord is my rest,

My strength when I’m weak;

My hope, salvation,

The answer I seek.

In quiet I’ll wait,

For my God alone;

As He’s where I find,

That my heart is known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we wait quietly before You, we find You and know Your help, Your hope and Your rescue. Forgive us for attempting to gut things out in our weariness, rather than turning to You for rest. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would calm down and rest in Your presence, as You are our Provider of all that we need. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides peace and hope and rest that points their hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we wait quietly before You, and give You praise for Your faithfulness throughout all our days. Amen.

 

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

 

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

 

 

Hope in Discouragement

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again – my Savior and my God! – (Psalm 42:5, NLT)

Why am I so sad? Why am I so upset? I tell myself, “Wait for God’s help! You will again praise Him, your God, the One who will save you.” – (Psalm 42:5, ERV)

Why are you so down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God – soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. – (Psalm 42:5, MSG)

 

It is difficult to take in the recent events in our nation, and not feel sad and discouraged. Yet, even in the darkness of such ugliness, good has been burning bright in incredible ways. When the need for blood donations was presented to the people of Las Vegas and the surrounding areas, generous hearts lined up in droves. Help is being provided in a place where it is typically lacking, as it is needed most. Additionally, there have been numerous stories of individuals placing themselves in harm’s way to help those in need in the midst of this tragic event. When I see the good that rose up in people who helped because they knew that they could not just standby and do nothing – I am encouraged and remember that God is our hope and our reason to praise. He moves hearts to act with love and compassion, and despite the darkness that is in the world, God is always good. May we ever place our hope in the Lord, as He is the One who saves and is worthy of all of our praise.

 

When I’m discouraged, Hope in Discouragement

And my heart is sad;

Help me hope again,

Lord, make my heart glad.

Glad for Your goodness,

For Your light and grace;

Praise for salvation,

Our hope in this place.

Lord, help us to see,

Where to fix our eyes;

As we look to You,

All hope’s realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that despite the darkness that befalls us and our nation, You are always good. Thank You that You demonstrate Your goodness and faithfulness through the grace and love of people. Father, please be with the first responders, the officers, the medical teams and all those impacted by what took place in Las Vegas. Your healing hands are needed more than ever. Forgive us for turning a blind eye to that which overwhelms us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would ask of You what we are meant to do – be it to give, pray, or go do more. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides comfort and care. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, especially in the places where Your light seems to be lacking. Amen.

 

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

 

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19

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

Made New By Mercy

He saved us, not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. – (Titus 3:5, NLT)

He saved us because of His mercy, not because of any good things we did. He saved us through the washing that made us new people. He saved us by making us new through the Holy Spirit. – (Titus 3:5, ERV)

 

I am so grateful that salvation is based on God’s goodness, not ours. His mercy declares us forgiven and grants us the desire to do His will, not the other way around. It is far too easy to get caught up in the “enough” mindset. Thankfully, in Christ, we are enough. It has nothing to do with what we do or do not do, but rather in Whom we place our trust. May we embrace the grace that God freely gives to all who call on His Name, and receive the new life His Spirit brings so that we may move forward in faith.

 

Because of mercy, Rise Again

In Christ we are free;

We need only come,

Let go, trust in Thee.

Embrace the Lord’s grace,

For He freely gives;

All who seek His face,

Gain new life to live.

It’s not what we do,

But rather our trust;

That shows us His grace,

As He lifts us up.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing grace that saves us. Thank You that it is Your mercy, not our works that make us new by Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that You receive all who earnestly seek Your face. Forgive us for not trusting that Your grace is enough, and somehow thinking that we must earn it. Teach us to trust You completely so that our motivation for all that we do will be to please and honor You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends grace and mercy to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your mercy and give You praise for Your incredible grace. 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

The Gift of Salvation

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this, it is a gift from God. – (Ephesians 2:8, NLT)

I mean that you have been saved by grace because you believed. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. – (Ephesians 2:8, ERV)

Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish. – (Ephesians 2:8, MSG)

 

Salvation is a gift that God freely gives to us, if only we choose to place our trust in Him. We cannot do enough, nor be enough, but rather it is a matter of making the choice to believe that God is who He says He is, and that He is true to His word. There is no prerequisite to have a certain depth of knowledge in biblical studies or theology, instead, we simply need to have a heart that is open and willing to allow God to be God, because we are not. For those who trust in the Lord, let us give thanks for the gracious gift that He has given; for those who are searching – He is always available and at the ready to hear our heart and love us to life.

 

God saves us by grace,

Rejoice Always

Not by what we do;

It’s all about love,

For His word is true.

What the Lord offers,

Is a gift that’s free;

It’s given to all,

Who choose to believe.

Rise up and have faith,

In God You can trust;

For He alone saves,

God’s loving and just.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You save us by Your grace if only we choose to believe. Thank You that we do not have to do “enough” or be “enough” to somehow earn Your favor, but rather You love us where we are and accept us because we are Your created. Forgive us for thinking that we have to somehow get ourselves cleaned up or do things a certain way before we can approach You. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, as Your grace is greater than all of our shortcomings and failures. Show us how to love without limits, all those whom You place in our charge, so that they too, may come to know the greatness of the gift of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the gift of salvation, and trust You with all that we are. Amen.

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

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

Trust, for He is Good

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