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

Safe in New Seasons

And when you are old, I will still be there, carrying you. When your limbs grow tired, your eyes are weak, and your hair a silvery gray, I will carry you as I always have. I will carry you and save you. – (Isaiah 46:4, VOICE)

I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. – (Isaiah 46:4, NLT)

And I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety. – (Isaiah 46:4, ERV)

 

Aging is an interesting phenomenon. Each mile mark that I reach, there are new blessings and challenges. Last November, for the first time in my life, I discovered that I needed reading glasses. As I attempted to read a recipe on the back of a can of pumpkin, I discovered that I simply could not see the small print. Since then, I went to the eye doctor and she confirmed what I already knew. Age had finally caught my eyes, and glasses would be needed from here on out. After a lifetime of not wearing them, it is a strange adjustment that I forget most of the time, until I have to sit in front of a computer or read multiple pages of text. That being said, the joys that God has brought in this time in my life, far outweigh such a small thing. His care, concern and covering has stayed constant, and I am endlessly amazed at how He blesses me with His presence and His love. Though I may fight the white hair portion of aging for a while, I will fully embrace His grace and goodness as each new chapter unfolds. May we recognize and remember that God has promised to remain present throughout our lifetime, and He will carry us when we cannot walk on our own.

 

All throughout our lives, Safe in New Seasons

God’s promised to stay;

To be by our side,

To show us the way.

We need never fear,

New seasons of life;

For God is faithful,

Through peace and through strife.

When we have no strength,

The Lord remains strong;

He will lift us up,

Lead us further on.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of life. Thank You that You are with us through each new season that we walk through. Thank You that if we grow weary or weak, we need not fear, for You are with us and will carry us on. Forgive us for fearing what is yet to come, and teach us to trust You to continue to carry and save us throughout our lifetime. Show us how to love those around us in a way that strengthens and encourages and helps those in need. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to remain present forever, and go forth in the confidence that You will carry us along and keep us in Your care. Amen.

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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Stones of Remembrance

After this Samuel set up a special stone to help people remember what God did. Samuel put the stone between Mizpah and Shen and named the stone “Stone of Help.” Samuel said, “The Lord helped us all the way to this place.” – (1 Samuel 7:12, ERV)

 

I love how often in the Old Testament that those whom had seen a mighty move of God’s hand on their behalf, would set up a special stone to signify His help. They were intentional to mark the place where their Maker had moved mightily, and such a stone created a talking piece for many generations to come so that they too could speak of the faithfulness of God to their people. Since Jesus came to seek and save the lost, the miracles and mighty movement of God in the lives of people for the generations since, has been astounding. Imagine if each of us created our own stone markers for every time that we saw the hand of God move mightily in our lives – our homes, yards, and cities would have stones everywhere! Perhaps it is a positive practice to picture each time we are aware of His hand in our lives. Where would our remembrance stones be standing? May we take time to pause, reflect, and give God thanks for the help of His hand in our lives, as so often we take for granted the good that He gives on a daily basis.

 

Let us remember, Stones of Remebrance

The help of God’s hand;

As He walks with us,

Grants strength to stand.

In the midst of mess,

His presence is clear;

By His grace, He helps,

Makes known He is near.

Imagine our stones,

Where should they each stand?

Mile markers of grace,

Turning “can’ts to “cans”.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the practice of the people in the Old Testament of establishing stones to remember where You moved mightily on their behalf. Thank You that there has been tangible evidence of Your help and hope for us throughout the ages. Forgive us for not establishing stones of remembrance in our own hearts, as You move mightily on our behalf so often. Teach us to recognize and remember the help You have given, so that we may give You praise, and tell of all that You have done. Show us how to love others well, so that some of the stones of remembrance in their lives may be seeing Your love made tangible through people around them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be intentional about remembering and sharing the goodness and grace of who You are as You help us in ways that are worthy of praise. 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

Just Believe

Jesus heard this and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid! Just believe and your daughter will be well.” – (Luke 8:50, ERV)

But when Jesus heard what had happened, He said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” – (Luke 8:50, NLT)

 

Need has an interesting way of breaking down barriers as people reach the point of desperation. Jairus, despite being a high official in the synagogue, did not hesitate to drop to his knees in need before Jesus on behalf of his dying daughter. The desire to see her healed was greater than his concern about societal norms. Faith and hope brought Jairus to Jesus, and it was likely the comforting words that Jesus offered upon hearing the news that his daughter had died that kept him from losing his mind with grief. What Jesus says, He will do, and Jairus had to choose to either trust Him and believe, or lose hope and his only daughter to death forever. I can only imagine the wrestling match that must have been going on in his mind as they walked the long road back to his home to where his dead daughter was waiting. “Can He who healed the bleeding woman with the hem of His garment, bring life back to my dead daughter?” My mind’s eye imagines that Jairus gained a bit more boldness with each step, as he recalled what he had just witnessed with the woman who had suffered for twelve long years and then was healed by her unwavering faith. Perhaps each step was taken to an internal cadence that he simply spoke to himself, “Believe, believe, believe!” Regardless of how Jairus traveled, when Jesus and the disciples went up to his daughter with he and his wife, their daughter was brought back to life, and their lives were never the same. May we listen for the voice of Jesus in the midst of our scary spaces, and hear Him as He reminds us to have faith and just believe.

 

In uncertainty,Our Map and Our Guide

Trial or in pain;

We’re called to believe,

Trust in Jesus’ Name.

For the Lord is good,

He alone can save;

Bring comfort to fears,

When we feel afraid.

God of all wonder,

Your power and might;

Is what we can trust,

To set all things right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and faithful and loving. Thank You that You move mountains when we have but a mustard seed of faith. Forgive us for the times that our faith falters because we rely on what we see, rather than what we know to be true in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have faith, even when things do not make sense, as You see the entire outcome. Help us to live and love in such a way, that our faith is infectious to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we believe and have faith, no matter what we see; for You are alone are the One who directs our path. Amen.

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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Transformational Times

When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshipped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” – (Luke 23:47, NLT)

 

This statement by the Roman officer was extremely significant, as it was his response after overseeing the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. He had observed each nail driven into His hands and feet, each insult hurled at Jesus as He hung in pain, and ultimately, he heard the words of Jesus as the world went dark for several hours that day, as Christ called out, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NIV)  Firsthand, this soldier who had carried out the orders to crucify Christ, could see for himself, that there had been no justifiable reason to take the life of the innocent man hanging on the cross before him. Something about what he had observed through the process, helped open his eyes to the glory of God, as the Roman officer responded by worshipping the Lord and declaring the innocence of Christ. When they say there is power in the cross, it is incredible how soon it began. First with the criminal that hung beside Jesus who recognized that He did not deserve to die and asked to be remembered, and then one of the leaders of the Roman regime. The power present to move those two men from death to life on that very day, is still alive and active now. Jesus rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father, so that His Spirit could dwell among us. The very same power that brought life from death, is available and able to save us now. If we come to the Lord, call on His Name, and place our trust in Him, His presence is ours, and we have the hope of life everlasting in Him. May we allow the power of the presence of the living God to transform us from the inside out.

 

The power of God,Transformational Times

Is mighty to save;

For this is the One,

Who conquered the grave.

He brings us to life,

When we choose to come;

Place our heart in Him,

Where freedom is won.

Free from all our chains,

Of past sin and scorn;

Where hope and new life,

In Him, we’re reborn.

New start without stains,

All grace is now ours;

Made new by His love,

His hope empowers.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to live and love and sacrifice, so that we could have life everlasting in You. Thank You for the incredible things that Jesus did, even as He hung on the cross to impact the lives of those around Him. Forgive us for thinking that we cannot do anything in the midst of our circumstances when things are difficult. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be receptive to all that You have for us – both for and through us as we walk out our days in faith. Show us how to love others as You love us, regardless of what is going on in our own lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow You to work in and through us at all times to touch those around us. 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

A Tangible Display

When the time was right, the Anointed One died for all of us who were far from God, powerless, and weak. Now it is rare to find someone willing to die for an upright person, although it’s possible that someone may give up his life for one who is truly good. But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display – the Anointed One died for us. – (Romans 5:6-8, VOICE)

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. – (Romans 5:6-8, NLT)

 

As we draw ever nearer to Easter, it is good to set our sights on what this season is all about. Each time I take pause and read anything related to what Christ came and did for me, I am in awe of the greatness of His goodness and His grace. Who willingly lays down their life to save another, when the very one being saved is against them? Before we knew Christ, He loved us. Prior to making a choice to invite Him to be Lord of our lives, He laid His down for us. While we were yet sinners, He came and bore the weight of all of our sin and shame so that we could be forgiven and free, and have life everlasting in Him. There is no greater love than He who willingly gave everything so that we could be made right before God and have eternal life. May the power of Christ’s life-raising love fill our hearts and minds, and lead us as we consider the weight of this wonderful week.

 

Stuck in the darkness,Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

Still shrouded in sin;

Christ came and He gave,

Love made the way in.

Though few might choose die,

For those who are good;

Only Christ the Lord,

In our place, He stood.

He bore such a weight,

Sin and shame of all;

So we could be free,

And on His Name call.

What powerful love,

Such wonder He is;

The truth and the life,

Our Savior, Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, Jesus, while we were still sinners, far from You, to give His life for ours. Forgive us for not recognizing the weight of what You did for us so that we could have life everlasting in You. Help us to grasp the magnitude of Your mercy and the greatness of Your grace as we walk out this week leading to Easter. Show us how to love those around us with the very same mercy and grace that we have been given. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the grace that You have freely given, and go forth in freedom to love as we are loved by You. 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

 

We Are Called Friends

If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of His Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of His resurrection life! – (Romans 5:10, MSG)

I mean that while we were God’s enemies, He made friends with us through His Son’s death. And the fact that we are now God’s friends makes it even more certain that He will save us through His Son’s life. – (Romans 5:10, ERV)

 

The reason I often post a few different versions of a verse, is my way of sharing the process of looking and listening to what He wants my heart to hear on any given day. Sometimes, the words jump off of the page and grab hold of my heart the moment I first read them, however, there are other times that something seems significant and is keeping me stuck on a verse, but it requires repeated reading. Though the main message of Romans 5:10 reminds us that we were saved while we were still sinners because of Christ’s sacrifice, God uses His words that I have read many times, to show me something new, or remind me of truth that my heart needs to hear. This morning, I took pause as I read the portion that says: “now that we’re our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of His resurrection life!” That is a loaded statement. It is rare that I feel that I am at my best, as I am well aware of my own flaws and shortcomings. That being said, whenever I am dialed in on the depth and breadth of the hope I have in Him forever, I recognize how much He has done both in and through me, and know that there is so much more as I choose to faithfully follow Him. May we ever identify the incredible gift that we have been given through the grace of God, and go forth in the hope that we hold in knowing He is with us, for us, and our eternity is secure in Him.

 

What is this great love,IMG_2491

That saw us in sin;

Enemies of God,

Yet still welcomed in?

While stuck at our worst,

He made way to friend;

Greatest sacrifice,

So life would not end.

It is by His death,

And rising again;

We’re forgiven friends,

Life with Christ won’t end.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that while we were yet sinners, Your enemies – You called us friends as You gave Your very best so that we could come to have life everlasting in You. Thank You that through Your resurrection, we are also raised to new life by Your mercy and grace, and empowered to walk in Your way, rather than our own. Forgive us for somehow discounting the depth of what You did and thinking that we do not qualify, rather than receiving the gift that You freely give. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have a proper perspective as to who we are in You. Show us how to walk out our days in the wisdom that we are Your friends, so that we love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the grace that You freely give, and walk forward in that which You have given us to share. Amen.

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

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

His Hand at Work

Help me, oh help me, God, my God, save me through Your wonderful love; then they’ll know that Your hand is in this, that You, God, have been at work. – (Psalm 109:26-27, MSG)

Lord my God, help me! Show Your faithful love and save me! Then they will know that You did it. They will know that it was Your power, Lord, that helped me. – (Psalm 109:26-27, ERV)

 

Though these words were the cry of David’s heart to God as he faced his enemies, they are still applicable today as we go through every type of trial. Yesterday, I was reminded again, countless times, of the faithful love of our Heavenly Father and the healing hope He extends through His hands and the hands and hearts of those He places around us. Throughout the day, I was reminded of His kindness and compassion for me in many ways. My students were better behaved than usual, despite not knowing my loss. Friends near and far extended sweet words of condolence and comfort, and my teaching twin, friend and fellow coach gave me a beautiful bouquet of roses (my grandmother’s name was Rose, unbeknownst to her) with a sweet card containing kind words and a verse that points to the promise my heart is holding. Practice after school went well, and I found myself smiling a bit more again. A quick run with a sweet friend followed, and further reminders of God’s goodness ensued. As I came home and was met with great greetings from my boys, gratitude filled my heart. Laughter and smiles were plentiful during my return trip to the gym with dear friends, and in the midst of my time there, a “just because” text came in and further reminded me of how truly blessed I am, and how God helps me in tangible ways in my time of need, by showing His love through the hands and hearts of those around me. May we call out to Jesus and seek His wonderful love, for there is no one who can help our hearts like Him.

 

Oh help me, my God,IMG_3146

By Your love and grace;

Make Your power known,

Be near in this place.

Show Your faithful love,

Through Your tender hand;

So all too may know,

By Your grace, we stand.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

You graciously show;

Your hands and Your heart,

Through people we know.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your help and Your hope in our times of need. Thank You that You make Your love tangible through people that You place in our lives, as they remind us of how readily You are moving on our behalf. Thank You that Your faithful love saves us from despair and reminds us again and again of the hope that is forever held in You. Forgive us for not calling out to You in our need, and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to hear Your heart for those around us, equipping us to be Your hands and heart to the hurting. Help us to love others well so that many see You through Your life within us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and Your faithful love so that Your power may be made evident in our lives. Amen.

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

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

Turn Our Attention

So all of you who are holy partners in a heavenly calling, let’s turn our attention to Jesus, the Emissary of God and High Priest, who brought us the faith we profess. – (Hebrews 3:1, VOICE)

 

So, my brothers and sisters, those chosen by God to be His holy people, think about Jesus. He is the one we believe God sent to save us and to be our high priest. – (Hebrews 3:1, ERV)

 

At first glance, it is easy to discount oneself from being considered “holy partners” or “holy people“, lest we remember that it is not through anything on our own, but through the saving grace of Jesus that we choose to embrace that we are called clean and holy before Him. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we are able in Him, to do abundantly more than we could ever hope or imagine according to His good and perfect will. May we focus our faith on the amazing grace that God has given, and go forth in confidence that we are called and chosen with a plan and a purpose as God’s very own. Let us set our eyes securely on Christ, and listen to His leading.

 

Don’t ever discount,

caught-in-awe-sylvia-carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

The call of the King;

Our yes to Jesus,

The gift that we bring.

As we come to Him,

He forgives, makes clean;

Calls us His people,

Shows what holy means.

Let’s securely fix,

Our hearts and our eyes;

On Jesus who saves,

And makes our hearts wise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we invite You to be Lord of our life, we belong to You and are considered partners among those with a heavenly calling. Thank You that as we fix our eyes on Jesus, You show us the way in which we are meant to go. Forgive us for wandering aimlessly without seeking You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and Your will in all things and at all times, as Your way is always best. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them feel valued and grants a sense of belonging. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the grace that we have been given, and turn our attention to You. 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

Rejoice and Be Glad in the Seeking

But may all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who long for Your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!” – (Psalm 70:4, NIV)

Let those on the hunt for You sing and celebrate. Let all who love Your saving way say over and over, “God is mighty!” – (Psalm 70:4, MSG)

 

When we seek the Lord, we find Him, and therefore have much reason to rejoice. He helps those who ask, and is mighty to save. May our hearts ever remember that we always have reason to rejoice in our Redeemer, for He is our help and our hope forever. Let the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts reflect the remarkable that is granted by God.

 

Oh Lord as I seek,Refreshment Through Repentance

May I sing to You;

For You are faithful,

And Your word is true.

Each time I ask You,

I seek and I pray;

You show me Your help,

As You light the way.

Lord, You are mighty,

In You, I rejoice;

Help me ever praise,

To You, lift my voice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our reason to rejoice. Thank You that as we seek You, we find You, and You are available to help and make Your presence known to us. Thank You that You are great and mighty, and that we can always come to You for help. Forgive us for attempting to navigate things on our own, or for neglecting to give You proper praise for all that You have done. Teach us to keep a proper perspective, so that we would seek You and praise You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides help and hope and points to the path that leads to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and rejoice in You for who You are and how You save. 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