Set Down Our Stones

“Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – (John 8:7b, NIV)

“Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” – (John 8:7b, CEB)

“Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.” – (John 8:7b, VOICE)

 

This particular story recorded in the book of John, is one of the amazing goodness and grace of Jesus. A woman who was caught in sin was brought before Jesus by the Pharisees, as they hoped to trap Jesus and condemn the woman. When Jesus spoke these words to those who accused her, one by one, they dropped their rocks and walked away. Each one knew that they too had sinned and did not qualify as sinless to hurl stones. I imagine we all have certain offenses against us that make our blood boil, however, when we slow down, breathe and reflect, we have to recognize that we are also offenders of others, even if it is without intent to harm. Sometimes it is the words that escape our mouths, other times it is our actions, or often even worse, our inactions, that are among our own sins. It is critical that we deal with our own sin, rather than try to manage that of another. Granted, there are roles that we are called to fill where it is our job to help others navigate a life of obedience, but even then, it is not by throwing stones that we correct, but rather through conversation, consequence and redirection. May we look to the example of Jesus when the offenses of others are brought before us, for not one of us is free from sin.

 

The stones in our hands, Set Down Our Stones

We must choose set down;

As we all have sinned,

We’ve made our own mound.

A mountain of rocks,

Where our own sins lie;

Each one forgiven,

Love never denied.

Let us do likewise,

Forgive each other;

Demonstrate God’s grace,

To one another.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us incredible examples of Your forgiveness and grace, though they are not deserved. Thank You that we all are in need of mercy and grace, as not one of us is without sin. Forgive us for holding stones in our hands, ready to throw, rather than slowing down to look at our own lives and recognize that we too have reason to receive retribution for our own offenses. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would set down our stones and seek Your strength and grace to extend to those around us. Show us how to love others with the same mercy, grace and goodness that You extend to us in our own spaces of need. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set our stones in Your hands, and receive the goodness that You give in their place to extend to those around us. 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

Honor Captivates Kindness

Like a parent feels compassion for their children – that’s how the Lord feels compassion for those who honor Him. – (Psalm 103:13, CEB)

As a father is kind to his children, so the Lord is kind to those who honor Him. – (Psalm 103:13, GNT)

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. – (Psalm 103:13, NLT)

 

As the One who spoke the world into existence, God deserves all honor and reverence, for all things are subject to His might. Incredibly, as we walk in awe and recognize the power present in our Creator and Savior, He has kindness, compassion and tenderness for us. Just as a good earthly father is both fiercely protective of His children and also deeply loves them with kindness and compassion; God loves us perfectly, despite our imperfections. May we stand in awe of the One who gives us light and life and love and seek to honor Him in all that we say and do, extending kindness and compassion, just as He lovingly lavishes upon us.

 

Just as a parent,wp-15291591867885875988528188491956.jpg

Loves deeply each child;

So too does the Lord,

His grace reconciles.

As we choose to trust,

Seek to honor Him;

The Lord’s tenderness,

Finds way to come in.

God’s great compassion,

Abundant for all;

Who ask in His Name,

Seek answer His call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are kind, tender and compassionate to us as we seek to honor You and are in awe of who You are and all that You have done. Forgive us for the times that we have not honored You with our words or deeds. Teach us how to live life in response to the lavish love that You have given, so that we would ever pursue a path that honors You. Show us how to love others in a way that honors You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in reverent awe of who You are and all that You have done, giving thanks for Your kindness and compassion toward us. 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

No Fear of Bad News

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. – (Psalm 112:7, NIV)

They will not be afraid of bad news. They are confident because they trust in the Lord. – (Psalm 112:7, ERV)

They won’t be frightened at bad news. Their hearts are steady, trusting in the Lord. – (Psalm 112:7, CEB)

 

Yesterday, as I had a check back  appointment about my whole leg situation, I had a very emotional response to the words spoken. The prognosis given was a far longer recovery time than I had originally been told, and he did not pull any punches as he spoke of the gravity of the condition residing in my calf. Though tears did not fall at the time, they were threatening, and I am not a crier. Not sure what to do with my own spinning thoughts, I scooted out of the office as quickly as possible. As I drove home, I saw such a perfect representation of the verse above. On the road before me, there were dark, heavy storm clouds, yet at the base of them, there was light in the form of a rainbow. What it told me in the moment, was that even in the darkness, He promises to be present. Additionally, the song that was playing on the radio was incredibly timely too. Fear is a Liar, by Zach Williams flooded my heart as I took in the truth of what was unfolding before me. Still overwhelmed by everything, the dam burst as I finally processed what had taken place at my appointment, with my fiancé. After a few minutes of actually giving voice to my frustrations and fears, I was comforted and reminded anew that I was held in His hands. God is good even when our circumstances are not. He brings beauty from ashes and hope from despair. May we be confident in Him no matter what comes, as He is greater than anything that we will ever face.

 

When news comes my way, wp-1523626205021976056124.jpg

That is hard to take;

I’ll choose trust in God,

Light on darkest days.

For we need not fear,

No matter what comes;

Because God’s greater,

And He is not done.

Our heaps of ashes,

One day soon shall be;

Redeemed by His grace,

Turned into beauty.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we do not need to fear bad news, as You have us in the hollow of Your hands. Forgive us for being fearful when news is not what we hope it will be and teach us to be steadfast in trusting You. Show us how to love those around us with confidence and grace, so that we may extend love in fearful and needed space. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are steadfast in trusting You and do not fear when bad news comes our way. Amen.

 

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

…He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair… – Isaiah 61:3

Trust by Faith

Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!” And the man believed what Jesus said and started home. – (John 4:50, NLT)

Jesus answered, “Go. Your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus told him and went home. – (John 4:50, ERV)

Go home. Your son will live. When he heard the voice of Jesus, faith took hold of him and he turned to go home. – (John 4:50, VOICE)

 

I love this exchange between Jesus and a government official. The man who came before Jesus on behalf of his son, was a leader among men, and accustomed to people following his orders the moment he spoke them into being. Despite the powerful position of this government official, he approached Jesus with humility and faith. Perhaps desperation was a motivation, as he more than anything, wanted his son to live. Rather than Jesus traveling with the man to his son, He simply told him that his boy would live. Something arose within the heart of the official, and he took Jesus at His word. He believed and began his journey home. I wonder if he had to keep reminding himself that Jesus had spoken the words that his son would live, so believe, believe, believe… At some point as the man neared home, one of his servants ran to him to let him know that his son would live and was well again. When the man asked when his son had shown the improvement, they discovered that it had occurred at the same time the previous day when Jesus had spoken the words that his son would live. How often do we receive and believe His promises with such faith? It is easy when we see tangible evidence that He is moving on our behalf yet it can be a battle when what we have heard does not align with that which we see in the here and now. May we have faith in the promises that He has spoken and keep walking forward in trust; for what He has promised He is faithful to do.

 

What Jesus tells us,wp-1522933972687995522303.jpg

He’s faithful to do;

Whatever He says,

He will follow through.

Despite what we see,

God is on the move;

We must choose believe,

Let doubt be removed.

We must trust by faith,

And not count on sight;

Let God lead the way,

For His ways are right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what You say, You will do. Thank You that You are forever faithful to fulfill that which You promise. Forgive us for our fears and doubts and for thinking that You might change Your mind. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk boldly in faith in that which You have promised, trusting that You will fulfill all that You have spoken. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may encourage and build one another up with faith. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your word to be true and allow You to grow our faith within us. 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

Love Comes Near

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. – (John 13:34, NLT) 

I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I love you. – (John 13:34, ERV) 

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. – (John 13:34, VOICE) 

 

On the same night that Jesus was betrayed, He shared a last meal together with His disciples. After they had eaten, He spoke the words above to them. Each of the disciples had walked with, learned from, listened to, and had seen with their own eyes and experienced for themselves how deeply and completely Jesus loved. When He spoke the words, they understood what Jesus was calling them to do. In the same way, we are commanded and called to love. We are not called to set limits and qualifications as to whom and how we love, but rather we are called to love one another deeply and fully, just as Jesus loves each of us. It is not always an easy calling, but it is always worthwhile when we follow through. His love makes way where there seems to be no way and softens even the hardest of hearts. May we rise up and be ready to forge forward in faith and love one another in the same way that He loves each of us. 

 

We have been given, Ambassadors of Love

A command to love; 

To love like Jesus, 

As He so loves us. 

Love that is faithful, 

Trustworthy, sincere; 

That’s freely given, 

And chooses come near. 

Love without limits, 

Nor rules to receive; 

By grace, it’s given, 

Because we believe. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithful and generous love for each of us. Thank You that You both call and command us to love one another as we are loved by You. Thank You that You equip and empower us to give the very same love that we have received to all whom we encounter. Forgive us for withholding love in spaces where it is needed most. Teach us to trust You more, as You loved us when we were most unlovable so that we could do the same for others. Show us how to love like You, so that many may come to know the depth and fullness of Your lavish love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fill us to overflowing so that we may go forth and love others as we are loved by You. 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

Live as Lifelong Learners

Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. – (Proverbs 4:7, NLT)

The first step to becoming wise is to look for wisdom, so use everything you have to get understanding. – (Proverbs 4:7, ERV)

Gaining sound judgment is key, so first things first: go after Lady Wisdom. Now, whatever else you do, follow through to understanding. – (Proverbs 4:7, VOICE)

 

We should never stop seeking to learn and grow. Not one of us has the capacity to obtain all wisdom and understanding in existence, yet the more we know and understand, the better we are able to love as we are loved. One of the greatest examples of this that I have ever known, was my grandmother. During her 98 years on earth, she never stopped seeking to learn and understand more. She was the wisest person I have known and had deep understanding of so many things. Even the most stubborn of her offspring would give ear to her words, as each knew and understood the wisdom that came with the words that she spoke. May we seek to be lifelong learners, as we pursue wisdom and understanding so that we too may love those around us, as we are loved by the Lord.

 

Let’s choose seek wisdom, Live as Lifelong Learners

May we become wise;

Chase understanding,

So truth’s realized.

Sound judgment follows,

When we choose pursue;

Ever we’re learning,

What we’re meant to do.

So, look for wisdom,

Seek to understand;

Ask for the Lord’s help,

To walk out His plan.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to pursue wisdom and understanding so that we are not left wandering around in ignorance. Thank You that good judgment comes as we develop into lifelong learners. Forgive us for thinking we know enough, or for not seeking to understand further. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would continually pursue more wisdom and insight for all of our days to love others well and walk in Your ways. Show us how to love others as You call us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to live lives as lifelong learners. 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

The Essence of Prayer

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself interceded for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. – (Romans 8:26-28, NIV)

Meanwhile, the moment we realize we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs and aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. – (Romans 8:26-28, MSG)

 

Yesterday, my pastor spoke about prayer. He reminded us that the essence of prayer is talking to God. So often we overcomplicate prayer, thinking that it requires specific rituals, routines or the “right” words. In actuality, prayer is us communing with God. It is a time of intentional slowing down to not only share our hearts with Him, but to listen as well. When we do not have the words to speak, we can rest in silence before Him, fixing our hearts on Him, and He hears what we cannot put into words. May we take time each day to commune with our Maker, as He knows and He hears our every heart cry and is faithful to be present as we travel each step of our path.

 

In strength and weakness, Refreshment Through Repentance

Our faithful Lord hears;

Each prayer that we pray,

Throughout all our years.

Even without words,

With our hearts to Him;

He hears and He knows,

Each need from within.

All things in our lives,

Can be used for good;

As we live for Him,

His grace understood.

So make time to pray,

With our God, commune;

You’ll find He’s faithful,

His heart to us tuned.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that prayer is not the complicated thing that we tend to make it out to be. Thank You that prayer is talking to You. Thank You that You made the way for us to commune with You directly. Forgive us for neglecting our relationship with You through lack of prayer. Teach us how to slow down, pull away and be disciplined to have intentional time conversing with You. Show us how to love well, all those whom we encounter, and to pray for all who are in need. Help us to listen too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come before You intentionally and spend time communing with You. Amen.

 

 

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

 

I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

May We Marvel Like the Magi

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, His mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped Him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left that territory without being seen, and returned to their own country. – (Matthew 2:9-12, MSG)

 

As I continue on my journey to dig deeper into the stories of those who first were mentioned in the Christmas story, this morning I did some searching about the Magi. What I had already learned, is that the wise men who visited bearing gifts, did not actually visit Mary, Joseph and Jesus as He lay in the manger. It was likely a year or two later. As mentioned, the wise men entered their home, not an animal shelter of sorts with Jesus in a manger. My new discovery however, is that according to what I found, the Magi were a priesthood of the Medes, known for their exceptional religious knowledge, and some proved to be experts at interpretation of dreams. This was the very same group of wise men and advisors to whom Daniel had been appointed Chief of the Magi, several generations prior. The gifts that these priestly people brought had prophetic and powerful meaning in religious realms. Gold spoke of His kingship, frankincense was a spice used in priestly duties, and myrrh was an embalming ointment anticipating His death. The wise men followed a star, knowing of the significance of Who they would find if they followed where it led. Based on the gifts that they had prepared to take, I imagine that they had already been given some dreams and insight about what had been foretold long before. It is awe-inspiring to envision what the moment must have been like for the Magi. A lifetime of studying and seeking, and then suddenly these wise men found themselves standing before the Savior of the world.  May we each have Magi-like moments this Christmas, where we recognize in awe and wonder, His powerful presence, because He chose to come and be God with us.

 

A star of wonder, May We Live Like the Magi

Led wise men afar;

Check in with a king,

Then follow the star.

The Magi arrived,

In Bethlehem town;

The way clearly shown,

As the star shined down.

With awe and wonder,

The wise men took knee;

They gave Him their gifts,

All praise unto Thee.

May we too behold,

A similar awe;

At the Gift given,

What the wise men saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly show us more and more of Who You are and all that You have done, as we seek You and ask for Your insight. Thank You for the faithfulness and obedience of the Magi, and a bit more of the story behind them. Forgive us for taking everything at face value, or for becoming numb to the depth and life that come from beholding the truth and the treasure that is found in the story of Jesus’ arrival. Teach us to seek to see it through fresh eyes, so that we never lose our awe and wonder at the glory of the Gift that You gave. Show us how to love those around us in a way that points hearts to You, the ultimate Giver of all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe of all that You have done for us, and the very reason we celebrate this season. Amen.

 

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

 

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

(link to Magi research)

Faithful to Love

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in His love.” – (John 15:9-10, NLT)

“I have loved you as the Father has loved me. Now continue my love. I have obeyed my Father’s commands, and He continues to love me. In the same way, if you obey my commands, I will continue to love you.” – (John 15:9-10, ERV)

 

As Jesus spoke to the people of Corinth, He was urging them to remain faithful, just as He had stayed faithful to His Heavenly Father. Obedience leads us to a space where we are right with God. He loves us because we are His, but the favor of the Lord is granted when we are walking in His will, rather than walking away from that which we are called. If God calls us to love Him and love people, it only makes sense that it is through our obedience that we would experience more of His love in our own lives. As we give love, we better understand and recognize what it is to receive love in return. May we love as we are loved in obedience to what the Lord is asking, and come to know and understand the riches of remaining in His love for us.

 

To love and be loved,The Wonder of Unfailing Love

 

Is God’s hope for us;

That is evident,

Through His Son, Jesus.

No matter what came,

To Him on His way;

He still chose to love,

In God’s will, remain.

So let us choose love,

As done unto us;

In obedience,

Love in faithfulness.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us with an everlasting love. Thank You that You have shown us what it is to remain in Your love. Forgive us for not obeying Your command to love as we are loved. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love one another according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to love like You, so that all those around us might see Your faithfulness through our love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love as You have loved us in obedience to Your commands. Amen.

 

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

 

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

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