Deep Wells from Shallow Graves

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – (John 4:13-14, NIV)

 

When we are dry and thirsty, nothing satisfies our soul but Jesus. In the places where we have died or suffered loss, the Lord’s light and life can come and bring healing and hope that can quench not only our own thirst, but that of those around us.

God takes our shallow graves and turns them into deep wells.

The things that have only just died and are barely buried, are the very things that God will take, if we are willing, and turn them into deep wells.  These are the places where He brings beauty from ashes, and hope from despair. The losses we have suffered are the very spaces where He graces us with His great strength so that others might drink deeply from the hope that is held so clearly in a place that was once buried in darkness. New light and life shine forth to illuminate the way to His deep well, birthed within us.

 

Where hope was once lost,

Twin Falls, on the way to Hana.

Or love scorned and gone;

Lying in ruins,

How can one press on?

Barren in ashes,

Such desolate space;

Nothing left to give,

Desperate for grace.

Yet when we look up,

Our ash at His feet;

Beauty and wisdom,

By His grace, we meet.

The ugliest grave,

Often can become;

The deepest of wells,

For His chosen ones.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us beauty for ashes and hope for despair. Thank You that You are the well that waters our soul so that we are not left dry and thirsty, but rather as we drink deeply of Your word, You spring forth within us, living water that is a deep well to extend to others. Forgive us for our withdrawal when we feel dry and thirsty. Help us to ever seek You, our endless Source of living water, as You refresh and renew our strength and hope in all things and at all times. Show us how to depend on You to allow You to take our shallow graves and grow deep wells of living water from where they once lay. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize the love and grace available in You alone. Be glorified O God, as we walk out our days as Your vessels that continually pour out of the abundance of hope that we have found. 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

Our Source in the Struggles

Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted. – (Hebrews 2:18)

 

Christ suffered pain and faced temptations and trials. He knows our struggles, as He too, faced them when He walked the earth. Because He knows what we endure, He also knows what we need to overcome that which stands before us. When hardships and temptations come, Christ is the one who is able to provide the strength and endurance necessary to navigate, as He understands and is able to help. May we run to Jesus, our strength and our supply, whenever struggles come our way; for He is our help and our hope.

 

Through trials on earth,Healed Hands Reach Out

He was tempted, scorned;

yet He overcame,

His righteousness worn.

Because He has faced,

all kinds of trials;

He’s our source of help,

through life’s many miles.

So run to Jesus,

our strength and supply;

our help and our hope,

He’ll never deny.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly sent Your Son to suffer and die on our behalf, so that we would not only be able to endure temptations and trials, but have life eternal in You. Jesus, thank You for enduring all things so that You would know how to be our strength and supply, loving us as You laid down Your life for ours. Forgive us for attempting to stand strong on our own, or for forgetting all that You endured so that You would truly know and understand what we are facing. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will run to You in all things and at all times. Lead us to lean on You. May we love others as You love us, and let those who are looking, come into a lasting relationship with You as a result. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your help in every circumstance that we endure. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

What Gift Shall I Give?

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. – (Matthew 2:11)

 

This verse is from Matthew’s account of when the Magi traveled to Bethlehem to see the child to whom the star had led them. Their journey had been long, yet they were overjoyed upon their arrival. Despite Jesus still being but a very small child, they bowed down before Him in worship. As wise men, it had been revealed to them, just how significant this toddler would become. Additionally, the treasures that were given, had symbolic significance that likely funded the family’s flight to Egypt and back. Gold was a gift for a king; incense, a gift for deity; and myrrh, a spice for a person who was going to die. – (NIV footnotes)

 

Though the Magi were men of great wisdom, they did not yet know the whole story. We have an advantage, as we have the greatest gift that has ever been given. That toddler, the baby Jesus whom the wise men worshiped and presented gifts to, grew into a man who paid the penalty for all of our sin. He lived a life that was without sin, yet clothed Himself with all the world’s sin and suffered on our behalf upon the cross, then rose again in power so that we too, could overcome the snares of sin. Because Jesus took our place, we have the hope of life everlasting with Him. When we come before Him, what gift can we give? Though He needs nothing from us, He longs for our hearts to seek after His. Our worship, our praise, our adoration, our days – these are the gifts that we can give… May we go forth this day as an offering unto Him, as He has already given us the greatest gift of all.

 

The greatest of gifts,What Gift Shall I Give

we’ve ever received;

was granted to us,

the day we believed.

For as we embraced,

the truth of Your grace;

You freed us from sin,

and removed disgrace.

How can we repay,

such a blessed gift?

There’s nothing You need,

all praises we lift.

Honor and glory,

and hearts that are true;

may we bring You praise,

in all that we do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to come and make the way for us to be set free from sin and restored to right relationship with You. Thank You Jesus, for bearing all of our sin and shame upon the cross, and demonstrating Your power and glory so that we might receive the gift of Your grace and Your presence as we choose to believe. Forgive us for taking the greatest gift that we have ever been given for granted, and help us to seek to give You the gift of ourselves in return – our hearts, our hopes, our time, our worship – all unto You. Lead us to love people as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come to embrace the grace that You so lovingly and generously pour out upon all who are willing to receive. Be glorified, Lord God, as we give all of ourselves unto You. 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

When Weakness is Strength

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – (2 Corinthians 12:10)

 

Considering Paul’s experiences, he had plenty of practice in each of the above-mentioned trials. Paul had been ship-wrecked, stoned, beaten, slandered, suffered some sort of ongoing ailment, and had the constant concern of the development of the young church to contend with. Despite all of these things, Paul chose to delight in his struggles, for in them, he was drawn closer and more dependant on Christ. In fact, it was in the spaces that were likely perceived as weaknesses, that Christ spoke the most mightily through Paul.

 

Though I do not necessarily delight in my struggles, I am grateful that Christ is the One to whom I can cling. In the midst of suffering, He is my comfort. When I feel as though I do not have the strength to move forward, He provides the strength necessary to keep taking each next step. As I trust, I am constantly in awe at what He does through seemingly small steps of obedience. Christ takes our weakness, and shows His strength in ways that we never could. May our hearts hold fast to He who is our strength, and may we be thankful for new opportunities to depend on Him alone.

 

To delight in trials,Bless You

in hardships and such;

to embrace our weakness,

appears crazy stuff.

Yet when we are weakest,

Christ will be our strength;

we allow Him the space,

to go to great lengths.

So seek not our own strength,

but rather trust His;

all things are possible,

when Christ handles this.

Lord, teach us to delight,

in spaces we’re weak;

for those are the places,

You most clearly speak.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we are weak, You are strong. Thank You that we need not worry what comes against us, as You are for us and are our strength. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when trials come, and teach us to cling to You in faith. Teach us to trust You as Paul did, so that we may delight even in our struggles, as they are opportunities for Your strength to shine. Let Your faithfulness be evident as we love others through the strength that You provide. May many come to know the saving power that is present through knowing You as our Savior and King. Be glorified, Lord God, as we delight in the spaces where Your strength is made most evident. 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

Repentance vs. Regret

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. – (2 Corinthians 7:10)

 

Godly sorrow helps us see the error in our ways, confess before Christ, and allows us to embrace the forgiveness and salvation that our Heavenly Father is freely offering. As we repent, we are restored, and all has been removed. However, worldly sorrow is the sort that keeps us stuck in a sense of guilt that makes us shoulder the weight of the world. Over time, such sorrow brings destruction and ultimately death, whereas Godly sorrow restores us to life again. Our self-check is a matter of where does our sorrow lead us? Does it draw us to the face of our Heavenly Father, or make us run from responsibility and hide in our own hurt? In all things, we are to seek Him, and He will be found. His grace is sufficient, no matter what we have done. Christ already bore the weight on the cross. May our hearts turn away from our unrighteousness, and embrace the grace He has given, as He already suffered on our behalf.

 

Sorrow from the Lord,Modeling Our Maker

sets us free from sin;

it draws us to Christ,

repent before Him.

As we choose confess,

we are forgiven;

for abundant grace,

already given.

Sorrow from the world,

sets out to destroy;

the guilt eats away,

each last ounce of joy.

The road to ruin,

is full of the lies;

that our sin’s too great,

the space where hope dies.

God’s grace is enough,

the price has been paid;

embrace all He gives,

and walk in His way.

For those He sets free,

are free, yes indeed;

to live and love well,

give as we’ve received.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that sorrow from You, leads us to turn away from our sin and seek Your forgiveness. Thank You that as we ask, You forgive and restore us to right relationship with You. Thank You that sorrow from You compels us to seek You, whereas worldly sorrow simply sucks us under by the weight of our own guilt. Forgive us for allowing guilt to grab hold of our hearts, rather than seek You earnestly when we know we have not pleased You in word, thought or deed. Help us to trust You more, so that we seek You the moment we have that check in our heart that tells us that we are not doing what is pleasing before You. Lead us to live and love in such a way, that those around us are drawn unto You. May many come to know You as their Savior and King. Be exalted, O God, as we seek Your face in repentance when sorrows set in. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

Receive Life

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. – (Revelation 22:14, NIV)

 

Great blessings belong to those who have washed their robes. They will have the right to eat the food from the tree of life. They can go through the gates into the city. – (Revelation 22:14, ERV)

 

Our “robes” are washed, when we receive what Christ freely offers. We are cleansed by the sacrifice He made for our sin, when He suffered and died in our place. If we embrace what He lovingly gives, and choose to follow Him all of our days, we will be granted entry into Christ’s eternal presence, and allowed to eat from that which people were previously not permitted. All that is good, right, lovely, holy and true, will be the eternal surroundings of those who have chosen to make Jesus the Lord of their lives. Imagine a day when God’s glory alone is what lights our surroundings so brilliantly, that there is no longer need for the sun, nor lamps, nor any other source of light. May we receive what Christ has to offer, and allow His healing hands to cleanse us from all of our unrighteousness.

 

Our garments worn,Receive Life

surrounding our heart;

showing what dwells,

in the deepest part.

We all have stains,

wrinkles and some scars;

yet Christ calls us,

to come as we are.

The miracle,

of His great mercy;

and grace for us,

cleanses and makes clean.

Where blemishes,

were once dominant;

His love is seen,

light so radiant.

Not by our works,

but by His great grace;

we must receive,

as we seek His face.

Imagine when,

our days here are done;

the welcoming,

by Father and Son.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You, if we seek You with our whole heart. Thank You that You forgive us and cleanse us, washing us clean, as if we had never sinned. Forgive us for either taking Your grace for granted, or for somehow thinking that Your grace is not enough to cover what we have done. Teach us to have a proper perspective of who You are, and what You have done for us. May we love others well, as You so lavishly love us, and may many come to know the glorious gift of Your forgiveness and grace as a result. Be glorified O God, as we receive what You offer, and walk in the fullness of Your grace. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

The Perils and Pitfalls of Pride

This morning, as I read Ezekiel 16, I found myself astounded at the discovery of truth that I had somehow not noticed before. In regard to Sodom, I had always thought that they had been destroyed due to their violence and flagrant sexual sin as a nation. Yet in Ezekiel 16, I found that God destroyed Sodom because the people were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned about the needy people within their own reach. “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before Me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” – (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

 

It is easy to look back at Sodom and compare our sin to theirs. Most of us, on the surface, feel as if we are doing fairly well, as most are not murderers nor adulterers. However, in light of this verse that had previously escaped me, how do we measure up now? Are we proud? Do we have too much? Do we overindulge? Do we care for those in need, as we ought to? Granted, we are not meant to compare our sin to anyone else, but rather allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts to correct and direct us in the ways in which we are to go; yet in light of this passage, there is much to ask as we earnestly seek Him. May we place our lives in His hands, and allow His Spirit command, so that we are not proud, nor gluttonous, and that we are concerned about the needs of those within our reach.

 

Oh Lord guard our hearts,Cling to Hope

keep pride far away;

and gluttony too,

in You, may we stay.

Help us see the need,

around us today;

may we be Your hands,

give ourselves away.

Lead us and guide us,

in all of Your ways;

may we remain near,

for all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see all sin the same, and that there is not one of us that is without it. Thank You Jesus, for coming and taking our sin away, as You suffered and died on our behalf. Thank You that death could not defeat You, and that in power, You rose again, so that You could send Your Spirit to dwell in us and remain with us forever. Thank You that You lead us and guide us in Your ways, if we seek You. Forgive us for our pride, our overindulgence, and our neglect of those in need. Give us Your eyes to see the needs of others and the lens by which to view ourselves. Thank You that Your love compels us to make changes. Help us to love others as You love us, and may many come to know You as their Savior and King, as a result. Be glorified O God, as we seek to be Your hands and heart to the needs of those around us. Amen.

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

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

Strength in Suffering

And the God of all grace, Who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. – (1 Peter 5:10, NIV)

 

Yes, you will suffer for a short time. But after that, God will make everything right. He will make you strong. He will support you and keep you from falling. He is the God who gives all grace. He chose you to share in His glory in Christ. That glory will continue forever. – (1 Peter 5:10, ERV)

 

Struggling and suffering are inevitable parts of dwelling in a broken world. Hurting people hurt people, and often bad things do happen to good people. This does not mean that we have somehow fallen from Christ’s favor, nor does it mean that we are receiving our punishment due; there are times when a struggle is allowed for a season so that we may grow to truly understand His strength and His grace in our lives. Every single time that I have gone through a trial of sorts, Christ has been present. His grace gave me the strength to keep moving forward, even when I wanted to retreat, and His love summoned me to cling to Him – He who is firm and steadfast, always. As I relied less on me and more on Jesus, my footing became more firm, and my resolve, ready and steadfast in He who does not change. His strength and hope restored what I’d feared might be lost, and His grace abounded all the more. He who has promised is faithful to fulfill His every word.

 

Though life becomes hard,Strength in Suffering

there’s suffering, pain;

we have hope in Christ,

His presence remains.

He will restore us,

make us strong, steadfast;

firm, as He’s faithful,

eternally lasts.

We have been chosen,

to share Christ’s glory;

let us stand in strength,

and tell His story.

Receive His great grace,

to us it abounds;

all who were once lost,

but now have been found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God of all grace. Thank You that even in our suffering, You remain present. Thank You that You are our strength and our firm foundation, and we may remain steadfast in the hope not only for today, but of our eternal glory that awaits in Christ. Forgive us for our lack of awareness of Your presence in the struggle, or for doubting Your faithfulness when suffering seems long. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, knowing that our struggles and suffering are only a short time, when compared to all of eternity in Your Holy presence. Let us live with an eternal perspective. May we live and love as if each day could be our last, and may our every word and deed point people straight to You. Let those who are looking be found in You. Be glorified as we trust You in both the blessings and the suffering. 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

Breaking Free from Barriers

For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; He entered Heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. – (Hebrews 9:24, NIV)

 

Christ went into the Most Holy Place. But it was not the man-made one, which is only a copy of the real one. He went into Heaven, and He is there now before God to help us. – (Hebrews 9:24, ERV)

 

Before Christ came and sacrificed Himself on the cross, the high priest was only allowed to enter the Most Holy Place once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people with a blood offering. When Jesus came and suffered on our behalf, He broke down the barriers that limited our access to the presence of our great High Priest. When Christ sacrificed Himself, the price was paid – once and for all. No longer do we have need for an earthly mediator to communicate with God. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, continually contending for us. We are seen through the veil of His righteousness, and received as coheirs with Christ. Let us boldly approach the throne of mercy and grace, as we seek to serve Him all of our days.

 

No barrier,Breaking Free from Barriers

exists between;

a longing heart,

and Christ unseen.

Each honest cry,

by Heaven’s heard;

our great High Priest,

values each word.

Look to the Lord,

in suffering;

let gratitude,

from our lips, sing.

Direct access,

to His mercy;

let love and grace,

set our hearts free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your one and only Son to make the way for us to have direct access to You. Thank You Jesus, for enduring our sin and shame on the cross. Thank You for conquering the grave and returning to the right hand of the Father, so that You can advocate for us. Forgive us for our foolishness that thinks that we have to do or be enough to somehow earn what You freely give. Teach us to embrace Your mercy and grace, and to go forth in gratitude to serve. May we extend Your love and light to all those whom we encounter, and may many come to know You, personally, as a result. Be magnified as we move past every barrier that might hinder us. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

 

Benefits of Suffering

Trials and troubles touch the lives of everyone, eventually. Often, when the struggles squeeze, people begin to wonder why. Though I know not all the answers, I appreciate the footnotes found for 2 Corinthians 4:17  that speak of the following benefits of our suffering: (1) They remind us of Christ’s suffering for us; (2) they keep us from pride; (3) they cause us to look beyond this brief life; (4) they prove our faith to others; and (5) they give God the opportunity to demonstrate His power.

 

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

 

Not only should we recognize the opportunities presented in our suffering, but also on the One in whom we are to place our hope. Though the trial before us may seem insurmountable, if we hold an eternal perspective, we may hold fast to the hope that it will not last forever; and He Who is in us, is far greater than that which lies before us. Additionally, God can utilize our perseverance and persistent pressing into Him, to present the truth of who He is to others, in the midst of our trials. His faithfulness will be made evident to all who are around us, as we are dependent on Him.

 

When the troubles come,Benefits of Suffering

no need wonder why;

rather seek the Lord,

He will hear our cry.

He suffered for us,

our trials are known;

His presence remains,

for we are His own.

Trials fend off pride,

keep us seeking grace;

make known our own need,

to find the Lord’s face.

Reminders we’re not,

in our final home;

and our present pains,

make us long to go.

Our faithful pursuit,

of God in the press;

leads others to see,

the Lord’s tenderness.

So seek the unseen,

rather than what is;

for true treasure lies,

where we are called His.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You use every struggle and trial to grow us in Your grace, and demonstrate Your love and faithfulness to those around us. Forgive us for our lack of endurance and trust in the trials, and help us to persevere by Your Spirit, and be aware of Your presence, so that we may be a living testimony of Your faithfulness in both the trial and the times of peace. Teach us to be completely dependent on You, and show us how to fix our eyes on that which is unseen. Lead us to love as we are loved. May many be moved to follow You, as they see Your faithfulness in our lives. Be glorified as we faithfully follow You today, Lord, God. Amen.

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

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