Listen and Follow

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. – (John 10:28, NLT)

 

To be His sheep requires an intentional choice to seek to follow Christ. When we make the decision to live for the Lord, rather than for ourselves, we listen for His instructions so that we might do His will and walk in His way. God sees and knows each heart that earnestly seeks Him. He is present to help all who long to follow where He is leading. We may stumble and fall along the way, but He is present to pick us up, dust us off, and continue to lead us the way we are meant to go.

Not one of us will get it right 100% of the time. However, we cannot allow fear of failure to paralyze us from forward momentum. His grace is sufficient, and He will meet us as we move, gently adjusting our sails if we get off course. Sometimes He allows obstacles to be placed in our path, so that we might take pause and reroute, according to His plan, not our own. May we each be sensitive to hear His voice, and intentional to follow wherever He leads.

 

The Lord is present,Masterd by Our Maker No Longer Slaves to Sin

May we hear His voice;

It’s through our seeking,

Intentional choice.

Each one of us known,

With freedom to choose;

To listen and learn,

His path to pursue.

Lord, help us follow,

With all that we are;

Lead us and guide us,

As You’ve done thus far.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You and we are known by You. Thank You that we can hear Your voice as You speak to us through Your word, through people, and in the stillness of our own hearts. Forgive us for not following as You are leading. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would obey immediately, all that You are asking. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too, shall come to know Your voice. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen and follow after You with all that we are. 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

The Safest Space

You are my hiding place. You will keep me out of trouble and envelop me with songs that remind me I am free. – (Psalm 32:7, VOICE)

You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. – (Psalm 32:7, NIV)

For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. – (Psalm 32:7, NLT)

 

God is faithful, no matter what comes our way. We can always trust in Him to be our space of safety, and the One on whom we can depend. He is our strength, our protection and our peace. As we rest in Him, regardless of what surrounds us, He reminds us that the ultimate victory is His. In Him, we are free. Despite what we see, He is present and moving on our behalf if we call on His Name for help. The Lord will use even the most dire of circumstances for the ultimate good of those who love Him. It does not mean that He orchestrated nor set into motion the difficulties that we endure, yet He, in His loving kindness, will come beside us and supply what we need to navigate the hard, and then bring beauty from the ashes that once reigned. As we watch in wonder the new that He brings forth from what once was broken and laid bare, His sweet songs surround us, reminding us that in Him, there is hope, and the ultimate victory belongs to Him. May we run to Him who is our hiding place, and trust the Lord to be our protection from the perils along our path. Help our hearts to hear Your sweet songs of deliverance as You move on our behalf.

 

You’re my hiding place,Be strong and courageous

as troubles invade;

in Your sweet embrace,

I am not afraid.

For You are safety,

as storms try to rage;

my hope and comfort,

for all of my days.

Your songs of freedom,

surround and remind;

despite what is seen,

in You, hope we find.

Help my heart to hold,

to Your hiding place;

protect and keep me,

for now and always.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our hiding place no matter what comes our way. Thank You that You are our protection through the storms of life, and that You surround us with Your songs of hope that remind us of the ultimate victory found in You. Thank You that You bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Thank You that Your grace is sufficient, no matter what we face. Forgive us for our fearfulness in the midst of life’s trials. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would run to You as our hiding place, for in You, we find comfort and safety, despite what surrounds us. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that we might convey the hope and safety that You alone supply. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we run to You as our hiding place and trust You to keep us from trouble and listen for Your songs that surround our hearts and minds. 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

Praise to the Burden Bearer

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. – (Psalm 68:19)

 

Though we all must face barriers and burdens before us, not one of us was ever meant to bear them alone. God created us with relationship in mind. Even when the original intent for the relationship was fractured with the fall of man, Christ came to create the way for nearness to be restored, and for mankind’s mistakes to be made right before our Maker.

 

We each have a choice. If we choose Christ, and opt to allow Him to be the center of our lives, He comes along side us, forgives and restores us to righteous standing before Him, and is our help and our hope, bearing our burdens and guiding us through that which we were never meant to walk through alone. Because He is God who saves, He alone deserves our praise. May we give Christ all of our praise, and allow Him to bear the burdens that we cannot carry.

 

May praise be present,An Appropriate Answer to Anger

to the Lord our King;

Who bears our burdens,

His grace offering.

Let not life’s challenge,

lead our hearts astray;

for only in Christ,

will we find the way.

The Lord’s way is love,

to save and restore;

to walk alongside,

give strength to endure.

All praise unto You,

our Savior and King;

for in You alone,

we find what strength means.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our God and Savior who daily bears our burdens when we seek You and willingly place them in Your hands. Thank You that no matter what comes, Your strength is sufficient to carry us through. Forgive us for attempting to bear our burdens alone, or for questioning Your ability to carry that which is weighing us down. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will come before You and ask You to bear what we are not meant to carry. Help our hearts remain in a perpetual place of praise unto You, for You deserve all of our adoration and honor for who You are. Lead us to love others with a love like Yours, and may many come to know You personally as a result. Be exalted O God, as we praise You, the beautiful bearer of our burdens. 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

Power Made Perfect in Weakness

Paul lived a phenomenal life of obedient faith. Often, we fail to remember that he had some sort of affliction that tormented him throughout many of his years of ministry. Despite his asking the Lord repeatedly to remove it, he remained faithful to continue in that which he was called, even when the Lord’s answer was not what Paul had hoped.

 

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – (2 Corinthians 12:9)

 

The Lord spoke to Paul, and Paul listened. Though he could have had a pity party and complained about having to live with his affliction, instead, Paul came to recognize that the very point of pain and weakness was a perfect opportunity for God’s power to be magnified. Where we are weak, it becomes obvious that anything we do well, is done in the Lord’s strength. Additionally, when we are aware of our own shortcomings, we are more likely to seek our Savior to be our source of strength, help and hope, as we know fully that without Him, we will fall on our faces. May we choose to embrace His grace this day, in our places of weakness, allowing His power to be made perfect in us. Let the Lord lead us, so that many may witness His mighty strength where our own is not.

 

Grace that’s sufficient,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

it’s more than enough;

despite what we face,

the Lord’s strength is tough.

For when we are weak,

we choose to seek Him;

make way for His strength,

to come enter in.

Therefore let us boast,

of where our strength lacks;

so Christ’s power comes,

to keep us on track.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your grace is sufficient for us, and that Your power is made perfect in our weakness. Thank You that our spaces of weakness are not something to be ashamed of, but rather they are opportunities for Your power to shine. Forgive us for stubborn independence or our fear of exposing our weaknesses. Teach us to trust You more, so that we are willing to be transparent in our weakness and allow Your strength to shine. Lead us to love others as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as Your strength is made perfect in our weakness. 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

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

Unfettered Forgiveness

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21:22)

 

During that time, rabbis taught the people that they ought to forgive others three times. So when Peter suggested seven times, he likely thought the “perfect” number was more than sufficient. However, Jesus did not concur. Seventy-seven times or seventy times seven, (depending on which verse we read) is a matter not of actual numbers, but rather of a number so high that a person would not actually keep a record of faults and foibles forgiven.

 

This is not necessarily an easy task, and often, the repeated steps of forgiving occur for one single action. There are times when we have to forgive again and again for one isolated incident. On Saturday, I wrote of a childhood friend who lost her seventeen-year-old son in a tragic car accident. He was doing nothing wrong, yet was t-boned by a speeding, and possibly intoxicated driver, at 7:00am. Not once since that tragic day, have I seen a single statement by her that has condemned the other driver. However, I imagine that each time she pictures her sweet son, she has to stop and forgive the other driver, as she is left wondering why her son was taken so soon. She is a woman of unflappable faith, and I know it is only by His grace, that she is able to choose to forgive.

 

All of us have contributed to a comparable atrocity against Christ. Though He was without sin, He was killed for our sake, because of our sin. However, He chose to allow our actions that grieved the very heart of God, to be placed on Him, so that we could be forgiven. EVERY. SINGLE. SIN. As He willingly bore the cross, He declared, “It is finished,” so that we could be forgiven, and likewise we could go forth and forgive others.

 

Count not the times,Unfettered Forgiveness

we have to forgive;

for Christ counts not,

forgiveness He gives.

Let His love lead,

when it’s hard to love;

He is our strength,

all grace from above.

Despite the deed,

the pain to our heart;

we must forgive,

and grant a fresh start.

Just as our sin,

was worn on that cross;

we must let go,

trust God with each loss.

All in His hands,

be it large or small;

help to forgive,

He’s covered it all.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You forgive us for all of our sin, the moment we come to You and confess. Thank You that You do not hold things over our heads, but rather once You have forgiven, You have chosen to forget and let it go. Thank You that as we come to You and seek You, You help us find forgiveness, even in the face of great adversity, grief, and anger. Forgive us for our unforgiveness, and make us acutely aware of things that we are holding that need be released. Help us to forgive as we have been forgiven by You. May we be gracious and kind, abounding in Your love. Let others see Your goodness and grace in us, and may that be what draws them unto a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified as we extend Your forgiveness and grace to those who grieve our hearts. 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. – I Corinthians 3:5

 

 

Sufficient Grace

When trials come, it is easy to default to the “O Lord get me out of this mess,” sort of posture. It is an automatic response to want difficulty to go away. However, God does not see the struggles the same way that we do. Rather than a chance of us being pulled under, He sees struggles as an opportunity for His strength to be shown. Paul, who had some sort of ongoing affliction, asked the Lord to take it away. Three times He asked God to take it away, and alas, God did not. “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – (2 Corinthians 12:9)

 

Though Paul’s initial request was for the Lord to take the affliction, the very struggle that hindered him away; when the Lord answered him, Paul’s perspective shifted. What he had viewed as a hindrance, he began to see as an opportunity to show the Lord’s strength. Once he recognized that it was only by God’s grace that he could do anything that the Lord was asking, he was empowered to embrace his weaknesses as opportunities for Christ’s strength to shine.

 

The challenge is how are we to do this practically? I have seen brilliant examples, as faithful warriors press on and pursue all that God has for them, despite the obstacles that life throws their way. Their resolve is deep-rooted in a firmly established relationship with the Father. Each of them fix their eyes and hearts securely on Him, and trust in His unwavering faithfulness. We are called to press in and persevere, regardless of what comes our way. As our roots run deep, His strength becomes more evident, even when we are weak.

 

We’re all in a boat,Sufficient Grace

somewhere off the shore;

some simply adrift,

while others want more.

Some paddle, pursue,

a course set afar;

and some are content,

to float where they are.

Both will endure waves,

and boats will be rocked;

one self-sufficient,

and one faith unlocked.

Both will come to know,

their own sense of need;

one calls on the Lord,

allowing Him lead.

For in our weakness,

His strength clearly shows;

may we boast in Christ,

as we daily grow.

May His power rest,

so powerfully;

that all who draw near,

will see Christ in me.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your grace is all that we need to get through our greatest challenges. Thank You that Your power is made perfect in our weakness. Thank You that You utilize every challenge as an opportunity to grow us in Your grace, and make Your presence and power known. Forgive us for somehow thinking that You are not enough to carry us when we are unable to stand. Give us wisdom to know when to ask for You to remove something and when to have Your strength come and carry us. Teach us to trust You completely, so that we are completely aware of Your will in all things and at all times. May we love as You love us, and may many come to know the power and presence that is available through the gift of Your grace. Be glorified as we go forth today, and be the strength of our lives. Amen.

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Grace in Weakness

I loathe public speaking.  My palms sweat, my hands shake, my voice wavers, and I imagine my face is covered in every shade of crimson, when I am asked to do so.  That being said, I find myself in a season of stretching, in which each time I have been asked, I have known the nudging was to say “yes“, despite my personal disdain.  It seems no matter how I pray, I do not become queen of confidence when it is my turn to speak.  His grace gets me through it, but I physically feel shaken.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – (2 Corinthians 12:9)  Though we know not what Paul’s “weakness” was, it was something that tormented him and made what he did, more difficult.  Despite the rejection of his request for it’s removal, he chose to rely on Christ and what He had given – power in his weakness.  I have found this to be a great encouragement, as I have asked many times to not be so fearful when it comes to public speaking.  Though the physical reaction has not been removed, His grace has been present each time I have trusted Him to meet me in this place, and people have made a point to let me know that they received something from what I had to share.  If that isn’t His power present in my weakness, I don’t know what is.

I’ll answer You, Lord,Grace in Weakness

whatever You ask;

regardless of size,

or mountainous task.

For I know You’ll be,

wherever I am;

so I need not fear,

on You, I depend.

Use Lord, my weakness,

to show Your great strength;

equip me to move,

and go to great lengths.

May I boast in You,

of Your mighty grace;

Your goodness and love,

and faithful embrace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your grace is sufficient.  Thank You that You are more than enough.  Thank You that in You, Your power may be made known in our weaknesses.  Forgive us for our fears and doubts, and for our disdain for our own weaknesses.  Help us to see our weaknesses as opportunities for Your strength to be shown, and allow us to embrace the power that You place in us to do as You ask.  Lead us to love as You love us, and may many come to know You as their perfect place of peace, as they choose to invest in a lasting relationship in You.  May You be made evident, even in our weaknesses.  Amen.

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

Embracing Our Thorns

image by Alphonse Karr

image by Alphonse Karr

If I look at a thorn,

with the mere eyes of man,

I will tend to panic,

beg removal again.

But if I can slow down,

and allow myself weak,

then my true Source of strength,

is the One whom I’ll seek.

Of my mighty Savior,

in weakness, I need more,

of His strength and power,

all that I’m searching for.

So, I pray I delight,

in the trials that come,

knowing that He’s alone,

the victorious One.

His grace is sufficient,

He is all that we need;

to conquer our trials,

we come on bended knees.

(Responding to 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thank You for the thorns that keep us humble and dependant on You.  Forgive us for trying to stand in our own strength, and help us to remember that Your strength is far greater than ours.  May we embrace our trials and difficulties as opportunities to learn how to draw closer still, to You, our Strength and our Comforter.  May others see the greatness of Your grace that is granted in our lives, and may that be what draws them unto You.  May Your power be made perfect in our weaknesses, so that Your glory may be seen more clearly.  Amen.

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