With Gratitude, I Rise

O my Strength, to You I sing praises, for You, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love. – (Psalm 59:17, NLT)

I will sing praises to You, my Source of strength. You, God, are my place of safety. You are the God who loves me! – (Psalm 59:17, ERV)

You are my strength, I sing praise to You; You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. – (Psalm 59:17, NIV)

 

With a song of gratitude in my heart, I rise. Today marks the final day of the 2017-2018 school year, and I am ready for summer! It has been a year of far more new than I had anticipated would take adjusting to, and only by His strength and unfailing love have I navigated the distance without becoming completely lost. His strength sustained me and His love surrounded me, even on the most difficult of days. As I look forward from this space of one chapter ending and another about to begin, I am reminded anew that God is my place of safety, and the One on whom I can always rely. Thirty-one days until I marry my Viking, and the coming school year holds great promise, as I will be teaching three sections of art, which is my favorite, and one block of humanities. I know that the road that lies before me will not always be smooth either, but I know Who is my refuge and Source of strength, on Whom I can depend. May we ever sing praises to the One who remains present to be our strength and our safe space, no matter what lies ahead.

 

Wake up, rise and sing, With Gratitude I Rise

For the day has come;

School’s at last ending,

The work has been done.

All praise to the One,

Our strength and our song;

Who carried us through,

All of the year long.

Safety and comfort,

Through His love given;

sing grateful praise,

This life I’m living.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your strength, safety and unfailing love on which we can depend. Forgive us for not recognizing nor giving You praise enough for the incredible ways that You love, support, strengthen and protect us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for strength, safety and love in all things and at all times. Show us how to love others well, so that our very lives are songs of praise for all that You have done and continue to do in us and through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing praise to You for Your faithfulness forever. 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

In Strength, She Smiles

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. – (Proverbs 31:25, NLT)

She is a strong person, and people respect her. She looks to the future with confidence. – (Proverbs 31:25, ERV)

Clothed in strength and dignity, with nothing to fear, she smiles when she thinks about the future. – (Proverbs 31:25, VOICE)

 

Strong people strengthen people. I have been overwhelmingly blessed throughout my life to be surrounded by strong and loving women who have modeled strength, dignity and courage through active faith in their daily lives, no matter what their circumstances. From my phenomenal mom and her mom, to aunts, dear friends, pastors and colleagues, I have seen such lives lived out, and have been encouraged when my own strength, courage or confidence was lacking. Though there is no “arriving”, I am in a space where I look forward to the future with confidence, trusting that God has good things in store for me and my loved ones. I know that trials will come and go, yet He is faithful through all things, so I need not fear what lies ahead. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength and confidence, so that we can look to the future and smile.

 

He’ll clothe us in strength,

dsc045071369451189.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

And His dignity;

As we trust in Him,

In faith, choose believe.

We’ll laugh without fear,

At what lies ahead;

Knowing God’s with us,

By grace, we’ll be led.

Others will respect,

The strength that they see;

As we walk beside,

And help those in need.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You clothe us with strength and dignity and give us reason to look confidently to the future. Thank You for the women that You have placed in our lives that have supported and modeled these attributes for us and in us. Forgive us for the times that we have remained in our fearfulness or attempted to navigate things on our own. Teach us to trust You more, and to embrace those whom You have intentionally placed in our lives for mutual encouragement. Show us how to love those around us in a way that grows strength and dignity and removes fear of the future. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the strength and dignity that You are growing in us and look forward to the future without fear. 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

Bold Faith in the Face of Fire

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV)

“If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if He doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, MSG)

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had incredible faith as they faced King Nebuchadnezzar. They had been commanded to worship an inanimate object, when they knew the only one deserving their worship was the one true God. Because they refused, they faced a fiery death, yet they had faith that God could save them. Their bold declaration that initially infuriated Nebuchadnezzar was met by the faithfulness of God who saves and ended up so impressing the king that he created a new command protecting those who worshiped the living God, and promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to higher positions in his court. We never know who we will influence when we choose to remain faithful to what we know is true. Our faith and trust in God speaks volumes when we live it out practically. Though we likely do not face fiery furnaces nor such dramatic decisions, when we choose to be faithful in the small things, people notice and wonder why. May we ever remain true to God whom we can always trust, knowing that He is faithful and the ultimate outcome is greater than we could ever hope or imagine.

 

May we choose be bold, Fire Flames 1

With our trust in Him;

For He is faithful,

Beside us, He’s in.

He’ll make plain our path,

Show us where to go;

Raise up faith in us,

So truth shall be known.

Each giant we face,

Is small in His hands;

As we trust in Him,

He shows us His plan.

Walk forward in faith,

Despite what is seen;

Even so, choose trust,

On the Lord, choose lean.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible examples of faithfulness found in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Thank You that through them, You show us how You meet those who are faithful to You, even in the fire. Forgive us for the times that we have not remained faithful to the truth we know. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would stay strong in You and that in great and small things we would remain true to You, always. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength to trust in You in all things and at all times. 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

Our Thoughts Control Our Life

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. – (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)

Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life. – (Proverbs 4:23, ERV)

Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life. – (Proverbs 4:23, VOICE)

 

The thoughts we hold in our heart determine the direction that we take in life. If we hold onto negativity or fear or frustration, each step that we take is weighed down by the heaviness we are holding. However, if we guard our hearts and listen and trust in His word of truth, our burdens lessen and we are better able to stay the course to which we have been called. Obstacles will always stand before us, yet if we move forward with our eyes open and our hearts fixed on He who is greater, the challenges will not determine our direction; the path that has already been presented will continue to propel us to progress in the life to which we are being led. May we ever guard our hearts and minds, fixing all securely on our Savior; for in Him, we find safe harbor and a course that has been set for us to successfully navigate with Him.

 

Let us guard our hearts,

dsc04505_15206094506862101700142.jpg

photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography. ❤

Above other things;

For the thoughts we think,

Impact our blessings.

As we are weighed down,

Fixed on weight we bear;

We miss so much good,

That God has to share.

Protect heart and mind,

For good things shall come;

Our path is made plain,

When we seek the Son.

The blessings in life,

All good things that flow;

Are from God to us,

As we seek to grow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we guard our hearts and place our trust in You, You lead us on a course that is far greater than we could have hoped or imagined. Thank You that though trials and difficulties will come, as we fix our eyes on You, rather than the challenge, You lead us on and carry us through. Forgive us for not guarding our hearts from the heaviness that life can bring. Teach us to trust You more, so that we do not get weighed down by the difficulties and instead rise up in Your strength to press on. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may extend Your goodness, strength and grace to help others navigate the course to which You are calling them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we guard our hearts and fix our eyes on You; for with You, good and noble things light the path to which we are called to walk.

 

© 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

Our Strength and Safety

You are my strength, I sing praise to You; You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. – (Psalm 59:17, NIV) 

I will sing praises to You, my Source of strength. You, God, are my place of safety. You are the God who loves me! – (Psalm 59:17, ERV) 

O my Strength, to You I sing my praises; for You are my high tower of safety, my God of mercy. – (Psalm 59:17, TLB) 

 

This morning, I wake with nervous excitement, as it will be the first day that we will practice together as an entire team. Veteran players will join us rookies as we take the field today, and the intensity with which we have been working, will surely increase even more. Physically, God has been my strength, and I have felt good, however, remembering all of the plays is a challenge, and my mind often draws a blank when I need to recall. With praise on my heart for the opportunity for the new, I will continue to review that which I need to know and trust the process. May we ever seek the One who is our strength and safety and give praise to God who loves us and on whom we can depend. 

 

O God, You’re my strength, You Make Me Strong

My hope, help and song; 

I bring You my praise, 

Through all the day long. 

You are my safety, 

You bless me with peace; 

In You I can trust, 

As grace You release. 

Help me to rise up, 

In Your strength and grace; 

Protected in power, 

To run well this race. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and our safety, as You love of best. Thank You for the opportunity for new things, and for strong healthy bodies that can do so much more than we would have thought or imagined. Forgive us for not seeking You to be our strength, or for avoiding the new that You bring us to out of fear. Teach us to trust You more, as You supply all that we need to do the new that we are brought into. Be our strength and safety, Lord. Show us how to love and encourage one another, so that we each might find the strength and courage to rise up and be who You have created us to become. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the strength and safety that You supply and give thanks for Your faithful love. 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

Pardon Brings Peace

God blesses those who are merciful, for they are shown mercy. – (Matthew 5:7, NLT)

Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy. – (Matthew 5:7, CEB)

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being “care-full”, you find yourself cared for. – (Matthew 5:7, MSG)

 

Mercy is an incredible gift that is given to us from God. The very definition of mercy, is compassionate kindness, favor and forgiveness that is undeserved; pardon when punishment is warranted. As recipients of God’s tender mercy, we ought to be quick to extend the same to those who “offend” us. Sadly, in our broken humanity, often our first thought is retaliation or revenge. It takes an intentional act of our will to choose to seek the Lord and His help, to extend mercy to those whom we feel deserve punishment. A great example of Jesus demonstrating mercy, was to the woman who was caught in an adulterous act, and an entire squad of Pharisees were ready to stone her for her crime. Jesus, spoke to the men, and told them that whomever was without sin, should go ahead and throw the first stone. One by one, they all eventually walked away. Soon, it was just she and Jesus standing there. Rather than casting stones, as He was indeed without sin, He extended mercy and told her to “go and sin no more.” Can you imagine the impact that His act of mercy had on the woman who was likely prepared to die that day? Though public stoning is not such a concern in society today, our sins, mistakes and missteps can weigh just as heavily on our hearts. When someone extends mercy when we deserve otherwise, the impact is powerful and long lasting. May we go forth with hearts full of grace, ready to extend mercy to those who need it most.

 

Those who give mercy, Pardon Brings Peace

Are given the same;

God grants full pardon,

And removes all shame.

For He forgives us,

As we choose forgive;

So hold not a grudge,

Be free, in peace live.

Merciful are blessed,

With hearts full of joy;

True pardon is known,

And peace is employed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first show Your mercy to us while we are yet sinners. Thank You that You forgive, though we do not deserve forgiveness. Thank You that mercy is a choice that we can decide to extend with Your help, regardless of what we feel. Forgive us for the times that we should have been merciful and were not. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would give mercy to others, just as mercy has been given to us. Show us how to love in a way that is compassionate and kind, with favor and forgiveness, even to those who do not “deserve” it. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we show mercy to others, just as we are shown mercy by 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

All Things Made New

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new. – (2 Corinthians 5:17, ERV)

Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone – and see – a new life has begun! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, VOICE)

 

The first day of the new year is great time to remember and recognize that we are made new in Christ. God is the God of fresh starts, and He is ever making us new as we seek and trust in Him. What better time to seek and listen for direction, as we begin the first page of what He will do in 2018? What are we holding in our hands to utilize for Him right now, and what are the dreams that He has given that are not yet? Our charge is to walk forward in what we’ve been given, love as we are loved by Him, and to be faithful to each new step we are shown along the way. May we take time to recognize all of the places in our hearts, minds and lives that the Lord has made new as we begin this brand-new year with eager anticipation for all that He has in store.

 

All things are made new, All Things Made New

New year, a fresh start;

To choose be faithful,

As God’s work of art.

Each with a purpose,

A plan God designed;

Let’s follow in faith,

Heart, body and mind.

Wherever we are,

And where we choose go;

If lived out in love,

The newness will grow.

Goodbye to the old,

Hello to the new;

Each step that we take,

Chance for love shine through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are made new in You. Thank You for the blessed reminder that all things are new in You, as we begin day one of a brand-new year. Forgive us for dwelling on the past, and teach us how to embrace what we are given now and the promises that lie ahead. Show us how to love well, all those around us, so that they would be encouraged to embrace all that is made new in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for the promise of fresh starts and new beginnings. 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

Let Gratitude Grow

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe. – (Hebrews 12:28, NLT)

So we should be thankful because we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And because we are thankful, we should worship God in a way that will please Him. We should do this with respect and fear. – (Hebrews 12:28, ERV)

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken, let’s continue to express our gratitude. With this gratitude, let’s serve in a way that is pleasing to God with respect and awe. – (Hebrews 12:28, CEB)

 

Because of the hope that we have found in Christ, gratitude should ever be in the forefront of our hearts and minds. As we give God praise, let us worship with awe and respect for the One who holds our lives in His hands. When we serve, may it be in surrender to our Savior. With every word and deed, may our lives express gratitude to He who gives us life and breath and hope for all that is yet to come.

 

Let’s ever give thanks, Love that Grows

For all that’s to come;

Unshakable hope,

In the Holy One.

May our hearts worship,

Let’s ever give praise;

To God, who’s faithful,

For all of our days.

Let us not lose sight,

Of Who truly reigns;

May reverence lead,

As we lift His Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness and the hope we have in You forever. Forgive us for not worshiping or giving Your proper reverence for who You are, as You are our reason for life and breath and being. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would slow down and recognize Your hand in all things, and give You praise for who You are for all of our days. Show us how to love those around us in a way that is pleasing and honoring to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and give You all of our worship and praise for who You are and how You love. 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

Sharing a Shoulder

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. – (Galatians 6:2, NLT)

Help each other with your troubles. When you do this, you are obeying the law of Christ. – (Galatians 6:2, ERV)

Shoulder each other’s burdens, and then you will live as the law of the Anointed teaches us. – (Galatians 6:2, VOICE)

 

At my church, there has been a phrase that has been spoken many times over the years. I always knew that it was Biblically based, but never really thought about the specific reference from which it may have been derived. However, this morning, this seems a fitting verse to align with the statement, “At Grace, no one stands alone.” The statement is a direct affirmation of a commitment to be obedient to share each others burdens so that no one is attempting to carry the weight on their own. Whatever the challenge, it is lessened when another chooses to join in the journey. Often when we help one another, we end up being helped ourselves in the process. There is a discovery of strength and help and grace, as we walk beside another in the strain of their struggle. May we rise up and look to help one another bear the burdens that life brings, so that we are walking in obedience to Christ and recognizing the power that is present as we choose to obey.

 

The Lord is calling, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So that we might see;

Each other’s burdens,

Places where there’s need.

We are meant to share,

The weight of their load;

To help them travel,

Where they’re meant to go.

As we opt rise up,

And help bear the weight;

It’s as God has called,

His peace shall be great.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to share each others burdens so that we have tangible help through You. Thank You that as we walk alongside one another, we are being obedient to what You ask of us. Forgive us for attempting to shoulder the weight of our woes alone, or for neglecting to reach out to those that we know are in need. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You to lead us to those we are meant to walk beside, and receive the help from others that You provide. Show us how to love those around us who are bearing heavy burdens, so that we might help lessen their loads. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we help one another in times of trouble, just as You are present to help each of us. 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

Watching Our Words

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. – (Ephesians 4:29, NLT)

When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say good things that people need – whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you. – (Ephesians 4:29, ERV)

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word is a gift. – (Ephesians 4:29, MSG)

 

What we say, matters. If we watch our words and speak good things that encourage and help others grow, then we will be a blessing to all who hear. We are commanded to love, and one way that we can love well, is to speak in ways that help the hearer, not in ways that drag others down. Words are a gift, and it is our charge to use them wisely. May we ever self-edit and choose to speak out only the words that He grants us to help, rather than spew out things that offend or bring others down. Let our words bring life and hope and love, just as His words do for us.

 

The words that we speak, Watching Our Words

Are meant to bring life;

To help others grow,

Bring an end to strife.

Our words have power,

So we must choose well;

Speak out words of life,

That of God’s love tell.

Keep far from speaking,

Unkindness or rude;

Let all that we say,

Lift up and renew.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your every word to us is good and draws us nearer to You so that we may grow stronger in all that You call us to do. Forgive us for giving voice to things that do not edify others. Teach us how to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to grant us the sort of words that are good and helpful, building others up in their faith. Show us how to love others with the words that we speak, so that we may offer Your goodness to all those with whom we have conversation. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we watch our words and choose to speak good things that help others grow stronger. 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