Knowing Our Own Need

In Luke 7:36-50, the story of Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman is unpacked. I love the scene that my mind’s eye imagines, as the Pharisee, who has invited Jesus to dinner, likely to show Him how “great” he was, was quite put out when this immoral woman showed up and began hanging out at the feet of Jesus. It even went so far as to record what Simon (the Pharisee) said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman is touching Him. She’s a sinner!” (Luke 7:39, NLT)

The sinful woman was fully aware of her sin. She was repentant as she knelt at the feet of Jesus and washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. Additionally, she anointed his feet with perfume and continued to cover them with kisses.

Simon just did not get it. Jesus wanted to be sure that he did. He stopped Simon in his tracks, and told him a story of two men being forgiven their debts. One was forgiven a small debt, the other, a much larger debt. When Jesus asked Simon which man would love more, Simon was able to reply, “The one who had been forgiven more.”

It does not appear that Simon had some sort of great revelation for himself and his own need for forgiveness, but at least it seems he gained a glimpse of why the woman’s weeping and washing of Jesus’ feet with her hair was an act of worship.

This story has many points, but the two that stand out the most are that we need to recognize our own necessity to repent, and that it is not our position to determine a person’s heart when they come before the Lord. We all have a past, and those who have been forgiven much, love much. May we ever seek the Lord and His forgiveness, so that we may go forth and love as He loves.

 

There’s no “good enough”,

caught-in-awe-sylvia-carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

Nor penance required;

Instead, we can come,

Presence is desired.

Jesus says draw near,

Despite where we’ve been;

He longs to forgive,

Wash away our sin.

As we choose take pause,

Truly recognize;

His mercy granted,

Great love realized.

As we’re forgiven,

Let us likewise love;

So others too know,

Hope in Christ above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us such beautiful examples of forgiveness and gratitude for Your mercy and grace. Thank You that You call us to be gracious and merciful as You are full of mercy and grace toward us all. Forgive us for the times that we either viewed others as less than, or ourselves as more than we should. Teach us to see ourselves and others through Your lens – as loved and in need of a Savior. Help us to love well, all those around us, so that they may see Your heart through our mercy and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love without limits, and forgive as we have been forgiven. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Let It Be Yes

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying – I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. – (Matthew 26:74, NLT)

 

Peter, who had been one of the three who was closest to Jesus, ultimately betrayed Him in His darkest hour. This must have been particularly painful, as Peter was the only disciple who was mentioned as having followed where Jesus was taken after His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. Rather than extending support or testifying on His behalf, Peter stood outside at a distance – watching and waiting to see what would happen. In his wait, he was asked three times if he was associated with Jesus. Three times, he denied even knowing Him. After Peter’s third denial, the weight of his words overwhelmed him, and he ran off weeping bitterly at his own weakness in the face of adversity. However, the beauty of Peter’s story is that he does not live the remainder of his life as a broken and remorseful man, but rather Jesus forgives and redeems him, and he goes on to become the rock on which the church is built. Peter’s failure later became the way in which he was restored, as Jesus asked him three times, “Peter, do you love me?” Each time Peter responded with a resounding “Yes“, and Jesus followed his “yes” with the call to go out into all the earth and share the good news. Peter went from mess to minister, through the power presented in the forgiveness Jesus provided. May we each seek the redeeming power that Jesus provides as we are willing to say “yes” to Him as He forgives our every sin and shortcoming.

 

Oh Lord as we come,Beside Still Waters

Broken in our sin;

I stand in such awe,

As we’re forgiven.

Your grace overwhelms,

Restores and renews;

Gives rise and purpose,

To all who come choose.

Lord take all our sin,

And wash it away;

Show us how to rise,

To walk well, Your way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God who forgives, heals and restores us and raises us up so that we can do mighty things for You. Thank You that our past does not determine our future. Thank You that You can bring beauty from ashes, and testimonies from trials. Forgive us for wallowing in our own failures, rather than seeking Your forgiveness and redemption. Teach us to trust You more, as Your hand is what moves us in mighty ways. Show us how to love as You love us, so that many may come to know and understand the power of Your forgiveness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for forgiveness, and rely on You to be our strength and guide wherever we are meant to go. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Promised Joy

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. – (Psalm 126:5)

God’s ability to restore life unto us, is beyond what we can even begin to fathom. He takes even our most sorrowful circumstances, and will in time, bring good where grief has reigned. Tragedy is turned into triumph, and where there was weeping, joy will come. The challenge is in the waiting between the promise and the fulfillment. Our charge is to remember that God is always good, even when our circumstances are not. He will do immeasureably more than we could hope or imagine to bring life and light and joy, where there has been none. May we trust Him with our trials and tears, and allow His song to rise in our hearts as joy will come again.

Bring every tear,

before Christ the King;

for He will receive,

our each offering.

He takes our sorrow,

and turns it around;

the places we’re lost,

in Him, we are found.

He wipes all our tears,

and brings us new life;

gives joy and gladness,

where there was once strife.

In Christ we can trust,

that true joy shall come;

as we wait in faith,

let His will be done.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we go through difficult seasons, they will not last forever. Thank You that You promise to bring good out of even the most painful of tragedies. Thank You that You are faithful to do what You say You will do, and that we can trust You in all things at all times. Forgive us for allowing sorrow to sap our surrender to patiently wait on You, and teach us to trust You more, so that we may persevere to see the joy that You have in store for each of us, even after the most trying of times. Lead us to love others in such a way, that we extend the truth of the hope that is held in You. Be glorified O God, as we bring our burdens to You, and patiently wait on You to move in Your might, trusting in the promised joy that is yet to come. 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

Loved Like Lazarus

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. – (John 11:33)

 

Jesus was not God out there, He was God came near, who felt what we feel, and loved people through their points of pain. This particular verse was Jesus’ response after He saw and spoke with both Martha and Mary after Lazarus had died. Little did the ladies know, that when Jesus was moved in spirit, it would bring back to life, the brother that they thought they had lost… The very same God who loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus in their spaces of sorrow, loves each of us and knows our needs. He is moved when we weep and hears every prayer. We never know how He intends to answer our requests, and we can always count on His coming close in our space of need. May we never forget that He is close to the brokenhearted, and He hears every cry of our hearts. He is faithful to meet us in our brokenness, and love us back to life.

 

There are times like Lazarus,Internal Investments Exceed External

when light gives way to pain;

all the heart knows is weeping,

we need new life again.

In those places of darkness,

if we call on the Lord;

He’s faithful to draw near us,

love and peace He’ll afford.

Healing this side of heaven,

is held in His great hands;

as we submit and trust Him,

His love reveals His plans.

He stays with brokenhearted,

and hears each cry we pray;

He’s near us every moment,

His light will point the way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us how You love. Thank You that Your love is not from afar, but it is love that comes close, that feels, and touches, and weeps when we weep and rejoices when we rejoice. Thank You that You are moved by what moves us. Forgive us for forgetting how very personal and near You are in the throes of our own pain, and help us to know Your nearness in tangible ways. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would call on You in our chaos and give You thanks for the gifts of grace. Lead us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come to know Your nearness personally, and choose to enter into a relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we come before You with both thanksgiving and petitions, grateful for Your nearness and understanding of each one of us as You provide new life for us in You. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

Growing Awareness

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. – (John 11:33)

 

Jesus had just arrived on the scene where Mary and Martha lived. He watched the sorrowful response of the friends whom He loved, as they grieved the loss of their brother, Lazarus. Our Savior was not some far off, unavailable deity, but rather He came close, and did not hesitate to demonstrate His compassion and love for Lazarus and those who mourned losing him. Just sitting beside His friends in their grief would have been good enough, but God in flesh, opted to demonstrate His power to defeat death, in a such a sorrowful space as He called Lazarus to come out from the tomb, and life was restored where it had been four days dead. No matter our circumstances, He sees and feels what we feel. Christ loves so deeply, that He is moved in compassion and compelled to contend for our care. May we rise up in faith, trusting that He sees and knows our every circumstance, and He is present and moving, even when we are unaware.

 

We serve a Father,Growing Awareness

who’s not unaware;

He knows what we feel,

and He always cares.

He mourns when we mourn,

He weeps as we weep;

He endured all scorn,

so safely He’ll keep.

Trust in His power,

rely on His love;

receive His goodness,

all gifts from above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You empathize with us as we experience the things of this life. Thank You Jesus, that You endured all things so that You would understand and care for us individually. Forgive us for doubting Your ability to assist us in the seemingly impossible, and help us to trust You in all things and at all times. Lead us to love others, just as You so completely love each of us. May many come to know You as their Savior and King as we remember the remarkable arrival of heaven here on Earth, as You moved to become God with us. Be glorified O God, as we grow in our awareness of Your glorious presence. 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

Compassion Leads to Action

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. – (John 11:33)

Jesus wept. – (John 11:35)

When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” – (John 11:43)

 

These three verses are pivotal points in the story of Lazarus. Though Jesus knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead prior to His arrival, His compassion for people was made evident through how He came alongside those who were mourning and wept as they wept. However, Christ continues beyond compassion. Jesus, after demonstrating His love for both Lazarus and those who loved him, chose to do more. He opted to make His mighty power known, as He had the gang of grieving lead Him to the tomb where Lazarus had laid for four days. Jesus stepped up, and in a strong voice, spoke the words that were more than His friends could have hoped for. Their lost loved one was being brought back to life!

 

As we are moved by compassion to act, it is necessary that we too, listen for His still small voice. Though we may not be raising people from four days dead, our acts of obedience can create hope where there has only been despair. We never know the impact our actions might have, unless we opt to actually step out in faith. He is faithful to use us as His vessels, if only we are willing to make ourselves available. May we go forth, allowing His compassion to propel our hearts to action.

 

Compassion compels,Care Over Comfort

our hearts to reach out;

to act in His love,

to fill those without.

Just as His kindness,

came near in our need;

so we’re called likewise,

to give and to feed.

Out of our plenty,

and even our lack;

He calls us to love,

He’s loving us back.

May those who don’t know,

come to know His grace;

for once it is known,

there’s no greater place.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to show us what love in action should look like. Jesus, thank You for loving us without limits and for equipping us to love as You love us. Thank You for placing people in our lives to be Your hands and heart made tangible. Thank You that we too, can be the same for others, if only we are available to listen to Your leading. Forgive us for neglecting to act on that which You are asking, and help us to be willing to go and do whatever You ask of us. Give us Your eyes to see, and Your heart of compassion for all whom we encounter. May the compassion You grant us, compel us to action. Lead us in the way You want us to go, and may many come to know You as their Savior and King as a result. Be glorified as we act with compassion today. 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

Life for Lazarus

Life for LazarusMartha and Mary,

sent word to the Lord;

their brother was ill,

no time to afford.

Despite His great love,

for friend, Lazarus;

He focused on God,

His glory through this.

Disciples questioned,

“Shall we not now go?”

Yet Jesus, He knew,

’twas a chance to grow.

“He is now asleep,”

He said to His men;

they understood not,

so He spoke again.

Then He spoke plainly,

“Lazarus has died.”

“A chance now to show,

in whom I reside.”

The sisters, they wept,

thought He had denied;

healing their brother,

then Jesus, He cried.

His visible care,

compassion for them;

reminded them all,

He’s Savior and friend.

Off to the grave site,

with Jesus they went;

Powerful Savior,

showed why He was sent.

Four days in the tomb,

yet Jesus gave a shout,

“Come forth Lazarus,

rise up and come out.”

Still wrapped in grave cloth,

the dead now appeared;

Lazarus, he lived,

joy replaced their fears.

(Responding to John 11:1-44)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the very same power that raised Lazarus, is still present and available today. Thank You Jesus, that You are the same – yesterday, today, and forever. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, and help us to trust You in all things and at all times. Though Your ways are not our ways, and Your plan does not always provide the path we’d hoped for, You are still good, and You have a higher purpose in all things. Teach us to trust You more, even when answers do not align with our desires. May our faith in Your goodness guide those who are seeking, straight into Your loving care. Amen.

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

A Moment to Marvel

Such a long Sabbath

image by Kat Kutash

image by Kat Kutash

for us to have to wait.

The hours dragged on,

since our Savior’s fate.

We watched Him hanging,

in aguish and pain;

our Healer and Lord,

how will He now reign?

We have our spices,

to anoint our King.

What about the rock?

We can’t move that thing.

At our arrival,

the shock and surprise.

The stone rolled away,

the sight for our eyes.

Empty was the tomb,

except white-robed man,

who said, “He has risen,

it is all in His plan.”

He said to go tell,

yet silent we stayed;

trembling, bewildered,

frozen and afraid.

How could such sorrow,

become bountiful joy?

The weight of our weeping,

fuel hope to employ.

(Responding to Mark 16:1-8)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the remarkable reminder of the hope we have in You.  As the days grow longer and the temperatures begin to rise, the tangible signs of spring and of new life and new growth are excellent reminders of that which is always at the ready and available in You.  Forgive us for allowing the darkness around us to eclipse Your amazing light, and help us to be ever aware and in tune with Your permanent presence that is not dependant on time, place, nor conditions.  Teach us to be truly intentional in our time with You, and may many be blessed and brought into relationship with You as a result of our obedience.  Be glorified in all that we say and do today and always.  Amen.

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