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Preparations in advance make the way anywhere more easy to navigate. John the Baptist fulfilled his calling, as he faithfully went out into the Desert of Judea and preached repentance to prepare the hearts and minds of all who would hear him for the message that Jesus would soon deliver. “This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.” – (Matthew 3:3)

 

John helped prepare the way for Jesus. With Easter mere days away, how can we “prepare the way for the Lord” and “make straight paths for Him“? Our charge as followers of Christ is to do just that. Our lives ought to speak volumes, without a single word. Do people see a difference in how we live? If our conduct demonstrates kindness and grace, opportunities are opened to share what He has done for us, personally, and “paths may be made straight” as we can correct misconceptions that people may be holding in their hearts about their own capacity to come to Christ. May His good news be made known as grace is lovingly shown.

 

Prepare the way,Prepare the Way

for our loving Lord;

make His heart known,

live in one accord.

Make straight the paths,

that lead unto Him;

offer His hope,

so His light shines in.

Give others grace,

as we have received;

Love drew us in,

when we first believed.

May that same love,

given lavishly;

draw others in,

so they too believe.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to come to know You. Thank You that He prepared the way and made the path straight for our minds and hearts to hold all hope in You. Thank You that we too, can be a part of preparing the way for others to come to know You. Forgive us for neglecting to do what You call us to, and for doing that which You ask us to not do. Thank You for Your forgiveness and grace, and may it compel us to depend on You more in all times and in each place. Help us to love and extend grace as You do unto us, and may many come to understand the eternal significance of Your death and resurrection this Easter. Let those who are looking, find a forever faith in You. Be glorified, Lord God. 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 seems to happen in waves. As the tides change and the waters encroach and recede, so do sets of challenges and victories as we go about our days. Similar to the sea, both the wonderful and the wearying seem to come in sets. Repeated rollers come our way, seeming to be relentless; followed by complete calm. Our successful navigation throughout our days is not dependant on the waves, but rather on our reliance on the Creator of all things. In His hands, we are able to stay afloat, or ride the waves into the shore without being pulled under. One of the best ways to keep our eyes fixed on Him and our hearts in the proper posture, is through praise.

 

“I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders, I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your Name, O Most High.” – (Psalm 9:1-2)

 

Our hearts are not capable of praising and being pulled under simultaneously. As we praise, and speak of His faithfulness, something happens in our spirits that keeps us from sinking into the undertow of self-pity. Whenever the woes of the world begin to drag me down, the most effective thing I can do is jump in my car, turn up tunes that speak of His goodness and faithfulness, and sing along at the top of my lungs. Though it does not make the struggle disappear, it resets my focus on the Father, and creates a proper posture in my heart and mind, to allow God to be God, and recall that I am not. There is much freedom found through worshipful sound…

 

I will praise You, Lord,Waves of Wonder

with all of my heart;

I’ll tell of Your work,

the peace You impart.

I’ll choose to be glad,

I’ll rejoice in You;

I will sing always,

of how You make new.

As each waves rolls in,

I’ll call on Your Name;

in Your mighty hands,

I’ll not be the same.

Strength in my weakness,

chaos into calm;

O Lord, Your goodness,

my hope and my song.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful and worthy of all of our praise. Thank You that Your wonders are a source of gladness and reason to rejoice. Thank You that Your Spirit dwells in us, and ministers to our hearts as we focus on You. Forgive us for looking at the size of the waves, rather than You who can create all calm in our hearts, minds and environment. Teach us to trust You more, and to praise You with our whole heart, regardless of what is happening around us. May our awe and wonder inspire others to seek You and find You too, as we live and love as You love us. Be glorified in our praise today, and may our every word and deed speak of Your wonders. 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

We are in the middle of a series called Surprised by Hope at the church I call home. Yesterday’s message was centered around “The Death of Jesus”, as we remember what went on during this sacred week so many years ago. The consequence of sin is death, and we are powerless to escape the hold of sin, unless God breaks in and rescues us from ourselves. In order for Him to do so, He requires a faith response on our part.

 

Jesus made His entry during the Passover celebration. This celebration is ultimately a remembrance of God’s faithfulness to the people’s obedience. God told the people that He would bring judgment on every household, unless a lamb was sacrificed and the blood marked on the doorposts. Though it likely made little sense, the people chose obedience to protect their precious families. As a result of their obedience, the angel of death passed over their homes, and they were all safe, while those who had not obeyed, were in the midst of great mourning. God delivered them because He loved them.

 

Christ’s sacrifice was an act of obedience. Because Jesus knew no sin, He could take on our sin and bear all of our burdens so that we could come to know redemption. Jesus knew what He would have to endure on our behalf, yet He was willing anyway.

 

What God asks of us does not always make sense, but He wants our heart, our will, our faith to trust Him, even if what He asks is not what we would expect. “…To obey is better than sacrifice…” (I Samuel 15:22b)

 

The consequence,Acts of Obedience

of sin is death;

without the Lord,

we’re powerless.

As we seek Him,

surrender all;

He’ll hear our heart,

and heed our call.

Prepare to do,

all that He asks;

regardless of,

the bizarre tasks.

For what He wants,

is our whole heart;

obedient,

each precious part.

So seek the Lord,

follow His ways;

redemption ours,

now and always.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son and making the way for us to be considered righteous before You. Thank You Jesus, for enduring the weight and suffering that should have been mine to bear. Thank You for redeeming us from our former ways, and granting us new life in You. Forgive us for thinking that we have to sacrifice enough or do enough to earn Your favor, and help us to receive that which You freely give. May we embrace the grace that You grant us, and respond in faith to whatever You ask. Lead us to live confidently as Your redeemed children. Let us love others as You love us, and may many come to know the blessed deliverance that comes from You alone. Be glorified, Lord God. Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – I Chronicles 16:31

 

 

 

Just as we are acutely aware of our physical health, we ought to also be equally mindful of our spiritual well-being. Paul advises the people of Corinth this way: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?’ – (2 Corinthians 13:5)

 

We are meant to check ourselves to make sure that we are solid in our faith. Are we moving forward toward God, grateful for all that He has done, or are we drifting in the wrong direction, frighteningly unaware of His faithfulness? To be in the faith, is to be in an ongoing and growing relationship with our Redeemer. Christ lives in the hearts of all who have invited Him in, yet do our lives reflect His presence? By checking ourselves regularly, we are more readily available to correction and redirection as it is needed. For our physical bodies, we have doctors and dentists, trainers and teammates to stay healthy physically. Likewise, for our spiritual health we have pastors and small groups, prayer teams, and dear friends traveling the same direction on this leg of life’s journey, to keep our hearts right and minds renewed.

 

Test your heart often,Test Your Heart

to see where you stand;

are you seeking God,

or on sinking sand?

The very same God,

who’s living in You;

will give direction,

show you what to do.

Know He is faithful,

His presence secure;

when You call on Him,

you’ll find He’s right here.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You dwell in us, and give us the capacity to check ourselves to determine whether or not we are following the path of faith You have laid out before us or not. Thank You that Your Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts and minds, whispering reminders of what we should and should not do. Forgive us for ignoring Your still small voice, or for neglecting our own need to redirect our attention on what You ask. Help us to have ears to hear You, and hearts that are quick and willing to obey. Lead us to listen well, and help us to love others as You so lavishly love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as they see Your faithfulness at work in us. Be exalted O God, in all that we do and say. 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

 

 

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

Life is busy; and busy, can be distracting. In the midst of all that moves us, we are meant to slow down and take time to reset and reflect, restoring our priorities to their proper place. As Samuel was nearing the end of his life and the people had asked the Lord for a king, to be like the nations that surrounded them, he offered much sound advice. A verse that stood out to me this morning, as a reliable reminder to keep our priorities in their proper place, is the following: “But be sure to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you.” – (1 Samuel 12:24)

 

To fear the Lord is to stand in reverent awe of who He is, and to understand that He is God, and we are not. Serving Him faithfully with all your heart is to withhold nothing; allowing Him access to all that we are, and offering our whole selves unto Him. When we feel that tender tug on our heartstrings to do something to serve, we don’t think; we act. To consider what great things He has done for us, is to remember His faithfulness. It takes little looking to see how He has been faithful. Being awake and able to read His word this morning is just one small example of His unending faithfulness unto us. The sun rose, as it was meant to do, I draw breath, without effort… What an incredible God to give us the gift of life and love and His unending faithfulness!

 

Take time to slow down,Consider Great Things

to think of great things;

the gifts from the Lord,

that salvation brings.

His love and His grace,

freedom from demise;

His great strength to stand,

against all the lies.

Stand in total awe,

of our Mighty King;

serve Him faithfully,

as our offering.

Remember the Lord,

and His faithfulness;

all glory to Him,

God of Righteousness!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are God and we are not. Thank You that You alone are worthy of all of our reverence and awe; for You created everything that is, and was and is yet to be. Thank You for Your loving kindness and faithfulness to us, though we deserve it not. Forgive us for getting so caught up in the chaos of life, that we don’t stop to remember all that You have done for us. Help us to remember Your faithfulness, and trust that You are still the same God today as You were before. May we have hearts that are willing to serve You completely, and trust You with our whole being. Let Your love shine through us as we seek to serve as You call us. May many come to know You as their faithful Father, as we honor You in all that we say and do. Be magnified in the midst of us, as we consider the great things You have done. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

 

 

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

 

People do not always play nice. Situations and circumstances, the obstacles that come our way, are not simple nor predictable. However, when we are in Christ, we have help to overcome every obstacle that comes our way, and the power to persevere and keep loving people, even when they are less than loveable. Our “weapons” are the things that God gives to us to aid us in our lives – His word, the Holy Spirit, prayer, faith, hope and love. All of these are powerful and effective, and can help us through anything that is thrown our way. He is good and His presence is promised forever.

 

When we are washed in His word, our thoughts are centered on Him. It is much easier to be obedient to that which is known. Prayer is our ongoing conversation with God, Himself; so it is essential for hearing and knowing His will and His direction. Faith is the very thing that fuels our foundation in Christ. Hope is what we hold, even when the road is rough. Love is what lives in us and shines through us, leading the lost to the Lover of our souls. May we wage love, rather than what is wielded by the world.

 

Though in the world,Wage Love

play not by its rules;

offer kindness,

His traits as our tools.

In Him, there’s strength,

we have never known;

power to stand,

He calls us His own.

God gives us love,

where others would not;

He offers hope,

our eternal spot.

Fighting ended,

strongholds are destroyed;

nothing can stand,

where God is employed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we are in the world, we do not have to fight as the world does. Thank You that You provide us with Your word, Your Holy Spirit, prayer, faith, hope and love – all of which are powerful weapons against anything that might try to come against us. Thank You that You are our help and our hope, and that our strength is found in You. Forgive us for not depending on You when the world seems to wage war against us. Help us to run to You, and trust You to be our help and our hope. Teach us how to hear Your still small voice, even when the world around us is raging. Lead us to love others as You love us, and may many come to know the mighty hope and help that is found in You alone, personally. Be exalted in everything we do and say today. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6

 

“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.” – (2 Corinthians 9:8, The Message)

 

Paul was speaking to the people of Corinth about being generous with what God had given them. He asked them not to give out of obligation, but cheerfully, from a heart that had determined to give, because God had so graciously given unto them. We are meant to give what we determine in our hearts, cheerfully. This is not just of our wealth, but of our time and our talents – the very gifts of God that He has placed in us for His purposes, to bless others for His glory. What is such a divine mystery to me, is that each time we step out in faith and offer our time, talents and/or resources, we seem to be the recipients of His blessing. The joy in knowing His pleasure, is beyond a reward one could measure. Additionally, I find that when I give anyway, my own needs somehow are met, regardless of the seeming lack of time, energy or resources. God has a way of multiplying the miniscule, when we are faithful with what we do have.

 

God pours out His grace,Pouring of Plenty

abundant to us;

when we call on Him,

our Savior, Jesus.

As we choose to give,

from all that is ours;

God uses our gifts,

to reach near and far.

When others are blessed,

we become blessed too;

for we see Him work,

as lives are made new.

Generously give,

as He’s given us;

all unto the Lord,

our Savior, Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us the ultimate gift – Your Son, so that we may have eternal life with You. Thank You that You are generous and kind, never withholding anything from us, as You supply our every need. Forgive us for our reluctance to give – be it of our time, talents or resources. Please show us how we are meant to give unto You, and help us to do so with cheerful hearts. May many be moved toward a relationship with You, as a result of the giving unto which we are called. Help us to love others as You so generously love us. Be glorified through our generosity today. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

 

 

 

 

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds.” – (Psalm 77:11-12)

 

Israel learned over time, that as they encountered obstacles, hardships and struggles, if they focused their attention on the Lord and remembered all that the Lord had done for them already in difficult times before, their focus and faith would fix where it belonged, granting God room to be God. Time and time again, as Israel turned to the Lord and recognized all that He had done, they would see His mighty hand move once more.

 

The same practice ought to prevail in our lives today. When challenges come, do we stare at the struggle standing before us, or do we remember God’s faithfulness the countless times prior, and hold onto HIm as we move forward in faith? So often our “success” in the struggle is simply a matter of to whom we turn. Do we meditate on the Lord and all of His loving kindness, or do we look to the mountains before us that we cannot ever move in our own strength? May we meditate on our Maker, as we remember the miraculous He has done in and through our lives.

 

Look back in your life,Remember the Miracles

to struggles and pain;

who faithfully held,

your heart through the rain?

The places where love,

and light entered in;

were glimpses of God,

Redeemer, and friend.

Where your needs were met,

or hopes were fulfilled;

blessings from the Lord,

His grace was instilled.

Remember His love,

His faithfulness too;

His presence remains,

forever with you.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us Your word that shows us countless examples of Your faithfulness throughout the ages. Thank You that You are the same God – yesterday, today and forever. Thank You that we can look back in our own lives and see Your faithfulness. Forgive us for not remembering the miraculous in times of trial, and help us to fix our eyes on You, and Your ability to do far beyond what we could even begin to imagine. Help us to hear You clearly, so that we may move in obedience as You call us. Lead us to love as we are loved by You, and may many come to know You and Your faithfulness as a result. Be glorified through the grace and goodness we extend to others today. Amen.

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

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

 

 

 

 

“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” – (2 Corinthians 7:1)

 

The promises that Paul was referring to, were mentioned only a few verses earlier in the previous chapter. “…I will be their God, and they will be my people.” – (6:16b) “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” – (6:18) Reminders that we are His, not only as His people, but as His own children, both promises to which we can cling.

 

To purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, is a two-part process. It requires us to both turn away from the sin that entangles us, and turn to God, who is our help and our hope.

 

Perfecting holiness is not something that we can do, but rather is what the Lord does in us, as we operate our very lives out of reverence for God. To live in reverence for God, is to be in ongoing awe of Him. The more we seek to know Him, the more we  come to realize just how worthy He is of our deep respect and awe. May we turn from all that would ensnare our souls, and cling to Christ, who is our help and our hope, forever.

 

Your word unto us,Promises to Purify

promise for all time;

in Christ we are Yours,

and by faith, You’re mine.

Not only as Lord,

but as Father too;

You call us Your kids,

sons and daughters, new.

May we purify,

our lives from the things;

that contaminate,

peace that Your truth brings.

Help us turn away,

from unrighteousness;

and cling unto You,

God of faithfulness.

May we stand in awe,

forever in You;

our Hope and our Help,

the God of all truth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promises. Thank You that if we come to You and place our trust in You, that You will be our God, and that You call us Your people. Thank You that You go beyond that – that You call us sons and daughters. Thank You that You help us turn from the sin that entangles us, and draw us unto Yourself. Forgive us for trying to do things on our own, thinking that we somehow are strong enough to stand. Teach us to turn to You, and to trust completely, as You alone are our Source. Help us to love as You love us, and lead many to come to know You as not only their God, but as a loving Father too. Be exalted in our every word and deed. 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

 

 

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