Empowered to Praise

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

God, who is our Savior, willingly takes our burdens upon Himself, daily, so that we will not be crushed under their weight.  All praise be presented to our Lord, who alone, has the power to save.

The weight of the world leads to death, as no man on his own is able to bear it.  Only Jesus, was able to take on the weight of the world for all time, as He extended His arms and allowed them to be nailed to the cross.  In that moment, the time had come, where our burdens of sin and shame no longer remained before us to bear.  The weight of our scorn, was eternally lifted from our shoulders, if we choose to bow before Him, granting Him access as Savior and Lord, to take away all of our trash.

God, in His glorious grace, did not stop there.  He granted us the gift of His Holy Spirit, so that the “burdens”, being the responsibilities that we are meant to manage, may be made bearable as we are equipped and empowered by Him.

For His gift on the cross, we ought to praise Him.  For the help of His Holy Spirit, we should sing praise unto Him.  For a love unlike any other we’ve ever known, give praise.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You did not design us to bear our burdens by ourselves.  Thank You that those of sin and shame may be laid at Your feet, covered, and called clean – removing the weight we are not meant to carry.  Thank You for providing Your Holy Spirit to equip and empower us to do immeasurably more than could ever be done on our own.  Oh Lord, let our every word and deed be seasoned with praise we present unto You.  All glory and honor are Yours, now and forever.  Amen.

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

Deliberately Designed

“Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” – Psalm 139:16

Photo by Beth of bloggingbeth.blogspot.com

He has known us and had a plan for us, even before we were conceived.  The very length of our lives have been known to Him, long before being fully lived.

If He who formed me in my mother’s womb, has known me and had plans for me since before my birth, how serious should I be as I seek Him to direct my every step?

This passage points me to the promise provided in Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

His plans for our life are perfect.  He does not pawn off His plans, nor push; rather He remains patient as He waits for us to pursue the path which He has prepared for us.  When we seek our Savior, He is swift to speak softly to the soul of all who call on Him.  He is not slow to answer, yet at times, we can be slow to hear, or we delay to actually act on that which we have heard.  As we depend on Him, and listen and obey, we are granted the privilege to witness the wonders of our great and glorious King.  To take in the beauty of hearts healed and lives restored through the mighty movement of the Magnificent, ought to overwhelm our hearts with awe, and flood our beings with the faith and fortitude to forge forward – wherever He is leading us to go.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have known and loved us since before we were born.  Thank You that each one of us was planned with a purpose.  Thank You that by Your Spirit, You lovingly lead us Lord, that we may listen and obey, and walk in Your will all of our numbered days.  Teach and equip us to ever pursue the path You have planned for each of us.  May our lives following Your leading, bring hope, health and healing to every heart that longs to know of Your goodness and grace.  Transform our hearts and minds so that we may learn to love like You.  Amen.

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

Becoming Clean

Image by Karri Klawiter

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’.” – Matthew 15:18

All that is “unclean” and hidden in our hearts, eventually makes way to come forth, as it finds light through the words that leave our lips.

If we allow hurts to stay hidden, they eventually become toxic and end up doing as much damage to others as we, ourselves, obtained in the initial offense.  When we are quick to confess both our sins and our suffering to our Savior, He forgives faults and soothes the sore spaces in our soul.  He is never pushy nor invasive; rather He waits patiently for His people to present their pain before Him.  As we come, He is quick to comfort and care for our every concern.  Again and again, He lovingly washes away the filth, and covers us with His cloak of righteousness, restoring right relationship with Him.  He redeems and makes clean, as we, His children, find the courage to come.

Dear Heavenly Father, grant us the courage and the faith to continually come before You for confession, cleansing and care.  As we allow You to heal our hurts and squelch our shame, may the words of our mouths be made clean, so that love and encouragement, kindness and compassion, are the things that are quick to leave our lips to offer You to a nation in need.  Amen.

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

Submitted Struggles Supply Soil

In my previous two posts, I have found that God has been speaking to me about the soil of my heart, as I have been studying the parables presented by Jesus, that are recorded in the Gospels.  Yesterday, as I was preparing for my day, God began to show me more about the soil of my heart.  What resonated in my heart and mind, was that as we bring to Him our “stuff” – our sin, struggles, sorrow and shame – all that we need to lay at our Father’s feet, He lovingly takes.  As we hand it to Him, it dies, decomposes, and then becomes nourishment for our soil as it is laid to cover the ground.  In that place, it in turn makes way for new to break forth and grow.  Just as the farmer fertilizes the soil with waste to provide needed nutrients to the soil, so does our stuff give way to growth in the soil of our hearts.
As we let go, the lessons we learn provide the very nourishment needed to supply the soil of our hearts, so that new growth may break forth.
During the day, I at one point spoke out against someone who had caused me much pain.  Just as the words escaped my lips, conviction came to call.  Why on earth did I say such a thing?  What was even worse, is that it was the second time in less than a week, that I had said as much to another.  Normally, I am easily able to edit what escapes my lips, as I have long lived by the rule of “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”…  The flares were flying and the neon flashing, as my mind went into overdrive.  First, “oh God, please forgive me.”  Then, again I asked, “Why did these words escape my lips?”  My immediate thought was that perhaps I had not truly forgiven for the infractions forged against me.
Last evening, as I met with a dear friend, we discussed what I had done and asked for answers.  The response that returned, took me by surprise.  It was not so much out of unforgiveness, but out of the ache of the injury.  Simply hearing the name of the individual, inspired a lashing out from the bleeding wound that had been buried in the depth of my heart.  It was as if the mere mention of the name removed the scab, and caused the bleeding to begin again.  What I needed most, was to lay the ache at His feet, so that it would not just be given a bandaid, but truly be healed, as it was handed off to He who can handle it for me.
This morning, my heart feels a bit lighter, and this place of anticipation is again rising up.  There is much new knocking on the door of my heart.  I am nervous, but excited, to see and embrace all that He has for me in this season of new growth.  Mountains are being moved, and my God is making the impossible, possible.  My hope is that you too might be encouraged as you allow Him to take your “stuff” and scatter the debris to nourish the soil of your heart.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are so faithful!  Thank You that in spite of us, You move.  Please forgive us our trespasses, and help us to forgive those who trespass against us.  Teach us to trust You with our “stuff”, so that You are free to take the filth and use it to fertilize the soil of our soul.  May the yield of our crops be abundance in You, so that many others may share in the supply of Your safety and security that have been lovingly given by Your sacrifice.  You are so wonderful and worthy of all of our worship and praise!  Amen.

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

We Grow in Good Soil

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it.  He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” – Matthew 13:23

When Jesus spoke before crowds of people, He spoke in parables.  People were compared to tangible things that were commonly known among men.  In this portion of passage, people were being compared to soil and its ability to yield crops.  Whoever not only hears the word of God, but receives it, will be like good soil – ready to cultivate and grow abundance – understanding and able to share the goodness of God, so that many may come to know Him.

Incredibly, because of Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave, our sins have been covered and made clean, and we have access to His Holy Spirit; who dwells in us to open our understanding, so that the things of God may become clear.  No longer do we have to depend on another to grow in our knowledge of the things of God.  We need only to ask the Almighty, and He will open our understanding and reveal to us the Truth.  Because He loves, He leads and allows us to learn.  All that was once hidden, has now been made plain.

I am so grateful that as I willingly and intentionally open my Bible and spend time in His word, He meets me in the moment and shows me what I had not previously seen, and allows insight as to how it applies to my life in Him.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only have given us Your word, but You freely bless each of us whom asks, with the presence of Your Holy Spirit.  Thank You that as we seek You and Your understanding, Your Spirit speaks straight to our soul and makes the soil of our hearts good and pleasing before You.  Teach us Your ways O God, that we may yield the crop You intended when You created each of us and brought us into being.  May every blessing be brought before You with praise.  Amen.

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

Cultivating Good Crops

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” – Matthew 12:33

image by douglasfarmerphotography.com

If we nourish ourselves with good soil – the Word, prayer, worship – right relationship with our Redeemer, the fruit we bear will be: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22

Our call is to nourish those in need.  Rotten fruit repels even the desperate and the desolate, yet good fruit gives life and hope to those who are hungry.

My desire is to be a radiant reflection of my Redeemer.  He, who is the Light, has no darkness in Him.  He alone, always provides good fruit.  I am meant to allow Him to trim away every branch that does not bear good fruit, and seek Him alone to nourish and strengthen my roots.

As the trees blossom and prepare to produce fruit, may we each seek His sustenance so that His presence might be made evident by the beautiful fruit we bear.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You.  Help us each to allow our hearts to go through the pruning process, so that anything that might lead to bad fruit, be cut off.  Teach us to tend our tree so that the fruit, the evidence of Your existence within us, will be good and pleasing in Your sight.  May we each offer nourishment to a nation in need.  Amen.

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

Reliable Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Jesus calls us to seek Him in all things and at all times.  When we are worn out, spent and depleted by life’s demands, He will provide a place of rest when we call on Him for help.  His yoke, His haul for us to handle, is easy, and His burden for us to bear, is light. (Matthew 11:30 paraphrased)  His heart is to handle the heavy stuff, and to empower and equip us for only that which we can carry by His strength.

His heart for me and His help, were again made abundantly evident as He answered my call for help again and again over these past 48+ hours.  We had a fun-filled weekend with family, and found ourselves in perpetual motion from sun-up to sundown.  Sadly, by Sunday night, Adventurous was asking to pass on his performance, for which he had prepared, for the previous several months.  When he requests rest rather than time singing on a stage, I know it is a sure sign of significant sickness…

My sweet boy’s throat hurt and his head was hot.  Sleep was eluding Adventurous because he was in such pain.  Neither prayer and petition, nor ibuprofen, were helping reduce his pain and high fever.  Finally, near midnight, Adventurous added vomiting to the mix.  As I asked, I felt assured that a trip to the ER would be wise.  Adventurous was a trooper and I was kept alert and at ease, as it took until early the next morning to determine the diagnosis of a serious case of strep throat.  We were both sustained and strengthened with all that was needed to endure our “adventure”, and at last arrived home to have some sleep.  Two hours later, I was again awake to assist Cautious as he prepared for school.  God supplied the strength that was needed to attend to both boys and to get Cautious ready and delivered to school on time.  Later,  I was again provided opportunity to return to rest, as Adventurous was ready and willing to sleep some more.  All through the day, I was aware of the grace I’d been given, and the glorious goodness of our loving God.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are not meant to navigate this life on our own.  Thank You that You come and comfort and sustain us as we ask.  Thank You that in You, we find rest.  Teach us to continue to learn to offer our burdens before You and allow You to carry all of our concerns.  May our lightened load allow us to shine ever brighter and lead others to a place where they too may offer their burdens and learn to depend on You.  Amen.

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

Return the Receipt of Redemption

“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the One who sent me.” – Matthew 10:40

We, as members of the body of Christ, are meant to be representatives of our Heavenly Father.  If people are drawn unto us, it ought to be Jesus in us, that brings them near.  If we are received, so too is Jesus in us; which in turn is the welcoming of God Himself.

The challenge or call that I hear in this verse is the reminder to receive all who come near.  Any kindness, care, or concern that I show to another, is simultaneously being shown to my Savior.  “For what we do unto the least of our brethren, we do unto Him.” – Matthew 25:40

On that day, when I at last will see His face, I hope to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant“, not “depart from me, for I never knew you.”

He provides His instruction as to how to help show His hands and heart.  If we love God and love people, we will be perpetually pulled to a place of generosity and kindness; just as our Father in Heaven has given unto us.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have not only modeled how we are to help hurting hearts, but You provide peace and opportunity to practice pursuing our purpose with every person we meet.  May we readily receive others, just as You have received us; despite our flaws and failures, Your arms are ever open.  Teach us to embrace others, so that they too may come to know and understand Your remarkable redemption, personally.  Amen.

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

Action is Found in Faith

Boy praying --- Image by © Design Pics/Corbis

“When He had gone indoors, the blind men came to Him and He asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’  ‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied.  Then He touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith will it be done to you,’ and their sight was restored.  -Matthew 9:28-29

Jesus, ever ready and willing to heal, waited long enough for the blind men in need to have faith rise up and acknowledge that He, being the Healer, could indeed restore their sight.  As soon as the men could claim their confidence in Christ, He touched their eyes and they could see.

I am not claiming that there is some sort of formula or series of steps required to see our Savior grant healing, but what I do notice, is that in every instance of Jesus’ healings recorded in the gospels, each person took some sort of step toward our Savior; a calling out, a walking toward, a kneeling before Him, and even a reach to touch the hem of His garment – and they were healed.

Faith is just fluff without some sort of action.

He will move mountains when we ask in faith.  Asking, is an action.  Active pursuit of His help or His healing, will always be met by His peace and His presence.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always faithful to provide peace in Your presence, when we are intentional to set our heats and minds on You.  Grow our faith Father, that we may have trust in You that is alive and active; always at the ready to ask, anticipating that You will answer.  May our faith in You, fuel our passionate pursuit to follow You in all that we say and do.  Please bind the broken and heal the hurting, as we actively pursue Your help and healing on behalf of others.  All glory and honor to You as we securely say, “Yes, Lord, we believe.”  Amen.

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

Where Courage and Compassion Connect

“A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, ‘Lord if You are willing, You can make me clean.’  Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man.  ‘I am willing,’ He said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.”  -Matthew 8:2-3

Though I have both heard and read this passage in Matthew many times, this morning, it is as though I am seeing the story unfold through new eyes.

First, for a person afflicted with leprosy to come anywhere near a crowd and attempt to approach Him, whom all eyes were on, must have taken tremendous courage.  Lepers were not exactly welcomed among the people, for fear that they too might become infected.  Their lot in life was to live in isolation, away from their families, and removed from the reaches of society.  Perhaps the crowd parted, so as not to be pressed into one with such an ailment.  I imagine there were whispers and jeers about such a man as this, who defied societal norms and came into a crowd in search of Christ.

What the man did next, as he knelt before Jesus, was demonstrate his clear understanding of the lordship of Christ.  With words that recognized the power and authority of Jesus, yet at the same time spoke a statement of willing submission and acceptance of any answer, the leper said, “Lord if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Jesus, in His loving kindness, reached out and touched the one who was considered untouchable.  I can only imagine what the afflicted must have felt after spending ages in isolation.  One touch, telling his heart truth – you are valuable in the eyes of the Eternal.

The words Jesus soon spoke, were the words that this man most longed to hear.  “I am willing“, He said.  “Be clean!

At the sound of the Savior’s spoken word, the leprosy left the man.

As I envision the faces of those looking on, my heart soars with praise for He who provided the healing, and admiration for the courage it took for the afflicted one to come before the feet of Christ.

An act of courage, met by the compassion of Christ.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we have the courage to come before You, not only are You willing to answer our obvious affliction or need, but You are tender to touch the places of hidden hurt.  Thank You that You see our need and know best how to help, as You hold our hearts in Your hands.  God, give us Your eyes of compassion and use each of us as Your hands and heart to touch the hurting.  Amen.

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