Keep the Captain in Command

pnoto VWVortex.com

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – I John 1:8-9

We all sin.  We all need His forgiveness to be found upright before Him.  If we think that we are without sin, we are lying to ourselves, and will become blind to the blessings that God has for us.  We must admit our erroneous ways and ask again to be made clean by the covering of Christ.  When we ask, He answers.  He is faithful and forgives – undoing our unrighteousness before the Father.

It is easy to get so caught up in the chaos of life, that we become callous and a bit deaf to the prompting of our ever-present Counselor.  If we don’t slow down and take time to listen, how can we hope to hear Him?

I have found that each day I begin in His word and practice being present before Him, the more easily and quickly I hear His correction, direction, and admonition.  It is much easier to “stay the course”, when I allow the Captain to keep command.  When I take the wheel, I begin to be blown off course, until I again slow down, step aside, and allow Daddy God to drive.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to forgive us as we ask, and are quick to call us clean by the covering of the blood of Your Son.  Help us to hear Your counsel as You lead us and guide us in the way we are meant to go, and to not take lightly the cost for our covering.  Teach us to be truthful before You, that we might be quick to confess all that muddies our cleanliness.  May we keep close account before You, and be sensitive to Your Spirit as You speak to us about our spaces of sin.  In You, may our love for You and from You be extended to everyone we encounter.  Amen.

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

From Ruin to Responsibility

“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’ ‘Yes Lord,’ he said, ‘You know that I love You.’  Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.” – John 21:15

photo by Mike Dunn 2006

Peter, who had denied Jesus three times on the night on which He was betrayed, was now being asked by the risen Lord, Do you love me?“, three times.  Each time he was asked, Peter responded, with an answer full of faith, as he said, “Yes Lord, You know that I love You.”  Jesus then placed it back in the hands of Peter to hold, when He told him to “feed my sheep.”

With His words, Jesus covered Peter with forgiveness, and again fueled the fire in Peter to fulfill his purpose and remove all fear, so that he might move mightily as he presented the truth to the people.  God’s grace covered the guilt and shame that had caused bitter weeping in Peter when he had recognized the magnitude of his mistakes.  Jesus took it beyond just forgiving, which would have been more than enough, and called Peter to walk out his purpose as a man designed and designated by God, to disciple and teach His people.

A man’s journey from ruin to responsibility; from wreckage to a purpose and a plan.  Only by His grace, can such a tremendous turn about take place.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You forgive us our faults, and supply us Your Spirit so that we may find faith that fuels us to walk out the purpose that You have prepared and planned for our lives.  Teach us to trust totally in You, so that we may follow faithfully in all that we say and do.  May our obedience to You be a demonstration of Your mercy and grace to the masses.  Amen.

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

Blessed By Blind Belief

photo by OSWEA

“Then Jesus told him, (Thomas) ‘Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29

Thomas was troubled by the news he could not trust, until he had see it for himself.  He could not grasp that Jesus had risen and returned from the dead, just as He had said He would.  Jesus, in His remarkable patience and perception, appeared before the disciples again when Thomas was present, and prompted him to reach out and place his hands in the holes that would provide proof to this doubting disciple.  In doing so, Jesus told the disciples to trust and believe, even that which is not seen, as He would soon be seated on His heavenly throne, and the believers would need to become dependant on that which could not be seen.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1 

Christianity, our individual and personal relationship with Christ, is exactly that – a confident calling to have faith in Him whom we cannot see.  That being said, we are abundantly blessed with evidence of the Eternal everywhere our eyes can see, our ears can hear, our hands and feet can touch, and all that our tongue can taste.  It takes but a moment of being still, to become acutely aware of the beauty all around us that was crafted by our Creator.

Additionally, we have been given the gift of His Holy Spirit, Who continually reminds us of His presence as He whispers truth in our ears and writes the promises of God upon our hearts.  Though  we cannot see Him with our human eyes, our hearts can hold who He is as we earnestly seek Him.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You alone are worthy of all of our trust, and that we may securely place our faith in You.  Forgive us, Father, for the times that we have doubted You and asked for something that we could see.  Teach us to trust in You in all things and at all times, even when what lies before us seems impossible in our own understanding.  Thank You that You love us well in ways that are obvious to our heart, rather than our eyes.  Help us to love others as we believe and receive all of the blessings bestowed upon us as Your beloved children.  Amen.

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

Calling Him King

This morning, in reading the eighteenth and nineteenth chapters of John, I found myself noticing something that I had previously paid little attention.  Pilate, the Roman governor during the time of Jesus, was deeply affected by his encounter.  In the beginning of Pilate’s presence with Jesus, he questioned Him to figure out exactly for what He was being charged, and what Jesus had to say in His own defense.

photo by Munich Residenz

After his brief conversation with Christ, Pilate went out and told Jesus’ accusers that he “found no basis for a charge against Him.” – John 18:38  Pilate found himself in a pickle, as he hoped to appease the restless crowd, yet hoped to uphold some sort of justice for Jesus.  Pilate attempted to pacify the people by ordering Jesus to be flogged.

As the soldiers who were sent to serve Him what was due, they took it several steps further as they forced a twisted crown of thorns on His head, dressed Him in royal robes, struck Him again and again, as they mocked His authenticity as the Authority from God Himself.

Pilate again told the Jews that he found no basis for charge against Jesus, as he stood near the newly beaten and bloodied Bearer of our sins.  The crowd was relentless and Pilate was full of fear.

He again asked Jesus, “Where do You come from?”  Jesus waited, likely drawing in deeply a painful breath, and then spoke with absolute authority, as He addressed Pilate with the plain truth.

“From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free…” – John 19:12

Each time Pilate addressed the crowd from then on, he referred to our Redeemer, as the King.  Despite the Jewish leaders disdain for Pilate’s referral to Jesus as King, Pilate upheld his stance, and continued to call Christ, the King.

Though I know not what ultimately came of Pilate, I do know that in a very limited window of time in the presence of the Prince of Peace, his heart heard and held the truth, that Jesus was indeed, the rightful King.

We, who have the benefit of the Bible and many generations before us that have been blessed, ought to address and acknowledge the awesome power and authority of the Almighty in all that we say and do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son, and the powerful impact that His presence presents to all who acknowledge Him and His authority.  Teach us to give proper glory to You, our Creator and our King.  May our awe for You encourage others to seek and find You too.  Amen.

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

Submitting Our Swords to Him

photo by dadcando.com

There are times when our obedience seems as foolishness to those unaware of what is being asked of us.

In the garden of Gethsemane, when the soldiers arrived to arrest Jesus, Peter, in his zeal and lack of understanding as to what had to happen on his behalf, drew back his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant.  Peter was ready to fight to protect Jesus, and prevent His being taken.  However, Jesus knew exactly what was before Him, and was willing and ready to walk the hard road to which He had been called.  “Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away!  Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” – John 17:11

What Peter wanted to prevent, had to take place so that he (and all of us) might ultimately walk out his (our) own purpose in power.  Jesus saw the big picture and knew the whole plan, where as Peter could only see the potential for pain before Him, and wanted to prevent it by protecting his teacher and friend.

Have I been called to action in a way that seems foolish or frightening to others?

Have I, like Peter, stepped in, swinging my sword, in hopes of protecting someone who is actually pursuing the plan that God has placed on their heart?

I, personally, have been asked to go when all logic said to stay; and I have wielded my sword in hope of protecting, when I was meant to step aside and allow God to be God – Who is more than big enough to prepare and protect His people whom He calls…

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are not finished with us yet.  Please forgive us for acting in zeal, rather than first coming before You to ask what we are to act upon, and when we are to step aside.  Teach us to set down our swords and open our eyes and hearts to hear from You.  May we remember how great You are, God, and trust in Your tender mercies and passionate protection for Your people.  Help us to walk where we are called, and to step aside where we are not.  Bless those around us, as we walk in obedience to You.  Amen.

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

Mighty is Our God

“Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea – the Lord on high is mighty.” – Psalm 93:4

photo by Jemma Lilley

More powerful than the roaring waters, with greater strength than the crashing waves; God alone, from upon His throne – the majestic power, indeed.

Mighty is defined as having superior power of strength; great in importance; exceptional.

Each of these merely scratch the surface as to who God is, and of what He is able to accomplish in His awesome power.

Our mighty God, Creator of all things, despite His infinite power and strength, longs to hold us close – as our Father and friend.  He who can build up or destroy with but a word, wants to be in relationship with us!

He is a loving Father who is fiercely protective of His children, yet is tender and kind – ready to touch and heal our places of pain.  He longs to lavish us with His love, and He delights in us, His children.

Regardless of our wreckage of the past, He welcomes us in the present, and provides us with a hope and a future as we choose to follow Him.  As we abide in Him, the hope of heaven holds our hearts, and grants us peace in the presence of storms.

Our mighty God is worthy of our hearts, our hands, our hope, our worship and our prayers.  He makes a way, when there seems to be no way.  He is, where we are not.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though You are mighty and majestic, You are also loving and kind.  Teach us to understand both Your power and Your passion for people.  Lead us to love like You, so that all may come to know You as our mighty Maker and faithful Father.  Hold us close and keep us in the shadow of Your wings, we pray.  Amen.

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

Purposeful Prayer and Petition

photo by Hope and Love

“My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.  I have given them the glory that You gave me, that they may be one as We are One.  I in them and You in Me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” – John 17:20-23

“I’m praying not only for them but also for those who believe in Me because of them and their witness about Me.  The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind – just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, so they might be one heart and mind with Us.  Then the world might believe that You, in fact, sent Me.  The same glory You gave Me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as We are – I in them and You in Me.  Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that You’ve sent Me and loved them in the same way You’ve loved Me.” – (The Message)

Jesus prayed this prayer just prior to His arrest.  His hope and prayer was that all who followed Him (the they and them above, that is us), would be united in purpose to pass on our heavenly hope, held in a relationship with our Redeemer, so that by His sacrifice on our behalf, we may come to know and love Him, and forever be found in His presence.  The glory He has given to all who believe, is the presence of His Holy Spirit – housed within us to equip, enlighten, and empower, so that we too, might love as He has loved us.

Dear Jesus, thank You that even in the mere moments before Your arrest that would lead to Your death (and resurrection!), Your heart held prayers to our Father for all who had found and would find faith to believe, that we might be united together in You.  Teach me Lord, how to walk united in heart and purpose with You and Your people, as we present Your plan in a way that is pleasing unto You.  Lead us to love You and each other, just as You have loved us.  Amen.

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

The Purpose of Pruning

Last evening, as the temperature dipped down to a comfortable level, I decided to brave the overgrown brambles and branches that remained hidden on the side of our house.  Though this area can be clearly seen from out our kitchen window, I have long neglected the needed look to actually see the damage being done by the unattended, overgrown ivy.  As I ventured in with shears in hand, I began cutting away every branch that was choked out by the countless vines that had coiled around and killed the once fruitful branches.

My shears ceaselessly snipped away every vine and dead branch that I could reach.  In addition to the vines, there were also prickly blackberry branches that had found root amidst the once beautiful bushes and boughs.

image by Vidrio/Flickr.com

This morning, as I read John 15, which speaks of the Vine and the branches, the tangible illustration of last evenings imagery, quickly came to mind.  “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.” – John 15:4

The branches that survived the all-out assault of the advancing ivy, were those closest to the base, which is the main highway for needed nutrients.

In the midst of my cutting away of all that was entangling the once elegant branches, I imagined that this view was quite similar to what our Savior sees in the hearts of His kids.  Upon the initial encounter, much sin must be snipped away.  Fortunately, it is not in our own strength that this occurs, rather it is by the Master Gardener, who is able to breathe life back into even the driest of branches, if they are willing and ready to receive.

As we are able to allow exposure of all of ourselves to our Almighty, He tenderly begins to take away the branches that bear no fruit.  Like my now naked trees and shrubs that have had all that entangled cut away, lush life may again burst forth.  Fruit and flower will again grow in season.  Regular pruning will prevent the stuff that strangles from again taking over.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Vine and we are the branches.  Help us to remain in You, so that we are able to allow You to cut away all that chokes and everything that entangles.  May we be willing to allow Your constant care and cutting away to cover us, so that we may bear good fruit that nourishes those in need.  Amen.

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

Obedience Makes Love Obvious

photo by Sybil Staples

“If you love Me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.  But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.” – John 14:15-17

Obedience to all that God asks of us, is evidence of our love for Him in action.  His gift to us, is the presence of His Holy Spirit forever.  Because the world neither sees Him nor knows Him, they cannot accept Him.  However, we know Him because He walks with us and dwells in us, and is our Comforter and Counselor, always.

When we listen to the Still Small Voice that we sense in our spirit, we are hearing the heart of God.  He who dwells in us, holds our heart in His hands, and is ever whispering words of direction, correction, encouragement and love.  Because we are loved, we have the capacity to love others and obey all that He asks.  When we walk in obedience, we are outwardly displaying our love for the Lord, and how to move toward our Maker.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Spirit to be our Counselor and Comforter.  Teach us to listen as Your Spirit speaks, and empower each of us to obey all that is asked.  May our obedience move as a mirror to reflect Your loving kindness to all men. (and women)  Lead us in obedience to love like You, so that all may see and know Your saving grace.  Amen.

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

Created and Called to Love

photo by iloveacountrywayoflife

“A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men (and women) will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35

To love one another is a command, not a request.  Jesus, the perfect model of how we are meant to love one another, demonstrated consistently over time, just how love is shown.  His actions toward others spoke volumes, before He ever said a single word.  He touched, He walked beside, He fed the hungry, cleansed the filthy, provided hope for the hopeless, gave grace to the guilty, wept alongside the weeping, rejoiced right next to the joyful, forgave those full of fault – all of these and more, Jesus did as He demonstrated how a disciple ought to love.

If we have hope for people to find faith in our Heavenly Father, we must lead a life of love.  The outward expression of love in action, is not a series of mushy words.  Rather, love is a verb.  It must be alive and active in order to achieve its purpose.  “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – I Corinthians 13:4-7

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, so that we might see the tangible evidence of what love really means.  Teach us and equip us to love others, as we have been loved by You.  May our love, as it is alive and active, empowered by Your Spirit in us, touch lives and transform communities.  May every heart we encounter, see Your love as it was intended to be seen.  Amen.

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