Who Do You Say HE Is?

“But what about you?’ He asked.  ‘Who do you say I am?’  Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ.” – Mark 8:29

photo by Carol Fim

After Jesus had done many miracles in Bethsaida and beyond, He asked the disciples who they knew Him to be.  Peter’s response of “You are the Christ”, demonstrated that he was able to recognize that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the promised and expected deliverer of the Jewish people.

Yet another miracle that Jesus presented, is that the extension of grace, hope and salvation is available to ALL who believe, rather than just those who are of Jewish decent.  His hands stretched out on the cross reached far beyond Golgotha and the disciples.  When Jesus willingly went to the cross, He did so for every heart that would call Him King, and come into a relationship with He who redeems all who repent, from then until the day of His return.

Peter’s words were far more powerful than he could have known.  His spirit knew beyond what his heart and mind could hold, and his words worked way into his heart in a powerful way, as he ultimately went on to spend his remaining years sharing of all that our Savior had done, and offered hope to those who had none.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are who You say You are.  You have proven again and again that though You are known by many names, You are the One and only God.  You are: Almighty, Beloved, Christ, Deliverer, Everlasting, Faithful, God, Hope, Immanuel, Jesus, King, Lord, Majesty, Near, Omnipotent, Prince of Peace, Quick to come near, Redeemer, Savior, Truth, Understanding, Victorious, Willing, eXcellent, Yahweh, and Zealous for all whom You love.  Forgive us for not granting You the proper place in our hearts and lives, and lead us to return the reigns to You.  Be Lord of our lives, Lover of our souls, and lead us unto life everlasting in You.  Teach us to follow the path You place before us, so that many may come to know You as Christ.  May our lives be a sweet song of praise unto You.  Amen.

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

The Source of Satisfaction

photo by Rodney Howard Browne

“They all ate and were satisfied.” – Mark 6:42

This verse comes from the story of when Jesus fed the five-thousand with five loaves and two fish.  The miracle at hand, was the Master’s ability to feed the masses with meager means.  However, there is a very spiritual element in all of this as well.  When man provided provision, there was never a reference to satisfaction, nor the human capacity for it to be enough.  Yet whenever Jesus intervened, people partook and were satisfied.

Spiritually, this is significant because the only way that we can partake and truly be satisfied, is when we trust in His truth.  We all have within us a deep hunger and thirst for righteousness, yet are incapable of ever bringing it to be in our own strength.  The gnawing ache within, is a God-sized hole that can only be filled by Him.  Anything else that we try to stuff in that space, may seem to satisfy initially, but will soon have us seeking more.  When we seek Him, and allow His Spirit to fill that space, we are suddenly able to find contentment, regardless of our resources.

Whether we are in need or know plenty, He places peace in our hearts and promises the provision that satisfies not our stomachs, but our souls.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we eat of that which nourishes our heart and soul, we are satisfied.  Thank You that You alone are the Source of sincere satisfaction.  Forgive us for trying to fill our lack with “stuff”, rather than seeking Your Spirit with a sincere heart.  Teach us to trust Your provision and Your ability to multiply and satisfy where we perceive lack.  Love us and lead us to live lives that are fully invested in You.  May our trust and obedience open doors to all in desperate need of You.  Thank You that You alone, satisfy our souls.  Amen.

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

Small Seed to Spacious Shade

photo by idontbelieveingrammar

“It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground.  Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.” – Mark 4:31-32

What this passage brought to mind this morning is the passage that speaks of faith the size of a mustard seed moving mountains.  Faith, like the seed, when planted in the heart by God, and watered in the word, grows exponentially and fuels the fight to remain in Him.  As faith grows, it encourages others and provides a place of safety and security, in total trust of our Savior.

Have you ever noticed how people flock to those whose faith is firm?  The confidence that is carried through the crucifixion of Christ on the cross, calls faith to rise up, as He is the founder and finisher of our faith.  When we fix our eyes securely on Him, He tends to the tree that is each of us, growing in His garden of grace; and provides a place of shelter in the storm, as our roots run deeper in Him.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your word and the small seeds of faith that find way to our hearts can be cultivated into something big,

photo by values.com

bold and beautiful in You.  May our faith be firmly founded in Your word, by Your Spirit, and may what it produces provide the path to peace and purpose in You.  Forgive us for fearing that our small seeds are not nearly enough, and help us to remember our Resource who can move mountains in but a moment.  Teach us to trust You to tend our tree.  Trim away all that hinders us, water us with Your wonderful word, and breathe abundant life into each of us by Your Spirit, so that we might bear good fruit.  May our faith be firm, and may friends, family and foe alike, seek salvation and security brought forth by the big branches that reach to restless hearts.  Lead us in love and grow our faith.  Amen.

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

Strength in a Sabbath

“Then He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” – Mark 2:27

photo by My Purpose in Him

Jesus explained to all who questioned Him about picking some heads of grain as they walked on the Sabbath.  He let them know that the purpose of the Sabbath was made to provide rest for man, rather than man being made for rest.

We are all called to do some sort of work unto Him.  For some, it is managing house and home; for others, it is something outside of the home.  Each of us are called to something that requires work.  After several days of work, our bodies need a bit of rest so that our hearts and minds may be restored – equipping us to continue in our calling.

None of us are made for the Sabbath.  We are made to commune with Christ.  If we labor and toil without rest, we soon lose sight of the original purpose.  God provides an entire day for us to slow down and seek Him, granting us fresh opportunity to be restored and recharged for the coming week.  What we do with that time, our wonderful weekend, is up to us.

My natural inclination is to be a weekend warrior.  Everything in me wants to schedule all waking moments with something wonderful.  If I do not safeguard some time for rest, I end up beginning the new week completely depleted, unable to accomplish all that is intended.  If I reserve some sacred time for rest, rather than running around, my new week begins with strength and stamina, supplied by my Savior through time spent resting in Him.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You made the Sabbath for our benefit, not us for the benefit of the Sabbath.  Forgive us for not finding time to rest and be refreshed in You.  Teach us how to set aside time and space to seek You and to rest in Your peaceful presence.  Please show each of us what You would have us do to partake in the Sabbath that You provide us.  May we not miss the moments meant to be spent in the safety of Your sweet rest.  Refresh and renew us so that we may again return to the calling You have created for each of us.  Use us to touch lives and transform communities, as we are equipped and empowered by You alone.  Amen.

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

Storms, Shipwrecks, Snakes and Strangers

“But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.” – Acts 28:5

photo by Desi Colours

The context of this verse is when Paul was on his way to appear before Caesar and the crew of the ship on which he was sailing insisted on continuing in dangerous seas, despite Paul’s warning.  All those aboard made it safely to shore when the ship was wrecked, and they were welcomed by the locals upon arrival.  After that ordeal, as Paul was gathering wood to place on the fire, a viper latched onto his hand.  Can you imagine the scene unfolding as the locals and the ship’s crew looked on in horror?  Paul, in full faith that his Heavenly Father was holding him, calmly shook the snake from his hand into the fire, and carried on as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.  The onlookers watched and waited for the toxic venom to take effect.  Expecting any moment for the man before them to drop dead, I can only imagine the awe and wonder that was developing, as no harm nor ill effect inflicted Paul.
                                                                                                                                                                                             What this particular account of Paul’s journey provides for me is the reminder that what God has promised, He will be faithful to fulfill.  Though storms and shipwrecks, snakes and strangers might happen between the promise and the fulfillment, God will always be true to His word.  He equips us with strength to survive the storms and the resilience to dance in the rain.  He reminds us of His redemption when our minds need renewing, and His grace grows our gumption to keep going.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are ALWAYS faithful to do as You say You will do.  Thank You that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from Your love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)  Forgive us for our faith that falters in the floods, and form in us a firm foundation of forever faith in You, that does not sway when the storms come.  Teach us to trust You to be our safe harbor, and our heavenly hope that holds fast in our hearts.  Heal the hurting and help our hope to be contagious.  Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Telling Our Testimony

After reading through Acts 24-26, I find it difficult to set my mind to but one verse on which to meditate and reflect upon.  Rather, what I see repeated again in Acts 26, is that Paul, in the face of adversity, shares his story as he is granted an audience before yet another person of powerful position.  He tells the king his testimony – speaking truth about Jesus and faith that leads to sanctification from sin.  No matter the accusations nor charges, Paul sticks to sharing his story, free from fear, as he is powerfully equipped each time.

Though King Agrippa claimed to have no interest in converting, he recognized the ridiculousness of the request to kill or imprison Paul for simply sharing his story.  The king even went so far as to tell the governor, Festus, that Paul should have been set free.

Power is presented when we share our story, even with those who have yet to believe.  Our story is just that – it is ours.  It is impossible to refute an individual’s own experiences, regardless of one’s personal convictions.

Though we do not all have such an extreme encounter with the Eternal to tell, we each have a story to share of our Savior’s amazing grace, provision, and goodness.  He has given us glorious gifts, and we are created to be in community with Him and all of creation.

What is your story?  How has He touched your heart with His hand, and brought light to former darkness?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is power wherever truth is presented.  Thank You for great examples set by those who have gone before us, as to how we can share the story of our salvation that You have lovingly scribed on our hearts.  Forgive us for our fear, and empower us with Your strength so that we may boldly share our stories that speak of Your unending love that leads the lost to the safe space of salvation.  Teach us how to tell that which You have placed in our heart.  May our story be spoken in strength, so that You may most clearly be conveyed.  Amen.

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

Our Intercessor and Friend

image by Maraiya Storm

“My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.” – Job 16:20-21

As our eyes pour out tears to God, Jesus is our intercessor and friend.  On our behalf, He pleads with the Father as a man pleads for his friend.

Because Jesus came and walked among us, lived a life absent of sin, submitted Himself wholly to our Father, suffered death in our place, was raised from the dead, and is now seated at God’s own right hand, He is able to act as our advocate.  He is our defender who dismisses every disobedient act; He covers our charge with Himself as we repent and ask for forgiveness for our faltering.  God sees not our sinful selves, rather He views us through the veil of His Son, declares us clean, and calls us His children.

God is always ready to hear our cry as we pour out our hearts to Him.  He may not come and calm the storm, but He will always calm the hearts of His kids, reminding us again that He is with us and will never leave us nor forsake us.

God is greater than our circumstance and always has a plan to use even the worst of our pain for the good of those who love Him.  If our hearts churn in chaos – we are to cry out to Christ.  When the wind whispers gently and we are grounded in grace – we are to worship Him.  He holds our heart and our hands as our Advocate and Friend, Redeemer and Righteous One.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are always able to call on You.  Thank You that You have provided our perfect advocate and friend as part of Your plan when You sent Your Son to save us.  Forgive us for forgetting just how faithful You are when we are in the center of the storm.  Teach us to trust You as our advocate and attendant – for You will hold our hand and lead us through our times of trial.  Lead us to live in such a way that our light may shine brightly, even in the center of the storms.  May Your light in us, lead the lost to Your love everlasting.  Amen.

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

Be Willing to Watch

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.” – Acts 20:28

image by Krystii Melaine

“Now it’s up to you.  Be on your toes – both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep.  The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people – God’s people they are – to guard and protect them.  God Himself thought they were worth dying for.” – (The Message)

Our charge, each one of us who calls Him King, is to be on guard, not only for ourselves, but for our communities.  He already paid the ultimate price for our protection, so we ought to be brave in His strength, knowing that His plan is that none would perish.

How exactly am I to be an overseer of both myself and my community?

First, I must be in tune with our Beloved so that I am ever aware, and able to discern the difference between deceit and His direction.

Next, He has granted us both the gift and the grace to present our petitions to Him through prayer.  We are called to be people of prayer.  We are equipped and covered to clearly convey Christ, when we are intentional to listen to His leading.  If we are faithful to speak truth in love, our Heavenly Father will fan the flames in every heart that hears.

Any good that is done through us, is only possible because of the perfect sacrifice our Savior presented on our behalf.  We are covered by His blood and called clean; leaving us equipped and empowered to listen to His leading.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call us to do anything that You are not also willing and able to equip us to accomplish.  Forgive us for our doubts, and help us to never forget that to You, each of us were worth dying for.  May we be ever-listening and always at the ready to do as You ask to protect and preserve our hearts and the hearts of those around us.  Lead us in love Lord, so that not one of us who comes to call You King, should perish.  Amen.

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

Equipped As His Trusted Temple

photo by Dawn Ella

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” – Acts 17:24-25

God, Creator of ALL, made a way to come near.  Because He sent His Son, who was crucified, died, brought back to life, and is now seated at His heavenly right hand, the way was provided for His Holy Spirit to dwell, not in man-made buildings, but in the hearts of men and women who come to know Him.  He who gives life and breath, does not NEED anything from us, however, He desires that we might DECIDE to follow Him.  As we do, He equips and empowers us to walk beside those who do not yet know Him, so that their eyes and hearts can be guided into His grace.

Our charge and our calling are not meant to be taken lightly.  If we are not invested in Him, how will we know how to walk in His way?  We have a remarkable responsibility when we are in a relationship with our Redeemer.  We are His temple, and are meant to allow Him to tend the temple, and take the temple to those who need tending too.  The lost, the lonely, the widow, the orphan – all those whom are yet absent from His amazing grace, need His goodness to guide them to His perfect peace and provision.  He can provide with or without us, yet what a privilege we miss if we are not walking in His will.  He allows, asks and provides even, that we might partner with the Prince of Peace, to love people well.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are God and we are not.  Thank You that You do not dwell in man-made spaces where we would have to search high and low in hope to find You.  Thank You that instead, You come and reside in all who ask.  Forgive us for walking when You say wait, and for waiting when You have asked us to walk.  Teach us to trust You more so that we might be in tune with Your Spirit, who is ever-speaking to our hearts about who You are and what You want us to be in You.  May our listening ears and faithful hearts lead the lost to Your loving arms forever.  Amen.

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

Faith Fuels a Firm Foundation

photo by Chris Esty

“God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them (the Gentiles) by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us.  He made no distinction between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith.” – Acts 15:8-9

God is not interested in our pedigree nor our position (though He can and will use both if we are willing); rather He cares only for the condition of our hearts.  He accepts and blesses with the presence of the Holy Spirit, all, who by faith, come to believe.  Our hearts are not made pure by piety (works), but instead by our faith in the Father, and through the work of His Spirit in us.  We each hold equal and infinite value to our Creator.

God grants each of us the grace that is needed to share our story, and to impact the internal condition of the hearts of all whom we call our community.  It matters not to Him, our position, nor history, and yet He utilizes both to breathe life and hope to all who hear.  He uses the least of us to touch lives and transform communities, when we have a willing heart that is founded in faith.  Our influence reaches far beyond what our eyes can see.  Who but God, truly knows the reach of a redeemed heart that is ready to serve?

For me, it was the willing hearts of teachers, Sunday school staff, grandparents, great family and friends, who were full of faith and obedient to the Father, that led me to believe and trust our Beloved, from a tender age.  Though I knew not the full historical significance, nor the Hebrew, I knew that Jesus had come into my heart, and was granted the grace to grow my faith that taught me to trust that He would remain.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son because You love us, and longed to make a way to lead us back to a restored relationship with You.  Forgive us for when our faith is lacking, and remind us again of the mountains You can move, if only we are willing to walk in Your way.  Teach us, lead us, and guide us I pray, so that a firm foundation of faith will fuel us to follow You all of our days.  May our willing obedience open hearts to hear the truth.  Amen.

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