A Silent Saturday

Pilate was surprised to hear that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. – (Mark 15:44-46, NIV)

 

After the devastation of the cross, a faithful few prepared Jesus’ body and buried Him in a tomb. By sun up, it would be the Sabbath, and no one would be going anywhere or doing anything. The disciples and other followers of Jesus likely spent the day in mourning. Meanwhile, the chief priests and the Pharisees were not at all at ease. They went to Pilate because they recalled the words of Jesus, and clearly had concerns about what might transpire in the coming days.

 

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So, give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” – (Matthew 27:63-64, NIV)

 

Consequently, Pilate ordered his guards to make the tomb secure and to stand guard at the tomb. That Saturday, all seemed to be silent. Jewish law kept mourners from moving about and doing much of anything, and I imagine that each of the faithful followers of Jesus retreated to their own homes and pondered all that had transpired in the previous twenty-four hours. It is as if the world stopped spinning, and all were stuck in a silent space of grief and disbelief. For me, knowing the whole story, I am in a space between awe and agony at the weight of all that Jesus bore on my behalf, and the anticipation of celebration, knowing that He conquered death and rose again the very next day.  Today is a space of waiting. Silent reflection and appreciation are what flood my heart and mind. I mourn my own sinfulness, yet overflow with gratitude for the salvation that is granted because He bore it all for me. May we each find our own quiet moments to reflect on the magnitude of what our Maker did for us all as we stay in this space of sacred silence.

 

This day of waiting, A SIlent Saturday

Sabbath long ago;

The Savior, buried,

Seemed hope’s final blow.

The world lay silent,

The Savior was dead;

Where were they to go,

What could have been said?

Silent reflection,

Such grief on that day;

What could have been done,

Unrealized grace.

O painful waiting,

To go to the tomb;

Observe in anguish,

Savior’s seeming doom.

The stillness gave way,

For we know the end;

Death could not hold Him,

As He rose again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your one and only Son to make the way for us to be restored unto You. Thank You Jesus, for bearing the weight of all of our sin upon Yourself; for we are the ones deserving sanctions of suffering, not You. Forgive us for not fully embracing the weight of what You have done for us, or for questioning whether or not Your sacrifice truly covered it all. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive the mercy and grace provided at the cross, and demonstrate our gratitude by living a life that ever seeks Your will. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes the promise that joy comes in the morning no matter how dark the night appears, evident. May many come to embrace the grace that You made possible through Your death and resurrection on this holy weekend so long ago. Be glorified O God, as we set our hearts in silent reflection over all that You did to make us acceptable in Your sight. Amen.

 

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

 

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. – John 16:22

Choose Love Anyway

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. – (Matthew 5:44-45, NIV) 

But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and those who do wrong. – (Matthew 5:44-45, ERV) 

 

This can be a serious challenge to actually live out each day. To choose to love, is to make a choice to not respond harshly or rudely, even when that is what we are given. Love is patient and kind and keeps no record of wrongs. That is not to say that we are meant to walk into and remain in abusive and hostile situations, but rather when we are treated any way other than that which God intended, we are meant to respond as He would. Our first line of defense is to pray for those who are against us. So often, it is a matter of hurting people choosing to hurt people out of their own wounded spaces. It does not make it right or acceptable, but it is often a point of prayer for help and healing to be provided for the very one who is causing pain. While we were yet sinners, God loved us. At one point, each of us who call on His Name, discovered the depth of His grace, love, kindness and forgiveness for us, despite our initial lack of love for Him. He tore down the barriers built by our own brokenness and loved us to life in Him. May we choose to love and pray for those who need it most, as God can do far more than we could hope or imagine when we seek Him to intervene in ugly spaces. 

 

We are called to love, Hands of Grace

And choose pray for all; 

Especially those, 

Who want us to fall. 

For as we were once, 

God’s enemies too; 

He loved us to life, 

And made our hearts new. 

Let us choose to pray, 

For those against us; 

Choose love anyway, 

Just as Jesus does. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that while we were yet sinners and walking against You, You broke through the barriers of our hurting hearts and loved us to life. Thank You that You call us to do the same. Forgive us for forgetting to pray for those who treat us poorly. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You for strength and direction as to how to love everyone as You would have us love. Show us how to love even the most difficult to love as You do, so that Your heart may be made evident through our actions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom and strength to love our enemies and pray for those who treat us poorly. Amen. 

 

 

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

 

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

Transformed from the Inside Out

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – (Romans 12:2, NLT)

Don’t change yourself to be like the people of this world, but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to understand and accept what God wants for you. You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to Him and what is perfect. – (Romans 12:2, ERV)

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing and complete. – (Romans 12:2, VOICE)

 

This is such an important message for all of us to remember. The media floods us with images of how we should look, popular culture tries to dictate what is acceptable and what is not, and those with whom we surround ourselves, have their own ideas as well. God made each of us with a plan and a purpose. Individually, we are hand-crafted with different talents and gifts to utilize for His glory. The only way to know God’s will and what is good and pleasing and complete according to Him, is to seek Him and pursue the path which He has planned for us. If we allow the world to shape our thoughts, ideals and identity, we will never realize what it is to be transformed from the inside out to live a life that fulfills the purposes of our Heavenly Father. Where the world tells us that we are not enough, Christ tells us that we can do all things in Him, as He will give us strength. May we turn a deaf ear to the shouts of the world’s wooing, and instead listen to the gentle whisper of the voice of the living God, who transforms our hearts and minds and leads us to know all that is good and pleasing and complete.

 

Allow not the world,

Transformed from the Inside Out

Image from favim.com

A place or a voice;

For all that is good,

Comes when God’s our choice.

If we choose listen,

Allow God transform;

Our hearts and our minds,

Hope and strength are born.

It’s in Christ alone,

That we come to know;

The path that is good,

Where completion grows.

So, bend not to things,

The world has to say;

Instead seek the Lord,

And walk in His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we do not have to change ourselves to be like what the world expects, but rather we are called to allow You to transform us from the inside out, so that we will know what is good and pleasing and complete according to Your will. Forgive us for allowing what we see or hear to influence how we see ourselves, rather than listening to what You say about who we are and how You see us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would worry not about the world’s approval, but instead that we would continue to further discover our infinite worth in You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them to feel valued for who they are, just as they are, rather than if they were a certain way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they discover who You are and how You love. Be glorified O God, as we turn away from the patterns of the world that seek to draw us in, and turn to You to transform us from the inside out. Amen.

 

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

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

Proof Through Pursuit

Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, “We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.” – (Luke 3:8, NLT)

 

Though few would likely utilize the “descendants of Abraham” claim today, many believe that their salvation is secure because they either grew up going to church or have Christian parents. The point that Luke is making is that we must own our faith for ourselves. It is essential that we repent from our former ways and turn to God in trust, believing that He is who He says He is, as we trust Him to be Lord of our lives. There is no automatic “in” because of our bloodlines. It is only by the blood of Jesus that any of us are made clean and acceptable before God. We must believe and receive what He has done on our behalf, and then pursue the path of a life lived in faith following Him. May we each turn in trust to Christ to repent and receive all that He offers to those who earnestly seek Him. It is through our receiving, that we are adopted as sons and daughters of the living God, and granted an inheritance in Him that never ends.

 

Let our lives make clear,Generous Giving

The choice that we’ve made;

To turn from our sins,

And walk in His ways.

There’s no auto in,

For family and friends;

All must make the choice,

On whom they’ll depend.

The only true way,

To know hope’s assured;

Is to trust in Christ,

In Whom we’re secure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You desire for us to be in relationship with You individually and personally. Thank You that You made the way for us to turn away from our sin and be forgiven, so that we could enter into a lasting relationship with You. Forgive us for our lack of repentance or for not actively pursuing the deepening of our relationship with You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would keep short accounts with You, and seek You in all of our ways. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they might come to know the goodness of Your love through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we demonstrate our dedication to You by living lives in constant pursuit of You and Your ways. Amen.

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

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

Come with Thanksgiving

Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to Him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to Him. – (Psalm 95:1-2, NLT)

 

I love how God knows what we need far better than we do. Yesterday, what I thought I would be doing, turned into something entirely different, yet the difference was a wonderful day filled with laughter and fun with two of my very dearly treasured friends. We spent the day going to our favorite Thai food lunch, shopping for baking supplies, and then ended up back at their house for a baking extravaganza as we were serenaded by Christmas music. There was laughter, singing, terrific tastes, and my heart was full. It is that very sort of space that reminds me of Who gives me reason to sing, and my heart cannot help but give Him thanks for His goodness to me. May we all raise our voices in thanksgiving, to offer praise to Him who gives us reason to sing.

 

Come all, let us sing,come-with-thanksgiving

With joy to the Lord;

For in Him, we’re saved,

As grace is outpoured.

Let our thanksgiving,

Rise unto His ear;

As we sing His praise,

May our hope be clear.

All thanks unto You,

O Lord God of all;

In all things let praise,

Be that which enthralls.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Rock of our salvation. Thank You that we can come to You with thanksgiving, as You are faithful; always. Thank You that You receive our offerings of songs of praise as acceptable before You. Forgive us for not bringing our gratitude before You nearly often enough. Teach us to joyfully sing praise and thanks to You for who You are, as You are always good. Show us how to love others well, so that we might spread joy and love and light with those who may not otherwise have reason to hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come before You with thanksgiving, singing praise unto You. Amen.

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

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

Above All, Guard Your Heart

More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it. – (Proverbs 4:23, CEB)

Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life. – (Proverbs 4:23, TLB)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)

 

We are called to prioritize protecting the place within us that dictates the things that we do. Our mind, heart and affection all influence our decisions, and if we do not guard these things, the life that is meant to flow from us, will fall flat. As we determine to walk in His way and seek to obey, we cannot help but exude His light and life as we go about our day. May we above all else, guard our hearts, so that what flows from us leads to life in Christ.

 

More than anything,Confidence in Christ

Let us choose to guard;

Our hearts and our minds,

From becoming scarred.

For as we seek Him,

He protects our minds;

And everything else,

His power can bind.

So, let His light shine,

In all that we do;

Protect heart and mind,

And to Christ stay true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and Your strength, You give us what we need to protect our mind, heart and affection. Thank You that through protecting these, everything else in our lives is protected too. Forgive us for neglecting to be vigilant in guarding our hearts and minds. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You in all things and at all times, to show us what is acceptable to allow in, and what we need to avoid. Show us how to love others in such a way, that Your loving kindness freely flows from us so that they may come to understand Your goodness and grace. May many come to a place of choosing to walk with You forever. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom and strength to protect our minds, hearts and affections. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

A Command to Love

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. – (1 Timothy 1:5, NIV)

 

In this passage, Paul was giving Timothy instruction as to how to stand firm in the faith. Paul’s instruction was received well by Timothy because Paul had proven his heart toward him and his fellow believers over time. Love had been made evident over time, and the instructions were delivered from one with a good conscience, sincere faith and a heart that had been made pure by that which Christ had done. We are called to do likewise. It is our charge – His command to us – to love. The only way that we can truly do this is if we love as He has loved us. When we submit ourselves to Christ, He purifies our hearts, cleanses our conscience from any unrighteousness, and grows us in sincere faith. It is from this space of submission, that we are able to fulfill the goal of the greatest command – to love. May we choose to receive that which He has given unto us, and go forth and do the same to all whom we encounter.

 

The greatest command,Purposeful Prayer

that we have been told;

instructs us to love,

all whom we behold.

Not just those we choose,

but all whom come in;

as Christ’s beloved,

treat all as if kin.

From a heart that’s pure,

and conscience that’s clean;

with a sincere faith,

show all what love means.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You do not first demonstrate and then equip us to do. Thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus, who came and showed us how to love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. Thank You Jesus, for Your sacrifice so that we could become pure and acceptable before God because of what You have done for us. Forgive us for not recognizing the remarkable work that You did on our behalf on the cross to make us acceptable before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive that which we have been freely given, and would then go forth and do likewise in love. Help us to love others well, as You so perfectly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to obey Your call on our lives to love others well from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

 

 

Enter With Thanksgiving

Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His Name. – (Psalm 100:4)

Before Christ came, people had to go to the temple to be in the presence of God. To truly present their thanks, praise and offerings, they had to physically go to the temple courts and partake in a rigorous routine. Today, we can enter His gates with thanksgiving and go into His courts with praise, any hour of any day. Christ dwells within our very own heart, if we choose only to invite Him in. When we give thanks to God and praise His Name, it is as if we are in the throne room itself, because of God with us, through the Holy Spirit. Because we are blessed as believers to have Christ with us at all times, we always have reason to give Him thanks and praise. May we choose to rise up and enter His gates with thanksgiving and go into His courts with praise, not for what is going on around us, but for who He is within us.

May each heart enter,Enter With Thanksgiving

His gates full of thanks;

go into His courts,

to offer God praise.

For this is a space,

found within our heart;

as we recognize,

where the throne room starts.

We need not look far,

for the Lord is near;

our help and our hope,

each prayer He will hear.

All thanks be to God,

give praise to His Name;

for He is so good,

let our hearts proclaim.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can enter Your gates with thanksgiving and go into Your courts with praise directly, without having to travel far, nor participate in rigorous rituals to be made right before You. Thank You for the gift of Your Son, who made the way for us to be seen as clean before You. Thank You, Jesus, for bearing all of our sin and shame, so that we could be viewed as acceptable and worthy to worship before You. Forgive us for taking the magnitude of Your sacrifice for granted, or for not giving proper thanks and praise unto You. Teach us to have hearts that overflow with thanksgiving for who You are, as You alone are worthy of all thanks and praise. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they too, may find reason to offer thanks. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we enter Your gates with thanksgiving and go into Your courts with praise. 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

Unity, Liberty and Love

Be willing to accept those who still have doubts about what believers can do. And don’t argue with them about their different ideas. – (Romans 14:1, ERV)

 

There will always be differences of opinion among believers, as there are things that the Bible does not deem right nor wrong; and therefore each are a matter to be taken up individually, between God and man, personally. What is acceptable for one, may be off limits for another. Our charge is not to dispute our differing views, but rather to be accepted and handled with love. If each of us is acting according to our conscience (the leading of the Holy Spirit), then we are doing right in the eyes of the Lord – even if it is not the same as our sister or brother. “Our principle should be: In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in everything, love.” – (NIV footnotes for Romans 14:1)

 

What the Bible clearly establishes, these are non-negotiables. The things that have not been clearly laid out nor established, for these we must trust each to walk in the wisdom and counsel that the Lord provides, so that we may maintain united as a body of believers. In all things, whether we stand in agreement or not, we are called to operate in love. May we accept one another in love, choosing our conversations with wisdom and grace. Let the Lord be our guide and example as to how we are to operate in unity, liberty and love.

 

For the Lord calls us,Intended for Obedience

to accept in love;

any uncertain,

of His law above.

For some things it’s clear,

God’s way is laid out;

yet still there are some,

we must pray about.

We’re not to argue,

with differing views;

in love, just listen,

God’s voice will ring true.

What is yes for one,

not for another;

we’re not meant to judge,

sisters and brothers.

Stand firm in the truth,

liberty in grey;

all things done in love,

is walking God’s way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love and know us individually. Thank You that what may be acceptable and safe for one, can be a resounding “NO” for another, because of Your love and protection for us individually. Thank You that You know our hearts and minds, and You determine what will lead us down a path of destruction, and what will not bring harm at all. Forgive us for either assuming that Your answer should be one way or another for those around us, or for not listening well to the answer that You are clearly offering before us. Teach us to trust You more so that we may be united in the essentials, grant liberty in the nonessentials, and in all things, operate in love. Lead us to love with Your wisdom and grace, so that many may come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are united as a body, and gracious and loving to all. 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

Constructive Permission

“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive. – (1 Corinthians 10:23)

 

There are many things that are neither good nor bad, they just are. For some, they bring forth benefit, yet for others, they can lead to detriment. These gray areas are the places where the rubber meets the road and we must rely on the Holy Spirit, and listen to His instructions for us, individually. What is acceptable and reasonable for one, may be unacceptable and off limits for another; not because God has a double standard, but because He knows where each heart goes when we partake in various fodder and festivities. May we each seek the Lord and His direction in all that we do, being sensitive to the Spirit’s leading, so that we partake only in the permissible things that are beneficial for us, individually.

 

Though much is allowed,Constructive Permission

not all things grant gain;

what’s okay for one,

brings another pain.

It matters to God,

that we seek and ask;

understand His will,

prior to a task.

Lord please help us see,

the gray through Your eyes;

so that we are clear,

on “yays” and “denied”.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though all things are permissible, You show us what is not beneficial nor constructive. Thank You that when we ask, You answer. Forgive us for thinking that because something is “permissible” that it is acceptable for us individually without seeking You first. Teach us to trust You enough to come before You in all things and at all times, seeking Your will for all that we do. Help us to hear You clearly and to obey what You ask. Lead us to love others, just as You so perfectly have loved each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we partake in only that which You deem permissible for us individually. Amen.

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

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23