Faithful the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. Amen.

 

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

 

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

Let Our Love Proclaim

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim His greatness. Let the whole world know what He has done. – (1 Chronicles 16:8, NLT)

Give thanks to the Lord and call out to Him! Tell the nations what He has done! – (1 Chronicles 16:8, ERV)

Thank God! Call out His Name! Tell the whole world who He is and what He’s done! – (1 Chronicles 16:8, MSG)

 

To give God thanks and praise is a natural and normal occurrence throughout my days. However, making proclamations verbally is not a normal part of my mode of operation. I tend to be on the quieter side, and go about my day doing what needs to be done. I give credit where credit is due, yet I do not make big announcements nor proclamations about anything. Daily, I write about His faithfulness in my life, and hope that His love is made evident through my actions. This is a verse that I wonder about, as I know we are each designed with different gifts and strengths. Perhaps it is in the quiet conversations between friends, when we reflect on the reason for the season, that our opportunities to share of His greatness and faithfulness in our own lives are the places that we are meant to speak of what He has done. May we ever give thanks to the Lord and call on His Name, and may we share of His goodness and grace when given the opportunity in word or deed.

 

Gracious Giving

All thanks be to God,

He’s faithful and good;

Choose call on His Name,

He’s hope understood.

In word and in deed,

Speak of what He’s done;

Proclaim His greatness,

The Most Holy One.

Oh Lord, let our lives,

Speak of what is true;

Of Your love and grace,

And faithfulness too.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are great and faithful and that we can call on Your Name. Thank You for all that You have done. Forgive us for not sharing of Your faithfulness with those around us, as they too, need to know of Your goodness and grace. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will depend on You for the words and ways to share Your goodness with those around us. Show us how to love others in a way that clearly communicates Your heart for people. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks and praise for all of our days, and share of Your goodness and grace with those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Love As We Are Loved

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. – (John 13:34, NLT)

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. – (John 13:34, VOICE)

 

As Jesus and His disciples shared their last meal together, these were among His parting words to them. In the same way that Jesus called the disciples to love one another, He calls us to do likewise. It is an odd time in society, as many people are impacted by the loss of great icons in the entertainment industry. With each new announcement of another passing, people are forced to face their own mortality. In the midst of such a space of uncertainty, love needs to enter in. Perfect love casts out fear. When we love one another well, we are better able to fix our eyes and hearts on hope, rather than fear, and can move forward in the direction to which we are called. May we each rise up and answer in obedience the command that Jesus has given us to love one another as He has loved us.

 

In uncertainty,not-defined-by-a-day

We need not choose fear;

For we’re called to love,

Show truth, remain near.

Jesus commanded,

That we make the choice;

To love as He loved,

With heart, soul and voice.

Help us to love, Lord,

As You have loved us;

So all may come know,

The hope in Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You gave us a new command to love one another as we are loved by You. Thank You that You do not just tell us to love, but You model it to us again and again and again. Thank You that we have countless examples of how You love, so that we know how to go forth and love others in the same way. Forgive us for not loving others well. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose to love, regardless of what we are given in return. Show us how to love as You have loved us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to help us love others as we are loved by You. Amen.

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

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

Obey and Watch

For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. – (Luke 1:15)

God spoke a promise to John the Baptist’s parents before he was born. The fulfillment came quickly, and it was obvious that God was doing mighty things, even from the very announcement of John’s pending arrival. In the middle portion of the verse, God had specific requirements for his parents to obey, in order to lead and guide John in the way in which he, specifically, was to go. God is God, and would have moved mightily with or without their obedience, yet I imagine because they chose to obey, the fullness of His promise was fulfilled. I think the same holds true for us. God is good, and His promises are yes and amen. However, when there is an instruction for us given, followed by an and “something shall be done“, it is in our best interest to obey. God does not make us jump through hoops, but He does direct our steps in a certain and specific direction so that we will discover the very best path that He has prepared for us. When we do what He asks of us, we see Him move mightily, in spite of us. May we choose to walk in obedience to all that God asks, and watch expectantly for the wonder of how He will move.

God sees each of us,Delivering Dreams

as great in His eyes;

not for what we’ve done,

but hope realized.

Because we are His,

with purpose and plan;

let us seek His face,

so we understand.

When clarity comes,

let’s choose to obey;

His miracles move,

when walking His way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us and valuing us each, individually. Thank You that You have a plan and a purpose for each of us, and that You are willing to lead and guide us in the ways in which we are meant to go. Thank You that as we heed Your direction, You move in ways we could not have even begun to fathom. Forgive us for neglecting to do what You call us to do, and teach us to trust You more, so that we will immediately act on the things that You lead us to do. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they may clearly see You through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we obey that which You ask of us, and trust You completely. 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

Delivering Dreams

When a dream long dreamed seems all but dead, it is difficult to hold fast to a promise that seems to have been forgotten. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, had longed to have children for many years, but had been barren. She was long past child-bearing age when she and Abraham were visited by angels on their way to carry out the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. During their short stay, they told Abraham that he and his wife Sarah would conceive a son. Sarah, in her sorrow, bitterness, and unbelief because of her advanced years, laughed in response to what had been spoken. Abraham and Sarah traversed more trials in their travels, as they followed where God had called them to go. Just as the angels had foretold, Sarah conceived and bore to Abraham a son, Isaac. Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” – (Genesis 21:6)

 

Though the timing was not what Sarah had hoped for, God was faithful to fulfill His promise, and her heart overflowed with joy. At the initial announcement of the promise, Sarah laughed in disbelief. When the God’s promise at last came to pass, Sarah laughed again, this time for joy in awe and wonder of the goodness of God. We have the benefit of the Bible. Throughout the pages, countless stories of God’s faithfulness are recorded for our benefit. Additionally, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, to remind us that His word is true, and He is faithful to all that He promises to do. May we hold fast to God’s promises to us, and ever forge forward in faith, trusting that God is always good.

 

The Giver of dreams,Delivering Dreams

our Lord God above;

true to His promise,

and faithful in love.

No matter how long,

we seemingly wait;

we’re not forgotten,

and God’s never late.

His timing’s perfect,

all things by His plan;

in faith, we must trust,

it’s all in His hands.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good. Thank You that what You promise, You provide. Thank You that You ways are higher than our ways, and Your timing is not according to our timetable. Forgive us for our impatience and our lack of faith when the wait is long, and help us to trust and persevere. Teach us to hold fast to Your word, and keep our hearts from discouragement and disbelief. Lead us to love well, just as You so generously and faithfully love each of us. May many come to know of Your goodness and faithfulness for themselves, and may we be used as Your instruments to share of how You have been faithful in our own lives. Be exalted O God, as we forge forward in faith, trusting in Your eternal goodness and grace. Amen.

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

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

Go and See

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” – (Luke 2:15)

 

Ordinary shepherds with extraordinary faith, had been tending their flocks by night. Suddenly, the night sky was illuminated with the glorious light of the Lord, and the shepherds were full of fear. An angel offered them comfort, and let them know that he was there to share great news, and that there was nothing to fear. As the heavenly hosts praised God after the announcement of Jesus’ birth, the shepherds were so moved by what they had seen and heard, that they dropped everything to go and see for themselves. I can’t imagine it was convenient, nor easy; yet clearly the shepherds were determined to see the Savior whose birth had just been declared to them in the dark of night.

 

How often are we compelled to move where we have been called, despite the inconvenience, as a result of the recognition of His voice? He still speaks to us today. Though few have the experience of the heavenly hosts bringing an announcement by song in the night sky, His Spirit now dwells in the very hearts of all who call Him Lord of their lives, and His words are whispered to our hearts continually. Our response ought to be to eagerly go and see what He will do, rather than fear or anxiousness of the unknown. Learning to trust Him more, is an ongoing, ever-growing, challenge in life with Christ. May we seek to hear Him clearly, and ask for His strength to trust Him more.

 

Let our hearts receive,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

each word from the Lord;

with strength to trust Him,

by faith He affords.

May we quickly heed,

whatever He speaks;

choose walk in His ways,

as Christ our heart seeks.

May we learn to trust,

with all that we are;

no matter the call,

be it near or far.

For the Lord our God,

will ever remain;

present, God with us,

truth we can proclaim.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You speak to us and challenge us to go and see and do things we never thought possible. Thank You that Your Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of all who trust and believe. Thank You that as we choose to take steps of faithful obedience where You call us to go, You remain present, with us, strengthening and equipping us, for all that we are called to do. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, and help us to grow in our trust in You. Lead us to love others, just as You so completely love us. May many come to know Your faithfulness and Your grace, personally, as a result. Be glorified, O God, as we go forth trusting You. Amen.

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

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7