To Signify the Start of Something New

Let me hear of Your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting You. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to You. – (Psalm 143:8, NLT)

Show me Your faithful love this morning, I trust in You. Show me what I should do. I put my life in Your hands! – (Psalm 143:8, ERV)

Let the dawning day bring me revelation of Your tender, unfailing love. Give me light for my path and teach me, for I trust in You. – (Psalm 143:8, TPT)

 

I have always had a special appreciation for early mornings, as I crave the quiet stillness found in the sweet solitude of the wee hours before dawn’s first light. The ability to hear my own thoughts with clarity as my other senses are not interrupted, helps get me grounded before I begin each day. As a point of curiosity, I searched the word “morning” in my Bible app and discovered that the word appeared 239 times. Nearly every time that the word “morning” appeared, it was to signify the start of something new: new help, new hope, a new oath, a new promise, a new blessing, a new charge to carry out, new revelation, new provision, new strength, new light, new mercies, new love and new joy. Daily, I see and know His unfailing love that is found each morning, as I turn in trust. God is faithful to show me what I should do as I allow Him room to lead. What I have discovered over time, is that His ways are always better than mine, and trusting Him is far wiser than relying on myself. He is faithful to grant the wisdom we seek and provides people to surround us with strength and hope and help. Each new day brings new light and love as we turn in trust to the One who holds us in His hands. May we ever seek our Savior to show us the way, as He is faithful to lead us by the light of His unfailing love.

 

Early each morning, Searched and Known

I discover new;

Your unfailing love,

As I trust in You.

You show me the way,

That I’m meant to go;

As You light my path,

In Your loving glow.

Your tender kindness,

Each morning is new;

Your grace unending,

As I trust in You.

I will keep rising,

Before break of day;

To meet You anew,

As You light my way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your unfailing love is new each morning, and Your faithfulness never ends. Thank You that as we trust in You, You teach us and light our path. Forgive us for the times that we attempt to wander in the darkness on our own. Teach us to trust in You and to recognize the people that You have placed all around us. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may strengthen, encourage and lift them up with the new that You have for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen for revelation of Your tender, unfailing love this morning, and follow the lighted path that You provide. Amen.

 

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

 

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

May We Marvel Like the Magi

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, His mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped Him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left that territory without being seen, and returned to their own country. – (Matthew 2:9-12, MSG)

 

As I continue on my journey to dig deeper into the stories of those who first were mentioned in the Christmas story, this morning I did some searching about the Magi. What I had already learned, is that the wise men who visited bearing gifts, did not actually visit Mary, Joseph and Jesus as He lay in the manger. It was likely a year or two later. As mentioned, the wise men entered their home, not an animal shelter of sorts with Jesus in a manger. My new discovery however, is that according to what I found, the Magi were a priesthood of the Medes, known for their exceptional religious knowledge, and some proved to be experts at interpretation of dreams. This was the very same group of wise men and advisors to whom Daniel had been appointed Chief of the Magi, several generations prior. The gifts that these priestly people brought had prophetic and powerful meaning in religious realms. Gold spoke of His kingship, frankincense was a spice used in priestly duties, and myrrh was an embalming ointment anticipating His death. The wise men followed a star, knowing of the significance of Who they would find if they followed where it led. Based on the gifts that they had prepared to take, I imagine that they had already been given some dreams and insight about what had been foretold long before. It is awe-inspiring to envision what the moment must have been like for the Magi. A lifetime of studying and seeking, and then suddenly these wise men found themselves standing before the Savior of the world.  May we each have Magi-like moments this Christmas, where we recognize in awe and wonder, His powerful presence, because He chose to come and be God with us.

 

A star of wonder, May We Live Like the Magi

Led wise men afar;

Check in with a king,

Then follow the star.

The Magi arrived,

In Bethlehem town;

The way clearly shown,

As the star shined down.

With awe and wonder,

The wise men took knee;

They gave Him their gifts,

All praise unto Thee.

May we too behold,

A similar awe;

At the Gift given,

What the wise men saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly show us more and more of Who You are and all that You have done, as we seek You and ask for Your insight. Thank You for the faithfulness and obedience of the Magi, and a bit more of the story behind them. Forgive us for taking everything at face value, or for becoming numb to the depth and life that come from beholding the truth and the treasure that is found in the story of Jesus’ arrival. Teach us to seek to see it through fresh eyes, so that we never lose our awe and wonder at the glory of the Gift that You gave. Show us how to love those around us in a way that points hearts to You, the ultimate Giver of all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe of all that You have done for us, and the very reason we celebrate this season. Amen.

 

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

 

He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

(link to Magi research)

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

Search for the Why

Today’s reading was found in Numbers 22:21-33. This passage tells the story of Balaam and his donkey as they are on their way to a Moabite town with Moabite officials. Balaam’s journey was not pleasing to the Lord. Three times, an angel of the Lord stood in the path of Balaam on his donkey, and blocked the way. Though Balaam could not see him, the donkey certainly could. In fear, the donkey turned away, held back and finally laid down, refusing to go forward each time the angel appeared. Unfortunately, Balaam could not see the angel, and chose to beat the donkey each time it refused to move forward. Finally, after the third time, God opened the mouth of the donkey and gave it the ability to speak. The donkey asked what it had done to deserve the beatings, and Balaam was concerned only that the donkey had made him appear a fool. What really stood out to me this morning, was the donkey’s reply to Balaam’s rant about being made appear a fool.

 

“But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life, have I ever done anything like this before?” – (Numbers 22:30)

 

When those around us do things that are out of character, it is better to ask why, than to get angry or upset at the abrupt change. Most of the time, when people operate outside of their norm, there is a reason. It is almost always in response to something. If it is to hurt, how can we help? If it is to fear, how can we reassure or heed the warning? May we be sensitive to those around us, taking note of attitudes, actions or words that wander from their normal mode of operation. Lord, lead us to be sensitive to Your voice as we listen to those around us, so that we may identify the why when something is awry.

 

When words are like weapons,

Equipped for Desert Seasons

Where never before;

It’s our job to find out,

Discover the sore.

For panic or wounding,

Great heartache or fear;

Each one can be reason,

To ask and draw near.

Let Balaam’s example,

Be warning to us;

Sometimes the uncommon,

Is help from Jesus.

Lord, make our hearts tender,

Ready to give ear;

Help us see through Your eyes,

So all becomes clear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, You show us things through Your eyes, and give us Your heart for those around us. Forgive us for getting angry or upset when those around us operate outside of their normal mode of operation. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might patiently and lovingly pursue answers as to why someone is “off” rather than be bothered by it. Help us to love others well, just as You so patiently and extravagantly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to understand when things are awry, rather than respond as the recipients of offense. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

Obey Without Delay

Immediate obedience is what the Lord asks of us, but so often, it takes a bit of time to either wrap our heads around what exactly it is that He is asking, or to find the faith to step out and do that which we are being called to do.

 

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and His mother,” the angel said…”because Herod is going to search for the child to kill Him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, His mother. (Matthew 2:13-14, NLT)

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel…” So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and His mother. (Matthew 2:19-21, NLT)

Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for a region of Galilee. So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth… (Matthew 2:22b-23a, NLT)

 

Joseph is acknowledged for his obedience to marry Mary, despite what was perceived. He listened to the angel of the Lord, and did what was right in the eyes of God. That being said, I’ve never given much thought to the steps of obedience that he carefully took after the birth of Jesus. I wonder if he had been so eternally changed by his initial visit by an angel, that he was on constant standby to hear the instructions of the Lord, as he was well aware of the significance of his role in raising the Son of God? Joseph was human and he had a free will. He did not have to obey what was asked of him, but he did – and he did so immediately. His decisions had an impact on all of history. God guided him, but Joseph chose to obey.

 

How often are we in such circumstances? Though we are not raising the Son of God, what if we are raising the next leader of a church, a city, an organization or a nation? What we do matters. Our obedience has the capacity to shape not only our lives, but the lives of those around us. We never really know the significance of our decisions, until long after they have been made. May we listen well for His voice, and choose to step out in obedience as soon as we hear what He is asking. Let the Lord be our strength, courage and light, as we move in the direction that He calls us to go.

 

When God speaks to us,

do we choose obey?Break Camp and Move Out

Does our heart move now,

or wait one more day?

What is the impact,

of obedience?

It’s not about us,

nor our convenience.

Our one decision,

could open the way;

for His light to shine,

on the darkest day.

Our obedience,

matters a great deal;

for God uses us,

to show that He’s real.

Let hearts be open,

and ears set to hear;

may we choose obey,

without pause or fear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us so many examples in Your word of those who boldly and without hesitation, obeyed that which You asked of them. Thank You too, that it is clear why it was necessary for obedience to be immediate. Thank You that You speak to our hearts, and we need simply to listen to know what we are to do and where we are to go. Forgive us for our hesitation and delay to those things that we know You are asking of us. Grow in us a faith that says “Yes and Amen” immediately, to whatever we hear You asking. Show us how to love others in a way that makes Your goodness and grace evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to Your leading and then take steps of obedience as soon as we know what we have heard. Amen.

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

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Peace in Times of Trouble

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – (John 16:33)  

Jesus spoke plainly to the disciples about what was going to happen on the night He was to be betrayed, and let them know why He was leaving and to Whom He was being sent. Despite the darkness that was about to befall the disciples as they would watch their Savior and friend walk the long and agonizing road to the cross alone; Jesus assured them that it would not be the end. His assurance was played out in the most miraculous way ever recorded. Jesus defeated death, after bearing the brunt of all of our sin and shame. He rose again, appeared to many, and then returned to the Father so that He could send His Holy Spirit to be our Counselor. Jesus truly overcame the world, and in Him, we too, can overcome any obstacle that comes our way. His peace is available for us, and His strength in steady supply. To take heart is to place our trust in Him and allow Him to lead us, no matter what season we are walking through. He is faithful and He has already overcome all that lies before us. May we rise up in faith and take heart, for our Heavenly Father is holding us in the hollow of His hand.

Jesus has told us,His Mighty Power

a number of things;

so we may find peace,

that only He brings.

Though we’ll have trouble,

He won’t let us fall;

the Lord’s overcome,

He’s conquered it all.

Let’s rise up in faith,

in Christ, take a stand;

for the Lord is good,

we’re held in His hand.

Strength for the weary,

so we won’t grow faint;

His Spirit in us,

let’s trust in His Name.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us Your word that tells us what is good and true and lovely. Thank You that when we seek You, we find You and come to know Your peace. Thank You that despite the trouble that we all face, we have the blessed assurance that ultimately, in You, we will overcome. Thank You that we are more than conquerors in You. Forgive us for forgetting how near and powerful You are when the waves begin to overwhelm us. Teach us to slow down, and fix our eyes on You, rather than the storm that surrounds us, so that we may see what really is the truth. Lead us to love others well, so that they too may come to know Your peace and provision in such a way, that they turn to You forever. Be glorified O God, as we take heart in You, learning to lean into Your peace as You lead us to overcome all that comes against us. Amen.

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

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

To Take Courage

When Jesus walked on water, the disciples were in the midst of some really rough seas. For experienced fishermen to be straining at the oar, indicated that it was quite a rough row as they were attempting make their way across the lake and the wind had risen up against them. Likely struggling and straining to keep the boat afloat, they then caught a glimpse of God’s glory as Jesus appeared beside them, walking on the water. The men were terrified.

 

Immediately He spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” – (Mark 6:50b)

 

When things are uncertain and fear rises up, it is easy to get stuck in the straining as we struggle to stay afloat. The very same Jesus who walked on the water out to the place where the disciples were straining in the stormy seas, is seated beside us in scary spaces and whispers to our hearts, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Christ knows our struggles and stays beside us, and in the midst of our storms, we need only look up to recognize His presence; for Christ’s nearness is the antidote for fear. May we keep our eyes securely fixed on Jesus, who is our safety and strength, and in whom we have nothing to fear.

 

When the waters rise,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and the storms surround;

let’s look to the One,

in Whom hope is found.

For we need not fear,

with Christ by our side;

all courage and strength,

from Him, are supplied.

Christ knows all our needs,

and cares for each one;

receive all He grants,

the battle’s been won.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not leave us alone in fearful or tumultuous spaces, but You are present and ever reminding us to take courage in You. Thank You that we need not be afraid, for You are with us, and You are far greater than anything that would come against us. Forgive us for allowing our gaze to stay glued to our struggles, rather that seeing You, our solution. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would fix our eyes on You, the Author and Perfector of our faith. Lead us to love others with an unrelenting kindness and grace, just as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we take courage in You, allowing You to strengthen and equip us to face the fearful things that stand before us. Amen.

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

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19

Choosing Obedience

Obedience almost always comes at a cost. At times, it is a point of personal choice to sacrifice our own will for that of the Lord’s, whereas other times, our decision to obey could cost us the respect or friendship of others, as they know not all that is behind our story that leads to our steps of obedience.

 

In Matthew one, we read the story of Joseph, who was pledged to be married to Mary. Before they had come together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph was a righteous man, his intent was to divorce her quietly, protecting her from a fate that ended in death, despite the apparent disloyalty before him. After Joseph had decided what he would do, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him the reality of what was going on with his bride-to-be. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. – (Matthew 1:24) Regardless of the likely disapproval of those around him, Joseph chose obedience to God. His faithfulness to follow the will of the Lord, led him on the path of parenting the Savior of the world…

 

Regardless of the potential repercussions around us, may we too, choose obedience each time the Lord asks us to obey.

 

When our Savior calls,Bold in Battle

us out to obey;

may we choose to act,

in faith, right away.

No matter the cost,

the Lord’s way is best;

He sees the outcome,

in the end, we’re blessed.

Let not fear of men,

come hinder our way;

may all that we are,

see Christ and obey.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though obedience is often difficult, it is always worthwhile. Thank You that You only call us to that which You have for us. Thank You that Your ways are higher than our ways, and Your thoughts, higher than our thoughts. Thank You that though we cannot see the outcome, You already know where You are leading us. Forgive us for our fear and lack of faith to follow where You call us to obey, and teach us to trust You more, so that we will rise up and move in obedience as soon as we hear You call. Lead us to love others with all that we are, just as You so completely love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose obedience, even when it is difficult. Amen.

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

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

Seeking Solace in the Storm

Wherever we are, and whatever circumstances happen to be surrounding us, Christ is present. Though we may be unaware, Jesus is still right there. As the disciples found themselves in the middle of the lake, straining at the oar as a storm had suddenly come upon them, Jesus appeared beside them, and they were afraid. Immediately He spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” – (Mark 6:50b)  Jesus was aware of their need before they were, and He was present, despite their oblivion to His walk across the water, until He came into plain sight.

 

Waves and wind may be barriers that keep us from clearly seeing Christ in the midst of the storm, yet regardless of what we see, His presence remains. When at last we open our eyes, ears and hearts, our experience will be much like that of the disciples. Jesus reminds us to “take courage“, as He is with us; and when He is present, we do not need to be afraid. May we hear His voice, take courage and be not afraid, regardless of the circumstances that surround us.

 

When waters are deep,Seeking Solace in the Storm

and waves crash around;

all hope seeming lost,

in One, we are found.

For Jesus draws near,

He comes where we are;

grants courage and strength,

to carry us far.

His presence is now,

we need not choose fear;

when we call to Him,

His hope is made clear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and our hope, and that in You, we need not be afraid. Thank You that when we are standing in the storms, You either calm the storms or soothe our struggling souls. Forgive us for seeking solace anywhere other than in You, and help us to call out to You and listen for Your voice, even in the raging wind and rain, trusting that You will answer. Teach us to trust You more, as we seek You and find You in all times, so that we will be quick to recognize Your voice calling through the chaos around us. Lead us to love others with Your love that is everlasting. May many come into a place where they will fully receive Your grace for themselves. Be glorified O God, as we take courage and fear not as we go forth. 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

Jesus is the Fulfillment

The Gospel of Mark paints a clear picture of who Jesus truly is. When Peter, James and John went up on a high mountain with Him for six days, Jesus was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking to Jesus. – (Mark 9:3-4) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” – (Mark 9:7)

 

As Jesus was transfigured, His divine nature was revealed to His disciples. The voice of God spoke the truth of whom Jesus truly was, and of by what authority He was given to operate. Through the appearance of Elijah and Moses, Jesus was clearly shown as the fulfillment of both the Old Testament Laws, and the prophetic promises. Jesus is.. the fulfillment. In Christ, we are no longer left to attempt to make atonement for our indiscretions, but rather we may rely on the redemption that Jesus has provided through His power that bore all of our sin and shame on the cross. When we seek Him and place our lives in His hands, we are both instructed and equipped in the ways in which we are meant to go. May we embrace the fulfillment that is found through faith in Christ alone.

 

On a mountaintop,Breaking Free from Barriers

Christ became transformed;

and God made it known,

just whom they adored.

For Jesus was more,

than the law had been;

promises fulfilled,

our Savior and friend.

May we each embrace,

all that Jesus brings;

and give Him our best,

our true offering.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to be restored unto You. Jesus, thank You for being both the fulfillment of the Old Testament Laws and of the prophetic promises. Thank You that You are our example to look upon, and our help and our hope to depend on for all of our days. Forgive us for trying to make reparations for our wrongs rather than coming before You in confession, and help us to seek Your face and receive Your grace, so that we may operate in the fullness of all that You have for us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will know in both our head and our hearts that every promise You have made is for us too. Lead us to love others as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted Lord God, as we embrace the fulfillment that is found through faith in You. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8