Christ in Christmas

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, NLT)

 

This is the night where the world takes pause to remember the most sacred occasion where heaven came to earth in the form of a baby boy. Born in a stable, not fit for the Savior of the world, yet God gave incredible assurance that this was indeed the way Mary and Joseph were meant to walk as they brought this blessed bundle forth in a stable surrounded by animals. Angelic visitations had announced that He would be born, heavenly hosts proclaimed His arrival – flooding the night sky over the heads of shepherds as they watched their flocks by night, and a bright star shone on His behalf to lead the way for those who were meant to find Him. Though not necessarily the beginning we might envision for the One who saves the world from sin and shame, Jesus’ arrival changed everything. Because He came, grew, walked in obedience, willingly laid down His life in our place, rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father, we have way to be restored to right relationship with God. May we stop the activity on this day long enough to really recognize the significance of this most holy night that we celebrate. Jesus is the gift, and the reason we can give. Our Counselor, our God, our Father, and our Peace – these are the reasons we have light and life and love. Joy to the world, the Savior has come!

 

For a child was born,The story of Christmas metaphor represented by a manger and crown of thorns.

A Son was given;

The weight of the world,

He has forgiven.

The great Counselor,

Most mighty our God;

The Father who lasts,

Let our hearts applaud.

For He is our peace,

Born so we might live;

May we honor Him,

Through gifts that we give.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your only Son into the world so that we might be restored to right relationship with You. Thank You that You love us so much that You willingly laid down Your life for ours. Forgive us for not having our priorities in place and for forgetting the real reason for this most sacred season. Teach us to fix our eyes and hearts on You, so that all that we do is a reflection of You. Show us how to love and give as You do, so that our words and deeds are Your heart being made known to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as so many take the time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. Let Christ be lifted high this Christmas. 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

Hope Overflowing

I pray that God, the Source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, NLT)

I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in Him. Then you will have more and more hope, and it will flow out of you by the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, ERV)

 

Though this is my prayer for all, it is lifted intentionally for my pastors and their family today, as this will be their final Sunday serving our church family. They are leaving to answer a calling that is clear only in the where, but not particularly certain as to what it will entail. Their hearts to serve and obey have been transparent and exemplars of true servant leaders, as they have been raw and real about the struggle to walk out this new path, as their hearts are so securely planted here. Sorrow, anticipation and uncertainty surround this transition for all. Not one of us is sure of what the “new” will look like, but we all have the assurance that God has not orchestrated this by accident. We have the hope that He has good things in store for each of us, and in Him, we can find joy and peace as we choose trust, despite our despair over our losses. May the God of all hope fill you completely with joy and peace as you trust in Him, and may you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

In uncertainty,hope-overflowing

The sweet Prince of Peace;

Fills us with His hope,

And joy He’ll release.

As we trust in Him,

Confidence shall rise;

And hope overflows,

His Spirit supplies.

Let us place our trust,

Where all grace is found;

And boldly go forth,

As His hope abounds.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we trust You, You fill us with Your joy and peace, and provide hope in abundance so that it will flow from us by Your Spirit. Thank You for the gift that You have given me and so many through Pastors Jon and Wendy and their family. Please fill them completely with Your joy and peace because they trust in You. May they overflow with confident hope by Your Spirit to all whom they encounter in their new community. Bless them as they are such a blessing to others. Forgive us for not trusting You enough. Teach us to trust as You alone are trustworthy. Fill us with Your joy and peace so that we may pass the same on to those around us. Show us how to love as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You completely, and in turn overflow with the confident hope that we receive by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Thankful for Belonging

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT)

Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ERV)

 

As we approach the day that we gather to give thanks with family and friends, it is good to give thought to all of our reasons to give thanks. Though each of us has gone through trials and difficulties, in Christ, there is always reason to give thanks. In Him, we have hope and assurance for what ultimately lies ahead, and we have His promised presence right now. Regardless of difficulties and disappointments, when our hearts lock in on the Lord, gratitude rises up within us. May each of us see the training that has come from our trials, and the goodness and grace found in each place that we have sought our Savior.

 

May we choose give thanks,ç€À

No matter what comes;

For in Christ, there’s hope,

And His work’s not done.

As we trust in God,

His presence is clear;

In trials and peace,

He always is near.

Every trial,

He uses to show;

His strength in weakness,

So our faith might grow.

Let’s rise up dear ones,

And choose to give praise;

In all things, always,

To the Ancient of Days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in all things, we have reason to give You thanks. Thank You that You call us to be people with grateful hearts, as this is one of the things that should set us apart as people who belong to You. Forgive us for not being thankful in all things. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will give thanks, even in our times of trial, knowing that You will use the challenge to grow us, and that Your presence is reason enough to give You praise. Show us how to love those around us in a way that models a heart full of thanks, so that we may be a blessing and encouragement to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be thankful in all circumstances, for belonging to You is reason enough to give You praise. 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

Tangible Goodness

Give the Lord a chance to show you how good He is. Great blessings belong to those who depend on Him! – (Psalm 34:8, ERV)

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh the joys of those who take refuge in Him! – (Psalm 34:8, NLT)

 

Yesterday evening, I was delighted with a beautiful example of the joy found in blessing another. Just as God shows His goodness to us as we depend on Him and trust Him, the beloved spouse of one of my dearest friends went all out to create an enchanted evening for his bride. The joy he found in planning surprise after surprise for her, reminded me of how the Lord does likewise for us. Whatever hopes or expectations we may have for what lies before us, His plans are exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine when we place our trust in Him. No, trusting Him does not mean that every day will be a birthday extravaganza, but it does mean that He is ALWAYS for us, and will never leave us, no matter what lies before us. The assurance of His presence and His plan for our lives, ought to bring joy and delight, as a good Father has good things in store. May we place our trust in He who is our refuge, and allow Him to show us His goodness and grace.

 

For the Lord is good,tangible-goodness

Allow Him the chance;

To show you His grace,

In each circumstance.

God pours out blessing,

On those who depend;

Tangible goodness,

Our Savior extends.

May we each take joy,

As we taste and see;

The goodness of God,

Whose hope sets us free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and that You bless those who depend on You. Thank You for tangible reminders of how You love and find joy in blessing us. Forgive us for not depending on You, or for doubting Your plans for us. Teach us to trust You more, regardless of what we see. Help us to hold fast to the truth of knowing that You are for us, no matter what lies before us. Show us how to love those around us in practical and tangible ways, so that they too, might see how very good You are. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your goodness and take refuge in You. 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

Really Love Them

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. – (Romans 12:9-10, NLT)

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. – (Romans 12:9-10, MSG)

 

Above all, we are called to love. This love is not romance nor something that we manufacture, but rather it is a choice to prefer others – to seek to serve and honor others rather than ourselves. We are only able to truly love when we receive and embrace the love that Christ has given unto us. It is through the holding tightly to His goodness and grace, that we are able to in turn, extend the same to others. That which is evil, the things of this world that compete for our attention in a way that draws our hearts to disdain rather than delight, are the very things that we are meant to distance ourselves far away from, so that we can cling to that which is good. May we love one another with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other with the love that Christ grants unto us.

 

We cannot pretend,ç€À

To love each other;

We need assurance,

Sisters and brothers.

Choose to hold tightly,

To that which is good;

Christ’s love that honors,

Grants grace understood.

Flee from what’s evil,

Cling close to the Lord;

Choose to love deeply,

So Christ is adored.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us with a love that gives us new life. Thank You that in You, we are restored and made new, granting us the capacity to love others with the very same love that You have given unto us. Forgive us for choosing to neglect those near to us, or for not loving as You call us to love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would cling to You and flee from all that is not of You, so that we may be refined to love as You call us to love. Show us how to be good friends who love deeply, that prefer one another in love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they see Your loving kindness through us. Be glorified O God, as we cling to You, and love others with the very same love that You have given to us. 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

 

Assurance of Hope

Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen. – (Hebrews 11:1, VOICE)

Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. – (Hebrews 11:1, ERV)

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. – (Hebrews 11:1, NLT)

 

Faith fuels hope. It is the very gift that God places within us to be assured of that which we cannot see. The faith within us grants us the desire to dare to dream and the certainty to hold fast to the hope that is yet to come. God gives us hopes and dreams; faith from Him fuels them to fruition. May we have faith in He who gives us hope, and trust in that which we cannot see.

 

The fuel for hope,Be Transformed 1

comes from faith God gives;

our desire to dream,

and reason to live.

God gives us these things,

and asks us to trust;

in His faithfulness,

for His ways are just.

Let our hearts pursue,

that to which we’re called;

by faith, let us hope,

with grace, be enthralled.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we trust in You, You grant us the assurance of that which we hope for in You. Though we have not seen You, we know that You are, as You give us the faith to see with our hearts, what our eyes cannot yet consume. Forgive us for our lack of faith, as there is evidence of You and Your goodness all around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hold fast to the hope that is found in You alone. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too would come to find a forever faith in You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the reality of the hope we have in You. Amen.

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

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

Rest As Required

They went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint His body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law. – (Luke 23:56, NLT)

 

The women who had faithfully followed Jesus and watched in sorrow as He breathed His last breath on the cross, were without many options as to what they might actually be able to do in response to such a seeming tragedy. The only role they knew was to faithfully prepare that which would grant their Savior a proper burial. I imagine they worked feverishly and with painstaking care, to finish the preparations in hope of going to the tomb right away, prior to their required rest. Sabbath sunrise arrived just after their work was done, and the ladies were left in a holding pattern of not yet.

How often do we too, in our seeming inability to do anything to help a situation, resort to that which we know, only to get to a place where we hit a wall, and find that we are stuck in a space of waiting or not yet? Often, it is much like it was for the women. Sunday is yet to come. That which is ahead, is exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine, even if it is something that has been promised before. Christ had told those who were faithful followers of His that He would rise, yet something about His foretelling did not ever really register with any of them. Often our places of pause or required rest, are strategically spaced just prior to a promise fulfilled or movement of a miracle. May we seek the Lord in our spaces of Sabbath, and simply rest in the assurance that He is good and His faithfulness never ends.

 

In that restless space,Confidence Comes Through Christ

when we hit the wall;

we can’t move forward,

on Him, let us call.

Ever so often,

that‘s the very place;

where He intended,

that we seek His face.

It’s in the seeking,

that we come to find;

His help and His hope,

He’s patient and kind.

Often the forced pause,

that space where we rest;

a season to find,

what‘s coming is best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are present and moving, even when it seems that we have hit a wall or come to a place of helplessness where we can do nothing more. Thank You that this is the very space where You bring us to rest in You. Thank You that You showed us that things were still and silent, and the world had to wait for the promise to be fulfilled, just as You had said it would be. Thank You for the difference that the next day brought. Forgive us for resisting rest when it seems to be required, or for not making time to sit quietly before You to fix our eyes on You and all that You have done. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You in all things and at all times, regardless of how things appear. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too may look to You in the quiet stillness where rest is found. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You on our Sabbaths, and trust You in our spaces of waiting. 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

Where Blessings Belong

“Great blessings belong to those who know they are spiritually in need. God’s kingdom belongs to them.” – (Matthew 5:3, ERV)

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” – (Matthew 5:3, NLT)

 

It is only when we recognize our desperate need for God, that we actively and whole-heartedly pursue Him. When we seek Him, we find Him. God blesses all who earnestly seek Him with His presence and His promises. Hope is found when we identify our need for Christ and allow Him to come and rule and reign in our lives. The security of salvation is the greatest blessing that anyone can ever behold. To confidently claim the Kingdom of Heaven as our ultimate destination, is a space of blessed assurance granted to all who realize and act upon their need for God. May we rise up and respond, recognizing that we all desperately need the Lord in our lives. Let us lay hold of the promises He has granted and the hope we hold forever in Him.

 

Come all you weary,

broken and in need;

Hold Hope He is Faithful

image from quotespictures.com

for God’s great blessings,

are for souls to feed.

He promises hope,

where none has been found;

He holds a future,

that in Him, is sound.

The greatest treasure,

is granted to all;

who earnestly seek,

on God, choose to call.

For heaven awaits,

all who trust in Him;

blessed assurance,

day out and day in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we recognize our own need for You and seek You, we find You and are granted Your great blessings. Thank You that as we place our trust in You, we receive the blessed assurance of both Your presence now and life everlasting in heaven. Forgive us for not laying hold of the great blessings that You have already granted to us, and help us to trust You more so that we would embrace the promises that You have given and hold fast to the hope we have both now and forevermore. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too, may feel loved and blessed beyond what makes sense. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize our own need for You, and embrace all that You have given to us. 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

Awe in the Unseen

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. – (Hebrews 11:1, ERV)

 

This season is full of wonder. It is a joy to see through the eyes of a child. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending some time with my niece, who is three. She is smarter than most, yet completely child-like in her awe and wonder. Her faith in what is good is untainted, and she has high hopes for all that she cannot see. Just as she trusts that treasures will be waiting under her tree on Christmas morning, she knows that Jesus loves her and watches over she and her family. She cherishes with anticipation all that lies ahead, and firmly believes in the goodness of her family’s love. May we too have a child-like wonder in this joyous season, as we remember the reason we celebrate. May our hearts be confident in what we hope for, and assured about that which we do not see.

 

Let awe and wonder,

Awe in the Unseen

fill our hearts this year;

as we celebrate,

that Christ chose come near.

May each heart choose trust,

in the hope we hold;

faith in the unseen,

as Christ’s love unfolds.

We need simply look,

around us to see;

proof of the unseen,

to humanity.

All thanks be to God,

for hope that is found;

through Jesus, His Son,

let praises resound.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son from heaven to earth to make that which is unseen, seen. Thank You that through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, we can be confident in what we hope for and have assurance about what we do not yet see. Forgive us for our fears and doubts. Teach us to trust You more, remembering all that You have done and continue to do on our behalf so that we need not fear. Show us how to cherish this season of Your arrival with anticipation, and how to love others in a way that conveys the very same sort of sacrificial love that You have given us, unto others. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we have confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Amen.

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

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

Our Safe Place Forever

So trust in the Lord always, because in the Lord you have a place of safety forever. – (Isaiah 26:4, ERV)

Though our basic human needs are food, water, shelter and clothing, I think that emotionally, we all have a natural need for safety and security within us. Safety is often sought in a variety of spaces, but is never truly found until we trust in the Lord. In Christ, we find the promises of God. There is nothing quite so safe nor secure as the promised hope of eternity with Christ. As we trust in the Lord, our assurance in His nearness increases, and we know that we are safe in Him. May we trust in the Lord always, and be ever aware of our place of safety in Him.

Let’s trust in the Lord,Do Not Dismay

meets us in our need;

He is our safe place,

where all fear must heed.

Secure in His love,

because He is good;

His promises true,

and hope understood.

We need not worry,

nor give way to fear;

for Christ is with us,

always He is near.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can trust in You always, and that You are our place of safety forever. Thank You that no matter what comes, we have the promise of our eternity secured in You. Forgive us for our fearfulness and doubt when life gets tumultuous and overwhelming, and help us to trust You more, so that we will seek You and rely on You in all things and at all times. Lead us to love others well, so that they too may come to know the safety and security found in Your love and grace. May many choose to receive the hope held in Your embrace. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to be our safe place forever, and live our lives accordingly. 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