No Room for Them

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – (Luke 2:4-7, NIV)

 

This portion of the Christmas story seemed to strike a new chord within my heart this past week, as my pastor pointed out the scandal and outrage that would have been associated with an unwed woman expecting a child who was engaged to a man with whom she had no intimate relations. Joseph came from the house of David. His heritage was quite significant, and his family name was likely known. Everyone was expected to return to the place of their familial ties for the census, so it is quite conceivable that Joseph had numerous relatives who were also traveling to Bethlehem at the same time. Under normal circumstances, a family would have traveled and stayed together, yet Mary and Joseph made the journey alone. Their isolation leads me to believe that they were being shunned by the family, and left to their own devices to survive. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, they were unable to find a proper place to stay. What I found intriguing is that each version of scripture that I read, says that “there was no room for them. This leads me to believe that perhaps there was room, but they were turned away because of societal standards, and left stranded and a bit desperate. Who was the inn keeper who did at last show some compassion, and at least allow the pair shelter as the time drew near for Mary to give birth? It is both incredible and admirable to think of Mary and Joseph and all that they must have gone though, just to get to the stable birth. Additionally, the thought of the two of them having to deliver the Son of God in their surroundings is overwhelming. She was quite young and he was a carpenter; nothing in their life experience had likely prepared them for what they endured, other than the very presence of God with them. May we continue to ponder with awe and wonder, the miracle of God with us, this most holy season.

 

Hard was the journey, No Room for Them

To travel alone;

This chosen couple,

So far from their home.

Upon arrival,

No room granted them;

Just a small stable,

In old Bethlehem.

The time had arrived,

For the babe be born;

Courage delivered,

Wrapped Him in cloths torn.

No isolation,

Could stand in God’s way;

Strength to them granted,

Right there in the hay.

Though they’d been alone,

It did not last long;

For angelic hosts,

Announced this with song.

The shepherds they came,

They followed the light;

In awe and wonder,

On that holy night.

The baby swaddled,

God’s very own Son;

The faith of this pair,

God’s will had been done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the miracle and wonder that surrounds the story of You sending Your Son to us as a baby, in humble beginnings, to make Him approachable to all. Thank You for showing us Your faithfulness through the hearts of the people that were part of Your story, and modeled what it is to trust in You. Forgive us for forgetting the depth of Your love that sent Your Only Son to us so that we could have life in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would pause and ponder in wonder, the miracle and the majesty of all that You have done. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives insight and understanding to Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your story to fill our hearts and minds this Christmas. 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

What Gift Shall I Give?

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. – (Matthew 2:11)

 

This verse is from Matthew’s account of when the Magi traveled to Bethlehem to see the child to whom the star had led them. Their journey had been long, yet they were overjoyed upon their arrival. Despite Jesus still being but a very small child, they bowed down before Him in worship. As wise men, it had been revealed to them, just how significant this toddler would become. Additionally, the treasures that were given, had symbolic significance that likely funded the family’s flight to Egypt and back. Gold was a gift for a king; incense, a gift for deity; and myrrh, a spice for a person who was going to die. – (NIV footnotes)

 

Though the Magi were men of great wisdom, they did not yet know the whole story. We have an advantage, as we have the greatest gift that has ever been given. That toddler, the baby Jesus whom the wise men worshiped and presented gifts to, grew into a man who paid the penalty for all of our sin. He lived a life that was without sin, yet clothed Himself with all the world’s sin and suffered on our behalf upon the cross, then rose again in power so that we too, could overcome the snares of sin. Because Jesus took our place, we have the hope of life everlasting with Him. When we come before Him, what gift can we give? Though He needs nothing from us, He longs for our hearts to seek after His. Our worship, our praise, our adoration, our days – these are the gifts that we can give… May we go forth this day as an offering unto Him, as He has already given us the greatest gift of all.

 

The greatest of gifts,What Gift Shall I Give

we’ve ever received;

was granted to us,

the day we believed.

For as we embraced,

the truth of Your grace;

You freed us from sin,

and removed disgrace.

How can we repay,

such a blessed gift?

There’s nothing You need,

all praises we lift.

Honor and glory,

and hearts that are true;

may we bring You praise,

in all that we do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to come and make the way for us to be set free from sin and restored to right relationship with You. Thank You Jesus, for bearing all of our sin and shame upon the cross, and demonstrating Your power and glory so that we might receive the gift of Your grace and Your presence as we choose to believe. Forgive us for taking the greatest gift that we have ever been given for granted, and help us to seek to give You the gift of ourselves in return – our hearts, our hopes, our time, our worship – all unto You. Lead us to love people as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come to embrace the grace that You so lovingly and generously pour out upon all who are willing to receive. Be glorified, Lord God, as we give all of ourselves unto You. 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

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

Believing for Blessings

Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, weave a wonderful story of trust, integrity and faithfulness. These attributes ultimately led to blessings. Both Naomi and Ruth were widows. Though Naomi was the mother-in-law of Ruth, Ruth chose to remain with her after their spouses died, rather than return to her own family. Ruth ran a tremendous risk, as the two widows traveled back to Bethlehem, hoping to find food, due to the famine in Moab, where they had been living.

 

The character of Ruth was demonstrated day in and day out, as she willingly went out and did all that Naomi asked of her. She trusted the wisdom of her mother-in-love, and sought the God whom she served. Ruth’s ongoing faithfulness to Naomi became evident to all, and she captured the attention, and ultimately the heart, of Boaz. After further steps of obedience, Ruth became Boaz’s wife, and bore a child. Both she and Naomi became blessed beyond what either had hoped for. Perseverance and faithfulness had provided the opportunity for God to pour out His blessing. (for more, read the book of Ruth)

 

Trust in the heartache,Believing for Blessings

always persevere;

seek the Lord always,

know that He is near.

Stay faithful to God,

hear what elders say;

give ear to wisdom,

trust God and obey.

Step out, be faithful,

trust Him to provide;

be true to the Lord,

for God satisfies.

Know that His blessings,

are not far away;

for we have a hope,

for now and always.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the examples of those who have gone before us, who have so faithfully followed and trusted You. Forgive us for our lack of perseverance and doubts, and help us to hold fast to the unfailing hope we have in You. May we trust You without question, and obey without hesitation. Lead us to love others as You love us, and may many come to know You as their Savior as a result. Be glorified, O God, in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

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

 

Only Through Him

Before the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, coming close to God, was but an annual option, available only to a select few priests.  Once a year, the high priest would be allowed to enter the holy of holies to offer sacrifices for the people.  For all else, the temple courts were about as close to God as folks could come.  Life was a rigid set of rules and regulations; and when an infraction was made – blood had to be shed on the offender’s behalf.  Not to say that God didn’t move and do mighty things, for surely He did; however, the opportunity to truly understand and know Him, was rather elusive.

One holy night in Bethlehem, changed the course of human history forever.  God out there, became God with us.  Jesus came so that  the barrier between God and man could be broken down; providing the path to a personal relationship with the Redeemer, Himself.  He later told the disciples during the last supper, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” – (John 14:6) 

His statement, though seemingly narrow to some, is actually expansive enough for the whole world.  He died, so that ALL who come to Him and choose to accept what He has done, will be welcomed into eternity with Him.  Jesus is the only way  to the Father.  When we receive Him, we receive the One who sent Him.  Christ too, is truth.  He is the reality of all of God’s promises.  Old Testament prophesies were fulfilled through His life, death and resurrection, and His very nature, shows that God’s word is true.  As the life, Jesus joins His holiness to our brokenness, covering all of our sin and shame, making us acceptable and righteous before the Father – ready and welcome to enter eternity with Him.

O Holy Night,Only Through Him

born unto the earth;

sweet blessed sight,

Christ-child, Savior’s birth.

God had come near,

sending His own Son;

friends, do not fear,

He shall overcome.

Jesus, the way,

our lifeline to God;

follow today,

His path we’re to trod.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You chose to send Your Son, so that we would have a way to come close to You.  Jesus, thank You that You stepped down from Your throne, and willingly endured all of the anguish on our behalf, so that we would be made righteous in You.  Forgive us for taking lightly this magnitude of this most glorious gift that You have freely given to all who choose to receive it, and help us to daily receive and embrace this treasure anew.  May we live and love as You love us, so that many may come to know the way, the truth and the life found in You.  Be glorified, our Prince of Peace.  Amen.

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