Simeon’s Story

A man named Simeon lived in Jerusalem. He was a good man who was devoted to God. He was waiting for the time when God would come to help Israel. The Holy Spirit was with him. The Holy Spirit told him that he would not die before he saw the Messiah from the Lord. The Spirit led Simeon to the Temple. So he was there when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to do what the Jewish law said they must do. Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God: “Now, Lord, You can let me, your servant, die in peace as You said. I have seen with my own eyes how You will save Your people. Now all people can see Your plan. He is a light to show Your way to the other nations. And He will bring honor to Your people Israel.” Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what Simeon said about Him. – (Luke 2:25-33, ERV)

 

There are so many side stories interwoven within the story of the birth of Jesus. Simeon was a man whom had devoted his whole life to God, and was holding both the hope and the promise that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes. I imagine him to have been an older man, wise in his many years, overwhelmed with both joy and awe to behold this baby, as he recognized exactly Whom he was holding in his very own arms. Additionally, I picture Mary and Joseph, who had been visited by angels multiple times over the previous many months, full of wonder as they are now receiving further insight to the role their son will grow to fulfill. Despite the promised pain, Mary and Joseph took their parental roles seriously, and loved and lead their son, the very Son of God, according to what had been asked of them. May we pause and ponder the intricacies of God’s story, as we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth. May the magnitude of the sacrifice made on our behalf, resonate in a fresh way as we celebrate this most holy season.

 

Told in a promise, simeons-story.jpg

His own eyes would see;

Coming Messiah,

The Holy baby.

On the chosen day,

When Jesus arrived;

Simeon beheld,

Promise realized.

Imagine the joy,

Awe and wonder too;

This promise fulfilled,

His hope proving true.

May we too behold,

The wonder and awe;

At our Savior’s birth,

That Simeon saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have the privilege of knowing some of the side stories that occurred around the birth of Jesus. Thank You for showing us the hearts that had long held the hope of seeing the Messiah, and actually saw Him with their own eyes. Thank You that though we did not witness His birth, we have the blessing of Your Holy Spirit with us, always. Forgive us for not taking time to ponder the magnitude of what began in the manger. Teach us to seek You for wisdom and insight, and reveal more and more to us as we study Your word. Show us how to love those around us so that we can make Your love tangible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the wonder of Christmas, and all that unfolded surrounding Jesus’ birth. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Filled Again

He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – (Job 8:21, NLT)

God will let you laugh again; you’ll raise the roof with shouts of joy. – (Job 8:21, MSG)

He will fill your mouth with laughter; your lips will spill over into cries of delight. – (Job 8:21, VOICE)

 

I love how God makes His word tangible to me. Yesterday, the verse I had studied and set my heart on, was about rest and relaxing in Him. Both last night and the night prior, I slept nearly eight hours per night! For some, that may sound insignificant or normal, yet for me, it is tremendous. Typically, I am doing well if I get close to six hours on a given night… Now, this morning, the verse speaks of laughter. For the last two evenings, I have been blessed to gather with friends and my love, and simply enjoy each other’s company. The first evening was a game night, filled with much laughter, and last night was a birthday celebration for my best friend that had me laughing so hard that there were tears. This morning, I woke feeling refreshed and full of joy, recalling His goodness and how He provides people in my life to love and enjoy the blessings of how He has made each of us, individually. As Thanksgiving approaches this week, may we each find time to seek Him and receive the gifts of laughter and joy that He provides as loved ones gather together in gratitude.

 

Despite heaviness, Filled Again

Trials and life’s pain;

The goodness of God,

Shall always remain.

He will bring laughter,

Fill our hearts with joy;

Give us hope again,

His peace, He’ll employ.

In all things, seek God,

For He’s our safe space;

Dispenser of joy,

And Giver of grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You fill our mouths with laughter and our hearts with joy. Thank You that despite the heaviness and heartache and struggles that we face, You are near and You remind us that there is so much good. Forgive us for not seeking You in our sorrows or struggles, and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads joy and brings laughter to lighten heavy hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate Your goodness and praise You for the joy and delight that You bring when we need it most. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Joining Together

For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too – the many – are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with another, and we become together what we could not be alone. – (Romans 12:4-5, VOICE)

 

Yesterday, as I attended the memorial service for little Eli, the four-year-old grandson of my mom’s best friend, I was not sure what to expect, other than the weight of grief as we walked into the church. What I observed, was really this verse being made tangible. There were those who were greeting people in their shock and grief as they walked in, (and wisely, the ones who handed out the program for the memorial were the cousins of Eli, so we were greeted by sweet, smiling children), family members were mingling among those waiting to go inside to be seated, friends who had gathered from near and far, an auntie and uncle who spoke from the heart and demonstrated the depth of love that the family shared for Eli, and a pastor who beautifully balanced the celebration of who Eli was and the reality of how much missing and mourning would take place. Even after the service, different people operated in their various strengths. Some were in the kitchen preparing and serving, others were greeting people as they came into the reception area, still others were engaging in sweet conversation about how Eli had touched and blessed their lives, personally. Because they were surrounded and supported, I imagine that together, the family was able to get through far more than they would have thought possible, than had they been on their own. Though it was an agonizing reason to gather, there were tender moments of laughter and smiles at the memory of the incredible life this little boy lived in his four years. May we ever remember that we are each a part of the body, and what we contribute, helps the whole become more than it would be without us. We need each other; that is the way we have been designed.

 

No matter the why, Joining Together

We are meant to join;

Together as one,

As God does anoint.

For as a body,

With so many parts;

Together there’s strength,

To encourage hearts.

Each of us alone,

Find there is a lack;

But joined together,

We rise and come back.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that just as a body has many different parts with different functions, that we too, as the body of believers do as well. Thank You that You created us this way with intention. Thank You that when we come together and support one another with the gifts that You have granted, the entire body becomes stronger. Forgive us for not rising up and joining in to offer what You have given us to contribute. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would naturally extend Your heart and hand through who You have made us to be. Show us how to love those around us well, just as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we join with each other to become what we cannot be alone. 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

Praise in Mourning

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, NIV)

All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, VOICE)

 

This morning, I find myself in a strange space – torn between grief and gladness; sorting between sorrow and surrender. My whole life, my grandmother has been a very real and powerful presence. Her faithfulness to our Heavenly Father, paired with the gifts that He birthed within her that she used without restraint, have been the model that I have looked to, and one whom I admire most. Gram has always been the glue that bound our family to one another. Despite differences, each of us has had a unique and treasured gift in the bond that she has formed with us, individually. The ability to see the value in people and set their heart at peace simply by being in her presence, is a trait that drew so many unto her.  She lived a live unrivaled, faithful in all that she endeavored. Gram served her family, her church, her community, and above all, God. The love grown deep in the quiet time on her knees, overflowed to all who knew her. No matter what I was going through, I knew she was covering me in prayer. After ninety-eight years on the earth, and a long year of colon cancer taking root and stealing the independence she had always known, she went home to be with Jesus last night. I am grateful that her suffering was not prolonged, yet grieve not getting one more visit. God is compassionate, and He offers comfort to us as we mourn. Though there is much sorrow for the personal loss of the phenomenal person my grandmother was, it is tempered with great joy in knowing that she is singing with our Savior. No more sorrow, no more pain. I imagine a great celebration as she is reunited with so many who have gone before her. May we all take comfort in the Father of compassion and comfort, as we give praise for the blessings we’ve been given in the time we had.

 

This morning, it seems appropriate that I share one of my grandma’s poems rather than write my own. Her words are likely the echo of what she is singing right now.

 

Song of Praise – by Rosemary Steiner

Glory and majestyPraise in Mourning

To the Lord God,

Who created the Heavens

And the Earth;

And breathed life

Into all creatures,

Even us, His people.

He gave meaning to our being;

He called us brothers

And prepared a place

For us with Him

Eternally.

He breathed life into us,

Transcendent life of the Spirit –

Gave us eyes to see beauty,

Ears to hear truth,

Wills to choose His way.

The heavens reflect His omnipotence

Time without end.

God enjoys the music of the spheres,

But hears our dissonance

With compassion,

How worthy is He.

How infinite His love.

Holy be His Name forever. Amen.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that so many of us were given through the long and loving life of Gram. Thank You that though we mourn her passing, we can celebrate her homecoming with You. Thank You that we have the blessed hope of being together again for all of eternity in heaven. Forgive us for our fears and regrets, and teach us to trust You so that we might fully live out each of our days, according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to love with compassion and comfort, all those who grieve. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they see the faithfulness that has been fulfilled through the life of my grandmother. Be glorified O God, as we choose to give You praise, even as we mourn. Amen.

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

There is a time to cry, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

The Gift of Presence

I will make My home among them. I will be their God, and they will be My people. – (Ezekiel 37:27, NLT)

My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be My people. – (Ezekiel 37:27, NIV)

 

Long before the arrival of Christ, God had His plan in place to make things right again so that He could dwell among us. Humanity had become so broken and disconnected from God, that the only way to be restored to a right relationship with Him, was through the sending of His Son. This season marks the celebration of Jesus’ arrival; the beginning of the relationship that restored us to our Redeemer. Without Christ, we would be limited to only drawing as near to God as the outer courts of the temple. However, because Christ came, we can invite Him to be Lord of our lives, and He will come and make His home in us and among us. He no longer is God out there, but He is now the Lord who is always near. May we fix our eyes and hearts on Him who came from heaven to earth to make the way for us to know His nearness, both now and forevermore.

 

From heaven on high,Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

He came down to dwell;

So people might know,

The hope His life tells.

As we lift our eyes,

To the Lord above;

He calls us His own,

Showers with His love.

Let us fix our gaze,

This holy season;

On Christ born to us,

Our hope and reason.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that it has always been Your plan to dwell among us. Thank You that despite our sinfulness and brokenness, You made the way to restore a right relationship with You through the sending of Your Son. Forgive us for not fixing our eyes on You and the reason for the season, as we get caught up in the chaos of things that “need” to get done. Help us to slow down and settle in, so that we may meditate on the real meaning and the weight of what You have done for us all. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone are worthy of all of our trust. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads hope and points them to the path that leads to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the treasured gift of Your presence this most sacred season. 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

Stronger Together

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9, NLT)

Two people are better than one. When two people work together, they get more work done. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9, ERV)

Two are better than one because a good return comes when two work together. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9, VOICE)

 

This holds true for nearly every area in our lives. We were created to be in community, and not intended to be isolated and alone. Spiritually, when we are invested in relationships with people who share our commitment to our faith, we find encouragement, covering, questions that need to be asked, and company to keep in both celebration and heartache. For our intellect, this also holds tremendous value. When planning, preparing or facing a problem, having another to discuss ideas with makes all the difference in finding a reasonable solution. Likewise this is true for our bodies. It is far easier to remain healthy and choose wisely when we train with others seeking to do the same. When given the option, two are always better than one, as working together increases resolve and return. May we seek to invest in the people placed around us, so that we can help one another succeed in all that we have been called to do.

 

For where there are two,stronger-together

More strength can be found;

Resolve unshaken,

When two hold their ground.

Together the two,

Can accomplish more;

There’s a great return,

As each part outpours.

Work is divided,

And more goals succeed;

Each one better off,

Together complete.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us to be in community. Thank You that we are far better off when we work with others than when we go alone. Thank You that You use people in our lives to encourage us and grow us spiritually, mentally and physically. Thank You that You allow us to do the same for others if we are willing to be invested. Forgive us for not reaching out to those around us and isolating ourselves when we are meant to be invested. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would step outside of what is “comfortable”, and work together with those whom You bring beside us to get things done. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that they might be encouraged and built up through our every interaction with them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we work together with others to do that which You have called us to do. Amen.

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

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

Steps for the Seekers

The naïve are heirs to foolishness, but the clever are honored with insight. – (Proverbs 14:18, VOICE)

 

This evening will be a unique experience for me. As a teacher, I have attended my school’s 8th grade celebration/graduation numerous times over the past nineteen years, yet tonight will be the first time in that my role is both as a parent and a teacher. My boys are finishing up their final days of middle school. It is bittersweet, as I have loved having them with me each morning and afternoon on the way to and from school, and there is a certain comfort in knowing that your own children are present on the campus on which you teach. That being said, they are ready for more. Neither of them has allowed themselves to get caught up in the foolishness of which some of their peers partake, and consequently, they have gained great insight and earned good grades, preparing them for that which lies ahead. Although I will miss their daily presence, I am excited to see all that awaits them in their high school experience and beyond. May we each embrace every opportunity for growth that is placed before us, so that we would operate in a space of His wisdom, rather that from our own foolishness.

 

Those who are clever,photo (5)

Are rewarded well;

Insight is granted,

In wisdom they’ll dwell.

With feet both planted,

Secure on the ground;

Future before them,

Their path has been found.

It’s about moving,

Where you’re meant to go;

For that is how we,

Each learn and we grow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You, and we are rewarded with wisdom and insight through our seeking. Thank You for all of the young people who have earnestly sought You, as they are preparing for next steps in their lives – so many transitioning from elementary school to middle school, middle school to high school, high school to college or work, and beyond. Thank You that whatever the transition, You are present and leading. Forgive us for forgetting how big You are, and give us the strength to trust You more with the next steps for our progeny. Show us how to continue to lead them well, and help us to love those around us in a way that points people unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom and insight in all of our next steps. Amen.

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

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

Comfort in Mourning

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NIV)

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. – (Matthew 5:4, MSG)

 

I find myself surrounded by many in a season of loss. So many mourning, as the loss of loved ones has been a common theme among dear ones in my sphere of influence. For some, I did not know the one whom was lost, and am at a loss for what to offer, other than sincere condolences, and be available in a tangible way. Late last evening, was the first loss in a long while, that has really hit my heart personally, as I had known and dearly loved she who has departed. His comfort came quickly, in that I was reminded that her heart was deeply rooted in Christ. Though there will be grief in her absence, there should also be celebration in knowing that she is home. I can only imagine the look on her face as she saw Jesus and heard the words spoken just to her, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” The look of pure delight that so many of us saw every time we would greet her… Our loss is heaven’s gain. May we take comfort in Him who is our Comforter, as we walk through seasons of mourning, and may we offer the very same comfort to others, as they do the same.

 

The blessings shall come,

Comfort in Mourning

Imagine the smile as she dances on streets of gold… Love you Jan, and look forward to the day we meet again.

 

to those who do mourn;

for Christ will comfort,

the weary, the worn.

His arms will embrace,

where we’re at a loss;

He’ll speak to our hearts,

show all is not lost.

God grants us the strength,

we need to get through;

gives peace in heartache,

His hope that renews.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You comfort those who are mourning. Thank You that our hope in You reminds us that this life is not the end. Thank You that those who know and follow You, have a future with You forever. Thank You that Your love is made tangible through the kindness of those whom You place around us. Forgive us for not seeking You in our seasons of grief, and help us to trust You with all. Show us how to hand You our heart – heaviness and all – and allow You to embrace the heartache and love us back to life. Lead us to love others in such a way, that we may extend the same comfort and hope that You give, as they walk through their own seasons of mourning. Help many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow You to be our comfort in times of mourning. 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

Displaying His Splendor

He has sent me to comfort those who are sad, those in Zion who mourn. I will take away the ashes on their head, and I will give them a crown. I will take away their sadness, and I will give them the oil of happiness. I will take away their sorrow, and I will give them celebration clothes. He sent me to name them ‘Good Trees’ and ‘The Lord’s Wonderful Plant.’ – (Isaiah 61:3, ERV)

 

To provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. – (Isaiah 61:3, NIV)

 

Though these were the words of Isaiah to the people of Israel, Jesus quoted these words in Luke as He read to the people in the synagogue. When we receive Jesus personally, His Spirit in us fulfills these promises for us. Only Christ can turn our ashes into something beautiful, and replace our mourning and despair with songs of praise. Despite what we go through, when we have Christ in us, we can be seen as righteous and pillars of strength in Him. His splendor is displayed through His Spirit in us. May we allow the Lord to be our comfort, our crown and our reason to celebrate as we go forth on this new day that He has made. Let His Spirit within us, display His splendor, as we operate in His righteousness in all that we say and do.

 

Our comfort in sorrow,The Reason for Reverence

our glory in grief;

the Lord’s our provision,

and place of relief.

He takes all our ashes,

and gives us a crown;

pours the oil of gladness,

when our hearts are down.

As despair overwhelms,

He comes alongside;

gives us garments of praise,

hope from the inside.

His Spirit within us,

will rise and stand tall;

righteous in His splendor,

a witness to all.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You comfort those who mourn. Thank You that You bestow beauty for ashes and give hope in place of despair. Thank You that You give gladness and reason to praise. Thank You that Your Spirit within us rises up, and You call us righteous; allowing Your splendor to be seen through us. Forgive us for forgetting how very near You are in all things and at all times. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will look to You in our sorrow and grief, and will celebrate You in our seasons of joy. Lead us to love others in such a way, that Your righteousness and splendor may be seen through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we receive all that You offer, and go forth in all that we have been given. Amen.

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

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

Running the Long Road

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 3:14, NIV)

 

I keep running hard toward the finish line to get the prize that is mine because God has called me through Christ Jesus to life up there in heaven. – (Philippians 3:14, ERV)

 

This analogy is such a clear visual for me, as life is not a short race, but rather one that continues throughout our lifetime. There will be stretches that are flat and smooth, where the conditions are cool and ideal for running; however, there will be other seasons where the weather will be scorching and around every turn, is yet another mountain that we must climb to move in the direction in which we are called to run. Fortunately, our race is not run in vain. Our purpose is to encourage others as they run the race to which they have been called, and to demonstrate perseverance, even when we want to quit. God is our strength and our reason to keep running, and our finish line celebration will be beyond worth all of the trials traversed throughout our race. If we can love God, and love others as we move forward along the path to which we have been called, then we are running our own race well. May we rise up ready to run this day well, knowing that whatever we encounter today, is not the end. Our hope is held in where we finish, not where we rest along the way.

 

For we have been called,Running the Long Road

to press on and run;

keep moving with God,

’til our race is done.

The goal’s not about,

some great earthly gain;

but how we obey,

and lift up His Name.

For a day will come,

when our race is through;

imagine hearing,

“Well done, faithful you!”

If we choose to love,

both God and others;

and do as He asks,

lost will discover.

May we be ready,

each day to run well;

help to the hurting,

in hope, may all dwell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to run our own race. Thank You that it is not a sprint that You call us to rush through, but a race of endurance, perseverance, and trust. Thank You that You sustain us, even when we think that we cannot possibly run another step in life’s race, and that Your presence remains with us, always. Forgive us for allowing our surroundings to intimidate or overwhelm us, rather than keeping our eyes securely fixed on You. Teach us to trust You more, so that no matter what lies before us, we will look to You, rather than our circumstances. Lead us to love others well, so that they too, may look to You in all things and at all times. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we run our race with our eyes fixed on You, knowing that our prize is not in the here and now, but rather in our eternity with You. Amen.

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78