Standing Firm in the Storm

Paul, more than most, understood what it was to stand firm, even in the face of a long and raging storm. Several times, he was imprisoned for his faith, yet each time Paul utilized his time in chains as an opportunity to stand firm, and share with others, the foundation of the faith on which he stood. After two years of imprisonment, Festus brought Paul before himself and the accusers from Jerusalem. Then Paul made his defense: “I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.” – (Acts 25:8) As the hearing continued, Paul made it clear that he had no fear of death if he deserved to die; however, knowing that he was innocent, Paul made his appeal to be heard before Caesar as a Roman citizen. After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!” – (Acts 25:12)

 

Because Paul knew he was innocent and knew his rights as a Roman citizen, he was able to seek Rome’s protection. Also, Rome was a destination that Paul had hoped to go to preach the gospel, and this appeal would provide the opportunity – prisoner or not. Paul was standing firm in his faith in Christ’s strength, faithfulness, and provision, as he knew that though the path he was taking to get to Rome was not ideal, it was a way for Paul to arrive in Rome sooner than he might have otherwise. He did not bow down in despair as he remained a prisoner, rather he recognized the upcoming opportunity to share the good news with those who had not yet heard.

 

How can we do likewise? How can God use our circumstances to be light in the midst of darkness? When we remain grounded in Christ, regardless of what is going on around us, there is something magnetic that draws others in. Whether it is wonder or awe, people cannot help but draw near to a space of peace in a storm. May we stand firm in our faith, no matter what storm rages around us.

 

When mighty winds blow,Standing Firm in the Storm

and nothing is still;

depend on the Lord,

Who’s present to fill.

He will grant us strength,

when we have run out;

He’ll love us to life,

show us the safe route.

At times He will lead,

us right through the storm;

where we have to trust,

know He’ll keep us warm.

No matter what comes,

the promise remains;

His grace is enough,

to remove each chain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us with Your life. Thank You Jesus, that as You stood secure through the storm of the cross and took our every sin upon Yourself, You conquered death and brought new life to all who choose to believe. Thank You that when we stand firm in You, You see us through our every storm. Thank You that You remain present, and You provide the strength and support that is needed to either ride out the storm, or find a way out. Forgive us for failing to stand firm when storms seem too strong for us to face, and teach us to trust You more. Lead us to love well all whom You place in our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand firm in You, through every storm that blows our way. Amen.

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Risking Reputation to Do Right

Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. – (Mark 15:43)

 

Just after Jesus had breathed His last breath on the cross, Joseph, a secret follower of Christ, knew he had a decision to make. Either he himself ought to step up and do what he was able to do to give Jesus a proper burial, or Jesus’ body would be left for the Romans to deal with, as no Jew would dare do anything with His body on the Sabbath. By going before Pilate to make his request, Joseph was exposing his faith for all to see. He had clearly come to a point where his desire to do right, outweighed his fear of being found out. Today, Joseph is the only actual name of any of the Sanhedrin that I’ve ever known. His decision to honor Christ, regardless of what it would do to his reputation, made him among those who are greatly admired in the history of our faith. We are called to do likewise. Doing right before God must be our priority, rather than worrying about our reputation before mankind. He calls us to obedience, not notoriety. If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels. – (Mark 8:38) May we move forward in the light of His grace, walking in obedience to all that He is asking. Let us throw off every hindrance that causes fear of man or risk of ruining a reputation, and rise up to do right. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. – (1 John 2:5a)

 

No matter the risk,May We Love Much

nor the fear of man;

let us do what’s right,

in Christ’s strength we can.

For there is no man,

who can take away;

our eternal hope,

in Christ where we stay.

Men may choose slander,

with words they attack;

yet God is our strength,

we need not look back.

May we choose be bold,

stand firm in the truth;

righteous before God,

embraced and made new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to be the ultimate example of risking reputation and doing right before You. Though He was slandered and accused, He was without sin; choosing to die for each of us who placed accusations upon Him. Thank You for loving us far more than our mere minds can comprehend. Forgive us for worrying more about our reputation than about doing what is right before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may choose to do right, regardless of what others think of our decisions. Lead us to love as You so generously love each of us, and may many come to know that the rewards of following You, far outweigh the risks. Be glorified, O God, as we do right, regardless of the risk to our reputations. 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

Watch and Wait

Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God. – (Acts 5:38-39)

 

Though Gamaliel was a member of the council whom Peter and John were standing before on trial, he became an unlikely ally when he spoke the wise words above. Gamaliel recognized that if these men were moving in their own strength, that they would not be sustained for very long, and the whole movement would soon die out. However, if it was in fact a true manifestation and movement of the living God, then there would be no stopping it anyway. His wise council gave the disciples room to breathe, as they continued to faithfully follow that which they had been called to do. Many of the movements that people claim are from God that occur today, must also be approached in much the same way. Watch, wait, and see if it stands the test of time. If it is of God, there will be no stopping the power of His presence as He moves mightily through His people. Likewise, if it is of human origin, it will not be sustained, and will quickly lose momentum and fade away. May God grant us the wisdom to know when to wait and see, and when to walk away from that which is not of Him. Let us have Your heart to discern what is good and pleasing before You, O God.

 

The power of God,Bless You

propels us to move;

to step out in faith,

and plainly speak truth.

When others speak out,

words leave us unsure;

seek God for wisdom,

the truth shall endure.

Weigh everyone’s words,

with the Word of truth;

allow His Spirit,

to shine His light through.

Where Christ’s light reflects,

we can clearly see;

what we should embrace,

and from what to flee.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grant us wisdom and discernment when we earnestly seek You. Thank You that there are times when we must wait and see whether or not something is truly a movement from You, or if it is a movement of men. Thank You that You are good, and that You guard our hearts and minds, as we fix our eyes on You. Forgive us for our misconceptions that we may be holding onto, and please shine Your light and reveal to us what is true. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may release our wrong thinking and embrace everything You have for us to hold fast in our hearts. Lead us to love others as You so tenderly love each of us. May many come to know the power and presence available to all who call on Your Name, personally. Be glorified, O God, as we seek Your wisdom and truth. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

Do What You Can Do

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how His body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. – (Luke 23:55:56)

 

What stands out to me about these women, was that though they could not go and speak out on the Lord’s behalf before the Roman government or Jewish council when Jesus had been on trial because women we not permitted to do such things at that time, they did the things that they could do. They followed Jesus, even as He was taking His final steps to the site of the cross. As He hung in agony, they did not flee, but stood near, watching, waiting. After He breathed His last breath, the faithful women followed Joseph with Jesus’ body, so that they would know where He had been laid, so that Christ’s body could be properly preserved with spices and perfumes. To the ladies, their faithful acts may have seemed small and insignificant, yet clearly to Christ, they had great value. In fact, I imagine that their devotion had much to do with them being the first to see the risen Lord. May we each be faithful to the tasks that we are called to do, regardless of how we view them. What may seem insignificant to us, could actually be monumental in the eyes of the Lord.

 

Whatever we do,Consistent Character2

let it be with grace;

may our hearts be right,

as we run our race.

May we serve with joy,

and honor the King;

may our every breath,

be an offering.

No task is too small,

to honor the One;

Who grants us new life,

through His only Son.

May our hands and hearts,

continually seek;

to love and to serve,

Your words, help us speak.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see our hearts, and You love us where we are. Thank You that when we seek to serve You, You meet us and equip us and bless us with Your presence. Thank You that You love and forgive, the moment we ask. Forgive us for the times that we scatter, or for thinking the things that we faithfully do everyday, don’t matter. Help us to fix our eyes securely on You, and to focus on loving You and loving people. May many come to know You and Your loving kindness as we are obedient to who You have called us to be. Let the lost be found in You. Be exalted, O God, as we are faithfully devoted to You in all things. Amen.

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

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