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)

Grace Where We Are

God gave these four young men the wisdom and ability to learn many different kinds of writing and science. Daniel could also understand all kinds of visions and dreams. – (Daniel 1:17, ERV)

 

Despite having been captured and taken into the possession of a foreign king, Daniel and his three friends placed their trust in God. Because they were faithful to follow God’s leading, He granted them favor and wisdom above all others who had been brought into captivity by the king of Babylon. Though I have heard the story of Daniel many times, it dawned on me this morning how much trust he must have had in God to do the things he did after having been captured and removed from all that he had ever known. Daniel did not volunteer to go and serve Nebuchadnezzar, but rather the king’s army had surrounded Jerusalem and carried him off to Babylon. It was likely violent and hostile, yet somehow, Daniel had the peace of God upon him, as he earned the favor of those in whose care he was placed. For me, this is a reminder of how much God moves when we are willing to trust Him. In spite of the less than ideal circumstances, Daniel was faithful. As a result of Daniel’s obedient trust, God honored and blessed him, despite his location and position. May we ever trust the Lord and be faithful to follow Him, for He can bless us and grow us even in spaces we’d rather not remain.

 

When we choose to trust,Enter With Thanksgiving

Despite what we see;

God will do wonders,

He hears our heart’s plea.

Sometimes His help comes,

Right here where we are;

So we can rise up,

Show His grace, thus far.

When we stay faithful,

His presence is known;

For He’ll move mountains,

So His love is shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we place our trust in You, You meet us where we are and make Your presence known. Thank You that though You do not always remove us from situations and circumstances that we would like out of, You meet us where we are and provide what we need to thrive in spite of them. Forgive us for our frustration when we feel stuck. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would ask for Your help and Your hope, and the wisdom to understand if we are meant to remain in a space or season of discomfort or not. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we encourage, strengthen and lift up those who feel stuck. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You, no matter what our circumstances or surroundings, as we know You are greater. Amen.

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

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

Precious Peace

“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” – (Daniel 10:19a, NLT)

Do not be afraid, you who are highly regarded by God. May peace rest on you and make you whole; be strong; be brave. – (Daniel 10:19a, VOICE)

 

Though these words were spoken by a messenger of God to Daniel when he had been praying on behalf of his people, God still speaks these words to us. Because of His great love, He considers us precious unto Himself, and is ready to give us that which is needed when we choose to call on His Name. As we come before the Lord in prayer, trusting that He hears, He grants peace and strength and courage to face whatever lies before us. We need not fear, for the Lord above all is always near. May we choose to humble ourselves before the Lord in prayer, seeking His help and His heart in all things.

 

Do not be afraid,Psalm 23  1

Instead, choose to pray;

For the Lord, He hears,

And will guide our way.

We each are precious,

In the Lord’s own sight;

Take strength and courage,

He grants us to fight.

His peace makes us whole,

Removing all fear;

Power to press on,

His love is made clear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and pray to You, You meet us with Your peace, encouragement and strength. Thank You that we are precious in Your sight, not because we have earned Your favor by doing or being enough, but rather because we are Your created. Forgive us for not seeking You in all situations, as You are the answer to all that we need. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would know Your peace, encouragement and strength in every situation, regardless of what surrounds us. Show us how to love those around us so that they may feel loved and encouraged, and sense a peace and strength that comes from You alone. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we prayerfully seek You, trusting You for all that we need. Amen.

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Character Testifies Truth

Our faithfulness where we are planted, matters. People notice consistency over time. When our character testifies truth through our ongoing actions, Christ is seen through us. Daniel was an incredible example of this. He was an exile in a foreign land, torn from all that he knew. Though he entered the land under less than ideal circumstances, he was honorable to complete every task assigned to him, and faithful to honor God first, in all that he said and did. Never did he compromise his beliefs for what was asked of him. Daniel found favor before God and men, through his ongoing commitment to the Lord. Ultimately, after a series of unfortunate events and some jealous satraps seeking to destroy him, King Darius was so moved by what he witnessed in and through Daniel that he commanded his kingdom follow God.

 

“I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.  For He is the living God, and He endures forever; His kingdom will not be destroyed, His dominion will never end.  He rescues and He saves; He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” – (Daniel 6:26-27)

 

How do we impact those around us? Do our words and actions align in a way that is a positive witness for Christ? Our faithfulness in even the smallest of circumstances, can speak volumes to those who do not yet know Him. May we walk in His truth, as our words and deeds align with all that He would ask of us.

 

May we stay true,Character Testifies Truth

to You, O Lord;

in word and deed,

Your love outpoured.

Let love and light,

both freely flow;

so all we meet,

may come to know.

Allow Your grace,

be evident;

and all desire,

You be present.

For You endure,

our Holy One;

forevermore,

O Three-in-One.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are for us, and that You remain present with those who are faithful to follow You. Thank You that even in the most dire of circumstances, You remain present. Thank You that You can use our faithfulness to follow You, in all things at all times, as a testimony before those around us. Forgive us for the times when we have been inconsistent, and help us to remain steadfast in Your strength. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may more clearly reflect Your love and light to all whom we encounter. May many come to know and revere You as their Savior and King. Be exalted, O God, as we are faithful to You in our words and deeds. Amen.

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

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14

The Help and Hope of Humility

Pride is perhaps the greatest obstacle to coming into the kingdom of Christ. King Nebuchadnezzar had to learn the hard way, just how far a man will fall if pride comes before the Lord. Though he had been warned multiple times through dreams and the interpretations provided by Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar somehow always managed to disregard the wisdom given to him, and ultimately found himself insane and isolated, before he was willing to repent of his pride and humble himself in the sight of the Lord.

 

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything He does is right and all His ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble. – (Daniel 4:37)

 

Nebuchadnezzar was a changed man. The same king who had erected an enormous gold statue and commanded his people to bow down and worship it before him, was now glorifying God, and acknowledging that God’s way was the right way. He who had been too prideful to heed the warnings granted, had suffered the consequence of his foolish pride, repented, and was now restored to his position of power, and walking humbly before the Lord. May we each heed the Lord’s words of warning and release our pride, rather than wander lost in the wilderness of our own foolishness. Teach us to walk in humility, we pray.

 

All praise and glory,A Touch of Faith

to the King of kings;

for all that He does,

true righteousness brings.

All His ways are right,

not one steeped in pride;

with humility,

He willingly died.

He chose that old cross,

so we might have life;

and rose up again;

blessings that are rife.

Let us give Him all,

as we humbly come;

to seek and serve Him,

’til our days are done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the King of kings and Lord of lords, and that You alone, are worthy of all of our praise. Please forgive us for our foolish pride, and help us to have repentant hearts and be fully reliant on You. Teach us to walk in constant humility, so that we may be tender and approachable to all whom we encounter. Let Your love and light be what is evident in and through us to the world, and may many come to know You as result. Be glorified, Lord God, as we seek to walk humbly before You. Amen.

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

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23