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.

The Good Shepherd

Christmas is a remembrance of when Love came near.  God, came in flesh, so that all might know the saving grace that is available through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, the Light unto the world, and the good Shepherd to all whom believe.

In John 10:11, it says, “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Though few of us have much exposure to present-day shepherds, what I can gather from footnotes and other resources that I have read, is that shepherds treat their sheep as family, and are willing to lay down their own life to keep each of them safe from harm.  A shepherd’s love and commitment to care for his flock is not a paid position, but rather one’s chosen duty as he cares for each sheep as if it were his own precious progeny.

Jesus, throughout scripture, is called the Good Shepherd.  He is the ultimate example of one who loves us with His very life, and cares for each of us, individually.  When we make the decision to follow Him, we become the sheep of His flock – the people of His pasture.  The cross was endured on our behalf, so that we are forgiven and freed from all that would lead us away from the security of our Good Shepherd; and His resurrection and the sending of His Holy Spirit, provide us with the ability to hear and obey His voice, as well as the power to hold fast to the promise of our eternal hope.  What a treasured song to sing, when His glad tidings we choose to bring.

The Savior came near,The Good Shepherd

in flesh, became man;

still fully holy,

for us, came to stand.

The Light of the world,

came down to the earth;

an innocent child,

lowly stable birth.

Announced by angels,

to shepherds in field;

for they knew of love,

sacrificial yield.

Baby became man,

Good Shepherd to all;

who choose to follow,

and answer His call.

For He gave His life,

so our life we’d gain;

eternal promise,

the truth to proclaim.

Sing out, fellow sheep,

glad tidings to share;

for His hope is ours,

rejoice in His care.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Good Shepherd.  Thank You that You know us and love us, individually.  Thank You that You willingly laid down Your life, so that we could have life with You forever.  Forgive us for allowing the worries of the world to steal our joy, and help us to rejoice in the promises that are ours forever.  Help us to share the great news of who You are, and may many receive the gift of You this Christmas.  May we love as You love, so that Your light is evident in all that we say and do.  May our actions be announcements of Your goodness and grace.  Amen.

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

Fellowship Fuels the Faithful

Fellowship Fuels the FaithfulThough mine eyes have seen Him not,

I know His word to be true.

His heart for us shines through it,

and shows us what we’re to do.

For fellowship is needed,

with the Father and the Son;

we’re equipped by His Spirit,

to come together as one.

Each one is of the body,

together we are complete;

to honor and serve the Lord,

share His love with all in need.

As we obey and go forth,

take His truth to all the world;

our joy shall become complete,

for menacing grip’s unfurled.

All of heaven does rejoice,

when hearts commit to the Lord;

may the body grow as one,

united in one accord.

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.” – (1 John 1:3-4)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we have seen You not, we clearly see evidence of You all around us. Thank You that You sent Your Son, Jesus, so that we might come to know You through His life, death and resurrection. Thank You Jesus, for coming to make the way for us to find fellowship with You and our Father. Thank You that You sent Your Spirit so that we may be fueled to be in fellowship with You and with fellow followers. Forgive us Father, for not fully investing in our relationships – both with You and with members of the body. Show us how we are meant to function in our own roles in the body, so that many may come to know You, and our joy may be complete. Grow our faith God. Lead us and equip us to follow well, so that we are ever ready to love others with Your love, and may we lead looking hearts to You. All glory and honor unto You. Amen.

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

Far Better than a Bunny

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” – (I Corinthians 10:13)

Our way is provided,

image by Central Valley Arts

image by Central Valley Arts

because He bore the cross.

He took each temptation,

loves us through every loss.

Equipped by His Spirit,

His power, we’re given;

to face each temptation,

and make right decisions.

He is faithful to us,

to provide a way out.

No temptation too great,

nor path He won’t reroute.

So stand strong in the Lord,

place your whole trust in He,

who will teach us to know,

when to fight or to flee.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that no temptation that we face is new.  Jesus has already endured every temptation know to us, and He alone, was without sin.  Thank You that His sacrifice that we celebrate on Friday, and even more, His resurrection that we remember this Sunday, are the very events that let to our option for empowerment to withstand the temptations that test us.  Forgive us for failing to fully depend on You.  Deepen our dependence on You as we walk through this holy Easter week.  May our reverence for the remarkable redemption that we have been granted, and our love for others, lead many to Your amazing arms of grace.  Amen.

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

Much to Even More

“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.” – Luke 19:26

photo by Heidi Kay

“He said, ‘That’s what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of.  Play it safe and end up holding the bag.” – (The Message)

To each of us, He has given.  For each of us, much is required.  We must be willing to be bold before both God and man, to share that which we have been granted.  We have all been given grace, so we ought to also extend grace generously.  The gift, that thing that He has planted uniquely in each of us, is meant to be shared, exposed, passed on, and presented; not hidden in the hollows of our hearts.  We must risk vulnerability, to reap the remarkable joy found in His favor.

He loves us wherever we are and in whatever we do, however, there is so much more!

As we step out in faith and surrender ourselves to His strength, the reward is always worth the risk.  If we fall, we learn how to get back up again.  Perseverance provides hope for us to hold.  If we do not waiver, and stand fast in our Savior, we are reminded of how we are to recognize His redeeming strength, and rely on Him completely.

The beauty of it all, the ultimate reward and blessing for us to behold, is found not in the gift, but in the Giver; when we at long last see Him face-to-face, and our hearts will hear the wonderful words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  The very thought of standing before Him and feeling His pleasure for me, a fallen and flawed kid, saved by grace, overwhelming!

No, our salvation depends not on what we do, yet the fullness of His goodness and grace is granted as we step out in surrender – exchanging our goals, strength, dreams and hopes, for His.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that through the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus, we each have been given much, with the heavenly hope of even more.  Lead us to love lavishly, as You have loved us.  Grant us the grace and the  courage to uncover the gifts You have given, that we have been hiding.  Teach us to trust You to be our strength and our song, and may we serve You faithfully, our whole life long.  May many be blessed by our faithful obedience to You, God.  Amen.

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

Purposeful Prayer and Petition

photo by Hope and Love

“My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.  I have given them the glory that You gave me, that they may be one as We are One.  I in them and You in Me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” – John 17:20-23

“I’m praying not only for them but also for those who believe in Me because of them and their witness about Me.  The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind – just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, so they might be one heart and mind with Us.  Then the world might believe that You, in fact, sent Me.  The same glory You gave Me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as We are – I in them and You in Me.  Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that You’ve sent Me and loved them in the same way You’ve loved Me.” – (The Message)

Jesus prayed this prayer just prior to His arrest.  His hope and prayer was that all who followed Him (the they and them above, that is us), would be united in purpose to pass on our heavenly hope, held in a relationship with our Redeemer, so that by His sacrifice on our behalf, we may come to know and love Him, and forever be found in His presence.  The glory He has given to all who believe, is the presence of His Holy Spirit – housed within us to equip, enlighten, and empower, so that we too, might love as He has loved us.

Dear Jesus, thank You that even in the mere moments before Your arrest that would lead to Your death (and resurrection!), Your heart held prayers to our Father for all who had found and would find faith to believe, that we might be united together in You.  Teach me Lord, how to walk united in heart and purpose with You and Your people, as we present Your plan in a way that is pleasing unto You.  Lead us to love You and each other, just as You have loved us.  Amen.

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