Bold Faith in the Face of Fire

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV)

“If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if He doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, MSG)

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had incredible faith as they faced King Nebuchadnezzar. They had been commanded to worship an inanimate object, when they knew the only one deserving their worship was the one true God. Because they refused, they faced a fiery death, yet they had faith that God could save them. Their bold declaration that initially infuriated Nebuchadnezzar was met by the faithfulness of God who saves and ended up so impressing the king that he created a new command protecting those who worshiped the living God, and promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to higher positions in his court. We never know who we will influence when we choose to remain faithful to what we know is true. Our faith and trust in God speaks volumes when we live it out practically. Though we likely do not face fiery furnaces nor such dramatic decisions, when we choose to be faithful in the small things, people notice and wonder why. May we ever remain true to God whom we can always trust, knowing that He is faithful and the ultimate outcome is greater than we could ever hope or imagine.

 

May we choose be bold, Fire Flames 1

With our trust in Him;

For He is faithful,

Beside us, He’s in.

He’ll make plain our path,

Show us where to go;

Raise up faith in us,

So truth shall be known.

Each giant we face,

Is small in His hands;

As we trust in Him,

He shows us His plan.

Walk forward in faith,

Despite what is seen;

Even so, choose trust,

On the Lord, choose lean.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible examples of faithfulness found in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Thank You that through them, You show us how You meet those who are faithful to You, even in the fire. Forgive us for the times that we have not remained faithful to the truth we know. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would stay strong in You and that in great and small things we would remain true to You, always. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength to trust in You in all things and at all times. 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

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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

Loving the Next Generation

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. – (Proverbs 22:6, NIV)

Teach children in a way that fits their needs, and even when they are old, they will not leave the right path. – (Proverbs 22:6, ERV)

Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost. – (Proverbs 22:6, MSG)

 

This verse is a powerful reminder of my purpose; not only with my own children, but in my classroom each day. My role as a classroom teacher goes beyond the curriculum that I am asked to deliver. If I can meet kids where they are, and help them know that they matter, the learning that takes place is far more significant than the reading and writing that is required. I know in my own life, there were people, teachers, youth leaders, my mom, my grandmother, and various other family and friends, who greatly impacted the path on which I chose to travel. Their words often echoed in my mind as I reached crossroads, and aided me in choosing wisely, when I could have decided differently. Each of the voices that spoke to my heart had met me in a way that fit my own need, individually, and made an impact that has lasted a lifetime. We are able and called to do the same. May we love the next generation by meeting them where they are, and pointing them in the direction that they are meant to go.

 

Help us to teach kids, 1506783915220

The ways they’re to go;

Meet each in their need,

So Your path’s made known.

When we’re shown what’s right,

Through love on our way;

We’re drawn to follow,

On the right path stay.

Let us show our kids,

The right way to go;

So when they’re older,

They will always know.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when children are started off in the right direction, You are faithful to continue to call them to remain close to You. Thank You that though educators are not in a role to spiritually lead students, we have the ability to meet kids where they are in a way that fits their need, and help them know that they are valued, loved, and capable of great things. Forgive us for not investing enough into pointing kids in the right direction, as each future has eternal value. Teach us to turn to You for wisdom as to how we can love best, each young person that You place in our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we point kids in the right direction, trusting You to keep them close as they grow older. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Shine With Our Words

No, we will speak the truth with love. We will grow to be like Christ in every way. – (Ephesians 4:15, ERV)

Instead, by truth spoken in love, we are to grow in every way into Him – the Anointed One, the head. – (Ephesians 4:15, VOICE)

 

Our growth is largely dependent on the choices that we make. Each time we opt to act according to the will of God in love, His light shines through us. However, when we choose poorly, and do not allow the love of Christ to lead us in what we do, we fall short, and the opportunity for His love and grace to be made known is gone. Every time we choose to speak truth in love, rather than in anger or spite, we grow more in likeness with Christ. Our gentle answer to another’s wrath will often turn the entire situation around. Not only do we grow in grace as we choose to love, despite our own desires to get angry, but the recipient of our loving delivery of truth is exposed to God’s grace in unexpected ways. May we go forth this day, intentionally choosing to speak truth in love, so that we might grow more and more like Christ in every way.

 

Let the light of Christ,unseal-my-lips

Shine bright in our words;

As we speak in love,

The truth we have heard.

For when we choose love,

Instead of disdain;

We grow more like Christ,

And honor His Name.

May all that we say,

Be the truth in love;

So all may find hope,

In the Lord above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the more we seek You and pursue the path that You have placed before us, the more we grow to be like You. Thank You that when we speak the truth in love, not only does the recipient benefit, but we grow as well. Forgive us for speaking out of anger or frustration, rather than slowing down and speaking the truth in love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hold our tongues and wait to speak until we are able to deliver our words in Your love. Show us how to love well as we speak truth to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize the love that You have for them, individually. Be glorified O God, as we speak the truth in love and You grow us ever more in Your likeness as we choose to walk in Your way. 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

Justified, Not Qualified

Clean up your act – the way you live, the things you do – so I can make my home with you in this place. – (Jeremiah 7:3, MSG)

This is what the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, says: Improve your conduct and your actions, and I will dwell with you in this place. – (Jeremiah 7:3, CEB)

 

God gave this warning to Jeremiah to deliver to the people of Israel, as they were not following the path that He had placed before them according to His will. Thankfully, today, we do not have to clean up our act or the way we live to come to Jesus, but rather when we come before Him and invite Him to be Lord of our lives, He comes and dwells within us and shows us how to clean up our conduct and do right by Him. The tables were turned and the process flipped upside down, when heaven came down and made the way for us to be restored to a right relationship with our Redeemer. I am so grateful for the mercy and grace that we have been granted to come before our King as we are, and then He cleans us up and shows us how to live right, according to His good and perfect will. May we embrace the grace that He has freely given, and seek our Savior to show us the ways in which we are meant to move.

 

It’s not on our own,Refreshment Through Repentance

That we get things done;

But rather by grace,

As we seek the Son.

Though there was a time,

Needed qualify;

That all changed in Christ,

His life justified.

Now we’re called to come,

To God each new day;

Where He makes us clean,

And shows us the way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the glorious gift of Your Son, Jesus, who changed everything. Thank You that we no longer have to clean up our act and the way we live to somehow convince You to draw near, but rather we can come before You with a humble heart, seeking change, and You will cleanse us of our sin and shame, and show us the way to a new life in You. Forgive us for not seeking Your direction when we are uncertain which way we are meant to go. Teach us to trust You more, as You gave everything so that we could be in relationship with You. Show us how to love those around us with kindness and generosity, just as You have loved us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come before You again and again, allowing You access to all so that we might live right by You. Amen.

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

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Our Strength and Our Rescue

“They will fight against you but not overcome you for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. – (Jeremiah 1:19, NIV)

“They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken! – (Jeremiah 1:19, NLT)

Eventually, they will all give you trouble, but you will be safe. They will fight you, but they will not win. Remember, I am with you. I promise I will always deliver you. – (Jeremiah 1:19, VOICE)

 

Though these words were spoken by God to Jeremiah in a time of great turmoil, His promise still remains true for all who trust in Him. Trouble and trials will come our way, as it is part of living in a broken world. However, the Lord will be with us and will care for us, and will not allow us to be overcome if we place our trust in Him. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, so His word remains steadfast and secure. May we seek the Lord and place our trust in Him, knowing that He will be with us and will care for us in all things and at all times.

 

Opposition comes,Seeking Solace in the Storm

Fear not, it will fail;

When we trust in God,

His strength shall prevail.

For the Lord is good,

His promises true;

He will keep us close,

And carry us through.

Let all that draws breath,

Seek God and give praise;

For His faithfulness,

Throughout all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and place our trust in You, You take care of us and rescue us from falling in the fight. Thank You that You are our strength and our supply, and that You promise to remain present as You walk us through whatever comes our way. Forgive us for not seeking You for strength and security when struggles come. Teach us to turn and trust You more. Show us how to love those around us with the faithfulness and endurance that You give to each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our strength and our rescue in the midst of life’s storms. 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

Joy in Answers Spoken

A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is! – (Proverbs 15:23, NKJV)

People are happy when they give a good answer. And there is nothing better than the right word spoken at the right time. – (Proverbs 15:23, ERV)

 

I imagine we all have been both the bearer and the recipient of a well-timed word that brought joy. It is a treasure to have the privilege of being the one whom God utilizes at just the right time, to deliver that which someone most needs to hear. So often, the words that are received in this way, are simply those that flow freely from us, as we interact with others in love. As we walk in step with our Savior, and have our heart open to His, we are more apt to love as He loves, and speak as He speaks to us. May we invest our hearts in hearing His, so that we might be bearers of joy through the words that we speak to others.

 

As we follow God,The Power of the Tongue

He’ll use words spoken;

To bring others joy,

Hope to the broken.

For at the right time,

The words that we speak;

Offered in His love,

Shine light others seek.

So let there be joy,

Through our spoken word;

As we offer love,

May His heart be heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the times that You have utilized the words that we speak to bring joy to another, and for the times that others have brought us joy through their spoken words. Thank You that You lead us and guide us in Your words and Your timing, if we choose listen to You. Forgive us for not seeking or listening as we should. Teach us to trust and rely on You for words to speak in every season, as You alone, have the words that others need to hear. Grant us Your words to speak that offer joy to those around us, so that we may build up, encourage and point people to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to give us the words to speak, so that we may answer in due season, and bring peace and joy to those around us. 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

 

 

To Choose to Love

Valentine’s Day seems to be bittersweet for many people. Those who are single, are reminded of their perceived lack, and those who are paired, often have unrealistic expectations that lead to disappointment. That being said, there is One who loves without limits, and does not need a special day to deliver. Christ loves us, in spite of ourselves, and His love is patient, kind, hopeful, enduring, and will always win. (1 Cor. 13) Because He loves us so well, He calls us to go and do likewise.

 

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. – (John 13:34, NLT)

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. – (John 13:34, VOICE)

 

As followers of Christ, we are not only called, but we are commanded to love. Because we have been loved so well, we are equipped to go and do likewise. The love we have been given to give away, is not all about chocolates and flowers. We are called to serve and honor, encourage and uphold those around us. There may be times that He asks us to bless with a tangible gift, but it is far more critical that we are present and invested, loving with our time, energy and attention. On this day where love is misconstrued, and people have the capacity to feel more alone than ever, may we be present and love well, just as we are loved.

 

For we have been called, Tether Our Hearts

to choose to love well;

it is a command,

that Jesus did tell.

Not merely spoken,

but He showed the way;

to love with our lives,

to give them away.

Sit with the lonely,

walk beside the lost;

speak life to hopeless,

it is worth the cost.

Just as we are loved,

may we do the same;

so all may come know,

the truth of God’s Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have showed us what it is to love. Thank You that You have not just commanded us to love, but You command us to love with the very same love that You give unto us. Thank You that You fill us to overflowing, so that we are simply passing on the goodness that You have given us, when we choose to love. Forgive us for not loving deeply and fully as You have loved us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would not be fearful of the possible repercussions of choosing to love like You. Show us how to demonstrate Your love to all whom we encounter, so that Your light may shine brightly through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love each other fully and deeply, just as we are loved by You. Amen.

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

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

The Next Right Thing

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. – (Psalm 82:3-4)

 

We are not all charged to do everything, but we are each called to do something. Each of the needs mentioned in the verses above exist both globally and locally. There are orphans, kids in foster care, there are poor, imprisoned, there are those who are in need, and many trapped in the hands of the wicked and unable to set themselves free. We are called to walk through life with our eyes, ears and hearts open. When we do, we are willing to hear the Lord’s call, and answer however He asks. Sometimes, it is in a way that seems small and insignificant to us, yet our willingness to respond will mean the world to the recipient.

 

Welcome Boxes 1A few days ago, I had the joy of working with some ladies from my church to put together welcome boxes for kids being pulled from their homes by CPS and placed in foster care. Some of these kiddos barely have the opportunity to pack even a change of clothes, so these boxes are a special way to offer comfort in the midst of crisis. Each box contains encouraging notes, gifts and toiletries, to remind the child that there are people who do care, despite the chaos that is currently surrounding them. If it weren’t for the obedience and listening ear of one of my friends, none of us would have been aware of the need, nor would we have gathered to do a small thing that we each could do. May we each go forth this day, with eyes, ears and hearts open, ready to hear how the Lord might call us to defend the cause of the weak and fatherless, maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed, or how we can help rescue the weak and needy from the hands of the wicked.

 

Welcome Boxes 2

To find out more about making Welcome Boxes, please contact: JenniferJoyKeener@gmail.com

Lord help me to walk,

with eyes open wide;

aware of the needs,

that others may hide.

Let me be Your hands,

where I can go serve;

show me how to love,

as the lost deserve.

Help me see the need,

and then show me how;

to do what You ask,

not later, right now.

Each day, may I rise,

ready to go be;

Your heart and Your hands,

to set captives free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Defender and Rescuer. Thank You that You saved us from all of our ugliness and delivered us from the calamity that was to come. Thank You that You call us to be a part of moving beside You in defending those who cannot defend themselves, helping those in need, and rescuing those who are stuck in situations that are too great for them to get out of on their own. Forgive us for turning a blind eye to need, or for standing still as we allow the great need to overwhelm us, rather than simply listen to Your call and how we can do the next right thing. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will rise up and be ready to do each next thing that You ask of us. Lead us to love with all that we are, just as You love us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, as they come to know the hope that is held in You alone. Be glorified O God, as we choose to do each next right thing. 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

Belief in the Battle

In the story of David and Goliath, David was still but a boy, going obediently to his brothers on the battle lines, to deliver food rations. Upon his arrival, he became aware of the sinister situation with the giant called Goliath. David was infuriated when he heard Goliath making a mockery of the Israelites, and inquired as to why nothing had been done. Because David had stood against various giants before as a shepherd in the fields, (a lion and a bear) and God had given him the strength to overcome each, he knew that God would be with him in the same way against this Philistine who was defying the living God. David was so confident in the Lord, that his own words as he faced Goliath included “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give all of you into our hands.” – (1 Samuel 17:47)

 

David’s unwavering faith resulted in an end to a forty-day stand-off. God granted victory to the Israelites because David was willing to faithfully take a stand. God hears our call for His help, and is present for all who seek Him. Those who know Your Name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. – (Psalm 9:10)

 

Though we may not always see results right away, as David did, when we trust in the Lord, He will not forsake us. He is present, and He is worthy of all of our trust, despite the way things appear. May we rise up with faith like David’s, even when face our own Goliath. God is with us, and the battle belongs to Him.

 

Real obedience,Facing the Giants

is faith on the move;

going where He calls,

trusting His word’s true.

When in the battle,

let us trust the fight;

not to our own strength,

but to the Lord’s might.

For He won’t forsake,

those who call on Him;

so let us each trust,

the Lord enter in.

He saves us from death,

and certain defeat;

judgment and justice,

the Lord’s to complete.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we may face giants before us, every battle belongs to You. Thank You that we can trust in You, just as David did, knowing that it is You in us that will strengthen and equip us to face what lies in front of us. Forgive us for our fearfulness that keeps us stuck, rather than moving in obedience. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may move as You ask, and allow You to fight for us, through us, and in us, so that we may come to know the victory that You have in store for each of our lives. Lead us to love others with the same relentless love that You give to us, and may many come into a saving relationship with You as a result. Be magnified O God, as we walk fearlessly in obedience in the battles, and allow You room to fight on our behalf. Amen.

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

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