Chosen Representatives

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you – from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. – (1 Peter 2:9-10, MSG)

 

If we are followers of Christ, we are among those considered His chosen people. Those who are chosen, are also now called. Our calling is to be representatives of Christ – to be His instruments of peace, telling others of all that He has done in us and for us. Both our words and our deeds should demonstrate the dramatic difference that an identity in Christ makes in how we navigate. May we represent well the wonders of the work of His hands, so that many may come to know Him.

 

For we are chosen,Forgiveness is Free

To represent well;

A life changed by God,

Our story to tell.

In all that we do,

And words that we say;

May His light be seen,

As we walk His way.

Once we were nothing,

Headed for demise;

Then God made the way,

And loved us to life.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You, and You call us Your own. Thank You that You choose us to be Your instruments of peace, to represent You to those around us. Thank You that You qualify and equip us to do so. Forgive us for staying silent when we have so much to say about all that You have done in us and for us. Teach us to trust You more so that we would be bold on Your behalf. Show us how to love others where they are, so that they may seek to find the Source of our love too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we do and say the things You call us to on Your behalf, allowing us to represent You well. Amen.

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

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

Identify, Speak and Trust

Yesterday, my pastor continued in a series titled, “Miracles“. The passage from which he brought forth his message, was Mark 4:35-41. This story is quite familiar to many, as it is the story of when Jesus calms the storm. That being said, there were elements within the unpacking, that I had not quite seen in that particular light before.

First, when the disciples were crossing as Jesus had charged them to do, a furious squall came upon them while He slept. The disciples were terrified, yet Jesus was able to sleep. Jesus was able to rest because He was doing what His Father had called Him to do, therefore He was at peace. As for the squall, there is so often a push back from hell when we move in the direction to which God has called us. (For on the other side, was the demoniac waiting to be set free, whose testimony would change the lives of many.)

When the disciples woke Jesus and asked Him if He even cared if they drowned, He rose and commanded the wind and waves to “Quiet! Be still!” Speaking to a storm is no ordinary response. Typically, there is no need to rebuke an object. However, when what was occurring was spiritual in nature, the rebuke was for that which was at the root, to stop. (And not likely in a still small voice)

Just as Jesus commanded for that which rose up against them to “BE STILL!”, we too have the very same power within us, when we find ourselves in a storm. We are best able to weather the storms if we: 1) Identify the storm, 2) Speak to the storm (claim God’s truth), and 3) Trust the outcome to God. – (Pastor Jon McIntosh)

When fear rises up,Sense in Storms

and floods us with lies;

the intent of hell,

is our quick demise.

Yet within our hearts,

the power to speak;

to silence the storms,

and strengthen the weak.

For God did not give,

a spirit of fear;

instead He’s present,

He is ever near.

Every outcome,

He already knows;

so we need not fear,

each time the wind blows.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when the storms of life come all around us, You are already in the boat beside us. Thank You that though things may seem dire, You have set a course before us and will not leave us. Thank You that when resistance comes against us moving in the direction to which we are called, You have already placed Your power within us to stand firm and speak to the storm. Forgive us for allowing fear to reign, when fear is only based on what our eyes perceive, rather that Your truth. Teach us to trust You and the outcome You have for us, rather than what we imagine. Lead us to love others in such a way, that we can offer calm in their storms and hope in their places of panic. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to Your promises and continue moving in the direction in which we are called. Amen.

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

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

Speak Truth from the Heart

As part of being called to love, we must speak life to those around us. To speak life is to speak the truth from the heart, and to love and honor God in the process. When we neglect to speak encouraging words, and instead speak death or demise, we tear down rather than build up those whom Christ has created in His very own image.

Only those who live pure lives, do what is right and speak the truth from their hearts. Such people don’t say bad things about others. They don’t do things to hurt their neighbors. They don’t tell shameful things about those close to them. – (Psalm 15:2-3, ERV)

Let us choose to speak,Speak Truth from the Heart

encouraging words;

so all who are near,

may embrace what’s heard.

Invest in the Lord,

so we may live pure;

do right and speak truth,

offer truth to hear.

Speak not of the bad,

that dwells in others;

do nothing to harm,

sisters or brothers.

Speak not of the shame,

their actions impart;

for the Lord forgives,

and grants a new start.

Rather choose build up,

and point to the Lord;

His love is enough,

it’s freely outpoured.

Our words have power, and can have an impact for far longer than we know. For the child who hears nothing but negativity at home, and then hears encouraging words at school from a teacher or a staff member, their life course could be forever altered, simply because someone took the time to speak the truth in love into their life. Sadly, the opposite holds true as well. If our words are spoken carelessly and without love, the damage can be far deeper and longer lasting than we could ever imagine. In Christ, we have the power to choose to invest our lives in Him, so that we might live lives that are pure, and do what is right; speaking the truth from our hearts. As we do, people are encouraged and changed, and we cannot help but no longer stay the same either.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we have the power to speak truth in love, and encourage and build up those who are around us.  Thank You that You equip and empower us to do so, when we invest our hearts and lives in You.  Forgive us for the missed opportunities that we have had, because we were too wrapped up in our own “stuff” to see the need around us.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have an outward focus, fixing our eyes on You, and those whom You place on our path to love as You love us.  Lead us to love like You.  May many come into a lasting relationship with You.  Be glorified O God, as we speak Your truth from the hearts that You have made new within us.  Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Transformed to Touch Lives

Yesterday, my pastor continued a series entitled, “Transformed.” He began with the reminder that we are called and invited to do as Jesus did unto the world.

 

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. – (John 14:10-12)

 

The Lord is sending us as His ambassadors to move things back toward the kingdom of God. We are charged to walk through life with our eyes wide open and our hearts at the ready, so that we can see what is out of alignment with His perfect plan, and hear Him as to how things ought to be. Because He is in us, we can play a part in moving things back to God’s intended order. Our giftings and callings are not just meant to be utilized as a gift to the church, but rather as a gift to the world. When we reach out to the world around us, lives are touched and communities are transformed.

 

Often our own hesitation is opposition, however, the disciples and the early church took root and grew in a time of persecution of the worst kind. Ostracizing, imprisonment, flogging, stoning and crucifixion, were common fates among early believers. Despite the demise of many, Christianity spread like a wild fire in a dry forest. “Christianity that fails in a tough environment, may not be TRUE Christianity.” – (Pastor Jon McIntosh) If we are truly being His hands and feet to the world, broken lives will be made whole, as He alone has the capacity to redeems all things. God can do abundantly more than we could ever hope or even begin to imagine, if we are only willing to walk in His ways.  May we rise up and embrace our charge, and go forth to share the gifts that God has placed in each of us with the world.

 

For those who are saved,Forgiveness is Free

our lives are transformed;

the faithful drew near,

and love was outpoured.

The gifts of the Lord,

in another seen;

used for His glory,

now we are redeemed.

May we too rise up,

in love freely give;

the best of ourselves,

so others might live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to show us the way to love well. Thank You that You send Your Spirit to empower all who choose to invest their lives in You and invite Your presence to come. Thank You that in You, we can do the very things You did. Forgive us for forgetting the tremendous power that resides within us, and teach us to trust You more, so that we may rise up and move mightily as You call. Lead us to love others in such a way, that people cannot help but turn to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we go forth in faith, operating in the gifts that You have given to share with the world around us. 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

Consider Great Things

Life is busy; and busy, can be distracting. In the midst of all that moves us, we are meant to slow down and take time to reset and reflect, restoring our priorities to their proper place. As Samuel was nearing the end of his life and the people had asked the Lord for a king, to be like the nations that surrounded them, he offered much sound advice. A verse that stood out to me this morning, as a reliable reminder to keep our priorities in their proper place, is the following: “But be sure to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you.” – (1 Samuel 12:24)

 

To fear the Lord is to stand in reverent awe of who He is, and to understand that He is God, and we are not. Serving Him faithfully with all your heart is to withhold nothing; allowing Him access to all that we are, and offering our whole selves unto Him. When we feel that tender tug on our heartstrings to do something to serve, we don’t think; we act. To consider what great things He has done for us, is to remember His faithfulness. It takes little looking to see how He has been faithful. Being awake and able to read His word this morning is just one small example of His unending faithfulness unto us. The sun rose, as it was meant to do, I draw breath, without effort… What an incredible God to give us the gift of life and love and His unending faithfulness!

 

Take time to slow down,Consider Great Things

to think of great things;

the gifts from the Lord,

that salvation brings.

His love and His grace,

freedom from demise;

His great strength to stand,

against all the lies.

Stand in total awe,

of our Mighty King;

serve Him faithfully,

as our offering.

Remember the Lord,

and His faithfulness;

all glory to Him,

God of Righteousness!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are God and we are not. Thank You that You alone are worthy of all of our reverence and awe; for You created everything that is, and was and is yet to be. Thank You for Your loving kindness and faithfulness to us, though we deserve it not. Forgive us for getting so caught up in the chaos of life, that we don’t stop to remember all that You have done for us. Help us to remember Your faithfulness, and trust that You are still the same God today as You were before. May we have hearts that are willing to serve You completely, and trust You with our whole being. Let Your love shine through us as we seek to serve as You call us. May many come to know You as their faithful Father, as we honor You in all that we say and do. Be magnified in the midst of us, as we consider the great things You have done. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

 

 

Miracles in the Desert

Though the Israelites were notorious for their grumbling in the desert, there was a time, early on, when they really got it right.  After the Lord had saved them from the hands of the Egyptians by parting the sea until each of them had safely passed through, and then covered all of the Egyptians with the great wall of water that led to their untimely demise.  After such a mighty display of unbridled power, the Israelites not only feared the Lord, but they placed their trust in Him, and in Moses, whom God had appointed to lead them.

Their response was one of worship, as they say a song unto the Lord.  Among the lines that stand out, is “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.  He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.” – (Exodus 15:2)  Because they were in the midst of wandering in the desert, recording things in writing was not such a viable option.  However, reciting the remarkable in song, was a wonderful way to give thanks to the Lord, and to pass down the historical happenings of the people, as they celebrated the victory that God had granted.

All of us have seasons of wandering through the desert.  We must choose to either look for and celebrate the miraculous moments, despite the desolation around us; or we are left grumbling, perhaps missing out on the miracles, as our eyes and hearts are averted inward, rather than looking up.  When our hearts are set to worship the One who is with us, be it in the desert or in the lush valley, our awareness of what He is doing, tends to increase.  May we fix our eyes and hearts on Him, and let words of praise be ever-present on our lips.

Our strength and our song,Miracles in the Desert

in famine or feast;

the Lord God on high,

our hope to increase.

Present in dry lands,

He quenches our thirst;

with us in plenty,

as we seek Him first.

Let our hearts hold praise,

regardless of way;

trusting His goodness,

is with us to stay.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful, regardless of our surroundings.  Thank You that often the most miraculous moments come as we are wandering through the driest deserts.  Forgive us for our grumbling when we are uncomfortable, or have to persevere longer than we think we ought to, and help us to hold fast to our hope in You.  Grant us the ability to keep our eyes up and our hearts on You, so that we do not miss out on the miraculous that You are doing all around us.  May we be available to love as You love us, and please use us to touch hearts and show those who are looking, the way unto You.  Be magnified in all that we say and do, our mighty, miraculous God.  Amen.

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

The Bread and the Cup

The Bread and the CupFinal day of freedom,

prior to the great test;

time spent with disciples,

the ones who knew Him best.

Together they gathered,

in the large upper room;

to share a final meal,

His demise would come soon.

Jesus in His great love,

broke bread and lifted up;

said, “eat and remember,

as you gather to sup.”

In the very same way,

after bread took the cup,

“My blood poured out for you,

a new covenant trust.”

They could not truly grasp,

all that Christ was saying;

His heart heavy with grief,

for what He’d been praying.

Despite the great sorrow,

He did willingly choose;

to lay down His own life,

so ours we wouldn’t lose.

As we gather, recall,

the price we could not pay;

for the bread and the cup,

all our sin washed away.

(Responding to Luke 22:19-20)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to make the way for us to live. Thank You Jesus, for giving Your life for mine, though I deserve it not. Please forgive us for all that we do that is not pleasing to You, and help us to remember with grateful hearts, the greatest gift we have ever been given – eternal life in You. Teach us to embrace Your grace all the more, so that we may live boldly for You, loving as You love, and allowing Your light to shine brightly through us. May many come to know the glorious gift of Your sacrifice, and may they receive all that You have to offer. Let us honor You with all that we say and do, and may our love be a pleasing offering unto You. Amen.

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

Wielding Words Wisely

image from Teen Challenge

image from Teen Challenge

When life becomes heavy,

and our hearts are weighed down,

we are left with a choice;

swim to Him, or just drown.

Anxiety laden,

burdens we try to bear;

we must cast them to God,

allow Him access there.

A word to encourage,

sound advice from the wise;

invaluable lifelines,

to prevent our demise.

God uses our voices,

to drown out ugly lies;

to build up the body,

and to answer our cries.

From the fruit of our lips,

can come a great return;

when kindness and wisdom,

are what we seek to learn.

He delights in the truth,

our speaking of wise words;

for here healing happens;

His delight shall be heard.

(Responding to Proverbs 12:14,15,18,22,25)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we were never meant to bear burdens on our own.  Thank You that You are always at the ready, waiting for us to ask for Your assistance.  Forgive us for trying to power through, and help us to be quick to turn to You, trusting that You are more than enough to bear the burdens that weigh us down.  Please grant us wisdom and Your words to encourage and build up the body.  May we soundly speak truth in spaces where it is lacking, and may Your light illuminate the darkness that deems such spaces so dismal.  Thank You that You are so much more than enough!  May many come to know You and trust You to carry the cares that have kept them from You.  Amen.

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