A Final Act of Love

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. The men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” – (Luke 24:1-5, NLT) 

 

Though Jesus had told those who followed Him that He would rise again, I imagine it was still difficult to conceive, as the very idea was a seeming impossibility. As I attempt to place myself in the position of one of the women who went to the tomb that morning, I picture women overwhelmed with grief as they walked toward the resting place of their Redeemer. This Savior whom they loved, was now three days in the grave, and they were prepared to interact with His broken body as a final act of love and a way to say goodbye. The tomb had been sealed by a giant boulder, immovable, even by a malicious act of will. Imagine the shock that flooded their hearts and minds as they approached the tomb when they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Fear? Anger? Concern? What could have happened to the body of their beloved? Then, as they stood there puzzling over what was missing, two men in dazzling robes appeared out of nowhere. Clearly the women recognized that the men were messengers from God, as they bowed their faces to the ground in terror. From sorrow to confusion to frustration to fear, these ladies must have been flooded as heaven came near. And then, after all of that, to hear that Jesus was alive… The women navigated the roller coaster quite gracefully, as the very next thing they did was go and tell the disciples what they had seen and heard.  

This is the very day that we celebrate and remember the miracle of the resurrection. The grave could not hold Him, and He is alive and moving on our behalf. May we remember our Risen Savior as we go about this day and know that His sacrifice saved us while His resurrection reminds us that we are no longer dead in sin.  

 

Early Sunday morn, Hope in an Empty Tomb

They went to the tomb; 

Grieving act of love, 

No hope yet assumed. 

Imagine their hearts, 

With Jesus not there; 

Distraught and confused, 

The Lord is gone. Where? 

Angelic visit, 

In dazzling light; 

The women bowed low, 

Faced the ground in fright. 

The men then asked them, 

“Why did you come here? 

Don’t look among dead, 

For live to appear.” 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Your Son, Jesus. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross for all of our sin and shame. Thank You that the grave could not hold You, and that You rose again and are seated at the right hand of the Father, moving on our behalf. Thank You that in You we can have life and light and love forever. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your sacrifice and the glory of Your resurrection. Help us to grasp the enormity of Your mercy and grace. Show us how to extend love and goodness to those around us as an outpouring of our gratitude to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise and give You glory for Your love that defeated death and gives life to all who receive You as Lord. 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

Our Answer in Times of Trouble

I was in very bad trouble. I called to the Lord for help, and He answered me. I was deep in the grave. I cried to You, and You heard my voice. – (Jonah 2:2, ERV)

He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and He answered me. I called to You from the land of the dead, and Lord, You heard me!” – (Jonah 2:2, NLT)

 

God is overwhelmingly patient and full of grace. Despite Jonah’s rebellion and refusal to go where God was calling him to go, He met Jonah in the middle of his mess and showed His mercy. Most of us have heard the story. Jonah is called to Ninevah and doesn’t want to go. Instead, he hops a boat the opposite direction for Tarshish to escape dealing with people whom he did not believe deserved God’s grace. Fast-forward to the middle of trip, and a horrendous storm stirs the seas and spins the ship so violently, that the crew believes that God has to be mad at someone onboard. They cast lots and determine that it is Jonah, and throw him overboard. As Jonah is sinking in the sea, he cries out to the Lord for help, and is swallowed by an enormous fish. There, in the middle of the ocean, in the belly of a whale (or comparably large fish), Jonah discovers the grace and mercy of God, and the wrong of running from God and the call He had on his life. Long story short, the great fish spit Jonah out, and he went and did what he had been called to do. God heard his cries and answered his pleas for help. The very same God who rescued Jonah from his own path of destruction, can do the same for you and me. When we call on the Lord and ask for His help, He hears and He answers us. May we ever seek our Savior, as He hears our cries and makes way where there seems to be no way.

 

In calm and in storms,

Wielding Words Wisely

The Lord’s ever near;

If we call on Him,

Our cries, He will hear.

Ever He listens,

As we seek and pray;

He’s willing to make,

Way where seems no way.

So trust in the Lord,

Choose call on His Name;

He hears and He helps,

Our hope to proclaim.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our hope and our help in times of trouble. Thank You that we can always come to You, no matter what we’ve done, and You will hear us and love us the same. Forgive us for the times that we run the opposite direction of that which You are calling. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would go where You lead, even when it does not make sense, or it is terrifying. Give us Your strength and power to do and be all that You ask of us. Show us how to love those around us fearlessly. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call to You in times of trouble, and trust You to be our answer. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

Overcoming Power

“He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what He told you back in Galilee, that the son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that He would rise again on the third day.” – (Luke 24:6-7, NLT)

 

Grief does funny things to our ability to think clearly. I can only begin to imagine the weight of the sorrow shared by those who had walked closely beside Jesus, prior to His crucifixion. Despite His having told those dear to Him what had to happen, and what would happen after, if they were anything like most of us, they probably could not grasp anything beyond His having to die. Even more surreal to see in one’s mind, is the arrival at the empty tomb. What began as shock, horror, and perhaps even outrage that Jesus’ body was missing, was quickly turned to worshipful awe, as they were greeted by angels who told them what had happened. It had to have been quite a sight to see, if the first words from those whom God had sent, was, “Don’t be afraid.” I envision it being a two-fold extension of kindness. Don’t be afraid of us, and do not be afraid of what you do not see. It did not take long for the truth that they had been told prior to Jesus’ death to be recalled, and suddenly, everything changed. Mourning turned to gladness, and sorrow surrendered to great joy! Jesus had risen! May we rise this day and remember the reason for the festivities. The Light of the world defeated death and conquered the grave so that we could have life everlasting in Him.

 

Two days of darkness,Hope in an Empty Tomb

Then third day, He rose;

Defeating the grave,

All hope to disclose.

Greeted by angels,

At the empty tomb;

Awe and amazement,

Minds blown at the truth.

Though He had foretold,

Was hard to believe;

No more was Christ dead,

He’d risen indeed.

What joy they had found,

Their sorrow, no more;

Jesus has risen,

Worship and adore!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You did not stop at the death on the cross on our behalf, but You showed us Your power as You defeated death and overcame the grave so that we could have life everlasting in You. Thank You that the very same power that conquered the grave is available to all who trust in You. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to defeat our resolve, rather than turning to trust in You. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone have the power to carry us through every circumstance. Show us how to live and love boldly, as we have been given all that we need to love as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to fill us so that we may live and love in the overcoming power You place in each of us. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 54:8

When All Seemed Silent

But He never left them without evidence of Himself and His goodness. For instance, He sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts. – (Acts 14:17, NLT)

 

When Paul and Barnabas were sharing the good news in Lystra, and the people began to be misguided and were not recognizing and giving credit where credit was due, Paul reminded them of the great things that God had done for them in the past, and how He was continuing to make His presence known. The same still holds true today. Every blessing and good and perfect gift, comes from our Father above. Though not one of us particularly enjoy seasons of struggle, they tend to help us recognize and appreciate all the more, the glorious gifts and boundless blessings that God so generously gives to us. As we sit for a moment in silence on this Saturday, when so many years ago they were celebrating a most somber Sabbath, we can give thanks, for we know the hope that tomorrow holds. The grave could not contain Christ. Blessing beyond what anyone could have fathomed was on the way, and oh the joy that all would know in but one more day! May we all take pause to recognize the blessings that God has given us; our family and friends, our surroundings, freedoms, employment, homes, hope, health, and more than anything, the promise of eternal life with Him.

 

As I look around,Hope in What is Unseen

It is plain to see;

Evidence of God,

And His love for me.

He’s given me life,

Hope, faith, love and joy;

All things that I need,

And two baby boys.

Even in heartache,

His presence stays near;

His peace gives me hope,

And chases off fear.

Wherever I go,

I can’t help but see;

The glory of God,

In all before me.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us evidence of Yourself everywhere we go. Thank You that we can see You in the beauty of Your creation around us, as well as in the eyes of the people that You place in our lives. Thank You for the love, peace and joy that You give, as we come to grasp the glory of our hope in You. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to distract us from the hope we know, or keep us from giving You glory for all of the good that we know in You. Teach us to trust You more, for just as all seemed silent on that Sabbath, the very next day – You rose and nothing was ever the same again! Show us how to love in a way that offers hope and peace and joy to those who cannot see any. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the evidence of Your goodness everywhere we go. 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

Transformational Times

When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshipped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” – (Luke 23:47, NLT)

 

This statement by the Roman officer was extremely significant, as it was his response after overseeing the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. He had observed each nail driven into His hands and feet, each insult hurled at Jesus as He hung in pain, and ultimately, he heard the words of Jesus as the world went dark for several hours that day, as Christ called out, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NIV)  Firsthand, this soldier who had carried out the orders to crucify Christ, could see for himself, that there had been no justifiable reason to take the life of the innocent man hanging on the cross before him. Something about what he had observed through the process, helped open his eyes to the glory of God, as the Roman officer responded by worshipping the Lord and declaring the innocence of Christ. When they say there is power in the cross, it is incredible how soon it began. First with the criminal that hung beside Jesus who recognized that He did not deserve to die and asked to be remembered, and then one of the leaders of the Roman regime. The power present to move those two men from death to life on that very day, is still alive and active now. Jesus rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father, so that His Spirit could dwell among us. The very same power that brought life from death, is available and able to save us now. If we come to the Lord, call on His Name, and place our trust in Him, His presence is ours, and we have the hope of life everlasting in Him. May we allow the power of the presence of the living God to transform us from the inside out.

 

The power of God,Transformational Times

Is mighty to save;

For this is the One,

Who conquered the grave.

He brings us to life,

When we choose to come;

Place our heart in Him,

Where freedom is won.

Free from all our chains,

Of past sin and scorn;

Where hope and new life,

In Him, we’re reborn.

New start without stains,

All grace is now ours;

Made new by His love,

His hope empowers.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to live and love and sacrifice, so that we could have life everlasting in You. Thank You for the incredible things that Jesus did, even as He hung on the cross to impact the lives of those around Him. Forgive us for thinking that we cannot do anything in the midst of our circumstances when things are difficult. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be receptive to all that You have for us – both for and through us as we walk out our days in faith. Show us how to love others as You love us, regardless of what is going on in our own lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow You to work in and through us at all times to touch those around us. 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

The Weight He Bore

At noon the whole country became dark. The darkness continued until three o’clock. At three o’clock Jesus cried out loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” This means “My God, my God, why have you left me alone?” – (Mark 15:33-34, ERV)

 

Probably the most powerful imagery that I have read about Christ’s hours on the cross, came from Max Lucado’s book, Six Hours One Friday. Jesus who knew no sin, had walked and been in constant communication with the Father. Suddenly, He who had never sinned, became sin and bore the weight for all of the world’s madness. Imagine a darkness so heavy that an entire nation loses it’s light. Jesus chose to take our place of scorned separation and suffering so that we would not have to. He bore a weight not one of us could bear, so that we could come close and know the nearness of our Creator. It is difficult to fathom a faithful love so powerful, that it kept the One who calls things into being, connected to the cross on our behalf. Thankfully, despite the devastating darkness that fell, and the somber sorrow that left the disciples distraught and directionless, did not last. Friday’s heartbreak was followed by Sunday’s discovery of a promise fulfilled. The grave could not keep Him. The Lord was alive; He had risen indeed! Our hope and our reason to celebrate this sacred season lies in the remarkable remembrance of what Jesus did on our behalf, so that we could have life everlasting in Him. May we hold fast to the hope of the light that is yet to come, even on our darkest days, for He is faithful to fulfill what He has promised, and our future is secure in Him forever.

 

Such darkness befell,Perseverance in the Face of Persecution

The whole countryside;

“Why have You left me,”

Our dear Savior cried.

The weight of the world,

He bore on that cross;

In love, willingly,

So none should be lost.

Buried in silence,

The world had to wait;

Then God’s mighty hand,

Moved to celebrate.

For on the third day,

The Lord rose again;

So we could have life,

Forgiven from sin.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible sacrifice that we cannot even begin to comprehend. Thank You Jesus, for bearing the weight of all of our sin and shame on that cross, so that we can have life everlasting in You. Forgive us for not standing in awe of the weight of what You did on our behalf. Help us to be forever grateful for the power of Your sacrifice and the joy found in relationship with You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that lightens their load and points people to the hope and joy that come from knowing You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all our gratitude for the gift of life You give. 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

Reminders Anew

They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will laugh at Him and beat Him with whips, and then they will kill Him on a cross. But on the third day after His death, He will be raised to life again. – (Matthew 20:19, ERV)

 

As Easter approaches, we are reminded anew of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. He willingly bore the agony of the cross on our behalf, so that we could be raised to new life in Him. This season is a reminder of the awakening that occurred as life was breathed into His body in the tomb. Though there are dark days, when the sun returns and the flowers bloom, we see the hope of the longer, sweeter days of summer on the horizon. In the same way, on the third day, after much darkness and despair, those closest to Jesus went to visit His body, only to discover that He was alive again! Our hope is held in the One who defeated death so that we could find life in Him forever. May we always remember that the darkness is but for a season, and His light dwells within us, holding the hope of all that is yet to come.

 

When darkness and death,Embracing Grace

Seem to dominate;

Remember to seek,

Him who can relate.

For Jesus, He knows,

The weight of our pain;

As we seek His help,

He makes His grace plain.

We’re granted His hope,

His love and His peace;

Life everlasting,

Grace that will not cease.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly endured the scorn and shame of the cross, and overcame the grave to give us new life in You. Thank You that even when darkness and death seem to surround us, there is always light and life in You. Forgive us for making You too small, as You are the Overcoming King. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love others in such a way, that we offer hope, light and life where they fear there is none. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize and celebrate the power held in Your presence as You alone bring hope and new life. 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

Fame and Fortune are Fleeting

So don’t be impressed with those who get rich and pile up fame and fortune. They can’t take it with them; fame and fortune all get left behind. – (Psalm 49:16-17, MSG)

 

All that is amassed on Earth is temporary, but the lessons and growth that are gained in our hearts are eternal. It is essential that we keep our hearts right in regard to those who seem to acquire much in the here and now. Of those who have much, much is required. We are called to be good stewards of whatever we are given. Rather than looking to another who seemingly has more in envy, there ought to be a sort of recognition that there is great responsibility with greater resources. Instead of worrying about what others have, we ought to instead look to the Lord and inquire of Him as to how He wants us to best utilize what we have been given. If we have more resources than we need, how are we being called to use them? When we are known beyond our own small circle, how does He want us to best represent Him to others? May we seek the Lord and clearly see resources and recognition through His lens, so that we may honor Him with what is given while it is before us.

 

Do not be impressed,To Reflect His Radiance

With fortune or fame;

For they are fleeting,

Not something to claim.

Whatever’s done here,

Shall die at the grave;

Unless it’s of God,

And sharing His Name.

Seek first to be wise,

To learn to love well;

Value what matters,

So truth our lives tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that fame and fortune are fleeting, but all that is of You, lasts forever. Forgive us for being impressed or envious of those who have more than us, and teach us to see abundance and notoriety through Your lens. Show us how to utilize our resources to love and bless those around us, so that they can more clearly see You through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we worry only about being known by You, and seek to honor You with all that we are given. Amen.

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

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

He is Risen

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. – (Luke 24:1-3,  NLT)
The very same women who had stood at the foot of the cross in horror on Friday, then set to task making burial spices that night, were stuck staying in their space of sorrow on the Sabbath, and now, at last on Sunday, as they thought that they could go and anoint the body of their beloved Savior – discovered He was no longer in the grave! Panic gave way to praise as the angels of the Lord explained to the women what had happened and why Jesus was no longer lying in the tomb. Recalling the truth that they had been told by Jesus before His death on the cross, the ladies rushed back to tell the other believers what they had discovered. As we awaken to the truth that today holds, may we feel the same sense of urgency to go and let the truth be made known.

 

A matter of days,Hope in an Empty Tomb

and everything changed;

a sorrowful space,

now all rearranged.

Where death had seemed reign,

the truth became clear;

hell was defeated,

through Christ coming near.

He took on the cross,

all our sin and shame;

laid it in the grave,

set free by His pain.

It did not end there,

on Sunday He rose;

up out of the grave,

so His grace, we’d know.

Jesus has risen,

and we are set free;

forgiven and loved,

all praise unto Thee.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to have a restored relationship with You. Thank You Jesus, for taking all of our sin and shame upon Yourself, so that we might have life everlasting. Thank You that it did not end at the cross, for the grave could not hold You, as Your love is too great for us, Your created. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your love and sacrifice that is given freely unto us. Teach us to embrace all that You give, so that we might have life abundant in You. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too, may come to understand the greatness of Your mercy and grace that You freely give. May many choose to place all of their trust in You. Be exalted O God, as we give all glory and honor to You. Amen.

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

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

Wages vs. Gifts

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 6:23, NIV)

The payoff for a life of sin is death, but God is offering us a free gift – eternal life through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King. – (Romans 6:23, VOICE)

 

In our natural state of sinfulness, we deserve death. Not even the kindest and most gentle of individuals is without sin. The consequence for such, is death. However, God sent His Son to extend to us, the opportunity to choose life – life everlasting in Him. There is nothing that we can do to earn this gift that He gives, but rather we must choose to receive what is being freely offered. When we choose Christ, we choose life. We are not promised pain-free pleasantries each day of our lives in the here and now, but in Him, we have the glorious hope of our future freedom from all such things, for all of eternity with Christ. There is no greater gift than He who laid down His life for our sin and shame, so that we could have life abundant in Him. May we receive all that He is offering, as we walk into this weekend of remembering not only His death on our behalf, but Christ’s resurrection from the grave that could not contain Him, so that we could enter eternity with Him.

 

Though we deserve death,Good Gifts

He’s given to us;

the gift of His Son,

life in Christ Jesus.

When we choose receive,

new life becomes ours;

where hope is our truth,

and Love empowers.

Let us choose embrace,

this gift given free;

so all may come know,

Christ dwelling in me.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we deserve death for our sinfulness, You made way for our lives to be redeemed through the gift of Your Son. Thank You Jesus, for dying in my place, so that I might come to know the truth of who You are, and how You love. Thank You for the hope that we hold forever in You. Forgive us for not living with an eternal perspective, as all in the here and now will one day fade away. Teach us how to trust You more, so that we will see things through Your lens. Show us how to love others well, so that they too may come to know the hope that is found in You alone. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the gift of life that You freely give. Amen.

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

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7