To Trust the Prince of Peace

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, NIV) 

The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, because God is very pleased with you. Listen! You will become pregnant and have a baby boy. You will name him Jesus. He will be great. People will call him the Son of the Most High God, and the Lord God will make him king like his ancestor David. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, ERV) 

 

Always, I am in awe as I reread the unfolding of the Christmas Story, and how it all began. Mary, a young and innocent bride-to-be, was visited by an angel of God. More than that, she was told that she would conceive and give birth to a son that would one day rule forever. There are multiple points that would leave any of us with eyes wide open and our jaw hanging toward the floor. First, she was visited by and had an actual conversation with a messenger of God! Since the angel led with “Do not be afraid,” I can only venture to imagine that the extraordinary sight found in the presence of God’s messenger was a bit overwhelming. Add to that, the message that was being delivered. She was then admonished for being highly favored with God. A bit later in the story, we recognize her bewilderment in being chosen and recognized by the Lord. Additionally, to be told that one would conceive and bear a child, let alone one that would rule forever, when there had been no participation in the process, would be beyond perplexing. Even so, Mary was willing, knowing in full, the potential ostracization, or far worse, that could result from this unknown walk of obedience. As we know, God protected her, and Jesus was born, even in the most unassuming of circumstances. Her strength and willingness to do whatever she was called to do, are likely the very character traits that led to her finding such favor with God. May we all seek the Lord and His strength, with willing hearts, ready to do whatever He asks. 

 

An angel appeared, Better is One Day

Imagine the sight; 

Such curious news, 

To be Mary’s plight. 

To conceive and birth, 

A forever king; 

Her choice to obey, 

True self offering. 

God’s favor is found, 

Where hearts are willing; 

To trust and serve Him, 

Always, in all things. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us such incredible examples of people who are willing to walk where You call, even when it does not make sense at all. Thank You that as we take steps of willing obedience, we discover Your goodness, grace and faithfulness as well. Forgive us for the times that we have either neglected to do what You have asked, or have attempted to make our own way. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Provider and the Prince of Peace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your goodness and faithfulness, and grants courage to seek You for strength. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to listen and obey all that You ask of us each day. Amen.

 

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

 

Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. – Psalm 9:10

Cut Complaints to Give Glimpses of Good

Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you will be blameless and pure, children of God without any fault. – (Philippians 2:14-15a, ERV)

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God. – (Philippians 2:14-15a, NLT)

Do everything readily and cheerfully – no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. – (Philippians 2:14-15, MSG)

 

In a world where it is commonplace for people to complain and argue, we have the opportunity to be different. When we choose to love and extend kindness, rather than argue, we offer a glimpse of God’s goodness. Likewise, when things are challenging or overwhelming, if we opt to seek answers or assistance rather than complain, a clear anomaly is observed. God calls us to be love and light to the world, and one of the ways in which we are asked to do so, is to be a breath of fresh air in places where perhaps the normal mode of operation is less than kind and often full of conflict. May we choose to do everything without arguing or complaining, recognizing that our Redeemer calls us to be love and light to grant glimpses of Him in spaces where He otherwise might not be seen.

 

Strong Heart

 

Lord, help us to choose,

Do everything;

Without complaining,

And trust grace You bring.

Try not to argue,

Be ready with cheer;

For our attitude,

Can show God is near.

Let Your love light shine,

A breath of fresh air;

As we choose live right,

And show that we care.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us what it is to live a blameless life without complaining or arguing. Thank You that when we choose to do things readily and cheerfully without bickering or second-guessing, we give glimpses of Your goodness to the world. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen otherwise. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would present our concerns to You, and trust You to show us how to navigate, rather than complain or argue. Show us how to love those around us so that they would gain glimpses of Your heart for them, individually. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to do everything readily and cheerfully, according to Your good and perfect will. Amen.

 

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

 

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19

That Precious Baby

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. – (Luke 2:33, NLT)

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. – (Luke 2:33, MSG)

Mary and Joseph stood there, awestruck over what was being said about their baby. – (Luke 2:33, TPT)

 

It is difficult to fathom being in Mary and Joseph’s shoes. Though they had both been visited by an angel that told them that she would be with child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and then they were visited just after Jesus was born by shepherds who worshiped this newborn baby because of an angelic announcement, the significance of their Son likely began to hit home a bit more as Simeon unpacked what God had promised about Him. As parents, we always have great hopes for our children from the moment we know that they have been conceived. For most, we can only imagine and dream of who they might become, and pray that they will grow and live well, according to God’s design. For Mary and Joseph, that design was astounding. Their Son was to be the Savior of the world. However, His position would not be without a painful price. I wonder if the two of them could even fully process the prophetic promise presented before them, as they held their eight-day-old baby boy. What a wonder indeed. Jesus grew and was faithful to fulfill all that to which He had been called. His sacrifice is our salvation. May we ponder in wonder and awe, the incredible sacrifice and willing obedience displayed by Mary and Joseph while Jesus was so young, and the faithfulness of God forever.

 

Imagine hearing, Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

Such uncertain words;

Both saving and pain,

The gist of that heard.

A precious baby,

Innocent and new;

Would bear such a weight,

For me and for you.

That precious baby,

Grew into a man;

Who helped, healed and saved,

Faithful to God’s plan.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Mary and Joseph, as parents who were willing to faithfully follow what God asked of them, no matter the cost. Thank You for sending You one and only Son to save us and restore us to right relationship with You. Forgive us for not embracing the mercy and grace that You freely give, if only we choose to come before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be willing to walk wherever You lead, no matter what risk is required. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your mercy and grace in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithfulness forever, and trust You to lead us wherever You call us to go. Amen.

 

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

 

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

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

Light in Loss

I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. – (Lamentations 3:20-22, NLT)

 

Yesterday evening, in our neighboring city, a police officer’s life was senselessly taken. While the officer was responding to a domestic dispute call, he was shot and killed. My heart aches for the family of the slain officer, and for the families of all those who serve and protect our nation. Each time one of our officers in blue is shot, more fear finds way into the hearts of families who anxiously wait for their loved ones to return home at the conclusion of each shift. Grief cannot help but grip our hearts at the brokenness of humanity. When a hero falls, it is indeed a time to grieve. However, we must still dare to hope. Even in the darkness, light finds way to shine. The faithful love of the Lord does not end, and His mercies never cease. Though there were children holed up in the hiding place with the shooter, other officers were able to safely remove them from the scene. Despite the devastation of the situation, there were innocent lives that were spared that could have been lost. May we remember those who have been lost, yet continue to hold hope in the One who loves without limits and is merciful forever.

 

Let us not forget,light-in-loss

Those who serve us well;

With honor, protect,

As crime they dispel.

For far too often,

Lives of these are lost;

As they seek to serve,

The ultimate cost.

May we remember,

Those who serve in blue;

Let mercy and hope,

Surround and renew.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that even in times of grief, You are our hope. Thank You that Your faithful love never ends and Your mercies continue forever. Forgive us for losing sight of these truths in the throes of devastation and heartache. Teach us to trust in You more, so that we would cling to You regardless of what is happening around us. Show us how to love those around us, particularly officers and families of officers in light of recent events. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hope in You in all things and at all times. 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

 

Standing Firm in the Storm

Paul, more than most, understood what it was to stand firm, even in the face of a long and raging storm. Several times, he was imprisoned for his faith, yet each time Paul utilized his time in chains as an opportunity to stand firm, and share with others, the foundation of the faith on which he stood. After two years of imprisonment, Festus brought Paul before himself and the accusers from Jerusalem. Then Paul made his defense: “I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.” – (Acts 25:8) As the hearing continued, Paul made it clear that he had no fear of death if he deserved to die; however, knowing that he was innocent, Paul made his appeal to be heard before Caesar as a Roman citizen. After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!” – (Acts 25:12)

 

Because Paul knew he was innocent and knew his rights as a Roman citizen, he was able to seek Rome’s protection. Also, Rome was a destination that Paul had hoped to go to preach the gospel, and this appeal would provide the opportunity – prisoner or not. Paul was standing firm in his faith in Christ’s strength, faithfulness, and provision, as he knew that though the path he was taking to get to Rome was not ideal, it was a way for Paul to arrive in Rome sooner than he might have otherwise. He did not bow down in despair as he remained a prisoner, rather he recognized the upcoming opportunity to share the good news with those who had not yet heard.

 

How can we do likewise? How can God use our circumstances to be light in the midst of darkness? When we remain grounded in Christ, regardless of what is going on around us, there is something magnetic that draws others in. Whether it is wonder or awe, people cannot help but draw near to a space of peace in a storm. May we stand firm in our faith, no matter what storm rages around us.

 

When mighty winds blow,Standing Firm in the Storm

and nothing is still;

depend on the Lord,

Who’s present to fill.

He will grant us strength,

when we have run out;

He’ll love us to life,

show us the safe route.

At times He will lead,

us right through the storm;

where we have to trust,

know He’ll keep us warm.

No matter what comes,

the promise remains;

His grace is enough,

to remove each chain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us with Your life. Thank You Jesus, that as You stood secure through the storm of the cross and took our every sin upon Yourself, You conquered death and brought new life to all who choose to believe. Thank You that when we stand firm in You, You see us through our every storm. Thank You that You remain present, and You provide the strength and support that is needed to either ride out the storm, or find a way out. Forgive us for failing to stand firm when storms seem too strong for us to face, and teach us to trust You more. Lead us to love well all whom You place in our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand firm in You, through every storm that blows our way. Amen.

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Worry Versus Concern

Though my daily reading plan does not coincide with the events surrounding our celebration of Easter, I cannot help but recognize within each reading, how the words must have moved the hearts of the various men and women who were present at the events leading up to the cross, and beyond. This morning is no exception.

 

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” – (Matthew 6:27)

 

The NIV footnotes explain that “worry immobilizes, but concern moves you to action.” Clearly Christ was concerned for our well-being, as He moved forward to suffer for our sake. Additionally, I think of the disciples who deserted Him in His hour of need. Clearly they worried about their well-being, as each of them scattered in the face of adversity. However, there were those who were clearly concerned, rather than worried. Concern compelled Joseph of Arimathea to risk his reputation and ask to take Jesus’ body to the tomb. Likewise, concern moved Mary Magdalene and many other faithful women to be present at the foot of the cross.

 

Worry kept Pilate from standing strong in his convictions that Christ was indeed innocent. Though he knew Jesus had done nothing deserving of death, Pilate allowed the worry of his reputation to dictate death for One undeserving, simply because the crowd was calling for it. Can you imagine what the remainder of Pilate’s days must have been like, after the events that occurred from the cross to the empty tomb?  Surely Pilate heard the news…

 

Let not worry,Worry Versus Concern

seize your heart with fear;

for no good comes,

when panic is near.

Concern compels,

wills us to action;

trusts Christ to lead,

faithful transaction.

Don’t let worry,

come immobilize;

instead, let faith,

sink in, globalize.

Rise up, dear ones,

release pending doom;

on that third day,

stood the empty tomb.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not worry when our trust is in You. Thank You that You who provide for the grass of the fields and the birds of the air, even more abundantly provide for Your people. Thank You that You alone are worthy of all of our trust. Forgive us for allowing fear to seep in and freeze us up from moving forward. Grow in us an unshakable faith, that is compelled to action by concerns, and that carries out Your will rather than our own. May we love others as You love us, and honor You in all that we say and do. May many come to know the help and hope available in You, because of what You did for us during this Easter season. All glory and honor unto You, our perfect Prince of Peace. Amen.

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

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

 

Who May Dwell?

“Lord, who may dwell in Your sanctuary?  Who may live on Your holy hill?  He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellow man, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.  He who does these things will never be shaken.” – (Psalm 15)

My initial reaction is, “I am hosed.”  Then I remember that I am not expected to be blameless in my own strength.  My source and supply, my hope and my help, are all firmly established in the Lord.  On my own, I would never measure up.  However, in Christ, He sees me as blameless before Him, as I earnestly seek Him, and do my best to walk upright before Him.  By faith, I become a bit more equipped each day, to do as He calls me to do.

To do what is righteous, is to do the right thing, even when no one is looking.  God sees, and He honors the heart that longs to do His will.

Speaking the truth from the heart is not always easy, but it is what we are called to do.  It does not mean speaking unkindly, nor casting judgment upon others, but it is a call to speak the truth in love, always.

Slander is the poison that pricks the hearts of both the speaker and the hearer.  Unkind words about another passed on, perpetuate problems rather than solve them.

If the greatest command is to love God and love others, then how could we do wrong to our neighbors or slur our fellow man?

To despise a vile man and honor those who fear the Lord, seems to mean honor those worthy of recognition in God’s eyes, not in the sight of what’s popular.  Certainly a paradigm shift from what is popular in much of the media today.

Keeping an oath even when it hurts, is keeping our promises, no matter what.  If we give our word, we must be men and women of integrity in order to represent well, our Redeemer.

Lending money without usury, is a matter of choosing to be generous with our resources.  If we have the means to lend money, we should do so with open hands, without looking for an exorbitant return.  The purpose of lending is to assist, not devastate our fellow man.

Accepting a bribe against the innocent, seems to explain itself.  Bribes are bad.  The innocent are meant to be protected.  End of story.

Lord, who may dwell,Who May Dwell

in Your holy house?

Those unto You,

the faithful, devout.

Speakers of truth,

who speak not the lies;

wrong not others,

vile men, despise.

Those who honor,

the ones who fear You;

who keep their word,

forever, stay true.

Those who will lend,

to others in need;

without taking,

for those who’ve been freed.

All who will choose,

to live unto You;

won’t be shaken,

for You make us new.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we are able to live upright before You.  Thank You that our righteousness is not dependent on our ability or strength, but rather on our trust in Yours.  Forgive us for failing to trust You completely in the times where we have failed and fallen short, and help us to be quick to repent and return to You.  Thank You that You receive us each time that we call on Your Name, and that You are patient and loving as You instruct us in the ways we are meant to go.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we might more clearly reflect Your character in all that we say and do.  May many come to know You as their Savior and Redeemer, as we live in the light of Your love.  Be glorified, our loving and gracious Father.  Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6