Jettison Judgment

Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. – (Romans 14:13, NIV)

So, we should stop judging each other. Let’s decide not to do that will cause a problem for a brother or sister or hurt their faith. – (Romans 14:13, ERV)

So, don’t criticize each other anymore. Try instead to live in such a way that you will never make your brother stumble by letting him see you doing something he thinks is wrong. – (Romans 14:13, TLB)

 

This is a two-fold instruction for us to follow. First, we are not called to judge one another. Rather, we are called to love. The very nature of loving others includes making choices that will not bring harm to them. If we are mindful of the things that are a struggle for those around us, we will be abiding by the second part of what we are instructed to do. We each have a different level of what is and is not acceptable in our own eyes and within our own walk with God. If we know that another cannot or does not do something because it is what they feel is right before God, then it is not that difficult to refrain from it in their presence, so as to not lead them to be tempted to judge us. Above all, if we are guided by God in choosing to love one another first, the latter is less likely to be as much of a struggle. May we ever seek the Lord and His eyes for others, so that we would see through the lens of love, rather than judgment.

 

Seek first to choose love, choose-love1

So we will not judge;

Brothers and sisters,

Whom we’re called to love.

Likewise, let us seek,

To walk in a way;

That does not distract,

As we live each day.

If we are aware,

Of stumbling blocks;

Simply choose avoid,

Those things as we talk.

It is far better,

To build others up;

Love with open hearts,

And fill well their cup.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You forgive us and love us as we are. Thank You that when we seek You, You will lead us and direct our steps as to how to love best. Forgive us for judging others or for saying or doing things that cause those around us to stumble. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for wisdom as to how to best navigate each encounter with others to demonstrate love above all else. Show us how to love without judgment and to walk in Your grace so that we do not draw judgment from others. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to show us others through Your eyes so that we do not judge, and to grant us wisdom to walk upright and not cause those around us to stumble. Amen.

 

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

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. – Matthew 7:1

 

May We Marvel Like the Magi

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, His mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped Him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left that territory without being seen, and returned to their own country. – (Matthew 2:9-12, MSG)

 

As I continue on my journey to dig deeper into the stories of those who first were mentioned in the Christmas story, this morning I did some searching about the Magi. What I had already learned, is that the wise men who visited bearing gifts, did not actually visit Mary, Joseph and Jesus as He lay in the manger. It was likely a year or two later. As mentioned, the wise men entered their home, not an animal shelter of sorts with Jesus in a manger. My new discovery however, is that according to what I found, the Magi were a priesthood of the Medes, known for their exceptional religious knowledge, and some proved to be experts at interpretation of dreams. This was the very same group of wise men and advisors to whom Daniel had been appointed Chief of the Magi, several generations prior. The gifts that these priestly people brought had prophetic and powerful meaning in religious realms. Gold spoke of His kingship, frankincense was a spice used in priestly duties, and myrrh was an embalming ointment anticipating His death. The wise men followed a star, knowing of the significance of Who they would find if they followed where it led. Based on the gifts that they had prepared to take, I imagine that they had already been given some dreams and insight about what had been foretold long before. It is awe-inspiring to envision what the moment must have been like for the Magi. A lifetime of studying and seeking, and then suddenly these wise men found themselves standing before the Savior of the world.  May we each have Magi-like moments this Christmas, where we recognize in awe and wonder, His powerful presence, because He chose to come and be God with us.

 

A star of wonder, May We Live Like the Magi

Led wise men afar;

Check in with a king,

Then follow the star.

The Magi arrived,

In Bethlehem town;

The way clearly shown,

As the star shined down.

With awe and wonder,

The wise men took knee;

They gave Him their gifts,

All praise unto Thee.

May we too behold,

A similar awe;

At the Gift given,

What the wise men saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly show us more and more of Who You are and all that You have done, as we seek You and ask for Your insight. Thank You for the faithfulness and obedience of the Magi, and a bit more of the story behind them. Forgive us for taking everything at face value, or for becoming numb to the depth and life that come from beholding the truth and the treasure that is found in the story of Jesus’ arrival. Teach us to seek to see it through fresh eyes, so that we never lose our awe and wonder at the glory of the Gift that You gave. Show us how to love those around us in a way that points hearts to You, the ultimate Giver of all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe of all that You have done for us, and the very reason we celebrate this season. Amen.

 

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

 

He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

(link to Magi research)

Worship Anyway

Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped. – (Job 1:20, MSG)

When Job heard this, he got up, tore his clothes, and shaved his head to show his sadness. Then he fell to the ground to bow down before God. – (Job 1:20, ERV)

Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. – (Job 1:20, NLT)

 

A few days ago, I passed the one-month mark with my back injury. Typically, I am extraordinarily active, and I participate in high impact workouts at least six days per week. In order for my compression fracture to heal, I was instructed to do no high impact activities. This has left me with few options, and the lack of adrenaline and endorphins released from merely walking, seem to be taking its toll. I am weary, restless, and fighting the darkness that tries to pull me down. The only thing that has kept me somewhat sane in this state of waiting, is an abundance of walking, encouraging friends, and the turning up of my worship music and singing along with all that I am.

This morning, as I read about Job and all of the horrible loss that he endured, as well as how he responded, I am again reminded of what matters most, and how to best combat the fear and frustration. Worship does wonders. As we remove our focus from ourselves and our own situations, and instead fix our eyes and hearts on Him who deserves all of our attention, something shifts and the unbearable becomes bearable. Our burdens are no longer ours alone, and we see Him who is seated on the throne. God who is worthy of all of our worship, is the only One who can see us through our storms. May we mourn what need be mourned, then, despite our sorrow, set our hearts to worship the One who will carry us until our strength is renewed. Let every heart lift praise to our Prince of Peace.

 

When all’s going wrong,photo (3)

The struggle is new;

There’s one place to turn,

Where Love sees us through.

The Lord is our strength,

No matter our state;

As we choose worship,

His love lifts the weight.

He helps bear burdens,

Too heavy for us;

Shines light in darkness,

Grants peace through Jesus.

Despite the struggle,

God is always good;

Let us choose worship,

His grace understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always good and worthy of our worship. Thank You that despite what we have going on in or around us, You are with us and willing to remain present. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to dictate our view of You, rather than allow You to shape our view of what is going on in and around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and worship You in all things and at all times. Show us how to worship You in spite of what we see, and lead us to love others in such a way, that they too may see how kind and loving You are to all who seek You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we mourn what need be mourned, but recognize in all things, that You deserve our worship. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

Sustained by Our Shepherd

The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. – (Psalm 23:1-3a, NLT)

The Eternal is my Shepherd, He cares for me always. He provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water. He soothes my fears; He makes me whole again. – (Psalm 23:1-3a, VOICE)

 

For more than two weeks now, I have had a vicious run of migraines. Each morning, as I have been up and beginning the new day, the pressing pain that begins at the base of my skull and travels upward, would greet me as I began to get ready. I mention this only to tie in the application of how the Lord has shown me the above truths made tangible over the past few weeks, as well as just yesterday. Regardless of the way that I felt, He sustained me and gave me the strength to keep working anyway. The breaks in my day are spaced just right, so that I am able to have a bit of solace in a dark room to regroup, before tackling the next several hours of teaching. On a day when I had grown weary of enduring, a friend encouraged me to go to a chiropractic appointment that she helped facilitate, by watching a few minutes of my class. That particular bit of help provided ten hours of relief, which made coaching through an entire gymnastics meet without a migraine, far more pleasant. Yesterday, as I was again weary from pressing through the pain, I met with a friend to check in. Where I had imagined there would be some intense conversation, there was instead, laughter and light and life. There was peace and rest in that place, despite how I was feeling, and it was clearly by His leading. From there, I had an acupuncture appointment. The moment I walked in, she was quick to identify the need, and worked specifically to alleviate the source of the prolonged pain. When I left, my head felt far better than when I had arrived. She instructed me to go home, eat, and then go to bed. Though not my typical M.O., I listened, and this morning, I have renewed hope that this crummy cycle has been stopped. He is good and provides rest and peace and strength as we need it. May we place our trust in Him, and seek the Lord to lead us to the places where He will provide refreshment, strength and wholeness all of the days of our lives.

 

We have a Shepherd,Masterd by Our Maker No Longer Slaves to Sin

Who’s all that we need;

He leads us to rest,

when to Him, we plead.

He knows where we’re weak,

as strength He does give;

not just to survive,

but to truly live.

He brings us to peace,

when the storms surround;

He soothes all our fears,

He’s where hope is found.

Let us choose to trust,

in the Lord above;

for peace, rest and strength,

all given in love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Shepherd and that You give us all that we need. Thank You that You give us rest, and that You lead us to peaceful places, despite the turmoil we may be facing. Thank You that You renew our strength, even when we are beyond weary. Forgive us for becoming fearful in our weariness or unrest. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would run to You in all things, trusting You to lead us to the places where You will provide rest and peace and renewal. Show us how to offer peace and strength and rest to those who are weary around us. May they see You in us, and choose to pursue a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You as our good Shepherd who provides all that we need. Amen.

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

I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

Turn to Wisdom

And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. – (Titus 2:12-13, NLT)

Grace arrives with its own instruction: run away from anything that leads us away from God; abandon the lusts and passions of this world; live life now in this age with awareness and self-control, doing the right thing and keeping yourselves holy. Watch for His return; expect the blessed hope we all will share when our great God and Savior, Jesus the Anointed, appears again. – (Titus 2:12-13, VOICE)

It (God’s grace) educates us so that we can live sensible, ethical, and godly lives right now by rejecting ungodly living and the desires of this world. At the same time we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. – (Titus 2:12-13, CEB)

 

God grants us His grace because He completely and thoroughly loves us. Just as a parent loves their children well and gives them instruction to direct, correct and encourage them in the ways in which they are meant to go, God does the same for us. He does not tell us to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures to punish or torture us, but rather He knows that such things create a barrier between us and Him, and He wants to help us avoid anything that will lead to such pain. We are charged to reject ungodly living and choose to live with wisdom, righteousness and devotion. In order to navigate our world, we need Him so that we are aware, have self-control, and remain upright in all of our ways. As we choose to invest our hearts and lives in Him, an expectation of the blessed hope that is yet to come rises within us, and we are assured of the glory of our great God, and the hope held in His promised return. May we allow His grace to grab hold of our hearts and lead us through this life, so that we walk in a way that is upright before Him, as we await the glorious day that we will see Him face-to-face.

 

We are called to turn,Refreshment Through Repentance

runaway, reject;

all that is godless,

may our hearts deflect.

To live in this age,

we need righteousness;

true wisdom from God,

the Lord’s holiness.

As we seek we find,

for God freely gives;

awareness and strength,

to righteously live.

It is in this space,

that we look ahead;

with glorious hope,

when Christ comes again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You instruct us in how we are meant to live; for Your ways result in wisdom, hope, help and life everlasting. Forgive us for our flirting with the ways of the world, and teach us how to walk upright before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would turn from all that is godless and sinful, and would be aware and operate with the self-control that You grant us. Show us how to love one another in the same way that we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we run away from godless living, and choose to depend on You to walk with wisdom, righteousness and devotion for all of our days. Amen.

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

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

Away with Anxiety’s Hold

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. – (1 Peter 5:7)

 

To give all of our worry, distress and uneasiness of mind to Christ, is easier said than done. It has a way of sneaking into the sinews of our soul, and creating claws, that grab hold and grip tightly so that we find ourselves tense without even realizing why. In Philippians 4:6, we are instructed as to how to cast our cares on Christ, so that we can actually allow Him to care for us. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. In other words, when worry or uneasiness come, pray – tell God about it. We are not meant to carry the burden by ourselves, but rather we are to make our request known before He who is abundantly able to carry the load that we cannot. Yesterday, in my Pastor’s Intensive class, we were covering some deep and difficult material. One of our instructors had a great bit of advice. She said that when we come to a crossroads where we want an answer to be black and white, but there clearly isn’t one for us to find, we are to hit our knees and worship. God is so much greater than our struggles, that our dependence on Him is what matters most. He cares for us and will meet us in our space of need; however, we must choose to trust.

 

To cast far away,

ishareimage.com

ishareimage.com

anxiety’s hold;

place in the Lord’s hand,

whatever unfolds.

For He’s much greater,

than all that may come;

and He cares for us,

as shown through His Son.

Through all of our days,

with much thanksgiving;

present unto God,

the hope lacking things.

Wherever there’s lack,

our God can come fill;

for He’s so much more,

than trials or ills.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can cast all of our anxiety on You, because You care for us, and You do not want us to stay stuck in that space. Thank You that we can come to You, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, and present our requests before You. Thank You that You meet us in that space with Your peace and Your comfort and Your care. Forgive us for allowing fear and anxiousness to reign in silence, rather than calling on You out loud, and allowing You into the darkness. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will remember that where Your light shines, darkness cannot be found. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they too, may come to know the peace and presence that are found forever in You. Be glorified O God, as we cast all of our anxiety on You, and move forward boldly in all that You have called us to become. Amen.

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

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

Jesus is the Fulfillment

The Gospel of Mark paints a clear picture of who Jesus truly is. When Peter, James and John went up on a high mountain with Him for six days, Jesus was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking to Jesus. – (Mark 9:3-4) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” – (Mark 9:7)

 

As Jesus was transfigured, His divine nature was revealed to His disciples. The voice of God spoke the truth of whom Jesus truly was, and of by what authority He was given to operate. Through the appearance of Elijah and Moses, Jesus was clearly shown as the fulfillment of both the Old Testament Laws, and the prophetic promises. Jesus is.. the fulfillment. In Christ, we are no longer left to attempt to make atonement for our indiscretions, but rather we may rely on the redemption that Jesus has provided through His power that bore all of our sin and shame on the cross. When we seek Him and place our lives in His hands, we are both instructed and equipped in the ways in which we are meant to go. May we embrace the fulfillment that is found through faith in Christ alone.

 

On a mountaintop,Breaking Free from Barriers

Christ became transformed;

and God made it known,

just whom they adored.

For Jesus was more,

than the law had been;

promises fulfilled,

our Savior and friend.

May we each embrace,

all that Jesus brings;

and give Him our best,

our true offering.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to be restored unto You. Jesus, thank You for being both the fulfillment of the Old Testament Laws and of the prophetic promises. Thank You that You are our example to look upon, and our help and our hope to depend on for all of our days. Forgive us for trying to make reparations for our wrongs rather than coming before You in confession, and help us to seek Your face and receive Your grace, so that we may operate in the fullness of all that You have for us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will know in both our head and our hearts that every promise You have made is for us too. Lead us to love others as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted Lord God, as we embrace the fulfillment that is found through faith in You. 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

When We Call

As He was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met Him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When He saw them, He said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. – (Luke 17:12-14)

 

Ten men who were desperate for healing called out to the Healer. Jesus, who heals, recognized their need, but did not heal them in the moment. Instead, He instructed them in what they were to do, and they obeyed. As the men did as Jesus had asked of them, they received their healing. It was not until they were actively moving forward in obedience, that they began to see the purpose in their path to present themselves before the priests.

 

Often the solutions to our struggles require steps on our part as well. It is easy to stay stagnant in the sorrow, when our expectation is that Jesus will come and lift us out of our space of suffering. Often, He instructs us to move. As we take small steps forward in faith, He meets us and moves mountains that seem to stand in our way, providing the miracle necessary to move on. If we seek Him and listen to hear His instruction, He will lead us and guide us in the way through it, over it, or out of it. Regardless of what the “it” is, His presence will remain with us. He is good, and His love endures forever. May we call out to Him for help, and do all that He asks as He replies.

 

When we call on Christ,When We Call

we need to give ear;

ready to listen,

to faithfully hear.

At times the answer,

will require of us;

steps forward in faith,

all trust in Jesus.

As we start to move,

and faith rises up;

His provision comes,

and fills up our cup.

May we be willing,

to trust and obey;

to seek and persist,

to praise and to pray.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us and hearing our every prayer. Thank You that Your ways are higher than our ways and Your thoughts higher than our thoughts. Though we do not always understand Your timing, thank You that You move on our behalf, even when we do not see the evidence in the moment. Forgive us for our lack of faith that keeps us stuck and stagnant, and help us to seek You and heed Your every word. Grant us courage to move when You say move. Lead us to love others as You so completely love each of us, Your created. May many come to know Your perfect love that casts out fear, personally, and trust in You alone. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and move in obedience to all that You ask. 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

Strength and Courage

After Moses had died and Joshua had been given charge to lead the Israelites into the promise land, the Lord gave Joshua a God-sized pep talk.  Three times, the Lord told Joshua to “Be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1:6, 7 & 9)  God also instructed him to “Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from you mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:7-8)

The primary points presented, are that strength, courage and obedience come from knowing and following God and His word.  To know God’s law, we need to spend time in His word.  As we study scripture, He reveals more of Himself unto us, and empowers us to live life accordingly, by His Spirit.   Though this may not lead to success by the world’s standards, if we follow God and His ways, we are a success in His eyes.  Ultimately, His is the only opinion that lasts forever, so it is the only one that we should allow to be of concern.

Strength and courage,Strength and Courage

to these we are called;

not on our own,

by His grace installed.

Obedience,

faithful in pursuit;

ever seeking,

what the Lord would do.

We meditate,

both by day and night;

to know God’s word,

to pursue what’s right.

This is success,

to our God, not man;

in God alone,

our salvation plan.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grant us strength and courage to know and follow You.  Thank You that You made the way for us to enter into a lasting relationship with You, and that our fears and failures do not hinder our opportunities for the future.  Thank You that You forgive and free us from our former follies, and fuel us to move forward in our faith.  Forgive us for our fearfulness, or for not wholeheartedly pursuing You.  Teach us to trust You more, and keep discouragement far from us.  Thank You that You are with us wherever we go, and that You love us without limits.  Help us to love as You love, and may many come to know You as a result.  Be glorified as we walk in obedience unto You.  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