Why We Gather

“For where two or three gather in My Name, there am I with them.” – (Matthew 18:20, NIV)

“Yes, if two or three people are together believing in Me, I am there with them. – (Matthew 18:20, ERV)

“And when two or three of you are together because of Me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” – (Matthew 18:20, MSG)

 

This verse is a reminder of why it is so important to gather with other believers. Church is not about religion and rules, it is an opportunity to join together and recognize the presence of God. Yes, God is with us, always, but there is something powerful that transpires when a group of people gathers to seek the heart of God. His presence is made known, and those in the midst of it are strengthened, encouraged and equipped to go out in His power. We were created for relationship. Isolation for too long, causes the heart to grow weary, and faith to become frail. God is faithful and loving no matter what, but He invites us to lay hold of the power of His presence through gathering together with others who seek Him. May we ever pursue opportunities to gather with others who are seeking the Lord, so as to mutually encourage and edify one another as He makes His presence known.

 

Let us seek gather,

Peace Through Understanding

With others, pursue;

The heart of the Lord,

As His word is true.

When people choose join,

Their hearts and their minds;

To seek our Savior,

His presence, they find.

Our God is faithful,

His word ever true;

He makes Himself known,

Collective pursuit.

Let’s seek with intent,

And join together;

For God will be found,

Most gracious treasure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to join together to seek You. Thank You that You are faithful to make Your presence known, each time we gather to pursue You. Forgive us for thinking that we can handle life on our own, rather than joining with others to seek and find Your faithful presence. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would invest in relationships that support and encourage a life lived in pursuit of You. Show us how to love and encourage those around us, so that they too, would want to pursue Your heart with others to experience the power made known as we gather. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we gather in Your Name, recognizing the power of Your presence that comes when we join together to seek You. Amen.

 

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

 

Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to Your Holy Name and glory in Your praise. – Psalm 106:47

Hope and Patience in Prayer

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – (Romans 12:12, NIV)

Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time. – (Romans 12:12, ERV)

Let this hope burst forth within you, releasing a continual joy. Don’t give up in a time of trouble, but commune with God at all times. – (Romans 12:12, TPT)

 

These three things are not in isolation of one another, but rather they are an ongoing, interwoven team that work together for the good of all who choose to participate. As we are faithful to pray, we find patience in our affliction and discover joy in the hope that we know, regardless of our circumstances. Just yesterday, I both witnessed this in the lives of two friends as they worked out a misunderstanding that I am certain both had approached prayerfully, and in my own life as a burden was lifted that was a specific answer to prayer. Both situations reminded me of the joy that is found when we continue to hold hope in Him. May we ever choose to be joyful in the hope we have, be patient in the troubles that lie before us, and remember to be prayerful, always.

 

In hope there is joy, Hope Makes All the Difference

Despite what we see;

For this is where God,

Points to what shall be.

As we are faithful,

To trust and to pray;

He grants us patience,

In all of our ways.

There is no trouble,

He can’t overcome;

So seek Him and hope,

Trust His will be done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can have joy despite our circumstances because of the hope that we have in You. Thank You that as we come to You in prayer, You meet us and grant us patience and perseverance to press on when things are difficult. Forgive us for attempting to navigate trials on our own rather than turning to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would come to You in all things and at all times, as our hope, patience, strength and joy all are gifts granted by You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers hope in times of trouble and extend joy, always. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are faithful to pray at all times, choosing joy in the hope we have in You. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

No Room for Them

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – (Luke 2:4-7, NIV)

 

This portion of the Christmas story seemed to strike a new chord within my heart this past week, as my pastor pointed out the scandal and outrage that would have been associated with an unwed woman expecting a child who was engaged to a man with whom she had no intimate relations. Joseph came from the house of David. His heritage was quite significant, and his family name was likely known. Everyone was expected to return to the place of their familial ties for the census, so it is quite conceivable that Joseph had numerous relatives who were also traveling to Bethlehem at the same time. Under normal circumstances, a family would have traveled and stayed together, yet Mary and Joseph made the journey alone. Their isolation leads me to believe that they were being shunned by the family, and left to their own devices to survive. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, they were unable to find a proper place to stay. What I found intriguing is that each version of scripture that I read, says that “there was no room for them. This leads me to believe that perhaps there was room, but they were turned away because of societal standards, and left stranded and a bit desperate. Who was the inn keeper who did at last show some compassion, and at least allow the pair shelter as the time drew near for Mary to give birth? It is both incredible and admirable to think of Mary and Joseph and all that they must have gone though, just to get to the stable birth. Additionally, the thought of the two of them having to deliver the Son of God in their surroundings is overwhelming. She was quite young and he was a carpenter; nothing in their life experience had likely prepared them for what they endured, other than the very presence of God with them. May we continue to ponder with awe and wonder, the miracle of God with us, this most holy season.

 

Hard was the journey, No Room for Them

To travel alone;

This chosen couple,

So far from their home.

Upon arrival,

No room granted them;

Just a small stable,

In old Bethlehem.

The time had arrived,

For the babe be born;

Courage delivered,

Wrapped Him in cloths torn.

No isolation,

Could stand in God’s way;

Strength to them granted,

Right there in the hay.

Though they’d been alone,

It did not last long;

For angelic hosts,

Announced this with song.

The shepherds they came,

They followed the light;

In awe and wonder,

On that holy night.

The baby swaddled,

God’s very own Son;

The faith of this pair,

God’s will had been done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the miracle and wonder that surrounds the story of You sending Your Son to us as a baby, in humble beginnings, to make Him approachable to all. Thank You for showing us Your faithfulness through the hearts of the people that were part of Your story, and modeled what it is to trust in You. Forgive us for forgetting the depth of Your love that sent Your Only Son to us so that we could have life in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would pause and ponder in wonder, the miracle and the majesty of all that You have done. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives insight and understanding to Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your story to fill our hearts and minds this Christmas. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

The Way to Love

For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, NLT)

For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. – (John 3:16, VOICE)

 

God loves us so much, that He willingly gave of Himself. Through His Son, Jesus, all who believe in Him will have life forever with Him. He, who is love, showed us that love gives what matters most. For us today, there is no longer need for sacrifice like His, as that which Jesus gave, covered it all. However, we do have resources that are valuable to us and to God’s economy. The manner by which we are able to love in a way that is sacrificial, is to give of our time, talents and resources. God designed and gifted each of us in a unique way, so that we might love well. We all have a choice as to how we use what we have been given. Are we utilizing the gifts from God that we have been granted to love others well, or are we keeping them to ourselves and just living out our days in isolation? Though there is no longer an extensive list of that which we shall and shall not do, we have been called to love God and love people. If we are committed to love, then our expression of His love will reflect the very nature of that which He has given unto us. May we believe and receive what we have been freely given, and go forth in His love, to love as we are loved by Him.

 

For God loved the world,Purposeful Prayer

Far more than we see;

Mighty sacrifice,

For all who believe.

To trust in the One,

Who in love, gave all;

So we’d know the way,

To rise from our fall.

The thing that He asks,

Is that we choose love;

Lift up each other,

Fix our eyes above.

By the Lord’s great grace,

All who choose believe;

Will live forever,

By His love, receive.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love that is so much greater than we can grasp. Thank You that what You require of us is trust in You. Thank You that as we believe, we are called to love as we are loved. Forgive us for not loving others as You so lavishly love each of us. Teach us to trust You more, so that loving You and loving people becomes our passionate pursuit, all of our days. Show us how to love others as You have loved us. Lead us to lovingly give of our time, talents and resources in a way that points people to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the remarkable give of Your love, and go forth to love others as we are loved by You. Amen.

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

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14

He Sees and Attends to His Created

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers – most of which are never even seen – don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you? – (Matthew 6:30, The Message)

When life gets hard and we want to hide, it is easy to feel unseen. In the midst of our own struggles, our isolation often leads us to feel as if we are alone in the battle, despite quite the opposite being true. We have to hold fast to what is true, and not allow ourselves to isolate when we question the direction to which we have been called. Just yesterday, I had an interaction that made me question what I knew was the truth. My initial response was to withdraw and busy myself, so that I could ignore that which was right before me. However, it wasn’t long before the gentle nudge came, and opportunities were provided for His truth to be spoken in the very space that I needed to hear. He attended to my need in a way I could again lay hold of the truth that I already knew, and stand firm in the soundness of His word. God made tangible, that which was not clearly seen. It is okay to be an unseen wildflower for a season, as long as we know that the Lord who created us, delights in us, and created us for a purpose. Even if we can’t clearly see it, there is a plan and a purpose for every life, and He is present and powerful to supply all that is needed to grow us and equip us for the fulfillment. May we stand strong in faith, trusting that God will attend to us and do His very best for each of us, His created.

Whether we are seen,

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travelportland.com

or hidden between;

the Lord will attend,

to all that we need.

Each are created,

with purpose and plan;

not an accident,

we’re called to love man.

God’s love runs so deep,

He attends to all;

no one is hidden,

hears each cry and call.

May we choose rise up,

by faith, let’s receive;

His grace and goodness,

for all who believe.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You care so deeply about us, Your created. Thank You that You attend to us, take pride in us, and do Your best for us. Thank You that You have a plan and a purpose for every life that You have granted. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to overwhelm us or divert our attention from the truth. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would stand firm in who You are, and the promises that You have made. Lead us to love others well, so that we might be Your hands, heart and voice made tangible to those who need it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue the path that You have placed before us with confidence, knowing that You will attend to us and do Your best for us. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Encouraging Each Other

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – (Hebrews 3:13)

                                                                                                                                                            To protect our hearts from unbelief, we need to be invested in fellowship with other believers.  Our charge is to talk about our shared faith, so that we may build each other up, increasing awareness of the deceitfulness of sin, and covering one another with the love and concern of Christ.  Isolation allows temptation to take root and thrive; but being surrounded by those who share the same passionate pursuit of the path that Christ has set before us, protects our hearts and minds from that which would try to lead us astray.  May we each invest well in the body, and encourage one another daily in that to which we have been called.

For this is the day,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
that the Lord has made;
given as a gift,
to keep our path straight.
We’re not meant to walk,
this road on our own;
but beside others,
so His grace is grown.
When we’re surrounded,
by those seeking Him;
all can encourage,
fend off lure of sin.
May all of our words,
be love and be light;
encouraging all,
to fight the good fight.

 
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be a part of a body of believers, and do not intend for us to do life on our own.  Thank You that You call us to encourage each other, and help keep one another from falling into the snare of sin.  Forgive us for thinking that we need to fight the fight on our own, or for isolating ourselves and trying to power through.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we will hear Your call as to whom You are leading us to let in, and allow our hearts to trust to speak into our lives.  Show us how to encourage others well, so that Your love may be made evident through us.  May many come into a lasting relationship with You.  Be exalted O God, as we encourage one another and keep our hearts soft before You.  Amen.
For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

Blessing Our Boys

Though not intended to be read in isolation, the portion of the passage that stands out to me the most this morning, is a verse from Jacob’s blessing to Joseph’s sons. The Angel who has delivered me from all harm – may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth. – (Genesis 48:16)

 

Today, our household celebrates the coming of age of our two boys, as they traverse into the trials and triumphs of their teen years. Cautious and Adventurous made their debut into the world thirteen years ago. It is my ongoing prayer that they be protected from all harm, that they walk in the way of the Lord, and follow Him all the days of their lives. Both are tender-hearted young men, who love the Lord and are seeking to serve Him. God’s grace and an army of faithful family and friends have brought them from premature newborns to the bright and kind young lads that they are today. May Christ continue to grow them into the men they are called to become, and may they serve Him all of their days.

 

Double the blessing,Blessing Our Boys

two times as much grace;

so lavished in love,

in seeking Your face.

For given to us,

our duo of joy;

far more than we’d hoped,

from our little boys.

God keep them from harm,

in Your tender care;

may they bear Your light,

O Lord, hear my prayer.

Grow them in Your grace,

and strong in Your love;

proud to praise You, Lord,

our Father above.

Let their life purpose,

be known early on;

grow them and lead them,

in You, make them strong.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the beautiful blessings that my boys have been. Every single day I am in awe of how You grow and use them to show me more of Yourself. Thank You for the gift of children. Forgive me for my frustration and lack of patience at times, and grant me wisdom and grace to grow them ever closer to You and Your purpose for their lives. Lead me to love them as You love me. May we together, love others, so that they might see You. Let many come to know You as Savior and King, as we each pursue the fulfillment of our purpose. Be glorified O God, as we love our children as You love us. 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

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the dream that has come so far, enjoy a previously written poem by clicking the highlighted link. Let Freedom Ring.

Hidden No More

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” – (John 4:39)

 

This verse from the often told story of the woman at the well, struck me anew this morning. Not only was she powerfully impacted by her encounter personally, but she found a new boldness where she had previously remained hidden, and that boldness in stepping out to speak of what she had experienced compelled many from her town to go and see Jesus for themselves. She was so dramatically different, that those who had shunned her, gave ear to her words. What a powerful testimony indeed! God used her transformation to tell others of Christ’s goodness and grace. Imagine the interactions at the well after the town’s two days with Jesus!

 

In isolation,Hidden No More

alone and afraid;

there is a Savior,

Who will come your way.

He’ll always draw near,

no matter your past;

He’ll wash you anew,

grant peace that will last.

The Granter of hope,

the Giver of grace;

Restorer of life,

He’s present always.

All that is hidden,

is already known;

He’ll use it for good,

story of your own.

The glorious thing,

as you choose to share;

others will seek Him,

trade hope for despair.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You and allow You to move in our lives, You do a deep transformational work that others can see. Thank You that even the ugliest part of our past can become the most triumphant part of our testimony, by You grace. Thank You that when others see change in us, they want to know why. Forgive us for not being quick to answer, or for not always modeling the internal transformation that has taken place. Teach us to trust You in the transformation, and grant us strength to stand strong in all things and at all times so that Your will be done. Help us to love as You love us, and may many come to seek You as a result. Let the lost be found, and testimonies of transformations abound. Be glorified as we go forth boldly as You have made us to do. 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

Rooted In Relationship

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his (or her) friend can help him (or her) up. But pity the man (or woman) who falls and has no one to help him (or her) up! – (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

 

We are created for relationship. In the beginning, God said that it was not good for man to be alone, so He created a help mate for him. Today, we are no different. As His created, we were never intended to exist in isolation. God’s purpose for us, is rooted in relationship. Ideally, our priority ought to be our relationship with Him first, followed by that with those around us. If we prioritize our relationships as God intended, we benefit from the plan and purpose He set in motion. People are strengthened, encouraged, and able to be more productive in every area of their lives, when our relationships are rooted in Christ.

 

Establish well,Rooted In Relationship

foundation in Christ;

invest in friends,

as the Lord supplies.

Seek His wisdom,

rely on His grace;

allow Him to guide,

each step of our days.

Be the body,

together as one;

stand strong in Christ,

for His Kingdom come.

Lift those who fall,

support those who stand;

walk side by side,

to fulfill His plans.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us for relationship. Thank You that You desire to spend time with us and have a relationship with each one of us, individually – as Your beloved children. Thank You that You call us to be in relationship with one another as well. Thank You that You do not ask us to walk through this life alone, but rather intend for us to be established and invested in communities. Forgive us for not investing in the relationships that we ought to, and grant us wisdom to know how we should interact in every relationship, so that we are honoring You, above all else. Let those who are looking, see You in us, and come to a saving relationship with You. May we love and invest in others, as You invest in us. Be exalted, Lord God, as we relate to one another. Amen.

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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

 

Tangible Touch

Twelve years without so much as a handshake, high five, nor a hug.  Can you imagine?  Touch is a biological and developmental need.  It helps us feel connected to others.  Touch reduces anxiety, forms bonds, lowers blood pressure, improves our outlook, and provides sensory input that we need to function and develop properly.  This morning, as I again read the story of the woman who’d been subject to bleeding for twelve years, in Luke, chapter eight, I saw the story through fresh eyes – through a perspective that I had not previously seen.  This woman had lived with not only the stigma of being considered “unclean” for twelve years, but she had likely lived in isolation for just as long.  The sheer loneliness was likely far worse than the condition itself.  I wonder if that is the very thing that drove her determination to hold onto the hope that she might be healed, if she could only touch the hem of His cloak?

Personally, I picture her experience as some sort of roller coaster ride.  Sheer determination to end her isolation propelled her through the throes of the crowd.  Hope reached out her hand for His hem, and joy unimagined must have been rising as she felt the bleeding cease.  Then, she was called out.  Would He take it back?  Would she be sent back to her isolated space for her violation of societal laws in her unclean state?  Imagine the momentary fear that tried to lay hold of her heart.  Somehow, faith continued to rise within her.  “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at His feet.  In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched Him and how she had been instantly healed.  Then He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” – (Luke 8:47-48) 

She was free!  Not only was she free from the illness that had plagued her for twelve long years, but she no longer needed to live in isolation.  The touch of His hem touched more than her hand, it touched her heart and soul.  Never again, would she be considered “untouchable“.

Lonely, untouched,Tangible Touch

a face in the crowd;

the world, silent,

despite being loud.

Who knows not touch,

in our world today?

Lonely, outcast,

let love light the way.

For He will show,

where the need is great;

are we willing,

to step out in faith?

Pat on the back,

a hug on the side;

what will it cost,

to give those denied?

Please show us, God,

how we’re meant to touch;

as Your hands, Lord,

to share Your love much.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us with an unfailing and everlasting love.  Thank You that while we were yet stuck in our own sinfulness, You loved.  Thank You that You touch us, even when we feel untouchable, and that there is never a time when You are not willing to be near.  Forgive us for neglecting to be Your hands and heart to the hurting in a tangible way, and help us to know how to touch those who feel alone and untouchable.  May Your light and love be evident in us, and may many come to know the freedom and acceptance that is always available in You alone.  May lives be changed and hearts be restored, as the lonely and isolated find way into community.  Be glorified as we gather, Lord God.  Amen.

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