Loved Like Lazarus

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. – (John 11:33)

 

Jesus was not God out there, He was God came near, who felt what we feel, and loved people through their points of pain. This particular verse was Jesus’ response after He saw and spoke with both Martha and Mary after Lazarus had died. Little did the ladies know, that when Jesus was moved in spirit, it would bring back to life, the brother that they thought they had lost… The very same God who loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus in their spaces of sorrow, loves each of us and knows our needs. He is moved when we weep and hears every prayer. We never know how He intends to answer our requests, and we can always count on His coming close in our space of need. May we never forget that He is close to the brokenhearted, and He hears every cry of our hearts. He is faithful to meet us in our brokenness, and love us back to life.

 

There are times like Lazarus,Internal Investments Exceed External

when light gives way to pain;

all the heart knows is weeping,

we need new life again.

In those places of darkness,

if we call on the Lord;

He’s faithful to draw near us,

love and peace He’ll afford.

Healing this side of heaven,

is held in His great hands;

as we submit and trust Him,

His love reveals His plans.

He stays with brokenhearted,

and hears each cry we pray;

He’s near us every moment,

His light will point the way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us how You love. Thank You that Your love is not from afar, but it is love that comes close, that feels, and touches, and weeps when we weep and rejoices when we rejoice. Thank You that You are moved by what moves us. Forgive us for forgetting how very personal and near You are in the throes of our own pain, and help us to know Your nearness in tangible ways. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would call on You in our chaos and give You thanks for the gifts of grace. Lead us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come to know Your nearness personally, and choose to enter into a relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we come before You with both thanksgiving and petitions, grateful for Your nearness and understanding of each one of us as You provide new life for us in You. 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

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

Love Your Enemies

Love is an act of the will, not a feeling of affection. We always have a choice as to whether or not we choose to love. With those who love us and are kind toward us, love is an easy decision. However, to those who mistreat us, who speak poorly of us, or are downright unkind to all whom they encounter – those are the individuals that we are specifically called to love. But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. – (Luke 6:27-28)

 

In Jesus’ day, the Romans oppressed the Jews. Jesus told them to love anyway. He was not speaking of affection for their enemies, but rather He was talking about making an intentional effort to act in their best interest, in spite of their unkindness. We can pray for those who persecute, and we can extend grace to the gruff. God’s goodness transcends our guilt, so we are called to extend His love to ALL. Jesus loved all of us, despite our sinfulness. He chose to take all of our guilt and shame upon Himself, in love. May we choose to love, even those who are the most difficult for us to love.

 

An act of the will,Love Your Enemies

is our choice to love;

not something we feel,

but modeled above.

For Christ came to show,

that love is a choice;

an act of the will,

not vain empty noise.

Love chooses to act,

to pray and serve well;

it fends off the hate,

sent forth straight from hell.

May we choose to bless,

even the unkind;

so they too may know,

His glory divine.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not simply ask us to do the seemingly impossible in our own strength, but rather You sent Your Son, Jesus, who modeled a life of loving His enemies, doing good to those who hated Him, blessing those who cursed Him, and praying for those who mistreated Him. Thank You Jesus for sending Your Holy Spirit to equip and empower us to do the same. Forgive us for the times that we do not act in love, but rather react in our own hurt. Teach us to trust You more, so that our response will be the choice to love, even when we are hated, cursed or mistreated. Show us how we can love, bless, pray for and do good to those whom we might struggle to love. Let Your love be what is evident in me. May many come to know You, as a result of our choosing to love. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love those who are most challenging to love. Amen.

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

Is anyone happy?  Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

Growing Awareness

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. – (John 11:33)

 

Jesus had just arrived on the scene where Mary and Martha lived. He watched the sorrowful response of the friends whom He loved, as they grieved the loss of their brother, Lazarus. Our Savior was not some far off, unavailable deity, but rather He came close, and did not hesitate to demonstrate His compassion and love for Lazarus and those who mourned losing him. Just sitting beside His friends in their grief would have been good enough, but God in flesh, opted to demonstrate His power to defeat death, in a such a sorrowful space as He called Lazarus to come out from the tomb, and life was restored where it had been four days dead. No matter our circumstances, He sees and feels what we feel. Christ loves so deeply, that He is moved in compassion and compelled to contend for our care. May we rise up in faith, trusting that He sees and knows our every circumstance, and He is present and moving, even when we are unaware.

 

We serve a Father,Growing Awareness

who’s not unaware;

He knows what we feel,

and He always cares.

He mourns when we mourn,

He weeps as we weep;

He endured all scorn,

so safely He’ll keep.

Trust in His power,

rely on His love;

receive His goodness,

all gifts from above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You empathize with us as we experience the things of this life. Thank You Jesus, that You endured all things so that You would understand and care for us individually. Forgive us for doubting Your ability to assist us in the seemingly impossible, and help us to trust You in all things and at all times. Lead us to love others, just as You so completely love each of us. May many come to know You as their Savior and King as we remember the remarkable arrival of heaven here on Earth, as You moved to become God with us. Be glorified O God, as we grow in our awareness of Your glorious presence. 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 34:8

The Purpose of Perseverance

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. – (Acts 14:19-20a)

 

Perseverance is steady persistence in a course of action or purpose, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement. It is also the continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation. – (www.dictionary.com)

 

Paul’s unwavering commitment to deliver the message he had been commissioned to preach, is the epitome of perseverance. He endured every possible obstacle, difficulty and discouragement, yet he continued in the grace that God gave. The very same power that resided in him, dwells in the heart of all who believe. We too, have the capacity to persevere in difficulty, and are able to overcome obstacles to accomplish all that He calls us to do, if we choose to rely on His grace as we go. Paul never delineated from the purpose of his calling, and stayed the course of sharing Christ with all whom he encountered. How has God called us to persevere? Where are we meant to persist and stay the course, in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement? May we take heart in He who is faithful, for in Him, we are more than conquerors.

 

Let not opposition,The Purpose of Perseverance

steer our hearts off course;

for our faithful Father,

has for us, much more.

If we will persevere,

when trials come near;

the truth shall be made known,

dispelling all fear.

To overcome challenge,

rely on His grace;

and seek the Lord always,

for all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we find the strength and grace that is needed to persevere. Thank You that no difficulty, obstacle or discouragement is too great for Your grace. Thank You that You are more than enough. Forgive us for fixing our eyes on the problem, rather than on You, our solution. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may fully embrace the grace that You are granting. Lead us to love and encourage all whom we encounter, just as You so love and encourage each of us. May many come to know You as their Savior and King, as our hearts respond to the grace You bring. Be glorified, O God, as we persevere in Your glorious grace. 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

The Basis for Truth

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against Him.” – (John 18:38)

 

Pontius Pilate was no different from much of the world at large today. He believed truth was relative to whatever the majority of people agreed to, or whatever helped to advance his own political or personal agenda. “When there is no basis for truth, there is no basis for moral right and wrong. Justice becomes whatever works or whatever helps those in power. In Jesus and His Word we have a standard for truth and for our moral behavior.” – (NIV footnotes for John 18:38)

 

Without Jesus, we become a society that slips further and further in our own moral decay. Countless examples are present in the Old Testament of kings who ceased to follow God’s way. For each of the kings that did evil in the sight of the Lord, warnings and prophesies were presented. If the warnings were not heeded, destruction surely followed. May we be a people pursuing His path of truth. Jesus is the truth and the light, and in Him there is no darkness. Let us fix our eyes on the Author and finisher of our faith, so that we may run our race with endurance.

 

There’s only one truth,Tending Our Talents

found in the Lord’s Word;

receive nothing else,

as truth to be heard.

For all must agree,

with what the Lord says;

for if it does not,

the words are not His.

Invest in learning,

the biblical facts;

be wise and weary,

of twisted attacks.

There’s only one right,

it’s following Christ;

He opened the way,

with His sacrifice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Truth, the Life and the Way. Thank You that we can come to You, and You have made the way for us to enter into an eternal relationship with You. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross for our sins, and for demonstrating Your power as You defeated death. Thank You that You grant the very same power to dwell in each of us when we choose to trust in You. Thank You for Your Word. Thank You that we have access to the truth and can study and learn more of who You are and what You ask of us. Forgive us for not investing in Your word, or not quieting ourselves before You to allow You to speak that which You want us to hear. Teach us, instruct us, and lead us in every area of our lives. May we go forth as we grow in our knowledge and understanding of You and the truth, and may we love others as You so lavishly love us. Let those who are looking, come to know the Truth. Be exalted, Lord God, in everything we do today. Amen.

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

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

Ongoing Acts of Obedience

To Jerusalem

image by Lisa

image by Lisa

Paul and others arrived.

Warm was their greeting,

new found hope realized.

They gave praise to God,

and had questions for Paul,

needing clarity

about law.  Some, or all?

Paul answered wisely,

and joined with the men,

purification,

image of removed sin.

Paul in the temple,

sharing the good news.

Jews stirred up trouble;

present tainted views.

Chaos surrounded.

Paul beaten and seized.

Officers saw it,

bound his hands and feet.

They asked who he was,

but because of the crowd,

took him to their quarters,

for the mob was too loud.

Imagine the shock,

when commander did hear,

his own native tongue,

spoken without fear.

It was Paul’s wisdom

and boldness to ask,

that gave him a moment

to do Spirit-led  task.

(Acts 21:17-40)

Dear Heavenly Father,  I continue to be in awe of the ongoing obedience of Paul, as he followed You, even when he knew of the trouble that was yet to come.  He disregarded warnings, and kept his eyes securely fixed on You.  Thank You for the many examples of faithful obedience that are found in Your word.  Above all, thank You for the faithful obedience of Your Son, Jesus.  For if it were not for His unwavering obedience, I would not be able to be in right relationship with You today.  Forgive us for not fully recognizing nor appreciating the magnitude of the sacrifice that was made on our behalf.  Help us to live in an ever-present place of gratitude for the gift of life that You have given each of us.  May our hearts be full and fear be far, and may Your love flow freely from us to others so that they too, might come to call You King.  Amen.

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

Sharing His Story

Paul and companions

sailed still further on.

To share the good news

where no one had gone.

On Sabbath they went –

synagogue gathered.

Spoke to the people,

image by UNK

image by UNK

told of what mattered.

They met each of them,

sharing common ground,

then pointed to Christ,

so they might be found.

The laws, they were good,

there was absent space,

for they knew not of

His redeeming grace.

Barnabas and Paul

boldly spoke this news,

and many Gentiles

soon valued these views.

The Jews were jealous

and acted in rage,

rejecting the hope,

to redeem their days.

They stirred up the crowds,

ran them out of town.

Disciples with joy,

left with victor’s crown.

For the men, they knew,

that if one is saved,

all heavens rejoice,

for the King is praised.

(Responding to Acts 13:13-52)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us such great examples of how to share the great new that we have in You.  Thank You that we do not have to be eloquent speakers, nor trained preachers, but we can simply be willing vessels that come beside those we care about, and share life.  As we hear the hearts of others, may we learn where they are at and love well.  Teach us to trust You to provide both the opportunities and the words, so that it is not forced, nor uncomfortable.  Forgive us for the fear that holds us back, and grant us new boldness as we seek to serve You well.  Lead us to live lives of love that show many who are lost, the way home to You.  Amen.

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