Simeon’s Story

A man named Simeon lived in Jerusalem. He was a good man who was devoted to God. He was waiting for the time when God would come to help Israel. The Holy Spirit was with him. The Holy Spirit told him that he would not die before he saw the Messiah from the Lord. The Spirit led Simeon to the Temple. So he was there when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to do what the Jewish law said they must do. Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God: “Now, Lord, You can let me, your servant, die in peace as You said. I have seen with my own eyes how You will save Your people. Now all people can see Your plan. He is a light to show Your way to the other nations. And He will bring honor to Your people Israel.” Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what Simeon said about Him. – (Luke 2:25-33, ERV)

 

There are so many side stories interwoven within the story of the birth of Jesus. Simeon was a man whom had devoted his whole life to God, and was holding both the hope and the promise that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes. I imagine him to have been an older man, wise in his many years, overwhelmed with both joy and awe to behold this baby, as he recognized exactly Whom he was holding in his very own arms. Additionally, I picture Mary and Joseph, who had been visited by angels multiple times over the previous many months, full of wonder as they are now receiving further insight to the role their son will grow to fulfill. Despite the promised pain, Mary and Joseph took their parental roles seriously, and loved and lead their son, the very Son of God, according to what had been asked of them. May we pause and ponder the intricacies of God’s story, as we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth. May the magnitude of the sacrifice made on our behalf, resonate in a fresh way as we celebrate this most holy season.

 

Told in a promise, simeons-story.jpg

His own eyes would see;

Coming Messiah,

The Holy baby.

On the chosen day,

When Jesus arrived;

Simeon beheld,

Promise realized.

Imagine the joy,

Awe and wonder too;

This promise fulfilled,

His hope proving true.

May we too behold,

The wonder and awe;

At our Savior’s birth,

That Simeon saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have the privilege of knowing some of the side stories that occurred around the birth of Jesus. Thank You for showing us the hearts that had long held the hope of seeing the Messiah, and actually saw Him with their own eyes. Thank You that though we did not witness His birth, we have the blessing of Your Holy Spirit with us, always. Forgive us for not taking time to ponder the magnitude of what began in the manger. Teach us to seek You for wisdom and insight, and reveal more and more to us as we study Your word. Show us how to love those around us so that we can make Your love tangible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the wonder of Christmas, and all that unfolded surrounding Jesus’ birth. Amen.

 

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

 

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

The Heart of a Shepherd

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. – (Luke 2:16-18, NIV)

 

I am continuing to revisit and ponder the story of the shepherds and the role that God called them to play when Jesus was born. Not only were they the first people to witness the miracle of His birth, but they were also the first to share the good news of His long-awaited arrival. These “lowly” shepherds understood the significance of Who was lying in the manger before them, so they went out and shared with others, the awe and wonder that they had just beheld. Rather than being repelled by these shepherds, people were amazed at what they heard. What had been foretold so long ago, had finally come to pass. I imagine it was the hope that had been missing, finally being spoken aloud. Today, it is no different. For so many, hope is absent, and the need to know about or be reminded of the arrival and the reason for the season, is critical. People who normally would be repelled by an invitation to hear, are receptive and willing to partake in candlelight services and “traditional” Christmas activities where the truth about Christmas is told. May we each have the heart of a shepherd and embrace the hope that we know, so that we too are eager to share this hope with those who need it most.

 

The shepherds who watched, The Heart of a Shepherd

Their flocks through the night;

Were by God chosen,

To see first His light.

The angel declared,

What they could go see;

As God had come down,

For you and for me.

The shepherds, they ran,

To find as they’d heard;

In awe and wonder,

They witnessed God’s word.

This amazing sight,

The glory beheld;

Led them to go out,

And of this news tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show the least of us Your glory in incredible ways, and give us the grace to share with others, the beauty of Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You came down and made Yourself approachable and tangible to ordinary people. Forgive us for thinking that we have to be anything other than ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to show us how to love as You love each of us. Help us to make You accessible to many through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate in awe and wonder, the incredible gift You gave us through Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

 

 

Faithful the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. Amen.

 

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

 

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

The Treasures of Christmas

But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. – (Luke 2:19, NLT)

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, NIV)

 

Mary, the one whom God chose to bear the Savior of the world, experienced wonders and miracles both before Jesus was born, and throughout His lifetime. I love how Luke points out that Mary made a point to treasure each event in her heart and remember what the Lord had done, as this is how a mama’s heart is wired. As my own children have transitioned from baby, to toddler, to children and now into teenagers, I too, have treasured the moments of significance in my heart, and likewise, I think of the moments and movements of God often. Christmas is the gift of God with us. Heaven came to earth so that we would know the wonder of Christ’s nearness, rather that God out there. Though we may not all be mamas, we all have moments and miracles to keep in our hearts and think about often. May we take time today to celebrate God with us, and the glorious gift that came to us so that we could have life everlasting as we remember the reason for this sacred season. Merry Christmas, and may your heart ponder the treasures He has given and continues to give.

 

When Love made way down,

O Holy Night

image by Rick Larson

From heaven to earth;

Such glory beheld,

In Christ’s sacred birth.

Though in modest scene,

No crib for a bed;

Jesus came to save,

And peace and love spread.

Just as His mother,

Held dear in her heart;

May we hold moments,

Of Love from the start.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son so that Love could come close. Thank You that Mary modeled the importance of keeping close to our hearts, all that You have done in us and for us and through us. Forgive us for not paying attention or for not recognizing the significance of all that You do. Teach us how to treasure each moment that You give us. Show us how every movement and moment matters to You. Help us to love as You love, so that people may see Your heart through the way that we love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we treasure all that You have done, and think about these things often. Amen.

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

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

The Gift of Growth

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. – (Luke 2:52)

This verse in Luke speaks of the early life of Jesus, prior to His launch into ministry. He, from a young age, pursued understanding and insight, as He spent time in the temple courts among the teachers, listening and asking questions. Jesus, God made man, chose humility as He allowed God to prepare Him for what was yet to come.

Every day we live is a priceless gift of God, loaded with possibilities to learn something new, to gain fresh insight. – (Dale Evans Rogers)

God gives us the gift of time; be it days, months, years or decades. Each morning we wake, we ought to count as a gift from God, asking Him how we might learn and grow in Him. He provides new insight as we pursue Him, and new possibilities as we are willing to walk in His way. May we make the most of each new day, and rise, ready to walk in pursuit of Him.

It is through seeking,Courage for Change

that we learn and grow;

by pursuing God,

we shall come to know.

He shows us His heart,

and makes plain the way;

grants us new insight,

to follow, obey.

For life is a gift,

that God grants to us;

so help us love well,

like Your Son, Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the priceless gift of each new day that we have in You. Thank You for the possibilities and the promises that You provide. Thank You that as we pursue You, we gain fresh wisdom and insight so that we can more clearly navigate the road on which You lead us. Forgive us for failing to seek You for wisdom and insight when that is the very thing that we need most. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will seek You first in all things and at all times. Grow us in wisdom and favor with You and with men, so that we may access those who need Your love most, and love as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we praise You for our present day of possibilities, and pursue new learning and insight in You as we go. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

Go and See

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” – (Luke 2:15)

 

Ordinary shepherds with extraordinary faith, had been tending their flocks by night. Suddenly, the night sky was illuminated with the glorious light of the Lord, and the shepherds were full of fear. An angel offered them comfort, and let them know that he was there to share great news, and that there was nothing to fear. As the heavenly hosts praised God after the announcement of Jesus’ birth, the shepherds were so moved by what they had seen and heard, that they dropped everything to go and see for themselves. I can’t imagine it was convenient, nor easy; yet clearly the shepherds were determined to see the Savior whose birth had just been declared to them in the dark of night.

 

How often are we compelled to move where we have been called, despite the inconvenience, as a result of the recognition of His voice? He still speaks to us today. Though few have the experience of the heavenly hosts bringing an announcement by song in the night sky, His Spirit now dwells in the very hearts of all who call Him Lord of their lives, and His words are whispered to our hearts continually. Our response ought to be to eagerly go and see what He will do, rather than fear or anxiousness of the unknown. Learning to trust Him more, is an ongoing, ever-growing, challenge in life with Christ. May we seek to hear Him clearly, and ask for His strength to trust Him more.

 

Let our hearts receive,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

each word from the Lord;

with strength to trust Him,

by faith He affords.

May we quickly heed,

whatever He speaks;

choose walk in His ways,

as Christ our heart seeks.

May we learn to trust,

with all that we are;

no matter the call,

be it near or far.

For the Lord our God,

will ever remain;

present, God with us,

truth we can proclaim.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You speak to us and challenge us to go and see and do things we never thought possible. Thank You that Your Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of all who trust and believe. Thank You that as we choose to take steps of faithful obedience where You call us to go, You remain present, with us, strengthening and equipping us, for all that we are called to do. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, and help us to grow in our trust in You. Lead us to love others, just as You so completely love us. May many come to know Your faithfulness and Your grace, personally, as a result. Be glorified, O God, as we go forth trusting You. 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 Perfect Parent

There is a fine line between granting a child room to grow, and maintaining godly expectations, so that they may be raised in the way that is right.  It is a challenge for anyone, be it with pets, progenies or pupils in a classroom, yet can you imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph, raising the very Son of God?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   In Luke, chapter two, verses 41-52, we are told the story of the time that Jesus stayed behind in the temple, without His parents’ knowledge of His whereabouts.  His absence caused fear and panic, triggering a three-day search, ending in Jesus being found, seated in the temple courts among the teachers of the time.  Though His mother’s initial reaction was basically, “Why would you do this to us?”  Her anger gave way to awe, as she recognized the remarkable found in her Son, as He sat speaking with scholarly wisdom among magnificent minds.  Jesus, being without sin, submitted to His parents and returned with them in obedience, and continued to “grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”  Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 My own progenies love the Lord.  They also love video games.  There is much room for guidance as to what is good and pleasing to God, and what is not in any way beneficial for the building of their character.  Though many things are permissible, not all things are beneficial.  At not quite twelve, both guidance and room to grow, must be given.  On my own, I am at a serious lack as to how to balance these things.  Daily, hourly really, I need His wisdom and help to show me how to lead and guide my guys in the way that is best.  Perfection does not exist in parenting, so I am so thankful for His grace that covers my shortcomings.  He is our loving Father, and remains in that role, no matter our age.  Be encouraged, for He is our perfect parenting partner, and He is willing to lead and guide us as we go, if we choose to trust in Him.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Raise up a child,Boys for post photo-10
in the way to go;
and when they’re old,
their wisdom shall show.
He is faithful,
to remain with us;
to take our hand,
and lovingly bless.
He will lead us,
and show us the way;
to guide our kids,
so in Him they’ll stay.
Trust in the Lord,
with all of our heart;
ask for His grace,
and wisdom impart.
All that we ask,
in faith and in truth;
He will answer,
He shall lead us through.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the only perfect parent.  Thank You that You are available and willing to show us the way, as we lead and guide those whom we are given charge.  Thank You for trusting us with the care of Your created, and help us to take our roles seriously.  Forgive us for our frustrations or lack of fortitude to fight for that which You call us to do, and please strengthen us to hear and answer all that You are asking.  May we love well the next generation for You, and may many come to know You in a deep and meaningful way.  May lives be changed and families restored, through the grace given by the young.  Be exalted in all that we say and do.  Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.