Genuine Repentance

As I continue to study the scriptures in Exodus, I am reminded of how important genuine repentance truly is. Often, saying that we are sorry is simple, yet allowing our hearts and minds to make a change is an entirely different story. Pharaoh was a perfect example of why we ought not wait to really repent. God sent Moses and Aaron to deliver a series of messages to Pharaoh, warning him of what would happen if he did not allow God’s people to go. Pharaoh was a master of double-talk, as he would be convinced in the moment of discomfort to allow the Israelites to leave, yet as soon as the plague had passed, he took back his words and denied them their desert departure.

 

After the seventh plague had been poured out upon Egypt, and hail had destroyed men, livestock and all of the land, Pharaoh responded. Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron, “This time I have sinned,” he said to them, “The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer.” – (Exodus 9:27-28) Sadly, as soon as it stopped, Pharaoh retracted his ruling, and prevented their passage, yet again. Consequently, three more plagues were poured out upon Egypt. The third of which was so severe, that the Israelites were practically chased out of Egypt, at last.

 

True repentance is made evident through our actions. Words are weightless and worthless if we cannot back them up with work. God forgives us for our every iniquity, yet He expects us to turn and walk away from that which seeks to entangle us. Real repentance is not only an act of our will alone, but it is a total dependence on Christ, as we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us, change us, and restore us, so that we will not be the same as we were before. May we turn from our wicked ways, and demonstrate lives that are forever changed, by the loving and living God.

 

Lord, let not our hearts,Genuine Repentance

be calloused and hard;

keep us supple, soft,

to You, all regard.

Ready to listen,

with hearts that can hear;

ready to repent,

aware You are near.

May we clearly show,

the changes You make;

as our actions speak,

of which path we’ll take.

Let us walk in love,

that draws others near;

so all may see You,

make Your presence clear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind, forgiving and full of grace. Thank You that You draw us unto Yourself. Thank You that You are righteous and just, and that You give us many opportunities to come unto You. Forgive us for hardening our hearts to You in any way, and help us to allow You to break down the barriers that keep us from hearing all that we need to know to be right before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will more readily confess and then move away from the very things that brought us down. Lead us to love others as You so completely love each of us. May many hardened hearts be softened before You, as lives are changed and hope is restored. Be exalted O God, as we tread tenderly unto You. 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

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Tether Our Hearts

Today, my reading plan had me reading both Exodus 6-8, and Luke 23. Though there were many individual verses that I could have highlighted, the thing that stood out to me the most, was the way in which both Moses and Jesus chose to remain faithful to their calling in captivity. Moses, was appealing to Pharaoh for the people of Israel to be set free to go into the desert to worship, and Jesus was being held after His arrest, as He was bruised, beaten and tried six times before various courts – none of which could find Him guilty, in obedience to be the sacrifice for all of our sins.

 

In both portions of scripture, God had called each to a specific task. For Moses, he was being asked to lead a nation out of captivity when the ruler of the nation paid no regard to his requests. Jesus, was being asked to bear the weight of the world on His shoulders, as He knew the pain He was called to endure. Neither story seemed to go smoothly. Both bore the burden before them, and endured enormous adversity to ultimately arrive in the place to which they had been called. This can be a bit overwhelming, yet completely encouraging, as we know that in all things, God is faithful to those who trust in Him. Though we may not see what He is doing in the midst of adversity, we can trust that He has a plan and a purpose for everything that we endure, and that He will utilize each trial and triumph for our ultimate good. May we hold fast to our hope in Christ alone, as He is faithful to walk beside us, be it in trial or triumph.

 

When life surrounds you,Tether Our Hearts

forced captivity;

choose trust in the Lord,

to keep your heart free.

For only in Christ,

is true freedom known;

set free from our sin,

where His grace is shown.

Though often unseen,

His purpose is clear;

to love each of us,

as we choose draw near.

Let us seek the Lord,

no matter what comes;

hold fast to the truth,

Christ, the faithful One.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us great examples of those who have endured tremendous trials by depending on You. Thank You that no matter what comes our way, Your presence is promised, and Your hope is secure. Thank You that You are faithful to remain with us, even when we are unaware of Your presence. Forgive us for our fears and faltering faith when the fight becomes too much, and teach us to tether our hearts and minds to You alone. Give us Your eyes to see things through an eternal perspective, so that we may remember that all that is in the here and now is only temporary, yet that which is yet to come, is forever. Lead us to love intentionally, just as You so purposefully and completely love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to You, in all things and at all times. Amen.

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Trust in the Asking

God often calls us to step out in areas where we feel the most ill-equipped. Moses was a man who claimed to be slow in speech, yet God called him to go and speak to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. He was being asked to speak not only before the powerful ruler of a nation, but to gather and speak before those whom he was called to lead as well.

 

But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on the mountain.” – (Exodus 3:11-12)

 

Moses felt inadequate and afraid for the task to which he had been called. God understood his fears, and assured Moses that He would be with him and that there would be clear evidence of His presence when all was said and done. God still does the same for us today. Though He calls us to that which we often feel the most ill-equipped, His presence is promised and His help, assured. It is far better to be in a scary space of total dependence on God, than a fearless space that we try to traverse on our own. May we rise up and respond in faith to that which Christ calls us to do, trusting that Him who calls us will also provide all that we need to navigate in the new.

 

God calls us to go,Trust in the Asking

where we think we can’t;

and asks us to do,

what we think we shan’t.

Inadequacies,

our personal fears;

the true barriers,

that make paths unclear.

Lord help us to hear,

Your promises true;

that You will be near,

to see us each through.

May we each rise up,

take heart and obey;

Lord, grant us the strength,

to walk in Your way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that if You call us to do something, You will provide what is needed to see us through. Thank You that Your calling us to the difficult teaches us to trust and rely on You. Forgive us for focusing on our own inadequacies rather than on how great You are, and help us to reset our focus. Teach us to trust You more, so that no matter what You ask, we are willing to say “YES” and trust You to provide what is needed to accomplish what You are asking. Help us to love others as You so willingly and wonderfully love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Jesus, as we move in obedience, even when we feel ill-equipped. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in all that You ask of us. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

No Matter What Comes

What began as a vengeful act of jealousy by his brothers, led to thirteen years of training and preparation for Joseph to become second in command over all of Egypt. His brothers sold him into slavery, he was purchased and made a servant, honored, falsely accused, imprisoned, honored as a model prisoner, recognized as a faithful servant of God, and finally, was given opportunity to put his faith into action, which resulted in Joseph being elevated to second in command of the whole country. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” – (Genesis 31:39-40)

 

Despite the dismal and dire circumstances, Joseph chose to rise up and represent God as a faithful servant in each situation. He worked not unto himself nor for mere man, but worked as though he were serving God Himself. Joseph was faithful with little, and faithful with much. He listened to the Lord in all things, and walked in obedience, even in through the toughest of trials. In God’s perfect timing, Joseph was brought into the position that the Lord had prepared for him. May we patiently persevere as Joseph did, trusting the Lord will use our every trial as training. Let our hearts be prepared, so that we may hear His every word, and be ever ready for His next step for our lives.

 

No matter what comes,No Matter What Comes

choose to seek the Lord;

even in trials,

His grace He’ll afford.

For the hardest times,

are often the source;

that the Lord uses,

to direct our course.

The things that we learn,

while storms around rage;

stretch us and grow us,

a coming of age.

We learn how to trust,

to cling to the Lord;

to hear and obey,

walk in one accord.

With patience hold fast,

have faith in His word;

may our lives make clear,

the truth we have heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful and present, no matter what comes our way. Thank You that though we may not enjoy times of trial and testing, they are seasons that You use for growing us closer to You. Forgive us for our lack of faith and perseverance when times are tough, and grant us Your strength and stamina to rise up in every circumstance, so that our faithfulness unto You is evident. Teach us to trust You more, so that our attitude will be like Joseph’s, no matter what comes our way. Lead us to love others, just as You choose to completely love each of us, right where we are. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord God, as the truth of who You are is made known. Be glorified, as we are faithful unto You in all things and at all times, by Your strength. Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

Let Not Our Hearts

Hardened hearts struggle to hear the still small voice within.  When we become cold and calloused to the world, whispers seem impossible to discern.  However, when we are in constant communion with Christ, our hearts remain tender and receptive toward Him.

As the story of Moses continues in Exodus, I have arrived at the passage where he and Aaron are told by God to go to Pharaoh to again ask to let the people go.  God warns them that Pharaoh’s heart will be hard, so He tells them to speak of the impending plague that will befall the Nile, if Pharaoh refuses to allow the people to go.  Pharaoh, of course chooses to not allow the people their freedom, and Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded, and all the water in the Nile changed into blood.  “But the Egyptian magicians did the same by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.” – (Exodus 7:22)

Pharaoh responded in the same way to plagues of frogs, gnats, and flies.  Though he would call out to Moses and Aaron in the midst of the struggle, and began to seem as though he was willing to allow the people to go, the moment relief was found, his heart was again hardened and his mind set against their going.

Often, we are just like Pharaoh.  Our hearts are hardened until a need is present, and then – then we are ready and willing to call on Christ.  Suddenly, we are passionately pursuing the One we have all but forgotten for so long.  When the crisis is over and all is well, we set Him aside and go back to business as usual.  No more.  I am not called to live like Pharaoh.  My example of how to be in a right relationship with God, is found through Jesus.  He lived out His days loving God, and loving people.  Detours and difficulty did not deter Him from that call.  Always, even as He was hanging on the cross between two criminals, with one hurling insults at Him – He chose to love.  May our hearts be ever tender towards Christ, and may we live out our days, loving God and people, just as we are loved by Him.

Let not our hearts,Let Not Our Hearts

become cold and hard;

self-sufficient,

to Him, no regard.

Rather, let’s love,

as He has loved us;

with heart’s tender,

open to Jesus.

May our ears hear,

the tender small voice;

that will direct,

if we seek His choice.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You sent Your Son to suffer and die in our place.  Thank You that You made the way for us to enter into a relationship with You, not just for now, but one that lasts into eternity.  Forgive us for being fickle in our faith, or for hardening our hearts to hearing You.  Help us to be plugged in and present, so that our hearts may be tender and full of trust in You.  May we love as You love us, and may many come to know the blessings found in belonging to You.  May the words of our mouth and the direction of our path, be pleasing unto You.  Amen.

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

Waiting On a Promise

Moses is remembered as a mighty man of faith, yet his journey between the promise and its fulfillment, was not an easy one.  It all began well, as God appeared to Moses in a burning bush, and spoke to him personally.  God told him He had heard the cries of his people, and that “He had come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey – the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.” – (Exodus 3:8) 

What God next told Moses, however, brought up Moses’ own insecurities, and made him question God.  God told Moses that He was sending him to Pharaoh to bring His people out of Egypt, so Moses started asking questions.  At first, the questions seemed practical and reasonable, yet soon, they revealed his own insecurities about his ability to speak publicly.  In fact, Moses then said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” – (Exodus 4:13) God was none too pleased with Moses’ response, yet chose to answer his request by allowing his brother, Aaron, to partner with him in this endeavor.

Once Moses and Aaron had met up, and Aaron too had heard the charge from God, they went to Pharaoh and did as the Lord had asked them to do.  Pharaoh did not exactly agree to what they asked.  In fact, it seemed as if the promise that had been spoken, was even farther off than it had been prior to their powwow with Pharaoh.  “Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people?  Is this why you sent me?” – (Exodus 5:22)

Isn’t it easy for us to do the same thing?  A promise is spoken, or a dream discovered, and we expect the fulfillment – the fruition to be found – immediately.  Often, there is a long and arduous road in between a promise and it’s fulfillment.  Our character is shaped and developed, as we overcome obstacles and learn to trust Him more.  As we learn from the Israelites, grumbling in said deserts, often delays the promise all the more…

A promise spoken,Waiting On a Promise

the birth of a dream;

hope that is chosen,

God’s blessing, it’d seem.

Then comes the waiting,

and patience grows dim;

weariness finds us,

don’t let darkness in.

The doubt and the fear,

lay each of them down;

fix eyes on the Lord,

where fulfillment’s found.

Despite what is seen,

continue to trust;

for what He has said,

will be done for us.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to do what You say You will do.  Thank You that Your timing is not our timing, nor Your ways, our ways.  Thank You that You are patient and kind, and that You lovingly lead us where You call us to go, even if it takes years of wandering in the desert to reach the promised place of peace.  Forgive us for our doubts, fears, and our grumbling, and help us to trust completely, despite what we see.  Make us aware of Your persistent presence, and help us to be satisfied in knowing that You are at work in us.  May we live in faith and love with trust, so that others may see You in us.  Let those who are looking, come to know You as their Savior, soon.  Be glorified, even in our waiting.  Amen.

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

Pharaoh’s Follies

God said to Moses,

“I send you, now go;

to free my people,

from Egypt’s Pharaoh.”

With fear and trembling,

refusing alone.

Aaron went with him,

they headed for home.

Back to the palace,

from which he had run,

to call forth freedom,

for God’s chosen ones.

Hard-hearted Pharaoh,

image by Top Travel Lists

image by Top Travel Lists

flat-out refused.

Water became blood.

His heart was unmoved.

Next from the water,

up onto the land,

came countless the frogs,

to force Pharaoh’s hand.

Soon after the frogs,

came gnats and the flies.

Followed by livestock,

of Egypt, all dies.

Still that old Pharaoh,

hard-hearted he stayed.

So boils and hail,

came in latter days.

Next came the locusts,

devouring ones;

then three days darkness –

no sight of the sun.

The worst and the last,

the death of firstborns.

Anguish of Egypt;

resolve at last, worn.

(Responding to Exodus 7-11)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way once and for all so that we might become clean and covered, and come into relationship with You.  Thank You that You sent Your Spirit to live in us, so that we have a Comforter and Counselor who is ever-present.  Please forgive us for our own hard-heartedness, and help keep our hearts soft and tender toward You, so that we may be easily led, corrected and directed by You, as You love us so well.  Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times.  Use us as Your instruments of peace to present Your hope to those who have none.  Amen.

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