Run for Your Life

Paul, as he was serving his final sentence in prison and awaiting his earthly demise, he knew with confidence that he had done all that he could do to love God and love people with his life. Because his hope was in Christ, he knew what was in store. Though his earthly end was drawing near, his eternity in glory, was about to begin. As He held fast to the truth, he was able to say with confidence: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – (2 Timothy 4:7)

 

Can we with confidence, also claim that we are fighting the good fight, running the race to which we are called, and all the while, keeping the faith? It is a weighty question, and one that can only be answered with a “yes“, if we walk out our days dependent on Christ. Some days it is easier to fight the good fight than others. Just as some days are beyond difficult to get out of the house and run, so too is our faith in action. Yesterday, between the heat and the having to run solo, it nearly kept me from walking out my front door. Deep within me, I knew that if I did not get out and go, I would regret it. It was hot and hilly, and quite frankly, a bit miserable. However, when I was finished, I was so grateful to have gone. Likewise, the weariness and the worries of the world can wear us down and keep us from walking out our front door, or from reaching out where we know we are called to go. That being said, we have a Savior who calls and equips us to run and fight in faith. All that is needed He will provide. May we stand firm in our faith as we run the race to which we are called; and in His power, fight the good fight until our final breath is drawn.

 

Let our lives be led,running up a hill

by the Lord’s great love;

as He fuels our faith,

seek His ways above.

For we have been called,

to run our own race;

to fight the good fight,

stand firm in our faith.

Let our race be run,

in a mighty way;

so that “Well done’s” heard,

on our final day.

Let’s fight the good fight,

and run our race strong;

propelled by the faith,

that pulls us along.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to fight the good fight and run the race that You have set before us, through the faith that You impart to every heart who seeks You. Thank You that the reward that awaits a life lived for You, far outweighs any darkness or suffering that we endure in the here and now. Forgive us for taking our eyes off of eternity, and allowing the here and now to define us. Teach us to fix our eyes on You and what lasts forever, not on that which will one day fade. Lead us to love others intentionally and generously, just as You so love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we fight the good fight and run our own race through a relentless faith in You. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

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To Break the Chains

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be a part of a huge community event to raise awareness and support to stop human trafficking in our area. The event was a 5k run/walk, and though my dear friend and I had originally signed up to run, we were recruited to be officials at the start line. It was a powerful experience to see so many from our community come together for the common good. The event that had only around three-hundred participants last year, had grown to nearly a thousand this year. Watching each group, team, family, and individual come up to the corral and prepare to enter the chute, ready to begin their own race with purpose, was a powerful perspective on how God intends us to operate as community.

 

Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise Your Name. then the righteous will gather about me because of Your goodness to me. – (Psalm 142:6-7)

 

Those stuck in the snare of human trafficking are crying out, and in desperate need. They need rescue, and cannot escape on their own. The only way for them to be set free from the prison they have been forced into, is when we rise up and answer what the Lord would ask of us. For some, it is in the seeking. Others have the task of educating and creating awareness of not only the problem, but of how to protect our kids from being lured into the snares of such sickness. Additionally, there are those whom the Lord has gifted with the ability to surround those who have been set free from the prison of such crimes, and care for them so that their minds and hearts may join the physical freedom that they have found. May we each ask of the Lord what we are meant to do, and then walk in obedience to what He is asking.

 

Can you hear the cries,To Break the Chains

of those trapped in chains?

Oh people rise up,

He’s calling our names.

So many are stuck,

enslaved at the hand;

of selfish pursuit,

of the greed of man.

Though they may be strong,

in numbers, we’re more;

for God is our strength,

and He opens doors.

Down with the captors,

and freedom for those;

righteous, come gather,

so goodness is known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear the cries of those who are in desperate need; who need rescue from those who pursue and are too strong for us to fight on our own. Thank You that You set people free from the prisons they have become ensnared in, and You gather the righteous around them so that they may come to know the goodness of Your great love. Forgive us for our ignorance to all that goes on around us, or for our apathy in standing idly by. Teach us to trust You more, so that we are willing to do whatever it is that You would ask of us, and allow You room to move in and through us as You see fit. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they see You through us. May many come into the safety of a lasting relationship with You, as they come to know that true security is found in You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to Your call, and answer all that You ask. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Exaltation in Everything

Acts 16 unearths yet another story of perseverance in the face of adversity. Paul and Silas had just had an encounter with a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. Through their time with her, Paul commanded the spirit leave her, and thus ended her ability to make money for her owner. The slave owner was so enraged at the two disciples, that he had them dragged to the marketplace to face authorities, then brought them before the magistrates, which resulted in the public stripping and beating of the faithful followers of Christ. After they had been flogged, Paul and Silas were thrown in maximum security prison, despite being peaceful men. Considering the agony they had likely endured, most would have been whimpering in a corner of the cell. However, not the case with these two. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. – (Acts 16:25) Their choice to persevere, even in the face of difficulty, opposition and discouragement, ultimately led to the salvation of the jailer and his entire household.

 

As we act in obedience to the Lord, people take notice. Some may take offense. Others may even oppose us, creating difficulty and becoming a discouragement. However, there are others still, who observe what we do in spite of difficulty. They are acutely aware of our faithfulness in the face of adversity, and begin to ask questions. Those very questions are the same sort that lead the jailer and his household into the eternal Kingdom of Christ. Regardless of what obstacles or challenges come our way, may we maintain an attitude as Paul and Silas did – hearts that pray and sing praise, in spite of what we face.

 

May we choose to pray,Exaltation in Everything

and sing songs of praise;

no matter what comes,

for all of our days.

The choice that we choose,

is noticed and seen;

we are a witness,

to our God unseen.

In opposition,

challenge and trial;

let us still seek Him,

His peace is worthwhile.

May our place of hope,

be clearly displayed;

for in Christ alone,

there shall be a way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the countless examples of the faithful who have gone before us. Thank You that You have so clearly demonstrated time and time again, how You love and encourage and remain present, even in the face of difficulties. Thank You that though You do not remove all trials and obstacles, You remain present, and You use our experiences to strengthen us and to demonstrate Your faithfulness to those around us. Forgive us for our shortsightedness, and help us to recognize that You will use all things for Your ultimate good, in due time, if only we trust in You. Teach us to trust You more, especially in the throes of adversity. Grant us strength to persevere, so that we may praise You in spite of what we are going through. May many come to know the glorious gift that You are, as we trust You in the trials. Help us to love as You so lavishly love each of us. Be glorified, O God, as we persevere with praise. Amen.

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

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

Purposeful Petition

The prayers of the people who gather together united in purpose, change things as they earnestly seek Christ. In Acts 12, the story of Peter’s miraculous escape from prison is told, as King Herod had him arrested with the intent to publicly place him on trial, after just having put James to death with the sword.

 

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. – (Acts 12:5)

 

That very night, the people’s prayers were answered, and an angel of the Lord appeared to Peter and led him out of the prison without so much as waking a single one of the sixteen men who were charged with guarding him. Peter went out of the prison, directly to where the believers were gathered in prayer, to show them what the Lord had done. Overwhelmed, it took a few trips to the door, before those gathered could grasp that the man standing at the door was actually Peter in the flesh.

 

When people gather to purposefully pray, there is power in their prayers. We need to be people of faith, trusting that God hears our prayers and will be faithful to answer that which we ask in His Name. When answers come, we ought to give Him all the glory!

 

There is power found,Purposeful Petition

when gathered to pray;

united purpose,

seeking the Lord’s way.

Asking together,

for captives set free;

for weary and ill,

to gather near Thee.

Present petitions,

with faith in the Lord;

for He is faithful,

answers to afford.

Pray too, with purpose,

seek Him and we’ll find;

He hears our prayers,

all glory Divine.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You assure us that where two or more are gathered, You are present in the midst of us. Thank You that You hear our every prayer, be it alone, or gathered together with a body of believers. Thank You that there is power in the prayers of Your people who gather together to pray, united in purpose. Forgive us for failing to gather, for lacking unity, or for anything else that hinders us from earnestly seeking You with all that we are. Teach us to trust and believe, so that we may know more completely the power present when we pray. Help us to love others as You so completely love each of us, and let those who are looking, find a forever faith in You. Be glorified, O God, as we gather together and purposefully pray. 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

Obeying God First

In this increasingly “go with what feels good” culture, it is essential to not only be aware of what God deems right and wrong, but to also be in a close relationship with Him, so that we are able to hear His still small voice as He speaks to us, individually, about what is and is not permissible for us.  There are some things that the Bible clearly defines as right and wrong.  Yet there are other areas, that are a bit muddy.  These are the places where it is paramount to pursue Christ for answers, rather than just going with whatever society says is good.

Acts five conveys the story of Peter and the apostles being arrested and jailed, simply for speaking the truth of what they had witnessed through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ.  The Sadducees jealousy got the best of them, and they threw the men of faith in prison.  When brought to trial, the high priest asked them why they had gone against what they had been told (to stop teaching in His Name).  “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!” – (Acts 5:29)

Though few of us face the fear of prison for sharing our faith, we do deal with social pressures to stay silent, and to go along with societal norms that directly disregard what God has spoken.  There is a delicate balance in loving others, yet speaking the truth in love.  We cannot go around shouting to people that they “must turn or burn“.  Rather, our charge is to live in such a way, that people are drawn unto us, and begin to ask questions as to why we are the way we are.  God will provide opportunities for truth to be told in His time.  He is tender and kind, and longs to draw people unto Himself.  May we be living examples of His love, and may we choose to obey God first, always.

In tune with You, Lord,Obeying God First

we shall hear the way;

to do as You ask,

to honor, obey.

We must truly seek,

to hear still small voice;

then choose to follow,

obedient choice.

Let not fear of men,

keep us from what’s true;

our final answer,

will be unto You.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have access to mighty examples of those who have faithfully followed You.  Thank You too, that You do not expect us to do this on our own, but You provide us all that we need, through Your word, and Your Holy Spirit.  Forgive us for folding to social pressures, or for staying silent when we were meant to speak.  Teach us to hear Your voice clearly, so that we may be Your voice to those who know You not.  Let our lives lived in love, speak volumes to all who are around us.  May many come to know Your goodness and Your grace, as they enter into a personal place of seeking Your face.  Be magnified, our great and mighty King.  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

Imprisoned for a Purpose

Imprisoned for a PurposeBeaten, imprisoned,

feet shackled up tight;

disciples still sang,

’til late in the night.

All of a sudden,

the prison did shake;

cell doors flew open,

guard’s life near to take.

Disciples called out,

“Do yourself no harm,

we are all still here,

in reach of your arm.”

When lights came ablaze,

and the jailer saw;

men true to their word,

he fell down in awe.

“Sirs, what must I do,

to truly be saved?”

“Believe in the Lord,

your life will be changed.”

At that very hour,

to his home he brought,

he cared for their wounds,

believed what they taught.

The whole family,

was baptized, believed;

the very next day,

disciples released.

(Responding to Acts 16:22-36)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though You do not cause harm to come our way, You at times, allow it, as You use it for the greater good of those who love You, and often use our strength in the struggle as a way to touch the hearts and minds of those who know You not. Forgive us for assuming we have done something wrong when bad things happen, and help us to recognize that even in the struggle and heartache, there is opportunity to allow Your strength to shine and our heart to be refined. Thank You that You receive and love us, just as we are, but love us too much to allow us to stay this way. Continue to refine and shape us to more clearly reflect Your character in all that we say and do. May many come to know who You really are, by our love. Praise to You for Your powerful and unfailing love. Amen.

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

Two-Year Trial

When seated on trial

image by David Warkentin

image by David Warkentin

the false witness did fly.

Such slanderous speaking,

their story, falsified.

In power, Paul’s response,

uncovered every lie.

All heard the truth he spoke,

his words they’d not deny.

Felix, who knew the Way,

adjourned ’til later meet.

Paul ordered under guard,

so friends could meet his needs.

Felix came to visit,

with hope of gaining bribe.

Instead, he heard the truth,

required for new life.

When two years had passed by,

Festus succeeded him.

Felix wanted favor,

and left Paul in prison.

(Responding to Acts 24)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the examples of patience and faithful endurance that are presented again and again in Your word.  Here, Paul, who had done nothing wrong, was stuck under guard and in prison for two years.  What is more remarkable still, is despite his seemingly “stuck” space, Paul shared of Your goodness and truth, even with those who were imprisoning him.  Forgive us for whining or wallowing when we have to wait, or when things don’t seem to go our way.  Please teach us to trust and be patient in the process, and protect our hearts and minds from grumbling.  Lead us to live in love in all things and at all times.  May Your light shine brightly through us, whether we are in the darkest night or in the light of day.  Use us Lord, to lead the lost to Your loving arms of grace.  Amen.

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