Bold Faith in the Face of Fire

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV)

“If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if He doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, MSG)

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had incredible faith as they faced King Nebuchadnezzar. They had been commanded to worship an inanimate object, when they knew the only one deserving their worship was the one true God. Because they refused, they faced a fiery death, yet they had faith that God could save them. Their bold declaration that initially infuriated Nebuchadnezzar was met by the faithfulness of God who saves and ended up so impressing the king that he created a new command protecting those who worshiped the living God, and promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to higher positions in his court. We never know who we will influence when we choose to remain faithful to what we know is true. Our faith and trust in God speaks volumes when we live it out practically. Though we likely do not face fiery furnaces nor such dramatic decisions, when we choose to be faithful in the small things, people notice and wonder why. May we ever remain true to God whom we can always trust, knowing that He is faithful and the ultimate outcome is greater than we could ever hope or imagine.

 

May we choose be bold, Fire Flames 1

With our trust in Him;

For He is faithful,

Beside us, He’s in.

He’ll make plain our path,

Show us where to go;

Raise up faith in us,

So truth shall be known.

Each giant we face,

Is small in His hands;

As we trust in Him,

He shows us His plan.

Walk forward in faith,

Despite what is seen;

Even so, choose trust,

On the Lord, choose lean.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible examples of faithfulness found in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Thank You that through them, You show us how You meet those who are faithful to You, even in the fire. Forgive us for the times that we have not remained faithful to the truth we know. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would stay strong in You and that in great and small things we would remain true to You, always. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength to trust in You in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Be Consistent and Don’t Quit

Jesus told them a story showing that it is necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. – (Luke 18:1, MSG)

Then Jesus taught the followers that they should always pray and never lose hope… – (Luke 18:1, ERV)

 

The story that Jesus used to demonstrate this truth to His followers, was the story of a persistent widow and an unjust judge. Though the judge lacked compassion, he ultimately granted the widow what she was requesting, because of her unwavering persistence. She refused to give up, and eventually received the justice that she was seeking. If an unjust judge will grant justice to someone who is relentless in their pursuit of what is right, how much more will a loving God hear the requests of those who earnestly seek Him? God sees, hears and knows what we need, and is at the ready to be our help and our hope. Our charge is to present our requests before Him. When what we are asking is in alignment with the will of God, He is faithful to provide what we need to continue on the path that we are meant to pursue. Answers rarely come in ways that we would anticipate, yet He is always faithful to meet us as we choose to persist in our asking. May we continue in our pursuit of God with persistence, as He is faithful and present forever.

 

Do not grow weary, IMG_3459

Of faithful pursuit;

For sometimes answers,

Come along our route.

Keep pressing forward,

Ask and ask again;

For God is faithful,

We must trust His “when”.

Sometimes repeating,

Our prayerful requests;

Remind us that God,

Alone, knows what’s best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not grow weary of our requests for Your help in our lives, and in fact You tell us to keep asking and pursuing You and that which we need. Forgive us for our lack of persistence when we do not see answers right away, and teach us to trust in Your perfect timing. Show us how to love well, those all around us, so that they may be encouraged and strengthened in their own spaces of waiting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we persistently pursue You in all things and at all times; for we know that You are faithful to answer. Amen.

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

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19

Search for the Why

Today’s reading was found in Numbers 22:21-33. This passage tells the story of Balaam and his donkey as they are on their way to a Moabite town with Moabite officials. Balaam’s journey was not pleasing to the Lord. Three times, an angel of the Lord stood in the path of Balaam on his donkey, and blocked the way. Though Balaam could not see him, the donkey certainly could. In fear, the donkey turned away, held back and finally laid down, refusing to go forward each time the angel appeared. Unfortunately, Balaam could not see the angel, and chose to beat the donkey each time it refused to move forward. Finally, after the third time, God opened the mouth of the donkey and gave it the ability to speak. The donkey asked what it had done to deserve the beatings, and Balaam was concerned only that the donkey had made him appear a fool. What really stood out to me this morning, was the donkey’s reply to Balaam’s rant about being made appear a fool.

 

“But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life, have I ever done anything like this before?” – (Numbers 22:30)

 

When those around us do things that are out of character, it is better to ask why, than to get angry or upset at the abrupt change. Most of the time, when people operate outside of their norm, there is a reason. It is almost always in response to something. If it is to hurt, how can we help? If it is to fear, how can we reassure or heed the warning? May we be sensitive to those around us, taking note of attitudes, actions or words that wander from their normal mode of operation. Lord, lead us to be sensitive to Your voice as we listen to those around us, so that we may identify the why when something is awry.

 

When words are like weapons,

Equipped for Desert Seasons

Where never before;

It’s our job to find out,

Discover the sore.

For panic or wounding,

Great heartache or fear;

Each one can be reason,

To ask and draw near.

Let Balaam’s example,

Be warning to us;

Sometimes the uncommon,

Is help from Jesus.

Lord, make our hearts tender,

Ready to give ear;

Help us see through Your eyes,

So all becomes clear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, You show us things through Your eyes, and give us Your heart for those around us. Forgive us for getting angry or upset when those around us operate outside of their normal mode of operation. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might patiently and lovingly pursue answers as to why someone is “off” rather than be bothered by it. Help us to love others well, just as You so patiently and extravagantly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to understand when things are awry, rather than respond as the recipients of offense. Amen.

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

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

Godly Pursuit

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all of my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind. – (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, NIV)

 

King Solomon was given wisdom and wealth beyond what anyone else had ever acquired before him. In his wisdom, Solomon recognized the futility of amassing people and possessions and giving in to every whim. He discovered all were without meaning, and not one brought true happiness.

The same remains true today. Stuff does not bring pleasure, nor does acting on our every desire. Instead, as we exercise self-control, and seek the Lord and His will for us, we find the joy that He brings in our choosing obedience to Him. There is a fine line in all of this. It seems the best way to know whether we are pursuing something that is meaningless or if it is a blessing that the Lord is willing to give, really depends on our heart condition. When we see things we like and are covetous, our heart is likely not in the right space. However, if there are things that we appreciate, but do not allow to dominate our desires, it is likely a more reasonable space from which to stand.

In my own life, there is a fine line of would I be willing to give it away? If not, I should probably not pursue it in the first place. There is nothing that I should cling to more tightly than Christ. Belongings are far easier to hold open-handed than relationships. The desire to hold tightly to something that I have invested time, energy and my heart into, is not so easily released. I am a work in progress, and know that more than anything, I must set my heart to seeking our Savior. May we delight in our pursuit of the path that the Lord has made plain for us, and choose to hold all else with open hands.

 

To pursue the Lord,

caught-in-awe-sylvia-carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

Is the only thing;

That has true meaning,

Grants us life lasting.

Though things may be nice,

Not one can compare;

To our hope in Christ,

For He hears our prayer.

We’re not meant to trust,

In people or things;

But rather in God,

And life that He brings.

There will be blessings,

He gives unto us;

But none can compare,

To our Lord Jesus.

Help our hearts be right,

Ever faithful, true;

As we seek to serve,

May we honor You.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we delight in the process of work, its completion is our reward. Forgive us for a focus that is on accomplishments and acquisitions. Teach us to trust You more, so that our energy and attention are placed on things of You. Show us how to hold people and things with open hands, trusting You to keep all in proper perspective. Lead us to love others so that they can clearly see Your hand in all that we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place You first in our every pursuit on this planet. Amen.

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

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

When Dreams May Come

Joseph, son of Jacob, had a clear call upon his life from an early age.  He was given dreams that spoke to his heart, and made him aware that greater things were yet to come.  When he attempted to share what he had seen with his brothers, their jealousy got the best of them, and they plotted to kill him.  Fortunately, among them was a voice of reason, and they were instead, convinced to sell him to a band of merchants traveling past where they were watching their flocks.  (Genesis 37) 

Many of us, at that point, would have questioned the call we had heard on our lives, and perhaps would have sat down in defeat.  Not Joseph.  When he was purchased and placed in the home of Potiphar, an Egyptian official, Joseph served both household and home, as unto the Lord.  “Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant.  Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.” (Genesis 39:4) God had blessed Joseph and given him success.  However, again, envy placed Joseph in a situation he did not deserve.  Potiphar’s promiscuous wife made advances toward Joseph, yet each time he refused.  Ultimately, she found way to accuse Joseph and get him sent to jail, despite his innocence.

Again, life’s circumstances could have stolen Joseph’s will to walk in the way of the Lord.  Not even prison deterred him.  Before long, Joseph had found favor in the eyes of the prison warden, and was made responsible for all that was done there.  God continued to prove Himself faithful, even in seemingly unfortunate circumstance.

God continued to bless Joseph’s faithfulness, and granted him the interpretation of dreams.  Ultimately, his ability to hear God, granted him the second highest position in all of Egypt.  Though it had been a long and weary road, the Lord had been faithful to remain present, and Joseph never doubted nor questioned His presence. (Genesis 40 and 41)

When dreams come to light,When Dreams May Come

let heart not be swayed;

His promise remains,

no matter delay.

Trust He is faithful,

despite where you are;

for He is present,

even when life’s hard.

Hold onto the hope,

that shall come to pass;

for what He has said,

will forever last.

Always He is good,

even when life’s not;

forge forward in faith,

with all that you’ve got.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the examples that You have given us in Your word.  Thank You that despite overwhelming circumstances – situations that would have broken most of us – You show us how You are forever faithful; that we must remain steadfast in our trust in You.  Thank You that You alone can take something so terrible as an individual sold into slavery by his own brothers, and turn it into a man of mighty faith who leads a nation in how to overcome a horrendous famine successfully.  Thank You that You can work ALL things for good for those who love You, even when it appears there is no possible good to be found.  Forgive us for our fears and our lack of long-suffering, and help us to faithfully endure all things, trusting above all – that You are with us and You are good.  May we love as we are loved by You, and may many come to know the saving grace that only You can give.  Let lives be changed and hearts be made new in You.  Amen.

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