Pray Expectantly

Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to You and wait expectantly. – (Psalm 5:3, NLT)

Every morning, Lord, I lay my gifts before You and look to You for help. And every morning You hear my prayers. – (Psalm 5:3, ERV)

In the morning, O Eternal One, listen for my voice; in the day’s first light, I will offer my prayer to You and watch expectantly for Your answer. – (Psalm 5:3, VOICE)

 

Most mornings, I am up long before the sun has risen. This is a treasured time of solitude in the silent stillness, where I am able to invest time in His word and reflect on God’s goodness. Though I am spending this time intentionally, my prayers are fairly familiar each day, as my main request is to be equipped to love well. The Lord is faithful and kind, and grants far more patience than I would ever have on my own. However, I imagine there is far more that I ought to be asking for. There are dreams and desires that He has planted in my heart that lie dormant and hidden, rather than being placed on the altar with anticipation before Him – hopes of mighty movement in lives, circumstances, and things yet to come, that I need to present before Him and watch expectantly for Him to answer. God is faithful forever, if we only choose to come before Him in trust. May we begin each day presenting our praise and petitions before our faithful Father, and watch expectantly for Him to answer, as He always hears.

 

O Lord as I rise, Approaching the Throne of Grace

I come first to You;

With all that I am,

Trusting Your word’s true.

Listen for my voice,

At the dawn’s first light;

I know You’ll hear me,

In us, You delight.

I’ll offer requests,

And all of my praise;

Watching for answers,

You’re faithful always.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You each morning and present our requests to You, and You hear our prayers. Thank You that we can pray anytime about anything, and You are available and willing to listen. Thank You that You long for us to be in communication with You. Forgive us for neglecting to bring forth the things that we keep hidden in our hearts, as You already know them anyway. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for all things, and wait in expectation, knowing that You are moving on our behalf to bring answers. Guard our hearts from discouragement when answers do not come in the time frame we are hoping to see. Thank You that Your timing is perfect. Show us how to love and pray for those around us in meaningful and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lift our prayers and praise before You each morning, and wait expectantly for You to answer. Amen.

 

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

 

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

Overcoming Power

“He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what He told you back in Galilee, that the son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that He would rise again on the third day.” – (Luke 24:6-7, NLT)

 

Grief does funny things to our ability to think clearly. I can only begin to imagine the weight of the sorrow shared by those who had walked closely beside Jesus, prior to His crucifixion. Despite His having told those dear to Him what had to happen, and what would happen after, if they were anything like most of us, they probably could not grasp anything beyond His having to die. Even more surreal to see in one’s mind, is the arrival at the empty tomb. What began as shock, horror, and perhaps even outrage that Jesus’ body was missing, was quickly turned to worshipful awe, as they were greeted by angels who told them what had happened. It had to have been quite a sight to see, if the first words from those whom God had sent, was, “Don’t be afraid.” I envision it being a two-fold extension of kindness. Don’t be afraid of us, and do not be afraid of what you do not see. It did not take long for the truth that they had been told prior to Jesus’ death to be recalled, and suddenly, everything changed. Mourning turned to gladness, and sorrow surrendered to great joy! Jesus had risen! May we rise this day and remember the reason for the festivities. The Light of the world defeated death and conquered the grave so that we could have life everlasting in Him.

 

Two days of darkness,Hope in an Empty Tomb

Then third day, He rose;

Defeating the grave,

All hope to disclose.

Greeted by angels,

At the empty tomb;

Awe and amazement,

Minds blown at the truth.

Though He had foretold,

Was hard to believe;

No more was Christ dead,

He’d risen indeed.

What joy they had found,

Their sorrow, no more;

Jesus has risen,

Worship and adore!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You did not stop at the death on the cross on our behalf, but You showed us Your power as You defeated death and overcame the grave so that we could have life everlasting in You. Thank You that the very same power that conquered the grave is available to all who trust in You. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to defeat our resolve, rather than turning to trust in You. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone have the power to carry us through every circumstance. Show us how to live and love boldly, as we have been given all that we need to love as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to fill us so that we may live and love in the overcoming power You place in each of us. 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 54:8

The Weight He Bore

At noon the whole country became dark. The darkness continued until three o’clock. At three o’clock Jesus cried out loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” This means “My God, my God, why have you left me alone?” – (Mark 15:33-34, ERV)

 

Probably the most powerful imagery that I have read about Christ’s hours on the cross, came from Max Lucado’s book, Six Hours One Friday. Jesus who knew no sin, had walked and been in constant communication with the Father. Suddenly, He who had never sinned, became sin and bore the weight for all of the world’s madness. Imagine a darkness so heavy that an entire nation loses it’s light. Jesus chose to take our place of scorned separation and suffering so that we would not have to. He bore a weight not one of us could bear, so that we could come close and know the nearness of our Creator. It is difficult to fathom a faithful love so powerful, that it kept the One who calls things into being, connected to the cross on our behalf. Thankfully, despite the devastating darkness that fell, and the somber sorrow that left the disciples distraught and directionless, did not last. Friday’s heartbreak was followed by Sunday’s discovery of a promise fulfilled. The grave could not keep Him. The Lord was alive; He had risen indeed! Our hope and our reason to celebrate this sacred season lies in the remarkable remembrance of what Jesus did on our behalf, so that we could have life everlasting in Him. May we hold fast to the hope of the light that is yet to come, even on our darkest days, for He is faithful to fulfill what He has promised, and our future is secure in Him forever.

 

Such darkness befell,Perseverance in the Face of Persecution

The whole countryside;

“Why have You left me,”

Our dear Savior cried.

The weight of the world,

He bore on that cross;

In love, willingly,

So none should be lost.

Buried in silence,

The world had to wait;

Then God’s mighty hand,

Moved to celebrate.

For on the third day,

The Lord rose again;

So we could have life,

Forgiven from sin.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible sacrifice that we cannot even begin to comprehend. Thank You Jesus, for bearing the weight of all of our sin and shame on that cross, so that we can have life everlasting in You. Forgive us for not standing in awe of the weight of what You did on our behalf. Help us to be forever grateful for the power of Your sacrifice and the joy found in relationship with You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that lightens their load and points people to the hope and joy that come from knowing You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all our gratitude for the gift of life You give. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

He is Risen

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. – (Luke 24:1-3,  NLT)
The very same women who had stood at the foot of the cross in horror on Friday, then set to task making burial spices that night, were stuck staying in their space of sorrow on the Sabbath, and now, at last on Sunday, as they thought that they could go and anoint the body of their beloved Savior – discovered He was no longer in the grave! Panic gave way to praise as the angels of the Lord explained to the women what had happened and why Jesus was no longer lying in the tomb. Recalling the truth that they had been told by Jesus before His death on the cross, the ladies rushed back to tell the other believers what they had discovered. As we awaken to the truth that today holds, may we feel the same sense of urgency to go and let the truth be made known.

 

A matter of days,Hope in an Empty Tomb

and everything changed;

a sorrowful space,

now all rearranged.

Where death had seemed reign,

the truth became clear;

hell was defeated,

through Christ coming near.

He took on the cross,

all our sin and shame;

laid it in the grave,

set free by His pain.

It did not end there,

on Sunday He rose;

up out of the grave,

so His grace, we’d know.

Jesus has risen,

and we are set free;

forgiven and loved,

all praise unto Thee.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to have a restored relationship with You. Thank You Jesus, for taking all of our sin and shame upon Yourself, so that we might have life everlasting. Thank You that it did not end at the cross, for the grave could not hold You, as Your love is too great for us, Your created. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your love and sacrifice that is given freely unto us. Teach us to embrace all that You give, so that we might have life abundant in You. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too, may come to understand the greatness of Your mercy and grace that You freely give. May many choose to place all of their trust in You. Be exalted O God, as we give all glory and honor to You. Amen.

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

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

New Life from What Appears Empty

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. Se the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.'” – (Mark 16:6-7)

These two verses are packed full of significance. They demonstrate just how personal Jesus is to people, and how specifically He cares for us, individually. He knew to have the waiting messenger first tell those who found the empty tomb to not be afraid. Jesus knew their hearts and knew that fear would be their first response. Next, he showed them where the Savior had been laid, so they could see for themselves that He had risen, just as He had said He would do. After that, the ladies were charged with the task of going to tell the disciples, (with specific mention of Peter who had just denied Jesus three times) that Christ had risen! Finally, they were assured that Jesus had gone ahead of them to Galilee, and that they would get to see Him there, just as He had promised.

Jesus knows us. He knows our hearts and our needs. He knows what we need to see and hear to understand and to fend off fear. Jesus takes our circumstances and places people in our path whom convey hope that He is good and His word is true. Christ remains present with us, and does not leave us, despite how things appear. Though the ladies approached an empty tomb, what they discovered was the risen Lord. May we approach our empty tombs with hopeful hearts, trusting that the Lord knows our needs and will lead us and stay beside us, to the place where we too, witness the wonder of what He has planned.

Our Savior Jesus,Hope in an Empty Tomb

knows us each by name;

His heart is for us,

and His truth remains.

No matter what comes,

or stands in our way;

the Lord is our help,

our peace each new day.

Seek Christ in triumph,

and when troubles come;

He’s ever ready,

where our hope is from.

Dear heart, hold not fear,

for Jesus made way;

to overcome all,

as we trust and pray.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know us and love us, individually and personally. Thank You that You know our needs before we even express them, and You love us where we are at. Forgive us for our fearfulness when we encounter the seemingly empty tombs in our lives, and teach us to trust You, and Your plan to bring life and hope and redemption from what seems like an end. Teach us to trust You more, so that we eagerly await each new thing that You bring, regardless of how it appears. Lead us to love others with the same gentleness and compassion that You give to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to bring new life out of our empty tombs. Amen.

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

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

To Take Courage

When Jesus walked on water, the disciples were in the midst of some really rough seas. For experienced fishermen to be straining at the oar, indicated that it was quite a rough row as they were attempting make their way across the lake and the wind had risen up against them. Likely struggling and straining to keep the boat afloat, they then caught a glimpse of God’s glory as Jesus appeared beside them, walking on the water. The men were terrified.

 

Immediately He spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” – (Mark 6:50b)

 

When things are uncertain and fear rises up, it is easy to get stuck in the straining as we struggle to stay afloat. The very same Jesus who walked on the water out to the place where the disciples were straining in the stormy seas, is seated beside us in scary spaces and whispers to our hearts, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Christ knows our struggles and stays beside us, and in the midst of our storms, we need only look up to recognize His presence; for Christ’s nearness is the antidote for fear. May we keep our eyes securely fixed on Jesus, who is our safety and strength, and in whom we have nothing to fear.

 

When the waters rise,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and the storms surround;

let’s look to the One,

in Whom hope is found.

For we need not fear,

with Christ by our side;

all courage and strength,

from Him, are supplied.

Christ knows all our needs,

and cares for each one;

receive all He grants,

the battle’s been won.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not leave us alone in fearful or tumultuous spaces, but You are present and ever reminding us to take courage in You. Thank You that we need not be afraid, for You are with us, and You are far greater than anything that would come against us. Forgive us for allowing our gaze to stay glued to our struggles, rather that seeing You, our solution. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would fix our eyes on You, the Author and Perfector of our faith. Lead us to love others with an unrelenting kindness and grace, just as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we take courage in You, allowing You to strengthen and equip us to face the fearful things that stand before us. 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

Recognizing the Glory

Imagine the shock of an empty tomb, only to be greeted by giant men in gleaming white…  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary encountered this very greeting when they went to the tomb in hope of seeing where the Savior lay.  An angel went on to inform the faithful women that Jesus had risen and was not there, and that He was going ahead of them into Galilee.  “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples.  Suddenly Jesus met them.  ‘Greetings’, He said.  They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him.” – (Matthew 28:8-9)

 

 

From fear to joy, to shock, then at last, overwhelmed with adoration for the Savior upon seeing Him face-to-face, the Marys’ had quite an eventful set of encounters.  How do we respond when we find ourselves in the presence of His greatness and His grace?  God with us, is everywhere.  In the eyes of a new baby, in the kindness of a stranger, in the heart of our worship when we gather together; He is easy to recognize if we simply slow down and allow our hearts to gaze upon all of the good that He has provided around us.  His glory radiates from His creation.  May we take time to pause and recognize the glory of God that surrounds us, and give proper praise to He who deserves all of our worship today.

 

 

The glory of God,He Seeks to Save

so much to behold;

may hearts recognize,

the good that unfolds.

All of creation,

speaks of His glory;

and each of us have,

part in the story.

May we each respond,

in worshipful praise;

to the heart of Christ,

for all of our days.

Let our hearts embrace,

and our minds receive;

all that He has done,

by faith, we believe.

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to come to know and understand who You are.  Thank You that we may embrace all that You are, as we are welcomed and received by You, as we are viewed through the filter of Your Son.  Thank You Jesus, for living, loving, dying and rising so that we may live victoriously in You.  Forgive us for not recognizing the remarkable evidence of Your presence that is all around us, and help us to embrace all that You provide.  Teach us to trust You more so that we may live and love as You did.  Help us to love all those whom surround us, and may many come into a saving relationship with You as they recognize Your goodness and grace.  Be glorified O God, as we give You glory and praise for all of our days.  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 Breath of God

And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” – (John 20:22)

 

All life and truth is God-breathed. At creation’s beginning, there was no life until God breathed into people, the very breath of life. Here in John, is a foretaste of the breath of Jesus and the power presented when He breathed on mankind. The context of this verse is when the disciples were in the upper room and Jesus appeared before them after He had risen. At this point, His breath was an impartation of His power to do God’s will on earth. Breathing is our reminder of just how near our Savior is to each of us. With each breath, He is present, and His power is available to all who have invited Him to be Lord of their lives. May we go forth this day, breathing deeply, knowing His nearness and operating in the power He has already presented.

 

Our very first breath,Do Everything in Love

was His gift of life;

hand-crafted, unique,

and bought with great price.

We’re given a choice,

to receive His breath;

the Spirit-filled one,

that saves us from death.

With His sweet Spirit,

too, comes His power;

to rise and obey,

our great Strong Tower.

Allow Him to breathe,

His life into you;

the power and grace,

to live a life true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us life and breath and our very being. Thank You that when we choose to follow You, You grant us the presence of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that Your Spirit dwells in us, and is available with each breath that we take. Forgive us for forgetting that the very same power that raised You from the grave, is alive and dwelling within us who believe. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may rise up and move in faith as You are asking. Lead us and guide us in Your love. May we love others in such a way, that they clearly come to see who You are. Let the lost be found in You. Be glorified as we go forth today, with every breath we take. 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

Who Do You See?

“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” – (Matthew 16:15)

 

Though this was a question presented to the disciples by Jesus, it aligns with where my mind still lingers after Sunday’s message. During the sermon, Surprised by Hope – The Ascension, my pastor posed a very poignant question, as he had us participate in the following exercise. Close your eyes. Picture Jesus. What do you see? Do you see a baby lying in a manger? A boy, learning and growing in the temple? Perhaps a teen, learning carpentry? Or do you see Jesus as He began His ministry, touching the untouchables, healing the hurting, and teaching all who would hear? Perhaps an image of Christ on the cross comes to mind? An empty tomb? Maybe you imagine Jesus appearing to the disciples in the upper room after He had risen. Though all of the aforementioned images are part of who Jesus is, none portray Jesus now. For after He had commissioned the disciples to go out into all the earth, He ascended into heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of God. Jesus is on His throne, and is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, where He is worshipped continually, and has reclaimed all power and authority that belong to Him. He holds all in His hands, and there is NOTHING that He cannot overcome. How we picture Jesus, impacts how we think He can move.

 

Isaiah, in Isaiah chapter six, verses one through nine, was given a glimpse of God seated on the throne. He became very aware of his own sinfulness, and as a result, asked for forgiveness. As he was forgiven, he was then commissioned to be the mouthpiece to a sinful people that surrounded him.

 

Today, we have access to both the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Our hearts are continually being drawn unto Him. It is up to us to accept all that He has done with a repentant heart, and then go forth as He calls. May we hold fast to the truth of who He is, and allow Him to update the image we hold in our heart.

 

When I close my eyes,Who Do You See

whom does my heart see?

An infant in hay,

looking up at me?

Or perhaps a boy,

seeking all that’s true;

a young man growing,

preparing for new?

Could it be the man,

who went out to touch;

He healed hurting hearts,

as He loved so much?

Is it the Savior,

hanging on the cross;

or the empty grave,

that dealt death its loss?

Do I see the One,

who walked through the wall;

showed His nail-scarred hands,

to answer a call?

What I ought to see,

is Christ on His throne;

all power is His,

and I’m called His own.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to make the way for us to come to know You, personally. Thank You Jesus, for dying, rising, and ascending to take Your rightful place. Thank You that as You are seated on Your throne, You intercede on our behalf. Thank You that Your ascension affirms all blessings and promises that were previously made, for You are good and faithful. Thank You that You sent Your Holy Spirit to dwell in us, and that You are preparing a place for us. Forgive us for our warped view of You, and help us to begin to picture You properly. Teach us to embrace the goodness and grace that You have given, and help us to go forth in love, just as You have loved us. May many come to know You as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, as they allow You to come rule and reign in their lives too. Be magnified in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

 

 

 

 

Hope in an Empty Tomb

On a morning much like this, as darkness gave way to the promised light of the dawn of a new day, the mourning Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, made their way toward the tomb. Imagine their initial thoughts as they found the colossal stone rolled away. Who had disturbed their Savior’s final resting space? Why would someone do such a thing? Then, to be greeted by an angel that looked like lightning, with clothes shining as white as snow… First, fear, followed by pure elation at the joy in knowing that Jesus had risen from the grave. Not even death could hold Him!

 

Today, we remember our Savior’s sacrifice and His mighty power that could not be defeated, even by death on a cross. That very same power that raised Jesus from the dead, is alive and available for all who believe. If we come to HIm and place our trust in the King of Kings, we too, can overcome eternal death, and will have hope for today and life everlasting.

 

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” – (Psalm 31:24)

 

When all was still,Hope in an Empty Tomb

light began to dawn;

the earth did shake,

at the morning’s song.

The stone was rolled,

the guards froze in fear;

angels appeared,

and faithful drew near.

Though He foretold,

that He’d third day rise;

they were amazed,

at this Hope alive.

Not even death,

could defeat the Lord;

He’d overcome,

showed how true His word.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son into the world to offer the way for us to be saved. Jesus, thank You for suffering for our sake, and conquering what we never could, so that we can have life in You. Forgive us for taking lightly the magnitude of Your sacrifice, and help us to reflect and recognize just how great Your love is for each of us, individually. May we receive what You are offering, and extend Your love and grace to all those around us. Let our words and deeds speak volumes of Who You are, and show many the way to a relationship with You. May those who are looking come to find You today. Be exalted in everything, Lord Jesus! He is risen, indeed. 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