Fresh Hope Reconciled

He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. – (John 1:11-12, NLT) 

He came to the world that was His own. And His own people did not accept Him. But some people did accept Him. They believed in Him, and He gave them the right to become children of God. – (John 1:11-12, ERV) 

He came to His own people, but they didn’t want Him. But whoever did want Him, who believed He was who He claimed and would do what He said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. – (John 1:11-12, MSG) 

 

Under the law, God was One to be approached from a distance, rather than One whom we could draw near and be in relationship with personally. Jesus came to break the barrier that separated us from God and give us access to our Heavenly Father as dearly loved children. Our part is to believe and trust in Him. As we do, we are adopted as daughters and sons of the living God. The reality that we are considered children of God when we believe and accept Him as our own, is overwhelming. He sees and knows everything about us, and yet He loves us more than we can even begin to grasp. My role as a mom likely only begins to give a glimpse of the depth and breadth of His love for us. The love I have for my children feels limitless. When they hurt, I hurt. When they are doing well, I am full of joy. How much greater is the capacity to love of He who created all that is and ever was, as He knit us together and breathed life into our being? May we embrace the glorious grace that we have been given, as we receive the gift of being called daughters and sons of the living God through believing in Him and accepting His word is true. 

 

Often rejected, Risk to Reward

Jesus, He still came; 

To offer His love, 

As we call His Name. 

For all who believe, 

Accept His word’s true; 

Become His own kids, 

As we are made new. 

No longer from far, 

But we can draw near; 

Speak to Mighty God, 

We have Daddy’s ear. 

Just as a parent, 

Loves deeply their child; 

We’re loved by the Lord, 

Fresh hope reconciled. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came and made the way for us to be restored to right relationship with You. Thank You that when we believe and accept Your word, You call us Your own. Forgive us for rejecting the truth that You make known to us, and teach us to trust You more. Help us to walk in Your way and honor You in all that we say and do. Show us how to love those around us so that they might gain glimpses of You through our love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we accept, believe and receive all that You show us of Yourself and Your word. Amen. 

 

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

 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

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Ponder the Treasure

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

Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. – (Luke 2:19, ERV)

Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. – (Luke 2:19, CEB)

Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, VOICE)

 

The chain of events leading to and surrounding the birth of Jesus, must have been more than enough to keep Mary’s mind on constant overload. Angelic visits and prophecies, miraculous pregnancies, having to travel by donkey in the desert, arriving only to be turned away at all of the possible places to stay, giving birth in a stable, having shepherds show up… Mary was now mother to the Son of God. I imagine she vacillated back and forth between bewilderment and amazement at the role that she had been called to fill. Her faithfulness and trust in God was apparent, as she said “yes” to that which she had been called to do by God. Each of these events to treasure, were likely the things that gave her courage and strength in times of uncertainty as Jesus grew. Today, as many of us participate in candlelight services, may we ponder all of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, and treasure them in our hearts, so that we too, will find courage and strength in times of uncertainty.

 

Joining to gather, Ponder the Treasure

In candlelight glow;

Sing of our Savior,

Arrival we know.

Born in a stable,

Such a humble birth;

Path for us to know,

The depth of our worth.

For God sent His Son,

To show love to all;

Let us each embrace,

Grace to which we’re called.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us how to stop in awe and wonder of all that took place surrounding the birth of Jesus through the example of Mary. Thank You that You did not call the equipped, but rather You equipped the called. Thank You that You used ordinary people to do the extraordinary to change the course of history forever; a young girl, a carpenter, some shepherds, an inn keeper with a bit of compassion – each with a role that led us to why we celebrate this most holy season. Forgive us for breezing through the day as if it is just another holiday. Teach us to stop and ponder the magnitude of what You have done for us, so that we will treasure it all in our hearts. Show us how to love those around us with a love that is tangible and worth treasuring. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they are introduced or reminded of Who You are and all that You have done through the glorious gift of Your Son. Be glorified O God, as we ponder and treasure the reason for the season. Amen.

 

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

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

 

 

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

 

 

Loving the Next Generation

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. – (Proverbs 22:6, NIV)

Teach children in a way that fits their needs, and even when they are old, they will not leave the right path. – (Proverbs 22:6, ERV)

Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost. – (Proverbs 22:6, MSG)

 

This verse is a powerful reminder of my purpose; not only with my own children, but in my classroom each day. My role as a classroom teacher goes beyond the curriculum that I am asked to deliver. If I can meet kids where they are, and help them know that they matter, the learning that takes place is far more significant than the reading and writing that is required. I know in my own life, there were people, teachers, youth leaders, my mom, my grandmother, and various other family and friends, who greatly impacted the path on which I chose to travel. Their words often echoed in my mind as I reached crossroads, and aided me in choosing wisely, when I could have decided differently. Each of the voices that spoke to my heart had met me in a way that fit my own need, individually, and made an impact that has lasted a lifetime. We are able and called to do the same. May we love the next generation by meeting them where they are, and pointing them in the direction that they are meant to go.

 

Help us to teach kids, 1506783915220

The ways they’re to go;

Meet each in their need,

So Your path’s made known.

When we’re shown what’s right,

Through love on our way;

We’re drawn to follow,

On the right path stay.

Let us show our kids,

The right way to go;

So when they’re older,

They will always know.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when children are started off in the right direction, You are faithful to continue to call them to remain close to You. Thank You that though educators are not in a role to spiritually lead students, we have the ability to meet kids where they are in a way that fits their need, and help them know that they are valued, loved, and capable of great things. Forgive us for not investing enough into pointing kids in the right direction, as each future has eternal value. Teach us to turn to You for wisdom as to how we can love best, each young person that You place in our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we point kids in the right direction, trusting You to keep them close as they grow older. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Releasing the Right to Revenge

Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. – (Proverbs 20:22, NLT) 

Don’t ever say, “I’ll pay them back for what they did to me!” Wait for the Lord. He will make things right. – (Proverbs 20:22, ERV) 

Don’t ever say, “I’ll get you for that!” Wait for God; He’ll settle the score. – (Proverbs 20:22, MSG) 

 

For many, this is a difficult road to walk. Our natural inclination is to give back whatever we are given. When extended kindness, it is easy to return. However, when someone wrongs us or intentionally brings harm, it is almost without conscious thought, that our minds go to returning the hurt. With Christ in us, there is a filter to know that we are not meant to lash out in anger, nor return harm for hurt against us, yet it is a process that requires a decision to place the hurt or harm in His hands, and trust Him to handle the matter. Our part is to forgive and move forward. Forgiveness does not mean foolishly nor blindly forgetting and setting ourselves in a vulnerable or unsafe space, but it does mean letting go of our desire to lash out or get even and allow God (and if necessary, the law) to deal with the wrong-doer. May we release our perceived right for revenge, and give our offenses to God. Let us trust our hearts in His hands, as He knows best how to handle these hurdles. 

 

Speak not of revenge, Shackles No More

For it’s not our role; 

To repay all wrongs, 

Must not be our goal. 

Instead let us wait, 

Place all in God’s hands; 

He will make things right, 

He hears, understands. 

Often His answers, 

Open our blind eyes; 

We grow in His grace, 

As love’s realized. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that it is not our job to get even for the harm that is done against us, but rather You ask us to place it in Your hands. Thank You that we can trust You, as You are good and just, and You love us more than we can comprehend. Forgive us for seeking to “get even” when we feel we have been wronged. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would place our perceived harms in Your hands, and allow You to handle whatever has hurt our hearts. Grant us wisdom to know how to seek help if help is required, and give us strength to forgive when forgiveness is far from what is desired. Show us how to love well those who have been wronged, so that they may find Your grace and forgiveness, leaving the need for retribution in Your hands. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give our hurts to You, and allow You to handle making things right when we have been wronged. Amen.

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

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

Today I Trust

This morning as I woke, thirteen minutes prior to my alarm, my first thought was, “Today is the day!” At first, a laundry list of last minute details started filing through my mind, but was shortly squashed by the tender reminder: 

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your path.” – (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV) 

 

Trust. Such a simple concept, yet often so difficult to truly do. Today, I will choose trust, as it is in His hands. My bag has been packed for a few days, my boys’ bags are packed and ready for camp, I have their camp mail ready to go out so that they know my thoughts are with them, and I have done all that I know to do to prepare here, so now it is a matter of getting there. At times, our trust gets tried in the details, whereas other times there is something major lying before us and we have no choice but to trust. I imagine there will be plenty of opportunity to trust and trust again, as I go where I’ve never been to do things I’ve never done. I have to trust the Lord to be my strength and to lead me in the way I am meant to go. As a non-medical person going on a medical outreach, my role is all about trusting His leading. So far, He has taken something I enjoy, and turned it into part of my purpose and role for the health fair portion of our outreaches. My part will be to share about fitness, and help people recognize how simple it is for them to get out and get moving. God uses whatever we are willing to give, and I never cease to be amazed and how He does just that. May we choose this day to trust in the Lord with our whole heart, and lean not on our own understanding. May we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, and look to Him to direct our path.  

 

Lord, I choose to trust, So Much More

With all of my heart; 

For Your ways are best, 

From finish to start. 

Help me not to lean, 

On what I now know; 

But rather to trust, 

So my faith can grow. 

For Your ways are best, 

Not early or late; 

When I choose You, Lord, 

You make my path straight. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being trustworthy. Thank You that we can trust in You with all of our heart, rather than our own understanding, and as we do, You show us the way to go. Forgive us for worrying when we need to trust. Teach us how to acknowledge You in all things, so that we would recognize how easily You can handle all that seems impossible to us. Show us how to love all those whom You place in our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You with all of our heart and acknowledge You in all of our ways. Amen.

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

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

Being the Body

For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too – the many – are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone. – (Romans 12:4-5, VOICE)

 

As I read this passage through several times, I thought about how it applies to my own life. Stepping back, I can see how true this is, not only in my church circle, but at home, at work, and among my groupings of friends. In each arena, God has gathered people with different strengths, gifts and talents, and placed us together with purpose. Where one of us is weak, another is strong. In a space where wisdom or experience are necessary, there is one among us who has been there to build up, encourage or advise. This is yet another reminder that we were created to be in community. Who we are and what we have to give is far more meaningful and effective when joined together with others. Balance, beauty and strength in our everyday lives the way God intended, become recurring reality, rather than a one-day hope. Yes, there will be days that are messy and feel a bit fractured, but if our pursuit is to seek God and be joined in the body as He intended, the difficult days will be well worth the work. May we ever choose to seek the Lord and be invested in community as we are called.

 

We’re each created,Called to be Family 1

With a role in mind;

As God’s given gifts,

To join and align.

For as we gather,

Together as one;

Each part fills a role,

To rise, get things done.

We all have purpose,

That is magnified;

When joined with others,

God’s strength realized.

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us individually with different strengths and functions and purpose. Thank You that You intended each of us to be in community so that our strengths could be utilized together to accomplish Your call and build up one another in You. Thank You that You place us in community when we seek You. Forgive us for not fully investing in the communities we are in, or for withholding the very things that You have birthed in us to share. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would utilize that which You have given us to share for the benefit of the body. Show us how to love all those whom You have placed in the communities we are called to invest in. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we join with one another to become together what we could not be alone. Amen.

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

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

Fathering Well

Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. – (Ephesians 6:4, MSG)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. – (Ephesians 6:4, NLT)

 

I know that this is a tough topic for so many. Fathers are placed in our lives to fill such a significant role, yet without the grace and help of God, there is little chance of them measuring up to the expectation presented in the title alone. That being said, some of the best fathers that I know, did not have the most stellar examples in their own lives. God’s grace covered them as they grew, and He provided men of integrity to walk beside them and show them what it is to love well as a dad. There is no one who always gets it right, except our Heavenly Father, but the men who seek to lead their kids by the hand and show them by example, correcting and redirecting with love, are setting the standard for our future generations of fathers. May we celebrate the fathers we know, and encourage them as they help their kids grow.

 

Thank You, dear Father, Be strong and courageous

Despite what we’ve had;

You shall always be,

Our Heavenly Dad.

Thanks too for the men,

Who take by the hand;

Each child to love,

And shows them Your plan.

Not by being harsh,

Instead, they choose lead;

Lovingly guiding,

Direct to succeed.

Instruct with wisdom,

Discipline with grace;

Do all things in love,

So they seek Your face.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our ultimate Father. Thank You for the fathers that You have placed in our lives to teach us, grow us, and bless us. Forgive us for not recognizing and encouraging the fathers that are all around us, seeking to do things according to Your will. Teach us to have Your eyes to see and Your heart to bless and encourage our brothers who are seeking after You. Show us how to love well, all the people whom You place in our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for being the best Father of all, and praise You for the gift of fantastic fathers that You place in our lives and the lives of our children. 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

Made to Mother

For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb before I took my first breath. – (Psalm 139:13, VOICE)

You formed the way I think and feel. You put me together in my mother’s womb. – (Psalm 139:13, ERV)

 

At the very beginning of our existence, there was God and our mother. No matter what the circumstance or situation, each one of our mothers chose to carry us to term, and God knit us together in the space of our mother’s womb. I know for some, there is sorrow connected to Mother’s Day, either for lack or loss or what should have been. For those who are mourning, I pray that He would hold your heart in His hands and remind You that He is with you in a tangible way. On the other side of motherhood, may those who have mothers who have been invested and available, find way to extend appreciation today and always. Additionally, each of us have been shaped to touch the lives of those around us. Whether we are mothers by blood or not, it takes little to see those around us who could use the love and encouragement that a maternal figure can offer. May we recognize the remarkable work that our Redeemer did, even before we drew our first breath, and let us also go forth and love well as He has called us to love.

 

Shaped with a purpose,Made to Mother

Before our first breath;

It is no mistake,

We’ve life over death.

Each mother gave life,

Now we have a role;

To rise up in faith,

Let Christ make us whole.

For God is so good,

His heart of love finds;

Ways for us to give,

Grace and hope that binds.

May we choose to be,

Sister and mother;

One who loves as Christ,

Our heart to others.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of mothers. Thank You for the mothers who love well, and show us what it is to love as You love us. Thank You that even the mothers who did not love well, chose to give life and allowed You to create the gift of the life that exists before us. Thank You that You comfort those who mourn, and that You can use any heart that is willing to speak life as a mother to those who are lacking. Forgive us for not fully appreciating the gift we have around us in the women You have placed in our lives to be motherly to us. Teach us to love and appreciate the gifts that You so generously give. Show us how to love those in need, as we are so lavishly loved by You. Thank You for the amazing gift of my own Momma. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the remarkable that You have done, and go forth in love as we are called. 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