Living Among Us

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in You with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. – (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT)

The Lord your God is with you. He is like a powerful soldier. He will save you. He will show how much He loves you and how happy He is with you. He will laugh and be happy about you. – (Zephaniah 3:17, ERV)

The Lord your God is in your midst – a warrior bringing victory. He will create calm with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing. – (Zephaniah 3:17, CEB)

 

This is the exact sort of reminder that many of us need this time of year. In the midst of the busy, crazy, seemingly endless push to the finish, we are not alone. More than that, God is with us and He delights in us. He will bring calm and He rejoices over us with singing. Just as a lullaby soothes the restless soul of a little one, so do the joyful songs of our Heavenly Father as He sings over us. Music can change our entire countenance, and I imagine that when that perfect song comes to mind to lift our mood, it did not drift in on its own. May we ever be open to the One who is among us, as His love brings calm in our chaos while He delights in us with gladness.

 

God is in our midst, Forgiveness is Free

He’s mighty to save;

He delights in us,

And makes our hearts brave.

He calms all our fears,

And sings joyfully;

Victory in love,

To eternity.

So, trust in the Lord,

He is ever near;

Delighting with joy,

And calming each fear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are not God out there, but You are God living among us, right here. Thank You that You are a Mighty Savior who brings victory. Thank You that You delight in us and show us how much You love us. Thank You that You rejoice over us with singing and calm us with Your love. Thank You that You are the ultimate example of a good Father. Forgive us for not turning to You in trust in our trials. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our help and our hope. Show us how to love those around us in a way that brings calm, comfort and joy, so that they may see Your light within us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for all of our days for Your presence, help and joy among us. 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

Ready to Rescue

The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. – (Psalm 34:17, NLT)

Pray to the Lord, and He will hear you. He will save you from all your troubles. – (Psalm 34:17, ERV)

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. – (Psalm 34:17, MSG)

 

God is faithful to listen when we call on Him for help. Though His answers may not come in the way we might think they ought to, He is faithful to answer with His presence and provision to carry us through. There are times that He calms the storm we are stuck sailing in, yet other times, He simply gives us the strength to navigate the rough waters, so that we can reach safe harbor with His help. May we ever seek the Lord, be it in seasons of strength or struggle, and know that He hears our heart in all things.

 

Our faithful Father, Ready to Rescue

Hears all our heart cries;

By His love He’ll lead,

Help won’t be denied.

At times He gives strength,

To press on, get through;

And then other times,

He brings calm, makes new.

No matter the how,

God’s faithful to hear;

He listens in love,

As we choose draw near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear us when we call on You for help. Thank You that You rescue us from sinking in the shadows of our own self-reliance. Forgive us for not crying out to You in our space of need. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our help and our hope in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides an ear to hear and a heart to understand in a way that gives hope and help where it is needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call on You for help and give You praise for the hope You provide. Amen.

 

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

 

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

That Precious Baby

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. – (Luke 2:33, NLT)

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. – (Luke 2:33, MSG)

Mary and Joseph stood there, awestruck over what was being said about their baby. – (Luke 2:33, TPT)

 

It is difficult to fathom being in Mary and Joseph’s shoes. Though they had both been visited by an angel that told them that she would be with child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and then they were visited just after Jesus was born by shepherds who worshiped this newborn baby because of an angelic announcement, the significance of their Son likely began to hit home a bit more as Simeon unpacked what God had promised about Him. As parents, we always have great hopes for our children from the moment we know that they have been conceived. For most, we can only imagine and dream of who they might become, and pray that they will grow and live well, according to God’s design. For Mary and Joseph, that design was astounding. Their Son was to be the Savior of the world. However, His position would not be without a painful price. I wonder if the two of them could even fully process the prophetic promise presented before them, as they held their eight-day-old baby boy. What a wonder indeed. Jesus grew and was faithful to fulfill all that to which He had been called. His sacrifice is our salvation. May we ponder in wonder and awe, the incredible sacrifice and willing obedience displayed by Mary and Joseph while Jesus was so young, and the faithfulness of God forever.

 

Imagine hearing, Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

Such uncertain words;

Both saving and pain,

The gist of that heard.

A precious baby,

Innocent and new;

Would bear such a weight,

For me and for you.

That precious baby,

Grew into a man;

Who helped, healed and saved,

Faithful to God’s plan.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Mary and Joseph, as parents who were willing to faithfully follow what God asked of them, no matter the cost. Thank You for sending You one and only Son to save us and restore us to right relationship with You. Forgive us for not embracing the mercy and grace that You freely give, if only we choose to come before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be willing to walk wherever You lead, no matter what risk is required. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your mercy and grace in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithfulness forever, and trust You to lead us wherever You call us to go. Amen.

 

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

 

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

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

Faith Requires Action

My brothers and sisters, if a person claims to have faith but does nothing, that faith is worth nothing. Faith like that cannot save anyone. – (James 2:14, ERV)

My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? – (James 2:14, CEB)

Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? – (James 2:14, TLB)

 

No, there is nothing that we can do to make God love us more than He already does, nor is there a way to “earn” His favor. However, when there is a transformed heart through faith in Him, a desire to love as we are loved rises up within us. What we do and how we love is an outward demonstration of the internal transformation that Christ is doing within us. If we claim to have faith, but have no kindness, there is no evidence that faith actually exists. The outward expression of the faith that is fortified in Christ, ought to grow greater as we dig deeper in our walk with the Lord. May we ever invest time and energy in allowing God to grow our faith, so that our actions may clearly shine the light of His love.

 

Brothers and sisters, Good Gifts

May our faith shine bright;

As we seek love well,

In others, delight.

For faith in just words,

Means nothing at all;

If it is not shown,

Our words simply fall.

Yet faith that is shown,

Through actions in love;

Illuminate light,

From the Lord above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we act in faith and choose to love and move in the direction You call, Your light shines bright before others. Forgive us for the times that faith has been a theory hidden in our hearts, rather than what we act upon and allow to lead us to move and do as You have done for us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will give action to the faith we hold in our hearts. Show us how to love well those around us, so that needs are met and good is given where it has been lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we put our faith in action. 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

Hope in Discouragement

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again – my Savior and my God! – (Psalm 42:5, NLT)

Why am I so sad? Why am I so upset? I tell myself, “Wait for God’s help! You will again praise Him, your God, the One who will save you.” – (Psalm 42:5, ERV)

Why are you so down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God – soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. – (Psalm 42:5, MSG)

 

It is difficult to take in the recent events in our nation, and not feel sad and discouraged. Yet, even in the darkness of such ugliness, good has been burning bright in incredible ways. When the need for blood donations was presented to the people of Las Vegas and the surrounding areas, generous hearts lined up in droves. Help is being provided in a place where it is typically lacking, as it is needed most. Additionally, there have been numerous stories of individuals placing themselves in harm’s way to help those in need in the midst of this tragic event. When I see the good that rose up in people who helped because they knew that they could not just standby and do nothing – I am encouraged and remember that God is our hope and our reason to praise. He moves hearts to act with love and compassion, and despite the darkness that is in the world, God is always good. May we ever place our hope in the Lord, as He is the One who saves and is worthy of all of our praise.

 

When I’m discouraged, Hope in Discouragement

And my heart is sad;

Help me hope again,

Lord, make my heart glad.

Glad for Your goodness,

For Your light and grace;

Praise for salvation,

Our hope in this place.

Lord, help us to see,

Where to fix our eyes;

As we look to You,

All hope’s realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that despite the darkness that befalls us and our nation, You are always good. Thank You that You demonstrate Your goodness and faithfulness through the grace and love of people. Father, please be with the first responders, the officers, the medical teams and all those impacted by what took place in Las Vegas. Your healing hands are needed more than ever. Forgive us for turning a blind eye to that which overwhelms us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would ask of You what we are meant to do – be it to give, pray, or go do more. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides comfort and care. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, especially in the places where Your light seems to be lacking. 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

Safe in New Seasons

And when you are old, I will still be there, carrying you. When your limbs grow tired, your eyes are weak, and your hair a silvery gray, I will carry you as I always have. I will carry you and save you. – (Isaiah 46:4, VOICE)

I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. – (Isaiah 46:4, NLT)

And I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety. – (Isaiah 46:4, ERV)

 

Aging is an interesting phenomenon. Each mile mark that I reach, there are new blessings and challenges. Last November, for the first time in my life, I discovered that I needed reading glasses. As I attempted to read a recipe on the back of a can of pumpkin, I discovered that I simply could not see the small print. Since then, I went to the eye doctor and she confirmed what I already knew. Age had finally caught my eyes, and glasses would be needed from here on out. After a lifetime of not wearing them, it is a strange adjustment that I forget most of the time, until I have to sit in front of a computer or read multiple pages of text. That being said, the joys that God has brought in this time in my life, far outweigh such a small thing. His care, concern and covering has stayed constant, and I am endlessly amazed at how He blesses me with His presence and His love. Though I may fight the white hair portion of aging for a while, I will fully embrace His grace and goodness as each new chapter unfolds. May we recognize and remember that God has promised to remain present throughout our lifetime, and He will carry us when we cannot walk on our own.

 

All throughout our lives, Safe in New Seasons

God’s promised to stay;

To be by our side,

To show us the way.

We need never fear,

New seasons of life;

For God is faithful,

Through peace and through strife.

When we have no strength,

The Lord remains strong;

He will lift us up,

Lead us further on.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of life. Thank You that You are with us through each new season that we walk through. Thank You that if we grow weary or weak, we need not fear, for You are with us and will carry us on. Forgive us for fearing what is yet to come, and teach us to trust You to continue to carry and save us throughout our lifetime. Show us how to love those around us in a way that strengthens and encourages and helps those in need. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to remain present forever, and go forth in the confidence that You will carry us along and keep us in Your care. 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

Stones of Remembrance

After this Samuel set up a special stone to help people remember what God did. Samuel put the stone between Mizpah and Shen and named the stone “Stone of Help.” Samuel said, “The Lord helped us all the way to this place.” – (1 Samuel 7:12, ERV)

 

I love how often in the Old Testament that those whom had seen a mighty move of God’s hand on their behalf, would set up a special stone to signify His help. They were intentional to mark the place where their Maker had moved mightily, and such a stone created a talking piece for many generations to come so that they too could speak of the faithfulness of God to their people. Since Jesus came to seek and save the lost, the miracles and mighty movement of God in the lives of people for the generations since, has been astounding. Imagine if each of us created our own stone markers for every time that we saw the hand of God move mightily in our lives – our homes, yards, and cities would have stones everywhere! Perhaps it is a positive practice to picture each time we are aware of His hand in our lives. Where would our remembrance stones be standing? May we take time to pause, reflect, and give God thanks for the help of His hand in our lives, as so often we take for granted the good that He gives on a daily basis.

 

Let us remember, Stones of Remebrance

The help of God’s hand;

As He walks with us,

Grants strength to stand.

In the midst of mess,

His presence is clear;

By His grace, He helps,

Makes known He is near.

Imagine our stones,

Where should they each stand?

Mile markers of grace,

Turning “can’ts to “cans”.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the practice of the people in the Old Testament of establishing stones to remember where You moved mightily on their behalf. Thank You that there has been tangible evidence of Your help and hope for us throughout the ages. Forgive us for not establishing stones of remembrance in our own hearts, as You move mightily on our behalf so often. Teach us to recognize and remember the help You have given, so that we may give You praise, and tell of all that You have done. Show us how to love others well, so that some of the stones of remembrance in their lives may be seeing Your love made tangible through people around them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be intentional about remembering and sharing the goodness and grace of who You are as You help us in ways that are worthy of praise. 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

Just Believe

Jesus heard this and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid! Just believe and your daughter will be well.” – (Luke 8:50, ERV)

But when Jesus heard what had happened, He said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” – (Luke 8:50, NLT)

 

Need has an interesting way of breaking down barriers as people reach the point of desperation. Jairus, despite being a high official in the synagogue, did not hesitate to drop to his knees in need before Jesus on behalf of his dying daughter. The desire to see her healed was greater than his concern about societal norms. Faith and hope brought Jairus to Jesus, and it was likely the comforting words that Jesus offered upon hearing the news that his daughter had died that kept him from losing his mind with grief. What Jesus says, He will do, and Jairus had to choose to either trust Him and believe, or lose hope and his only daughter to death forever. I can only imagine the wrestling match that must have been going on in his mind as they walked the long road back to his home to where his dead daughter was waiting. “Can He who healed the bleeding woman with the hem of His garment, bring life back to my dead daughter?” My mind’s eye imagines that Jairus gained a bit more boldness with each step, as he recalled what he had just witnessed with the woman who had suffered for twelve long years and then was healed by her unwavering faith. Perhaps each step was taken to an internal cadence that he simply spoke to himself, “Believe, believe, believe!” Regardless of how Jairus traveled, when Jesus and the disciples went up to his daughter with he and his wife, their daughter was brought back to life, and their lives were never the same. May we listen for the voice of Jesus in the midst of our scary spaces, and hear Him as He reminds us to have faith and just believe.

 

In uncertainty,Our Map and Our Guide

Trial or in pain;

We’re called to believe,

Trust in Jesus’ Name.

For the Lord is good,

He alone can save;

Bring comfort to fears,

When we feel afraid.

God of all wonder,

Your power and might;

Is what we can trust,

To set all things right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and faithful and loving. Thank You that You move mountains when we have but a mustard seed of faith. Forgive us for the times that our faith falters because we rely on what we see, rather than what we know to be true in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have faith, even when things do not make sense, as You see the entire outcome. Help us to live and love in such a way, that our faith is infectious to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we believe and have faith, no matter what we see; for You are alone are the One who directs our path. 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

Transformational Times

When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshipped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” – (Luke 23:47, NLT)

 

This statement by the Roman officer was extremely significant, as it was his response after overseeing the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. He had observed each nail driven into His hands and feet, each insult hurled at Jesus as He hung in pain, and ultimately, he heard the words of Jesus as the world went dark for several hours that day, as Christ called out, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NIV)  Firsthand, this soldier who had carried out the orders to crucify Christ, could see for himself, that there had been no justifiable reason to take the life of the innocent man hanging on the cross before him. Something about what he had observed through the process, helped open his eyes to the glory of God, as the Roman officer responded by worshipping the Lord and declaring the innocence of Christ. When they say there is power in the cross, it is incredible how soon it began. First with the criminal that hung beside Jesus who recognized that He did not deserve to die and asked to be remembered, and then one of the leaders of the Roman regime. The power present to move those two men from death to life on that very day, is still alive and active now. Jesus rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father, so that His Spirit could dwell among us. The very same power that brought life from death, is available and able to save us now. If we come to the Lord, call on His Name, and place our trust in Him, His presence is ours, and we have the hope of life everlasting in Him. May we allow the power of the presence of the living God to transform us from the inside out.

 

The power of God,Transformational Times

Is mighty to save;

For this is the One,

Who conquered the grave.

He brings us to life,

When we choose to come;

Place our heart in Him,

Where freedom is won.

Free from all our chains,

Of past sin and scorn;

Where hope and new life,

In Him, we’re reborn.

New start without stains,

All grace is now ours;

Made new by His love,

His hope empowers.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to live and love and sacrifice, so that we could have life everlasting in You. Thank You for the incredible things that Jesus did, even as He hung on the cross to impact the lives of those around Him. Forgive us for thinking that we cannot do anything in the midst of our circumstances when things are difficult. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be receptive to all that You have for us – both for and through us as we walk out our days in faith. Show us how to love others as You love us, regardless of what is going on in our own lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow You to work in and through us at all times to touch those around us. Amen.

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

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23