Faithful the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. 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

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The Will of the Word

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)

All Scripture is given by God. And all Scripture is useful for teaching and showing people what is wrong in their lives. It is useful for correcting faults and teaching the right way to live. Using the Scriptures, those who serve God will be prepared and will have everything they need to do every good work. – (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ERV)

Every Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good. – (2 Timothy 3:16-17, CEB)

 

Instruction manuals make navigation through uncharted territory manageable. Whether it is a map to aid in finding a destination, directions as to how to construct something new, or simply a set of expectations and guidelines in a place of employment, each serves a purpose to provide necessary information to navigate successfully. The Bible has the same purpose for our everyday lives. There are so many things that we stumble upon that may at first appear uncertain, yet when we seek the Lord and read His word, we soon discover that there is a direction that we are meant to go with all things. Despite having been written so many generations ago, the lessons we can glean from Scriptures are timeless. May we ever turn to the Lord in trust, and invest time in His word so that we will know how we are meant to live well.

 

May we turn in trust, The Word of God

To God and His word;

To know what is right,

To test what is heard.

For Holy Scriptures,

Are useful indeed;

To teach and to train,

To His will, we heed.

Let us keep seeking,

What God has to say;

So we may do well,

And walk in His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Word. Thank You that we can turn to You and read Your Word to know how to live according to Your will. Thank You that all Scripture is given by You to help us live well. Forgive us for neglecting to invest time in Your word, or for ignoring the truth that we know. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hear all that You say and walk in Your way, as we are equipped to do good work. Show us how to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest time in Your Word, and allow You to train us and equip us to do good things according to Your perfect will. 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

Known and Loved

I look at the heavens You made with Your hands. I see the moon and the stars You created. And I wonder, “Why are people so important to You? Why do You even think about them? Why do You care about them? Why do You care so much about humans? Why do You even notice them?” – (Psalm 8:3-4, ERV)

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them? – (Psalm 8:3-4, NIV)

 

God, the Creator of the entire Universe, cares for us, individually. That is an astounding and overwhelming thought. Our mere mortal minds can hardly fathom such care and concern from One so great. Fortunately, there are examples throughout scripture that make this love a bit more conceivable. His great love rescues, is good, is merciful, is unfailing, works all things together for good, is gracious, surpasses all understanding, and endures forever. He is our Father and we are His children. Just as we love our own children fiercely, so too does the Father love each of us. We are flawed and sinful, and yet we still love our children with our whole heart. Imagine the depth and breadth of the Father’s love, as He is perfect, and who He is, is love. May we go forth this day seeking to soak in a bit more of the lavish love of the Lord. As we continue to gain greater glimpses of who He is and how He loves, may we go forth and love likewise.

 

Oh what love is this,Delivering Dreams

That considers me?

The very same God,

Who called all to be.

When I see the moon,

The stars in the sky;

I gaze up in awe,

He love me, but why?

God loves His children,

All created ones;

His heart is for us,

May Thy will be done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You, the Creator of all things, love each of us, individually. Thank You that not one of us goes unnoticed nor unloved. Forgive us for not recognizing the depth and breadth of Your care for each of us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hold fast to the truth of Your word, and trust You to lead us and guide us all of our days in Your love. Show us how to love those around us, so that they may come to know their significance to You and the world around them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe of Your lavish love, and receive all that You give so that we may give likewise. 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 34:8

Love Remains Present

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. – (Romans 12:15, NLT)

When others are happy, you should be happy with them. And when others are sad, you should be sad too. – (Romans 12:15, ERV)

Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. – (Romans 12:15, MSG)

 

Part of loving well is walking alongside those around us, no matter what state they are in. If a person is happy and has reason to celebrate, we ought to join them in expressing joy. When we encounter the sorrowful, it is not our job to fix them, but rather to sit beside them in the midst of their pain and be present. Remarkably, when happiness is shared, it miraculously feels multiplied; yet when sadness and sorrow is shared by someone who comes and sits in the space alongside the suffering, the weight of the ache is lessened somehow. God intended us to be in community. So much of scripture directs us as to how to be in relationship with one another, and to function as a body of believers. Two are better than one… A three-strand cord is not easily broken… There are countless references reminding us that we are not meant to do this life alone. May we place our trust in He who walks beside us in joy and pain, and go forth with intent to do the same.

 

Choose to celebrateThe Benefit of Broken Barriers

Those with happiness;

Share space of sadness,

With ones in a mess.

For God walks beside,

And ever stays near;

Present in weeping,

And likewise in cheer.

We have been chosen,

As community;

To love as Christ loves,

For His love sets free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to be happy with those who are happy, and to weep with those who weep, but You sent Your Son to show us what it looks like to love like that. Thank You Jesus, for showing us how to love without limits, despite what You were going through and the things that surrounded You. Forgive us for making excuses as to why we just cannot get involved when things seem to messy or emotional. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remain present with those whom You have placed in our lives, no matter what comes their way. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are happy with those who are happy, and share tears with those who are down. Amen.

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

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

What Love Is and Is Not

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-6, NLT)

Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-6, CEB)

 

As various forms of media flood our minds with images of what love might look like, it is good to go back to the place where we find the truth. God is the author and creator of love, as He loved so much that He sent His Son to make the way for us to be restored back to right relationship with Him. God Himself, is love. Paul unpacks for us, one of the most well-known and utilized chapters in scripture, as he wrote to the church in Corinth to help them understand what love is meant to be. His description set the standard for how we are meant to love well, and helps us examine our own hearts as we look to give and receive love. There is a vast difference between love and lust. Love looks outward, not in. Love is a choice to be patient, kind and giving without expectation of anything in return. Additionally, Paul unpacks for us, the things that love is not. If we want to truly love others, we must let go of jealousy, arrogance, rudeness, irritation, complaints, complacency, and the desire to look out for ourselves first. Jesus made it known to us that our charge as His children is to love God and love people. When we are at a loss as to how we are meant to love, His word shows us the way. May we choose to love others as we are loved by God, and let His light be evident in our every word and deed.

 

The great love of God,Tether Our Hearts

Is patient and kind;

Not jealous or rude,

Keeps others in mind.

Love will not demand,

To have its own way;

It sets pride aside,

Will help, not delay.

No records of wrong,

Nor irritation;

Instead seeks justice,

Truth as it’s station.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to love You and love people, but You unpack for us in Your Word, what is required. Thank You that we are not expected to love as You love on our own, but rather You strengthen and equip us by Your Spirit. Forgive us for allowing the world to dictate to our hearts and minds what love ought to be, and help us to view love through Your lens; always. Show us how to be patient and kind, even when it is difficult. Lead us to love others, seeking their good, rather than our own benefit. May many come to know You as their Savior and true Source of lasting love. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to love as we are loved. 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

Called to Live in Peace

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. – (Colossians 3:15, NLT)

 

This is such a timely scripture, as hearts are often unsettled as we approach the holiday season. Sometimes the unrest is due to overscheduling, but others are dealing with grieving losses that are magnified during this festive time of year. Our peace can only come from Christ. When we seek Him first, and rely on Him to rule and reign in our hearts, His peace comes and helps us live accordingly. If we are at peace within ourselves, it is far easier to be at peace with those around us. We tend to be bothered less by the little things, and more apt to extend grace to those around us. It is in this space that we recognize the remarkable that our Redeemer has done in and around us, and thankfulness cannot help but bubble up within our hearts. May we seek the Lord and His peace, so that we may be at peace within ourselves and those around us. Let thankfulness rise up and flow freely from our lips for His great faithfulness and the hope that is held forever in Him.

 

In spaces of stress,Hope for Eternity

May we offer peace;

For Christ within us,

Brings hope that won’t cease.

We are one body,

Called to live as one;

Loving each other,

’til our days are done.

Let thanks fill our hearts,

For God and His love;

For His peace that reigns,

May hope rise above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the peace that passes all understanding is available in You. Thank You that You equip and empower us to live in peace with one another as Your body. Forgive us for not seeking Your strength to be at peace within ourselves or with those around us. Teach us to trust You more for what we need to operate as agents of peace, especially during this season of giving thanks. Show us how to love and bless others well, so that they may know Your peace as we extend Your goodness and grace to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your peace to rule in our hearts and seek to live in peace with those around us. All thanks to You, Lord, now and forever. 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

Strength and Peace

The Lord gives His people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, NLT)

May the Lord make His people strong. May the Lord bless His people with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, ERV)

We ask You, Eternal One, to give strength to Your people; Eternal One, bless them with the gift of peace. – (Psalm 29:11, VOICE)

 

When I read a passage of scripture, I often opt to read multiple translations of the text. Often, I find new insight or perhaps a perspective that I had not seen before, as His word further comes to life through time invested. This morning is no exception. What I love about the above verse and the three different translations, is that the truth that is being expressed is the same, yet how it is conveyed seems to take on a variation in purpose. All three are clear in that God gives both strength and peace to those who are His. How that message is expressed, seems to have three different purposes in the three different translations.

The first, “The Lord gives His people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.” (NIV) is a solid statement of faith. God is, and He does. The second, “May the Lord make His people strong. May the Lord bless His people with peace.(ERV) feels more like a blessing or a benediction. Lastly, the final translation, “We ask You, Eternal One, to give strength to Your people; Eternal One, bless them with the gift of peace.” (VOICE) very much is presented as a prayer. The words are full of encouragement, whether as a statement, blessing or prayer. God is indeed our source of strength and peace, and He blesses us with both when we seek Him. May we lift our eyes to the Lord and trust in His unfailing love, allowing His strength and peace to be poured out upon us as we go forth.

 

The Lord is our strength,Who Wants to Fight

our blessing of peace;

when all is awry,

He is our release.

Always He’s faithful,

our hope is assured;

our lives in His hands,

where future’s secured.

Let His peace come reign,

as He makes us strong;

let our very lives,

sing out His love song.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us strength and You bless us with peace. Thank You that when we belong to You, we can come to You in prayer, we can boldly state the truth, and we can speak Your words over others too. Forgive us for not seeking or resisting what You are offering. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Source of strength and peace, and the place where we find rest and restoration within our hearts and minds. Show us how to live and love so that we may offer strength and peace to people who do not yet know You. May many be drawn into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the blessings of Your strength and peace that You pour out upon us. Amen.

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

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

With Thanks, Choose Prayer

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – (Philippians 4:6, NIV)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. – (Philippians 4:6, NLT)

Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. – (Philippians 4:6, ERV)

When worry or anxiety come our way, we are given specific instruction in scripture as to how we are meant to overcome that which has come against us. Rather than fret about our concerns, we are meant to come before Christ, thanking Him for all that He has done, and then asking Him for what we need. We serve a big God, who is far greater than our struggles or shortcomings. He knows our needs and has more than enough to provide for us, personally, when we choose to present our requests before Him. Often our answers do not look the way that we might imagine, but He is always faithful to answer and be present with us. May we choose to set aside worry and anxiety, and prayerfully present our petitions before the Lord with hearts full of thanks and praise. He is good, and His love endures for all time.

Let us worry not,Refreshment Through Repentance

about that which comes;

for God is greater,

Overcoming One.

For we are each called,

to come before Him;

present our requests,

with thanks, enter in.

For His faithfulness,

won’t come to an end;

we need not worry,

but rather, depend.

Trust in our Father,

who’s faithful and true;

give thanks for His grace,

that makes our hearts new.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not worry nor be anxious about anything, but rather in every situation we can come to You and pray to You with hearts full of thanks, and ask You for all that we need. Thank You that You hear our every prayer, and that You are faithful to meet us each time we come before You. Forgive us for allowing worry and anxiety to overwhelm us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would come to You in the midst of our moments, and give You thanks and praise, presenting our petitions unto You, because You are faithful to hear our every heart cry. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they too, may find reason to give thanks, even in the midst of struggles and storms, because You are always good. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to give You thanks and present our requests before You, rather than worry over what we cannot control. Amen.

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

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7, NLT

Do you know why the mighty God of the universe chooses to answer prayer?  It is because His children ask.  God delights in our asking.  He is pleased at our asking.  His heart is warmed by our asking. – Richard J. Foster

The Light of His Word

As people understand Your word, it brings light to their lives. Your word makes even simple people wise. – (Psalm 119:130, ERV)

 

The only way that we can come to understand God’s word is to actually invest time reading it. When we do, His Spirit in us, reveals insight and understanding that we did not have before. I am in awe how I can read a passage of scripture that I have read many times before, and it seems that each time it is read, something new is gained through the investment. Even more incredible, is that so often what I learn, applies to what is going on in my life at the time. If I am struggling with difficulty, there is something about the reward of perseverance; if sorrow, the reminder that joy comes in the morning. There is ALWAYS something new to be gained through time in His word, and His wisdom is worth more than anything else that is out there.

 

I love that we don’t have to be biblical scholars to study God’s word. He will reveal Himself to us individually, and personally. He meets us where we are, and shows us more of Himself, each time that we choose invest in Him. Interestingly, the more one invests in the study of His word and time spent with Him, the more it is craved. After making time in God’s word a part of how I begin each day for the past four plus years, I feel really off if something delays my regular routine. Each offering of opportunity to further study the word, is something that I gravitate toward all the more. As new insights come, so do more questions with more to be revealed. I know I will never “arrive”, which makes the pursuit all the more necessary. May we passionately pursue God and His word, as He brings light to our lives and wisdom to our way.

 

Seek understanding,Jesus is God of the Miraculous

through time in the word;

for light for our lives,

is in that space heard.

It is Christ with us,

who shows us the way;

grants wisdom and grace,

to live out each day.

Not just for scholars,

but all who pursue;

the Lord through His word,

shall come to know truth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your word. Thank You that as we invest time in reading and meditating on what it says, You reveal more and more of who You are, and how You want us to live. Thank You that You grant us wisdom and understanding by Your Spirit in us, and that there are no prerequisites to our studying Your word. Forgive us for thinking that it is too difficult or that we do not know enough, and help us to learn to listen to Your Spirit within us as we study Your word. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will count on Your faithfulness to reveal more and more of who You are and what You have for us, each time we invest time spent with You. Lead us to love others well, so that they too might see the light and grace that You alone give to all who choose to follow You. May many make the decision to be Your disciples. Be glorified O God, as we seek to understand Your word, and walk in the wisdom that You grant us. 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

Listen, Learn and Love

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

 

Our purpose for studying God’s word ought not be to simply gain knowledge, but rather to understand God and His will, so that we can go forth and do that which He is asking. His word equips us with the tools we need to choose wisely as we go. As we grow in our understanding of who God is and what is good and pleasing before Him, our faith is strengthened to step out and do the good that He is calling us to do. May we invest wisely, our time in His word, and receive the instruction, correction and direction that the Lord is extending as we study and listen to Him. Let us go forth equipped for every good work which He is calling us to do.

 

God’s word is God-breathed,Listen Learn and Love

and granted for all;

to lead and to guide,

to help us not fall.

The Lord raises us,

in His righteousness;

equipped and inspired,

to be a witness.

Not just with our mouth,

but with hands to serve;

as we do good work,

the Lord’s heart is heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your word. Thank You that You teach, rebuke, correct and train us in righteousness as we invest in the study of Your word. Thank You that what is gained is not meant to be an idle space of new knowledge, but rather it is an equipping for us to go forth and do good works, according to Your perfect plan. Forgive us for failing to invest our time into the study of Your word, or for standing idly by, when we know what we are meant to do for the good of those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will invest in the equipping of our hearts and minds in the truth of Your word, and then take what You teach us and go forth to do good works in the community around us. Lead us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen, learn and love as You have designed each of us to do. 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